The Republican Field of Dreams

Everyone knows that in youth baseball, the weakest fielder is always assigned to play right field. That’s because the number of left-handed batters is typically fewer than those who bat rightie, and young right-handed hitters generally are not known for their ability to drive the ball to the opposite field.

But of course the greater insult for any hitter is that moment when you’re up to bat and the opposing team’s Right Fielder actually moves in when you’re up at the plate. That’s a real insult to your hitting skills. When the other team does not even consider you a threat to hit one past their worst fielder, you know you’ve got problems.

Field of DreamsSuch has been the case with the Republican Party candidates in the state of Iowa. It’s no coincidence perhaps, that in the state known for the Field of Dreams also hosts the early innings of the presidential election. Already a few candidates have disappeared into the outfield corn with no intention or possibility of coming back. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, for example, vanished between the cornstalks before the game in Iowa really started. Now Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal is gone too. Vanished. His act was too corny we must presume.

ben-carsonBye Bye Ben

Now it appears Ben Carson is headed for the same type of vanishing point. His inability to even keep score as the game went along is responsible for his fading political game.

Every time he came up to the plate it felt like he was facing the wrong way or claiming he was being thrown the wrong pitches for him to be successful as a hitter. When the media actually quoted statistics about the things he claimed that he’d said and done in the past, his press clippings did not match up with his Babe Ruth brand of bravado.

He probably won’t quit the game, because he truly believes he belongs in his strength and prowess at the plate. But he was the candidate for whom the Right Fielder moved in the farthest, and his soft-spoken opinions still never made it out of the infield.


There are still some supposedly Big Hitters in the Republican Field of Dreams. Slugger Donald Trump comes to mind. But who thinks the man can really hit a political curveball? He’s a power hitter for sure, and his alg-donald-trump-jpgmighty swings at the plate cause even a few liberals to jump in their seats in fear that he’ll connect somehow. Yet while some keep rooting for Trump to hit the ball out of the park, so far all he’s managed are some hard-liners.

Plus, he’s the prospect no one really wants on the team. He doesn’t fit in the Republican clubhouse, that’s for sure. That queasy little Single-A manager Lindsey Graham even predicted that a Trump election would mean the end of the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, those actually rooting against the Republican Oligarchs are wringing their hands in hopes that prognosticators such as Coach Graham are correct. There is an evil quality to any team that claims to hate the very political league in which they play.

Snapping pitches

Then there are truly strange competitors such as Carly Fiorina, the woman who certainly believes there is no such thing as crying in baseball. You can see her down there snapping at pitches with her teeth instead of the bat.

No Carly Fiorinadoubt she’s a fierce competitor, but does she even understand the first thing about the baseball of politics? There’s an art to this game, of hitting them out of the park. Snatching the ball in mid-air with your choppers and spitting the ball out in the dirt is not going to impress people who want to see if you can lead a team with your political hitting, catching and throwing. That’s just not how the game is played.

Hopeful sluggers

Deep in the lineup of Republican shallow hitters we find both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Cruz is the Ty Cobb of political baseball, while Rubio swings his Latin heritage like fiesty little batboy that has not yet made the team in tryouts.

Ted-CruzOne can easily imagine Cruz sliding into second or third base with his cleats up, begging for a fight. Indeed, he’s challenged none other than President Obama to come insult him to his face.

The Cobb-like Cruz prides himself on this bad boy reputation, courting conservatives of all pinstripes. That means he must change his uniform daily in an effort to appeal to the tight-lipped fiscal conservatives waiting to back his No Legislation League as well as the religious conservatives begging Cruz to strike down the laws supporting legalized abortions.

Overall it’s a strange crowd to whom Cruz the Crusher seems to appeal. The Tea Party seems to love him, and editors at Glenn Beck’s website push his story as if the entire world of conservative baseball depends upon the guy who seems to care not if there is a team on the field with him at all. He’ll take on an entire team of progressives on his own if you let him.

The Angry Batboy

And Marco Rubio? Well, we know he’d willingly cork his bat if it meant he could get elected to something other than the Republican batboy position he now occupies. He keeps jumping off the bench when it looks like there might be a fight on the field after a media brushback pitch.

MarcoRubio1He certainly keeps his eye out for opportunities to look tough. But like any batboy, he’s not a part of the real action even though he keeps swinging bats at the umpire, the ball girls and anyone he can reach if they give him any guff.

Yet it turns out that upon closer inquiry, Rubio has not even kept pace with his tab at the Hot Dog Stand of life. So there are serious questions whether he’s ready for the Bigs at all.

Swinging at everything

Paul-RanFinally, we come to the ballplayer with two first names sewn on his back, one Rand Paul.

Whenever Paul comes to the plate, the Right Fielder and the Second Baseman stand together just outside the infield

Everyone knows that Libertarians can’t hit for crap. They swing at every pitch as a matter of need and habit. Once in a while they might foul one off high into the seats behind home plate. But without any ball or strike rules to govern the game, a Libertarian hitter tries too hard to make an impact with fans who think the rules of political baseball just suck.

But Rand is consistent in his ways, to be sure. Like his daddy Ron Paul, Rand has been known to stick his head out in front of a fastball, and the crack it makes when it hits his skull brings a few fans to their feet! “Look, they holler! “Our man is the only one with his head in the game!”

So Rand has been hit by a few pitches, yet he looked absolutely asleep at the plate during several Republican debates, disappointing not only his fans, but those who would like to see some blood on the stage. This is America, after all.

There’s Your Field of Republican Dreams

So the Field of Republican Dreams is just that. They all have dreams of being the President, but the field on which they’re playing is not really connected to reality.

That’s what comes of contending that you hate government while trying to get elected. The entire ball field gets turned inside out when you make statements like that. It’s as the pitcher is suddenly throwing from home plate and the batter is standing on the mound screaming, “Throw me the high hard one, I’ll hit it out of here!”

But honestly, from that vantage point, every hit you get would turn out to be a foul ball. That’s certainly what it feels like when listening to people like Donald Trump, whose infield chatter has included a call to force Muslims to carry identification just like the Jews did in Nazi Germany.

Fantasy Camp rejects

Did someone let an insane fan on the field? Are all these ballplayers on the Republican Field of Dreams just a pack of baseball Fantasy Camp rejects whose talent never let them be real ballplayers?

It’s true: we’ve all been dumbstruck watching how deathly shallow the Right Fielder is actually playing these guys. It’s clear that none of them can hit, and very few can even field a question without complaining it is a Gotcha Pitch.

The Mighty Somethingdick-cheney

The Great American Pastime may be baseball, but American Politics has always run a close second. And in this context, one must consider the epic baseball poem Casey At The Bat because it sheds considerable light on the Republican Righties who’ve come to the plate in this presidential election cycle. The poem seems prescient about Republican Prospects in the 2016 Election:

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

Who is really keeping us safe?

“If you’re not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative by the time you are forty, you have no brain.” –Winston Churchill

Winston ChurchillYears ago I read a massive two-volume biography of Winston Churchill. It was with great disappointment that I learned that the author of those first two books had died. The third would have covered the period including World War II, and that would have been fascinating to study the actions and philosophies of the man that ushered Great Britain through the war.

Yet even with Churchill, his strong points as a war leader turned out to be challenges of a sort in the political realm. He was initially defeated for the role of Prime Minister after the war, yet returned to that role again before suffering physical and mental decline that may have resulted from strokes and heart issues.

A wealth of protectors

While obviously a man to admire, Winston Churchill’s determination that conservatism was the ultimate form of philosophical sophistication may have been formed more from his upbringing in a wealthy English family than his own evolution as a military man and spokesman. He was great at both those things, but there is an abiding factor to how these were developed and sustained that made it possible for Churchill to think like a conservative at all.

That factor was the presence and alliance of both the United States and the Soviet Union in World War II. Without that partnership, Great Britain would have been sunk under the pressures of Germany to take over much of Europe.

It was the liberal support of America’s Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt and the hard right determination of Joseph Stalin that fought back Germany’s considerable will to conquer and subjugate. That enabled Churchill to essentially occupy an important middle ground from which he could flexibly consider and pursue his necessary options. That is conservative in the good sense of the word, in being considerate.

Modern times

Fast forward to the current world perspective in which we live. America’s President Barack Obama has behaved as a noted centrist on the world stage. And like Churchill, there have been wins and losses, risks and seeming triumphs associated with that centrist position. Obama has been the considerate if quietly brusque leader, not prone to launch off new wars, yet capable of effecting deadly drone strikes that many people protest as cruel and miscalculated.

