Update: Ben Carson’s Fake Apology


“What really saddens me is that my poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology. Hurting others is diametrically opposed to who I am and what I believe. There are many lessons to be learned when venturing into the political world and this is one I will not forget. Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point. I hope all will look at a lifetime of service over some poorly chosen words.”

Ben Carson

Bush, CarsonPerhaps it adds some clarity to an earlier consideration: It didn’t really mean anything.

Dr. Benjamin Carson has offered an apology for having reiterated a twenty-year stale talking point about homosexuals, child molesters, and cross-species rapists, but it is nonetheless a strange apology:

Step One: The pseudo apology: Last Friday, Carson told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell he was sorry “if anybody was offended” by his anti-gay comments. No one seemed especially impressed by the quintessential non-apology apology.

Step Two: Lashing out at critics: When the criticism continued, Carson appeared on a right-wing radio show to blame his detractors, insisting that white liberals are “the most racist people there are.” He added that his critics are outraged because he dared to “come off the plantation.”

Step Three: Contrition: Dr. Paul Rothman, the dean of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins and the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, where Carson has been a celebrated colleague, condemned Carson’s “hurtful, offensive language” that was “inconsistent with the culture of our institution.” Immediately thereafter, Carson published an apology to “the Hopkins Community.”

If nothing else, it (ahem!) colors the context of Carson’s “plantation” remark.

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The Ben Carson Phenomenon


“You know, they put you in a little category, a little box—you have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?”

Ben Carson

Perhaps insensate equivocation is the sort of unfortunate outcome one should expect from a collective that views itself more as a marketplace than a community, but rising conservative star Dr. Ben Carson offers the latest reminder of obvious differences:

Dr. Ben Carson and President George W. Bush, 2008.Dr. Ben Carson, a black Johns Hopkins University neurosurgeon and conservative favorite after challenging President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, said Monday on “The Mark Levin Show” that white liberals are “racist.”

“And you’re attacked in many respects because of your race. You’re not supposed to think like this, and supposed to talk like this. A lot of white liberals just don’t like it, do they?” said Levin, host of the syndicated radio show.

“Well, they’re the most racist people there are. You know, they put you in a little category, a little box—you have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?” responded Carson.

Let us start with the obvious: What does that even mean?

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Ramirez, Lowry, Alito: The Speed Bump Trio


Michael Ramirez* on last week’s marriage equality arguments before the Supreme Court:
Shotgun Wedding
I suppose the shotgun wedding is an obvious punch line; it has percolated for a few days.

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Ignorance of History


“Does the House Report say that? Of course, the House Report says that.”

Paul Clement

Chief Justice John RobertsThere really is no point in gloating, fretting, or prognosticating about what we’ve heard from the Supreme Court this week. Indeed, even Justice Scalia—the Great Grumpus Cat of the Supreme Court—can still surprise, and when weighing his homophobia in a tax fight, it’s hard to figure which way he’ll go.

Still, though, Chief Justice John Roberts provided an interesting, tangential branch in the discussion that some have noted.

Ryan Grim summarizes, for Huffington Post:

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday reacted incredulously to the notion that members of the Senate or the U.S. president may have been motivated to pass the Defense of Marriage Act by animus or moral objection to gay and lesbian couples. It was a window into his apparent belief that the U.S. is simply not a place burdened by such things as bigotry or racism.

When I read about Roberts’ remarks, I thought of a conservative associate who has a similar argumentative style; it is almost as if history doesn’t exist. It is a problem in our public discourse. Two people who are reasonably educated about history can have a thoughtful discussion about historical issues; it’s not the same, though, if one has to spend the whole time reminding the other of what is actually in the historical record. Obviously, the Chief Justice isn’t the only one; listen to how many educated pundits and analysts can’t seem to think back to recent history.

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A New View of Austerity?


When it comes to things that bear repeating, thankfully there are bloggers to do the job. After all, if the point doesn’t communicate the first few times, only saturation will suffice. What? Okay, not exactly, but still, there are some things that shouldn’t require such repetition. To wit, Steve Benen:

When a nation tries to recover from an economic downturn, there are a variety of things policymakers have no control over. After the Great Recessions, for example, neither the White House nor Congress could control the Eurozone crisis, a natural disaster in Japan, or unrest in the Middle East.

It’s an unpredictable world with inter-connected economies and volatility often lurking just out of sight. But this realizations only reinforces a lesson congressional Republicans have forgotten: U.S. policymakers should, at a minimum, not make matters worse.

Consider, for example, what unemployment would be if government weren’t trying to create jobs and lay off public-sector workers at the same time.

He’s actually pointing to Phil Izzo’s blog post for The Wall Street Journal, which makes a point that ought to be familiar to all by now:

Federal, state and local governments have shed nearly 750,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department‘s establishment survey of employers. No other sector comes close to those job losses over the same period. Construction is in second worst place, but its 225,000 cuts are less than a third of the government reductions. To be sure, construction and other sectors performed worse during the depths of the recession, but no area has had a worse recovery.

A separate tally of job losses looks even worse. According to the household survey, which is where the unemployment rate comes from, there are nearly 950,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were when the recovery started in mid-2009. If none of those people were counted as unemployed, the jobless rate would be 7.1%, compared with the 7.7% rate reported on Friday.

What’s that? Well, it’s one of those weird issues that stays in the background no matter how important it actually is, regardless of how often it is actually thrust into the spotlight.

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Some things bear repeating


House Majority Leader Eric CantorSometimes a notion bears repeating.

For instance, Steve Benen, last week:

We don’t have a spending problem. We don’t have a spending problem. We don’t have a spending problem. We don’t have a spending problem.

While Mr. Benen was responding to a quote from Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)—”And, you know, we’ve got a spending problem. Everybody knows it.”—on Meet the Press, the sentiment that the United States suffers from a “spending problem” is not exclusive to the House Majority Leader. You can find it throughout the Republican Party, and nearly everywhere you turn Beltway media punditry. But one can just as easily argue that we have a revenue problem, as in, not enough revenue. After all, one of the questions that confounds my conservative neighbors is what they think would happen if we destroy education funding, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, regulations for labor, food, and drug safety, and other programs that arguably work to augment the quality of life in the United States.

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Today in Talking Points


Tom Tomorrow, ca. 1997It’s almost like connect the dots. Of course, that’s why they’re called “talking points”:

  • Politico covers the latest conservative argument, that wealth and conscience don’t mix.
  • Steve Benen explains the obvious about that argument.
  • And Tom Tomorrow dusts fourteen years off an old cartoon, for obvious reasons.
  • Meanwhile, Rob Goodman hopes to intellectually validate equal criticism against all political players, the feelgood fallacy also known as “both sides do it”.
  • And why not get some election coverage from Karl Frisch, a Democratic strategist trying to explain what’s wrong with Republicans.
  • If that doesn’t do it for you, try the latest Obama-hates-Christians “war on Christmas” lament. (At least it’s not as mortifying as Rush Limbaugh’s astonishing defense of the Lord’s Resistance Army.)

Or, it’s just another day in the life. Something about decadence. Something about the fall of Rome. Something about what we do with what we are given.

    Let me say this is as clearly and as simply as I can: Republicans did not overreach. What they did is who they are. It is what they stand for. It is what they campaign on.

    To claim otherwise would be like saying fish live under water because they suffer from unquenchable thirst.

    Karl Frisch