Tag Archives: Ben Carson

Our border isn’t ‘open’

How many times do I have to say this: We do not have “open borders’? 

That is the mantra being recited time and again by far right wing opponents of President Biden, who continue to insist that our borders — particularly our southern border — have been flung wide open for anyone to pour into the country.

Let’s review what just happened along the border with Mexico near Del Rio, Texas.

Thousands of Haitians congregated under an international bridge. They were fleeing corruption in their country as well as fleeing the destruction brought by a killer earthquake.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deployed Department of Public Safety officers to the border to assist Customs and Border Patrol agents in managing the chaotic scene. U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials were on it, too.

Now the crowd is gone. The migrants have been sent back to Haiti, sent to third countries or are being processed to achieve legal immigrant status.

Is that a signal that we have an “open border”? No. It isn’t!

Our borders are no more “open” than they have been during the terms of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter … I’ll stop there.

Yet the critics of Joe Biden seize on the chaos brought forth and are offering the canard about “open borders” as a weapon to use against him. One of those critics, former Housing Secretary Ben Carson, writes in Newsweek, “We are encountering more people at our southern border than any other time in the last 21 years. Two months in a row, the numbers exceeded 200,000; in August 2021, the numbers represented a 317 percent increase over August of last year.”

Biden Has Effectively Opened Our Border. He Is Once Again Vindicating Trump | Opinion (msn.com)

OK, Dr. Carson. How are they responding to that influx? We aren’t just letting ’em pour in, doc! Get a grip here.

Yes, the Biden team needs to do better. Yes, they need to make their response more efficient. And, yes, we cannot tolerate the sight of mounted CBP officers herding Haitians like cattle as they seek shelter from the misery they are fleeing.

However, the border isn’t “open.”


Oh, Ted … please shut up!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Forgive this brief bit of “what aboutism.” I just cannot let this statement go without a response.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said this today regarding President Biden’s nomination of Xavier Becerra to become the next secretary of health and human services:

The fact that President Biden was willing to nominate Xavier Becerra — someone with zero experience in anything related to health care — to the Department of Health and Human Services during this pandemic, illustrates Biden prioritizes partisan politics above all else.

Oh, my. Where do I begin?

I’ll start with this: Cruz had no difficulty supporting the appointment of two members of the Donald Trump Cabinet with no experience at all overseeing the agencies they were selected to run.

Exhibit A is Dr. Ben Carson, the housing secretary and then we have Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education.

Dr. Carson was a renowned brain surgeon. Did he have a clue about public housing? Had he ever led an agency the size of HUD? No and no. Indeed, he was hard-pressed during his confirmation hearing to answer simple questions related to public housing policy. He got confirmed.

DeVos never attended public schools. Her children never attended them, either. She favors giving taxpayer funds to finance vouchers for children to attend private schools. She is anti-public education. DeVos was, and is, ignorant on basics about education policy. She, too, was confirmed … although it took a tie-breaking vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence for her to take office.

Now we hear from the Cruz Missile saying that Becerra has no experience in health policy. Earth to Ted: Becerra served in the House of Representatives and was a key architect of the Affordable Care Act that Cruz has opposed since joining the Senate in 2013. Thus, Becerra had plenty to do with health care.

This kind of flippin’ nonsense from a loudmouth senator who doesn’t possess an ounce of introspection just sends me into orbit.

What’s more, to hear this kind of bullsh** coming from someone who sought to undermine a free and fair election and who ought to bear some responsibility for the hideous attack on our democratic system on Jan. 6 is reprehensible on its face.

My advice to Ted Cruz? Shut the hell up.

HUD boss implies: I’ve got your populism right here

Let’s explore for a moment the “populism” that Donald Trump ran on to become president of the United States.

As I understand the term, a “populist” politician is one who looks after the so-called “little guy,” who is a champion for those who need a hand from others to help them.

Trump said he would be that guy. He would be their champion. He would fight for Joe and Jane Six Pack.

OK, let’s stipulate that his entire previous life prior to politics suggests nothing of the sort. He was not committed to anyone other than himself. He sought to gain massive wealth and succeeded … as near as anyone can tell.

