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  • rickard

    I should be going down to the shop to begin the awful task of cleanup. But each morning, my wife and I start the day with a cup of coffee in bed, listening to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe.” Start the day with a bit of comedy posing as news.

    But this morning, Scarborough and the MSNBC young homosexual communist league team were in an aplopeptic frenzy over Dr. Ben Carson. They were SHOUTING with delight that Dr. Carson had been “proven a liar” multiple times from claims made in his biography that couldn’t be proven.

    In the first place, it’s his biography, and the claims he make in it stand as the claims. He is never on the hook to PROVE them. But it is certainly fair game for the media to DISPROVE them and that would of course be somewhat damaging to his case in seeking the Presidency. The problem with the lesser lights of journalism is they can’t tell shit from shinola, but are blissfully unaware of their ignorance on a wide front.

    Failing to find corroboration is not disproof. That the press cannot find anyone to support Carson’s stories falls woefully short of disproving them. It simply marks the incompetence of our current class of journalists. But as many of the events happened half a century ago, they can be forgiven for failing to find corroborative evidence. What can’t be forgiven is that they then translate that for “us dummies in TV land” to “disproving” the statement. That they then violeently REcast that as “Ben Carson – Liar Liar Pants on Fire” is comic noire but more importantly – really quite vicious.

    Far worse is their general unawareness of very basic facts on which they purport to report. The most comic is the “full scholarship to West Point Military Academy.”

    The premise starts with misquoting what Carson said from the get go. In Carson’s book “Gifted Hands,” the 1990 autobiography that made Carson famous and inspired a TV special by the same name in which Cuba Gooding Jr. played the doctor, he said that he was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who was then the chief of staff of the Army and a recent commander of U.S. military operations in Vietnam. The meeting, the book said, was followed by Carson being offered a full scholarship to West Point.

    This is a pretty believable if very general claim. I am vaguely familiar with this process. My brother-in-law received and appointment to West Point and my step-daughter received one to the Naval Academy. On graduation, she married one of her classmates who had received a service appointment.

    First, the Military academies don’t really have scholarships, while at the same time, every appointment IS a full scholarship. Not only is there no tuition or fees, but at some point they actually get a monthly stipend from the government for attending. But to make it rational for the unwashed public, the military often DOES refer to it as a “full scholarship” to make it clear to prospects that they get a full ride.

    Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to POLITICO. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet dinner. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”
    “He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”

    I think Dr. Carson can be forgiven for not being more specific about a line of study he had no intention of pursuing. But there is no “application” in the sense that Joe Scarborough would recognize. There probably is an application form in there somewhere, but it has really nothing to do with going to West Point.

    You must be nominated for appointment. This is usually done by your Senator or Congressman who each get a certain number of “nomination” slots each year. Applying to them varies from one congressman to another. I actually helped Sara write her letter of application and of course broadly make the claim that is what got her selected from 300 applicants to that Congressman’s office. That may be true or it may have been something else. But the family lore is that it was the letter that did it and indeed the Congressman referenced the application letter when making the nomination. I can’t PROVE it was the letter. Nor can I disprove it. But it’s part of the family story.

    But she DID get in. I did help her with the letter. And as you all know, I can scribe an awkward line passably well.

    And that’s kind of the case here with Dr. Carson. He wasn’t going anyway, but did mention it was offered to him. As it so happens, there are actually a LOT of nominations that have nothing to do with Congressmen and Senators. They are service related. Here from West Point:

    “Army Junior and Senior ROTC Programs and Honor ROTC Units of Other Services
    Applicants currently enrolled in an Army Junior or Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program or an ROTC program from another branch of service that has been designated as an Honor Unit with Distinction are eligible for a nomination in this category. A request for a ROTC Nomination should be made through your Professor of Military Science or Senior Instructor who must fill out and submit a Request for ROTC Nomination (Form 5-497) to the Director of Admissions, U.S. Military Academy.”

