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Name: William Rivers Pitt
Gender: Male
Hometown: Boston
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 57,961

Journal Archives

How to Die of Dumb

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), right, listens to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) speak at
a news conference in Washington about their opposition to the climate change bill on Wednesday,
June 4, 2008. (Photo: Brendan Smialowski / The New York Times)

How to Die of Dumb
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Sunday 08 March 2015

Sen. James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma since 1994, took to the floor of the Senate the other day with a snowball in a bag. Because it was cold in Washington DC, he said, because there was snow on the ground, that proves climate change is a hoax. "In case we had forgotten," he said, pulling the snowball from the sack, "because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, do you know what this is? It's a snowball, just from outside here. It's very, very cold out." He went on to denounce what he called the "hysteria on global warming," and then threw the snowball at the presiding officer.

James Inhofe - who believes snow in DC disproves climate change - is the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, because of course he is. He won with 57 percent of the vote in his last re-election campaign, because of course he did.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky since 1984, has been urging state officials all across the US to refuse to comply with the new EPA rule on carbon emissions that was championed by the Obama administration. The rule requires existing power plants to cut their carbon emissions by 30 percent, based on the 2005 requirements, by the year 2030. Senator McConnell is having none of it. "Think twice," he said, "before submitting a state plan, which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits, when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won't be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism."

Mitch McConnell, as Senate Majority Leader, has the power to keep any bills he dislikes from coming to a vote. Until January of 2017 at least, that means any legislation seeking to address the issue of climate change will never see the light of day, because McConnell thinks giving attention to the threat of carbon emissions - what is eventually going to kill us all - amounts to "political extremism." Because of course he does.


I don't have an easy answer for how to deal with this. How to explain people like Inhofe and McConnell, how to explain people who have voluntarily returned them to Congress for a combined total of 52 years, would require a political, economic and sociological treatise that I have neither the space nor the time to compile at this juncture. The short version, however, is that our cannibalistic economic model, indifferent news media, sagging voter turnout, general cynicism, religious derangement and fundamental addiction to a cognitive dissonance that motivates so very many to slap aside stone-carved facts staring them in the face, is going to put this whole human experiment into a shallow, unmarked grave.

People talk about "Destroying the planet," which is a hoot. The planet isn't going anywhere. Even the environment may recover in one form or another. The equation we are busily erasing from the blackboard - for profit while encased in a suffocating bag of ignorance - is ourselves.

This is how you die of Dumb.

The rest: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29508-how-to-die-of-dumb

So let me get this entirely straight (re: the Clinton email story)

The Daily Beast has apparently published a report that substantially undermines the NYT story on Hillary Clinton's email habits while at State. Fair enough, we'll let that play out.


Because she didn't abuse the email rules doesn't mean she didn't vote for the Patriot Act (like a Republican);

Didn't vote for the Iraq War (like a Republican);

Didn't push the Keystone XL pipeline (like a Republican);

And isn't in bed with Goldman Sachs and their criminal friends.

Like a Republican.

This is what passes for a Democrat these days.

I'm glad she didn't screw up the email thing. It'll be one of the first things she's gotten right in years.

I'm very sorry Hillary Clinton has a sad today.

She voted for the PATRIOT Act.

She voted for the Iraq War Resolution.

She is snuggled up good and tight with organized crime crews like Goldman Sachs that stole our future.

She got the Keystone XL pipeline ball rolling at the State Department.

Personal liberty...unjust war...Wall Street crime...climate change.

Gosh, seems to me those are the signal issues of our time...and every chance she's had to cast a vote or exert influence, she's gone in absolutely the wrong direction.

Now, it seems, she's disinterested in following the law when it comes to governmental data collection. A poster here who claims to have worked at State says it's because she's a Luddite working within a calcified bureaucratic technology, and she's just more comfortable with her Yahoo account, or whatever it is.

If the Bush administration had unspooled that line, this place would have erupted. And rightly so.

So maybe the trick isn't to try to elect the most "electable" Democrat. As Democrats, maybe the trick is to wrestle this party back from the abyss and rediscover a few DNA-level values.

Like protecting personal liberty...and avoiding unjust war...and holding Wall Street to account...and thwarting climate change.

I'm sorry she has a sad today, but my unavoidable conclusion is that Secretary Clinton - based on her black-letter record - does not strike me as the avatar for that change.

Oh, and P.S.: I'm not being divisive. This is the cold, hard truth. Deploy your coping mechanisms as you will. The facts are on the wall. Read them or don't; you're still free, for now.

