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Monday, June 28, 2004 
this is gonna be a big'un, because in my rebuttal to the hitchens piece, i've opted to reprint the original in its entirety, interspersed with my comments. this doesn't mean i won't be derisive when i think hitchens is being a jackass, but it should at least show that i'm including those passages i cannot rebut.

Unfairenheit 9/11
The lies of Michael Moore.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, June 21, 2004, at 12:26 PM PT

Moore: Trying to have it three ways
One of the many problems with the American left, and indeed of the American left, has been its image and self-image as something rather too solemn, mirthless, herbivorous, dull, monochrome, righteous, and boring. How many times, in my old days at The Nation magazine, did I hear wistful and semienvious ruminations? Where was the radical Firing Line show? Who will be our Rush Limbaugh? I used privately to hope that the emphasis, if the comrades ever got around to it, would be on the first of those and not the second. But the meetings themselves were so mind-numbing and lugubrious that I thought the danger of success on either front was infinitely slight.

Nonetheless, it seems that an answer to this long-felt need is finally beginning to emerge. I exempt Al Franken's unintentionally funny Air America network, to which I gave a couple of interviews in its early days. There, one could hear the reassuring noise of collapsing scenery and tripped-over wires and be reminded once again that correct politics and smooth media presentation are not even distant cousins. With Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, however, an entirely new note has been struck. Here we glimpse a possible fusion between the turgid routines of and the filmic standards, if not exactly the filmic skills, of Sergei Eisenstein or Leni Riefenstahl.

talk about starting off with a bang... first he compares moore to limbaugh (which i don't think is entirely fair, though an actual discussion of why moore is not as bad as the limbaughs, coulters, & savages of the world would itself probably be a long piece; let's just say it's a question of degrees), but then compares moore to stalin's filmmaker eisenstein and top nazi director riefenstahl? there's an adage that roughly says that when you compare your opponent to nazis, you have lost the argument. so i could stop right now (especially since hitchens is just aping o'reilly & the like, who have been comparing moore to riefenstahl for weeks [yet flip out if anyone on their side is compared to a nazi]... not exactly an "original" argument, but i'll get to that).

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.

blah blah blah. from what i can tell, this is hitchens' way of saying that "the war on iraq was the right thing to do, & anyone who disagrees with me is morally bankrupt." this is not new for hitchens:

phil shannon at writes:
Hitchens joined the pro-war refrain that the millions who marched in February 2003 against an attack on Iraq were “marching for Saddam”. He caricatured all anti-war opposition as “anti-Americanism”, the marchers as “the silly led by the sinister”. Abuse was his sole resort — Tariq Ali was a “moral idiot” and Robert Fisk a “reactionary simpleton”, Susan Sontag poured forth “infantile self-righteous drivel” and Nelson Mandela “spouted garbage”, whilst the Dixie Chicks were “fucking fat slags”.

okay, so delusions of grandeur and moral superiority... infantile comparisons to nazis... and childish name-calling dressed up in the "grown up" language of erudition. and not a single concrete complaint about the movie in the first three paragraphs. so far, not so good.

In late 2002, almost a year after the al-Qaida assault on American society, I had an onstage debate with Michael Moore at the Telluride Film Festival. In the course of this exchange, he stated his view that Osama Bin Laden should be considered innocent until proven guilty. This was, he said, the American way. The intervention in Afghanistan, he maintained, had been at least to that extent unjustified. Something—I cannot guess what, since we knew as much then as we do now—has since apparently persuaded Moore that Osama Bin Laden is as guilty as hell. Indeed, Osama is suddenly so guilty and so all-powerful that any other discussion of any other topic is a dangerous "distraction" from the fight against him. I believe that I understand the convenience of this late conversion.

so moore is not allowed to change his mind, two years later? this has nothing to do with the film; it's just an excuse to dredge up old laundry for personal attacks on moore. if i wanted to get personal & accuse hitchens of hypocrisy for changing his mind, i could easily do so (but others already have; see the greenleft article posted above for one example).

Recruiters in Michigan
Fahrenheit 9/11 makes the following points about Bin Laden and about Afghanistan, and makes them in this order:

1) The Bin Laden family (if not exactly Osama himself) had a close if convoluted business relationship with the Bush family, through the Carlyle Group.

don't forget 1.5) while osama is portrayed as the "black sheep" of the family, his ties to the rest of the family are not as estranged as some might like you to think.

2) Saudi capital in general is a very large element of foreign investment in the United States.

3) The Unocal company in Texas had been willing to discuss a gas pipeline across Afghanistan with the Taliban, as had other vested interests.

this is all basically right, although "willing to discuss" is such an extreme euphemism i had to interrupt. unocal wanted that pipeline pretty badly, & they still do. that is well established fact.

4) The Bush administration sent far too few ground troops to Afghanistan and thus allowed far too many Taliban and al-Qaida members to escape.

5) The Afghan government, in supporting the coalition in Iraq, was purely risible in that its non-army was purely American.

in case your head is collapsing trying to make sense of #5, he means that afghanistan was part of the "coalition of the killing" that invaded iraq. moore points out that this is a complete joke, because at that time afghanistan was little more than a puppet for the US & had no real military of its own.

