A little sympathy for Ben Carson

A young black man raised by a single mother in Detroit survives a close brush with the criminal justice system. He stays in school, works hard and performs well. Turning down an offer from West Point, he attends Yale. From there he attends medical school and completes his residency in the country’s most prestigious program at Johns Hopkins. He goes on to become the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins connected at the head.

Dr. Ben Carson’s feel-good story is taking a dark turn as he leverages his biography into a disturbing and occasionally batty political campaign. He has built a following on the far right with the message that struggling African-American communities have only themselves to blame. If blacks had not been corrupted by the social safety net then they might display the moral rectitude that would lead to prosperity. For Carson, the push for social justice and civil rights is a distraction from the real issue – black moral failures.

As just another daffy candidate in the Republican Presidential clown car Carson will play his assigned role and move off the stage. However, seen through a social lens Ben Carson becomes far more interesting – and tragic.

His climb to success and his subsequent troubling choices illustrate the dilemmas facing those who struggle out of humble beginnings. Success can spawn painful tensions, creating a complicated relationship between a young person on the rise and the community from which they emerge. Dr. Carson’s political choices shed light on the struggles that accompany individual social mobility in our culture.

Carson presents a gentle, fatherly public persona, a style completely at odds with the ugly ideas he has embraced. Being black and a doctor is perhaps not enough to make someone famous. Being a black brain surgeon willing to endorse far right views on race is a different proposition altogether.

According to the good doctor, black folks’ problems have nothing to do with discrimination or racism. Instead, they are burdened by a nasty social welfare system designed to trap them on a modern version of what he has described as a “plantation.”

Food stamps, welfare, and other government “hand-outs” supposedly corrupt morality, destroy families, and engender “dependence” that cripples black communities. He has embraced a racist stereotype older than the Civil War. Plantation owners argued that black people would rot if turned loose from the ennobling structure of forced labor. It was an argument perhaps best stated by a Virginia legislator in 1832, “The free black will work nowhere except by compulsion.” Carson parrots that age-old formula, lending his own blackness and success as cudgels against fellow African-Americans.

Needless to say, the far-right can’t get enough of Ben Carson. There is nothing a racist loves more than a black man who agrees with him. But Carson has had to ignore his own personal history to arrive at this feat.

Questioning the value and structure of the welfare state is unremarkable. Republicans and Democrats have done this consistently for decades. That’s not what Carson is doing. By embracing the far-right’s plantation rhetoric he is equating the entire social safety net with the darkest episode of oppression in our history while trivializing the black community’s most painful trauma. All this from a guy who probably would not have finished school without the welfare state.

This is where the story gets really nasty. Never mind all the bootstrappy rhetoric about what he accomplished on his own. Dr. Ben Carson is the poster-child of the very welfare state he is working to demolish.

As a kid in the sixties, Carson’s family survived on a raft of brand-new government programs. He would benefit from welfare, food stamps, free public education, college grants, affirmative action, federal non-discrimination laws, and federally subsidized student loans. You know, the “plantation” of “dependence.” That matrix of public support helps explain why he and his brother were able to complete an education and go on to success while his mother’s generation of the family, growing up without that support, endured grinding poverty and did not complete school.

In light of Carson’s own experience with the welfare state his ridiculous plantation rhetoric makes him look far worse than just wrongheaded, opportunistic, or nuts. He sounds like an asshole. However, viewed in a wider context, perhaps Carson deserves a little slack.

Escaping from childhood poverty creates mental strains that few people comprehend. Rising beyond the achievements of the people around you breaks critical social ties. That break creates dissonance in your understanding of who you are and where you fit in the world. To continue to be successful a kid must somehow sustain that dissonance, a mentally taxing weight to bear that has consequences over time.

The welfare state in Carson’s time was playing a major role in lifting his community out of the poverty that crushed a previous generation. Out of that environment, a young Carson was leveraging his talent and government support to rise at a far faster pace than his peers. One might expect that the successful child of the ghetto achieves a form of leadership status back on the block, but that is not how the dynamics play out. In a ghetto, a poor farm community, or a factory town, achievement fosters conflict internally and externally.

Each step toward success raises new tension with former peers. Long after someone has left that world behind, the hostility they faced remains almost tangible. The bathroom beatings, the stolen books, the hateful stares, the resentment that the increasingly successful kid feels as his life becomes more and more different from his peers. Alongside the guilt of survival comes anger toward those who stood in the way.

Succeeding in such an environment means living a life under siege, in constant strain and frequent fear. Defining an identity in that climate is extremely difficult. For black achievers that difficulty is particularly sharp. A young Irish kid from Southie or a white kid from the Appalachians can clean up his accent and get through his day without necessarily being assigned an identity that no longer fits his understanding of himself. He can “pass.” For a young black professional that is a very difficult move to execute.

Low-income students with high SAT scores are about half as likely to finish college as their more affluent peers. That’s despite massive financial aid and significant efforts by colleges to identify and assist those students. Missing from the efforts to support these kids is an awareness of what they experience. Being plucked out of their environment into a brand new, completely unfamiliar social sphere is a disorienting mental challenge. Combined with relentless financial pressures and family trouble, it is more pressure than most kids can sustain.

Many who make it through college flame out later under the perverse tension of success. Being different is difficult even when that difference is defined by achievement. Advancement is lonely.

One way to resolve the dissonance is with a forceful, deliberate break from the past. Some take comfort in the notion that they are inherently better than the people and the place that created them. One can easily internalize the taunt that ‘you are not one of us’ and convert it into a badge, or even a battle cry. Anger can deliver the energy it takes to break the sound barrier that blocks success. That anger can leave a kid blind to the contributions of others who helped him or her succeed.

Whether the community is a blue collar refinery town, a ghetto, or an isolated rural outpost, no one escapes without heavy contributions from people left behind. Some of those contributions might be invisible – a gang member who intervenes behind the scenes to protect a promising honor student, the union foreman who offers a kid part time work in a phony job that leaves him time to study, the teacher, janitor, case worker, pastor or random friend of the family who made a sacrifice that the kid will never even discover. Or it might be the welfare state, an institution you loathe because of what is says about you. An institution whose role in your survival you resent.

Sometimes the successful adult revisits those memories and discovers a kind of humility and gratitude that brings them peace. Sometimes, instead, they discover an arrogant and bigoted template of religious beliefs that convince them they owe nothing to anyone but the God who rewarded them for their special merit. People make choices.

At the pinnacle of his achievement, Dr. Ben Carson has made a choice to align himself with forces that would have destroyed his own route to success. He sees no moral tension in the opportunistic ways he has fed a racist political movement; reinforcing the narrative that absolves his white audience by blaming black suffering on the supposedly poor morals of those left behind. He has resolved the dissonance inherent in breakthrough-success by ignoring the so-called ‘liberal plantation’ that kept him fed and educated, crediting his success to his own superior religious faith. People make choices.

In the long run Carson may not matter much politically, but there is a lot we can learn from his experience with social mobility. If we want to see more kids from troubled backgrounds emulate his academic and professional achievements we need to better recognize the full range of difficulties they face. As for the good doctor himself, there is reason to expect that the loneliness of a courageous rise will be followed by the loneliness of an isolating arrogance. Despite his ugly political choices it’s hard not to feel some sympathy for the guy.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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265 comments on “A little sympathy for Ben Carson
  1. flypusher says:

    Hey Cruz, Hey Huckabee, since you are all about fighting for religious liberty, here’s a cause to fight for:


    I have the same amount of sympathy for this person as I do for Kim Davis, I.e. none. You knew what the job required when you accepted it.

  2. 1mime says:

    There is a strong probability that Congress will shut down government. On CNBC today, Larry Kudlow said the word he’s hearing on the hill is this: Republicans are furious over the Iran deal and they may make it a single rider to the budget document they send to the Senate and President. In his view, they will sacrifice the PP fight in order to force the Iran issue, trying to strategically force President Obama to be the one who shuts down government.

    Anyone here think that will work for Republicans?

    Kudlow also indicated that many people think that the Federal Reserve Board is waiting to make their decision on raising interest rates until they see how much impact the Republican shut down will have on the economy. Last time the Republicans shut down government, it cost the US Treasury (and we the citizens plus we the investors) over $20 Billion, then the SOBs had the nerve to demand a balanced budget, with cuts coming from anyplace but their side of the aisle.

    This is a serious issue and with the budget approval deadline looming and Congress due to recess, major pieces of legislation may not have time to be addressed. On the heels of the budget approval is the decision to raise the debt ceiling.

    So, this is how Republicans govern.

    • Doug says:

      Don’t get your panties in a was just yet. If the Republican leadership wanted to expend political capital to stop the Iran deal they would have done so. They are more interested in pretending to do stuff than actually doing it. It might go to the last minute, with a continuing resolution or three, but that won’t shut down (a small percentage of) the governmant. Kudlow (whoever he is) doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

      • 1mime says:

        Larry Kudlow is not someone I care for, but he is well known in economic journalism circles. “The sky is not falling”, Doug, but this is serious and it’s becoming a pattern in how the Republicans are governing – by threats and reprisal. How many hits can our economy manage from a Congress that is hell-bent on political revenge? This is not responsible governing; this is petulant, dangerous, stupid politics. If the situation were reversed, the Repubs would be saying “tough %H*I”. I’m tired of all the threats. It’s not good for our country, it’s not good for our savings. It matters.


      • Doug says:

        Mime, are you aware that Obama has only vetoed four bills during his entire term? The Republicans own both houses…Obama should have had four vetoes last week. They are doing nothing other than blowing hot air.

      • 1mime says:

        Republicans are only blowing hot air…..

        Here’s my problem with that, Doug. There are some very important areas of government that are depending upon Congress to act timely. It’s not happening. All of the focus is on PP and Iran which they know they lack the votes to overturn. Everything else is purely playing to their constituencies. I understand conservatives feel very strongly about both issues (tho I disagree with the basis for their justification), but they are not doing their jobs! It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter to me that Obama has only used his veto power four times. What I want is for government to work. Period. Republicans won both houses in Congress. Now they need to govern to the best of their ability. No smoke, no mirrors, doing the nation’s business.

        What is real is the $20 Billion dollar loss in American treasury due to the last shut down along with the savings of many Americans. That $20B could have been used to fix some bridges, build some roads, put some people to work. Ordinary Americans are working hard all over this country, and they expect and deserve more than tantrums and grand standing, or, as you said, “hot air”. They need to move on, and get to work.

        This is just the budget. Just wait, raising the debt ceiling is the next crisis. Any Republican who wonders why a man like Trump is leading the polls – decisively – need only think about the image of our Congress playing games with the US budget. Maybe people are paying more attention than we give them credit for doing.

    • moslerfan says:

      1mime, the government shutdown, provided it doesn’t last long, will be a minor event for the economy. First of all, $20B is a small percentage of the $3,900B budget. Also, much of the government doesn’t really shut down. Social Security checks will go out, Medicare claims will be paid, and the DoD will still be on the job. In the end, it’s more of a two-year-old’s tantrum on the part of Congress than anything else. It isn’t helpful, but it won’t be a cataclysm either. Also, Doug’s right about Kudlow. He’s a hack.

      The Republican leadership pretends to be interested in what their base wants, but they actually work for the donor class. The leadership has no interest at all in a shutdown, over PP or anything else. Trouble is, a significant number of the members don’t give a damn about the leadership, and the base is livid about being patronized that way. One might feel sorry for Speaker Boehner, if he wasn’t such a jerk.

      • moslerfan says:

        Also, $20B will not fix any bridges or anything else. Bridges are fixed with concrete and steel and labor. Assuming you have concrete and steel and labor available for purchase (we do), and the political will to allocate those resources to the public sector (we probably don’t), the money can be created (printed) or taxed (if inflation seems to be an issue, which it isn’t at this time).

      • 1mime says:

        Mosler! If you’ve watched the budget process over the past seven years, you know Republicans are fixated on cuts, not spending – even on projects and programs that they know are needed. Nope, can’t go with you on this scenario. Obama offered jobs and infrastructure proposals to no avail. $20 B may be a drop in the bucket to address America’s infrastructure needs, but as it was, that money didn’t do ANY good for any project other than to stroke some egos.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree with your assessment of Kudlow – always found him condescending, and I hope he is incorrect. We shall see.

        I disagree with $20B being insignificant. Guess it all depends upon whose budget is getting cut. In large, I am weary of the theatrics and the excuses of Republicans while America’s business is neglected. They whined for years about how badly the country was being run, now they have both Houses and they are still whining and doing a pitiful job of governing. This was supposed to be their “time” when they would show the world how efficiently and effectively they could govern. Well, it’s showtime.

      • moslerfan says:

        1mime, the Republicans are indeed fixated on cuts (except for the military, and maybe for a wall on our southern border). When it comes to fixing bridges, they are strongly opposed to allocating existing resources (concrete, steel, labor) to the government sector for that purpose. This is where political will comes in. Because Republicans don’t want the government involved in fixing bridges, they cite “the deficit, which will burden our children” as the reason.

        “The deficit will burden our children” is an assertion that is easy to understand, appeals to common sense and personal experience, and makes one sound like a politically responsible person. It is also completely wrong. It is wrong because there is a fundamental difference between debt of a currency issuer (like the US government) and debt of a currency user (households, firms, state and local governments).

        The deficit has consequences. From a macroeconomic POV, the most important ones are for employment and inflation. (Obviously, from a societal POV, fixing bridges could also be an important consequence of defIcit spending.) We need to evaluate economic policy according to the consequences for employment, inflation, and for bridges and other societal benefits. The deficit, as such, is just a number. It hasn’t harmed our economy yet, and it won’t burden our children. Our children will produce so many cars and washing machines and other stuff, and all of it will be consumed by people who are alive at the time, and none of it will be sent into the past to pay off the deficit.

        I can’t figure out if the Republicans know this and are lying about it for political reasons, or if they really don’t know it. They certainly don’t have a problem with deficits when they are in power.

      • 1mime says:

        Maintaining bridges is a public necessity. If a bridge fails while you are driving over it, your chance of survival is slim to none. You can’t “stress test” a bridge before you get on it, you simply assume it will do its job and get you to the other side – safely.

        This is the kind of public expenditure that should be non-controversial. The problem is that the GOP is fixated on “balancing” the budget (except when one of their priorities is involved, as you pointed out) and while I agree that tax revenue needs to be carefully spent, there are definitive needs that simply must be funded. Public transportation means top that list.

        Budgets have become an extension of the ugly politics we are watching and a tool of power. it is getting worse and must stop.

