Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Presidential Con Game: Will Sarah Palin Try to Hoodwink her Supporters Again in 2016?

by Nomad

Is it really possible that, after the last bogus One Nation bus tour in 2012, that Sarah Palin is considering a presidential run? Don't bet it on.

Yesterday Huffington Post reported that Sarah Palin may not be yet finished with American politics. 
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, says she hopes to run for office again and is urging GOP leaders to have "more guts" as they pursue their agenda.
Hard to believe that the GOP leaders can be spurred to act any more outrageously. They seem to be doing fine without any taunting from Wasilla. 
She told the Fox News interviewer:
"The more they're pouring on the more I'm going to bug the crap out of them by being out there with a voice."
That could of course apply to either party. For some time, she has become as  a liability to the Republicans as a threat to the Democrats. (For the independents, she is just a very bad joke with an endless punchline.)

You might ask yourself whether this time she is serious about jumping into politics again, Is it possible? 

To that, we only need to use the magical powers of the Internet to look back to the last presidential race. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola Quarantines and the Arrogance of Governor Chris Christie

by Nomad

Governors Christie and Cuomo's decision to implement a quarantine for all travellers for Ebola may be an idea that both will soon regret.
It opens a whole lot of questions about their quality of leadership and the ability to think rationally in a crisis. 

On Friday of last week, we witnessed Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York giving a press conference. They had come to announce that all travelers from the Ebola-stricken areas of West Africa would be put into a 21-day quarantine. All people entering the country through Newark Liberty and Kennedy International Airport would be affected by the ban. The decision had been made following the report of a Dr. Craig Spencer who was New York's first and only case of Ebola. 

The Decision to Quarantine
In some ways it was an astonishing bit of theatre.
Christie and Cuomo implied that the CDC had failed to protect the American people. In fact, he said that the measures were necessary because "the CDC keeps changing its mind." He offered no examples. 
Christie went on to imply that he, as a governor, knew more than nearly of all of the experts who have studied Ebola for years.  

From all reports, neither governor consulted medical experts or the White House before taking this step. These measures went far beyond what federal guidelines advised and what infectious disease experts have recommended.

Actually, the president had already issued its opinion that such a quarantine would most likely do more harm than good. In all three states, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, the governors have decided to, as Cuomo put it, "err on the side of caution."

So, to put their words into action, on Friday, Kaci Hickox, a nurse and epidemiologist for Doctors Without Borders, was detained at at Newark International Airport and was immediately forced into a mandatory quarantine. She had just returned from Sierra Leone, one of the three worst-hit countries,  yet showed absolutely no signs of an infection (the only time when the disease is contagious.)

The quarantine, which consisted on a unheated tent structure outside a university hospital in Newark, provided only the bare essentials, a port-a-potty, no shower. She has been also reportedly given only paper scrubs to wear. If Ms. Hickox was not sick when she arrived, she now has perhaps a better chance of catching a nasty flu.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Koch Brothers and the Opening of the Gates of Hell

by Nomad

An insane tabloid article from 1995 proclaims that Hell has released its laid-off work force. And very soon, says a mystic, the demons will be making the earthly realm their home.
Laughable? Yes, Ridiculous? Of course. But then again, let's look at what was happening in 1995.

I found this silly article in the November 21, 1995 issue of the now-defunct Weekly World News.

It's pretty standard fare for a tabloid, along with special diets and the latest travails of Bat Boy
(Like the half-boy, half bat, the Reverend Magnist of St. Paul also appears to be a non-existent character. At least, there was no trace of him online.)

I like the part where it says:
"We can expect to see two very ugly results of downsizing [in Hell]... First, demons will be appearing more often. We'll be seeing the reddish horned creatures everywhere...Secondly, more people will be going insane as the spirits of the demons take possession of their minds and bodies.."
Christian theology with a capitalistic spin. At the end, the mystic added  that we all must be on guard against these demons on the loose "whether they keep their own hideous bodies or take over those of our fellow human."
But suppose just for a second (and no longer) we take this seriously. What was going on in 1995 to support the Reverend's notions? 
Hmmm, let's see what a little research uncovers...