6) The American lives lost in Afghanistan have been wasted. (This I divine from the fact that this supposedly "antiwar" film is dedicated ruefully to all those killed there, as well as in Iraq.)

michael moore never states or even implies that those lives were "wasted".

It must be evident to anyone, despite the rapid-fire way in which Moore's direction eases the audience hastily past the contradictions, that these discrepant scatter shots do not cohere at any point. Either the Saudis run U.S. policy (through family ties or overwhelming economic interest), or they do not. As allies and patrons of the Taliban regime, they either opposed Bush's removal of it, or they did not. (They opposed the removal, all right: They wouldn't even let Tony Blair land his own plane on their soil at the time of the operation.)

finally, a decent point! yes, moore paints some fairly broad strokes in f9/11. he doesn't pretend to have all the answers; it's more about asking the right questions (hitchens doesn't have the answer to many of moore's questions either, but that doesn't seem to bother him so much). everything doesn't tie together perfectly into one tight "conspiracy" (if it did, i suspect moore would be criticized as a conspiracy nut for it). moore does use a "buckshot" approach, hitting lots of different points instead of focusing & possibly hitting a deadlier shot.

and yes, obviously saudi arabia does not "run U.S. policy" or else we probably wouldn't have invaded arghanistan or iraq. but moore never says they run policy; only that their close ties to the bush clan and heavy investments get them undue influence or "special treatment", which he demonstrates pretty well.

Either we sent too many troops, or were wrong to send any at all—the latter was Moore's view as late as 2002—or we sent too few. If we were going to make sure no Taliban or al-Qaida forces survived or escaped, we would have had to be more ruthless than I suspect that Mr. Moore is really recommending.

i for one don't see a conflict between saying "we shouldn't be there at all, but since we did go in, we should have sent more in order to do the job properly" (indeed, that is exactly what i would say about the iraq invasion). as for moore ever saying we "sent too many", i'm not sure he ever did (there's no documentation; just hearsay from a debate two years ago), except maybe "any is too many", which is still not necessarily inconsistent with that line of reasoning. BUT

And these are simply observations on what is "in" the film.

no it's not, hitch! just two sentences ago you brought up something from two years ago!!! that has absolute zero to do with what's in the film. all hitch is saying here is that michael moore seemingly changed his mind about bin laden in the past two years. fine, maybe he did (i don't know; it's really hearsay, but let's just accept that moore did say something like that), but even if so it is not an inconsistency "in" the film.

If we turn to the facts that are deliberately left out, we discover that there is an emerging Afghan army, that the country is now a joint NATO responsibility and thus under the protection of the broadest military alliance in history, that it has a new constitution and is preparing against hellish odds to hold a general election, and that at least a million and a half of its former refugees have opted to return. I don't think a pipeline is being constructed yet, not that Afghanistan couldn't do with a pipeline. But a highway from Kabul to Kandahar—an insurance against warlordism and a condition of nation-building—is nearing completion with infinite labor and risk. We also discover that the parties of the Afghan secular left—like the parties of the Iraqi secular left—are strongly in favor of the regime change. But this is not the sort of irony in which Moore chooses to deal.

yes, michael was selective in what he included in the movie. he has been very clear that f9/11 promotes his point of view; he's never claimed it was objective. it should be no surprise that moore doesn't include the hawks' talking points in the film, because they do detract from the sharpness of his point. so things aren't going quite as terribly in afghanistan as moore would suggest. likewise, hitchens does not acknowledge any of the good points moore makes in the movie, or the things that have gone terribly wrong in afghanistan since the US invaded. never mind that moore never says in the movie that we should not have invaded afghanistan; only that we handled the invasion poorly.

this is really the crux of the debate; i have seen few good arguments anywhere about f9/11 that didn't revolve around this: he uses selective editing. he's "manipulative" or "sensational" and "takes cheap shots" where documentaries are supposed to be "objective". i'm quite sick of hearing people say f9/11 is "not a documentary"... those who say it never give a better suggestion for the kind of film he makes (other than "propaganda", which would never fly on oscar night). i'm more apt to go with roger ebert's definition of a documentary than christopher hitchens', thank you very much.

this is essentially a style debate about the "old guard" school of documentaries, where they believe in a "journalistic" objectivity (though the trend toward so-called objectivity in journalism is dying), versus moore's new-school razamataz, in-your-face, beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-message style. it's true that moore can be sensational and manipulative, but at least he is up front about it. he doesn't try to pass himself off as an objective journalist like, say, bill o'reilly. i'm inclined to think that's where we get into trouble: when a demagogue like rush limbaugh can get on the news & pass for a real journalist, that's dishonest. but this is all shades of gray & maybe i'm wrong.

