Letters for December 3, 2015
Re &8220;In from the cold&8221; (Newslines, by Ken Smith, Nov. 25):
Therapeutic incarceration is a term first applied by Social Services Review in 1996 to housing service providers in reference to their treatment of clients experiencing homelessness. The essence of the research was that social service providers leveraged public sentiment toward homelessness into intervention-intensive programs. Homeless individuals and families grasped onto these programs, often not entirely for the services, but as a vehicle to receive subsidized housing. Homeless individuals often remained in the service-intensive programs longer than assumed due in large part to a shortage of subsidized housing.
The key for Chico always has been, and always will be, access to affordable housing for those experiencing extreme poverty. Housing options must be sufficient to accommodate folks living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), down to folks with no immediate source of income. We need to stop the ill-advised treatment of homelessness as a crime-laden illness, and focus instead on building the stock of desperately needed affordable housing. Nothing ends homelessness like a home.
Social welfare programs have been starved for decades. The wealth gap is wider than it’s been since the Gilded Age. The majority of Americans have no assets and two-thirds can’t handle a $1,000 financial emergency. Homelessness is a highly visible manifestation of this social and economic failure.
In this context, local feel-good news stories highlight a few additional beds for the homeless. The Stairways program is a go-to example—and it’s even described as an “advocacy group.” In reality, Stairways is dependent upon Chico’s super-rich, who stridently support homeless criminalization—meaning real human beings actually go to Butte County Jail for the crime of sleeping outside; the crime of being among the hundreds for whom there is no bed at Stairways; the crime of remaining in Chico when the elites and their toadies say it’s time to go elsewhere.
Chico is increasingly morally vacuous: The majority buyoff on homeless criminalization as a “solution” and take comfort in the kindness of social cleansing landlords. I wonder how far the pendulum will swing toward economic injustice before we wake up. Until then, we’ll drift in our comfort zones, imagining that crumbs of conditional charity can forever obscure mountains of structural poverty.
Acid and climate change
Re “Are you on acid?” (Letters, by Rick Clements, Nov. 25):
Rick Clements of Paradise asks Melissa Daugherty if she is “on acid,” and then continues with a typically myopic rant against climate science, and the CN&R’s alleged “liberal bias.” Yawn. May I suggest that if Clements sincerely believes climate science to be ridden with conspiracy and hoaxes, he address his next letter of condemnation to the following office:
Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D.
Oceanographer of the Navy
Office of Naval Research
One of the first lectures I attended during my 10 years of service at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography was delivered by the oceanographer of the Navy. The conventional wisdom in the Pentagon is that the next great war of the 21st century [which we may already be engaged in] will be fought over issues directly related to climate change. Mr. Clements: Do yourself a favor and get an education.
I thought I’d ring in on the recent letter from Rick Clements, right-wing Paradise yahoo. Clements wrote wondering if you were on acid when you asserted that the rise of ISIS was attributable to violence and poverty brought on by climate change. Though that opinion was silly, Clements’ assumption that you were speaking for all Democrats was nearly as inane. Not all liberals are of the same stripe, nor are we all inclined to hold such sappy, soft-focus exculpatory views.
Clements won’t like my opinion much better, though it is based on “factual truth” as he would so redundantly have put it. ISIS (or Daesh) was created by Bush, Cheney and the neocons when we invaded Iraq and turned out the Sunni generals and bureaucrats there. It has been fertilized with anti-Western hate, Saudi money and military equipment we left behind. The ISIS monsters are not rebelling, as Daugherty would have it, against poverty. Visit the ISIS home page, read their magazine, and they’ll tell you why they fight, how they were radicalized and where that radicalization occurred.
Unlike right-wingers, lefties disagree on stuff, and not all of us are inclined to see climatological excuses or uprisings against poverty as explanations for these barbarous religious zealots.
Editor’s note: Just to be clear, the column in question did not imply that the genesis of ISIS is climate change, but rather that extreme poverty and violence due to climate change has “driven many to join the extremists.”
Re “Charity transparency” (Editorial, Nov. 25):
If the CN&R has not yet asked the city where money will be directed that is collected from the red parking meters, maybe that should be established first before publishing an editorial. Urging “citizens to refrain from making donations to the meters” is out of line. It is an individual’s prerogative if, where, when and how their donations are directed, and in my opinion the suggestion to “refrain from making donations to the meters,” as the editorial suggests, is uncalled for.
Editor’s note: As the editorial stated, the city has not yet decided where the money will go. According to City Manager Mark Orme, the City Council will take up that issue at a future meeting, in January at the earliest. The CN&R stands by its position that the public should take caution contributing money for an unknown cause.
