20 December 2007

Another data point

And then there is this from Arizona: Voters who go to the polls may win $1m - Telegraph:

"Who wants to be a millionaire? Anyone using the ballot box in America's western state of Arizona, if campaigners have their way.

Under the scheme, which is designed to increase turnout, a $1 million (£550,000) prize will be handed to a voter selected at random after elections held every two years. Those taking part in party primary elections could win another $1 million prize. [...]

The next step will be openly paying people to vote for a particular candidate.

But the scheme has been attacked by those arguing that voting is a civic duty. They worry that voters would cast their ballots without examining the issues, or the candidates."

Uh, isn't that what is happening already? Isn't that one of the problems?

Another problem is that people know, even expect, that candidates will lie about what they plan to do and then find one excuse after another to do exactly the opposite. Such behaviour is now accepted as normal, and not only in the United States.

Read more!

17 December 2007

US woman launches 'Taserware' parties | The Register

And then there was this gem....:

An enterprising Arizona woman has redefined the Tupperware party paradigm for the 21st century, and is hosting girlie get-togethers where security-conscious women can get to grips with the US's fave non-lethal lethal weapon - the Taser...

Shafman explained: 'I felt that we have Tupperware parties and candle parties to protect our food and house, so why not have a Taser party to learn how to protect our lives and bodies?'

The end of the last century saw the advent of Tupperware-inspired sex toy parties, which somehow seems fitting with the general ethos of the times. And, unfortunately, taser parties are very much part of the ethos of the period of the Bush Reich, the period opened by the false flag attacks on 9/11... "the day everything changed".

As excited as these women are by the tasers, there does appear to be a down side:

The only cause for concern among mothers was the C2's range of colours - black, blue, pink and silver - some of which might lead their kids to view the weapon as a toy. Mum-of-two Caily Scheur said: "I want to protect my children from [the Taser] just as much as I want to protect myself by using it."

Another example of the hysterization of society....

Read more!

16 December 2007

Militarized Police, Overreaction and Overkill: Have You Noticed It In Your Town Yet?

SOTT Special Correspondent
From Signs of the Times

SWAT team descends on man with a nervous disposition. Wouldn't that make you nervous? Don't show it or you'll be next.

"I can't get home," a co-worker emailed me from the office, "The police have blocked all the streets downtown. And I can't get my kids because all the schools are locked down."

What?! I turned on the TV to see, on all local stations, live, uninterrupted news coverage of bizarre scenes from the quiet suburb nearby. Police were swarming around a downtown location, their cars barricading the streets, State Police SWAT teams deployed, their sharpshooters perched on rooftops. The TV voiceover repeated again and again that all schools in town were locked down.

Two hours earlier, the town had experienced its first murder in two decades when a mentally disturbed contractor beat his 78-year-old employer to death. But police caught the perpetrator who had fled on foot and didn't get very far.

So what was a SWAT team doing downtown? Well, in an entirely unrelated incident, an employee of a pizza parlor called police because he was afraid of a customer who was acting "jittery" and "very agitated" and thought he "may be armed."

The massive police response was inexplicable. It was termed a "standoff" that went on for half an hour before police entered the restaurant, guns trained on the suspect who, unaware that he was even the object of their attention, dove under a table. Traumatized, he was walked outside, backwards, and made to kneel on the sidewalk, hands in the air, a policeman's gun pointed at his head. He was not armed. But, he was arrested anyway and charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. The school lockdowns were lifted shortly thereafter.

The man was, in fact, the executive director of Geneva-based U.N. Watch, Hillel Neuer, who was visiting Boston to deliver a speech. Fortunately, charges against him were dismissed by the local Clerk Magistrate, who found no probable cause even to have arrested the man. Thus, the charges sound like a weak attempt by police to save face.

No probable cause and yet a SWAT team was called in.

Just who was it that was "jittery?"

This incident was both appalling and baffling. Nearby Boston suffers multiple murders per week, yet very little is heard about police response reaching truly massive overkill like the case in Needham, even if the the murderer and jittery Hillel Neuer were confused. Is it because the Boston murder victims are overwhelmingly non-white and killed in poor neighborhoods? Needham is 94% white, after all, and the average house costs $717,000.

Or was there more to this?

The police overreaction spawned the intense TV and radio coverage, ultimately sending a fearful message of what to expect if you so much as dare to be jittery in a restaurant.

Was this is a message that suburbia was intended to hear?

Why was a dangerous SWAT team deployed to manage an "agitated" restaurant customer who "might be armed"?

Such a vague, subjective allegation. What happened to orderly police investigation of such matters?

Well, America itself has certainly been driven to jitters since 9/11 by the constant scare tactics of the government and media. Osama is under your bed and anyone could be a terrorist, and all that. SOTT readers are aware of the informant networks the government is building and the encouragement of everyone from firefighters to highway truckers to be on the lookout for "suspicious activity."

So I had a glimpse of the insanity in that town nearby, but it wasn't the first time.

One sunny-day lunch break a few years ago I walked up to the empty top floor of the parking garage for a view of the city. I wasn't there five minutes before private security men drove up and asked for identification. They had been called by a maintenance worker who saw me from his own roof across the street.

Recently I was browsing some of my employer's workplace policies and found that the sight of a car merely driving into the parking garage and passing empty spaces is considered grounds to call security. So is seeing someone unrecognized walking in the garage – in a building complex with over a thousand automobile commuters!

This craziness isn't imaginary or localized. Bruce Schneir wrote in his blog on security matters:

We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested -- even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats. [1]

It seems that Americans have been programmed to jump at the sight of their own shadows and are now grossly overreacting to just about anything out of the ordinary. And unfortunately, that effect is especially notable in our local police forces, with frightening consequences.

Headline-making incidents of deadly police overreaction against unarmed people like Amadou Diallo (41 shots), Sean Bell (50 shots), and Kheil Coppin (20 shots) make a striking point. All of these just in New York City, and they describe nervous overkill in proportions that would be comic if not so horrific.

It might even be considered that shooting to death unarmed teenagers is overreaction in almost any case, such as occurred recently in Hartford, Pittsburgh, Gary, Santa Rosa, Wharton, Los Angeles, Wilmington, and many more.

It's not just lethal force that is out of control, either. SOTT readers are familiar with the rapidly escalating rate of taser abuse by police officers, resulting in some 300 deaths in the USA and Canada in just the past three years. Without any sign of pullback in the phenomenon, the next-generation, wireless taser is nearly ready for release. It will deliver a shock that lasts four times longer than current tasers, and from up to 90 feet away!

Coming to light are more and more cases of police tasering, beating, or shooting people who were already restrained, in defensive postures, or already cooperating with police instructions. And they're not all victims of suspected racism like Rodney King. Consider the Chino CA officer who shot an Airforce MP (who was a passenger in a car stopped for speeding) four times at close range while he was trying to get up off the ground.

Some concerned citizens have taken to logging reported incidents of police brutality. One web site lists 400 recent cases of killing and other brutatlity against non-whites.

There is no question that police have a dangerous and sometimes scary job, and that many do highly commendable work. But, there is something driving an attitudinal shift among police, en masse, that is prompting zealous overreaction even to minor disturbances. It goes way deeper than just the cases that result in massive injury or death, and it is distressing when brought to light.

Consider the two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their running club. They were charged with a felony for creating a "bioterrorism" scare.

In Fort Worth, TX, a patrolling policeman saw a young man smoking a cigarette outside the home of his parents. The policeman, suspicious that the man was underage, spoke out to him, but he was by then going back into the house and didn't realize the officer was speaking to him. This perceived failure to follow police instructions led, in the absence of any crime, to seven carloads of police descending on the home , the arrest of two people, and parents in tears. [2]

It appears that police from coast to coast are being heavily drilled to demand the public to "follow orders." Failure to follow orders is usually given as the justification for the use of tasers, clubs, or other force, even if the person of interest presents no threat or is already restrained.

A case in point is the 19-year-old woman arrested recently at Boston Logan Airport for carrying a work of art made of Play-Doh and a computer circuit board. Although there was no threat and no threatening action, the police responded in a decidedly hostile tone.

"She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used ,'' State Police Mr. Scott Pare told The Associated Press. ''And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue.'' [3]

In Atlanta, Professor Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a famous historian and author, crossed the street. A young man approached and told him he was jaywalking. The professor, seeing no uniform, asked for identification. The officer took offense and "kicked the professor's legs out from under him, smashed him to the pavement with the help of four other officers, crushed his neck, bloodied his head, yanked the slight 56-year-old man's arms behind him, handcuffed him and sent him to jail in a fetid paddywagon... and was given no chance to explain himself." [4]

On his Monday, November 5, 2007 radio program, Michael Herzog was speaking with Doug Owen of BlacklistedNews, recounting an incident he witnessed near his home in Phoenix, AZ:

Herzog: I guess there was a couple of teenagers or guys in their early twenties. I don't know what they'd done – they'd got in a fight or maybe shoplifted from the local store down the street – I don't know what they did, but, you know, twenty years ago if the police were chasing a couple guys, you might see 2, 3, 4, 5 cop cars, maybe 5, 6, 7 cops. Do you know there were thirteen cop cars out here and about 25 cops that were subduing two teenage boys or maybe early twenties?

