HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » WilliamPitt » Journal
Page: 1 2 Next »


Profile Information

Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 58,179

Journal Archives




It just occurred to me: Cindy Sheehan was the first #Occupier.

I know some here are done with her, and that's fine; everyone is entitled to their opinion.

But remember 2005: the war had been raging for three years, but the media basically hid the war, so it wasn't part of the public consciousness.

Until Cindy Sheehan sat down in the mud outside George's ranch in Crawford and refused to leave until she got some answers.

I was there, and it was a privilege to be a part of. When she was done, the war had a face...and from that point on, support for the war went into the tank.

She was the first one.

OK, let's do this: Super Bowl predictions here.

Me: Patriots lose by two scores. And no, that's not an attempt at reverse voodoo. The idea that the Giants are underdogs is preposterous.

Death of an Ordinary Housecat

Death of an Ordinary Housecat
Richard (RJ) Eskow

There's nothing to see here. Move along. Nothing, that is, but this report of a minor incident in Russellville, Arkansas: "Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Aden's campaign manager returned home to find his family pet slaughtered, with the word 'liberal' painted on the animal's corpse."


But there wasn't a single moment of reflection, much less remorse. Not from Hannity. Not from O'Reilly. Not from Savage or Goldberg. On the contrary, Hannity was outraged when I laid some of the responsibility for the Unitarian killings at his feet. (A true totalitarian to the end, he raged and screamed on the air and said I should be 'fired' from the Huffington Post.)

Now a cat is dead. Not a first responder or a churchgoer or a toddler in an Oklahoma day-care center. Just a cat. We don't know if it was male or female. We don't even know its name.

If there wasn't any remorse or reflection after those deaths and injuries in Knoxville, there certainly won't be any over the death of a tiny creature in a little Southern town. The town was Russellville, Arkansas, in Pope County, population 27,000 or so. Bet you didn't know it's the county seat.

The rest: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/media-violent-rhetoric_b_1225552.html

A really, really important piece.

VICTORY FOR H2O MAN - Mission accomplished, hunger strike at an end

His goals were very simple: a meeting with Senator Libous on the issue of fracking. He kept getting dodged and ducked, until this stike was the only way to get the meeting.

He got it.


Hi, Will:

It was a wild day. To make a long story short, I gave a speech in the Capital -- it went pretty well -- and a couple hours later, met with Senator Libous, then with his staff. And, man, does food taste good!

More tomorrow. I have some medical appointments in the morning and afternoon, then am planning to stay home and write up some of what went on.

Again, thank you for your support & article. I'll send a few links from some of the news sites that were there.



Lynching the Dream

A protester at the Occupy LA camp in front of City Hall in Los Angeles, on November 27, 2011. (Photo: Monica Almeida / The New York Times)

Lynching the Dream
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Thursday 19 January 2012

This past Monday, this nation celebrated the memory of one of our greatest minds, one of our tallest souls, one of our lost children. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrates the memory of our American Gandhi, a man who dedicated his life - and, in Memphis, gave his life - to the idea that is America: all are created equal.

To be sure, the "Negro" was counted only as 3/5ths of a man in the document that first established the ridiculous experiment that became America, and women were counted not at all, but more than two hundred years have passed since that original ink was put to paper. Ours is a self-improving republic, thanks to the genius of those founding documents. A "Negro" now sits in the highest office of the land, and a woman (who lost the chance to sit in that exalted seat by only an eyelash or two) now commands the most important and influential position in the Federal government, save the one enjoyed by her immediate superior.

Ours is a nation of genius, and of assassins, in equal measure. We reached the moon, cracked the genome code, we feed millions, liberated Europe and Asia from horrific tyranny sixty years ago, and daily export the idea that one should be able to speak their mind without fear of the gulag or the work camp or the executioner's bullet...and yet we do this even as the souls of slaughtered Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and ten times ten thousand Iraqis shriek their condemnation from the blood this nation has spilled in its pursuit of "greatness."

I have been preaching this gospel, in word and deed, for almost twenty years: America is an idea. You can take our cities, our roads, whatever is left of our manufacturing base, our crops, our armies, our weapons, you can take the land itself from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon...you can take it all, and the idea that is America will still remain, as robust and vital as the day it was first conceived. It is the idea that sustains me, the brilliant simplicity of actual equality, and it is the offenses to the idea that I have pledged my life against.

Some will argue that I and those who believe as I do are doomed to failure. Perhaps this is true; the forces arrayed against what I and others of like mind hold true and dear are stupendous, overwhelming, and well-placed in money and in media. Even the "Hope and Change" president of the present maintains and extends the elaborate shame of our past, apparently deaf to the howls of those of us who would have him, and us, do right at long last.

It is what it is, as someone once said. You look for a toehold, a place to grab on to, a front - no matter how meager - from which to wage your own siege, against all that has gone so catastrophically wrong with this old experiment, in trying to do right.

