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Illustrator Chris Piascik paints a picture of a massive disconnect in our political system
Most people in Congress are very, very wealthy. It's the natural by-product of a campaign system engineered by and for the benefit of the richest Americans. Campaigning after all is a 24/7 job, and few members of the 99% can afford to balance the time constraints of fundraising and campaigning without quitting their normal income-producing job. It's why running for Congress is a rich person's game. It's why we end up with charts like the one above.

When rich people run for office, they typically spend their campaign time doing two distinct things: (1) they spend upwards of five or six hours a day calling the wealthy and the super-wealthy for money; and (2) they spend the rest of their time at "grassroots" events, parades, or debates trying pretend that they didn't just spend the bulk of their day courting max out checks and listening to the needs of the 1%.

The ritual is the same regardless of the "grassroots" event. The sleeves get rolled up. The blazer comes off. Occasionally, a corn dog is thrust into a candidates hand to really up the "common man" factor. If you can get a photo op with your candidate at a factory or a plant, even better.

Some wealthy politicos play the game exceptionally well. Celebrity Sarah Palin is the Queen of Commonness to her supporters, despite the fact that she's worth some $12 million. Other D.C. types? They lack the finesse to pull of faux authenticity so authentically. The cloak of commonness is perhaps never as ill-fitting as it when it is donned by Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

Earlier this year, Gingrich caused a scandal when he ditched his campaigning to go on a luxury Greek cruise. Staffers quit over the incident, while Gingrich defended the vacation as much-needed "me" time. Now, however, with his poll numbers rising, Gingrich is trying to put a different shade of lipstick on the succulent pig roasting over a crackling fire.  Gingrich now claims his fancy vacay was part fact-finding mission:

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said his luxury cruise vacation through the Greek Isles in June gave him a better understanding of Greece's debt crisis.

While speaking at an event in Iowa, Gingrich said he was heavily influenced while visiting Greece with his wife Callista, according to MSNBC.

"An observation strategically about where we are ... was very much influenced when I visited Greece in June and talked to people what they were faced with in Greece," Gingrich said. "And I listened to them."

I'm sure the conversations with the white-gloved waiters about living in a bankrupt nation was fascinating, and Gingrich probably furrowed his brow in feigned support as he lifted his bubbling champagne glass up to his common man lips.

Beyond being absurd on its face, the Gingrich spin is a perfect example of "class-washing." A candidate's luxe life is put through the wringer and voila, a crisp, cuff-linked white collar shirt is miraculously transformed into a blue collar workshirt with grease stains on it. It's why some candidates make sure that fancy foreign cars are placed in family members' names while a good ol' American Ford Focus or Chevy truck is used to trek across the state. It's why they schedule a "roundtable" at a diner with ordinary folks in Peoria while making sure to not bring the cameras to the $2,500 a plate fundraiser afterwards.

They shake hands with the masses. Double-clasped handshakes, for added "empathy." They kiss babies. They listen intently to a supporter's story (and wonder how they can include it in their next speech). They show sympathy with a hand on the shoulder of an out-of-work mom. They show empathy by hugging the student saddled with student loan debt.

They campaign. Then they move on.

The fleeting sympathy exhibited at campaign events can often be genuine. But it is often fleeting. One need only look at our federal politics to see that too many members on both sides of the aisle choose to cater to their wealthy call time donors than to the throngs they meet on the trail.

Can wealthy politicians empathize with the plight of the American working class? Of course they can. Not all politicians grew up in privilege. Vice President Joe Biden is a classic example of an elected official whose working class roots guide him today. And even among those who were lucky enough to be born into the 1%, wealth and a just heart are not mutually exclusive by any measure.

But there is no escaping the fact that far too often, our millionaire representatives preach sympathy on the campaign trail and commit legislative sins against the working class once elected.

Five years ago, then-Senator Barack Obama spoke about the massive empathy deficit:

“I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit -- the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us -- the child who's hungry, the steelworker who's been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this -- when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers -- it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.” - Barack Obama, 2006

It's proven remarkably difficult for the Newt Gingriches of the world, the Darrel Issas, and the Michelle Bachmanns to step out of their comfortable shoes and into the worn shoes of those who journeyed through this troubled economy for far too long. Those in Congress who do sympathize or empathize with the 99% are often drowned out by crystal-clinking chatter of the D.C. cocktail fundraising circuit.

