Tag Archives: Ben Carson

SYNDICATED COLUMN: No, Everything Is Really Not Going To Be Alright

Image result for turkmenbashi statue            After president-elect Donald Trump’s 10-15 minute scheduled get-to-know-you with lame-duck president Barack Obama ran an hour and a half, too many of my friends who ought to know better contacted me with some variant of “maybe everything really is going to be OK after all.”

No. It really isn’t.

SNL’s Dave Chappelle says he’s “going to give Trump a chance.”

We should not.

Trump’s wide-eyed expression as he sucked in his new DC digs, pathetically reminiscent of the stupefied expressions of Bolshevik revolutionists wandering the Winter Palace, brought it home: the barbarians are at the gate.

Do not be fooled by what the media is attempting to present as a smooth transition of power, a quirky one to be sure, but generally falling within American political tradition. Do not believe Trump’s condescending tweet damning liberal protesters with faint praise. “President Trump” cannot end well.

Remember how, the morning of the election, the New York Times gave Trump a 15% chance of winning? Given that I’ve been saying The Donald had an excellent chance of winning for many months, maybe you should be scared when I tell you what I think there’s really a 15% chance of: another presidential election in four years.

Here’s how I think the early years of the Trump Administration will play out, and why.

Before we get started, forget impeachment. Impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, the chances of Republicans impeaching a Republican president are pretty much zero.

Second, forget constitutional checks and balances. Weimar Germany had a lovely constitution, in many ways better than ours, but constitutions are mere paper unless they’re enforced by people. Current examples: Guantánamo, immigration prisons, drone assassinations and secret black site CIA prisons are all brazenly unconstitutional. If Trump and his henchmen want to trash legal and political precedent, nothing institutional will stop them.

Finally, Democrats who place their hope in recapturing Congress in two years need to get real. There aren’t enough available red seats for that to happen in 2018. If anything, they’ll probably lose even more ground. Trumpism is here to stay, for at least four years.

I use the method used by some authors to write character-based novels

in order to game out presidential administrations. Rather than outline the plot in advance, these novelists develop characters, throw them into a situation, and watch what they do.

As with those novels, it isn’t hard to predict how a president and his closest advisers will respond when faced with a given political development. All you have to do is consider their personalities, resumes and policy preferences.

Looking at Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cabinet, which included a dentist as secretary of energy and an anti-environmentalist as secretary of the interior, it was obvious that the US government wouldn’t lift a finger to slow down the raping of the planet. While invasion of Iraq wasn’t exactly predestined, it came as little surprise that a Bush Administration full of neoconservatives who had called for the invasion of Iraq saw the 9/11 attacks as a reason/excuse for what they wanted to do all along.

It’s already clear that Donald Trump’s cabinet and closest advisers will come from the fringes of the paranoid far right. Among the highlights:

Joe Arpaio, the racist 84-year-old torture sheriff fired by Arizona voters, has been shortlisted as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Ben Carson, being considered to head the education department, doesn’t believe in evolution.

Chris Christie, currently facing criminal charges over Bridgegate, is up for attorney general; so is Rudy Giuliani, a fascist who wants to force Muslims to wear electronic monitoring tags or bracelets so the government can track their whereabouts. (What, no crescent moon patch?)

Then there’s possible Secretary of State Newt Gingrich, who wants to deport Muslims who believe in Sharia law, and Interior Secretary Sarah Palin, who thinks shooting wolves from a helicopter is sporting fun.

I’ve examined all the lists of cabinet prospects. Not a liberal or a leftist among them. No centrists either. At best, we’ll wind up with a few relatively sane right-wingers mixed into a majority of complete lunatics.

These, headed by the delightfully clearheaded and thoughtful Donald Trump, are the characters of our story.

Now add the situation. Imagine 6 or 12 or 18 months from now, when these characters face the inevitable political crisis: terrorist attack. Natural disaster. Economic meltdown. Race riot. Nuclear crisis.

These aren’t personalities predisposed to respond to these challenges with introspection or compromise. Beginning with Trump himself, these are people with a cop mentality who, like a hammer, see everything as a nail to be pounded into submission.

Bear in mind, they’ll be 6 to 12 to 18 months inside the Washington Beltway bubble. Trump’s canny campaign instincts, his intuitive understanding of populist anger that got him elected, will have been dulled by lack of interaction with the public. Moreover, Team Trump will be 6 to 12 to 18 months into an unprecedented period of constant left-wing criticism and street protest. Think Richard Nixon: they’ll be deep inside a bunker mentality.

Everyone in the cabinet room will favor moves to curtail civil liberties: tracking and cracking down on leftists, preventative detentions, new police forces to protect the state and ferret out illegal immigrants and those who hide them, the use of drones to kill Americans on American soil (something Obama said was OK), even more abusive NSA surveillance.

In my book “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” I described the president-elect as “an accidental authoritarian.” He thinks of himself as a patriot, a good man. He hasn’t been planning to lead a plot against America.

