February 27, 2012

Latest PJ Media Column (Slow ‘Recovery,’ Dire Consequences’) Is Up (More on the Tent-City ‘Obamavilles’ Which Somehow Only the BBC Has Been Able to Locate)

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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Obamavilles: The column references and lightly excerpts a BBC report (related narrative where the video isn’t available here; YouTube video of the program here) which notes the proliferation of “tent cities” throughout the U.S. This post will extend what the Beeb found.

These aren’t Occupy encampments, and to a large extent they aren’t hangouts for the solitary homeless by choice.

Read on:

America’s homeless resort to tent cities

Panorama’s Hilary Andersson comes face to face with the reality of poverty in America and finds that, for some, the last resort has become life in a tented encampment.

Just off the side of a motorway on the fringes of the picturesque town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a mismatched collection of 30 tents tucked in the woods has become home – home to those who are either unemployed, or whose wages are so low that they can no longer afford to pay rent.

Conditions are unhygienic. There are no toilets and electricity is only available in the one communal tent where the campers huddle around a wood stove for warmth in the heart of winter.

Ice weighs down the roofs of tents, and rain regularly drips onto the sleeping campers’ faces.

Tent cities have sprung up in and around at least 55 American cities – they represent the bleak reality of America’s poverty crisis.

… One of the largest tented camps is in Florida and is now home to around 300 people. Others have sprung up in New Jersey and Portland.

Calls have come in from the hospital emergency room, the local police and the local homeless shelter to see if they can send in more.

“Last night, for example, we got a call saying they had six that couldn’t make it into the shelter and… they were hoping that we could place them… So we usually get calls, around nine or 10 a night,” said Brian Durance, a camp organiser.

… There are an estimated 5,000 people living in the dozens of camps that have sprung up across America.
The largest camp, Pinella’s Hope in central Florida – a region better known for the glamour of Disneyworld – is made up of neat rows of tents spread out across a 13-acre plot.

… These tent cities – and this level of poverty – are images that many Americans associate with the Great Depression.

Unemployment in America today has not reached the astronomical levels of the 1930s, but barring a short spike in 1982, it has not been this high since the Depression era.

There are now 13 million unemployed Americans, which is three million more than when President Barack Obama was first elected.

The stark reality is that many of them are people who very recently lived comfortable middle-class lives.

Here’s the video:

Now let’s make one thing crystal clear – The Beeb’s report massively overstates the problem and is relentlessly biased:

  • There are NOT 1.5 million children who are “homeless” (the broadcast actually says they are “without homes,” which includes families in cheap hotels and those who are in “doubled-up” arrangements with relatives, friends, and others because of economic circumstances). The 2012 report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness says that the total number of homeless of all ages in 2011 was 637,000 (page 5).
  • There are NOT 50 million Americans without health insurance at any given time.
  • It also overplays the influence of income and wealth inequalities. The former basically hasn’t budged since the turn of the century, and the latter has lessened because of the recession.
  • It’s also relentlessly hostile to “conservatives,” as if it’s their fault, when they’re not the ones who have ran $5 trillion in deficits (by the end of fiscal 2012) or who controlled Washington completely in 2009 and 2010. Conservatives have (sort of) controlled only one legislative chamber since 2011 began. The Beeb even takes shots at state governors like Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, when they’re not the ones who have been setting national policy priorities which have led the nation to the brink of financial ruin. The report’s commentator asks Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor about the tent cities and “cuts”; why did they interview no one in Washington and ask where the $2-plus billion the Washington bureaucracy is spending per year on homelessness is disappearing? At another point, the Beeb’s reporter gets into a definitional argument with Heritage’s Robert Rector over whether hunger is “widespread” (it’s not). It also treats ObamaCare as a major step in solving dire poverty, which is a sick joke for anyone who knows what’s in the bill.
  • At no point does the Beeb stop to wonder whether the “stimulus”-driven, massive debt-generating “solutions” tried in Washington have led to a worsening in the conditions found.

That said, the Beeb makes some relevant observations:

  • Detroit looks worse than Beirut.” But no connection is made to over four decades of government “solutions” and unspeakable corruption which have brought the city to its knees. The commentator somehow says without laughing that “The President still believes the way forward is spending on social services and infrastructure.” Yeah, more of the same will work.
  • Here’s the biggie: The report notes that homeless shelters in Southeast Michigan are referring those they won’t take in to Ann Arbor’s “tent city.” Read that again. Further: “It seems that tent city has become a semi-official dumping ground for the homeless here.” It goes on: “Panorama has established that public agency and overstretched shelters are referring the homeless to tent and encampments outside several other cities in America. You have to wonder why this point only cryptically made it into the printed report (bolded paragraphs above) and wasn’t present in the Panorama tease.
  • “This is not the vision of America President Obama’s supporters were led to believe in.” No kidding.

The larger point made in my PJ Media column is that the kind of things BBC found, especially the scandalous referrals to tent cities, would be all over American TV and other U.S. media if anyone but Barack Obama were president (I daresay that that no other Democratic Party president would be fully spared as Obama has been).

