Breast cancer survivor starts nonprofit to help others

— The pain nagged at Kiesha Harris. Then, the lump under her armpit swelled more.

At 34, the Baltimore born Harris seemed to know something that her doctors dismissed as nothing to worry about. Harris had breast cancer.

Because she was young— doctors typically believe breast cancer symptoms don’t develop until years later— and had no family history of the disease, it was assumed that the lump would prove nothing more than uncomfortable aggravation. But when she sought a second opinion at Saint Agnes Hospital, her suspicions were confirmed.

“I was shocked when I was finally told it was cancer,” Harris said. “I just wanted to know what steps were needed and of course I wanted to know about chemotherapy and radiation.”

Harris joined the 12 percent of women in the United States who develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2015 experts predict an estimated 231, 840 new cases of invasive breast cancer along with 60, 290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

Also, while white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women, those diagnosed under the age of 45 are typically black women.

“Two years prior to getting a second opinion, I’d tell my doctors about the lump under my arm and they’d say because of my age and no direct family history I shouldn’t worry,” Harris said. “It got bigger and I knew something wasn’t right and when they finally diagnosed me I was fortunate because it was still fairly early in that I was at Stage 2 A.”

In January, Harris completed her chemotherapy treatments at Saint Agnes and three months later, she underwent the last of radiation. Now, she is focused on helping others.

“My mother asked me what was I going to do now and I told her I needed some time to process everything, but that I knew I wanted to help others,” Harris said. “You’d be amazed at how many young women have the same story that I have and this is clearly an issue. So, if we can have some sort of support to make sure young women get treatment and get the assistance they need, that’s what I want to do.”

Harris has put her words into action, starting a new nonprofit with a goal of assisting cancer patients.

“I started the New Pink Inc., an organization committed to helping recently-diagnosed young women get through treatment by pairing them up with a ‘pink sister’ breast cancer survivor,” Harris said. “At the end of this month, the organization will be hosting its first black tie gala event at Morgan State University and we’ll have music, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction and lots of fun.”

The event is scheduled from 8 p.m. to midnight at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, located at 2201 Argonne Drive.

Already, the New Pink Inc. has hosted free health and wellness boot camps and, in December, the organization plans a breast screening holiday party. Future plans also include a mobile screening unit.

“I have two younger sisters and I get choked up when I think of them,” Harris said. “The support system makes a world of a difference and that’s what I want my organization to be, a support for those who may not have someone. I can’t imagine not having anyone there for chemo or radiation or any appointments. My mom and uncle never left my side and through the New Pink Inc., we want people to know we’ll be there for them.”

Baltimore Screenwriters Competition now accepting submissions

Calling all screenwriters! The Baltimore Film Office is now accepting entries for the 11th annual Baltimore Screenwriters Competition. Applicants can submit in the feature or shorts categories. The top entries in both categories win cash prizes, feature winners also receive all access passes to the 2016 Maryland Film Festival and passes to local movie theaters.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, January 20, 2016 by 5 p.m. The application and guidelines are available online at:

The competition is designed to create awareness of screenplays as a literary art form and to encourage new screenwriters into the entertainment industry. The Baltimore Screenwriters Competition is a project of the Baltimore Film Office at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, in conjunction with film programs at Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University.

Funding is provided by Morgan State University, The Arts Insurance Program, a division of Maury, Donnelly and Parr and Johns Hopkins University. Additional support is courtesy of the Maryland Film Festival, NEXTCAR and Visit Baltimore.

The Baltimore Screenwriters Competition is open to all screenwriters. Submitted scripts receive coverage by local screenwriters and producers with final screenplays judged by film industry professionals. The 2016 judges include producer Nina Noble (“Show Me a Hero,” “Treme,” “The Wire”), producer Grant Curtis (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2,” “Spiderman,”) and producer and studio executive Larry Kostroff. Winners of the competition are announced during the Maryland Film Festival on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

For more information on the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, call 410-752-8632 or visit:

Marylanders recognized for volunteerism at 2015 Governor’s Service Awards

— Adam Jones is the well-known All Star center fielder for the Baltimore Orioles. However, his outstanding volunteer work is often done on his personal time when the media is not present. During the 32nd Annual Governor’s Service Awards held at the House Office Building in Annapolis on Monday, October 26, 2015, Maryland’s First Lady Yumi Hogan joined the Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism, and the Office of Community Initiatives, to publicly recognize volunteer groups and individual volunteers like Jones who are making measurable differences in Maryland.

