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Trump Isn't Crazy, He's Just a Terrible Person: Leading Psychiatrist

January 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The president is more “bad than mad,” according to the man who wrote the book on personality disorders.

In an age when the current White House occupant has inspired unprecedented levels of armchair psychiatry, Allen Frances remains one of the foremost authorities in the field. As the chair of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV Task Force, he helped draft the criteria defining narcissistic personality disorder and other mental illnesses. He previously served as the chairman of the psychiatry department at Duke University School of Medicine and founded the Journal of Personality Disorders and the Journal of Psychiatric Practice. In other words, Frances knows his personality disorders.

This insight has come in handy as breathless speculation about Donald Trump’s mental state reaches fever pitch. The president’s belligerence, bellicosity and bad behavior have inspired mental health clinicians to break the Goldwater Rule—which deems diagnosis from afar unethical—and even to call for its elimination. Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee has briefed Congress on Trump’s “unraveling” and edited a book in which 27 other psychiatrists offer similar psychiatric takes. Nearly 70,000 mental health professionals have signed a petition alleging “Trump is mentally ill and must be removed.” As far back as 2015, psychologist George Simon told Vanity Fair that he had “archive[d] video clips of Trump to use in workshops because there’s no better example” of narcissistic personality disorder.

Dr. Frances, in a letter to the New York Times that got a lot a lot of attention, fervently disagreed.

Frances’s description of Trump as a man who is mentally fit but morally bankrupt deserves some turning over, in part because it doesn’t let the president off the hook. If Trump is mentally competent, that means he is responsible for the havoc he wreaks, the pain he causes and the hatred he stokes. There has to be an ultimate political reckoning for those behaviors—hopefully, one that ends with Trump not just being removed from office, but held accountable for alleged crimes and betrayals.

But what deserves further scrutiny is the discrepancy between how Frances describes Trump—whom he rightly …read more


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Does ‘Fire and Fury’ Passage About Nikki Haley Imply She and Trump Are Having an Affair?

January 21, 2018 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

Author Michael Wolff said the clues are in his book.

On Friday night, author Michael Wolff set tongues wagging and pages turning by implying to “Real Time” host Bill Maher that President Donald Trump is having an affair and that the clues are in his book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. pointed to a paragraph in Fire and Fury that reads, “By October, however, many of the president’s staff took particular notice of one of the few remaining Trump opportunists: Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador. Haley — ‘as ambitious as Lucifer,’ in the characterization of one member of the senior staff — had concluded that Trump’s tenure would last, at best, a single term, and that she, with the requisite submission, could be his heir apparent.”

However, it’s the next paragraph that would appear to be more damning.

“The president has been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future,” Wolff said. “Haley, who was much more of a traditional Republican, one with a pronounced moderate streak — a type increasingly known as a Jarvanka Republican — was, evident to many, being mentored in Trumpian ways. The danger here, offered one senior Trumper, ‘is that she is so much smarter than him.'”

Haley was accused of having an adulterous relationship with political blogger Will Folks in 2007 prior to assuming the office of governor.

Folks published salacious details of the alleged affair on his blog, but later backtracked and took down the blog posts.

Haley has denied the affair.


…read more


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Facebook’s News Feed Changes Could Elevate Fake News While Harming Legitimate News Outlets

January 21, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Kaplan, Media Matters

A new algorithm could boost the spread of conservative misinformation.

This article originally appeared on New changes announced by Facebook to elevate content on its users’ news feed that is shared by friends and family over that shared by news publishers could wind up exacerbating Facebook’s fake news problem.

Over the past year, Facebook has struggled to combat the spread of fake news and misinformation on its platform. On January 11, the social media giant announced that it would change the algorithm of its news feed so that it would “prioritize what [users’] friends and family share and comment on,” according to The New York Times. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was named Media Matters’ 2017 Misinformer of the Year, told the Times that the shift was “intended to maximize the amount of content with ‘meaningful interaction’ that people consume on Facebook.” Additionally, content from news publishers and brands will be given less exposure on the news feed. Facebook is also weighing including some kind of authority component to its news feed algorithm so outlets that are considered more credible will get more prominence in the news feed.

In the past year or so, Facebook has attempted to employ some measures in its effort to fight fake news, including its third party fact-checking initiative. Though these efforts have thus far been far from effective, the new changes threaten to undercut the measures even more.

At least one study has shown that Facebook users are influenced by their friends and family members’ actions and reactions on the site. Last year, New York magazine reported on a study that found that “people who see an article from a trusted sharer, but one written by an unknown media source, have much more trust in the information than people who see the same article from a reputable media source shared by a person they do not trust.” With Facebook’s new changes, as the Times noted, “If a relative or friend posts a link with an inaccurate news article that is widely commented on, that post will be prominently displayed.”

An additional point …read more


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Some Libertarians Cheer When the Government Shuts Down. Here’s Why They Shouldn’t.

January 21, 2018 in Economics

By Jeffrey Miron

Jeffrey Miron

Libertarians believe in smaller government. How much smaller?
Roughly back to its size and scope in the 90s — that is, the

So one might naturally assume that libertarians would cheer
federal government shutdowns. These do not stop all federal
government activities, but they at least suspend some parts
temporarily. And no doubt many libertarians do find government
shutdowns appealing.

But I think that view is a mistake. Perhaps shutdowns serve the
libertarian view in a small way by illustrating that government is
not as essential as past and present gloom-and-doom commentary
suggests. After all, the United States has experienced 18 shutdowns, of varying size, since 1976, and
in each case, the world kept spinning on its axis.

Shutdowns distract from
the serious conversations that need to be had about fiscal reform
and the size of government.

They have no meaningful effect on how much the government
spends, however. To begin with, shutdowns are (presumably)
temporary. The average length of previous government shutdowns was
seven days. And if history is a guide, then
most of the suspended expenditures for salaries, benefits, and the
like will be paid retroactively. If you think a shutdown helps keep
the budget in check, you’re wrong.

Shutdowns also have zero effect on entitlements like Social
Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare, which continue
automatically unless Congress explicitly amends them. Shutdowns
only influence discretionary spending that has to be reauthorized
every year. Because entitlements constitute the large majority
(roughly 67 percent) of federal expenditure, and because this
component is growing at an unsustainable rate, shutdowns cannot
have any meaningful impact on the budget deficit. And even with
discretionary spending, around half is exempt given that many
Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security functions
are exempted from the shutdown, because they are considered
“essential” services.

What’s more, praising the shutdown lends credence to the view
that libertarians hate government in all its forms, which is not
accurate. A full cessation of all spending, tomorrow, is not the
libertarian dream. Libertarians believe most government impinges
our freedom and reduces economic efficiency, but we do not hate
government as a matter of principle; we merely argue it should be
much smaller. And the process for winnowing out important projects
from non-essential ones ought to be reasoned and democratic, not
the result of a showdown between two parties all too happy with big
government (even if their preferred programs differ).

There is, moreover, no evidence that shutdowns persuade voters
that we could do without many of the services that cease during a
shutdown. Federal outlays as a proportion of national GDP have
fluctuated over the past 40 …read more

Source: OP-EDS