Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Homeless in Chicago: "Far From Home"

Far From Home
Homeless in Chicago

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has marked its 25th anniversary.
Far From Home
Why - 25 years later - we are no closer to solving the homelessness in Chicago [pdf]

This progress report card is the kind that a frightened child might hide from his parents. It's nothing that we, as a moral society, should be proud of. Hurricane Katrina refocused national attention on the issue of homelessness. There is more public sympathy centered around the issue. Today, 40% of the homeless population is made up with families with children. Homelessness is affecting more people than just those with little or no income. A new class of "working poor" households is often paying more than 50% of its income for rent and is at high risk of homelessness.

Do you know that, in no state in the U.S. today does a full-time minimum wage job enable a family to pay fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment?

Did you know that, in 2000, 16.8% of full time workers working year round, earned less than the official poverty level for a family of four?

The causes and facts are many. Solutions do not come easy.

The federal government has drastically reduced its commitment to creating affordable housing and has mandated the demolition of public housing. The City of Chicago's 10-year plan to eliminate homelessness has had solid elements, but minimal resources to implement it.

The coalition expects to spend time battling proposed federal cuts to human services and pressing the mayor's office for more dollars for the city's own 10-year plan to end homelessness.

The coalition will continue organizing for its "It Takes a Home To Raise a Child" statewide housing campaign, which includes four basic components:

1. Family Homelessness Prevention Program – In 1999, the campaign successfully advocated for a program to provide rent, utility, legal and other assistance for families experiencing a short-term crisis. The campaign has successfully advocated for $5 million in funding for the program the past two years and continues to work to ensure that funding stays at that level.

2. Homeowner’s Stabilization Program – creates a program to provide housing counseling and loans to homeowner's who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments. The program could assist 2000 homeowner's at a cost of $5 million.

3. Rental Housing Support Program– provides longer-term rental assistance for 4,000 families through rental subsidies to current landlords.

4. New Homes for Families Program – creates a capital fund of $100 million for the development of affordable housing units targeted for homeless and extremely low-income families

Former vice presidential candidate John Edwards appeared in Chicago this past Sunday to discuss the "Far From Home" report and to discuss the issue of poverty.

TNR on General Pace and Dick Cheney

TNR on General Pace and Dick Cheney

At TNR's The Plank, Spencer Ackerman separates the 'perfect' men from the torture-loving boys.
So now on one side of the fight, we have Dick Cheney, whom The Washington Post recently described as the "Vice President for torture," and on the other side, we have one of the most respected officers ever to become senior military adviser to the president. (To say nothing of numerous State Department and Pentagon officials; ninety members of the Senate; a slew of retired officers; and sanity.) Unfortunately, the president Pace serves not only lies about torture committed by the United States, he's threatened to veto McCain's Pace-endorsed measure.

'Yes, They Lied' by Wm Rivers Pitt

Yes, They Lied
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

A must-see.
Author's Note: I apologize in advance for the length of this essay. There is so much utter nonsense and outright disinformation flying around about Iraq right now that it takes 3,000 words to set things straight. Call this a fact-bomb, and put it to good use. - wrp

Being attacked for writing about Massey

Being attacked for
writing about Massey

Chip Atkinson is telling the world that Jimmy Massey is my "darling," simply because I wrote a piece on him. In my book, that is intellectual dishonesty. I realize that Mr. Massey's book has the right wing all a-twitter and that they are scrambling to make a liar out of him as quickly as they can. That's the way things go - let's not fool ourselves. I'll let them dance all around the story - but the story will still be there. Mr. Massey was disturbed by the fact that it was mostly civilians being killed by the units in which he was serving in Iraq toward the beginning of the Iraq war. A larger part of his story was trouble he saw with the methods of military recruitment and the fraud in which he observed and willingly participated while acting as a Marine recruiter.

If we only choose to scramble to find people to prove him a liar, we are biased reporters. If we choose to scramble to prove his statements true, we are biased. I was not biased when I wrote a summary of one of Mr. Massey's presentations. I simply reported on what he said.

