Name: William Rivers Pitt
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 55,868
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 55,868
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(Photo: Tony Fischer / Flickr)
Top Gun Santa
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed
Thursday 05 December 2013
Two years ago, nearly to the day, I penned an article about the degree to which the Christmas season generally makes me want to tear my skull out from under my face and lob it through the window of the nearest storefront that has the gall to play "Jingle Bells" on an endless loop from a sidewalk speaker. I have my reasons, valid ones all, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.
I am not, however, a curmudgeon. Sure, my "Christmas spirit" takes an annual beating when the commercials start in June, and the same songs are played all the time everywhere (I think the last new piece of Christmas music was written in the year 2), and the overwhelming commercialism of the whole thing makes me wonder why we don't all just live in the mall and get it over with...but then the day itself arrives, and I see family and friends, and get to watch them enjoy my gifts, and get to enjoy my own, and in the end, it's nice.
While I am not a to-the-knife defender of all things Christmas, I do believe it is important, especially for the children. All of my best Christmas memories are from before I was ten years old. There was a simple magic to it - the tree, the anticipation, the cookies and milk for the guy who would be coming down the chimney - that I still haven't forgotten, and this year, I get to share it with my daughter for the very first time.
So when I saw this article on Tuesday morning, I very nearly went around the bend:
As Santa streaks through the sky this Christmas Eve, Rudolph merrily guiding the way, he will be flanked by some new and unusual companions: a jet-fighter escort, bristling with missiles. That is the twist that - to the dismay of at least some child advocates - the US military has chosen to put on this year's version of its traditional animated tracking of the yuletide journey. This year's updated segment, now previewing on the military's website, depicts Santa soaring over snow-capped peaks with military aircraft keeping pace on either side.
Threats? To Santa Claus? Whose bright idea was this? Now, for the first time in history, children who see this nonsense will go to bed on Christmas Eve worried that someone might try to kill Santa Claus, an idea that no kid anywhere has ever been required to encompass.
You really have to see this turd to believe it. The martial drumming, the terrible graphics, the cameras and radar stations surveilling everything, and of course, the war weapons on Santa's six. You'd think the "defense" industry would treat Santa with more dignity. He knows if you are sleeping, he knows if you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good, so for goodness sake, the guy should be on retainer with the NSA.
The NORAD tracking thing has been around for almost 60 years, and when I was old enough to know better, I loved watching how it made the younger kids lose their minds when Santa's "position" was reported by the local TV news stations...but this deal with the fighter jets is not just some cute new wrinkle they've added.
It is product placement and the creation of brand loyalty to the military in the minds of young children, which in the end makes it recruiting. Period, end of file.
The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20441-top-gun-santa
NORAD promo video:
Posted by WilliamPitt | Thu Dec 5, 2013, 10:45 AM (15 replies)
American soldiers with captured Nazi flag, WWII.
(Photo: Za Rodinu / Flickr)
The Last Dead Nazi
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed
Tuesday 03 December 2013
A piece of history died on Monday.
Heinrich Boere was 92 years old when he passed away in a prison facility in Froendenberg, Germany, where he was being treated for dementia. At the time of his death, he was the state's oldest prisoner, and perhaps its most notorious. After all, some 68 years removed from the end of World War II, how many living Nazis from the days of Hitler's Reich can there be left?
Boere was one such.
Boere was born in Germany to a German mother and a Dutch father, but moved to Maastricht in the Netherlands when he was two. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940, he recalled seeing Stuka dive-bombers flying overhead, and remembered his parents being elated instead of afraid. At the time, his mother said, "They're coming, now things will be better." Many years later, during testimony he gave at his own trial in Germany, Boere said, "It was better."
Not long after seeing those Stukas flying above his adopted country, Heinrich Boere became a Nazi himself, wore the uniform, and fought for the Reich on the Russian front. Later, he volunteered for the Waffen SS, the para-military muscle of the Nazi Party that was the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler. By 1943, Boere was part of a hit squad targeting members of the Dutch resistance and anyone else harboring anti-German sentiments. He killed three people by his own admission, and aided in the killing of many more.