He prefers leaden sarcasm to irony and, indeed, may not appreciate the distinction. In a long and paranoid (and tedious) section at the opening of the film, he makes heavy innuendoes about the flights that took members of the Bin Laden family out of the country after Sept. 11. I banged on about this myself at the time and wrote a Nation column drawing attention to the groveling Larry King interview with the insufferable Prince Bandar, which Moore excerpts. However, recent developments have not been kind to our Mike. In the interval between Moore's triumph at Cannes and the release of the film in the United States, the 9/11 commission has found nothing to complain of in the timing or arrangement of the flights. And Richard Clarke, Bush's former chief of counterterrorism, has come forward to say that he, and he alone, took the responsibility for authorizing those Saudi departures. This might not matter so much to the ethos of Fahrenheit 9/11, except that—as you might expect—Clarke is presented throughout as the brow-furrowed ethical hero of the entire post-9/11 moment. And it does not seem very likely that, in his open admission about the Bin Laden family evacuation, Clarke is taking a fall, or a spear in the chest, for the Bush administration. So, that's another bust for this windy and bloated cinematic "key to all mythologies."

moore himself explains this somewhat in his 9/11 facts page. the point he's trying to make is that the saudis got special treatment because of their ties to bush & friends; not that they needed to be investigated more thoroughly, but that they would've been investigated more if they'd been anyone else. it is inconvenient that clarke doesn't make as big a deal of it as moore does, but it doesn't answer moore's question of what was the rush in getting these individuals out of the country?

furthermore, the link hitch gives as some irrefutable argument against moore is itself a little ambiguous... it starts off with clarke taking full responsibility for clearing the flights, but later on it gets iffy:

the hillnews article hitch linked to says:
This new account of the events seemed to contradict Clarke’s sworn testimony before the Sept. 11 commission at the end of March about who approved the flights.

“The request came to me, and I refused to approve it,” Clarke testified. “I suggested that it be routed to the FBI and that the FBI look at the names of the individuals who were going to be on the passenger manifest and that they approve it or not. I spoke with the — at the time — No. 2 person in the FBI, Dale Watson, and asked him to deal with this issue. The FBI then approved … the flight.”

“That’s a little different than saying, ‘I claim sole responsibility for it now,’” Roemer said yesterday.

However, the FBI has denied approving the flight.

FBI spokeswoman Donna Spiser said, “We haven’t had anything to do with arranging and clearing the flights.”

“We did know who was on the flights and interviewed anyone we thought we needed to,” she said. “We didn’t interview 100 percent of the [passengers on the] flight. We didn’t think anyone on the flight was of investigative interest.”

hmm... so did clarke approve it or did he co-approve it with the fbi? it gets juicier:

the hillnews article hitch linked to says:
Instead of putting the issue to rest, Clarke’s testimony fueled speculation among Democrats that someone higher up in the administration, perhaps White House Chief of Staff Andy Card, approved the flights.

“It couldn’t have come from Clarke. It should have come from someone further up the chain,” said a Democratic Senate aide who watched Clarke’s testimony.
Clarke’s testimony did not settle the issue for Roemer, either.

“It doesn’t seem that Richard Clarke had enough information to clear it,” Roemer said Monday.

“I just don’t think that the questions are resolved, and we need to dig deeper,” Roemer added. “Clarke sure didn’t seem to say that he was the final decisionmaker. I believe we need to continue to look for some more answers.”

Roemer said there are important policy issues to address, such as the need to develop a flight-departure control system.

Several Democrats on and off the Hill say that bin Laden’s family should have been detained as material witnesses to the attacks. They note that after the attacks, the Bush administration lowered the threshold for detaining potential witnesses. The Department of Justice is estimated to have detained more than 50 material witnesses since Sept. 11.

it's true that the 9/11 commission released a statement saying the flights were "handled properly". but clearly not everyone on the commission is convinced.

A film that bases itself on a big lie and a big misrepresentation can only sustain itself by a dizzying succession of smaller falsehoods, beefed up by wilder and (if possible) yet more-contradictory claims. President Bush is accused of taking too many lazy vacations. (What is that about, by the way? Isn't he supposed to be an unceasing planner for future aggressive wars?) But the shot of him "relaxing at Camp David" shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say "shows," even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won't recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off.

i don't see why it couldn't be a goof-off... cheney & scalia get together to go hunting, & they claim they don't discuss work when they do it. but even acknowledging that some of those vacations were "working vacation", the criticism that bush is on vacation more than anyone else in the country stands.

The president is also captured in a well-worn TV news clip, on a golf course, making a boilerplate response to a question on terrorism and then asking the reporters to watch his drive. Well, that's what you get if you catch the president on a golf course. If Eisenhower had done this, as he often did, it would have been presented as calm statesmanship. If Clinton had done it, as he often did, it would have shown his charm. More interesting is the moment where Bush is shown frozen on his chair at the infant school in Florida, looking stunned and useless for seven whole minutes after the news of the second plane on 9/11. Many are those who say that he should have leaped from his stool, adopted a Russell Crowe stance, and gone to work. I could even wish that myself. But if he had done any such thing then (as he did with his "Let's roll" and "dead or alive" remarks a month later), half the Michael Moore community would now be calling him a man who went to war on a hectic, crazed impulse. The other half would be saying what they already say—that he knew the attack was coming, was using it to cement himself in power, and couldn't wait to get on with his coup. This is the line taken by Gore Vidal and by a scandalous recent book that also revives the charge of FDR's collusion over Pearl Harbor. At least Moore's film should put the shameful purveyors of that last theory back in their paranoid box.

