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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Monday Wake Up Call – November 28, 2016

Someone once said that if the Republican Party was a refrigerator, it would say its job was to let ice melt.

Apparently Ben Carson was offered the job as head of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is a cabinet-level appointment. Carson had initially turned down a cabinet appointment at Health & Human Services (HHS) because, (according to his staff) he was unqualified. But he’s changed his mind: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

Ben Carson has demonstrated the ability to do two things at a world-class level: perform surgical operations, and run [several] lucrative scams. By his own admission, he is patently unqualified to run a federal agency. Nonetheless, he is apparently on the verge of accepting a job as secretary of Housing and Urban Development…

History tells us that HUD has had just one use in Republican administrations. The agency’s program structure lends itself to profiteering. HUD works closely with private developers to build affordable housing. Without careful oversight, the agency can easily become a slush fund to distribute sweetheart contracts to the administration’s buddies.

Samuel Pierce, Ronald Reagan’s HUD secretary, did just that. Reagan’s HUD regularly handed out loans and grants on the basis of political contacts. Ultimately, some Reagan-era HUD officials were convicted, including three assistant secretaries, for such crimes as accepting illegal loans, obstructing justice, and illegal gratuities.

George W. Bush’s housing secretary, Alphonso Jackson, resigned in 2008 after a series of scandals, including sweetheart deals and inflated salaries for his friends. He instructed his staff to steer contracts to Bush supporters. Jackson was investigated by HUD’s inspector general, the Department of Justice and the FBI, none of which resulted in a conviction.

Since Trump says that he will continue running his real estate empire in office, a loyalist like Carson, someone with no experience in government, but who has relevant experience in bilking, will oversee an agency whose mission lends itself to corruption.

One of the reasons to appoint Carson is because HUD will likely cease its anti-segregation and anti-discrimination activities as soon as the Trumpets assume control. He is on record supporting ending that mission. This from the WSJ:

Under the Obama administration, the department has beefed up enforcement of fair-housing regulations to combat zoning policies that result in segregation, threatening the loss of millions of dollars in federal funding to municipalities that don’t comply. Mr. Carson sharply criticized those policies as “mandated social-engineering schemes” that repeated a pattern of “failed socialist experiments in this country,” in a 2015 op-ed published in The Washington Times.

If there is a bright side to Ben Carson running HUD, it is that he’s not running HHS with the second largest share of the federal budget. Imagine him saying: “I’m a physician. Med school taught me everything there is to know about health care.”

Remember, HUD spelled backward is DUH…

It’s time to wake up America! The writing is on the wall, Trump’s cabinet hires are terrible, and we have to pressure him to do better than Ben Carson.

You can go to social media and complain directly to your Orange Overlord at: #therealDonaldTrump.

To help you wake up, listen to the Crystals from 1962 singing “Uptown”. Phil Spector originally recorded the song with Little Eva, the 19 year-old babysitter to Carole King and Gerry Goffin. The end result didn’t meet Spector’s standards, so he produced it a second time with the Crystals. Here is “Uptown”:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Sample Lyrics:

He gets up each morning
And he goes downtown
Where everyone’s his boss
And he’s lost in an angry land
He’s a little man

But then he comes uptown
Each evenin’ to my tenement
Uptown where folks don’t have
To pay much rent
And when he’s there with me
He can see that he’s everything
Then he’s tall, he don’t crawl
He’s a king

Downtown he’s just one of a million guys
He don’t get no breaks
And he takes all they got to give
‘Cause he’s got to live

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