As one source reminds us, this was actually an important moment in the Republican party. Around this time, the Koch brothers set up a shell company called Triad Management which was used to funnel millions in secret money to help the Republican Party. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Abortion and LIFE: What Life was Like Before Roe v. Wade

by Nomad

On Feb 27, 1970, LIFE magazine featured an article on the subject of abortion. What's interesting about the article is that it gives us a snapshot of what life was like for women before abortion became legal. 

The Revolution in Paradise

In 1970, after a little over ten years as a state, Hawaii started a revolution. It became the first state to legalize abortions at the request of the woman. A short time later, New York soon followed, allowing abortions up to the 24th week of the pregnancy. 
Prior to that time, Colorado, California, Oregon and North Carolina had abortion laws that allowed for the procedure only in cases of rape, incest "or in which the pregnancy would lead to a permanent physical disability of the woman." (Presumably, that would include a lethal risk to the mother.)

At a time when, as a LIFE magazine article in that year points out, 20 out of every 100,000 American women died of complications. One of those women, Geraldine "Gerri" Santoro, became a symbol for the pro-choice movement. (A graphic police photo of her body "naked, kneeling, collapsed upon the floor, with a bloody towel between her legs" after a self-administered abortion was published in 1973 and outraged a nation against the abortion laws.)

LIFE magazine article also gives other interesting information about abortion before the reforms. For example, most women who sought abortions were, contrary to conventional wisdom, married. Although the Catholic Church strictly forbade the procedure, more than 20% of the women who had abortions were Roman Catholic. Religious prohibitions did not seem to discourage the procedure. It only made it a shameful and more dangerous act.

Compared to today, the Church back then apparently had a different take on the abortion law. Boston's Archbishop Richard Cushing, was quoted as saying: 
Catholics do not need the support of civil law to be faithful to there religious convictions and they do not seek to impose their moral views on other members of society."
Given the controversy that followed, led by Christians and anti-abortion groups, that's a breathtaking statement.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bust: How Republicans Lost the War on Drugs 3/5

by Nomad

In past installments in this series on America's war on drugs, we examined Nixon and Ford. Now we turn to the Democratic president Jimmy Carter.
Deeply entrenched distrust for the president within the CIA would prove to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Part 3. Where the Rational Met Reality

Carter's Way
The 70s were a time of reformation after the hectic and often frightening social shakeups of the 60s. Watergate and the subsequent Church Senate Committee Investigations had opened up the heart of the political system and most Americans were appalled at the grimy business of running the country and managing the world.

What was needed was a complete overhaul starting at the top. Jimmy Carter, a born-again Christian, peanut farmer with the down-home Georgian accent seemed to be the style of leadership the country demanded.
And so in 1976, against all expectations, The Waltons moved into the White House.

The white middle class conservative values of "dominant social order" were being re-evaluated, questioned and challenged in a variety of ways.
The extreme conservative opinion, typified by white frustration, tainted with bigotry and, simplistic, backward views of the world,  was being mocked weekly on television shows like All in the Family and other programs. It is no surprise then that the failed drug policy should once again come under greater scrutiny.

In some ways, President Carter did, in fact, pick up where President Ford had left off. And as we mentioned in the previous post, that new direction had already been sabotaged. While marijuana was now being considered harmless and non-addictive, cocaine was added to the same category. (We should take a closer look at the possible reason for this.) In any case, this coupling, for whatever reasons, proved to be a major blunder.

Both, under President Ford's directive, were now to receive far less attention from law enforcement. Meanwhile the focus was concentrated on the heroin trade. 

Progress combating the illegal import of heroin too was hampered. That had much to do with the CIA and its antagonism toward Carter and all he represented. 
It was common knowledge that high level intelligence officials in the agency had no great love for Carter. Perhaps it was to be expected since President Carter had campaigned as an outsider who was coming to Washington to clean the mess that the Church Committee had revealed.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When Capitalism meets Cruelty

by Nomad

I don't think this photo needs too much explanation or comment. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shocking: Utah Republicans Discover the Existence of Poverty and Social Inequality

by Nomad

Republican discover poor
According to a Salt Lake City article, Utah Republicans have made an astounding discovery. The poor! Furthermore, the conservatives say, with a few relatively cheap government programs, the cycle of poverty could be stopped in its tracks.