Let’s look, then, in the current moment. Housing Secretary Ben Carson — the one-time renowned neurosurgeon — has pitched an idea that sounds quintessentially anti-populist. He wants to triple the rent that Housing and Urban Development residents pay to live.

Triple, I tell ya.

I should add that Dr. Carson, brilliant doc that he is, has about as much (or little) exposure to government policymaking as the president. Trump selected Carson to run HUD because, well … I have no reason why he selected him. Perhaps he couldn’t find someone with actual experience in government to run the massive agency.

Carson’s rationale for seeking a tripling of the rental rates is that it would provide an “incentive” for those Americans to do better for themselves. Sure thing, Doc. Someone who’s been poor all his or her life is going to say, “You know, now that I have to pay three times what I can afford to pay to keep a roof over my head, I’ll just get off my duff, get to work and everything will be all right.”

That ain’t how it works in the real world. The deepest forms of poverty so very often are ingrained in people’s psyche. They need compassion, empathy and they need their government — the one that pledges among other things to “provide for the general welfare” of the public — to step up.

A populist president and a populist housing secretary wouldn’t consider pricing someone out of public housing to be a productive and compassionate way to run the federal government.

Do I want the government to offer an endless stream of money to every American? Of course not. I am as pro-hard work as anyone.

I also am one who believes that government should be available to those who have been swallowed up by circumstances they cannot always control. Populists would as well.

What has become of the GOP?

What would Honest Abe, Teddy Roosevelt and Ike think of what’s become of the Republican Party? If only we could ask ’em.

Above is a tweet I posted two years ago wondering about the state of today’s GOP and how it was abducted by a form of “populism” that has no real resemblance to the movement that I had grown to understand.

Donald J. Trump got elected president on a pledge to do certain things, all of which he said at the time would be “easy.”

Build a wall along our southern border? Piece of cake.

Make Mexico pay for it? No sweat.

Negotiate the “best trade deals” in U.S. history? Done deal.

Craft a new health care program? Got it.

Cut taxes for everyone? Perfecto.

And so it went. How has he done? Not too well, by my way of looking at it.

As for the “populist” angle he pursued while running for office, the president hasn’t fulfilled that promise either. He continues to hobnob at his extravagant resorts. I haven’t seen him visiting housing projects, or tour squalid neighborhoods in Appalachia.

Indeed, Housing Secretary Ben Carson recently announced a desire to triple the rent paid by low-income residents of government housing. Dr. Carson then said his idea would “incentivize” residents to improve their lot in life and get them out of housing projects.

Man, that’s just so damn populist of him. Don’t you think?

Back to my Twitter message of two years ago. What, precisely, does the Republican Party stand for these days? Does it go along merely with what the president desires, even though this president had no history of political activism — let alone political experience of any kind — before he ran for the highest office in the land?

The party of Abe, TR and Ike is now the party of Trump.

President Lincoln stood for unifying the nation; President Theodore Roosevelt was an environmental champion; President Eisenhower sought to return the nation to a peace footing after so many years of open warfare in Europe, the Pacific and in Korea.

What does Trump believe? He touts his hatred of the media, he stiffs the opposing party at every turn, he is ravaged by an endless series of controversies — and a scandal or three — and he promises to “make America great again” by bullying our allies.

I’ll give him props for one potentially huge achievement, if he can pull it off: getting North Korea to back off its nuclear program.

However, a success there doesn’t erase the rest of the nastiness that has pervaded this man’s presidency.

Abe, TR and Ike are spinning in their graves.

Um, Dr. Secretary, slaves were not ‘immigrants’

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson got off to a rollicking start as head of a major federal agency by comparing slaves to your run-of-the-mill immigrants.

They came here, Dr. Carson told HUD employees, with “dreams for their sons, daughters … ” and others who would come along.

Really, he said that.

I don’t know how to react fully to what Dr. Carson said at his HUD meeting.

I have read over many years, however, about how human beings were “sold” as cargo by slave owners in Africa; they were put on ships and transported across the Atlantic Ocean, where they would be used like, oh, farm animals. They were denied every human right imaginable; indeed, they weren’t even considered to be fully “human.”

