mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“He Doesn’t Realize What He Doesn’t Know”: Ben Carson Has Weird Ideas And Makes Stuff Up. What Kind Of President Would He Be?

Ben Carson is having a very bad news day today. Politico is reporting that Carson has now admitted that a story he told in his autobiography “Gifted Hands” and again in his book “You Have a Brain” was false in one major detail. He wrote that as an excellent ROTC student in high school he met General William Westmoreland, and later, presumably because he had so impressed Westmoreland, “I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”

After being confronted with the fact that no record exists of him applying to West Point, Carson’s campaign admitted that he made up that part of the story.

Before we proceed, I want to point out what someone should have told Carson about this a long time ago: There is no such thing as a “full scholarship” to West Point, because the young men and women who go to West Point pay no tuition, nor do they pay room and board. In any case, I’m going to argue that this particular fabrication isn’t all that important to assessing Carson’s fitness for the presidency.

The reason this is happening now is obvious: Carson is reaping the reward of his success, which is an uncomfortable trip to the campaign microscope, courtesy of both the press and his opponents. More reporters are coming to his events, the questions are getting tougher and more insistent, his past writings and statements are being carefully examined, everyone who knew him since he was a babe in arms is getting interviewed, and from where he sits the whole thing probably seems terribly unfair.

But it isn’t. Not only is it just what every seriously contending candidate gets, when it comes to Ben Carson we almost have no choice but to focus on his life story and the colorful things he says and believes. So even before the West Point story, coverage of Carson was already consumed with questions about whether he stabbed a guy when he was 14, his theory about the pyramids, and his wildly inaccurate beliefs about things like Medicare fraud.

I’m a longtime critic of the personality coverage that takes up so much of the campaign, not because we don’t want to know who the “real” person is behind the persona of a presidential candidate, but because we in the media so often ask the wrong questions when we take on this task. The problem is that the moment we set out on this voyage of discovery, we forget the whole point of the exercise, which is to get the best understanding we can of what this person would be like if they were to become president.

For instance, let’s take the stabbing story. Carson wrote in his autobiography that before he found God as a teenager he was an angry and violent teen, as evidenced by the fact that he once tried to stab someone, whom he now says was a relative. CNN did a story interviewing a number of people who knew him as a youth, and they say that he wasn’t the hellion he describes, but was actually a perfectly nice kid. Carson is angrily denying the allegation that he was not in fact a danger to those around him.

It should be noted that among the evangelical Christians who form the base of Carson’s support, redemption narratives are extremely powerful — the lower down you were the better, before God raised you up. The depth of the hole you had to climb out of is yet more evidence of God’s power. But the question about this is, who cares? Let’s imagine the worst, that Carson made this whole thing up. What exactly would that tell us about what sort of president he might be? The answer is, basically nothing.

Don’t tell me, “It matters because it speaks to his honesty.” Honesty does matter, but the way you figure out whether a president will be honest about the things he does as president is to see what he’s saying about the things he’d do as president. When he was a candidate, we learned that Bill Clinton had affairs and covered them up, and what did that teach us? That as president, he’d have an affair and cover it up — not that he’d lie about other things. George W. Bush presented himself as brimming with personal integrity, all while telling one lie after another about his record in Texas and the policies he was proposing (while the press was poring over his opponent’s every word with Talmudic care to see if they could catch him in a misstatement). Lo and behold, as president he was faithful to his wife, but deceived the country about all kinds of important policy matters.

So yes, it now appears that Carson embellished his life story a bit to make his autobiography a more compelling read. Saying that he’s hardly the first prominent figure to have done that is not to forgive him, but there are more important things to consider.

Now stay with me while I argue that Ben Carson’s views on the provenance of the pyramids actually do matter. Carson maintains that unlike “all the archeologists” who say that the pyramids were built by the pharaohs to be their tombs, he believes that the biblical figure Joseph built the pyramids to store grain. There is precisely zero evidence for this belief.