Doug: Sounds like a bit of an overreaction .

Herzog: Talk about overkill, Doug. I've never seen anything like it.

Herzog went on to describe his own experience of retrieving an impounded car at his local police station:

"...the attitude that these people have! ... They talk down to you like you're some sort of an insect... As I look around here and I'm starting to see what's going on... I can't count how many times I've seen somebody pulled over and within five minutes there's three cop cars and six cops for a routine traffic stop. It's unbelievable.

Doug Owen: Yeah, we had a guy here a couple of months ago. He had stolen a car and he was on ... (Route) 620... They had a lockdown of fifteen school campuses ... sixteen miles from there. As I was driving home, the first thing I saw was two helicopters in the air, and I'm like, wow, this guy has stolen a Geo Metro – the thing's probably worth, at most, 4 or 5000 dollars, and there was, literally, probably twelve unmarked cars, there were at least nine black and whites that I could see, not to mention two helicopters for a car theft....

So, what is driving increasingly tense and hostile overreactions by police? Is it merely the climate of fear that the government and media have deliberately cultivated in America, leading to more pressure on police officers? Is there pressure because police see the polarization of Americans, and fear the first whiff of chaos? Or, is a new attitude being instilled in them across the board, from the top?

You see, another disturbing trend is the deployment of police, en masse, by mayors and police chiefs against public gatherings.

Rudy Giuliani, known as an authoritarian personality with a prosecutor's mentality, reportedly encouraged police overkill while mayor of New York City. Community Service Society of New York reported:

A recent example of Giuliani's overkill is his response to an AIDS demonstration a few weeks ago. First, it took a federal court order before the city would grant a permit for several hundred demonstrators to march. Then the marchers were not allow to congregate on City Hall steps. Instead, the police forced them into spaces between concrete barricades, videotaped the proceedings, and positioned snipers armed with rifles on the roof of City Hall looking down on them. This is the sort of reaction we would expect of a third world dictator. [5]

The St. Petersburg Times, reporting on an anti-globalization rally in Miami, described a scene that is becoming increasingly common in the USA when people gather to protest corporate agendas.

Eyewitness accounts ... suggest that free-speech rights were routinely trampled. Thousands of police in riot gear were dispatched to contain about 8,000 protesters. Officers allegedly responded with excessive force to mild provocations. Witnesses said rubber bullets and pepper spray pellets were indiscriminately shot into an otherwise peaceable crowd when one person threw an object at police. As a consequence, dissent was shut down, protesters were injured and harassed, and baseless arrests were made. [6]

Documentation abounds that suggests police are prepared by their leaders to expect trouble at such public events and encouraged to be perhaps excessively firm. For example, it was reported that Boston police underwent special training in "large-scale civil disobedience" in preparation for a planned rally against the dangers presented by the biotechnological experimentation. This was despite the fact that organizers of the event approached police beforehand to emphasize the peaceful intention of their gathering.

Try googling 'police overreaction' for yourself. Hundreds of cases of individual and group police actions will present themselves.

Regular readers of SOTT are familiar with articles describing the ongoing development of new, "non-lethal" weapons (sound, microwaves, etc.), the potential for their abuse, and the suspicion that they are ultimately to be used against the demonstrating American public. This despite the usual claim that such weapons are only for "military domain".

Well, that leads us to perhaps the most telling trend of all -- the militarization of police forces and the blurring of the line between police officers and soldiers. Documentation of this alarming development is growing, as is public notice.

John W. Whitehead, writing for the Christian Post, penned, "Once upon a time, the motto emblazoned on police cars was 'To Protect and Serve.' However, as police forces are transformed into pseudo-SWAT teams, complete with riot gear and a take-no-prisoners attitude, the fear that cops are overstepping their limits is on the rise." [7]

This trend, more than any other, appears to be at the root of the cultural/mental shift of police officers across the country, and powerful psychological forces are behind it.

Incidents of massive police overkill caught the attention of policy-research analyst Radley Balko, too, which led to a year of research culminating in a detailed, copiously footnoted white paper entitled Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.

Balko's paper is highly recommended reading, illuminating not just the rise of paramilitary police in America, but the drivers of the trend and the dangers that it presents to Americans. It helps explain that crazy scene I saw on local TV.

The SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team is said to have been invented in Los Angeles in 1966. In 1972, there were 300 SWAT raids per year in America. In 2001, there were 40,000. That's over 100 every day!

Balko says these are "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids typically conducted on homes "usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers," and that they exemplify troubling, inherent characteristics, such as:

* The militarization of domestic policing, not just in big cities, but in small towns, suburbs, and exurbs like Sunrise.

* The increasingly frequent use of heavily armed SWAT teams for proactive policing and the routine execution of drug warrants, even for simple marijuana possession.

* The use of anonymous tips and reliance on dubious informants to obtain no-knock search warrants in the first place.

* Executing warrants with "dynamic entry" diversionary grenades, and similarly militaristic "tactics once reserved for urban warfare."

* A tragic outcome resulting from these circumstances. [8]

The raids usually target drug offenders, even including those suspected of misdemeanors. And the "tragic circumstances" include terrorizing the residents at wrong addresses, and unnecessary deaths and injuries of offenders, policemen, innocent suspects, and bystanders of all ages.

Balko shows that the upswing in the use of SWAT teams has been going on since they were invented, but was really stepped up in the 1980s thanks to Reagan's escalation of the so-called "war on drugs," and classification of it as a "national security" issue.

Over the course of a decade, "get tough on drugs" policies swept the country, weakening Posse Comitatus and adding a military component to state and local police forces. Within the scope of these changes, the Pentagon started giving away free or discounted military hardware to police forces across America. Needing something to do with all these goodies, SWAT teams formed by the thousands , received military-style training, and the frequency of their use skyrocketed. This was noted by the media from the New York Times to The National Journal to 60 Minutes. Now, SWAT teams are even used for routine, full-time patrolling in high-crime areas of some cities .

Balko argues that SWAT proliferation continues to introduce non-paramilitary police to the military culture and mindset, considered cool and glamorous by many police. It has an allure powered by the American reverence of the military, encouraged by the government and media.

There are even SWAT magazines, which refuse subscriptions to civilians. These periodicals feature articles with titles like Polite, Professional, and Prepared to Kill alongside "cool" photos of men in full military gear and enticing advertisements from high-powered weapons manufacturers, blurring the line between police and military activity.

Compounding the encouragement of military culture are our most powerful corporations, those of the military-industrial-congressional complex, who love the successful opening up of this new market for their tools of death and destruction.

Popular Mechanics magazine, in an article on police militarization, stated, "Soldiers and police are supposed to be different... But nowadays, police are looking, and acting, more like soldiers than cops, with bad consequences." PM reinforced the idea that cool toys are hard to resist, stating, "Once you've got a cool tool, you kind of want to use it."

And those tools are seriously deadly. Balko states that in 1997 alone, the Pentagon handed over more than 1.2 million pieces of military equipment to local police departments. We're talking about machine guns, grenade launchers, armored personnel carriers, airplanes, helicopters, etc. Police chiefs have admitted being offered tanks, bazookas, virtually anything, and some have accepted them.

The white paper brings to light a pattern of police SWAT teams taking advantage of legal loopholes and even ignoring the law. Over half the document details cases that have gone wrong, resulting in the deaths of innocents.

Readers of the PM article, several of them conscientious police officers, agree with the deadly seriousness of the situation:

"A big part of the problem are federal gov't programs such as LEAA which train and propagandize local, county and state police. Police have become more like a buffer between the public and gov't elite always tilting in favor of the elite. The average cop on the beat today has the attitude that everyone is guilty of something ...they just haven't caught us yet."

"I was scared by what I read, and as a 3rd year law student whose interned locally I've seen just how corrupt and deceitful law enforcement has become ..."

"I've been a police officer for nearly 30 years and have watched my profession become militarized beyond any rational justification. Young cops all want to blouse their combat boots and wear BDUs and kevlar helmets. They should be forced to spend 4 years in the military before becoming police officers. Let them get their impulses for military glory out of their system BEFORE becoming police officers."

"I'm a former cop and SWAT team member... I know first hand what it's like to shoot a man and watch him die. I have been shot at, stabbed and even had explosive devises used against me. ... Our unit had access to explosives, the type I was trained to use in the military. I feel these are necessary tools for what could happen nowadays in the real world, but I know they are over-used. Along with no-knock warrants and 'them against us' attitudes of officers'... The high-handed tactics of law enforcement and prosecutors puts a lot of innocent citizens at risk. It is fast becoming a police state here in the USA .

