I’m Not Letting This Go Just Yet

T-Steel has an absolute must-read response to Malcolm and the rest of the stone-throwers (emphasis is T-Steel’s):

For all you “American poor people aren’t really poor look at those people they don’t look poor and they should get a job and if they can afford a cell phone they can buy food and they are just lazy living on the streets” types that look at the above picture and scoff so smartly, let me break something down for you, ghetto smarts style (I volunteered at homeless shelters for 10 years in inner city Detroit, Michigan USA):

1. Many pre-paid cell phones come with cameras.
2. Pre-paid cell phones are inexpensive at legal vendors.
3. Pre-paid cell phones and non pre-paid cell phones are frequently stolen and sold on the street DIRT CHEAP ($2 to $3 a phone many times).
4. Many homeless people buy the pre-paid cell phones and walk around with no service BUT still take pictures.
5. The same homeless people hold on to those cell phones and it is the first thing activated when they get more cash.
6. Many homeless people have only one way to be contacted, the cell phone. Thus it is HIGH priority especially in job searching.
7. Many homeless people are homeless because of loss of a job and inability to find solid work.
8. Homeless doesn’t mean shiftless or lazy. When jobs showed up at homeless shelters, everyone wanted one DESPERATELY.
9. There have been many programs in inner cities to provide cell phones to homeless and poor people for safety reasons (emergencies, etc). Don’t believe me? SafeLink Wireless, please educate those not in the know!
10. As the First Lady, it is her duty to smile if a citizen wants a picture (provided the situation is safe).
11. The guy could be a plant to embarrass First Lady Michelle Obama in a picture or just a regular guy that wanted a picture (hope he didn’t just cut in the line).

Criticism of this photo and situation is pointless, nonsensical, quite petty, and loopy. That goes double for you here and here. And Mrs. Malkin, your Blackberry Pearl comment is cute but no cigar. Read my list MRS. SUPER MAGNIFY VISION!

How much meanness of spirit and smallness of mind does a person need to have in order to say something like this:

Today’s “poor” are the rich Jesus warned you about: fat, slovenly, wasteful of their money and other people’s.

I prefer to call them “the broke.”

A lot of (really naive) people are wondering (or pretending to wonder, when they’re in public) how this “homeless” guy could “afford” a cellphone[.]

It would be better phrased: why is a guy with a cellphone homeless? Because then the question answers itself.

He spends all his (our) money on cellphones and, most likely, tattoos and drugs and booze and other crap, and has no money left for a home and food. And why should he bother? We pay for his shelter and food anyhow.

There’s more, but trust me, that’s all you can stand.

The writer is one Kathy Shaidle, and no I’m not going to link her. Her blog is called “five feet of fury”; you can find the link here.

Alex Koppelman has a great understatedly sardonic post about this right-wing venom attack in general.

DeNeen L. Brown’s contribution at the Washington Post‘s blog about the Obama presidency is the antidote to Andrew Malcolm’s Top of the Ticket blog post at the Los Angeles Times. Brown describes Michelle Obama’s visit, and the good that Miriam’s Kitchen does in the community, in poignant and vivid detail:

“Would you like risotto?” first lady Michelle Obama asked. “That’s my job — to serve the risotto.”

Obama went to Miriam’s Kitchen today, where she served about 50 homeless guests. She stood at the end of a serving line and dished up risotto with mushrooms.

She smiled. Asked how people were doing. Asked them what they would like.

They smiled. Told her sure they would like the risotto, then moved down the line to get steamed broccoli, home-made apple-carrot muffins, wheat rolls and salad, made with fruit donated by the first lady’s office.

Every weekday, rain or shine, Miriam’s Kitchen, at 24th and G streets NW, serves chronically homeless people breakfast. Last year, Miriam’s served 55,272 meals to more than 4,000 guests.

Today, they were told to come in for a special lunch — and that the chef was going to be making a special meal.

“We said we were celebrating the end of February. And Steve, our chef, was making a special meal. They know his cooking is so good,” said Sara Gibson.

All the food at Miriam’s is prepared on site. The group wants the food to be healthy for the diners, many of whom struggle with illnesses, physical and mental. Ninety-six percent are male; 70 percent African-American; 13 percent veterans. The average age is 46. Nearly 75 percent sleep on the streets or in emergency shelters. Every day at 5 a.m., they start lining up at Miriam’s Kitchen. At 6:30 a.m. promptly, the doors open. It is one thing the visitors can count on. Another is healthy food.

“If anyone brings us donuts, Steve throws them away,” Gibson said. “It is not good food for our guests. We care too much to give them anything but the best. Steve wants our guests to have the same experience as if they were paying $30 for the meal.”[…]
“It’s unbelievable for our guests that the first lady will be here,” Roccanti said. “It reaffirms the notion they matter. That people care about them. For the most part, people ignore them. But today, arguably the most popular person in America is coming and shaking their hands. We tell them everyday how much they matter. But coming from the first lady of the United States, that is a powerful statement.”

“Our guests,” Gibson said, “are people on the street, people usually look through them. We all see people walk by them. That’s why we call them guests — not clients because they are special. Mrs. Obama’s visit tells our guests they are not forgotten. That President Obama and Mrs. Obama care about their neighborhood and their neighbors who a lot of people don’t care about.”

“It’s tough being on the street. This says you are human,” Gibson said. “They live on the street. There is danger at every turn. To have Mrs. Obama here says for a minute, we are all together. It will give people hope. They need hope. A lot are struggling with some really serious issues. For some of them, hope is what they cling to.”
At 12:21 p.m., the rolling metal door to the service line rolled up. Behind the counter stood Mrs. Obama, in a guava pink sweater and plastic serving gloves, with serving spoon in hand.

Then one by one, the guests lined up.

And Obama dished risotto, one by one. Offering steamed, fresh broccoli.

William Richardson, 46, was speechless when his turn came. “Meeting her, I couldn’t say anything,” Richardson said a few minutes later, his tray of food still untouched. “It was stage fright, I guess. I wanted to say something, but it wouldn’t come out.”
After shaking, hands, she smiled and walked back through the kitchen.

And the guests stood behind in the hope that she left behind.

Samuel Hinton, 52, a Vietnam Veteran, who says he has been homeless three or four years, said he was impressed with the first lady. “I liked what she did. To come down here in our world…. There have been a lot of first ladies. But none ever touched base like this.”

Hinton says he sleeps on the streets because the shelters are a danger to him and he a danger to them. “I could snap at any day being in that environment. I just stay on the street or wherever I can sit.”

Hinton said he got a chance to shake Obama’s hand.

“She asked, ‘Are you doing okay?'”

“I said, ‘No, ma’am. Honestly, I’m not doing okay.'”

“She said, ‘Hang in there. It will get better.'”

“Her assistant took my name and number.”

Perhaps that’s what’s at the root of all this rabid hatred oozing from conservatives’ fingers onto their keyboards. It just kills them that the First Lady of the United States — and by obvious extension, the President of the United States — is treating poor people as if they were human beings; as if they mattered; as if being homeless were actually not equivalent to being a criminal or a pervert or an irresponsible ne’er-do-well.

They simply cannot stand it.

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