ALSO WEDNESDAY: Who or what is J. D. Vance?


Chait possibly over-explains:  In this new post at New York magazine, Jonathan Chait attempts to explain who J. D. Vance really is and what he really believes.

For ourselves, we know of no reason to assume that Vance "believes" anything at all in any conventional sense of the term. This leads us back to our many discussions of a basic question: 

What is a "sociopath?"

As we've noted in recent years, it's generally stated that a certain (non-trivial) percentage of American men are diagnosable as "sociopaths." In her widely-discussed, best-selling book, Mary Trump used the term to describe her grandfather, the late Fred Trump. She suggested that the term could also be applied to her uncle, former president Donald J. Trump.

Our upper-end press corps refuses to conduct such discussions concerning important public figures. Even in our current state of reduced energy, we can confidently tell you this:

Most of our nation's attempts at "discourse" are in fact imitations of same.


  1. "What is a "sociopath?""

    May we suggest, dear Bob, that perhaps a 'sociopath' is anyone who likes to call people 'sociopaths'?

    1. You certainly may, although it's quite a lazy, inept suggestion. I don't suspect that anyone will be surprised by that in the least.

    2. So, psychiatrists are sociopaths? I don't think that's likely.

    3. "So, psychiatrists are sociopaths?"

      You reckon psychiatrists like to call people 'sociopaths'? Some of them, perhaps? Yes, 'sociopaths' among the psychiatrists.

      "I don't suspect that anyone will be surprised by that in the least"

      You don't suspect anyone will be surprised by your meaningless drivel? Whoa, we finally agree on something.

    4. Psychiatrists like to help people by engaging in their profession. The labels they use during diagnosis are for classifying patients for insurance purposes, and for research and record-keeping, and communication with other medical professionals about cases. They are not for labeling people, stigmatizing them, and certainly not for name-calling. Patients are often not told their own diagnoses because such labels can become self-fulfilling prophecies or sources of distress.

      You are an asshole troll. Studies show that trolls have the "dark triad" of personality traits: sociopathy, narcissism, machiavellianism. Your lack of empathy toward those who are mentally ill is consistent with all three.

    5. Meh. We do empathize with you, dear dembot. Our heart is bleeding for you.

      Although, in your case it sounds like a case of mental retardation rather than mental illness. Nevertheless...

    6. Hmm, let's consider this too clever by half definition. If sociopaths exist, then surely they can be discerned and pointed out. On the other hand, if sociopaths don't exist, then someone calling a person a sociopath is no more a sociopath than someone calling a person a pink unicorn makes them a pink unicorn themselves.
      Thirdly, it's possible that some people, who label others sociopaths are sociopaths themselves. This leads us to conclude that sociopath-labeling is neither necessary nor sufficient description of a sociopath.
      PS: Although, creating non-sensical labels, such as "dembot", and using them incessantly and obsessively, may portend of some psychological deviations.

    7. He doesn't deserve to have things explained to him, but well done.

    8. @Anon 9:15
      I still hold out some hope for the boy.

  2. Bandy Lee, who publicly diagnosed Trump as a sociopath and narcissist, was kicked out of the APA for doing so because it violate professional ethics to diagnose someone you have not evaluated. These are not just mental health-related names that people call those they dislike, such as crazy, nutso, messed up in the head), but diagnostic labels with specific meanings in the mental health community.

    It would inappropriate for a professional to use them, as Lee did, and that is why no professional will respond to journalist questions involving what is wrong with people like Trump and Vance. It is wrong to do so and can cause a professional to lose their license.

    But we don't have to do psychiatric name-calling to characterize Trump and his ilk. It is better to focus on their behavior, their statements, their actions. These tell the full story of what these men are and they are sufficient to warn anyone away from voting for them. Journalists are in fact doing this and have done so with Trump as long as he has been on the scene.

    Somerby shouldn't be demanding something that would be wrong to do and would not add anything whatsoever to anyone's understanding of politics. He did it with Trump and had he read his comments, he would know not to keep doing it, much less extend his demands to how we talk about Vance. He could have followed what happened to Bandy Lee in the news.

    Pathologizing someone by misusing a psychiatric diagnostic term does nothing to tell anyone what is wrong with Vance. Somerby should take some responsibility for his own opinions and explain what is wrong with Vance's statements and behavior, without passing the buck to journalists interviewing psychiatrists. Vance is such a pathetic specimen that it should be easy for Somerby to describe his flaws.

  3. "On the surface, this April 26 report from the Inspector General’s Office at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is simply about the fact that data collectors within the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) failed to distribute information properly. In other words, “DHS actions related to an I&A intelligence product deviated from standard procedures.” That description makes it sound as if someone failed to check the appropriate boxes on a form and deserves a little slap on the wrist.

