On Dr. Ben Carson and Fallen Heroes

by Kevin Blackwell

Today I am in mourning. I’m not an emotional dude—so that really is saying a lot. I’m mourning one of my most prized childhood role models, famous pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.

Growing up as a black male geek, you often struggle for role models who really speak to your specific talents and gifts. That’s why when my dad emailed me a couple weeks ago to report that Dr. Carson was being claimed by conservatives after some statements at the National Prayer Breakfast, I quickly dismissed it as typical Republican opportunistic misinformation. But after reading about Dr. Carson’s speech at CPAC on Saturday, I find myself mired in a deep, dark malaise over the revelation that conservatives can (legitimately!) claim a man who was such a formative member of my early years.

It’s obvious I’m a little bitter but bear with me. Conservatives: why must you keep targeting your high fructose, syrupy sweet, deceptive, supply-side rhetoric at my childhood heroes? While you have a stable full of Sesame Street characters, flat earthers, and reality show prospects clamoring to flood your airwaves with counterfactual talking points delivered from a minority face, I only have a few heroes left.

Before I lay into Dr. Carson (did you see the speech? Trust me, he deserves every critique he gets.), let me try to explain why my despair runs so deep. As a young man, I could never get truly and fully excited about performers and sports stars. After getting cut from my freshman basketball team (the only way my basketball career resembles Jordan’s) and receiving less-than-positive reviews every time I tried to rock the microphone, I had to find some role models better suited to my own talents. Don’t get me wrong. I love Jay-Z and LeBron—but I love Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West far more. Enter Dr. Ben Carson. The famed pediatric neurosurgeon and author of the bestselling autobiography Gifted Hands occupied an esteemed position in my heart and mind until this past Saturday.

To say that I’m surprised and disappointed by Dr. Carson’s words on Saturday would be an understatement. This whole turn of events is especially perplexing given Dr. Carson’s medical background; conservatives rarely get legitimate scientists precisely because their philosophy is so frequently hostile to actual science or empirical evidence.

Having someone like Herman Cain pop up out of nowhere and embarrass black folk not once, but twice (non-black folk can join in: there is enough embarrassment to go around) is one thing. But this is even worse. It really reminds me of the Juan Williams fiasco. I’m in mourning because like Williams, Dr. Carson is an accomplished, black intellectual who we thought we could proudly claim. Unfortunately, I have strict rules prohibiting me from claiming rich dudes (of any race) who complain about high taxes, deny the reality of food insecurity for poor and working people, and/or disagree that all people are entitled to healthcare.

I’m far sadder for Dr. Carson than I am worried about any political impact he could have. He is more likely to damage his own reputation with those silly, hyperbolic attacks on Obama or the left. Obama is actively trying to destroy the country?…I haven’t heard that one before.

Like with Juan Williams, I have to chalk this up to ego. If you are a black conservative you instantly move to the front of the line. You are treated like a rock star. Your earning potential skyrockets. Black liberal media personalities or candidates have to put in their dues and prove themselves like everyone else. Black conservative media personalities just have to show up to the studio relatively sober. And conservatives supposedly oppose affirmative action!

Dr. Carson’s willingness to sell out the truth for some media appearances and/or a political career is a sign of severe moral bankruptcy. Honestly, I don’t have any problem if he’s a black conservative. I don’t have any problem if he’s criticizing Obama. In fact, if the criticism is about signature strikes, civil liberties, Bradley Manning, etc, I’ll be the first one to add my voice. But Dr. Carson’s critique was the same old fact-free conservative nonsense masquerading as new, fresh, apolitical analysis. Compound this with the fact that he did it at CPAC while rubbing shoulders and shaking hands with identified racists and bigots like Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, etc—I hardly know what to say. To my mind this outs him as a craven, opportunistic hack willing to compromise his integrity for a little money, attention, and power.

Conservatives have long searched for articulate minorities to pose as the face for their retrograde ideas. But the truth is that this desire is silly and based on flawed analysis. Ironically, tragically, it’s an analysis based in racism. Even with a sustained media campaign and/or run for electoral office by Dr. Carson I’d be surprised if he could sway 1–3% of black Obama voters to vote Republican. He likely would have an even smaller effect on non-black, left-leaning voters. Once minorities hear the crazy things he’s required (and sadly, willing) to say to appear on conservative media or run in a Republican primary it’s game over. Conservatives’ problem isn’t marketing, branding or messenger. It’s a problem with the content of the message itself. It’s a message characterized by decades of failed policy, selfishness, dishonesty, racism, bigotry—and general hating.

Dr. Carson has announced he plans to retire from medicine in just a few months in order to make a larger impact elsewhere (presumably in media or politics). Make no mistake about it, any political career he might choose to pursue will be dead shortly after arrival. Soon after, he’ll be offered a lucrative contract with Fox “News.” But that gig will be short-lived because scientists rarely make captivating media personalities (Neil deGrasse Tyson exempted of course). Memories of his storied career as one of the world’s premier neurosurgeons will be quickly replaced with cable news show sound bites illuminating his Cain-esque level of unpreparedness.

In truth, Dr. Carson’s speech wasn’t the conservative wet dream they’re making it out to be. While he doesn’t appear to have completely adopted the conservative platform yet, we’ve seen this story before. When they are this far gone they rarely come back (Much love David Brock). So let me just make an impassioned, open plea to any conservative decision maker who might be within earshot: If any one of my few remaining childhood heroes (this guy, or this guy, or any of these guys) approaches you seeking backing for a conservative media blitz or electoral office run, please pull a Palin and say “thanks but no thanks.”

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292 thoughts on “On Dr. Ben Carson and Fallen Heroes

  1. As a white guy, I don’t know that I have the “where to stand” when it comes to judging either Doctor Carson or Kevin’s judgment of Doctor Carson.

    But, from here, it feels like this is a silly reason to stop respecting someone.

    If I’m reminded of anything, it’s like Babtists finding out that someone is gay.

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    • Really? A “silly” reason? To be honest, I think Mr. Blackwell has stated the ONLY legitimate reason to stop respecting someone: because of what that person says and does.

      Now, you’re free to disagree with Mr. Blackwell, and state that Doctor Carson’s political opinions are well-reasoned, thoughtful, true, etc. etc. And to be fair, Mr. Blackwell’s piece does not actually go into much (or really any) detail about what he finds so objectionable about Dr. Carson’s political positions. But I think it’s perfectly normal, and in fact laudable, to change your opinion of an individual after learning more information about what that person believes, and the degree to which they are willing to act on those beliefs.

      I mean, what else would you do when you find out that a person you respect believes things that you think are wrong? I would hope that you reevaluate your opinion of that person, at least to some degree.

      I know that when I learned that a pseudo-mentor of mine was a 9-11 truther it made me re-evaluate some of my opinions. Previously, he was a well-meaning free-spirited type who practiced yoga and perhaps would say occasionally silly things about the mother-earth goddess. Afterwards… well ….

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        • I don’t know.
          I remember reading in a magazine that Thomas Gabriel Warrior was seen wearing a Faster Pussycat t-shirt at a concert, and this this disturbed me greatly, I was able to overlook that.
          I still feel sort of weird about it though.

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        • Not really. They’re of similar kind, but very different degree. Both fall within the same world of “political opinions.”(Also, I seriously have no idea what Dr. Carson’s political positions are other than “conservative.”)

          However, I think 9-11 trutherism and generic conservative beliefs are more similar than are religious beliefs and sexual orientation. But I guess that depends on your view of religion. I view sexual orientation as something you are, and religious belief as something you chose (admittedly, with a strong push from your upbringing). I think both 9-11 trutherism and conservative political positions are something you believe, hopefully based on evidence and reasoned argument.

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    • See, and I realize that saying “you shouldn’t have *THAT* opinion, you should have one of *THESE* opinions!” veers awfully close to what I’m saying in this comment and I don’t want to be saying that.

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    • Its about time a BLACK intelligent man, Ben Carson, has every day common sense. He is absolutely right. Obama will push socialism with a smile. He and his wife are big spending Hollywood icons not presidential material whatsoever. When are you all going to see what is happening? Every time you turn around he is hiring more and more people in Washington because he doesnt want to work – let others be his servants. If he wants to save money, then get rid of his 52 buddy Czars. He is basically LAZY. The low income people are gaining more and more money while the middle class are POOR – paying, paying and paying out of their own pockets keeping those high and mighty Washington people in the GOOD life. My niece has been on welfare for 25 years – is 50 yrs old and had one job that lasted 5 years and loves Obama because he upped her food stamps to $500 a month, giving out cell phones and minutes every month and upped her income tax return to $8000. There is so much fraud you couldnt even imagine. Obama’s half-brother who lives in a shack in Kenya, Africa was quoted saying that Obama’s father was a socialist and Obama is like his father. He went on to say – look around us here — we have stood still – no growth and look at Johannesberg and other countries that have everything. Capitalism WORKS – socialism DOESNT. Wise up you liberals who think you are such intellects who continue to give conservatives a bad rap. Conservatives today are the modern day conservatives not the olden day ones. Did anyone suffer during the Reagan or Bushs years? But look at us now – 4-1/2 years later and this laid back conceited GOD like man has done NOTHING to help the economy and WONT work with anyone that goes against him. He acts like a spoiled child. We conservatives go with the flow of the advancing world. Republicans are far SMARTER business people than you foot licking Democrat Obama lovers. That is why it is so important to have put someone in office who knows BUSINESS and economics in order to promote growth. I have meet a lot of wonderful black people who dont go around carrying a chip on their shoulders (like Obama whose family werent even slaves). On the other hand, there are too many of you black people who think America owes you a living and thinks that you are the only ones that suffered. America has done MORE for the blacks than any other country in the world – show some gratitude. My husband and I came from struggling families and we made it ALL on our own time – no one gave us anything! This country is getting lazier and lazier with no values, no integrity, pettiness, cowardliness, and gone amuck. I could go on and on.

