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Tag: ben carson

Ben Carson Insists Trump Isn’t Racist Because Black Employees ‘Love Him’

The sole black member of Donald Trump’s Cabinet insisted this week that Trump is not racist because he is liked by his minority employees and let wealthy Jewish and black people join his Mar-a-Lago club.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson on Friday told attendees at a summit on economic opportunity that he’d gotten to know Trump — who spent much of the 2016 campaign portraying Carson as a low-energy man with a “pathological” temper, a questionable religion, and no leadership ability — since joining his administration.

“Talking to the people who drive the cars and park the cars at Mar-a-Lago — they love him. The people who wash the dishes, because he’s kind and compassionate,” Carson said.

“When he bought Mar-a-Lago, he was the one who fought for Jews and blacks to be included in the clubs that were trying to exclude them,” he added. You know, people say he’s a racist. He is not a racist.”

Carson’s suggestion that Trump was a civil rights pioneer in the Palm Beach club scene is misleading at best. In reality, Trump fought not to integrate other clubs, but rather to renovate his own.

According to a 2015 Washington Post report, back in the 1990s, after Trump bought the Mar-a-Lago mansion, the Palm Beach town council attempted to impose restrictions on Trump’s property use, as he was trying to convert it into a private club and resort.

Trump pushed back against the council, the outlet noted, “claiming that local officials seemed to accept the established private clubs in town that had excluded Jews and blacks while imposing tough rules on his inclusive one.” After he accused the council of discrimination against him, they mostly backed off.

“He won in the court of public opinion,” Jack McDonald, a council member at the time, told the Post.

According to the outlet, McDonald later “went on to be mayor and to join Mar-a-Lago.”

Another former Palm Beach council member, Allen Wyett, told the Post that Trump’s decision to accept black and Jewish members was likely more a business strategy than anything else.

“Was he smart enough to realize that Palm Beach is about 40 percent Jewish and he was not going to attract the old guard anyway?” he asked.

Trump notably has a lengthy record of anti-Semitism and racism.

As a candidate in 2015, he employed anti-Semitic stereotypes portraying Jewish Republican donors as money-grubbing people who are only focused on negotiations. Last year, he claimed Jews showed “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” by voting for Democrats, while suggesting American Jews were more loyal to Israel than the United States. He also famously praised neo-Nazis as “very fine people” in 2017.

Trump also spent several years pushing racist — and demonstrably false — birther conspiracy theories about Barack Obama, suggesting the first black president was not really an American. He has dismissed African nations as “shithole countries” and has frequently attacked women of color, recently telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to their home countries.

Since 2017, a Mar-a-Lago membership has cost $200,000, plus $14,000 in annual dues.

#EndorseThis: Trevor Noah Hits Second Home Run In Three Days, Crushes Embezzler Ben Carson

We try to keep it pretty fair at #EndorseThis. Each comedian, philosopher, blogger and citizen gets an equal voice in the round. If a comic has been featured in a given week already, she isn’t likely to have the talking stick.

That said, wowzer, what a talent is Trevor Noah. Fairness dictates giving Trevor his second ET of the week and the first cannon-blast of March. This clip is that good.

The Daily Show‘s maestro obliterates the moral character of Dr. Ben Carson, Trump HUD secretary who sits in disgrace after he and his wife Cindy Carson successfully pressured officials to break regulations and buy Dr. Ben a $31,000 dining set at taxpayer expense.

Everything Noah says is a laugh. Everything. But don’t miss Carson himself, caught ducking, weaving and burping non-sequiturs in footage from a Capitol Hill hearing on “budget cuts.” Try embezzlement? Click to hear greedy Ben go down in flames.

#EndorseThis: In Storms’ Wake, Can America Rely On Ben Carson? Don’t Ask

With thousands of federal workers engaged in ongoing rescue and recovery efforts in Florida, Texas, and across the region battered by recent hurricanes, Americans will soon be looking to Washington for vital assistance in rebuilding – as provided by government after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. But much of that hope resides in the Department of Housing and Urban Development — which is now headed by Dr. Ben Carson.`

Checking in on Dr. Carson, one of the least qualified officials in a truly dismal cabinet, Seth Meyers is…concerned.

Danziger: Another Righteous Christian Who Needs To Read Luke 14:12

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.