"Constitutional rights are being taken away, mostly under the color of fighting terrorism. Police in many departments have become the terrorist or gangs. They are human. They will lie and deceive like anyone else. ...

"For all the complacent individuals who think it not their problem, I tell you just live long enough and you'll wish something had been done to stop what's going on. ....

"The law enforcement agencies for a long time haven't followed the rule of 'innocent until proven guilty'. And some lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels support this type of behavior. ...

"Folks, when most officers I know get new tools, they want to use them. This could have fatal consequences, and lives of the public are at risk. ...

Yes, soldiers and police officers are supposed to be different. Police were never intended to be trained killers. Kathleen F. Phalen, writing on the militarization of police, quoted U.S. Air Force Col. Charles Dunlap, "In its most basic iteration, soldiers are trained in killing." How is one trained to overcome the natural aversion to killing? Phalen's article states:

Brutalization, desensitization and operant conditioning, or doing a task repeatedly, often thousands of times. Frank Morales, a New York minister and Covert Action Quarterly writer, likens it to mind control. "When training for paramilitary units is done by special forces people, there has to be a transference of these values," he says. "Once they've got the mindset, they see it as a war, couple that with fear, and quick reflex training, they'll shoot before they even realize it." [9]

Morales cites the influence of FATS (Fire Arms Training System), a life-sized interactive video simulation system used to train police -- and the FATS CEO, who was a Technical director at the CIA.

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, former Army Ranger and paratrooper and author of On Killing who teaches psychology at Arkansas University, believes FATS makes it so real that, once on the streets, cops shoot as a conditioned response, many not realizing it wasn't simulation until they see the stain on the sidewalk. [10]

Where is this training, this killer's mindset, coming from? Continued discussion on Michael Herzog's radio show went like this:

Herzog: This administration has tripled the size of the BATF. Years ago they talked about putting 100,000 additional police officers on the street. But this is literally turning into a police state, everywhere you look, it's everywhere you go. And ... they're not Officer McFriendly anymore . What they're doing is they're looking for any reason they can find to arrest you and to get you into their system. They're no longer peace officers, they're law enforcement officers.

Doug Owen: You can usually beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride, and I think that's the mentality of a lot of them. You know, they'll just pull you over, find any kind of misdemeanor or any reason to pull you in, get you in the system, get you booked. They might release you and drop charges later, but they've still kind of bagged and tagged you, and you're in the system – and that's the mentality of a lot of the police forces. And it's no surprise.

I mean, you look at companies like Triple Canopy... they are another military-industrial complex contractor and they specialize in training police forces, and they also train military special forces as well, so your Barney Fife here in Round Rock, Texas is getting the same training, with the same mentality as, you know, Green Berets... ... in some 5000-person small town, you don't need military-grade cops on the street trying to quell the public. I mean, it's such a huge merger between the military and the police force...

Herzog: Well, this is why George Bush enacted the presidential order to get rid of Posse Comitatus ... During this implication I went through last week with the Phoenix Police Department, when you go in there, they want all of your documentation up front, and before you ever walk in the front door they've done a warrant check on you 'coz they want to find a reason to arrest you... [11]

Triple Canopy, based in Herndon (home of the CIA), Virginia, is another security/mercenary corporation, like Blackwater, with personnel in Iraq and enjoying a growing business. On their web site they advertise tactical training for "law enforcement, military, and corporate organizations ." They also offer "crisis management " and a host of other security-related services.

They claim "quality and integrity," though the Wikipedia entry on the company notes they allegedly fired employees who blew the whistle on co-workers engaged in alleged cold-blood killings of Iraqi civilians. They are also reported to operate training facilities for Latin American mercenaries in Honduras. [13]

The connections, business and cultural, among the military, mercenaries, poiticians, arms makers, and local police forces are now obvious. Government, the media, and even the American people have roles in encouraging the growing militarization of police. And it is not confined to the USA. It is, in fact, quite remarkable to find that similar laws and policies seem to hit all the industrialized nations at the same time these days, as if directed to act in concert by an even greater power.

America has sunk to a new ethical low by condoning the policies of lawless, pre-emptive war, to be waged at the whims of its conscience-free leaders, and which curtails freedoms at home. And there is no end in sight as Americans prepare to support new candidates for president who have committed to continuing the same brutal, bullying foreign policies of the current administration, and policies of restricting freedoms of their constituents. Through it all, the military culture spreads where it does not belong, to our local police, further endangering the public.

Have you noticed it in your town yet?

The process described in this article is part of what is known as the Hysteroidal Cycle, the cycle from good times to bad times and back again. The bad times, which the US is certainly in the throes of today, results in increasing hysteria throughout society. Incidents of the use of excess force by the police are on the rise.

The negative consequences are mounting and the danger is spreading faster than awareness of it is growing. Even brave members of the police community who recognize the threat are speaking out against the trend of rising violence and lawlessness by police. It's not necessarily the fault of individual officers, but of a corrupt system encouraged by self-serving leaders and ultimately condoned by citizens. Is this what you want? If not, speak out. Do something to change it before the door or your house comes crashing down or one of your loved ones accidentally steps out of line, fails to follow orders, or catches a stray bullet. But, at the very least, be aware of what's happening.

Read more!

Good Times, Bad Times 2: Insiders and the Hysteroidal Cycle

©Signs of the Times

In the previous article in this series, we introduced the concept of the hysteroidal cycle and saw that good times contain the seeds of bad times, while bad times invite people to return to analysis and critical thinking necessary to pull themselves out of the crisis. However, the insiders are also aware of the hysteroidal cycle. They are aware that certain shocks can serve to awaken people from their slumber, can provoke individuals onto the path for answers. To counter the positive aspect of bad times or periods of shocks, they have done vast research into how, when, and for how long shocks need to be administered in order to keep people submissive.

Naomi Klein documents how many countries in Latin America were subdued and then radically transformed through the application of disaster capitalism or The Shock Doctrine, as the title of her new book puts it, from Brazil under military dictatorship in the sixties, through the military coup that overthrew Allende in Chile on September 11, 1973, onto Argentina, Uruguay... you get the picture. The "free" market and military dictatorship go hand in hand because the only way that these countries' economies could be completely changed was through the application of continual and massive shocks to the population, including the wholesale murder of activists, union leaders, and health and welfare workers, rendering the people stunned and unable to protest and resist.

Furthermore, Klein draws parallels between the application of Friedman's free market ideas and experiments carried out by Dr Ewen Cameron at the Allen Institute in Montreal during the fifties and early sixties, experiments that became the basis for the 1963 CIA manual on torture and served as the handbook for the tyrants in Latin America. The two go hand-in-hand because people will not willingly accept such a radical transformation of their lives for the worse without a fight. So the fight must be kicked out of them.

And so a science of torture and human reprogramming was developed.

In the first four articles of this series, we looked at the players who are running the United States from the point of view of political ponerology. For convenience, we call them the insiders. We saw in the second article that this type of person was also found in our everyday lives. Then we took a look at the insider enablers, that is, the insider wannabes, those people in society who form the support base for power.

We noted that the core group of insiders suffer from different forms of pathological traits that are genetic in some individuals, due to accidents that affected the brain in others, and the result of societal influence in still others, or perhaps a mixture in some cases. Among the genetic deviants I include essential psychopaths. Those created by society are commonly known as sociopaths.

The wannabes have been infected by certain pathological forms of thought that leave them open to influence by the snake charmers in the first group. Rather than having developed their own capacity for critical thinking and analysis, the wannabes are lost in a sea of slogans and ready-made formulae taken from the mainstream media that they mindlessly repeat as explanations for everything. These solutions have no basis in reality.

Finally, we looked at the notion of reality itself and saw that psychopaths believe they can create reality by fiat; by merely declaring a thing to be so, they can call it into existence. We gave an example of this type of thinking from an insider at the Bush White House.

We are now looking at the social implications of the arrival of such types to positions of power. Last week I introduced the concept of the hysteroidal cycle. In this article, we will see that the pathocrats have been preparing a counter-offensive to the positive possibilities inherent in bad times.

But the studies into shock and its use to mold the minds of men does not start in Montreal in the fifties. Cameron was building on the work of Ivan Pavlov, the Russian psychologist known for his experiments with dogs.

Pavlov spent years looking into the question of stimulus and response and formulated a model that has frightening implications for us today. Pavlov studied how an organism reacted to stimuli, including, but not limited to, pain. He discovered that an organism's level of tolerance to various stimuli varied significantly depending on fundamental differences in temperament and defined four personality types. Each type reacts differently to stimuli and so the shocks need to be applied in different ways for each type. He commented "that the most basic inherited difference among people was how soon they reached this shutdown point and that the quick-to-shut-down have a fundamentally different type of nervous system."

Pavlov was interested in this shutdown point because it was only then, after the nervous system passed the ultraboundary, that people could be conditioned with new behaviors.

