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Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 57,452

Journal Archives

I want to sing his name.

There was this guy I met in college who had the wicked pissah Woburn accent. He was ten feet tall, with bright green eyes, and handsome in the way that makes you hate handsome guys like that just a little bit even though he's you're friend. The funniest guy in the room, and hilariously OCD; we'd rearrange the books in his dorm room ever so slightly, and he'd walk in, put the books back in order again, sit down, crack a beer, and tell us to fuck ourselves with this megawatt smile on his face. Smart as all get-out; he took a class titled "How to Make an Atomic Bomb" thinking it was a history class, found out it was a hardcore physics/engineering class, stuck with it, and aced the goddam thing anyway.

After college, I moved to San Francisco, and bugged him to move there until he did. He bought two motorcycles and promptly wrecked them both, but made a home for himself, and we had good great grand and wild times. I left to return to Boston after two years, and he stayed, and a few years later I happened to look across the bar at the Plough & Stars in Cambridge, and big as life, there he was. We were roommates on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain, and on Wellington Street in the South End after that, and then he met a no-shit goddess, and moved out to get married.

I just found out that he died on Monday. My heart is...what? I don't frankly know. I have no words for how I feel.

His name was Brian Fitzgerald - "Fitz" to his friends - and he was one of the most remarkable people I've ever been privileged to know.

So, yeah, fuck the Keystone XL pipeline.

And fuck any politician who tries to fob this disaster off on us.

Fuck you and your re-election hopes. The Senate is already gone. Lose like a winner, and go home without "Judas" hanging around your neck on oiled chains for all of history to see.

Fuck every single politician and the petro-donations given to your campaign and your party. You're already dead to me for touching that filthy money in the first place.

Charlie Pierce:

Our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death-funnel that would bring the world's dirtiest fossil fuel down through the most arable farmland in the hemisphere and to the refineries along the Gulf Coast, and thence to the world, has revealed in itself an incredible capacity to make people act stupidly. It has moved beyond being a public policy issue among the ascendant Republican party, and within the movement conservatism which is that party's only remaining animating force. It has moved beyond being a financial windfall for the plutocrats whose money has been rendered the lifeblood of our politics, on both sides, but especially among the Republicans, who share a few more of the plutocracy's ultimate goals than do the Democrats. Among the Republicans, and among their most fervent political zealots, the pipeline has become an ideological fetish object, something to which fealty must be paid, a measure of loyalty and devotion to every other part of the political faith, a lasting symbol of triumph over the other side, like the steles erected in Mesopotamia or the pyramids.

Its essential utility, its negligible economic impact, the environmental peril presented by the toxic goo it will carry through the fragile breadbasket of the country, the demonstrable bad-faith and neglect of the foreign corporation that will benefit from it, the blatant disregard of all potential (and, I would argue, inevitable) catastrophes inherent in the project -- all of these are beside the point. The Keystone XL pipeline must be built because it is the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline must be built only so that the people who oppose it are defeated. The Keystone XL pipeline must be built because it is no longer a construction project, it is an article of the conservative faith.

Actually, science says that the stuff that the pipeline will carry is best left in the ground. Journalism says that the State Department report was put together by a firm with close business ties to TransCanada, the Canadian corporation that is the only entity in the world that actually will profit from the project. And, when I first heard about the project, at that 2011 tent revival down in Florida, there was talk of thousands and thousands of good-paying jobs and gas prices down into the double-digits again. Now, thanks to the delay, and to the laudable agitation by the likes of Bill McKibben and the Bold Nebraska crew, even TransCanada admits that it's the permanent jobs that will total in the double digits, and Brooks can only meep about an economic impact that "isn't huge," and that the pipeline is merely a "modest-to-good" idea.

Yeah, we can't get a highway bill passed, and our bridges are falling down, and the entire rest of the world is leaving us behind on high-speed rail, but we should put in a pipeline as an "infrastructure project," and that's not even to mention the well-paying clean-up jobs that will appear as soon as the thing leaks and poisons the Ogallala Aquifer. But Brooks's muted assessment of the pipeline's benefits are not his real reason why it should be built. According to him, the pipeline should be built as a demonstration that the president "gets" the message sent a couple of weeks ago by 52 percent of the 38 percent of eligible voters who bothered to get off the couch. The pipeline should be built as a symbol of a new commitment to "governing." It should be built as the ultimate hippie punch. It should be built simply because it...is. Throw the bone into the air, David. Maybe it will turn into a spaceship.


