Belaboring the Obvious

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Does the ghost of Samuel Pierce...

... ride again around the halls of HUD? Alphonso Jackson, Bush's current Secretary of HUD, made a few comments that have caused a few ripples in the force. Speaking to the Real Estate Executive Council (a group of minority real estate executives) in Dallas on April 28th, Jackson averred that he had killed the award of a federal contract to a HUD bidder, because the "brother" was claimed to say to him, "I have a problem with your president." Jackson then went on to say to the assembled group: "He didn't get the contract...." "Why should I reward someone who doesn't like the president, so they can use funds to try to campaign against the president? Logic says they don't get the contract. That's the way I believe."

Apart from this being a violation of federal law, it says something about the way Jackson thinks this is the way federal contracting ought to work. Not long after the appearance of the article in the Dallas Business Journal, a spokesperson for Jackson said the contract was not for housing, but for an advertising contract. A second statement by the spokesperson, Dustee Tucker, asserted that the Secretary was being "anecdotal" and that the event never happened: "He was merely trying to explain to the audience how people in D.C., will say critical things about the secretary, will unfairly characterize the president and then turn around and ask you for money," Tucker said. "He did not actually meet with someone and turn down a contract. He's not part of the contracting process."

As a reader of Josh Marshall's TalkingPointsMemo has said, it all sounds sort of curious. Why would a contractor seeking a HUD contract blurt out that he had a problem with the Secretary's president, in the first place?

Maybe it's all the product of a fevered imagination, due, no doubt, to the Secretary's having to deal with the fever swamp of public opinion these days as are most Bush, ahem, officials. But, story or no, what was the point of Jackson saying something like that to a bunch of minority real estate executives? The message seems absolutely clear--play ball or else.

Not that long ago, Jackson felt compelled to write USA Today, and in an op-ed for that paper's pages in September, 2004, claimed that John Kerry was just playing race politics for suggesting that Republicans would try to suppress minority votes in the upcoming presidential election, and that Republicans' policies were good for minorities, using himself, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Rod Paige as examples.

Well, the results are in. Republicans did their utmost to suppress minority votes--in a bunch of places--as documented by Rep. John Conyers, and Mark Crispin Miller in his latest book. Condoleezza Rice has shown that she probably should have been named Kindasleezza Rice (never gonna forget those "mushroom clouds," Condi), Powell is in disgrace for having played the good soldier to Bush's Napoleon and is now gone, Rod Paige found ways to game the statistics in his own home school district that helped put the lie to NCLB, and is now gone, too.

In the same op-ed, Jackson said he was booed by the mostly black National Baptist Convention in New Orleans (and that was a year before Katrina struck!). He said it was because he was a Republican, but, still, he maintains that Republicans are good for blacks and other minorities. Maybe that's because he doesn't have one of those chitlins jobs. Maybe that's because he's not reading his own government's data.

Samuel Pierce's HUD was a nest of influence-peddling, and Alphonso Jackson apparently thinks that's the way federal business should be done, whether or not he actually engaged in any overt attempt to influence contracting.

Once again, Republicans--including toadies like Alphonso Jackson--will be nonplussed as to why minorities just don't like them, or why black people with pinched and shriveled white Republican souls aren't impressive to ordinary folks of all ethnic stripes. Republicans, umm, attention, please. All together, now, in the key of Cash, sing, "I am not a crook."


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