In other words, his research dealt with finding the ways and means, in scientific terms, of how to push organisms beyond their threshold of tolerance. This "ultraboundary" response that he called Transmarginal Inhibition was the brain's protective mechanism. When it occurred, it meant that the brain had no other means of avoiding physical damage due to fatigue and nervous stress. It could then be reprogrammed.

Pavlov was able to bring about what he called a "rupture in higher nervous activity" by utilizing four main types of imposed stresses.

  1. The first type of stress was simply an increase in the intensity of the signal to which the dog was initially conditioned. If this was gradually increased, at a certain point, when the signal was too strong for its system, the dog would begin to break down.
  2. The second way of achieving the ultraboundary event was to increase the time between the giving of the signal and the arrival of food. If a dog was conditioned to receive food five seconds after the warning signal, and this period was then prolonged, signs of restlessness and abnormal behavior would become evident in the less stable dogs. Pavlov discovered that the dog's brains revolted against any abnormally long waiting period while under stress. Breakdown would occur when the dog had to either exert very strong, or very prolonged, inhibition. (Human beings also find protracted waiting while under stress to be debilitating: worse than the event that produces the anxiety.)
  3. The third way of inducing a breakdown was to confuse the dogs by anomalies in the conditioning signal. If positive and negative signals were given one after the other, (yes, no, yes, no, etc), the hungry dog would become uncertain as to what would happen next and this disrupted the normal nerve stability. This is also true with human beings.
  4. The fourth way of inducing a breakdown in a dog was to destabilize the dog's physical condition in some way, either by subjecting it to long periods of work, inducing gastro-intestinal disorders, fever, disturbing the glandular balance, surgery, etc.

If, in any case, the first three methods would fail to induce a breakdown in a particular dog, it could be achieved by utilizing the same stresses that had failed after initiating the fourth protocol: physical destabilization. Pavlov also discovered that, after physical destabilization, a breakdown might occur even in temperamentally stable dogs and also that any new behavior pattern occurring afterward might become a fixed element of the dog's personality even long after recovery from the debilitating experience.

I mentioned in the previous article that most people have other concerns than a quest for the truth. In many cases, it is a simple struggle for putting food on the table. US workers are forced to work longer and longer hours. Whatever rights and benefits they have won in the past through strong unions are being taken from them. People are forced to drive longer distances to work, live in a constant climate of fear with "downsizing" and "offshoring" and the frenetic take overs that mean the elimination of whole departments in one fell swoop.

Think about this environment with the work of Pavlov in mind. It keeps people constantly in fear, continually on guard, constantly subject to stress, Pavlov's first form noted above. The population as a whole is being pushed beyond the ultraboundary, a mass case of transmarginal inhibition. And where does this lead? What is the result?

Mass brainwashing, or as it is termed in the Pavlovian literature, mass reconditioning.

The permanent state of stress is the softening up. The events of 9/11 were the massive shock. In the instant it took the two towers to fall, Americans were reprogrammed to view Arabs and Muslims as untrustworthy, devious, bloodthirsty, and potential terrorists. The neocon policy of the dismemberment of Iraq could never have been carried out without the shock of 9/11. With it, it was a piece of cake. People were demanding revenge and retribution.

The attack was followed by a long period of Pavlov's third type of shock: the rapid switching between yes and no as the infamous "terror alert" went up and down. People were being programmed to ask themselves, "When will the next attack come?", "Will it be me or my children?". That constant waiting with no actual follow-up attack can be likened to Pavlov's second type of stress. But lest the population tire of the constant pushing and pulling with never a bomb a bomb in sight and become oblivious to the stimuli, the bombings in Madrid and then London provided the necessary substitute shocks. Not only were people in the US potential targets of these madmen, but the Brits and the Spanish, and by extension, others in Europe, were also at risk.

Now let us bring this discussion back to the hysteroidal cycle, which, as we mentioned in the last article, gets its name from the psychological term of hysteria.

Pavlov demonstrated that when Transmarginal Inhibition began to take over a dog, a condition similar to hysteria in a human manifested. The applications of these findings to human psychology suggest that for a "conversion" to be effective, it is necessary to work on the subject's emotions until s/he reaches an abnormal condition of fear, anger or exaltation. If such a state is maintained or intensified by any of various means, hysteria is the result. In a state of hysteria, a human being is abnormally suggestible and influences in the environment can cause one set of behavior patterns to be replaced by another without any need for persuasive indoctrination. In states of fear and excitement, normally sensible human beings will accept the most wildly improbable suggestions, such as:

"They hate us for our freedoms."

"We are bringing democracy to Iraq."

Or the idea that it is tyranny when Hugo Chavez seeks the possibility to be freely elected president of Venezuela for a third term, while it is the flourishing of democracy when the Bush and Clinton families install a rotating presidency.

I suggest that we are in a situation where a battle for the American mind is being fought. The insiders, the pathological deviants in power, are using Pavlovian methods, which amount to a form of torture, on the American people. Although they deny that they use torture, only forceful interrogation techniques to make the "terrorists" talk, the widespread dissemination of the photos from Abu Ghraib and the continued discussion on its use implants in your minds the knowledge that it is being used and that you might be the next victim... if you are "unpatriotic" and do not "support the president". The fight is being stepped up because the insiders are aware that "bad" times also create the potential for people to wake up and begin to ask questions. Their goal is to put us in a state of transmarginal inhibition in order to reprogramme us before that can happen.

Our goal is to wake people up before it is too late.


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Good Times, Bad Times 1: The Hysteroidal Cycle


A society can be the custodian of a vast quantity of knowledge, but if that knowledge is not spread out, held, and utilized by the entire population, it can do little good. It remains theoretical and is not applied. If the knowledge remains concentrated in the hands of the few, it has the same consequences as the concentration of money, resources, or business ownership in the hands of a few. It becomes a lever of power and oppression, not freedom and justice. A monopoly of knowledge is created.

Such is the situation in the United States today. A small few have real knowledge of what is going on in the world. The others are fed a diet of lies, half-truths, and wishful thinking.

In the first four articles of this series, we looked at the players who are running the United States from the point of view of political ponerology. For convenience, we call them the insiders. We saw in the second article that this type of person was also found in our everyday lives. Then we took a look at the insider enablers, that is, the insider wannabes, those people in society who form the support base for power.

We noted that the core group of insiders suffer from different forms of pathological traits that are genetic in some individuals, due to accidents that affected the brain in others, and the result of societal influence in still others, or perhaps a mixture in some cases. Among the genetic deviants I include essential psychopaths. Those created by society are commonly known as sociopaths.

The wannabes have been infected by certain pathological forms of thought that leave them open to influence by the snake charmers in the first group. Rather than having developed their own capacity for critical thinking and analysis, the wannabes are lost in a sea of slogans and ready-made formulae taken from the mainstream media that they mindlessly repeat as explanations for everything. These solutions have no basis in reality.

Finally, we looked at the notion of reality itself and saw that psychopaths believe they can create reality by fiat; by merely declaring a thing to be so, they can call it into existence. We gave an example of this type of thinking from an insider at the Bush White House.

We will now begin looking at the social implications of the arrival of such types to positions of power. We will step back from the individuals and look at society as a whole.

Look at the news delivered via the mainstream media. The American people are told nothing but lies about the actual situation in Iraq, from the true numbers of US soldiers and Iraqi citizens killed and wounded to the long-term goal of the US occupation. We are also told lies about our history and the history of the world. Unfortunately, too many people are not interested in the truth. They have other concerns, and as long as they are unable to see the the effects of these lies on their own lives, they won't change. They won't be able to make such connections until their own daily lives are disrupted in some way, preventing them from carrying on as they are. Then the people, the outsiders, will start to ask questions.

Some observers have suggested that societies and countries, like the individuals that make them up, pass in cycles from good times to bad times and back again. They have called this pattern of change the hysteroidal cycle, from the psychological definition of hysteria: a psychological state of uncontrollable fear or exaggerated excitability. Here it is being used to describe "fear of truth" or fear of thinking about unpleasant things so as to not "rock the boat" of current contentment.

When a country is in a period of "good times", the search for truth, especially the unpleasant ones, makes people uncomfortable because it asks them to give up their comforts, hard-won after a period of crisis. Rather than peer under the surface of the illusion, people want to relax and think only about pleasant things. They begin to eliminate unpleasant data from their thinking, and, before long, it has become a habit. The trouble is, thought process based upon such limited information cannot be correct. They can only produce correct conclusions by accident. Unfortunately, because the pathologized thinking process has become internalized, ever more convenient premises must be substituted to patch over the errors in thinking.

After the Second World War, Americans benefited from a long period of economic growth. The fruits were more evenly distributed than they are today. Real incomes rose. Jobs were much more secure, on the whole, than today. The fact is, however, that this growth was based upon the exploitation of the US's new economic colonies. American's benefited at the expense of people elsewhere. However, to point out this fact at the time was to invite accusations of being a communist. During good times, people don't want bad news, even if it is true.

