Reason Roundup

Ben Carson's 'Oreo' Gaffe Highlights Acronym Madness at Federal Agencies

Plus: New York may ban 3D-printed guns and most Americans support Roe v. Wade.


"No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O. R-E-O." That's U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (D–Calif.) speaking at a Capitol Hill hearing on housing yesterday. For those unfamiliar with federalese, REO stands for "real estate owned." It's a term that refers to foreclosed upon houses now owned by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It's also a term with which HUD Secretary Ben Carson is apparently unfamiliar.

Asked by Porter about such homes—"do you know what an REO is?"—Carson replied, "An Oreo?"

It was not his only stumble yesterday, with Carson appearing alternately clueless and contentious throughout the hearing. Afterward, he attempted to make light of the Oreo/REO mistake:

But perhaps the gaffe doesn't speak as ill of the doc-turned-housing-policy-head as it may seem. "In Carson's defense the acronym soup of federal housing policy is indefensible and I don't use any of it in my writing it [sic] I can help it," tweeted Atlantic CityLab reporter Kriston Capps.

Capps notes that there are 428 official departmental acronyms within HUD.


Roe v. Wade is just fine with a majority of Americans, according to a new poll from CBS News. In the survey, 67 percent of respondents said they did not want to see the landmark abortion case overturned. In addition, 48 percent said they would be angry if Roe is overturned, while 26 percent said they would be happy about it and 23 percent said it didn't really matter that much.


New York may ban 3D-printed guns. A measure to this effect "passed the Senate earlier this month and breezed through the Democratic-led Assembly on Monday," reports USA Today. The bill would make it illegal to manufacture, sell, transport, or possess any "undetectable firearm."


  • Mississippi's six-week abortion ban will be weighed by the same judge who, six months ago, struck down the state's attempt at banning abortion after 15 weeks pregnancy.
  • Peter Suderman tackles the latest authoritarian economics whim from 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
  • Another Institute for Justice win against occupational licensing, this time as it concerns Savannah, Georgia, tour guides.
  • QAnon conspiracy theorists are teaming up with a New Age Seattle cult leader.
  • British nurses are campaigning for the decriminalization of prostitution.
  • "Justin Amash thinks Donald Trump is guilty of 'impeachable conduct,' and he is absolutely right," writes Jacob Sullum. "Impeachable conduct is whatever the House of Representatives decides it is, a point the president's defenders and some of his critics seem determined to obscure."


NEXT: Video of NYU Panel on Hate Speech on Social Media

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  1. “No, not an Oreo. An R-E-O. R-E-O.”

    Can’t fight this feeling anymore.

    1. That Ransom Eli Olds feeling?

    2. Follow up question, Mr. Carson. How do you feel about Aleppo?

    3. I should also mention that with comments like this, Fist, I’m gonna Keep on Loving You.

      1. If you love Fist you’re just Fooling Yourself.

        1. these are terrible. time for me to fly.

          1. I’m ridin the storm out on this one.

    4. Where can I get tickets to see OREO Speedwagon?

  2. Ben Carson is a brain surgeon. The media people who are criticizing him couldn’t pass a high school science class without mommy and daddy paying someone to tutor them and threatening to sue the school if their snowflake didn’t get an A. Sorry but people as dumb as the media have no right to criticize actual smart people.

    1. Nobody is allowed to have a brain fart in the age of Twitter.

    2. So we are not allowed to make fun of smart people when they fuck up? Oh, it’s because he is a Republican.

      1. Government workers are better than you.

      2. No, it’s because he is black. Did you leave your intersectionality chart at the meeting for the International Workingmen’s Association?

        1. Carson is the wrong kind, the worst kind, of Black. He is conservative who went off the plantation a long time ago. The fact that he succeeded at a high level profession just makes it worse. The “Oreo” gaff is just too much for the MSM to pass up without making out of it what they can. “Hey, Carson doesn’t even know REO from OREO! Can you believe it?! They’re all so STOOPID!”

