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Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 56,681

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Black Thursday: Thanksgiving in the Consumer Wasteland

(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

A Thanksgiving Note from Senator Elizabeth Warren

Received via email:

"My Heart"

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!


Animals Were Harmed: Hollywood's Nightmare of Death, Injury, and Secrecy Exposed (GRAPHIC)

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/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

On the wall at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts

An Open Letter to You

"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.

Prove it.



Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Running For President, Top Financial Backer Tells Democrats

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.


Please Don't Take the "2016" Bait

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

"Given the present bitterness..."

"Given the present bitterness, given the angry irresponsible charges being hurled by both camps, the nation will be in dire need of a conciliator, a likable guy who will make things better and not worse. That man is not Al Gore. That man is George W. Bush."

- Richard Cohen, in his column, November 2000

Yeah, no, fuck this guy.

P.S. http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/62693:william-rivers-pitt--an-open-letter-to-richard-cohen

It's gone from annoying, to sad, to pathetic.

So I'm just saying it, for whatever it's worth.

I was back in Boston this weekend for a birthday trip and some very routine medical stuff, totally checked out from the "mainstream" and here. Got home late this afternoon, unpacked, and flipped on MSNBC. The whole discussion in the one segment I was able to sit through was ZOMG CHRISTIE HILLARY 2016 2016 2016.

Turned on the computer. Checked GD.


Fucking ditto.

I don't know what percentage of you people pride yourselves on being "outside the mainstream" by way of participating here, but if what I'm seeing is any evidence, you have the "mainstream" fishhook buried through your lip and deep into your gumline.

The election in 2014 will choose 100% of the House and 33.3% of the Senate. It will decide, to no small degree, whether this president can get anything done aside from rear-guard back-and-fill actions against avowed domestic terrorists.

The "mainstream" news people clearly don't give a wet fart about that election cycle...maybe because "Hillary" and Christie" are big names that drive ratings...and maybe because the seemingly-eternal low turnout that happens every midterm (because the importance of midterms is chronically under-reported) opens the barn doors for the kind of Tea Party yahoos that make it easier for the "mainstream" news people to do their jobs, because all they're good at is reporting on car wrecks.

Just a theory.

But as I peruse GD, I see a bunch of threads that have lock-stock-and-barrel bought into the 100% fully-mainstream-approved 2016 model, to the vast detriment of the really important elections less than a year away.

Psssst...you're not "underground." You're not "edgy." You're not even interesting.

You're a hooked fish, about to be jerked into the daylight and thrown into a bucket.


When this forum is only as interesting or relevant as the shit on TV, something has gone badly sideways.

Kindly unfuck yourselves.


An Open Letter to All Breathing Republicans

(Photo: MTSOfan / Flickr)

An Open Letter to All Breathing Republicans
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Friday 08 November 2013

You, Mrs. or Ms. or Mr. Bulletproof, are sick.

But you feel fine, you say? Bloodwork normal, all tests clear, no lumps, no limps, no memory lapses, no problems at all?

Wait a while. Live a little longer. Sooner or later, you will make the list.

According to the American Medical Association, more than 81 million people currently suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 11 million people currently suffer from some form of cancer.

According to the American Diabetes Association, almost 24 million people currently suffer from diabetes; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that half of all Americans could suffer from the disease by the year 2050.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that some 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or lupus, 21 million of whom are disabled due to the condition.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than five million Americans are currently afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, a number that will shortly spike as our aging population grows older.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, some 400,000 Americans currently suffer from MS.

According to the National Parkinson's Foundation, between 50,000 and 60,000 new cases of Parkinson's are diagnosed in America each year.

The CDC estimates that close to a million people a year become infected with herpes.

More than a million Americans are infected with AIDS.

Some 79 million Americans are infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a disease that causes cancer in both women and men.

That, right there, is more than half the country.

That, right there, is you. Sooner or later, and sure as sunrise, you can count on it.

If you're not sick right now, you will be, so if you're one of the people fighting the Affordable Care Act, wouldn't it be an example of enlightened, conservative self-interest to make sure this law is as robust as can be?

I know, I know, Democrat socialist Kenyan no-birth-certificate president and all that, plus Benghazi for good measure, but seriously: he's going to be out of office in three years, and for sure and certain you're going to get sick someday if you aren't already. The ACA makes sure your insurance company can't shaft you if your inevitable illness becomes too expensive for their balance sheet.

How is that not conservative? For the love of God, the whole idea was created in the first place by the Heritage Foundation before getting successfully road-tested by a Republican governor. Once upon a time, that kind of policy pedigree was worthy of a parade in Republican circles.

You are almost certainly going to get sick at some point along your personal timeline. This is unavoidable, and while your guns may give you a degree of psychological protection from ominous neighbors in hoodies, you can't shoot cancer, or stroke, or dementia, or diabetes...and one of these days, one of those things is going to ring your doorbell, and that's your ass, financially, if you're not covered.


Please read the Book your party has claimed sole ownership of.

Proverbs 31:8-9 says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Matthew 25:41-45 says, "'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'"

John 3:17-18 says, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Of course the Affordable Care Act is fragile. All things human are, including you.

Especially you.

For you will be sick one day. It is inevitable. Unavoidable. We are made to ail, to suffer, and to die.

Enlightened self-interest is the Republican way.

How are you feeling today?

Think about it.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/19907-an-open-letter-to-all-breathing-republicans
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