Unfondly Fahrenheit

by Henry on June 30, 2004

I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night, and like Kevin Drum, wasn’t greatly impressed. Not because it was one-sided or took cheap shots – in fact the cheap shots were pretty good (at least the funny ones were). The problem was that the movie’s underlying premises were completely incoherent and padded out with some pretty weak speculation. There were several conspiracy theories jostling for room – Bush as tool of American big business, Bush as catspaw of Saudi oil interests, Bush as lackey of the security establishment, Bush as cigarette industry flunkey, Bush as dimwitted doofus, and so on. While they weren’t incompatible, precisely, there wasn’t much of an effort to draw them together, or, in most cases to provide real evidence to back them up. The footage, all in all, was vastly more entertaining (and sometimes enlightening) than Michael Moore’s commentary on it.

There’s a real story to be told about how Bush took a country to war on mostly bogus premisses; while bits of that story did come out here and there in the movie, they didn’t properly connect, because the whole was so shoddily put together. As Kevin says, Fahrenheit 9/11 uses innuendo to connect Bush and the Saudis in just the same way that Bush himself used innuendo to connect Iraq and al Qaeda. It reminded me still more of Glenn Reynolds’ blogging – the same weird blend of weakly sourced conspiracy theories and gross political prejudices. I still reckon that the lead-up to the Iraq war deserves a good, savage, biting, funny documentary – but it should be made by someone who’s more honest and intelligent than Michael Moore.

{ 44 comments }

1

digamma 06.30.04 at 5:40 pm

I still reckon that the lead-up to the Iraq war deserves a good, savage, biting, funny documentary – but it should be made by someone who’s more honest and intelligent than Michael Moore.

The Daily Show.

2

Bob 06.30.04 at 5:54 pm

“There’s a real story to be told about how Bush took a country to war on mostly bogus premisses”

Not just Bush. In Britain, we were told by Blair and his government that Saddam had WMD which could be used “within 45 minutes”: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2002/09/24/dossier.pdf

In June year ago, even after Bush had declared the war officially over on 1st May last year, Blair was still insisting his claims about the WMD in Iraq were correct:

“Speaking at the G8 summit in Evian, Mr Blair said he stood ‘100%’ by the evidence shown to the public about Iraq’s alleged weapons programmes.” – from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2955036.stm

There has been no apology.

3

Edward 06.30.04 at 6:04 pm

As Kevin says, Fahrenheit 9/11 uses innuendo to connect Bush and the Saudis in just the same way that Bush himself used innuendo to connect Iraq and al Qaeda.

I don’t see that as a negative for this movie, but rather as fighting fire with fire. At the very least it helps muffle the criticism from the right that one can point to the White House and say, “Well, if it’s good enough for the goose….”

4

Zizka 06.30.04 at 6:39 pm

Basically what Edward said. Moore is trying to reach people describable as “gut thinkers’ (m) or “intuitive” (f). The Republicans have been brilliant at getting the support of people who don’t normally pay close attention.

Democratic attempts to reach that fairly large demographic have been pitiful. Moore can do it.

I really do hear Democrats and liberals say “If I have to win that way, I don’t want to win at all”. If you want to find my hot button, saying that is of the many good ways to do it.

Republicans accuse Democrats of “having contempt for the American people”. That’s because Democrats rail at “stupid” voters (or condescend to them), instead of learning to talk the dialect of “stupidity”. The Republicans do not respect these voters more, but they play them better.

5

chuck 06.30.04 at 7:10 pm

I’m with zizka: if the film rallies the Democratic faithful (it has), and if it influences enough swing voters (it may), then I think the film has been successful.

I don’t think that Moore is a great filmmaker, but I’d argue that some of tthe flaws in Moore’s film might actually be due to flaws, inconsistencies, and contradictions in Bush’s foreign and domestic policy. In a sense, it’s impossible to cover every possible criticismof Bush and effectively support it in a two-hour film.

