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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 03:53 PM
Original message
Do The Right Thing
Edited on Fri Apr-23-10 04:02 PM by WilliamPitt


(Illustration: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

Do The Right Thing
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Friday 23 April 2010

For a number of years, the running joke about me among my friends was that, because I write for a living, I'm a bum. They didn't really mean it, and there was definitely a tinge of envy in their voices when they cracked on me about it - after all, my commute to work is the 15 feet from my bed to my desk, and wearing pants is entirely optional in my "office" - but there it is. These friends of mine are people who bust their asses for a living, as security guards and in hot restaurant kitchens and in windowless offices and in crowded classrooms and behind bar tops and pedaling bicycle rickshaws filled with inebriated low-tipping tourists back and forth between downtown hotels and Fenway Park, and so the fact that I sat at home reading and writing every day made me an easy mark.

That all changed when the economy got eaten by a bunch of white-collar hedge fund bandits in Washington and New York. It stopped being funny to rank on people about their jobs when it seemed like everyone we knew was either in danger of losing theirs or already had. It stopped being funny when the money got tight. And I stopped hearing the jokes about my profession when my own financial security required I take a second job.

Since nobody anywhere was hiring anyone for anything, I took the best gig I could find, which turned out to be bouncing at a bar. Several nights a week, I pushed away from my keyboard to stand outside a door on a frigid street in a black shirt and check IDs, throw out drunks and keep the peace, such as it was. The gig also involved hauling out garbage, sweeping up cigarette butts, dumping beer swill buckets, polishing tables and dragging dripping boxes of empty beer bottles out behind the building at the end of the night. The pay wasn't great, and my work on average wasn't done until 4:00 AM, but it was enough to make the difference between eating and not eating, and I've been at it ever since.

The job is as blue-collar as you can get, which is nothing new for me. I had my first job before I was ten years old, working the snack bar at a scruffy little public golf course, which later became mowing the entire place and raking every sand trap once I was tall enough to see over the steering wheel of the machinery. Growing up, I never had less than two jobs, and usually had three. I've cleaned septic tanks, served ice cream, rented videos, delivered pizzas, and for one memorably nightmarish season, sold men's underwear for six bucks an hour at a Filene's department store.

About 15 years ago, however, I moved into white-collar office work, and then became a teacher, and then a full-time writer, which I suppose you could define as "no collar" to go along with "no pants." However you define it, the fact of the matter was that it had been a very long time since I'd done a job whose sole requirement was having a strong back and a good right hook, and I realized very quickly that my friend's jokes about my writing career were not entirely misplaced. I'd been in my own cushy writing bubble long enough to forget what sore feet and long nights feels like at the end of a week, and while I'm not saying writing is easy, it is definitely soft by comparison.

The best part about my night job is that most everyone who goes there to drink works very, very, very hard for a living. A great many of them smoke, and since Boston banned butts in bars more than seven years ago, I get to spend a great deal of time talking to the customers out on the sidewalk when they come out to light up. Given the nature of my day job, these conversations invariably turn political, and so, in a very weird and interesting way, I have become something of an informal pollster on the issues of the day. It is a wildly unscientific process, to be sure, given that the people I "poll" are at least partially if not fully in the bag, and that our conversations tend to last only as long as it takes them to choke a butt, but it has been a revelatory experience nonetheless.

The short version of my "findings" boils down to this: people are pissed off and scared. They work too hard for too little, and just spent the last year watching fat cat pols in DC dicker and dither over a health care "reform" bill even the experts don't seem to fully understand. They've watched their jobs, futures and family security explode like the Hindenburg, only to open a newspaper and read about scumbag CEOs and thieving brokerage houses raking in millions in bonuses and billions in profits as a reward for stealing everything but the spoons in the sideboard. They want the heads of these people to roll, and they want jobs, and they want their futures back, and if the politicians who have thus far failed to get this done were on fire in front of them, they wouldn't piss on them to put them out.

