A Show Of Hands, Now: Who Thinks Brian Stelter Is Telling The Truth This Time?

CNN’s laughable “media critic,” Brian Stelter, who has distinguished himself and embarrassed his field—supposedly media ethics—by devolving into a mere shill for CNN and a dependable scourge of Fox News, may have hit a new low yesterday. I say “may” because  its hard to make qualitative distinctions in the murk at the bottom of the barrel.

Stelter brought on the former chairman of the Psychiatry Department at Duke University, Dr. Alan Frances, apparently because he has a raging, Level 5 case of Trump Derangement. This is sufficient qualification  for a national news media platform now. No enlightenment necessary, no reasoned analysis, just good, old fashioned, bat-shit Trump hate, with plenty of spittle and that wonderful “Is he going run off on all fours biting people?” suspense. On Stelter’s show with the doctor was Bandy Lee, who defied her profession’s rule against diagnosing political figures from afar throughout the 2016 campaign, saying that she was  “obligated to break [the rules] in times of emergency,” thus evoking eleven rationalizations by my count. That’s right, Lee and Francis were the representatives of the psychiatric profession CNN’s “media ethics” authority decided would give a balanced assessment of the practice of psychoanalyzing the President.

Really.

Dr.  Frances pretended to criticize his professionally irresponsible colleagues like Lee for assisting in the resistance’s Plan E, trying to illegitimately apply the 25th Amendment allowing a disabled President to be removed from office.   Oh no, he said: doing this was just plain wrong:

“Well, I think ‘medicalizing’ politics has three very dire consequences. The first is that it stigmatizes the mentally ill. I’ve known thousands of patients, almost all of them are well-behaved, well-mannered good people. Trump is none of these. Lumping that is a terrible insult to the mentally ill and they have enough problems and stigma as it is. Second, calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him and even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist… Now, it’s absolutely impossible, you can bet the house that the Congress, that Pence, that the cabinet will never ever remove Trump on grounds of mental unfitness. That will never happen. Discussing the issue in psychological name-calling terms distracts us from getting out to vote. The important thing is to get Trump out of office.”

Is that your expert opinion, doctor? Simply wanting to defeat the President is all it takes to get on CNN, apparently.

Ah, but it was within those ellipses that the doctor really came through, saying, Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2018: Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part I]”

I am drowning, once again, in deserving Comments of the Day. This is a good thing in many respects, including the special circumstances that I am sick and have the energy of a spent battery. It is perplexing because it threatens to transform EA into an ethics version of Medium and put me out of a job.

One benefit of having such a diverse and erudite crowd here is that people who actually know what they are talking about have a tendency to interject when the discussion gets sloppy. John Billingsley just did this on the topic of dementia, which was much on everyone’s mind as a result of the embarrassing outbreak of  the anti-Trump coup plot known here as Plan E in the news media and among “the resistance.” (Here’s an especially revolting effort from yesterday by old Cross-Fire from the Left veteran Bill Press. When a opinion piece begins by calling a professor of psychiatry who has been rebuked by her own association “a leading psychiatrist” and asserts convincing authority in her announcing that the President’s mental health is “unraveling” based on a substantially debunked book, objective people can tell what’s going on, and it isn’t fair, dispassionate analysis.)

This is John’s Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/2018: Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part I]:

The word “dementia” is being tossed about here with little regard to what it actually means. It is a word that has a specific technical meaning and is not something that can be diagnosed by simply watching someone on TV or reading their tweets. There is no specific, single identifying symptom of dementia. Statements someone doesn’t like, decisions someone thinks are bad, slips of the tongue, lapses of memory, spelling or grammatical errors, calling another national leader “Rocket Man” and comparing your button to his, cutting off aid to Pakistan, enforcing the law as written, not believing in global warming, referring to yourself as a stable genius, acting like an idiot at times, doing inexplicable things, being unethical, etc. are not specific symptoms of dementia. Taken all together they do not make the diagnosis of dementia. To make a diagnosis in this manner is no more valid than diagnosing Hillary as having seizures based on a few movements seen on video.

