Tuesday links from The Political Carnival
Via Mike Lukovich, amuniversal
In the past couple of days, the Los Angeles Times letters to the editor about the jobless and homeless knocked it out of the park. I'm sharing a few samples, because our voices matter:
Re "222,000 in state to lose jobless aid," Dec. 25
So, Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky claim that funding extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless would hurt their chances of getting hired.
By that logic, it would necessarily follow that the homeless should not be given rent subsidies for an apartment because it would hinder them from buying a house someday.
I get it now.
"222,000 in state to lose jobless aid" — that was the headline I saw Christmas morning, and it totally ended the joy that day should have brought.
I hope Santa had 535 lumps of coal for each voting member of Congress.
That was just in California. Nationwide, the number of those who will no longer receive unemployment benefits skyrockets to 1.3 million. Did I mention that Congress members-- who are paid $174,000 a year-- are taking a holiday break (yes, another one) to rest from all the work they didn't do?
And we all know what unemployment can lead to, right? If you answered "homelessness," you would be correct. And as so many American families struggle to eat and stay alive, the very, very wealthy struggle to come up with ways to keep up with the over-the-top Joneses by outdoing one another with preposterously showy novelty perks.
There is no link to the following letters, because, true to form, The L.A. Times failed to post these online. I transcribed these from my morning paper and added a link that is a MUST-read:
Re "Union Station's homeless," Editorial, Dec. 25
Once again we read on this Christmas Day that the business community-- in this instance, aided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority-- finds no room for the desperately poor at Union Station.
One way to justify keeping the homeless at bay is to perpetuate blatant stereotypes, exemplified by the oft-repeated phrase "aggressive panhandling." Both words are extremely negative and imply that people asking for charity are not only "bums" but that their actions, as the word "aggressive" conveys, border on violence.
When our favorite nonprofit organizations beg for our money, we call it intensive fundraising and assume it to be normal and expected, even when we are "aggressively" bombarded with stacks of nuisance letters and phone calls-- something no person without a home has ever done to me.
I suspect The Times was being ironic when it mentioned that only 4,000 shelter beds are available each night for Los Angeles County's more than 57,000 homeless, and then that outreach workers should encourage people at Union Station to seek out Shelters.
Douglas J. Miller
On Christmas Day, an article in the Business section reported on houses built with moats and other luxuries selling for as much as $50 million.
In the same paper, The Times editorialized on the homeless in Union Station. The editorial noted that there are 57,000 homeless in L.A. and only 4,000 beds to serve them.
Something is seriously wrong.
Okay, talk me down.
Seems like Congressmen all over the place are on a law breaking spree. A few days ago it was Florida Congressman Trey Radel. Now it's Hawaii's Paul Kersey. And if he isn't apprehended soon, we may need to call McGarrett and hear him say, "Book 'em, Dano, murder one."
A U.S. House of Representative member of Hawaii has become Charles Bronson's vigilante character Paul Kersey, from Death Wish. His name is Tom Brower and there should be an APB put out on him. He needs to be stopped, apprehended and arrested for criminal assault, stalking and destruction of private property. He's armed himself with a lethal weapon, a sledgehammer and he's targeting the homeless. This is not a joke. He's armed and dangerous.
He must be arrested immediately before he commits murder. You know those awful viral cellphone videos that some wilding teens make on their cellphones t hen post on the Internet? Those horrific attacks where they randomly attack, kick and beat some homeless person until they're unconscious? Well guess which member of Congress has been doing this? And he's been caught on tape! (See Below)
His mission is to attack homeless victims by threatening them wielding his deadly weapon. If they elude him, he destroys their possessions and the privately owned shopping carts that homeless use to transport their personal belongings. He's taking the law into his own hands. These shopping carts he's destroying are not his. They're privately owned or leased by individual stores. He has no right to do that. This deranged man justifies it as getting back at the homeless.
Getting back at them? For what?
This armed lunatic is causing innocent, homeless people to fear for their life as he stalks them and their belongings, leaving a wake of destruction of private property. These people may be homeless but they're not without rights. This congressman is taking justice into his own hands, the consummate definition of a vigilante. He's a criminal and he's picking on the weak and vulnerable. Does he think these people chose to be homeless? This isn't just a matter that this guy shouldn't be re-elected. It's a matter of the police doing their jobs and taking a dangerous criminal off the streets.
