Happy Birthday Jesus! Homelessness, Wall Street Greed and Christmas Drone Strikes
Today is Jesus’ birthday. Last night we attended a church service because I want my kids to have a little more context than getting gifts, plus my parents really wanted us to attend. Considering how I approached church as an entitled suburban teenager who liked Pantera and Marilyn Manson, I figured I owed them. And it was nice to be in a church on Christmas eve. But there will always be a part of me that rebels against religious lip-service to peace and joy when so much awful, violent, evil shit goes down around the world.
First, the awful. Poverty and homelessness will continue to worsen in the coming year because there is no political will to do even meager things, like extend unemployment, expand social security, or raise the minimum wage. There are glimmers of sanity on the horizon, though. Phoenix, for example, is claiming to be the first city to end chronic homelessness for veterans.
Three years ago, a state coalition aimed at ending chronic homelessness among veterans identified 222 living in Phoenix. As of early November, 56 remained, but a $100,000 allocation of funds enabled the city to house them all as of midweek, winning what the mayor’s office described Wednesday as a friendly competition with Utah’s Salt Lake City to become the first U.S. city to do so.
“Phoenix can take its place as role model city for gratitude and care towards veterans,” Mayor Greg Stanton said in a release.
Nice to see a city tackle a tough issue without criminalizing sitting on the sidewalk, like Missoula did a few weeks ago, led by “progressive” LGBT advocate, Caitlin Copple. I don’t know if Caitlin reads this blog, but if she does, I would hope she would take a little time to read about how Jimmy Lee Ferguson—a homeless veteran—died on a sidewalk in Missoula two years ago.
Another article I think everyone everyone should read posted today at the LA Times, written by Montana native Les Gapay, and it opens with Les hearing about another homeless man dying of exposure:
Recently, in my old hometown in Montana, a man died of exposure. According to news reports, he was a Wal-Mart employee in the town of Miles City, homeless and living in his car when the weather plunged to 27 degrees below zero.
We tend to shrug off the homeless when we see them pushing their shopping carts or holding up signs asking for money. They’re mentally ill, we assume, or drug addicts. But I know from experience that a lot of the homeless are like that man in Montana: struggling to make it but not quite able to.
For the 6 1/2 years I was homeless, I never had a shopping cart, nor did I have a mental illness or a drug problem. I was just a regular guy out of work in a poor economy. I did writing work while living out of my pickup truck at campgrounds, but I never made enough to rent an apartment until I hit Social Security retirement age and qualified for low-income senior housing. When you don’t have much to start with, it’s easy to fall off the edge.
Now, for a totally obscene contrast, watch Alexis Goldstein break down the 91.44 BILLION dollars Wall Street has set aside this year for bonuses:
If that doesn’t turn your stomach, check out how enthusiastically Wall Street high rollers cheered the depravity depicted in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. These people are monsters, and if there is a hell, Wall Street will be well represented.
As bad as our domestic situation is, at least we don’t have to worry about drones (yet) blowing us up. While most people take some time off to be with friends and family, the Great War on Terror plugs on with a Christmas drone strike in Pakistan. Last year America blew up people in Yemen for Christmas. I guess it’s a new tradition.
Israel is also in the midst of some Christmas-time killing. Last year I wrote a post titled Pillars of Lies, describing how Israel employed deceitful justification for enacting another Gaza slaughter. This year, IDF forces have killed a 3 year old Palestinian girl in retaliatory military strikes:
A three-year-old Palestinian girl has been killed in a series of retaliatory Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip.
The attacks came hours after an Israeli civilian was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper while repairing the border security fence.
Israel’s military said its aircraft and tanks had carried out strikes on several “terror sites”, including a weapons manufacturing base.
Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, said it was a “dangerous escalation”.
Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said on al-Aqsa television that Israel would “pay the price for these crimes” and he said Hamas and other Palestinian organisations were considering an “appropriate response”.
If Palestinians acted like Israelis for every violation of the post-Gaza-slaughter ceasefire, then maybe Israel would actually have something to worry about.
I wonder if our media would be more interested in this story if the 3 year old was an Israeli.
I sometimes wish I could just ignore this stuff, but I can’t.
I can hear my kids playing with their new toys in the background. We had a great feast tonight at my parents house, and tomorrow I’m going to do some shopping. I am incredibly blessed and privileged. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I feel compelled to pay attention to what’s happening to the people who don’t have the luxury of being born into a loving, supportive family in one of the richest nations on earth.