But we see nothing — because if we did, “Obamaville” would become part of the national vocabulary, and because the growth of the dire poverty problem is to a substantial degree the result of a pathetically and inexcusably slow recovery based on Obama administration “solutions” previously shown not to have worked during the entire decade of the 1930s.

The ‘Secret’ Super PAC Canard

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:45 am

There was a great question over the weekend in a Wall Street Journal editorial:

Three Cheers for Super PACs
The money isn’t “secret,” and it’s a political-speech windfall for democracy.

Everyone hates Super PACs, or claims to. The campaign-finance scolds deplore “secret money” in politics. The candidates who benefit feel compelled to wish for some alternative. Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart recently set up a Super PAC to mock and denounce Super PACs.

So perhaps it’s time to say a word on their behalf. Even if the myths about these groups were true, they’d still be a windfall for democracy, because they increase political speech.

This particular strain of political action committee, which can raise and spend unlimited funds as long as they don’t coordinate with a candidate, evolved as the result of two legal rulings. The most important was SpeechNow v. FEC, which upheld the constitutional right of individuals to donate to noncandidate political outfits without caps. The other is Citizens United, the liberal bogeyman that said corporations and unions can spend to support or oppose candidates and causes.

But if the problem is billionaires supposedly buying elections in secret, why do we keep hearing about the well-heeled patrons supporting Super PACs?

Answer: Because the people who hate Super PACs and want to restrict free political speech are lying.

More ‘Just When You Think You’ve Seen It All’ With Mitt Romney and Ron Paul

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:30 am

From Steve Deace at Townhall:

Ron Paul: Stalking Horse

At this point donors to the Ron Paul campaign should just go ahead and make out the check to Mitt Romney instead in order to cut out the middle man.

And I’m only half-kidding when I write this.

That’s because it has become obvious that that Paul campaign is more interested in aiding and abetting the Republican Party nominating its weakest and least principled candidate then it is trying to promote its own candidate. The latest prima facie evidence to support this premise is the Paul campaign’s decision to invest money running a 30-second negative ad about Rick Santorum in Michigan, despite the fact Paul has never actually campaigned there.

Why is Paul investing resources in a state he’s not actually campaigning in? And why just invest those resources to go after Santorum and not Romney, who (according to Townhall.com finance editor John Ransom) represents the very crony capitalism Paul rightly criticizes?

The media has been noticing for weeks the strange symbiotic relationship between Romney and Paul, with Paul’s campaign running interference for Romney on the campaign trail. I’ve even witnessed pro-Paul activists on Twitter re-tweeting tweets and articles that are pro-Romney.

Read the whole thing.

If they’re capable of it, I hope the Paulbots understand how thoroughly they’ve been suckered.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (022712)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Teachers take day off to serve the needy

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From New Orleans:

Feb 25, 2012 / 01:05 pm

Ursuline Academy’s faculty and staff of New Orleans, La. don’t just “talk the talk” when it comes to helping the least of their brothers.

An annual, hands-on service retreat enables these adult leaders to show their students that they are also willing to “walk the walk.”

On Feb. 3, Ursuline students from toddler age through high school were given the day off so their school’s 91 employees could spend the day working with the St. Bernard Project, a non-profit organization founded after Hurricane Katrina that rebuilds homes for senior citizens, people with disabilities and other families that cannot afford to have the work done.

After an on-campus prayer service, the volunteers divided into seven teams to take on light to moderate construction tasks at homes in various stages of renovation in New Orleans East, Gentilly, Mid-City and Broadmoor, La.

“At Ursuline it isn’t just ‘the lower school,’ ‘the middle school’ and ‘the high school.’ We all come together at various times of the year, and I love that,” said middle school social studies teacher Stacie Bourgeois, whose crew laid flooring, painted interior walls and installed porch lights at a double on South Tonti Street in New Orleans that saw nine feet of water after Katrina.

“There’s a job for everybody – the non-coordinated and the coordinated,” Bourgeois chuckled. “I’ve been relegated to cleaning the paint buckets, which I’m very happy to do.”

Bourgeois said she was eager to tell her students the story of the house’s 87-year-old owner, who would soon be able to move back to her tidy neighborhood after being victimized three times by fraudulent contractors.

“I’m sure she’ll be so happy to see her house finished, and to know that there are good people in the world – that it’s not all bad,” said Bourgeois, singing the praises of the St. Bernard Project, which has helped more than 420 families move back into their homes since March 2006.

“Their hearts are in it!” Bourgeois said. “After six years you’d think people would get burned out and move on, but they’re still so dedicated.”

Service part of school fabric

The faculty-staff effort came on the heels of a Jan. 27 service day in which every class of Ursuline students volunteered at a nursing home, homeless shelter or some other service site to mark the feast of St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline Sisters. In addition to this student service day – a school tradition for 10 years – Ursuline’s innovative high school service model assigns each grade level a specific community need on which to focus its efforts for the entire school year, with the ultimate goal of exposing every student to five concerns – from childhood literacy to elder issues – over the course of her five years of high school. Fittingly, the 285-year-old academy’s motto is “Serviam” – I Will Serve.

Go here for the rest of the story.