Ben Carson Is Proving To Be A Bizarre And Incompetent Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development, As Expected

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Since neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson was sworn in as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on March 2, we’ve barely heard a peep from him. Is it because he’s adjusting to his new position, for which he has no relevant experience? Probably. Is it because, as his surrogate said, that he’s not qualified to run a federal agency? Could be that, too.

Apparently there’s been “an atmosphere of paranoia and guardedness that has enveloped HUD since Trump’s inauguration,” according to a former HUD official under Barack Obama, as reported by Next City.

In his first public remarks as head of HUD in early March, Carson tragically stumbled by referring to slaves as “immigrants.” On March 15, Carson began a “listening tour,” dipping his toes into public scrutiny by traveling to cities in Florida, Michigan and Texas to visit buildings and programs that HUD played a hand in creating. In several awkward cases, Carson has praised an initiative only to find out that Donald Trump’s budget blueprint would eliminate the programs that funded those very projects.

According to a trustee for Dallas County Schools, Carson “and his staff have avoided widely advertising the trip.” His trip to Texas wasn’t announced until hours before his first event, according to CityLab. Carson’s secrecy “may have something to do with the fact that Secretary Carson would rather not have to answer to the public and defend the outrageous budget cuts he and Donald Trump are trying to ram through Congress,” the trustee wrote.

Trump’s proposal cuts $6.2 billion from HUD, or 13.2 percent of its annual budget, by slashing public housing support and development grants. The budget gets rid of the 42-year-old, $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Choice Neighborhoods program and the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program.

“We’ve spent a lot of money on Housing and Urban Development over the last decade without a lot to show for it,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “Certainly, there are some successes but there are a lot of programs that simply cannot justify their existence and that’s where we zeroed in.” Meanwhile, according to CNBC, the Community Development Block Grant program provided housing assistance to nearly 74,000 households, gave public services to nine million Americans and created over 17,000 jobs in 2016 alone. But somehow Mulvaney can’t, or won’t, acknowledge these successes as he touts his budget blueprint that will hit the poor in almost every way possible.

Carson has attempted to defend the cuts to the public, and his past statements show he’s likely on board with them. The new HUD secretary has frequently claimed that with government subsidies, people are not incentivized to get off the federal dole. Carson has made some pretty outrageous statements including that poverty is “really more of a choice than anything else.”

Nothing like getting thrown out on the street with two kids and a $7.25-per-hour job to give you the tools to achieve the American dream.

The proposed Trump budget also eliminates a $1.4 billion-per-year disaster relief program within HUD while adding $700 million to the Department of Homeland Security’s disaster funding. The means that the Trump administration wants to cut disaster relief by $800 million, or 9.4 percent. The cuts are part of an effort to take billions from non-defense agencies and send them directly to the Pentagon.

In typical conservative lingo, the budget claims, “State and local governments are better positioned to serve their communities based on local needs and priorities.” How they’ll do that, when they’re already strapped for cash, is unclear. Seeing as 19 states refused to give millions of uninsured residents health care by expanding Medicaid—initially 100 percent subsidized by the federal government—it’s hard to imagine how they’ll bend over backward to help the poor with funding taken away from them.

Carson began his listening tour at Ben Carson High School of Science and Medicine, a Detroit public school named after him that is a “Michigan Future School,” meaning it receives support from the nonprofit Michigan Future, a project of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, which supports charter schools. While Ben Carson High is not a charter, Michigan Future has made numerous six-figure donations to several charters in Detroit.

The next day, Carson had lunch at a restaurant made possible by the Motor City Match program, which helps Detroit businesses establish themselves and grow via grants, loans and counseling funded in part by HUD’s Community Development Block Grants. Carson praised the program on Twitter while his agency is set to eliminate it.

On March 30, Carson attended a youth baseball game hosted by the Dallas Housing Authority, and the next day he popped into a Dallas Habitat for Humanity facility for a mere 15 minutes. In 2015, Carson publicly opposed an anti-housing segregation provision of the Fair Housing Act, strengthened by a Supreme Court ruling involving Dallas, calling it a “mandated social engineering scheme.”

Then he moved on to Florida. In Jacksonville on April 11, he stopped at a poorly maintained low-income apartment building that’s part of HUD’s project-based Section 8 program, which provides residents with rental assistance. Carson praised housing vouchers, but Trump’s budget proposal would cut $600 million from Section 8 programs, which include vouchers and project-based initiatives.

