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Profile Information

Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 56,987

Journal Archives

So let me get this straight...

A West Virginia coal processing plant dumped poison into a river, and now 300,000 people have to avoid tapwater if they want to keep from vomiting relentlessly. Target let everyone know that they lost the financial information for 70 million people over Thanksgiving, which is a little bit less than a quarter of the entire population.

Quite a banner day for the Barons of Big Business. Clearly, the push to privatize everything while slashing regulation everywhere will lead us to paradise on Earth.

Please excuse me while I drink poison and watch my bank account get looted.


(Image: Marijuana gavel via Shutterstock)

By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Tuesday 07 January 2014

All right with me
Is the way it should be
Is a good thing
Plant that bell
And let it ring...

- Neil Young

It was late September in 1993, and my friends and I were at a campground to enjoy a weekend away from the world. It was unusually cold as I shrugged my way out of the tent, and after answering an insistent call of nature just inside a line of trees to the east of our campsite, I set about the work of getting the fire going again. One by one, my friends emerged from their own tents in various stages of disrepair - the previous night had been a doozy, and more than a few of my crew looked and felt as if they had been devoured and shat out by wolves - to warm themselves by the flames.

Once the coffee was going and the blood was flowing, a joint the size of New Jersey began making the rounds, as was tradition, a soothing balm for the tragically hung-over among us. After a fashion, I happened to notice a man two campsites over giving our little campfire circle a long, hard stare. One didn't have to be stoned to be paranoid about smoking marijuana twenty years ago, and my first thought was, "Cop." I quietly told my friends to cool it, cool it, something's off with that guy, and everyone immediately began doing the I-Ain't-Doing-Nothin' Shuffle.

When the man started walking towards me, I began to do an inventory in my head of the cash I had on hand, the cash my friends had, in the event I wound up needing bail money. He presented himself before me, put out his hand, and introduced himself.

I hope I'm not intruding, he said. Not at all, I told him with trepidation flying around my head like I was Tippi Hedren. I offered him some coffee while my friends milled around the campsite pretending they weren't baked and had important stuff to do, casting furtive glances my way as they waited for the hammer to fall.

Listen, he said, I noticed you guys were smoking a joint.

Uh-huh, I replied.

I don't know anyone who smokes weed, he said.

Uh-huh, I replied.

My father has cancer, he said. It's bad. He can't eat because of his treatments, and that's as bad as the cancer. His doctor pulled me aside last week and mentioned marijuana as something that could help him.

Uh-huh, I replied.

You don't know me, he said, but I was wondering if you could give me some, so I can see if it helps him. I don't know anyone else I can ask.

I was still. This is either a set-up, I thought, or this guy is for real. As a NORML supporter, I knew full well that what he was asking for could help his father, but the very last thing I needed was a drug arrest on my record. I took a moment with his eyes, and decided to make a leap of faith...

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21058-william-rivers-pitt-homegrown

Dude, what are you doing? You can't give your son a baby doll. That's a girl's toy!

The Year of the Gun

(Image: Bullet pile via Shutterstock)

The Year of the Gun
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Wednesday 01 January 2014

The year of the gun began in Tulsa, where four women were found bound and shot to death in their apartment. Twelve days later, a fifteen-year-old boy in New Mexico used an AR-15 to slaughter his father, mother, brother and two sisters; his brother was nine years old, and his sisters were five years old and two years old respectively. Less than a month later, a man shot and killed four people in a rural New York barber shop.

A little over a month later, two men and two women were lined up and shot in a basement in Akron. Four days later, a man in Washington State shot and killed his girlfriend and three neighbors before the police shot him down. Two days later, a man shot and killed five members of the mother of his daughter's family before also being killed by police. Four days later, a Kansas man shot his roommate to death, shot his best friend to death, and then shot his best friend's girlfriend and her 18-month-old daughter to death.

On the weekend of Mother's day, a man shot and killed two couples before burning their homes, and then shot and killed a newspaper deliveryman. A little more than a month later, a man in Hawaii shot and killed the couple that managed his apartment building, shot and killed four neighbors, took hostages, and was eventually himself gunned down by police. Two weeks later, a Dallas man shot dead his wife, his girlfriend and two of his children. A week after that, a man in Oklahoma City shot his mother, sister, niece and baby nephew to death. A month later, a man walked onto the Navy Yard in Washington DC with a sawed-off shotgun and killed twelve people. Four days later, a woman in Texas shot and killed her husband, her three sons, and then herself.

A month later, a man in Phoenix shot and killed four people and then himself with a shotgun. Two days later, a Texas man shot and killed five people. The next day, a South Carolina man shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, two of her children, her parents, and then himself. A month later, four people were shot and killed in Topeka. Two days after that, an Arkansas man shot and killed his daughter's boyfriend, his four-month-old grandson, his granddaughter, and then himself. On the same day, a Tennessee man shot and killed his wife, his son, his daughter, and then himself. Five days later, a Connecticut man shot and killed his ex-girlfriend, two other people, and then himself.

