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Profile Information

Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 58,170

Journal Archives

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof Is On Fire

We don't need no water
Let that motherfucker BERN
BERN motherfucker

Hillary Clinton's lead over N.H. Democrats shrinking, poll finds

... probably not an appropriate campaign song, but I likes it, me.

Still don't think he's a used-car salesman?

TPA survived cloture and is about to pass.

TAA ... who knows? It's up to Mitch, thanks to Obama. Who cares about "trade adjusted" workers, anyway, right?

TPP ... coming down the pike one way or the other, and will sail thanks to TPA.

Next up: Keystone ... and the legacy will be secured.

Go ahead and yell at me if it comforts you.

Killing a Nation With Euphemisms: TPP-Eats-Medicare Edition

President Barack Obama leaves a meeting with House Democrats on Capitol Hill, June 12, 2015.
The existence of the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill - which will draw $450 million from Medicare
to provide "assistance" for those losing their jobs because of the Trans-Pacific Partnership - underscores
that people in DC know the trade bill will be a job-destroyer in the US.
(Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Killing a Nation With Euphemisms: TPP-Eats-Medicare Edition
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Tuesday 23 June 2015

This week, legislation to give President Obama fast-track trade agreement authority (TPA) will take its star turn in the GOP-controlled Senate. The cloture vote is said to be taking place on Tuesday, and if the 60-vote threshold is reached, the final vote on the bill will happen the same day, or on Wednesday.

More importantly, however, is the following vote, scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday, on "Trade Adjustment Assistance," (TAA), also known as the "We sent your job to a Pacific Rim sweatshop in a country with no labor laws where people work for $2 a day during 18-hour shifts making the clothes you used to be able to afford before we laid you off, so here's ten dollars so you can take in a movie and get your mind off things, but no popcorn for you" bill.

In other words, TAA is a bill to provide "assistance" for all the people who are absolutely going to lose their jobs if the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) passes ... and the passage of that trade bill is what all this TPA and TAA mishigas has been about.

"Trade Adjustment Assistance" ... isn't language just such wonderfully malleable putty? It would not in any way surprise me if, somewhere in the dank bowels of a building in Washington DC, there exists a think tank solely dedicated to the crafting and deployment of crass yet terribly effective euphemisms. "The Clear Skies Initiative," also known as "Let the polluters pollute as much as they want." "No Child Left Behind," also known as "Conformity over creativity and critical thinking." "PATRIOT Act," also known as "We're watching you, bub."

And now, this. You're not fired, laid off, outsourced, downsized, removed, erased, kicked to the curb, bounced, deleted, expunged, cut, dismissed, chucked, or even screwed. Nope. You've been "trade adjusted," right out onto the sidewalk with a box of your stuff in your arms and a disorienting buzzing noise rattling the inside of your skull. Such a kind euphemism for so traumatic an event. The boys in the bowels of that building sure put the work in on that one.

Let's say the TPA survives cloture and is passed ... and let's even say that Mitch McConnell trips over his soul in the men's room and actually allows a vote on TAA, and it survives cloture and then passes ... guess what? The money to "assist" people who suffer "trade adjustment" upon passage of the TPP will come from ...

Wait for it ...

Wait for it ...


That's right! Probably the most successful, well-run social program in US history will take it in the teeth to help support people who lose their jobs to the trade bill that necessitated this "assistance" in the first place.

... and here's the best part. The original plan was to "sequester" - another brilliantly vile euphemism - about $700 million per year from Medicare to fund "assistance" for everyone who gets "trade adjusted" by the TPP. Republicans balked at the number, not because it was stealing from Medicare, but because it was Just Another Government Welfare Program Argle Bargle Blah. After a series of negotiations between congressional Democrats, Republicans and the White House, they settled on carving out $450 million per year to "assist" the "trade adjusted."

It's beautiful, in the way an avalanche on a snow-capped mountain is beautiful before it buries and smothers you.

First, the very existence of the TAA bill means these people in DC know the trade bill will be a job-destroyer in the US. Otherwise they wouldn't bother, period.

Second, $700 million per year isn't nearly enough to help all those who will have to hit the bricks once their jobs go away, so $450 million is basically a bad joke.

Third - and this is where the true poetry of evil finds its clarion cry - everyone put on the street by the TPP will someday qualify for a Medicare that is less capable of serving them, because the program has been compensating for the way they lost their job in the first place.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/31521-killing-a-nation-with-euphemisms-tpp-eats-medicare-edition


Um...pssst...this is, for all practical purposes, primary season.

Primary season is the most important season. It is when the voters get to choose from a much wider variety of candidates.

It's vital, and the fact that the average turnout for primaries all across the country hovers below 40% is a large part of the reason we're being "governed," by and large, by shitheads.

This is when we really, really get to do some choosing.

It's also when we debate the relative merits of the candidates. Sometimes with heat, because it's that important.