Next, Carson hit Miami and visited an apartment complex that includes dozens of units for the homeless and low-income residents. A supportive housing group built the complex mostly with federal funding, including $1.5 million from the HOME program that the Trump administration wants to cut. The building wouldn’t exist without HOME, said the president of the supportive housing organization. And Miami sees $4 million a year in development block grants, which the city will say goodbye to if the Trump budget passes.

On the tour, the education secretary has heaped praise on public-private partnerships, which already make up a good portion of affordable housing projects. “I just really appreciate the fact that we are starting to learn as a nation that it’s the private-public partnerships that work because there’s almost unlimited money in the private sector,” said Carson.

Carson hasn’t offered specifics on his plans for the agency, and what he did say isn’t reassuring to people who depend on affordable housing. “I would forget the numbers and think about the concept,” said Carson in Detroit. “The concept is we’re going to take care of our people.”

“The parts of these programs that are functioning well—and that are maintaining people—are going to be preserved,” Carson said vaguely in Miami, without giving details on how the programs will survive the massive cuts in the budget blueprint.

Carson, like Trump, has yet to fill many key positions in his department. According to the HUD website, all eight assistant secretary positions are vacant, as well as the “president,” chief information officer and chief operations officer. All ten regional administrators are missing as well as many deputy assistant secretaries. Unlike some heads of other agencies, Carson has actually kept on a number of staffers from the Obama administration, although his Deputy Chief of Staff is Deana Bass, a GOP operative who was press secretary for his campaign.

As Carson attempts to begin making changes to HUD policy, at least one group is following his moves closely. CarsonWatch is “a grassroots campaign” launched by nonprofit lawyers’ group Public Advocates and funded by three housing and justice organizations including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, according to CityLab. The site offers news updates and opportunities to “take action.”

The website reads, “CarsonWatch is committed to stopping President Trump, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and their congressional allies from any attempts to roll back fair housing protections and undermine the housing security of millions of Americans.”

Alex Kotch is an independent investigative journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. Follow him on Twitter at @alexkotch.

 
This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

Trump’s Plan To Gut HUD Threatens America’s Poor

Reprinted with permission form AlterNet.

Rosemary Holmes has lived in Newark’s Terrell Holmes for the better part of six decades. She, like many others in the building, has raised children in its courtyards and hallways, and forged a tight-knit community of friends and neighbors. At the age of 68, she has been forced to band with other tenants to fight local efforts to shutter the facility. Now, as the Trump administration weighs plans to gut the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she has a new battle on her hands.

“Any time they move a person to someplace they don’t want to live, it’s imprisonment,” she told AlterNet over the phone. “I am a human being, and I deserve to live where I want to live. Us, the ones who really want to be here, we are going to be uprooted because of the sabotage of HUD and the Housing Authority.”

Horsley is one of countless public housing residents across the country directly impacted by news that the Trump administration is mulling whether to slash HUD’s budget by at least $6 billion, or 14 percent, in the 2018 fiscal year. The proposed cuts were revealed Wednesday by Washington Post reporter Jose A. DelReal, who cited “preliminary budget documents” that he had obtained. If implemented, the reductions will hit a federal agency that is already unable to meet the level of human need, thanks to systematic defunding over the course of decades.

Douglas Rice, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C., think tank, reports that the proposed cuts would, in fact, amount to $7.7 billion dollars, or a 16 percent reduction, in 2018. He arrives at this number by evaluating expected funding levels for 2017, writing: “it’s reasonable to presume that the final budget will be close to the average of the bills the House Appropriations Committee and the full Senate approved last summer.” By contrast, DelReal wrote his story based on 2016 funding levels.

Either way, the cuts are poised to be dramatic. Rice told the Washington Post that 20,000 renters will lose their assistance for every 1 percent slash to the budget of HUD. “The reality is that we’ve been living under these austere budget caps, and budgets like HUD’s have already been pretty much cut to the bone,” Rice said, pointing to the sequestration cuts of 2011. “And when you try to cut below that, you really end up with harmful impacts.”

The proposed cuts would go deep. “Budgets for public housing authorities—city and state agencies that provide subsidized housing and vouchers to local residents—would be among the hardest hit,” writes DelReal. “Under the preliminary budget, those operational funds would be reduced by $600 million, or 13 percent. Funds for big-ticket repairs at public housing facilities would be cut by an additional $1.3 billion, about 32 percent.”

Public housing in the United States already faces a backlog of $26 billion in repairs, according to a 2010 report commissioned by HUD.

