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    • It’s Not OK To Think Everything Is OK Or Getting Better and Better
      I’ve discussed the better than ever world argument before. I find it questionable, for a number of reasons and if that interests you read the linked article and the articles it links to. What I’ve been watching is WHO likes and buys the argument. They fall into two groups: the first are techies; the second […]
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I may be crazy, but it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.

But is she crazy enough?

This may be old news to some of you but it turns out that our greatest presidents may have been a little bit “tetched”, if you know what I mean.  In the book, A First-Rate Madness, author Nassir Ghaemi argues that hard and unusual times call for hard and unusual characters, preferably depressive pessimists:

the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders—realism, empathy, resilience, and creativity—also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. By combining astute analysis of the historical evidence with the latest psychiatric research, Ghaemi demonstrates how these qualities have produced brilliant leadership under the toughest circumstances.

Take realism, for instance: study after study has shown that those suffering depression are better than “normal” people at assessing current threats and predicting future outcomes. Looking at Lincoln and Churchill among others, Ghaemi shows how depressive realism helped these men tackle challenges both personal and national. Or consider creativity, a quality psychiatrists have studied extensively in relation to bipolar disorder.
A First-Rate Madness shows how mania inspired General Sherman and Ted Turner to design and execute their most creative—and successful—strategies.

Ghaemi’s thesis is both robust and expansive; he even explains why eminently sane men like Neville Chamberlain and George W. Bush made such poor leaders. Though sane people are better shepherds in good times, sanity can be a severe liability in moments of crisis. A lifetime without the cyclical torment of mood disorders, Ghaemi explains, can leave one ill equipped to endure dire straits.

I suppose that being a  legend in your own mind is not outside the bounds of normal behavior, so Barack Obama is not unhinged enough to rank among the greats. The Nobel committee and the DNC didn’t help the situation by protecting Obama from the stress of actually trying and failing at something.  Obama was spared those character building exercises.  Barack Obama is a bland, uninspiring guy who might have made an OK president back in 1956.  Well, he could hardly screw up the fifties.

But for the present set of circumstances, he’s the wrong guy and we knew that back when the DesMoines Register endorsed Hillary for president in 2008*.  The difficult terrain of the times ahead was the specific reason why DesMoines rejected Obama’s (incredibly) naive (clueless) optimism in 2008.  That doesn’t mean that Hillary is nuts enough to be a great president but her resilience after 15 years of right wing hysteria and persistence after so many people in her own party turned on her does suggest a degree of pessimistic realism and masochism that would have been assets during the struggle with the bats@#$ crazy right wing fanatics and testosterone poisoned finance industry.

In the past week, I’ve been seeing quite a few columnists and former Obama supporters post their mea culpas, saying they were dazzled by the brilliance of Obama’s marketing campaign like magpies drawn to some shiny object.  {{rolling eyes}} OK, I will accept that but I think the fault lies with the magpies and not David Plouffe’s Liberace-esque staging.  Anyway, the latest person to turn and apologize for foolishly rejecting Hillary is Margery Eagan in the Boston Herald today.  There have been others.  The number of people calling for Obama to step down and spend more time with his kids grows with every stomach lurching drop of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  Yes, the Tea Party Republicans were responsible for setting fire to a fragile economy but Obama lent them the match.  He’s a disaster of boutique governance, first appeasing one group of electoral voters, then another, making it up as he goes along, reactively tailoring policy to the interest group du jour.  It’s driving the rest of us crazy.

Speaking of crazy, *we’re* the ones that keep getting described as “delusional” because we still think the most logical thing the Democratic party could do right now is have Hillary Clinton primary Obama.   I still have no idea why this idea is delusional but I feel honored to be wearing that label since 2008.  Can I do pessimistic realism or what??  Obama is wrecking the party.  He’s a poor president.  The man refuses to learn his job.  He can’t negotiate with a bunch of nutcases in the Republican House and he’s helping to kill the middle class.  He doesn’t even realize how many of us who used to have really good, high paying, technical jobs are now out of work and living on subsistence wages and our savings.  He is utterly unsuited to his task.  I knew he was going to be bad but not even my pessimistic realism could fathom just how incredibly bad he turned out to be.  And now the party loyalists say we must suffer through another four years of this nonsense because he’s the incumbent?  And *I’m* the delusional one?