(Left) Michelle Obama elaborates on the "empathy deficit" in 2008
So what are we to do about that empathy deficit? How do we fix the chart to better reflect the makeup of the electorate as a whole?

As a threshold matter, we need to make it easier for non-millionaires to run for and compete for public office. Yes, prickly issue of campaign finance reform, I'm looking at you.

In the meantime, while juicing out empathy from the dry lemon that is a cold-hearted Congress is likely a futile task, even feigned sympathy is valuable if it leads to some legislative action.

And that's why Occupy Wall Street is so important.

Because while it's easy to shake the hand of a supporter at a county fair and move on, it's not easy to shake off the narrative-changing protests that are still taking place across the country. Whatever the end result of the protests, they can and have caused members of Congress to perk up their ears and, at the very least, listen. Some members of Congress will give OWS protestors the same amount of attention Gingrich gave to the Greek workers during that luxury cruise. Others, however, will afford the movement and its growing voice a longer listen. Perhaps that sliver of sympathy is all we can expect out of this Congress. Perhaps that's the best of a bad situation -- until we get OWS to occupy seats in Congress and bring true representation to the 99%.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Chamber of Commerce (24+ / 0-)

    is ALREADY running ads attacking our Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown — someone who really ENJOYS talking to waitresses & hotel maids — for his voicing support for Occupy, saying he has "cheered on" violent protestors and people going to the bathroom on police cars. Will people see through this? I hope so. But the Chamber of Commerce is going to spend a lot of money to replace Sherrod with a soulless multimillionaire who couldn't empathize with a regular person if his life depending on it.

    Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

    by anastasia p on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 06:54:46 PM PST

    •  Senator Brown's campaign can counter that ad (5+ / 0-)

      and show what the Chamber of Commerce is all about, and that is supporting the top 1 pct only and care only about the rich. He can run ads showing what OWS is really about.  Granted, we are not likely to outspend corporate funding for elections but our ads can be more powerful even if not more plentiful.

      •  He can, but would that be losing focus? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Certainly Sherrod Brown could do that, except then he would spend his time and his money "running against" the CofC rather than his (soulless multimillionaire) opponent. Either way, the ads by the Chamber can do damage to the Brown campaign.

        "A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future." – Leonard Bernstein

        by frisco on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 09:11:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well written, especially with tidbits like (11+ / 0-)

    "common man lips." Brought Newt's decadence to life very well.

    " still, and cry not aloud; for it is an unholy thing to boast over slain men." Odysseus, in Homer's Odyssey

    by Wildthumb on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 06:55:32 PM PST

    •  Amen. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wildthumb, Larsstephens

      This is the best-written diary I've read all year.

    •  Genuine empathy.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wildthumb, weinerschnauzer even those not raised in wealth would be a rare occurrence.

      Even those that didn't have it so well in their early years often forget the struggles of the poor after finding wealth and comfort for many years.

      However, most of our politicians are simply not "wired" to show empathy.  Like many CEOs and extreme ladder climbers, most of these folks are egomaniacs and extremely self-oriented.  These folks rise to power in many cases by exhibiting character traits of the exact opposite of empathy.

      If you look at the personality traits of people that push their way to power, they have the ability to feign empathy, but they definitely don't have the intention or ability of actually practicing it.

      "Self-respect is the keystone of democracy"

      by neverontheright on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 12:38:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Proportional Representation, no doubt (14+ / 0-)

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 06:55:45 PM PST

  •  Biden and the President, neither were raised (5+ / 0-)

    by wealthy parents. In fact, the President;s mother was on food stamps for a while. And Pres. Clinton was raised in a working class family who struggled financially.

    Now they are all in the top percent income wise ...not sure about Biden but certainly Clinton and Obama...but those 3 are different than Repubs in the House and Senate and Governors from similar roots growing up...those 3 favor paying more in taxes.