After the war ended, he evaded justice for some 60 years, fought the law once he was cornered, and was finally convicted for his crimes. On Monday, he died behind bars, lost in dementia. Only the orderlies, nurses and doctors know what demons were loosed from his mouth once his mind was gone, what confessions he made. He knew what he had done was wrong in the end, or at least he knew others thought he had done wrong; during his trial, he explained why he had never married: "I always had to consider that my past might catch up with me. I didn't want to inflict that upon a woman."
Heinrich Boere, known Nazi, known murderer, known collaborator with the filthiest tide to ever wash up on the human shore, is dead. He was not the worst of them, but he was willingly one of them. He did not die free, but in fetters on a prison bed without even his own mind left to him. More than some would say it was a better death than he deserved. Most would say that justice, at least to some degree, was finally served.
But what of us, the children and grand-children and great-grand-children of this awesome and terrible history?
In my own way, I mourn the passing of Heinrich Boere. Not because of what he believed or what he did; were I able, I would spit on his grave...and then light a candle, and stand a vigil, because Heinrich Boere is important to us all. When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to forgetting that men like him lived at all, one step closer to forgetting that party-sponsored murder gangs like the Waffen SS ever existed, one step closer to forgetting that hate-fueled thuggery thrives in economic chaos, can take over, and can wreak bloody havoc.
When men like Heinrich Boere die, we are one step closer to having men like Heinrich Boere among us again, because we forget what they did when they are gone, and by forgetting, we allow them to live again. Sooner or later, inevitably, they rise when we forget.
The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20387-the-last-dead-nazi
Posted by WilliamPitt | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 10:06 AM (7 replies)
CNN: "The first takeaway from Black Friday 2013: Thanksgiving is changing. For all the talk of shopping boycotts -- on the grounds that family values exceed the desire to save a few bucks -- American consumerism has triumphed. The crowds that typically appear before dawn Friday showed up at what's traditionally dinnertime on Thursday."
"Alas, regardless of their doom, the little victims play!
No sense have they of ills to come, nor care beyond today."
- Thomas Gray
Posted by WilliamPitt | Fri Nov 29, 2013, 10:07 AM (15 replies)
(Photo: Greg Sailor / The New York Times)
Black Thursday: Thanksgiving in the Consumer Wasteland
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed
Thursday 28 November 2013
Tony Rohr was the general manager of the Pizza Hut in Elkhart, Indiana, until just the other day, when the company decreed that his restaurant was to be open for business on Thanksgiving for the first time in Rohr's long experience. For the sake of his own family, who wanted him to be with them for the holiday, and for the sake of all the other employees and their families, Rohr refused to do as they said.
Of course he was fired, but he went down swinging. "I am not quitting. I do not resign, however I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company," wrote Rohr in a scathing letter to his former employer. "I hope you realize that it's the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible."
And so Tony - who started as a cook and worked his way up the ladder - will sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with his family today not knowing where his next paycheck will be coming from. Mr. Rohr has become, in a uniquely American way, a martyr to the new normal in this country. Never mind the fact that Thanksgiving is probably the last day most people would think to frequent a fa-chrissakes Pizza Hut - the restaurant will spend more money having the lights and ovens on than they will make from customers, bank on it - and focus on the singularly vile practice of robbing workers of a long-cherished day with family in order to maybe make a few extra bucks.
It's happening all over the place. Turn on a television, wait for the commercial break, and in no time you will hear something along the lines of CAN'T WAIT FOR BLACK FRIDAY? GOOD, BECAUSE WE'RE ALSO OPEN ON THURSDAY WITH STUFF AND DOORBUSTERS AND MORE STUFF AND LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF YOU HAVE TO HAVE THIS STUFF OH MY GOD SO MUCH STUFF WHAAAARGARBL AND P.S. BLACK FRIDAY TOO!!!
Black Friday may be important to the retailers who depend upon the orgasmic gush of consumer spending to put their earnings for the year "in the black" - where the term came from, if you didn't know - but it has metastasized into perhaps the most gruesome display of everything that has gone sideways in American society.