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      • “He and his wife are big spending Hollywood icons not presidential material whatsoever.”

        I’m seeing this sentiment a few places here, so I thought I might address it.

        You know how you can tell Obama is Presidential material/has experience to be President? He’s the President, twice elected. Say you wish he wasn’t president if you want, but to argue that he just couldn’t be is silly.

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        • He is president because Democrat social policy, for the past 75 years, has bitten deeper and deeper into the private sector taking more and more of its profits for “social programs” which are little more now than vote-buying schemes. The social safety net is a good thing for those who really need it but its institutions have become anti-social in that millions of able-bodied people are opting out of a productive life in favor of the government hookup. I suppose it takes a certain kind of character to want to go on the plantation and stay there in the first place but there would be far fewer EBT’ers et cetera if the requirements for “government assistance” were far stricter than they are today. Just sayin…

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      • So what I got out of this on first glance is “lazy poor” “good works” “smarter business” and with a bit of rearranging “God nothing works”. On closer inspection that is actually a fair summary of the comment.

        Oh, and “Did anyone suffer during the Reagan or Bushs years?” has to go down as question of the century. The only way it could be improved is if you had waited a day or asked in Arabic.

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  2. Well said, Mr. Blackwell. I agree with every word.

    This part:

    Like with Juan Williams, I have to chalk this up to ego. If you are a black conservative you instantly move to the front of the line. You are treated like a rock star. Your earning potential skyrockets. Black liberal media personalities or candidates have to put in their dues and prove themselves like everyone else. Black conservative media personalities just have to show up to the studio relatively sober.

    gets directly at the problem. I was disgusted when I saw Dr. Carson’s speech.

    Don’t have much to add, other than to say “thank you” for writing something that I agree with so much.

    And, if Neil deGrasse Tyson ever goes conservative, I imagine that will be proof of the End Days upon us. Dr. Tyson (and Dr. Sagan) are a couple of big heroes of mine.

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    • The problem with this point is President Obama. Politics aside, does anyone really think he “paid his dues” as a politician? Very few politicians in history have come out of nowhere like President Obama.

      Basically what we have here is no respect for diverging opinions. Mr. Blackwell shows so little respect for people he disagrees with that it can’t be for logical reason. Mr. Carson has to be some kind of monstrous opportunist.

      What ever happened to respecting diversity?

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        • Thanks for helping making my point. Have we reached the point that we can’t even engage in debate or respect intellectual diversity? I constantly read and entertain the ideas of liberals. Why are so many people shutting down at the very moment someone thinks different?

          This is same type of thinking Galileo faced.

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          • Does anyone else hear a faint whirring noise, like the sound of a long-dead astronomer spinning vigorously in his grave?

            [Edited to add: when I see a post titled “Celebrating Sin” and a screenshot of an ad wherein a gay couple are presented matter-of-factly and without condemnation, I’m curious how much more time you think I am required to give it? I have heard as much of that kind of thing as I could possibly ever want and more, thanks all the same, and I feel no more compelled to give it more time than, say, the notion of a geocentric solar system.]

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            • Unlike you, I actually took the time to Google “Chick-Fil-A” + “Russell Saunders” to read your brilliant piece “Lets’s not be stupid…” article about Chick-Fil-A. I agree with your assessment for the most part.

              Even you must realize that Amazon has received far less attention for their interjection of politics into an ad than Chick-Fil-A received over Mr. Cathy’s answer to a personal question about this faith. As I pointed out, Amazon is well within their rights to do whatever they want.

              Celebrating Sin” was more of a commentary about how Christians view sin and the fact that “sin is in” these days. The commentary wasn’t fire and brimstone. That’s not my bag.

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              • Sir, you claim that shielding your children was much easier in the 1950’s. Now, my viewpoint may be a little warped by being from New Jersey (rural), but I know a guy who experienced multiple attempted sexual assaults from strangers — way back when. When a 12 year old responds to someone by smashing a brick in his face, you ain’t shielding him worth shit.

                I don’t live in new jersey, but… I’d say its a hell of a lot easier when everyone’s watching out for sin.

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              • Would it have been possible to write a story about sinfulness and how it’s degrading our society without mentioning The Gay? I mean, we’re developing a militarized police in this country. There are moral issues involved with reasonable expectations for social safety nets and what we, as a society, have a responsibility to provide and to expect from those who receive our aid. There’s a War On Drugs that looks exactly like Prohibition if you squint just right. There’s a political class that is engaging in downright thievery.

                And when you write about sin, the picture that encapsulates your worldview is two dudes who make each other happy.

                One of us has a screwed up moral compass. I have no reason to believe that you’ll believe me when I say that it’s you.

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                • I agree with some of what you have to say here (esp. War on Drugs). You seem to be taking an exception that I even mentioned the Amazon ad or homosexuality in general. My post just touched on that… more broadly our culture celebrates sex and violence and it gets more graphic on all fronts year after year.

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                  • Hey, I’m just explaining why folks are jumping to conclusions about you.

                    One of the things about our little community here is that we’ve got a handful of writers here who are gay, in life partnerships, with children and who we love very much. We may disagree about this or that policy. We may get in and throw down and start yelling. The fact that they are gay is seen as a trait of theirs that is as morally interesting as their hair color or whether they wear glasses.

                    I don’t know that there is a whole lot of any one thing that makes all of us here at OG stick around… I don’t know what the common thread that connects all of us is. I suspect that it might be that we’re all recovering to some degree from our interactions with One Of Those People.

                    Prominently displaying the attitude that you see The Gay as Sin (or as as social acceptance of The Gay as evidence of the coarsening/decay of culture) is a very good way to get folks to see you as One Of Those People.

                    Don’t be One Of Those People, Nemov. You seem capable of arguing with humor and a pleasant enough tone. We love that here. We need more of it. But don’t be One Of Those People.

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                    • That makes sense to me and the internet is full of trolls on the subject. There’s on condemnation in Christ. I’m doing the best I can an my job is only to love others.

                      I think Christians have done a disservice by demonizing homosexuals and that’s certainly not my intention.

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                    • I’m not talking about trolls, Nemov.

                      I’m talking about people who, in response to hearing the story of the woman caught in adultery, point out that the moral of the story is that Jesus told the woman to go and sin no more.

                      If you want to communicate Christness, you’d do better to treat us like drunkards, prostitutes, and tax collectors (oh, do we have tax collectors on this website…).

                      I’m Jaybird, by the way. Drunkard.

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              • Nemov —

                I should have made it more clear — I actually read the whole “Celebrating Sin” post.

                I’ve read the whole exchange between you and Jaybird (and JB, I was very touched by your comments; I love you too, my friend). I appreciate that you are attempting to take a more tolerant attitude.

                However, you should know that using an ad that takes a morally-neutral, matter-of-fact approach to gay relationships (marriage, no less) as emblematic of society’s increasing acceptance of sin will be a complete, unalloyed and unmitigated non-starter with me. While I honestly do believe you are making a sincere attempt at being conciliatory in your tone, “relationships like yours should not enjoy broad societal approval” is only just barely better than “people like you are going to roast in hell.” Perhaps you feel I should take a more nuanced view on the issue, but I regret that at this time in my life I cannot. I will accept nothing less than full societal acceptance, and being told that such acceptance is a lamentable slide toward sinfulness will win nothing but my full-throated opposition. (You can read more about how I came to my current feelings here.)

                I, like Jaybird, welcome you without reservation to participate in the community here. I celebrate a diversity of opinions, even (in fact, especially) those that challenge mine. If you believe that homosexuality is a sin, I will not try to dissuade you. But please understand that neither will I have much interest in engaging with you further on the matter, as it is a view with which I am already as familiar as I care to be.

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  3. I haven’t read anything about the speech beyond what you say here, so I can’t comment on its content. Assuming you limn it accurately, it is indeed disappointing. I remember hearing Dr. Gordon speak at my medical school, and while I don’t remember much of the specifics I remember thinking he was a deeply impressive and intellectually compelling man, and a physician to admire greatly.

    How sad if he has decided to become a shill for foolish rhetoric.

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    • “How sad if he has decided to become a shill for foolish rhetoric.”

      There is gold in those hills. Lots of gold.

      Though I go back and forth on whether we should be surprised by this kind stuff. People, all sorts of people, are very good at compartmentalizing. Why should we be surprised that an accomplished person like Dr. Gordon is also capable of being a typical right-wing crank and opportunist? Why should his ability to become a world-renowed surgeon make him impervious to other foolishness?