Disgust you enough? Watch him at work:
On the statue of Liberty, poetess Emma Lazarus' words are engraved:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
These are the words that greeted immigrants since it was officially dedicated October 28, 1886. Just look at those words. Republicans, how can you forget the meaning? And it's not just immigrants who are the tired, poor, huddled masses. They're not the only ones who are homeless and tempest-tossed. Did you ever hear of U.S. MILITARY VETERANS?
For years, if you played a game of word association, when you heard the word Republican, the first word to come to mind -- military. Republicans never saw a war they didn't like, or prosper from. Yet to fight a war it takes soldiers. The GOP adores them while they're serving in uniform, but turn their backs when they've finish their tours of duty. They're discarded like a used, snot-filled tissue.
Nearly each and every day we hear about scores of them who end their own lives due to their inability to bear the pressures of daily living when once they endured the unspeakable horrors of war. Aged, infirm, homeless, mentally unbalanced, tired, poor, and hungry, these wounded warriors –these veterans of our armed forces– have more than earned each and every citizen’s unconditional love and support. But from their fellow citizens who make up the Republican Party, they have received nothing but empty platitudes, the back of a hand, and disdainful looks of contempt.
The Republicans are working fast and furiously, not for anything important, but for destruction of our fabric, the poor and middle class. The SNAP food stamp program is under attack, with the GOP trying to cut more and more money from this "assistance" program. Well, guess who's among those "freebie grabbers?" There's over 900,000 veterans who risk going hungry if the GOP’s draconian cuts to the SNAP (food stamp) program are allowed to go into effect.
For a party that should stand for something more than a void of ideas and hypocrisy, they should be ashamed of themselves. They hate immigrants for the harm they claim they're doing this country and the economy. GOP, you don't deserve to call yourselves Americans if that's how you feel.
The American way is to provide opportunities for individuals to earn and achieve while living in peace and free from undue oppression. We have a heart. We care for our neighbor. We believe in raising ourselves up with the carrot of hard work will pay off with success motivating us. But we also know that when our country calls upon us, we serve. We do our best. Some even make the greatest sacrifice, our lives.
You've made it so dying for your country is kinder than coming home and facing the shelter-less, un-cared for, invisible, starving life. The rich Republicans that run and dictate policy in Washington might be well served if they went along with the Tin Man to Oz and found a heart. There's a huge void where that ticker belongs.
Let's give a helping hand to those less fortunate. Those Iraq and Afghanistan returning veteran's who along with the others sadly qualify for help. They deserve and have earned better than an crumbling bridge to live under after giving their all for the war effort.
You caused these wars. Now you have to live up to your responsibilities to care for those who fought them -- the wounded, ill, or mentally challenged. Not everyone comes home a healthy hero, but all of them are heroes. They need to be treated that way.
So let's take a look at who's holding back their aid-- highest ranking House Republicans:
House Speaker Boehner, you served all of 8 WEEKS in the military
House Majority Leader Cantor, you served 0 WEEKS in the military
House Whip Kevin McCarthy you served 0 WEEKS in the military
Chairman of the House Republican Caucus, Cathy Rodgers, you served 0 WEEKS in the military
Republican Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford, you served 0 WEEKS in the military
So there you have the Republican House leadership. These are the people who need to understand military needs. From looking at their service records, they don't have the qualifications. And to see them pushing cuts to SNAP and the 900,000+ military men and women is shameful.
It's about time someone on the GOP side in the House, someone with experience, shakes things up and starts leading, not just flapping their gums for a hopeful re-election. Time to support all our destitute. Provide medical care, food and rehabilitation. Not taking42 votes on repealing the ACA and zero for helping our veterans.
The Statue of Liberty, when closed under the Republican government shutdown, wept. Lady Liberty was brought to tears, not over lack of funding for parks, but for all of her subjects which have served her so well. Boehner and Cantor, time to raise a large hanky, let Ms. Liberty blow her nose, dry her tears, and regain her pride once again. Stop your obstructionism.
Veterans: you made them. You broke the. Now fix them.
The military serve us 24/7/365 all across the world. Their's is a thankless task. When things are going well, we hardly know they are there. And when things go badly anywhere in the world, they're called upon to make sure that we as a nation are kept safe.
For doing such a life-threatening task, we should, at the very least lavish them with praise and thanks. Not that they're looking for it. But it's deserved.
Way too often we hear of the results of this constant stress that these brave souls endure and in many too many cases, the aftermath of those who crack. The human soul is fragile, and sometimes individuals crack or break. Whether this ends up being reported as an on base shooting, a suicide, a sexual attack or most commonly substance abuse, we can't desert them. We can't just turn our backs. They need support. Our support.
