Friday, February 23, 2007

Don Williams Last Column

The editors declined to publish this last column. It is available, however, at , where lots of writers converge, , where you may hear podcasts, and at . If you’d like to write a letter to the editor, see instructions at the end of this. Or contact me at . The column is no longer available at . The main number at the News-Sentinel is 865-523-3131.

My Last Column in the News-Sentinel

by Don Williams

Dear Reader,

Barring a change of heart on someone else’s part, this is my last column for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Here’s what I know about the reasons why. On Monday, Editor Jack McElroy informed me he would be cutting my column to once every other week. On Tuesday I let him know I could not go along. It would mean letting too many people down, and waiting for the other shoe to drop, along with readership, would compromise my independence. So ends a 21-year association.

I won’t defend my record. Fan mail, awards and readership polls speak for themselves. My column draws more readers than most, as I can prove. This isn’t about quality or popularity.

Jack said he was trimming my sails because I don’t write enough on local issues. Some readers might remember this notion came up in 2004, after I wrote a series of columns opposed to the re-selection of George W. Bush, whom this paper endorsed. Shortly afterward, Jack asked me to begin writing about local issues.

In a widely read column that ran Feb. 4, 2005, I tried to put a smiley face on this development. Naively, I didn’t regard it as an attempt to “muzzle” me. I promised readers that, “should the time come that I can no longer go along with Jack’s request, I’ll recognize it and act according to my conscience.”

I believed then that going along would be easy. Most local issues worth writing about are tied to Washington. Our quality of air and water, the well-being of our soldiers and veterans, the role of Oak Ridge and TVA in nuclear weapons technology, healthcare of the disadvantaged, rights of people with alternative lifestyles, integrity of our elections, separation of church and state, health of public lands and much more around here are affected by national policies. I’ve tried to cite such local angles in about three-fourths of my articles since 2005. Even when I didn’t say so explicitly, I believe these issues were implicit, especially in columns my critics write off as “Bush bashing.”

Those are at the heart of my predicament, I believe. In 2001, months before 9/11, as Bush was rolling back environmental regulations, holding secret meetings with energy, religious and military strategists, busily appointing foxes to guard all the henhouses where treasured eggs are stored, I thought it should be obvious to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear that George W. Bush was a disaster for our world, our country, our communities. As I’ve written in several columns over the years, had Bush set out with a goal of destroying the world, he could hardly have done worse than he’s done. Sadly, history bears me out.

Name an issue I’ve been very wrong on. Name a prediction I didn’t nail since 2001. The list of things I got right is a long one, and I’ll put my record up against any columnist in the country, liberal or conservative. Loss of civil liberties, outright torture, electoral malfeasance, war-profiteering, use of depleted uranium, banned weapons, strip-mining, species decline, media manipulation, broken treaties, soaring deficits, efforts to hide the truth about global warming, Dick Cheney’s many conflicts of interest, and the sad decline of our nation’s reputation have been borne out by clouds of witnesses.

To downplay such disasters the way most media do is akin to complicity in the Holocaust, for the destruction of this good earth is an ongoing holocaust in which millions of people and fellow creatures suffer and die. History proves the silence of good people makes a culture complicit in its own destruction. So I leave you with a question that courageous women and men from ages past have asked:

What then must we do?

To obscure America's fingerprint on global warming, the death of maybe a million people in the Middle East, the creation of millions of refugees, the maiming of millions more, the possibility of a trumped up war with Iran, is simply wrong. I won’t be a party to it. I often wonder how Bush apologists sleep at night. That’s a problem I’ll never have.

In keeping with the promise I made in that Feb. 4, 2005, column, I’m ending my News-Sentinel career rather than “go along” this time around. Pardon me if I don’t get all teary-eyed. This is not a time for making nice, it’s a time for taking stands. I’ll sail my opinion out on the Internet. I’ll write for other publications. I’ll finish books. If you’d like to come along for the ride, get in touch.