6

alexander 06.30.04 at 7:24 pm

Comments in support of the movie: Yes, it’s a pack of lies, but it’s a pack of lies in support of goals I favor, therefore it’s a good thing.

High standards, guys. Please don’t bother preaching to me about your lofty moral standards.

7

Henry 06.30.04 at 7:26 pm

Edward, Zizka, I disagree. I’ve no problem with partisan one-sidedness and quantities of snark – indeed, those were the parts of the film that I liked (some of them were damn funny). But the facts about the lead-up to, and aftermath of, Iraq speak for themselves,pretty well. They don’t need to be supplemented with sub-Indymedia conspiracy theories. Do you really think that it would have been impossible to do a movie that would have captured the sheer _appallingness_ of what happened and conveyed it effectively, while sticking closer to the truth? I don’t – perhaps you disagree.

I also don’t buy the argument that since the other guys are doing it, we should be doing it too. Which is not to say that I think we should be engaged in liberal handwringing of the “well on the one hand” variety. But again, given how the facts are, we don’t need to engage in dumb slurs to get our message across in a tough and trenchant way. The facts are enough, and they hang together pretty nicely if you tell them right.

8

mc 06.30.04 at 7:37 pm

I haven’t watched it yet, and I don’t particularly like Moore’s style either, but a charge about Bush-Saudi relations being presented in the same sloppy way as Iraq and Al Qaeda’s… It may be so in the film, from what I heard and seen of Moore previously, I guess it’s true – but after all it’s just a film, not a whole book or journalistic report on the matter. There’s tons out there on those relations and sadly they’re much more real and involve much more disturbing stuff (because it’s real) than any possible Al Qaeda link to Iraq.

To me, it’s amazing that so many are so willing to turn a blind eye to that, it’s just something I can’t understand, how anyone could possibly take that with a “so what”. It’s about the whole way 9/11 was (not) dealt with. So even if it’s all put forth in terms of innuendos to conspiracy theories, well, better than just pretending the giant obvious questions aren’t there. It may encourage people to go and find out a bit more about the whole matter, or even just question something.

Then again, there’s people who met the torture cases with a so-what, but that category would be irredeemable to questioning anyway.

9

David 06.30.04 at 7:49 pm

Henry,

For a masterful alternative documentarian, I suggest Errol Morris.

http://www.errolmorris.com/

It seems to me that he could easily do for Bush and Iraq what he did with McNamara and Vietnam (in Fog of War).

10

sjpmay 06.30.04 at 7:55 pm

A common assumption seems to be that the qualities of good propaganda and cogent argumentation are inversely proportional, that to be an effective film F9/11 had to be fairly sloppy and below the belt. I don’t see why this is true though. My reaction, after also seeing it last night, was similar to Henry’s – like the curate’s egg, parts of it were excellent. The rest just did not gel into a coherent narrative beyond the idea that Bush is a pretty fucked up president. But if it had been more focused on the flimsiness of the case for war, and on providing evidence for the real reasons for the war, it could have been utterly devastating – as both propaganda and critique.

11

Elayne Riggs 06.30.04 at 8:00 pm

You know, you had a couple good points and I was with you right up until you characterized Moore as dishonest and stupid. If only you could have gotten through that last sentence without any personal agenda showing…

12

Pathological Optimist 06.30.04 at 8:06 pm

Henry’s main criticisim (also Drum’s) is quite common–to paraphrase, there were conspiracy theories but not much real evidence to back them up — but I just don’t get it. When you’ve got footage of Bush addressing the “Haves and the “Have Mores” and calling them his “base”, do you really need more evidence of Bush as a “tool of big business”?

