June 21, 2009 archive

Green Song

Doobie Brothers – Takin’ It To The Streets

Café Discovery: The Unfather (Revised)

It’s Father’s Day, a day which tends to distress me greatly.  


O.E. fæder, from P.Gmc. *fader (cf. O.N. faðir, Ger. vater), from PIE *p@ter (cf. Sanskit pitar−, Gk. pater, L. pater, O.Pers. pita, O.Ir. athir “father”), presumably from baby-speak sound like pa. The classic example of Grimm’s Law, where PIE “p−” becomes Gmc. “f−.”  Spelling with −th− (16c.) reflects widespread phonetic shift in M.E. that turned −der to −ther in many words; spelling caught up to pronunciation in 1500s (cf. burden, murder).  Fatherland (1623) is a loan-translation of Ger. Vaterland, itself a loan-translation of L. patria (terra), lit. “father’s land.”  Father’s Day dates back to 1910 in Spokane, Wash., but was not widespread until 1943, in imitation of Mother’s Day.

Online Etymology Dictionary

I mostly want to go hide somewhere, so I’ll probably try to get lost in something.  Maybe create some graphics.  Or watch some food shows on the telly.

Anyone have a question for Cindy Sheehan?

I really apologize for this tiny essay (probably the shortest I’ve ever written), but I’m just posting it to solicit questions for Cindy Sheehan.  I’m interviewing her tonight and if you have something that you want asked of her, just let me know!

What we can learn from Iran: strike for national health care

The DKos recommended list features a proposal for a general strike in the USA to force passage of progressive national health care legislation. I think progressives are waking up to the fact that free and courageous people don’t wait for a corrupt government to give them crumbs from a crooked table.

The people of Iran reached their breaking point when they saw their votes ignored. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans want universal coverage and affordable health care. Every advanced nation has universal coverage and affordable health care. We have effectively VOTED for universal coverage and affordable health care. Now we are being told by the DEMOCRATS, who were elected to honor this promise, that THEY DON’T HAVE THE VOTES to pass this reform of our dysfunctional health care system.

The American people are facing the deliberate betrayal of their interests by politicians bribed by the predatory managers of the existing health care (denial) system. Our corporate overlords think that the people will sit down and shut up once they have accepted the politicians’ excuses. I don’t think so.

If we, as a people, had a tenth of the courage of the people of Iran, who march in the face of brutal suppression, we would rise up as one and DEMAND decent health care and the shutting down of the predatory claim denial mills run by insurance companies for private profit.

Strike for affordable health care as a right for every citizen in America. Show the courage that our corrupt Congress thinks has vanished from America. Defend your freedom and dignity and show that we are as brave as the people of Iran.

Iran: The Pain Has Begun


There are no surprises in Tehran today.  Today is Sunday.  The New York Times informs us of what we already know to be the case:

A day after police and militia forces used guns, truncheons, tear gas and water cannons to beat back thousands of demonstrators, a tense quiet set over this city Sunday as the standoff between the government and thousands of protestors hardened into a test of wills that has spilled blood and claimed lives.

It was unclear how the confrontation would play out now that the government has abandoned its restraint and large numbers of protestors have demonstrated their willingness to risk injury and even death as they continue to dispute the results of Iran’s presidential election nine days ago.

Iranian state television reported that 13 people were killed in the clashes Saturday.

State television also reported that the government had arrested five members of the family of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who heads two influential councils in Iran, a move that escalates the government’s crackdown against the reform movement.

There are no surprises. Guns. Truncheons. Tear gas.  Water Cannons.  Burning motorcycles.  Injured bystanders.  Arrests. Home invasions. Brutality. Murder.  That “the government has abandoned its restraint” is a record breaking understatement.  The violence, of course, was to be expected.  After all, didn’t Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threaten violence during Friday prayers:

“Street challenge is not acceptable,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. “This is challenging democracy after the elections.” He said opposition leaders would be “held responsible for chaos” if they did not end the protests.

There are no surprises.  The Times, and just about everyone else, fears the very worst:

There was no sign on the streets early Sunday of the heavy security forces from the night before, but there were reports that protestors planned to demonstrate again later in the day, beginning at about 5 p.m., giving both sides time to regroup, or reconsider.