My wife sometimes wakes up cranky. But most times she lets me sleep. I love the new red meters. I think they’re great. I think it shows that we as a city have compassion for the truly homeless and mentally ill. Good for the city! Driving through a deserted downtown on Thanksgiving, you could not help but feel sorrow for the mentally ill lady sitting with all her belongings strewn out on the sidewalk at Fourth and Main. Almost every block you’d see another mentally ill person hanging out—those we need to take care of.
I’m not worried at all about filling the meter with my spare change and I know we have enough watchdogs to oversee that it is fairly distributed. I won’t contribute to the young bums or panhandlers who pass through harassing our townsfolk! I’m all for harassing them and moving them on—perhaps to Patrick Newman’s home. And furthermore, can’t you just start his own column? Pay him a little so he can feed more of his homeless friends.
Now, maybe my wife will let me sleep in this time.
Two views on Syria
Plenty of controversy these days regarding whether or not the U.S. should accept refugees from Syria. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have advised they lack, in many cases, the information necessary to properly vet each refugee. Hidden among them may very well be terrorists aligned with ISIS, intent upon doing serious harm to American citizens.
So, what is the best course of action, you ask?
Consider this: You have in your possession a bunch of 100 delicious grapes. Two grapes are deadly if eaten. Do you take a chance and feed the grapes to your family, hoping you can avoid the two deadly grapes? Or, do you reject the entire bunch?
Dare I say, it’s time to begin putting America (and all her families) first.
My billboard, “U.S. regime change again,” can be seen by driving north on Mangrove, before Third Avenue. U.S. regime change refers to what the U.S. is attempting to do in Syria. Syrians are simply collateral damage in a complex proxy war. The website on the billboard, www.syria-infoandaction.com, has links to varied sources enabling a broad understanding of the Syrian conflict.
Did you know that the U.S. has been working to destabilize Syria since 2006? U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford urged Syrian dissidents to rebel. The rebels expected what the U.S. would do in Syria, and the violent regime change that has been so spectacularly unsuccessful in Libya. Unable to get United Nations approval, there was no legal basis for direct military overthrow, so the U.S. has had to rely on the CIA and proxies. The lies about the Syrian conflict reek of pre-Iraq War. Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bombs, despite what those in government and the media say, are not responsible for most of the Syrian deaths. Artillery fired by all sides is responsible for most of the 250,000 deaths. And some 50,000 of those deaths have been Syrian government forces.
The U.S. bears great responsibility for the pain, death, destruction and refugees. There are already consequences.
A Red Bluff story
Re “A Chico story” (Guest comment, by Donald Heinz, Nov. 26):
I read with great empathy Donald Heinz’s guest comment about a woman thinking him homeless. That is, just for sitting in front of Safeway with wild hair, a beard and his dog while waiting for his wife to finish shopping. Only, my being mistaken for homeless wasn’t nearly so heartwarming.
My experience was in January 2011. I’d ridden my bike to Red Bluff to see my dentist. When I arrived, I found he’d relocated and his old office was now vacant.
Just as I discovered this a man emerged from an adjacent senior care center and told me to scram. “Excuse me?” I inquired. He continued, “Go find somewhere else to hang out! You’re not welcome here! I’ve called the cops! They’ll be here soon!”
From this I deduced attaching a milk crate to my bike rack to hold the clothing I stripped off on my long ride to Red Bluff might not have been such a good idea.
‘Change is … inevitable’
Re “Grieving for our planet” (Guest comment, by Patrick Newman, Nov. 19):
I think one of the greatest mistakes of the enviro/climate-change group is using too short of a yardstick in judging the state of this precious planet we all live on. The trends in one man’s life is a wholly inadequate and frequently misleading indicator of the long-term. In fact, we would be standing on a glacier today if the cutting-edge predictions in the 1970s of a coming ice age were accurate.
According to the evolutionists, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of species and sub-species have had their day in the sun and were discarded as their race had been run. I recently read an article that made a pretty good case for the human race surviving a warming trend far better than a cooling trend. As production changes (but not stops) in the middle latitudes, it likely will open up huge new areas of higher food production in northern/southern latitudes if warming comes true and we keep pace with the change.
Change is an inevitable part of life and warming may not be avoidable. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be good stewards of the planet. We are a wasteful and consuming species (as a whole) and I reject his characterization of other people’s political affiliations as the basis for the problems that we face.
James R. Jenkins
Don’t be a parrot
Re “So long to an institution” (The Bottom Line, by Toni Scott, Nov. 19):
Ms. Scott parrots Chamber of Commerce/GOP talking points about the supposedly terrible business climate in California. If Woof & Poof is still paying minimum wage after 40 years of success, they sure aren’t sharing any of that success with their employees. The ACA doesn’t kick in until 50 employees and it was recently postponed for even them. Every business owner I’ve ever known whines about costs of doing business, while they make a good living doing what they want to do.