So, screw my writing, my political analysis and my cushy little no-collar perspective. This is the bouncer talking, and these people in Washington had better listen good. This push for financial regulation and reform that's about to happen had better be the real deal, had better have some big sharp teeth, and had better include putting some fat Wall Street fillet-mignon asses in prison for the havoc they have wreaked on the lives of millions of good, decent and diligent workers who deserve better.

George W. Bush and his people got a walk for the flagrant crimes they committed, and we've watched these Wall Street criminals thus far escape equally scot-free, and I am here to tell you, the view from the sidewalk is nothing but livid little people who wonder what it has to take before someone goes to jail for being a crook.

I'd say more, but I can't right now. My night job is expecting me.

http://www.truthout.org/do-right-thing58821
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CaliforniaPeggy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. You make it live, my dear Will...you make it live.
Such vivid, strong writing. Your glimpse of this world is priceless!

...the view from the sidewalk is nothing but livid little people who wonder what it has to take before someone goes to jail for being a crook.

Damn right.

K&R


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chill_wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
2. Right on, Will Pitt.
K & R.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
3. And what pisses me off...
is that the Democratic Party seems unable to see how these events have affected the common folks. They continue to ignore them.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. That's why they don't get pissed on when they're on fire.
There's a lesson in that somewhere.

;)
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. I wonder if they even know they are on fire??
They appear to be living in another universe?
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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:17 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. If I could piss gasoline, I'd piss on a few.
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bkozumplik Donating Member (391 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
34. hrm ill piss on them
line them up, repub and dem, and you light em, and I'll douse em. I'll drink a lot of water and make enough urine for all of them.
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blm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:00 PM
Response to Original message
5. Well, Pitt....my blue-collar upbringing declares this one of the best pieces you've ever written.
And I hope more than a few blue-collar teabaggers have the chance to read it.

*salute*
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panader0 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:04 PM
Response to Original message
6. Cool. recd
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monmouth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:05 PM
Response to Original message
7. That was "lyrical" to read. Thank you Will Pitt...n/t
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TheOther95Percent Donating Member (202 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:37 PM
Response to Original message
10. The miniscule amount I received as part of the Bush tax cuts...
pales in comparison to the amount lost from my investment portfolio as a result of greed, ineptitude and we-don't-need-no-stinking regulation thinking.

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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Welcome to DU
:toast:
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TheOther95Percent Donating Member (202 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 04:44 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Thanks!
A beer right now sounds good.
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calimary Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #10
36. Welcome to DU! I always like to point out - what's your Buck-98-Tax-Cut gonna do for you
when the tornado rips through your neighborhood and there aren't enough relief workers because there wasn't enough tax money coming in?

What's your Buck-98-Tax-Cut gonna do for you when there's a big pothole in the street just down from your house - that's damaged your front axel enough that your car is almost undrivable now - but there wasn't enough tax money coming in to keep the roads fixed?

What's your Buck-98-Tax-Cut gonna do for you if it's only enough to cover one car payment a year - when you have payments and bills up the wazoo for things you now have to pay for, retail, that the government used to provide (but can't anymore because there isn't enough tax money coming in to cover those programs that don't exist anymore)?

What's your Buck-98-Tax-Cut gonna do for you when the sexual offender moves into the neighborhood and there aren't enough police around anymore to keep track - 'cause there isn't enough tax money coming in anymore)?

I could go on...

Everybody just LUVVVVED that bush tax cut. I wonder how far it got most people?
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pnwmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
13. I think The Bouncer should write a book. A manifesto.
Or maybe you already are?
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. ...sshhh...
;)
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tavalon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #13
19. That would be very interesting
I've read all of Will Pitt's books but that would certainly be a different kind of WP book.
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laughingliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:32 PM
Response to Original message
15. Thank you! Rec! nt
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county worker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:35 PM
Response to Original message
16. Seems like a lot of us are pissed off about the same things but would like to piss on different
Edited on Fri Apr-23-10 06:36 PM by county worker
people for causing them. Now if we all would agree on who to piss on maybe we could get something done. Fighting among ourselves is getting us nowhere.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:38 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Oh, it's getting us somewhere, all right.
Just no place we want to be.
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tavalon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:52 PM
Response to Original message
18. Well, I can see now why you aren't quite as prolific as you were in the past
but you're still a damn good writer.