Dementia is a syndrome, a group of symptoms that occur together, not a specific disease. There are many diseases that may result in dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body disease, and vascular disease to name only a few. The DSM V actually eliminated the term “dementia” and replaced it with the term “major neurocognitive disorder” but the diagnostic criteria are essentially unchanged and they are (taken from the DSM V):

Evidence of significant cognitive decline from a previous level of performance in one or more cognitive domains (complex attention, executive function, learning and memory, language, perceptual-motor, or social cognition) based on:

Concern of the individual, a knowledgeable informant, or the clinician that there has been a significant decline in cognitive function; and

A substantial impairment in cognitive performance, preferably documented by standardized neuropsychological testing or, in its absence, another quantified clinical assessment.

The cognitive deficits interfere with independence in everyday activities (i.e., at a minimum, requiring assistance with complex instrumental activities of daily living such as paying bills or managing medications).

There are a couple of other technical requirements that are not pertinent to this discussion.

As you can see the first criteria requires a “significant cognitive decline” in one or more areas of functioning. I don’t believe anyone can give specific examples from available sources to conclusively show there has been a significant decline. I don’t think there is any available evidence that even strongly suggests there has been a significant decline.

Has Trump himself, a knowledgeable informant (not an anonymous source), or a clinician who has actually examined him expressed concern that he has experienced a significant cognitive decline? Both Theresa May and Mike Pompeo, though not clinicians, have at least interacted with him in circumstances that would be likely to reveal significant cognitive impairment, and they say no. Has there been standardized testing or other quantified clinical assessment? If there is, it certainly isn’t public knowledge. Does he require assistance with taking his medications and paying his bills? I don’t know but I rather doubt it.

For anyone other than a qualified professional who has actually examined him to diagnose that he is demented is simply name calling and should be given the weight it deserves. Absolutely none. Now if you want to call him demented, a moron, an idiot, or anything else in the slang rather than technical sense of those terms, have at it, but don’t then try to pretend that you made a real diagnosis carrying any weight or satisfying the requirements of the 25th Amendment.

Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 3]

This topic started out as a morning warm-up and has stretched into three posts. I’m sorry: the more I look at it, the more infuriating Plan E appears.

Let’s briefly recap, shall we?

…The news media, using the dubious claims of Michael Wolff as its catalysts, and following the dictates of the anti-Trump resistance, is trying panic the public into believing that the President is mentally incompetent, and that the provisions of the 25th Amendment might have to be activated, removing him from office.

…That this claim is legitimate, justified, or based on anything but the same view of the President the news media, progressives and Democrats had and loudly publicized through the 2016 campaign is a lie.

…Because it is an audacious, unconscionable lie devoid of evidence or justification being repeated for the purpose of making its targets deny it and discuss it, thus giving it more publicity and legitimacy (“Did the Holocaust really happen?” “Did Trump make a deal to have Russia take down Hillary?”), it fits the description of Hitler’s Big Lie propaganda technique.

…The foundation of this disgusting plot is Bandy Lee, Yale professor of psychiatry who has been condemned by her profession, who is hawking a book, who relies on rationalizations, and whose statements betray a political rather than a professional agenda.

Now we continue…

7.  Ethics Dunces: Everyone who accepts, supports or furthers Plan E, the “Trump is disabled” lie. Ethics Dunce is too mild a name here. We have the mainstream news media proclaiming to the world that the President of the United States is mentally deficient based on tweets, gossip, leaks, unethical diagnoses by discredited professionals, an author who has admitted making things up and lying to the White House to get access, and Steve Bannon. Those who enable Plan E are deliberately risking Constitutional disaster and permanent weakening of our institutions. Jonathan Turley properly called this out as the nonsense that  it was in October, only then the supposed crippling malady being claimed was narcissism. That wasn’t flying—Turley: “If we started removing public servants because they were narcissists, the nation’s Capital might become a virtual ghost town. In D.C., the question isn’t who fits that definition? but, who doesn’t?”—so Lee et al. switched to “dementia.”

