Thought of the Day: Everything You Need To Know About Donald Trump

OK, so let me get this straight…if you don’t win the election, then it’s rigged. But if you do win, then it’s not rigged. Got it. Thanks. That tells me everything I need to know about you.

Ben Carson: Liar-in-Chief?

But does Ben Carson?

But does Ben Carson?

Ben Carson has been campaigning as the cool, intelligent option for conservatives – two characteristics that seem to be in short supply among the rest of the Republican presidential hopefuls. But, like Donald Trump’s key selling point, Carson’s turns out to be nothing more than a carefully crafted deception.

In fact, a good chunck of Carson’s personal narrative appears to be a lie. He claims to have received a scholarship to West Point. Except that he completely made that up. He also claims to have saved some fearful white students from his riotous black schoolmates in Detroit, though he couldn’t name a single student in question and no one from the school remembers him doing anything even remotely like that. Similar fabrications have surfaced throughout his personal creation myth, from being threatened at gunpoint to trying to stab a childhood friend, all without anyone else recalling such events – not those who were allegedly involved or even those who knew him at the time, let alone any of the official records that such incidents would have surely generated.

It seems that the most important aspect of Carson’s character is his eagerness to make up stories that portray himself as a hero. And to put the discrepancies of his past into a cultural context, everyone remembers him as Urkel, but he claims that he was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Like most Republican candidates, when questioned about these discrepancies and inaccuracies, such as his denials of being involved with a company that sells nutritional supplements when there’s abundant evidence that he was, Carson simply lies about it and attacks the media for asking questions that expose him as a fraud. Lying doesn’t seem to be a problem for the likes of Carson and Trump…the problem is those pesky reporters who expose their lies.

It remains to be seen if voters will buy the traditional smoke and mirrors of the media bias argument. Carson was supposed to have the integrity lacking in most of the other Republican hopefuls, but his litany of lies might be too much for even his lemmings to swallow.

The rampant vanity of Ben Carson becomes apparent in his home, which is filled with portraits of himself, much like the megalomaniacal cartoon character Montgomery Burns.

The rampant vanity of Ben Carson becomes apparent in his home, which is filled with portraits of himself, much like the megalomaniacal cartoon character Montgomery Burns.

Lying is one thing, but stupidity is another. And Carson is no slouch on that front either.

For example, Carson, who hopes to become the next leader of the free world, appears to think the pyramids are hollow. Rather than learning from experts who have studied the culture, beliefs, agriculture, and building practices of ancient Egypt (and the actual pyramids themselves), as any reasonable non-expert might do, Carson has opted to concoct a fairytale explanation for who built the pyramids and why. He claims that they were built by someone in the Bible to store grain – not by the people of Egypt as burial crypts for the Pharoahs.

But you don’t have to be an Egyptologist or even an archeologist to realize just how stupid Carson’s claim is. The pyramids are mostly stone, with surprisingly little open space inside them. They are not, as Carson seems to believe, giant hollow structures. If you wanted to build something to store grain, the pyramids would surely be the worst possible option to choose. In fact, the claim is so ridiculous one has to question the man’s hold on reality.

Fortunately, the media are starting to ask the hard questions, and actually fact-checking Carson’s answers. Will his supporters, like Trump’s, ignore the answers and hide behind claims of media bias? Or will the truth set them free?

How can a brain surgeon be stupid? Hubris makes it easy to overlook the details, as evident in this inscription Carson had chiseled into the marble in his home. Poor spacing is one thing, but you'd think someone fond of quoting proverbs would at least know how to spell the word.

How can a brain surgeon be stupid? Hubris makes it easy to overlook the details, as evident in this inscription Carson had chiseled into the marble in his home. Poor spacing is one thing, but you’d think someone fond of quoting proverbs would at least know how to spell the word.

God & Country

GeorgeCarlinReligionIt’s hard to imagine now, but when John F. Kennedy first ran for President of the United States, there was concern that his allegiance would be to the Catholic Church instead of to his Country and its Constitution. Contrast that with the current presidential campaign, in which Fox News asked – in all seriousness – if any of the Republican candidates had received some sort of communication from God regarding what they should do if elected. Yes, not only do they want to know if any of these potential leaders of the free world have been hearing voices from unseen beings, but they seemed really excited and hopeful that some of them are indeed hearing voices and planning to base their presidential decisions on them.

Jeffrey Tayler offers an overly animated take on this very subject in a recent piece for Salon. But it’s certainly a question worth considering. Take George W. Bush. It was troubling enough that he claimed that God wanted him to become president, telling a friend: “I believe that God wants me to run for President.” But then he claimed that God told him to invade Iraq, telling a Palestinian diplomat: “God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.’ And I did.”

It’s terrifying to think that the man with the nuclear launch codes was receiving instructions from some unseen being. But it is absolutely horrifying to learn that this presumed deity actually instructed him to invade a sovereign nation, at a cost of 4,491 American lives, as many as 500,000 Iraqi lives, and an ongoing burden to the American taxpayers in excess of $2,000,000,000 (that’s two trillion dollars…or two-thousand stacks of a million dollars, for those struggling to imagine expenses of such magnitude; and this, from a man who promised to reduce government spending*).

HigherPowersIs it easier for “a man of faith” to believe what he wants to believe in spite of all the evidence to the contrary? That certainly was what Bush did in the case of Iraq. And what many of his contemporaries have been doing in the case of Climate Change. So while most see “faith” as a good thing, it clearly poses significant dangers when someone in power makes decisions based on by “faith” instead of on facts. It’s one thing to have faith in a higher power, but it’s a very risky proposition when people in power start claiming that we should have faith in their ability to interpret the wishes of that higher power.

