Scandal Cabinet

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Tiassa, Mar 22, 2018.

1. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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35,513
#ineffablestupidity | #WhatTheyVotedFor

I am very nearly speechless.

Rep. Claudia Tenney found herself on a rhetorical island again Wednesday after she claimed the so-called "deep state" was responsible for ordering an extravagantly priced dining set for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson's office.

"Ben Carson is so misunderstood," the New York Republican said on a local Upstate New York radio show before blaming an unnamed person in the deep state for ordering the furniture.

‡​

One of Carson's staffers—"one of his key people"—was in Tenney's office recently to discuss housing issues in the congresswoman's district when they broached the Carson furniture affair, she said.

"Somebody in the Deep State—it was not one of his people, apparently—ordered a table, like a conference room table or whatever it was for a room," Tenney said. "And that's what the cost was. Ben Carson tried to—he said, 'You know how hard it is to turn it back because of the way that the procurement happens?'"

This comes all of a day after Secretary Carson attempted to blame his wife. Which, in turn, raises a particular question. In recent years—and here I'm really thinking of Sen. Rand Paul's Gattaca Wikipedia plagiarism conspiracy, and how it took him, like, four tries before he got around to the boilerplate blaming of staff, and still couldn't do that right, thereby removing the boilerplate and ritual contexts and thus delivering especial insult—Republicans have gotten really weird about their excuses. They've been doing this a lot, lately, and while I get that people in general might get tired of the boilerplate, they're not rushing to reduce their E&O potential along the way, and the innovative excuses conservatives come up with as they go are even worse than ritually blaming a staffer.

Secretary Carson is known for both extravagance and false witness. I'm pretty sure I'm leaving something out, but how does it go: Don't know; what's that, you mean we did know; oh, hey, how about that bureaucracy; but, yeah, I didn't know; it's my wife's fault, anyway. Beltway 101: Blame an unnamed low-level staffer for simple E&O, and in this case, complain about the bureaucracy making it hard to repair these problems; this should be the first default excuse, not the fourth, or even second. Indeed, it should not require wry invocation like, something about Separation of Powers goes here, when a Member of Congress comes to the rescue of the executive branch in order to blame an unnamed staffer.

I don't know, though, if politicians can afford to wait for the three-hundred level lectures to explain why that Member of Congress should not be Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY22). Not only do we countenance the proposition of a deep-state conspiracy to harm Dr. Carson by ordering expensive furniture, it is also ... I mean ... yes, really.

This is one of those:

Tenney did not believe Carson would purchase such a dining room set due to his family's tenuous financial situation growing up.

"I know that Ben Carson did not order that table," Tenney said. "It has nothing to do with him. He comes from, you know, poverty."

She even spoke the pretentious, "you know".

There is a point at which Beltway decorum would require it absolutely inappropriate to respond, "Damn it, Tenney! this is serious!"

The problem is what happens when we try to take the New York Republican's words seriously.
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Notes:

Connolly, Griffin. "Tenney Blames 'Deep State' For Carson Furniture Debacle". Roll Call. 22 March 2018. RollCall.com. 22 March 2018. http://bit.ly/2IHzYgE

3. spidergoatVenued Serial MembershipValued Senior Member

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53,149
I know how it is, the Deep State apparently got into my Amazon wish list and ordered a bunch of stuff while I was recovering from my friend's bachelor party. Damn you Deep State!

5. XelorRegistered Senior Member

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145
Yes, they're not even above demonizing one of the own....To wit, this past weekend and Monday's Russia sanctions circus. I think Amb. Haley's response was apropos. She is after all one of the few individuals around Trump who, as well as being one of the few Republicans currently holding sway, is prescient and perspicacious enough to deserve the respect concomitant with saying she is merely a keen thinker/analyst who's arrived at different conclusions with whom one disagrees.

Plenty of public policy matters are neither black and white nor binary; thus for such things, it's natural that careful evaluators of them will have differing preferred methodologies for managing them and their foreseeable impacts. I'm okay with that, for even though those persons may espouse a different approach than I, I know they aren't perfunctory in their analysis and/or effectively ignorant on the matter; thus whatever tack they take, at least it won't be just flat-out ill considered and ill-fated at the inception. To wit....