    Except that’s not the case. The “intelligence product” was the report detailing Russian interference in the 2020 election. The “deviation from standard procedures” was actually a months-long cover-up by Acting Sec. of DHS Chad Wolf designed explicitly to help Donald Trump win reelection by spreading rumors about Joe Biden.

    ...Not only did the Wolf engage in a blatant cover-up of Russia’s interference in the 2020 election, by doing so he allowed claims about President Biden’s health—claims that are still widely believed within Republican ranks—to go unchallenged. That these claims were actually coming from a deliberate Russian propaganda campaign was buried. The action also prevented the public from getting confirmation that Russia was once against interfering in the election, as it had in 2016, with the intention of benefiting Trump.

    Wolf’s action denied Congress and the public the information that should have been provided concerning Russia’s actions, allowed Russia to continue its interference, and caused damage to President Biden. Trump was protected from the public finding out Russia was again working to protect him. Biden was allowed to be harmed."

  4. Even if it could somehow be “proven” that Trump or Vance are “sociopaths”, what is that supposed to bring us?

    Is Steve Bannon a “sociopath?” Possibly. But he still has a coherent political philosophy that he would like to implement. Vance is a part of Bannon’s movement, as is much of the current Republican Party.

    How is it any benefit to the rest of us if the press started speculating (uh oh—the Great God Speculation rears its head!) that this or that Republican is a “sociopath?” Does that provide us with a weapon to defeat them? Does it mean we should ignore them? How to explain the large number of Republicans who act and speak like Trump or Vance? Should we call the entire GOP a sociopathic party? I think they are, but it doesn’t help anyone deal with them.

    One gets the impression that Somerby uses the term “sociopath” to mean “nuts”, as if these people can’t have coherent political ideas. And that is poppycock.

    Besides, when Chait describes Vance as an authoritarian with a lust for power above all else, isn’t he describing a sociopath? The fact that he doesn’t use that word is not a failure on Chait’s part.

    And also, Somerby keeps chiding liberals for pissing off the “others” by using the r-bomb (racism). How is throwing s-bombs (“s”ociopath) going to meet with any greater approval from them?

  5. There's heaps of evidence for the various oppressions that right wing "values" and "philosophy" force us to endure and experience; racial and gender being two primary ones, classism is another important one, the list goes on.

    "Sociopath" is not evident without a professional psychological review.

    Yet Somerby's moral compass leads him to dismiss, disparage even, the former, and to tout the latter. You might want to get that calibrated, Somerby!

    Is Trump a sociopath? I doubt it, and more importantly, it matters little. What is significant about Trump is that he represents the right wing, conservative movement that has been slow walking their not so subtle transition into fascism.

    Having said that, what there is evidence for is that perhaps a major root cause to these toxic right wing notions taking hold is unresolved childhood trauma, which apparently can alter the size and functioning of the frontal cortex and the amygdala. We do a piss poor job of raising our kids, although understandable since most of us are wage slaves trapped in a system designed to benefit only a tiny few.

    What Trump and these others suffering from unresolved childhood trauma have is an unquenchable desire for hierarchy and dominance. There is no real ideology, everything is a means to those ill fated ends.

    What is clear to me, although I am no expert, I mean to say I hold no degree in this, is that Somerby (and his small cadre of right wing fanboys) is an asshole that does not give a fuck about anybody else, he is completely wrapped up in his tiny self.

  6. "As the Supreme Court gears up to dismantle Roe v. Wade, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) points out that the women who take issue with losing their abortion rights might just have too many brains in their girl heads.

    “How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?” the GOP congressman tweeted on Wednesday, referring to the Bumble dating app.

    Quite the insult."

    Well, at least we female abortion-rights activists are not sociopathic sex-traffickers using Venmo to pay for sex with minors.

  7. Actual analysis from Chait:

    “Vance’s unique reliance on a single billionaire to finance his campaign, to whose interests he is completely beholden, is a shockingly unethical arrangement.”

    He is referring to billionaire Peter Thiel, who must surely also be a “sociopath.” Or something. Somerby never bothers to mention this arrangement.

    “Ironically, just as he benefits from his history of pseudo-intellectualism, Vance benefits from the presumption that he can’t actually believe what he says, because the reversal has been so naked.

    Sound familiar? Chait has Somerby dead-to-rights.

  8. “She suggested that the term could also be applied to her uncle, former president Donald J. Trump.”

    She also suggested that her uncle should be in jail.

    So of course Somerby ignores that.

  9. One of the main features of a sociopath is criminal behavior. Does Vance have a criminal record?

  10. @8:29 - another urban legend. Here are the recognized ASPD markers in adults (via Healthline):
    Lack of empathy. ...
    Disregard for right and wrong. ...
    Wit and charm. ...
    Impulsiveness. ...
    Arrogance. ...

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