President Lincoln used to tell an amusing anecdote about a little girl who ate too much, beginning with a bunch of raisins. She got stomach-sick and began vomiting, and kept at it and at it, and her parents asked after a fashion if she was OK, and she surveyed the damage and said, "Well, I'm down to raisins."

We are down to raisins.

They're about to start fracking the largest national forest on the East coast. They're planning a new fracked-gas pipeline through my very own back yard. Billions of gallons of fracking wastewater wound up in California's aquifers, and California has very very very very little water to spare right now.

Oh, and tar sands oil is poison. Dead-bang no-bullshit poison...and pipelines leak. All of them, every time.


Where do you stand?

That is how the actual fuck you say that.

"Every dollar that we spend on fossil fuel development and use is another dollar we spent digging the graves of our grandchildren. And I'm not going to be a part of it anymore. I'm through."

- Tom Harkin

That is exactly and precisely how the actual fuck you say that.

Period. End of file.


I like it.

Deep thanks for the invite.

Seems to be a push-back against the BOG. Can we call it GOB?

Let's get to work.

The first snow of the year in New Hampshire


...and after:

...and somehow, my front walk turned into a giraffe!

So let me get this straight...

President Obama winged off to Asia late last week to stump for the job-killing corporate-coronating TPP...

Senate Democrats are as we speak whipping votes for the Keystone XL pipeline...

...and the administration is deploying at least 1,500 more troops to Iraq.

Tell me again: Who needs Republicans?


And then suddenly he saw. He had a vision of himself as a new kind of Christ as a man who carries within himself all the seeds of a new order of things. He was the new messiah of the battlefields saying to people as I am so shall you be. For he had seen the future he had tasted it and now he was living it. He had seen the airplanes flying in the sky he had seen the skies of the future filled with them black with them and now he saw the horror beneath. He saw a world of lovers forever parted of dreams never consummated of plans that never turned into reality. He saw a world of dead fathers and crippled brothers and crazy screaming sons. He saw a world of armless mothers clasping headless babies to their breasts trying to scream out their grief from throats that were cancerous with gas. He saw starved cities black and cold and motionless and the only things in this whole dead terrible world that made a move or a sound were the airplanes that blackened the sky and far off against the horizon the thunder of the big guns and the puffs that rose from barren tortured earth when their shells exploded.

That was it he had it he understood it now he had told them his secret and in denying him they had told him theirs.

He was the future he was a perfect picture of the future and they were afraid to let anyone see what the future was like. Already they were looking ahead they were figuring the future and somewhere in the future they saw war. To fight that war they would need men and if men saw the future they wouldn't fight. So they were masking the future they were keeping the future a soft quiet deadly secret. They knew that if all the little people all the little guys saw the future they would begin to ask questions. They would ask questions and they would find answers and they would say to the guys who wanted them to fight they would say you lying thieving sons-of-bitches we won't fight we won't be dead we will live we are the world we are the future and we will not let you butcher us no matter what you say no matter what speeches you make no matter what slogans you write. Remember it well we we we are the world we are what makes it go round we make bread and cloth and guns we are the hub of the wheel and the spokes and the wheel itself without us you would be hungry naked worms and we will not die. We are immortal we are the sources of life we are the lowly despicable ugly people we are the great wonderful beautiful people of the world and we are sick of it we are utterly weary we are done with it forever and ever because we are the living and we will not be destroyed.

If you make a war if there are guns to be aimed if there are bullets to be fired if there are men to be killed they will not be us. They will not be us the guys who grow wheat and turn it into food the guys who make clothes and paper and houses and tiles the guys who build dams and power plants and string the long moaning high tension wires the guys who crack crude oil down into a dozen different parts who make light globes and sewing machines and shovels and automobiles and airplanes and tanks and guns oh no it will not be us who die. It will be you.