He's also known for being a very fine neurosurgeon. The man has literally performed many brain surgeries, which necessarily makes one wonder why the hell Trump appointed him HUD Secretary and not HHS Secretary, Surgeon General, Director of the National Institutes of Health, or anything else that plays directly to his professional strengths. The only thing that Carson has that hints at a correlation between his experience and HUD's mission is that he grew in a poor family.

Last edited: Apr 19, 2018

7. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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35,513
There is something amiss in that about your presumption of the Trump administration. It's not that I disagree with the underlying principle of the statement, but, rather, that it isn't the one in effect for a president appointing Secretaries and Directors to harm their departments: Sessions (Justice), DeVos (Education), Tillerson (State), Zinke (Interior), Pruitt (EPA), Mnuchin (Treasury), Ross (Commerce), Perry (Energy), Carson (HUD).

And for Dr. Carson, part of the, "What have you done for me lately?" reminds that the heroic tales of neurosurgery are years ago, and 'twixt then and now he's been hawking books and conspiracy theories on a the church circuit, quite literally conning Christians with false witness.

Furthermore—

—there might have been a time when sentences like those would have worked, but we're fifteen months in, and you're describing a different presidency. Standard platitudes just don't function properly when applied according to the current Trump factor, and scrubbing their behavior with observably untrue, such as, "careful evaluators" and "managing ... foreseeable impacts". And on that latter, I have a joke about the town I live in and how city officials manage traffic; that is, if they're not deliberately making traffic worse, they're not managing anything. If the point is to agitate the poor, and the browner the better, then yes, the Trump administration are careful evaluators managing foreseeable impacts.

And the part about how, "whatever tack they take, at least it won't be just flat-out ill considered and ill-fated at the inception", is presently an article of faith. We're talking about a crew that manages to indict themselves nearly on a regular basis; if the disaster we witness is some carefully evaluated course, that ought to make some important point in and of itself.

Then again, I admit, detailing the scandal Cabinet is really depressing; futility is trying to keep up with Zinke and Pruitt alike. This tale of Ben Carson is actually pretty two-bit, all things considered; he even has greater ethical exposure in other aspects of his secretariat. It stands out, though, because the best his supporters can come up with is "Deep State" conspiracism.

But, yeah, the last month has seen the transition from snowball to avalanche. If we pick pretty much any of these players, just figuring out what they are up to could be some manner of full time job. The weird irony of this period, which history will have a difficult time properly settling and describing, has to do with a particular bit of partisanship: This administration and its allies have managed to bring almost exclusively what their Party ever warned people about government. There is something extraordinary happening, and that in a context atop everything else already seemingly extraordinary about this administration and period.

And Carson? One might think, for all the lies he's peddled over the years, he would be a bit better at it. Indeed, the bizarre credulity of the particular church circuits he worked might well mean he has never really needed to try all that hard to lie. I would need to triple-check, but I think he managed to blame his wife twice, in noncontiguous explanations. It doesn't require practice, per se, to pull off that kind of graceless transition, but the right mixture of sloth and indifference, which already overlap to some degree, anyway, will certainly suffice.

8. XelorRegistered Senior Member

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145
I guess I wasn't clear enough. The primary point I was trying to make is that unlike most Trump Admin. highly placed appointees, Nikki Haley is one who has earned the description "careful evaluator."

I don't care when he last practiced medicine; however, FWIW, he retired from medicine in 2013. The man's mind is not so addled that he doesn't well understand the exigencies of health care, medicine, disease, etc.; thus I wouldn't have and still would not object to his having a senior Administration role directly related to medicine and/or health care, and I don't think anyone credibly could/should. He surely would be better suited to HHS than he is to HUD, and surely a better fit at HHS than is Azar -- a lawyer, former pharmaceutical firm exec and former board member of a "Big Pharma" lobbying organization -- whom Trump appointed to run HHS. At the very least, were Carson running HHS, there'd be some hope that patient needs, rather than those of "Big Pharma" would feature most prominently in the HHS Secretary's mind.

