ELDER MUSIC: Put a Tiger in your Tank
Hot Flashes and a Resistance Note

Ben Carson's Geezer Surgery (and More)

There is no dearth of reasons to rant, rail and rage against the new president for the disgraceful caliber of people he has placed in positions of power throughout the departments, offices and agencies of the federal government.

Even a few Republicans have been embarrassed by the obvious lack of experience or knowledge of some nominees. Think Betsy DeVos, Rex Tillerson, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, among others.

In some cases, however, a person who is given high political office is deeply unqualified in more disturbing ways: ideologically, ethically and morally.


On Saturday in these pages, I mentioned that Dr. Ben Carson, in his first official speech as the new secretary of the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), equated the men and women who were taken from their homes by force and shipped off to America to become slaves - with “immigrants.”

That is only the most obvious of the offensive moments in Carson's speech a week ago. Here is a short transcript of another, when he spoke about his previous work as a neurosurgeon:

”With a kid, you can operate 10, 12, 18, 20 hours and if you're successful, your reward may be 50, 60, 70, 80 years of life.

“Whereas with an old geezer, you spend all that time operating and they die in five years of something else. So I like to get a big return on my investment.”

I'll pause for a moment to let the potential consequences of that perspective on housing and related civil rights sink in.

Most days, I record the Late Show with Stephen Colbert so I can watch his monologue the next day. One of the “rewards” for my effort is way too many ageist jokes (although no more than the other late-night hosts).

But this time, to his great, grand credit, Colbert called out Carson.

This is that segment with the two parts from the secretary's speech I've highlighted along with two others that deserve equal piles of scorn:

You'll find some of the instant Twitter reaction to Carson's slave/immigrant comment at Huffington Post.

It's not that Secretary Carson is more ideologically or ethically challenged or any less knowledgeable about his new position than some other appointed leaders in this most reprehensible federal administration in my lifetime.

But he does appear to be the most candid about his shortcomings; whether by accident or design is hard to know.

What I do know is that there is so much double-dealing, overreach, hubris, lying, ignorance, secrecy, possible criminality and even treason along with open disdain for the Constitution, the rule of law and the citizenry itself that we must recognize every instance we see.

That isn't easy because there are several new ones every day. But we must not allow the bizarre beliefs of Secretary Carson and those of everyone else in the Trump administration to become so normal and ordinary that we are no longer shocked.

Do not let that happen to you or the people you know.


The thing about Carson's "immigrant" comment is that he was trying to make a point, but muffed it so badly that we don't know what he wanted to say. The only thing he can do now is just get on with the business of HUD and let the record do the talking.

Almost a death panel unto himself.

Honestly, when you think you've seen the worst of this train wreck, they go and do/say something even worse. 4 years of this....

Of there being people in that audience who laughed at his "entertaining" talk, is the chilling factor for me. Think of the influence of such blather on those just clicking on a facebook or youtube shot of this.

Everyday it gets scarier.

I knew this guy was loony tunes when he said that the Pyramids were built for grain storage facilities. He might have been a great brain surgeon but his basic education in other fields stopped way too early in life and he's not interested in learning actual facts.

My sense of this cabinet [remember the Women's March sign that said "I have seen smarter cabinets at Ikea"?] is that dt had method in his madness. He may have deliberately selected people who, on the whole [and maybe all of them, who knows], represent contrary opinions to those agencies that they are chosen to head. In some way, one can view them, at least in terms of the previous administration, as the primary complainers against those agencies/departments/areas/, whatever they are collectively called.

So, we have the example of Carson. It would actually have made more logical sense had he been selected for Health and Human Services, right? in that, he at least has expertise. But no. He will head HUD, where at the very least he is massively unprepared, if not, like so many of the others, violently against their agencies' activities. At least he had a connection to public housing. But his ignorance and lack of tact, to put it mildly, make him manifestly unprepared for any public job, let alone HUD.

But I bet dt, if he bothered actually to read or listen to Carson's speech, would have roared with delight at his slurs.

This all just gets worse and worse.

I missed this one, so I'm glad you brought it forward. Ben Carson, the least impressive of all of Trump's team, has spoken what is in his heart—nothing that makes sense! I watch Colbert most nights, but greatly dislike his ageist so called "jokes". He should be above that, but no one seems to challenge him, hence he will keep on saying despicable things about old people!

More than twenty years ago, in a used book store, I came across a small paperback titled, "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story." The cover summarized the story of a young black man who had gone from a childhood of poverty, public housing and a not particularly impressive academic history to becoming the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins by the time he was in his early thirties.

I knew nothing about this person when I picked the book up, just that it looked like an interesting and unusual story. The book was actually fairly bland and a very fast read. The main take away seemed to be the dedication and impact of Carson's mother, who worked extremely hard to move her sons to a better environment and impressed upon them the importance of education in making a better life for themselves, and the role of faith in that life. He clearly has held strong religious beliefs for much of his life, and believes that he would not have achieved what he has without the involvement of a higher power.