Such are the risks of all world leaders. The apparently noble fight of America, Britain and the Soviets against the Germans, Italians and Japanese Axis was full of death and destruction. And while Germany clearly committed war crimes, the rest of the fighters were not a group of innocents. America ultimately dropped a massive nuclear weapon on Japan’s big cities, killing thousands of civilians in the process.

During the leadup to that event, America engaged in some rather heinous efforts to protect itself, ushering many of its own citizens of Japanese descent into camps. The object at the time was to “keep us safe” from perceived threats because Japan itself was such a threat.

Fear and strange decisions

Fear drives all kind of strange decisions in this world. And while some of our fears are very real, the collective anxiety of a culture can often be extremely misguided.

Such is the case wth current concerns over America’s possible acceptance of Syrian refugees. While France opens its borders willingly to Syrian refugees even on the heels of the terrorist attacks on its own soil, America’s arch-conservative population wants to ban them from entry into the country. All of this is based on the idea that terrorists will somehow disguise themselves as refugees and come to this country to kill Americans.

Raging debates

Having engaged in considerable political debate with a number of anxious conservatives on social media, a few simple things have emerged in the argument. 1) They don’t trust Obama or the government 2) They don’t trust the government or Obama 3) They really don’t trust either Obama or the government. That’s the substance of their arguments.

In the process of defending those arguments they also engage in considerable name-calling while simultaneously denying that the Bush administration or any conservative before him had anything to do with creating the terrorist problem in the Middle East. We all know that started with the Reagan administration, was fostered by the Bush relationships with the Saudis, and carried on with the patsy treatment of the bin Laden family right through the 9/11 terrorist attacks when our first priority was flying remnants of that family out of the United States when all other flights were suddenly banned. Conservatives also created the Saddam Hussein we overthrew, and set up the Shah of Iran that led to that country being so pissed off at the Western World.

Yet somehow it’s all Obama’s fault that we have problems in the Middle East.

Brotherly love 

Of course, Jeb Bush, the equally inept brother of George W. Bush, is now running for President of the United States. And like any conservative worth his radical salt he has publicly claimed that his brother “kept us safe.”

So for the sake of analysis, we should examine what he might mean by that statement. The expectations of conservatives about what “keeps us safe” clearly breaks down into categories that were demonstrated by the Bush administration’s actions in the Middle East. And we’ll get to those in a minute.

But first we must admit there was little resistance by the Democratic Left to any of Bush’s policies overseas. That was a sick and sad chapter in our political history as well. Either by choice or by fear, the Left stood down under considerable pressure from conservative dominance of all three branches of government. That included the power of the Presidency, a willing Congress and Senate and even the Supreme Court that handed Bush surveillance powers that broke every rule in the Constitution about personal privacy.

So Bush and Cheney were given free license to engage in a series of cynical acts of aggression designed, in their minds, to “keep us safe” from terrorism. These included:

  1. Bomb first, ask no questions later. When faced with threats, conservatives love to bomb things because it makes them feel as if they are taking action against that threat. Of course, civilian casualties resulting from those bombings inflamed hatred for the United States as innocents perished. But that’s the apparent price of thoughtless war. “Collateral damage” they call it. The ultimate euphemism of course. Conservatives bomb, and then move on without a second thought about what the real effects of such bombings could be in terms of perception among enemies or friends.
  2. Torture is acceptable. Arguments in favor of torturing Iraqis and potential terrorist focused on the fact that such tactics were necessary to extract information that could “keep America safe.” That connection between information and actionable intelligence really never happened in any substantial way. And yet the apparent thought that our supposed enemies were being tortured made a certain segment of our society feel happy because we were “doing something” about terrorism. Never mind that many of the people we tortured and even killed through torture and mistreatment were in fact completely innocent.
  3. Spying on your own people is desirable. How ironic it is that the political force in America that claims to hate government most and wants to reduce its influence in our lives should choose to open a surveillance program that brought government into the very conversations we all hold over our telephones and cell phones. It seems a common phenomenon that the things conservatives most hate in others they ultimately become themselves. It happens on the social front when people who claim to stand for family values turn out to be serial wife cheaters or sexual predators. This repression haunts the conservative party like a ghost of unvirtuous fact.
  4. Always blame the other side. For all these insane actions and remorseless activities, conservatives have developed denial of responsibility for the evil outcomes into a very fine art. The virtual memo that says “never admit you were wrong” has been hard-wired into the consciousness of political, military and civilian conservatives. In fact, it is perhaps the greatest social conspiracy ever contrived as a political strategy. Its level of secrecy is protected by a devotion to denial and an entire lack of accountability. It is thus quite  breathtaking in its scope and effect on civil discourse. Its main mouthpiece, of course, is Fox News, whose claims of being “fair and balanced” as a “news organization” are the absolute expression of the virtue of lying with a smile on your face and putting tits above the fold as a distraction of the very audience you intend to recruit.

There’s a reason for all this aggression, repression and secession going on within the conservative cult in America. Only when a conservative breaks completely free of the party entirely, which means they can never go back, do we hear an ounce of truth and admission about what really goes on behind the scenes. The recent inadvertent confession of a certain Congressman on the real reasons for the Benghazi investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are just one such example of politically motivated use of government to harangue and discredit anyone that dares resist the conservative cartel in America.

It goes back a ways

John_F_KennedyResistance to this secret society of Conservatism with a Capital A (and its apparent arm, the CIA) is what got President Kennedy killed back in the 1960s. So the phenomena of killing threats to the cabal is not new.Kennedy was no saint, that’s for sure. But what he also represented as a political liberalism that some perceived as a threat to the security of America. But again, the considerations shown by John F. Kennedy in negotiations with the Soviets in the Cuba Missile Crisis are likely what prevented nuclear war. In other words, his small “c” conservatism kept us safe, just like Winston Churchill’s small “c” conservatism helped guide the Allies through World War II. It is this conservatism to which I believe Winston Churchill is referring in the quote above this column.

But it keeps happening that large “C” Conservatism is trying to kill its perceived enemies. And true to form, the conservative cabal went after Bill Clinton over engagement in a harmless blow job. The ensuing scandal turned into a political spectacle that distracted from Clinton’s ability to do his job, and keep us safe.

At that time, Clinton wanted to take action against bin Laden and potential terrorists in the Middle East, but was discouraged from doing so because it would appear he was attempting to “wag the dog” and escape accusations and impeachment over his extramarital affair. We seriously need to ask what would have kept us more safe in that scenario, the Starr Report or actually paying attention to real threats to our security. Capital A Conservatives clearly chose the former over the latter. America has paid the price ever since for this selfish, politically motivated debacle.

Fear, loathing and power

Paul Ryan

New House Speaker Paul Ryan

So you see, the goal of conservatism is never really to keep us safe. It is to gain and keep power, and that is all. Conservatives use fear to accomplish that mission all the time. That is why the call to war is so strong among them. War creates a deep tide fear in the populace, accentuated by methods such as “terror alerts” that the Bush administration turned on and off as needed to sway political will and push the perception of power in their direction. These are all tricks to get people to fall in line. Authoritarian thinkers on both the proactive and responsive side love these methods because it gives them a sense of control in otherwise chaotic circumstances. Of course it is all a ruse, but that does not matter.

FlagWaiverIndeed, Conservatives with a capital “C” want Americans to behave like Pavlov’s dogs in response to the call for war and acceptance of violence as status quo. They wave flags as patriots in fear until the very meaning of the flag is all worn out. Our flag has come to represent a national attitude of fear and a worn out ideology as a result.

Witness the marketing methods of the NRA, which flouts fear about race and crime as reasons to arm American on claims that more guns will “keep us safe.” Again, these are lies of massive proportions. More Americans have died from gun violence on American soil that all the soldiers ever killed in foreign wars. This is not “keeping us safe.”

Money kills


In the end, the sad thing about all this fear and terror and power is that it is all about money. Conservatives simply love money and all that it gives them. That’s why so many conservative whine about high tax rates and complain about giving their dollars through any social programs that might help the poor or elderly. This is the brand of conservatism that has evolved in America; selfishness as a life philosophy. It stands in direct opposition to the Christian call for charity and even giving away all you have to serve God and Christ. But modern conservatives (oxymoron intended) ignore all that real Christian stuff. That part is old-fashioned to them.

And we must return to the fact that top level Conservatives have always liked war because it enriches them. Former Vice President Dick Cheney used the Iraq War to increase the value of companies like Halliburton in which he has long held financial interests. The snarling visage of the man who almost singlehandedly leveraged America’s fortunes into his own while ruining our reputation overseas is like the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge, who without ever having gone through the happy change that made him into an advocate for the Christmas Spirit acts instead like the Grinch Who Stole America.