That’s equally weak and dishonest, and obviously so to anyone who is objective. In the Washington Examiner, Eddy Scarry asks,  “Why hasn’t Michael Wolff’s dementia-Trump ever been seen in public?” We have seen public figures and elected officials show signs of mental problems, like Nancy Pelosi, who has frequently mixed up names, forgotten where she was, sounded disoriented and confused, and talked gibberish in public appearances, or John McCain, who had a disturbing episode in a Senate hearing before his brain tumor was discovered. Trump has had nothing like that occur, either before or after being elected. Scarry: Continue reading

Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 2]

As their purely, non-partisan, unbiased,professional opinion. of course–just like Prof. Lee today.

[Part I was the Morning Warm-up for 1/7/18, which can be found here.]

4. The Big Lie’s smoking gun. CNN, Politico, MSNBC, Newsweek, The Hill, and many other news sources had headlines this week that were some variation of this one, from CNN:

“Lawmakers consulted psychiatrist about Trump”

The obvious message being conveyed: lawmakers—not just Democrats, but Republicans too!—are worried enough about the President’s mental health that they called in an expert to “brief” them. (“Lawmakers briefed by Yale psychiatrist on Trump’s mental health: report”—The Hill.) This is misleading, dishonest, and factually false—truly fake news. The Weekly Standard, hardly a reflex pro-Trump publication, revealed how false it all was. The story began…

On Wednesday night, before Washington was completely consumed by Michael Wolff’s West Wing tell-all, Politico published a piece feeding into a different frenzy: the notion that Congress was concerned President Trump might be mentally unfit for office. The article, titled “Washington’s growing obsession: The 25th amendment,” claims that more than a dozen lawmakers—all Democrats, with the exception of one nameless Republican senator—attended private briefings in early December with a Yale psychiatry professor to discuss Trump’s mental health. The most interesting detail of the story, of course, was that one rebellious Republican senator had met with Dr. Bandy Lee to discuss her belief that Trump is unfit to serve as commander-in-chief. Politico reported that Lee refused to name the GOP lawmaker she claimed to have had a meeting with.

The reporter, Haley Bird, investigated and…

  • …”was unable to confirm that any Republican Senator actually met with the Yale professor.”
  •  “In an on-the-record phone call with TWS Saturday afternoon, Lee admitted her “meeting” with a Republican senator was not actually scheduled and that it was, in her own words, “accidental.” “The meeting happened—it wasn’t arranged in advance,” she said. “It was accidental. It was incidental, I will say. It was incidental.”

That means that she was not summoned  to “brief” worried Republican lawmakers. It was not a “meeting” is the way the word is routinely used by the news media in political matters. The word is not generally construed to mean “the bumped into each other and had a chat.” Nor is “consulted”  used to describe spontaneous questions in a chance encounter.

The media reporting here was pure hype, blowing an informal. chance meeting—in the hall?–with the unethical psychiatrist who has been unethically diagnosing Trump from afar all year long–into news. That’s propaganda in service of the Big Lie. This was not a bipartisan inquiry into a matter of state. Lee was invited to a partisan meeting of Democrats to determine if she could assist with Plan E, removing the President because of an inability to perform his duties.

5. Let’s meet the primary Ethics Dunce in the Big Lie plot,Yale psychiatry professor Bandy Lee.  She has been claiming for over a year  that Trump is mentally impaired and unfit to serve. Her primary evidence are his tweets. This is because she has never examined him, met him, or had first hand knowledge about any aspect of his conduct or behavior. Because so many Democratic and progressive professionals were moved to violate their ethics codes out of animus to Trump and fealty to the Democratic Party, the head of the American Psychiatric Association handed down this edict in August of 2016:

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry… I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.”

Got that? Lee just defied her profession’s standards. During the campaign, she continued to diagnose Trump without his consent or an in-person examination. She justified doing so on the grounds that she is “obligated to break them in times of emergency.” Do I really have to recite all of the rationalizations this transparently disingenuous  excuse employs? Oh, all right…

8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”)
25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
30. The Prospective Repeal: “It’s a bad law/stupid rule”
31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
40. The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”
45. The Abuser’s License: “It’s Complicated”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”
59. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”

She continued to breach professional ethics standards after the election,  earning a book deal that spawned  “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” So much for objective, unconflicted, professional analysis. She saw a niche and an audience, and grabbed it.