Fair and balanced means finding two sides and putting them side by side. I blogged about Mr. Massey's story only. I got it straight from the horse's mouth. I'm not responsible for what you choose to do with a story like his, but I think it's important to give him an equal opportunity to speak. I don't get paid a thin dime for my reporting, so I'll choose what I wish to report and leave it up to you - the reader - to use your own critical thinking skills if you want to seek out alternatives to Mr. Massey's story.

Just don't sit there and call him "my darling" because I wrote a story about him. I interviewed a California Libertarian senatorial candidate last year - did that make him my darling? Of course not! Let's be accountable for the comments we thoughtlessly throw at each other. Mr. Massey is a man with a story - a story that he has been telling hundreds of people around the nation. He's news. Just because I chose not to shut him up and shut him out (as some of you might have liked me to do) does not mean that you or I have to agree with everything he says.

Rush Limbaugh starts jabber-jawing about Mr. Massey and knee-jerk tongues start lashing out at everyone in the line of fire. McCarthyism is still alive in the hearts of men who claim to cherish freedom, but act to cut the very head off of freedom.

You're not looking at Fox News here. You're looking at a blog - NOT written by some wild-eyed radical - but by an intelligent and fair fellow American citizen who is not paid for opining, who is far more centrist than you'd like to believe and who believes, firmly, in democracy and freedom of speech.


That said, Ron Harris of the St. Louis Post Dispatch was embedded with Jimmy Massey's unit at the time Massey was there. Mr. Harris was interviewed about his embedded reporting in Iraq for STLToday.com:
Part of the Pentagon's thinking held that embedded reporters would bond with the service members with whom they shared rations, and danger.

Critics warned that embedded reporters would get too close to their subjects, with objectivity a casualty.

"I had an affinity for the Marines I covered," Harris says. "But I didn't feel I was a part of Lima Company. I was a journalist. In a way, it was like covering City Hall. You know people and like people -- but you're not part of the city government."
I'm sure his experiences would lead him to come away with a healthy respect for our fighting men and women, which is understandable. I read some of his commentary about Massey today, however, and sensed an urgent attempt to destroy his credibility - and when it's one lone man against a Marine corps, well - - it isn't difficult to understand that the one guy is never going to win. I prize objectivity, and I was a bit surprised when I read the transcript of Mr. Harris' appearance on CNN's American Morning.

The CNN appearance came upon the heels of an article that Harris has written - a damning article about Massey. Mr. Harris said this on the cable news network calling Massey a liar. When asked by CNN host Carol Costello: Why would this staff sergeant, Jimmy Massey, lie about these things, and say such terrible things about his own comrades?

Harris said:
Well, one of the things that has happened -- number one, Jimmy Massey, I don't know why, but I can just speculate (my emphasis) a couple of things. Number one, Jimmy Massey was honorably discharged for post- traumatic stress syndrome. The second thing, Jimmy Massey has profited off of this. He does have a book. He has a Web site in which he sells his story on a CD for a hundred dollars. I think it's called jimmymassey.com. So it's been profitable for Jimmy Massey to keep telling this lie.
That's not what Jimmy Massey said when I saw him speak. Here are some excerpts to answer these questions:

Re: The Book:
Jimmy's writing a book, not for fame or fortune, but to simply document what he considers to be war crimes and to keep track of the places in Iraq that he knows had been directly affected by depleted uranium.
Re: The PTSD diagnosis, which came along well after the fact:

Shortly after the checkpoint incident with the Red Kia,(the point where Jimmy says he "lost it"), Jimmy was relieved of his command, slipped some Zoloft and Ambien, and was medevaced back to the U.S.

Having seven years to go before retirement with the Marine Corps, he was offered a stateside desk job. Jimmy says he didn't want their money anymore. His deep remorse had ended his days as an economic conscript.

The Marines sent him to a shrink and they tried to label him a conscientious objector. Jimmy asked them in wonder, "Conscientious objector?! Just what are you smoking?" He had been a Marine for 12 years. He had willingly gone to war for his country, no questions asked. He says that he'd supported his president, who'd told him that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the free world.

It was only when he voiced his concern that he no longer felt right about killing innocent civilians that they suddenly wished to label him as a "conscientious objector". Unwilling to accept the label, knowing it could have landed him in jail, Jimmy secured Gary Myers (of My Lai trial fame) as his attorney. Jimmy says the military quickly "changed their tune" when Myers came on board.

