Homelessness: The GOP Ain't Down Wit Dat
So let’s do a little “news round-up” thingie here; look over the headlines and see what the big stories are this hour. First up:
Will GOP convention displace St. Paul's homeless?
by Marisa Helms, Minnesota Public Radio
February 15, 2007
As planning begins for the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, security is a top concern…
…But right across the street from the arena, there are hundreds of people who spend their days and nights in a single-story, red brick building called the Dorothy Day Center…
Each day some 400 (homeless) people a day come through the shelter's doors for meals, and 200 of them spend the night on plastic mats.
(Homeless staying at the facility, including) Wayne Jackson, Alison Franck, and James Fletcher are talking about the security perimeter and rumors that come 2008, the place they call home will close down.
Jackson and Franck say there's been talk that the shelter could close anywhere from a few days to forever.
"That's the whole idea is to make sure that none of us go over there, to harass the people or to panhandle, or anything like that," says Fletcher. "That's what they're more worried about, us going over there and panhandling or harassing the people cause it makes them look bad."
That is the saddest frigging thing I’ve read all week. The idea of someone actually trying to panhandle at a Republican National Convention…My God, that is my new definition of “a tough row to hoe.” That is my new definition of "pathetic bastard," a homeless guy trying to panhandle at a Republican Convention. I can just imagine it, twenty minutes of being ignored on the convention floor and then, with his hand still out, he looks up at the giant screen inside the Convention Hall and sees it spelled out for him up there, lit up in thirty-foot tall letters: "NOOOO!" "HOW ABOUT "NO" FOR AN ANSWER?" "NOOOOO!" "HOW ABOUT "GET A JOB?"
(Patty Wilder, the chief operating officer for programs at Catholic Charities) says rather than closing the center during the convention, she would like to see it as an occasion for the city to show the media and delegates that it does not hide people who are in need.
Oh, Patty, you’re SOOOO right! Yeah, now all you have to do is explain that to the Republican National Committee. You know they’re not going to pass up a “photo op” like that--getting a shot of that homeless shelter just outside the Republican Convention, and hundreds of homeless people wandering around the convention grounds...What a public relations coup THAT would be for a party that just got its ass handed to it in elections last year. I can just imagine Norm Coleman glad-handing a bunch of unshaven guys in Goodwill cast-offs, passing around a bottle of wine in a paper bag. That’s what every Republican dreams about; that hail-fellow-well-met chance to get out and mingle with the urban homeless.
Close a shelter for the homeless to keep them from irritating Republicans? The very IDEA! Bah! Humbug!
What’s this? An Iraq debate story—but in the SENATE, again? What the…
Reluctantly, the Senate's Weekend Warriors
By Dana Milbank
Friday, February 16, 2007; A02
After four years of fighting in Iraq, and two weeks of trying to force senators to debate the conflict, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday wheeled out the ultimate weapon.
He ordered his colleagues to work on Saturday.
"Time is of the essence," Reid told a rapt audience in the Senate television studio yesterday afternoon. "That's why the Senate will have another Iraq vote on Saturday."
Ho…lee…shit! He asked them to come in on a Saturday? Just to vote on Iraq? Has he gone MAD with power?
But in trying to force Republicans to debate Iraq, Reid caused untold pain and suffering for his Democratic colleagues, many of whom prefer to spend their weekends running for president. Hillary Clinton was supposed to be campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday. Barack Obama had plans to be in South Carolina and Virginia…
And then there was Republican John McCain, who had an Iowa engagement, and all those senators on both sides planning to leave on trips for the Presidents' Day recess.
It’s MADNESS! That's like asking our soldiers to FIGHT on a Saturday! That's just plain nuts! Thank goodness at least one man had the guts to speak up:
Moments after Reid's bombshell, one presidential candidate, Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), went to the Senate floor to voice his dissent. "I don't think that is a fair or appropriate process for this body to follow," he said. Particularly because he had plans to attend the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Florida on Saturday.
Hmm, let's see--should I stand up the Religious Right in Florida this weekend so I can stay in Washington and commit to a position on Iraq in the Senate? The answer to that one is real easy, if you're a man of Sam Brownback's character. I mean, come on, he already had his room booked and he had his National Religious Broadcasters beach bag and everything, come ooonnnn... Meanwhile, in the House Debate:
It's not entirely clear why Senate Republicans were so determined to avoid a debate. If it goes anything like the three-day House debate this week, the world will little note nor long remember what they say.
Ric Keller (R-Fla.) was on hand to restore gravity to the (House) debate. He spoke about lawn care as a metaphor for Iraq:
"Imagine your next-door neighbor refuses to mow his lawn and the weeds are all the way up to his waist. You decide you are going to mow his lawn for him every single week. The neighbor never says thank you, he hates you, and sometimes he takes out a gun and shoots at you. Under these circumstances, do you keep mowing his lawn forever?"
Well here's my answer: FUCK no! I am not going to keep mowing his lawn week after week if this guy takes out a gun and shoots at me! I don’t have to put up with that shit! I don’t understand what point this Congressman was trying to make about Iraq—but I will stand firm with Rep. Keller of Florida on this: Americans are NOT going to keep mowing this guy’s lawn if he never says thank you and sometimes he takes out a gun and shoots at us. That’s BULLSHIT! Finally, an area for bipartisan consensus. Let’s move forward with that.