Finally, I’ve loved writing a weekly column these 21 years, mostly from home the past 11, and I’m letting go with no bitterness and little regret. Rather, I feel the way I’ve come to feel when my name’s held up to ridicule on the Letters Page. Why, looky here, Mama, I made the honor roll.


Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist and the founding editor and publisher of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of literary writing. His awards include a National

Endowment for the Humanities Michigan Journalism Fellowship, a Golden Presscard Award and the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize. He is finishing a novel, “Red State Blues,” set in his native Tennessee and Iraq. His book of selected journalism, “Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes, the Best Writings About People” by Don Williams, is now available for ordering. For more information, email him at Or visit the NMW website at

To write a letter to the editor follow these guidelines, which appear on the Letters Page:

* Letters must contain your street address and phone numbers, and if you have an online signature that would help, if emailing.

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PO Box 59038

Knoxville, TN 37950

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Note: It's been my experience the NS does not typically run letters that have been copied to me, as I've been CC’d several others that never ran. Either way, I appreciate your support.

Thanks for reading. My editors' email addresses are,,, and They've been having trouble receiving emails, however, so it may take several efforts should you try to reach them that way.

All my best,



DEN said...

I thought I would forgo the Friday Funnies in favor of todays post Don Williams last column.

Sad day for Journalism as one of the foremost columnists and surely the BEST columnist to publish in the Knoxville(backwater)Sentinel calls it quits because of Reich wing pressure.

DEN said...

Democracy Now is a CANNOT MISS today as Amy and Juan discuss the Texas Immigrant detention centers.

Amy was visibly saddened when interviewing an 11 year old child being held at one of the facilities.

He and his family were sent there after the flight from Guyana to Canada had to make an emergency landing in the US because a passenger suffered a heart attack.

They were pulled aside because they had no visa to be in the US even though the original flight was not scheduled to land in the US until the heart attack victim caused it to land here.

More facilities being built with private contractors running them with NO OVERSIGHT.

The American GULAG is here NOW!
Bloggers next?

Saladin said...

DEN, they are trying to scare us into shutting up. Don't let them! Let all the ISP's and spy goons do their worst, but they can't throw everyone in a gulag, and they won't be able to isolate us either, I think they've bitten off more than they can chew this time. They've created a whole generation of armed and EXTREMELY pissed off people, a veritable monster, if they thought dumbing down the people would keep them under control I think they will find they were badly mistaken. I saw a very good movie called This Revolution, it is about the 2004 RNC protests and the tactics used to intimidate the people, it had a great ending. The people are pissed alright, and getting more so by the day.

DEN said...

I will stop blogging when they pry my cold, dead fingers from my keyboard!!!

DEN said...

Pentagon calls off plans for huge explosion in desert
Published: Thursday February 22, 2007

The Pentagon on Thursday canceled plans to detonate a 700-tonne explosive charge in the Nevada desert that had drawn environmental protests and lawsuits.

"I have become convinced that it's time to look at alternative methods that obviate the need for this type of large-scale test," said James Tegnelia, the director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Dubbed "Divine Strake," the test was designed to gather data for use in developing weapons capable of destroying deeply buried bunkers containing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

It called for detonating 700 tonnes of conventional explosives over a tunnel at a Nevada test site to study its effect on hard granite structures.

But the "experiment" drew lawsuits and protests from Nevada residents worried about the possible environmental impact of the blast, which was expected to send a mushroom-like cloud 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) in the air.

Tegnelia said his decision to cancel the test was not based on any technical information that indicated it would be harmful to workers, the public or the environment.

@Raw Story

Stupid Pentagon! Of course the environment or effects on people in the area is no concern of theirs.


DEN said...

I sent this to Knox News:

Hello from California!

I have been an avid reader of Don's column for quite some time and find your attitude toward him quite

If you want "local issue" hire someone with local experience willing to do just that.

Don's voice has been heard worldwide and his dismissal
is will be also. This is not something of which you
can be proud, rather it shows a slanted narrow view that brings your ratings down several notches by many of his devoted readers.

