All kinds of shit going on in Iowa right now

DrainI went to college in Iowa and lived in Iowa after graduating. I’ve paid taxes in Iowa, imbibed Iowa beer and gnawed Iowa corn straight off the cob on hot August afternoons. In winter, I’ve waded through deep snows and in spring watched riptide floods haul detritus off the landscape toward the great Mississippi River that forms the entire eastern border of the state of Iowa.

Iowa is also a surprisingly beautiful state if you know where to look. But admittedly, Iowa is primarily known as an agricultural state. Thus some people think it boring. From border to border there are farmers who raise corn and hogs, create dairy products and soybeans. Each plays a big part in feeding the world.

That role is one shared by stalwart farmers across the Midwest and Central plains of North America. The nation invests in that commitment with huge monetary support in a form of corporate welfare for agribusiness. Yet real farmers, the guys and gals with equipment and land on the line, have quite often been hung out to dry when markets go south on commodity products. One can’t help feel for those people, and crop insurance and other federal programs do provide a form of security for America’s agricultural sector. If I were a politician, I would likely vote for a farm bill too. Many Democrats do.

Falling in it

So it is with some reticence that I’m willing to criticize Iowa and their apparent choices in politicians. Every four years when the Presidential election settles into Iowa it astounds me that generally sensible Iowans seem to be prone to the confused lies of city-slicker politicians who descend on the state in hopes of earning support for the nomination.

The most recent politician to sway Iowa voters is none other than Ben Carson, the former surgeon now leading the Iowa polls. His public statements thus far in the political campaign have been assessed by sources such as Politifact and found severely wanting in terms of baseline truth. In sum, Ben Carson is a practiced and habitual liar at least half the way, but all the time.

Even when his clearly advertised connections to a scurrilous nutritional supplement company were exposed, he flatly denied ever having done any business for the company. It was not hard for journalists to find the commercials he’d actually done on behalf of the company. Carson is heard liberally endorsing the products. Yet Carson denies this is any sort of connection. As reported on CNN: “The WSJ reports Carson has appeared in videos that were on Mannatech’s website until earlier this month. The videos were removed soon after the Journal’s reporting. The paper also reported that Carson gave four paid speeches at company events; the most recent was in 2013 for which Carson was paid $42,000.”

But it’s not just Ben Carson who has problems with the truth. Carly Fiorina keeps getting caught in lies and exaggerations that fit her ideology, but lack verity.

Pretty much all the candidates running for the Republican nomination in Iowa have trouble not just with truth, but merely being asked what is true about their beliefs and policies, and what is not. Whenever pressed about any subject, these candidates claim it is a “gotcha” question to be held accountable for the truth in their statements.

Full of it

It reminds me of a road trip long ago through some Iowa backroads. We were driving along happily when we turned a corner and drove right into a long, deep river of hog slop washing across the road. The hog shit coated the underside of our car as we rode through 50 yards of slippery shit the color of clay and the stinkiest odor of all time.

That afternoon, when we parked our car at our campsite, every fly in the county descended on our vehicle to hang around the musky undercarriage. The flies were so thick and bothersome we had to move the vehicle far away from our campsite. It stunk like hell and the flies kept buzzing and buzzing in the heat, driving us mad.

That hog slop is symbolic of what’s going on in Iowa right now. Politicians line up to spew shit they know makes no sense, and they don’t care. They hope the next day’s media rain will wash the previous day of hog slop off the road. Yet people enamored of the idea that these political attention hogs (look at Trump demanding his own rules for debates…) have something to say. Iowans seem too willing to wade through this kind of shit without question. All to gain approval and promise of political favors if their chosen candidates are elected? Is that it? Or is there some kind of shit we don’t know about going on behind the scenes?

Of course, the media flies have long since descended on this political slop being thrown around Iowa. It’s a gadfly’s job to hang around listening to this shit and yes, even ask questions so the hog sloppers can spew out even more. The whole affair stinks to high heaven, and everyone knows it. As far as anyone can tell at this point, the whole state of Iowa is full of shit.

County Fair Carnies

Meanwhile the angry, crazy types like Marco Rubio march around this County Fair of a state like carnival barkers convinced their game is the best in the world. “You should sign up and give my game a try!” Ted Cruz snarls at the people passing by on the Iowa Midway. “It’s called Eliminate the Waste, because we all know government is the biggest waste on earth!”