Another example of this is the view of Arabs and Muslims propagated in the US media. The US has a blatantly one-sided approach in the Middle East that comes down to: Israel can do no wrong; the Arabs can do no right. The only way this lie can be sold is to portray the Arabs as more and more bloodthirsty and bestial, all for no reason at all, simply because "They hate our freedoms", as Bush Jr. put it.

The actual atrocities committed against Arabs are hidden, swept away, and eliminated from our thinking in order to make the victims appear crazed and inhuman and deserving of abuse, violence, and even genocide. They are portrayed as if they are calling it upon themselves rather than reacting to injustices committed against them.

During bad times, on the contrary, faced with mounting difficulties, unable to continue to live in the old ways, people are open to new ideas in their search for solutions to current problems. People are more willing to look problems in the face and to accept unpleasant truths about themselves and their country because the falsity of the old ideas has been made apparent. The old ideas have run into the wall of reality and have been cracked or shattered.

Here is how psychologist Andrew Łobaczewski describes the process:

During "good" times, the search for truth becomes uncomfortable because it reveals inconvenient factors. It is better to think about easier and more pleasant things. Unconscious elimination of data which are, or appear to be, inexpedient gradually turns into habit, and then becomes a custom accepted by society at large. The problem is that any thought process based on such truncated information cannot possibly give rise to correct conclusions; it further leads to subconscious substitution of inconvenient premises by more convenient ones, thereby approaching the boundaries of psychopathology.

Such contented periods, which are often rooted in some injustice to other people or nations, start to strangle the capacity for individual and societal consciousness; subconscious factors take over a decisive role in life. Such a society, already infected by the hysteroidal state, considers any perception of uncomfortable truth to be a sign of "ill-breeding"... In such times, the capacity for logical and disciplined thought, born of necessity during difficult times, begins to fade. When communities lose the capacity for psychological reason and moral criticism, the processes of generation of evil are intensified at every social scale, whether individual or macrosocial, until they revert to "bad times"...

When a few generations worth of "good-time" insouciance results in societal deficit as regards psychological skill and moral criticism, it paves the way for pathological plotters, snake-charmers, and even more primitive impostors to act and merge into the process of the origination of evil as essential factors in its synthesis... Those times which many people later recall as the "good old days" thus provide fertile soil for future tragedy because of the progressive devolution of moral, intellectual, and personality values which give rise to Rasputin-like eras. [Andrew Łobaczewski, Political Ponerology: A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes.]

The final point Łobaczewski is making above is that the intellectual and psychological poverty of a society after several generations of "good times" allows snake charmers and pathological plotters such as the Bush gang (following the Clinton gang) to come to power. Think of the glaring and outrageous lies that fall from the lips of the president. He appears to be completely unconcerned that what he says is not true.

And, unfortunately, so does a large portion of the populace.

They do not have the psychological knowledge necessary to see that the president of their country, as well as those around him, are pathological deviants. Excuses are found and served up hot daily through the mainstream media. Moreover, ordinary people project their own "goodness" onto people who have no such qualities.

However, since the leaders are living in their own reality, as we discussed in the last article, circumstances in the country deteriorate. Reality does eventually reassert itself. The daily life of the people, the outsiders, worsens. Eventually something snaps and individuals begin to ask questions again. The shocks that have been delivered to the Iraqis or the Palestinians begin to fall on those at home. They are awoken from their slumber. They wonder why and how things could have gotten so bad. They wonder why it is that they work 50 or more weeks a year while people in other countries have five or six weeks of paid vacation. They wonder why all the jobs are being sent overseas, why people who have studied for years to get a diploma cannot find work that allows them to apply what they know, or why it is that the house they purchased last year is now worth less than they paid.

They look for answers.

That moment marks the upturn. While conditions may continue to deteriorate for some time, the important moment comes when people begin asking "why?" because that is the moment when the outsiders begin to take power back into their own hands.

Of course, the insiders are well aware of this process and have taken things into hand to ensure that the shocks are so great that the population is too traumatized to even ask questions. We'll look at that process next


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Insiders and Reality

©Atlanta Journal Constitution

We have already established in the first articles in this series that the insiders are psychologically deviant. What do we mean?

A healthy world view is one that sees the world as it is. Only by seeing the world as objectively as possible can we come up with plans and strategies that fit the facts and that enable us to navigate successfully. If our understanding of reality is wrong, then success can only be subject to chance. Such a view is understood in the sciences. It is obvious that an hypothesis or an experiment that does not take into account the reality being tested will fail. Of course, even failures help us to learn about the world; we eliminate erroneous possibilities and theories. Our knowledge can thus advance, but only if we recognize the error of our ways.

It is no different in everyday life. If we misjudge the speed of a car coming at us as we cross the street, we may not live to learn from the experience. If we mistake an enemy as a friend, we could lose our savings, our homes, or our jobs. So let's take as our definition of healthy perception that which gives us an objective as possible view of the world.

Unfortunately, we all have blind spots and ideas about the world that are wrong and that influence our perceptions. Often they are based upon limited information or a cherry-picking of facts. We pick the data to suit our desired conclusion. Our desires of what we want or how we wish the world to be deform our world view, replacing objective information with subjective information. Some of these are political or economic ideologies that we seek to impose on the world: belief in a free market or in a controlled market, for example; belief in State's rights or in a strong federal government; belief that a particular form of government is the best. Our views, and therefore our perceptions, become rigid and unable to respond to a fluid and ever-changing reality.

Then, there is the influence of emotions. We all have had experiences where we were tired or angry, and we didn't see the world as it is. Perhaps we misunderstood someone who was talking to us, projected onto them our own anger. Or we have an emotional investment in some idea, cause, or ideology. We can also react based upon programs instilled in us when we were children, defence mechanisms that may have had their use when we were young and dependent, but which only harm us when they kick in as adults. These programs are other types of filters that distort our perceptions.

These are all forms of deviant thought because they deviate from reality; they do not match the world as it really is. In recent years, even the idea that there is an objective and knowable world has been put into question. We are told that we all live in our own realities and that these are somehow sacrosanct. The idea that the world is knowable and that this knowledge can be communicated to others is rejected.

The effect of deviant thought is to move us away from an objective assessment of reality and to encourage our individual, subjective views of the world where we take things to be as we wish them to be, not as they are. We learn to ignore the world as it really is and replace it with a vision comprised of slogans ("We're bringing democracy to Iraq", "America is the land of the free", "Looking out for number one") and wishful thinking ("Jesus is returning and will save me", "Our leaders would never do that"). Plans and actions that are based upon a subjective, and therefore erroneous, understanding of the world can only lead to greater and greater chaos.

And isn't that exactly where our leaders have been taking us for as long as we can remember?

Psychopaths have their own conception of reality. They believe it can be declared by fiat, by the power of their words.

Psychologist Amos Gunsberg wrote a harrowing appraisal of psychopaths called "Beyond Insanity". He describes an encounter with a client:

I asked a psychotherapy client to look at a chair which was situated about six feet away near a wall. I then asked her to describe the chair. She did, in rather complete detail, except for the legs. THE CHAIR SHE DESCRIBED HAD NO LEGS!

I pointed this out, and asked how the chair could be suspended in air, with no legs to support it. She said: "I put it there." I asked: "If you look away, will it fall to the floor?" She said: "No. If I look away, the chair is no longer there." I asked: "If you look away . . . and it turns out the chair is still there?" She ignored the question.

His article is a worthy read, frightening as it might be, so frightening that many prefer to ignore or ridicule it. Gunsberg succinctly sums up the reality of the psychopath when he writes:

For them, whatever they "declare" is what's real. What WE call reality is not real to them. THEY "pronounce" what is to be considered real.

Compare the psychopath's view of reality, as described above, with this story from the ultimate insiders, the Bush White House. In 2004, former Wall Street Journal reporter and author Ron Suskind wrote in The New York Times Magazine:

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend - but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

"The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality - judiciously, as you will - we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"

Notice any similarities between the Bush aide and the client in Gunsberg's office? Are you beginning to get a feel for what we are up against?

The insiders, that is, psychopaths and other pathological types, are not like us. And they know it. You might well say that they live in their own reality. The trouble is, they are working very hard to make that reality our reality, and they are succeeding.

As long as we remain blind to the reality of their existence and just how different they are from the rest of us, we will never live in a healthy world.


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The Insider Wannabes

We have seen in the first two articles in this series on insiders and outsiders that the insiders are a small minority, around 5 percent of the population, while the outsiders are the vast majority. So how is it that this small clique can maintain their power?

They have a support base. Let's call them the insider wannabes.