When a supporter for Candidate X makes salient and accurate points about your Candidate Y, or vice-versa, please don't deploy "Well, you're just a hater" or some brain-absent permutation thereof.

You sound like a jackass, and have thoroughly missed the point of the exercise.

This is important. If you don't like it, find another hobby.

What's the word on The Magistrate?

There was a thread on The Magistrate having been absent for an uncomfortably long time, but I can't seem to find it. Any word?

Here's a White guy about to stab a Black guy in the chest with an American Flag.

This didn't happen in Charleston, or Montgomery, or Tallahassee, or Richmond, or Biloxi. This happened in downtown "liberal" Boston during the busing riots, which happened because White Bostonians didn't want Black kids going to school with their kids.

Just a quick reminder to all the non-Southerners who may be feeling a bit superior after recent events. If you think your town isn't riddled with racists, too, you're badly deluding yourselves.

He's a damned racist. Period, end of file.

The fact that this is even being debated in this country is a noxious, fetid astonishment ... and sadly, no surprise at all. Erick Erickson, peerless fuckwit, actually attempted to conflate the slaughter of nine people in a church and the assassination of a state senator with Caitlyn Jenner and the very existence of transgender people ... because they're both evil, don'tcha know.

Roof a racist, period. He killed those people because they were Black, period.

... and this country needs a goddam enema.

The Scorpions, the Frogs and the TPP: Prepare to Be Stung

House Speaker John Boehner talks to reporters about support in the House to give President Barack
Obama power to accelerate a broad trade accord with Asia, on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 13, 2015.
The House has just passed President Obama's bill giving him fast-track trade authority by a slim margin
of 218 to 208. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

The Scorpions, the Frogs and the TPP: Prepare to Be Stung
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Thursday 18 June 2015

An Aesop fable, "The Scorpion and the Frog," has been much on my mind today. Short version: A scorpion asked a frog to carry him across a stream. "How do I know you won't sting me?" asked the frog. "Because if I do," replied the scorpion, "I will die, too." Halfway across the stream, however, the scorpion stung the frog. As they sank to their mutual doom, the frog gasped, "Why?" The scorpion replied, "Because it is my nature."

As I watched the House pass President Obama's bill giving him fast-track trade authority (TPA) by a slim margin of 218 to 208, I thought to myself, "Here are the scorpions, and we are the frogs."

Some 28 Democrats voted in favor of it, while nearly twice that number of Republicans, fifty, voted against it. The bill allows the president to submit trade agreements to Congress for a straight vote with no amendments attached. It is, in every respect, the first step toward the president's ultimate goal: passage of the dangerous, foolish, destructive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

Refresher: The TPP is based on the NAFTA model, but with vastly broader powers and implications. NAFTA was an astonishing job-killer in the US, and the TPP will be worse. It is a massive corporate power grab by multi-national corporations whose control, upon passage, over every aspect of our lives will be multiplied a hundred-fold. Food, medicine, the internet, and especially jobs will be profoundly affected, and if the corporations are challenged, they can seek redress in a trade court whose power will supersede US laws.

The fast-track bill was shot to pieces last week through some fairly clever maneuvering by the Democrats. Packaged in that vote with the TPA was a program going by the nauseating euphemism "Trade Adjustment Assistance," or TAA (more on that in a moment). Even though most Democrats support the TAA, they voted it down with Republican help as a means of upending the whole rowboat, and it worked ... until today, when the TPA was brought to a vote again, but without the TAA attached, and it passed.

A word on this "Trade Adjustment Assistance" thing. Let's say you work for a software company doing customer assistance over the phone. You make a decent living and get health benefits. You go to work one day and find a note on your desk informing you that, thanks to the wonder of the TPP, your job is being air-mailed to the Pacific Rim. Please clean out your desk by the end of the day, here's a form for COBRA, and thank you for your service. You go looking for a new job, only to find that every position in your field has also crossed the ocean.

That's not outsourcing, or getting laid off, or getting royally screwed. It's "Trade Adjustment." There would be "assistance" for you, but the folks on the Hill don't seem interested in passing that portion of the deal. It was more important to get the big deal done, and leave the little deal - you, your livelihood, your future - for some nebulous "later." They promised they would ... and if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs.

That's not some idle fantasy, mind you. Despite all the happy talk from the president and his suddenly enthusiastic Republican allies about the TPP creating jobs for US workers, the very existence of a "Trade Adjustment Assistance" bill gives vivid lie to their hyper-optimistic hogwash. That bill exists because they know, as sure as little fishes swim in the sea, that the TPP will be a job-killer, and they created an "Assistance" plan as some sort of half-assed Band-Aid for all the people who will be streeted if this thing comes to be ... but they haven't passed it. Go figure.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/31462-the-scorpions-the-frogs-and-the-tpp-prepare-to-be-stung

On the "news" media coverage of the horror in SC

Leaving aside for just a short moment the fathomless horror of what has taken place in South Carolina, I need to make note of something that compounded the sickness in my stomach.