      BTW, I am now utterly confused by your actual appearance and your avatar.

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      • And why should we be surprised that your typical leftwinger thinks that anyone who questions “liberal” dogma is “a typical right-wing crank and opportunist”? So those on your side of the aisle always have pure and unsullied motives, and if anyone disagrees with you they are either intellectually and morally bankrupt or just plain stupid.

        Such preening self-righteousness seems to be typical of leftish thought these days.

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  4. Kevin,

    First off, welcome. Do you normally comment under a pseudonym? I don’t know that I’ve seen your name previously on the site.

    Anyway, I have a question: Would you find Dr. Carson’s statements more objectionable if they were genuine and honestly reflected his views? Or if they are simply schilling in pursuit of a political career?

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  5. 1. I think Democratic Politics have always been largely about rising through the ranks in both good and bad ways. One of the big complaints Daley had with new upstart Democratic minorities in 1968 is that they did not rise through the ranks. He was absolutely wrong but Daley was an old school politician who started running errands for ward bosses when he was a teenagers. He firmly believed that this how you do things. Start small and then raise up through the ranks.

    2. As I mentioned above, people are very good at compartmentalizing. We might see his attitudes and beliefs as contradictory to his career in medicine or job as a doctor but he most certainly does not.

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    • “One of the big complaints Daley had with new upstart Democratic minorities in 1968 is that they did not rise through the ranks. ”

      (a) More like ‘rise through *his* ranks’, having primary loyalty to him.
      (b) Read Daley’s history – the man was a racist b-stard in a time of racist b*stards.

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      • I never meant to imply otherwise. I am now fan of Daley senior and place a good deal of blame on him for how he handled the Democratic convention which lead to Nixon. And Nixon always seems to be the scumbag who keeps on giving. Just when you think you couldn’t hear more bad things about Nixon, you end up getting new information that makes him more horrible.

        I have never been to Chicago but from what I hear it is still very much a ward-based old-time system and you need to have lived in your ward forever before obtaining power. It is a small miracle that President Obama was able to get elected to the Illinois Senate even though he was not a Chicago native.

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  6. Kevin, et al, it strikes me as rather sad that you’ve decided to mourn this “fallen hero” and deride his apparent conservative conversion instead of trying a little harder to understand what he’s saying. Are you so entrenched in your political beliefs that you so quickly dismiss your idol when he espouses ideas you thought he never had and that conflict with yours?

    Why not take the opportunity to try to understand what he says and why? Perhaps he has actually witnessed first-hand how Obamacare is destroying healthcare in the U.S. and how it makes doctors stop serving Medicare patients and ultimately quit practice. Perhaps he has witnessed first-hand how affirmative action makes it hard for blacks to succeed on their own terms (by making whites doubt their true ability). Perhaps he sees the evidence of how social programs keep people dependent on government rather than really helping them achieve independence.

    I could go on, but you get the point. Rather than assume Dr. Carson has become a conservative charlatan, consider that maybe he’s been a fiscal conservative all along or that he’s “seen the light” about how big government is destroying our future. Consider that maybe he still deserves to be your hero, and that–if you open your mind a bit more–he’s giving you a chance to understand the growing libertarian movement that may yet save the Republican party.

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      • They’re writing the rules now. Some parts are in play, others are getting in play. And the big corps/non-profits are rewriting their rules to take advantage (get more profit) out of rules that are going to come out.

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    • “Perhaps he has actually witnessed first-hand how Obamacare is destroying healthcare in the U.S. and how it makes doctors stop serving Medicare patients and ultimately quit practice.”

      as much as i enjoy laughing at people who think the affordable care act is going to introduce affordability into american health care, this is fairly hysterical.

      the biggest downside is going to be the deep consolidation of very large systems and practices, and the shaving of margins that will introduce some really ugly gaming of the system, as well as an awful lot of squeezing in areas that haven’t been squeezed before. some of that squeezing will be beneficial. or if you’re a surgeon just starting out, the dream of being your own practice owner is probably not going to happen unless you’re set up in a wealthy area in cosmetic plastic surgery or cosmetic dentistry or another field where you get paid up front.

      relatively healthy medicare patients will be courted like any other kind of relatively healthy patient from a health plan or managed care org, largely due to the readmission penalty issue. being up the patient’s ass about reminders – literally with the case of colon and prostate cancer screenings – and other such “nudge” factors are going to become standard practice. etc. doctors quitting en masse is basically a fantasy. are they happy about it? as a group, probably not. but outside of the margins – the sort of “this american life”-style story about a lawyer who quits corp law to become a beekeeper, but instead it’ll be a gastroenterologist – we’re not going to see people running away from the field. it’s going to be busy, just not as lucrative.

      the effect on device and drug r&d remains to be seen.

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    • Perhaps he has witnessed first-hand how affirmative action makes it hard for blacks to succeed on their own terms (by making whites doubt their true ability).

      This is very true. Back in the good old days before AA, white people had no doubt about black people’s abilities at all.

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      • I’m not looking to get into a debate on Obamacare here; I’m just suggesting that Dr. Carson’s views may not be so off base. But here are a few articles along the lines of those claims:

        Forbes: ““27% Pay Cut Or Not, More Docs To Leave Medicare In 2013
        Forbes: ““Will Your Doctor Quit? Obamacare Foretells Mass Exodus From Patient Care
        National Center for Public Policy Research: ““The Next Exodus: Primary-Care Physicians and Medicare
        Fort Worth Star-Telegram: ““Half of Texas doctors may quit Medicare if cuts enacted, survey finds

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        • Well, I simply dispute that Dr. Carson has any special knowledge of how Obamacare is supposedly destroying healthcare in the US, which I consider a highly specious claim in and of itself.

          As for the links (the second of which I cannot seem to open), they deal almost exclusively with the thorny problem of the so-called “doc fix,” which exists and has existed independent of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA (or, if you prefer, Obamacare) is mentioned only once in any of the links you provide, and that only in passing by a sole physician in Texas who is described as deeply conservative in the article.

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            • Thanks for the link.

              The article is premised almost entirely on a survey conducted by the “Doctor Patient Medical Association Foundation,” an entity of which I was wholly ignorant until five minutes ago. It is immediately clear when one checks out their website that they are faaaaaaaaaaaaar from an unbiased source of information, and I am thus deeply skeptical of the results of any survey they conduct or any article that bases its conclusions on such a survey.

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              • I know little about health insurance and nothing about medicine. I am an expert on designing insurance products, though. I am confident that Obamacare was designed in a way which will lead to extremely perverse results. If I was to design a system which was supposed to lead to the self destruction of the market, I would consider Obamacare a damn good start.

                I agree our current market is FUBAR, my only problem is that Obamacare actually takes a bad thing and makes it worse. It doubles down on the mistakes.

                In other words, there are certain things designers of insurance know not to do. We just did them.

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                  • Patrick – I have heard this elsewhere too, that the *intent* was to break the current system’s back, put it into an untenable position (“heighten the contradictions”, so to speak) so that single-payer will be the ultimate destination.

                    But I am not sure that any politician would have the guts to do this (intentionally implement a bad solution, with an eye towards scrapping the whole shebang and starting over) because their political legacy would be mud. They wouldn’t be remembered as the person who took the first step towards fixing the problem, they’d be remembered as the guy who screwed things up so badly that we needed to start completely from scratch – and THAT guy, the one who does the scratch-starting, would get all the credit.

                    Or do I misunderstand your meaning?

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                    • Not exactly.

                      Roger’s observation about PPACA and it not working the way insurers want insurance to work seems to make sense, to me, from what I know about insurance; in other words, it doesn’t seem like a good way to run an actual historical insurance market. (I have mentioned before that I think health insurance is a rotten place for market solutions, right? On account of the normal, well understood problems with free markets and insurance?)

                      There’s a reason insurance companies went from wooing both parties in 2008 to flooding the House GOP with cash in 2012.

                      But there’s still plenty of money going to the Dems, too. That makes me guess that the insurance industry is suffering from a prisoner’s dilemma.

                      They all know that PPACA is bad for their business model, but they all think that they might be able to game the system to get the top market spot in this new world order? They don’t care that they’re long-term non-viable because they’re going to take the money and run and let the government come in when they’re too big to fail, and nationalize the industry and nobody will care because they don’t want another big bailout?

                      Not sure.

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                    • Ah, OK, you meant from the market’s side (make hay while the sun shines), not from the political side. Gotcha.

                      I have heard people speaking of it the other way, as though it was an Obama-planned rope-a-dope, fixing the fight so the ground would be clear for single-payer: which didn’t make sense to me politically, for the reason I outlined. Thanks.

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              • Well… it’s at least *MEASURABLE*.

                Do we have the number of doctors from 2008 to compare to the number of doctors in 2012?

                I’m frustrated that I’m finding numbers for one and a different organization doing numbers for the other but no organizations providing numbers for both years and thus giving an apples to apples account. (Lemme tell ya, the numbers I *DO* have work in the favor of the critics of the PPACA so I’d like to see some apples/apples.)