Unfortunately this is the same message that liberal Democrats have been saying for more than 50 years.

An op-ed piece in the Salt Lake City Tribune entitled "Utah Republicans Starting to Take on Poverty" should have a lot of voters scratching their heads in disbelief.

A Conservative  Epiphany on Poverty?
The article regales Utah Republicans for suddenly discovering the poor. Those sharp eyed conservatives never miss a trick, do they? 
The Republican legislators are, according to the article, 
"starting to realize that the poor have always been with us. And that that’s not a good thing. And that the rich and powerful should be doing something about it."
No kidding? Well, I declare.

This remarkable discovery was announced by Republican state Sen. Stuart Reid, who has been representing District 18 since January 1, 2011 .Reid has also detected something called intergenerational poverty.
Poverty, the Republicans have learned, can be passed down like an unfortunate inheritance. Who could have imagined it?

Monday, October 13, 2014

News from Iran: Suspicious Explosions and Unexplained Plane Crashes

by Nomad

Blast explosion
Here are two news stories from inside the Iranian Republic that didn't get much attention in the mainstream press last week.

According to a report from Iran’s state news agency, two workers were killed by an explosion and fire at a top secret Iranian military facility. One of those killed was reportedly an unnamed "nuclear expert."

The semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) also reported that the initial explosive shattered windows 12 kilometers away (about 15 miles) and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky.

The Parchin site, located east of Tehran, has been off-limits to UN nuclear inspectors since 2005. Countries opposed to Iranian nuclear weapon ambitions have presumed that the site has some special importance to the program.

If the cause of the explosion was sabotage, it would certainly be a matter of grave concern for security. As of this time, it is too early to determine the reasons for the blast and if sabotage were involved, it is unlikely Iranian officials would publicly announce it. There was, not surprisingly, very little coverage inside Iran even though the blast and fireball could be seen by the public.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Dangerous Deceptions of Justice Antonin Scalia

by Nomad

sCOTUS Scalia

As a Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been the most outspoken of all of the judges. His ultra-conservative views are one of the reasons what induced President Reagan to nominate him back in 1986. Increasingly, Scalia's public declarations have become more and more incautious and deceptive. Isn't it time for Scalia to step down?

About a week ago, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made a speech at Colorado Christian University. The speech deserves, I think, a closer look because a few of the things that were said should be a cause for concern.

The speech offered clear indisputable proof of Scalia's misrepresentation of the law, the lack of respect for the high court's decision, and even the role of the court itself.
Scalia's public pronouncements have, in short, become a serious threat to the authority of the judicial branch.

Fallacy about Secularism

In Colorado, Justice Scalia told his Christian audience:
“I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.
In fact, this is not the secularist position at all. It is not about government favoring religion over non-religion. Secularists may be just as religious as anybody else. Many of them, if not most, are just as religious as the average "Bible-thumper."
So to say this is a debate between the devout and the heathens, believers against non-believers is both insulting and wrong.  

The secularist position is that religion is a personal matter. It belongs in churches or private institutions, but not in the halls of Congress or tax-payer funded schools and other public buildings.

It is simply not possible to represent all religions without making one take priority over any other. Some are even contradictory or otherwise in opposition to others, even within the same religion. There is no state religion and therefore, neutrality between religions is mandated by the Constitution. The government cannot impose any particular religious belief or practice upon its citizens.
Except at a personal level, say the secularists, religion and governance must be distinct from each other. Despite Scalia's remarks, it was never about non-religion.

Justice Scalia is, of course, well aware of these facts but is purposefully misleading the audience. He understands that there are radical religious groups who seek to remove the long-standing separation of Church and State and he is offering them his ideological support.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Illusionary Links: Why Spurious Connections are Making You Stupid

by Nomad

The human mind was made to search for recognizable patterns. Generally speaking it has aided the survival of our species. But sometimes, this predisposition can also lead us down the wrong paths.