We define ourselves through comparison to that which we oppose. In this, we are seldom lacking in inspiration. Take, for example, this report (http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/17/10177446-prosecutors-aim-new-weapon-at-occupy-activists-lynching-allegation) about the newest way the Powers That Be have chosen to crush and prosecute the Occupy movement. It isn't enough for a prosecutor to charge a protester who has been beaten and Maced by police with assault. No, we're going here:

Sergio Ballesteros, 30, has been involved in Occupy LA since the movement had its California launch in October. But this week, his activism took an abrupt turn when he was arrested on a felony charge - lynching.

Whether the police allegation in this case will be pursued by by California's courts is uncertain. But the felony charge - which carries a potential four-year prison sentence - is the kind of accusation that can change the landscape for would-be demonstrators.

"Felonies really heighten the stakes for the protesters," said Baher Azmy, legal director at Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. "I think in situations where there are mass demonstrations and a confrontation between protesters and police, one always has to be on the lookout for exaggerated interpretations of legal rules that attempt to punish or squelch the protesters."

Lynching: "For many African Americans growing up in the South in the 19th and 20th centuries, the threat of lynching was commonplace. The popular image of an angry white mob stringing a black man up to a tree is only half the story. Lynching, an act of terror meant to spread fear among blacks, served the broad social purpose of maintaining white supremacy in the economic, social and political spheres."

Once upon a time, the (lily-white) power structure used lynching as a means of maintaining control. Now, in the shadow of the holiday celebrating Dr. King's life and work, they are deploying this accusation in order to punish and prosecute people who have exercised the right gifted by this idea, this country, this place of alleged freedom: the right to speak your piece, "to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The idea remains intact, even after so prolonged an assault from so determined a foe.

It is, as ever, worth fighting for. As Dr. King said, "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

Dig in, people.

Dig in deep.

The Promised Land is far and wee, and all we have in the meantime is ourselves, our hopes, our dreams, each other, and the promise of an idea that - with our blood, sweat, and toil - may yet be fulfilled.


If Obama Loses: The Courts

The Courts
The conservative takeover will be complete.

By Dahlia Lithwick

For anyone considering the 2012 election’s importance to the future of the American judiciary, one fact stands out: next November, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be seventy-nine years old. If a Republican wins the presidential election, he or she may have an opportunity to seat Ginsburg’s successor, replacing the Supreme Court’s most reliably liberal jurist with a conservative. That would mean that the Court—currently balanced almost elegantly between four liberals, four conservatives, and the moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy—would finally tilt decisively to the right, thereby fulfilling Edwin Meese’s dream, laid out in his famous 1985 speech before the American Bar Association, of reshaping the Court around one coherent “jurisprudence of original intention.” Meese, who was then Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, wanted nine conservative constitutional originalists on the Court. He may soon get his wish. A 2008 study by Richard Posner, a federal appeals court judge, and William Landes, a law professor at the University of Chicago, examined the voting records of seventy years of Supreme Court justices in order to rank the forty-three justices who have served on the Court since 1937. They concluded that four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since 1937 sit on the Supreme Court today. Justice Clarence Thomas ranked first.

Kennedy, who is ranked tenth in that study, will be seventy- six next November. If a Republican successor of Obama gets to replace both Kennedy and Ginsburg, it’s fair to predict that the Roberts Court may include five or even six of the most conservative jurists since the FDR era. Following the ideological disappointment that was David Souter, Republicans have been spectacularly successful in selecting and confirming justices who consistently vote for conservative outcomes. Indeed, the replacement of moderate Sandra Day O’Connor with Samuel Alito may have produced the most consequential shift at the Court in our lifetimes; in a few short years O’Connor’s pragmatic legal doctrine in areas ranging from abortion to affirmative action to campaign finance reform has been displaced by rulings that would make Edwin Meese’s heart sing.

But it’s not just the Supreme Court that would tilt further right. The high court only hears seventy-some cases each year. The vast majority of disputes are resolved by the federal appellate courts, which are the last stop for almost every federal litigant in the country. And the one legacy of which George W. Bush can be most proud is his fundamental transformation of the lower federal judiciary—a change that happened almost completely undetected by the left. At a Federalist Society meeting in 2008, Bush boasted that he had seated more than a third of the federal judges expected to be serving when he left office, most of them younger and more conservative than their colleagues, all tenured for life and in control of the majority of the federal circuit courts of appeals. The consequences of that change at the appeals court level were as profound as they were unnoticed. As Charlie Savage of the New York Times put it at the time, the Bush judges “have been more likely than their colleagues to favor corporations over regulators and people alleging discrimination, and to favor government over people who claim rights violations. They have also been more likely to throw out cases on technical grounds, like rejecting plaintiffs’ standing to sue.” In short, they have copied and amplified the larger trends at the Roberts Court: a jurisprudence that skews pro-business, pro-life, anti-environment, and toward entangling the church with the state. Under the rhetorical banners of “modesty” and “humility” and “strict construction,” the rightward shift has done more to restore a pre-New Deal legal landscape than any legislative or policy change might have done.