Who are these guys telling us the government is full of crap when they are all desperately running for the office of President? Doesn’t anyone see the least bit of irony in any of this?

It truly makes you wonder why Iowa farmers would ever want to vote Republican. I know so many smart people in Iowa, with good common sense and a down to earth worldview. Where do all these seemingly radical conservatives get off telling Iowans what they need to think about our national affairs.

It turns out there’s something of an explanation. An article from a couple years back in TheWEEK by Keith Wagstaff addresses the reasons why so many farmers vote Republican.

“As the number of people on food stamps jumped to around 47 million after the Great Recession hit, the program’s funding also leaped, increasing to $83 billion this year, from $35 billion in 2007.

Yet the agriculture bill — which will provide $195 billion in crop insurance and commodity support to farmers over the next 10 years — was passed easily by House Republicans, even though some conservative groups, like the Heritage Foundation, have criticized it for giving “perverse subsidies to profitable agricultural enterprises.”

Shit conservatives say

There’s some sort of cognitive gap going on there, as even the Heritage Foundation admits. But at the most basic level, it is apparent that farmers across the country feel like they have to vote Republican because the corporate welfare doled out to farmers is some sort of guarantee that farmers will never be the ones to go hungry, or lose the farm.

But we all know that’s a river of shit too. Because when the shit hits the fan during a tough economy, nobody seems to give a shit if small farmers get sold down the river. It’s the same pattern with the middle class in America. Just like the money flows upriver to Wall Street bankers and the 1%, agribusiness keeps coming out on top while your everyday farmers sell their equipment at auction and take a job as an accountant or real estate salesman in town.

Yes, the river of shit flowing from top to bottom in Iowa turns out to be big money for Big Ag. It’s a great big bribe if you look closely enough at the issue.

Streams of money

So it doesn’t really matter what Republicans say when they’re in Iowa. In the end, conservative Iowans apparently believe that kind of shit doesn’t stink. Well, here’s a bit of news. Democrats traditionally support farm bill funding too. That stream of money going to agribusiness has been consistent through both Republican and Democratic-controlled Congress and Senates. So who’s shitting who here?

It’s just that those darned Democrats want to give money to feed the hungry too. And that seems like an awful waste to supposedly independent people out on the plains. All those poor people in the cities want is handouts, anyway. Ain’t that true? The facts point out a little different dynamic than some might expect.

Yes, there’s all kind of shit going on in Iowa right now, most of it coming out of the mouths of politicians who really don’t give a damn about the state except for the fact that people used to the smell of hogs aren’t really that choosy about their Presidential candidates either.

Because nothing else can explain the likes of Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and all those others wallowing around in shitty debates and complaining that the media is the one thing that stinks in this world.

There’s an old country saying, folks. He who smelt it, dealt it.

Now deal with it.

On the 7th Day, he should put it to rest

CQVsQ1bUEAAecjrBeing curious about the source of the curious viewpoints of presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, I surfed on over to the website for the 7th Day Adventist Church. Here’s what I found, a description of their belief system as regards the creation of all things:

God has revealed in Scripture the authentic and historical account of His creative activity. He created the universe, and in a recent six-day creation the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” and rested on the seventh day. Thus He established the Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of the work He performed and completed during six literal days that together with the Sabbath constituted the same unit of time that we call a week today. The first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was “very good,” declaring the glory of God.

Ben Carson has emphatically supported this worldview in many statements, including the contention that the theory of evolution itself is “the work of the devil.”

This would be news to any scientist laboring away in a genetics lab to map out a human genome, or studying the composition of gaseous stars so many billions of miles they may no longer even exist because it has taken the light they emit that long just to get here.

It all proves that life and reality is never what it seems on the surface. It is always far more complex and far older than it is possible for us to conceive in the moment. The scientific endeavor to discover how the universe was made is an ongoing journey between the massive scope and scale of all that is known and tiny bits of matter that communicate the unknown, and how it also formed.

History defined

ben-carsonSo to claim, as does the 7th Day Adventist Church, that all reality was created in a “recent six-day creation” is to acknowledge that your worldview is fixed in time. Cemented, as it were, to the perverse notion that God is incapable of inventing or handing even the slightest increments of change. To also claim that this account is historical is absurd. The account of the first five or six days was recorded before any supposed human beings were even in existence to witness such events. The Bible does not depict God sitting down with human beings to lay out some narrative about creation. All it conveys is God telling the apocryphal characters of Adam and Eve to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge. That’s the opposite of filling people in on the history of creation.