  •  Sure thing, Newtie (5+ / 0-)

    A luxury Aegean cruise is so completely the way to get up close and personal with the Greek man in the οδός.

    Watch him try to claim it as a legitimate business expense on his tax form.

    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it is difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine. -- Abraham Lincoln

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:01:21 PM PST

  •  Wow. ONLY 50% of congress... (7+ / 0-)

    ...are millionaires?  I thought it was much larger than that.

    "And, spite of pride in erring reason’s spite, One truth is clear, whatever is, is right." Alexander Pope -Essay on Man

    by DawnG on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:01:23 PM PST

    •  Most Senators. There Are Always a Lot of New (12+ / 0-)

      reps who don't have nearly the territory and haven't had enough time to cash in.

      What I wanna know is what % of ex reps 5 years after leaving are millionaires. Betcha it's a higher fraction.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:12:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did you happen to see 60 Minutes last week? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The article Congress: Trading stock on inside information? (watch|read) was very helpful in explaining how your typical Congresscritter gets into office with middle-class assets then leaves office as a multi-millionaire.

      For example:

      In mid September 2008 with the Dow Jones Industrial average still above ten thousand, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were holding closed door briefings with congressional leaders, and privately warning them that a global financial meltdown could occur within a few days. One of those attending was Alabama Representative Spencer Bachus, then the ranking Republican member on the House Financial Services Committee and now its chairman.
      Schweizer: These meetings were so sensitive—that they would actually confiscate cell phones and Blackberries going into those meetings. What we know is that those meetings were held one day and literally the next day Congressman Bachus would engage in buying stock options based on apocalyptic briefings he had the day before from the Fed chairman and treasury secretary. I mean, talk about a stock tip.
      While Congressman Bachus was publicly trying to keep the economy from cratering, he was privately betting that it would, buying option funds that would go up in value if the market went down. He would make a variety of trades and profited at a time when most Americans were losing their shirts.
      The article is not kind to pols of either party. But it seems that the worst offenders are uniquely in leadership positions.
      former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband have participated in at least eight IPOs. One of those came in 2008, from Visa, just as a troublesome piece of legislation that would have hurt credit card companies, began making its way through the House. Undisturbed by a potential conflict of interest the Pelosis purchased 5,000 shares of Visa at the initial price of $44 dollars. Two days later it was trading at $64. The credit card legislation never made it to the floor of the House…
      until 2011.

      More sickening is learning that:

      In the past few years a whole new totally unregulated, $100 million dollar industry has grown up in Washington called political intelligence. It employs former congressmen and former staffers to scour the halls of the Capitol gathering valuable non-public information then selling it to hedge funds and traders on Wall Street who can trade on it.
      Of course the article did mention a fix:
      in 2004, [former Rep. Brian] Baird [D-WA3] and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter [D-NY28] introduced the Stock Act which would make it illegal for members of Congress to trade stocks on non-public information and require them to report their stock trades every 90 days instead of once a year.

      Kroft: How far did you get with this?

      Baird: We didn't get anywhere. Just flat died. Went nowhere.

      Kroft: How many cosponsors did you get?

      Baird: I think we got six.

      Of course things start to happen after a story on 60 Minutes. The Stock Act now has 91 co-sponsors and has been introduced in the Senate by Kirsten Gillibrand. Maybe we should help things along.

      Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

      by DemSign on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 12:25:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Salt Of The Earth (5+ / 0-)

    Let's drink to the hard working people
    Let's drink to the lowly of birth
    Raise your glass to the good and the evil
    Let's drink to the salt of the earth

    Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
    Spare a thought for his back breaking work
    Say a prayer for his wife and his children
    Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

    And when I search a faceless crowd
    A swirling mass of gray and
    Black and white
    They don't look real to me
    In fact, they look so strange

    Raise your glass to the hard working people
    Let's drink to the uncounted heads
    Let's think of the wavering millions
    Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

    Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
    His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
    And a parade of the gray suited grafters
    A choice of cancer or polio

    And when I look in the faceless crowd
    A swirling mass of grays and
    Black and white
    They don't look real to me
    Or don't they look so strange