No Churchill

dick-cheneyCheney was no Churchill, let’s all agree on that. He seems to have envisioned himself that way, but where he falls short is in the ability to recognize the advantage of being a smart conservative with a small “c.” That is one who knows that conservatism actually involves consideration. Cheney appears to have none of that capacity, and as a result his version of “keeping us safe” turned the Middle East into a morass of angry terrorist hornets hoping to break free and sting the invader of their nest.

So let’s stop pretending that stirring up the hornet’s nest in the Middle East with bombings, torture and boots on the ground is a conservative strategy at all. It is not a conservative strategy, and it does not keep us safe.

And as for hornet’s back home, we’ve already got a system in place to detect their angry buzz. Typically they can’t keep quiet. Not if we open our eyes and ears and pay attention. And let’s not ignore those clear warnings this time, as Bush did back when he and Cheney were plotting to take over the entire Middle East to steal the oil and get some archly conservative kicks. That was stupid. And we’re getting stung as a result.

All kinds of shit going on in Iowa right now

DrainI went to college in Iowa and lived in Iowa after graduating. I’ve paid taxes in Iowa, imbibed Iowa beer and gnawed Iowa corn straight off the cob on hot August afternoons. In winter, I’ve waded through deep snows and in spring watched riptide floods haul detritus off the landscape toward the great Mississippi River that forms the entire eastern border of the state of Iowa.

Iowa is also a surprisingly beautiful state if you know where to look. But admittedly, Iowa is primarily known as an agricultural state. Thus some people think it boring. From border to border there are farmers who raise corn and hogs, create dairy products and soybeans. Each plays a big part in feeding the world.

That role is one shared by stalwart farmers across the Midwest and Central plains of North America. The nation invests in that commitment with huge monetary support in a form of corporate welfare for agribusiness. Yet real farmers, the guys and gals with equipment and land on the line, have quite often been hung out to dry when markets go south on commodity products. One can’t help feel for those people, and crop insurance and other federal programs do provide a form of security for America’s agricultural sector. If I were a politician, I would likely vote for a farm bill too. Many Democrats do.

Falling in it

So it is with some reticence that I’m willing to criticize Iowa and their apparent choices in politicians. Every four years when the Presidential election settles into Iowa it astounds me that generally sensible Iowans seem to be prone to the confused lies of city-slicker politicians who descend on the state in hopes of earning support for the nomination.

The most recent politician to sway Iowa voters is none other than Ben Carson, the former surgeon now leading the Iowa polls. His public statements thus far in the political campaign have been assessed by sources such as Politifact and found severely wanting in terms of baseline truth. In sum, Ben Carson is a practiced and habitual liar at least half the way, but all the time.

Even when his clearly advertised connections to a scurrilous nutritional supplement company were exposed, he flatly denied ever having done any business for the company. It was not hard for journalists to find the commercials he’d actually done on behalf of the company. Carson is heard liberally endorsing the products. Yet Carson denies this is any sort of connection. As reported on CNN: “The WSJ reports Carson has appeared in videos that were on Mannatech’s website until earlier this month. The videos were removed soon after the Journal’s reporting. The paper also reported that Carson gave four paid speeches at company events; the most recent was in 2013 for which Carson was paid $42,000.”

But it’s not just Ben Carson who has problems with the truth. Carly Fiorina keeps getting caught in lies and exaggerations that fit her ideology, but lack verity.

Pretty much all the candidates running for the Republican nomination in Iowa have trouble not just with truth, but merely being asked what is true about their beliefs and policies, and what is not. Whenever pressed about any subject, these candidates claim it is a “gotcha” question to be held accountable for the truth in their statements.

Full of it

It reminds me of a road trip long ago through some Iowa backroads. We were driving along happily when we turned a corner and drove right into a long, deep river of hog slop washing across the road. The hog shit coated the underside of our car as we rode through 50 yards of slippery shit the color of clay and the stinkiest odor of all time.

That afternoon, when we parked our car at our campsite, every fly in the county descended on our vehicle to hang around the musky undercarriage. The flies were so thick and bothersome we had to move the vehicle far away from our campsite. It stunk like hell and the flies kept buzzing and buzzing in the heat, driving us mad.

That hog slop is symbolic of what’s going on in Iowa right now. Politicians line up to spew shit they know makes no sense, and they don’t care. They hope the next day’s media rain will wash the previous day of hog slop off the road. Yet people enamored of the idea that these political attention hogs (look at Trump demanding his own rules for debates…) have something to say. Iowans seem too willing to wade through this kind of shit without question. All to gain approval and promise of political favors if their chosen candidates are elected? Is that it? Or is there some kind of shit we don’t know about going on behind the scenes?

Of course, the media flies have long since descended on this political slop being thrown around Iowa. It’s a gadfly’s job to hang around listening to this shit and yes, even ask questions so the hog sloppers can spew out even more. The whole affair stinks to high heaven, and everyone knows it. As far as anyone can tell at this point, the whole state of Iowa is full of shit.

County Fair Carnies

Meanwhile the angry, crazy types like Marco Rubio march around this County Fair of a state like carnival barkers convinced their game is the best in the world. “You should sign up and give my game a try!” Ted Cruz snarls at the people passing by on the Iowa Midway. “It’s called Eliminate the Waste, because we all know government is the biggest waste on earth!”

Who are these guys telling us the government is full of crap when they are all desperately running for the office of President? Doesn’t anyone see the least bit of irony in any of this?

It truly makes you wonder why Iowa farmers would ever want to vote Republican. I know so many smart people in Iowa, with good common sense and a down to earth worldview. Where do all these seemingly radical conservatives get off telling Iowans what they need to think about our national affairs.

It turns out there’s something of an explanation. An article from a couple years back in TheWEEK by Keith Wagstaff addresses the reasons why so many farmers vote Republican.

“As the number of people on food stamps jumped to around 47 million after the Great Recession hit, the program’s funding also leaped, increasing to $83 billion this year, from $35 billion in 2007.

Yet the agriculture bill — which will provide $195 billion in crop insurance and commodity support to farmers over the next 10 years — was passed easily by House Republicans, even though some conservative groups, like the Heritage Foundation, have criticized it for giving “perverse subsidies to profitable agricultural enterprises.”

Shit conservatives say

There’s some sort of cognitive gap going on there, as even the Heritage Foundation admits. But at the most basic level, it is apparent that farmers across the country feel like they have to vote Republican because the corporate welfare doled out to farmers is some sort of guarantee that farmers will never be the ones to go hungry, or lose the farm.

But we all know that’s a river of shit too. Because when the shit hits the fan during a tough economy, nobody seems to give a shit if small farmers get sold down the river. It’s the same pattern with the middle class in America. Just like the money flows upriver to Wall Street bankers and the 1%, agribusiness keeps coming out on top while your everyday farmers sell their equipment at auction and take a job as an accountant or real estate salesman in town.

Yes, the river of shit flowing from top to bottom in Iowa turns out to be big money for Big Ag. It’s a great big bribe if you look closely enough at the issue.

Streams of money

So it doesn’t really matter what Republicans say when they’re in Iowa. In the end, conservative Iowans apparently believe that kind of shit doesn’t stink. Well, here’s a bit of news. Democrats traditionally support farm bill funding too. That stream of money going to agribusiness has been consistent through both Republican and Democratic-controlled Congress and Senates. So who’s shitting who here?

It’s just that those darned Democrats want to give money to feed the hungry too. And that seems like an awful waste to supposedly independent people out on the plains. All those poor people in the cities want is handouts, anyway. Ain’t that true? The facts point out a little different dynamic than some might expect.

Yes, there’s all kind of shit going on in Iowa right now, most of it coming out of the mouths of politicians who really don’t give a damn about the state except for the fact that people used to the smell of hogs aren’t really that choosy about their Presidential candidates either.

Because nothing else can explain the likes of Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and all those others wallowing around in shitty debates and complaining that the media is the one thing that stinks in this world.

There’s an old country saying, folks. He who smelt it, dealt it.

Now deal with it.

On the 7th Day, he should put it to rest

CQVsQ1bUEAAecjrBeing curious about the source of the curious viewpoints of presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, I surfed on over to the website for the 7th Day Adventist Church. Here’s what I found, a description of their belief system as regards the creation of all things:

God has revealed in Scripture the authentic and historical account of His creative activity. He created the universe, and in a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of the work He performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted the same unit of time that we call a week today. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God.