Lee herself said in an interview that she was a “pariah” at her department  Lee’s book, which came out October 3, expanded on her rationalizations by arguing that psychiatrists have a “duty to warn” the country about President Trump. In response to the book, the APA issued another statement reaffirming the importance of the Goldwater Rule standard “not to provide professional opinions in the media about the mental health of someone they have not personally examined and without patient consent or other legal authority.” It also debunked Lee’s “duty to warn” argument, saying,

 “The APA would also like to dispel a common misconception about the so-called ‘Duty to Warn.’ The duty to warn is a legal concept which varies from state to state, but which generally requires psychiatrists to breach the confidentiality of the therapeutic session when a risk of danger to others becomes known during treatment of the patient. It does not apply if there is no physician-patient relationship.”

She is an unethical professional by her own profession’s standards.

6. The Ethics Dunce’s Unethical Quotes Of The Month. In a jaw-dropping interview with Vox that is  signature significance for Anti-Trump Derangement, Lee says, among other things:

“It would be hard to find a single psychiatrist, no matter of what political affiliation, who could confidently say Trump is not dangerous.”

Yes, and that would be because they couldn’t confidently or ethically make any assertions without actually examining him. Moreover, “dangerous” is not a term of art, and in a political context, which is how Lee is speaking, it is subjective and ambiguous. The Left thinks Trump is dangerous because he chooses to be tough with North Korea.

“On the other hand, in the book we have as authors Phil Zimbardo, Judith Herman, and Robert Jay Lifton, who are notable not only for their contributions to mental health but for their amazing ethical record. These are living legends who have also stood on the right side of history, even when it was difficult, and they stand as beacons for me. No one matches their moral and professional authority, in my mind.”

She defends her unethical conduct because others have breached the same standards. (#1 Everybody Does it, #32. The Unethical Role Model)!

I’m a fan of Philip Zimbardo’s writings, but to say that the man who engineered the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment has an “amazing ethical record” shows selective attention. Zimbardo himself declared that his experiment was unethical! Then, as a blatant tell,  Lee uses “the right side of history,”  Rationalization 1B:

1B. The Psychic Historian, or “I’m On The Right Side Of History”

This especially arrogant and annoying rationalization is essentially “Everybody’s going to do it.”  It is an intellectually dishonest argument, indeed no argument at all. Every movement, every dictator, Nazis, Communists, ISIS, the Klan, activists for every conceivable policy across the ideological spectrum, think their position will be vindicated eventually. In truth, they have no idea whether it will or not, or if it is, for how long. If history teaches anything, it is that we have no idea what will happen and what ideas and movements will prevail. “I’m on the right side of history is nothing but the secular version of “God is on our side,” and exactly as unprovable.

We have heard this rationalization a lot during the escalating culture wars. It is a device to sanctify one’s own beliefs while mocking opposing views, evoking an imaginary future that can neither be proven or relied upon. Nor is there any support for the assertion that where history goes is intrinsically and unequivocally good or desirable. Are millions of aborted babies a year “right”? Is the constantly increasing percentage of children born to unmarried couples “right”?

Those who resort to “I’m on the right side of history” (or “You’re on the wrong side”) are telling us that they have run out of honest arguments.

With this she he also proves that hers is a political position, not an honest, objective professional one.

Those who most require an evaluation are the least likely to submit to one. That is the reason why in all 50 states we have not only the legal authority, but often the legal obligation, to contain someone even against their will when it’s an emergency. So in an emergency, neither consent nor confidentiality requirements hold. Safety comes first. What we do in the case of danger is we contain the person, we remove them from access to weapons, and we do an urgent evaluation. This is what we have been calling for with the president based on basic medical standards of care.

Surprisingly, many lawyer groups have actually volunteered, on their own, to file for a court paper to ensure that the security staff will cooperate with us. But we have declined, since this will really look like a coup, and while we are trying to prevent violence, we don’t wish to incite it through, say, an insurrection.

Gee, you certainly wouldn’t want it to LOOK like a coup….

KABOOM!

That this astoundingly unethical and unprofessional, hyper-partisan academic radical can be the cornerstone of an effort by Democrats and the news media to overthrow a President just exploded my head, and my office looks like an abattoir. I have to take a break. Look for Part 3.

__________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, Vox