I read the articles on the massacre this morning, but wanted more, so I started flipping back and forth between CNN and MSNBC for further coverage...and got a tidal wave of commercials on both. It just kept going on both networks, so I actually decided to time it: less than five minutes of actual news, followed by nearly six minutes of ads.

At one point, "liberal" MSNBC finished their avalanche of ads and came back to the studio, where the anchor basically said, "We're continuing our coverage, this is just terrible, we'll be right back," and another five minutes of commercials unfolded. CNN was no better. I turned it off in disgust.

No one has to tell me the "news" media sucks. I've made a career out of describing it, dissecting it, and working for an organization trying to be better than it. This, however, was notably egregious, and I'll tell you why.

Columbine coverage: no commercials, and I remember that clearly. Sandy Hook coverage: no commercials, and I remember that clearly. Massacre at a Black church? Buy insurance buy a car buy this bladder pill GE is awesome buy more insurance "This is terrible we'll be right back" buy a car buy a car buy insurance for that car buy this boner pill, lather rinse repeat.

Two schools and a church. What's the difference?

The difference is binary. The difference is Black and White.

Call me cynical for thinking ad placement is a bellweather for attitude, but in my eyes, it's grotesquely vivid. Binary. The One, and the Zero. I got 20 minutes of commercials and seven minutes of news about a White kid massacring Black parishioners - including a state elected official who was also the pastor - in one of the most historic churches in the nation.


Don't Believe the Hype: Candidate Clinton's Sudden Populism

Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to reporters at a state launch party for her presidential campaign,
in Concord, New Hampshire, June 15, 2015. In spite of her use of populist rhetoric on the campaign
trail, Clinton's actions, history and friends in the financial industry tell a different story.
(Photo: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/The New York Times)

Don't Believe the Hype: Candidate Clinton's Sudden Populism
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Short of writing, following and studying the news is my primary profession; the latter nourishes the former. I swim in headlines, drown in text, and too often choke on nonsense. It's fascinating, but not fun ... and while much of the news these days makes me hedge the yawning chasm of despair, every once in a while a story will come along that quite simply makes me want to run my head through a plate glass window.

The Washington Post provided the latest example of pure, mind-bending awful. You've certainly heard by now that California is enduring the worst drought since God wore short pants. Governor Brown has initiated severe water rationing as a result, and according to the Post, the rich folks aren't taking it very well. "Rich Californians Balk at Limits: 'We're Not All Equal When It Comes to Water,'" reads the headline. The lawns and pools on their estates, their flower gardens and private golf courses, all will be affected.

"What are we supposed to do," said one aggrieved party, "just have dirt around our house on four acres?"

There you have it, friends. George Orwell - "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" - was a true prophet. In a state where the aquifers are almost empty, the water that's left has been tainted with fracking waste thanks to the profit motive, and the poverty-burdened migrant worker community which basically supports the state's economy only sees green when they work the fields or get their meager pay, the über-wealthy are worried about the lushness of their lawns.


For reasons some may argue are not entirely fair, the Post article about those preposterous people helped crystallize a few things as I encompassed the rhetoric contained in Secretary Clinton's big campaign speech this past weekend. Despite her long history of association with these kinds of people, Mrs. Clinton on Saturday deployed the sort of populist bombast that one might have heard at an Occupy Wall Street rally not so long ago...


The roll-call of Mrs. Clinton's top twenty campaign donors is topped by Citibank, and includes Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse Group ... basically, a cohort of the worst people in the United States, the ones who gamed the system by buying politicians like her and then proceeded to burn the economy down to dust and ash while making a financial killing in the process.

The hood ornament on President Obama's second term agenda, the positively nauseating Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and fast-track authority for same, has been much in the news of late. The deal was dealt a blow by Congress some days ago, but the argument is far from complete. Mrs. Clinton's silence on the topic is deeper than what one would hear in deep space. However, in her 2014 book Hard Choices, she positively waxed loquacious...


Candidate Clinton's words over the weekend matched with chiseled precision the populist wave that has been washing over the country ever since those first few brave Occupy Wall Street souls sat down in Zuccotti Park, refused to budge, and re-introduced the nation to a dialogue which made them realize just how badly they've been getting screwed.

In my humble opinion, her actions, her history, and most importantly her friends in the financial industry, give glaring lie to this sudden eruption of populist fervor. She railed against all of the entities that are tearing the country to rags on Saturday, and then cashed their checks when her pals at the bank opened for business on Monday. That is the sharp truth of it, and all the YEAH BUT REPUBLICANS arguments can go pound sand. When Secretary Clinton and the most terrifying GOP candidates on the skin of the Earth share the same donor list, the (D) after her name doesn't matter a dime.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/31397-don-t-believe-the-hype-candidate-clinton-s-sudden-populism
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