Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kennedy didn't say he was a donut! "Ich bin ein Berliner" means just what Kennedy meant - "I am a Berliner"

I love how these CIA-spread myths end up as the gospel truth, when they are nothing of the sort. Even Keith Olbermann fell for this one.

No, Kennedy did not say he was a donut.

He said, "Ich bin ein Berliner." And if you look up Berliner in a German dictionary, you will find that while donut is one meaning, the other meaning, the one Kennedy was obviously saying, is this:

"to be born in Berlin; to be a native Berliner; to be Berlin-born"
I am never surprised to hear the ignorant say Kennedy said this "wrong," when he didn't. But my heart sank when good ol' Keith Olbermann fell for the disinformation. Wow. I guess if a few people say it, it's suddenly true, eh?

Will all of you reading this please help spread the TRUTH about what Kennedy said? No doubt this will come up in the next few days as Obama prepares his own version of such a speech.

By the way - if you've never seen this speech, enjoy.

The Germans knew what he was saying. Here's the transcript of the full speech. It's a good one.

I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum." Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner."

I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!

There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass' sic nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last 18 years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for 18 years that still lives with the vitality and the force, and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin. While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of. the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it, for it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany—real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today, to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner!"

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The History of Oil, through Comedy

This has to be one of the most brilliant presentations of history I have seen yet. Funny, interesting, provocative, and entertaining.

Please set aside 45 minutes this week and watch this. It sounds like a big commitment, but believe me, I'm saving you time. You'd have to read a lot to get this condensed an understanding of the history of oil, the reasons for the war in Iraq, and the way to save your food costs from skyrocketing.

My hat is WAY off to the remarkable comic historian who penned and performs this, Robert Newman.

This should be embedded but it's not working - go here to see it.

And hey, Newman's quite the thinker/writer as well. Here's a snippet from his blog:

There is no planet B, so we need an economic plan B. We need to develop new economic systems because there is only one eco-system and it cannot survive the present free market economy.


Something else of great value which climate campaigners can do are soldiarity actions with frontline communities. Those living in the Niger Delta, for example. Friday 10th November will be the 10th anniversary of the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was killed by the Nigerian state for campaigning against what Shell were doing in Nigeria. Now, ten years later, Shell’s gas flaring in the Niger Delta is the single largest source of carbon emissions on the planet. 2.5 billion cubic feet per day. The single largest source of carbon emissions on the planet. Shell is a UK-registered company, based right here in Britain (and contributing to that GDP of which the Stern report wants us to divert 1% to offsetting the effects of climate change). It is our right and our duty to take Shell back into public ownership, dismantle it, break it up, and send its management into rehabilition training in the hope that they can one day be re-introduced into society as useful members of the community.

We have a unique historic opportunity to make of the post-fossil fuel world a much more equal and better place than we knew in the Petroleum Era. So many of the global inequalities and injustices and oppressions are deeply stratified into the World Oil Economy, hard-wired into a carbon-fuelled profit frenzy. As we disentangle ourselves from the fossil-fuel economy, we might experiment with new ways of working with the Global South rather than theft and control punctuated, like a wife-beater, by contrition. They might even involve listening to and then doing what they say.

Hat tip to my correspondent in SLO who turned me on to this guy. Many thanks, friend!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm not marrying Obama!

I'm not marrying Obama. Therefore, I don't promise to support Obama"for better or for worse." He's my candidate, not my prospective husband. I'll support him "for better". But I'm absolutely going to criticize him "for worse." I'm talking about FISA.

I could never vote for a Republican. I will not ever support or encourage others to support John McCain. I don't believe criticizing one candidate means you are supporting another. I think dissent and vigorous discussion is important in a Democracy.

I want Obama to do the right thing re the FISA debate. The people would be on his side if he made the case for no telco immunity, and for allowing investigations into past abuses.

Our founding fathers carefully set up a government that had three parts, insisting they must act not in accord, but to counter balance each other. The President is not supposed to make policy. He is supposed to enforce it. The president is the leader of the executive branch. They execute the laws and wishes of the American people. They don't make new ones through illegal activity, as Bush did when his team asked the telecommunications companies to illegally spy on Americans without a warrant.

Under the current wording of the FISA bill, we would not be able to investigate past abuses. We'll never know, for example, if Bush tapped Obama's phone. We'll never know whether blackmail on people like Steny Hoyer, for example, was gathered and is now being used. And in a Democracy, these are things we MUST be able to know.

I'll leave you with the immortal words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men.
While we push for Obama to see the light, PLEASE get in touch with your Senators and urge them to reject this FISA bill. Urge them to follow the principled leadership of Russ Feingold on this matter. This is truly one of the most important issues of our time. It's passage sets a very scary precedent. A Democrat will not always be at the helm. We'd be legalizing the crimes of the Bush administration for the next Bush. If that doesn't make your skin crawl maybe you're not a real Democrat!