Ben Carson has emphatically supported this worldview in many statements, including the contention that the theory of evolution itself is “the work of the devil.”

This would be news to any scientist laboring away in a genetics lab to map out a human genome, or studying the composition of gaseous stars so many billions of miles they may no longer even exist because it has taken the light they emit that long just to get here.

It all proves that life and reality is never what it seems on the surface. It is always far more complex and far older than it is possible for us to conceive in the moment. The scientific endeavor to discover how the universe was made is an ongoing journey between the massive scope and scale of all that is known and tiny bits of matter that communicate the unknown, and how it also formed.

History defined

ben-carsonSo to claim, as does the 7th Day Adventist Church, that all reality was created in a “recent six-day creation” is to acknowledge that your worldview is fixed in time. Cemented, as it were, to the perverse notion that God is incapable of inventing or handing even the slightest increments of change. To also claim that this account is historical is absurd. The account of the first five or six days was recorded before any supposed human beings were even in existence to witness such events. The Bible does not depict God sitting down with human beings to lay out some narrative about creation. All it conveys is God telling the apocryphal characters of Adam and Eve to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge. That’s the opposite of filling people in on the history of creation.


Meanwhile, to also claim the human race is the “crowning work of creation” is the ugliest form of hubris possible. Sure, it’s nice that the 7th Dayers grant that humankind is given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. But absent the influence of basic science that contradicts everything about a recent six-day creation (insinuating perhaps 6-10,000 years ago) there is no method by which to achieve that end. And what does “dominion” mean if there is no capacity to apply knowledge of the theory of the evolution in fighting disease or researching a cure for cancer? All of science depends on a human level of understanding that far exceeds the simplistic contention that the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”


That tells us much about belief, but nothing about reality. And indeed, that is how men like Dr. Ben Carson and even his opponent Donald Trump run their political campaigns. Positing the idea that they are political “outsiders,” and thus not subject to the corruption of Washington politics, they seem incapable of defining the reality of their proposals in anything but conjectural terms.

In Ben Carson’s case, that is because his faith tradition is literally conjectural. That is, it purposely pulls up short of engaging with reality, preferring instead to call on people to belief and act on a worldview that denies even basic facts of scientific truth. This is the same approach the Catholic Church long ago took in protest of discoveries by men such as Copernicus and Galileo. The church persecuted these men for exposing the world to a reality that contradicted a religious belief.


Such is the case with Dr. Ben Carson, whose anachronistic babble seems to somehow to appeal to people similarly incapable of engaging with reality. In fact, they are proud of their delusions. It makes them “outsiders” in the sense that they take pride in defying convention.

But when convention holds the key to actual truth, and is demonstrably proven so by millions of the world’s best scientists, it is time to call “foul” when a political candidate proposes to impose his belief system on a nation as its President. Dr. Ben Carson is unqualified to be President because he is not in touch with even basic reality, much less complex political and social systems dependent on the naturalistic, scientific means for critical decision-making.

His brand of dominion is dangerous to the human mind and all else it touches. For these reasons, Dr. Ben Carson should put it to rest. It’s pretty clear from history and the science developed by humankind that God can handle reality, but many believers in God cannot. It’s long overdue that society aggressively challenges the supposed “innocence” of worldviews such as those espoused by 7th Day Adventists. America in particular can no longer afford to tolerate anachronisms that produce prejudice, discrimination, ignorance of science and its clear indications of reality, and resisting basic common sense. All such voices should and can be shouted down. Give them and audience under protection of free speech, and then nail them to the wall with patent reason. It’s not hard. We do not need to tolerate nonsensical brands of faith. There are plenty of sensible belief systems that don’t depend on a science of denial.

Dr. Ben Carson is one of many people in America that cannot handle reality. Give it a rest, Ben, on the 7th day. Or whatever. Just go away.

Why Ben Carson refuses to evolve his thinking

It’s a pretty sad time in modern politics when a candidate for the President of the United States such as Dr. Ben Carson can go on record stating that the theory of evolution is the product of the devil and people take him seriously.

From that launching point, how do we take anything the man says seriously? His constructs are obviously warped by a religious viewpoint with no room for actual scientific inquiry. We must simultaneously arrive at the fact that the man viewed the human brains on which he operated as only so much gobbledygook on which he operated. It was just patterns and bulges and arteries and veins to that man.

Carson clearly ignored all the science that points to the evolutionary development of the human brain, and all brains that came before it. To Dr. Ben Carson, the history of life on earth does not really matter, and he’s proud of that fact! In this video, he talks about how God knew that people would come along and try to explain the evolutionary origin of species and its dependence on millions of years of time.

But Ben Carson writes all that science stuff off with a wave of his hand.

This brand of talk is the explanation a third-grader might give when reading the Bible and the Book of Genesis. It leaves no room for growth in understanding, and Jesus would likely have been disgusted by Carson’s inability to understand the symbolic significance of the Seven Days of Creation and the archetypal characters of Adam and Eve.

After all, Jesus lectured his own disciples over their failure to grasp the meaning of his parables, which were metaphorical tales drawn from nature to explain spiritual principles. He castigated his closest followers for missing the point by taking his parables along with his call for the Kingdom of God on earth quite literally.

“Are you so dull?” Jesus challenged them?

Then he went on to warn them that they had better wise up or be left behind in the process. And yet here we are in 2015, dealing with exactly the same kind of dimwit disciples who turn everything they read in the bible into some sort of literal dogma we’re all supposed to follow, or go to hell. Because that’s what Dr. Ben Carson said: “Evolution is the product of the devil.”

That’s not just bad science. That’s an insult to God. Because it ignores everything Jesus teaches us about the fact that nature is a direct source of wisdom about God. Jesus said nothing at all about the process by which nature developed its diversity. At the very most, even the book of Genesis makes simple statements about “kinds” of animals, but does not go on to exhaustively list the thousands and thousands of species of living things on earth. There’s a reason for that. The Bible is not a science book. It was never intended to be. Yet Ben Carson thinks it is.

There are a million reasons why the Bible is not a science book. But for starters, the Bible did not even understand germ theory. Many of its recommendations about medicine and culture and lifestyle in the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are long since discredited by basic science we have learned about infections, viruses and the cause of all types of diseases.

And not coincidentally, all these branches of medicine depend on the theory of evolution to explain how germs and viruses develop. That’s how we fight disease these days. Evolution explains how germs mutate and produce even more dangerous forms of diseases by reacting and adapting to the treatments we apply.


To throw all that out like a grade schooler discarding his or her Lego toys is the most irresponsible form of cultural ignorance. It is astounding a man like Dr. Ben Carson does not recognize that.

But apparently his simplified, simpleton reactions to compelling issues are quite satisfying to the 44% of the Christian world that claims to believe in creationism and all the denial of science that goes with it. They seem to be quite happy that we now have a numbskull brain surgeon bragging that he knows what God thinks about evolution, and why God doesn’t like it.

Organ of Species

Dr. Ben Carson has now announced that he is literally writing a book titled, “On the Organ of Species” which will supposedly counteract and destroy the brilliance of Charles Darwin’s original “On the Origin of Species.”

But what men like Ben Carson often fail to anticipate in their inelegant ripoffs of science is that Darwin did not arrive at his theory alone. Many great minds arrived at the same conclusion more than 100 years ago. In fact, as Darwin was preparing to publish his book, another biologist named Alfred Russell Wallace had arrived at much the same conclusions as Darwin.

Only Wallace still thought of evolution more in terms of intelligent design, contending that perhaps God made things work through an unseen hand. Actual materialistic science could not wait around for proof of such contentions, however. The material evidence for development of species through naturalistic causes was sufficient to explain everything that has ever occurred on earth. So evolution rolled on with its many discoveries, confirmed by the fossil record, by study of genetics, by advances in medicine, and by modifications in the theory based on every branch of science from physics to astronomy to climatology. It all fits together in a giant matrix of understanding. That’s why science works, and creationism doesn’t. Creationism is only a science of denial.

More than 150 years of science has accrued to confirm these naturalistic explanations for all living things, including humans. And while the theory of evolution is still challenged on many fronts by scientists, it still holds water in both practice and published works.

Science of denial

ben-carsonSo we must consider how and why a medical doctor such as Ben Carson concludes that the theory of evolution is, to his manner of thinking, “the work of the devil.”

It all goes back to the bad theology Carson uses to define his worldview. As Jesus strongly pointed out to his own disciples, there is far more to faith than blabbing simple stories and telling people to look at only the surface of things. Instead, we are challenged through all of scripture to seek God in all things. Certainly there is wisdom to be learned in the tale of the mustard seed, which grows from a tiny seed into a giant tree. We learn from that parable that great faith can come from even the tiniest kernel of belief.