Hubris

Meanwhile, to also claim the human race is the “crowning work of creation” is the ugliest form of hubris possible. Sure, it’s nice that the 7th Dayers grant that humankind is given dominion over the world, and charged with responsibility to care for it. But absent the influence of basic science that contradicts everything about a recent six-day creation (insinuating perhaps 6-10,000 years ago) there is no method by which to achieve that end. And what does “dominion” mean if there is no capacity to apply knowledge of the theory of the evolution in fighting disease or researching a cure for cancer? All of science depends on a human level of understanding that far exceeds the simplistic contention that the Lord made “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”

Contradictions

That tells us much about belief, but nothing about reality. And indeed, that is how men like Dr. Ben Carson and even his opponent Donald Trump run their political campaigns. Positing the idea that they are political “outsiders,” and thus not subject to the corruption of Washington politics, they seem incapable of defining the reality of their proposals in anything but conjectural terms.

In Ben Carson’s case, that is because his faith tradition is literally conjectural. That is, it purposely pulls up short of engaging with reality, preferring instead to call on people to belief and act on a worldview that denies even basic facts of scientific truth. This is the same approach the Catholic Church long ago took in protest of discoveries by men such as Copernicus and Galileo. The church persecuted these men for exposing the world to a reality that contradicted a religious belief.

Anachronisms

Such is the case with Dr. Ben Carson, whose anachronistic babble seems to somehow to appeal to people similarly incapable of engaging with reality. In fact, they are proud of their delusions. It makes them “outsiders” in the sense that they take pride in defying convention.

But when convention holds the key to actual truth, and is demonstrably proven so by millions of the world’s best scientists, it is time to call “foul” when a political candidate proposes to impose his belief system on a nation as its President. Dr. Ben Carson is unqualified to be President because he is not in touch with even basic reality, much less complex political and social systems dependent on the naturalistic, scientific means for critical decision-making.

His brand of dominion is dangerous to the human mind and all else it touches. For these reasons, Dr. Ben Carson should put it to rest. It’s pretty clear from history and the science developed by humankind that God can handle reality, but many believers in God cannot. It’s long overdue that society aggressively challenges the supposed “innocence” of worldviews such as those espoused by 7th Day Adventists. America in particular can no longer afford to tolerate anachronisms that produce prejudice, discrimination, ignorance of science and its clear indications of reality, and resisting basic common sense. All such voices should and can be shouted down. Give them and audience under protection of free speech, and then nail them to the wall with patent reason. It’s not hard. We do not need to tolerate nonsensical brands of faith. There are plenty of sensible belief systems that don’t depend on a science of denial.

Dr. Ben Carson is one of many people in America that cannot handle reality. Give it a rest, Ben, on the 7th day. Or whatever. Just go away.

Why Ben Carson refuses to evolve his thinking

It’s a pretty sad time in modern politics when a candidate for the President of the United States such as Dr. Ben Carson can go on record stating that the theory of evolution is the product of the devil and people take him seriously.

From that launching point, how do we take anything the man says seriously? His constructs are obviously warped by a religious viewpoint with no room for actual scientific inquiry. We must simultaneously arrive at the fact that the man viewed the human brains on which he operated as only so much gobbledygook on which he operated. It was just patterns and bulges and arteries and veins to that man.

Carson clearly ignored all the science that points to the evolutionary development of the human brain, and all brains that came before it. To Dr. Ben Carson, the history of life on earth does not really matter, and he’s proud of that fact! In this video, he talks about how God knew that people would come along and try to explain the evolutionary origin of species and its dependence on millions of years of time.

But Ben Carson writes all that science stuff off with a wave of his hand.

This brand of talk is the explanation a third-grader might give when reading the Bible and the Book of Genesis. It leaves no room for growth in understanding, and Jesus would likely have been disgusted by Carson’s inability to understand the symbolic significance of the Seven Days of Creation and the archetypal characters of Adam and Eve.

After all, Jesus lectured his own disciples over their failure to grasp the meaning of his parables, which were metaphorical tales drawn from nature to explain spiritual principles. He castigated his closest followers for missing the point by taking his parables along with his call for the Kingdom of God on earth quite literally.