Let the million flowers bloom.


"Without followers, evil cannot spread."

-- Spock

It's real this time.

My old friends - the cedar waxwings - have returned

There is a cherry tree outside my office. This time of year, it is of course denuded of leaves, but there are still many berries left on the branches. The occasional bird flits in, dines, and departs...but last year, at about this time, a flock of about 30-40 cedar waxwings descended all at once like a riot of color, stayed all day, and stripped the tree bare of its remaining fruit. I was positively mesmerized.

A few minutes ago, I saw a flurry of movement out of the corner of my eye, and looked out the window.

My friends have returned.

Four Tao philosophers as cedar waxwings
chat on a February berry bush
in sun, and I am one.

Such merriment and such sobriety--
the small wild fruit on the tall stalk--
was this not always my true style?

Above an elegance of snow, beneath
a silk-blue sky a brotherhood of four
birds. Can you mistake us?

To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together--for this I have abandoned
all my other lives.

- Robert Francis

Snapshots From the Apocalypse

...and if you have the right kind of eyes, it all really is astonishingly beautiful. Plus, it's a balmy 23 today. Beach trip!

I finally figured it out.

Bill O'Reilly is Bluto from "Animal House," but without the social skills.

It all makes sense now.

Had to dig my way to the next cord of wood

That was fun.



Bike path.

The Wreckers' Grand Canyon Intentions

Sarana Riggs, left, with Save the Confluence, and Roger Clark, program director for the Grand Canyon Trust, above the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers, where a proposed billion dollar development project, the Grand Canyon Escalade, would be located, in Arizona, Nov. 20, 2014. The proposed development is the latest, and arguably the most ambitious, in a long and contentious history of attempts by developers to build near the Grand Canyon, a national landmark which draws 4.5 million people a year. (Monica Almeida/The New York Times)

The Wreckers' Grand Canyon Intentions
By William Rivers Pitt
Truthout | Op-Ed

Saturday 21 February 2015

Twenty years ago, my friend Kevin and I piled our ragged belongings into the back of his Chevy beater and drove from Massachusetts to California. It was November and we were worried about weather, so we dove south and traversed the country in a giant loop. We stopped in DC to visit friends, stopped in Alabama to visit family, and stopped in New Orleans for a night that will live in infamy.

From there it was on to Texas to visit more friends...and after that, we were on our own - no more friends or family to offer a bed for the night - so we decided to bomb straight through the second half of the trip and not stop until we got to San Francisco.

Which we did, with one exception: we paused at the Grand Canyon. We pulled into the entrance at three o'clock in the morning, the only ones there. As we drove up the long route, deer and jackrabbits flashed past the headlights. We parked in a viewing area on the western rim of the massive gorge, which was nothing but a vast black hole at that hour.

Kevin wrapped himself in a blanket and immediately passed out - we'd been driving non-stop since College Station, Texas - but I couldn't sleep. I stood at the rail before the canyon with the cold November air on my face. Above shined the Milky Way like I'd never seen it, before me was that fathomless darkness, and in my exhausted, elated state, I felt as if I was swimming in space. I stood, and stared, and contemplated all the turns of fate that had brought me to that place.

And then the sun rose, and devoured the darkness, replacing it with an astonishment of color, a riot of hues, and it was the most beautiful and fulfilling moment I have ever shared with Nature. The sunlight poured through the windshield and woke Kevin up. He gave a brief honk of the horn and startled me out of my reverie. I dumped myself into the driver's seat, pulled out, and we didn't stop until we hit Clement Street. I needed no sleep; if God exists, I spent that night and morning staring into Her face, and it changed me forever.

If an organization called Confluence Partners has its way, however, not long from now the next person to stand in that spot and watch the sunrise will be presented with a different vision: a 420-acre strip mall perched on the eastern rim of the Canyon, complete with stores, chain restaurants, a massive RV park, and a gondola to carry swaths of American laziness past all that natural beauty straight to the canyon floor...but only after they enjoy some jalapeno poppers and a large Diet Coke at Chili's.

It is difficult to wrap one's mind around an idea so comprehensively awful as this. They are called "Confluence Partners" because the project looks to be built at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River, which are only the lifeblood of the ecosystem there. A massive construction project, followed by the arrival of thousands of people and cars with their attendant garbage and petroleum fumes, will obliterate the environment in one of the planet's most glorious natural habitats.

The rest: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/29221-the-wreckers-grand-canyon-intentions
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