      • moslerfan says:

        Mime, I agree with you completely on the need to upgrade our public infrastructure. The point I was trying to make is that the decision not to allocate available resources to that purpose was a political decision made consciously and deliberately. The decision to let our infrastructure rot was deliberate. The decision to leave millions unemployed was deliberate. There are those who would have us believe that these decisions were forced by budget constraints, but as I sketched out above, there is nothing in the realities of federal government finance that necessitates these decisions. Any comment or or politician who tells you different is lying or ignorant. Rather, these decisions were made because the politicians’ corporate and donor class masters wanted it that way. Look at it from their perspective: if there isn’t a pool of unemployed people out there, workers will start demanding wage increases. Horrors! Can’t have that! The peons will just have to suffer!

  3. texan5142 says:

    OT but an interesting opinion.


    “The mainstream media in this country tend only to report a very limited section of ideas and views,” he noted. “So it’s perfectly understandable why people would believe Donald Trump’s nonsense, because it’s important to the 1 percent to propagate and disseminate these theories and these system beliefs in order to retain control. It’s organized theft on a giant level, a huge scale, and is extremely efficient and well-organized.”

  4. Tuttabella says:

    Well, I must say I was impressed with Bernie Sanders’s speech before that evangelical university. Instead of accusing them of being anti-woman, anti-science, or not caring about the poor, he addressed them with respect, and they responded in kind. We need more of this type of dialogue. Spinning on a continuous merry-go-round of insults and snark will get us nowhere.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      I was impressed, too, that he went there and, once again, was himself.

    • Griffin says:

      Actually the students didn’t care for him. Before the event they were sending each other messages about his abortion stance and after the event they were doing the same. The only applause during the event was when someone questioned him about abortion.

      “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” – Winston Churchill

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Yes, I got that. But that doesn’t mean his reach out wasn’t impressive.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        In all honesty, Sanders was never going to win many converts at LU. That wasn’t the point of going there. It was a brilliant strategic move designed to appeal to moderates everywhere, who will be impressed by a candidate that can go into the “belly of the beast” and be civil and have a civilized discourse. In the current political atmosphere, that’s appealing to an awful lot of people.

        And while I don’t think LU students were probably overly receptive to the message, they were at least respectful in kind.

        It’s also a wise strategy as it provides seperation to the charge that he’s just “Donald Trump on the left”. There are fundamental difference between the two and the ability to have respectful conversation with ppl that don’t agree with you highlights that.

        Trump would go in there and call them all Losers and he the women pigs.

  5. Rob Ambrose says:

    Interesting seeing the shift in climate change among surprising new proponents.

    The latest report from Citigroup (far from a lefty institution) focuses more on the solutions of CC (the wxistence of CC is taken as factual). Or more accurately, they see the OPPORTUNITY in CC.

    The report estimates that investing in renewable energy will create jobs and boost the economy by $1.8 trillion by 2040. In terrifying contrast, the COSI of the status quo will be around $44 TRILLION in that same period if we don’t do anything.

    How can the GOP stick to their policy that a) anthropomorphic CC isn’t real and b) even if it is, it would destroy our economy when it’s becoming increasingly clear that both are definitely wrong?

    Why is it so hard to imagine that a huge shift of capital to renewable energy investments on a large scale wpuld produce a massive jobs/spending boom the likes of which we haven’t seen since the industrial revolution? ALL revolutions of the type are rife with investment and opportunity. And the initial boom, which will pour hundreds of billions into construction and r & D, when completed, will leave us with an energy grid that costs a fraction of what energy does today, compounding the economic benefits as we enjoy almost free energy, allowing us t reallocate a massive chunk of current spending to other investments.

    The current GOP is determined to be on the wrong side of literally every major issue facing us today, from the social to the economic.

      • flypusher says:

        Apparently the writers at the MercuryNews forgot to add the those past dry spells didn’t happen when humans were there trying to do a lot of agriculture, and sucking up ground water faster than it can be replenished.


      • Doug says:

        No argument, fly. But to point to CA drought and fires as proof of global warming is dishonest at best.

      • 1mime says:

        There is more and more documentation that climate change is contributing significantly to drought which is leading to major fires.

        “In May this year, the nearly unthinkable happened in the Pacific Northwest: The rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, one of the wettest places on the continent, caught fire….This is the present, and the future, of climate change. Our overheated world is amplifying drought and making megafire commonplace. This is happening even in the soggy Pacific Northwest, which has been hard-hit by what’s been dubbed a “wet drought.” Despite near-normal precipitation, warm winter temperatures brought rain instead of snow to the region’s mountains. What little snow did hit the ground then melted early, leaving the Northwest dry — and ready to burn in the heat of summer. The national data is as clear as it is troubling: “Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970,” according to a Forest Service report published in August.”

        Of course, one has to have some faith in the validity of national data for this to be believable.


      • flypusher says:

        But using the “climate has changed before” line as proof of no effects from human activity is the least supported argument of all.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        “But to point to CA drought and fires as proof of global warming is dishonest at best.”

        I would agree 100% Doug but that’s not what’s going on here. The “proof” of CC is not droughts in Cali nor is anyone claiming it is. It is merely CONFIRMATION of the overwhelming proof we’ve found across many different scientific disciplines using methods such as air temps, ice cores, ocean temps, satellite data, fossil record among others.

        The fact that a rapid increase in the arid zones (which is why we’re seeing all over the world, including California) is precisely one of the main predictions of ACC means while it I not “proof” (nor is it meant to be) it IS relevent.

        Doug, seriously, you should read up on the science and HOW we know what we know about ACC. Read about carbon isotopes and how the concentration ratio of them tells us very accurately how much CO2 in the atmosphere is “natural” and how much is our fault. Currently, about 55-60% of total CO2 in any sample of atmosphere comes from burning fossil fuels.

        Yes, climate has always changed and will always. To use that as a reason to deny the exacerbation effect of ACC is assinine. Climate usually changes so slow thay species don’t have much trouble adapting. However look at what happens when it changes to quick. The history is there. There have been five known “mass extinctions” in Earth’s history (a ME is defined generally as losing 80% of the planets species within a geologically short period of time, usually 0.5-1 million years). Without exception, they have all been caused by too rapid of a climate (or environment) change. The latest was the Cretacious Extinction which happened 65 million years ago when an asteroid changed the Earth’s climate in a rapid period of time. So he s, Doug, climate always changes. But it normally doesn’t lead to mass extinction event. Even if the current CC doesn’t lead to that (still probably an overall longshot) it us very likely to cause massive disruptions in global society to the extent that it may be unrecognizable. You think the current refugee crisis is bad? What about when it’s half of Africa streaming into Europe? How about when the majority of the 80% of Earth’s population that live on the coastline find their homes underwater?

        How are you going to explain the potential chaos to your granddaughter when she asks why your generation didn’t do anything despite the overwhelming evidence that something needed to be done? That you “didn’t want to wreck the economy”? Or will you tell her that it’s not REALLY proven yet (despite the fact that LA, New Orleans and most of Florida is underwater) and it’s just a huge conspiracy carried out by thousands of scientists in dozens of countries who all come to the same conclusion? Will you tel her about the Koch Bros and their $900 million of “speech” they’ve invested to convince people loke you otherwise?

        This isn’t a guess, or some shot in the dark. We knowich more then yu seem to think we know. This is why there is no controversy within the scientific community about if ACC is real. It is real. That’s settled. Now we need to focus on solutions.

      • vikinghou says:

        An even more troubling effect of excess atmospheric CO2 that receives insufficient attention is ocean acidification. It threatens many aquatic species, particularly mollusks and pteropods whose ability to form shells is hampered. The marine food chain is being threatened. Coral reefs are also disappearing.


      • Doug says:

        “Doug, seriously, you should read up on the science”

        I would guess that I started reading up on the science about the time you started reading.

      • johngalt says:

        Doug is (partially) right on this one. No given weather event, be they droughts, hurricanes, or floods, can be definitely ascribed to climate change. California’s current condition is unusual, but not unprecedented. But, overall, measurements of climate parameters indicate changes unprecedented in their speed and magnitude in the absence of cataclysmic events (comets, volcanoes). Natural forces cannot explain the last few decades.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Johngalt – for sure. I may not have been clear. My point in posting the link was mostly for the part where Citigroup analysis said that beginning the switch to renewable energy would generate over $1 trillion fo the economy. Compared to NOT doing anything which would COST $40+ trillion.

        I don’t think that a drought in California is evidence that CC is real anymore then a snowball in February in DC is evidence it isn’t.

        As far as I’m concerned (along with just about every single climate scientist) the reality of CC has been definitively established. Now we’ve moved on to solutions

      • 1mime says:

        Rob, is your professional background in science or is this a strong personal interest?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Just a strong personal interest Mime. I’ll be the first to admit that, like our republican friends, “I’m not a scientist”. But i have an enormous amount of respect for the pursuit of knowledge and the Scientific Method. I tjink saying “im not a scientist” is a perfectly sensible response to questions that pertain to science, so long as its followed by “and so ill defer to the people that are”.

        Anybody who thinks that it’s even POSSIBLE to have a vast conspiracy among many different scientists just doesn’t understand the scientific method and the peer review process. All scientific papers prominently display the data they used to come to their conclusions (as anyone who actually READ the papers will know). The data also must be repeatable or it will not pass the peer review process.

        Now before Doug finds a link to some paper that was later repealed or somehow snuck thru the peer review process, I understand it happens. But not hundreds or thousands of papers, like we have supporting anthropomorphic CC.

      • 1mime says:

        A solid response, Rob. Thanks. Glad we’re on the same side!

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        And you’re a diamond in the rough Mime. I hope when I get a little older I retain an open mind and adapt to new information as it becomes available as you seem to be able to do.

        There seems to be a certain age that when ppl get, they feel their worldview the “correct” one and no amount of evidence can convince them otherwise.

        I hope I can overcome that when the times comes.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks, Rob. I believe people mostly choose to limit themselves and I don’t see this ever being your choice. As people age, there is a tendency to “shrink” one’s world to a discrete set of ideas, a comfortable set of friends, and to avoid conflict. Being a rather opinionated woman, I feel pretty sure I’ve nailed at least one out of three (-: Intellectual curiosity opens lots of doors to seeing things more broadly and it certainly makes life more interesting. It’s been a great experience to bounce ideas among all the keen thinkers who comment here. Lifer makes it all possible and I thank him for that. It’s been a great learning experience.

      • Doug says:

        “The national data is as clear as it is troubling: “Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970,” according to a Forest Service report published in August.”

        Of course, one has to have some faith in the validity of national data for this to be believable.”

        This sort of thing is exactly what’s wrong with the climate debate. An unnamed bureaucrat, in an unattributed report written for Congress in an attempt to influence the budget process, makes a completely unsubstantiated assertion, and it’s “national data.”

        The next sentence in the report says, “The U.S. burns twice as many acres as three decades ago and Forest Service scientists believe the acreage burned may double again by mid-century.” Than then: “The six worst fire seasons since 1960 have all occurred since 2000.”

        No data. No footnotes. No author. Not even an explanation what constitutes “fire seasons” or how it is measured.

        Here’s a tip: No matter the argument or which side it’s coming from, when someone says “X has increased Y% since Z,” ask, “Why did you choose Z as the starting point?” What is special about Z and what happened before that time? I need to go to work, so I leave the research up to you if you’re interested.

        Oh…the Rolling Stone article mentions the fire burning an area the size of Delaware. Check out the The Great Fire of 1910 (cough…Connecticut) which happened before we screwed up the climate.

        And just for grins, here’s a link to ponder. http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001416.html

      • 1mime says:

        It is the confluence of so many climatic factors on mother earth that is concerning. Weather extremes are more prevalent in combination with rising population and huge industrialization across the globe. I will state again for the record: if there are any steps man can take to ameliorate climate change, we should do so before it is too late. Our focus should be solution-oriented, not a continuous argument about who causes what. When the vast majority of our scientific community agree upon causes, as lay people, we should accept their findings and support their recommendations for a remediation plan. Maybe a better question is, will the water, air and land we share be better for taking steps that protect it for our generations and those to come?

      • Doug says:

        “All scientific papers prominently display the data they used to come to their conclusions (as anyone who actually READ the papers will know). The data also must be repeatable or it will not pass the peer review process. ”

        Are you really that naive?

        Do you happen to remember the hockey stick, the single most influential “study” in the history of the climate debate? The keystone of the 2001 IPCC report and Gore’s scare tactics? Check out what over a hundred actual scientists, many on the side of AGW, have to say about it: http://www.amazon.com/%2522A-Disgrace-Profession%2522-Steyn-editor/dp/0986398330/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

    • Doug says:

      “Interesting seeing the shift in climate change among surprising new proponents.”

      Paris is coming up, and there are potentially trillions of dollars of tax money and regulations at play. You think maybe Citi sees itself getting a little slice of the pie?

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        I think the concept of occasions razer applies here Doug: I. E. all things considered, the simplest answer is probably the right one.

        What’s the simplest answer here Doug: that scientists the world over in many different disciplines are all engaged in a massive conspiracy to trick the good citizens of Earth for some vague reason, such as “to get more funding”? And that the US Navy, the EPA, NASA, the UN, and pretty much every other major nation is in on it too? And that 1% corporations like Citigroup are ALSO in on it and blowing the horn in order to, someday, years down the road they might somehow get a finger in this huge conspiracy pie?

        Orrrr that all these groups believe in ACC because its actually happening and that’s where the evidence has led them? And that MAYBE opposition from the Koch Bros and Big Oil is mostly due to their holding massive oil interests and will lose a ton of money if we get away from fossil fuels, and that maybe they don’t have the highest credibility on such an issue?

        My guess is on the latter.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        *occams razor

        Damn autocorrect

      • vikinghou says:

        I agree, Rob.

        Having been a researcher in the oil industry for over 30 years I know that, internally, several oil companies (at least in R&D) have long acknowledged that environmental damage resulting from anthropogenic CO2 is a real problem. Yet publicly they have supported organizations that question the validity of climate change research. However, the dam is starting to break. At least one major company, Shell, has admitted that the problem is real.


      • 1mime says:

        No doubt, “papa” Royal Dutch Shell has influenced “baby” Shell Oil Company….the rest are still heavily invested in fossil fuel and related chemical industries.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        And Viking, when the last domino falls and there is no longer any doubt, even among Fox News and the Koch Bros that we need to do something about CC won’t it be entirely predictable to hear conservatives blame Obama or Hillary for inaction while letting it happens on their watch? Of couse leaving out their role as the #1 REASON for the inaction.

        It’s a neat trick taken straight out of the page of Ted Cruz types in the current republican party: recklessly pursue a policy if no compromise, 100% capitulation on all issues in order to make government dysfunctional. Once achieved, then complain loudly at election time that government is dysfunctional.