The insider wannabes are comprised of people who look to others for their values. They need to be told what to do, what to think, what to believe in, what type of clothes to wear, what food to eat and TV to watch. They don't develop their ideas themselves, they absorb them from their environment: their family, their friends and co-workers, from media proclaimed experts whose 'talking heads' appear nightly on the mainstream media. The insider wannabes repeat the sound bites they hear on the radio or from the TV. In short, they need an authority to tell them what is ok and what is not. The existence of this group is why so-called "talking points", that is, the list of pat phrases sent down the media hierarchy on what topics need to be addressed and how they should be framed, are so effective. When many people hear the same phrase or idea repeated over and over, they eventually come to accept it and eventually to parrot it as their own opinion. Whether the talking point is true or not doesn't matter. You have no doubt had the experience of hearing colleagues or friends repeating almost word for word arguments picked up from talk radio jockeys or the resident "experts" on Fox News. Jon Stewart makes fun of this quite regularly on his show when he edits all these pundits together repeating the same phrase over and over again.

Today in the United States, the insider wannabes support the Bush administration, support Israel's genocide of the Palestinians, support the dismemberment of Iraq, support the official story on 911, and many of them believe that Jesus will be returning in their lifetime, in spite of all of the suffering and horror, or, in the case of the return of Jesus, the fairy tale absurdity of the idea. Facts don't matter; authority does.

The funny thing is, a similar group of insider wannabes also existed in the former Communist states where the insiders were members of the Communist Party, and a good many of them have now found a comfortable home in the post-communist, capitalist world. For the insider wannabe, ideology isn't important. The insider wannabe is a personality type. If the insiders are communists, the insider wannabes are communists. If the insiders are capitalists, then the insider wannabes are capitalists. The shape or color of the authority the wannabes seek doesn't matter so much as the fact the authority is "the authority", is in power and gives the orders. Insider wannabes need orders. They don't like to think for themselves.

Bob Altemeyer, who spent his career studying what he calls the Authoritarian personality type, noted that:

...the most cock-sure belligerents in the populations on each side of the Cold War, the ones who hated and blamed each other the most, were in fact the same people, psychologically. If they had grown up on the other side of the Iron Curtain, they probably would have believed the leaders they presently despised, and despised the leaders they now trusted. They'd have been certain the side they presently thought was in the right was in the wrong, and instead embraced the beliefs they currently held in contempt. [The Authoritarians, emphasis ours.]

So it is important to understand that the issue of insiders and their supporters is not tied to political beliefs. We are dealing with a personality type, the psychological make-up of individuals that make them open to certain influences. According to Altemeyer, the personality type shares the following three traits:

  • Hierarchical Submission
  • Conventionalism, and
  • Aggression.

He discusses each in his book and suggests that they form approximately 20% of the population.(1)

Andrew Lobaczewski, in his book Political Ponerology, A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes, proposes a complex structure of different pathological types whose different pathologies fit together to form a system of governance he calls the pathocracy, based upon studies carried out in secret under the communist governments in Eastern Europe. He notes that the insiders in Poland during the Communist period made up about 6% of the population, while double that figure, 12%, formed the support class. About this second group, he writes:

This second group consists of individuals who are, on the average, weaker, more sickly, and less vital. The frequency of known mental diseases in this group is at twice the rate of the national average. We can thus assume that the genesis of their submissive attitude toward the regime, their greater susceptibility to pathological effects, and their skittish opportunism includes various relatively impalpable anomalies. We observe not only physiological anomalies, but also the kinds described above at the lowest intensity, with the exception of essential psychopathy.

It is not yet possible to map Altmeyer's authoritarians directly to the group Lobaczewski called the "new bourgeoisie", however I think it would be interesting to pursue the research and see what overlapping might be found. It is possible that the group Altemeyer has defined as "Double Highs" or "Social Dominators", that is, individuals who score high on the Authoritarian scale and the Social Dominator scale would include individuals that would fall into Lobaczewski's 6% deviant category. Altemeyer himself writes:

There even seems to be a whiff of the sociopath about the social dominator. Somebody do the studies and see if any of these hunches is right. [The Authoritarians, p. 180]
In reading and comparing the descriptions of the types outlined by the two authors, there are certainly significant similarities.(2) Both models present us with a picture of a small deviant group with influence over a larger, highly influenceable support base. Both models suggest that the loyalty of the support base to their leaders is based upon qualities that are not permanent and have nothing to do with ideology or fundamental beliefs in one system or another. It is a question of opportunism, not principles. Shift the people in power and the support base could also shift.

This analysis suggests as a conclusion that the problem is the small deviant group in power. As long as they remain in power, the support base will be firm. Moreover, the real problem is not only individuals but rather the particular forms of deviancy among the insiders -- deviancy in the sense of how their thinking and emotions deviate from healthy forms, that is, from an objective perception and understanding of reality. The trouble is, these forms of deviant thinking occur everywhere, not only in the halls of power. That has been the problem historically: one group of deviants gets replaced by another and so the situation of the majority never changes.

This revolving door of pathological power happens because the pathological infection spreads throughout society and affects all of us to one degree or another, even in opposition groups. Deviance is not always clear-cut. There is a continuum spanning a wide range of variations from the pole of deviant thought to the other pole of healthy thought. If we think of each pole as a center of gravity exercising a pull over the individuals between them, you might imagine that the power of each would be about equal. However, what happens when the principal sources of information, the media, the institutions that form and educate children, our schools and universities, are themselves heavily influenced by the pathological minority? The pathological influence then vastly outweighs that of those who function normally. Add to that the influence of fundamentalist strains of the monotheistic religions and the pull coming from the deviant pole is clearly much stronger than the pull towards empathy and conscience.

The struggle against this deviancy comes down to a struggle against deviant behaviors. We do not need a clinical diagnosis of an individual in order to learn to avoid being manipulated by him or her. It doesn't matter whether or not someone is a born deviant or simply acting out because of being brought up in and immersed in a sick society; deviant behavior is deviant behavior whether it is acted out by someone who is pathological or is only under the influence.

The insider wannabes pretty well ensure that they will be manipulated by placing so much faith in authorities. Rather than thinking through problems themselves, they look to others for ready-made solutions, or worse, ready-made sound bites that replace solutions. If those in power change but are replaced by individuals contaminated with the same pathological modes of thought, the insider wannabes will once again fall under the sway of a deviant group.

Our job is to spot the manipulative behaviors and learn how to avoid the manipulations, as well as root out such manipulative behavior in ourselves. That is the only way to begin reinforcing the pole of conscience so that its influence can spread and a healthy alternative can become a reality.

(1) Altemeyer's research influenced John Dean when Dean wrote his book Conservatives Without Conscience.

(2) The question is how much time remains for us to continue and further this research? It feels to me as if things are speeding up, as if the vehicle of society is careening towards the wall of reality at an ever-increasing speed. We do not have much time.


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Insiders and Outsiders in Everyday Life

We all know stories of qualified and skilled people who can't find work or who are passed over for promotion when someone who specializes in office politics gets the nod. This situation is another example of the insider/outsider dichotomy I discussed in my last article. It not only applies to Washington, it also applies to the facts and events of our daily lives. How many Americans are working for companies that are "offshoring" jobs to India and China? Ordinary people are on tenterhooks with the announcement of each round of layoffs while management have that glassy-eyed glare of bigger stock options and pay-offs when the year's profit margins improve and stock prices soar.

One of the consequences of such policies is that society loses the input and skills of its most gifted members. Positions that could be filled with people capable of bringing creative and thoughtful solutions to problems are instead filled with individuals whose only skill is the ability to play the game. They are often mediocre or incompetent and get others to do their work for them, while they, of course, claim the credit. Society as a whole loses as this great wealth of creativity is wasted.

But the losses are not only seen on the larger scale; they hit home more directly in the lives of those laid off or who live in a permanent state of fear.

Here are some quotes from email I have received recently describing just this. One correspondent wrote:

Some life, being on the treadmill constantly trying to outrun 'redundancy'. I do not like where the 'new world order' has been herding us. A century ago I would have lived my entire life doing what I spent years training for in the first place.

Think about that. Think about what an important shift such a change is in our lives and how it affects all of us, how it puts us in a permanent state of anxiety over the future. We can spend thousands of dollars on an education and have no assurance whatsoever that we will even be able to find employment in our chosen field. Think about your fathers or grandfathers who may have had a job doing the same work throughout their careers and who believed that their children would have the same choice.

If the shift just described isn't enough to leave us anxious and insecure, what about the nefarious policy called by that whitewashed label "outsourcing" and "offshoring" of jobs?

Another correspondent writes:

I mentioned impending layoffs at my software-corp employer recently. I survived, but some good performers were let go. "5% company-wide" translated into more in some areas and less in others, up to 25% in some. People in my office are shaken. Others remind me that layoffs always result in additional staff leaving and that management often actually intends and wants this.

Disturbingly, it was let out in advance, in confidence to some people, some of the names of those to be laid off. I wonder if it was to see if secrets could be kept.

Then, a few weeks later he wrote back to fill me in.

.. ah, but it's not over. The cuts made up the dollar shortfall last quarter, but the execs dropped new bombshells last week. First, they laid off a couple of VPs unexpectedly. Next day, they told to the company they *must* raise profit margin to avoid hostile takeover attempts, so they'll begin "aggressively offshoring" as many positions as possible, and that "some people will lose their jobs."

