Here's What Ben Carson Means When He Talks About Political Correctness

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 12:25 PM EDT

Here is Ben Carson on Wednesday:

At a campaign event in New Hampshire, Carson noted that many people believe a situation like what took place in Germany in the 1930's and 1940's could never happen in America. "I beg to differ," Carson said. "If you go back and look at the history of the world, tyranny and despotism and how it starts, it has a lot to do with control of thought and control of speech."

At a press conference after the speech, reporters asked Carson who he thinks is like Adolf Hitler in the U.S. "I'm not going to go into that that. I think that example is pretty clear," he responded, without elaborating.

Carson hastened to add that he wasn't referring to Barack Obama. No siree. Someone else. But not Obama. Wink wink nudge nudge.

In any case, this provides a good opportunity to highlight Carson's views on political correctness. When Donald Trump talks about it, he's using it in the usual throwaway sense we're all familiar with. He wants to be able to talk about immigrants being rapists or women being shrill and ugly without everyone getting on his case. Others have in mind trigger warnings and other campus fads. But when Ben Carson talks about it, he means much, much more. It is the core of his worldview, so it's worth understanding what he means by it. Here is Amy Davidson:

In his most recent book, “One America,” he writes that agents working against this country’s greatness include the political-correctness police, who use “faux hypersensitivity” to take power away from the majority of Americans....Political correctness, Carson says, is used to keep conservatives from invoking slavery or Nazism, both of which he cites freely. (“Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery”; “We live in a Gestapo age.”)

He wonders if Obama will cause the elections to be cancelled: “He’s sitting there saying, ‘These Americans are so stupid I can tell them anything.’ ” Trump, the businessman, tells Americans how the financial system is rigged against them. Carson, the brain surgeon, tells them how they are being denied knowledge.

This explains why, at the New Hampshire event, he's talking about "control of thought and control of speech" for seemingly no reason. In fact, Carson believes that liberals are deliberately making it impossible for conservatives to talk about the truly important issues that are destroying America. Keeping everyone cowed and silent is the first step to tyranny, which is why he thinks incipient Hitlerism is something to be taken seriously. Here he is explaining this view last year, before he was running for president:

Political correctness is antithetical to our founding principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Its most powerful tool is intimidation. If it is not vigorously opposed, its proponents win by default, because the victims adopt a “go along to get along” attitude. Major allies in the imposition of PC are members of the media, some of whom thrive on controversy and others who are true ideologues.

....The American people must learn to identify and ignore political correctness if we are to escape the bitter ideological grenades that are destroying our unity and strength. Political correctness is impotent if we the people are fearless. Let us emphasize intelligent discussion of issues and leave the smear campaigns to those with no constructive ideas.

Carson talks incessantly about political correctness, and he's been doing it for a long time. It is, he believes, the method by which the populace is kept too intimidated to object when liberal policies lead to moral decay and the eventual downfall of the country. You will hear him talk all the time about not being afraid to speak up, and when he does it's more than just a normal political stemwinder urging people to get involved and vote. He believes that political correctness today is the equivalent of brownshirt terrorism in 1933, and he believes that this is what brought Hitler to power in Germany. Whenever you hear Carson talk about either "political correctness" or "mind control," this is what it means to him.

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Vatican: Pope Francis Barely Knew Who Kim Davis Was When He Met Her

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 11:11 AM EDT

I don't really care all that much about whether Pope Francis met with Kim Davis, but my sister is fascinated by the whole story. So this is for her. Earlier today, the Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that Davis was basically part of an hour-long press-the-flesh session and Francis barely even knew who she was:

“Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City,” Father Lombardi said.

He added: “Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.”

....At the Vatican on Friday, a spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, said the invitation had been extended by the office of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the nuncio, or envoy, in Washington, not from Rome....Father Rosica said of the controversy: “I would simply say: Her case is a very complex case. It’s got all kinds of intricacies. Was there an opportunity to brief the pope on this beforehand? I don’t think so. A list is given — these are the people you are going to meet.