Jones, an alumnus of the Boys and Girls Club, was a special guest and honoree and was recognized for his volunteerism at the event. The athlete is a sponsor of OriolesREACH, which provides complimentary tickets for underprivileged youth to attend Orioles games. Jones and OriolesREACH donated $75,000 to help build a teen center for Boys and Girls Clubs of Baltimore. By the end of this year, Jones will have helped to refurbish three Boys and Girls Clubs locations. He also serves as honorary chairman of the Y of Central Maryland’s Send a Child to Camp campaign.

“Everyone’s here for one reason, and that’s to give opportunity, to help our youth, which obviously are our legacies. I have a son now, and another one on the way, so I am trying to understand the real meaning of a legacy,” Jones said at the program. “I want my kids, nieces and nephews to grow up and know that I was a person of change, of impact.”

Numerous 2015 award recipients who represented 12 different categories made significant contributions in Baltimore.

Jones, Michael Hebb—a youth basketball, soccer, football and softball coach—and Jason Butler were three special honorees. Butler’s sister, Monica Mitchell said that her brother was the very first person who began helping to clean up Pennsylvania and North Avenue in Baltimore, after riots occurred in Baltimore last April, following Freddie Gray’s death. Award attendees stood to applaud Butler for helping to inspire others to show pride in Baltimore.

“I saw the story that was being told and it was not our story. It wasn’t the Baltimore that I knew. I knew it was only one side to the story. It was a lot of ugliness that the world was seeing but, there was more to everything that was kind of happening,” Butler later said. “I told my sister I can’t let this be the backdrop the story.”

Michaela Smith, 14, who serves Baltimore through volunteerism, was a 2015 youth award recipient. After her mother was diagnosed with cancer, she started Hairbands for Hope. She made and sold hair bands, then donated the proceeds to Susan G. Komen Maryland. Michaela later donated 22 bags of school supplies to children whose parents are undergoing cancer treatment.

Tavares Evans, who volunteers in Baltimore City, was recognized for volunteering to teach students the value of entrepreneurship and academic excellence. Samaritan Women Residence Volunteers serving Baltimore County were recognized for providing long-term residential recovery services to adult female survivors of human trafficking. Morgan State University alumnus and AmeriCorps alum, Chis Gleason-Smuck was honored for continuing to volunteer extensively in the community.

An award was presented to Lockheed Martin. Their STEM Ambassadors show dedication to STEM education in Baltimore. The Johns Hopkins Community Impact Internship Program— class of 2014, Tammy Ficca, Sandy Miller, the Town of Berlin Ambassador Program, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Prince George’s County, Leigh Alvey and Caroline Gaver also received awards.

Steven McAdams, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, told awardees that they are helping to improve Maryland.

“You’re touching lives,” McAdams said. “You’re addressing a need, and it is so important that we honor you today, because most people who are giving, they are not takers, so most people do not want the recognition. But we want to let you know that Governor [Larry] Hogan knows you’re here.”

Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers present major challenge to the Baltimore Ravens

— The Baltimore Ravens have quite a challenge this week when they face Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Rivers has found a high degree of success against the Ravens throughout his career. That success includes games in which he faced a Ravens defense that was very good against the pass. This year’s Ravens defense is struggling to stop opposing quarterbacks.

In six career games against the Ravens, Rivers has thrown for 1,711 yards, 11 touchdowns and has completed 66.5% of his pass attempts. He has compiled a 101.8 quarterback rating. The last time the Ravens saw Rivers, he led the Chargers on a touchdown scoring drive to go ahead of the Ravens with 46 seconds left. The Chargers won that game at M&T Bank Stadium by a score of 34-33.

Rivers ended that game with 383 yards passing along with three touchdowns and one interception. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees looked back on the game during his weekly press conference.