As far as the connections to Saudi oil interests and the Military Industrial Complex (MIC), I have two points. First, I will assume that the “facts” of the connections are well established and uncontested., despite what Henry wrote: “… Fahrenheit 9/11 uses innuendo to connect Bush and the Saudis in just the same way that Bush himself used innuendo to connect Iraq and al Qaeda.” The analogy is completely absurd. The connections between the Bush family and the Saudis are not based upon innuendo, but solid fact. It’s as if you watched the Shiny Happy People sequence and responded “Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”

I believe Moore’s major point is not to imply something specific (e.g. the Saudis funded Bin Laden, and Bush went light on the Saudis because they butter his toast), but rather that the Bush/Saudi connections and the Bush/MIC (military industrial complex) connections raise numerous relevant questions that are rarely asked in the mainstream media and have never been answered.

Take these as examples:

1) Does the cozy relationship prevent Bush from saying “Prince Bandar, tear down those madrassas!”? (I write symbolically, of course).

2) Does the Bush/oil business connection prevent him from formulating an adequate energy policy based upon enhanced conservation and investment in alternative technologies, a policy that will reduce our dependence upon oil of any variety?

3) Is it a good idea for our civilian leaders to be so intimately connected with the MIC (Carlyle, Halliburton, etc.)? A related question asks whether it’s a good idea to outsource so many functions previously covered by the military, and how can this not provide a financial incentive for war?

The fact that these questions are not answered (and POLITICALLY cannot be answered, at least by the targets of the questions) doesn’t make asking them either irrelevant or sloppy and careless. In an era when we evaluate presidential candidates based upon whether they sighed or looked at their watch during a debate or shouted oddly during an election night rally, it seems odd to excoriate Michael Moore for asking these questions.

13

Rob 06.30.04 at 8:31 pm

Hmm…I wonder what are the sort of expectations people have of this film? I mean, the most convincing criticism out there right now is only that Moore rambles on without drawing bits of information together. Few people are attacking the facts he cites, primarily because he so often uses primary sources, rather he is attacked for what he seems to presume, or suggest we ought to.

Thus, my question, what should be expected of him? If he makes an argument, and I don’t think he makes an arugment, just a series of disturbing vignettes, how tight should it be? And if he hasn’t made an arugment in the strict sense of the word, can he be criticized for having not done so? Isn’t it enought to just put the information out there.

The film deserves far more of a free ride than its been getting though. After all, in for many of the issues raised in the film this is the first serious mainstream consideration they’ve beeb given, yet people are treating it as it should stand as the last word on the subject.

14

Rob 06.30.04 at 8:33 pm

Apologies to the pathological apologist above, who raised this issue above in a much more coherent way.

15

Rob 06.30.04 at 8:34 pm

Blast! Apologies to the pathological OPTIMIST, for calling him a pathological apologist. I’m pathologically sloppy.

16

Henry 06.30.04 at 8:48 pm

bq. It’s as if you watched the Shiny Happy People sequence and responded “Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”

That was one of the cheap shots that didn’t work for me. It’s a dumb photo trick. Pick any President over the last thirty years, and you are going to find lots of photographs of him shaking hands with dubious rulers. Goes with the job.

bq. I believe Moore’s major point is not to imply something specific (e.g. the Saudis funded Bin Laden, and Bush went light on the Saudis because they butter his toast), but rather that the Bush/Saudi connections and the Bush/MIC (military industrial complex) connections raise numerous relevant questions that are rarely asked in the mainstream media and have never been answered.

It would have been nice then if he had actually raised some of those questions. I didn’t hear him doing more than casting vaguely-worded innuendos.

At the end of the day, Moore is Glenn Reynolds in a Teamsters shirt. If you think that’s a good and wonderful thing, then there’s not much that I’m going to be able to say that can convince you otherwise.

17

Steve Carr 06.30.04 at 10:20 pm

The “facts” about the connections between Bush and the Saudis — most of them taken from Craig Unger are hardly facts at all. To take a couple of concrete assertions from the movie, the Saudis do not own anywhere near “6 to 7 percent” of the U.S. stock market or of the “U.S. economy,” and the Saudis did not invest $1.4 billion in the businesses of Bush and his associates. Go check out what that $1.4 billion includes –the vast majority of it consists of contracts, not investments, between the Saudi government and a company that was partially owned by the Carlyle Group, and that Carlyle sold before George H.W. Bush ever went to work for the firm.