The Community Development Block Grant Program, which was budgeted to receive $3 billion this fiscal year, would be entirely slashed if the proposed changes were implemented. While the budget document reportedly suggests that funds for the program “could come from outside the HUD budget as part of a separate White House bill,” it is not immediately clear where exactly such dollars would come from and whether they would be guaranteed. The HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which helps fund local affordable housing, would also be eliminated.

The gutting of HUD would take money directly out of the hands of renters in need. The Post story notes, “Under the proposal, direct rental assistance payments—including Section 8 Housing and housing vouchers for homeless veterans—would be cut by at least $300 million, to $19.3 billion. Additionally, housing for the elderly—known as the Section 202 program—would be cut by $42 million, nearly 10 percent. Section 811 housing for people with disabilities would be cut by $29 million, nearly 20 percent. Money available for Native American housing block grants would fall by $150 million, more than 20 percent.”

According to Rice’s analysis of the Post report, if the cuts go through, “Housing Choice Vouchers that some 200,000 low-income households currently use to pay their rent would be eliminated in 2018.” He explained, “Reducing the availability of this crucial support would increase and prolong homelessness for vulnerable people with disabilities, families with children and others.”

“It should be very clear to our movements, to our communities, and to the entire country that [the] Trump administration is intent on further destabilizing and dismantling programs that our communities rely on to survive,” Malcolm Torrejón Chu, communications organizer with the Right to the City Alliance and organizer for the National Homes for All Campaign, told AlterNet. “These threatened cuts to housing are threatened cuts to our community survival. And we have no illusions that the current HUD programming is enough.”

The proposed reductions are in line with Trump’s recent claim that he will pay for a $54 billion increase to the war budget in large part by cutting domestic programs.

But long before Trump made this assertion, HUD Secretary Ben Carson—who has no prior experience in housing policy—has been open about his desire to dismantle key public housing initiatives. In 2014, he opposed an agreement between the city of Dubuque and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the city’s housing policies that discriminate against black residents, suggesting it was proof America was “becoming communist.” In 2015, he vocalized his opposition to a HUD fair housing rule that is aimed, in part, at reducing segregation, calling it a “failed socialist experiment.”

Following the Post report, Carson reportedly sent a letter seeking to reassure staff on Thursday, stating: “Please understand that budget negotiations currently underway are very similar to those that have occurred in previous years. This budget process is a lengthy, back-and-forth process that will continue. It’s unfortunate that preliminary numbers were published, but please take some comfort in knowing that starting numbers are rarely final numbers.”

Yet the fact that such drastic cuts were proposed at all has alarmed those whose housing—and lives—are on the line. Rhonda, who lives in Terrell Homes and did not want her last name to be used, said the immediate impacts of such cuts, if they go through, would be straightforward. “They need to keep public housing, because without public housing, people will be homeless,” she said. “The numbers of homeless people in America will be going up. People will have to choose between housing and food.”

‘They want us out’

Michael Higgins, Jr., an organizer with the Brooklyn-based Families United for Racial and Economic Justice, told AlterNet that news of proposed cuts to HUD didn’t come as a surprise. “There’s been steady cuts in every administration going back to Reagan,” he said. “Because there have been consistent cuts, and because public housing is in such bad shape, there are a decreasing number of options for people in public housing.”

According to a Congressional Budget Office report released in September 2015, federal housing assistance is already falling far short. “Currently, only about one-quarter of the eligible low-income population receives housing assistance through federal spending programs,” the office stated.

Long before the Trump administration’s proposed slash to the HUD budget, Terrell Homes residents were fighting a years-long battle against efforts to shutter their facility. “Since December 2013, there have been attempts to shut it down,” Drew Curtis, the director of community development and environmental justice for the Ironbound Community Corporation, told AlterNet. “Tenants fought back and stopped the initial demolition, but last summer they started trying again to shut down Terrell Homes.”

Curtis said that one of his first thoughts when he found out about the proposed HUD cuts was, “There is going to be even more ammunition for the local housing authority to shut this down. Tenants will need to stay diligent and keep putting on political pressure. The biggest cuts proposed were public housing operating funds and Community Development Block Grants, which often go into housing repairs. This would dramatically affect them.”

Horsley said she is exhausted after fighting a years-long battle to stay in her home. “The whole thing is, they want us out,” she said. “They cannot verbalize and come out and say they don’t want the poor blacks, the poor Hispanics, because we no longer fit the new normal.”