This incident highlights the "Rightwing" attributes of your paper rather than the broader "American" attributes. As media becomes ever more beholding to
the "Rightwing" way of thinking our country is reduced to mere lemmings being fed "Fox" type news with little or no challenges to any statements, this is unbalanced
journalism and as such poses a problem for all readers.

Please re-think the implications of your actions and return Don to your staff. If not I am sure he will
succeed in other journalistic ventures, while your success is in doubt.

Sincerely, Den

Alan said...

Houston woman with cancer is Person of the Week

Heather Burcham, a 31-year old Houston woman dying of cervical cancer, will be featured as "Person of the Week" tonight on ABC's World News. After years of misdiagnosis, treatment for Burcham's cancer came too late and now she has six months left to live. She has been a champion of Gov. Rick Perry's HPV vaccine initiative and the importance of early testing.
This is the woman our local station featured with her 'story' and her campaign to lobby in Austin for this vaccine. She had to miss testifying because it was repeatedly delayed all day till she was too worn out to outlast them and had to leave. She's a pretty young woman and it's just a shame what has happened to her.
Hope y'all get a chance to see ABC's national news... the 'person of the week' segment on fridays is always good.
Den, DW will still be posting his articles online, right?

DEN said...

Alan, New Millenium Writings(link in article)

Read what the bloggers at Knoxnews are saying, here

Gerald said...

Don Williams' columns are a force that frightens the Nazi cabal. Tennessee is that the state that gave Hitler the election in 2000. The state preferred Hitler over Gore, a resident. I view Tennessee as the Jethroe Syndrome from the Beverly Hillbillies. It would be my EXPERT opinion that the Jethroes in Tennessee are a stupid breed. I do hope that Don Wiiiams can find a place to write his columns. Don Williams is right; Washington must be studied and people must be aware that we are a Nazi state. We are a martial law away from total enslavement. Make no mistake there will be no 2008 elections and Hitler will nuke Iran. Hitler was born to kill people. The PNAC craves the extermination of 6 billion people on our planet. I am truly amazed as to how many Americans love to kill people. We must have millions upon millions of Americans who live just to kill human beings.

Alan said...

I see Vilsack dropped out of the race already.

Gerald, say wha?? Sometimes you're hard to follow. Like the comment where Dems won't impeach Hitler, so why would a jury convict Libby? I fail to see how those are linked.
Just now you posted about Tenn. being the state that put Hitler over the top in 2000. It was Florida.
But carry on... I don't always read your links, especially the religious ones, but I usually check 'em out.

Gerald said...

I post fast and furious because I expect a knock on my door soon from Hitler's gestapos. Bloggers on Alternate Reality and Dancing with Fools are considered enemy combatants and as enemy compatants we have no rights. You can expect a prison term with no expiration date. Kiss your Love Ones goodbye!!!

Gerald said...

alan, thank you for your post! If you go back to the 2000 election, Hitler won the electoral college vote. Tennessee's 11 electoral votes would have given Gore both the popular vote and the electoral college vote. Florida was written up more for the fraud behind the election process but it was Tennessee's 11 electoral votes that lost Gore the election.

micki usually has the answer. micki, we need your help on the electoral college vote of 2000.

Thank you for your help!!!

Maybe another poster can also locate the information?

I will go to google and write in 2000 electoral college vote and see if I can find the breakdown in numbers.

Gerald said...

alan, here is the 2000 electoral college vote - Hitler 271 and Gore 266. Eleven votes for Gore would have made it Gore 277 and Hitler 260.

Gore would have been President!!!!!

Gerald said...

alan, I believe that more and more Americans are becoming aware that our judicial system from the Supreme Court to the local level is controlled by the money people. If you have money and power, you walk; if not, you will do the time.

Alan said...

Tennessee's 11 electoral votes would have given Gore both the popular vote and the electoral college vote.

Well, again I can't follow you. Tenn's electoral votes has not a thing to do with the popular vote.

As for Tenn delivering the presidency... why just Tenn's?? You could use that logic for any state that went red. The race came down to the last state that was still counting, which was Florida.