They had dreams about a better future? Is that what the new HUD secretary said?

“That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson said. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”

I wish my grandparents were alive at this moment to hear these remarks. They, too, had “dreams” about forging a better life in this land of opportunity.

However, all four of them — the parents of my mother and father — came here willingly, of their own volition. They sought a new life and a safe place to rear their children.

I cannot believe that Dr. Carson would suggest — even in the remotest of terms — any kind of equivalence between those who came here as slaves and those who arrived as immigrants.

Trump’s ‘fine-tuned machine’ needs help

I found myself somewhat amazed as I read a story in the Sunday New York Times about Donald J. Trump’s apparent inability to get his administration fully staffed.

The article talked about Trump’s insistence on loyalty. Those who say negative things about The Boss are fired; those who fall into that category are disregarded as potential new hires.

I totally understand the president’s desire to have loyal team members on board. The head of our government is entitled to insist that his lieutenants follow the policies set at the top.

Still, Trump crowed this past week about the “fine-tuned machine” that is his presidential administration. Except that he hasn’t hired a whole lot of assistant secretaries or deputy secretaries to assist his Cabinet picks.

But here is where the amazement kicks in.

Loyalty hasn’t been Trump’s No. 1 requirement in filling at least two Cabinet places.

Can you say “Ben Carson” and “Rick Perry”?

Carson is the housing secretary who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican Party presidential primary. He and Trump clashed openly at times on the campaign trail and on debate stages across the country. I recall Dr. Carson saying some pretty harsh things about the president-to-be as his own campaign went down in flames.

But then there’s former Texas Gov. Perry, another former GOP foe. It was Gov. Perry who called Trump a “cancer on conservatism.” He’s now slated to become secretary of energy.

The Times reports, though, that Trump or his senior advisers are nixing appointments because of what individuals have said about the president. Meanwhile, all these posts remain vacant, their offices are dark and top-level administration officials are being denied the kind of help they need in carrying out Trump administration policies — whatever the hell they are.

I love this passage from the Times story: “It is not just Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson who has no deputy secretary, much less Trump-appointed under secretaries or assistant secretaries. Neither do the heads of the Treasury Department, the Education Department or any of the other cabinet departments. Only three of 15 nominees have been named for deputy secretary positions. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has a deputy only because he kept the one left over from President Barack Obama’s administration.”

This is a “fine-tuned machine”? It needs a healthy dose of WD-40.

Trump team staggers toward starting line

It’s not going well for Team Trump as it prepares to take command of the most powerful, greatest nation on Earth.

Seemingly across the board, Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections are having difficulty squaring their records with what will be expected of them when — or if — they take some highly visible public offices.

Betsy DeVos,  the president-elect’s choice to become education secretary, seemed flummoxed about questions pertaining to basic education policy.

Health and Human Services pick U.S. Rep. Tom Price is facing scrutiny over legislation he pitched that favored a company in which he had just purchased stock.

Ben Carson, the noted brain surgeon who has been nominated to lead the housing department, is having to explain why his spokesman said the good doctor is unqualified for the job.

Andrew Puzder, the labor secretary-designate (pictured with Trump), reportedly is having second thoughts about even taking the job. Oh, and he’s got a messy divorce settlement hanging over him, too.

Scott Pruitt, picked to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, told a Senate committee that his views on whether human beings are responsible for climate change aren’t relevant.

And on and on we go.

It’s not all bad. The Senate Armed Services Committee has recommended confirmation for Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis — after he seemed to contradict Trump’s views about the threat posed by Russia.

I get that sometimes these high-level Cabinet picks go awry. Do you remember when two of President-elect Bill Clinton’s picks for attorney general had to bow out because they had employed illegal immigrants?

But that’s OK. Donald Trump assured us he would pick the “smartest people, the best people” to run the government while he concentrates on making America “great again.”


Dr. Carson’s HUD nomination: most puzzling of all Trump’s picks

Of all the people nominated by Donald J. Trump to join the new president’s administration, the one that continues to puzzle me the most is his pick for secretary of housing and urban development.

Ben Carson ran against Trump and 15 others for the Republican Party presidential nomination in 2016. He ended up in the campaign-trail ditch right along with the rest of them.