As usual with the Catholic Church, previous popes continue to have long arms even after they die or retire. It turns out that the papal nuncio, a culturally conservative guy who's loyal to the former Benedict XVI, decided to invite Davis. The current pope apparently had no idea this would happen and may not have even known who she was. Basically, Davis was ushered in for her 60 seconds with the pope, who blessed her, gave her a rosary, and then moved along to the next person in line. It would be wise not to read too much into this.

Here Are the NRA's Tweets Since the Oregon Shooting

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 10:54 AM EDT

On Thursday morning, a gunman opened fire inside a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, killing 10 people and injuring 7 others. The massacre is the latest mass shooting to take place in the United States—and the 45th school shooting in 2015 alone, according to the gun safety coalition Everytown.

A visibly frustrated President Barack Obama noted hours after the rampage that Americans have come to view mass shootings as a "routine" experience—with news of senseless killings taking place only months, and sometimes days, apart. He exclaimed in frustration, "It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun." As for the biggest foe of gun control, the National Rifle Association, here's how it reacted to the tragedy via its Twitter feed…Actually, it did not react. The NRA's usually active Twitter feed was silent. Nada. Not a peep. No condolences to the families of those killed or any statement of concern for those injured.

But the NRA has recently been busy tweeting about other gun matters.

Note the time stamps. Its tweets on Thursday halted around the time that news of the shooting emerged. This has become S.O.P. for the gun industry-backed group. When gun massacres occur, it tends to duck and cover—and wait for the expressions of outrage and calls for gun control to pass. Then it's back to the business of opposing any efforts to enact new gun safety measures.

Update, 12:52 p.m. EST: After more than a day of silence, the NRA finally weighed in on Twitter with information about a kid's gun program.

Chart of the Day: Net New Jobs in September

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 10:51 AM EDT

The American economy added 142,000 new jobs last month, 90,000 of which were needed to keep up with population growth. This means that net job growth clocked in at a lackluster 52,000 jobs. The July and August numbers were revised downward by 59,000 jobs. The headline unemployment rate stayed steady at 5.1 percent, partly because the number of unemployed workers was down, but partly because half a million people dropped out of the labor force. Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees were flat, though weekly earnings were down at an annualized rate of 3.6 percent.

This is a pretty weak report. It's not a disaster, but it suggests just how fragile the economy remains. A stronger dollar and weakness in China are likely taking a toll. We keep waiting for liftoff, but it never seems to come. We continue to dog paddle along.

Vatican Clarifies Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis: "Should Not Be Considered Support"

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 9:58 AM EDT

On Friday, the Vatican sought to provide a few more details concerning Pope Francis' meeting last week with Kim Davis, the defiant Kentucky clerk who was jailed for her refusal to issue gay marriage licenses in Rowan County.

"The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," official Vatican spokesman the Reverand Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

The clarification follows a wave of controversy this week after Kim Davis revealed she had a private meeting with the pope during his historic visit to Washington, and claimed Francis gave her and her husband rosaries and told her to "stay strong."

"Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we're doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything," Davis said in an interview with ABC.

Days of speculation followed over whether the meeting in fact occurred, and if so, whether it put into question how truly progressive some believed the pope was. Some on social media professed to be shocked that the leader of the Catholic Church might endorse the politics of Davis and not support same-sex marriage, despite the church's clear stance opposing the issue. 

Eventually the Vatican confirmed the encounter, but with scant detail. Friday's statement appeared to downplay the importance of their meeting.

"Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City," Lombardi said.

This Chart Shows How the "Unequal States of America" Compares to the World

| Fri Oct. 2, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

A new report finds that the state of economic inequality in the United States is far more drastic than in other developed countries. The report, published by the German financial services company Allianz, even dubs us the "Unequal States of America."

The company's latest Global Wealth Report calculates 55 countries' Gini coefficient, a measure of the distribution of wealth in which zero means total equality and 100 means total inequality. The average for all developed countries is 65. The United States' score is nearly 81.

Allianz/Global Wealth Report 2015

Michael Heise, the chief economist at Allianz, described the situation in the United States as "worrying." "Our calculations indicate that developments have not been quite as dramatic in the other countries," he said. "As usual, the US represents more the exception than the rule among market economies." The report's authors note the country's lackluster recovery from the financial crisis has "caused a dramatic deterioration in wealth distribution." While the United States amassed nearly 42 percent of the world's private wealth in 2014 ($63.5 trillion), the top 10 percent of Americans control more than two-thirds of the country's net wealth.