        The Republican Party has become a Manchurian Candidate. They’d happily reduce America to rubble so long as they get to rule over the ashes.

    • 1mime says:

      The most interesting and important entry into the global warming debate are insurance companies, most especially, re-insurers. They are making cold, calculated decisions on the basis of “science”….call it whatever you want, the big boys understand both the risk and the benefits to responsible management of climate change. For them, it’s purely a bottom line decision. That is not my motivation, of course, but, I’ll take it.

      • flypusher says:

        The insurance industry is taking this dead seriously. So is the Dept. of Defense. I’d really love to hear the explanation of how they fit into the whole it’s-a-plot-to-drag-down-America-and-redistribute-wealth-to-the-3rd-World song and dance.

  6. 1mime says:

    Politico Blast:

    “WALL STREET’S TRUMP TERROR: POLITICO’s Ben White reports: Wall Street is growing increasingly terrified that DONALD TRUMP – once viewed as an amusing summer time distraction – could actually win the Republican nomination for president. The real estate billionaire, who took another populist shot on Sunday by ripping into lavish executive pay, continues to rise in the polls. And would be Wall Street saviors like JEB BUSH are languishing in single digits. Wall Street’s belief that the real estate mogul’s candidacy would quickly fade is now evaporating in a wave of fear.
    “I held four lunches for investors in August and at the first one everyone assumed Trump would implode,” said Byron Wien, Vice Chairman of Blackstone Advisory Partners and a senior figure on Wall Street. “By the fourth one everyone was taking him very seriously. He taps into frustrations that are very real and he is a master manipulator of the media.”
    The CEO of one large Wall Street firm, who declined to be identified by name criticizing the GOP front-runner, said the assumption in the financial industry remains that something will eventually knock Trump off and send voters toward a more establishment candidate. But that assumption is no longer held with strong conviction. And a dozen Wall Street executives interviewed for this article could not say what might dent Trump’s appeal or when it might happen. Read more tonight at POLITICO

  7. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    Carson (and Cain before him) parrots the exact same GOP rhetoric regarding minorities and the safety net. He does not challenge the GOP at all to look at anything from even the slightest different perspective.

    Carson would be a decent addition to the Democrats on minority issues as something of an alternative voice, but he’s a cookie cutter GOP candidate at this point.

  8. Libtard says:

    Lifer, I read deeply insightful and socially-minded pieces like this from you and I am surprised that you remain a Republican. Like your tagline says, leaving isn’t an option.

    My question is what in the Democratic or Progressive movement is so wrong in your eyes that you would stay with the virulently racist, willfully ignorant, and openly corrupt GOP at this point?

    It’s like saying “I’ll stick with the KKK instead of joining the Humanist party because I like the KKK’s economic policies.”

    The gulf between you and the GOP is so much further than you and the Dems or Progressives.

    • goplifer says:

      Gotta remember, I don’t live in Dixie anymore. There is no party in the country that represents the old Hamiltonian conservative, commercial core of the Northern right. We are orphans.

      Democrats are even more hostile than Republicans to Hamiltonian commercial values. The Democratic Party is a dinosaur of 20th century patronage politics. Here in Illinois it is a barrier to Chicago’s economic, survival.

      I won’t have much of a political home until the GOP flames out and rebuilds along these lines: https://goplifer.com/what-the-republican-party-could-be/

      Here in Illinois, that is for the most part what the party already looks like.

      • Griffin says:

        I don’t think he’s talking about the Democratic Party per se but the ideology of liberalism/progressivism. Sure in practice the Democratic Party in many states (such as Illinois) doesn’t have an ideology and is essentially a patronage engine. However there is a wing of the Democratic Party, particularly in the Northeast/New England, that is more ideological.

        I know you’re not actually a liberal (maybe an Ordoliberal but that’s different) but are you particularly opposed to liberalism/progressivism (more social democratic) as an ideology? Would you be comfortable with it being on a left-wing of a new Republican Party like it once was?

  9. 1mime says:

    Back on Carson, here’s a look at the good, the bad, the ugly, and the “missing” in his campaign.

    From, The Daily Sift: “In tone and manner, Ben Carson is the anti-Trump — calm and collected, not aggressive or even particularly animated most of the time. He avoids conflict, even when baited by an expert like Trump. But in many other ways, he’s a Trump alternative: an outsider brought in to fix our broken government; appealing to “common sense” rather than expertise in law, economics, foreign policy, the military, or any other relevant field; almost completely lacking specific proposals [10]; and free to say what white conservatives think ought to be true, unencumbered by actual facts.”

    Note: “completely lacking specific proposals”….once/if Carson offers specifics, he will come under a stronger microscope. For now, he’s “the little engine that could”, chugging along, pristine in his views, offending no one and offering no details that will. How long will the other GOP candidates and the media allow him to get away with that? Bernie and Hillary must be shaking their heads….are their policies the only ones the media will scrutinize?


    • Doug says:

      Absolutely. We need specifics like, “If you already have health care, then we’re going to reduce costs an average of $2500 per family” and “Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

      In the spirit of bipartisanship, how about: “Read my lips: No new taxes.”

      Campaign promises, even very specific ones, mean next to nothing. Politicians say stuff when they’re running for office. As a voter, all you can do is look at the person, their record, and how they live their life. Then hold your nose and vote.

      • 1mime says:

        I disagree. Candidates should say what they mean and mean what they say. Campaign promises is not the same thing as concrete policy proposals. There is no way in China for either of us to “look into Donald Trump’s soul”, as someone famously said….or envision just what a Dr. Carson “means” when he says he doesn’t want to eliminate the safety net but he wants to end dependency. Huh? How? Specifically, how? Now, that statement is not even a promise, it’s a platitude, and I’m not buying it.

  10. tuttabellamia says:

    I think we should take a knife and cut Donald Trump open and see what makes him tick.

    It’s his turn to be dissected now, in the same way Dr. Carson has been, if it hasn’t happened here already.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Not that Mr. Trump needs more attention, but I think we should look at him from a more analytical perspective than usual, instead of just analyzing his supporters and looking for the nerve he has struck among potential voters.

      If he is just as arrogant as Dr. Carson, what is his excuse?

    • 1mime says:

      I don’t think Carson has been disected, at least on his platform. Very, very few specifics. He’s essentially running on his life story and his medical career, which if he were seeking the position of Surgeon General, might be enough. It’s not enough for me.

      Why are the Democratic candidates policies been disected by the media and those of Trump and Carson not been? They’re the front runners. Let’s take a really close look at how they’re going to take their esoteric ideas and actually run a complex nation. At the very least, there should be balance in requiring specifics from candidates and in analyzing their proposals – even if they don’t have any. That is a worthy observation in and of itself.

      No passes for anyone who seeks the Presidency. “Niceness” shouldn’t give you a pass in this race.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Miss Mime, I was referring to dissection of his personality, not his policies.

      • 1mime says:

        I’m sure a nice personality is an asset but surely the office of President should be more about policies, or at least, that’s what interests me. There are a lot of very nice people in the world but very few of presidential timbre. It’s time to put some specifics out there and this should be a requirement of all candidates.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Their psychological baggage and hangups, etc, related to their upbringing and other life experiences.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I agree that policy is more important than personality, but I’m following Lifer’s lead in this particular blog entry, in which he analyzes the personality, attitudes, and behavior of Dr. Carson.

      • 1mime says:

        When a candidate is increasing his/her percentage and is in the top two, it’s time to start talking about policies, or, in the case of Trump and Carson, “looking for their policies” might be more accurate. Maybe Lifer will focus on this in a future post. This is serious business. I’m not criticizing you just the vetting process which appears so superficial.

    • vikinghou says:

      I’m still finding it hard to believe that Trump actually wants the job. It seems out of character when one considers his past career. Could this just be a game he’s playing to see how far he can go?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I won’t go so far as to accuse him of being a troll in cahoots with the Democrats, but I have never taken him seriously as a candidate. I even consider his supposed high poll numbers a fluke. He’s a manufactured media candidate, nothing more than a product of media frenzy, and the frenzy will continue until the media gets bored with him. In the meantime, Republicans need to find a suitable replacement to take over and fill the void, or they will be caught off guard.

      • vikinghou says:

        It’s also been interesting to observe Mrs. Trump, who seems practically bored to tears whenever she attends an event. I haven’t heard her utter a word. Not first lady material I’m afraid.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Why do you think it’s a hard ball aching job being POTUS?
        It can be – it has aged Obama

        But it does not have to be – look at Bush 2
        Long vacations, no need to do anything, – POTUS can be a real cushy number if you have the right attitude
        And Trump does seem to have that attitude

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I don’t know what “first lady material” is, but I’m confident literally anyone is made of it.

        I think the main functions of the role are to stand there, become fodder for people who hate your spouse, become jokes for late night comics, and champion some cause that only people who hate your spouse can criticize.

        I’m sure she is up to the task.

      • 1mime says:

        Just for grins, if Hillary wins the election, what will we call Bill?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT, your assessment is not fair to Mrs. Roosevelt, Mrs. Clinton, and all the other First Ladies who, if not independently active, did much more than just stand there.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I just looked up Mrs. Trump on Google. She looks like Raquel Welch.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…I’m not suggesting that first ladies are not very active and quite capable, but I’m also pretty sure they don’t really have to do much if they do not want to.

        I’m a bit sensitive to the “not first lady material” comments given the vitriol that Michelle Obama has faced regarding that issue.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, running for President has been so easy and ego-gratifying for Trump, why wouldn’t he think he should be President? How could it be any harder than campaigning?

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, for the record, I do greatly admire Michelle Obama and her accomplishments. I wonder how her negative experiences as First Lady have changed her. Hillary Clinton definitely became more guarded and less trusting. I’m sure Mrs. Obama has the strength to focus on the positive feedback she’s received, and to recognize that she is a role model for young ladies the world over.

      • 1mime says:

        The work that Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden have done for our military veterans and their families is surely one of the finest contributions ever made by “first and second” ladies. You don’t hear much about this foundation and its work but it is real.


      • vikinghou says:

        Sorry, Stay at Homer, I didn’t mean to offend. Mrs. Trump is probably a wonderful person, but it’s clear she has no enthusiasm for being a political spouse. I said the same thing about Teresa Heinz Kerry, who I am sure breathed a big sigh of relief when her husband lost the race.

      • flypusher says:

        “Tutt…I’m not suggesting that first ladies are not very active and quite capable, but I’m also pretty sure they don’t really have to do much if they do not want to.”

        1st Lady is one those unusual positions that becomes what you choose to make of it. You can decide to strictly play hostess and never involve yourself in the business of governing. But if you are inclined towards wielding some power, not only do you have the ear of the leader of the Free World, you also have a front row seat for observing the mechanisms of gov’t in action, and countless opportunities to make personal contacts with powerful and influential people from all over the world.

      • 1mime says:

        Somehow, I don’t think Michelle Obama will miss the white house. Regardless whether a First Lady elects for a meaningful role, special project, or other avenue of activism, they must suffer with having to sit by quietly while their husbands are disrespected. It’ can’t be easy. I think Eleanor Roosevelt thoroughly enjoyed being First Lady, and, what a First Lady she was. How fortunate we were to have her for FDR’s four terms. She did so much for America and for the poor.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      And after we cut up Mr. Trump, we can have a roast, Dean Martin style.

  11. Anse says:

    This American Life did a great series of stories about kids from poor and minority neighborhoods who are gifted students but go on to drop out of college, despite showing so much promise. I think we possibly dismiss the power of socialization when it comes to educational achievement and perhaps in other kinds of success, too. Kids from affluent families aren’t necessarily smarter than everybody else. Maybe they’re just used to being around successful people. Like a kid growing up in an affluent home feels comfortable in a suit, doesn’t worry about which fork to use at the fancy restaurant, feels at home around people who talk about important stuff. They may be nervous going into an interview but they don’t feel out of place; maybe they have a sense of entitlement that is, in this case, warranted and a source of confidence. Whereas the kid who grows up in the projects feels his isolation in a way that an affluent kid might feel while visiting a housing project.

    Many of us end up a notch or two above the station we’re born into in life, but few of us come from dire poverty to upper class affluence. Economic mobility is not as widespread in America as we like to believe it is. We think of ourselves as independent because we have jobs and we worked for what we’ve got, but we understate the importance not just of having “good parents” but of simply being from the community we’re born into. I read a lot of comments from people in various forums who insist they were dirt poor but now they’re successful entrepreneurs, but I think of all the people I knew growing up and I think of myself, and there are really very few of us who could say they rose from nothing to attain riches. It happens by degrees, sure, but there really aren’t very many of us who can say we came out of a welfare-dependent household and became exceptionally successful in a particular career.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Anse, I think an added pressure is the heavy expectations placed upon the minority kid. They know they are representing not only themselves but their entire community, and if they fail, an entire community is disappointed, and also, their failure is used as a black mark against the entire community by certain groups. That’s a lot of weight to lay on a young person’s shoulders.

      • 1mime says:

        Yes, Tutta, and there aren’t many second chances for Black kids, either.

      • Anse says:

        I think there is definitely that, but there’s probably also just a simple feeling of isolation, of not being in a place that is really “for you”. I felt that to some degree in my first year of college; I nearly failed out and barely squeaked by with a GPA high enough to avoid academic probation. I eventually turned it around. The thing is, there is a lot to college and a lot to life that goes beyond simply knowing the subject in which you are engaged. There is a kind of social intelligence that people from affluence have that folks who are not of that sphere must learn.

        The point is, success is not just about knowing your stuff. It’s in your ability to convince other people that you know your stuff. Now somebody like Dr. Carson, a medical scientist and surgeon, has a pretty objective standard for showing competency and intelligence. We respect people like that because we know there is an exacting standard for excellence that you either have or you don’t. But few of us will become doctors. I’ve been in corporate environments where I’ve seen total jackasses win the promotions and people who depend a huge amount on others’ competency to get ahead while the people with the brains and the real insights get burned because they didn’t have the drive and the ability to navigate office politics to their advantage.

        My own father-in-law is reaching retirement as a successful project manager for a large engineering and construction firm. He once told me that he thinks if he had ever learned how to play and love the game of golf, he might have gotten into the executive floor of the company. He has spent his whole career answering to those guys but it’s a club that’s always been just out of reach. And the reason is probably because he’s a very nerdy, awkward kind of guy, not socially inept, but very analytical in this thinking. Not the kind of guy who is going to enjoy wining-and-dining clients at fancy steakhouses. Little nuances like that can make a difference when it comes to reaching a certain level of success.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “I also read somewhere that one’s communication skills can make or break one’s prospects for success” -Tutt

        I hope that doesn’t include typing, or I’m surely doomed!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, Fifty, I’m a person with excellent communication skills but poor social skills, if that makes any sense, so my communication skills saved me.