Jimmy was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) and was given, by the VA, 100% disability with no retirement benefits.


Stan Goff has written a compelling piece for Counterpunch:
"What a Difference Embedding Makes"
Jimmy Massey, Ron Harris and Ambush Journalism

* see comments on this post.

Phase II - Sen Pat Roberts' Dramatics Won't Work Anymore

Phase II - Sen Pat Roberts' Dramatics Won't Work Anymore

Josh Marshall was previewing a WaPo/Walter Pincus article which raises questions about how Phase II of the Senate Intelligence investigation will be conducted. Primarily , it deals with the right to interview top policymakers or speechwriters as part of the inquiry into whether the Bush administration exaggerated or misused intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. Josh was asking:
If what Roberts wants is really closer to last year's agreement than what Rockefeller is now pushing for, what was Rockefeller thinking last year when he agreed to it?
I was (obviously) disappointed with Senator Rockefeller's actions back in 2003, even though I realize that he was really trying to get an investigation off the ground in a politically smothering atmosphere. Back then, I had said:
"Congress is far, far more worried about polls and re-election than they are about the American people's damaged trust in the administration's decision to send of nearly 200 American troops to their death in Iraq."
I was disappointed in Senator Rockefeller's carelessness and actions surrounding a story about a stolen Democratic memo and Sen. Bill Frist Accusing Democrats of Undermining the Intelligence Panel (see Ken Guggenheim AP story). I had commented in 2003:
This is about a a Democratic memo leaked this week that outlines a strategy for exposing contradictions between intelligence reports and Bush's claims about Iraqi weapons programs.

The memo in question was apparently STOLEN...then leaked.

Jay Rockefeller's capability as an effective Senator has been in much doubt as of late, IMHO, judging from what I've seen from him on recent FOX interviews. Rockefeller was careless in allowing something like this staff-memo to fall by the wayside.

The paranoid Pat Roberts is whining that Democrats are "plotting against him". Roberts went on with his paranoid complaint (which may actually be a deceptive way to pull the plug on a decent investigation), saying: "The memo said that at some point the Democrats could 'pull the trigger'. When I read that, I felt like they're going to pull the trigger on me."

Drama Diva

Dirty business all around.
While Senator Pat Roberts played the injured drama diva of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller was nowhere near Robert's match. When a Senate Intelligence committee meeting was canceled because of the stolen Democratic political-strategy memo, and no other date scheduled, all that Sen. Rockefeller said was that he was "really disappointed" with the Republican action. "Whose advantage is it to derail asking the tough questions on prewar intelligence and the use and misuse of it?" he asked. [Iddybud 11/10/03]

"Really disappointed" was surely not dramatic or forceful enough, in light of the circumstances. Back in 2003, I truly felt that America was asleep at the wheel. If our political leaders could not have led by firm example, we could not expect the average American to have understood - or to be outraged by what was happening.

What Senator Rockefeller agreed to back in 2003 should be amended to fit the political atmosphere of today. This is no time to appeal to anyone to stick with a Gentleman's agreement. We Americans have been bruised - abused - screwed - by our leaders. Our trust is shattered. Times have changed. Those 200 dead American troops I mentioned in my 2003 excerpt above are now over 10 times the count. The majority of the public is convinced that there has been a serious misleading by the Bush administration. We know too much to turn back and hide our heads in the sand. If Republicans continue to stonewall a complete and bipartisan investigation, Americans will not trust them enough to vote for them in 2006 or 2008. That's what it all boils down to.

See Dick Lie

See Dick Lie

What did I tell you?
I KNEW something was fishy when I posted "Dick Cheney Denies Joe Wilson Three Times" on 9-14-03.
Take a look at this.
We now know, courtesy of the 22-page Libby indictment, that Cheney wasn't being truthful. Cheney did see the report; he knew full well who Wilson was. He also knew that the CIA arranged for Wilson to travel to Niger, and he personally sought out information about Wilson's trip to Niger, was briefed about the fact-finding mission, and even obtained classified information about Plame's covert CIA status. He also came to know one other important nugget: that Plame may have recommended her husband for the trip.