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    • Perhaps he has witnessed first-hand how affirmative action makes it hard for blacks to succeed on their own terms (by making whites doubt their true ability).

      Those mean black people – how dare they make whites think certain thoughts? Have whites no ability to come up with their own thoughts? No, apparently not. Sad.

      Perhaps he sees the evidence of how social programs keep people dependent on government rather than really helping them achieve independence.

      You mean like how Paul Ryan received some kind of government support when he was a young man that allowed him to finish his schooling so he could go on to become – a government-paid speechwriter and then a government-paid politician? Hmmm. He might be right about that one.

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    • Dr. Carson isn’t a Conservative Charlatan any more than you are. By all accounts, he’s an excellent neurosurgeon, which counts for exactly bupkis, unless somehow political viewpoints affect his surgical practice.

      Obama hasn’t had a chance to destroy health care yet. I do know how Dr. Carson gets paid. I know how every surgeon in this country gets paid, at least the ones using the Blue Cross / Blue Shield system, which is pretty much all of them. Dr. Benjamin Carson practices at Johns Hopkins.

      I know rather more about this particular pipeline than the thousands of others. Ronald Peterson, the head of Johns Hopkins Hospital has aggressively pushed for health care reform and JHHS is an early adopter of exchanges. Peterson’s working very closely with Chet Burrell, the president and CEO of CareFirst BCBS, they’re both watching how this unfolds in practice.

      We do know a few things about Obamacare. One, more people are covered. Two, we’re now able to get a much better picture of low-level care, keeping little problems from turning into big ones. But most importantly, they’re working on efficiencies in the process.

      Anyone who says Obamacare will fail doesn’t really understand the problem. The people who do understand the problem are considerably more sanguine. The big problem is getting paid: ask any physician, his biggest problem is long receivables.

      People who rattle on about “Medicare” as if it were a single thing annoy me. They have no idea what they’re talking about. Which part of Medicare? There are four. Here’s why doctors hate Medicare, nobody knows when they’ll get paid and Congress keeps kicking the can down the road with the Doc Fix. Obamacare is many times better than the system we’ve got now, strictly from a dollars and cents perspective. Medicare costs are growing more slowly than those of the private sector. They’re just slow payers. Blame Congress for that, not Obamacare.

      Which isn’t to say Obamacare is perfect, mind you. The devil is in the details. It hasn’t even fully kicked in yet.

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  7. Dr. Carson’s willingness to sell out the truth for some media appearances and/or a political career is a sign of severe moral bankruptcy.

    Your evidence for this is…what? That he disagrees with you?

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    • What troubles me is that if charges were brought against him that he did… oh, let’s just say “something bad”… we’d see essays talking about the importance of the benefit of the doubt, the “innocent until proven guilty” standard used in courts of law, and other sorts of essays that I’m sure you’ve remembered reading a thousand times before when it comes to this, or that, or the other golden celebrity being caught doing “something bad”.

      But Doctor Carson did not do “something bad”.

      He *BELIEVED* “something bad”.

      Thus… an essay like this one.

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      • The charge isn’t that he believed something bad, it’s that he said something bad without believing it. And to be fair, I think it’s reasonable that we have a lower standard for rhetorical condemnation than for actual condemnation to prison.

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      • Eh, I don’t see anything wrong with reducing someone from hero status to something beneath that upon finding out that they believe, and in this case actively promote, some things that you find odious, untrue, and perhaps even immoral. That seems like a pretty good reason to decide that you don’t want to consider someone a personal hero anymore.

        I don’t think saying that he doesn’t really believe it makes much sense, but perhaps that’s just some folks’ way of rationalizing a person they once idolized professing some loathsome ideas.

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        • Well, sure. If we’re talking “Hitler was right” or “Stalin really had some good ideas” or “you know, at least Mao cared.”

          Well, that may be over the top. Perhaps he just supported the wrong side in the Israel/Palestinian debate? The wrong side in Egypt’s revolution? Support of the IRA?

          What’s the stuff that this former hero said that was so terribly wicked?

          It must have been *AWFUL* to get this level of response.

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          • (And let me say again: I don’t know what it is that he said. Maybe it was that bad. I can’t find a transcript and I can’t find his speech. I found a link to something that said it was his speech, but it was a bunch of people who weren’t him giving speeches and jumping around in the video didn’t help me find him. The possibility exists that he said something that would, in fact, get me to condemn it. I’d like to know what he said before condemning it myself, however.)

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            • I suppose that I can say that my litmus test would be this:

              Let’s say that I had posted what he said as a front page post. Perhaps with the title “enough is enough, here’s where I stand”… would there be calls for me to be removed from the site lest The Ordinary Gentlemen lose all credibility?

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              • I believe there’s a link to the speech in the post, though I haven’t watched it.

                I wonder, has anyone here (front page or comments) ever said anything that made you think less of them, even if it didn’t reach the level of you (or others) wanting it removed from the front page or the comment section or whatever? How much less do you have to think of someone before you reduce them from hero status?

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                • I followed the link and the link had a link to what they said was his remarks but it was a bunch of people who weren’t him and I jumped around in the video and, even then, I didn’t find him.

                  How much less do you have to think of someone before you reduce them from hero status?

                  I think the last hero I had was Doctor M. Scott Peck and that lasted right up until I read the opening of his “In Search Of Stones” in which he explained that he spent the last couple of decades cheating on his wife pretty much every chance he got.

                  The difference, I suppose if there is a difference, is that I fell in love with M. Scott Peck because of his words and what he believed and then I found out what he did. Friend Blackwell seems to have fallen in love with Doctor Carson because of what he did and then found out what he believed.

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                • Eh, I don’t know that there’s any hard and fast rule for these things. I can understand why Peck’s behavior affected your opinion of him. I can also understand why Carson’s statements affected Kevin’s opinion of him. I see nothing wrong with either case, nor do I see how one affects the other.

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                  • For the record, I am totally down with the whole “Kill Your Heroes” thing.

                    Heck, I can even see how someone might think that I’m silly for caring about Peck’s infidelity when it certainly doesn’t make anything he said any less true.

                    The dynamic here, however, seems to include the fact that Doctor Carson is black.

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                    • Eh, it seems to me that Carson’s race played a role at both ends: as a successful black intellectual, he became a hero to young black people, someone they could look up to. This seems natural. On the other end, it doesn’t bother me that Carson’s race plays a role in his being dropped from hero status, because it seems reasonable for people who have been adversely affected by a certain strain of political thought, or (I will add to avoid controversy) who perceive that they have been adversely affected by that strain of thought, to be more disappointed in members of their own group who turn out to espouse that strain of political thought.

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              • Let’s say that I had posted what he said as a front page post.

                I would probably shoot you an e-mail and inquire if you were feeling quite well, as you seemed unlike your usual self.

                But seriously, I think I share the concern expressed by some at being unable to make a clear judgment about what was said, since the actual words are very hard to find.

                But implying that Obama seeks to destroy the United States (again, assuming that’s really what he did) is rather de trop, no?

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                • I have not hung out with any group that did not have at least one “the president is trying to destroy the country!” person in it since Bush I was president. Since then, I have always had at least one person with whom I hung out who explained to me that, seriously, this is the last president we’re ever going to have because we’re going to institute Martial Law, why just look at (atrocity), this is how Weimar Germany must have felt, and so on.

                  As such, I tend to not respond with “oh no!” but “this week the part of Democracy Doomsday Prophet will be played by (actor/actress)”.

                  I will immediately grant that I probably hang out with crazier people than you do.

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                  • Well, I watched it.

                    While I did hear a lot of things that I wouldn’t say (I’m not a big Jesus person), I didn’t hear anything that struck me as particularly shocking.

                    The excerpt that Chris provided below is pretty much as awful as it got (and, quite honestly, most of it was stuff that was, as North phrases it, “standard GOP boilerplate (or even their more pseudo policy nonsense)”).

                    I mean, hey. Kill your heroes. It’s good for you. You don’t need a reason.

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                    • I’m glad you come around to that at the end. Kevin is not giving a prescription for what everyone should think about Dr. Carson. He’s articulating a (revealed?) political litmus or value test that people who are to gain/keep his highest esteem must meet. That’s just not ours to audit. IMO everyone who’s saying he’s done something wrong here is overstepping their domain of legitimate judgement. Nobody owes anyone their highest estimation, and we can each of us think that defective political views, even within the mainstream, are enough to knock a person off that pedestal. As you say, doing that, even with almost no good reason, can be healthy.

                      Perhaps one day Kevin will come to reassess his reaction to finding out Dr. Carson’s political views (as of 2013 in any case). If he does, I hope it’s not because anyone told him his initial reaction was unjustified.

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            • I think it hinges on what he said. If he’s just reciting standard GOP boilerplate (or even their more pseudo policy nonsense) then I’d say reacting as Kevin has is overboard. If he’s up there declaring Obama is out to destroy the country, presenting conspiracy theories and reciting somewhat more Fox newsish boilerplate then I could see that as a legit reason to loose respect for the man.

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              • He does imply, if not state outright, that Obama is out to destroy the country in the portion quoted in the article Kevin linked.