      • fiftyohm says:

        I never thought that of you!

    • 1mime says:

      So very true. Try telling that to a one percenter…There is such a cognitive disconnect on the issue of “class” and opportunity in elite circles. I think about this often when I see debates in Congress on issues related to poverty – Medicaid, welfare, SNAP, contraception, jobs, crime – there is such a disconnect. This Congress is one of the wealthiest ever. One has to wonder if they can even relate to the people whose aide programs they manage. It was wonderful that FDR (and Eleanor) could understand the plight of people who lived through the Depression and could fight for programs that offered such tremendous aid. Lyndon Johnson never forgot his roots either and his platform reflected his personal experience.

      Point is, many of the people who are making the laws for all Americans can only relate to a narrow slice of our society. That is not their “fault” but if they fail to try to understand the bigger picture, their politics will reflect their own small world. The Democrat in me finds this sad.

    • johngalt says:

      There has been some press about the gap in language skills development in poor kids versus wealthier ones. Parents of lower socioeconomic status tend (generalizing) to have weaker language skills themselves: a smaller vocabulary, sometimes non-standard dialects and poor grammar. This is what the children hear most often and studies have suggested that the average gap in language development in more than a year by the age of five. One estimate, which is frankly hard to believe, is that by the start of kindergarten, richer kids will have heard 30 million more words than poorer kids.

      But I’m sure it is the poor life choices made by these lazy, layabout toddlers, that are behind this.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Kids: The ultimate freeloaders.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        John Galt, I also read somewhere that one’s communication skills can make or break one’s prospects for success, and that the key for many people just to get their foot in the door, even if their grades weren’t the best, or if they had no other advantage, if they have excellent communication skills, then all kinds of doors open up for them, and they’re usually able to go far.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      Lol i had copied this article to my clipboard and was on my way here to post it. Beat me to it Fly.

      Amazing. Not just the fact that those illegal immigrants that are “destroying america” paid $100 billion into medicare without any eligibility to themselves qualify for the program (I.e those lazy Mexicans are paying for Americas biggest welfare program).

      Also that welfare for the 1% is into the $350 billion range, beating those lazy entitled poor people’s food stamps program by a cool $250 billion. With a B.

      The people that cry about “entitled” immigrants probably don’t realize illegals don’t qualify for welfare and have probably never heard of carried interest, or other welfare programs for the rich.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        A wealthy person can use donation of an art collection as a tax paying strategy.

        Here’s how it looks to me:

        You consult an art consultant to identify artwork most likely to rise in value.

        You buy that art and prepare to hold on to it for some period of time.

        Meanwhile, your art consultant spends time in art circles, discussing the market with other consultants and investors and museum directors.

        Comes the day you want to make a major withdrawal from your 401K to build your retirement home.

        You choose that year to donate your art collection to a museum that already has a work by that same artist.

        Is your tax deduction for the donation based on the purchase price of the art or on its current perceived and chatted-up value?

        It appears your tax advisor can help you achieve a deduction equal to the appreciated value.

        Is this a public good? Worth the cost of our shared treasury?

        (I love art. I love looking at art. I love making art. I love talking about art.)

      • 1mime says:

        Me, too, Bobo!

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I should add that if the artist who created the work donated it to an appropriate museum she can deduct the cost of creating it (materials, etc.), not the amount of its appreciated value.

        Let’s hear for the 1%.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Bobo – The value of the collection better be based on FMV, (fair market value), or it’s fraud, and we have laws against that. If no such fraud is involved, the donor ‘loses’ the FMV of the donation, and receives for that a small percentage of it back in reduced income tax depending on his/her tax bracket. If that sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme to you, (or even a get-rich-slowly scheme), we should talk about this hot tip I have on some beachfront in Arizona!

      • fiftyohm says:

        Also – If an artist owns a work – any work, without regard for who did it – and donates it, the FMV is deductible. If it is sold on completion, it is taxed as ordinary income, (net of basis). If it is held for some period of time, and it appreciates, the difference could be subject to the CG (capital gains) rate, which may be lower depending on whether or not we’re talking about the proverbial ‘starving artist’ or not.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:


        Thus am I really saying that the person who pays $1000 for a work that becomes worth $500000 can possibly then take $500,000 worth of deductions if they give it to an art museum who will accept it? And that if the artist who created this work were to contribute it, she or he would get no deduction? Yes.


        Local CPAs advice the same as above.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Not true. It doesn’t matter one whit who created the piece. If an artist creates a work and it’s appraised at $1,000, or buys one for $1,000, and it’s appraised, (to legitimately determine FMV) at $500,000 five years later, and he sells it, he gets $500,000 and pays ordinary income rates on $500,000 net of basis. If he donates it to a qualifying charity, he can write off $500,000, and receive CG treatment. What did you actually think was the case? That there was a special part of the tax code excepting artists from the rest of us?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Here’s how you would do it: Sell or give it to a pal (or other entity) for the $1,000 FMV (appraised) value. Buy it back for $1,001. Hold it for 5 or more years, and give it away. Deduct the full amount. Or sell it at the current FMV and get CG treatment. (This is somewhat oversimplified, but with that much money at stake, it is done.)

    • fiftyohm says:

      While the notion that SS and Medicare funds should not (rationally) go to 1%ers is well taken, the author also goes off the deep end in the same fashion he accuses his target. Just how in the hell is a tax deduction for giving something away a “benefit”, and deductions for taxes? I guess he’s advocating for taxes to be taxed. Some of this is just silly.

      • flypusher says:

        For the record, I don’t have any issues with the fact that some benefits or welfare or tax breaks or whatever category you put them it go to people who aren’t poor. I do think people who get a slice of that cake, or even a whole cake, and then bitch and moan about and demonize those who get a few crumbs are such raging assholes.

  12. fiftyohm says:

    Look: Ben Carson is a creationist. This is emblematic of a fundamental inability to differentiate established data, our knowledge of reality, from fantasy and wish-thinking. Such a flaw is intolerable for a prospective leader of the free world.

    I don’t care if 40% of the American people believe the creationist myth. They are not qualified for the job either, and for the same reason.

    • johngalt says:

      Completely agree. I am constantly surprised at how many doctors do not understand or “believe”, if that is the right word, the fundamental basis of biology.

      • flypusher says:

        You can be what I would call “a good technician”, without accepting that fundamental basis. But you will not reach your full potential, because that failing will hold you back. You can learn how to fix various deformities one by one as you encounter them, but the prospect of preventing them needs an understanding of the fundamentals of biology. Likewise I can’t see how to be effectively proactive as opposed to reactive to the problem of infectious disease without understanding evolution.

      • fiftyohm says:

        JG – I think FP put her finger on the issue above. Physicians, in the main, are not scientists. They are, (albeit sophisticated), technicians. Study after study have shown the ‘art’ of medicine, at least as commonly practiced, is composed of a whole load of woo-woo, and not nearly the dose of science, (and by this I mean evidence), most would like to believe. While I’m certain you do your level best to train prospective physicians in the real science of medicine, the culture of medicine seems not to emphasize it.

        And a big ‘Hi’ to you too, mime! Been busy doing my ‘art’ of furniture making, and my ‘science’ of brewing. Or is it the other way ’round…?

      • 1mime says:

        Let me just say, Fifty, that if your brewin’ preceded your furniture makin’, I hope you’ll share some photos (-:

        I’ve missed your “pithy” comments!

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Fly, your response is perfect.

      • flypusher says:

        50, I have worked with MDs who are very good scientists. But they understood that the clinic and the research bench were two different things, and that training at one did not automatically qualify you for the other. And of course they grokked evolution too.

        Some of my friends have told me stories of working with MDs who didn’t understand this. Lots of humble pie was dished out. I have a grad school friend working for Johnson&Johnson. When she started, one of her jobs was to keep up to date on the publications of the latest clinical trial and inform the local MDs about them. She said it was scary how many MDs were not all that up to date on their biochemistry. She said only half jokingly that she was making a list of MDs to avoid. Fortunately I see those old dinosaurs fading away, based of some of the current training programs I’ve seen. The current students I see are getting a much better grounding in biology/biochemistry.

      • fiftyohm says:

        FP – Yeah agreed; hence my qualifier, “in the main”. This is an example of I was talking about: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/demand-better-health-care-book/ I’m not at all convinced of a sea-change in the culture since 2011 though, any substantial die-off, let alone an ‘extinction event’.

      • 1mime says:

        Sobering article, Fifty. Man, can I relate. Rare is the doctor who admits he/she is not certain of their diagnosis and recommends a second opinion. It’s a case of “they don’t know what they don’t know”. I realize the issue here is empirical knowledge rather than subjective analysis, but a combination of both results in a better medical opinion. I’m glad to hear Fly state that doctors are receiving a stronger foundation in biology and chemistry. We lay people like to think that our doctors when analyzing our lab results understand what they are reading and advise us accordinly.

      • 1mime says:

        Let me simply observe, as one who deals continuously with doctors, nurses, therapists, and attendants in coordinating my husband’s care, it is the rare doctor that has the third essential component: compassion. I don’t know that that quality can be taught, but without it, all the knowledge in the world will still result in an incomplete physician. Great book on the subject that has been in the top NYT N-F best seller list for months, is: “Being Mortal”, by Dr. Atul Gawande. He is a practicing surgical oncologist and found he could “fix” things that were broken, but was missing the deeper need of many of his patients.

        My experience is based upon keen, close observation and a lot of common sense. Can’t tell you how many doctors seem to lack the latter. Oh, well, guess they do the best they can, but when it’s not enough, it falls back on the person who can reach another level with the patient – which is not always medical, but emotional and mental. Good book especially if any of you are responsible for caring for parents or a child who has a chronic disease, or just plain old age.

      • johngalt says:

        FP and 50 – I totally agree. There are unbelievably good physician-scientists out there; I stand in awe of some of them. But the average M.D. is, indeed, a technician, a mechanic of the most sophisticated machine in existence. I spend a small part of my fall interviewing medical applicants and what I stress most is the emotional, interpersonal aspects of this trade. Sometimes students will try to press on about how they decided on this career path because they really love science and I ask them point blank why, then, are they not going to become scientists. Some of them (the less worthy) are stunned by the very question.

        When I am in a sadistic mood, I suggest that someday, sometime, they are going to have to tell a patient, a parent, a spouse, a child, that they or a loved one is going to die and there is nothing else that they, the doctor, can do. What makes them think that they can do this remotely competently? How do you deliver bad news, even if not this bad, then go home, have dinner with your family, and sleep soundly? This is the art of medicine. And, 1mime, the answer I am looking for is simply that this is a hugely difficult thing that the students hope their training will gradually give them the tools to deal with.

      • 1mime says:

        Thanks for sharing that, JG. I’m glad someone along the way is being honest with these young people early in the process. Medicine is not for everyone.

        Given your role with students, I urge you to read “Being Mortal”. Gawande is an excellent writer and also writes shorter pieces for the New Yorker Magazine. It will affirm your actions in so many ways and challenge you in others. I have purchased copies for my husband’s primary care doctors (there are a bunch) as they are good people and I think this book will help them become even better doctors. It also discusses how a physician should approach the subject of end of life with his patients and their support group. Believe me, this is not taught in medical school. Gawande says, “listen” to people’s fears so that you are able to give them courage and the opportunity to make the decisions they want. Sometimes there just aren’t any good options except that last component, compassion. When all the science has been researched, and all the best medical practices employed, this is the time when a doctor has to draw upon something deeper, compassion.

        Here’s a lint to the interview of Gawande by Charlie Rose on his book, Being Mortal.


      • One of the reasons that I am glad that I am married to an attending physician, who is a rising expert in patient safety and quality improvement, is that she can tell me what has a real basis in evidence and what doesn’t. 🙂

      • fiftyohm says:

        Whoa! JK! How on the heck have you been? It’s been years, old pal! Still at NASA?

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        JK…I echo 50’s excitement and say that it is nice to see you wander in.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Justin! # babies? NASA? Elsewhere?

    • 1mime says:

      Welcome back, 50!

    • Rob Ambrose says:


      Anybody who believes in the literal interpretation that stories from a 3000 y/o book that is clearly meant to be mataphirical isn’t fit to hold higher office.

      Many Christians don’t even realize that there are two different creation stories in Genesis.

      Even the Christian God, if he exists, would clearly not have meant them to be taken literally.

  13. objv says:

    “It would be darkly hilarious to meet the Navajo kid convinced that Obama is a student of Lenin and Hitler.” ~ Lifer

    Lifer, my response to you got me in trouble with some here. To be clear, I believe no such thing. However, the more I think about it, the Navajo people have ample reason to be angry with the actions of the Obama administration.

    First of all, the Navajo Nation owns a coal mine and has interests in power plants that use coal. Obama’s war on coal has been a war against their economic interests. Last I heard, 30% of their income was dependent on coal. In addition,the closure of electric plants along with the slump in the energy industry has cost many jobs.

    I have a Navajo friend who raised her kids alone because she had to leave an abusive husband. She said she was always able to find good jobs either with the electric companies or oil companies. Unfortunately, she was laid off and I ran into her working at Lowe’s. A part-time job was the best she could find. I suspect she is no fan of Obama.

    To add insult to injury, or actually injury to injury, a contractor working under direction of the EPA released two million gallons of orange-brown water containing heavy metals into our river system. I took the photo in my profile picture by Cement Creek in Silverton not far from where the mine release occurred. It was sad driving up from Farmington and seeing once clear water all along the way turned to that nasty butterscotch color.

    Fortunately, people in town have access to lake water and could close off the river water temporarily. However, the Navajo Nation did not have that advantage. Their drinking water, water to irrigate their crops and water for their livestock comes from the river.

    Long-term, the mine accident will continue to affect water quality in our region since some of the heavy metals sink to the bottom of the river and will be stirred up when rain or snow melt causes increased water flow.

    The result of the EPA’s meddling has resulted in slightly cleaner air but also in contaminated water and loss of many jobs. Native Americans loose out again.

    • 1mime says:

      The EPA was derelict in the spill into the river. It has caused many problems and it will get cleaned up. The fact is they were trying to correct a problem that someone else caused but their execution was poor. Agree on that.

      As for the Obama administration’s record on Indian affairs, maybe this resource will provide a broader look than closure of coal plants (which destroys the health of those working in the pits), and pollutes their air and our air in the process. Coal is being replaced by natural gas because natural gas is cheaper, sadly not only because it is cleaner and better for our environment.

