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

Journal Archives

Two years ago today...

Two years ago, I was sitting in my apartment and holding my daughter, who was two weeks old to the day. It was Marathon Day, and for the first time in my life, I wouldn't be there because Lola, duh. I wasn't at all bitter about it - as a two-week-old father, I knew where my ass belonged, and it wasn't in the middle of a city-wide party - but there was a burn to it, to that absence, because my best friend on this Earth was running the Boston Marathon for the first time.

I was tracking his progress via cell texts from his wife. At 2:49pm she texted, "wtf bombs?" and then went dark. She was OK, he was OK, their two boys were OK...but the news choppers were showing all the blood on the Boylston Street sidewalk outside the store where I bought my glasses, and the reality of events began to unfold, and you know the rest.

One year later, my best friend finished the race with the words "In Memory Of Mom," who he had recently lost to cancer, strong across his back. Several other friends who had been stopped before the finish line because of the bombing also ran again, and they finished the race.

And me? I run only when chased by someone I can't beat up...but I did go back to Boston for the Marathon last year, stayed with a dear friend, and saw the largest and most enthusiastic crowd I've ever seen at the event, and I've been attending Marathons since the Carter administration. I walked the last several miles of the course with another dear friend and just absorbed. It was a purging experience, and when I got home the next day, it was the first day I didn't choke up at the thought of what took place.

My best friend finished the race.

So did the city.

So did I.

In memory of Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu, Sean Collier, and everyone who bore the brunt of that day.

So this just happened.

Mercy Is Ours to Give, if We Choose It

Eric Sidiropoulos waves a flag as emergency vehicles pass after learning that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,
the remaining suspect wanted in the Boston Marathon bombings, was caught, in Watertown,
Massachusetts, April 19, 2013. (Photo: Gretchen Ertl / The New York Times)

Mercy Is Ours to Give, if We Choose It
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Sunday 12 April 2015

Imagine living forever. For people who watch those insipid vampire movies, the idea clearly has some purchase, a kind of cool cachet ... but consider the reality of it. You live long enough to see every single person you love or even vaguely care about - wife, husband, children, brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, everyone - die before your eyes. Then you live long enough to make more friends, more family, only to watch all of them die. Then you do it again, and again, and again as an ocean of years pile up behind you until the stars burn out, and you are the last living thing on a dead planet beneath a barren sky.

Such would be my sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused, admitted and now convicted participant in the plot to bomb the Boston Marathon. Thanks to his actions and the actions of his brother, four people died and 264 others were injured. Many of them were almost literally cut in half - the prosthetics wings of several excellent Boston hospitals have been all too busy since that gruesome day on Boylston Street - and on Wednesday, the most unsurprising verdict in the history of jurisprudence was handed down: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was declared guilty on all thirty counts levied against him, seventeen of which carry a potential sentence of death, if the jury so decides during the upcoming penalty phase.

And there lies the rub.

I have traveled a long, hard distance within myself in considering my wishes for the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ... call it the soul version of the old saying, "Traveling 40 miles of bad road." I knew Krystle Campbell, and have seen the unredacted photos of her end on that Boylston Street sidewalk. My best friend crossed the finish line scant seconds before the bombs went off; his wife and their two sons were caught between the explosions, and she had to flee with the boys into an un-shattered storefront before trying to find Dad in the mayhem. They did.

I hate Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I hate what he did to all those people, to my friends, to my city, and to an event that was once the best day of the year in Boston. Explaining Marathon Day to someone who has not experienced it, who is not from the region, is like a frog trying to tell tadpole what life is like on dry land. It's like trying to describe the taste of chocolate. It can't be done, and it was wonderful for so long, the day we all looked forward to as the herald of Spring, until that fuzzy little failure and his brother scarred it for all time, killed four people, maimed hundreds more, and stole it from us. The Marathon will go on, of course, and the region will horde the course and cheer the runners up Heartbreak Hill, but it will never be the same.

I hate him, despise him, I seethe at the very mention of his name ... and I hope, with all my heart, that the jury spares his life. Some of that sentiment comes from a vengeful corner of my soul, because I think death is an out. Timothy McVeigh went to his grave reading Invictus and believing himself to be a hero, and he did not deserve the privilege. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hopes to be a martyr, a hero in his own right, and he does not deserve the privilege, either. I can think of no greater insult, indignity or punishment more fitting for him than a long life.

In the end, however, my feelings do not and cannot matter. It comes down to this...

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30153-mercy-is-ours-to-give-if-we-choose-it

The day I got the living shit beaten out of me.

Her name was Heather, I was 13, she was Black, and she was my first real girlfriend. We were together for two weeks when the Boston Marathon came along. I grew up on the Newton/Brighton line, right by Boston College at the top of Heartbreak Hill. Heather had never been to the Marathon for real before - cheering the runners as they defeated Heartbreak Hill while the BC keg parties howled and cheered - so I showed her the show.