But it’s a parable. It does not describe the workings of all seeds, nor the fact that some seeds start out large or that others depend on the elemental forces of fire or water to help them germinate.

So we should not discredit God by harboring cynicism toward deep mysteries simply because they exist. Yet that is exactly what Ben Carson is advocating, and that approach to thinking leads to a mental fascism toward all intellectualism.

Zealous tradition

As noted from the earliest forms of recorded history, it is a quite common phenomenon among religious zealots to target threats to their authority as being in league with the devil. Jesus tangled with the high priests of religion in his day because he challenged their authority on grounds that they had turned religion into law. It was their legalism (much like the politics and religion used by Dr. Ben Carson to speak about issues today) that ultimately forced Jesus to brand them all hypocrites and a “brood of vipers.”

Jesus gave them every chance to understand and accept his mission. Instead. they chose the political course of action and handed him over to Roman authorities to have him crucified because he disagreed with their theology.

Well, he also claimed to be the Son of God. So there was that. But he was right in the end. So the religious authorities were wrong, twice over.

Three strikes


Matthew 23:5-7 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

That why men such as Dr. Ben Carson are not to be trusted. He’s wrong about theology and he’s wrong about science. So what’s the third strike against him? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Carson may have once been a pediatric neurosurgeon, but that does not prove that he knows anything about the connection between religion and science. What it does prove is that he is adept at following the instructions he was given in medical school on how to operate on the human brain.

As such, Dr. Ben Carson exhibits characteristics of both sides of the authoritarian mind. He craves authority to dictate to others how to behave, while also following the dictates of his authoritarian brand of religion to control others in society. In these respects, he directly parallels the original religious zealots with whom Jesus conflicted.

This authoritarianism is the third strike against Ben Carson. It disqualifies all such people from holding public office because it indicates a patent intolerance that stands in direct conflict with the American enterprise, which is freedom of thought, religion and politics. Dr. Ben Carson is, to put it plainly, a closet fascist.

Not so bright after all

The problem with Dr. Ben Carson is one of deception. Americans love to credit people like brain surgeons with such brilliance. But if you hang out with any type of surgeons, over time you come to understand that their job is really no different than any other.

Their profession is one of highly regimented rehearsal and practice. Yes, they are cutting flesh, moving parts around and sewing things back up. But they do so in accordance with strictly developed medical practices that are not, for the most part, of their own invention. Innovation does emanate from some surgeons, but most are not free to mess around or experiment on their human or animal patients. In many respects, surgeons are simply high-functioning dogmatists and authoritarians. They get paid well if they do what they do well. If they do not do well, they get sued. Most of them eventually do get sued, because no one is perfect. In other words, they’re people just like the rest of us.

Breaking it down

In the long run, being a surgeon is mostly a product of learning body parts and following patterns while making decisions about how things are supposed to look, and have it all fit together. It helps if you have a steady hand and a good bit of spatial awareness, but even a good carpenter has that.

That’s perhaps why Dr. Ben Carson was so good at his job. His authoritarian nature made him good at following orders, while his desire to control others was expressed in the professional and personal desire to cut open the skulls of children for a living. When you break it down, how neatly it all fits together! It’s the most literal example of authoritarian thought control one could possibly imagine.

Now Dr. Ben Carson is depending on recruiting (and manipulating) childlike minds to follow his authoritarian example. It appears to be working rather well. It does help in the early phases of a campaign to have a bunch of childlike zealots on your side. But the more Dr. Ben Carson says in public, the more his internal conflicts are coming to the fore.

On the passive/aggressive attack

As a result of their dualistic authoritarian tendencies, men like Dr. Ben Carson adopt a passive/aggressive approach to life…that is designed to deflect all questions about their true selves. In keeping with that passive/aggressive nature, his external calm belies an inner rage that he confessed once controlled his every action. He even threatened his own mother with a hammer.

Now he claims to be a changed man from his days of early rage and violence, and perhaps credits most of this to his Christian faith. Yet he makes statements that aggressively expose his conflicted personality. Recently Carson stated that witnessing a body full of bullet wounds is not as devastating as losing your gun rights. Those are the words of a sociopath, and are proof that deep down inside, Ben Carson remains conflicted with his bold acceptance of violence and an authoritarian desire to control society.

Against the brains

IMG_3854Carson and his fans love to cry and whine that he is misunderstood by liberals, who are supposedly out to get him for his visionary take on American politics and problems. But the actual problem is the liberals understand all too well what Dr. Ben Carson represents. His is a brand of authoritarian anti-intellectualism. It is also a dogmatic worldview.

His religion, his politics and his conservatism all combine to make Dr. Ben Carson a dangerously activist zealot cloaked in a false cape of patriotism. He is a candidate who has forcefully stated that he would limit or eliminate rights guaranteed Americans by Constitution. He points his ire at all those who oppose him, contending that if elected president he would assemble censorship squads to limit liberal speech on college campuses. Surely he must categorize all such speech as a product of the devil as well.

So we must always be careful how much bad theology we tolerate when considering our political candidates. Dr. Ben Carson may be a brain surgeon by medical profession, but he is a simpleton by religious affiliation. As a result, he refuses to change or evolve his thinking on important issues that require far more nuance and consideration than he likes to apply in practice. For a former brain surgeon, the guy seems to have a few rocks in his head, and they are messing with his mind.

An unhealthy view at the health club

IMG_3852The health club where I work out has just finished a major overhaul of the locker rooms and main floor facilities. It is all tastefully and professionally done. The club earns all major accreditations from organizations that track such things.

I use the club to lift and swim, and sometimes jump on a treadmill on cold winter days when running outside would simply hurt.

The pool is just 25 meters long. It helps me build fitness with the goal of participating in Olympic distance triathlons next year.

There’s just one thing that bugs me about the club. Whenever I go to the area where the sinks are situated, Fox News is playing on the TV.

I try to ignore Fox News wherever it plays. Yet many businesses seem to like to put Fox on their TVs. One former employer had it playing on the screen where visitors sat to do business or come in for interviews.

There’s just one problem with this business philosophy. Fox News makes you dumber.

According to independent research conducted by Farleigh Dickinson University, watching Fox News actually diminishes the ability to answer questions about current events. Here’s what a story on the website revealed:

The report reveals that, on average, Americans are able to correctly answer 1.8 out of 4 questions on international news and 1.6 of 5 questions when quizzed on domestic issues. For those that disregard the television for taking in daily newscasts, they averaged 1.22 answers correctly.

Fox viewers, of course, were a different story.

“[S]omeone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly – a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all,” reveals the study.

“On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only The Daily Show with Jon Stewart could answer about 1.42 questions correctly.”

The admittedly liberal website reveals some of the reasons behind the “Fox Effect.”

In summary, then, the “science” of Fox News clearly shows that its viewers are more misinformed than the viewers of other stations, and are indeed this way for ideological reasons. But these are not necessarily the reasons that liberals may assume. Instead, the Fox “effect” probably occurs both because the station churns out falsehoods that conservatives readily accept—falsehoods that may even seem convincing to some liberals on occasion—but also because conservatives are overwhelmingly inclined to choose to watch Fox to begin with.

Abu_Ghraib_56At the same time, it’s important to note that they’re also disinclined to watch anything else. Fox keeps constantly in their minds the idea that the rest of the media are “biased” against them, and conservatives duly respond by saying other media aren’t worth watching—it’s just a pack of lies. According to Public Policy Polling’s annual TV News Trust Poll (the 2011 run), 72 percent of conservatives say they trust Fox News, but they also say they strongly distrust NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN. Liberals and moderates, in contrast, trust all of these outlets more than they distrust them (though they distrust Fox). This, too, suggests conservative selective exposure.

And there is an even more telling study of “Fox-only” behavior among conservatives, from Stanford’s Shanto Iyengar and Kyu Hahn of Yonsei University, in Seoul, South Korea. They conducted a classic left-right selective exposure study, giving members of different ideological groups the chance to choose stories from a news stream that provided them with a headline and a news source logo—Fox, CNN, NPR, and the BBC—but nothing else. The experiment was manipulated so that the same headline and story was randomly attributed to different news sources. The result was that Democrats and liberals were definitely less inclined to choose Fox than other sources, but spread their interest across the other outlets when it came to news. But Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly chose Fox for hard news and even for soft news, and ignored other sources. “The probability that a Republican would select a CNN or NPR report was around 10%,” wrote the authors.