                “Let’s say somebody were [in the White House] and they wanted to destroy this nation,” Carson said. “I would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military. It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now.”

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                • Ironically, it’s the Republicans and “conservative” outlets like Fox News that have consciously sowed and exploited divisions in this country. It’s also under Republican administrations that the national debt has grown untrammeled. I’m not holding my breath waiting for the right to admit their large role in creating the current fiscal crisis, and I tend to roll my eyes when a “conservative” says all the fault lies with liberals.

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                  • Eh, I remember people saying exactly the same thing under Bush, and I assume it’s more rhetoric than anything else. And if anything is dividing the country along political lines, it’s the media, and not just Fox and MSNBC, but online media as well (including blogs), because it’s now possible to get all of your information from people who think exactly like you do, and to never have to seriously engage people who think differently. I don’t think Obama or Bush have played significant roles in that.

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                    • It’s true that the media, always on the lookout for better ratings, has fanned the flames. But the Republican Party of Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and Newt Gingrich consciously use race and cultural issues to pick off working-class Democratic voters, especially in the South.

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                    • It’s funny. I refuse to watch any of those political shows or channels as a matter of principle. Then these kerfuffles develop on this web site and both sides already have all their speaking points worked out.

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          • I listened to the speech. Here are what I assume to be the sins that precipitated his fall from grace:

            -Said that federal spending is too high.
            -Said that we don’t have people starving in our streets.
            -Said that we should have a flat, rather than progressive, income tax.
            -Said that we need to improve our health care system, preferably by ending Obamacare and replacing it altogether, but also by working within the confines of Obamacare if that’s not feasible. Hinted at something like a subsidized HSA + catastrophic care plan. Apparently he has written a book on this, or is promoting a plan in somebody else’s book.

            The phrase “history’s greatest monster” gets tossed around a lot, but…

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            • Brandon, as Chris just posted above your comment:

              ““Let’s say somebody were [in the White House] and they wanted to destroy this nation,” Carson said. “I would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military. It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now.””

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              • Well, at least he didn’t say it was intentional.

                I do love “weaken and destroy the military”. Is there any answer to “How much should be be spending on the military?” other than”More!”.

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      • I think it is important to note what Kevin is ACTUALLY saying…

        He is not calling into question Dr. Carson’s accomplishment or legacy as a physician.
        But he is saying that Dr. Carson’s statements have made him no longer admirable or heroic, in his eyes, not because they are conservative but because they are “fact-free” and “nonsensical”, indicating to Kevin that they were an abandonment of the practices and principles that made Dr. Carson who he was and thus represent “selling out” for an easy path to a political career.

        Is he right? I don’t know. I don’t know enough about Dr. Carson. It’s possible that Dr. Carson has always had such views and either hid them or Kevin was unaware of them or was exposed to them but chose an ignorance-is-bliss route. It’s possible that Dr. Carson has developed a new or different viewpoint later in life, a fairly common occurrence. And it’s possible that Kevin is spot on.

        But, regardless, Kevin held Dr. Carson up as a hero and, whatever his motivation, Dr. Carson’s statements knock him from this pedestal, an eminently fair response, as far as I’m concerned. We each get to set our own criteria for our heroes.

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        • “But he is saying that Dr. Carson’s statements have made him no longer admirable or heroic, in his eyes, not because they are conservative but because they are “fact-free” and “nonsensical””

          Without any details of what it is he disagrees with, this post amounts to a declaration that some dude named Kevin disagrees with some famous neurosurgeon. Details would probably help us here….

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          • He did offer a link to the video of the speech, FWIW.

            Regardless, what is wrong with Kevin articulating his personal response to the apparent falling of his hero? There is power in sharing our personal experiences… especially if that experience is outside of our own, which is the case here for most of us.

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            • Because there is a world of difference between a person with experience outside our own losing faith in his hero because he found out the doc was a Seventh Day Adventist, and losing faith because the doc bashed the cult of personality around the president, and losing faith because the doc questioned the long term viability of Obamacare.

              Absent any details, we cannot understand if the problem is with the doc or with Kevin.

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              • But regardless of where the problem lies, to whatever extent Kevin’s response is indicative of a broader response within the black community to folks like Dr. Carson or Juan Williams, it is informative to folks like you and I, who I’d venture to guess tend to construct and respond to our heroes differently than people of color.

                It doesn’t make Kevin’s response correct or legitimate or one you must agree with… but it does expose us to a perspective that many of us do not understand.

                At least, that is how I read it. As the title suggests, this was less a comprehensive analysis of Dr. Carson and more an exploration of how we respond when our heroes fail to meet or defy our expectations, specifically a situation where an African-American man responded to just such an occurrence involving a former hero of his who gained that stature in part because of his race.

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                  • Often times, white America throws their hands up when black folk respond to black figures differently or unexpectedly…

                    “Why do they love OJ and Michael Vick?”
                    “Why do they hate Allen West?”

                    Perhaps if we understood the perspectives of folks like Kevin, we wouldn’t have that reaction so much.

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                    • It’s a lot easier than people think.

                      Why did people victim blame when people abused by Catholic priests went public with their accusations?
                      Why did so many circle the wagons on JoePa?
                      Why do people excuse people of their own political stripe for the same exact behavior they condemn in other politicans?

                      There are very few role models. Mother Teresa was not quite as kind as people imagine, nor were MLK and Gandhi the saints that they’ve been held up to be.

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                    • But there is a huge tendency for people to believe it makes sense when WE do it but doesn’t make sense when THEY do it… with the difference between US and THEM often being skin color… or gender… or faith.

                      So someone might say, “I understand why people might still support JoePa but I don’t understand why people support Michael Vick… what’s wrong with those people?”

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                    • It’s a fundamental lack of empathy really. It means you lack real world experience with real people. It means you don’t listen and remember and change based on new information.
                      If you can’t understand why someone thinks a certain way, even if you disagree, you need to find out why.

                      Sympathy and Empathy are not the same thing and it goes without saying that most people conflate the two.

                      It’s pretty easy to understand Vick if you know enough black people who grew up with dogfighting as a norm. I know a few.
                      Also, my coworker believes OJ’s son killed Nicole. Her case isn’t as weak as you might think either.

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                    • “It’s pretty easy to understand Vick if you know enough black people who grew up with dogfighting as a norm.”

                      But it is far easier to simply demonize those people than to get to know them.

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  8. What a sad article. It is pathetic that your opinion of a man is diminished upon finding out he understands economics.

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  9. I haven’t read Carson’s speech, the title “Economics is not Brain Surgery” was enough to piss me off.

    No, economics isn’t brain surgery. A brain surgeon only has to worry about one human brain at a time, whereas an economist has to try and account for all seven fishing billion of them at once.

    For all that conservatives like to throw charges of “communism” at the left, many of them seem to share the opinion of many communists that economics is as simple as taking a handful of broad principles and applying them without nuance.

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    • I think in general it’s a problem related to all the social sciences. There’s a general superiority complex on behalf of hard scientists (some of it merited) toward those that are inherently untestable in a lab setting. The problem with working from empirical data is that there’s too many variables to identify.

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      • “The problem with working from empirical data is that there’s too many variables to identify.”

        I would hope that people in the hard science work with empirical data, at least every now and then :)

        “…there’s too many variables to identify.”

        There are *always* too many variables to identify, even in a lab experiment.

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        • There are some aspects of economics which can be tested in a lab. I used to build trading models for an idiot who thought it was possible to do so. He bought (and had me assemble) a huge dataset of historical commodities futures data. We used it to test the viability of these models. We’d set them up at night by the hundreds, let ’em run all night, compare results, run them against different contracts. We got pretty good at it. They were excellent advisory tools, helping traders place risk and profit stops. There was no such thing as a guaranteed winner in any of them, we knew better. But we could keep the model from getting greedy or going broke or entering markets when they started going crazy.

          Trouble is, we’d sell them to traders who routinely ignored the models they’d just bought.

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      • I know a few doctors and they are very good at what they do.
        They are very very bad at economics. They might understand how sweatshops supposedly work but not the underpinnings about how middlemen work for instance.

        Or they might tell me they think people should be allowed to bring guns on planes and so forth. (This has happened)

        Or they might be like Dr. Oz and sell crap on TV for a paycheck.

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    • Isn’t taking a handful of broad principles and applying them without nuance standard conservative economics? Like the minimum wage causes unemployment because of supply and demand and don’t bother me with actual numbers. Or tax cuts free up money for investment and therefore they’re the answer to everything. Or deficits are bad so we need to slash spending even in the midst of a huge recession.

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      • Isn’t taking a mishmash of hopeful thinking and applying them without nuance standard progressive economics? Like taking the plethora of evidence behind supply and demand curves and throwing them out because it threatens the narrative that we can help the poor by forcing people who don’t vote for us to not hire below a certain wage? Or that money is better spent and invested by politicians than private individuals and businesses?

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  10. I am honestly surprised you did not realise Dr. Benjamin Carson was a Conservative and always had been. I first ran across him in Christian circles, when he ran up against Dawkins and Dennett and denied evolution.

