Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Michael Moore & Capitalism

By Blanche Shaheen

I believe the primary way one person can affect massive change is to inspire masses of people to take action. There is no better way to do this than to create a controversial film about a subject that touches almost everyone’s lives—the collapsing economy.

Michael Moore’s latest film, “Capitalism, a Love Story,” does just that—and clearly has the potential to cause a revolution in our country. I met Michael Moore at the MarketBar restaurant during his tour stop in San Francisco, and what you see with this man is what you get. He’s down to earth, dressed casually with his signature red cap, and he gave all of the reporters as much time as he could, because he valued their time as much as his own—unlike the standard celebrities that fly through town. “Capitalsm, A Love Story” outlines how the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Most people might think this was by accident, but Moore shows how this transfer of wealth was all by calculated design.

Capitalism, according to Moore, is legalized greed that knows no partisan limits. Democrats are just as guilty as Republicans in giving our tax dollars to the rich without our permission. Capitalistic greed knows no age limits, whether greedy lawmakers take advantage of troubled juveniles so they could buy their private jets, or lenders encourage the elderly to accrue high interest equity debt against their fully owned homes. This is a new cold hearted world where real estate agents fly over foreclosures like vultures, and blue chip companies cash in on the deaths of their low wage earning employees. Moore says the rich are not only in love with their money, but in love with our money—their self indulgence has no limits.

I won’t give away anymore details, but my eyes popped out at the level of callousness and insatiable greed circulating throughout our government and the corporations that woo them. Moore encourages us to think out of the capitalsm box and instead democratize the workplace, so that all citizens have a say. Currently the workplace is set up as a dictatorship, where wage earners are at the mercy of their bosses and CEOs. If everyone owned a fair share of their companies and had a voice in decision making, there would be a more equal distribution of wealth. Forget capitalism, socialism, or any “ism” for that matter, because these are all ideals from past centuries that don’t fit into our modern and interdependent economy. Moore says just as marriage is an institution that became democratized (i.e. women actually having a say in who they marry with equality in assets) the workplace needs to follow suit. He basically encourages us to fight back and create a more equal and fair marketplace. Rumors have been circulating that this is Moore’s last documentary.

I am happy to say that he told me he will not quit this profession, although he’s a sensitive guy and the constant criticism from Fox etc. does get to him at times. But he does want us to pick up where he left off, and I would say the first step in doing this is to get educated by watching this film. As Moore visits one guilty company after another, demanding his money back with his little burlap bag and armored vehicle, he knows that they won’t give him the time of day. But he is creating an example of what we should all be doing, and I can only imagine the changes that can happen if every one of us stormed those offices demanding our hard earned money back. The world could use a million Michael Moores, an average guy with an extraordinary message, who demands justice, accountability, and a moral code of ethics in the workplace….because one man cannot do this alone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goldstone's Rosh Hashanah Bomb

The news hit Israel like a bomb, and I do not use this word lightly for a region riddled with bullets that has seen its share of real bombs that kill and maim people.

Israel is appalled and disappointed by the Report published on September 15, 2009 by the Gaza Fact-Finding Mission. The Report effectively ignores Israel's right of self-defense, makes unsubstantiated claims about its intent, and challenges Israel's democratic values and rule of law.

So began the Israeli response, posted on the Israeli Ministry of foreign Affairs' website, to Judge Richard Goldstone, the head of a United Nations commission, who this week charged Israel with committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip during its offensive there last winter.

The nearly 600-page report, presented this week by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, and recommended that if no appropriate independent inquiry takes place in Israel within six months, the Security Council should refer the matter to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

More on the Huffington Post

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When the Shoe Becomes Mightier Than the Sword

Remember the shoe-hurling Iraqi reporter, Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at then U.S. President George W. Bush? Today he was released from prison and received a hero’s welcome from supporters, friends, and family members.

"Today I am free again but my home [Iraq] is still a prison. The occupation invaded our country under the pretext of liberation. It divided brothers and neighbors, it turned our homes into endless funeral tents and our streets into cemeteries,” he told reporters shortly after his release.

He was supposed to be released on Monday but legal red tape delayed his homecoming.

Speaking at a press conference hosted by Al Baghdadiya, the television station he worked for as a reporter, al-Zaidi spoke about torture and abuse by prison guards:
"At the time that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said on television that he could not sleep without being reassured of my fate, I was being tortured in the worst ways; I was beaten with electric cables and iron bars."

Read More and watch video on Link TV.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

9/11: Good War, Bad War, No War

Eight years have passed since the horrific events of September 11, 2001, and the U.S. government is still waiting to pay the $25 million reward it has offered to anyone who provides information leading to Osama bin Laden's capture.

Meanwhile, almost eight years have passed since the U.S. has launched Operation Enduring Freedom, less than a month after the attacks of 9/11, in order to destroy al-Qaeda and the Taliban government that harbored the group. It was supposed to be a swift and decisive victory until the U.S. botched an effort to nab bin Laden in late 2001 in Afghanistan's Tora Bora region. His trail has since gone cold, and everything has gone wrong.

More on the Huffington Post

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Caught on Tape

Five years ago when I was working on the documentary Occupied Minds, I got a real taste of what it’s like being a reporter working in a war zone. My crew and I had just finished shooting a segment in the devastated area of Rafah and were heading back to Gaza City, when suddenly, traffic came to a screeching halt.

Two Israeli tanks had blocked off the road while a huge armored Caterpillar bulldozer tore through an orange orchard removing trees and shrubs that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said were being used to provide cover to terrorists. The temperature was over 90 degrees and felt as if it were over 100 degrees in our rented van, which did not have working air conditioning. So, gasping for air, we decided to step outside.

Read More & Watch Video on Link TV