“We played well until the very end. I think the last four minutes is when we really didn’t pay well. We played well on defense up until then. We have to compete for 60 minutes,” Pees said. “It’s actually a good lesson for us for this year. We can’t give up big plays. One thing about Rivers is he is a very, very competitive player and a great quarterback. That’s why they’re No. 1 in the league on offense.”

The Chargers are leading the NFL in total yards per game (430.7). Rivers is averaging 343.6 yards passing per game which is tops in the NFL. His primary target has been third-year wide receiver, Keenan Allen. Allen’s 62 receptions lead the NFL. He also has 690 receiving yards, which is the third most in the NFL.

It is safe to say that the Ravens 26th ranked pass defense will be tested. The secondary has undergone somewhat of a facelift since the beginning of the season. Jimmy Smith has been a mainstay on the outside, but Lardarius Webb and Shareece Wright have both seen significant time on the other side of Smith.

Kyle Arrington began the season as the nickel back. He would bump inside and cover the slot receiver. Arrington has seen a significant decrease in reps recently. The coaching staff has become more comfortable with Webb on the inside along with Smith and Wright playing outside.

Rivers is different from a lot of quarterbacks because of the way that he engages in trash talking and how he responds to it. There are many times where you will see him talking to the defense after making a play and even getting in their face.

Pees said that the trash talk is something that he thinks gets Rivers going. “I think the more you try to get in his face – the more you try to do any of that – I think he actually loves it,” Pees said. “I think he thrives on it a little bit. I really have a ton of respect for him. I think he’s a guy who will get in the defense’s face, which I don’t like. But I really have a tremendous amount of respect for his competitiveness and how he plays.”

The rest of the team feeds off of the energy that Rivers brings. He is known across the league as a fierce competitor. Rivers has no problem challenging the top corners in the NFL. Jimmy Smith said that he definitely expects Rivers to throw the ball in his direction.

Rivers is a veteran quarterback entering his 12th season. The Ravens may try to blitz him, but it is hard to come up with something that he hasn’t seen before. Rivers has a strong grasp of the Chargers offense and can make the necessary adjustments to make the Ravens pay for blitzing him.

John Harbaugh is well aware of how in tune Rivers is when it comes to making adjustments on offense. “The first thing that jumps out to me is his handle of the offense. He has skills, certainly, but the thing that jumps out at you [is] he’s basically running an offense where he’s calling all the plays.” Harbaugh said. “He’s lining up, he’s motioning to the guy to try to determine zone [coverage], man [coverage] – determine what coverage it is – how many guys in the box, and then he basically calls a play.”

Rivers isn’t included most conversations as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. The Ravens certainly feel he is deserving of being mentioned with the best.

“You can talk about Peyton [Manning], and you can talk about [Tom] Brady, but I don’t know that anybody controls the offense more than Rivers does. As he goes, I think their offense goes,” Pees said. “The thing about it is he’s really, really a competitive guy. Brady is a lot more competitive than sometimes he appears to be in a shirt and tie. Rivers is a very, very competitive guy, so he always wants to have that last word.”

Multiple quarterbacks have registered their best passing games of the season against the Ravens this season. The Ravens will have to play better defense than they’ve played the first seven games in order to slow down Rivers and the Chargers.

Keep your trick-or-treaters safe and seen on Halloween!

Few holidays delight kids more than Halloween. At the same time, Halloween generates significant worry in parents and with sound reason. Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than twice as many children are killed in pedestrian/vehicle incidents on Halloween between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. compared to the same hours on the other days of the year.

Why are Halloween pedestrian fatalities so high? For more than 70 percent of kids who trick-or-treat door to door, it’s due to a dangerous combination of reduced daylight, preoccupied and unaccompanied kids in the streets, and bulky costumes that often make it difficult for oncoming drivers to see them.

The child safety experts at Safe Kids Worldwide urge parents to add adhesive reflective tape to Halloween costumes, but this material is expensive and often of low quality. Without sufficient time and distance to react, many drivers may see a pedestrian too late to avoid them.