In any case, if George W. is in the Saudis’ back pocket, how do we explain the fact that he is the most pro-Israel president in American history? Or how do we explain the toppling of the Taliban, which the Saudis opposed, or the invasion of Iraq, which the Saudis opposed?

Henry’s description of the film and of Moore is exactly right.

18

Pathological Optimist 06.30.04 at 10:22 pm

Henry,

I strenuously disagree. While I have no doubt that you can pick any current occupant of the White House shaking hands with dubious rulers, I would expect that photos of former Presidents doing business–let alone shaking hands–with dubious rulers are much harder to come by.

Which former Presidents do you expect to find serially hobnobbing with Arab Oil Sheiks? Clinton – nope. Reagan – nope. Carter – nope. Ford, nope. Nixon – nope. Johnson – nope…. Can you name even one example of a former President making millions and millions of dollars (not just shaking hands) in association with dubious kleptocratic leaders? I think it’s cheap to call this segment a cheap shot.

I also expect that ties between dubious rulers and the sons of Vice Presidents are rare (though here I’m probably on slightly less solid ground). Do you think Moore was wrong to raise the question about James Bath?

19

Steve Carr 06.30.04 at 10:39 pm

Pathological, what is your point? That Bush invaded Iraq — thereby weakening OPEC, and causing enormous amounts of internal trouble for countries like the Saudis — because he was hobnobbing with the Sheiks? Or is that he invaded Afghanistan, toppling an Islamic fundamentalist regime, because that made the Sheiks happy? Or maybe his imaginary support for that Caspian pipeline, which would have weakened OPEC’s control of the world oil market, was the result of his affection for the Saudis? Perhaps his unrelenting support for Ari Sharon is the result of his indebtedness to the Sheiks.

Which of all the foreign-policy strategies (many of them remarkably dubious) that Bush has pursued since 9/11 can you explain away as a result of his or his father’s hobnobbing with Sheiks?

20

a lesser mongbat 06.30.04 at 10:48 pm

If you think that Clinton wasn’t heavily in bed with the Saudis, think again.

A friendly attitude toward Saudi Arabia has been an important attribute in Washington for a good while now. Bush didn’t start it- he just makes it worse.

21

pathological optimist 06.30.04 at 11:02 pm

Two points:

Steve — if you want to know what my point was, go back and read the three examples in my original post.

Mongbat — if Clinton was in bed with the Saudi’s, I think I can confidently state that personal gratification and enrichment was not involved.

22

q 06.30.04 at 11:03 pm

The US has been “in bed” with the Saudi government for 30 years. If anything, GWBush has the weakest relationship now since all the US troops have left in the last 2 years. Bombing of Iraq from Saudi was done under Clinton. This particular piece of innuendo leads to a dead-end.

23

q 06.30.04 at 11:19 pm

I am not defending Bush, he is a greedy, nasty liar. I don’t need a fictional best-buddy relationship between Bush and the Saudis to believe that (although some people might).

24

Steve Carr 06.30.04 at 11:44 pm

Pathological, my questions have to do specifically with the Saudi connection, which you argue is indisputable and which Moore spends a good half hour of the film on. Two of your three examples have nothing to do with the Saudis. (Considering that Bush and his dad were both oilmen, and that his VP and Secretary of Commerce were oilmen, I don’t think we need to call on the Saudi connection to explain why Bush has not been a big advocate for alternative energy.) And while it’s true that Bush has not called on Bandar to tear down the madrassas, somehow I think that omission pales in comparison to the innumerable examples I cite above of Bush acting in direct contradiction to Saudi interests. Moore explicitly says that $1.4 billion buys a lot of love. Setting aside the fact that the $1.4 billion figure is a complete canard, where is the love that it bought? The best you can do is that it kept Bush from calling for the dismantling of religious schools (something, incidentally, no other U.S. president has ever called for)? That is remarkably weak given the web of innuendo and suggestion that Moore spends thirty minutes weaving.