This is hardly the only matter about which Carson says all the scientists are wrong. He thinks that the theory of evolution was born when Satan encouraged Charles Darwin to devise it; all the copious evidence for evolution is meaningless. Carson also says that he once stumped a “well-known physicist” by asking him how the organization of the solar system could be compatible with the second law of thermodynamics, which states that systems tend to move toward entropy. Carson is either lying about this or wildly misinterpreted the conversation he had, because there’s no contradiction between the two, and there isn’t a physicist on earth who would tell you that the solar system proves that God’s hand was at work. But people who learn only a tiny bit about certain scientific ideas often become convinced that they’ve happened upon a striking new revelation that all the so-called experts have never considered before.

So what does this have to do with what Carson might be like as president? When George W. Bush said he was “the decider,” he was describing accurately a large part of the job. Every day, the president’s aides bring him decisions he has to make, decisions that are often complex and uncertain. He has to weigh different kinds of evidence and make predictions about the future. People who know more than him about a particular topic — the economics of the labor market, the internal politics of Iran, the health effects of power-plant emissions — will offer him their advice based on their expertise, and he’ll have to integrate their perspective with other considerations that might come into play in a particular policy decision.

Ben Carson’s ideas about things like the pyramids, combined with what he has said about other more immediate topics, suggest not only that his beliefs are impervious to evidence but also an alarming lack of what we might call epistemological modesty. It isn’t what he doesn’t know that’s the problem, it’s what he doesn’t realize that he doesn’t know. He thinks that all the archeologists who have examined the pyramids just don’t know what they’re talking about, because Joseph had to put all that grain somewhere. He thinks that after reading something about the second law of thermodynamics, he knows more about the solar system than the world’s physicists do. He thinks that after hearing a Glenn Beck rant about the evils of Islam, he knows as much about a 1,400-year-old religion as any theologian and can confidently say why no Muslim who doesn’t renounce his faith could be president.

So what happens when President Carson gets what he thinks is a great idea, and a bunch of “experts” tell him it would actually be a disaster? What’s he going to do?

This is a more acute question with Carson than with any other candidate, because he has no political record we can examine to see how he might perform. The policy ideas he has put forward range between the impossibly vague and the utterly outlandish. Even more so than Donald Trump, who has at least managed a large organization, Carson offers only himself — his heart, his spirit, his soul — as the reason why America should elect him president. In assessing him we have no choice but to look at the man, because there’s nothing else. Some parts of his personal story are irrelevant to that assessment, but some parts aren’t. And it’s those that should really give us pause.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, November 6, 2015

November 8, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Evangelicals, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“What’s The Price On Jeb Bush’s Integrity?”: Preaching Against The Corrupt Coziness Between Money Interests And Government Officials

If you are a presidential aspirant and you have to tell people that you are a person of integrity — there’s a very good chance that you are not.

And those odds at least quadruple if you have to hire a talking head to attest to your honor; how intriguing, then, that a spokeswoman for the Bush campaign was recently trotted out to tell us that, “Jeb’s record, both in office as Florida’s governor and in the private sector as a successful businessman, is one of integrity.” The testimonial from his paid mouthpiece was necessitated by the still-evolving news story that, after leaving the Florida governorship in 2007, he immediately cashed in on his name, state government knowledge, and contacts. Bush became a richly paid legislative consultant and board member to major corporations that had received lucrative benefits from Florida’s government while he was at the helm of it.

With cynical chutzpah, Jeb, the presidential wannabe, now campaigns as an ethics reformer, piously preaching against the corrupt coziness between money interests and government officials. But in the last eight years, Preacher Bush has pocketed at least $18 million in personal payment from his own quiet spins through the revolving door of government-corporate corruption. For example, Jeb was only out of government office for four months when he got a nice sinecure as a board member of the insurance giant, Tenet Healthcare (which just happened to run several of Florida’s private hospitals under Florida’s Medicare program). In 2006, Tenet was found to have cheated patients and taxpayers with more than a billion dollars in overcharges. To settle this malfeasance, the corporation paid only $7 million.