“Most self-adhesive reflective material on the market is not only difficult to find, it is also of the cosmetic or low-brightness variety, which is only effective at very short distances and only if used in sufficient quantities,” said Chuck Gruber, CEO and founder of ReflectYourGear. “We want to make reflective material affordable and easy to use, in order to reduce preventable injuries by helping people increase their visibility to oncoming drivers. If you want to be seen in low light or darkness, our high-brightness reflective— visible at 300 to 500 feet— is the best option.”

Made with high-brightness 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material, ReflectYourGear do-it-yourself self-adhesive stickers are available for less than $10. For a limited time, visit and enter the code “BeSeenHalloween” to receive a free eight-piece pack of self-adhesive reflective material to ensure your young ghosts and goblins are seen and safe this Halloween.

Proper placement of reflective material can also have an impact on safety. Gruber recommends 360-degree (front, back and sides, including limbs) coverage for Halloween costumes, with reflective material placed at biomotion points, such as wrists, ankles, hands, feet and shoulders.

“The brain is hard-wired to distinguish human motion quickly, so when a driver sees reflective in the shape of a human, there is less time spent wondering what he’s seeing and more time to react and avoid a collision,” Gruber said.

Parents can’t remove all potential dangers from their kids’ lives, but they can take steps to ensure that the only scary part about Halloween is seeing vampires— and maybe the dentist.

A plea to save the family phone

— This really struck me in the immediate aftermath of the South Carolina flood. I have two friends—a couple—who live in Charleston. I called them to check on their situation and quickly realized that they almost never answer their home line. I decided to call the husband in the couple on his cell phone, a gentleman who has been like a brother to me for more than thirty years. We connected and everything was fine, including their house, and no one was hurt. We spoke for a while then said good-bye.

It was after we hung up that it struck me that I have not spoken with the wife in the couple on the phone in, quite literally, years. Once upon a time I would call their house and, regardless of who answered, we would get into a conversation, catch up on family, friends, etc. It might be that if I was calling the husband and the wife answered that we might start discussing something that was going on in her life. We have all been that close.

Yet, what has happened over time is that, as we all move towards near total reliance on personal cell phones, I have found that I speak less and less with her, to the point of being disconnected from the family. The more I thought about it I realized that this was not the case with this family alone, but was an increasing tendency for many families.

I am not falling into nostalgia but it is particularly striking that once upon a time you could find out much more about a family depending on who answered the phone. There might have been pieces of information that you would never have stumbled across had it not been a spouse, partner or child who answered the phone rather than the person you were specifically calling. I am not talking about being nosey; I am talking about better understanding people, including friends.

I know some of you are saying that I should just call, in this case, the wife in the couple. But that misses the point entirely. Not all relationships are the same, and this is particularly the case between men and women. It is one thing for the wife in a couple to answer a phone and speak with a male friend and it is another thing for that male friend to call the wife in the couple directly. Please understand, I am not passing judgment or saying what should be; I am saying what is. Not everyone is equally understanding about who is making what call.

Yet more importantly what this seems to point to is that our worlds are narrowing. In the case I mentioned, rather than my becoming more and more connected with the family, my bond with the husband remains stable or intensifies, whereas my connection with the rest of the family dwindles.

More than anything else this seems to speak to a larger social problem as we turn in on ourselves, frequently reading or watching programs that our respective ‘niche market’ is interested in, and forgetting that we are on a planet of billions with myriad interests and experiences from which we can learn.

The family phone may be on its way out. The question we have to ask is whether that is representative of a broader deterioration in our own ability—and willingness—to learn, and, equally, to strengthen bonds.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and at

How much do I really need to save for retirement?

— I always thought 10% of salary was the amount you need to save for retirement. I save more than that, but a retirement calculator told me I’m not saving enough. Am I on track or is retirement just an impossible dream –Jessica, Texas

I wish I could give you a simple-but-accurate rule of thumb that could assure you’re saving enough to stay on track toward a secure retirement. But I can’t because there isn’t one.