25

Xavier 07.01.04 at 12:40 am

Zizka: Your assumption that Republican voters are dumber than Democratic voters is unfounded. Both are overwhelmingly stupid and uninformed about politics, but every study I’ve ever seen shows that Republicans are slightly better informed, less stupid, and better educated than Democrats. The problem with leftists isn’t that they fail to respect stupid voters. It’s that they assume that anyone who doesn’t support their policies is stupid.

26

fyreflye 07.01.04 at 12:56 am

Two insightful documentaries, Control Room about Al-Jazeera, and Corporation about just what it says, are playing to small art house audiences in the US this week while Moore’s muddled flailing about is being hailed by the left-wing version of Passion of the Christ boosters as the Revelation of the Ages. What my country needs is not the Win At Any Cost mentality of Bush and Moore but a return to civil discourse and rational thinking in the political arena. But in a country where many still can’t accept that the Earth is more than 4000 years old, or maintain attention for more than five minutes on anything that doesn’t “entertain” them, any hope for that seems doomed.

27

citizen k 07.01.04 at 1:00 am

“At the end of the day, Moore is Glenn Reynolds in a Teamsters shirt. If you think that’s a good and wonderful thing, then there’s not much that I’m going to be able to say that can convince you otherwise.”

Is that as pompous as you can be, or is there more gas to go in the bag?

28

corvis corvis 07.01.04 at 1:02 am

Given the indiscriminate mass arrests in both Afghanistan and Iraq of those who “might” have been terrorists, it has always struck me as odd that virtually no time was spent interrogating the Bin Laden family members and other Saudis who were allowed to leave the U. S. in September of 2001. The aggregate of facts that Moore offers lead only to the question that he asks in the film. Whose interests was Bush looking after? It is not an unfair question, given the administration’s subsequent actions, also detailed in the film: that few forces were committed to Afghanistan, that the search for Bin Laden himself was dropped, that no particular effort at all was spent looking at the obvious Saudi connection to al-Qaeda, not to mention that, as many more people than Craig Unger have pointed out, there have been no connections of Iraq with the events of 9/11. Again, this is not innuendo. It was reported in the mainstream press that Saudi Arabia refused to make various Saudi nationals available to the U.S. and there seems to have been no protest on the part of the administration; that there was a diffidence on the part of the Saudis in providing information to U.S. authorities in a number of areas related to tracking al-Qaeda. Although I would say, having seen the film, that it isn’t my cup of tea, I cannot fault Michael Moore for raising questions that have been particularly ignored for no other reason that I can see than that it’s bad form to question men of wealth. The only innuendo is that Bush may have had conflicting loyalties – you don’t question your friends – but is that any way to run a country?

29

q 07.01.04 at 1:22 am

The US-Saudi deal since the 70s includes
– the US agrees NOT to interfere with the internal running of Saudi Arabia
– Royal Family campaigns against using high oil prices as a political weapon against the USA to affect Israel policy.

US interference in Saudi Arabia would possibly lead to oil embargos or extra supply conditions.

An Anti-Saudi policy by the US would be feasible, including the military occupation of Saudi Arabia by US forces. Then the oil could be extracted at cost price (less than 15 dollars a barrel) and most of it shipped directly to the USA. This would require a large military campaign and presence over an extended period of time. It might be cheaper though to do this in Iraq, where the population is more divided, although the oil supplies are less.

Alternatively, the US can just bite the bullet and cut all links with Saudi Arabia, if it is prepared to risk living with oil at 100 dollars a barrel. But it is unproven that cutting links would lead to a reduction in attacks on the US mainland.

