For a while there, back when Glenn Beck was making all the right-wing headlines, I consciously thought to myself that, “hey, maybe Bill O’Reilly isn’t that bad. Maybe he’s closer to the center than I thought.”
It turns out that just because the light of the sun will drown out the light from a billion candlepower searchlight, it doesn’t mean the searchlight isn’t still really bright. In this case, Beck’s persistent douche-baggery was able to at least mask the scent of O’Reilly’s in the short term but, as stank does, it was only a matter of time before we all got a nose full of ol’ Uncle Bill again.
Case in point: Recently, Bill (I’m done calling him O’Reilly, the journalistic equivalent of “Mr.”), took to the airwaves to drop what you can tell he thinks is just a gigantic bombshell: that the shoeless man in New York City, Jeffery Hillman, whom an officer purchased a pair of boots for, the subsequent photo of which went viral, isn’t actually homeless. He has an apartment as the result of government benefits.
Here’s the video:
What Bill neglects to mention throughout his smug little diatribe is that the man’s housing comes courtesy of combined veteran’s and social security benefits and he was homeless as recently as last year, as reported by NBC New York. He then goes on a breathless rant about the perils of such government subsidization, telling the rest of the God-fearing, taxpaying citizens of the nation that they’re being fleeced by men like this who, according to Bill, prefer to live life shoeless on the street, costing the taxpayer untold sums of money to keep them, likely in this case and in countless others, alive.
Where does one even begin with something like this?
The homeless man’s boots, bought and paid for by the police officer, have since disappeared. Why is this important? Because even though Christian Conservatives like Bill regularly go out of their way to bemoan the kind of support that keeps the unfortunate alive, he does, in his shameless attempt to vindicate himself from the firestorm of criticism that would result from an attack on a homeless man, state that such cases are often the result of mental illness or substance abuse. When the man hides his gifted boots and claims to “want a piece” of the action that resulted from the story going viral, it should be obvious to everyone watching that this is not a normal situation – there is most definitely something going on, something that causes this person to chooses to live his life the way he does. Without proper diagnosis, it’s impossible to even begin to speculate, but with cases of mental illness running possibly as high a 20% among veterans, it’s not an altogether unsafe bet in this situation. So as much as the Fox News crowd loves to throw around it’s undying support of veterans, it’s Über-patriotic love of all things military, let’s all take a moment to realize that what we have here is a case of Fox News’ Grandmaster Pontificator tripping over himself to rail against the benefits being provided to a veteran with obvious problems.
What about the benefits? Oh Lord, the benefits! Veteran’s benefits and social security are responsible for paying for the apartment in question. It’s difficult to know which exact program help Hillman get his apartment, so in light of the Fox News obsession with government assistance programs, we’ll apply as macro a lens as possible to this dilemma. The 2012 Budget provided $129.605 billion in funding for all veterans benefits and services. That sounds like a lot of money, until you realize it’s roughly 16 percent of the funding given to the department that made Hillman a veteran in the first place – the larger, fund, of course, being one that Republicans insist can’t be touched and that Mitt “Mittens” Romney insisted on increasing whether or not the military actually wanted the money or not. All of this, of course, is an incredibly rehashed argument, but it bears repeating: The GOP loves to make veterans and despite their claim of undying love and support, simply can’t wait to cut the benefits we’ve promised to provide them and, as this case shows, they have no qualms about lying misrepresenting the truth to convince others to join the cause.
And those social security benefits? The one’s Republicans love to bemoan, threaten, and describe as a Ponzi scheme? Even the patron saint of the modern GOP, Ronald Reagan, The Gipper himself, admitted that social security doesn’t add to the deficit. So what’s caused the deficit here when it’s not social security, federal spending is lower than it has been in decades, and the government is getting smaller. The answer is pretty obvious, but it’s not one Republicans want to hear – they did. This is largely their fault and now they want to cut veterans benefits, cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut out all the things that provide a basic sense of human dignity to millions of Americans after they went nuts with the credit card.
And good Ol’ Uncle Bill thinks we should start with the shoeless veterans.