by Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld t r u t h o u t (see photos by Erika Blumenfeld)
Sunday 22 August 2010
The scene is post-apocalyptic. Under a grey sky, two families play in the surf just off the beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana. To get to the beach, we walk past a red, plastic barrier fence that until very recently was there to keep people away from the oil-soaked area. Now, there are a few openings that beach goers can use. The fence is left largely intact, I presume, for when they will need to close the beach again when the next invasion of BP’s oil occurs.
A father jokingly throws sand at his little boy who laughs while dodging it. This, against a background of oil rigs and platforms looming in the Gulf. In the foreground, littering the beach, are tar balls. We stroll through the area, eyeing even more tar balls that bob lazily underwater, amidst sand ripples in the shallows … they are in the same location where the father sits, grabbing handfuls of sand to toss near his son.
There has always been some confusion and arbitrary discussion about what the American political spectrum is. What defines the left and what defines the right. In many cases, there is an overlapping spectrum for libertarianism, socialism, liberal on social issues type stuff, but I don’t use that stuff. It doesn’t work for me from a framework standpoint. Anyone can arbitrarily define what they want “right” or “left” or “liberal” or “conservative” to mean. They are just labels. But if there is a continuum, I prefer the one I laid out below. But I do understand the concepts of the libertarian socialists and that the historical difference between was the difference in tactics between the anti-statist wing of the left (called libertarian) and the statist wing–which went in the socialist direction. But I do not find this to be relevant today.
In essence, the further left you go, the less power you have in few hands and the more power you have as broadly distributed as possible. The further right you go, the more it is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. That’s my metric.
(SOAPBOX #69) – Cindy sez: “Greetings! This Sunday, (August 22nd) at 2 pm PST, I hope you tune into Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox to hear my fascinating and informative interview with legendary whistle blower and activist, Daniel Ellsberg. Daniel and I will be chatting about; the Wikileaks controversy, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan–an info packed show, for sure. With millions of bits of disinformation and propaganda flying around our airwaves this past week, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox continues to be a light shining through the lies. Please use the link above to listen to today’s discussions.
Economic depression increasing the likelihood of war; an attack on Iran would increase the price of oil and thereby increase demand for dollars; strong opposition from other countries to an attack no longer exists; recent incidents ramping up tension; military weaponry in the Middle East.
The first decade of what more than a generation ago was predicted to be the Asian Century is drawing to a close, marking ten years since the end of the American Century.
China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy during the second financial quarter of this year and three-quarters of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations, the world’s largest emerging economies, are entirely or primarily in Asia. During its first heads of state summit in Russia last year, BRIC “urged the creation of a new global financial security system.”  At the time its members accounted for 15 percent of the global economy and 42 percent of international currency reserves  even after the advent of the U.S.-triggered world financial crisis in 2008.
“Let me ask you one question, is your money that good? Will it buy you forgiveness? Do you think that it could?” (Bob Dylan, Masters of War.)
Sometimes a topic simply will not go away. These weeks, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, Q.C., former Prime Minister, alleged potential war criminal, surreal Middle East Peace Envoy – who led an administration who shared responsibility for, if not quite rivers of blood, bloodied market places, mosques, squares, homes, humans, hospitals, beyond counting – just keeps coming back and back.
US combat forces have left Iraq, but who should be held accountable for the invasion and occupation that has left hundreds of thousands dead? Veteran investigative journalist John Pilger joins the show to discuss.
Daniel Estulin gave an interview recently where he spoke about how the material that he was investigating was “really not about left and right”, the burgeoning world order that he uncovers — as put forward by the Bilderberg Group — it’s about people who “share the same financial ideas” according to Estulin. That’s odd, actually, because that sounds an awful lot like left and right, in this humble observer’s opinion. Those who share the same financial ideas, are generally not the rank and file workers, the poor and the underclass; in the United States, at least, those who have been virtually wholly dispossessed from the political system.
Ray McGovern shares with us his analysis of the recent article published in the Atlantic written by the infamous American-Israeli writer Jeffrey Goldberg on Israel’s case for bombing Iran and the reasons why the United States should join in. He talks about the ramifications of the recent and ongoing WikiLeaks disclosures, the pitiful state of the mainstream media, the Internet as the new fifth estate, and more.
This antagonism between the use value and exchange value of labor power expresses a social antagonism between capitalists and workers. Capitalists and workers have opposing interests. Workers want their means of subsistence: housing, food, clothes, beer. They want use-values. Capitalists aren’t interested in use-values. They are after exchange-value. They want to expand the size of their capital by making a profit. In order for either class to get what the want they need the other. The workers must sell themselves for a wage in order to survive. The capitalist must hire workers in order to exploit them for profits. Yet despite this codependence their interests are entirely antagonistic. The more the workers are paid in wages the less profit the capitalist makes. The more profit the capitalist makes the more impoverished the working class. Continue reading →
Ethan Bronner reports in the New York Times that a report on the situation in the Gaza Strip from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says that anti-Israeli militants operate from the border areas in question, planting explosive devices, firing at Israeli military vehicles and shooting rockets and mortar rounds at civilians. But it argues that Israel has an obligation under international law to protect civilians and civilian structures.
Bronner devotes the first part of his article to noting the impact on a Palestinian family, whose “trees and wells were bulldozed”, noting “destroyed houses” surrounding the family’s “desolate fields”. He notes that, according to the report, 12 percent of the population “have lost livelihoods or have otherwise been severely affected by Israeli security policies along the border, both land and sea, in recent years”, and that “the restricted land comprises 17 percent of Gaza’s total land mass and 35 percent of its agricultural land”, but this is about the extent of his discussion with regard to the content of the report. Most of the rest of the article is dedicated to offering the Israeli point of view and response to the release of the report: Continue reading →
Bell, California, a working-class town of some 38,000 ten miles outside of Los Angeles, is a unique place. Its local government has proven to be citizen-proof, media proof, city-council proof and even leak-proof from inside its self-enriching top officialdom.
Get this: Bell city manager. Robert Rizzo resigned a month ago after a Los Angeles Times exposé revealed that he was being paid $800,000 a year, plus 28 weeks of vacation and sick time worth $386,000. He was also expecting to make $600,000 a year in guaranteed pension payouts. Mr. Rizzo also borrowed $160,000 from the city.
Mr. Rizzo had clever political protection. The Police Chief was getting $457,000 a year and members of the City Council of this small city were making, for very part time work, about $100,000 each per year.