In other words Fox News is both deceiver and enabler simultaneously. First, its existence creates the opportunity for conservatives to exercise their biases, by selecting into the Fox information stream, and also by imbibing Fox-style arguments and claims that can then fuel biased reasoning about politics, science, and whatever else comes up.

This means the health club is actually doing a genuine disservice to the mental health and acuity of its members by playing Fox News on the television. And it’s not a health club… if the television is undermining the mental health and acuity of its members.

That’s all we need to say about Fox News today. It is clearly quite bad for your mental health, and bad for the health of the nation as a whole.

The only thing that isn’t fake

Somehow I stumbled on this propagandistic video about Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican candidate for President of the United States. I found the video stunningly obvious in its structure and production values. Then when I looked at the comments, they all seemed manufactured. And as you’ll see if you visit the comments section, I asked the people who commented if they were fake.

Turns out they’re real people. Sort of. Which surprised me a little. But the nature of their comments and the banal, surface level responses to the video still strike me as very fake. In other words, I have my suspicions whether these particular self-described  “millennials” are “real” in the sense that they are not paid for their comments on the video.

Listen, public relations in the video age is a highly crafted art designed to sway public opinion. But the one thing that isn’t fake in this video is how patently disconnected from reality Dr. Ben Carson truly seems. Now understand, I voted for Barack Obama twice, and I am proud of both of those votes. So this is not some hidden racial meme or dog whistle call to sink the lone black candidate on the Republican side.

Personally I’d love to see a conservative black candidate succeed. If someone in America can proceed with an agenda that delivers on ways to acknowledge and value the contributions of black Americans to society, I’m all for it.

Basic coherence

But Ben Carson is not the guy I’d like to see running our country. That’s a disturbing thought. His inability to proceed on any subject with consistency or even basic coherence is a problem. His mental health has even been raised as an issue.

Right away, Internet resistance was raised against the idea of calling Dr. Ben Carson mentally ill. This was one of the points of contention: “There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that rises to the level of evidence of a diagnosable behavioral pathology cited by Palmer. And yet, the piece plays into the all too readily accepted narrative that any person with whom we disagree on a vitally important issue must be a flawed, damaged, and ethically compromised human being.”

Get help

Here’s the difficult part in all this. For people experiencing the effects of mental illness, the most important thing anyone can do is to help them get help.

Many years ago a friend and runner from another community near my hometown was experiencing the first stages of a mental illness that would come to dominate his life. He showed up at our school with a bag of bread and tracked me down in the hallway. “I’m feeding the foxes on the bridge,” he told me. The foxes on the bridge were made of bronze.

Later this fellow went on to become an individual All-American runner. But he did so by engaging in some extreme behavior, training up to 250 miles per week as preparation for racing just 5 miles in cross country competitions. One could make a compelling observation that to this young man, the only thing that didn’t seem fake in his world was his running. Because after college his mental illness took on a different form, making it difficult for him to function in work and other activities. He did get help but as his mental illness progressed, even medications could not harness some of the delusional qualities manufactured by his brain. But the fact that he got help was the most important aspect of his particular journey. Without that, he likely could have harmed himself or others.

Because I had another running friend that tried to take his own life. And we all know that with accessibility to guns, people in that mental condition can certainly harm others.

And so can politicians whose mental state gravitates to extremes.

Loving the extremes

I think there’s a compelling case to make that for some people, politics is both their sport and their passion. And just like my friend with mental illness who ran 250 miles a week just to compete in a five-mile race, there are people with a propensity to go to extremes in an effort to make their point, and create a reality in which they feel more alive.

In fact I’ll argue there are many people in politics who think their extreme views are the only thing that feels real in this world. That’s how we’ve gotten the long list of extremists running for the Republican nomination. And there’s little doubt that on some days, men like Donald Trump talk and act a little insane.

We also know there have been plenty of zealous religious believers whose obsession with the end of the world has led to manic predictions and even death rituals. Entire cultures get caught up in these visions, as much of the world did with the y2K obsession.

Making it real

scary-romney_debate_angryThere are high-level officials here in America whose obsession with a Zionist vision of Israel have made them hunger for war in the Middle East, and Armageddon, which might bring on the apocalypse. So there is both inherent and operative insanity at work in this world.

Sometimes, and to some people, the only thing that isn’t fake is either that reality is out to get them or there is an opportunity through politics to create a reality that suits their particular brand of economic or cultural prejudice. That explains the KKK, the Third Reich and the threat we call ISIS in a nutshell. These are people pissed off to the point of world domination. And they’re everywhere.

Haters and baiters

We see people who hate the rich and we find people who despise the poor. We see people who fear for the climate because of human activity and we see people who think that no one but God can alter a single thing about the world.

It’s the longtime struggle between the willingness to change and the fear that change will ruin everything. The very state of the human condition is one of madness in dealing with his dichotomy. When people say things like, “The world has gotten crazy,” this is what they’re talking about.

And when we selectively view politicians such as Dr. Ben Carson or Bernie Sanders, we see them through very different eyes as a result. Both are obviously passionate people. Both are struggling to change the status quo. There are people who call both of them crazy. And there are people who take the bait.


Businessman Matt Bevin Challenges Senate Minority Leader McConnell In Primary ElectionExtremism is a byproduct of trying to make sense of this dichotomy. People simply choose sides and gravitate to the far ends of the spectrum. Standing somewhere between the will to change and fear of change is known as being a moderate. But those voices can barely be heard over the screams of the extremes.

Perhaps more commonly, people choose candidates who represent their views or fears, and somehow Dr. Ben Carson has attracted a fair number of followers. But what creeps me out about the guy is not his potential mental illness. It is crazy ideological statements such as this: “No body with bullet holes is more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.” And granted, that might be some form of hyperbole. Even Jesus Christ was known to exaggerate to make a point. But there’s no way Jesus Christ would equate the right to bear arms as more important than human life. So I think Ben Carson is the one that’s talking crazy talk.

And statements like those are why Ben Carson deserves to be scrutinized from every perspective possible. Because they evidence that fact that when it comes to issues of moral gravity, Ben Carson is either a fake, or he’s purposely faking it. Which is even more disturbing. Because what is his true agenda? No one can really know for sure when the “real” statements he makes cannot be separated from the supposedly playful manner in which Carson takes issue with serious social issues.

Fox News “reality” show

Consider that even in the cloistered environment of Fox News, where conservative viewpoints like Carson’s are cherished and promoted, things get strange when talking about standing your ground during a mass shooting or running away.

As reported on “On “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, he (Carson) said that “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’” When asked about the remarks by ABC News later that day, he repeated his assertion with a smile, which Kelly said many people would take as an evidence of callousness. (italics by the author)

Carson disagreed, saying that “I was laughing at them, at their silliness. Of course if everybody attacks that gunman, he’s not going to be able to kill everybody.”

Actual military veterans who were armed and on the campus while the shooting occurred didn’t abide by the dictates of Carson’s assured tactical acumen, but that’s beside his point. “If you sit there and let him shoot you one-by-one,” Carson said, “you’re all going to be dead.”

This is a man operating in an imaginary world, where his ideology rules the day, and reality be damned. That’s why people are questioning his mental fitness. It’s not because he’s a conservative. Or he’s black. Or any other reason. He simply refuses to make sense.

“Getting” Carson and Cain

Some claim that he’s so smart the rest of the world doesn’t “get” Ben Carson..because he’s a brain surgeon, you know. And a Christian, apparently. And who knows what else?

Well, the Republican Party keeps trotting out ostensibly conservative black guys as evidence they “get” the needs of so-called minorities.

Herman Cain was the last iteration of this brand of conservative, running on grounds that people did not “get” his message. But he had other axes to grind as well. “I honestly believe that there’s an element in this country, in our politics, that does not want to see a businessman succeed at getting the nomination for the Republican party, and does not want me to succeed at becoming President of the United States of America.”

Well, now that’s a bit of news isn’t it? How many millionaires do we now have in Congress? And why does Wall Street throw millions of dollars behind candidates like Mitt Romney, the businessman and massively callous job-killer whose main professional accomplishments were delivering profits to shareholders? Or Donald Trump, an erstwhile businessman who now leads Republican polling?

But Cain was delusionally obsessed with his inability to convince people he was right. So he blamed others.

Blame and shame

john-boehner2-1024x780Again, the methods of extremists are always to blame others for their failure to get elected, or to govern. Right now the brother of the former President of the United States of America, candidate Jeb Bush, is busy denying that his brother GWB bore any responsibility for preventing the attacks.