      Anyway, Ob, read if you would like more information about Obama’s initiatives with native Americans. Granted, more can and should be done to assist these people.

      Click to access american_indians_and_alaska_natives_community_record_0.pdf

      • objv says:

        Mime, I have not seen much action by the Obama administration where I live. The Native Americans were already entitled to health care, so I wouldn’t think access to Obamacare had much of an impact.

        It is not clear if the spill from the 100 year old mine can be cleaned up. Likely it will be a long-term problem. As I’ve mentioned, every time the mountains get a lot of rain or snow, the heavy metals will be stirred up and enter our water supply. How’d you like a nice swig of arsenic and mercury laced water? How’d you like to water your garden vegetables with that?

        In addition some of the giveaways to create jobs are riddled with fraud. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that a friend’s neighbor was receiving a grant supposedly to create jobs for Native Americans and was renting a Lamborghini. The jobs she was to create were in an area with low pay and not much potential for being hired. When programs have little oversight and are done as a gesture under the guise of getting things done, the money is usually wasted.

      • 1mime says:

        The spill will be cleaned up but agree it will take time. If it is a water supply, surely the Indians have recourse to federal gov’t to help them replace this source – not an easy task, but surely an obligation.

        Fraud is rampant across many fronts, with welfare being one. It is also rampant at the highest levels of our corporate sector, which is well documented. Sadly, this is one of the most difficult areas to police. Fraud is never right and it is hard to fight, but it can and should be addressed. The problem is most of the money in welfare goes to application management and direct aide. More follow up and field inspections are definitely needed. That takes people. That takes funding. That is why it isn’t happening. It’ is not because government doesn’t care that tax dollars are being wasted.

        AS for Chavez, his policies were the extreme in terms of dividing the rich and the poor. He was also a dictator and a very poor manager of government. Hardly an appropriate comparison to today’s administration, regardless how little you care for it.

      • objv says:

        Mime, the federal government can not replace the entire San Juan River. There is no other short-term solution other than to truck water in. I don’t think that you realize the scope of the problem.

      • 1mime says:

        I probably don’t, but it will have to be remedied. At least with the federal government, there is someone to hold accountable – even if they egregiously caused the spill. Not right, not easy to remedy. agreed.

      • 1mime says:

        I don’t blame the Indians for being angry and deeply concerned. Indians have a lot of legitimate greviances, beginning with being pushed off their land and given false treaties. We could talk on this subject all day. But, as for the pollution, that will have to be fixed, I don’t know how, but it has to be done and I assume will be done. What’s sad is that the EPA was trying to close down a defunct gold mine that was the main problem. Like so many other environmental issues, government inherits enforcement and correction. This one was badly bungled.

      • vikinghou says:

        I grew up in Colorado and received my first engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines. Derelict mines, many of which date back to the 1800s, pose a serious environmental problem. Leakage of toxic heavy metals from mining waste into natural waters has been recognized for decades. There have been many studies concerning how to treat old tailings piles and other types of mining waste to reduce the mobility of or remove these metals. In some cases, the tailings have been sufficiently rich in silver and gold that it is profitable to exploit them by modern extractive processes. I don’t know any details concerning the recent Las Animas river spill, but I’m surprised such an incident hasn’t occurred before now. I think it was a spectacular illustration of what’s been happening all the time at a slower rate.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Re Obamacare for Indians:


        “Tribes, health care advocates and government officials across the nation are working to enroll as many Native Americans as possible in Obamacare, saying it offers new choices to patients and financial relief for struggling Indian hospitals and clinics.”

        “And the coverage allows Indian health facilities, which tribal leaders say are chronically underfunded, to bill insurers for care they already provide. And that additional revenue means doctors and hospitals can also offer new services.”

        “No reliable estimates exist on the total number of Native Americans who have enrolled in Obamacare. But tribal officials say Indian health facilities and contractors are already reaping the benefits. In fiscal year 2014, the Indian Health Service collected $49 million more in revenue because of patients newly insured through the Affordable Care Act, according to the agency.”

      • duncancairncross says:

        The EPA was derelict ??

        That is like blaming the fire department when a building collapses while the firemen are trying to put the fire out

      • 1mime says:

        The EPA was derelict?

        Yes. Objv’s Fox News link provides some of the detail. It was not intentional but that hardly matters with a toxic spill of this magnitude. The federal government has had to go in and clean up many toxic pits which they didn’t cause but which they “own” once the clean up starts. It has to be done so utmost caution is required. That didn’t happen in this case.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Hey Viking – My best friend was a student at Mines many moons ago. We both worked in the Eagle Mine in Gilman, Colorado. The town is now abandoned, and it’s a massive Superfund site, as you probably know.

    • flypusher says:

      “First of all, the Navajo Nation owns a coal mine and has interests in power plants that use coal. Obama’s war on coal has been a war against their economic interests. Last I heard, 30% of their income was dependent on coal. In addition,the closure of electric plants along with the slump in the energy industry has cost many jobs.”

      Coal is not the future, for economic reasons beyond Obama’s policies. To pin economic hopes on something that’s becoming obsolete, and has so many negative externalities is a bad decision.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Ok I have read the various news articles on the “EPA” spill
        What seems to have happened is that the EPA sent a team to pump toxic water from a makeshift containment system that was being overloaded and was considered dangerous
        (makeshift from the mine company)
        When they started to set up to pump the water away – the damn collapsed

        EXACTLY like blaming the fire department for a building collapsing when the firemen were trying to put the flames out

        Could they have done it differently? – yes – IF they had known ahead of time where the weak points were
        But if they had known that then they could have won the lotto instead

      • Doug says:

        “EXACTLY like blaming the fire department for a building collapsing when the firemen were trying to put the flames out”

        Yes, if the fire was contained in a metal trashcan in a locked room. And if the fire department decided to get to the fire (that was no immediate threat) by driving their truck though a support wall. EXACTLY the same.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Yes, if the fire was contained in a metal trashcan in a locked room. And if the fire department decided to get to the fire (that was no immediate threat) by driving their truck though a support wall. EXACTLY the same

        That would be true if the metal trashcan was a rusty old thing the size of a swimming pool full of petrol and old fuel oil
        And the building had been abandoned for years with no drawings showing how it was built

        The “containment” was overflowing with toxic waste
        NOBODY knew how large it was or – more important – how it was built

        The EPA “assumed” that it had been built the way they were told – meeting the laws around such things

        In practice the containment was much much larger than the company said and had been bodged together in a highly illegal manner

        If the company had not LIED to the EPA the method used to try and reduce the load would have worked

      • fiftyohm says:

        “Coal is not the future, for economic reasons beyond Obama’s policies.” -FP

        This statement is incontrovertibly true. I only wish the Chinese would believe it.

    • johngalt says:

      The “war on coal” can be retermed as “capitalism.” Fracking has produced a glut of natural gas, which is easier to burn and cheaper than coal. It’s also cleaner, but that has had little to do with the demise of coal.

      • 1mime says:

        As lifer has “intoned”, coal is a dinosaur….sort of like traditional energy providers. If utilities do not evolve, they are doomed – it’s just a matter of time. Cleaner, cheaper energy that people can manage themselves – that’s where the world is headed. So many resources fall into this category of obsolescence or close to. What doesn’t, isn’t clean water. That we need to conserve and protect.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Obv, Not to minimize the impact of the error that caused the escape of the mine water, because it is terrible. But it triggered a memory of something similar happening in my area a few years back. Picture this, a guy goes out in his back yard to dig a hole for a fence or clothes line or such. At a foot down he hits some rocks. He get out a bars and starts prying out the rocks. Then he notices a trickle of water. Not alarmed, he digs some more with the bar. The trickle gets larger. It turns into a flow that floods the hole and starts running out over the yard. At some point it starts to roar and shoots into the air.

      So it turns into a deluge that floods his basement and several neighbors basements before it finds its way to the local creek. It flowed for a couple of days. Seems there was an old coal mine in the relatively small hill behind his house that had been filling up with water for decades.

      It also occurs to me that we have several small streams that flow orange from mine outflows. There are several that flow clean because the EPA has put water treatment systems that control the effluent from abandoned mines. I would bet there are a few streams in your area affected by mine discharge that need remediation. Ones that were not damaged by the EPA but need their help.

    • Creigh says:

      objv, (Hi, fellow New Mexican!) here’s an article that expands on some of the issues you raise: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/toxic-legacy-animas-river-spill-mining-companies . So yes, the EPA screwed up and Obama didn’t fix all of everyone’s problems on and off the reservation, but come on, the origins of these problems go way back to before the EPA was created or Obama was born (and will continue long after the Trump Administration is just a bad dream).

      • 1mime says:

        Come on, you’re not going to let a pesky little factor like Obama being alive exonerate him from blame for contemporary problems, are ya?

  14. sistrin says:

    It didn’t surprise me in the least to see you go after Carson, particularly in the manner you did. However the underlying theme embedded in your commentary is Carson didn’t draw your ire because he was a successful black man, but rather because once he achieved that success he didn’t use it to become Al Sharpton. Or even Tavis Smiley. Instead Carson is questioning the welfare state while attempting to promote the message that Black Americans do not have to live their lives in hell-holes created by liberal/Democrat policy and at the mercy of the soft bigotry inherent within those policies.

    The attacks levied against Carson are nothing new. The American left has been desperate to destroy Clarence Thomas since the day he was nominated. Condolezza Rice was the target of vile racist commentary and political cartoons. And now Carson is coming under the crosshairs of liberal vitriol. But as with both Thomas and Rice you can’t use truth or factual comparisons. On the “safety net” you describe Carson actually said this:

    “I’m not interested in getting rid of a safety net, I’m interested in getting rid of dependency,”

    And this:

    “Some conservatives would say that we should leave such people on their own to sink or swim because we cannot afford to keep supporting them, while some liberals would say that these people already have enough problems and that it would be unfair to require anything of them. I reject both.”

    It isn’t Carson promoting the notion “The free black will work nowhere except by compulsion.” That is a false comparison and a specious argument. But again, not surprising.

    • Griffin says:

      Let’s play “how many fallacies!” Can you identify the fallacy

      “However the underlying theme embedded in your commentary is Carson didn’t draw your ire because he was a successful black man, but rather because once he achieved that success he didn’t use it to become Al Sharpton. Or even Tavis Smiley.”

      Oh easy Strawman that’s a point for me. Just because he dislikes Carson for holding a far-right view doesn’t mean he thinks he should hold far-left ones either.

      “Black Americans do not have to live their lives in hell-holes created by liberal/Democrat policy and at the mercy of the soft bigotry inherent within those policies.”

      *Yawn* Correlation ≠ causation.

      “The American left has been desperate to destroy Clarence Thomas since the day he was nominated.”

      Because he’s far-right (they hate Scalia even more if you haven’t noticed) but I don’t think anyone can “destroy” him he’s a Supreme Court Justice he’s there for life.

      “But as with both Thomas and Rice you can’t use truth or factual comparisons. ”

      *cough* Projection *Cough*. Ok I don’t get a point for that one but it’s still fun. Oh also Strawman he never brought up Thomas or Rice. Also he’s not a leftist. That too.

      So to be clear you and Carson are not opposed to the Welfare state even though you blame liberals for using it to keep black people repressed? How do you cognitive dissonance this, exactly? Carson has never expanded on any alternative so it’s safe to say that most of his solution involves cutting welfare.

      When Carson talks about the welfare state he spends ninety-five percent of his time pandering to the far-right about how it creates “dependency” even though welfare fraud in the US is pretty low. So even if he gives the occasional platitude that he would not gut the ENTIRE safety net his views are more-or-less reactionary when it comes to welare, making it not out of line to address them as such.

      • 1mime says:

        Poverty programs weren’t designed for one race or gender. They were designed to help poor people. What programs would conservatives eliminate? All? How would they handle the ensuing issues springing from desperate people trying to survive? This is not an idle question. We all want people to work and provide for themselves and their families. But, shit happens. Those who abuse the system need to be reported. Those who qualify should receive help. One of the best means of reducing poverty and welfare is to provide free contraception yet conservatives are hell-bent on making this tool as inaccessible as possible.

    • flypusher says:

      “It didn’t surprise me in the least to see you go after Carson, particularly in the manner you did. ……”

      So here we have the race card as played by the right, that any critique of a statement of a Black conservative is never a critique of any logical flaws /hypocrisy the critic sees in the statement, but rather it’s “how DARE a Black man NOT be a liberal!” Spare us. That’s not how people roll here. Carson gets treated no differently from Trump or Cruz or Jindal or Perry or any other GOPer who says something that merits criticism. If you have help climbing the ladder (and getting free glasses so you can read things in school, and food stamps so that you can eat is most definitely getting help), but then you are not wanting to give that kind of help to children in the next generation who need it, you are being a hypocrite. And an asshole. If you rant about the “culture of dependency”, but you ignore the all examples of people who used such assistance to keep their children fed and sheltered, you’re only telling the part of the story that suits your agenda, that makes you a liar by omission.

      I’m all for busting welfare fraud. That’s stealing from poor people, which I find to be the most reprehensible form of theft. But as Griffin said, in the absence of an actual plan for a replacement, Carson is talking like he’d just do away with the whole system, which I see as the equivalent of using a 50 cal machine gun to take out a mosquito.

    • goplifer says:

      Clarence Thomas is a national treasure.

      • vikinghou says:

        Thomas was appointed as a replacement for Thurgood Marshall. The result has been a travesty. It’s clear now that Poppy Bush’s goal back then was simply to find a black justice who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    • 1mime says:

      Sistrin, what are Carson’s proposals regarding elimination of dependency? I confess I haven’t read any specifics from him in this regard. And, since he’s not in favor of eliminating the safety net, what, specifically, is he in favor of retaining?

      You see, it all comes down to specifics. It’s easy for any candidate (of either party) to make a general, appealing statement like “I’m not interested in getting rid of a safety net, I’m interested in getting rid of dependency.” What’s hard is explaining in concrete terms, how they would address the problems they criticize.

      So, please provide details. Carson is a good man. Help us understand how he would get rid of dependency. Specifically, with funding sources. I would also be interested in knowing what programs he would eliminate. For me, the devil is in the details. I’m weary of platitudes and the worn criticism of the safety net. Spell it out for me. That’s usually where it gets hard.

  15. Griffin says:

    Interesting YouGov poll. 43% of Republicans say they could imagine a situation where they would support a military coup, whereas 32% say they can not. They are the only political group with a plurality of voters who say they could support a military coup.


    Too be honest before this poll I thought that even among Republicans it would not go above 33%.

    • flypusher says:

      Are these the same people who swear their love for the Constitution? Because you can’t get more Un-Constitutional that a military coup.