The 10%-of-salary figure you cite is often tossed around as a viable benchmark — and it might be if you start saving that amount in your early 20s and stick to it faithfully over the next 40 or so years. But few of us actually adhere to that regimen. We get a late start or have years when we save less than 10% or we may even dip into our savings occasionally. To allow for more leeway in building a nest egg, many pros suggest a higher target of 15%, which is the figure cited in recent research by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

But the reality is that no percentage or formula can cover all situations. There are just too many variables that affect how much you need to save, including how much you already have in savings; the retirement lifestyle you envision; how much of your pre-retirement income you’ll need to replace once you retire; the age at which you call it a career; how you invest your savings prior to and during retirement; and how long you expect to live.

And then you’ve got to throw in the major wild card of health care expenses, which, depending on how much medical care you need later in life and how much the cost of such care rises, can have a major impact on the size nest egg you’ll need and thus how much you must save to build it.

That said, you’re taking the right approach by going to a calculator for some guidance. But as you do that, it’s important to remember that no retirement calculator can duplicate the complexity of the financial markets and real life. Some can do a good enough job, however, to give you a decent idea of whether you’re making headway toward retirement. There are plenty of such calculators out there, but I like T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Income Calculator because it’s relatively easy to use, makes reasonable assumptions and doesn’t just spit out “Your Number,” or the dollar value of the nest egg you’ll supposedly need at retirement. Rather, it uses Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the chance that you’ll be able to generate the retirement income you’ll need given your current savings rate, the amount you’ve already saved, your investing strategy and other assumptions. (If you’re already retired, the calculator estimates your chances of being able to continue spending at your current pace throughout retirement.)

Here’s an example: Let’s say you’re 35, earn $50,000 a year, already have $75,000 saved in a mix of 80% stocks and 20% bonds and you save 15% of salary each year. Based on that information and some other details, the calculator estimates that you have nearly an 80% chance of being able to replace 75% of your pre-retirement salary, assuming you retire at age 65 and expect to live to age 95.

But the savings rate required to achieve that probability of success in the above scenario can change significantly if you alter just one or two key assumptions. For example, retiring at 62 instead of 65 would require an estimated savings rate of 20% or more to maintain roughly the same chance of success. That makes sense when you figure that leaving your job three years earlier means you’ll have less time to build a nest egg that will have to support you for a longer time — and because you’ll also qualify for smaller Social Security payments if you claim at age 62.

On the other hand, postpone retirement by two years to 67 and the estimated savings rate to replace 75% of your pre-retirement salary drops to 12% or less, since you’ll qualify for a larger Social Security benefit and have more time to contribute to retirement accounts, more time for your savings to grow and fewer years that they’ll have to support you.

Of course, these savings rates and probabilities of success are just estimates, not guarantees. Any forecast is going to have a certain amount of inherent squishiness, if you will, especially when it involves so many factors. If future investment returns are significantly lower than in the past — which a number of pros think will be the case — then all else equal you may have to save more to maintain the same shot at a secure retirement.

On the other hand, research on retirement spending suggests that the percentage of pre-retirement income retirees actually require to maintain their lifestyle can vary dramatically depending on their financial circumstances. So if you’re able to live an acceptable retirement lifestyle on a lower percentage of your pre-retirement salary, you may be able to get by with a lower savings rate.

How, then, can you be reasonably sure that you’re saving adequately for a secure retirement with so many factors at play? Rather than relying on a rule of thumb of 10% or any other benchmark, I recommend that you go to a good retirement calculator, plug in details about your savings rate and retirement account balances and see where you stand given what you’re currently doing. If you discover that your chances of being able to retire when you would like are uncomfortably low, re-run the analysis to see how saving more, retiring later, investing differently (or making several changes simultaneously) might improve the odds. You can then repeat this exercise every year or two and, if necessary, adjust your savings regimen to stay on track.

I can’t guarantee that going through this exercise periodically and making occasional tweaks will guarantee you a secure and happy retirement. But it should make it less likely that retirement will be an impossible dream.

