The Watering Hole, Monday, October 26, 2015: Why Is Ben Carson Still Running For POTUS?

He is Dr. Ben Carson. He is running for President of the United States of America. He doesn’t believe in Evolution.

Listening to him talk about it it’s clear he doesn’t understand how Evolution works, which might contribute to why he doesn’t believe in it. I guess to be more accurate, I should have said that Ben Carson doesn’t believe in Evolution as he understands it. He might be pleased to know that most scientists don’t believe in Evolution as Ben Carson understands it, either. Carson thinks that species changed into other species, which then changed into other species, and so on. Of course that’s not how it works. They didn’t “change into” other species, they were born of other species but with slight genetic variations that gave them advantages over others of their kind born without it. I’m not going to waste good intelligent people’s time with a defense and explanation of how Evolution works and why the vast majority of scientists still recognized as scientists by their peers believe that Evolution is how we came to be the creatures you see standing before you in the mirror each day. And I’ll never convince those who argue that because we can’t as yet explain how it all works right down to the tiniest detail that it can’t possibly be true and so we must have been created just as we are just like the Bible says. Those people do not wish to engage their critical thinking skills and, you know, think critically about something. I believe Ben Carson to be one of those people. We’ll see why later.

About a week ago, Carson suggested that we could have caught bin Laden sooner if we had declared that we would be energy independent. Not, as our good Friends at Raw Story put it, if we had been energy independent, but simply if we declared we would be energy independent within five-ten years. And I know this because he said the Arab countries would be come so concerned they would have…I won’t spoil it. Read what he said:

“Declare that within five to 10 years, we will become petroleum independent. The moderate Arab states would have been so concerned about that, they would have turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks.”

Pressed on how that would work in real life, Carson added:

“Well, I think they would have been extremely concerned if we had declared — and we were serious about it — that we were going to become petroleum independent, because it would have had a major impact on their finances,” Carson offered. “And I think that probably would have trumped any loyalty that they had to — to people like Osama bin Laden.”

When it was pointed out that the Saudis had no loyalty to bin Laden and had kicked him out of their country, Carson countered with that standard Conservative tactic of denying Reality:

“Uh, well, you may not think that they had any loyalty to him, but I believe otherwise,” Carson said without further explanation.

I know Carson doesn’t like those who think critically because a couple of days ago he told Glenn Beck he would use the Department of Education to “monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.” You can listen to him give rapid fire yes or no answers that prove he’s on the wrong side of most issues.

He explained to talk show radio host Dana Loesch (who has joined Chuck Todd, Erick Erickson, Eric Bolling, Liz Cheney, Dana Perino, and Sean Hannity as Famous Conservatives Who Have Blocked Me On Twitter) that he would only block Liberal speech on campuses because he believes only Liberals engage in “extreme” speech. (If that doesn’t tell you how extreme his conservatism is, what will?) He says, “And it’s not appropriate for public funding to be used to indoctrinate students in one direction.” First of all, education is not “indoctrination.” Any candidate for POTUS who refers to education this way is unfit to be POTUS, for they are saying they wish the American people to remain ignorant and not learn new things. Second, Liberalism is not “one direction,” but rather the expansion of the mind to look in many outward directions where things don’t have the sameness that looking inwardly only shows. It’s called being “open-minded” and it is the very definition of being Liberal. You don’t go to college to be told what you already knew. You go to college to expand your mind and learn things you never knew before. For example, I went to college to learn why one plus one equals two. Not to learn that one plus one equals two. I mastered that the year before. But why does it equal two? Why doesn’t it equal three or four or some other number? I’ll save you several thousand dollars in education costs and reveal the answer: One plus one equals two because “two” is what we call the number you get when you start with one and add one to it. And “three” is what we call the number you get when you start with “two” and add one to it. And “four” is what we call the successor of “three.” And so on. Rather anticlimactic, I suppose. I bet you were wishing it was some really cool story about word origins or something but, no, it’s simply a matter of definitions. We had to call these numbers something, so we called them what we did. One was going to be the first number after Nothing. And Two was whatever came after One. And Three whatever came after Two. That’s also why they’re in the order they are. Two follows One because Two is what we call whatever follows One. I won’t get into how we’re actually referring to symbols, because that would only confuse the matter. The point is I never would have learned that had I not gone to an institution dedicated to opening my mind and teaching me things I didn’t already know. And to hooking me up with people who could get me LSD.