      • sistrin says:

        “… That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”

      • flypusher says:

        So who exactly is being so oppressed as to justify such rebellion. Christians being prevented from dictating their religious tastes on others, and White people facing the loss of a majority don’t count.

      • johngalt says:

        Perhaps, sistrin, it would be appropriate to include the rest of the Declaration of Independence in which the colonists explicitly laid out their reasons for their actions, what they had done to seek remedies. Today, nobody has taken a single right of yours away. Nobody has revoked your right to vote. Nobody is treating you differently than anyone else. You lost two elections in which there is not one shred of evidence of fraud. Every single action of the President’s has been subject to judicial review, and he has obeyed the court when the verdicts have gone against him. We are so far from tyranny that you have lost sight of what that might look like. If you want to know, move the Venezuela for a while to see what military coups look like.

        This is the list of grievances: can you find a single one of them true today, even one?

        …The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

        He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
        He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
        He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
        He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
        He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
        He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
        He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
        He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
        He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
        He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
        He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
        He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
        He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
        For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
        For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
        For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
        For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
        For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
        For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
        For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
        For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
        For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
        He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
        He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
        He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
        He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
        He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

        In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

      • duncancairncross says:

        That list of grievances
        Is it just me or could you not apply most of them not to Obama but to the Republican controlled Congress??

        He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

        He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither

        He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers

        He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries
        (Was that Alabama??)

      • flypusher says:

        Except for an unfortunate exception back in 1860 with a group of sore losers refusing to accept the results of a free and fair election, this country has had a long tradition of peaceful transfers of power. That is a remarkable and precious thing. To be willing to trash that because you can’t make your ideas appeal to enough voters is the mark of a dangerous idiot.

      • objv says:

        JG wrote: “If you want to know, move the Venezuela for a while to see what military coups look like.”

        I lived in Venezuela during the military coup. It lasted two days if I remember correctly and Chavez was reinstated immediately afterward. Chavez was legally elected. He won his elections by playing the poor against the rich. He advocated redistribution of wealth and price controls. His policies destroyed their economy.

      • flypusher says:

        If someone of the likes of Chavez ever gets elected here (and that is a downside of democracy), and there looked to be no checks on his powers and no hope of his ever leaving office through our standard Constitutional means (I.e. term limits or being voted out), then and only then, you could justify talk of a military coup. Obama is no Chavez (not even close) and all signs point to him turning over the job to whomever wins the election in 2016, just like all his predecessors who survived their terms did. Therefore any serious talk of military coups is stupid, crazy talk. But’s that easier than doing things like fixing the immigration system in a way that doesn’t discriminate, or offering more than inflammatory rhetoric on welfare.

      • johngalt says:

        Objv, perhaps I was a little lazy there. Chavez orchestrated an unsuccessful military coup in 1992. He was himself jailed for several years but built a political party based on opposition to the establishment. Once he won (more or less legitimately) he used his military support to erode freedoms. His subsequent victories were far less freely won. Ironically, the 2002 coup attempt was supported by military high command (maybe seeing themselves in the presidential palace?), but not so much by the rank and file, which is why it failed – the generals couldn’t find enough privates and captains to hold the line. So this was not so much a coup (though those were part of it) as a semi-democratic movement that devolved into autocracy with (mostly) the support of the military.

    • vikinghou says:

      That’s pretty disturbing. It reminds me of the book “Seven Days in May.”

    • goplifer says:

      You’ll see evidence of those numbers on the ground soon. The only reason that white Christian nationalists in the US haven’t been blowing stuff up is that they haven’t needed to. After 2016, when it is clear that their path to authority through the democratic process is closed, we’re gonna get a lot less Mike Huckabee and a lot more Cliven Bundy.

      • flypusher says:

        To read the commentary from the 101st Keyboard division, they can’t wait for a fight. I can only hope this transition gets over with quickly. There is nothing to fear about not being in the majority if you’re built a properly civilized society that respects the rights of all individuals.

        Plus, White people are going to have a plurality for a long time, and it’s not like all non-White people are going to form this unified voting bloc to lord it over Whitey.

      • 1mime says:

        So, we’ll get to see what will happene to the Commandment “Thou shall not kill”.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        It indeed will likely get sone what ugly.

        I have faith however that the majority of Americans are sane, sensible ppl who will fully support the government in their efforts to combat that domestic terrorism as much as they do the Islamic kind.

        My guess is, though, that this is all.a bunch of soft keyboard warriors who won’t have the stomach for much beyond bravado.

        ACTUAL tyranny breeds ACTUAL resistance. The kind when people are willing to die. THAT is what powers revolutions. Simply not being able to oppress/discriminate in the way that you’ve become accustomed too anymore? Maybe im wrong, but I just can’t see too many “patriots” demanding “give me heterosexual marriage, or give me death!!” When the ish starts to hit the fan.

      • 1mime says:

        We all hope reason will prevail, then we see groups like the Oathkeepers (and others) toting guns and making threats…It’s not hard to envision calamity when the least little incident could trigger a response….as with, the biker melee in TX…or in Ferguson….or in Bastrop, TX.

        If you check out the Southern Poverty Law Institute research, you will get a clearer sense of how many groups exist. As we know, it doesn’t take many people to create a disaster (15 men for 9/11).

        While watching college football yesterday, I noted several commercials that advertised militaristic action videos for sale….gone are games like checkers, chess, backgammon, etc. Today the focus is on games of violence for all ages. And we wonder why gun violence is so prevalent?

  16. Doug says:

    Leaving aside Carson’s completely valid assertion of negative incentives, do you ever consider the morality of forcibly taking money from a hard working, responsible person and handing it someone who has done absolutely nothing to help him/herself? And no, this is not about race, nor do I believe that ALL recipients are lazy good-for-nothings. But on the other hand the system is set up so that all one needs to qualify for benefits is to earn – for whatever reason – little (reported) income. I know many people who have taken advantage of the system, and without exception they are people who grew up in white middle class homes, who have successful siblings, but who for one reason or another decided that hard work and responsibility just weren’t for them. Is is moral to take from those who work hard and make good choices and hand it to those who don’t? Does that even concern you?

    • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

      Is is moral to take from those who work hard and make good choices and hand it to those who don’t? Yep, if we want society to work.

      Does that even concern you? Very little, because I have a vested interest in making society work.

      • texan5142 says:

        I hate it more when they take my hard earned money and give tax breaks to wealthy owners for a new stadium that only the wealthy can afford to attend. There are a lot of things I don’t like having my hard earned money going to in the form of taxes, but the safety net is not one of them.

      • 1mime says:

        And stadiums are just one item on the list at the top, TX.

      • flypusher says:

        It sure as hell wasn’t very moral to take my (and many other’s) tax $ and use it to invade a country that was no threat to America, if you insist on that particular metric.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        We all have our tax dollars go towards something we don’t like. That’s pretty unavoidable.

        I think it’s immoral for my tax dollars to go towards tax exempt status of churches, while they are politically active in all but the most obvious and explicit ways, amd are responsible for slowing social progress at every step of the way.

        While there are obviously exceptions, the overall track record of churches has generally been on the wrong side ofnhistory on almost every major social/moral issue.

        It was the souther Baptist church in particular and evangelicals in genwral that fought so strenuously against emancipation. They fought against integration. They supported Jim Crow. They opposed the civil rights movement. Womens suffrage. And now marriage equality, which any person with any knowledge of American history knows they will end up being on the indisputably wrong side of history again when all is said and done.

        If all you did was simply oppose any social issue relexively that the Church supported, you’d have a pretty fantastic batting average over the totality of American history.

        And these people get tax exempt status. Basically the government finances the major opposition to morality. THAT’S immoral

      • fiftyohm says:

        I soooo agree with Tex’s comment on stadiums. Simply disgusting.

      • flypusher says:

        Hey 50, you’ve heard of the NFL’s demands for NRG Stadium upgrades for Houston’s next Super Bowl hosting, right?


        Now asking to upgrade the WiFi seems like a reasonable thing to ask, but exactly what is so lacking in the luxury boxes that requires $45 million worth of fixing, I wonder. I’d really love to hear their reasons (I’m always looking for a good laugh). I am very pleased to read that Steve Radack’s response is “HELL NO!” to using taxpayers’ $ for this. It takes a special form of chutzpah (and by special I mean extremely blatant and disgusting) to ask people who will never be allowed to set foot in an NFL luxury box to pay up to make them even fancier.

        I like my sports as much as any Texan, but the pro sports business model is cray-cray. In what other sort of business is it considered reasonable to ask someone to be a major investor, but not get any share of the profits?

      • fiftyohm says:

        “In what other sort of business is it considered reasonable to ask someone to be a major investor, but not get any share of the profits?” -FP

        ‘Ask’, you say? ‘Take from’ is more like it. At least the Roman elite tended to build the arenas with their own money. But I’m sure the cultural enrichment and the elevation of our status among the great cities of the world that has resulted from the expenditure of nearly a *billion dollars* in the new stadiums has more than balanced the books. Yeah, right…

      • 1mime says:

        With you all the way on this one, Fifty. Another area that is abused are exemptions for businesses from local taxes. Although I recognize the value of bringing in a new business, very, very seldom is there any monitoring after the fact to confirm that the business is actually producing the number of jobs they promised. Local schools and local government lose critical revenue which then places a larger burden on property owners to make up the difference.

        The stadium issue is staggeringly bad fiscal policy. It impacts all areas of local governance but most especially public education. At the state level, Ex-Gov (ooh, how I like to say that) Perry created a “Rainy Day Fund” which he purportedly used to entice business to TX. Only problem was lack of oversight, and conflicts of interest, and taxpayer abuse as this fund remained protected while many other areas of basic state needs were being cut.

        All in the name of business.

      • Doug says:

        “I soooo agree with Tex’s comment on stadiums. Simply disgusting.”

        Absolutely. I used to be something of a sports fan, but completely swore off professional sports when all the stadium/arena deals went down in Houston. Haven’t even watched a Superbowl in what…20 years? The sad/ironic thing is that the vote in favor of the sports authority was heaviest in the poorest parts of town.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Doug – Me too, and for exactly the same reasons. They’ll get no more money from me than that which they steal through legal means.

      • fiftyohm says:

        As for the poor dumb schmucks that voted for the stadiums and can’t afford to take their families to a game; let them eat cake, and watch it on TV.

      • 1mime says:

        And, these are the same people who vote against their own best interests in national elections.

      • flypusher says:

        Attend college games, watch the pros on TV.

      • fiftyohm says:

        FP – I can’t get the “you make that” echo from between my ears when I see a stadium on TV. It ruins the whole thing for me. Weird? Perhaps…

      • fiftyohm says:

        “You didn’t make that.”


      • fiftyohm says:

        “And, these are the same people who vote against their own best interests in national elections.” -mime

        Unless memory fails me, you are obviously not in reference to the followers of nutball Dan Patrick and his campaign against the bond issue. Nor can you be in reference to the acolytes of Bill White, Sylvester Turner, et.al., in their campaign for it. I’m at a loss here…

        If your thesis is that poor, non-minority, redneck, Republican sports fans carried the day here, well, that’s just not correct.

      • 1mime says:

        Fifty – I did stipulate “national” elections, which contradiction Lifer has discussed in prior posts.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Yes, I understand, and noted that. But the oft spoken of notion is, (and that to which I believe you were in reference), is that poor, uneducated people who are ‘conservative’, vote for things against their interests. Whilst the stadiums were actually against virtually everyone’s interests, funding was by and large driven by the Democratic voter. I do not think you meant to say that ‘they’ vote against their own interests in national elections. They sure did on the stadium issue though.

      • 1mime says:

        I meant exactly that. When the poor, or lower income working class voter votes Republican, they may satisfy their religious and racial predilections, but if they’re thinking the Republican Party will support any of the programs that they principally need and benefit from, they are fooling themselves. Working class people need and use the safety net, the ACA, workmen’s comp,welfare, Medicaid, public education, and so forth, all of which are constantly on the GOP chopping block in order to offset tax cuts and tax deductions for the wealthy.

      • fiftyohm says:

        But *mime*, the Democrats were largely responsible for the “success” of the stadium bond issue! *They* voted athwart their own interests in this case!

        (takes a breath…)

        That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.

      • 1mime says:

        I never said they had “sense”, Fifty (-:

      • fiftyohm says:

        Whoa! You never said the Democrats made sense? Er, um, OK then… I’ll keep that in mind!

      • 1mime says:

        “Those” Democrats…..who voted for the stadium….That was the topic, Sir (-:

        I’ll agree that not all Democrats make sense, but these days, “none” of the Republicans make sense!

    • flypusher says:

      Do you even know what percentage of welfare recipients “do absolutely nothing to help themselves”? Here’s a hint- it’s not a big number. You take the most extreme negative outcome as an excuse to toss out the baby with the bath water. The concept of the social safety net is that you’d hope to never need it, but it’s nice to know that it is there if you lose your job or suffer a serious injury. The fact that some tiny minority might abuse it is not enough reason to scrap it. I think that it is very moral and pragmatic to have a such a safety net.

      • Griffin says:

        Imagine if the far-right applied that logic to everything.

        “There is a massive amount of waste in the military. Do away with it!”

        But no, it only applies to poor people.

      • 1mime says:

        33% of America’s children form the largest single category of people living in poverty. A statistic that exceeds that of any other industrialized country. Government assistance can help but it doesn’t always overcome the lack of a parent who cares, a safe environment, and educational opportunities. Carson was fortunate to have these building blocks plus a fine mind, plus government assistance during rough times. It’s a pity that this experience has hardened his sense of entitlement and judgement of those who have so much less. I wonder what commitment a President Ben Carson would have to address inequality given his denial of his roots and his criticism of those who are receiving government assistance.

      • We also know that the children of food stamp recipients are much less likely to go on the program themselves as adults. So much of the narrative of dependency is a myth or based in anecdote that is not representative of the system as a whole.

    • flypusher says:

      ” I know many people who have taken advantage of the system, and without exception they are people who grew up in white middle class homes, who have successful siblings, but who for one reason or another decided that hard work and responsibility just weren’t for them.”

      You’ve cited that a lot. If you have proof of so much fraud, shouldn’t you go report it? They do bust people for faking disability, for example.

      • Doug says:

        “You’ve cited that a lot. If you have proof of so much fraud, shouldn’t you go report it? ”

        It’s not fraud. They qualify due to the fact they don’t earn much money. That’s my whole point. A person with everything going for them (except maybe a little motivation) qualifies just as someone who may actually deserve some help. You don’t see a problem with that?