the golf clip is a cheap shot perhaps (though whether there's anything wrong with cheap shots is debatable), but is hitchens even giving bush a pass for sitting there in that classroom for 7 minutes like a deer in headlights? not even hitch's fellow slate writer will let him get away with that:

david edelstein in slate wrote:
But what can even Bush partisans make of those seven minutes in the elementary school classroom after he received the news that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center and the nation was under attack? In one of the few lapses in an otherwise virtuoso rant, Christopher Hitchens argues that Moore would have made sport of a martial, Russell Crowe-like response. Nice try, but that blow wouldn't have landed, and this one does, spectacularly. It is downright spooky to watch the nominal commander in chief and "leader of the free world" behave, in a moment of crisis, like a superfluous man.

okay, back to hitchens:

But it won't because it encourages their half-baked fantasies in so many other ways. We are introduced to Iraq, "a sovereign nation." (In fact, Iraq's "sovereignty" was heavily qualified by international sanctions, however questionable, which reflected its noncompliance with important U.N. resolutions.) In this peaceable kingdom, according to Moore's flabbergasting choice of film shots, children are flying little kites, shoppers are smiling in the sunshine, and the gentle rhythms of life are undisturbed. Then—wham! From the night sky come the terror weapons of American imperialism. Watching the clips Moore uses, and recalling them well, I can recognize various Saddam palaces and military and police centers getting the treatment. But these sites are not identified as such. In fact, I don't think Al Jazeera would, on a bad day, have transmitted anything so utterly propagandistic. You would also be led to think that the term "civilian casualty" had not even been in the Iraqi vocabulary until March 2003. I remember asking Moore at Telluride if he was or was not a pacifist. He would not give a straight answer then, and he doesn't now, either. I'll just say that the "insurgent" side is presented in this film as justifiably outraged, whereas the 30-year record of Baathist war crimes and repression and aggression is not mentioned once. (Actually, that's not quite right. It is briefly mentioned but only, and smarmily, because of the bad period when Washington preferred Saddam to the likewise unmentioned Ayatollah Khomeini.)

i've seen others make a similar complaint: that because moore doesn't show any of saddam's violence, he's trying to imply that saddam was not a monster. that's flat-out ridiculous; we have had the fact that saddam is "evil" pounded into our brains repeatedly since operation desert storm. moore doesn't need to depict saddam's brutal reign because we all know all about it already. i took that scene as showing that, as sucky as it might have been, life did go on "normally" in iraq until we invaded & transformed it into a total war zone.

That this—his pro-American moment—was the worst Moore could possibly say of Saddam's depravity is further suggested by some astonishing falsifications. Moore asserts that Iraq under Saddam had never attacked or killed or even threatened (his words) any American. I never quite know whether Moore is as ignorant as he looks, or even if that would be humanly possible. Baghdad was for years the official, undisguised home address of Abu Nidal, then the most-wanted gangster in the world, who had been sentenced to death even by the PLO and had blown up airports in Vienna* and Rome. Baghdad was the safe house for the man whose "operation" murdered Leon Klinghoffer. Saddam boasted publicly of his financial sponsorship of suicide bombers in Israel. (Quite a few Americans of all denominations walk the streets of Jerusalem.)

threats against israel are not de facto threats against the USA simply because the US & israel are allies. sorry hitch, but i'm not buying that one.

In 1991, a large number of Western hostages were taken by the hideous Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and held in terrible conditions for a long time. After that same invasion was repelled—Saddam having killed quite a few Americans and Egyptians and Syrians and Brits in the meantime and having threatened to kill many more—the Iraqi secret police were caught trying to murder former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait. Never mind whether his son should take that personally. (Though why should he not?) Should you and I not resent any foreign dictatorship that attempts to kill one of our retired chief executives? (President Clinton certainly took it that way: He ordered the destruction by cruise missiles of the Baathist "security" headquarters.) Iraqi forces fired, every day, for 10 years, on the aircraft that patrolled the no-fly zones and staved off further genocide in the north and south of the country. In 1993, a certain Mr. Yasin helped mix the chemicals for the bomb at the World Trade Center and then skipped to Iraq, where he remained a guest of the state until the overthrow of Saddam. In 2001, Saddam's regime was the only one in the region that openly celebrated the attacks on New York and Washington and described them as just the beginning of a larger revenge. Its official media regularly spewed out a stream of anti-Semitic incitement. I think one might describe that as "threatening," even if one was narrow enough to think that anti-Semitism only menaces Jews. And it was after, and not before, the 9/11 attacks that Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi moved from Afghanistan to Baghdad and began to plan his now very open and lethal design for a holy and ethnic civil war. On Dec. 1, 2003, the New York Times reported—and the David Kay report had established—that Saddam had been secretly negotiating with the "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il in a series of secret meetings in Syria, as late as the spring of 2003, to buy a North Korean missile system, and missile-production system, right off the shelf. (This attempt was not uncovered until after the fall of Baghdad, the coalition's presence having meanwhile put an end to the negotiations.)

i will admit that i don't know enough to comment about all the things hitch mentions, nor do i have time to research them (i still have a long way to go on this entry!), but brandon at has a good head start at refuting some of this stuff.