Meanwhile, Tenet has gushed in recent financial reports that it has “benefited greatly from Mr. Bush’s extensive background in government service, his perspectives on public policy and social issues.” In heartfelt gratitude, during the past eight years, this one corporation alone has put more than $2 million in Bush’s pocket.

The Tenet case clearly shows that Bush suffers from a total lack of integrity, but poor ‘ol Jeb seems to also have a terminal case of “Mitt Romney disease” — he just keeps blurting out asinine comments that reveal the fact that, in heart, soul, and political mindset, he is yet another “son of a Bush.”

His inner-bigotry against the poor, coupled with his cartoonish concept of the black community’s political motivation, was outed recently when he was asked how he planned to win the votes of African-Americans. “Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he responded. Okay, Jeb, go positive, so far so good! But then the deep prejudice derived from his narrow upbringing as a child of privilege surfaced. His campaign message “isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff,” he asserted with a sneer. Then, to punctuate his little lecture on how to appeal to low-income black families, the multimillionaire heir to the Bush fortune said he would tell them: “You can achieve earned success.”

Yes, Jeb — instead of hard-hit people lining up to get what you call “free stuff” (like unemployment compensation and health care), thinks it better to challenge them to “earn” success. Tell them to have the same gumption you did — to be born to rich parents, to be welcomed as “legacy” applicants into the most prestigious schools, and to have their fathers open the doors for them to “achieve” financial and political success.

Yet the former “shoo-in” for the GOP presidential nomination can’t figure out why he’s running fifth in New Hampshire and fifth in Iowa, even after pouring millions into a month-long blitz of TV ads to goose up his appeal. Such shallowness, callousness, and condescension expose an ingrained contempt for all who don’t live in Bush’s elite zip code. No one but his fellow “one-percenters” wants someone like that in the White House.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, November 4, 2015

November 5, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush, Lobbyists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Extremism And Corruption In The Sunshine State”: What Americans Don’t Know (Yet) About Jeb Bush

Whenever the deep thinkers of the Republican establishment glance at their bulging clown car of presidential hopefuls – with wacky Dr. Ben Carson, exorcist Bobby Jindal, loudmouth Chris Christie, and bankruptcy expert Donald Trump jammed in against Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, to name a few – they inevitably start chattering about Jeb Bush.

Never mind that his father was a one-term wonder of no great distinction, or that his brother is already a serious contender, in the eyes of historians, for worst president of the past hundred years. And never mind that on the issues most controversial among party activists — immigration and Common Core educational standards — he is an accursed “moderate.”

Lacking any especially attractive alternative, powerful Republicans are pushing Jeb Bush to run in 2016. And he seems to be on the cusp of a decision. Besides, more than a few Democrats agree that Bush, however damaged his family brand, would be the most formidable candidate available to the GOP. They too whisper about him as “the only one who could beat Hillary.”

Perhaps he could, although nearly all the polling data so far suggests Clinton would trounce Bush. But it is far too early to tell – in part because Jeb Bush, a politician who has been around for more than 20 years, is so little known to the American public. Most voters are ignorant about Bush’s record in Florida, where he was an exceptionally right-wing governor. They either don’t know or don’t remember, for example, how he signed a statute enabling him to intervene in the case of Terry Schiavo, a woman in a persistent vegetative state, despite her husband’s wishes. Florida’s highest court later voided that law as unconstitutional – and the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court likewise rejected an appeal.

Extremism and corruption in the Sunshine State during Bush’s tenure will provide ample fodder for investigative reporters and primary opponents, as will many episodes in his long business career.

Five months after he left the governor’s mansion in 2007, he joined Lehman Brothers as a “consultant.” No doubt he was well compensated, as reporters may learn if and when he releases his tax returns someday. The following year, Lehman infamously went bust – and left the state of Florida holding around a billion dollars worth of bad mortgage investments. (A Bush spokesperson said “his role as a consultant to Lehman Brothers was in no way related to Florida investments.”)

