Thursday, August 07, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 7, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Marie Harf fails to represent, Justin Raimondo gets a lecture after his tacky attitude towards the Yazidis, the US is involved in air drops of relief for the Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar, and much more.

It was a rough day for State Dept spokesperson Marie Harf, she had to field questions on Iraq at today's State Dept press briefing (here for it in full -- and we've excerpted the Iraq section here).

QUESTION: ISIL seized this dam up in Mosul and I was wondering if you all could put that in perspective in terms of developments there. Also, what can you tell us about the Administration’s thoughts about how to help these trapped Iraqi civilians, these religious minorities that are kind of in trouble? There’s some discussion right now about humanitarian aid and whether or not that might include airstrikes or – what can you tell us about that?

MS. HARF: Well, I’ll start with the dam and then let’s go to the broader question. Obviously, the situation on the ground remains fluid, but the latest information is that ISIL has advanced on Mosul Dam and taken control of it. We are extremely concerned by this development. The dam is a vital part of Iraq’s infrastructure, as it controls water levels on the Tigris River. It is also a key source of water and electricity generation for the Iraqi people. So we’re closely coordinating with the Iraqis – with Iraqi officials in both Baghdad and Erbil to counter this development. But also writ large, I’d just say a few points. I know there’s a lot of interest out there on this today, a lot of questions and information floating around.  We are actively considering what we could do in support of Iraqi efforts – what more we could do – and particularly to provide additional support for the Yezidis, also the Christian communities we’ve talked about. Look, this is a huge humanitarian crisis. You have thousands and thousands of people at risk of death from starvation. We’re reviewing what more we can do. Obviously, we’ve talked a lot about this over the past few weeks. We’re working politically with the Iraqis on the government formation process. We’ve seen some progress, and hopefully we’ll see more. But we are right now actively considering what else we can do given the extremely grave humanitarian situation that we see on the ground. You’ve heard my colleague at the White House who I think just talked about this as well, so we’re looking at options.

I want to establish a point here so let's stay with the above and then move quickly through other sections on Iraq from today's briefing.

QUESTION: A few questions. Marie, on the question of the Yezidis, do we have any estimate of the – a number of people in peril?

MS. HARF: It’s a good question. I’m trying to get some information from our folks on that. We know it’s – there – I’ve seen reports of 15,000.


MS. HARF: I’ve seen a number of reports. I’m trying to get a little more clarity from our folks, and let me see if I can do that after the briefing. We do know it’s not just the Yezidis, though. It’s also these Christian communities. I mean, ISIL has come out and said they have a desire to kill people because of their sect or their ethnicity or their religion, and that they’ve been doing so. And so what we’ve seen on the ground is just really horrific, and that’s why right now, immediately, we are trying to find more ways to help.

QUESTION: And is – policy-wise, is stopping ethnic cleansing or is fear of potential ethnic cleansing a core national security interest of this Administration?

MS. HARF: I think you’ve seen throughout this Administration that when we have the ability to prevent humanitarian crises, or when we have the ability to help once there is a humanitarian crisis, ease the suffering of people through whatever means possible, right – we have a number of tools at our disposal – that has been a core principle for what guides our action. It’s certainly not the only one.

[. . .]

QUESTION: But ISIL could continue its advance. It could turn on the Yezidis; it could turn on the Christian minority.

MS. HARF: It already has.

QUESTION: It – yeah. Well, it could step it up.

MS. HARF: That’s true.

Marie Harf says IS is turning on Yazidis and Christians.  Does she say much else?

I really don't think this would fly under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or, for that matter, under Secretary of State Condi Rice.

If a group is being attacked, they need to be defended.

Did Marie issue a statement expressing outrage over the asaults?

In the entire press briefing, she used the term Yazidis only once and the only time she mentioned Christians was with the phrase "Christian communities" -- she used that phrase twice.

Given the chance to amplify outrage or register objection, a bored Marie takes a pass, mustering all the enthusiasm to decry religious intolerance as she'd offer deciding between roasted cherry and candy-shell red at her next manicure.