      • 1mime says:

        Would you explain what you mean when you said: “people who have everything going for them”…except they don’t earn much money? Lack motivation? Why do you assume that most welfare recipients (1) lack motivation, and (2) could earn more money for the job they are doing? We know there are those who cheat, but there are those whose skills and education don’t qualify them for a higher paying job.

        At the very least, we could encourage family planning by making contraception easily available and affordable. That would cut household costs significantly….fewer mouths to feed. (Disclosure: I’m big into population control.)

      • duncancairncross says:

        If the median wage had continued to follow improvements in productivity – as it used to until the 70’s
        Then today’s median wage would be 2.5 times as high
        Assuming that the lower wages followed the same curve then the minimum wage would be well over $20/hr
        At those wage levels we would be spending almost nothing on welfare – we would just have to look after those poor unfortunates who really needed help

        However the 0.1% stole almost all of that increase and we now have the horrible situation where people working full time – or even extra jobs – earn so little that they end up requiring welfare

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct Duncan, the poor have no inflation adjustments. They simply have to do more with less…hence multiple jobs. What many don’t understand is that people with minimum skills lose assistance if they earn more than the formula allows. Of course, those who try to earn a living wage with minimum skills typically are working two and three jobs. When they sleep, I don’t know. When they see their families, I don’t know. Lifer’s concept of a minimum income makes so much sense, especially in the absence of any interest on the part of our conservative lawmakers to raise basic wage levels. If people earn or receive a living wage – from whatever sources – that could greatly reduce if not eliminate unemployment benefits. The example you cited from the Scandinavian countries should make America re-think this whole living wage issue. I guarantee you won’t hear any Republican platforms discussing this….

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      As always, in awe of your perfection.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      Doug – I sense a real curiosity in your comment. Why do these liberals not see the injustice you see?

      You say, “Leaving aside Carson’s completely valid assertion of negative incentives”. Could it be that that our deepest assumptions are flawed?


      If Dr Carson is correct, then the countries with the strongest and more generous safety net should have the lowest employment rate. But that is not true. Check out the Scandinavian countries. There may be other reasons why we, with a less generous system, have a lower employment rate. If you know an reason for this, clue me in.

      At the company I worked for, people that took advantage of the generous disability plan. And they were “taking money” from me and others in the company. I was irked by this when reminded or when it was “in my face” but usually forgotten in a few hours. And when taking into account the drudgery of their job for 8 hours a day for years, I found myself less capable of deciding whether they were due disability pay.

      As to your main question, “Is is moral to take from those who work hard and make good choices and hand it to those who don’t?”, the answer is no. But the question implies something that is not true. There is no government window that has a sign saying “Lazy Idiots Only”.

    • 1mime says:

      It does concern me, Doug. No one should abuse a system which is designed to help the poor. Likewise, no one should denigrate those receiving government assistance as we can’t possibly know their circumstances. Following Hurricane Katrina, I met many displaced people who had lost everything and were having to ask for help for the first time in their lives. Their situation was completely different than that of the chronically poor who live constantly on the edge. One illness or car repair can be catastrophic to their family’s finances. Most of us don’t see the daily struggle of the poor. When our ignorance of poverty becomes indifference, and then becomes a political cause, it’s easy to trash government assistance for the poor. It’s not as easy to criticize corporate welfare, but it’s all taxpayer money, in the long run. I don’t believe there are many poor people who want to be on government assistance but if it helps them bridge a difficult patch in their lives, it’s worth every penny.

      • Doug says:

        “It’s not as easy to criticize corporate welfare, but it’s all taxpayer money, in the long run.”

        For the record, I’m 100% against corporate welfare in any form.

      • 1mime says:

        Careful there, Doug. People are going to start talking if we keep agreeing (-;

  17. flypusher says:

    “Each step toward success raises new tension with former peers. ”

    I’m reminded of a radio interview I once heard with Eric Davis, who was an All-Star outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds at the time. He was talking about such tensions, in particular the problems that happen when your old best friends are engaging in illegal activities. There’s a bad conflict over “loyalty” to your old buddies. He had a very intelligent and courageous take on that; that loyalty runs both ways. He said that first obligations were to his family and the professional sports career that supported his family, and if you old homies are doing things that could drag that career down, then you aren’t giving me loyalty, and I can’t hang out with you any more. That’s a very hard thing to do, as the downfall of Michael Vick and many others shows.

  18. WX Wall says:

    I think you go too easy on Dr. Carson. I agree that as you succeed beyond your peers, you become socially isolated. As the saying goes, your smoking buddies do not want you to quit smoking, your drinking buddies do not want you to get sober, your fat friends do not want you to lose weight, and your unemployed friends do not want you to find a job. Rather than help you achieve something they themselves could not, they will look to drag you back down to their level.

    But that doesn’t explain why he feels the need to repudiate the social safety net. He could easily criticize his peers by saying he alone had the resolve, work ethic, faith, etc. to use the safety net the way it was supposed to be used, and make something of himself, while his do-nothing peers abused the safety net and wasted the chance it gave them. Only conservatives view using the safety net as stigmatizing. If they can succeed in making it something to be ashamed of, then they can begin to dismantle it.

    For example, I’m a proud product of public schools. My parents were immigrants and they didn’t have the money to send me to a fancy private school. And now I’m in a successful career, and have likely paid back my school expenses many times over in the increased taxes I’ve paid due to the higher salary I command now vs what I could have had I not been able to access public education. I’m not ashamed of going to public school, of sucking on that govt teat when I was young, and acknowledging it in no way diminishes the hard work and motivation I also needed to accomplish what I have. Only in a warped mind like Carson’s is using govt assistance antithetical to being proud of your accomplishments. And that has nothing to do with being socially isolated

    • 1mime says:

      Many conservatives have bought into the belief that “they have done it all by themselves”, which theory Elizabeth Warren put to shame in a biting rebuttal. But, it does possibly explain how those who have benefited from government assistance may actually be unable to acknowledge the help they’ve received. How else, then, would they be able to justify their harsh criticism of those who need and receive help?

      As for the ones who abuse government aid, they do exist, but they exist at the top as well as the bottom. All of us, ALL of us, have in some way benefited from government assistance. And, we should be grateful and never, ever repudiate the less fortunate. That infers a weakness of character that transcends material success.

    • flypusher says:

      “But that doesn’t explain why he feels the need to repudiate the social safety net. He could easily criticize his peers by saying he alone had the resolve, work ethic, faith, etc. to use the safety net the way it was supposed to be used, and make something of himself, while his do-nothing peers abused the safety net and wasted the chance it gave them. Only conservatives view using the safety net as stigmatizing. If they can succeed in making it something to be ashamed of, then they can begin to dismantle it.”

      That is a most excellent point, and it brings up a very hard question – exactly why is the right wing so down on the safety net? We have Doug’s post above as one example, a perception that there’s this large, growing group of takers leaching off a dwindling pool of makers. I don’t doubt there is also racism in the mix for some righties, as welfare recipient equals Black person in a good portion of the rhetoric. There’s also the intense love affair with the whole Horatio Alger / American Dream mythos, and many people don’t take well to having their beloved myths busted. It’s interesting to note that one possible reason given for why mass shootings are more common in American than the rest of the 1st World (besides such easy access to guns) is some people being unable to deal with the fact that despite working hard, they didn’t get all that success they felt they were promised.

      Also the inability to grok statistic and odds can badly blur your perception.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Fly, your question of why thw right wing seems to hate the SSN so much comes down, I believe, to almost every other right wing position: Money and power (for the wealthy). The 1% wishes to do away with anything they don’t see as benefitting them directly financially, and spends large sums convincing the rubes in the middle and lower classes to vote for them (the wealthy) and against themselves.

        An outsider may find it extremely puzzling why the average blue collar worker would fight so angrily against affordable health care for themselves and their families, especially when the cost of such is borne almost entirely by a demographic they don’t belong too (top 20% of US earners). The answer is the success of the marketing war waged by the same 20%. They’ve managed to convince these people to somehow vote for something that directly benefits the wealthy at the expense of their selves. I believe the reason so much of the support from the middle class comes from the far religious right, even for issues that are not inherently religious. Fi example why, would opposition to Obamacare or opposition to environmental protection policies be so disproportionately high among religious folks when the issues are not inherently religious? If anything, it should be the opposite, as Jesus would have been strongly in favor of providing healthcare to the poor at thw expense of the rich, or one would expect someone who thinks God created Earth himself would take the most interest in ensuring it is taken care of and not polluted.

        I believe they made a conscious effort to target religiois fundies as the focus demographic for supporting policies that directly harm themselves is because such people are inherently lacking in critical thinking skills and thus easier to manipulate. they also have an intense interest in social issues that the wealthy are more then willing to pay lip service too in exchange for their self destructive votes.

        This theory explains why the only thing the far righties currently support spending tons of money on is the mitary. Because a globally dominant military, ensuring safe trade routes and immense economic leverage globally, is a boon for the owners of production. Thus it DOES directly and tangibly benefit the wealthy in the country.

        If you follow the logic of almost every single right wing policy or issue, it almost invariably leads you to the exact same place: helping the wealthy stay wealthy, and become even wealthier (at the expense of everyone else).

  19. scale free says:

    There’s an idiot in Canada named Adam Yoshida who has elaborate fantasies about how the world should work; the US should have 3 conservative parties & no liberal ones for example. They bear no resemblance to reality & could never happen in the real world (thank god). You remind me of him but a mirror image. The things you say, the policies you favor, the political infrastructure you envision all sound reasonable – but there’s simply no support anywhere in your Party for anything close to what you describe & there’s no signs of that changing anytime soon. It’s a lovely fantasy you’ve built up but that’s all it is, a fantasy that will never ever happen no matter how much you want it to. In the time you’ve been at this, have you seen any encouraging signs at all? Anything that even hints that I could be wrong, that the GOP could one day regain its collective mind & recover its blackened soul?

    • Griffin says:

      Lifer has already basically said that the idea of the current GOP becoming sharing his ideas is a pipe dream and that it would probably require a total collapse of the GOP for someone to endorse these policies. Whether that collapse is internal (in which case it is basically a different party with new power structures) or external (a brand new party takes their place) is debateable.

      Essentially he doesn’t think Mike Huckabee, Cruz, or Jeb! are suddenly going to endorse these things. He’s just biding his time out of hope that the people who take their place after the party’s collapse will. It would require some luck for sure but it’s not impossible.

    • goplifer says:

      ***Anything that even hints that I could be wrong, that the GOP could one day regain its collective mind & recover its blackened soul?***

      Well, yes actually: Donald Trump.

      Stay with me here.

      The party as currently composed is cracking up. Trump leading in the primary and showing some signs that his lead might hold. And even if he doesn’t, it’s clear that whoever takes his place will be just as batshit crazy as he is (Cruz or Carson).

      If Trump is the winner in the primaries then the party will splinter summer. If one of the other idiots wins, then the split may no happen until after the general election. At any rate, whatever political entity sits in the GOP’s spot in 2024 it will look very different from the party you see today.

      In chaos there is opportunity. So, yes, I see quite a bit of hope.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer, we may not have to wait for the 2016 election. The schism within the GOP Congress is threatening more than a simple Presidential election. The 40 members of the House Freedom Caucus are once again threatening to shut down Congress. The last time they did this, it cost America $24 Billion dollars in national treasury not to mention the hit on individual investments. This group is hell-bent on imposing their ideology on all of America and, in the process, taking us all down with them. Meanwhile, our infrastructure is crumbling and important work on addressing major problems of our nation are being side-lined.

        The fault lines are widening. A Donald Trump and Ben Carson are convenient flag bearers for a constituency that is supportive of a militant take over in the U.S.? How much worse does it have to get for the Republican Party to implode? Meanwhile, Democrats are watching from the sidelines as conservatives pitch tantrums, make ultimatums, and crush markets. And, who wins in this situation? The bullies? This is serious.


      • 1mime says:

        Correction – meant to say House Freedom Caucus is threatening to shut down government. Would that they would shut down Congress (-:

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Chris
        I’m an old fashioned Scottish leftie – well left of anybody else I know
        If my choice was the Donald or anybody else in the GOP clown car I would vote Donald in a heartbeat
        He comes over a bit more manic than the others but his actual proposals are much more sensible

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Duncan – sure, but that’s like saying you’d rather have the AIDS virus rather then the Ebola one.

        While true, the only sane and sensible course of action is to do everytjing humanly possible to avoid getting either.

      • johngalt says:

        His proposals? What actual proposal has The Donald made that goes beyond a sound bite or that is in any way practical?

  20. Jack Hughes says:

    Carson was such a brilliant brain surgeon that he performed history’s first successful auto-lobotomy.

  21. objv says:

    Lifer, there is no reason to feel sympathy for Ben Carson. His early background and faith made him what he is. Welfare did not do much besides help with basic needs. If government welfare programs were the key, most inner city kids would also be neurosurgeons.

    You mentioned the need for mentors. If Ben Carson was raised in the Seventh Day Adventist faith, he was rich in mentors.

    When I moved to New Mexico, I made a friend who is a Seventh Day Adventist. She has frequently roped me into doing good deeds with some of the other women in her church. Her latest request was to help her throw a baby shower for a young, unwed mother.

    Navajo kids can’t be adopted by non-Navajos, so children are frequently placed in group homes if their situations warrant. The young woman left her group home, and moved to Farmington, became pregnant and had no place to stay. Someone at the church was called to check in on her and help her out as needed.

    My friend decided to throw a baby shower and asked me to help. After the baby shower games, refreshments, and opening of presents, one of the older Navajo women of the church spontaneously stood up and urged the young woman to attend church and bring her little baby boy to Sunday School. The older woman told how she had been in the same place – lonely and needing help when she was young. Two other Navajo women decided to speak up as well with similar stories. The impact of their words could be felt.

    If the young woman follows through and brings her son to church, there’s a good chance the little boy will grow up and be just as successful as the little white boys at church. There’s also a big chance he will have views much like Ben Carson. 🙂

    • goplifer says:

      It would be darkly hilarious to meet the Navajo kid convinced that Obama is a student of Lenin and Hitler.

    • Griffin says:

      “Welfare did not do much besides help with basic needs.”


    • objv says:

      Lifer and Griffen,

      Obama’s not a student of Lenin? Who knew?

      But seriously, did Carson actually benefit from much of a government safety net? He was born in 1951. From his biography, it does not sound like it.

      “Ben was 8 and Curtis, Ben’s brother, was 10 when Sonya began to raise the children as a single mother, moving to Boston to live with her sister for a time and eventually returning to Detroit. The family was very poor, and to make ends meet Sonya sometimes took on two or three jobs at a time in order to provide for her boys. Most of the jobs she had were as a domestic servant. There were occasions when her boys wouldn’t see her for days at a time, because she would go to work at 5:00 a.m. and come home around 11:00 p.m., going from one job to the next.

