Good News: The 25th Amendment Can Be Invoked in 23 Days

Bad news: A man with a serious personality disorder will be sworn in as President on January 20th, only 23 days from now.

But as noted above, the new President will immediately become subject to the provisions of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. That’s the amendment that allows the Vice-President to become President when the President dies or becomes “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” (unfortunately, of course, it’s still “his”).

Here’s the first paragraph of Section 4:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

There is more to it than that, because the President can object to the Vice-President’s declaration. Congress would then decide the issue.

Granted, given the fact that the new President is being extremely careful to appoint people he trusts to his cabinet, it might be difficult for Vice President Pence to get the necessary signatures right away. He’d probably need to wait until at least one of the President’s appointments had been confirmed, but I’m sure the details could be worked out.

Next question: Will the new President be unable to perform his duties as required? That’s an easy one. The man is clearly suffering from a severe psychological disorder. (I mean, seriously.)

It didn’t get much attention, but three professors of psychiatry sent a letter to President Obama last month. They called for the next President to undergo “a full medical and neuropsychiatric evaluation” in order to see if he suffers from an incurable (!) illness called “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. Professional ethics demand that psychiatrists not diagnose patients from afar, but is there any doubt that the President-elect is not a well person? From their letter:

Here … are the 9 criteria for “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. If an individual has 5 out of the 9 they have a confirmed diagnosis of this illness…

“Summary : A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3. Believe that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with other special or high-status people (or institutions)

4. Requires excessive admiration

5. Has a sense of entitlement

6. Is interpersonally exploitative

7. Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.”

Opinions may vary, but I give him roughly nine out of nine. 

The professors continue:

1. People with NPD are extremely sensitive and insecure. They psychologically require constant compliments and acknowledgement because they do not have their own internal self-esteem. They need to get it from others.

2. If someone does criticize them, … it triggers this deep and painful lack of self-esteem and they MUST lash out to relieve the pain of the criticism.

3. They have only two modes: They are either fully your friend and love you or you are their enemy and they will do everything to discredit you or humiliate you. They can’t help it. The pain of having someone in their circle who does not approve of them or acknowledge them, almost constantly, is too great.

4. There are only two ways to deal with someone with NPD, and they are both dangerous. There is no healthy way of interacting with someone with this affliction. If you criticize them they will lash out at you and if they have a great deal of power, that can be consequential. If you compliment them it only acts to increase the delusional and grandiose reality the sufferer has created, causing him to be even more reliant on constant and endless compliments and unwavering support.

5. Because they crave the attention and approval of others they develop great capacity to engage and entertain and can be quite charismatic, even to the point of developing a cult-like following.

6. Someone with NPD will NEVER get along with any member of the press or any media outlet that criticizes him.

7. Someone with NPD will NEVER hire (and will fire) anyone who criticizes him. Therefore, and because they believe they know better than almost everyone else, they have a very hard time listening and taking any advice.

In other words, the President of the United States will be psychologically armed and extremely dangerous as of high noon on January 20th. That’s when the Vice-President of the United States needs to begin the process of saving us from the Electoral College. Never put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today.

PS:

Bad news: Mike Pence, a rock-ribbed Republican jerk, would become President.

Good news: We’ve survived bastards like him before.

More good news: If Pence doesn’t immediately get the 25th Amendment rolling, see Article 2, Section 4, Impeachment. Even Congressional Republicans do their jobs sometimes.

What People Say Happened in Ferguson

The town of Ferguson is near St. Louis, Missouri. It has a population of 21,000, so it’s big enough to have a small police force. Everyone agrees that Darren Wilson, a Ferguson police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, around noon on August 9th. The results of the official autopsy haven’t been released yet, but it’s been reported that it will substantially agree with a second autopsy done at the family’s request: Wilson shot Brown approximately six times.

I spent some time recently trying to find out how many witnesses to the incident there were and what they had to say. It wasn’t easy, but two sites had some details. One was Wikipedia and the other was The Root. The latter is a magazine devoted to African-American news and commentary founded by Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Donald Graham, Chairman and CEO of what used to be the Washington Post.

Here’s a summary based on these two sources and a statement made by the St. Louis County police chief on August 17th:

Officer Wilson ordered Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson to walk on the sidewalk, not the street. Wilson and Brown got into a physical altercation while Wilson was still in his police car. A shot was fired in the car, which may or may not have struck Brown. Wilson’s face was apparently bruised during the struggle. Brown then ran away. Wilson got out of his car, chased Brown and fired again. Apparently, none of these other shots hit Brown until Brown turned around and faced Wilson. At that point, Wilson continued to fire, killing Brown. Overall, Brown was shot four times in his right arm and twice in his head. Brown’s body ended up about 35 feet from Wilson’s car.

Whether or not Brown raised his hands to surrender after he turned around, or fell toward Wilson, or decided to move toward Wilson, is now a matter of dispute. However, the four people who claim to have seen the shooting and who have been identified so far (Dorian Johnson, Piaget Crenshaw, Tiffany Mitchell and James McKnight) all indicate that Brown wasn’t threatening Officer Wilson at that point. They suggest, in fact, that Wilson executed Brown. On the other hand, Officer Wilson, who still hasn’t been directly quoted, is said to have felt threatened. The wounds Brown suffered are consistent with Brown having surrendered and fallen toward the ground, although they don’t rule out Brown having moved toward Wilson with his head down.

If this were the only evidence presented and I was on the jury, I’d have to conclude that Officer Wilson was guilty of second-degree murder. It wouldn’t be first-degree murder, since there’s no evidence of premeditation. Firing his weapon at Brown as Brown was running away indicates Wilson’s willingness to use deadly force. The consistency of the four statements from people who apparently didn’t know each other (except for the two women, one of whom supervises the other at work) implies that Brown had stopped running and was giving up. Is there reason to doubt that this is what happened? Of course, it’s possible that Brown meant to stop Officer Wilson from firing at him by moving toward Wilson. But so far there is no good reason (which is the definition of “reasonable doubt”) to think that Wilson was in danger when he killed Brown.

At some point, it would be helpful to hear a police officer admit that the deadly force he (it always seems to be “he”) applied to some black man or some crazy person wasn’t necessary. He’d explain that he was angry and excited and fearful and his emotions took over. He’d remind us that police officers hate it when their authority is challenged. He’d also remind us that he’s only human and that having the power of life and death over one’s fellow citizens will sometimes inevitably lead to misuse of that power. He’d further admit that, when it comes right down to it, he’s like too many Americans in feeling that some people’s lives just aren’t as valuable as others, especially black people’s. 

Update:

The New York Times ran an article two days ago concerning “conflicting accounts” of what happened in Ferguson. To her credit, Margaret Sullivan, the Times‘ Public Editor (which is similar to an ombudsman), points out here that:

The story goes on to quote, by name, two eyewitnesses who say that Mr. Brown had his hands up as he was fired on. As for those who posit that Mr. Brown was advancing on the officer who was afraid the teenager was going to attack him, the primary source on this seems to be what Officer Wilson told his colleagues on the police force. The Times follows this with an unattributed statement: “Some witnesses have backed up that account.” But we never learn any more than that…[The Times story] sets up an apparently equal dichotomy between named eyewitnesses on one hand and ghosts on the other.