Ben Carson 2016

The Ben Carson Show (America)

Ben Carson and the United States of America: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

While not everything wrong with Ben Carson’s presidential campaign can be pinned directly on the good doctor, his own inability to communicate with others while respecting reasonable bounds of reality has left many questioning whether or not the man who believes so many absurd notions about history, science, and humanity is smart enough to be president of anything. And in that context, no, the latest failure of his campaign staff just doesn’t help.

Happy Geography Awareness Week! Recognizing that “too many young Americans are unable to make effective decisions, understand geo-spatial issues, or even recognize their impacts as global citizens,” National Geographic created this annual observance to “raise awareness to this dangerous deficiency in American education.”

Ben Carson’s presidential campaign inadvertently underscored this point Tuesday night, when it took to social media to share a map of the United States in which five New England states were placed in the wrong location. The campaign deleted the Twitter and Facebook posts Wednesday morning after media outlets and social media users pointed out the error.

(Ingraham)

Dr. Carson doesn’t help his assertion of Christian virtue with bigotry and cruelty toward war refugees; he certainly doesn’t help his assertion of presidential competence by losing track of New England.

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Image note: Composite sources ― Ben Carson Campaign/Twitter via Washington Post; Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Ingraham, Christopher. “Ben Carson’s campaign made a U.S. map and put a bunch of states in the wrong place”. The Washington Post. 18 November 2015.

The Clown Car Breakdown

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Four paragraphs from Steve Benen:

Nine candidates would be a big field under any circumstances, but in this case, just the governors alone―Bush, Christie, Gilmore, Huckabee, Kasich, Jindal, Pataki, Perry, and Walker―had enough to field a baseball team. Add Democratic governors to the mix―O’Malley and Chafee―and the number swells to 11.

And at a certain level, this is understandable. For many in both parties, it’s long been assumed that governors have the edge in the party’s nominating contests, in part thanks to history―Reagan, Carter, Clinton, W. Bush, Romney, et al―and also because of the nature of the job. Being the chief executive of a state, the theory goes, offers ideal training for being the chief executive in the White House. Governors learn how to manage and respond to crises. They learn how to oversee a massive, bureaucratic team, while working opposite a legislature. They learn how to lead.

How many sitting GOP senators have ever been elected to the White House? Only one. It was Warren Harding, who was elected nearly a century ago. This is hardly accidental―Americans tend to hate Congress, so they don’t necessarily look to Capitol Hill for national leaders.

And yet, here we are. Two of the most experienced candidates of the cycle―Rick Perry and Scott Walker, both governors―have already quit (as has Lincoln Chafee). George Pataki and Jim Gilmore were excluded from the debates altogether this week, while Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee were relegated to the kids’ table, where they joined Bobby Jindal. Jeb Bush and John Kasich made the prime-time stage, but both are struggling badly. The latter faced booing.

This is actually important in its own right; in an anti-institutional year when career politicians who achieve governorships are actually being viewed as career politicians, the landscape really does seem strange from an unradicalized perspective. Indeed, how strange might we now find the recollection that back in April, even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was pitching for senators against governors in the presidential context. Even in unhinged quarters, gubernatorial experience was actually respected earlier in this cycle.

With a flaccid RNC and impotent Congressional leadership, the anti-institutional movement driving Donald Trump and Ben Carson to the top of the polls would seem to get the nod: Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Republican Party.

Nor might we begin to speculate at what that means. Still, as Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa of the Washington Post explore the now perpetual chatter of growing discomfort and even “panic” among establishment Republicans, it is hard to fathom the idea that even in the GOP, this is starting to become an American existential question:

The apprehension among some party elites goes beyond electability, according to one Republican strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about the worries.

“We’re potentially careening down this road of nominating somebody who frankly isn’t fit to be president in terms of the basic ability and temperament to do the job,” this strategist said. “It’s not just that it could be somebody Hillary could destroy electorally, but what if Hillary hits a banana peel and this person becomes president?”

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Image note: Detail of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015

Benen, Steve. “Governors find a hostile 2016 landscape”. msnbc. 13 November 2015.