This is mental illness as a political ideology. This is imagined reality superimposed on reality. This is why extremists and political ideologues such as Dick Cheney and perhaps Dr. Ben Carson cannot be trusted. They made not be mentally ill, but they certainly act like it. And that’s the only thing about them that isn’t fake.

The height of arrogance and the depth of denial

DSCN1904The Republican propensity for denial of responsibility and grasp of fact is now so revered among the party’s elite it has become the first tool of response to any challenge.

The most recent denial of fact is the Republican claim that their last President of the United States was not, in fact, actually the President when the 9/11 tragedy took place. The initial volley about the issue came from none other than Donald Trump, ostensibly the Republican leading the polls among conservatives. This is what Trump said about George W. Bush and his responsibility for 9/11.

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said. “He was President, okay? Don’t blame him or don’t blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign,” Trump replied. ”

O Brother

Those simple facts did not set well with Jeb Bush, another Republican hopeful who has repeatedly claimed that his brother George “kept us safe.”

He may have been referring to the idea that no additional foreign terror attacks took place during the remaining years of the Bush presidency. But as noted, Trump was having none of that nonsense.

This harsh divide manifested in Trump’s domineering approach to criticism breaks with the Republican tradition of attacking only the opposition and not criticizing their own. That has been the presiding, if not perfect, strategy behind the Republican push for power over several decades. There may be ugly fights behind the scenes among Republicans, but the goal has always been to keep those spats private.

Breaking the rules

Trump is not playing by any of those rules, and as a result, is not really running for the Republican nomination so much as he is forcing the party to reform itself around this meme of gaining power at all costs. Even by Trump’s standards, that means leaving the rest of the nasty baggage behind. This could be the ironic salvation of Republicanism, if not the Republican Party itself.

See, the tradition of denying its own failures has both a benefit and a cost. Sooner or later you get to the obvious and well-documented parts of recent history, and you must deny even these to continue on the path toward power. The denials launch from the dusty calls of legislatures and courts on Constitutional matters to exploding buildings and wars started by sitting Presidents who stretched the truth to justify their ideology and their actions. In other words, you can only win by breaking every rule of conscience and truth.

Trumped at their own game

That’s what Trump is calling to account, and Jeb Bush has put his image of brotherly love and political credibility on the line, deciding to throw his support behind his brother’s claims of success rather than confont the facts, which point to a massive failure in intelligence, both gathered and native, by his apparently dimwit brother.

Yes, George W. Bush did some stupid things, and Donald Trump is having nothing to do with making excuses for what he perceives as the dumbing down of recent history. What we’re witnessing in real time is the height of arrogance and the depth of denial running the Republican Party. Their grasp of reality isn’t just slipping away, it is gone entirely.

Denial as a worldview

IMG_5827Republicans also deny the science behind global climate change on claims it is arrogant to think human beings could ever cause such a massive shift in the earth’s foundational temperatures.

Look at how that works. The GOP hates Al Gore for his claim that global climate change is, to quote a phrase, “An Inconvenient Truth.” So by directing their anger toward Al Gore they accomplish two things. Poor Al tends to come off as arrogant in his general demeanor, which makes him an ideal target for Republican denial of fact. They use him to deflect the factual arrogance of denying 97% of the world’s climate scientists who find tons of evidence that our current pattern of rising temperatures and warming oceans is a result of human activities.

But think about what’s happening here. If it is possible to deny the fact that 9/11 happened under the watch of George W. Bush, denying the complex and scientifically predicted influence of climate change is simple by comparison. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial work together fantastically in the propaganda-driven mode by which the Republican Party communicates.

In other words

As a result, terms like “sustainability” and “gun control” become catchphrases and buzzwords of resistance in the party of denial. These terms bespeak change in favor of temperance and planning, which are translated as government intervention by the party with a professed aversion for government even as it seeks total dominance over the three branches of jurisdiction; the Presidency, legislature and the courts.

This is the height of arrogance and the depth of denial at its most sinister level. To claim to hate the thing you want to rule is both an arrogance in purpose and a denial of responsibility.

Christian fakes

That’s what’s taking place on a grand scale here in America. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial also rules the brand of Christianity used to back Republican aims. The movement to wield the power of Christian faith in politics without abiding by the basic principles of Christianity is now 30-40 years old. Conservatives seeking to align their supply-side economics with biblical authority conveniently ignore the call to divest themselves of wealth in favor of spiritual governance. As a result, churches feel free to politicize and make the claim that you cannot be both liberal (ne: a Democrat) and a Christian.

Running interference

It’s no surprise that the inconvenient truth of science, especially the theory of evolution, interferes with this narrative that a fundamentally literal interpretation of the Bible is the only way to gain truth. This also denies the fact that Jesus taught using metaphors drawn from nature to explain important spiritual principles.

Donald Trump's proposed golf courseWhen pressed about his own faith and love for the Bible, Donald Trump ripped a page right out of the Republican playbook with this statement: “I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal,” he said. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

Again, the height of arrogance and the depth of denial is at work.


But not everyone buys this brand of junk. Using his own quotes and philosophy, folks on Twitter took after Trump (and by proxy, all of RepublicanLand) with a feed called #TrumpBible. Take a look at how they handed Trump his stupid hat.

It’s time we all got a bit wiser about how this game of arrogance and denial really works. No one should get away with stupid remarks like Jeb Bush claiming his brother was not responsible for 9/11, or the partnered meme that Bush was not even President when it happened nine months after he was installed as President.

The sad fact is that so many people prefer the height of arrogance and the depth of denial. It fulfills their worldview on many fronts, exonerating them from responsibility for painful social issues such as gun violence, racism and economic exploitation. Let’s be honest and hold these people accountable. Stop letting your friends and conservative associates turn bald-faced denials and unaccountable arrogances into something resembling fact.

Donald Trump is just the starting point. He symbolizes the so-called anger expressed by so many Americans, and for all the wrong reasons. Denial is not a form of government. It is the absence of governance, and an entire lack of conscience.

Don’t let them get away with it. Call them out. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial is exactly what is killing American hopes and a future fit for all.

The socialism of sociopathy

Sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocialoften criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

IMG_8609Perhaps you noticed the difference in tone between the Republican and Democratic debates? The Republican “debate” was all about name-calling, angry accusations and selfish calls for political support because the “other guys” both within their own party and political opponents outside the realm of Republicanism are doing it all wrong.

Basically what we saw was a line of sociopaths socializing over a menu of red political meat. And to no one’s real surprise, they were eating their own.


By contrast, the Democratic debate focused on issues of substance, and when issues like the Hillary Clinton emails came up, candidate Bernie Sanders steered the subject back to matters that mattered. “Enough about your damn emails,” he barked. “Let’s talk about real issues.”

See, there really is a moral equivalency that needs to be measured in the nature of how Republicans conduct themselves and the manner in which Democrats are trying to solve America’s problems. Notice the difference there? For a lineup of sociopaths, it’s literally impossible to think about the impact of what they’re saying about others. They don’t care. They’re antisocial to a major degree.

Crass and uncaring

Donald Trump is leading the polls on the Republican side. His misogyny is so bald-faced and crass. His entire campaign is about the fact that “he’ll do this” and “he’ll do that.” And it will be better. He’ll force people to the table to negotiate. And if they don’t like his deals, he’ll dump them and move on. He’s the king of anti-socialites, primped with a bad hair style and a bad brain beneath it. He’s a sociopath.

And yet he rallies the sociopaths who love his style. That’s because there’s a brand of socialism that emanates from sociopathy. That’s how organizations like the Klu Klux Klan were able to help impose Jim Crow laws that favored whites across the nation. All social advantage was conferred to white people through economic and political power. Blacks were denied jobs and even a seat at the counter or on the bus.

This is the most evil brand of socialism. Here’s how it is defined:

Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership and/or social control of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.

Do you begin to see how it works? Sociopaths like Donald Trump and Marco Rubio (who acts like a serial murderer) and Chris Christie and so on…love to claim they favor capitalism as a socioeconomic system. But their brand of capitalism does not provide equal opportunity for all to participate in the system. By definition and design, the Republican Party has concocted through a combination of Good Old Boy political favors and outright bribery and control by industries such as oil, pharmaceuticals and even agriculture, turned America into a socialistic oligarchy.