It will be you-you who urge us on to battle you who incite us against ourselves you who would have one cobbler kill another cobbler you who would have one man who works kill another man who works you who would have one human being who wants only to live kill another human being who wants only to live. Remember this. Remember this well you people who plan for war. Remember this you patriots you fierce ones you spawners of hate you inventors of slogans. Remember this as you have never remembered anything else in your lives.

We are men of peace we are men who work and we want no quarrel. But if you destroy our peace if you take away our work if you try to range us one against the other we will know what to do. If you tell us to make the world safe for democracy we will take you seriously and by god and by Christ we will make it so. We will use the guns you force upon us we will use them to defend our very lives and the menace to our lives does not lie on the other side of a nomansland that was set apart without our consent it lies within our own boundaries here and now we have seen it and we know it.

Put the guns into our hands and we will use them. Give us the slogans and we will turn them into realities. Sing the battle hymns and we will take them up where you left off. Not one not ten not ten thousand not a million not ten millions not a hundred millions but a billion two billions of us all the people of the world we will have the slogans and we will have the hymns and we will have the guns and we will use them and we will live. Make no mistake of it we will live. We will be alive and we will walk and talk and eat and sing and laugh and feel and love and bear our children in tranquillity in security in decency in peace. You plan the wars you masters of men plan the wars and point the way and we will point the gun.

-- "Johnny Got His Gun," Dalton Trumbo

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murrays green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son
It's time to stop rambling 'cause there's work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He chased us with bullets, he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he'd blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia

But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
But around me the corpses piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying

For no more I'll go waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then turned all their faces away

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
I see the old men, all twisted and torn
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me...

I Hate That I Hate Veterans Day

Source: Wikipedia

I Hate That I Hate Veterans Day
By William Rivers Pitt
BuzzFlash at Truthout | Op-Ed

Tuesday 11 November 2014

My deepest and most sincere apologies to all of my veteran friends, but I need to be honest: I simply hate this day. I've had this low-and-slow weeping thing going on basically from the moment I got out of bed this morning. Tomas Young is dead, and I can't stop thinking about all the letters I've received from the loved ones of so many other fallen soldiers over the last 12 years.

What's worse, this maudlin weepiness makes me sick because my emotions are making it about me, and not them, and that sucks big rocks, but I can't seem to help it. When I was 13 years old, all I wanted was to serve the way my father who volunteered for service in Vietnam did. An accumulation of experiences and opinions culminated with the recruiter sitting in my living room some 25 years ago, days after my 18th birthday, telling me Saddam Hussein was worse than Hitler and his army was vast, but if I signed up right then and there, I probably wouldn't see combat for at least four years, and the only thing going through my head was BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT THIS GUY IS FULL OF BULLSHIT, so I didn't sign, and I never served, and I'm glad of it, because it was the correct decision...

...but all these years later, on this day of days, I recall that decision, and I think of the men and women who went when I didn't, and how very many of them are gone, or damaged, or simply done. We're averaging 22 veteran suicides a day these days. Once upon a time, I wrote that when a person dons the uniform of the armed services and swears the oath, the nation to which they have pledged their life also owes an oath: not to cast that precious life onto the pyre of profit and political ambition. I weep slowly today, to no small degree, because the other half of that oath has not been kept.

A nation that does not care for its war veterans has absolutely no business making new ones. All the treacly televised nonsense singing the praises of broken men and women whom the networks cheerleaded into a bloodbath so they can now run commercials praising the very people they invited into the meat grinder of war makes me want to tear my teeth out. I simply cannot stand it. I hate this day. I'm sorry, but I do. A soldier will die in agony tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, for the same wretched, failed, flawed reasons as the soldier who died yesterday. That raw fact makes this day grotesque, and there is no getting around that truth.

I hate this day. I hate the reasons why I hate this day. On this day, I hate.


Tomas Young saved me from myself.