Thus, in spite of the film's loaded bias against the work of the mind, you can grasp even while watching it that Michael Moore has just said, in so many words, the one thing that no reflective or informed person can possibly believe: that Saddam Hussein was no problem. No problem at all. Now look again at the facts I have cited above. If these things had been allowed to happen under any other administration, you can be sure that Moore and others would now glibly be accusing the president of ignoring, or of having ignored, some fairly unmistakable "warnings."

moore never says that saddam was "no problem at all". what he says is that the war on iraq was based on false justifications (virtually irrefutable), that bushco wanted to invade iraq from day one despite no real connection to al qaeda (also irrefutable), & that the war in iraq distracted from the "real" war on terror.

The same "let's have it both ways" opportunism infects his treatment of another very serious subject, namely domestic counterterrorist policy. From being accused of overlooking too many warnings—not exactly an original point—

ooh, now he's accusing moore of not being "original" (after hitchens apes almost every single conservative "anti-moore talking point")? give me a break. i've seen others argue that f9/11 has "no new information", but that is only true if you're a news junky, the type who checks the international news (not just US news) on a daily or frequent basis... hell, i haven't even read craig unger's book, for example. for the majority out there who are not political addicts, there is tons of new info in the film.

the administration is now lavishly taunted for issuing too many. (Would there not have been "fear" if the harbingers of 9/11 had been taken seriously?) We are shown some American civilians who have had absurd encounters with idiotic "security" staff. (Have you ever met anyone who can't tell such a story?) Then we are immediately shown underfunded police departments that don't have the means or the manpower to do any stop-and-search: a power suddenly demanded by Moore on their behalf that we know by definition would at least lead to some ridiculous interrogations. Finally, Moore complains that there isn't enough intrusion and confiscation at airports and says that it is appalling that every air traveler is not forcibly relieved of all matches and lighters. (Cue mood music for sinister influence of Big Tobacco.) So—he wants even more pocket-rummaging by airport officials? Uh, no, not exactly. But by this stage, who's counting? Moore is having it three ways and asserting everything and nothing. Again—simply not serious.

fair enough: privacy vs security is a very complicated debate that moore does not treat in-depth or claim to have the answer to. i can see how his criticisms here might contradict each other. but there is still a big difference between "tight security", which moore wants, and "fear-mongering", which is what he accuses the bush administration of (and i would agree that, at least, bush used fear tactics to overhype the threat caused by saddam).

Circling back to where we began, why did Moore's evil Saudis not join "the Coalition of the Willing"? Why instead did they force the United States to switch its regional military headquarters to Qatar? If the Bush family and the al-Saud dynasty live in each other's pockets, as is alleged in a sort of vulgar sub-Brechtian scene with Arab headdresses replacing top hats, then how come the most reactionary regime in the region has been powerless to stop Bush from demolishing its clone in Kabul and its buffer regime in Baghdad? The Saudis hate, as they did in 1991, the idea that Iraq's recuperated oil industry might challenge their near-monopoly. They fear the liberation of the Shiite Muslims they so despise. To make these elementary points is to collapse the whole pathetic edifice of the film's "theory." Perhaps Moore prefers the pro-Saudi Kissinger/Scowcroft plan for the Middle East, where stability trumps every other consideration and where one dare not upset the local house of cards, or killing-field of Kurds? This would be a strange position for a purported radical. Then again, perhaps he does not take this conservative line because his real pitch is not to any audience member with a serious interest in foreign policy. It is to the provincial isolationist.

sure, this is all grey area & moore avoids these questions because they muddy the issue. besides, like i said above, it's not that the saudis "run U.S. policy", but that they have undue influence. i could just as easily answer this passage with my own question: "why didn't we invade saudi arabia, like many suggested?" moore has stated that if 15 of the 19 attackers on 9/11 had been from libya, the headlines would've read "libya attacks US". these are indeed difficult questions and moore sometimes glosses over them, but his view isn't as simplistic as hitchens suggests, either.

I have already said that Moore's film has the staunch courage to mock Bush for his verbal infelicity. Yet it's much, much braver than that. From Fahrenheit 9/11 you can glean even more astounding and hidden disclosures, such as the capitalist nature of American society, the existence of Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex," and the use of "spin" in the presentation of our politicians. It's high time someone had the nerve to point this out. There's more. Poor people often volunteer to join the army, and some of them are duskier than others. Betcha didn't know that.

see above, re: being "original". this may be old news, but these are still issues that 99.99% of the media does not address.

Back in Flint, Mich., Moore feels on safe ground. There are no martyred rabbits this time. Instead, it's the poor and black who shoulder the packs and rifles and march away. I won't dwell on the fact that black Americans have fought for almost a century and a half, from insisting on their right to join the U.S. Army and fight in the Civil War to the right to have a desegregated Army that set the pace for post-1945 civil rights. I'll merely ask this: In the film, Moore says loudly and repeatedly that not enough troops were sent to garrison Afghanistan and Iraq. (This is now a favorite cleverness of those who were, in the first place, against sending any soldiers at all.) Well, where does he think those needful heroes and heroines would have come from? Does he favor a draft—the most statist and oppressive solution? Does he think that only hapless and gullible proles sign up for the Marines? Does he think—as he seems to suggest—that parents can "send" their children, as he stupidly asks elected members of Congress to do? Would he have abandoned Gettysburg because the Union allowed civilians to pay proxies to serve in their place? Would he have supported the antidraft (and very antiblack) riots against Lincoln in New York? After a point, one realizes that it's a waste of time asking him questions of this sort. It would be too much like taking him seriously. He'll just try anything once and see if it floats or flies or gets a cheer.