    Let's drink to the hard working people
    Let's think of the lowly of birth
    Spare a thought for the rag taggy people
    Let's drink to the salt of the earth

    Let's drink to the hard working people
    Let's drink to the salt of the earth
    Let's drink to the two thousand million
    Let's think of the humble of birth

    Let us all have the strength to see the humanity in our enemies, and the courage to let them see the humanity in ourselves.

    by Nowhere Man on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:01:24 PM PST

  •  I wonder if some sort of centrally-funded campaign (4+ / 0-)

    system could be better. Everyone gets the same level of funding and opportunity for events. Of course, I don't know how you would create the system so that you don't have 1,000 people running for each seat since it'd be free. But it there definitely needs to be some way to level the playing field.

    •  When You're Called to Court as a Witness, (0+ / 0-)

      what fundraising system to you use to purchase access to the witness stand?

      Do you think it would be better for you to solicit sponsors to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars per minute of the fee for your testifying in court, or would some kind of centrally-funded system be better for paying those charges?

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:43:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Have to collect a certain # of signatures? (0+ / 0-)

      “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

      by ahumbleopinion on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 08:08:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That extends to the media too (4+ / 0-)

    Nobody in the MSM is in the lower 3 quintiles in terms of earnings. They are as clueless as the Congress and the administration.

    Republican tears sustain me.

    by orson on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:05:21 PM PST

    •  They Would Be Clueless if They Were Investigators. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ozsea1, esquimaux, sentinalnode

      That's not their role. Their role is to advance the corporate agenda. That's what the 1st amendment is built for them to do.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:10:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lots of congresscritters follow... (5+ / 0-)

    Ayn Rand, and her teachings included... no empathy.

    “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.” President Obama 11/2/11

    by BarackStarObama on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:09:09 PM PST

  •  Call For Data: % of Millionaires Among (3+ / 0-)

    FORMER congress 5+ years after leaving.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:09:28 PM PST

    •  There are a lot of those. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, ahumbleopinion

      They may not become super-rich while "languishing" on the $200,000-$300,000 per year that congressmen make but they often hit the jackpot after they leave congress and find work with the lobbying firms that get paid by Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Tech.

      Someone needs to get on this project.

    •  And the News Media (0+ / 0-)

      I think that as these pundits talk, they should show the sources of their income and their property and financial holdings over X amount, in a format similar to the Congressional disclosure.

  •  While I agree with the sentiment (0+ / 0-)

    this is an extremely one-sided diary. You are quite happy to rail on people like Gingrich and Issa, but fail to mention that 4 of the top 5 wealthiest in Congress are actually Democrats and one of those was our nominee in 2004. I didn't see the Democrats harping on about privilege back then when we wanted Kerry to defeat Bush.

    They are all the same regardless of their party affiliation and will serve themselves ahead of the people they are meant to serve. Don't be deluded into voting 'our' millionaires back in under the naive belief that they will 'change' things because they won't.

    Alas it is a symptom of our political system and the money that controls it.

  •  an edit you may want to make (3+ / 0-)

      In the paragraph after the Obama quote there is a sentence that reads, "Those in Congress who do sympathize or empathize with the 1% are often drowned out..."  I think you meant to say the 99% not the 1%.

        Otherwise an excellent article. Thanks!

    Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 53, new CA-30

    by Zack from the SFV on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:14:55 PM PST

  •  #OWS will fail if this isn't the issue of 2012 (3+ / 0-)

    It's time for #OWS to lead the way now because it isn't likely to happen any other time in the next generation. Taking back Wall Street and Washington begins with campaign reform starting with taking person hood away from corporations getting corporate money out of politics all together.

    Then we need public funding that not competes effectively with the wealthy patrons of corporate spending as has worked in other states. And this must be done making the 'buying' of an election - that is refusing to compete in a campaign where both sides have the exact same same dollar amount to work with - a huge political liability. It doesn't matter if you raised 5 times more money than anyone else if you are in congress. You still only get one vote. You achieve more leverage by gaining the skills of effective legislation or by being a fair judge or a good administrator. Likewise it needs to be so during the campaign season.