While it may have been that Carson could have risen to the challenges of leading HUD and serving (and I do mean "serving," as in "bringing one's skills to bear for the benefit of the citizenry as a whole," not merely working and having one's toil be called service) in government, it seems to me he has not.
• Furniture scandal --> That was absolutely uncalled for. It doesn't bother me that the man felt it appropriate to get new furniture. It bothers me that:
• His wife had any say or role in the matter. AFAIK, she is not a HUD employee.
• He didn't have the presence of mind to instruct whoever oversaw the furniture procurement to keep within some sort of "sensible" budget. A simple statement like "We need to replace the furniture in my conference room...get something nice looking, but don't go overboard" would have been sufficient enough guidance to dissuade just about anyone from spending $31K on a table, sidebar and chairs. Apparently, either Carson gave no such input, or the person on his staff to whom he may have given it just didn't get the message and has no sense of restraint. • It bothers me that whoever handled the procurement didn't use extant procedures for doing so and executed the process without giving any consideration to at least one fairly recent HUD OIG report. • Judgment Shortcomings: • That Carson apparently hasn't anyone on his staff who is familiar with government procurement policies and procedures -- if only the codified requirement that one obtain a Congressional approval for spending of that sort that's >$5K -- and who, in turn, adhered to them.
• That Carson apparently lacked the prudence to so much as find out if there were any procurement procedures/policies that he had to follow in getting new furniture.
In contrast, Amb. Haley seems to have adroitly met the challenges of her assignment as U.N. Ambassador. As I said before, she strikes me as one of the few Administration officials who seems competent and qualified to carry out the duties of the role she's been assigned. Moreover, as one would expect any and every principal, she has not, on account of simply callous consideration of a matter, brought scandal to herself or made herself or the organization she heads appear in any way, shape or form inept, disingenuous, or reprobate. Of many in the Trump Admin. one cannot say that....here are but a few examples:
• Dept. of Energy -- Rick Perry. What exactly makes him qualified to head the department responsible for the world's largest store of nuclear weapons? Nothing. He wasn't even a good science student.
• Ambassador to the Vatican -- Callista Gingrich -- She's Roman Catholic, but she spent six years committing adultery. She has prior experience as a clerk in the House and writing children's books.
• EPA -- Scott Pruitt -- Suing the EPA is likely greatest qualification for that post. The part of OK he represented is among the most toxic in the U .S.
• Dept. of State -- Rex Tillerson -- While I have plenty of respect for Rex, is "moron" remark is proof that diplomacy -- part of which is knowing what to say to whom, what not say to whom and when to take either tack -- along with accurately sussing other individuals' character is not his strong suit.
• Dept. of Education -- Betsy DeVos -- In her confirmation hearing she attested that she knows very little about public education. Surprise that! The billionaire woman is the daughter of a billionaire.
• Spun HBCUs as "pioneers in school choice," completely disregarding the fact that HBCUs came to exist in the first place because overwhelmingly, extant schools at the time wouldn't admit non-whites.
• Ivanka Trump -- The woman's greatest areas of recognition are as a handbag designer and Instagrammer.
Of course, the least qualified person to hold any position of federal authority is the person having the most authority of anyone in the Executive Branch of government. It is thus unsurprising that we have see the above people and others like them appointed to key positions in government.

9. iceauraValued Senior Member

Messages:
26,897
He learned, though. The specific part of Montana his fellow Republican official Ryan Zinke enjoys visiting has been protected from industrial exploitation, and environmental restrictions on drilling and mining and so forth have been expanded in local scope.