This is exactly how the administration has ended up with such a lousy reputation among many Christians, Jews and other groups.  The argument goes, a video on YouTube insults Muslims and Barack and others (including Hillary) are all over the media expressing dismay.  But Yazidis and Christians in Iraq are not targeted with videos, they're targeted with bullets, bombs, knifes, etc.  They're being killed not misentertained.

And where is the administration?

Why isn't Barack back on The View?  Why isn't he denouncing this religious persecution the same way he does a video on YouTube?

I don't disagree that Barack has many things to do on any day.  But if it's a question of too little time in his day, that's all the more reason that spokespeople like Marie Harf need to be strongly objecting.  (For those wondering why we're not quoting Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson, the White House needs to stop being so lazy and post text and video of today's press briefing.  They're lazy and embarrassing.  It's Thursday and their most recent posted briefing is from Tuesday.)

There is a cultural difference that is repeatedly ignored.  Most Americans have the attitude of get-over-it when a joke misfires or offends.  So the notion that you would apologize -- as a leader of the free world -- over some video posted to YouTube when you won't speak out loudly and condemn killing people for their religious beliefs?

I'm sorry, Barack chose to be president of the United States.  That does require you understand groups of people, not just your personal favorites.

And it is not shocking that some Christians in the US are dismayed by Barack's inability to address religious persecution -- especially when it is expressed in violence.

The gathering storm was finally spotted by the White House today.

Sky News reports, "A US official has said an 'effort has begun' to make humanitarian air drops over northern Iraq in the wake of ongoing jihadist offensive."  Benjamin Landy (MSNBC) adds, "The U.S. has been flying F-18 fighter jets, B-1 bombers and Predator drones over Iraq for several weeks on surveillance missions, which could be used as cover for the humanitarian mission or to protect the 40 U.S. personnel currently in Irbil."  David Jackson and Jim Michaels (USA Today) explain, "Iraqi aircraft have attempted to air drop supplies to the Yazidis but with limited success. Dropping supplies, particularly on a mountain top, is difficult as packages of food and water break open on impact. The U.S. Air Force has extensive experience with air dropping supplies, which they regularly do in the mountains of Afghanistan with accuracy."

You can credit Iraqis, Iraqi-Americans, CNN and Fox News (the only networks that took the issue seriously -- CBS Evening News did have a strong report -- one -- on the persecution), and even Samantha Power with the fact that the US is finally helping the Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar by dropping aid -- they need water, food, blankets and much more.  Alison Meuse (NPR) notes, "Up to 40,000 members of the community are stranded on barren mountain cliffs and encircled by the Islamic State, the extremist group that's been advancing rapidly across Iraq this summer. Dozens of Yazidi children have already died of dehydration, according to UNICEF, and many more risk a similar fate."

Let's note Samantha Power's statement from earlier this week:

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) recent attacks on Sinjar and Tal Afar in Ninewa province that have reportedly led to the displacement of tens of thousands of people, many from vulnerable minority communities, deepening Iraq’s already acute humanitarian crisis. ISIL’s reported abuse, kidnapping, torture and executions of Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities and its systematic destruction of religious and cultural sites are appalling.
The United States supports the Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga Forces working to defend these areas against ISIL. We urge all parties to the conflict to allow safe access to the United Nations and its partners so they can deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance, including to those Iraqi families reportedly encircled by ISIL on Mount Sinjar. The United States is committed to helping the people of Iraq as they confront the security and humanitarian challenges in their fight against ISIL. Iraq’s leaders must move swiftly to form a new, fully inclusive government that takes into account the rights, aspirations and legitimate concerns of all of Iraq’s communities. All Iraqis must come together to ensure that Iraq gets back on the path to a peaceful future and to prevent ISIL from obliterating Iraq’s vibrant diversity.

That is the strongest statement anyone in the administration made and it is the tone others should have been expressing.  I don't care for Samantha Power but if she does something right, I have no problem noting that and giving her credit.