    Anyone who denies evolution is an unscientific jackass and by definition a Conservative.

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    • I could countenance someone surveying the process and stating “God was behind it the whole time.” I cannot fathom a person of science flatly denying the process occurred and that God formed mankind out of a literal handful of dust.

      Can you clarify which was closer to Dr. Carson’s position?

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        • an american’s views on evolution are almost entirely a social signalling issue, not a scientific one. they have no practical consequences for the most part, as we see with our pediatric neurosurgeon here.

          vaccines, on the other hand, are both a social signalling issue and a goddamn nightmare in the making.

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          • I think it speaks to a neurosurgeons credibility. Any neurosurgeon that does not believe in evolution and believes god made the earth 6000 years ago in 6 days is projecting some serious stupidity.

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            • do them brains work better than they did before? then at least on that level it don’t matter if he believes in god, satan, or some combination of both he calls fred.

              socially, it matters a great deal. personally, i’d probably be a bit wary of the surgeon at first, but that’s a personal bias. i’d feel the same way if they were religious in general, but if they’re well regarded and know their actual business, their theological or political beliefs are less important than my biases about those beliefs.

              i don’t know if i could bend this far enough to get neurosurgery from a well regarded dr. adolf whitepower, to be fair.

              hail fred!

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            • The problem with specialized fields (and there’s a joke about this with surgeons vs GPs) is that a lot of are very specialized mechanics at a certain point in their careers. Some are exceptionally good at cutting out tumors with complex medical devices, but it doesn’t mean they know how to put up drywall.

              Of course they’ll claim they’re smart enough to do it.
              Why they have a medical degree!!

              If I were a pregnant woman, I’d be very wary of having a doctor or Catholic hospital that was restricted in what they could do with regards to terminating a pregnancy where her life was at risk.

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            • Ben Carson’s the most accomplished pediatric neurosurgeon in the world. I think his professional credibility is just fine, no matter who he votes for or what God he prays to.

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            • And yet that neurosurgeon is demonstrably far more competent and educated than you are, with an extensive record of successful and groundbreaking research, operations, and procedures.

              But you brand him as stupid because you dislike his beliefs.

              This is why liberalism fails. Obama and his supporters attack the demonstrably competent and make decisions about neurosurgery based solely on a persons ideology.

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            • Any neurosurgeon that does not believe in evolution and believes god made the earth 6000 years ago in 6 days is projecting some serious stupidity cognitive dissonance.

              FIFY. I distinguish between stupidity and cognitive dissonance.

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    • Yeah Blaise, that fool Isaac Newton sure didn’t know shinola about science. Same with James Clerk Maxwell and a few hundred others including your namesake Blaise Pascal. But you knew that, obtuse as you try to be there remains that iota of common sense lurking beneath your bluster.

      Evolutionary principals are fine and dandy but the principle flaw in Mr. Darwin’s theory remains that which he himself belabored over. The origin of the origin. Skipping the big bang and all the nonsense that Phd’s in physics can’t understand nor agree with today and just taking something as “simple” as life. Next you’ll repeat Dawkin’s saw that with sufficient energy all things are magically possible including the complex bonding that gets us from amino acids to living organisms. All the lightning in all the bottles worldwide hasn’t stepped us any closer to that boundary. If you’d like we can discuss evolutionary naturalism next…

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      • I call myself a Christian. So did Charles Darwin. Jesus Christ’s command to me was to never deny him. But he did not call upon me to deny the truths of science. You may call me what you wish: a man cannot be too careful about the enemies he makes for he is better known by his enemies than his friends.

        I would rather stand with the atheists, who for all their blindness to God’s power and their doubts about his existence — are not blind to the Fruitful Doubt of Science for that is more a guide to God’s truth in the real world than anything Ward Smith may have to say on the matter. The universe is full of wonders and the measure of our knowledge pales in comparison to the scope of what we do not know. But I will never deny the hard won truths of science, still encased in the perennial doubt of the honest man, ever questioning, ever learning. God does not fit in your little box.

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      • I can either acknowledge that some things simply aren’t yet understood sufficiently, i.e. that the business of science is not yet complete. Or I can skip all that nonsense and believe that it’s all the work of an invisible sky spook.

        Either way I don’t really understand what the hell’s going on but at least with the former approach I have one fewer thing to not understand.

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  11. The problem with heroes is that, being human, they invariably fail us.

    I listened to most of the CPAC speech and read the one from the prayer breakfast. Dr. Carson is a compelling speaker but, when he launches into history lessons, gets a lot of his facts wrong. However, for my Republican friends and family, his speech at the prayer breakfast was a big deal. Most posted links on their Facebook pages, so thrilled were they to find a certifiably intelligent black man obliquely criticizing Obama at an event the President attended. Score!

    Ironically, Dr. Carson has made himself into another Republican token, someone conservatives can point to when they feel the need to show that they can represent minorities without examining any of their current policies or apologizing for all of the race-baiting and revving of the culture wars they’ve done these past few decades.

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    • When you say Republican Token, are you saying the only way a person of color can be conservative is by being a token? That they cannot actually agree?

      Are you sure that is not race baiting on its own?

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        • He has been used as a token already in pieces like “3 black conservatives blah blah should listen to” Pan out to the crowd, and it’s a sea of white. It’s a silly version of affirmative action because he’s black.
          See! A BLACK person said it and we put him on stage!

          Subtext that other people get out of it: Why can’t all these uppity dumb n___ get it if a smart black neurosurgeon can!

          We need that clip of the South Park where Token keeps telling Stan that Al Sharpton doesn’t represent all black people.

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      • No. I actually think that Carson is sincere about his views. But I’ve seen far too many people posting his CPAC speech up on Facebook as a rejoinder to that socialist Obama as a means of saying “look, here’s one who agrees with us.” That’s what I mean by tokenism. I don’t think these people are as much concerned about what Carson said or who he is as they are about using him as a club with which to beat Obama.

        It’s basically what Republicans do at their conventions every four years. They put a host of minority speakers on the podium. Then, the camera pans the crowd and it’s full of old white people, nary a minority in sight.

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        • Well, of course.

          Because we know in order to be intelligent, truthful, and sincere, black people must think and say only that with which white liberals agree.

          Lol.

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            • With that joke behind us, there does seem to be a fair bit of question begging with regards to which political opinions are considered noteworthy enough to drop someone from being a hero.

              If, say, the good Doctor had said “I think that Barack Obama is the greatest president this country has seen since Kennedy”, there are a number of folks who would say “this is why he’s one of my heroes” and the people who said “wait, what? Kennedy was a horrible president! Let’s parse this out!” would be accused of not getting it. Whatever it is.

              As it is, the general consensus seems to be that the good Doctor cannot correctly hold these positions. Much like those who disagree with my aunt on Christianity, he’s either deceived and needs to be converted or he’s downright in league with Satan and needs to be fought against.

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                    • In my experience, being a neurosurgeon, or a chemist, or a physicist, or any of a number of other things requiring real intellectual skills, does almost nothing to prevent a person from being deceived, or just downright clueless, about a great number of other things. Now I’m not taking any position on whether or not the top neurosurgeon has in fact been deceived, but I fell pretty confident saying that I’d bet he’s put a lot more effort into using his intelligence to become a top neuroscientist than he has into studying history, politics, and economics.

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                    • Sure, absolutely. But if he said “you know, Obama is such an awesome president, we don’t even know how to process it yet”, the folks who point out “being a neurosurgeon, or a chemist, or a physicist, or any of a number of other things requiring real intellectual skills, does almost nothing to prevent a person from being deceived, or just downright clueless, about a great number of other things” will not be seen to be speaking an obvious, even trivial, truth.

                      The folks who say “you know, he was one of my heroes, now I can’t believe that he would say something like that” would not be engaging in a perfectly reasonable act of hero euthanasia.

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                    • Jaybird,

                      I don’t think Kevin would have written the OP if Carson had restricted himself to claims like, “Obama is a pretty bad president” and then given an even-handed and reasonable assessment citing real events and pointing out putatively better possibilities.

                      At one point Carson implied (using weasel-like rhetoric to cover the fact that he was so implying) that Obama was intentionally destroying the country:

                      “Let’s say somebody were [in the White House] and they wanted to destroy this nation,” Carson said. “I would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military. It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now.”

                      Yikes. Even if you think he isn’t implying that the President hates America, that criticism is brutal, and was wholly unsubstantiated by anything that he said later on. (I’m not saying that Obama was born in Kenya. But if he was born in Kenya, he would be acting just like he is…. coincidentally…)

                      Had Carson said he thinks Obama’s tax policy is too hard on the rich, causing slow growth, his healthcare policy too byzantine, his foreign policy too uneven, and that we’d be better off with X, Y, and Z or whatever, I’m sure Kevin would be fine with it, regardless of whether Kevin agreed with it.

                      No, IMO, it was the quality of Carson’s analysis of US politics that was so awful and ridiculous, not the mere fact that it was anti-Obama and not pro-Obama.

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    • I don’t know if it is good or bad that my entire family is basically liberal New York Democratic Jews and I have only lived in heavily Democratic areas and worked in heavily Democratic fields for my entire life.