          That is the sort of bullshit that pisses some people off, because it is every fucking day type of bullshit from the American Pravda machine.

          1. +100

      3. You can’t actually blame Carson for this one since he is so accustomed to being called an Oreo.

        1. You axed your question incorrectly.

        2. “Black people must act like cliches”
          Fuck that’s racist Buttplug.

      4. You, no you are not. That is a privilege that only goes with smart people. Sorry Forrest.

      5. So we are only allowed to make fun of smart people when they fuck up if they are Republican.

        FTFY, prog

    3. Na, I’m going to make fun of politicians whenever I want. Also, I applaud Ben Carson for laughing at himself and being a good sport.

      1. Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine brighter.

        1. Are we allowed to laugh here or is that not okay? I didn’t realize that libertarians were so up tight.

          1. John and Ken Shultz don’t understand humor and are incapable of laughing. Most everyone else can laugh.

            1. That’s good to know. I know hostility is guaranteed on any political forum, but wow we have some very rigid no-fun types around here. Libertarians always seemed a little more relaxed to me.

              1. It’s not that some libertarians are rigid and uptight, it’s that some of them are very devout members of the Cult of the Conman and their God will not be mocked nor shall any of their God’s apostles. You dare utter a disparaging word about Tr-mp, you’ll find yourself wished into the cornfield for your wrongthink.

                1. Trimp?



                  Oh. . .OH!

                  It’s Trymp, isn’t it?

                2. “Cult of the Conman” – t. Clinton supporter Jerryskids
                  Oh wow.

            2. In defense of John, he can take a joke and is willing to poke fun at himself from time to time. Ken, not so much.

          2. This is an anti-bullying web blog.

            1. Haha, calm down man, relax. No one is attacking you.

              1. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.

            2. This is the best joke in the thread.

    4. Ben Carson is a brain surgeon.

      Which is obviously what makes him eminently capable of running HUD. Just because he’s smart at one thing doesn’t mean he’s smart at everything.

      1. It’s HUD. It’s not rocket science.

        1. Its HUD. Its definitely not like the field of medicine.

        2. Efficiently running anything that big and complex is probably impossible no matter who you are. The same goes for other cabinet level departments. The Secretaries are just holding on for dear life, trying to make slight adjustments to the course of their high-momentum bureaucracies, and rarely succeeding.

          1. I don’t think anyone at HUD wants it to be run efficiently. They would see that as a downside. Kinda like DCF.

      2. Dr. Ben probably just didn’t get the memo about the TPS report cover sheets.

    5. People can be very smart in some areas and pretty dumb in others.
      I’m not saying Carson is stupid in any way. I don’t know enough about him. But his brilliance as a neurosurgeon doesn’t necessarily extend to other areas.
      But it doesn’t really matter who is the head of HUD anyway.

  3. The dark side of ‘socialism’
    For example, socialists celebrate equality yet distance themselves from the army of bureaucrats and secret police required to enforce it. So-called libertarian communists are effectively longing for a dish of fried snowballs. And democratic socialism – “the democratisation of every aspect of society”, as prominent Left-wing columnist Owen Jones has defined it – would in practice be ruled by fanatics with too much time on their hands; typically the over-zealous and the under-sexed.

    …Later on, the pilgrims will pronounce that it does not matter because the experiment was ‘not real socialism’. And they will get away with it. “After Venezuela fell off a cliff,” Niemietz writes, “some of Britain’s most eager Chavistas went on to become some of the most senior political figures in the country”.

    1. “One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”
      ― George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

      1. fruit-juice drinker

        Luckily it was just water I snorted water out of my nose. Imagine the discomfort and mortification if it had been grapefruit juice.

        Prophet, poet and comedian. Too bad that bastard was British.

        1. Prophet, poet, comedian and socialist

        2. .

          Maybe the socialism stuff was just part of his comedy act?