Once upon a time, it was fun in its own odd way, I suppose, but now...now, people camp out for days in department store parking lots, risk stampedes, fist-fights and the occasional hail of gunfire in order to get their glutton on one day after a holiday dedicated to being thankful for what they have. Someone will die in a store on Friday over a flat-screen television or a power tool. That annual sacrifice upon the altar of More Stuff has become as predictable as the tides.
And now, that's not enough. Now, they are forcing workers to give up this cherished holiday - and yes, "forcing," because Tony Rohr can tell you everything you need to know about what happens when you refuse orders to work on Thanksgiving - in order to service the insatiable maw of American consumerism run amok. Dollars to doughnuts, the CEOs who are demanding their employees sacrifice their Thanksgiving celebrations with family are big "family values" guys. They will be with their families, you can sure-God count on it.
And yet, something to be thankful for: there is push-back...
The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20308-black-thursday-thanksgiving-in-the-consumer-wasteland
Posted by WilliamPitt | Thu Nov 28, 2013, 10:52 AM (20 replies)
Received via email:
Thanksgiving is a holiday I remember in blinks of memory.
My grandmother with her head bowed, leading the blessing.
My Aunt Bee proudly presenting her special green Jell-O molded salad for everyone to admire.
Our son Alex, racing through the house as a three-year-old, making monster noises and holding out his hands with pitted olives stuck on the end of each finger.
Seven-year-old Amelia and her eight-year-old cousin Michelle decorating place cards and deciding where each relative should sit (and arguing loudly over whether Aunt Nancy's name was spelled "Ant Nancy" or "Ante Nancy").
Nephew Dan coming in just before dinner, still muddy from playing in the traditional high school rivalry game between Plymouth North and Plymouth South.
Baking pies with my granddaughters.
Holding a tiny grandbaby and eating my dinner with one hand.
Somewhere, we probably have photographs from every Thanksgiving – but even if we don't, I have them all in my heart.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday – a chance for all of us to give thanks for all the things that previous generations have given to us. But it is also a chance to think about the world we are leaving to the generations that will follow us.
I'm deeply grateful for every blessing in my life. I'm also deeply grateful to have the chance to fight for a world that includes opportunities for all our children and a real chance for hard-working people to build some security.
I realize that the changes we need to make will be hard, and I know that we won't win every fight – but I know that if we fight, we have a chance to build something better.
Thanksgiving is a time for us to be grateful, and I'm grateful to have you by my side. Your stories, your hopes and wishes are with me today and every day.
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!
Posted by WilliamPitt | Wed Nov 27, 2013, 12:32 PM (0 replies)
Animals Were Harmed: Hollywood's Nightmare of Death, Injury, and Secrecy Exposed
The Hollywood Reporter
The full scope of animal injuries and deaths in entertainment productions cannot be known. But in multiple cases examined by THR, the AHA has not lived up to its professed role as stalwart defenders of animals — who, unlike their human counterparts, didn’t themselves sign up for such work. While the four horse deaths on HBO’s Luck made headlines last year, there are many extraordinary incidents that never bubble up to make news.
A Husky dog was punched repeatedly in its diaphragm on Disney’s 2006 Antarctic sledding movie Eight Below, starring Paul Walker, and a chipmunk was fatally squashed in Paramount’s 2006 Matthew McConaughey-Sarah Jessica Parker romantic comedy Failure to Launch. In 2003, the AHA chose not to publicly speak of the dozens of dead fish and squid that washed up on shore over four days during the filming of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Crewmembers had taken no precautions to protect marine life when they set off special-effects explosions in the ocean, according to the AHA rep on set.
And the list goes on: An elderly giraffe died on Sony’s 2011 Zookeeper set and dogs suffering from bloat and cancer died during the production of New Regency’s Marmaduke and The Weinstein Co.’s Our Idiot Brother, respectively (an AHA spokesman confirms the dogs had bloat and says the cancer “was not work-related”). In March, a 5-foot-long shark died after being placed in a small inflatable pool during a Kmart commercial shoot in Van Nuys.