The United States leads the pack, but it's not alone. Much of the world's developed nations saw "exceptionally large gaps" in the wealth gulf between the rich and the poor during since 2000, according to the report. Over the past decade and a half, it found, the number of countries that closed their wealth gaps was roughly the same as the number that grew more unequal.

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Here's Why I Doubt That Hillary Clinton Used a Private Email Server to Evade FOIA Requests

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 9:49 PM EDT

Thanks to the endless release of her emails, we've learned something about Hillary Clinton that hasn't gotten much attention: As near as I can tell, she's sort of a technology idiot. She asked her aides for information that she could have Googled in less time than it took to ask. She needed help figuring out how to use an iPad. She didn't know her own office phone number. She used a BlackBerry. She had trouble operating a fax machine. She was unclear about needing a WiFi connection to access the internet.

In other words, when Fox News reporter Ed Henry asked whether Clinton's email server had been wiped, and she answered, "What, like with a cloth or something?"—well, that might not have been the sarcastic response we all thought it was. She might truly have had no idea what he meant.

As for setting up a private server with just a single account in order to evade FOIA requests, it looks as though she's genuinely not tech savvy enough to have cooked up something like that. She probably really did just think it sounded convenient, and nobody stepped in to disabuse her of this notion.

So what was the deal with FOIA? I don't know, and I suspect we'll never know. But I'll say this: there were obviously people at State who knew that Hillary used a private server for email. The folks who respond to FOIA requests are responsible for figuring out where documents might be, and in this case it was just a matter of asking. Apparently they didn't, which is hardly Hillary's fault. The alternative is that they did ask, and Hillary's staff flat-out lied to them and said that she never used email. You can decide for yourself which sounds more plausible.

POSTSCRIPT: After writing this, I decided to do some Googling myself to check a few things. And it turns out that I'm not, in fact, the first to notice Hillary's technology foibles. Just a few weeks ago, Seth Meyers did a whole late-night bit about this.

Angry Obama Blasts Congress for Failing America on Guns

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 6:59 PM EDT

At a press conference Thursday, President Barack Obama was visibly frustrated with a lack of action from Congress to prevent mass shootings like the one that happened today at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

"It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun," Obama said.

He recalled an interview in which he said that America is the only country on Earth that sees these kinds of mass shootings regularly. Hours later, there were reports of a shooting at a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater.

He continued: "We spend over $1 trillion on preventing terrorism…yet we have a Congress that prevents us from even collecting data on how to reduce gun deaths."

Alabama Just Made It Even Harder for Black People to Vote

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 6:38 PM EDT

In Alabama, you need a driver's license or other form of photo ID to vote. But getting that ID just got a lot harder, especially in the state's majority-black counties.

Due to budget cuts, Alabama is closing 31 satellite DMVs across the state. The biggest impact will be in rural, largely black counties that voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald put it this way:

Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. That's Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery, according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office. Alabama, thanks to its budgetary insanity and inanity, just opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them. All but Dallas and Montgomery will be closed.

Closed. In a state in which driver licenses or special photo IDs are a requirement for voting…

Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one.

Archibald predicted the move would invite a Justice Department investigation, as did his fellow columnist, Kyle Whitmire:

But put these two things together—Voter ID and 29 counties without a place where you can get one—and Voter ID becomes what the Democrats always said it was.

A civil rights lawsuit isn't a probability. It's a certainty.

Oregon Sheriff Handling Massacre Fought the White House on Gun Control After Newtown

| Thu Oct. 1, 2015 6:33 PM EDT

As the sheriff in Douglas County, Oregon, John Hanlin was front and center following Thursday's shooting at Umpqua Community College, which left 10 dead and 7 others wounded.

Two years ago, Hanlin was one of hundreds of sheriffs around the country to vow to stand against new gun control legislation. In a January 15, 2013, letter to Vice President Joe Biden, he wrote, "Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings."

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