Maybe the new owners borrowed too much to buy the company. Maybe they decided it was time to sell off real property to maximize short-term gains. Maybe it’s the tough gift store market. I haven’t done any research just as you didn’t seem to do any. You just reported anecdotes as fact because they agree with your viewpoint.
All we need added to the knee-jerk opinions expressed are shots at Planned Parenthood, Mexicans and Syrian refugees and we have the platform of all the GOP clown car presidential hopefuls!
Stand with Planned Parenthood
The hubris, insincerity, arrogance and self-serving single-mindedness of the Republican Party’s witch-hunt of Planned Parenthood do not surprise me. We’ve seen this all before and I’m sure we will many times more. But, the meanness, the absolute and intentional disregard and disrespect for the significance of Planned Parenthood in many women’s (and men’s) lives astounds and demoralizes me. This is not really about health care, contraceptives, abortion or morality. It is about the intentional use of a legal and safe medical procedure, abortion, used by 3 to 4 out of 10 U.S. women, to rally and inflame the base of the Republican Party. And, it works.
Politically motivated misinformation continues to decrease accessibility to all legitimate reproductive health care services for way too many men and women. As The New England Journal of Medicine published this summer (Aug. 12, 2015): “The contraceptive services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions. We are outraged by those who debase these women, this work, and Planned Parenthood by distorting the facts for political ends.” Well put! I stand with Planned Parenthood.
Re “The drought’s silver lining” (Guest comment, by Robert Speer, Nov. 19):
It is truly unfortunate that Mr. Speer chose to ignore the tremendous work already being done by many in Northern California to protect our water supply and the environment. Glenn Colusa Irrigation District (GCID), along with many others who are on the front lines of responding to our water crisis, are deeply committed to responsibly managing the water supply to best serve the water users, environment and wildlife in the region.
GCID and its sister agencies in the region have been leaders in efforts to work with solution-oriented environmental organizations to manage water along the Sacramento River for the benefit of salmon, birds that use the Pacific Flyway, and endangered terrestrial species like the giant garter snake. The district and other water agencies are collaborators with California’s environmental leaders—working closely with American Rivers, The Nature Conservancy, California Trout, Audubon California, Ducks Unlimited, California Waterfowl Association, Point Blue and many others.
These efforts are all devoted to providing water for the economy and the environment in the Sacramento Valley. GCID continues to develop, support and fund local and regional projects and we encourage other neighbors to help in this ongoing effort.
Re “Commentary criticism” (Letters, by Maurice Picard, Nov. 19):
Permit me to refresh our memory. On the outset of the Vietnam War, we were told that the Vietnamese attacked the USS Maddox. We now know that was a lie. The Pentagon Papers demonstrated that “the Johnson Administration systematically lied, not only to the public, but also to Congress.”
The results: 50,000 Americans were killed along with 2 million Vietnamese. In the first Gulf War, we were told that we were going to get Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. We now know that was a lie. The U.S. conducted a massive aerial bombardment of residential Iraq, running 92,000 air sorties; 75,000 civilians were killed. A Pentagon Policy Paper published shortly thereafter (1991) says, “Our objective was to preserve U.S. access to the region’s oil.”
Previous letters mention our soldiers fighting for our freedom. According to current research, that may not have happened since World War II. According to John Quigley, President’s Club professor and Ohio State University distinguished scholar, “… in none of the U.S. military interventions after World War II had the public been given a full and truthful account of the reasons.”
U.S. mainstream media has abdicated its essential role as the watchdog of government. The renowned historian Howard Zinn said you can help, just by joining your local peace group.
Listen up, banner lovers
Re “He says it’s ironic” (Letters, by Chris Nicodemus, Nov. 12):
To all the Chico military enthusiasts: Military spending is the biggest discretionary item in the U.S. budget. It costs us over $2 billion a day. And as if that wasn’t enough, as was first reported in Mother Jones magazine in January, then in the Fiscal Times in March, and then by Reuters in June, the last $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money given to the Pentagon has never been accounted for. One trillion is a 1,000 billions, 1 billion is a 1,000 millions. That’s a lot of our money!
Despite a 1997 federal audit requirement, the Pentagon said its books would not be “audit ready” until 2017. That’s our tax money. The Reuters article mentions one Department of Defense accountant who “spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Dept. of Defense accounts.”
Put this up against our increasing number of homeless veterans and the increasing suicide rate and that is a sad combination—one that needs work, not banners.