30

Lindsay Beyerstein 07.01.04 at 2:45 am

The whole movie would have made a lot more sense if Moore had explained what Saudi Arabia is like. Something along the lines of:

Saudi Arabia is a theocratic kingdom with deep internal divisions. The Bush family is inextricably allied with the quasi-secular faction headed by Prince Abdullah. Unfortunately, these great friends of ours are considered “the near enemy” by Islamic fundamentalists within the Saudi royal family and al Qaeda. The US has made itself into the “far enemy” in the minds of many Saudi princes and Osama Bin Laden by allying itself with the “near enemy.”

These are bare and uncontested facts. Everything else is gravy, as far as Moore’s thesis goes. He goes on to prove that Bush is in financial conflict of interest, via his established ties to the Saudi oil industry. What Moore doesn’t prove is a causal connection between Bush’s Saudi ties and 9/11. These known conflicts of interest are relevant to our understanding of American foreign policy in general, and the events of 9/11 in particular.

31

nick 07.01.04 at 3:28 am

I think Atrios pretty much got it right about the construction of the film: it seems to have started out as a Bush-Saudis-Patriot Act film, and was overtaken by events in Iraq.

I found the first section a bit of a loose, baggy monster — though it (valuably) reprised things that have been forgotten, especially the complaints of African-American congresscritters in 2000, and the capitulation of the Senate. I liked the concise discussion of the BE-AFRAID-BUT-BUY-STUFF thing; I liked the Oregon state trooper.

And the section dealing with the war — especially the recruiters in Flint, but also the Walter Reed segment — was pretty much unimpeachable, because Moore was pretty much out of the way. Not much there that struck me as Instahack territory.

The Saudis? Correlation doesn’t make causation. I do think that there are lots of screwy things about the relationship between the Bush coterie and the Saudi hierarchy, but I don’t think there’s enough ‘there’ there for cinematic purposes.

32

bob mcmanus 07.01.04 at 3:44 am

If I remember correctly, PBS Frontline has done more than a couple good documentaries on the Iraq War and Bush administration.

Tho “biting, savage, funny” isn’t really their style.

33

Lance Boyle 07.01.04 at 4:33 am

“…jostling for room – Bush as tool of American big business, Bush as catspaw of Saudi oil interests, Bush as lackey of the security establishment, Bush as cigarette industry flunkey, Bush as dimwitted doofus…”

That’s a vividly accurate depiction of what’s on the minds of most awake Americans right now.
Something’s happening, something stinks, but what?
All of the above works, but all of the above plus X works even better.
The most important question is whether Kerry’s aligned with X. That question’s more important than whether Bush’s ties to corrupt sheikhs clouded the real cause of 9/11.
If we don’t know who did it we’re going to have a hard time stopping them from doing it again.
The idea that Kerry will block a Republican Congress only matters if he isn’t in the pocket of whoever or whatever put American soldiers permanently in Iraq. Bush spent America’s future on that.
There’s a massive resistance to knowing exactly who told Bush what to do. Nothing points up the extent of that denial and resistance more than people who insist he did it all by his pointy-headed self.

Things will start to seem inevitable now, but we didn’t have to go this way, it wasn’t necessary, not for America as a promised ideal, or as a country of 300 million anxious souls. A small selfish minority of people has taken us through the guard-rail.
I don’t think Moore pins it, I think he’s electing Kerry at the expense of the truth, and I think he knows more about the truth than his movie gives out.

34

SqueakyRat 07.01.04 at 5:24 am

So, how does “completely incoherent” sit with “not incompatible, exactly”? Are they not incompatible, exactly, or are they completely incoherent?

35

mc 07.01.04 at 8:09 am

I’m with pathological optimist here. And it should be added, you won’t find many photos of Presidents doing business with the family of the guy accused of masterminding the biggest terrorist attack ever, whose father and brother happened to perish in odd circumstances in plane accidents in Texas and New Mexico within a few years of each other, and whose family and associates whose identity is not known were swiftly flown out of the US the day after that biggest attack, courtesy of the US government.