I have a job that "should" be secure for a while at least and yet, I feel the hot breath of financial ruin just behind me. Many of my friends are out of work and hearing that the economy is getting better isn't helping their unemployment at all.
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 06:56 PM
Response to Original message
20. You'll always be our Roadhouse Patrick Swayze!
:P

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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 12:20 AM
Response to Reply #20
24. I'm going to kill you.
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annabanana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 07:06 PM
Response to Original message
21. Stellar essay, sir.
Best in weeks. And absolutely on the money in accordance with everything I've seen and heard in my neck of the woods. Anyone in Washington who thinks this is just same-old same-old is in trouble whether they know it or not.
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Raster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 08:12 PM
Response to Original message
22. Thank you, Will.
:kick:
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Autonomy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-23-10 10:27 PM
Response to Original message
23. Will Pitt throwing drunks out of a bar?
Edited on Fri Apr-23-10 10:27 PM by Autonomy
Oh, how what ironies this economy hath wrought! But, yeah, I got my grad degree in December, which has done nothing but make me ineligible for minimum wage jobs. I've been out of work for 16 months. In that time, my health has taken a turn for the worse, and I could not now do some of the jobs I could have when I lost my last full-time position. Top that off with the fact that I cannot GROSS more than $904/month in order to keep the Medicaid I now am absolutely dependent on...

I wish I had the guts to write. I remember sending PMs to Will and Larissa A. several years back looking for some advice on a writing career... It was always up to me to just do it, but even necessity is seemingly not enough to break me out of my torpor. I am glad someone is saying what needs to be said, and making a few bucks at it, too.

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Mopar151 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 06:22 AM
Response to Original message
25. Top shelf, man.
I hear it too - In the tool & die shop, in the gararges and junkyard. How the fuck can these 3rd rate dipshits screw up everything, loot their customers, screw Joe 12-pack from here to the equator, and cash those telephone number checks? There's a bunch of 'em oughta swing for this, and a f'n army of 'em that need to be paintin' guardrail and pullin' weeds.
The business guys I talk to are astounded by the casual incompetence on display, as they send businesses down in flames - lines of credit yanked without notice or cause, receivables gone from days to months, and customers operating on spit and baling wire - so these fat bastards can pay cash for a new Maybach.
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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
26. When it comes to money and power

the politicians will do the right thing, for them. I just don't see them willingly giving up anything that would lessen their status quo.




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Ichingcarpenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
27. How do you like dem apples?



So You are working in the belly of the beast in Bean Town
at a 'bar' that can afford to pay for a 'bouncer' sounds real blue collar.

Good for you.... I'm cleaning Architects offices with three advanced degrees but will get my residency
here soon because of cleaning the floors and the owner of the business said he will talk to the union to get me in the system. I have organized labor in the south and west but no need to do it here
since its a union country..... I hope you organize the labor in the bar because they need it. I have meet too many americans exploited in that trade of services including many family members

You are a writer, which is not my strength. I just do the math and logic
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 10:46 AM
Response to Original message
28. Bump
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Mopar151 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #28
29. What about ol' Bump?
I hac a couple cold ones with him last week. He was tellin me a story about some judge up noth, stole millions out of trust accounts, never did a day in jail. Said even the governor would'nt do nuthin' about it, 'cuz the people complainin' were the wrong sort of folks. Fairbanks, I think he said the judge's name was. And the judge was playin' the stock market with the money, with one of the Wall street big boys.
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Ichingcarpenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #29
40. His ego is the bouncer on his posts
HE IS SUCH AN OrGANIZE ON Labor.