Riddle me this. 
What is the correlation between the divorce rate in Maine and the per capita consumption of margarine in the United States?  According to the graph below, as less margarine was consumed nationally, the divorce rate in Maine declined. 
Can you guess?

What about this? What could be the connection between the per capita US consumption of cheese and the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets? The graph below provides the proof of there is some kind of relationship between the two.
The more people that ate cheese around the country, the more people were found dead  throttled by their knotted bed sheets.

So, what's going on with the dairy products in the US?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Johnson Unzipped: Listening to LBJ Ordering Trousers Will Have You in Stitches

by Nomad

Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, had a reputation as being a little uncivilized at times. Here's slightly graphic telephone conversations between the president and his tailors.

Let's go back to August 1964 to listen to President Johnson unplugged. This slightly vulgar- or at least, vividly described- excerpt provides us with a snapshot of the man who ran things in the 1960s.

Compared to the elegance and sophistication of the Kennedy era, Lyndon Johnson ushered in a bit of a cultural shock for many in Washington. Insider tales of the president's vulgarity and a bit too plain speaking were gossiped about.

In fairness, Johnson was not the only president known for his vulgar language in private. Truman and Nixon both had such reputations. In Johnson's case, there was a naturalness which is a little shocking but funny too.  (I was also a little surprised that Johnson carried a knife with him.)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Over His Dead Body: Jamaican Corpse Kept on Ice for 7 years due to Family Row

by Nomad

Jamaixan Dead Man Nomadic PoliticsNomadic Politics travels to the Caribbean to report this story about how a family squabble has left one dead millionaire on ice since before Obama became president.

Here's a small story that caught my attention. 
According to an article in the Jamaican Observer, seven years have passed since an unnamed local man died and yet today his body is still being kept in storage at a downtown Kingston funeral home. 
To top it off, even now, nobody is quite sure when the man will ever be properly interred. 
The reason? 
An ongoing dispute about money between family members. 

Mr. Michael Jones, the director of the funeral home, says he has run out of patience. After waiting since 2007, he is now is threatening to take legal action against the family to recover millions of dollars, he says, he is owed for storage fees. 

Back in 2007 things seemed to be going smoothly. After the initial negotiations the discussions with family members seemed to finalize things, claims Jones, But then, there was some kind of problem. According to Jones, the family suddenly became unable (or unwilling) to bring him the necessary documents and payments to allow him to proceed with the burial. And that's how things have stood since that time. 
Jones claimed that, at the time, family members requested that the man be buried and promised that payments would be made at a later date. But he said he refused to do that.
The funeral director says that in more than 20 years of business, he has never seen anything like this. He has encountered similar cases in the past where people were unable to pay for the costs. And obligingly- though probably not happily, he has in the past offered to write off the expenses. It's one of the things that comes with the job. 
However, this case, he claims, is quite different. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bust: How the Republicans Lost the War on Drugs 2/5

by Nomad

  Drug War Ford
In Part 1 of this series we examined how  and why President Nixon declared his war on illegal drugs. However, the public learned the moral crusade was being led by a president with dubious moral qualifications.

In the second part of the series we carry on the story with the Ford Administration's efforts to make sense of Nixon's policy.  
That wasn't going to be easy.

Part 2. The Flaw and the Irony 

Ford's Challenge 
Richard Nixon Goodbye
In 1974, with a hearty arm wave from the doors of a helicopter, disgraced President Richard Nixon bid farewell to power. The anti-drug warrior was immediately replaced on August 9, by America's first and only unelected president, Gerald Ford. (In less than a year, Ford had gone from congressman  to vice-president to president.)

The Watergate investigation- as it turned out- was just the beginning of the government's distress. If the new president was calling for a "Time of Healing" it was soon clear that some people were not going to let the house cleaning end with Nixon. 