Rucker, Phillip and Robert Costa. “Time for GOP panic? Establishment worried Carson or Trump might win.” The Washington Post. 13 November 2015.

The Carly Fiorina Show (Next Level)

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina speaks during the WSJ/FBN Republican presidential debate, 10 November 2015, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo: Morry Gash/AP)

“Yes she met him in a green room, but not in a green room before a show. It was before a conference.”

Anna Epstein

The Carly Fiorina Show really does distinguish itself according to strange rules forged in some alternate universe. Then again, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is a Republican, and running for president at that. And this year the conservative market licks its lips for lies, as Dr. Ben Carson so aptly reminds. Ms. Fiorina, for her own part, works hard to keep up.

Which brings us to the WSJ/FBN debate; Steve Benen observes:

Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, reminded Carly Fiorina, “In seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you’ll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?”

If anything, Baker’s numbers were tilted in the GOP’s favor, since Obama’s totals are dragged down by including the early months of his presidency, when the economy was in free fall. Nevertheless, the point is accurate―since World War II, more jobs are created under Democratic presidents than Republicans―prompting Fiorina to reply, “Yes, problems have gotten much worse under Democrats.”

She’d just been reminded of the opposite, which made the exchange a little unnerving. I kept waiting for one of the candidates to drop the pretense and declare, “I reject this version of reality and replace it with one I like better.”

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The Ben Carson Show (The Value of His Values)

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the media before addressing the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida at PGA National Resort on 6 November 2015 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Warren Rojas of Roll Call makes the obvious point:

Whether Ben Carson fudged a bit on that offer of a “full scholarship” to West Point or it’s a question of “semantics,” as he told reporters on Nov. 6, it wouldn’t be the first time a politician misrepresented their military experience.

Thus begins a brief review of Missouri congressional candidate Ron Dickey (D), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), former Rep. Wes Cooley (R-OR), and former Rep. Bruce Caputo (R-NY)

And in some cases it’s worse than others, but we should note that getting caught making stuff up about military service and honors is not necessarily the end of a politician’s career.

And perhaps Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson ought to take a look through these sordid histories. And while it is true the good doctor really does need to work, generally speaking, on how he responds to revelations of exaggeration and fabrication about the telling of his inspiring life story, a candidate who wants us to believe he is “not a politician” faces additional challenges when trying to walk, talk, and play the game like a politician.

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The Ben Carson Show (Reality Curve)

Dr. Ben Carson spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 8 March 2014, in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo: Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

This is why it matters:

During the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, for example, Carson―then, a junior at Detroit’s Southwestern High―claims to have heroically protected a few white students from anger-fueled attacks by hiding them in the biology lab, where he worked part time. But The Wall Street Journal could not confirm the account through interviews with a half-dozen of Carson’s classmates and his high school physics teacher. All of the students remembered the riot, but none could recall white students hiding in the biology lab.

It’s one of several biographical claims upon which Carson has relied in an effort to appeal to evangelical voters, who value the retired neurosurgeon’s personal journey from troubled youth to pious doctor. As Carson has shot to the front of the Republican presidential pack, however, parts of that narrative have been called into question.

(Margolin; boldface accent added)

It just seems that in this time of religious identification and public displays of piety in order to be seen by others, the degree to which false witness has helped Dr. Carson’s fame becomes significant. Launching his campaign, Ben Carson would have had us believe that he is “not a politician”. Watching his campaign try to fashion a response to the cracking and crumbling of the superficial Ben Carson myth, one might be tempted to suspect otherwise.

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The Ben Carson Show (Phenomenon)

Source photos: Ben Carson announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, 5 May 2015 (Paul Sancya/AP). A biblical inscription is chiseled into the wall of Ben Carson's home, with 'proverbs' spelled incorrectly (Mark Makela/The Guardian, 2014).

Tom McCarthy tries to explain the Ben Carson phenomenon for The Guardian:

He is more than an American success story, brilliant brain surgeon and bestselling author of 10 Christian-themed books. He has also coined some of the most outlandish statements ever uttered on the national stage, a purveyor of bizarre conspiracy theories and a provocateur who compares abortion to slavery and same-sex marriage to pedophilia.