“Are you so dull?” Jesus challenged them?

Then he went on to warn them that they had better wise up or be left behind in the process. And yet here we are in 2015, dealing with exactly the same kind of dimwit disciples who turn everything they read in the bible into some sort of literal dogma we’re all supposed to follow, or go to hell. Because that’s what Dr. Ben Carson said: “Evolution is the product of the devil.”

That’s not just bad science. That’s an insult to God. Because it ignores everything Jesus teaches us about the fact that nature is a direct source of wisdom about God. Jesus said nothing at all about the process by which nature developed its diversity. At the very most, even the book of Genesis makes simple statements about “kinds” of animals, but does not go on to exhaustively list the thousands and thousands of species of living things on earth. There’s a reason for that. The Bible is not a science book. It was never intended to be. Yet Ben Carson thinks it is.

There are a million reasons why the Bible is not a science book. But for starters, the Bible did not even understand germ theory. Many of its recommendations about medicine and culture and lifestyle in the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are long since discredited by basic science we have learned about infections, viruses and the cause of all types of diseases.

And not coincidentally, all these branches of medicine depend on the theory of evolution to explain how germs and viruses develop. That’s how we fight disease these days. Evolution explains how germs mutate and produce even more dangerous forms of diseases by reacting and adapting to the treatments we apply.

Brainless

To throw all that out like a grade schooler discarding his or her Lego toys is the most irresponsible form of cultural ignorance. It is astounding a man like Dr. Ben Carson does not recognize that.

But apparently his simplified, simpleton reactions to compelling issues are quite satisfying to the 44% of the Christian world that claims to believe in creationism and all the denial of science that goes with it. They seem to be quite happy that we now have a numbskull brain surgeon bragging that he knows what God thinks about evolution, and why God doesn’t like it.

Organ of Species

Dr. Ben Carson has now announced that he is literally writing a book titled, “On the Organ of Species” which will supposedly counteract and destroy the brilliance of Charles Darwin’s original “On the Origin of Species.”

But what men like Ben Carson often fail to anticipate in their inelegant ripoffs of science is that Darwin did not arrive at his theory alone. Many great minds arrived at the same conclusion more than 100 years ago. In fact, as Darwin was preparing to publish his book, another biologist named Alfred Russell Wallace had arrived at much the same conclusions as Darwin.

Only Wallace still thought of evolution more in terms of intelligent design, contending that perhaps God made things work through an unseen hand. Actual materialistic science could not wait around for proof of such contentions, however. The material evidence for development of species through naturalistic causes was sufficient to explain everything that has ever occurred on earth. So evolution rolled on with its many discoveries, confirmed by the fossil record, by study of genetics, by advances in medicine, and by modifications in the theory based on every branch of science from physics to astronomy to climatology. It all fits together in a giant matrix of understanding. That’s why science works, and creationism doesn’t. Creationism is only a science of denial.

More than 150 years of science has accrued to confirm these naturalistic explanations for all living things, including humans. And while the theory of evolution is still challenged on many fronts by scientists, it still holds water in both practice and published works.

Science of denial

ben-carsonSo we must consider how and why a medical doctor such as Ben Carson concludes that the theory of evolution is, to his manner of thinking, “the work of the devil.”

It all goes back to the bad theology Carson uses to define his worldview. As Jesus strongly pointed out to his own disciples, there is far more to faith than blabbing simple stories and telling people to look at only the surface of things. Instead, we are challenged through all of scripture to seek God in all things. Certainly there is wisdom to be learned in the tale of the mustard seed, which grows from a tiny seed into a giant tree. We learn from that parable that great faith can come from even the tiniest kernel of belief.

But it’s a parable. It does not describe the workings of all seeds, nor the fact that some seeds start out large or that others depend on the elemental forces of fire or water to help them germinate.

So we should not discredit God by harboring cynicism toward deep mysteries simply because they exist. Yet that is exactly what Ben Carson is advocating, and that approach to thinking leads to a mental fascism toward all intellectualism.

Zealous tradition

As noted from the earliest forms of recorded history, it is a quite common phenomenon among religious zealots to target threats to their authority as being in league with the devil. Jesus tangled with the high priests of religion in his day because he challenged their authority on grounds that they had turned religion into law. It was their legalism (much like the politics and religion used by Dr. Ben Carson to speak about issues today) that ultimately forced Jesus to brand them all hypocrites and a “brood of vipers.”