Meanwhile, in scandals yet to come:
https://theintercept.com/2017/12/28/scott-pruitt-failed-banker-running-epa-superfund-program/

10. XelorRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
145
Who doesn't ascribe to the notion of "yes, we should, but not in my backyard?" LOL

11. TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

Messages:
35,513
#DrainTheSwamp | #WhatTheyVotedFor

It is actually hard to answer the question of how many investigations EPA Director Scott Pruitt is facing, but something goes here about the naïveté of Trump voters who pretended their candidate and president would "drain the swamp". Depending on how we count, I've heard answers at eleven and thirteen:

1. The EPA's inspector general is investigating Pruitt's controversial travel habits.

2. The House Oversight Committee is also exploring the EPA chief's use of public funds for first-class travel.

3. The EPA's inspector general is investigating Pruitt's behind-the-scenes talks with the National Mining Association.

4. Pruitt's exorbitant spending on an around-the-clock security detail is the subject of three inspector general investigations.

5. The House Oversight Committee is also examining the EPA chief's security expenditures.

6. The Government Accountability Office has already investigated Pruitt for exceeding federal spending limits when he bought a \$43,000 phone booth for his office.

7. The White House Office of Management and Budget is also investigating the phone booth.

8. The EPA's inspector general is investigating Pruitt's use of funds set aside for the Safe Drinking Water Act and diverting the money to give generous raises to two of his top aides.

9. The EPA's inspector general is investigating Pruitt's four-day trip to Morocco late last year.

10. The Government Accountability Office is investigating Pruitt's ouster of scientists from the EPA's science advisory committee.

11. The Government Accountability Office is investigating whether Pruitt broke lobbying laws with comments he made to the National Cattleman's Beef Association.

12. The House Oversight Committee is investigating Pruitt's living arrangement at a lobbyist's condo.

13. And as noted above, the EPA's inspector general is now also taking a closer look at Pruitt's time at that condo.

(Benen↱)

I think the general rule of thumb is that whatever Republicans complain about will only get worse if you elect them.

Think of it this way: Nobody likes dealing with what Bill Clinton did in this particular context because nobody wants to downplay the sex offense as such, but the comparative is bookending six Republican presidencies with criminal electoral scandal to describe a period by which the inheritor Ford might be the closest to respectable. That there are no guarantees of success with Democrats is one thing, but the virtual guarantee of criminality and damage that comes with electing Republicans really is obvious.

As conservatives lament their poor standing in society, it would seem they have yet to learn the basic and obvious, which is to stop behaving so poorly.

I know, I know, it's such a conundrum. To the one, there is the market appeal of being useful; to the other, that's just so oppressive, and how dare anyone say such things.

Politics is downstream from culture. And I do think that it's true that conservatives have lost in many ways the culture," said Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist for The Daily Beast who has previously worked for conservative outlets like The Daily Caller and Human Events.

He also said, "There is a sense on the right that is apocalyptic and fearful."

Earlier this month, Jesse Kelly, a writer for the mainstream conservative website The Federalist, wrote that Americans on the left and right can't get along anymore, that domestic unrest could be coming and that the best alternative course would be to just split the country up.

"We're just not on the same page on anything anymore. Rather than the constant fighting and before it gets really nasty, I think we should just go our separate ways," Kelly told NPR.

Kurt Schlichter, a columnist for the conservative Townhall.com, recently wrote a column speculating about whether there could be another civil war. He concluded there could be one and predicted how the left would lose a violent conflict if it came to it.

"We want to be treated with respect, and we will not tolerate anything less which is just unacceptable for this to continue. I'm tired of Hollywood spitting on us. I am tired of academia spitting on us. I'm tired of the news media spitting on us," he said.

(Mak↱)

Conservatives are as conservatives will, and if nobody else likes that, conservatives are ready to call off the Republic. That the Republic itself should hinge on the empowerment or not of traditional injustice seems the strangest of questions, yet it has been with us from the outset.
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Notes:

Benen, Steve. "How many investigations is the EPA's Pruitt currently facing?" msnbc. 30 April 2018. msnbc.com. 30 April 2018. https://on.msnbc.com/2HItMUE

Mak, Tim. "Despite So Much Winning, The Right Feels Like It's Losing". All Things Considered. 27 April 2018. NPR.org. 2 May 2018. https://n.pr/2KmQpQo