While I was walking her back to my house for some lunch, a car filled with upperclassmen from my school passed us. The car windows were stuffed with astonished faces that, as they faded from view, became twisted in palpable rage.

And person after person after person after person looked daggers at us as we walked arm in arm down Commonwealth Avenue in unabashedly liberal Boston, Massachusetts. I rode the Green Line with her to the Orange Line - the metropolitan version of walking your girl home - and five older men in the traincar stared at us with open loathing as we held hands.

The next day, I went to school, and the upperclassmen from the car that had passed us - joined by several of their friends because apparently word of my racial heresy had spread - waylaid me in a hallway. "What are you doing with that n****r!" they screamed, and I mean SCREAMED, utterly unhinged. "Did you dip your wick with that n****r? DID YOU FUCK THAT N****R? DID YOU?"

And then they beat the shit out of me, right then and there, for the crime of squiring a Black girl to the Marathon.

It was a formative experience on a variety of levels...so all of you husbanding this idea that the North is superior to the South on issues of racism can go pound sand. You're wrong, and once upon a time, I had the bruises to prove it.


Feel free to correct me rigorously if I'm over-assuming my responsibility, but I fear my thread noting the anniversary of Appomattox helped lead to yet another eruption of South-bashing threads, and to the destructive bullshit that inevitably follows.

I've been on DU since May of 2001. I have been a Democrat since 9am on my 18th birthday. I have worked on more Dem campaigns than I care to remember.

My father was born and raised in Decatur, Alabama, just across the river from Huntsville. I spent many a happy hour with my grandmother at the Space & Rocket Center.

My grandfather was a pediatrician. My grandmother was a schoolteacher for more than 30 years. My father worked every Democratic presidential campaign from Bobby Kennedy to John Kerry, and led the Alabama Democratic Party for a time. He shared the phone that was tapped at the Watergate, so the tapes include my father and pregnant mother talking about unborn me. While my mom was pregnant, they called me "Benny" for whatever reasons. It's all on the tapes.

I wrote the article below after the tornadoes ripped through the state. It will tell you all you need to know about why this Boston boy loves Alabama, and the South.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." - Hamlet

Or, put more bluntly in my own Boston/Bama way: Regional stereotypes can kiss my ass.

My Alabama
Monday, 02 May 2011 09:54
By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

...and then a man rode through the lines bearing a white flag.

150 years ago this morning, a rider spurred his horse through the Confederate battle lines at Appomattox bearing a white flag, carrying terms of surrender penned by General Lee to be put into the hands of Union General Grant. To all intents and purposes, the US Civil War was over.

...and we have been fighting that war, in one fashion or another, ever since.

Live forever, you fuzzy little fuckstick

Krystle Campbell was a friend. My best friend crossed the finish line scant seconds before the explosions. His wife and two young sons were caught between the detonations, and she had to shepherd their kids into an un-shattered storefront before going to look for her husband in the mayhem.

That being said...

The Marathon Bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is over. On several occasions, when asked if I wish him the death penalty, I have replied, "I hope he lives forever." This has prompted several very well-meaning people to ask, "Why would you want that guy - an admitted killer and terrorist - to live forever?"

I'll tell you why.

First of all - and this is the easy one - this fuckstick *wants* to be a martyr, and he doesn't deserve the privilege. Neither did Timothy McVeigh, who died thinking he was a hero.

Second: Imagine living long enough to see everyone you love and care about - wife, children, family, friends, pets, everyone - die. Then imagine living long enough to make new friends, a new family, only to live long enough to watch all of them die. Then imagine doing it again, and again, and again, as an ocean of ceaseless years pile up behind you, until the stars burn out and you are the last living thing on a dead planet.

Then, it is to be hoped, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev would understand the well of sorrow he plunged the families of the people he blew in half into. It would be fitting punishment indeed, but I'll settle for him living a long life in a little room.

Live forever, you bastard. Live forever.

Iran, Stubborn History and a Toast to the Future

From left: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Federica Mogherini,
the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, arrive before issuing a joint statement on the
nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, April 2, 2015. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via The New York Times)

Iran, Stubborn History and a Toast to the Future
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Saturday 04 April 2015

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

-- John Adams

On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran. The students, supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution which had recently deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, took 52 hostages and held them for 444 days. President Jimmy Carter labored mightily to secure the release of the hostages, but to no avail. Due in no small part to the hostage crisis, and to an attempted rescue mission that ended in humiliating fashion in April of 1980, President Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan in that year's presidential election.