The company's offices in India and especially China will grow. The CEO said he should have done it long ago. This is risky because it puts a pall over everyone for months to come. Multiple people I know resigned in the wake of this announcement.

You have to wonder whether or not this permanent state of anxiety is one of the goals of these policies and these announcements. Read through this explanation of Transmarginal Inhibition and see if it doesn't describe what is happening to the work force in the United States and elsewhere. Pavlovian shock methods are being used to soften us up and prepare us for the next blow. The regular "terrorist" alerts issued following 911 serve the same purpose.

The correspondent continues:

One woman who identified herself as working in Accounts noted that every department was cutting costs to the bone, but wanted to know why the execs didn't -- she asked them why they constantly put in for approval of "budget exceptions" on their expense accounts that were approved without question, even though she felt they were unnecessary. Their answer was simply that, "we try to stick to budget, but sometimes exceptions are necessary."

Ah, yes, "sometimes exceptions are necessary". And we know where these exceptions are always found: benefiting the insiders. Which reminds me of a story told to me by an Irish friend a few years ago. The day after the same type of "out-sourcing" layoffs were announced at a company in Dublin, the CEO drove up to the office in his brand new BMW 500 series car, expensive enough to pay the salary of several employees. Back then the process was called down-sizing.

So "exceptions are necessary", even in other countries. The infection crosses national boundaries, and the woman who had the courage to speak up very likely will lose her job. But isn't it better to take a stand?

The problem is, these kinds of schemes are inherent in the logic of a system that values economic results over the lives of those doing the work. The faulty premise is that the good of the people is taken care of by the "invisible hand" of the marketplace, which boils down to, somehow, things will just take care of themselves, with the caveat: as long as you are industrious and are willing to work. You all know the great American myth that anyone can be a success, that anyone can be president.(1) This great American myth about individual success puts the burden of failure squarely on the individual. Failure is never the fault of the system or the people who benefit from the system. It is always your fault.

Convenient, isn't it? Do you think it is only a coincidence?

So how does one learn to benefit from the system, or, in other words, to succeed? By mimicking those who have already attained some success. And how does one do that? By becoming ruthless, back-stabbing, and only looking out for one's own interests. In other words, one must become sick to survive. One must encourage the propagation of the virus of pathological thought processes within oneself by killing any manifestation of consideration of others that might prevent you from getting what you want or what you have convinced yourself you deserve. Once the values of the insiders become the values of society as a whole, once their distorted and inhuman way of seeing the world becomes the accepted way of seeing and understanding the world, the only way to succeed is to become like them. You could call it the Stockholm Syndrome on a societal level.

An important element in this pathological way of viewing the world that one must internalize in order to succeed is the acceptance of the various false divisions that the insiders promote in order to hide the fundamental insider/outsider divide. Think of how race, nationality, language, and religion are all used to sow dissension and discord among outsiders. Do you think this process just happens by chance? An example that is prominent now is the question of illegal immigration and what to do with the long border joining the United States and Mexico. We see a vehement discussion on the need to close off America's borders.

But, really, what group is the problem here? Is it the Mexican workers who come to the United States, or is it the insiders who claim the vast majority of the wealth and resources for themselves? And to what extent are the insiders responsible for the large migration of workers into the US through decades of injustice and exploitation of Mexico by US corporations in collaboration with corrupt Mexican politicians and officials? And that holds for other countries in Latin America and the world. Do you think that these people would leave their homes and families if they could make a living where they were? Would you?

Which raises another question: What do you want out of life?

Probably security, as in having a home and enough money to get by, is high on the list. A safe place to raise your kids and a satisfying job that leaves you time to do other things than work and pay the bills would likely also have a place. Those are the needs and desires of normal people everywhere. Someone with a healthy psychological profile doesn't need large sums of money that he or she will never spend. He or she doesn't need multiple houses. He or she wants a job that is rewarding and satisfying and that provides enough income to pay his or her way and provide for his or her family. He or she wants to live in peace and security and not see a son or daughter go off to fight in a war overseas. He or she doesn't want to see a home-grown, para-military police force patrol the streets of their hometown, such as we saw used against the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, much less the thousands of foreign troops.

The Mexicans that come to the US want the same thing. Their goals are the goals of normal Americans. They share the goals of ordinary people everywhere. The ordinary Muslims, who we are told are the source of all of the problems in the Middle East, also want the same thing. So if this world of peace and security is what we want, why are we so far from achieving it?

We are told that it is because we all have a dark side, the animal part of our nature that breaks out every so often and wreaks havoc and destruction. In response to that, I would ask each of you, do you not see a difference between a violent act that comes out of the heat of emotion and a violent act that is coldly planned in advance? Would you be capable of planning the destruction of another country, including the deaths of over 1 million people, in a cold and rational manner, with the same emotional detachment that you would draw up the plans for the construction of a house? If you were running a profitable company, would you be capable of eliminating the jobs of thousands of workers, creating anxiety, suffering, and distress, simply to increase your profit margin by a few percentage points?

The insiders can and do make their plans in this way. They have no qualms about it. Their violence, be it physical or psychological, is not born of stress or overworked emotions. It is emotionless and calculated. They then invent slogans, theories, and excuses to justify their deviant plans, convincing us that it is done in the name of freedom and democracy or because there is a threat to our security.

The real threat to our security comes from those who can calmly make plans for war.

If normal people, ordinary people, were able to get beyond the divisions sown by the insiders and unite to claim what is rightfully ours, power and control over our own lives, the insiders would be where they belong: on the outside. Why should a small percentage of the population control the vast majority of the wealth? Why should they have the control over life and death decisions that concern the majority? Why should they impose their cold and calculated view of the world on those of us who value human contact, experience, and intimacy over money and power?

Whatever justification or rationalization springs to mind as you read these words has been implanted within you by people who do not have your best interests at heart. It is not their sons and daughters who are in Iraq. It is not their future that is put into jeopardy through downsizing, offshoring, and outsourcing. Using the media, these justifications and rationalizations are repeated over and over again until we accept them at face value, until we begin to think like them.

Certainly, groups subjected to injustice have tried to unite in the past. The problem was they were uniting over the wrong rallying point. Class, religion, nationality, none of these strike at the root of the problem, and therefore they can only go so far in achieving a working unity. The one issue that touches the root is that of conscience. How do you treat your neighbor? How do you treat your family? Moreover, without an understanding of psychopathy and other pathologies, it was easy for these types to join such movements and eventually turn them away from their original aims. People who are incapable of putting themselves in another's shoes, of genuinely feeling what it is like to be in another's position, are incapable of forming any lasting unity because they can never place the interests of someone else before their own. They are never capable of true compromise, that is, compromise that doesn't come with the baggage of self-righteous sacrifice or deep-seated and hidden resentment and their subsequent plans for revenge or retribution.

The fact of the matter is that our lives are controlled in almost every aspect by decisions over which we have no say, be it political decisions by the insiders in Washington or other centers of power, economic decisions by our bosses whose goal is to maximize profits at the expense of providing secure working environments for their employees, or decisions over what it is permissible to think and what ideas will be drummed into our heads through the media, to name but a few. Normal people, ordinary people, people of conscience live in an environment that does not express our inner nature, that is not the manifestation of our ability to empathize and care for others, and until we become aware of this fact, we, too, are infected. How will we ever be able to create a different world if we do not root out the insider virus that has taken root in us?

(1) Well, looking at Bush, that second phrase is true in a certain sense. Even someone completely unqualified to lead the US can become president, but you know that is not what I mean.


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Insiders and Outsiders in Washington

©Signs of the Times

You have probably heard the terms "insiders" and "ousiders" used in reference to the people in Washington. The insiders are the people who are members of the exclusive think tanks, policy organizations, lobby groups, and other groups that influence and decide policy. The outsiders are those who aren't.

The insiders are also those with connections to important sectors of the economy like the oil and gas industries, the pharmaceutical companies, the major food conglomerates, the media, the secretive Skull & Bones fraternity at Yale that counts among its members both George W. Bush and John Kerry, and long-time politicos who have made a career out of doing the bidding of the aforementioned groups. And then there is the infamous, and, according to the media, non-existent, Israel lobby, the lobby that is so strong you aren't even allowed to talk about it.

The outsiders are, well, people like you and me. They are rarely elected to Washington, and when they are, they do outrageous things like vote according to their conscience and not by party lines, i.e. the dictates of the insiders. Then the party hacks do their best to get rid of them, as happened to Cynthia McKinney, the Democrat from Georgia.

The bottom line is that the insiders have political and economic power, and the outsiders don't.