Trump’s fascism will come about naturally, caused by the perfect storm of his ego, his CEO mentality, the politics and personalities of the men and women with whom he is surrounding himself, and a set of developments that are all but inevitable.

Canceling the next election? For these characters, it will be an easy call.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. Support independent political cartooning and writing — support Ted on Patreon.)

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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Ben Carson: Please Believe Me When I Say I’m Psycho

To echo the current ad campaign by Geico, politicians lie. It’s what they do.

Like when Donald Trump says he’s going to make Mexico pay for a border wall — ain’t never gonna happen. Hillary knew she was lying when she claimed that NSA contractor Edward Snowden was protected by federal whistleblower laws (those are only for federal employees).

Probably because he’s ahead in the polls, attention is currently focused on Ben Carson’s distant relationship with the truth, most interestingly his story of getting offered a scholarship to West Point. It’s a ridiculous tale given the fact that many young Americans try to get into the military academies (I applied to Annapolis), so a lot of people know the real deal. If you gain acceptance after a grueling application process — I remember a battery of physicals that took all day and having to obtain a sponsorship from a member of Congress — tuition, room and board is free. But you’re committed to serving as a junior officer for six years after graduation.

By far the weirdest of Carson’s alleged fibs — the story itself and the media’s reaction to it — is the soft-spoken-to-the-point-of-stoned physician’s description of himself in his 1990 autobiography as a violent young man with a “pathological temper.”

I haven’t read “Gifted Hands” and likely never will, but CNN has: “The violent episodes he has detailed in his book, in public statements and in interviews, include punching a classmate in the face with his hand wrapped around a lock, leaving a bloody three-inch gash in the boy’s forehead; attempting to attack his own mother with a hammer following an argument over clothes; hurling a large rock at a boy, which broke the youth’s glasses and smashed his nose; and, finally, thrusting a knife at the belly of his friend with such force that the blade snapped when it luckily struck a belt buckle covered by the boy’s clothes.”

“I was trying to kill somebody,” Carson has said about his inept act of attempted murder in ninth grade, at age 14.

“CNN was unable to independently confirm any of the incidents,” Scott Glover and Maeve Reston reported. The network tracked down several of Carson’s friends and former classmates. None remembered Carson as out of control or violent.

Stipulated: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Minor changes in details — “camping knife” or “pocketknife,” is there a difference? — don’t change the basic facts of the story. Just because CNN can’t corroborate Carson’s stabbing attempt doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Maybe they didn’t talk to the right friends or classmates. Carson may well have told the truth about this. That’s not the point.

The point is two-fold:

First — whether Carson told the truth or lied — why is he telling this story now, while running for president? (Among other times, he talked about it at a campaign appearance in September.) A history as a deranged juvenile delinquent isn’t something to brag about when you’re asking voters to give you nuclear launch codes.

I understand the self-confessional bit in his bio. Memoirs that hide the author’s flaws suck. “Gifted Hands” came out 25 years ago, long before Carson thought about politics. But he’s still talking about trying to stab a dude for, by his own account, no good reason.

Yeah, it’s a redemption narrative. After that, he found God (in a bathroom!) and got soooo calm.

I say it’s creepy.

Unlike my September 2001 opposition to invading Afghanistan, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that I don’t want someone with a predilection for psychotic outbursts running the country.

That’s assuming he’s telling the truth about it. Really, truly, I hope he’s lying.

Which is my second point: Carson’s media critics are in the strange position of accusing him of not being an attempted murderer. Can it be that violence has become so normalized in American society that viciousness is now a requirement for high office?

Reporter: “Is it true, Dr. Carson, that you didn’t try to kill someone for fun?”

Dr. Carson: “Absolutely not. I swear swear swear that I did try to kill the guy, and that it would have been fun, and God damn that belt buckle!”

The way this is going, Carson will soon have to produce the original long-form version of his victims’ death certificates in order to continue as a viable presidential candidate.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2015 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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Portraits of the Candidates with Their Favorite Deities

Ben Carson has a portrait of himself hanging out with Jesus at his house. What if the other candidates had similar images of themselves with those most important to them?

Ben Carson has a portrait of himself hanging out with Jesus at his house. What if the other candidates had similar images of themselves with those most important to them?

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Sometimes You Feel Like Electing a Nut

Democrats ridicule Republicans for their top two presidential frontrunners, the blowhard Donald Trump and the somnolent ignoramus and proto-fascist Ben Carson. But when you stop to think about it, how is the outwardly cool calm and collected Barack "Kill List" Obama less nutty than Trump or Carson?

Democrats ridicule Republicans for their top two presidential frontrunners, the blowhard Donald Trump and the somnolent ignoramus and proto-fascist Ben Carson. But when you stop to think about it, how is the outwardly cool calm and collected Barack “Kill List” Obama less nutty than Trump or Carson?

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