Alan said...

alan, I believe that more and more Americans are becoming aware that our judicial system from the Supreme Court to the local level is controlled by the money people.

Well, I feel this libby case is decided by the 12 'peers' in the jury. If 'money people' got to them, then your alalogy would be true.

Alan said...


wtf is 'alalogy'? haha

Gerald said...

The reason why I remember the Tennessee vote that gave Hitler the election is because I cannot understand how people can be so stupid, like Tennesseans, who will vote for someone other than their native son, Gore. Gore would have also been a boon for the state. Tennessee just has too many Jethroes residing in that bottomless armpit of a pit stop called Tennessee.

Alan said...

*or maybe it was Texas, who has 3-times as many Jethros with 32 electoral votes that went to Dubya

Gerald said...

The electoral college determines the presidency!!!!!

In 2004 Bush beat Kerry by 1.5 or 4.5 million votes but I believe Ohio and its electoral college votes would have given Kerry the presidency.

Anyway, you look at it Hitler was elected through fraudulent practices in Florida (2000) and Ohio (2004).

Gerald said...

The issue is Tennessee and its stupidity for not voting for a native son whose name is Albert Gore, the rightful president.

David B. Benson said...

One step forward and two back.
One step forward and two back.

TNYT had an article regarding the ozone hole and why it will grow. Blaim the Indians and the Chinese. (-1)

TNYT had a nice op-ed piece on the relative success of California is regulating its carbon dioxide production to about 30% less than the resst of the U.S. (Note that CA is a prosperous place.) (+1)

But, California's current level is the same as that in 1990 and that is too high! (-1)

One step forward and two back.
One step forward and two back...

º¿carol said...


Victoria Toensing

Welcome back to the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week.

Well, she's back: one-half of the "Ken Starr" dream team of GOP legal assassins, Victoria Toensing.

She and her husband, Joe diGenova, were the Republican "inside the Beltway" attorney "authorities," who relentlessly and tenaciously argued in behalf of the impeachment of Bill Clinton for perjury relating to a sex act.

Now, with the assistance of the pro-Iraq War and pro-Scooter Libby Washington Post, Toensing was given a prominent and lengthy featured commentary on Sunday in the Post, followed by an online Post chat on Tuesday.

And what might be the subject of Toensing's vitriolic piece? Well, Victoria denounced Patrick Fitzgerald for indicting Libby on – you got it – perjury.

Toensing's argument was so specious – and the Post's timing of the publication to influence the jury so transparent – that it crossed the line into de facto, but legal, jury tampering.

Robert Parry of notes: "Given the Post’s prominence in the nation's capital and Toensing's former position in the Justice Department, the article has the look and feel of an attempt to influence the jury that will be judging whether Libby committed perjury and obstruction of justice."

Toensing actually went so far as to propose an indictment of Patrick Fitzgerald? And the Post printed this far-right propaganda along with a simulated mug shot of Fitzgerald!

As Parry points out, for an attorney, Toensing appears to play fast and loose with the facts of the case, but her media job is to be a radical Republican attack dog with credentials, not to actually respect the law.

So Toensing tenaciously advocated impeaching Clinton for perjury over sex, but then argues for indicting a prosecutor pursuing perjury charges against an individual who helped publicly disclose a CIA operative who specialized in tracking the illicit trafficking in Weapons of Mass Destruction.

People like Toensing – and the Washington Post – aren't just hypocrites. They are a threat to our national security.

Until next week, remember our motto: So many Republican hypocrites, so little time.

Catch up with you soon.

* * *

Previous HOTW Award for Victoria Toensing: December 23, 2005.

º¿carol said...

Smart of Stupid Test

This is a very fast test. You only have 8 seconds to answer each question.

ò¿óarol said...

Well, I guess we can see how I scored. Smart of Stupid Test?

Smart OR Stupid Test

Anonymous said...