Since the crisis broke open with massive streets protests – posing the greatest challenge to the Islamic theocracy since the 1979 revolution – the government has declared its refusal to compromise, instead turning loose its security forces and militia to crush opposition voices. The government has pressed its policy of repression and intimidation the last several days, arresting reformers, intellectuals and others who promoted reform ideas or challenged the leadership’s version of events.

But now as the numbers of dead and injured begin to mount, it is unclear how, even if the protests can be stopped, the leadership can patch over the deep divisions in the Iranian society and rebuild legitimacy with Iranians who believe the election was rigged.

There are no surprises. Things, I suppose, will now grow even worse.  The repression will become fiercer, even less restrained, even more purposeful and frightening.  More people will be killed and injured and arrested.

President Obama’s statement on Saturday was strong, and he fortunately kept the matter at arm’s length:

Saying that “each and every innocent life” lost would be mourned, he added: “Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

“Martin Luther King once said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian people’s belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”

Sadly, he’s right.  All we can do outside of Iran is bear witness as the struggle unfolds. And while we bear witness, we can continue to lift our voices as individuals (and not as a government) in solidarity with the demonstrators.  And offer our thoughts and prayers* for a peaceful resolution.  And find other, creative ways to support the struggle in Iran for democracy and freedom.

The Iranian Democracy movement is absolutely worthy of our personal (as opposed to governmental) support.  Support and solidarity at this point require, indeed permit only the simplest of things.  There are only simple things we can and should do:

Things like changing our location and time zone on Twitter to Tehran and GMT +3.5 hours.  Things like making our avatar green.  Things like reading the posts of those who are there.  Things like posting and distributing their videos on youtube.  Things like writing blogs and asking others to link arms with them in solidarity.  Things like talking about what ideas we might have that could be of help to them.

These are things that might be completely ineffective to help Iranians achieve democracy, to get a new, fair election, to overturn the sham outcome of their last election, to prevent governmental violence and repression.  I realize that.  But that’s not what’s important.  That’s not what’s important now.

What’s important, I think, is our continuing solidarity with this struggle, our saying, however we can say it, “Brothers and Sisters, we’re with you.  We want you to succeed.  We want you to be safe, and free.  We want you to obtain the change you seek.”

I am full of admiration for the courage of the Iranian movement.  I applaud and support these people.  Please join me in solidarity with them.  Sign the available petitions.  Take the numerous, available, small steps.  It’ll make you feel great.  And it’s the right thing to do.

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles



Dear Moderates, Yell Louder at the bad guys, not the left

Simulposted at http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

   You have the right to remain silent and soon that will be the only right you have left.

   Unless you yell like crazy about the ones you are losing right now!

   If you are reading this YOU ARE MY ALLY, NOT MY ENEMY. In the same way, you are the enemy of my enemy, and we should fight together.

    But why does it seem like the only thing that really pisses off a moderate is when you call them a moderate? Then they ask you to moderate your outrage, as they prefer everything in moderation, including their own moderate temperament, apparently.

   President Obama, whom I still support, damn near demanded that we change in order for there to be change. Some of us are not happy with what has been labeled “change” so far, and we are not afraid to say so.

   If you think we should moderate our outrage, may I ask what you are doing to help the situation first?

   I am one of those liberals you may have heard about. The obstinate asshole type who has ideals that I will not negotiate. These ideas include empathy for the poor and disenfranchised, civil/equal/human rights, an equitable world for all and the rule of law. Yeah, I am a complete whackjob about it. What I don’t understand is why you aren’t as pissed off as the rest of us?

   If you can’t understand my anger you are not paying close enough attention to the world around you. This is 1968. This is 1932. Just because you don’t see it outside your door doesn’t mean it isn’t really there.

   Whether it is your Constitutional rights, your right to an undestroyed environment, a good paying job, an education, health care, a retirement, peace and love.

  Not to mention your basic human rights.

  Do I sound like I am asking for alot? Of course! But guess what, you ain’t ever gonna get what you want if you do not ask for it.

  And if they ain’t listening, I gotta YELL LOUDER!

  You will lose all of these things, slowly and then quickly, unless you get really pissed off and really loud RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!

Sunday music retrospective: John Kilzer

John Kilzer

Sorry about the long intro.  This was for a benefit concert.

Marilyn Dean and James Monroe

Red Blue Jeans

“Suppressing Ideas Never Succeeds in Making Them Go Away”


Obama’s remarks on what is happening in Iran:

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

Does the United States have the moral authority to give true authenticity to these words?