Justin Raimondo ( weighs in:

Now the War Party is trying the same stunt again, this time in – of all places! – Iraq. And it looks like they’ve succeeded, at least for the moment. Or maybe not: looks like the fog of war is already spreading and obscuring our view of facts on the ground. What we do know, however, is that the mysterious group known as ISIS (Islamic State in al-Sham/Syria), having invaded Iraq and taken great swathes of the country under its control, is now threatening the Yazidis, an obscure religious sect in the northern provinces that practices an exotic mix of Islam, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism.
Yes, folks, it’s another "humanitarian disaster" staring us in the face – and, we’re being told, we have little choice but to go in and save the day. Whether or not President Obama – who was reported to be "considering" air strikes – decides to go all in, we’ve already sent in hundreds of Special Forces to "advise" the nearly nonexistent Iraqi army we spent billions arming and training. The military infrastructure is there, ready and waiting.
So what should we do to help Iraq stave off an invasion by ISIS, which is now holding some 40,000 Yazidis in the northern part of the country?

The answer is: nothing. Not every problem has a solution. Not every mistake – in this case the mistake of invading Iraq in the first place – can be rectified.

I don't get it.  We can all be a little bitchy -- me more so than many -- but why would you belittle people under attack?  "Obscure"?  What is the purpose of that?  To say their lives might have more value if they were "obvious" (to use but one antonym for obscure)? does much good and the country is lucky the website exists but sometimes Justin can be a little cruel to the victims when he should be punching up (aiming at officials and rulers).

As for what the US should do?  They should oversee airdrops of aid.

Should they provide ground forces?

I say no.

I also say no to the US providing bombings -- which they're doing now.

But that's a debate that needs to take place and (a) enough people aren't paying attention and (b) when Justin gets bitchy about the victims of violence, he makes it very difficult to rally support to his side.  There are some who, reading the remarks, will think, "Well I don't mock people who are being killed so I must be for a re-invasion."

And, honestly, that's what it can come down to in a national discussion.

Maybe some feel there's no need for such a discussion?  After all, CBS News and AP report, "Even as the White House weighed potential military options, [Joshua] Earnest said Obama would stand by his pledge to not put U.S. combat troops back on the ground in Iraq.  'There are no American military solutions to the problems in Iraq,' he said. "

So some may avoid the discussion for that reason.  But Josh Earnest didn't say one word about air strikes -- Barack's preferred method of attack as evidenced by The Drone War as well as his assault on Libya.

And there are reports that air strikes have already started. Marina Koren, Kaveh Waddell and Matt Berman (National Journal) report:

A New York Times report, which cited Kurdish officials, said American military forces launched airstrikes on at least two targets from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on Thursday night. The Pentagon denied any such action.
Now, CNN reports that U.S. forces have begun dropping humanitarian aid by air over northwestern Iraq, where tens of thousands of the country's religious minorities are stranded. U.S. officials tell NBC News that U.S. aircraft are standing by and ready to launch airstrikes to defend refugees and American resources. ISIS targets of these airstrikes, they say, are "lined up," and U.S. forces have their "fingers on the trigger."

Other reports suggest that the airstrikes reported by the Times may have come from the Iraqi air force.

Eric Pfeiffer (Yahoo News) notes, "Minutes after several reports surfaced that the U.S. had conducted airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State forces, the Pentagon denied the story.  A spokesman for the Kurdish armed forces said that U.S. aircraft had bombed two targets in Northern Iraq."

So bombings (by the US) may or may not have started.  The discussion starts when?

US House Rep Frank Wolf's office issued the following today:

     Aug 7, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today asked President Obama if the Atrocities Prevention Board he created in 2012 has been convened to discuss the genocide taking place in Iraq.
In a pointed letter to the president, Wolf reminded him of the speech he gave at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial where he said the Atrocities Prevention Board would make the deterrence of genocide and mass atrocities “a core national security interest and core moral responsibility.”
Over the last two weeks, Wolf has spoken on the House floor, issued statements and written letters to the president in an effort to raise awareness about the atrocities taking place in Iraq.  He also has been openly critical of the Obama Administration’s failure to speak out about the systematic targeting of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq for extinction.
“It is now clear to the nation and the world that your words were hollow; your ‘presidential directive’ apparently was nothing more than a token gesture,” Wolf wrote.  “You will come to sincerely regret your failure to take action to stop the genocide in Iraq.  Your conscience will haunt you long after you leave office.  Mr. President, say something; do something.” 
Below is the complete text of Wolf’s letter:
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
The President
The White House
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:
In 2012, during an address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, you announced the convening of the Atrocities Prevention Board, led by the White House, which would make the deterrence of genocide and mass atrocities “a core national security interest and core moral responsibility.”  You also stated “We're making sure that the United States government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and respond to mass atrocities.”  Throughout your speech, you repeatedly said "never again" would the world allow mass atrocities to occur.  
Tragically, mass atrocities are happening again today – and on your watch.  Genocide is taking place today in northern Iraq, where the Christian and Yezidi populations are being exterminated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  There is no question that systematic and targeted brutality is occurring.  Yet, as I said on the House floor last week, the silence from you and your administration is deafening. Why have you not spoken up, and why has the Atrocities Prevention Board not taken action?  Just today, the editorial page of The Washington Post described your administration's response to this emergency as “listless.” 
Over the weekend, approximately 200,000 Yezidis were forced to flee their homes.  Your own administration has reported that anywhere from 35,000 to 60,000 of these Yezidis took refuge in the Sinjar Mountains without any protection from the elements and little access to food and water.  Children and the elderly are dying of thirst, families are being separated and women and young girls are being raped and sold into slavery.
As I wrote in my letter to you earlier this week, ISIS has systematically destroyed and looted churches, monasteries, mosques and other significant historic landmarks, including Jonah's tomb.  The homes of Christians and other religious minorities have been marked with spray paint to target those who live there.  Families have been force to flee, often on foot, with nothing but literally the shirts on their backs.
We cannot pretend these atrocities aren’t taking place; there are now videos on the Internet being promoted by those sympathetic to ISIS proudly displaying their brutal and grotesque slaughter and abuse of Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities in Iraq. 
Your administration is aware of what is going on, yet you are doing nothing.  Just what is the point of having an “Atrocities Prevention Board” if it takes no action to prevent or stop atrocities?  When was the last time this board has met?  Has the board even been convened to address the genocide taking place in Iraq? 
Much like President Clinton has deeply regretted his failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, I believe you will come to regret your inaction for years to come.  
I want to remind you of one other thing you said at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012: 
“And finally, 'never again' is a challenge to nations.  It’s a bitter truth -- too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale.  And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save. 
 “Three years ago today, I joined many of you for a ceremony of remembrance at the U.S. Capitol.  And I said that we had to do 'everything we can to prevent and end atrocities.'  And so I want to report back to some of you today to let you know that as President I’ve done my utmost to back up those words with deeds.  Last year, in the first-ever presidential directive on this challenge, I made it clear that 'preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.
“That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there's an injustice in the world.  We cannot and should not.  It does mean we possess many tools – diplomatic and political, and economic and financial, and intelligence and law enforcement and our moral suasion –  and using these tools over the past three years, I believe –  I know – that we have saved countless lives.”    
It is now clear to the nation and the world that your words were hollow; your “presidential directive” apparently was nothing more than a token gesture.  You will come to sincerely regret your failure to take action to stop the genocide in Iraq.  Your conscience will haunt you long after you leave office.  Mr. President, say something; do something. 
Best wishes.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress

Wolf cares about the situation and has addressed it repeatedly.  So I won't mock him.  But I don't see what good is accomplished by the US government sending troops in or bombing.

If troops are sent in -- I'm opposed -- I would hope a discussion would have taken place and it would have outlined (a) what counts as success, (b) what's the end-point and (c) what prompts the US to leave early.  The last one means, for example, if the Iraqi government is not meeting its goals, the US military is not there to protect it.

That's why I don't see the point in sending troops in.

Is someone, some country, going to hold the Nouri's hand forever?

What's going on right now is a reaction to Nouri al-Maliki.

Justin Raimondo works his grudge f**k against John McCain and blames the senator.  Really, Justin, that bitchy you think you're doing so well?  It's not working.  And if I were a Libertarian (I'm not, I'm a liberal) so touchy about charges of 'isolationist,' I think I'd work harder at not coming off so damn bitchy and unfeeling.  That really feeds into the negative image of Libertarians that the GOP tries to hang on them.