In January 1975, the Church committee, an independent investigation was established by Senate and continued the post-Watergate housecleaning. The target was no longer the president and his staff but CIA and claims of grievous misconduct, The committee's investigation pulled back  the cover on such things as assassination attempts against foreign leaders, covert attempts to subvert foreign governments and the FBI and CIA’s efforts to infiltrate and disrupt organizations here at home. (That's just the short list.) 
Senator Church, after reviewing the evidence of widespread abuse by the FBI, CIA, IRS and NSA, called the intelligence agencies "rogue elephants."

The investigation dragged on throughout most of Ford's time in office, and involved testimony from highest levels in the intelligence community. 

Under those circumstances, any attempt to restore the stability of the nation was going to be a challenge. Nixon's drug war was just another example of the general chaos in government of that time. And much of the problem, the confusion, centered on the policy stance on marijuana.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Here's Why the Syrian Refugee Problem Could Soon Get Much Worse

by Nomad

Syrian refugees Nomadic PoliticsThe number of Syrians fleeing the hell of civil war is staggering. As Syria's neighbors are struggling to keep the situation under control. Still, the costs and tensions continue to rise.
Just keeping the thousands fed, sheltered and protected is becoming more and more of a burden. But, as bad as they are, things could soon become worse.

According to an article in the Middle East Monitor. Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator made this chilling announcement this week. As things stand at the moment.The World Food Programme (WFP) would no longer be able to distribute food and water to Syrian refugees. 
Unless additional funding is found, Amos declared, the program would be closed within two months.
The WFP announced in the middle of September that it would reduce its food supplies to around six million Syrian refugees due to a shortage of funds, reiterating the need for an additional $352 million in support before the end of 2014.
Al-Quds newspaper quoted Amos as saying that the WFP has already reduced the portions of food aid in order to stretch them as far as possible. 

Amos also pointed out that an estimated 600,000 Syrians in the east, in Deir Al-Zour, and north, in Al-Raqqa, have been unable to get food aid for the third month in a row, due to the on-going violence.
The timing couldn't be any worse. Amos warned:
"Winter is coming and basic items are urgently needed in order to help protect people from the cold."
For people who have had to endure a blistering summer with temperatures staying in the triple digits for months, a cold and wet winters will be just another test of endurance, some weary refugees will be facing. 

Last December, camps in Lebanon and Jordan were dealt a little more misery, with below-freezing temperatures, torrential rains, and unusually severe snowstorms, The best aid agencies could do for the tent-city residents was to distribute plastic sheeting and tarps. Conditions in Lebanon were particularly appalling. 

Taking a more clinical view, without adequate medical care, these camps will become the perfect breeding ground for epidemics. which could easily spread to host countries.

The Syrian refugee crisis has become the worst humanitarian crisis with one of the largest forced migrations of people since World War II. According to reports, there are an estimated 9 million Syrians that have been forced to flee their homes region, since the civil war began in March 2011.

Roughly 2.5 million have fled to Syria's immediate neighbors Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. with the rest have been internally displaced inside Syria.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Least of These My Brothers: Homelessness and the Moral Test of Government

by Nomad

American exceptionalism is a useful tool when it comes to claiming the higher moral ground. However it comes with serveral pre-conditions and mandates. One of those is a higher sense of moral development. We must be -at least in some way- a bit better.
However, when it comes to our treatment of the homeless, the elderly, the sick and the need, where is our moral superiority?

A long time ago, President Andrew Jackson made this observation about the duties of government
The great can protect themselves, but the poor and humble require the arm and shield of the law. 
Back then, it was like stating the obvious.
Over a hundred and fifty years later, in November 1977, former Senator and vice-president. Hubert Humphrey said:
"..The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life- the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
If, as one philosopher said, compassion is the basis of morality, then what does it say about the present state of morality in government today.

  • Has our government passed that moral test?
  • Is that even a criteria for public policy anymore? 
  • When did it stop being important?