William Rivers Pitt | Waking From My Moral Coma
13 March 2013

From the moment the Supreme Court decision came down in 2000 that gifted the White House to Bush, to the moment he was finally and forever out of power, I resisted him and his works, because I knew what he represented, what he was about, and what he was doing to my beloved country. My instincts were finely honed, and I gave probably a million words - in print, and spoken aloud on the road for some 800,000 miles - to the cause of thwarting him and everything he stood for.

And now? Now I'm suddenly wondering where that guy has been. He sure as hell isn't the one I see in the mirror. He lapsed into a moral coma, lulled by his idea of America and by the election of someone who can talk the birds out of the trees even as the lumberjacks clear-cut the forest.

Make no mistake, now: that's not an "Obama is the same as Bush" argument. Nobody is Bush, because Bush stands alone, and whoever makes that kind of equivalency either slept through the first eight years of this century, hit their head and forgot what those eight years were like, or is trying to sell you something.

The issue is not about Obama being the same as Bush. The issue is the fact that it doesn't matter a tinker's damn who sits in that fine round room. I believe Mr. Obama to be a better man than his predecessor, and if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs.

I believe in the idea that is America, but I also believe in Tomas Young, who was re-introduced to me by way of a Chris Hedges article that should be mandatory reading for every sentient American on the continent. Young was shot through the spine and permanently paralyzed during his deployment to Iraq, and later went on to be one of the first veterans to actively and publicly denounce the war...and now? Now, after a number of physical setbacks, he actively seeks his own death, but lacks the capability to do it himself, and will not allow anyone to finish things for him. So he sits in hospice and waits to die.

I believe in the idea that is America, but Tomas Young is dying because he believed, too. He is dying, and the people who delivered him to the slow sunset of his death remain utterly unmolested by the rule of law we Americans take so much misguided pride in. I live with my idea of America in one hand, and the dying light of Tomas Young in the other, and when I look in the mirror, I cannot meet my own eyes. I spent all those years fighting against everything that is ending Tomas Young's life, I made documenting their serial crimes my life's work...and then I let it slide, because Bush was gone, and I couldn't summon the necessary energy to remain outraged over the fact that they all got away with the crime of the millennium scot-free.

It is enough.

I am finished with the moral geometry that says this is better than that, which makes this good. This is not good; this is, in fact, intolerable. Allowing the perpetrators of war crimes - widely televised ones at that - to retain their good name and go on Sunday talk shows as if they had anything to offer besides their ideology of murder and carnage is intolerable. Entertaining the idea that the billions we spend preparing for war cannot be touched, and so the elderly and the infirm and the young and the weak and the voiceless must pay the freight instead, is intolerable.

The pornography of America's global killing spree is intolerable, and, by the by, I am sick of hearing about drones. A child killed by a Hellfire missile that was fired from a drone is exactly, precisely as dead as a child killed by a Hellfire missile fired from an Apache attack helicopter, precisely as dead as a child killed by a smart bomb, precisely as dead as a child killed by a sniper, precisely as dead as a child killed by a land mine, or by a cruise missile, or by any of the myriad other ways instant death is dealt by this hyper-weaponized nation of ours.

Exactly, precisely as God damned dead, and the blood is on our hands regardless of the means used to do the killing. The issue is not the drones. The issue is our hard, black hearts, and the grim fact that the debate in this country right now is not about whether the killing is wrong, but about the most morally acceptable way of going about that killing. Drones are bad, but snipers are better, because you don't hear the buzzing sound in the sky before your lights go out forever. Or something.

It is the killing, it is the permanent war, it is our deranged national priorities. It is the system we live under which requires the serial deaths of all those innocents to maintain our economic health that should appall us. We sup upon the blood and bonemeal that is the byproduct of the idea that is America, and we sleep. And we sleep.

I mean to face the stranger in the mirror tomorrow, and so I must acknowledge my own culpability in all this. I am to blame; I went to sleep, because I have an idea of America that I cling to desperately, and so I bought into the soothing nonsense of cosmetic change even as the sound of the same old gears ground on around me.

I am sorry.

I still believe in that idea.

And I am awake.

Thank you, Tomas, for my life and from my soul. I'm so sorry you're gone. Rest easy, good sir.
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