Nouri is the cause.

If US troops had stayed in Iraq in large numbers, today's violence might be less (it might not be). But that just means the US military would again be used to fight Nouri's battles for him.

He can't stay in power without the help of other countries' armed forces.

That is the point of today and it should be the part of any discussion about the possibility of US troops going back into Iraq -- more US troops going back into Iraq.

Nouri could have fashioned the government he promised to in 2010 -- a power-sharing government.
He could have been the leader of all the Iraqi people.

Barack gets a little bitchy -- speaking of bitchy -- when it comes to Republicans forgetting that he's not President of Democratic America, he's President of all of America.  He should be a little more respectful of Republicans -- being in the fray constantly is really the job for Harry Reid and people like that.

But even at his bitchiest, Barack hasn't spewed hatred at any Americans.

Nouri spews hatred non-stop -- at Sunnis, at Kurds, at everyone who isn't State of Law.

He's called so many people "terrorists" and done so so often that the word has no meaning.

And the US-installed leader refused to lead in a fair manner.  He punished Sunnis, he put Shi'ite militias on the payroll -- and did so before last month --  though McClatchy Newspapers apparently missed Tim Arango (New York Times) breaking that story back in September of last year.

He targeted the Kurds, he targeted women, he targeted the LGBT community and so much more.

And the Iraqi people tried to send him packing in 2010.  But suddenly the votes didn't matter.  The US brokered the power sharing agreement and then refused to insist Nouri honor it.  It was left to the Kurdish leaders, Ayad Allawi and his Iraqiya and cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr to publicly demand that Nouri follow it -- which they did in the summer of 2011.  And he blew them off.  So they eventually announced that if he did not implement The Erbil Agreement, they would take a vote in Parliament and Nouri might lose his post via a vote of no confidence.  They did everything the Constitution dictated for such a vote.

Then fat ass Jalal Talabani mistook the petition for a pizza and chowed down on it.

No, no, no.  Jalal just created powers for himself and refused to introduce the petition into Parliament.  That was his job, per the Constitution.  It was a formality, a bit of ceremony.  And he refused to do it.

Months after this, for the second time in Nouri's second term, massive protests took place around Iraq.

We said it, we warned about it.

You deny people their votes.  You deny them their leaders.  When you've destroyed every institution that might speak to and for the people, what is left?


That's all that's left.

When you've voted, when you've followed the law (the attempt at a no-confidence vote), when you've protested and nothing improves -- the only change is Nouri gets more open about killing people -- such as with Hawija massacre in April of 2013 -- what resource do you have left?


Justin Raimondo can babble away about John McCain.  It's pure stupidity and a waste of time but maybe that's what Justin wants to do.

We've covered Iraq every damn day here.  Justin hasn't.  Even if you count, they haven't covered it every day since the drawdown of US forces in December of 2011. If you consider yokel Scott Horton part of (he hosts Antiwar Radio), then, in fact, spent a lot of time praising Nouri al-Maliki in the last four years.

So maybe Justin has a learning bloc?

I don't know.  But I know I don't like John McCain -- I always feel bad for Cindy when I dictate or write that -- and that I've called him out when I felt it was needed and I've given credit when I felt it was needed.  I don't get Justin's hatred for McCain.

But I don't get any of his hatred right now.

Does he not get that what's taking place in Iraq is the most valid argument for sending US troops in -- the most valid argument of the last 30 or so years?

It's more valid than mythical WMD or  'babies tossed from incubators!' or any such nonsense.

Justin doesn't believe this is something the US should send forces into Iraq over.

Okay, can he make that point in a grown up manner?

This is the nonsens that the balding Bill Maher pulls (Bill's hit that age where every year he looks more and more like a woman).  And some on my side (the left) eat it up.  Oh, we love to eat up hating the other.

But Justin's supposedly antiwar -- Bill's not.

If he's antiwar, he needs to ask himself, "Does anyone take me seriously when I say we shouldn't go into Iraq to protect religious minorities -- do they take me seriously if I mock the religious minorities?"

No, they don't.

You're mocking victims.

No one's taking you seriously.

A few God haters out there are probably applauding Justin's latest attack on religion and gods.  But outside of those people?