This is, bear in mind, an incomplete accounting.

Then there were the school shootings. In 2010, by comparison, there were nine school shootings in America that killed seven people. In 2011, there were eleven school shootings that killed nine people. In 2012, there were fourteen school shootings - including the massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary and Oikos University - that killed 43 people. In 2013, there were twenty-three school shootings that killed nineteen people.

Nine, then eleven, then fourteen, then twenty-three. If the trend holds, we can look forward to maybe thirty or forty school shootings in 2014.

Then there was the two-year-old North Carolina girl who shot herself to death with a gun someone left lying around, the three-year-old Arizona boy who shot himself to death with a gun someone left lying around, the five-year-old Texas boy who was shot in the head by an eight-year-old boy with a gun someone left lying around, the two-year-old Texas boy who shot himself in the head with a gun someone left lying around, the South Dakota woman who was shot while trying to take a gun away from her two-year-old son, the four-year-old Michigan boy who shot himself to death with a gun someone left lying around, the 11-year-old Virginia boy who shot himself in the mouth with a gun someone left lying around, and all the other 7,500 children who were admitted to hospitals with gunshot wounds this year, 500 of whom died.

But there's nothing we can do about it, because there's nothing we can do about it, because there's nothing we can do about it, because there's nothing we can do about it, because there's nothing we can do about it, because freedom, or something.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20949-the-year-of-the-gun

Tonight, I raise a glass to many upon many, and to many more again.

I raise a glass to those who ran to the sound and the smoke and the screams and the blood on Boylston Street in Boston, to do what they could. I raise a glass to those who survived, and to those who did not. I raise a glass to those with a hole in their life now; I have wept for you and yours more times this year than I can say, and I hold you and yours close to my heart tonight.

I raise a glass to you who have gone to war, and have come home to feel the back of America's hand as you limp on your prosthetic or tremble in disorder. It has been wisely said that a nation which does not care for its veterans, for he and she who has borne the battle, and their widow, and their orphan, has no business making new veterans in new wars anywhere, ever. To you, I raise a glass.

I raise a glass to every man and woman who wants to work but cannot find employment or get assistance because a few people you will never meet have decided it is politically expedient to see you suffer. They will tell you this nation has no money, which is a filthy lie; we have money, lots and lots of money, which is sent to strange and greedy corners because what we lack is not money, but a proper set of priorities. I raise a glass to you, and wish you a better year than the one you have endured.

I raise a glass to the healers, the helpers, the activists arrested trying to defend the right to vote, the right not to be poisoned by a pipeline or a fracking field, the right not to be harassed by police, the right to smoke a joint and make cancer just a bit less of a burden. I raise a glass to you who Occupies, who dares, who risks, who stands for us all.

I raise a glass to each and every man and woman who has fought for, and achieved, the right to marry whoever the damn hell they please. I raise a glass to love in all of its forms, to the states that have abandoned apartheid and embraced civil rights in the matter of marriage and love. I raise a glass to all those who wait behind the invisible bars of the ongoing apartheid in too many other states, and I raise a glass to the not-too-distant-future, when those bars will come crashing down, when love can be love for everyone, at last.

I raise a glass to every woman everywhere who pushed back against trans-vaginal ultrasounds, against getting raped after getting raped, against the idea that women's bodies are not their own, but are some form of public entity into which the Bronze-Age morality of modern white men can be shoved by way of dark-of-night legislation written by cowards and fools.

I raise a glass to those who have died before the barrel of a gun, to those who have been maimed by a gun, to those who have lost someone to a gun, and to those who fight every day to try and stop the bloody avalanche of death by gun in America.

I raise a glass to Truthout, and to every other alternative media source that dares to barge the genuine news into the body politic. The organization I work for does more good in a day than the New York Times does in a month, and my gratitude at being able to participate in that is fathomless and bottomless.

I raise a glass to you, DU, individually and collectively, to my online home for twelve years and counting.

I raise a glass to you, America, to the good you still have within you and the greatness you can achieve, if you choose to.

I raise a glass to my wife, and to my daughter, and to my mother, and to my friends, without whom I would quite simply be lost.

I raise a glass, and hold you close, and wish for you the best of all possible New Years.

With all of my love,

William Rivers Pitt


More than a million people lose unemployment benefits today, because Jesus, or something.

So, yeah, more than a million unemployed people lose their benefits today because Supply-Side Jesus says helping the needy is no longer the Christian thing to do.

Deut. 15 : 7. If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.

Lev. 19 : 19 Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger.

1 John 3 : 17 But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him?

Prov. 14 : 31 Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.

Prov. 21 : 13 He who shuts his ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in his own time of need.

Luke 3 : 11 "If you have two coats," he replied, "give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry."

2 Cor. 9 : 9 It is as the Scriptures say: "The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever."

Isa. 58 : 7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don't hide from relatives who need your help

Luke 6 : 20-21. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

Prov. 22 : 9 He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.