i already said that i don't see any real inconsistency in saying we shouldn't have gone there at all, but since we did we should've sent more troops. by this point, hitchens seems so blinded by his own smugness that he doesn't grasp the obvious counter-argument. hitchens asks "where should the troops have come from?" as if it were inevitable that the troops would be sent in. the simple answer is that we shouldn't have even sent them in without enough troops to get the job done right. how is that so hard to grasp? moore says in the movie that "the only thing our soldiers ask is that we never send them into harm's way unless absolutely necessary". the iraq war was obviously not "necessary". the afghan war was debatable, & even if that one was necessary, our military was not overstretched yet, plus we had true international support.

Trying to talk congressmen into sending their sons to war
Indeed, Moore's affected and ostentatious concern for black America is one of the most suspect ingredients of his pitch package. In a recent interview, he yelled that if the hijacked civilians of 9/11 had been black, they would have fought back, unlike the stupid and presumably cowardly white men and women (and children). Never mind for now how many black passengers were on those planes—we happen to know what Moore does not care to mention: that Todd Beamer and a few of his co-passengers, shouting "Let's roll," rammed the hijackers with a trolley, fought them tooth and nail, and helped bring down a United Airlines plane, in Pennsylvania, that was speeding toward either the White House or the Capitol. There are no words for real, impromptu bravery like that, which helped save our republic from worse than actually befell. The Pennsylvania drama also reminds one of the self-evident fact that this war is not fought only "overseas" or in uniform, but is being brought to our cities. Yet Moore is a silly and shady man who does not recognize courage of any sort even when he sees it because he cannot summon it in himself. To him, easy applause, in front of credulous audiences, is everything.

by this point, hitchens has exhaused all of the alleged inconsistencies in the movie & is once again stretching for anything moore has ever said in order to take more cheap shots. this has absolutely nothing to do with the film. i guess it's okay for hitchens to be overbroad & take cheap shots at his target, but it's not okay for moore.

Moore has announced that he won't even appear on TV shows where he might face hostile questioning.

where the fuck did moore say this? i have read dozens and dozens and dozens of articles about f9/11 & i have never seen this claim anywhere but from hitch. if anyone can actually back it up, please let me know. in fact, moore has a funny anecdote on his site about why he's not going on o'reilly, & it sure ain't because the questions are too hard:

michael's message says:
I'd go on O'Reilly but, like a coward, he walked out on a screening we invited him to (with Al Franken just a few rows away!). I personally caught him sneaking out. Embarrassed, he tried to change the subject. He said, "When are you coming on my show?" and I said, "Turn around and watch the rest of the movie and I will come on your show." He walked out. Fair and balanced.

so really, i don't know where hitchens' assertion came from but i think it's totally false.

I notice from the New York Times of June 20 that he has pompously established a rapid response team, and a fact-checking staff, and some tough lawyers, to bulwark himself against attack. He'll sue, Moore says, if anyone insults him or his pet. Some right-wing hack groups, I gather, are planning to bring pressure on their local movie theaters to drop the film. How dumb or thuggish do you have to be in order to counter one form of stupidity and cowardice with another? By all means go and see this terrible film, and take your friends, and if the fools in the audience strike up one cry, in favor of surrender or defeat, feel free to join in the conversation.

However, I think we can agree that the film is so flat-out phony that "fact-checking" is beside the point. And as for the scary lawyers—get a life, or maybe see me in court. But I offer this, to Moore and to his rapid response rabble. Any time, Michael my boy. Let's redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let's see what you're made of.

no, i can't agree with that. & essentially, hitchens just violently disagrees with moore's opinion. even with the bravado of the big challenge to moore, hitchens really only points out a couple true factual erros in the film. he argues with the presentation, sure, as many do, but he cannot argue with the vast majority of the facts in the film, so he makes up some hooey about it being "beside the point".

Some people soothingly say that one should relax about all this. It's only a movie. No biggie. It's no worse than the tomfoolery of Oliver Stone. It's kick-ass entertainment. It might even help get out "the youth vote." Yeah, well, I have myself written and presented about a dozen low-budget made-for-TV documentaries, on subjects as various as Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton and the Cyprus crisis, and I also helped produce a slightly more polished one on Henry Kissinger that was shown in movie theaters. So I know, thanks, before you tell me, that a documentary must have a "POV" or point of view and that it must also impose a narrative line. But if you leave out absolutely everything that might give your "narrative" a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don't even care that one bit of that rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft.

brandon at points out that this last sentence applies equally well to hitchen' own piece. 'nuff said.