H.J. Res. 14 - Concerning the use of military force by the United States against Iran

As far as I have been able to determine, as of today, the following are co-sponsors of Walter B. Jones resolution:

Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 1/16/2007
Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] - 2/6/2007
Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] - 1/24/2007
Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] - 1/31/2007
Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 1/23/2007
Rep Boswell, Leonard L. [IA-3] - 2/6/2007
Rep Brady, Robert A. [PA-1] - 1/30/2007
Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 2/6/2007
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 2/8/2007
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 1/16/2007
Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] - 1/16/2007
Rep Fortuno, Luis G. [PR] - 1/23/2007
Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 1/24/2007
Rep Gilchrest, Wayne T. [MD-1] - 1/16/2007
Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 2/16/2007
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 2/13/2007
Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA-4] - 2/13/2007
Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 1/30/2007
Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 1/16/2007
Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 2/16/2007
Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 1/16/2007
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 2/13/2007
Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 2/13/2007
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 1/23/2007
Rep McNulty, Michael R. [NY-21] - 2/6/2007
Rep Meehan, Martin T. [MA-5] - 1/16/2007
Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-6] - 2/13/2007
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 1/18/2007
Rep Murtha, John P. [PA-12] - 1/16/2007
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 2/13/2007
Rep Neal, Richard E. [MA-2] - 1/16/2007
Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 1/29/2007
Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8] - 1/24/2007
Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] - 1/16/2007
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 2/6/2007
Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] - 2/16/2007
Rep Taylor, Gene [MS-4] - 1/16/2007
Rep Visclosky, Peter J. [IN-1] - 1/29/2007
Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] - 2/16/2007

David B. Benson said...

Still no decision!

Does not look good for anything but a hung jury.


Anonymous said...

A Case Where Jury Deliberations went on...and on...and on....and on....for four and a half months!

DEN said...

Gerald, Jethroe syndrome? You mean they gradiated the sixth grade thar?

Thats funny!! I've been there, have relatives there, Don Williams lives there, Rootin-tootin redneck central with some smart folks thrown in for balance.

Smoky Mountains are gorgeous, surrounded by tourist stuff though, tourist traffic jams in peak season.

Lots of Gore supporters among the others that don't.

Alan said...

Froomkin is great, as always.

Cheney Unbowed

Alan said...

cool test Carol, I like those things.

I got a 25, which they said was 40% smarter than average, with a snide comment that "Einstein has competition".
Yeah, right. haha

Anonymous said...

"The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process."
- CHIEF JUSTICE BEVERLEY McLACHLIN, of Canada, in a ruling striking down a law that allowed the
indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.

Why does she hate the United States?

Gerald said...

Nazi Israel

This is an open letter to Nazi Israel. You keep threatening to nuke Iran either do it or shut up and stop egging your lapdog, Nazi America, to do your dirty work. Why not become the second Nazi state to use nuclear weapons against humanity. You have nuclear weapons and you only abide by your rules and no other rules can apply.

You do not want anyone else to have nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Your foreign policy along with Nazi America and Nazi England is death and destruction in the Middle East so the people will have to focus on survival and not enhancement in the quality of life for the people in the Middle East.

We keep hearing about the holocaust during WW II but your policies and practices are killing Lebanese and Palestinians in the area. You have created unrest for years in the Middle East and you have increased your nuclear stockpile for years. You have also broken accords and treaties that were signed. You have planted cluster bombs in Lebanon that are still killing the Lebanese people. You are also practicing genocide against the Palestinians. Any nation in the Middle East that pursues a better quality of life you will put forth efforts to undermine the nation.

The holocaust was a terrible part in human history but why is their silence about the eleven million non-Jews who were killed by Hitler and the twenty-nine million people who were killed by Stalin. Currently, your Nazi friends in Nazi America, like Hitler Bush, Hitler Cheney, their Nazi cabal and the PNAC, are planning to exterminate six billion human beings because they profess that planet, Earth, can only sustain five hundred million people. Why is there silence from Nazi Americans, the Nazi MSM, and the Nazi corporations in Nazi America?

Yes, Nazi Israel, you should join Nazi America and be the second country to nuke humanity and show your true colors as a Nazi state to gratify your murderous lust against humanity. Everlasting and true evil can be found in Nazi America, Nazi England, and Nazi Israel.