Jesus gave them every chance to understand and accept his mission. Instead. they chose the political course of action and handed him over to Roman authorities to have him crucified because he disagreed with their theology.

Well, he also claimed to be the Son of God. So there was that. But he was right in the end. So the religious authorities were wrong, twice over.

Three strikes

CQVsQ1bUEAAecjr

Matthew 23:5-7 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

That why men such as Dr. Ben Carson are not to be trusted. He’s wrong about theology and he’s wrong about science. So what’s the third strike against him? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Carson may have once been a pediatric neurosurgeon, but that does not prove that he knows anything about the connection between religion and science. What it does prove is that he is adept at following the instructions he was given in medical school on how to operate on the human brain.

As such, Dr. Ben Carson exhibits characteristics of both sides of the authoritarian mind. He craves authority to dictate to others how to behave, while also following the dictates of his authoritarian brand of religion to control others in society. In these respects, he directly parallels the original religious zealots with whom Jesus conflicted.

This authoritarianism is the third strike against Ben Carson. It disqualifies all such people from holding public office because it indicates a patent intolerance that stands in direct conflict with the American enterprise, which is freedom of thought, religion and politics. Dr. Ben Carson is, to put it plainly, a closet fascist.

Not so bright after all

The problem with Dr. Ben Carson is one of deception. Americans love to credit people like brain surgeons with such brilliance. But if you hang out with any type of surgeons, over time you come to understand that their job is really no different than any other.

Their profession is one of highly regimented rehearsal and practice. Yes, they are cutting flesh, moving parts around and sewing things back up. But they do so in accordance with strictly developed medical practices that are not, for the most part, of their own invention. Innovation does emanate from some surgeons, but most are not free to mess around or experiment on their human or animal patients. In many respects, surgeons are simply high-functioning dogmatists and authoritarians. They get paid well if they do what they do well. If they do not do well, they get sued. Most of them eventually do get sued, because no one is perfect. In other words, they’re people just like the rest of us.

Breaking it down

In the long run, being a surgeon is mostly a product of learning body parts and following patterns while making decisions about how things are supposed to look, and have it all fit together. It helps if you have a steady hand and a good bit of spatial awareness, but even a good carpenter has that.

That’s perhaps why Dr. Ben Carson was so good at his job. His authoritarian nature made him good at following orders, while his desire to control others was expressed in the professional and personal desire to cut open the skulls of children for a living. When you break it down, how neatly it all fits together! It’s the most literal example of authoritarian thought control one could possibly imagine.

Now Dr. Ben Carson is depending on recruiting (and manipulating) childlike minds to follow his authoritarian example. It appears to be working rather well. It does help in the early phases of a campaign to have a bunch of childlike zealots on your side. But the more Dr. Ben Carson says in public, the more his internal conflicts are coming to the fore.

On the passive/aggressive attack

As a result of their dualistic authoritarian tendencies, men like Dr. Ben Carson adopt a passive/aggressive approach to life…that is designed to deflect all questions about their true selves. In keeping with that passive/aggressive nature, his external calm belies an inner rage that he confessed once controlled his every action. He even threatened his own mother with a hammer.

Now he claims to be a changed man from his days of early rage and violence, and perhaps credits most of this to his Christian faith. Yet he makes statements that aggressively expose his conflicted personality. Recently Carson stated that witnessing a body full of bullet wounds is not as devastating as losing your gun rights. Those are the words of a sociopath, and are proof that deep down inside, Ben Carson remains conflicted with his bold acceptance of violence and an authoritarian desire to control society.

Against the brains

IMG_3854Carson and his fans love to cry and whine that he is misunderstood by liberals, who are supposedly out to get him for his visionary take on American politics and problems. But the actual problem is the liberals understand all too well what Dr. Ben Carson represents. His is a brand of authoritarian anti-intellectualism. It is also a dogmatic worldview.

His religion, his politics and his conservatism all combine to make Dr. Ben Carson a dangerously activist zealot cloaked in a false cape of patriotism. He is a candidate who has forcefully stated that he would limit or eliminate rights guaranteed Americans by Constitution. He points his ire at all those who oppose him, contending that if elected president he would assemble censorship squads to limit liberal speech on college campuses. Surely he must categorize all such speech as a product of the devil as well.