Imagine a Democratic presidential nominee running on promises to reshape, remake, make over, hog-tie, or even just refinish the federal bench. It doesn’t happen. And so, even though the most conservative Supreme Court in decades sits poised to decide cases ranging from the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care legislation to the future of affirmative action in schools, the rights to gay marriage, and the fate of the voting rights act, Republicans portray both the Supreme Court and the lower courts as a collective of lefty hippies. And Democrats mainly just look at their fingernails. If you care about the future of abortion rights, stem cell research, worker protections, the death penalty, environmental regulation, torture, presidential power, warrantless surveillance, or any number of other issues, it’s worth recalling that the last stop on the answer to each of those matters will probably be before someone in a black robe. Republicans have understood that for decades now, and that’s why the federal bench—including the Supreme Court—is almost unrecognizable to Democrats today.

The rest: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january_february_2012/features/the_courts034474.php

Update #2 from H2O Man

"If DUers want to help on this, they should continue calling Libous, Cuomo, and Kennedy; they could also send your article to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, and Keith O and Young Turks on Current TV."

Contact info for the above officials here, near the end of the article: http://www.truth-out.org/clearing-stands-boxer-one-mans-fight-against-fracking/1326401455


January 16, 2012

The press conference/rally outside of the State Office Building in Binghamton went well today. It was bitter cold, and so I was surprised that anyone else showed up. But there were about thirty people.

Last night, I scribbled a rough outline for my speech, based on Thomas Merton's introduction to his 1964 book, "Gandhi on Non-Violence." He compared Western Civilization to a one-eyed giant, that had mastered the sciences, but failed to grasp the significance of matter. Native People's culture, on the other hand, had wisdom without technological advances. The effort to combine the best of these two worlds was essential, before the one-eyed giant destroyed the environment it neither understands nor appreciates.

The S.O.B. is near a couple of hospitals. Everyone has an extended family member who has suffered from a disease such as cancer. The medical profession represents the best in technological advances -- treating and curing illnesses and injuries is indeed an everyday miracle. The medical profession also has wisdom; an example is the message to not smoke, or do other high-risk activities.

The largest area medical provider in our region is Bassett Medical Care. Their board of directors, and their medical staff, have issued statements in opposition to hydrofracking. That process poses serious health risks, among them demonstrable links to asthma, stroke, heart-attack, cancers, and preterm birth.

I ended by noting that all I am asking for is a meeting between NYS Senator Libous, and a few leaders of the grass roots groups opposed to hydrofracking. I said that the goal was communication, rather than trying to change his mind.

Tom Libous is a local politician, and I recognize he takes that position very seriously. I am a local citizen and father, and I take that equally seriously. Something as simple as an election could change our current position, in that sense. But it is nearly impossible to imagine our changing positions on hydrofracking, because that is a matter of our character.

There were many kind people there, who thanked me for what I'm doing. A Vietnam Veteran told me that Merton's writings had helped him in his re-adjustment into society, after experiencing the hell of war. An older woman grabbed my arm as she thanked me, and started to cry. And an itty-bitty 8-year old girl, who had seen me on the news and told her Mom that she wanted to meet me, gave me a CD of children's music. She said she thought it would keep me from being sad when I am hungry. It has.

Update #1 from H2O Man

He told me he is doing well, though "There are only so many ways to prepare water -- ice water, cold water, bottled water, a glass of water, a cup of water ....."

His report:


January 15, 2012

This morning, I had two phone calls, both asking if I planned to attend an anti-hydrofracking meeting at the Sidney Public Library. The first call was from an old friend, who -- when I said yes, I was going to be there -- said, "Good. We need our leader." The second was from a young man who I'm not familiar with, who hung up on me after I said I planned to be there.

The meeting went very well. The gentleman who organized it said that there were three times as many people as he had expected to show up. There were representatives of several of the area pro-environment, anti-fracking grass roots groups at the meeting. The only person I didn't recognize turned out to be the fellow who called me.

He approached me at the end of the meeting, and said that not only did he resent that I planned to do a hunger strike, but was offended that I spoke to a group that appeared to support me. He said that I was no different than a person standing on top of a high building, threatening to jump. And the others here were like a crowd that gathered to watch the freak show, and were yelling, "Jump!"

I told him that I didn't see it that way, and that apparently no one else there did, either. This fellow said, "You are all about death." A woman next to me asked if I knew this guy? I said that I didn't. She asked him why he was there? He didn't respond to her. So I said that my actions were intended to promote health and life, versus hydrofracking, which represents disease and death.

He said that I was "a typical politician," and asked if my "next stunt" would be to take the state senator hostage at gunpoint? I pointed to a book I was holding, and said that if he insisisted it was a bike, it was still a book. The "bike" existed only in his mind. I said he seemed to be peddling in some dark territory, and that I was not able or interested in going there with him.

I am not a "leader," nor a lunatic threating to jump off a building, much less commit any act of violence. I'm simply a citizen, and a father, who is very concerned that hydrofracking will destroy our environment. As the hunger strike goes forward, it will be important to try to focus on that -- no hero, no villan, just and ordinary person attempting to exercise Amendment 1.
Go to Page: 1 2 Next »