When a presidential candidate claims to have heard the “call of God,” or received some sort of instruction from such a deity, how do we know he isn’t simply hearing voices in his head, the result of some mental illness, delusion, or deficiency? How do we know it isn’t Satan speaking to him, masquerading as God? How do we know he isn’t just lying, making this up to sucker the evangelical vote or to give credence to otherwise ludicrous policies? After all, how likely is it that God would decide to speak to – or through – a politician, the least trustworthy profession on our planet?

Should our next President have to pledge his or her allegiance to the United States and its Constitution, vowing to put it above any instructions they may (or may not) receive from some invisible entity? Sure, it’s easy to argue that it’s a non-issue, because God is inherently good. But look at what George Bush did in the name of his God. The unnecessary and unjustified deaths of hundreds of thousands of people can only be categorized as evil. Not to mention what horrors other men have done, claiming to act under orders of God.

*If God wanted Bush to invade Iraq, at a cost to the American taxpayers of more than $2 trillion and growing, then clearly God is in favor of massive government spending; and, therefore, God is certainly not a Republican.

Lessons Learned from the Fox News Republican Presidential Debate

FoxDebateesI thought the Fox moderators did an admirable job of asking some tough, pointed questions of each candidate last Thursday. Yes, you heard me correctly. I think Fox News actually did something right. #BlondesHaveMoreFun

Of course, conservatives are apoplectic because the Fox moderators did in fact do a decent job of questioning the candidates. I think they are a little miffed that the normally conservative cocoon of Fox may have exposed their entire field of candidates for the hypocritical buffoons they really are. #Irony

FoxRepThat said, few of the candidates actually answered the questions asked of them. Instead, they spun it around to recite the same canned message points each time they were called upon. And rarely did any of the moderators press them to answer the actual questions. #Weak

However, I thought the seven candidates in the first debate, those who hadn’t polled high enough to make it to the prime-time debate, did a slightly better job of answering the questions asked of them. #CandorDoesNotPollWell

All of the Republican candidates said they want to reduce the size and scope of government. And in particular, they said they want to reduce the amount of money our government spends. #AntiGovernmentPoliticianIsNotAnOxymoron?

Despite this aforementioned claim, all of them also said that they want to increase the size and scope of government – and particularly increase government spending – to do things like fight more wars, build and protect our borders, and enforce expansive immigration laws. #SpendThenBlameTheDems

In other words, all of the Republican presidential candidates are talking out of their asses. #Hypocrisy

And while all of the candidates professed outrage over our nation’s current debt, they failed to acknowledge the indisputable fact that much of this debt was created the last time a Republican was in the White House. When George W. Bush became president, our nation had a budget surplus, thanks to the presidency of Democrat Bill Clinton (who, incidentally, had inherited a budget deficit from Republican George H.W. Bush). But thanks to eight years of a Republican in the White House, Democrat Barack Obama inherited yet another massive budget deficit. #NoAccountability #Hypocrisy&Denial #SpendThenBlameTheDemsAgain

I think the debate spelled the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. He came off even more dickish than usual, and that’s saying a lot. His spotty record as a businessman was exposed, including the fact that he has had to rely on government entitlement programs like bankruptcy as many as 4 times in past 25 years to make up for his management failures. And it didn’t help when the moderators reminded everyone that each time Donny shirked his debts he left a lot of loyal employees – hard-working Americans – unemployed as a result of his repeated incompetence as a leader. #DonaldRump #BankruptAmerica

FoxTrumpPlus, Trump made it clear that he’s more interested in Donald Trump than the Republican Party. In fact, he flat-out admitted that if the party chooses another candidate, he would continue to campaign as an independent. Which, of course, makes you wonder if he’d put the needs of the nation ahead of his own, should darkness sweep over this land and actually put him in the White House. #AllAboutMe

Though I think Trump’s popularity may serve as an important lesson for all candidates, but particularly Republicans. Republicans have falsely assumed that Trump’s appeal is based on their conservative ideals, when what people are really responding to is his unorthodox candidacy – the fact that he mocks the other politicians. Trump is walking proof that it’s really all about anger and rage against the system, rather than intellectual support for specific ideals or policies (especially since he has yet to articulate any of these). #WeHateBothParties

Ben Carson seemed to be largely ignored by the Fox moderators. Was this because he’s black, or because he’s smart? #SmartLivesMatter

And Lindsey Graham? All that guy cares about is starting a war. Look, we get it, you have invested heavily in the defense sector and want to make a killing – both in the market and on some battlefield. But try not to make it so obvious. Even Republicans have grown weary of wasting American lives. #WarMonger

For me, the brightest spot was Ohio Governor John Kasich. He’s what they call a compassionate conservative, and – despite his professions of faith – he sounded like a fairly reasonable, trustworthy guy. In other words, he seems to be the least bat-shit-crazy out of all the Republican candidates. I consider myself fairly liberal, but if the Republicans nominate that guy (which they surely won’t), I just might vote for him over Hillary Clinton. #VoteKasich

And speaking of Hillary Clinton, apparently she is far more qualified to be president than I realized. In fact, it seems she’s far more qualified to be president than any candidate on either side. You see, having listened to the Fox moderators and every single candidate in both debates, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton already is the President of the United States, a role she has apparently been sharing with Barack Obama for the past two terms. #FoxMisleads #PresidentHillary