He is picking up butts on the street.
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Mopar151 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-10 01:31 AM
Response to Reply #40
42. Huh?
I make a play on words to bring up a con that was a prototype for a lot of what we see now, and you start slamming the OP about ego?
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-10 09:13 AM
Response to Reply #42
43. Don't bother
The last time this particular person made sense was...well, never.
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ensho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
30. good post Will, good post


Obama and team better do a straight up job on this problem
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jus_the_facts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
31. Kick for THE MAN without pants....accompanied by a ditty by Men Without Hats.....
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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
32. JAIL. Anything less that a provision for jail sentences will be meaningless.
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David Zephyr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 12:36 PM
Response to Original message
33. William, bouncer or teacher, white collar, blue collar or no collar, you can write.
Edited on Sat Apr-24-10 12:37 PM by David Zephyr
And people are pissed and so busy surviving they've been easily manipulated into blaming the wrong people for the crimes done to them.

You are one of the ever diminishing reasons I visit the DU. Today, I logged on again only after I'd read your OP to give it a resounding K&R. :hi:
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Love Bug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
35. I think you are right.
People ARE pissed off and don't believe anyone in Washington is looking out for them. I think every incumbent in congress running for office this fall is in serious trouble, no matter what party or what they have done (or not). I think a "throw all the bums out and start over" attitude is going to prevail this fall at the polls unless people see some real change real soon.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #35
37. Bill Clinton may be able to feel the pain...
But I can feel the anger...
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BeHereNow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 04:00 PM
Response to Original message
38. Damn! I missed the "Recommend Window" but here is a kick.
Edited on Sat Apr-24-10 04:49 PM by BeHereNow
Dearest Will-
You need to take a camcorder to work and start a documentary of
the people you are talking with outside.
Just a thought.

"Reel Stories" hosted by William Pitt.

BHN
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dixiegrrrrl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 04:08 PM
Response to Original message
39. those of us on the fringe economy have dropped out.
I am seeing a lot more under the table/cash only work being done. Cash discount is about 10% here.
Lots of local places have stopped using credit card machines.
checks ( if you are local ) and cash only.

and lots of anger over the wars, the government, the banks.
Much fear about jobs, and kids/grandkids futures.
Kids and grandkids are a HUGE deal in the South, as you know, Will.
folks are very upset over "the guv'mint" screwing with future generation's security.
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-24-10 08:18 PM
Response to Original message
41. Don't put down your day job by acting like it's cushy. Either it's work or it isn't.
If you don't respect it, why should anyone?

And they're not "little people." And the sooner they organize, the better.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-10 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #41
44. (facepalm)
The stupid got strong in this thread all of a sudden.
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Brickbat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-10 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #44
46. Gee. Thanks.
As a fellow writer, I take my labor extremely seriously and make a conscious effort not to belittle it, because there's plenty of that to go around, as you have obviously experienced.

You do good work. I find it disingenuous and tiresome, however, when a college-educated bestselling author picks up a job among the "little people" and then reports back what he's heard and speaks on their behalf. But then, I don't like Barbara Ehrenreich's work either, so you're in good company.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-26-10 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #46
48. As many around here would tend to agree...
Edited on Mon Apr-26-10 03:12 PM by WilliamPitt
...writers are all too often douchebags. :hi:

I take my labor seriously, too...hence the product of it. But it's soft, especially in comparison to physical labor, and you know that full well. Unless you don't.

Save your judgments for yourself, chief. The fact that I've been made to remember a few things about real hard work should serve as a reminder, unless you've never had a callous in your life...in which case, I have nothing to say.
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WillyT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-10 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
45. It Is Remarkable...
I stood door at a friend's sports bar for several years, still go there as a customer, and I can tell you that my informal polling here mirrors your experience exactly.

Politicians from BOTH parties should be scared shitless.

Wish I could still rec this, but here's a kick for a great post.

:kick:

:hi:
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RainDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-25-10 04:50 PM
Response to Original message
47. great post! n/t
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