Vests For Visibility Program helps protect trick or treaters

Even when armed with magic wands, capes and wings, children are left powerless in a match with a vehicle. So to protect the witches, goblins, princesses, pirates and other creatures taking to Maryland streets Saturday, October 31, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) will lend reflective vests to children and their chaperones as part of the annual “Vests for Visibility” Program. Designed to be worn over clothing, the reflective vests help increase the visibility of pedestrians – both children and adult chaperones. The vests will be available in most counties, at most SHA Maintenance facilities, during the days just before the holiday. They may be picked up between Wednesday, October 28 and Friday, October 30 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. The reflective vests will be issued on a first come, first served basis and need to be returned by Friday, November 6.

“Whether borrowing a vest or not, be sure to stay visible during evening hours – on Halloween and every night,” said SHA Administrator Gregory C. Johnson, P.E. “With the upcoming time change, it will be dark earlier making it more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists. When walking or biking be sure to wear something bright and when driving use extra caution and follow speed limits. We all need to look out for each other, so everyone returns home safe and sound.”

Safety Tips:


• Stop for pedestrians – Maryland law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks and intersections.

• Stay alert – park the mobile phone.

• Obey the speed limit. Speeding only makes it more difficult to stop unexpectedly.

• Motorists should be more cautious during peak trick-or-treating hours between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

• Enter and exit driveways slowly. Use caution when turning at intersections.

• Be alert for children darting across the street and crossing between parked cars.

• When driving children to and from different activities, make sure all seat belts are fastened and let children out of the car on the curbside.

• Never drink and drive. Designate a sober driver.


• Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.

• Cross at crosswalks or intersections.

• Be sure to see and be seen. Avoid dark clothing, wear bright colors and use reflective devices such as vests and blinking lights.

• Avoid costumes that may impair vision.

• Make eye contact with drivers when crossing the street.

• Stay alert and be on the lookout for cars traveling above the speed limit.

2015 Vests for Visibility Participating SHA Maintenance Shops:

Anne Arundel County

Glen Burnie Shop

910 Stewart Ave

Glen Burnie, MD 21061


Annapolis Shop

138 Defense Highway

Annapolis, MD 21401


Baltimore County

Golden Ring Shop

8375 Pulaski Highway

Rosedale, MD 21237


Carroll County

Westminster Shop

150 Wyndtryst Drive

Westminster, MD 21157


Howard County

Dayton Shop

4401 MD 32

Dayton, MD 21036


Kent County

Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez are divorcing

— Halle Berry and husband of two years Olivier Martinez announced on Tuesday that they have split.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have come to the decision to divorce,” the actors told People magazine in a joint statement. “We move forward with love and respect for one another and the shared focus of what is best for our son. We wish each other nothing but happiness in life and we hope that you respect our and, most importantly, our children’s privacy as we go through this difficult period.”

The couple, both 49, married in July 2013 in a private ceremony in France. Berry announced in April of that year that she was expecting a baby with Martinez. Their son, Maceo, was born in October.

It was the third marriage for Berry, who had previously been wed to baseball player David Justice and singer Eric Benet. It was the first for Martinez, who had been linked to singer Kylie Minogue.

Martinez encountered trouble in January when the family was passing through Los Angeles International Airport. An airport employee alleged that the actor used a car seat to shove him out of their path. The employee later sued the couple, according to TMZ.

The French actor was by Berry’s side during her bitter custody battle with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry, the Canadian model who fathered her 7-year-old daughter Nahla. Amid the contentiousness, Martinez and Aubry had a fistfight in Berry’s Hollywood driveway.

A former boxer and model, Martinez is best known for his role in the film “Unfaithful.”

The Oscar-winning actress met Martinez on the set of the 2012 movie “Dark Tide.”

Alan Duke contributed to this report.

Why Ben Carson is beating Trump

— Now that the Republican race is a fight between Donald Trump and Ben Carson it feels more explicitly like a reality TV show. “We took a billionaire who hates China and a neurosurgeon who loves guns and made them fight to the death in Iowa. Stay tuned to see what happens next…”

What happened next is that Ben Carson opened up a lead against Trump in the Hawkeye State. And now Trump is turning his blunt wit on the neurosurgeon, calling him “low-energy.” What he doesn’t appreciate is that this “low-energy” might be precisely what’s fueling Carson’s rise. As conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer suggests, he is the anti-Trump. People who like conservative populism but can’t stand The Donald now have a house-trained alternative.