Justin has so much potential power and he abuses it so often.

Do most people want to see people killed for their religious beliefs?


So the fact that Yazidis, Christians and other minorities in Iraq are being threatened with death is an appeal for something to be done.

When an antiwar voice like Justin thinks belittling the targeted is funny, he just walls himself off from people searching for a position on whether or not to send US troops into Iraq.

Nouri is the problem.

A friend at the White House swears Barack gets this.  Said to note that.  Said noting it might get people -- including Barack -- publicly speaking about this.

If Nouri is the problem -- and he is -- then the answer is not US troops into Iraq.

There's a fight taking place and it's taking place because of Nouri's actions.

People are being hurt as a result.

That's very sad.

But if US troops go in to protect Nouri's government, nothing is fixed.

The day of reckoning just gets pushed back.

Unless the US intends to keep troops in Iraq forever.

Supposedly, Barack is resisting sending more US troops into Iraq right now (I think he's already sent too many) because he gets that a protected (by the US military) Nouri only gets worse.  Supposedly, Barack genuinely thinks -- or at least hopes -- that Nouri will get the message: Step down to save Iraq.

I don't think Nouri will get that message.

But Barack apparently does and he's delaying on 'more' -- however that's defined -- because he knows Iraq doesn't get better under Nouri.

There is pressure within the White House for 'action' of a violent nature.

If mature people want to have a discussion on this issue, that's great.  But mature is not calling a people "obscure."  And the obvious response to that is that the people aren't "obscure" -- nor is their religion -- you're just too damn stupid and xenophobic to grasp that you are not the center of the world and you are not the means by which we grade every other person on the face of the planet.  In other words, get over your damn self.

And if that seems harsh, Justin Raimondo, I'm sorry.  But we don't need Medea Benjamin and her nonsense.  She's a fake and fraud.  Justin, you're someone who could speak and be believed and applauded.  But it's not going to happen when you're tossing jabs at a victimized people.

That's what Republican comedians never get.  They think they can make fun of the victimized and the downtrodden and are always surprised when an audience turns on them.

Justin's not a Republican or a comedian.  Supposedly, he wants to stop wars and I don't see how he gets to be part of the discussion when, at the big table, no one wants to sit by him because he's known for picking on people in need.

In fairness to Justin Raimondo, there are many people doing what's he's doing wrong.  Most of them aren't Libertarians, they're lefites.  And if I thought any of them had the hope of convincing even one person that the US shouldn't send more troops to Iraq, I'd have tailored the remarks above to them.  But they're worthless and they've made themselves so.  Justin hasn't whored himself out for a politician the way most of the left did when they were inducted into The Cult of St. Barack.

If you're wondering, no, there was no new prime minister of Iraq named today.

New topic, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration  is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press).  This is from his photo essay "LIVING ON THE STREETS OF OAKLAND" (East Bay Express):

I live in a camp on the side of the freeway. I've been kicked around from camp to camp by Caltrans for years - my own personal diaspora. Many times I've had a camp full of feeble people, old people, people with dementia. Think of how hard it is to march everyone to a different camp, with all of their bedding and belongings in shopping carts. So I form an advance party, and clear out a space somewhere along the freeway. We all move in together, like a family. Sometimes we move back into the same camp, if the police aren't involved. Many homeless people do that.

Caltrans workers are very pragmatic about the whole thing. They understand there's homelessness, and they're hoping you'll cooperate. They usually give a warning, but I've had experiences of going back to camp and discovering everything missing, including the people. I have to search for them, and bring them to a safe haven somewhere. All my library books, suddenly gone, because Caltrans takes them.

There are different types of homeless people. Many homeless have personality disorders and find it very difficult to be around people or hold down jobs. They have no choice but to be on the streets, because they're ill-equipped to deal with the requirements of life. That should inspire mercy in us, and compassion.

Of course, there are people on the streets who got there because of drugs and alcohol. That is also something that should require compassion in us, because people don't always understand the consequences when they get involved. There are relatively few people who want to be on the streets. I know I don't want to. I'd rather be inside with a nice warm bed, a shower, a toilet, and everything else.