    I want my reps spending their time voting and doing the homework that applies to the job, not dialing for dollars which has nothing to do with the job. This needs to become an outrage.

  •  No surprise (5+ / 0-)

    About half of Congress would probably be diagnosed as psychopaths if you had them sit down for some serious sessions with a psychiatrist too.

  •  If you remember back to the Sonya Sotomayor (8+ / 0-)

    appointment hearings you'll know that empathy is a socialist-marxist-maoist-kenyan trait.

    They call me Gato, I have metal joints. Beat me up and earn 15 silver points. -- Gato the Robot, Chrono Trigger

    by rexymeteorite on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:16:30 PM PST

    •  *Sonia (0+ / 0-)

      I knew that didn't look right.

      They call me Gato, I have metal joints. Beat me up and earn 15 silver points. -- Gato the Robot, Chrono Trigger

      by rexymeteorite on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:19:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right. (2+ / 0-)

      The minute a woman says that a wise latina might add something to the high court, all of a sudden the klansmen start banging their tea kettles about how ol' brownie's risin' up again.

      I'm sick of their shit. It is absolutely appalling how these silver-spoon motherfuckers spit out such tripe about how spoiled the workers in this country are.

      Right after Bush and his cronies hand over $1 trillion dollars to bail out the fat cats, we get to hear Scott "Double-Deuch" Walker tell us that it's those damn Rolls Royce-driving teachers who bankrupted this country.

      I'll tell you what. Seeing how many fucking morons believe their bullshit is all the evidence that I need that what we call "education" in this country is doing a terrible job of conveying to our young people the way to tell the difference between verifiable facts and utter horse-shit.

      I don't know if they should make epistemology a core part of the curriculum or what but the last thing we need is a country full of people who think that Newt Gingrich would whip this country back into shape if he became president.

  •  Excelent chart and excellent diary. Wish it would (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    inHI, Purple Priestess

    appear front and center in every news outlet of this country. Yeah. I know. Wishful thinking.

    In the 2008 elections there were 15 million less people who identified themselves as "liberals" than as "conservatives" (L/C ratio: 65%). Face it, this country is center-right. Moving it to the left is up to us!

    by healthy on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 07:20:29 PM PST

  •  Georgia, Where is your tip jar? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This diary is highly recommended.  We need much more discussion on the issue of congress persons representing themselves, instead of their constituency.  And when they are part of the 1% that is much more likely.

  •  YES.. Occupy Congress! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Purple Priestess
  •  This is very, very well-written. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    inHI, Purple Priestess

    And it explains so well why the perennial answer to the question "Can you hear us now?" is "No, we can't."

    I want very badly to believe that 2012 will be different. Surely, the Founding Fathers did not envision a system whereby change could only come about through violent insurrection.

    I understand that the Founding Fathers feared that too much change over too short a period of time might doom their fledgling nation. But we're now living in a country where the 1% hire a few thousand goons to defend them and feed the rest of the country to the free-market sharks.

    I'm tired of it all. I want to live in a country where I can make enough money to: (1) feed my 3 kids, (2) pay my bills, and (3) save a little money for retirement.

    Is that too much to ask?

    Will Newt Gingrich care what happens to people like me should his fat ass become president? Hell, no!

    Don't the Republicans realize how hated that guy is? He married his fucking geometry teacher right out of high school for fuck's sake. Then, after cheating on her with the slut that became his second wife, he cheated on wife #2 with the slut that became his third wife.

    How fucking odious is that?

    And he has the audacity to pander to social conservatives about what is happening to the morals of this country?

    Whose fucking morals, Newt?

    God, I hate that man.

  •  Thank you Georgia! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Oh Newt was heavily influenced alright (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Purple Priestess

    by his weiner

  •  I know that campaign finance is sometimes (0+ / 0-)

    put forward as a panacea to our lack of truly representative government but I would suggest an alternative that probably has just as much chance of occurring.  We need to increase the size of Congress so that each Representative is  representing a smaller number of citizens.  The fewer people a candidate has to reach the cheaper it is to reach them.  Also, voters might actually have the chance to meet the candidates.  While there would still be plenty of money in these campaigns, the fact is that at some point the next dollar spent is less effective than the last and it may be that we will see more challengers able to mount effective campaigns with less money.