Maybe, because there’s so many wacky conspiracy theorists in the US tradition, there’s a general reluctance to even acknowledge things that do sound like innuendos to wacko conspiracy theories, except they’re real, and rather relevant. Aliens and Elvis sightings get more attention than politically important facts. Isn’t it bizarre?

Also, I don’t get why the option has to be either accepting US-Saudi relations as they are and have been for decades, OR single-handedly destroying world economy. Either you say nothing and don’t ask questions, OR you are a catastrophist. I’m starting to understand why Bush & mates get away with murder.

I can’t say about the film or Moore, but perhaps the really sad thing is that it takes a film like that to bring some big questions to the fore. The fact they’re not asked anywhere else in such a prominent fashion.

steve carr – “In any case, if George W. is in the Saudis’ back pocket, how do we explain the fact that he is the most pro-Israel president in American history? Or how do we explain the toppling of the Taliban, which the Saudis opposed, or the invasion of Iraq, which the Saudis opposed?”

Doesn’t that sound a bit simplistic to you? you’re making it sound as if you’re discussing a film plot that you find incoherent. Since the 30’s, the US has been supporting both the Sauds and Israel. It’s always been a dodgy but profitable balance. India similarly has deals both with Israel and Iran, if that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s just because your way of thinking is too reductive. Geopolitical strategies and financial-military interests don’t work in straightforward fashion. We the people can’t understand the half of it, but you can’t apply those either/or expectations that clearly don’t fit in the real world.

Forget Bush, forget Moore, read something about the kind of relations the US was handling during the 70’s and 80’s in this respect. It’s kind of funny to see people nitpick on how many billions exactly the Sauds have invested where, as if it was just a matter of fiscal accountability. It’s not just the Sauds either. Read a bit about the history of the BCCI, for instance. I think this administration’s biggest success is convincing people that the policies of the cold war and the Kissinger-style realpolitik have been completely swept away in favour of “exporting democracy”. Bush has not single-handedly created anything, he’s just the culmination of years and years of the same old story.

Is it too tacky and populist and conspiracy-minded to ask, where did that investigation into the 9/11 insider trading end, and why? shouldn’t that be an obvious question, and a rather important one too? They’re filling prisons with people picked from Afghan fields and Iraqi streets and when they have a lead to the bank accounts of people who speculated on the attack and made millions out of it, they don’t follow it, and it all gets forgotten? How is that not a big deal?

I don’t care how bad Moore sucks, at least he’s bringing these questions out. Maybe the worst effect is that he’s discrediting them by association, but that again says a lot more about a certain mentality than about him. If some people find it easier to dismiss troubling but real stuff just because it’s brought up in a flamboyant way, then it kind of proves his point about propaganda, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, your current government happily manages for the fourth year in a row to be spared a fraction of the questioning a big fat obnoxious film director is getting for being so big and so obnoxious. Hurrah for democracy.

36

Motoko Kusanagi 07.01.04 at 8:36 am

“Two insightful documentaries, Control Room about Al-Jazeera, and Corporation about just what it says, are playing to small art house audiences in the US this week while Moore’s muddled flailing about is being hailed by the left-wing version of Passion of the Christ boosters as the Revelation of the Ages.”

Aa a matter of fact, Michael Moore is quite prominently present in The Corporation. Which, by the way, didn’t seem to me to be the insightful film you say it is. Contrarily, it could function as more evidence that film isn’t really the medium for thoughtful reasoning.

Interviewee: “A corporation is like a shark!” Inspired director, in the editing room: “Give me stock footage of a very mean-looking white shark!”

37

SqueakyRat 07.01.04 at 5:36 pm

Fuck thoughtful reasoning — just crush the right.

38

bradh 07.01.04 at 6:01 pm

Moore’s movie is not for us, the intellectual elite. As such, it isn’t trying to prove any specific factual assertion a-la forensics club.