For the world is watching us, too.

Fun physics: should you wear a tinfoil helmet?

Docudharma Times Sunday June 21

Mousavi we will stand beside you – we will die beside you

Sunday’s Headlines:

Media Stayed Silent on Kidnapping

Abused, driven out and poisoned: the scandal of the Kosovo Roma

Sleaze threatens to topple Silvio Berlusconi as friends warn over scandals

Guns, children and cattle are the new currency of war in Southern Sudan

Ethiopia rejects Somali request

Oil rush: Scramble for Iraq’s wealth

Iran’s dictator gives up pretence of democracy

New tanks, new missiles, new guns – but hunger rules

Australian PM and treasurer reject calls to quit

Café Tacuba, Mexico’s rock ‘n’ roll survivors

US urges Iran to end ‘violence’

Iran’s capital is braced for possible fresh protests as the ongoing political struggle sparked by a disputed presidential poll continues.

The BBC  Sunday, 21 June 2009

State media said calm had returned to Tehran’s streets, and quoted police as saying they had restored order.

But eyewitness accounts suggest several people were injured on Saturday after demonstrators defied official demands for them to end street protests.

It is unclear whether the protests will continue on Sunday.

Protest leader and defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has been quoted as saying peaceful protests should continue and that people have a constitutional right to demonstrate.

The BBC and other foreign media are subject to heavy restrictions which have prevented reporters from leaving their offices to confirm many reports.

US President Barack Obama has warned Iran to stop all “violence and unjust action against its own people”.

Foreign workers for U.S. are casualties twice over

Contract employees injured in the conflict zones of Iraq and Afghanistan and families of those killed there are covered by American taxpayer-funded insurance, but it often fails to deliver.

By T. Christian Miller :: reporting from san fernando, philippines

June 21, 2009

Rey Torres dreamed of a better life for his wife and five children when he left a neighborhood of wooden shacks and burning trash piles to drive a bus on a U.S. military base near Baghdad.

He hoped to send his children to college and build a new home with the $16,000 a year he earned in Iraq — four times what he could make in the Philippines.

Then, in April 2005, Torres, 31, was killed in an ambush by Iraqi insurgents. His widow and children were supposed to be protected by a war zone insurance system overseen by the U.S. government. They were eligible for about $300,000 in compensation.

But Gorgonia Torres knew nothing about the death benefit and did not apply. When she did learn about the insurance, two years later, it was from a reporter. She has since turned down an insurance company’s $22,000 settlement offer. Her only hope of receiving full compensation is a legal fight that could drag on for years.

“He knew it was dangerous. . . . He had second thoughts all the time,” she said of her husband. “But he’d say, ‘If I don’t go, there’s no way we’ll be able to survive.’ “


At V.A. Hospital, a Rogue Cancer Unit

New York Times

For patients with prostate cancer, it is a common surgical procedure: a doctor implants dozens of radioactive seeds to attack the disease. But when Dr. Gary D. Kao treated one patient at the veterans’ hospital in Philadelphia, his aim was more than a little off.

Most of the seeds, 40 in all, landed in the patient’s healthy bladder, not the prostate.

It was a serious mistake, and under federal rules, regulators investigated. But Dr. Kao, with their consent, made his mistake all but disappear.

He simply rewrote his surgical plan to match the number of seeds in the prostate, investigators said.

Late Night Karaoke

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Baucus is only the Symptom of a much more Chronic Condition

Did you Vote for Change?

for Accountability; for leveling the playing field; for National Health Care?

Well, your vote apparently doesn’t carry as much weight as it use to.

Here’s one of the main reasons why:

U.S. Democracy Under Siege — Senate Debate Excerpts

Excerpts from the Congressional Record of the October 14, 1999 Senate debate.

The following is a tabulation, for clarity, of the figures cited by Mr. Feingold:

1980 1992 1996
Total soft money contributions to parties ($millions) under 20 86 about 250
# of donors giving over $200,000 52 219
# of donors giving over $300,000 20 120
# of donors giving over $400,000 13 79
# of donors giving over $500,000 9 50
# of companies giving over $150,000 to each of the political parties (“double givers”) 7 43

 (emphasis added)


There has been a tidal wave taking place, that threatens to swamp our fragile system of Democracy.  Indeed it probably already has …

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