    It's just a name like the Death Zone or the Zone of No Return.All the zones have names like that in the Galaxy of Terror. H.J.F.

    by msstaley on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 08:12:42 PM PST

  •  OK they're rich. Not OK they are anti-American. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ozsea1, sentinalnode

    Washington was rich. TR was rich.  JFK was rich.  But they put America first.

    The problem is the completely anti-American policies from energy policies that put US in strategic military and economic peril from pro-oil use policies when other countries have used smart government regulation to achieve energy efficiency twice that of US.  The US trade and budget deficits are directly related to oil use, $10T spent on oil wars and oil trade deficits.  The green energy jobs it cost the US on top of it.

    Killing Depression era Wall St regulations and then getting the same destructive Wall St schemes causing the same the economic depression with millions losing tier homes and savings.

    The crazy tax policies that have lead to massive deficits and debt and income inequality.

    Putting oil company, Wall St bank and personal profit over US critical national interest.

    They are jackals.

  •  Empathy Deficit Disorder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tofumagoo, ozsea1

    Neuroscience: Evil as “empathy deficit disorder”

    If we all used our ability to empathise more, and recognised its value, he says, conflicts such as the decades of tit-for-tat violence between Palestinians and Israelis could be resolved.

    [ ... ]

    Citing decades of scientific research, he says there are at least 10 regions of the brain which make up what he calls the “empathy circuit”. When people hurt others, either systematically or fleetingly, parts of that circuit are malfunctioning.

    EDD develops when people focus too much on acquiring power, status and money for themselves at the expense of developing those healthy relationships. Nearly every day we hear or read about people who have been derailed by the pursuit of money and recognition and end up in rehab or behind bars. But many of the people I see, whether therapy patients or career and business clients, struggle with their own versions of the same thing. They have become alienated from their own hearts and equate what they have with who they are.

    There have also been studies which show the structure of the brains of RW Conservatives are actually formed differently and that mirror neurons located in the insula are not present in individuals who lack empathy ... example given here is autism.

  •  Love the post and the lead chart even though the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    lead chart is misleading.  The number of "millionaires" in the US can be as much as 10% depending on how you calculate it.  It is certainly many times 1%.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE our 99% battle cry, but I'm plagued by a bad case of numeracy.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 08:39:34 PM PST

  •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

    You nailed it right on the head with this piece. V.well written. The worst thing IMO that has happened is the hijacking of the Supreme Court by special interests most notably wealthy conservatives, hence we were force fed Citizens United. Lack of campaign finance reform and gerrymandering have turned Congress into a life time job with great retirement and benefits.

    What happened to a government of the people, by the people and for the people -Abraham Lincoln- ?

  •  what a shock- but you forgot (0+ / 0-)

    to mention ANY Democrat critters? And yet posted Sarah, who ISN'T a congress critter? Wow... shocking.

  •  So, my takeaway from your piece - particularly (0+ / 0-)

    the concluding paragraph?

    Whatever the end result of the protests, they can and have caused members of Congress to perk up their ears and, at the very least, listen. Some members of Congress will give OWS protestors the same amount of attention Gingrich gave to the Greek workers during that luxury cruise. Others, however, will afford the movement and its growing voice a longer listen. Perhaps that sliver of sympathy is all we can expect out of this Congress. Perhaps that's the best of a bad situation -- until we get OWS to occupy seats in Congress and bring true representation to the 99%.

    Emphasis mine

    My takeaway: Jesse LaGreca for Congress.


  •  You mention President Obama (0+ / 0-)

    What is his opinion of OWS?  Of wealth inequality?  Of Wall Street running our nation?

    Where is his leadership on this?

    "Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy." Sun Tzu

    by gila on Sun Nov 20, 2011 at 10:03:37 PM PST

  •  Excellent! Very well said. (0+ / 0-)
  •  And yet Nancy Pelosi is a progressive favorite, (0+ / 0-)

    and I've seen no shortage of progressives tell me what a wonderful candidate John Kerry was...

    even though Pelosi's fortune is three times that of Palin's, and Kerry's fortune is nearly $200 million.

