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December 09, 2004

If the good Lord smites this nation will not be because of Janet Jackson's titties or David's and my wedding rings. It will be because we are a nation that allows things like this to happen:

U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.

"When we already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," said Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "I have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening and this nation is not prepared for that."

"I drove off in my truck. I packed my stuff. I lived out of my truck for a while," Seabees Petty Officer Luis Arellano, 34, said in a telephone interview from a homeless shelter near March Air Force Base in California run by U.S.VETS, the largest organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless veterans.

Arellano said he lived out of his truck on and off for three months after returning from Iraq in September 2003. "One day you have a home and the next day you are on the streets," he said.

In Iraq, shrapnel nearly severed his left thumb. He still has trouble moving it and shrapnel "still comes out once in a while," Arellano said. He is left handed.

Arellano said he felt pushed out of the military too quickly after getting back from Iraq without medical attention he needed for his hand -- and as he would later learn, his mind.

"It was more of a rush. They put us in a warehouse for a while. They treated us like cattle," Arellano said about how the military treated him on his return to the United States.

Bush says he wants a "culture of life," but that really only means paying obeisance at the radical right's Temple of the Fetus. But does this culture value the lives of innocent Iraqis? Nah. The lives of the American kids sent to die wastefully in Samarra and Fallujah? Nope. The life of an honorable veteran who expects a modicum of physical and mental health care when he returns home from a place that closely resembles hell? Of course not.

No, the Republicans can only offer him an "ownership society" free of a social safety net, affordable health care, and of course "flip-flops." Thank goodness this soldier doesn't have to suffer under the spongy sole of a windsurfing war hero as Commander-in-Chief! Bless Jesus indeed. Amen and pass the tax cuts, brother!

And hey, did Petty Officer Arellano really exhaust the options available to him in this great Republican ownership society? Because in their America, if you surive the war and your medical bills but still can't make ends meet, there's always a 700% interest payday loan to help you back on your feet. (Jesus did say something about the moneychangers, didn't he? The Bible is quite a bit more explicit on the subject of usury than gay marriage!)

In my darker moods, I say: let the smiting begin. But it's Christmas, the time of year for Baby Jesus more than the Fire and Brimestone, "by these wounds," Jesus-is-coming-and-he's-pissed Jesus. But at this time of year when Christians symbolically invite Jesus to "be born in us today," one does worry about how such an Arrival would go down. All I can think of is my favorite latter-day Christmas carols by the band Low. From their song "If You were born today":

If you were born today We'd kill you by age eight Never get the chance to say:

Joy to the world and
Peace on the earth
Forgive them for they know not what they do

They really don't know, do they? Could the GOP really understand what they are doing to this country, its people, and its ideals? It is hard for me to muster forgiveness this season--altogether impossible, in fact, if I attribute their actions to malice rather than ignorance. So let us call it ignorance, and pray for them, and for wisdom.

I don't have all the answers, or frankly even much hope that there are answers. (Perhaps that explains the addiction to a blunted faith that has a pat response to every question.) But I do know that when I pray for joy to the world and peace on earth this season, I know that I have never wanted these things more in my life, or felt them to be farther away. Perhaps the smiting has already begun.

Posted by jay at December 9, 2004 11:13 AM | TrackBack
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Scripture "spouter": God is no respecter of different types of sin or sinners. Sin is sin: big sin, little sin, black sin, white sin, sin of whatever. Not the particular way in which it manifests itself but the very cause underneath it all. Unrepented, unforgiven, and unforsaken it all leads to judgment and eternal death. We all know this, you included. The sad truth is our world is sickeningly full of sin. And yes, turning our backs on the needy is most certainly against Biblical principles and will bring about God's judgment in God's time, but so are the things you mentioned at the very first.

God is omniscient and just; His ways are far beyond our arrogant and laughable human ideas of having him figured out as to when, why, and how he will act.

Posted by: on December 9, 2004 03:50 PM

The truth of how we treat our war veterans is a sad history. In every major and minor conflict this country has sent people to fight there have been casualties that have been neglected and forgotten. So many end up on the streets and in shelters. So many families are devastated by the return of their soldier without a limb or some other injury and the VA just shrugs and tells them the budget's been cut and there is nothing they can do.

It is easy to see that W and Cheney never had any intention of taking care of these people after their service. All you have to do is look at the condition that they were sent over in. No armor (which they tried to blame on Kerry), no plan (which they claimed they didn't need - flowers and kisses for everyone) and no understanding of the people and their culture. I can only hope that many of these soldiers manage to be employed by Halliburton and its subs for reconstruction work because it is the only way they will see any kind of reward for risking their lives for these pimps.

Posted by: terry on December 10, 2004 02:58 PM
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