The latest party propaganda on the subject comes from Joan Walsh at Salon.  Joan acknowledges that the party may have made a mistake in 2008 but you won’t hear Joan upset the weenie tray at the cocktail party.  No, indeed.  Joan is ready to commit the country to another four years of Obama just so she doesn’t get associated with the delusional Hillary diehards.  And you know who Joan has been swilling margaritas with by the content of her posts.  By their memes ye shall know them.  These posts have become so predictable that even I could write one.  Does the meaningless word “triangulating” show up?  Check.  Does she mention race as the primary reason why (stressed and panicky unemployed) voters are rejecting Obama? Check.  Is Sarah Palin’s name invoked to frighten the backslider?  And why are Obama’s defenders always comparing him to Sarah Palin anyway?  But whatever.  Does a standard Republican boogieman make an appearance?  Check.  So, the reasons we must vote for Obama, who exemplifies everything that makes the modern Democratic party is that he doesn’t know how to do politics, is African American and therefore above criticism and that a Republican would be sooooo much worse.  How does this take Hillary Clinton out of the running?  I don’t get it.  Joan probably saw all of this coming but she isn’t crazy enough to actually say it out loud, which is why we refer to her stuff as “conventional wisdom”.

No, Joan, what we really need is a taste of the unpredictable.  We need to get a little crazy.  We need to take the system up to a new energy level from the local minimum rut it’s in now.  The system needs to be perturbed.  I’m not sure that even Hillary is crazy enough but the idea that she could unseat an incumbent would be so unprecedented that it just might work to energize the voters.  Yes, I think she would have been a better president and still could be.  We saw her develop as a candidate in the last months of the campaign and if the Obots weren’t so blinded by the reflected light of Barry O, they would have been amazed and inspired at the woman who would “keep going” no matter what.  If the fires of adversity shape the unbalanced to become great leaders, we might just have one in Hillary.

Poor Obama just keeps on melting.

* That DesMoines Register of Hillary is oddly missing from the record books.  You might be able to find references to it and what looks like an edited version of it but you won’t find it at the Register’s site.  It’s almost as if someone was trying to bury this little piece of prophetic history.  “D’OH!  We can’t leave that out there or they’ll think that someone knew in advance that Obama would be a f%&*up.”

Crash this party, Hillary

“On Being Sane in Insane Places”: Sarah Palin and the Rosenhan Study

The media doesn't "get" genuine

The media doesn't "get" genuine

In 1973, David Rosenhan, a sociologist, conducted a study (Warning, PDF file, scroll down) of the difficulty people have in overcoming being labeled as having a mental illness. Rosenhan and seven colleages got themselves admitted under false names to different mental hospitals around the country by claiming they were hearing voices, a common symptom of schizophrenia. Once they were admitted to the hospitals and diagnosed as schizophrenic, these “pseudopatients” behaved completely normally and were completely truthful about their life histories.

Despite the fact that these people did not act “crazy” in any way, they were kept in the hospitals for periods of time ranging from 9 to 52 days. None of the mental health professionals who examined the pseudopatients ever detected that they were sane, although other patients noticed and sometimes accused the pseudopatients of doing undercover research.

Once they had been given the schizophrenic label, everything the pseudopatients did or said and even their personal histories were interpreted by psychiatrists and other hospital staff as reinforcing their diagnoses. For example, some of the pseudopatients took notes during their time in the hospital. This innocuous behavior was interpreted as delusional and a sign of deep psychological disturbance.

So how does this relate to the situation Sarah Palin finds herself in? Palin is a perfectly normal person who got sucked into the insane world of presidential politics. It has been determined by the talking heads and media mavens of Washington and New York that Sarah Palin wants to be President. No one knows for sure if this is true, but now that she has that label, everything she says or does is interpreted to relate to her supposed presidential ambitions. Based on their assumptions about Palin, various talking heads, reporters, and bloggers have also labeled her ignorant and unqualified. Continue reading