Terrell residents are not alone. In a statement released Thursday, the New York City-based CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities said, “The announced proposed cutting of $6 billion to HUD and $150 million funding for NYCHA and Section 8 vouchers is cutting the vein that keeps working-people from being able to keep this City running.”

“While these proposed cuts happen, New York taxpayers have spent $24 million to protect Trump’s private properties from Election Day to inauguration. It is estimated that $127,000 to upward of $308,000 will be spent each day to protect the Trump family at their NYC residence,” the statement continues. “We refuse to let our public dollars be spent to protect the rich’s war machine and unjustly kill millions of innocent Muslim lives around the world. We refuse to let our public dollars police and criminalize black and Latinx communities that fuel the deportation machine.”

Higgins underscored that, “In New York, there was already an extreme crunch of public housing. Over the years, HUD has moved more into a Section 8 voucher scheme, instead of rent being directly paid by the government. When you see Section 8 being taken, it means certain people will be out of their homes.”

Organizers say that it will be important to meet any proposed cuts with a continuation of the robust resistance that has already seen millions take to the streets, mobilize and defend their communities against Trump administration policies.

According to Torrejón Chu, “We are clear that the Trump administration is an administration that is interested in privatization and corporate profits and not people’s actual needs. We need to continue to show and expose that the administration does not represent our communities or the people.”

“We see this as a moment to not just resist cuts, but to put forward a vision of a totally different world,” he continued. “We think it’s important that our communities develop and strengthen our vision of an alternative world where we have control over land, resources and housing. A world where housing, land and community aren’t commodities. This moment is calling for us to have a vision.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet.

IMAGE: Ben Carson listens to a question from a reporter during a campaign stop in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 23, 2016. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/File Photo

Does Ben Carson Know The Difference Between Slaves And Immigrants?

A hypothetical narrative for your consideration:

A man climbs through the window of a sleeping girl. She stirs awake and starts to scream, but he punches her with a closed fist. Brandishing a gun, he vows to kill her parents, asleep in the next room, if she makes another sound. She nods in tearful comprehension and he is upon her, tearing at her night clothes. Then he violently makes love to her.

It could be argued that there’s nothing wrong with the foregoing description. After all, the basic mechanics of love making and rape are the same: sexual intercourse. But if you understand why that argument would be specious and offensive, please explain it to Ben Carson. The new secretary of Housing and Urban Development just described slaves as “immigrants.”

This happened Monday in a speech before HUD staff. Carson waxed eloquent about America as a nation built by people from other places, then said, “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they, too, had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

But the slaves were no more “immigrants” than rape is making love. Nor is it difficult to tell the difference.

Immigrants booked passage and came to these shores in steerage, enduring heat, stench and cramped conditions in hopes of better lives in America. Slaves were kidnapped and came to these shores shackled, lying cheek to cheek in their own body waste.

Immigrants disembarked at Ellis Island where they endured questioning and health inspections before being allowed to enter the country. Slaves disembarked at places like Annapolis, Charleston, and Savannah, where families were snatched away from one another, had their bodies probed by foreign fingers, then were sold at auction, sometimes on credit.

Immigrants stood staring up at the towers of New York City and were daunted and inspired by the universe of possibilities they represented. Slaves stood staring down at fields of cotton or tobacco, at an overseer’s whip, at a thin mattress of corn shucks in a tiny cabin where winter’s icy breath came slicing through the cracks, and tried to understand that this was life now, and that death would be their only freedom.

Immigrants relocated. Slaves were relocated. They had no more say in the matter than a chair moved from one side of a room to the other.

After being excoriated for his apparent ignorance of this, Carson issued a statement on Facebook that said that the immigrant and slave experiences were different and “should never be intertwined.” Which doesn’t explain why he did exactly that.

It’s hard not to see this as part of an ongoing campaign by the political right to arrogate or neuter entirely the language of politics and social grievance. Consider how, in the last 25 years, “liberal” and “feminist” became curse words and “racism” was redefined as “speaking about race.” Now it’s becoming sadly common to hear enslaved Africans described as “workers,” “settlers,” and, yes, “immigrants.”

Words, you must understand, have weight and effect. So this campaign is neither incidental nor accidental. No, like Holocaust denial, it is an attempt to minimize and trivialize a crucible of agony, to rob it of pathos, to render it unworthy of reverence. It’s heartbreaking to have to explain to anyone why this is wrong.

It’s pathetic to have to explain it to a 65-year-old African-American man.

IMAGE: Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina, September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane

Danziger: A Nation Of Immigrants, Mostly

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.