And if religious extremism, foreign policy naivete, and a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of an education don’t convince you he’s unfit for any public office, perhaps his paranoia will. Buzzfeed is reporting that Carson has been told (and therefore believes) that he is “in great danger” because, and pardon me if I am unable to get through this because it’s so absurd, he challenges “the secular progressive movement to the very core.” How is? What is? Where the? Why would he think he is “in great danger” from the “secular progressive movement”? I can’t speak to whether or not there are threats that pose a great danger to him, but I hardly think any such threats would come from the “secular progressive movement” (whatever that is.) I’m atheist (secular) and a Liberal Libertarian (sort of progressive), but no form of opposition to his political views I take would involve physical harm to his person or family. Whoever told him that was projecting his own framework of the world onto the suggestion. He told Carson this because he believed that’s what he would do if he were on the other side. But he has no idea how the other side would think or else he would be ON the other side. They simply don’t get this. I can’t speak for any racist or white supremacist groups, but I won’t dispute he may be in danger. But let the experts in law enforcement who know more about what’s going on than we’ll ever know pinpoint the source of the dangerous threats. I’m sure it will surprise you, Ben.

“But, Wayne, you incredibly handsome and intelligent guy,” you say, “Carson is a man of medical training who must surely understand the medical reasons why an abortion might be necessary. Might he be open-minded enough about that to see why a woman should ultimately be the one to decide if she will have an abortion?” Well, I’d say you were right about me but wrong about Carson. No, he opposes abortion and wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned (never going to happen.) As he said just this past Sunday, he doesn’t even think there should be an exception for cases of rape and incest. The problem is his internal framing of the issue. He likens the collection of cells that is on its way to probably being a human to being a slave, and equates the slave owner’s right to do whatever he wanted to with his property to a woman deciding to kill her own baby (which is not what it is at the point in the pregnancy of which we speak.) Remember the little talk before about Evolution? He doesn’t believe in that, so he doesn’t believe it’s possible that the pregnancy could produce the next species after Homo sapiens sapiens. Or it could produce a mutation that isn’t genetically beneficial to survival of the species, such as the inability to breathe oxygen into your bloodstream. If you believe in Evolution, it is arguable that we’re not necessarily talking about a “human” baby, since we’re talking about something that is only weeks along in its development. And if you believe Women are equal citizens under the law, and if you believe that Everyone should have the right to decide what to do with his or her own body, and if you believe that these choices are just that – choices – that you have the right to make, then you cannot believe Ben Carson would make a good President. Not for this country. Take it from a handsome, intelligent guy. So why is he still running for POTUS?

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss Ben Carson, Ben Carson’s fitness or lack thereof to be POTUS, how much less handsome and intelligent Ben Carson is than me, or anything else you wish to discuss.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 29, 2014: Debunking Right-Wingers Is Exhausting

Most weeks I like to check out the good people at Right Wing Watch to see what the loonies in Conservative World (where good times go to be publicly denounced as immorally anti-Christian) are up to, or down to, depending on your perspective. I have to tell you, it can be exhausting. And that’s from me, not the good people who actually delve into their world to report back to us so we may be properly warned. It just boggles my mind how distorted their view of Reality is. And thanks to a well-funded right-wing movement dedicated to ensuring their views are treated as being equally valid with more thoughtful, reality-based thinking, these people have had conferred upon them a credibility they should otherwise lack. Because they’re nuts. There’s no other explanation for it.

Take Dr. Ben Carson, for example. No, please, take him. Far away. While discussing race in America, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Dr. Carson if things were “going to get worse” before they get better, and he responded with a true statement followed by a false one. He said, “I actually believe that things were better before this president was elected. And I think that things have gotten worse because of his unusual emphasis on race.” The first part was true in the sense that things were not as bad in 2008 as they are now, but the second part is totally off base, and an indication of how conservative minds think. The president isn’t the one who emphasizes race in everything, at least not from the comments I’ve heard him make as president. (I’ve never read his books, so I can’t speak to how much he emphasized race before 2008.) But if he gets asked about it more often than the forty-two white men who preceded him at his job, maybe it’s because he can offer a point of view his predecessors lacked. And maybe it’s because racial incidents are on the rise since our nation elected its first black president. But to ascribe these things to President Obama’s “emphasis on race” is to totally twist the reality of the situation. Carson then lied to explain how he came to that conclusion. Referencing the Henry Louis Gates incident (in which a college professor was arrested for trying to break into his own home, when he was in fact trying to open a stuck front door), Carson claims Obama said that the police “always do this kind of thing”. Actually what Obama said was that the Cambridge Police acted “stupidly.” Referencing the president’s comments about how if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin, how is that not taking a “balanced, objective look at things”? Is there some merit to the belief that if Obama had a son, he would be white? Why do conservatives feel the truth must be “balanced” with something? Like what, totally delusional thinking? Ever since the election of FDR, Conservatives have been trying to get their viewpoints treated as anything other than the selfish, greedy, me-first kind of thinking they represent. (You can read a partial transcript of Hewitt’s interview with Carson here, but then you might accidentally read my reply to some delusional Christian in the comments section.)