The hostages were released minutes after President Reagan was sworn into office. It is widely believed that Reagan associates - most notably former president George H.W. Bush and former CIA Director William Casey - entered into secret negotiations with Iran to delay the release of the hostages until after the election, so as to give the Reagan campaign a cudgel with which to beat President Carter. Such was the genesis of the term "October Surprise." The parties allegedly involved have consistently denied this claim.

Whatever the truth may be regarding the manner in which the release of the hostages was secured, the truth remains: The Iran Revolution happened, the Shah fell and fled, Khomeini rose, the US Embassy was sacked, the hostages were taken and subsequently freed, and since that time the United States and Iran have been in a de-facto state of war. After the hostages were home and President Reagan was installed, sanctions were levied against Iran - against its currency, its weapons program, and most notably its nuclear program - which have shattered its economy.

On Thursday, it was announced that the United States and Iran have agreed in principle on a deal to curtail Iran's nuclear program. In return, the ruinous sanctions that have been undermining the Iranian economy for decades would be repealed. It was reported by The Guardian and several other news outlets that, upon announcement of the deal in Tehran, spontaneous celebrations broke out, car horns blared, and people danced in the streets.

Good stuff all around, and very hopeful ... but it does beg the question: How did we get here? Why have the US and Iran been blood enemies for so long? Why are we supposed to hate and fear them, and why are they supposed to hate and fear us? Exactly what the Hell happened?

The answer lies almost 65 years in the past. Remember when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of that pack of neo-cons gobbled up an ocean of TV time bloviating about "bringing democracy to the Middle East" in order to justify stealing Iraq's oil while delivering a massive taxpayer-funded payday to the "Defense" industry? As it turns out, back in 1951, democracy came to the Middle East organically, all by itself, and we broke it across our knee because it didn't suit our plans.

Mohammad Mosaddegh was the scion of a prominent Iranian family, schooled in leadership from birth, and educated in law in both Paris and Switzerland. After being democratically-elected Prime Minister in 1951, Mosaddegh sought to institute a number of secular progressive reforms: rent control, social security, greater rights and freedoms for citizens, and so forth.

Most importantly, however, Mosaddegh nationalized Iran's oil industry, which to that point had been controlled by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, now known as British Petroleum. "With the oil revenues," said Mosaddegh in June of 1951, "we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. Another important consideration is that by the elimination of the power of the British company, we would also eliminate corruption and intrigue, by means of which the internal affairs of our country have been influenced. Once this tutelage has ceased, Iran will have achieved its economic and political independence. The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners."

In short, Mosaddegh wanted to use his nation's oil revenues - which, to that point, had flowed almost exclusively to the West - to improve infrastructure and education, and to shepherd his people into the 20th century with gusto. The West, however, would have no part of it. Very swiftly the wheels began turning, and a plot called Operation Ajax to overthrow Mosaddegh, hatched by British Intelligence and the CIA, was put in motion. After a period of violence and chaos, the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown in August of 1953. He died in 1967.


The violently repressive behavior of Iran's government - towards women, the LGBTQ community, and others - is monstrous. The government's support for international terrorism is equally unconscionable. This is not up for debate. However, it is a government of our deliberate creation, baked in an oven of deceit, treachery and greed for more than sixty years.

The people of Iran are not their government; the roofs of Tehran are peppered with covert satellite dishes, through which people pull in ex-pat broadcasts from outside the country that lampoon the mullahs, the Ayatollah, and the Iranian leadership in general. These are, by far and away, the most popular shows in the country. The people are not represented by the leadership, and perhaps with this agreement, the true beginnings of change have been unleashed.

This deal - this loosening of the ice that chokes US-Iran relations - is a glimpse of the future. A nation that would have been our democratic ally has been our sworn enemy for decades, thanks to the mendacity of a few powerful people who take pleasure, and profit, from playing chess with other people's lives. This must change, and perhaps that change has finally begun.

Here's to the future.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30025-iran-stubborn-history-and-a-toast-to-the-future

Fuck you, you fucking fuck.

Karl Rove Won't Apologize To Veteran For The Iraq War

Your soul is a vat of pus.

Your mind is a void where decency has no purchase.

You are lower than whale shit at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

When you die, I will spend a week ingesting nothing but asparagus and Gatorade, and will cut my way through all foes even at the cost of my life for the privilege of standing over your grave to piss with gleeful vigor upon your headstone.

You suck so hard you bend the light.

The nation will be two generations crawling out from under your pestiferous fingerprint, if the oceans don't devour us first.

From the very elemental well of my person, I say at the clarion top of my voice:

Fuck you, you fucking fuck.

Congratulations, Mr. President

This Iran deal ain't no used car. This is a shiny new Caddy straight off the production floor, redolent with that new-car smell, and a joy to behold.

THIS is what I voted for.

This is history.

Well done, sir, and thank you.
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