    That said, your basic point is correct, but it's a Washington problem, not just a Republican problem. Seven of the ten richest people in Congress are Democrats.

    "Our" representatives don't exist any more.  "Their" representatives have taken over.  That's why "they" get served and we get served up.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 12:26:52 AM PST

  •  Sidebar: FYI (0+ / 0-)


    Less than a month after she was shot, Giffords met with music therapist Maegan Morrow at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston.

    As Morrow told me this week on CBC Radio's Day 6, she knew going into the meeting that Giffords wasn't able to vocalize at all. But she felt she might have a way to cut through the trauma Giffords's brain was dealing with by way of "a very familiar song."
    'Happy birthday to you'

    Morrow sang Happy Birthday to the mute congresswoman "and I left the end of the phrase out and tried to get Gabby to sing along with me."

    Giffords didn't sing. Instead, she grabbed the hand of the therapist to physically but silently complete the missing word of the phrase "Happy Birthday to ...."

    Music had become the cognitive link between patient and therapist.

    "Music centres are all over the brain," says Morrow. "I might be able to retrieve lyrics from the right side, from the middle, from the back of the brain. There are so many components to music that I can tap into … to reach words again and to reformulate them in the brain."

    In terms of human evolution, speech is a relatively recent addition to our compartmentalized brains. Some believe music may precede it. There's no doubt that toddlers babble and vocalize long before they speak.

    One of the therapies that Morrow tried with Giffords is called melodic intonation therapy. It's an intensive program that was developed after researchers noticed that patients with severe aphasia (the loss of the ability to speak) could sing words and phrases they could no longer speak.

    Oligarchy, Monopoly, Artificial Scarcity - - - All Day All Week Occupy Wall Street

    by anyname on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 12:39:24 AM PST

  •  As a candidate this year... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Georgia Logothetis, ferment

    This one really hits home, as I am a 25-mile commuter with family obligations, running against a retirement-age executive who works in town. Not only that, but my opponent outraised me about 4 to 1. That being said, I made a respectable 45% showing. But it still proved to be a seriously uphill battle just to get to that point. Online adverting and social networking might work great nationally or in the core cities, but in the suburbs, you may as well be chiseling into rock. Actually, that might work better. While I was driving all over town putting up and replacing signs, my opponent's campaign manager was getting paid $40/hr to put theirs up. While I developed my website, designed my logos, and comparison shopped for printing, my opponent paid a consultant $3,000 to do it. And the local paper insisted that they "worked hard" and I "hadn't put up a fight." Worse, my opponent managed to snatch a progressive endorsement from me despite a personal and campaign contribution history heavily tilted to the right. And despite ending up with more progressive and leftward endorsements, I had to actually argue my way onto the state progressive candidate guide, after the fact, and all that got me was an "also progressive" next to my opponent. Feh. Just thinking about it all makes my blood absolutely boil.

    Friends, politics is an insider's game. And it's not just because the insiders rig the game that way (though they sure do), it's also because people don't give a damn about their own government enough to actually make critically considered, function over form, content over aesthetic, and basically even remotely informed decisions.

    Terrorists can attack freedom, but only Congress can destroy it.

    by romulusnr on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 01:32:09 AM PST

  •  UC-Davis (0+ / 0-)

    We've all seen the dramatic videos from UC-Davis.  First the pepper-spraying.  Then the remarkable "silent protest".  Here's Chapter 3, the celebration after the silent protest.  Just as moving in a joyous way as the first was in its horror and the second was in its intensity.

    If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. ~Malcolm X

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 01:33:26 AM PST

  •  Empathy Deficit = Emotional Deafness (0+ / 0-)

    Wow. I was just reading a different article from a different site on the same subject..............

    Psychopathy should not be confused with insanity. It is best described by Robert Hare, global expert and psychologist, as "emotional deafness" -- a biochemical inability to experience normal feelings of empathy for others.