      The good is a lack of political arguments at family functions and not having to deal with relatives who insist on Fox News and Talk Radio.

      The bad is I am a strong part of the Big Sort problem that leads to just talking past each other.

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  12. Ben Carson is a very talented individual who has clearly worked hard and done a lot of good. Being human he is not perfect, he is something far more interesting, individual. Me myself, I think that if you are really great in one area you will be not so great in others and I think that is what we are looking at. “Economics is not brain surgery” connotes a swaggering underestimation of other people’s talents and fields of endeavor, which might be understood in a guy who has been the recipient of rock star treatment. Dr. Carson will cut his own path here, personally I think “something’s going to happen and it’s probably not good” to quote a song from the 80’s. Pride goeth before a fall, but even so no-one will ever take away one iota from of the wonderful work that he has done or the lives he has healed.

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  13. You know, I love the Ramones, but probably my favorite punk band from that era is the Dead Boys, who only made two records, but were sort of the perfect combination of all the rock’n’roll elements for me. Strangely as hell, I am a regular (and DJ and part-time booker) at a rock’n’roll bar in Hamilton, Ontario where the serious alcoholics rent the flophouse apartments above, and one of them is the old drummer from the Dead Boys. It’s been an interesting experience, to say the least, to get to know one of my heroes socially as an older man with some serious drug and anger problems. That said, check out the drum solo before the last verse of Sonic Reducer on the Bomp! Records release entitled “Younger, Louder, and Snottier: the rough mixes.” It’s one of the great moments of rock’n’roll, in my opinion, and it’s still there. I can still listen to it!

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  14. Mr. Atwater is digging through his Rolodex as I write this to find /more/ willing women to pretend that Dr. Carson made unwanted advances towards them. Just as happened with Herman Cain, they will immediately disappear once the threat of him running for office has vanished.

    Useless OP all around and exactly what I’ve come to expect of the New Ordinary Gentlemen blog.

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    • “Useless OP all around and exactly what I’ve come to expect of the New Ordinary Gentlemen blog,” he said, conveniently ignoring the pro-gun post that preceded it and the anti-progressive economics post that followed it.

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    • “Mr. Atwater is digging through his Rolodex as I write this to find /more/ willing women to pretend that Dr. Carson made unwanted advances towards them. Just as happened with Herman Cain, they will immediately disappear once the threat of him running for office has vanished.”

      Nah, they’d use the same devilish scheme that they perfected to drive Palin from the governorship of the key electoral state of Alaska, and then never bothered to use again on any other Republican governors.

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  15. Everytime I see someone attack somebody else for the supposed motives behind their ideas, rather than the idea themselves, I suspect I am witnessing someone so intellectually rigid/limited that they are intolerant and uncomprehending when it comes to having ideas in the first place.

    And when that person names Cornel West as a hero and cites him as an example of an intellectual…I no longer suspect. I know.

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  16. The one thing that’s blatantly obvious in this article is that there’s no quotes from this fallen hero. You go on about how despicable his speech was, but you fail to really articulate what you disagree with him about, other than his speech made conservatives happy. And the reason for that is because the Doctor never really blames anyone in his speech. You can’t actually quote him without it being quite obvious that he’s right. But all of a sudden he’s a “fallen hero” (which I suspect is made up for sake of sensationalizing this article) because he made Republicans happy. – You seen intent on calling out racism, and yet your entire criteria for a hero is that he be smart, and “black”. (Oh and that he doesn’t make Republicans happy.)

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        • no tv, so I’ll take your word for it.

          If you’d rather, we can start a different conversation… Gordon– house negro or field negro? (Is he being an honest conservative black guy, or is he just in it for da money?)

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        • No, he never said Obama but criticism of Obama and his policies is I implied (and explicit when it comes to Obamacare). That said, he’s hardly the unbridled Obama-hater so many at CPAC are.

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      • That’s not what he said. He used an interesting (well, *I* find it interesting) rhetorical trick that is pretty old.

        “If I wanted to do this wicked and nefarious thing, what would I do? Well, I’d (describe police policy here). Then I’d (describe educational policy here). And, to top it off, I’d (describe health care policy here).”

        This is a pretty fun argument to use. I’ve used it in service of what Educational Policy I’d pursue if I wanted the kids on my side of town to succeed in school at the cost of the kids on the other side of town.

        But he’s not accusing Obama of trying to destroy the country. Neither was I accusing the local superintendent of being racist or trying to hurt those kids for the benefit of these kids.

        When your opponent is a member of the Baptists and Bootleggers, they don’t have to be Bootleggers to be making the problem worse. They could have the very best of intentions in the world. You can even take that into account… but if I wanted the price of whisky to be higher allowing me to sell less of it and make more money selling less of it? I’d support prohibition.

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        • “If I wanted to do this wicked and nefarious thing, what would I do? Well, I’d (describe police policy here).

          He actually said “if someone wanted to ruin the United States, they would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military.”

          Are you saying that he was describing a specific policy here? Why are democrats mad at this statement, unless it is actually hitting a nerve?

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          • Oh, in this case, he wasn’t describing a specific policy, but general ones. I’m also pretty sure that he and I disagree about what “basic morality” consists of (I’m a much bigger fan of the morality of allowing people both the costs/benefits of making their own decisions) and I’d like to think that I don’t have to point out that the military isn’t particularly destroyed and how much weaker it is than in 2008 is something that we can debate all day.

            I was more admiring his rhetoric here. (Grelee, I’m likely much closer to you on this topic than I am to, say, Kim.)

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          • And who do you suppose he’s aiming these words at? Even though the Republicans have explicitly worked to divide the country over racial and cultural issues, I doubt he sees them as part of the problem.

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            • Republicans would be blind to think that they aren’t a part of his blanket statements. But BOTH sides have been dividing this country with their rhetoric. And it’s usually over things that have nothing to do with most people’s every day life. The Doctor seems more like a Libertarian to me. And the party that can tolerate Libertarian thinking is the party that will come out on top. Right now liberals can only tolerate liberal extremism, because they think it’s what won them this last election. – To think that the doctor’s statements catered only to the right, proves that the left is very far to the left now. Because his speech made more sense than any I’ve heard in a very long time.

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              • the party that can tolerate Libertarian thinking is the party that will come out on top.

                Heh, I sooooo wish there were enough libertarians for that to be true!

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                • There are way more than enough Libertarians for that to be true. The Republican party lost by less than 4 million votes. There are way more Libertarians than that in this country. In 2009 Gallop estimated that 23% of Americans were Libertarians. They will decide the elections one way or another – depending on who can sway their votes. Calling them shills, racists, duped, or “house negro” does not work too well in the swaying of voters.

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                    • So you’re saying that it worked well for Obama to dupe voters? Surely you’re not saying that anything worked for the Kochs – they didn’t win anything in 2012.

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                    • No, but in 2011 they won some shiny nuclear power plants for pennies on the dollar. We call that stealing from the government till where I come from.

                      (to the extent that obama has duped voters, i’d say it’s about civil liberties and drone warfare. unkept promises.)

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                  • Well, it’s pretty revealing that Obama got a larger share of the libertarian vote (at least in ’08) than his Republican opponent.

                    I’m pretty sure the party of war, more war, and, oh by the way, war on drugs and war on gay rights isn’t likely to be the party that has the most room for libertarians. Now if they’d actually make room by dropping all that? Sure, maybe this libertarian would be interested then.

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          • “Are you saying that he was describing a specific policy here? Why are democrats mad at this statement, unless it is actually hitting a nerve?”

            When somebody accuses you of using the blood of (group X) children to make your sacred bread for your holiday, just because you are not doing that doesn’t mean that you shrug off the insult.

            People know what standard dog whistles and lies are, and who they’re aimed at.

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                  • Atrocious is as atrocious does. I would be more inclined to agree were it not for Sarah Palin’s previous ignorant aspersions. In any event, she seems to have learned a few lessons from the Ann Coulter / Andrew Breitbart school of rhetoric.

                    You’ve heard the old story about LBJ and the pig farmer, I presume.

                    In the midst of a tight campaign for Congress, Lyndon Johnson famously told an aide to leak to the press that his opponent, a pig farmer, had been having sexual relations with his swine. The aide was appalled and asked LBJ if it was true. “Of course not,” Johnson replied. “I just want to see the bastard deny it!”

                    And that’s pretty much where we find ourselves with this Culture of Ridicule for Basic Morality. When their own ridicule for our morality is exempt from criticism, I see no particularly good reason not to bitch-slap these folks. After all, they should be able to take as good as they give.

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            • That’s the whole point – he didn’t point his accusations at anyone. But because the left is taking offense, they are obviously saying that not only does the shoe fit, but it is indeed their shoe.

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          • Yup. You see, actually balancing the budget (via obamacare) has undermined the financial stability of the nation. I do listen to republicans, you know.

            Breton Woods II is over, ya know? If he’s not talking about that, maybe I missed what he was talking about?? Perhaps you might want to enlighten me?

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  17. And who’s the racists? – The man is a Neurosurgeon and a top selling Author. He doesn’t need money or accolades. He’s spent a lifetime healing children and he has a passion for anything that hinders that. What do you think his motivation is?