Returning vets are promised and need medical care, mental health counselling, reintegration therapy and understanding. Sadly our government hasn't kept up with that. Imagine we're the country with drones and satellite technology, but we still have a bulk of our returning vets records on hand prepared forms. The computerization of veterans benefits and payments lags an estimated 18 months behind. A vet returns and it's a year and a half before they are up to speed on their post release care, therapy, and promised benefits.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a count on a January night in 2012, there were 62,619 Veterans who were homeless. This is just plain wrong.
Numbers of those returning with mental, emotional or substance dependency issues dwarf those numbers. From the National Institute of Health (NIH)
Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent problem and one which poses a significant health risk. A study of Army soldiers screened 3 to 4 months after returning from deployment to Iraq showed that 27 percent met criteria for alcohol abuse and were at increased risk for related harmful behaviors (e.g., drinking and driving, using illicit drugs).
Mental illness among military personnel is also a major concern. In another study of returning soldiers, clinicians identified 20 percent of active and 42 percent of reserve component soldiers as requiring mental health treatment.
So while Paul Ryan and his GOP budget cutters try to pare back the aid given to the military, think about how much we rely on our soldiers, and how little we really give them after we've taken four years from them in life altering stress. They serve for us. They volunteer. Let's volunteer back and help them out. Support more money for returning troops. Support Veterans programs.
Here's a feel good sample of what can happen when you truly do support our returning heroes:
Tell me he doesn't resemble Mark Walberg!
Wouldn't it be great to be homeless? Think about it. Seriously think about it. No bills to pay. No property taxes. You get to change your location all the time, so if you bore easily, you're going to be somewhere else tomorrow anyway. Oh, and think of not having to worry about vacuuming or doing laundry. The great outdoors is now your home.
While you're enjoying the outdoor life, you can can be singing that old standard by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson:
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning,
Gone are the hard decisions like where are we going to spend our next vacation, or if we should buy a hybrid or a gas car when we trade in the SUV. Ah, and to never have to worry again about, "Should we go for Chinese tonight, or Italian?" If you're a homeless dumpster diver, the world of eating is your oyster. The stale, the spoiled and the rancid are at your fingertips. God, what a wonderful life, huh?
Dream it, just don't live it if you're in North or South Carolina. Seems voter registration isn't the only thing the Carolinas have on their mind today. HuffPo, in a story on homeless in North and South Carolina draws attention to how little some cities and locals think about the plight of their desperate neighbors.
Love Wins Ministries, a Raleigh, N.C. church, has handed out sausage biscuits and coffee to the city's homeless for the last six years. But on Saturday, Raleigh police reportedly told members that they'd face arrest under a city ordinance that bans the distribution of food in any of the city's parks without a permit, according to WTVD.
"When I asked the officer why, he said that he was not going to debate me. 'I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail,'" member Hugh Hollowell said, according to the church's website.
Six years this ministry has been handing out food. Now, suddenly the police stop them. It seems these are compassionate people who are trying to help, but like feeding the pigeons in the park, it's a bad idea. They'll just keep coming back and hover around you until you feed them more peanuts of torn slices of stale bread. And with them come diseases -- after all, pigeons are called rats with wings
So it's understandable that the Tar Heels are cracking down on human rats -- the homeless. Don't dare feed them or they'll flourish and multiply.
Well, that's North Carolina. The Tar Heels are struggling with an identity crisis. The can be forgiven for their "Don't feed the animals" policy. They've got bigger fish to fry. Voter suppression. But certainly things are different with their Siamese twin in South Carolina.
They are. Governor Nikki Haley and her band of angels show more compassion.
In South Carolina, the city of Columbia council members recently voted unanimously to criminalize homelessness, giving homeless the option to either relocate or face being arrested.
Oopsy. Seems they've now criminalized being homeless. Boy, the competition between North and South Carolina is heating up. I hear Governor Haley is stepping up legislation for public beheadings if you're found guilty of a second violation of homelessness. I'm not kidding (well only half so). Nothing like shame, guilt and a spectacle to deter homelessness.
What's wrong with these two states, when you're arrested in one for helping the destitute and jailed for being destitute in the other?
If I had Aladdin's lamp for only a day,
I'd make a wish and here's what I'd say:
Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.
Maybe that last line should be nothing could be finer than to be out of Carolina in the morning. Whatcha think?
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Lt. Col Barry Wingard is the lawyer for Gitmo detainee Fayiz Al-Kandari. For their ongoing story + related topics, please click on the link below:
Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
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