Now that you’ve taken Ben Carson away from me, take Representative Peter King (R-NY) with him. King, who is an ardent supporter of the Irish Republican Army (the first terrorist group I remember hearing about growing up), thinks that Officer Darren Wilson has been getting a totally bad rap just because he shot an unarmed young black man out of complete fear and didn’t even get indicted for it. So Wilson should get invited to the White House, so the president can thank him for doing his job. Yeah, Steve Benen (who wrote the article to which I linked) couldn’t believe it, either. But he has a link to video of the Congressman saying this. The problem with that suggestion, of course, is that it’s not the job of a police officer to kill unarmed people from down the street, nor is it the job of a prosecutor to find a way to prevent that cop from being charged with a crime for doing so, but that’s what happened in Missouri. I mean, it’s not as though Officer Wilson was visiting Washington, DC, and did the Secret Service’s job by stopping a White House intruder (by shooting him from down the street), so why should he be invited to the White House? In typical Conservative fashion, King wants to make heroes out of people who kill other people for no valid reason. (Face the truth. Officer Darren Wilson’s life was never in danger, he only thought it might be. And that should not be sufficient grounds to use deadly force.) Conservatives love to step up and support cops who kill people for not obeying orders, because in their warped minds, failure to obey a police officer is a capital offense, punishable by an immediate execution. IOW, do what you’re told or die.

And while you’re taking away Ben Carson and Peter king, please take away all those Conservatives who think the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the Pilgrims’ triumph over Socialism. I’ll let the author of the article explain:

The storyline goes like this: The early settlers at Plymouth at first experimented with a system of collective ownership of farmland, which, as with their compatriots at Jamestown, led to widespread famine. When they eventually abandoned this system in favor of private ownership, farmers were more productive, the harvest was bountiful, and a feast was held in celebration. Pass the stuffing!

As usual when it comes to Conservative interpretations of reality, it’s completely wrong and misses the point entirely! The first Thanksgiving celebration for a bountiful harvest was in 1621. The Pilgrims abandoned their Collective Course strategy in 1623. And they didn’t do it because of widespread famine (which contradicts the idea that their first harvest was bountiful) but because they wanted to make more money. It’s true that one reason they abandoned the Common Course was because there were bachelors who didn’t want to work for the benefit of other men’s wives and families, and there were women who objected to washing the bachelors’ clothes. This had more to do with the fact that these early settlers were not all from one town in England, but from all over the country. This was also at a time when people rarely traveled more than ten miles form their homes.

Communal farming arrangements were common in the pilgrims’ day. Many of the towns they came from in England were run according to the “open-field” system, in which the land holdings of a manor are divided into strips to be harvested by tenant farmers. As Nick Bunker writes in 2010’s Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World, “Open field farming was not some kind of communism. All the villagers were tenants of the landlord.”

There was no local baron in Plymouth, but it was a commercial project as much as a religious one, and the colonists still had to answer to their investors back in England. It was this, not socialist ideals, that accounted for the common course. Bunker writes, “Far from being a commune, the Mayflower was a common stock: the very words employed in the contract. All the land in the Plymouth Colony, its houses, its tools, and its trading profits (if they appeared) were to belong to a joint-stock company owned by the shareholders as a whole.”

He continues: “Under the terms of the contract … for the first seven years no individual settler could own a plot of land. To ensure that each farmer received his fair share of good or bad land, the slices were rotated each year, but this was counterproductive. Nobody had any reason to put in extra hours and effort to improve a plot if next season another family received the benefit.”

The Pilgrims’ unhappiness with this arrangement was not a rejection of Socialism, but of the corporate rules under which they had to live. You’ll never hear Conservatives talk about the early European settlers in this country that way – as anti-corporation.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss anything you wish, but preferably not right-wing distortions of reality, thank you.