There are many equally fascinating chapters in the Jeb dossier, rooted in his declaration three decades ago that he intended to become “very wealthy” as a developer and yes, “consultant.” His partners back then included a certain Miguel Recarey, whose International Medical Centers allegedly perpetrated one of history’s biggest Medicare frauds. (Connection to Medicare fraud seems to be a prerequisite to becoming governor of Florida, at least among Republicans; see Rick Scott and the Columbia/HCA scam.)

Indicted by the feds, the mobbed-up Recarey fled the country – but not before Jeb had placed a call on his behalf to his presidential dad’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Margaret Heckler. For serving as a crook’s flunky, Recarey awarded Bush a generous tip of $75,000.

He performed a similar service, with more success, on behalf of the Cuban political gangster Orlando Bosch, for whom he sought a presidential pardon from his father. The boastful murderer of dozens of innocent people – and a prosecution target of the U.S. Justice Department — Bosch deserved a pardon about as much as the worst jihadi in Gitmo. But his sponsors were the same Cuban-Americans in Miami who had fostered Jeb’s real estate business there, so he ignored the Republican attorney general’s denunciation of Bosch as an “unreformed terrorist.”

It will be fascinating to see whether the mainstream press, which vetted his brother George W. so inadequately during the 2000 presidential race, will perform any better this time. But one way or another, American voters are going to learn much more about frontrunner Jeb than they know – or remember – today.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, The National Memo, December 4, 2014

December 6, 2014 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney Supervised Medical Testing Company Guilty Of Massive Medicare Fraud

In 1989, Bain Capital purchased controlling interest in Damon Corp., a medical testing company located in Needham, Massachusetts.

During the time that Bain held its ownership of the company, Mitt Romney personally sat on the Board of Directors. And during that same period, Damon Corp. was busy submitting fraudulent reimbursement claims to Medicare to the tune of millions of dollars charged for unnecessary blood tests.

According to federal government prosecutors, Damon was misleading physicians into ordering unnecessary blood tests, assuring the doctors that the testing would be covered by Medicare.

By the time Damon Corp. pleaded guilty to defrauding the United States Government of $25 million—and paid a total of $119 million in what was, at that time, the largest penalty of its kind in Massachusetts history—Bain was long gone having sold the company in 1993 to Corning, Inc.

Inasmuch as neither Romney nor Bain was ever implicated in the fraud, it would be reasonable to conclude that while the illegal activity was going on under Mr. Romney’s nose, Romney would, himself, bear only some responsibility for perhaps not being as on top of things as one might hope for a company’s director to be.

But, according to Romney, such a conclusion would be wrong.

When Mitt Romney was confronted with the matter during his campaign to become the Governor of Massachusetts, Romney acknowledged that he did have some awareness of the funky things going on at Damon.

According to The Deseret News

More than a decade later, when Romney was in pursuit of the Massachusetts governorship, his Democratic opponent Shannon O’Brien accused him of lax oversight at Damon and failing to report the fraud.

Romney replied that he had helped uncover the illegal activity at Damon, asking the board’s lawyers to investigate. As a result, he said, the board took “corrective action” before selling the company in 1993 to Corning Inc.

So, then, the future Governor and candidate for his party’s nomination to run for the presidency, did fulfill his obligation as a great American and did report the fraud to the proper authorities, right?

Apparently not.

According to the court records, “…the Damon executives’ scheme continued throughout Bain’s ownership, and prosecutors credited Corning, not Romney, with cleaning up the situation.

But there is an explanation – it turns out that the Damon experience was a foreshadowing of the Mitt Romney to come as he engaged in one of his now infamous episodes of flip-flopping.

You see, before Romney indicated that he was involved in conducting an investigation while he was on the board of directors, he said that he was completely unaware of any investigation.

Here’s another shocker. While the company eventually went bankrupt, with thousands losing their jobs, Bain Capital walked away with a $12 million profit—a little over $400,000 of that money ending up in Mitt’s pocket.

Expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming days as AFSCME has spent close to  one million dollars in advertising buys throughout the state of Florida to highlight this misadventure.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Contributing Writer, Forbes, (Originally published, January 21, 2012).

February 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: