Dark Tetrad

Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema: The Dark Tetrad in Action

I don’t think we need to review the crises that the country faces. We all know that the climate change is upon us, death in the form of #COVID19 stalks our land, and our democracy is being dismantled disenfranchised voter by disenfranchised voter.

I don’t think we need to review the legislation that is pending before Congress that would go along way to addressing and mitigating these apocalyptic trio.

I don’t think we need to review the reasons that this effective legislation is stalled and not being passed in spite of Democratic control of the House, Senate, and White House. We all know that it is because the Republican senators will filibuster any and all legislation up to and including raising the debt ceiling. We all know that the Democrats cannot modify or outright end the filibuster without the votes of all fifty Democratic senators and Senators Joe Manchin (D – Your Favorite Drunk Uncle’s Favorite Democratic Senator) and Kyrsten Sinema (D – Your Favorite Drunk Uncle’s Favorite Girl-on-Girl Senate Fantasy) refuse to budge on the filibuster.

The only thing in question is why. Why won’t these folks reform the filibuster? The cost of NOT reforming the filibuster are entirely dire: The US will default on its debt. It will be an unmitigable disaster. #COVID19 will continue to ravish MAGA Nation and overwhelm our hospitals and morgues with their sick, dying, and dead in spite of a perfectly serviceable vaccine being available. Extreme weather will continue to burn the Western states like some methed-out rampaging John Mayer on an extended come-back concert tour, hurricanes will continue to march across the South like a drunken Sherman leaving the wreckage of housing and people sweltering in electricity-less hovels. And, the GQP will have a clear path to enact their single-party pseudo-democratic minority-rule autocracy transferring all of the nation’s wealth to the 1% as quickly as possible. Those are the only risks of keeping the filibuster.

Even though it is painfully obvious that these are the outcomes, both Manchin and Sinema persist in their resistance to reforming it. The glib reason for their resistance is that they’ve been bought and paid for by the fossil fuels lobbyists, the Koch Bros, and other purveyors of dark money. The superficial answer is that they have to win re-election in a deep red state and very purple one as if the fate of the universe depended on their continuing to warm a Senate seat with their pale hairless fat asses. Just ask Doug Jones and Claire McCaskill about making touch choices while serving in the Senate.

But, it has to be more than just that because when given the choice between the end of the country and the very world as we know it and your reelection, no human being with real live human feelings would respond with, “Meh, where’s that oil lobbyist and his checkbook gotten away to?” The answer has to be deeper and more personal than that. It has to be buried deep in their personalities. It has to be because the are squarely located in the dark tetrad cluster of personality traits. And, this moment gives us a golden opportunity to see these traits in action.

The Dark Personality Trait Clusters

If you are just joining us for our adventures in the dark side , I urge you to consult the linked posts. Because TL;DR, I’ll give a brief primer reusing information from posts pasts — hey, reusing stuff, it’s good for the environment, right?

The Dark Tetrad

The dark tetrad of personality traits consists of these four qualities:

  • PSYCHOPATHY is characterized by a callous disregard for the well-being of others, an inability to feel empathy or guilt.
  • MACHIAVELLIANISM is the willingness to use deception and manipulation to achieve your goals without regard to the harms they may cause on others. These people frequently use ends justify the means type reasoning.
  • NARCISSISM is the overwhelming concern for one’s own self, needs, and well-being without acknowledging the needs of others or understanding that they exist.
  • SADISM is the enjoyment of pain in others this can be physical or psychological pain, it can large amounts of pain or minor discomforts that people feel.

Joe Manchin

Some people claim to be confused by Manchin’s behavior. They see him wringing his hands and clutching his pearls all summer and fretting about the filibuster, the expense of it all, and the concern, very real concern, for all of the issues that Biden and the Dems are trying to address through legislation. They see him negotiating — NEGOTIATING, I tell you — compromise deals that will get ten Republican bills. And, he actually got a skinny infrastructure bill passed with the assurance that the big infrastructure bill that would address climate change and lift people out of poverty would be passed through reconciliation with fifty Democratic votes in the Senate. Ahem, he’s one of them votes. Now that the votes are being taken, he’s crying that it costs too much nevermind that we’ve spent trillions on Afghanistan and gave trillions to the 1%, so obviously, we’ve got a few spare trillion just stinking up the joint.

Who does that? Supposedly, these people work together. Know each other. Have to trust each other. A dark tetrad mo’fo’ does that. That’s who. That’s someone completely unconstrained by a human conscious and feels completely justified in lying cheating and stealing to get what he wants and needs.

Narcissism: Clearly, he loves him all the light that the limes can spare. He’ll grab him a whole fist full or two of them limes and carry them as long as he can. He likes being the linchpin in the Democrat’s legislative plan, and what is more, he loves to be the impediment because he is impo’tent! He’s an impo’tent man, by god, and we are all going to acknowledge it to him.

Machiavellianism: Given that he has been publicly outed by a lobbyist for Exxon as being the gum that the corporation stepped on, he clearly is being duplicitous about his opposition to the larger infrastructure bill. He opposes it because Exxon opposes it. It is as simple as that. But, he can’t come right out and say that, now can he?

The Machiavellian then invents a “reason” to prevent the things he opposes from being achieved. While it isn’t a sudden attack of senatorial institutionalism that we’re seeing here, it is the reason he has always supported the filibuster. He’s always needed it as cover to ensure that Exxon and the other dark money interests he really represents are met. Now, it is the last card in the hand that he’s been dealt.

Pscyhopathy: Voting rights and our democracy can be sacrificed right along with the climate and the habitability of the earth in order for him to make mo’ money. How can you watch the West burn in wildfires, be parched by drought, the South be pummeled by hurricanes, and the Midwest and Northeast drowned in flooding without wanting to do something about it? How can you watch millions be evicted from their homes, struggle to earn enough to live, care for their children, and contribute to society, and suffer and die from preventable infections? How can you watch a 250 year experiment in democracy be flushed down the toilet and the forces of white supremacy be unleashed upon the country without feeling some sense of guilt, remorse, or shame?

You’d have to be one flint-hearted mo’fo’ to stand by and say, “Nope, nothing to be done for any of it. I guess, we’ll just have to suffer, and by we, I mean you, because Exxon, the Koch Bros, and dark money have provided me with the wealth I need to live out my life in supreme creature comfort no matter what is happening in the world.”

He’s a dark fucking personality who is willing to screw the lot of us in order to line his pockets with dark money. This is the explanation of why Joe Manchin opposes the filibuster and the larger infrastructure bill. Everything else that dribbles and leaks from his orifices is just so much flimsy window dressing and distraction.

Kyrsten Sinema

Senator Sinema is also squarely in the cluster of dark tetrad personality traits. While Manchin is clearly motivated by feeding at the trough of sweet sweet dark money lucre, Sinema may be motivated by something far more idiotic than greed: attention-seeking and contrarianism.

We all saw her bounce down to the front of the Senate chamber in whatever girlish get up she was wearing and do her hippy-hip swish to give a cutesy-pie thumbs down to scuttle the $15.00 minimum wage provision of the #COVID19 relief bill. If that wasn’t attention seeking behavior, I don’t know what else is.

It’s all well and good that she co-sponsored voting rights legislation, negotiated the infrastructure bill over the summer and, just like Manchin, turned around and opposed the reconciliation bill.

So, what gives. How can she put in so much hard work to achieve these legislative goals and still oppose the one thing that will ensure that they get enacted? Could it be that she’s just using the filibuster to mask her true goals? How the fuck do I know. She doesn’t comment on Ye Olde Blogge or inhabit my DM’s, but it does give us something to work with in terms of the dark tetrad because to leave the filibuster in place condemns us to continue suffering from and being greatly diminished by the trio of crises that beset us.

Narcissism: It is pretty clear that she is a narcissist because attention seeking. In fact, I think her whole senate run was just to build her brand. Her positions are all over the map. First she supports voting rights and infrastructure, then she opposes it. Seems like she’s maximizing her time in the news. Seems like opposing the status quo is just away of getting attention.

Psychopathy: The utter lack of guilt, remorse, or shame at sacrificing the health and well being of the American people and our democracy is pretty clear. If she actually cared, she would’ve ended the filibuster so the voting rights legislation that she so proudly co-sponsored in the Senate could’ve passed. Anyone who had any sense of guilt, shame, or humility could not co-sponsor a bill, negotiate a deal, and then keep the very thing that is blocking their passage in place.

Machiavellianism: Nothing shouts Machiavellian louder than bad-faith negotiations. To have assured the progressive caucus that the skinny infrastructure bill and reconciliation bill would both be passed only to oppose it is so Lucy-Charlie-Brown-football.

So, that’s it. That’s what the dark tetrad personality looks like. It sorta looks okay and seems okay, but there’s always something a little off. Then when you scratch the surface, you realize that the surface is completely contradicted by what is underneath… and what’s underneath is the real stuff. The surface is just the lie to achieve their real goals. We’re being taken for a ride with these two. We’ll see if we can actually get anything worthwhile out of them before the ’22 elections, but I’m not betting on it.

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Image Attribution

“Joe Manchin – Jay Rockefeller – Gail Manchin – Farmington, W.Va.” by West Virginia Blue is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

32 replies »

  1. And, Democrats can’t kick either one of them out of the party because then they would lose the majority and we would be fully at the nonexistent mercy of Moscow Mitch. I know it is damned hard to find a strong enough point of leverage on a psychopath, let alone two of them, but Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer had better find some and lean hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      This is the curious thing. Mitch McConnell may have done it for them. By promising to filibuster the debt ceiling resolution, he forces the Democrats hand. They have a few choices: (1) Allow the US to default if they can’t break the filibuster. (2) Not risk defaulting by eliminating the filibuster — I think this is what McConnell really wants. Or (3) capitulate to minority rule.

      Playing Russian roulette with defaulting on the debt has been tried before usually ending in a vote to raise the debt ceiling. But, why risk it now? Why not just end the filibuster, raise the debt ceiling on the backs of fifty Democratic senators, pass Biden’s agenda, and run on the obstructionism of the Republicans and the benefits that the Democrats are providing?

      Only the most craven would destroy the full faith and credit of the US. It would be one of the greatest self-destructive and world-destructive acts ever committed in the history of human kind.


      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve thought since the issue of the filibuster came up that Mitch wants the Dems to kill it so that if he gets the majority back he can he has to leave it dead because they did it. And also so that the GOP can run against everything the Dems will have done, “to undo their power grab and tyranny and save the country”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • His reaction to Reid’s ending the filibuster for judge nominations told you that he wanted it all gone.

          It is the game that Manchin, Sinema, et al. are playing that is the most concerning. They are complete back benchers who are willing to play the useful idiot for their own little pot of gold.


          Liked by 1 person

            • Hopefully, the Republicans will shoot themselves in foot with their abortion stance, election reform bills, anti-vaxx, anti-mask position, and willingness to plunge the world into economic chaos and that will be sufficient for many white middle class suburbanites to vote Dem and Manchin and Sinema will finally get on board with election reform.

              It just now occurs to me that the Koch Bros and the fossil fuel and big pharma are all probably anti-democratic and are promoting the shift to minority rule. That’s depressing.


              Liked by 1 person

              • Add to that list for the Republicans their flailing and in some respects possibly illegal attempts to prove the election was stolen. Some of the effect it all will have on voters will depend of whether they look powerful and in control, or desperate an irresponsible.

                Fossil fuel is going to either go with any party that will try to save their doomed business model. Big Pharma faces the prospect of effective price control and a shift of R&D to public funding in a universal care system. And the Kochs will support whoever they can buy who will let them suck up wealth and do as they please without regulation and taxes.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Bob!

                  Listening to some of the descriptions of the representatives and senators sitting on the committees writing some of the upcoming legislation is pretty blunt. There are three Big Pharma representatives sitting on the committee that the bill allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices is before. I’ve heard several other representatives complaining that they are known to be in the pocket of Big Pharma. Several senators are describing Joe Manchin as being owned by fossil fuels and he’s chairing the committee working on a transportation bill that would’ve lowered emissions substantially, but the author of the bill complained that the changes he’s making will negate any savings in emissions. I don’t remember any members of Congress ever openly describing another as being owned or in the pocket of an industry. Surely, they all know who is and isn’t, but I don’t think it was considered kosher to talk openly about it with the public.

                  All I can say is that if Manchin and Sinema end up scuttling Biden’s legislative agenda, they may as well change parties because they shouldn’t get anything from the Dems ever again. No party campaign funds, no committee chairs, no plum committees. Nothing.


                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I think that even if Manchin and Sinema eventually cave on the spending bills, they will face primary challenges. I also can imagine some Republican running against either of them saying, “Why vote for a fake Democrat when you can have a real Republican?”