When Charity is a Crime

Thirty-three US cities have enacted policies banning the feeding of homeless. Daytona Beach, Florida, Raleigh North Carolina, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Birmingham Alabama have all recently fined, removed or threatened individuals and private organizations found breaking the laws.
As one source notes:
According to a report co-released by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, during the past seven years Gainesville, Fla., began “enforcing a rule limiting the number of meals that soup kitchens may serve to 130 people in one day;” Phoenix, Ariz., “used zoning laws to stop a local church from serving breakfast to community members, including many homeless people, outside a local church;” and Myrtle Beach, S.C., “adopted an ordinance that restricts food sharing with homeless people in public parks.”
 In a Daytona Beach incident, a couple who ran a Christian outreach group for over a year were fined for giving free food to the homeless.
In all, police officers ticketed six people, including four volunteers who helped the Jimenezes on Wednesday – one of them, a man in a wheelchair who recently escaped homelessness and participated “to pay it forward,” Debbie Jimenez said. The fines levied by authorities total $2,238.
Police officers also warned that all members involved were permanently banned from the park. If they ignored the warning they would be arrested for trespassing — on public property, no less. As one reporter said, "The right to peaceably assemble has been declared null-and-void for charity workers."

The excuse the officials gave was that not all of the homeless people are mannerly or clean while in the park. Living on the street tends to take the GQ and Gucci out of its victims. They also point out that some homeless people have mental health issues and substance abuse problems and criminal records. 

It's an ironic statement, as we shall see. 

Charity has always been considered one of the fundamental virtues of the Christian faith. Famously, the New Testament in the Gospel of Matthew relates the parable of the good King who admonished his ministers for their pettiness and selfish.
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
The punishment for helping only the well-off and powerful to the determent of the needy? The King cursed them, "into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
Pretty harsh.

Both St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas wrote that charity united us to God and that the habit of charity extends not only to the love of God but also to "the love of our neighbor."

Many Christians would say that love for your neighbor- whether rich or poor- is the key principle of the religion and any law that forbids individuals from assisting the needy is, in fact, anti-Christian.
However, it appears that the same people who claim that America is a Christian nation are quite comfortable with outlawing feeding the hungry and helping the needy. They must be too busy fighting for their religious liberty not to bake cakes for same-sex couples. 

Criminalizing the Homeless

If that were the only laws that made things difficult for the homeless, it would be shameful enough. But sadly, that's only the tip of the iceberg.

In Houston, it has become illegal to search in dumpsters for food, as so many homeless people are forced to do. One 44-year old homeless man was ticketed by a Houston police officer for." disturbing the contents of a garbage can in (the) downtown business district."

In the Houston area, the most recent statistics indicate that more than 6,300 people are without a home on any given night. Nearly half of the unsheltered homeless population have a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder. (There is good news too. Since 2011, there has been a 37% decrease in homelessness in Houston and in the past year, an impressive 16% decrease, according to the  Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County.)

In San Francisco, arrests for illegal lodging, or sleeping outside are increasingly common citywide. According to one source, 
The number of such citations of homeless people jumped sharply in the last two years: Illegal lodging charges increased from 85 to 219; maintaining a public nuisance, from 134 to 240; and obstructing a sidewalk, from 317 to 677.
Said Elisa Della-Piana, director of the Neighborhood Justice Clinic in Berkeley explained to T.J Johnston, writer for Street Spirit:
“A tired homeless man faced up to three years in prison for dozing off on a milk crate. Prison. For sleeping while sitting up — an act that anyone who has ever been on a plane ride can attest is torture in and of itself.”
Increasing the penalties against the homeless only punishes the ones who need help, especially after deep cuts in affordable housing and "other poverty-abatement programs starting in the 1980s." 

Origins of Our Contempt

According to the nonpartisan think tank, The Urban Institute, between the years 1981 and 1989, the homelessness rate tripled.

One reason for this was the lack of affordable housing. Available housing for the low-income household became harder and harder to find. There was a reason for that.
In the effort to limit government responsibility- a prime directive for conservatives- the budget for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was cut by a staggering $65 billion, going from a budget of $83 billion in 1978 to only $18 billion in 1983. 
In effect, as one source put it, the federal government under Reagan "relinquished its responsibility for developing affordable housing for low-income families."  
For an explanation of the full effects of the policies, you can go to this informative site.