    This shark-like fixation on self-interest means that psychopaths often feel a clear detachment from other people, viewing them more as sheep to preyed upon than fellow humans to relate to. For instance, psychopaths in prison often use group therapy sessions not as a healing process, but as an opportunity to learn how to simulate normal human emotions.


  •  The relationship between wealth and political view (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Georgia Logothetis

    is not so simple:

    Here is a list of congresspeople and their wealth

    The wealthiest are: Darrell Issa, Michael McCaul and ... John Kerry, Mark Warner, Herb Kohl ....

    Nancy Pelosi - over $100 million.

    On the other hand, most of those with the least wealth - indeed, negative wealth - are Democrats, but by no means all.

    Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

    by plf515 on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 03:38:56 AM PST

  •  Top 0.1% Earn Half Of All Capital Gains (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    More info for OWS from Forbes...

    Income and wealth disparities  become even more  absurd  if we look at the top 0.1% of the nation's earners-- rather than the more common 1%. The top 0.1%--  about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million--  are making about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year; and these capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400.
    No wonder the super wealthy plutocrats  obtained the largest share of national income-- 25% of the nation's wealth- greater than any other  industrial nation in the  the period of 1979 to 2005. Make no mistake; after unemployment-- this disparity between the 1%-- 3 million-- or the 0.1%-- the 300,000-- and the other  312 million citizens of the U.S. has become the major theme of the Occupy Wall Street movement-- and an important national debate.

    I commend you to the late Justice Louis Brandeis warning to the nation that " We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the  hands of a few, but we can't have both." We have to make up our minds to restore a higher, fairer  capital gains tax to the wealthiest investor class-- or ultimately face increased social unrest.

  •  Wasn't it Biden who voted for that very nasty (0+ / 0-)

    credit card bill years ago?  The one that made it more difficult to file bankruptcy?  This in spite of the fact that most bankruptcy filings are driven by excessive medical costs, not by vacations to the Greek islands.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 04:12:42 AM PST

  •  I'm surprised (0+ / 0-)

    I would have thought that MORE than 50% in Congress were millionaires.

    I still don't believe it ... I woulda guessed over 90%.

    "Politics is the entertainment branch of industry" - Frank Zappa

    by Da Rock on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 05:12:30 AM PST

  •  they'll be empathy when there is FIGHTING message (0+ / 0-)

    reminding people over and over and over -

    WHO are the lying thieving fucking fascists?

    WHO are the political incompetents who won't fight the fascists?

    WHO are the DLC - Third Way - New Dem yuppie scum sell outs selling us out to the fascists?

    of course, "we" couldn't have that kind of message cuz it doesn't fit the salon paradigm of the political dilittantes aspiring to sinecures in the Kennedy School of Government, College of I wanna be Teddy White.


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 05:26:46 AM PST

    •  opps! "there will be..." (0+ / 0-)

      there ain't no empathy from the crowd cuz the crowd don't give a shit,

      and the crowd don't give a shit cuz they're sick of being fucking lied to and fucking sold out -


      how many tens of millions of Americans are going to jobs like the diarist lightbulb writes about today?

      80? 110?

      for the 1%, things are working just fine.


      Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

      by seabos84 on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 06:00:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  campaign finance: living money (0+ / 0-)

    This diary makes a good point that starring in a political campaign is probably a full-time job for most. I think that it should command a decent living wage.

    My preference for campaign finance reform is a modified version of Lawrence Lessig's "grant and franklin" plan. Each taxpayer (any federal tax, including payroll) would get a $50 voucher from their tax money which they could spend on any campaign. They could supplement that with up to $100 of their own money.

    Unlike Lessig, I'd allow them to give it to any freely-available media instead of campaigns. Such media could not give anything back for voucher money, and would have to foreswear advertising income (conflict of interest).

    And now that I think of it, I'd let candidates earn a campagning salary of 10% of their donations or the median wage, whichever is less. That way, they could afford to campaign without a trust fund.

    Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

    by homunq on Mon Nov 21, 2011 at 06:21:01 AM PST

  •  empathy deficit (0+ / 0-)

    empathy deficit? physician heal thyself.

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