This week, Carson restated his belief that the pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain, and not by Egyptians to entomb their kings. He believes that Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Abbas attended school together in Moscow in 1968. He believes that Jews with firearms might have been able to stop the Holocaust, that he personally could stop a mass shooting, that the Earth was created in six days and that Osama bin Laden enjoyed Saudi protection after 9/11.

The Carson conundrum is not fully captured by a list of his eccentric beliefs, however. He also confounds the traditional demographics of US politics, in which national African American political figures are meant to be Democrats. Not only is Carson a Republican – he is a strong conservative on both social and economic issues, opposing abortion including in cases of rape and incest, and framing welfare programs as a scheme to breed dependence and win votes.

He has visited the riot zones of Ferguson and Baltimore but offered little compassion for black urban poor populations who feel oppressed by mostly white police forces.

Even Carson’s core appeal as a Christian evangelical is complicated by the fact that he is a lifelong adherent to a relatively small sect, the Seventh-Day Adventist church, whose celebration of the sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday and denial of the doctrine of hell have drawn accusations of heresy from other mainstream Christian groups.

That last probably plays more strongly with the British audience; in the United States, Christian is as Christian does; Dr. Carson’s penchant for false witness and exclusionary, judgmental scorn are his own ad hoc iteration of faith, shot through with neurotic self-contradiction as it struggles to justify his self-centered pretense of humility. If one seeks strangeness about the SDA experience in general, it is a different phenomenon.

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The Ben Carson Show (False Witness)

Dr. Ben Carson: Neurosurgeon, Christian, bearer of false witness.

The joke would be to say that Dr. Ben Carson is the gift that keeps on giving, but what if it’s, you know, giving people cancer?

The lede, from Kyle Cheney of Politico:

Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICO, that a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

So it would seem the good doctor, who has spent the years between his fame as a neurosurgeon and his infamy as a presidential candidate hawking books to Seventh-Day Adventist and other churches, lied.

Dr. Carson, calling himself a Christian, went before Christian congregations and bore false witness.

For profit.

At this point, it’s true, we’re not surprised.

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The Ben Carson Show (Pervert’s Pride Memo)

Ben Carson speaks at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention on Jan. 18, 2015, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. A variety of conservative presidential hopefuls spoke at the gathering on the second day of the three-day event. (Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

MEMORANDUM

To: Dr. Ben Carson

re: Pervert’s pride

On Thursday, 5 November, Dr. Carson, you advocated segregation in American society.

GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson suggested creating separate public bathrooms for transgender people in an interview with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos Thursday.

When Ramos asked Carson if transgender men and women should be able to use any public bathroom they choose, Carson responded, “How about we have a transgender bathroom?”

“It is not fair for them to make everybody else uncomfortable,” Carson added. “It’s one of the things that I don’t particularly like about the movement.”

(Mellen)

Actually, Dr. Carson, would you like to know what really makes everybody else uncomfortable, whether in restrooms or anywhere else? Bigots. Hateful people such as yourself.

Still, though, Ruby Mellen, in her Huffington Post report, includes mention of the supremacist campaign against the transgender in Texas―

One particularly sinister TV ad showed a man following a young girl into a public restroom while a woman’s voice said, “Any man at any time could enter a woman’s bathroom simply by claiming to be a woman that day.” (It’s already illegal to sexually harass women, with or without HERO.)

―that provides us a constructive avenue, since it’s already quite apparent that truth, reality, honesty, and dignity have no place in your allegedly Christian heart.

This is very simple, Dr. Carson: Prove your point.

Put on a dress and show us how easy it is.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)Put on a dress, use a women’s restroom, and prove your point. Because here’s the thing: All you or, say, Mr. Huckabee accomplish broadcasting these deviant erotic fantasies is telling us all about the eye of the beholder.

That is to say, Dr. Carson, sure, so now we know what you would do in a women’s restroom. We know what Mr. Huckabee would do in a women’s restroom.