Ezek. 22 : 29,31. "The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice... Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads," declares the Lord GOD.

James 5 : 1-6. Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. ...Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and with you have withheld, cries out against you; and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

I could go on, but you get the point.

"There is a kind of justice rising..."


There is a kind of justice rising, I believe, and not just because of the season, although I freely confess to being a sucker thereto. There is a pope impatient with the shotgun marriage of cupidity and virtue, and who is not shy about explaining why. There is a sense in our politics that we are now paying for having abandoned the creative act of self-government through which we build a political commonwealth, a sense that we allowed that great work to be hijacked by religious grifters, and political bunco artists, and the various assortment of thieves and brigands to whom we handed the world's finances. There is a feeling in the land that the mist has begin to burn away, and that we see more clearly than ever the consequences of decades of choices, made and not made, and that we see more clearly than ever the work that has to be done to repair what we have chosen to do to our country and to ourselves. We can still refuse to do the work, but we no longer have the excuse available to us that we don't know what has to be done.

We can remain two nations because we choose to be. Or we can shake off the lethargy of an atrophied citizenship. We can rediscover the common good, the deep and abiding current within true democracy toward equality and justice. This is, after all, a season of hope and rebirth and of the fall, silent as the dead of night, of an old order and an ancient way of doing things. We are two nations, but we do not have to be.

I wish you all joy. Be well. Be at peace.

Merry Christmas.

- Charles P. Pierce

The whole thing: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/christmas-serial-part-3-122413

Just incredible writing.

Laney's Christmas

Note: I finished writing this yesterday afternoon. I had to edit it this morning to reflect the fact that Laney Brown passed away in the night with her family by her side. I never met her, but her story, and the story of those who rallied to her comfort, is something I will never forget. - Will

(Photo: Michael Lawton / Flickr)

Laney's Christmas
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Wednesday 25 December 2013

My daughter celebrated her first Christmas today. She doesn't know from presents or Santa or Christmas trees just yet. She likes the lights, and the wrapping paper, and a good nap after a bottle, just like her father. She likes, in other words, the simple stuff of the season because she doesn't know any better. The wild-eyed child-greed of "I WANT" spawned by toy commercials is still a ways off, because she doesn't know from television, thank God.

She doesn't know about Congress yet, either, and I envy her that. A few short hours from now, unemployment benefits for more than a million people will expire because Congress could not be bothered to renew them, because helping the neediest among us is no longer the Christian thing to do in the brave new world of 21st century America.

Charlie Pierce, as usual, said it best: "This decision was consciously taken by a Congress so soaked in electorally convenient religiosity that its members believe that people -- other people, naturally, and their children -- will be strengthened in their moral character by completely avoidable deprivation. That the mothers and fathers out there, avoiding the gazes of their children because of the simple expectations there that they cannot meet, will be better, stronger, and moral people for the pain that causes them to look away as the lights on the tree begin to blur with their tears."


I could speak of a government divorced from the people it supposedly exists to serve, of skyrocketing poverty and joblessness and homelessness, of food banks overwhelmed by need, of veterans and old people used as bargaining chips, of children born in the last five years who have never known Christmas at all because Christmas ceased to exist in all but name after their families were financially obliterated. I could speak of other families awash in money, the titans of Wall Street and the banking industry, for whom those "Buy a luxury car for Christmas" commercials are made. They will eat well, thanks to the money they stole, but because they are too big to fail, and because they own Congress, they remain untouched by the law for the serial crimes they have committed, and continue to commit.

Because there must be hope, because I will always try to find hope, because there is always reason for hope, I choose instead to write about Laney Brown of West Reading, Pennsylvania. Seven months ago, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. All options for her recovery were exhausted. The term of her life was measured in days.

Recently, she told her family that her last Christmas wish was to hear carolers at her door. By way of social media and the local news, her family put the word out about Laney's last wish. On Friday night, a few people arrived outside her door, and then a few more, and then a few hundred, and then a few thousand, until finally some ten thousand people stood shoulder to shoulder on Chestnut Street in West Reading and sang to Laney.

Laney Brown passed away early this morning with her family at her side. But on Friday night, she heard the carolers. She heard them all.

Laney Brown could be my daughter, or yours. We are all our brother's and sister's keeper, and so Laney Brown belongs to each and every one of us. That so many people came out to give her comfort, to grant her wish, and to comfort her family in this darkest of hours, is proof positive to me that far more people believe that than don't.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20832-laneys-christmas

My 12th Christmas Eve as a DUer.

Not to interrupt the latest bout of mayhem to overtake GD, but I was hoping to take a moment to say thank you.

Thank you for teaching me, for schooling me (and you know the difference there), for comforting me, inspiring me, making me laugh, and pissing me off.

Thank you for motivating me.

My gratitude at being a part of this place knows no bounds. That gratitude exists in a permanent state even on days when I want to chuck the lot of you into the river.

Families are like that.

Merry Christmas, DU. All my love to you and yours.

We probably should have seen this coming...

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