      Carson’s mother was frugal with the family’s finances, cleaning and patching clothes from the Goodwill in order to dress the boys. The family would also go to local farmers and offer to pick corn or other vegetables in exchange for a portion of the yield. She would then can the produce for the kids’ meals. Her actions, and the way she managed the family, proved to be a tremendous influence on Ben and Curtis.”


      • Griffin says:

        ““By the time I reached ninth grade, mother had made such strides that she received nothing but food stamps. She couldn’t have provided for us and kept up the house without that subsidy.”

        Read more at http://wonkette.com/550031/ben-carson-so-glad-his-welfare-mom-wasnt-dependent-on-government#imBrUWKMeStKKvIi.99

        No Obama’s not a student of Lenin. The fact that he particates in democratic politics at all (which Leninists regard as a cop out), worked closely with industry lobbyists, didn’t nationalize most major industries, continued to embargo Cuba until they started to reform away from communism (Cuba being one of the last models of old-styled communism), doesn’t hand South Korea over to the North, uses reformist plans from old Repubican think tanks that are compatable with capitalism (Affordable Care Act) and that you are allowed to freely express your point of view without being shot should tell you that much.

      • vikinghou says:

        What a biography! Everything but the dogs snapping at his rear end.

      • 1mime says:

        Obama’s not a student of Lenin? If that was meant to be “cute”, it wasn’t.

      • objv says:

        Mime, I found Lifer’s comment funny and was merely responding in kind.

        In no way do I believe that Obama is a student of Lenin and Hitler. While it’s true that Obama had a mentor who was a member of the Communist party, I believe Obama developed his own beliefs over time.

    • WX Wall says:

      “If government welfare programs were the key, most inner city kids would also be neurosurgeons.”

      If that’s your standard for success, then everything is a failure. For example, “if the Seventh Day Adventist faith and mentorship was the key, most Seventh Day Adventists would also be neurosurgeons.”

      Indeed, since there are only ~150 neurosurgeons trained every year, 99.99% of Americans and everything they do would be considered a failure.

      Okay, I’ll stop being needlessly argumentative 🙂 But my point is be careful of double standards. The goal of govt welfare programs is to keep people from starving and provide a modicum of support (never enough in and of itself, just like faith, or mentorship is never enough by itself) to allow people at least a small chance of achieving their life goals. Even with the most generous welfare state, poor people still have a harder time than an upper middle class child (doesn’t mean we should resent the latter, of course), most of whom, even with their advantages, don’t become neurosurgeons either.

      I’m a liberal who firmly believes in an extensive social safety net. And yet I understand how incredibly difficult it is for someone *even with* that safety net to accomplish all that Dr. Carsen has done. Using that safety net does not diminish his accomplishments in my eyes. But to turn around and deny the role that safety net played in helping him is what leaves a raw taste in my mouth.

      • 1mime says:

        Well stated, Wx Wall, but I am continually amazed at how some can twist things to conform with their world view. You’re obviously aware that poverty is exists and government can help, and that “government”, as a matter of fact, is a structure created by man to organize and support man’s activities. I believe the Christ many purport to believe is quoted in the Bible as saying, “the poor will always be with us”. How kindly we treat those with less speaks more loudly than how many trips to church we make.

      • 1mime says:

        WxWall, one observation about your comment: “….just like faith…is never enough by itself”…..

        What I am observing is that contemporary zealots deeply believe that faith is enough by itself. This “absolute” standard makes them intolerant and unyielding, and it’s become very personal. Extremism rules. Tolerance and respect for others’ views is lost. No longer are ideologues satisfied to simply practice their own beliefs, they now want to impose their belief system on the entirety of Amerca not only in matters of faith, but in our system of laws. Until this changes, there can be no healing within our nation, and the price we may pay may be greater than any of us can envision.

    • flypusher says:

      “Lifer, there is no reason to feel sympathy for Ben Carson. His early background and faith made him what he is. Welfare did not do much besides help with basic needs. If government welfare programs were the key, most inner city kids would also be neurosurgeons.”

      Why is the basic formula of safety net PLUS family/faith support PLUS individual hard work = success so hard to grok here? Some people were lucky enough to be born into a situation where just family/faith support PLUS individual hard work = success, but that’s not a valid argument against having a safety net.

      Also, Obama a student of Lenin? I thought you were better than that objv. That’s troll spew.

    • Rob Ambrose says:

      “Welfare did not do much besides help with basic needs”

      But obvj, that’s exactly the point. Until our basic needs are taken care of, there is no chance of achieving higher ones.

      If you can’t afford a roof over you head or food on the table, your time and energy will be spent achieving those goals first before you worry about things like doing well at school or studying late into the night. That’s the point of a social safety net. It supplies the most basic of needs. Because those are both the cheapest needs to meet, as well as the most crucial. It is a noble and moral imperative I’m any society that considers itself civilized. Republicans love law and order? You have no idea the chaos that would become a perpetual state of being if you have millions of citizens unable to meet their most basic needs, $hits going to get pretty scary. “Civilized society” breaks down pretty intensely when people can’t feed their families.

      See Maslows hierarchy of need pyramid.

      • objv says:

        Rob, if I understand Carson correctly, he does not plan on ending welfare entirely. He wants to make changes so welfare ends being an incentive to long-term dependence.

      • flypusher says:

        I want to see a quantification of this “long term dependence”. If this is really that big a problem, there should be some hard data to back it up. Show us the math – first define exactly what you mean by “long term dependence”. How many years on public assistance? What portion of basic living expenses covered by public assistance? Then give us the numbers of people who fit that definition and what percentage of the people receiving public assistance they represent. That way we can determine whether there really is a problem ITFP, and exactly how far we would need to go in correcting it.

      • 1mime says:

        A valuable resource on the subject of poverty and welfare is The Urban Institute. Here are examples of the kinds of data they offer:

        “According to data from the National Survey of America’s Families, more than a fifth of families leaving welfare between 1997 and 1999 returned. Those who left welfare because they did not follow program rules were the most likely to return. But almost half of those who returned originally left welfare to work. Former recipients with little education, limited work experience, and poor health were particularly at risk of needing welfare again. Families using transitional support services such as child care, health insurance, and government help with expenses were less likely to return. The high rates of return suggest that many TANF leavers need greater help once they stop receiving benefits, including assistance that promotes job retention for those who leave welfare to work.”

        And, this, about the impact of unemployment on families:


        This is a complicated subject and cannot be glossed over with sweeping generalizations as: “I’m not in favor of eliminating the safety net, I want to decrease dependency.” … Which is the goal of, the safety net!!!! What’s hard is dealing with the problem effectively. This is a human problem and mostly, its detractors have no direct personal experience in dealing with it.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Now the funny thing about this whole “Dependency” question is

        Where is the safety net the most generous?
        Where is long term dependency least?

        The most generous safety net and the least people who use it

        The Scandinavian jails are similar – the most luxurious jails with the most amount spent per prisoner ends up with so few people in jail that the total cost is much much less

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Seems easy enough to quantify.

        And it also seems if the number was as big as they’d have us believe, you can be pretty confident that we’d be hearing about it.

        I’d be very interested to see how much in benefits goes to people working 40 hours/week.

        Kinda weird that conservatives who hate welfare so much also oppose tooth and nail any policy that will greatly shrink the rolls. It’s not complicated. Government has a role in mitigating the negatives of capitalism with regulation (I. E. By preventing the exploitation of workers through things like setting an appropriate minimum wage and empowering labor unions) even though we may recognize that capitalism is the best economic system available. UNREGULATED capitalism inevitably leads to explotatiom and poverty as wealth naturally accumulates at the top.

        Wal Mart made PROFITS of $118 billion last year. Meanwhile how many millions of their employees need to be on taxpayer funded food stamps? Don’t tell me they can’t afford to pay a living wage. Why are all the rubes fighting for wal marts profits, even as policies like a higher minimum wage would lower the welfare rolls drastically.

  22. vikinghou says:

    Carson’s template is Clarence Thomas, a man who took advantage of government assistance and affirmative action, but has sought to pull the ladder out from under those who would use the same path to success.

    Throughout the Kim Davis controversy I’ve been irked at conservatives’ accusing the SCOTUS of “making new laws.” Of course we know that judicial review and interpretation of existing law is as old as the 1803 Marbury vs Madison case. Justice Thomas should know, because he had directly benefited from the Loving vs. Virginia case. Were it not for that SCOTUS review of the 14th amendment, he wouldn’t have been able to marry his wife.

    • 1mime says:

      Davis reports back to work on Monday. She has been silent as to her plans regarding following the Judge’s orders so we don’t know if she will continue to play the martyr. If she does anything but comply, she needs to be impeached.

      • 1mime says:

        BTW, Davis still is claiming that any same sex marriage certificates her clerks issue are invalid without her signature and she’s not signing them. Judge ought to throw her back in jail.

  23. Tuttabella says:

    Lifer, if Dr. Carson and other Blacks had access to the same safety net you detail, then why did he come out ahead and be so successful, whereas others in his community did not? He must have done something right on his own that cannot be attributed to that safety net.

    It’s not an excuse for him to be arrogant or to denigrate his fellow Blacks, but I think you should give him the credit that is his due, instead of giving all the credit to the safety net you say “kept him fed and educated” and downplaying his own personal efforts and dismissing the importance of his religious faith in his success.

    Your attitude is not racist, but it does smack of condescension, as if you’re angry at Dr. Carson because he doesn’t show any gratitude whatsoever for all those measures enacted for his benefit.

    • objv says:

      Well said, Tutt!

    • goplifer says:

      As in so many other scenarios, Chris Rock has shown us the way.

      He once described the neighborhood where he bought a home in New Jersey. It has three other black families. Gary Sheffield, Patrick Ewing & Mary J Blige, One hall of famer, another likely hall of famer, the greatest R&B singer of all time, and Chris Rock, a guy who has accomplished a few minor things. And right next door to him is a white guy. A dentist. That’s it. He’s just a dentist.

      That pretty much sums up the Carson story. His parents, who probably were pretty talented people, grew up before the safety net. They became a washed up preacher with several families and a housekeeper. One of their sons, with access to a little support and a massive amount of personal effort, managed to become a doctor. What might he have accomplished if he had access to the same resources as the white kids north of 8 Mile?

      What might have happened to his parents if they had been offered access to the social safety net that rescued him and kept him in school – the same safety net he is working hard to demolish? That safety net won’t turn everyone into a doctor, but in Carson’s case as in many others (like Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy) it gave them a chance that Carson’s parents (his mother had to drop out of school in 3rd grade) never had.

      I am trying not to be angry at Dr. Carson for growing up on the strength of a weak safety net, accomplishing something, then trying to destroy what little help it provdes for everyone else while denigrating them for their lack of religious fervor.

      It isn’t easy. He’s being quite an asshole.

    • texan5142 says:

      “Your attitude is not racist, but it does smack of condescension, as if you’re angry at Dr. Carson because he doesn’t show any gratitude whatsoever for all those measures enacted for his benefit.”

      Like most of the GOP ( Walker,Ryan, etc.) who have benefited from government programs, Carson wants to pull the ladder up behind himself.


      Not everyone is cut out to be a brain surgeon or rocket scientist and that is what the good doctor does not address when he talks about his success. He is not humble enough to realize that some people do not have the mental aptitude to do what he has done, instead he just blames other black people for their lack of success on the “liberal plantation”.

    • 1mime says:

      There were two distinct advantages that Carson received without any effort on his part: his intelligence and a mother who worked very hard to provide for her two sons. That they utilized welfare is a good thing – they needed it and deserved it and it was available. Carson put in the effort to study and qualify for a fine education. All of that is commendable. What I wonder is if Carson is guilty of being critical of others whose life situations are similar (or worse) than his own, and who have needed help. We all know there are people who abuse welfare, and hopefully, we all recognize that there are people who need this help and deserve it, just like the Carson family. At this point in Dr. Carson’s life, he can demonstrate understanding, tolerance and thankfulness for many things in his life. He should spend more time in this direction.

      As for his platform – His suggestion to eliminate the ACA and replace it with a $2000 HSA is pretty simplistic….as if we could tailor our illnesses to match the HSA! Then there is the whole disbelief in evolution, climate change dismissal and his on guns. Too many areas for me to ever give him serious consideration for President.

      I believe Dr. Carson is a good man and he would probably make a fine Surgeon General. He’s qualified for this position.

    • flypusher says:

      Clarence Thomas is a similar type of asshole. He has his Ivy League degree because of a program with the goal of bringing in talented minority students.

    • flypusher says:

      “Lifer, if Dr. Carson and other Blacks had access to the same safety net you detail, then why did he come out ahead and be so successful, whereas others in his community did not? He must have done something right on his own that cannot be attributed to that safety net.”

      Suppose Carson’s family didn’t have the safety net- what do you think the most likely outcome would have been?

      It is possible that he still could have become a neurosurgeon. But you’re talking about even steeper odds against. Improving the odds matters.

      • Rob Ambrose says:

        Fly – and therein lies the overall benefit of such programs.

        It is exceedingly unlikely that Carson woukd have ever become a neurosurgeon without access to welfare benefits. And as big as an asshole as he’s being in this I’ll conceived presidential bid (one that is inevitably doomed and will tarnish his overall legacy) there is no doubt that society as a whole is better off for Carson then without him due to his medical achievements.

  24. Griffin says:

    “liberal plantation”… And they say liberals are the only ones who race bait…

    Interestingly enough Carson is now in second place. According to the most recent CNN poll if you combine the popularity of Trump and Carson you get 51% of the national GOP base.


    Add in the popularity of Cruz, Santorum (he’s at one percent apparently… somehow), and Huckabee and that’s 63% of the vote. Remember when you wrote that post about how scary it was the more out-and-out nutjobs had 51% of the vote? It’s gotten a lot worse. While Carson doesn’t have a chance of winning because even if he agrees with racists they don’t want a black man as president it seems Jeb! and Kasich (who can at least project the image of being sane) aren’t going to win.

  25. nacinla says:

    A fairly good analysis, until the end. It’s precisely because of his ugly choices, of which he is fully aware, that we should have no sympathy. He would say the same of us; why should we treat him any differently?

    • Griffin says:

      Because his life experience has been very different (and much more difficult) than it has been for a lot of us. Someone can have crazy views or even be a bad person and still be sympathetic. Also we should probably hold ourselves to a higher standard than crackpots do.

  26. Stephen says:

    Good analysis. Lifer you could of made a decent psychologist. Your range of talent keep impressing me. Maybe you should consider running for office.

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