And it really is grotesque that you should assign your own exploitative sexual deviance to other people just in order to complain about them. Still, though, it is possible to demonstrate your point; the only question is whether you’re actually willing to.

And if not, Dr. Carson, then shut your filthy mouth.

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Image notes: Top ― Ben Carson speaks at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention on Jan. 18, 2015, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Richard Ellis/Getty Images) Right ― Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Levine, Sam. “Mike Huckabee Belittled Transgender People In February Speech”. The Huffington Post. 2 June 2015.

Mellen, Ruby. “Ben Carson: Transgender People ‘Make Everybody Else Uncomfortable’ In Restrooms”. The Huffington Post. 5 November 2015.

A Clown Car Presentation: Insurevirentaderble

Detail of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 12 June 2015.

Never read too much into any one poll, but the lede from Associated Press is nonetheless troubling:

Republican voters view Donald Trump as their strongest general election candidate, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that highlights the sharp contrast between the party’s voters and its top professionals regarding the billionaire businessman’s ultimate political strength.

But wait, there’s more:

Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Trump could win in November 2016 if he is nominated, and that’s the most who say so of any candidate. By comparison, 6 in 10 say the same for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of antiestablishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest.

And then there is the reality check: “Trump and Carson are considered among the least electable general election candidates by the Republican Party’s professionals, those who are in the business of helping candidates run campaigns and win elections”, explain Steve Peoples and Emily Swanson, and in truth one need not be a political professional to figure that out. Still, though, how superstitious do we really wish to be?

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The Lindsey Graham Show (Establishment Avenger Sequel)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), in uncredited photo circa 2013.

It is true that if This Is actually issued candidate endorsements, you know, pretending that our opinion actually meant anything significant, we would at this time seriously consider endorsing South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham for the Republican nomination.

Clowns to the left of him, jokers to the right – and presidential contender Sen. Lindsey Graham is wondering how the heck he’s not doing better in the polls.

The hawkish Republican, who’s spent nearly 13 years in the U.S. Senate, shared these gripes today on Morning Joe.

‘On our side, you’ve got the No. 2 guy, tried to kill somebody at 14, and the No. 1 is high energy and crazy as hell,’ Graham said of Ben Carson and Donald Trump, respectively.

‘How am I losing to these guys?’ Graham asked.

(Schwab)

The Daily Mail article really is near to hilarious, but that’s the thing. For all the show Lindsey Graham is putting on, it is not as if his politics exactly―or, you know, remotely―match up with the issues and perspectives covered here, but once again the American right wing has become so ridiculous that, yes, the South Carolina Republican becomes so moderate by comparison that one might stand shoulder to shoulder. Mr. Graham seems to have some reasonable perspicacity about the magnitude of the spectacle we are witnessing in the 2016 GOP presidential nomination contest; he is enough of a Party stalwart to bear some caution in his heart toward the future. For now, unfortunately, the serious candidates are judged by popular ratings, not the content of their campaigns. Or, you know, maybe we’re wrong about that. Maybe this really is about the content of their campaigns.

It is, after all, undeniable that Trump and Carson alike seem to prosper by bigotry and potsherd insanity. And as Republicans seem to be at least going through the motions of pretending to prepare themselves for resigning with heaving sigh to the reality of a Donald Trump nomination―over two months before voting begins and delegates gather―we might reasonably wonder at the power of such toxic content.

And all Lindsey Graham wants is to save the Republican Party from itself. And, yeah, you know, if we could get back to former valences of moral bankruptcy of what once counted for dignified conservative politicking in the Republican Party―you know, heartless capitalism and authoritarianism that rolled its eyes at having to occasionally accommodate the disdainful adventures of its rabid social conservative wing―we might at least call it some degree of progress.

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Schwab, Nikki. “Lindsey Graham says he’s shocked he’s losing to ‘crazy as hell’ Trump and Ben Carson after retired neurosurgeon admits trying to stab someone when he was a teen”. Daily Mail. 26 October 2015.