Here are two elements that trouble me greatly.

Trump said some amazingly harsh things about Dr. Carson, a noted pediatric neurosurgeon who retired from his medical practice to become a politician. Carson returned the fire to the eventual GOP nominee. They went at each other with rhetorical brass knuckles.

Second — and this came from Carson’s own mouth — was that he declared himself unqualified to lead a Cabinet agency. His spokesmen said managing a massive federal bureaucracy didn’t fit into his skill set. After the election, Carson in effect took himself out of the Trump administration mix for the most straightforward reason possible: He admitted to being unable to do the job.

But then … ?

Trump picks him to run HUD! The nomination raised eyebrows all across the nation. Didn’t this fellow just say he couldn’t do the job? Didn’t the good doctor admit to being — essentially — unfit to become a Cabinet secretary?

Now he’s going to lead an agency that, among other things, tends to the needs of poor Americans who need government-subsidized public housing.

The brilliant doctor has no knowledge of how to oversee such a massive operation.

Dr. Carson is a brilliant man. I do not intend to disparage his intelligence. But holy cow, man! His learning curve is going to be steep, as in monstrously steep.

Is the doctor up to the task of learning how this agency works? I have to wonder.

Don’t delay confirmation hearings

Senate Democrats want to delay the confirmation hearings for several of Donald J. Trump’s Cabinet nominees.

Interesting, yes? Sure. Democrats say they need more time to “vet” the nominees, meaning they need more time to find dirt on them.

Do they need that time? I don’t think so.

Trump has had ample opportunity to vet these folks, to learn about possible conflicts of interests or to determine whether they are truly qualified to hold the positions he is seeking for them.

So, let the president-elect submit his nominees to the appropriate Senate committees for the roughing up they can expect to get, particularly from Senate Democrats who are pretty miffed that Trump got elected president over Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Ethics officials are issuing warnings about proceeding without conducting thorough reviews of the nominees. Indeed, some of them are serious eyebrow-raisers.

Rex Tillerson at State is a friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has been accused by the CIA and other intelligence agencies of trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

Betsy DeVos is an ardent critic of public education, but she’s now being asked to serve as the secretary of (public) education.

Ben Carson once declared himself “not qualified” to run a federal agency, but Trump picked him as secretary of housing and urban development; go figure.

Rick “Oops” Perry, the former Texas governor, once declared his intention to get rid of the energy department. But wait! He’s been picked as the next energy secretary.

Jeff Sessions was rejected for a federal judgeship because of alleged racist remarks he made; he has been asked to become attorney general. Sheesh!

Hey, let’s proceed with these nomination hearings and see what happens next.

More eyes, not all of them, turn to Mitt


Rudy Giuliani won’t be Donald J. Trump’s secretary of state.

The former New York City mayor and current Republican rabble rouser has pulled himself out of the running. It might have been the questions over his foreign-government contacts that persuaded him he might not have been confirmed by the Senate, even with all those fellow Republicans running the place.

So …

Who will get the nod at State?

Mitt Romney might be the frontrunner. Then again, it might be someone else.

I’m kinda pulling for Mitt, although I cannot yet define my reasons why I am.


He once led the Never Trump movement. He made that extraordinary 17-minute blistering of Trump, calling him a “fraud, phony and con man.” He was so tough that Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, has lobbied publicly against her boss even considering him for the State job. Imagine that!

Why should Mitt get the job? He’s got street cred among foreign leaders. He’s a reasonable GOP conservative.

It appears he has been served his share of humble pie at that dinner date he had with Trump. The men must have talked about the State job and Mitt must have told Trump that he didn’t really and truly mean all those things he said. “I mean,” he could have said, “emotions were running high and it was, after all, a political speech. Politicians often say things they don’t really and truly mean, you know.”

I’m glad Rudy is out of the State Department picture, or so he says.

This is where I perhaps ought to caution everyone that Dr. Ben Carson — the renowned pediatric brain surgeon and former GOP presidential campaign rival of Trump’s — once declared he wasn’t qualified to run a federal agency.

So what did the president-elect do? He named him as the next housing and urban development secretary.

Let’s all stay tuned, shall we?