                    Progressives have always been less shy when it comes to talking openly about who’s bought and who’s not.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      I certainly hope they do. I worry about the strength of their boughtness. How owned are they? As I understand it, Manchin’s son owns a coal company that Manchin owns stock in. He earns almost $500,000.00 per year in dividends off of that stock. While coal is clearly dying, and anyone with any sense should be divesting themselves of coal and moving on, his son has made the mistake of not getting out early enough. Manchin has made the mistake of not having sold that stock early enough. The longer you wait to get out, the less value your company and stock have, which only strengthens the resolve to hold on. The principles of cognitive dissonance tell us that the more consequential your commitment to a belief is, the harder you’ll cling to it, the more outrageous your rationalizations for staying with it.

                      Manchin has talked about not running in 2024. He’s won by slimmer and slimmer margins down to less than 50% of the vote in 2018. The only leverage left over him is that if he scuttles Biden’s legislation, they will remove him from his plum committee chairs and committee assignments. He’ll become personal non grata in the caucus. His ego might respond to that. They might also have someone talk to him about restructuring his stock portfolio away from fossil fuels and help his son invest in renewables.

                      Sinema, I think is a true contrarian and gets that sadistic joy out of just confounding people. She’s all attention seeking, all flash, no pan. There is no sustain there. Agan, is the only leverage over her to deny her committee assignments that she wants? To push her aside.

                      If they scuttle Biden’s agenda, does it matter if Manchin switches parties? I don’t think he will. His ego is too tied up in being a Democrat. It won’t matter after the legislation is defeated which party he or Sinema are in.


                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Manchin might respond if it is made clear to him (in a way that allows him to “discover” it for himself) that the big budget bill will include pots of money that will help him, his son, and others do that disinvesting and reinvesting in new business in the state. maybe

                      If he is not going to run again in ’24, then he is as free to go with the party as against it.

                      Rendering her invisible is probably the worst threat to which Sinema is vulnerable.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      If you and I can think of these things, you gotta figure that Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi have thought of them, too, and more. They know how to move Congress, legislation, and the individual legislators. They’ve got to, right?

                      Personally, I’m all for the making them persona non grata for the rest of their lives, stripping them of their committee assignments, and allowing them to tap into government funding to make up for the sting of shifting their portfolios away from fossil fuels. Some combination of that and other strong-arm tactics should work. Also, McConnell is now begging them to ditch the filibuster. There’s no reason for Manchin and Sinema to oppose ending it, especially when the full-faith and credit of the US is on the line.


                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Nothing makes more clear what is at stake than the Republican threats to crash the Federal government and our national credit, and to use the filibuster to do it. I keep recalling the famous words of Steve Bannon; “Burn it all down.”

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • One look no further than the mess GQP governments left in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Louisiana to understand what a gawd awful mess they’d make of the country if we’d let them.


                      Liked by 1 person

                    • And now, Gov. Abbott in Texas is going to use COVID Relief funds to provide vouchers for NoVacs/NoMasks kids to go to private schools if their public school has a mask mandate. Betsy DeVos must be proud of another blow to public education.

                      In the NYT today there is analysis of the red-ward skew of the pandemic currently happening. How bad is it? Bad enough that an OpEd on Breitbart is worried enough to accuse Liberals of using reverse psychology to keep Republicans from getting vaccinated.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Howdy Bob!

                      One of the things that I’ll bring out in the upcoming Witch Trials post is the role that failed government played in the panics. The GQP has working to end any functionality in government for a long time. That the behaviors of the GQP so coincide with all of the plays in the authoritarian playbook is no longer coincidence. They are and have been doing this knowingly and with coordination down to paying protesters to appear at Tea Party congressional town halls back in the day and at present-day school board meetings.


                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The pattern of the Republicans refusal to govern and prevent the Dems from governing really betrays their true goal: torpedo democracy and force us to turn to an autocracy. The Witch Trials give us a clear model of what happens with government and social order begin to breakdown. The Republicans are causing the social order and governance to breakdown. They must want something like the Witch Trials to be happening.


                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The religious Right clearly wants that, to purify the country and the world of the minions of Satan (anybody who does not believe identically to them), and by any means necessary. They would be delighted to be able to burn Feminist witches.

                      Liked by 1 person

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