Those of us on the outside, the vast majority of the citizenry, have effectively been removed from power. Our democratic voice amounts to little more than voting on occasion, that day every couple of years where we have our say, and then we are expected to shut up and take it until we have the privilege of voting again. Our representatives go off to Washington where they are wined, dined, and financed by people and groups with interests that are economic, political, and military, but certainly not human. The people we elect to represent our interests may throw some money into their region or neighborhood from time to time, especially just prior to an election, but it cannot be said that they represent our interests in any fundamental sense.

The above doesn't even take into account gerrymandering voting districts, ballot box stuffing, or the use of paperless voting machines that can be invisibly hacked to give results dictated from above.

And although the example given here is from the US, the situation doesn't vary much elsewhere.

So let's admit the obvious. We, the people, the outsiders, have no say in the government that claims to be the most free and democratic in the world. That government, supposedly our government, represents the interests of the insiders. The US Constitution, the bedrock of our rights and freedoms, has been tossed into the waste bin. Bush views it as a quaint holdover from a time long passed, those heady days before the government launched the "War on Terror" - a war directed at its own citizens.

So the outsiders, you and me, find ourselves looking on in horror and shock as the values that were instilled into us are ever more brazenly ignored, scoffed at, and even rewritten in some form of Orwellian double-speak where the meanings have changed while the forms continue on. Look at the notion of democratic government. The tripartite separation of powers between the administrative, the legislative, and the courts still exists. On paper anyway. Congress meets and goes about its business. Sure, there are Bush's signing orders that effectively override the laws passed by Congress, but who in the media is really talking about those? We still have elections. The Supreme Court meets and hands down its rulings. On the surface, everything looks like it has always been.

But you know that under that shiny surface, brought into your living room via Fox News, things have changed dramatically.

This transformation did not happen by chance; it was neither haphazard nor random. It was the culmination of an ongoing process. The process is called "ponerization", which means the infection of groups and individuals with evil, from the Greek word poneros.

While that may sound like a moralistic statement, or even a religious statement, you might be surprised to know that it is a scientific term from psychology. It is possible to objectively and critically describe the infection of individuals and groups using knowledge that comes from the psychological study of pathological individuals. Certain branches of psychology are able to diagnose the twisted modes of thought that arise from damaged brains, whether that damage is genetic or comes as the result of an accident or the effect of upbringing. For example, lesions in the brain can affect a person's ability to think and feel, leaving them with a dulled emotional or intellectual capacity. If an individual receives a shock or trauma to the brain at certain moments while the brain is forming, say during birth or early childhood, that leave a small part of the brain unable to do its job, the brain rewires itself and offloads the task to another part. However, the replacement sector is unable to be quite as refined and subtle in its ability to carry out that task, and so the emotions may not be felt so strongly or the ability to think may be blunted.

Some individuals are even born without any ability to empathize with other human beings, that is, they are incapable of putting themselves in another's shoes, incapable of feeling what another person feels or thinking what another person thinks. They are unable to get out of themselves. These individuals walk, live, and work among us, and, according to a growing body of research, they wreak more havoc than the rest of humanity combined. Research in the field suggests that the majority of acts that you or I would define as "bad" or "evil", that is, physical or psychological violence committed against others, are carried out by individuals who would be clinically diagnosed as pathological were they to be examined.

You may have had one as a boss or a colleague at work. Or maybe you were in a relationship with one. This individual would lie and back stab, provoke and refuse to take responsibility for any of his or her actions. They could also be the most charming person you've ever met, charming the pants off of you or the money out of your bank account.

These individuals believe the rules don't apply to them, that anything goes in getting what they want. Their basic make-up is that of the predator, and they view us, the outsiders, as their prey.

Now imagine the result when such individuals attain positions of power, be it in government, business, the law, the police, the education system, the media, or any of the other institutions that have some form of control over our lives. Imagine the United States being run by people like this, people with no conscience.

Would it look any different than the USA today?

Who are the Insiders, Really?

The first point to note about the insiders is that while they preach all the values that we were taught represent the best of America, or whatever country over which they rule, they practice none of them. They use the words to con and to manipulate, presenting an image that can be used to gain support and power in order to attain their less than wholesome aims. The mainstream media is the major means by which this manipulation takes place. The insiders are deviants. By this I mean that their way of perceiving the world and their place in it deviates from the way the majority of humans perceive the world. And yet it is this small group that is in a position to dictate values, standards, and the future direction of society to the rest of us.

Take Bush, please (as the old joke goes). He was born into a family with money and power. His grandfather, Prescott Bush, was part of Eastern establishment money. Prescott Bush's investment firm gave financial support to Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany. Father George H.W. Bush spent time with the CIA, moved on to the vice-presidency under Reagan, and then had his own four years of the presidency. He is a member of the Carlyle Group, an important investment firm involved with selling guns, oil, junk health care products, and phony news bites in their media concerns.

Obviously, these family connections helped George W.: they helped him when he went AWOL during his career in the National Guard, helped him when his companies went bust, helped him with his baseball franchise, and helped him become president. So we can note a second point about the insiders: it is more than a collection of individuals; it is a system and a network working together to ensure its goals can be attained. If George W. Bush is president today, it is not simply that Dubya wanted to be president; there are many people who aspire to that office. If he is president, it is because the Insider network wanted it that way. He was chosen. He is the front-man, the puppet, the image for public consumption - the every day Joe, a guy like you and me - that masks the predatorial beast pulling his strings.

The individuals that make up this system share a common outlook on life. Some of the elements of this common viewpoint would include ideas that:

- Power is important. - Money is important. - It is OK to impose one's will to get one's way. - The ends justify the means. - Reality is what they say it is.

If you look at these points, you will see that the welfare of others doesn't enter into the picture. One of the things these ideas share is a lack of conscience. Treating their fellow humans with respect and dignity is less important than attaining money and power, and if people have to be hurt to achieve their aims, so be it. Think of the lives that were ruined by Enron. Think of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died, and the millions more whose lives have been ruined. Think of the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who will never get their homes and their land back because of profiteering and well-organized land scams.

For these individuals profiting from this suffering, the needs of another will never outweigh their own desires.


The psychologist Martha Stout, in her outstanding book The Sociopath Next Door, writes the following about conscience:

"Psychologically speaking, conscience is a sense of obligation ultimately based in an emotional attachment to another living creature (often but not always another human being), or to a group of human beings, or even in some cases to humanity as a whole."

So conscience, as it serves as a guide to our actions and interactions in the world, is intimately connected with our relationships with others and the world. But if someone is incapable of feeling empathy, if that person is incapable of feeling someone else's pain, how can they form true emotional attachments to anyone else? If someone's emotions are dulled, the emotional effects of their actions on others will never come home to roost. If someone's emotions are so dull that they can not be emotionally touched by someone else, either feeling deep love or even deep, emotional suffering, how will they learn to respect those feelings in others? If someone is completely trapped in fulfilling their own desires to the point where others exist only as instruments to serve that end, how can they develop a conscience? In the examples we gave above of the world view of the insiders, there is no concern whatsoever for others, at least those outside of the clique. The rest of us exist simply as labor power, as batteries to be sucked dry for the needs of the powerful to use the imagery of the film The Matrix.

Psychology has a name for those who have no conscience. They are called psychopaths.

I suggest that when we look at the data we have at hand, we can only conclude that we are governed by psychopaths (1). The insider system, which is a fairly innocuous name for what is really going on, is a system of individuals without conscience, either by birth or through events that have dulled or killed what spark of conscience they might once have had. Such a system is known as a Pathocracy, that is, a government of individuals who, were they to be clinically diagnosed, would be found to be psychologically deviant. They are unable to think and feel in the way the rest of us think and feel, that is, the way people of conscience think and feel. They are incapable of forming empathetic bonds with others. Moreover, they consider the deeper emotions experienced by people of conscience as a hindrance to getting ahead. It is that ruthless, killer instinct that best sums up the insider.

These individuals, suffering from various forms of pathologies, form a small percentage of the population, somewhere between 4 and 6 percent. However, they hold the power.

So the next time you look at the news from Washington and you can't believe what you hear, that your representatives could come up with such ideas, that they could be so callous about human life and suffering, be it in Iraq or New Orleans, consider the possibility that it is because these so-called insiders are ill: they are incapable of empathy, they have no conscience, and they are suffering from psychological problems that could and should be diagnosed. They should be removed as the leaders of society because their basic values and experience of the world have nothing in common with the people they are supposed to represent, the 94% percent of the population they lord it over.

The problem of pathological leadership is the fundamental political problem of our time. It is no coincidence that our society feels to us as if it is sick. How could it be otherwise when those defining that society at its highest levels are sick themselves?


(1) The actual system in place includes people who suffer from a wide variety of psychological problems: paranoia, narcissism, etc. Not all of them are psychopaths. Each pathology has its place in the system. There is also a certain section of the public whose own conscience has not been developed, and who fall under the sway of the charm and demagogy of certain pathocrats and their media. The details of this system are discussed in great detail in the book Political Ponerology by psychologist Andrew Łobaczewski.

This article was published in a slightly different form on ronpaulonline.com.


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