Moore’s movie is for the blue-collar, lower and lower-middle class folks in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, etc. It’s the same message as Roger & Me.

It’s all about the (really quite well focused from this view) parade of imagery exploding the popular myth of Bush as an ordinary Texas kind of guy and showing him instead as a heriditary member of an elite whose lives are nothing like the rest of ours.

He wants to show that this group of which Bush is a part doesn’t play by the same rules as the rest of us, and they don’t want us to find out. That their public personas are a sham. That’s the point of all the pre-live camera preening, make-up, etc. It’s not just cheap shots. It’s about showing that what a carefully put on face they choose to show us, while off-camera they’re puffing cigars with Saudi princes.

He doesn’t even have to prove that Bush lied about the war to get his message across. The lies aren’t important. Most of his real target thinks invading Iraq was a good idea even if Bush did lie. Moore merely has to demonstrate, and has demonstrated, that whatever other motives may exist, the Bush elite never stops looking out for itself and its cronies, and will happily take opportunities to do so on the backs of the working class and poor who make up the military. He showed convincingly that if they’re not utterly indifferent to the suffering and death they’ve caused to the invisible poor people, they’re at least willing to get over it for the right price.

That’s a powerful message for its’ target audience; the very same audience the Bush campaign is also trying very hard to target with messages about what a “liberal Taxachusetts elitist” John Kerry is compared to Bush’s “family values”.

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Sean Carroll 07.01.04 at 8:55 pm

I used to know how to send a trackback/followup here, but either the process has changed or I’ve forgotten. Anyway, my two cents are here.

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Robbo 07.02.04 at 6:15 am

Moore is a crock. He *might* help the Democrats this year; but he’s also a potential landmine, IMO. He resorts to Nazi-esque propaganda techniques to lull the unthinking into his point of view–using half-truths, self-referentially incongruent theories, and outright misrepresentations of the statements of his opponents. If his movie ever gets associated with Kerry’s campaign in the public’s mind, and the depths of his deceptive techniques and lack of professionalism are fully exposed, he could sink Kerry. The current political trend to let spin be god not withstanding, if Michael Moore is helping the Democrats, it’s a sad day for democracy.

On a related note, this link is to the best analysis I’ve seen of F9/11 so far (By Christopher Hitchens):
http://slate.msn.com/id/2102723/

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Robbo 07.02.04 at 6:16 am

Moore is a crock. He *might* help the Democrats this year; but he’s also a potential landmine, IMO. He resorts to Nazi-esque propaganda techniques to lull the unthinking into his point of view–using half-truths, self-referentially incongruent theories, and outright misrepresentations of the statements of his opponents. If his movie ever gets associated with Kerry’s campaign in the public’s mind, and the depths of his deceptive techniques and lack of professionalism are fully exposed, he could sink Kerry. The current political trend to let spin be god not withstanding, if Michael Moore is helping the Kerry win, it’s a sad day for our country’s political process.

On a related note, this link is to the best analysis I’ve seen of F9/11 so far (By Christopher Hitchens):
http://slate.msn.com/id/2102723/

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mc 07.02.04 at 7:40 am

bradh: “Moore’s movie is for the blue-collar, lower and lower-middle class folks in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, etc. “

… and in Cannes ;)

I guess you’re right about the main target, but you’ve got to take that award into account, as well as the worldwide popularity. Clearly his stuff can reach across diverse audiences.

squeakyrat: “Fuck thoughtful reasoning — just crush the right.”

Exactly. Fight fire with fire.

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mc 07.02.04 at 7:54 am

In the end, the most obvious, but true, response is what he (they) said: Why hold a self-proclaimed polemicist to a higher standard than you hold the president of the United States?

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John Isbell 07.02.04 at 8:25 pm

There’s a second movie precisely on the runup to war via 9/11, called “Hijacking Catastrophe”, which can IIRC be ordered online for $20. It’s pretty good, in my opinion. Talking heads documentary with TV/document footage, largely.

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