I can completely understand his thinking, since there seems to be little else to explain it. He wasn't a terribly dedicated student for much of his life, wasn't (and isn't) a charismatic sort of person, nor does he present himself as a strong leader, so how does one explain his success? He was clearly smart enough to get into and through what would seem to be a rigorous program, but may also have benefited from being in college at a time when doors were beginning to open as a result of affirmative action. He must have worked hard enough to master the material and hone his skills, and we know he is very devout and (as far as we know so far at least) has lived a life of moderation, hard work and responsibility. Millions of people out there can probably say the same, but Carson has also had the good fortune of having had a very profitable career which has allowed him to accumulate the resources and connections that helped bring him to this point. And this has all been bundled with being an evangelical in the right place at the right time. There are lots of people of all sorts of backgrounds who have worked hard for many years to improve housing and other options for those who need them, who have the intelligence, the drive, the experience to have done an excellent job at the head of HUD, but who have been overlooked so that the position can go to someone with cosmetic qualifications.

It will be interesting to see what sort of HUD leader he becomes, and it might have been interesting to know if that is the same sort of leader he would have been much earlier in his life under different circumstances.

I think the thing that disturbed me the most about the video is that he must have deliberately developed the "joke" about the return on investment differences between operating on young children versus "geezers" as a part of his public speaking repertoire that gets used widely. I'm pretty sure I've heard him say this same thing in a video from a college commencement talk he gave years ago.

I try to keep calm, but it is frightening times. Sadly, I do have a backup plan to leave the country, but I plan to fight as long as I can.

A statement so cold and unfeeling from a physician is truly disgusting. Imagine, you might get five more years of living with your beloved spouse or parent, but how terrible that you wasted your surgeon's time!

A doctor's pledge to 'first do no harm' should have been Ben Carsons reminder that old people are deserving of the same quality of life that everyone has.

In a shocking comment on a columnist rant on the ACA a response stated that something like 92% of the money spent on the aged was spent in the last 2 years of their life. He then went on to tell of an elderly woman (80 or 90 years old) who had expensive by-pass surgery and then died of another disease 4 months later. His point was exactly the one Carson was making (not a joke) and I marshaled all my arguments against this kind of mentality (you all know them), but a little voice made me feel guilty for asking for expensive medical care at the age of nearly 92. Kind of like Sam Levinson telling why he got fat; his mother kept saying, eat eat, think of the starving Armenians.

But another voice said, are you not entitled to feel well and enjoy however many days, months or years you may have? After all, there is no guarantee how long any of us will live. I could have another 20 years (the odds are not in my favor, but what the hey?) And sadly, children still die after a year of expensive chemotherapy and other treatments.

Good medical care should never be based on how successful it is or how long the patient will live after the expenditure.

In this Topsy-turvey country we spend more money killing our young, healthy men and women in futile wars than on saving the sick.

I have heard that "return on investment so called joke before." Bad enough he said it once, but to find it a bon mot amusing enough to repeat? I sure could use a big dose of the audacity of hope right now.

As usual, Darlene shows that she has her head screwed on straight.
The truth is that this country is rich enough to support any social welfare program it wants to and still be able to have the worlds strongest military to protect our interests.
The problem is that we have some outdated Puritan work ethic that's shuns people who can't work or , in their eyes, don't contribute to society and therefore are not eligible to reap the rewards afforded to the rest of us.
Compassion be damned man, pick up a shovel with your one good arm, drag yourself over with your one good leg and start digging and maybe, after 6 months, you'll be eligible for medical benefits.

Bizarro world. The one with the fewest votes wins - those least qualified get the top jobs.

There are a lot of middle class Black people, folks whose parents were teachers and civil servants, who were raised on the example of Carson's success. He made himself (profitably) an icon of hard work and worth for some people.

If his presidential campaign is taken as an example, lots of this is a con -- the campaign seems to have been built to create a small donor list of gullible marks. Not perhaps for Carson personally, tho he got a cut, but for his consultants.

He's got the job of being DT's house black man. Yeah for him! All these people who think they can use DT for their own interests are likely to find themselves used and abused, like the marks who bought his "university" scam. I have every hope that Paul Ryan will be among the casualties.

I loathe Ben Carson (and the party he represents). BUT, I agree with Carson re the rate of return of expensive resources on say someone older than 85 (and agreed no one knows the duration of each life). Resources are scarce, and better to spend them on someone younger with (probably) a longer lifespan.

I am 65+ and am quite happy for the notional 'age limit' to be reduced from say 85 to 65.

(The one thing that gets me each time is an old white geezer 70yrs old taking on, at age 70, the most powerful job in the world when I at 65 think life is over. SMH.)

What ever happened to manners,dignity and grace? Not to mention values and morals. This man will has none of these.

As the wife of a fabulous person who did, in fact, have brain surgery...twice....for a malignant tumor and from that gained 5 years and 8 months of life before his ultimate death......I am appalled by Ben Carson's careless comment. Mike's neurosurgeon, Dr. Nick Chandler from Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville,
was the epitome of caring concern and skill in Mike's case, as one would expect, and I will always be in his debt. Ben Carson is not a patch on his ass!!

Ben Carson's recent comments demonstrate the need for broad based education: what was originally called a liberal education that included humanities, languages, literature, art, music, and sciences. Dr. Carson is not the only employee at the White House who lacks this sort of education. And when it is lacking, it shows.

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