    As an honor student and top ROTC guy in Detroit, in a “dinner with General Westmoreland” which no doubt would be some sort of banquet with all of the ROTC, not likely a private dinner, it is entirely feasible that General Westmoreland would mention that with his grades and ROTC record he could have a full ride to West Point. He’s in the ROTC going to school. He’s introduced as having done well. It’s exactly the sort of thing a General would say in that situation.

    The media is quick to point out that General Westmoreland is not able to make nominations to West Point. This is a child-mind understanding of the entire military world. Given his stature within the Army at that time, anyone Westmoreland would even hint should be considered for West Point, an appointment slot on the Service side nominations would be found instantly. He could literally put anyone in West Point he wanted with a waive of his hand, and indeed, unlike a Senator, he could literally put as many as he liked. He could have “appointed” the entire Detroit ROTC into West Point had he wanted, and let me assure you, he could have made it stick even if it turned out one of them was actually a cow accidentally admitted to the ROTC class as a mascot. The cow would find itself grazing on West Point grass before anyone in the United States Army had questioned the “appointment” by Westmoreland. He VERY MUCH had the ability to promise an ROTC member a slot. It is simply without question.

    Had he done so, no doubt Carson would have had to follow the usual process through his chain of command at Detroit ROTC, and a very proper Request for ROTC Nomination Form 5-497 be filled out – in triplicate actually. That’s how it works guys. But it would have all been formality. No one in the chain of command is going to trump General Westmoreland’s vaguest wishes on this matter. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army. The Army is not a democracy. I don’t think there is any cognizance of how bizarre this sounds. He can put you OUT of the Army. He can put you INTO the Army. He can put anyone and everyone he wants to into West Point. Picture power of life and death over all matters Army wide.

    It didn’t matter. Carson had no desire to got to West Point and didn’t pursue it. But it is no stretch to imply that that door was open to him. If Westmoreland hinted at it, it was an offer for a full scholarship to West Point. I’m sorry. You can parse it till Christmas, it just was. It was in Ben Carson’s mind. And it was in mine. And I think Westmoreland would be affronted to any suggestion that it was not or that he couldn’t make good on it as he pleased.

    But this morning, Joe Scarborough is SCREAMING that Ben Carson was LYING about it. And the young communist gay league is in plainchant Gregorian chant in the background. This is a typical example of the media NOT KNOWING and not knowing that they DON’T KNOW. They screech in delight and below with rage about things they know nothing of.

    In the case of Scarborough, this is unforgivable. He WAS a Congressman and made nominations himself. Of course, in reality he delegated all that and really DOES know nothing about it – much less the topic of Service nominations.

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    The other “gotchas” where the press has empirically “disproven” without a shadow of a doubt something from Carson’s biography are equally lame and uninformed. He was held up at gunpoint in a Popeye’s. “He’s a vegetarian” they squeal with glee. “He COULDN’T have been in a Popeye’s Chicken.” What? What about the red beans and rice? Or the potatoe wedgies? Have they ever BEEN to a Popeye’s Chicken? They are entirely unaware of fried pickles? And really, what difference does it make. So he’s a vegetarian. He said he was in a Popeye’s Chicken. If he was he was. Vegetarian or no. Yet I suppose since the media cannot find a single soul who was in the Popeyes that day that can corroborate the story, it must be a barefaced LIE?????? This is crazy talk. A police report? Kind of depends on whether or not he reported it to the police and played victim TWICE in the same evening.

    The entire thing comprises a BLATANT witch hunt of the most scurrilous most depraved sort and fully and graphically illustrates what I was saying in the previous post. And of course, it gets Carson MORE exposure in the press. In the week prior to this imbroglio, he reports over a MILLION dollars in small donations. In the week where this broke out, it reportedly jumps to $3.5 MILLION.

    The press alludes to this coming from the Carson “base”. Carson has no base. He was a complete unknown. He had no organization and no “base” of supporters prior to this election beyond a tiny group of those wanting to “draft” him. This is the American people choosing to X the box next to NOT NEWS MEDIA.