So we must always be careful how much bad theology we tolerate when considering our political candidates. Dr. Ben Carson may be a brain surgeon by medical profession, but he is a simpleton by religious affiliation. As a result, he refuses to change or evolve his thinking on important issues that require far more nuance and consideration than he likes to apply in practice. For a former brain surgeon, the guy seems to have a few rocks in his head, and they are messing with his mind.

The only thing that isn’t fake

Somehow I stumbled on this propagandistic video about Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican candidate for President of the United States. I found the video stunningly obvious in its structure and production values. Then when I looked at the comments, they all seemed manufactured. And as you’ll see if you visit the comments section, I asked the people who commented if they were fake.

Turns out they’re real people. Sort of. Which surprised me a little. But the nature of their comments and the banal, surface level responses to the video still strike me as very fake. In other words, I have my suspicions whether these particular self-described  “millennials” are “real” in the sense that they are not paid for their comments on the video.

Listen, public relations in the video age is a highly crafted art designed to sway public opinion. But the one thing that isn’t fake in this video is how patently disconnected from reality Dr. Ben Carson truly seems. Now understand, I voted for Barack Obama twice, and I am proud of both of those votes. So this is not some hidden racial meme or dog whistle call to sink the lone black candidate on the Republican side.

Personally I’d love to see a conservative black candidate succeed. If someone in America can proceed with an agenda that delivers on ways to acknowledge and value the contributions of black Americans to society, I’m all for it.

Basic coherence

But Ben Carson is not the guy I’d like to see running our country. That’s a disturbing thought. His inability to proceed on any subject with consistency or even basic coherence is a problem. His mental health has even been raised as an issue.

Right away, Internet resistance was raised against the idea of calling Dr. Ben Carson mentally ill. This was one of the points of contention: “There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that rises to the level of evidence of a diagnosable behavioral pathology cited by Palmer. And yet, the piece plays into the all too readily accepted narrative that any person with whom we disagree on a vitally important issue must be a flawed, damaged, and ethically compromised human being.”

Get help

Here’s the difficult part in all this. For people experiencing the effects of mental illness, the most important thing anyone can do is to help them get help.

Many years ago a friend and runner from another community near my hometown was experiencing the first stages of a mental illness that would come to dominate his life. He showed up at our school with a bag of bread and tracked me down in the hallway. “I’m feeding the foxes on the bridge,” he told me. The foxes on the bridge were made of bronze.

Later this fellow went on to become an individual All-American runner. But he did so by engaging in some extreme behavior, training up to 250 miles per week as preparation for racing just 5 miles in cross country competitions. One could make a compelling observation that to this young man, the only thing that didn’t seem fake in his world was his running. Because after college his mental illness took on a different form, making it difficult for him to function in work and other activities. He did get help but as his mental illness progressed, even medications could not harness some of the delusional qualities manufactured by his brain. But the fact that he got help was the most important aspect of his particular journey. Without that, he likely could have harmed himself or others.

Because I had another running friend that tried to take his own life. And we all know that with accessibility to guns, people in that mental condition can certainly harm others.

And so can politicians whose mental state gravitates to extremes.

Loving the extremes

I think there’s a compelling case to make that for some people, politics is both their sport and their passion. And just like my friend with mental illness who ran 250 miles a week just to compete in a five-mile race, there are people with a propensity to go to extremes in an effort to make their point, and create a reality in which they feel more alive.

In fact I’ll argue there are many people in politics who think their extreme views are the only thing that feels real in this world. That’s how we’ve gotten the long list of extremists running for the Republican nomination. And there’s little doubt that on some days, men like Donald Trump talk and act a little insane.

We also know there have been plenty of zealous religious believers whose obsession with the end of the world has led to manic predictions and even death rituals. Entire cultures get caught up in these visions, as much of the world did with the y2K obsession.

Making it real

scary-romney_debate_angryThere are high-level officials here in America whose obsession with a Zionist vision of Israel have made them hunger for war in the Middle East, and Armageddon, which might bring on the apocalypse. So there is both inherent and operative insanity at work in this world.

Sometimes, and to some people, the only thing that isn’t fake is either that reality is out to get them or there is an opportunity through politics to create a reality that suits their particular brand of economic or cultural prejudice. That explains the KKK, the Third Reich and the threat we call ISIS in a nutshell. These are people pissed off to the point of world domination. And they’re everywhere.

