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Pamela Patenaude, Housing and Urban Development photo

Time for another farewell to another government official who bucked the Trump system by being annoyingly competent. The Washington Post brings us the story of Pam Patenaude, who until today served as deputy secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She was also one of the few people in top leadership who seemed to know a damn thing about HUD's mission and actually helping poor people get housing.

The WaPo story is kind of amazing. A whole bunch of current and former HUD insiders paint Patenaude as the one competent person in the agency fighting to do good work while surrounded by nincompoops. But Patenaude, ever the loyal political appointee, insisted in an interview that she's leaving to spend more time with her family and no, no, she certainly has no issues with the administration or the leadership of HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who has filled HUD with partisan hacks, suck-ups, and Trump campaign cast-offs who know nothing about HUD but needed well-paid government jobs. Ah, but we repeat ourselves.


Patenaude, who has worked at HUD in one capacity or another since the Reagan administration when she was 21, told WaPo reporters,

"It's a bittersweet farewell to HUD" [...]

She denied that internal conflicts played a role and said she looks forward to spending time with her husband at their home in New Hampshire. "These jobs are all-consuming," she said. "There are no ulterior motives. I'm not mad at the administration."

That's very different from the situation described by "five people with direct knowledge" of her 16 months as second in command at HUD, who say she was pretty much the main administrator keeping the place together. The whole story veers between the insiders telling WaPo about the bullshit Patenaude had to battle against, and Patenaude herself saying naw, it was all fine, really. One of her colleagues said there wasn't any single breaking-point issue that led her to resign in December, just a constant stream of frustrations from "pushing this rock uphill over and over again only to have it fall back down." You know, like the Greek myth of Wile E. Coyote.

Here's a f'rinstance, with the sources explaining an issue and then Patenaude making nice and insisting everything's fine, just fine, OK?

Patenaude disagreed with the agency's handling of an Obama-era fair-housing rule requiring communities receiving federal funds to address long-standing patterns of racial segregation, according to three people with direct knowledge of internal HUD debates. Carson had suspended the 2015 rule, calling it "burdensome."

Patenaude told The Washington Post she did not support the rule as written by the Obama administration but said she wanted to educate communities about the law as the agency deliberated on a path forward. She said policy discussions continue.

"My position was we had a moral and legal obligation to get it right," Patenaude said. "Policy discussions are a series of explorations, and Secretary Carson and I are absolutely aligned on the need to educate America about fair housing."

We sort of wish the reporters had looked into whether Patenaude's severance package includes treatment for Stockholm Syndrome.

One of the final boulders Patenaude had to deal with was actually rolled at her by conspiracy theorist in chief Donald Trump, who back in September convinced himself -- on the basis of zero evidence -- that Puerto Rico was sneakily diverting disaster aid to pay off its debt. Didn't matter that it wasn't happening in reality. He'd heard it, and he believed it, so he wanted action, damn it:

Trump told then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and then-Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney that he did not want a single dollar going to Puerto Rico, because he thought the island was misusing the money and taking advantage of the government, according to a person with direct knowledge of the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive internal deliberations. Instead, he wanted more of the money to go to Texas and Florida, the person said.

"POTUS was not consolable about this," the person said.

Patenaude cleared things up with budget officials in a December meeting, made clear that since Congress had directed the money for Puerto Rico it would be illegal to send it to whiter more "deserving" disaster areas, and reassured them HUD was doing all the necessary oversight to keep those people in line.

Patenaude, who had visited Puerto Rico more than half a dozen times during her tenure, was about to make her final trip to the island as deputy secretary and wanted to ensure that [OMB Director Mick] Mulvaney's team corrected any misinformation transmitted to the president, said a HUD official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

And then, a week after Puerto Rico had finally been authorized to start accessing the disaster funds, Patenaude announced she'd be stepping down, whew.

"She didn't want to abandon Puerto Rico," said the HUD official. "Once she felt like she left Puerto Rico in a good place, she felt like she could leave."

Ah, but that's not how Patenaude put it in her interview with the Post.

I didn't push back. I advocated for Puerto Rico and assured the White House that Puerto Rico had sufficient financial controls in place and had put together a thoughtful housing and economic development recovery plan.

Patenaude also told the Post she will "continue to be supportive of the president and his agenda," and she plans to "be working very hard for his reelection."

Again, more follow-up seems called for from the reporters. For instance, will Patenaude's dental plan cover any damage from the obviously strenuous teeth-gritting on display here? We worry about her. Oh, and thanks to the government shutdown, Puerto Rico may be eligible to access the appropriated disaster funds, but actually processing them? That'll have to wait for Trump to get over his WALL tantrum.