Oligarchy: a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.
When you put the two words together, Socialism and Oligarchy, and study how our economy has been manipulated to push wealth to a small fraction of ownership, you begin to realize that the socialism proposed by candidates such as Bernie Sanders is really more like a market correction than it is an attempt to socialistically redistribute wealth from one segment of society to another.
We recently saw the result of a market correction as managed (and designed) by the greedy sociopaths currently running our economy. America’s wealth convulsed and contracted, and millions of people lost millions of dollars, jobs and wages became depressed as a result. Meanwhile the richest got richer. We were literally told that the tax dollars of everyday Americans would be necessarily used to bail out banks that were “too big to fail.”
Convenient untruths
Well, isn’t that convenient? Meanwhile millions of middle class and often middle-aged Americans were cast out of work, and companies refused to hire them if they were out of work more than six months. Then a cast of sociopathic Republican Senators and Congressman began to blame these Americans for collecting unemployment insurance. They refused to pass a bill that would allow people to keep collecting said insurance as they continued looking for work. They further accused people of not even trying to look for work.
I sat around the table at a business luncheon in 2009. Around me sat a group of local businessmen, all who blanched when the banking industry speaker admitted that companies like his would not soon loosen restrictions on loans for capital and payroll loans. You could feel the anger and frustration surge, for these were good conservative people who ran businesses that employed other people. They felt abandoned by the very system they supported. They were victims of the socialistic sociopathy of oligarchic capitalism. But one wonders if they recognized it, or would ever change their vote to people that actually cared whether their businesses survived.
It’s doubtful.
The sociopaths at the upper levels of the economy have zero empathy for other people, you see. By definition they entirely lack “a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” And when the economy tanked, many of them actually gave themselves performances. Big companies held parties using the federal dollars they received in bailouts. That is the most sociopathic thing one can conceive. 
See, it has become a pattern in the America that the socialism of sociopathy works against the interests of everyday people trying to make a living, run businesses, raise a family and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And as if the economics of sociopathic socialism were not enough, the political Right also wants to rule the inside of a woman’s body, and prevents the Equal Rights Amendment from even being considered for passage.
Well, shoot
Meanwhile, the sociopathic socialists also constructed a gun culture in which the rights of everyday people who do not want to own or possess guns are being forced to consider their own safety just by attending school or going to a movie theater. The sociopathic socialists tell the world that guns make the nation a safer place to live despite the fact that 30,000 annually die from gun violence. Guns are the perfect expression of sociopathic socialism, because they now are legal for Concealed Carry in all 50 states, and lobbies are working to pass Open Carry laws so that people can walk around brandishing weapons in public.
Stop and think about that for a moment. We’re talking about a fully militarized society at that point. All people who do not carry weapons would be at a social disadvantage wherever they go.
Fighting back meekly
Small efforts to combat this brand of sociopathic socialism still exist. One can find No Guns signage on the doors of churches and businesses that do not want people carrying weapons. And yet, the sociopathic socialists warn that it is No Gun Zones that are the most dangerous places because it confers advantage to so-called criminals with guns.
How is this logic even tolerated? Well, the slogan for gun rights that trump all other rights is “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
And that, my friends, is the most sociopathic statement ever concocted. It actually invites people to kill. Look at those last three words. “People kill people.” That’s the slogan for sociopathy. And now it is socialized into our country’s lexicon.
Good gun owners
Granted, there are millions of gun owners that use and keep their weapons lawfully. But they are doing precious little to prevent the sociopathic strain of gun owners from ruining their rights as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Instead these lawful gun owners either weakly or submissively go along, or else get on their Right To Bear Arms stump as if standing proudly above others on grounds of the Second Amendment and ignoring the part about a “well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security fo a free state…” was justification enough to ignore the fact that our police are being shot and killed and hundreds of thousands more people per year are harmed by gun violence.
Hate, fear and aggression
This is the socialism of sociopathy. It harnesses hatred, fear and aggression to confer political power on those whose worldview has no empathy, and whose greed blinds them to the mechanics of true democracy, which works to provide an equal and fair playing field for all citizens.
It’s no coincidence that political leaders like Paul Ryan cite the sociopathic writings of Ayn Rand as a model for his own behavior. Or that men like Newt Gingrich could deliver an ultimatum note to his wife in her sickbed from cancer, and take part in all sorts of other schemes while hypocritically castigating President Clinton for his affair. And that supposed Good Guy Dennis Hastert was paying hush money all these years to cover up his own transgressions while pretending to be a man of high honor.
All of them, sociopaths. These are not people of good character, and they have assembled a political party around principles that are exclusionary, manipulative of cultural norms and backed by a strangely sociopathic brand of Christian faith that is literally divorced from the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It all requires a considerable amount of cognitive dissonance to sustain. But the fundamental sociopathy behind a cultural force that works against social welfare by blaming the victims of its policies for causing ill to society is the methodology of a sociopath with psychopathic disorder.
Psychopath: a person with psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoraland antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.
Think about the Rush Limbaughs of the world, who with his multiple failed marriages still feels it’s his right and responsibility to tell women how to live and what to do with their bodies. Or Bill O’Reilly, caught in multiple lies about his journalistic history, and yet he claims to operate in a “No Spin Zone.” 
These are manipulations of image that exhibit sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies. And yet millions of people buy their schtick and pipe up with “dittos!” to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. 
This is the socialism of sociopathy. It’s a sickness American needs to cure. But there’s a problem in that people with the illness seldom recognize it in themselves. And so they vote even against their own interests just so the person who appears to be below them on the social ladder will not get a leg up. That’s the socialism of sociopathy. 
America is a sick place sometimes. 

If Ben Carson were President

ben-carsonWe can only speculate at this point what it would be like if Dr. Ben Carson were to become President of the United States. But we can surmise that his seemingly disconnected approach to reality would continue on its strange course. So here’s a little primer on how Ben Carson might respond to situations of real consequence, tragedy and progress. All of the following remarks are drawn straight from the mouth of Dr. Ben Carson.

Imagine Ben Carson responding to the 9/11 tragedy. With a massive terrorist attack staring him right in the face, Dr. Carson would more likely wax poetic on how people perceive the thing. This is one of his actual quotes:  “Quite frankly, having an uninformed populace works extremely well, particularly when you have a media that doesn’t understand its responsibility and feels more like it’s an arm of a political party. They can really take advantage of an uninformed populace.”

And how right Dr. Carson would be. Because following the 9/11 tragedy, the media followed the lead of the George W. Bush administration by cheerleading for war. The public largely went along with the idea that attacking Iraq after bombing Afghanistan was the right thing to do despite the fact that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorists who committed the crime? So in his daft way, Dr. Carson accurately predicted how stupid much of the American public can be.

Of course, Dr. Ben Carson would never actually call people stupid. That is, unless he disagrees with them somehow. This is what the erstwhile President might have to say about that. “I just happen to believe that people are not stupid. And the way I will come at it is to educate people, help people to actually understand that it is that progressive movement that is causing them the problems.”

Well, isn’t that a dandy little contradiction in terminology? It’s only progressive people that are stupid. So would Dr. Ben Carson be a President for all the people, or just the people with whom he agrees?

“Here’s a nation, one of the founding pillars was freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And yet, we have imposed upon people restrictions on what they can say, on what they can think. And the media is the largest proponent of this, crucifying people who say things really quite innocently.”

Yes, Dr. Carson. It’s really quite innocent to suggest that the progressive movement is the cause of the problems in America despite its innocent motivations of social justice, economic fairness and racial equality. And then turn around and claim that it’s the media that is burying fairness and that progressives are the cause of social ills when you’ve already admitted that having an uninformed populace is rather handy when it comes to propagandizing certain messages that go unexamined by people who listen to news media that bark their so-called “fair and balanced” beliefs 24 hours a day?

That’s not selfish thinking at all, now is it, Dr. President? But Ben Carson thinks he’s got it all figured out. Despite representing a party whose entire priorities seem to be satisfying the richest and most famous (Donald Trump, for example) of all Americans, Dr. Carson thinks that the “rich and famous” are depressed because they don’t “have a cause.” He’s what he has to say about that.

There is no fulfillment in things whatsoever. And I think one of the reasons that depression reigns supreme amongst the rich and famous is some of them thought that maybe those things would bring them happiness. But what, in fact, does is having a cause, having a passion. And that’s really what gives life’s true meaning.

So perhaps Dr. Ben Carson is on to something. Maybe the reason Republicans such as he…are so dissatisfied and depressed about America is that the cause they are representing, making the rich even richer while dumping social woes and costs on the middle class and poor, is really not all that satisfying?

We can only imagine what it would be like to have Dr. Ben Carson as President. But frankly, we’ve already imagined that, and America is suffering for it.

So let’s skip the whole Ben Carson thing altogether, can we? He’s obviously a parrot for the pathetically vacuous virtues of an ideology that has long gone bankrupt.