Haters and baiters

We see people who hate the rich and we find people who despise the poor. We see people who fear for the climate because of human activity and we see people who think that no one but God can alter a single thing about the world.

It’s the longtime struggle between the willingness to change and the fear that change will ruin everything. The very state of the human condition is one of madness in dealing with his dichotomy. When people say things like, “The world has gotten crazy,” this is what they’re talking about.

And when we selectively view politicians such as Dr. Ben Carson or Bernie Sanders, we see them through very different eyes as a result. Both are obviously passionate people. Both are struggling to change the status quo. There are people who call both of them crazy. And there are people who take the bait.

Hard-liners

Businessman Matt Bevin Challenges Senate Minority Leader McConnell In Primary ElectionExtremism is a byproduct of trying to make sense of this dichotomy. People simply choose sides and gravitate to the far ends of the spectrum. Standing somewhere between the will to change and fear of change is known as being a moderate. But those voices can barely be heard over the screams of the extremes.

Perhaps more commonly, people choose candidates who represent their views or fears, and somehow Dr. Ben Carson has attracted a fair number of followers. But what creeps me out about the guy is not his potential mental illness. It is crazy ideological statements such as this: “No body with bullet holes is more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.” And granted, that might be some form of hyperbole. Even Jesus Christ was known to exaggerate to make a point. But there’s no way Jesus Christ would equate the right to bear arms as more important than human life. So I think Ben Carson is the one that’s talking crazy talk.

And statements like those are why Ben Carson deserves to be scrutinized from every perspective possible. Because they evidence that fact that when it comes to issues of moral gravity, Ben Carson is either a fake, or he’s purposely faking it. Which is even more disturbing. Because what is his true agenda? No one can really know for sure when the “real” statements he makes cannot be separated from the supposedly playful manner in which Carson takes issue with serious social issues.

Fox News “reality” show

Consider that even in the cloistered environment of Fox News, where conservative viewpoints like Carson’s are cherished and promoted, things get strange when talking about standing your ground during a mass shooting or running away.

As reported on Salon.com: “On “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, he (Carson) said that “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’” When asked about the remarks by ABC News later that day, he repeated his assertion with a smile, which Kelly said many people would take as an evidence of callousness. (italics by the author)

Carson disagreed, saying that “I was laughing at them, at their silliness. Of course if everybody attacks that gunman, he’s not going to be able to kill everybody.”

Actual military veterans who were armed and on the campus while the shooting occurred didn’t abide by the dictates of Carson’s assured tactical acumen, but that’s beside his point. “If you sit there and let him shoot you one-by-one,” Carson said, “you’re all going to be dead.”

This is a man operating in an imaginary world, where his ideology rules the day, and reality be damned. That’s why people are questioning his mental fitness. It’s not because he’s a conservative. Or he’s black. Or any other reason. He simply refuses to make sense.

“Getting” Carson and Cain

Some claim that he’s so smart the rest of the world doesn’t “get” Ben Carson..because he’s a brain surgeon, you know. And a Christian, apparently. And who knows what else?

Well, the Republican Party keeps trotting out ostensibly conservative black guys as evidence they “get” the needs of so-called minorities.

Herman Cain was the last iteration of this brand of conservative, running on grounds that people did not “get” his message. But he had other axes to grind as well. “I honestly believe that there’s an element in this country, in our politics, that does not want to see a businessman succeed at getting the nomination for the Republican party, and does not want me to succeed at becoming President of the United States of America.”

Well, now that’s a bit of news isn’t it? How many millionaires do we now have in Congress? And why does Wall Street throw millions of dollars behind candidates like Mitt Romney, the businessman and massively callous job-killer whose main professional accomplishments were delivering profits to shareholders? Or Donald Trump, an erstwhile businessman who now leads Republican polling?

But Cain was delusionally obsessed with his inability to convince people he was right. So he blamed others.

Blame and shame

john-boehner2-1024x780Again, the methods of extremists are always to blame others for their failure to get elected, or to govern. Right now the brother of the former President of the United States of America, candidate Jeb Bush, is busy denying that his brother GWB bore any responsibility for preventing the attacks.

This is mental illness as a political ideology. This is imagined reality superimposed on reality. This is why extremists and political ideologues such as Dick Cheney and perhaps Dr. Ben Carson cannot be trusted. They made not be mentally ill, but they certainly act like it. And that’s the only thing about them that isn’t fake.