As Michael Lewis details in his recent book The Fifth Risk, good functional government isn't solely about who's at the top of the org chart -- what really matters is having competent career people who know what agencies are supposed to do and how things actually get done. Of course, if the people at the top are incompetent boobies and they start filling appointed positions with fellow hacks and incompetents, things can start going sideways fast. Welcome to HUD in the Trump administration.

[WaPo / Bloomberg]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Once upon a time... about ten years ago, a group of entirely ridiculous men burst onto the scene wearing stupid hats and telling men that wearing stupid hats and telling men that walking up to women in bars and insulting ("negging") them would get them laid. This did not last long, as women also had televisions and computers and were completely aware of these tricks as well, so when some ass came up to us in a bar and said "Hey, nice nails, are they real?" we would laugh and laugh and loudly announce "Oh my god, this guy just tried to neg me! Can you believe that shit? HEY EVERYONE, THIS GUY JUST TRIED TO NEG ME!" and then refer to him as "Mystery" the whole night.

Most of the men who tried that shit only did so a few times before realizing that it wasn't going to work, and thus moved on to other things. Perhaps things that did not involve furry hats and coming off as a huge creep. We may never know, because I would assume that those who tried it are now extremely embarrassed and would never, ever admit to this to us.

Still, there were a few men willing to eat that shit up, as well as some grifters willing to take advantage of that. Said grifters tended to be extremely misogynistic and seemed more like they were teaching men how to be as despised by women as they were than teaching them how to actually be liked by women.

Some of them, like Roosh V, a creepy weirdo who actually does live in his mom's basement, actively encouraged men to rape women who were intoxicated to the point of being obviously unable to consent.

However, even that branch of the PUA tree is wilting away. Many "self-help" style PUA forums like Nextasf and RSDnation are shutting down or have already shut down. In March, Chateau Heartiste, a batshit crazy PUA turned White Nationalist/Alt-Right blog was shut down by Wordpress. This week, rape advocate Roosh V (whom you may recall once called yours truly a "Wonkette typist/clown face, would not bang") announced that he was renouncing his PUA ways and devoting himself to Jesus. He explained to the forum he manages that he would no longer be allowing anyone to discuss premarital "fornication."

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'Baby Geniuses' star Jon Voight took to Twitter early this morning to proclaim his undying love for Donald Trump, probably because there is no one left in his life who will listen to him talk about this, or anything else, in person. In this video rant, Voight encouraged members of the Republican Party, whom he apparently thinks are the only real citizens of the United States, to stand by Donald Trump and "acknowledge the truth" that he is the best President since Abraham Lincoln.


Part ONE:

People of the Republican Party, I know you will agree with me when I say our president has our utmost respect and our love. This job is not easy. For he's battling the left and their absurd words of destruction. I've said this once and I'll say this again. That our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln. I'm here today to acknowledge the truth, and I'm here today to tell you my fellow Americans that our country…

Oh no, not our absurd words of destruction!

Part DEUX:

is stronger, safer, and with more jobs because our President has made his every move correct. Don't be fooled by the political left, because we are the people of this nation that is witnessing triumph. So let us stand with our president. Let us stand up for this truth, that President Trump is the greatest president since President Lincoln.

Does Jon Voight not know there have been... other presidents? Can he name them? Because really, it does not sound like it. Does he also not know that a very big chunk of the Republican Party actually does not care very much for Abraham Lincoln? Namely those defenders of Confederate statues that Trump called "very fine people?" Also, did he intentionally diss their beloved Ronald Reagan?

Who can know? Who can even tell what he is trying to say or why he is trying to say it. He doesn't appear to have tweeted much since 2016, so I'm guessing whoever's job it was to keep him from tanking his career quit. Either that... or after filming the seventh season of Ray Donovan, he found out it's going to be canceled or his character is getting killed off or something and he is now free to be a jackass? I don't know, I haven't watched the show, although my parents are very into it and mad that I haven't watched it. Literally all I know about it is that it has something to do with Boston, because they keep mentioning that to me like it's a selling point.

It seems useless at this point to note that the people who scream their faces off about how bad it is for Hollywood celebs to support liberal causes, and how they should keep their politics to themselves, etc. etc. make a way bigger deal than normal people do whenever a Big Time Hollywood Celebrity like Jon Voight or, uh, Scott Baio, supports their cause. Mostly because they're the only ones who have elected a reality TV star and the star of Bedtime for Bonzo (who by the way, also once practically ruined a perfectly good Bette Davis movie with his bad acting. Which is not to say that Dark Victory is not fantastic and probably the best thing to watch if you want to sob your face off, but he was very bad in it.) to run the country.

But we might as well do that anyway, because it actually never stops being funny.

[Jon Voight Twitter]

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