All of these productions had AHA monitors on set.
The rest: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/feature/
Posted by WilliamPitt | Tue Nov 26, 2013, 10:20 AM (0 replies)
On the wall at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts
Posted by WilliamPitt | Fri Nov 22, 2013, 09:17 AM (97 replies)
"At Eternity's Gate," Vincent van Gogh.
An Open Letter to You
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed
Wednesday 20 November 2013
There are days, now and again, when I feel as if my skull is going to seethe through my face, as if I want to eat my teeth, and I want to simply lay waste to everything, because the absolute worst I could do would be better than leaving the current arrangement intact.
Tuesday was such a day, because of three things I never wanted to hear.
The first: there is a guy named Tom Brower, who lives in Hawaii, and he really hates homeless people. He hates them so much, in fact, that he smashes the belongings of every homeless person he can find with a sledgehammer. He is happy to be videotaped obliterating the meager possessions of this society's most vulnerable citizens because he is "disgusted" by them, and calls his actions "justice." He wears an Armani hat, and calls himself a Christian.
"I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets," said Brower after one of his rampages. "If someone is sleeping at night on the bus stop, I don't do anything, but if they are sleeping during the day, I'll walk up and say, 'Get your ass moving.'" Mr. Brower has not been arrested for this brazenly sociopathic behavior, and he never will be, for Tom Brower is an elected official, a state representative, and a Democrat to boot.
"Blessed are the meek," Scripture says, "for they will inherit the Earth." Mr. Brower, the Christian, should probably pray that the New Testament is fiction, lest he find himself at the mercy of Earth's inevitable inheritors - in the fulfillment of prophesy, of course - on the losing end of his own sledgehammer.
Her name was Stephanie. She was beloved by friends and family. She lived in grateful awe of the wonder that is life, and was extraordinary because of that simple, awe-struck wonder. She was joy transfixed and translated, astonishing and astonishment well met.
She died on Monday morning of a disease that could have been controlled and killed had she not been forced to wait for treatment. She didn't have the money needed to save her life.
Stephanie did not have to die. That she is dead daggers a finger at the system that let her go. Any society that calls itself civilized would declare her murdered, and would hunt her slayers down with dogs and torches until they were run to ground and brought to justice...but this is America, where health and sickness are a for-profit industry.
Stephanie's killers will eat well tonight, and sleep in beds plush enough to suit God. Stephanie sleeps in the ground tonight, and those who knew and loved her are forced to cope with her unnecessary absence, cold-comforted by the words that announced her passing: "She died peacefully."
I am, perhaps, preaching to a hollow room.
After all, I speak to a country that elected to statewide office a man who smashes the pathetic belongings of the homeless with a sledgehammer while calling himself a Christian.
I speak to a country where a video game is made about the massacre of children, and the makers of the game are condemned and censored while the circumstances that allowed the actual massacre remain unmolested.
I speak to a country that let a wonderful woman die of an entirely treatable illness because she didn't have enough money.
I hope it is not a hollow room, a hollow country, a hollow soul I speak to, because these three stories happen all the time, and every day. This is where you live, and this is who you are. If you have a conscience, it makes you feel dirty in your heart.
We are responsible for this. We are all part of this thing that is dismantling our basic humanity brick by brick.
We can un-make it. We simply have to.
Freedom begins with a "No."
We are better than this.
Posted by WilliamPitt | Wed Nov 20, 2013, 11:58 AM (49 replies)
Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Running For President, Top Financial Backer Tells Democrats
Paul Egerman, a Warren gatekeeper, waves donors off the hype over the senator’s possible presidential run. “It’s not gonna happen,” one funder says.
By Ruby Cramer
Elizabeth Warren’s former national finance chair, Paul Egerman, has told several inquiring donors this month that, despite runaway speculation and a burning desire from the party’s left wing, the freshman senator will not run for president in 2016.