Of course, liberals will struggle to see the difference between the two. Carson has said that Muslims should be disqualified from the presidency, that the Holocaust could’ve been averted if only the Jews had been armed and that abortion is like slavery. Crazy, right? Well, any keen observer of the conservative scene will tell you that these are all considered quite uncontroversial.

Anti-Muslim sentiment was aired in the 2012 Republican race, too, and is down to Americans simply not knowing enough Muslims (by contrast, the next leader of the UK Conservative Party could very well be Islamic). The belief that the confiscation of weapons was critical to Hitler’s dictatorship is a well-established right-wing theme. Finally, the view that abortion is like slavery was articulated by conservative—and former presidential candidate–Alan Keyes way back in his 2004 senate race against Barack Obama.

Note that Carson also uses the slavery analogy to attack Obamacare. It is commonly argued by conservatives that a) the Democrats were once the slavery party and b) they’ve transferred their authority from the plantation to the welfare state. Religious conservatives have a long, long history of opposition to eugenics and, again, see a seamless evolution from Southern racist laws to the modern family planning movement.

So Carson’s views come from the heart of the conservative movement.

What’s unusual is his personality. Polling shows Carson leading on the matters of honesty and temperament. He has the soft-spoken bedside manner of the very best doctor — imagine those steady hands hovering over the nuclear button compared with Trump’s waving, shaking, itchy fists. The Carson biography is pure Americana, from zero to hero in one generation. That he was a bad boy in his youth only fits better with the evangelical narrative of a man saved by grace.

As the New York Times reports, he speaks to people in a friendly, respectful way that builds trust. Peter D. Hart, a wise pollster, is quoted as saying: “Trump is rough; Carson is reassuring. And the unknown elements of Carson are reassuring, and the known elements of Trump are disturbing.”

Finally, there is the matter of his race. Mainstream conservatives are not, as liberals suspect, congenitally racist. On the contrary, they share the Left’s eager desire to find and elevate heroes from nonwhite backgrounds. The Right has waited a long time for a black leader to make it in national politics.

True, Carson suffers from a lack of experience of both high office and serious politics, and Trump comes off like a know-nothing and makes plenty of gaffes. But error is actually factored into Trump’s appeal: he is running on gutsy amateurism and ego. Carson, by contrast, offers reason and calm. It wouldn’t take much to puncture both. Carson only has to lose his temper once or say something a little too outrageous for his numbers to decline.

For the moment, however, the focus is likely to be on Trump vs. Carson, while the traditional candidates flounder. Why is this happening? In previous contests it tended to be that radical candidates rose and fell while the establishment types maintained a steady base of support that climbed before polling day. This time, Trump has clung onto a wide lead as more serious individuals have either dropped out or reduced their spending.

Of course, the establishment candidates are still fighting away, but they seem to be concentrating their fire on each other. Jeb Bush’s people are now attacking Marco Rubio. In a parallel race, the mainstream candidates are competing to see who gets to take on the maverick outsiders early next year.

A whole industry now exists of journalists and pundits trying to explain the Trump-Carson phenomenon, and before it’s been tested by actual voting it might be better just to withhold judgment. Even so, it surely can’t be separated from the crisis in Republican House leadership. That the GOP has struggled to find a leader either with the personality or the ideology to satisfy everyone tells us so much about contemporary U.S. politics. How divided it is, and how lacking in the Reaganite magic of charisma.

Within the Right, wild forces have been unleashed that represent a revolt against broken promises, big money, compromise, timidity and a GOP center that has lost two elections in a row. The revolt is a projection of middle-America’s id — and Trump vs. Carson is its yin and yang.

I can imagine husbands watching Trump on TV and cheering angrily. I can imagine wives watching Carson and nodding sagely. Like a reality show, this race is about the viewer’s connection with a particular character. Policies and experience lack that dramatic flourish.

Timothy Stanley is a historian and columnist for Britain’s Daily Telegraph. He is the author of “Citizen Hollywood: How the Collaboration Between L.A. and D.C. Revolutionized American Politics.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


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