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    • “He’s spent a lifetime healing children and he has a passion for anything that hinders that.”

      He has a passion for things that make it less likely that children get proper medical care?

      Yeah, that sounds like a Republican, I guess.

      :)

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  18. I’ve got to say, I hear where you’re coming from in this post, but it’s hard to relate. It seems like the guy became your hero because of his life’s work, which wasn’t related to his political opinions. It’d be different if he was a political theorist or commentator, but his opinions don’t seem odious enough to radically alter your opinion of his work. I don’t know. I think maybe I’m just used to worshiping artists and musicians with kooky political views, so it’s hard to relate.

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  19. I personally don’t like the political leanings of Sean Penn. But he’s still one of my heroes and a good all around guy. He helps thousands of people and he’s a great actor. I think his political views are harmful, but that’s not the reason I like the guy. Disavowing someone because of their political views just seems intellectually shallow to me.

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  20. And a shallow, soulless moron. How absolutely pathetic you must be to spurn a lifelong hero because of his or her political beliefs. Politicians of all stripes are the most loathsome creatures on earth yet I guess according to your morally bereft value system, someone like Debbie Wasserman Shutz or Chuck Schumer would be a hero, right? Politics attracts & is run by politicians and you judge people by their….politics! I take it back, you aren’t a moron, you are a Moral Giant (and a very self-righteous one at that).

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  21. You talk about a black or brown “hero” being opportunistic combined with a group of white people wanting use him and his fame for political purpose. I would point you to Barry…….a man of very average accomplished (search for a court case that he tried, a academic paper he has written, a defining legislation he wrote and sponsored, a speech that was written by him?) that was propelled onto the national stage because it fit nicely in the “emerging” democratic coalition……with the elites almost completed white and upper class(just the Rs).

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    • You’re assuming (as is Mr. Bunch) that Mr. Blackwell has not, in fact, rejected Dr. Carson’s argument, but only his ideology.

      While his post isn’t as wonky-disassembling as are to my particular taste (see here for an example), I don’t know that anyone has a particular claim on Mr. Blackwell to provide a thorough deconstruction of Dr. Carson’s speech.

      Particularly as that isn’t the subject of his post. It’s not about *why* Dr. Carson has become a fallen hero, just the phenomenon of fallen-heroitude, in and of itself.

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      • Bunch is right. His criticism of Blackwell is not that he disagrees with Carson, but that he baselessly accused Carson of selling out—of not actually believing the things he said in the piece.

        The piece was garbage, and its appearance here a dubious editorial choice.

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        • I’m assuming the statement in question is this one…but…

          Dr. Carson’s willingness to sell out the truth for some media appearances and/or a political career is a sign of severe moral bankruptcy. Honestly, I don’t have any problem if he’s a black conservative. I don’t have any problem if he’s criticizing Obama. In fact, if the criticism is about signature strikes, civil liberties, Bradley Manning, etc, I’ll be the first one to add my voice. But Dr. Carson’s critique was the same old fact-free conservative nonsense masquerading as new, fresh, apolitical analysis. Compound this with the fact that he did it at CPAC while rubbing shoulders and shaking hands with identified racists and bigots like Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, etc—I hardly know what to say. To my mind this outs him as a craven, opportunistic hack willing to compromise his integrity for a little money, attention, and power.

          What is actually said is that he sold out the truth by resorting to the fantasy talking points of the unhinged rights. He didn’t accuse Carson of selling out, he accused him of selling out the truth.

          I often disagree with you, Brandon, but I rarely think you’re arguing in bad faith. This is a time though, where you’re either misreading Kevin or just out to score points.

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          • My reading of it was similar to Brandon’s, that he was suggesting that Carson did not believe what he was saying. I thought the piece was interesting and I’mglad we ran it, it gave me earnest iinsights to a view that I otherwise might not get, but I read it as Brandon did.

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            • I’m just having trouble getting that out of that paragraph. The statement seems clearly targeted at the content of the statements, which are warmed over fact-free pablum. Whether or not Carson believed them seems to be immaterial to the fact that the criticism content was basically not on substance, but on the strawman Obama constructed by Fox, et al.

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              • To say… “To my mind this outs him as a craven, opportunistic hack willing to compromise his integrity for a little money, attention, and power” does not strike me as a small thing to say, or immaterial. It was, right or wrong, a pretty powerful statement, I thought.

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            • I think people sell out the truth all the time and it is unclear whether they knowingly lie or whether what they sold out for makes them believe the lie. oR whether they just stop caring as much about what is true and what is false.

              I’m not sure what Limbaugh believes. I suspect he believes a lot of it. But his beliefs are a result of selling out the truth.

              At any rate, some of the claims in the speach, like the one I quoted above, are not just honest, fair critique of Obama, they are vile nonsense of the sort that should cause us all to lose respect for the person who said it. No? Or do you think the speach was fair and deserved praise, even if we age with its conclusions and the details of its arguments? (I bet you get that the speech was hackish BS that is either not believed or at best believed in the way that Limbaugh believes what he says, i.e. belief so that you don’t have to feel like a liar.)

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        • Dr. Carson’s willingness to sell out the truth for some media appearances and/or a political career is a sign of severe moral bankruptcy. Honestly, I don’t have any problem if he’s a black conservative. I don’t have any problem if he’s criticizing Obama. In fact, if the criticism is about signature strikes, civil liberties, Bradley Manning, etc, I’ll be the first one to add my voice. But Dr. Carson’s critique was the same old fact-free conservative nonsense masquerading as new, fresh, apolitical analysis.To my mind this outs him as a craven, opportunistic hack willing to compromise his integrity for a little money, attention, and power.

          That sounds more to me like what Kevin was saying was that Dr. Carson’s speech was unbelievable. Which is not quite the same thing as saying Carson doesn’t believe them.

          Followed by a statement of opinion.

          Now, granted, it’s not the sort of piece that I would write. It lacks the hard-hitting, data-driven, hugely overwrought and over-detailed characteristics that usually net me the equivalent of TL;DR. It’s not my cup of tea.

          But if you’re not reading it as a piece about politics but a piece about lost hero-worship, it’s interesting.

          Maybe you should try just reading it that way.

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          • The key statement is thus:

            ” I have strict rules prohibiting me from claiming rich dudes (of any race) who complain about high taxes, deny the reality of food insecurity for poor and working people, and/or disagree that all people are entitled to healthcare.”

            Kevin makes his position clear. He has closed his mind to entertaining the pros and cons of these arguments. I am totally willing to grant that reasonable people can believe in the net value of high taxes, the existence of severe poverty, and that the world would be better with a right to health care. However, Kevin declares that he basically puts his hands over his ears and refuses to listen to or consider the arguments against these positions.

            Kevin declares himself a dogmatic, closed minded ideologue. Proudly.

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    • Sonny does do a good job of eviscerating the straw man version of Kevin that he assembles while decrying Kevin for being shallow.

      Which is highly entertaining for irony.

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  22. Kevin claims Dr. Carson was one of his heros yet he acts surprised by what Dr Carson had to say. Anyone who has known of Dr. Carson, especially as a “hero” would know his views. He has been consistent outspoken coservative for over 20 year. Kevin is just another one of small minded people who belive if your black you have to think like me. Unity at any cost may be applaudible in some areas but it is a death nail to constructive discussion and debate.

    Will claims that changing you opinion about someone the more you learn about them is “laudable”. What is more laudable is someone who examines their own views against other perspectives and is willing to change them when they don’t hold water. Kevin, your bucket is full of cracks.

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  23. How many here have ever read “Witness” by Whittaker Chambers, “Reflections On A Ravaged Century” by Robert Conquest and “The Abolition of Man” by C.S. Lewis? All three of those titles are eloquent descriptions of how the philosophies of Marxist Communism (and Leftism in general) spoil the capacity for human enlightenment and progress.

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  24. Pingback: Why Everything Is Politicized Even Though Most Americans Hate It | CCLAH

  25. http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/tv/z-on-tv-blog/bal-ben-carson-apologizes-gay-marriage-fox-20130329,0,320004.story


    During Sean Hannity’s show on Tuesday, when asked about the matter before the Supreme Court, Carson said, “Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition.”
    […]
    “Now perhaps the examples were not the best choice of words, and I certainly apologize if I offended anyone,” he added.

    Douchebag.

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    • Also, why do they insist on calling these non-apologies “apologies”?

      I mean come the fuck on. The least someone who believes in “personal responsibility” can do is admit he said something fucking offensive, and he said it because either 1 he believes it or 2 he thinks it’ll sell to the audience.

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  26. “Having someone like Herman Cain pop up out of nowhere and embarrass black folk not once, but twice…”

    Two down, 997 embarrassing episodes to go. The 999 plan is on the move!

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  27. As a white woman who came of age in Baltimore, I adored this man. Amazing back-story, brilliant, successful and a healer at one of the finest hospitals in the world. Medical institutions cannot have a face or character for people to relate to….so the personal narrative is used. What better story than that of Carson? And now, the soon to be medical graduates of the hospital’s school don’t want him at the graduation.
    I never met Carson personally but I feel like a lover cheated on me.

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