    Carson wrote a book with a lot of little “sketches” and barely remembered family anecdotes to illustrate his path through life and how he became what he became. He’s FULLY entitled to that. And finding lies and misrepresentations in it is a serious accusation that should CERTAINLY be accompanied by fully disclosed POSITIVE PROOF not anecdotal evidence, it only makes sense nonsense, and generalization over West Point practices they clearly know nothing about.

    Yes, I was robbed at gunpoint. Yes, it had an impact on me. No, I not only don’t remember the DAY but I can’t remember the YEAR it occurred in and I am just barely able to put it into a decade. But it happened. It mattered. It helped form my views. And as part of my own personal experience it’s perfectly acceptable for me to mention it, and I have no need to PROVE it to anyone. They can DISPROVE it if they can. But if they can’t prove it either way, they really have nothing to talk about.

    The encouraging thing is that the media is clearly overplaying their hand while unaware of it. And the American viewership is not at all confused. I would say that at this point, those who really do HAVE a political axe to grind, and would prefer Carson just go away, are increasingly uncomfortable with how this is shaping up. The most avid liberal Democrat partisan, is likely to distance themselves from this conversation as quickly and quietly as they can.

    Me? I revel in Morning Joe’s feigned rage. He might as well pour gasoline over his head and waive a bic lighter around the set. With no awareness, he is confessing his lack of qualifications to be elected “TV Talking Head” much less “journalist.” But I do admit some embarrassment on his behalf.

    Broadly, you don’t DISPROVE something by explaining why it couldn’t work that way, unless perhaps you know SOMETHING about how it works.

    Quoting sources who don’t have any record of that, when it would be unlikely they WOULD have a record of that, proves that you are an imbecilic failure as an investigative reporter. Nothing more.

    Finding people who don’t recall that, doesn’t disprove anything. Most of us don’t recall things that were unimportant to US, while it may have had a lasting effect on Ben Carson.


    Proving that Ben Carson lied about his offer of a full scholarship would look something like:

    1. Quoting a close friend of Ben Carson’s who was sitting next to him at the dinner and claims Westmoreland, rather than offering a scholarship, actually suggested that Carson might consider a career at sea.

    2. An ROTC member who WAS at the banquet and has photos of Ben home sick in bed that night – never made the dinner.

    3. A statement from General Westmoreland noting that he met with Carson, remembers it clearly, and recalls suggesting he consider a career at sea with the United States Navy.

    4. A statement from the current U.S. Army Chief of Staff noting that West Point was disbanded three years earlier than this purported event. It’s now a K9 training facililty for the DEA.

    5. Official ROTC records showing Carson was dismissed from the ROTC for failure to obey a direct order shortly after he joined.

    6. Photos of Ben Carson protesting the Viet Nam War and the ROTC outside the building where the ROTC banquet was held.

    7. Positive proof that Ben Carson’s application to join the Reserve Officers Training Command was rejected as UNFIT FOR MILITARY SERVICE.

    8. Repeated reports from SEVERAL people who were ON that gunboat with Ben Carson in Viet Nam, testifying that he WAS INDEED a hero, when he was purportedly at a banquet back in Detroit supposedly intent on a career in medicine.

    9. A full transcript of his grades at West Point, proving he did actually accept a scholarship and in fact attended.

    What the media is pointing at and SCREAMING that it is proof positive, isn’t proof of anything. It isn’t even evidence of anything. In fact it isn’t anything at all. It’s nonsense. And in most cases very old nonsense.

    Joe Scarborough moved into a new category for me this morning. I guess it will be Robin Mead and the weather from here on.

    Oh well. My wife is still beautiful to wake up next to and at 61, she still makes Mika look a little rode-hard and weary. And trust me, we drink a lot better coffee than Joe does anyway. I can PROVE it.

    Jack Rickard