Consider that during the same years, Congress was debating the Reagan budget of the B-2 stealth bomber. At $2.4 billion each, Congress cut its initial purchase of was 132 bomber to just 21.
If nothing else, this gives some indication of the moral priorities.

Another of Reagan's policies which contributed to the rise of homelessness concerned the governmental responsibility of the mentally ill  (including substance abuse.) 
Combined with a sharp rise in homelessness during the 1980s, Ronald Reagan pursued a policy toward the treatment of mental illness that satisfied special interest groups and the demands of the business community, but failed to address the issue: the treatment of mental illness.

Betraying our Duties 

Upon closer inspection, we can see that the movement that put more and more mentally ill patients on the street did not begin with President Reagan.

It was actually a part of the 60s and 70s reforms that gave more rights to patients with treatable mental illness. Drugs were seen as the panacea for mental illness and policy-makers with doctors decided that the best course was to put the less severely patient back into the community. It was a major mistake.

The range of patients who could be released into the community - so long as they were not a threat to others- broadened considerably. 
The effect was predictable: Once released, they would fail to take meds or get counseling and went right back to being seriously ill. As reported back in 1984, the policy was not working and something needed to be done:
Dr. Frank R. Lipton and Dr. Albert Sabatini of Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in Manhattan, who have done research on the problems of the homeless, say one of the major flaws in the concept of deinstitutionalization was the notion that serious, chronic mental disorders could be minimized, if not totally prevented, through care provided within the local community.
The neo-conservative mandate under Reagan to slash government programs all but ensured that Federal funds for community mental health programs would begin to dry up, shifting the burden to the states. The states, in turn, followed the federal government's lead and legislators too cut their  budgets on mental health programs. 

It was more than any single Reagan policy. It was a general attitude that homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, and even diseases like AIDS, were all personal problems and that governments had no mandate to seek resolutions. In short, social problems could and should be resolved without any cost to government. 

It may surprise a lot of the young whippersnappers that at one time when it came to helping the homeless, it was a matter of national pride. Edward Kennedy in his 1980 concession speech at the Democratic convention said:
Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called "the humble members of society.." On this foundation we have defined our values, refined our policies and refreshed our faith.
And that was the historical pivoting point.
By electing Ronald Reagan in 1980, Americans decided by popular vote to turn their backs on the poor, the drug addicts and the mentally ill. The road to prosperity had to have its scapegoats, after all. The humblest members of society didn't deserve our attention. There had to be winners and losers. 
What was the joy of success if prosperity was to be universally shared to all members of society?

When Compassion Became a Joke

Nobody can claim ignorance about Reagan's record. His sense of empathy had been made clear for years, well before he was elected president. In 1966, before a TV audience he said:
"We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry every night. Well, that was probably true. They were all on a diet."
Hunger in America, for many, was just a joke. 

When heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped and the SLA- the group that abducted her- initially demanded that free food for the poor and elderly be distributed in the poor neighborhoods of San Francisco. It was, they said, a condition of beginning negotiations for the release of Miss Hearst. In three days of distribution, over 75,000 resident received food through charity organizations. 
What was Governor Reagan's response? 

Reagan told reporters that people who accepted the food were "aiding and abetting" felonies. (I am sure he meant felons, not felonies.) He said he "deplored the fact that these people are accepting the food." 

Fuming at the hostage-takers' demand, Reagan reportedly told Republicans at a luncheon (a luncheon!)
"It's just too bad we can't have an epidemic of botulism." 
(He later claimed the botulism remark was just a joke.)

Joke or not, sometimes an off-hand remark can reveal so much about the character and the moral standards of the teller.  President Reagan and the party that has always held him in high regard- indeed idolized him- set the path that would today lead to laws making the poor and the sick and the homeless criminals. 

For a nation that takes so much pride in its Judeo-Christian roots, -with a moral code that demands we treat others the way would expect to be treated, that teaches us to care for the needy and the helpless as a glory to God- you'd think we  could treat the homeless just a little bit better than this.  

After all, they really are human beings.