Egerman, close to both Warren and to the heavy-hitting liberal base of funders who helped her raise $42 million last year, has been approached by donors in the last two weeks and told them that, no, Warren is not planning to run, according to two major players in Democratic financial circles who spoke with Egerman directly.
One Democratic fundraiser said he spoke with Egerman roughly two weeks ago, after articles by Peter Beinart in the Daily Beast and Noam Scheiber in the New Republic heightened fervor amongst the progressive wing of the party over whether Warren would ever challenge Hillary Clinton, already the presumed frontrunner, from the left.
Egerman, the fundraiser said, quickly threw cold water on the theory. “It’s not gonna happen,” the source said.
The rest: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/elizabeth-warren-financial-backer-tells-donors-no-chance-on?bftw=
One less "2016" thing to talk about.
Posted by WilliamPitt | Mon Nov 18, 2013, 12:08 PM (64 replies)
Buttons at the Ready for Hillary office in Alexandria, Virginia, July 26, 2013.
(Photo: Drew Angerer / The New York Times)
Please Don't Take the "2016" Bait
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed
Thursday 14 November 2013
By now, pretty much everyone has heard about columnist Richard Cohen stepping on his meat (again) on the pages of the Washington Post. Bi-racial families make "conventional" Americans want to "gag," right, great, thanks, Rich. It's not as bad as that day in November of 2000 when he endorsed George W. Bush over Al Gore, him being the big "liberal" on the Post's editorial page and all, but it's pretty damn bad.
Given his long-standing track record for this kind of crap, any other civilized nation on the planet would have Richard Cohen gainfully employed shooing pigeons away from statues in the park instead of polluting the national discourse with his quaint racist drivel, but that's a complaint for another day.
Having said all that, what drove me absolutely nuts about this particular Cohen article was not his little nugget about conventional gaggers. What drove me nuts was the fact that he dropped it in the middle of a long, windy article about the challenges New Jersey's GOP Governor Chris Christie will face if he decides to run for president in 2016.
Let me be perfectly clear: screw Chris Christie. Furthermore, screw Hillary Clinton. And since we're on the subject of erstwhile 2016 candidates almost a thousand days away from the next presidential election, screw Elizabeth Warren, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and everyone else who has been insinuated into this utterly idiotic topic.
If you happen to be among those who have spent the precious breath of life talking about any of these people, or anyone else allegedly running for president three years from now, please stop. You are part of the problem, and frankly, you're making me crazy. Get your priorities straight, and turn off the damned television "news."
One cannot swing one's dead cat by the tail without striking some "mainstream news" talking head holding forth on the chances for Hillary, Christie and whoever else in the 2016 election. It is the laziest, most insipid non-story these "journalists" could be reporting on, so of course they are flooding the airwaves with it ... and a lot of people who should know better are taking the bait.
I don't know what percentage of politically-minded people pride themselves on being "outside the mainstream" or "ahead of the game," but if what I'm seeing in real-world conversations as well as all over the internet is any evidence, a whole lot of people have the "mainstream news" fishhook buried through their lip and deep into their gumline.
The 2016 election is all they're talking about on TV, so of course, piles of people who pride themselves on being immune to that pestiferous influence are regurgitating the same crud, because irony is always awesome.
Why do I find all this so irritating? Because there is a tremendously important - dare I say historically pivotal - congressional midterm election happening less than a year from now, and nobody is talking about it. The "news" isn't covering it, which means turnout will be low again, so once more, the craziest 30 percent of yahoo right-wing gun-sucking Jesus-shouting woman-hating gay-bashing America will make this incredibly important decision for the rest of us, and we will get screwed as usual.
The election in 2014 will choose 100 percent of the House of Representatives and 33.3 percent of the Senate. It will choose legislators and governors and school board members and city councilors - the people who do most of the actual governing in America - from sea to shining sea. It will decide, to no small degree, whether President Obama can get anything done aside from rear-guard back-and-fill actions against avowed domestic terrorists in Congress.
The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20031-please-dont-take-the-2016-bait
Posted by WilliamPitt | Thu Nov 14, 2013, 10:22 AM (43 replies)