If you flatter and fawn upon your potential audience, I might add, you are patronizing them and insulting them. By the same token, if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (…), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised. At no point does Michael Moore make the smallest effort to be objective. At no moment does he pass up the chance of a cheap sneer or a jeer. He pitilessly focuses his camera, for minutes after he should have turned it off, on a distraught and bereaved mother whose grief we have already shared. (But then, this is the guy who thought it so clever and amusing to catch Charlton Heston, in Bowling for Columbine, at the onset of his senile dementia.) Such courage.

that's right; moore doesn't try to be objective. he takes a lot of cheap shots. he doesn't claim to be objective, either. he's honest about having a point of view.

as far as moore being sensational, or patronizing, or whatever, i like what mtv had to say: "...speaking from the halls of MTV (or just about any other major media outlet these days), to brand Moore as sensationalistic smacks a bit of the pot calling the kettle black." (pot: "you're not objective! you take cheap shots whenever possible!" kettle: "oh, hi chris, what's up?")

Perhaps vaguely aware that his movie so completely lacks gravitas, Moore concludes with a sonorous reading of some words from George Orwell. The words are taken from 1984 and consist of a third-person analysis of a hypothetical, endless, and contrived war between three superpowers. The clear intention, as clumsily excerpted like this (...) is to suggest that there is no moral distinction between the United States, the Taliban, and the Baath Party and that the war against jihad is about nothing. If Moore had studied a bit more, or at all, he could have read Orwell really saying, and in his own voice, the following:

The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States …

And that's just from Orwell's Notes on Nationalism in May 1945. A short word of advice: In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence. It's also incautious to remind people of Orwell if you are engaged in a sophomoric celluloid rewriting of recent history.

oh sweet jesus... now hitchens is implying that moore is anti-american? talk about unoriginal arguments. socialists aren't supposed to get all their talking points from fox news.

If Michael Moore had had his way, Slobodan Milosevic would still be the big man in a starved and tyrannical Serbia. Bosnia and Kosovo would have been cleansed and annexed. If Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under Taliban rule, and Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq. And Iraq itself would still be the personal property of a psychopathic crime family, bargaining covertly with the slave state of North Korea for WMD. You might hope that a retrospective awareness of this kind would induce a little modesty. To the contrary, it is employed to pump air into one of the great sagging blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture. Rock the vote, indeed.

Correction, June 22, 2004: This piece originally referred to terrorist attacks by Abu Nidal's group on the Munich and Rome airports. The 1985 attacks occurred at the Rome and Vienna airports. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

blah blah blah. this paragraph might as well have come from the new york post or liberals hate america, blah blah blah. i've spent hours on this rebuttal; i'm not going to waste my time arguing with this kind of claptrap.

we went to see fahrenheit 9/11 on friday night. i hadn't been to a movie on opening night in years, if ever, & i had surely never been in a jam-packed cinema where the crowd was this responsive: laughing, crying, applauding.. it was pretty invigorating. clearly i wasn't alone, since a quick browse of the headlines shows dozens of stories just like mine from all across the country... liberals and open minds everywhere flocked to the theatres to see f9/11, applauded it uproariously, & shattered box office records for a documentary, making it #1 movie of the weekend as well as the biggest non-concert non-imax documentary ever in the history of ever (yes, just like i said it would be, though not even i expected the reaction to be this big).

it is a powerful, emotional film. i had read lots of articles & reviews, both before & after seeing it, so i knew about most of the best scenes beforehand, but they were still quite effective. this movie does not pull any punches, and does a fairly thorough job of showing the dark side of the bush administration & the iraq war that the US media has never shown: the rest of the world has seen miles of gruesome war footage but our tv news has been sanitized of such content... it was rare that we'd even hear about such footage, & when we did (like with the nick berg beheading), we had to search it out ourselves online.

like i say, i'd read quite a few reviews of the movie, some of them negative, & now that i've seen it, it seems that much of the negative criticism is as one-sided and sloppy as they accuse moore of being. either they resent him for daring to be subjective (at least he admits he is, unlike, say, bill o'reilly who pretends to be objective when he's not), or they fault f9/11 for not being damning enough... they fault him for being michael moore instead of errol morris, & hold the film up to impossibly high standards that not even an errol morris or a ken burns could reach. & i won't even acknowledge the complaints of those who have not bothered to see the film.

but most of all, they fault moore because they disagree with him. the most glaring example of this is the much-duplicated review by socialist-cum-superhawk christopher hitchens who cannot find enough inconsistencies in the movie itself so he stretches back to find offhand comments moore made years ago. hitchens review has a wonderful title, though: unfahrenheit 9/11, which is especially appropriate considering hitchens is every bit as unfair toward moore as moore is toward bush. i'm strongly tempted to write a full-on rebuttal to the hitchens review (even though at least one blogger has done so already), but if i do i think i'll have to wait until tonight... right now i have some editing to do.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004 
so i'm starting my car at the end of the day, leaving work on my way to get comics & milk, & i catch the tail end of a bizarre story on all things considered about the revd sun myung moon being coronated as the messiah on capital hill. moon is the head of the cultlike "unification church", the very wealthy publisher of the arch-conservative washington times, a hugely influential gazillionaire (he advised reagan), & a total crackpot. as a child i'd heard rumors about the unification church; there was a house full of "moonies" at the end of our block with a big honkin' "unification church" sign out front (i think they either finally moved out or changed their signage).

but don't take my word for it: the npr story interviewed john gorenfeld, who runs a blog called where in washington dc is sun myung moon?. here's what he has to say about moon in his faq:

...I was searching for someone's name, and came across some of the most amazing documents you've ever seen, at Moon's sermons. Wild boasts of controlling key Congressional leaders in the Republican Party, James Bond gee-whiz stuff about taking over the world using a secret fleet of submarines, religious talk blaming the Holocaust on the Jews. I was hooked. I couldn't believe no one was writing about this, especially after I discovered that $475,000 in Abstinence-Only funds were supporting Moon's missionaries.

and that's just background. gorenfeld himself broke the moon coronation story in the gadflyer. & boy, does it make for some juicy reading. this didn't take place in the howard johnson or even the ritz carlton. it took place in a senate office building where nobody is even allowed inside with a congressional invite. the hill if you find your suspension of disbelief obliterated by the outlandishness of it all, there's video too. it might be the tiniest quicktime video ever, but if the idea of a cult-produced propaganda video featuring members of congress appeals to you, you will definitely want to check it out.

on the total opposite end of the crackpot spectrum, those who've heard my performance at experiMENTAL or a sneak preview of the new animals within animals mp3ep (due out any day now) might have heard the paranoid ramblings of albert t wilson III (i used to call him the "sunglass man" because in the video he wore his sunglasses on the top of his head). chicklet stumbled across this guy on tucson public access & taped it for me... as soon as i saw him i was in awe. this man is desperately trying to save the world by getting out his urgent message about how the vatican conspiracy and nazi jews are taking over the world, replacing people with clones, & whatnot. recently i thought to search him out online (he is so desperate to let people know about the conspiracy that i figured he must have a website) & i found him! on top of that, i found that i can watch tucson public access online. the show is called "wake up call" & by my calculations will be on in about 40 minutes, so i'm going to try to watch it... & record it (or at least the audio). what a great day for found sound: moon's culty coronation video, wake up call, & earlier tonight i downloaded (legally, thanks to the wonderful the conet project, a 4cd set of "numbers stations" recorded off of shortwave. it's great listening, but the label actually had the audacity to sue the band wilco for sampling their recording... as though taping something off the radio gave you ownership of it. if anything, i think the obvious reaction to that should be for everyone and i mean everyone to sample the holy living fuck out of the conet project. hey, irdial already made lots of money on it even before they sued wilco for no justifiable reason, & some of these recordings are pretty cool, so i know i definitely intend to do some sampling.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004 
last night i dreamt my teeth all started slowly breaking off. i spent most of the dream spitting out tooth shards. it was pretty vivid too; i wasn't certain it was a dream until i woke up with a mouth full of choppers.

usually i don't remember my dreams. i guess that's what dental pain during sleep can do to you.

Monday, June 21, 2004 
i had a dentist appointment today. it was supposed to be for a filling, but it worked out a little differently than that.

this was actually the third time i'd scheduled this particular appt. the first time, i arrived at the dentist's office only to be informed that big thunderstorms the previous night had knocked out their computer network, so that while they theoretically could have done the dental work, they couldn't have done any of the ancillary administrative work related to that (scheduling, billing, etc). so i went on to work, & after their network was back i got a call to set up a new appt, which i did. then a few days later i got another call from the receptionist, telling me that when she'd made the previous appt she hadn't realized i would need 90 minutes for a bunch of filling work. so then we set up another appt, the one i just returned from.

my dentists are young; a couple years ago they took over the practice of an old retiring dentist who had been our family dentist since childhood. the old dr had a great receptionist, but she left when he retired. so in a way the quality of service has gone down, but then again the new drs have brought in lots of new tech. there are now tv sets in the rooms for patients to watch (today i watched catch 22 on a&e [when i could see the screen, that is]). & they have fancy new dentist toys, including a camera they can use to project close-ups of the inside of your mouth onto the tv in your room. that's pretty swank, i must say.

there are a couple "trouble spots" in my mouth that the dentist has been watching closely for awhile. the one that still hadn't been taken care of was an old metal filling from my childhood days back when i never brushed & would get cavities regularly. the area around this old chestnut had started to decay again, so back when we originally tried to schedule this appt, the dr told me he wanted to "get in there & look around; hopefully it'll just be a filling & we won't need a crown."

so i arrived today & we began the numbing process while i watched catch 22 (i actually spotted it for orson welles, who i hadn't remembered was even in that movie). once they were ready to start working they took this big rubber sheet sort of like a balloon & put it against my mouth to protect the teeth they weren't working on. this was a new twist for me. then they threaded dental floss through it in order to somehow fit it into place (i couldn't really see what they were doing from my vantage point, & they don't have the camera running the whole time... they only use that for emphasis).

turns out i'm difficult to numb, because even when i am fairly numb & have all the right symptoms, i can still feel a smidge of pain when the drill digs into me. he ended up pumping me with juice several more times over the course of the procedure, & even then it wasn't 100% effective. maybe next time i should ask if they can give me gas too.

anyway, not long after he started working he asked cryptically whether i had done anything to that tooth recently to damage it. not a good sign. this is when he busted out the camera, to show me several cracks in the tooth. enough cracks that if he tried to repair it all with a filling, there would be hardly any tooth left. if you've been paying attention by this point, you will deduce that he told me i need a crown.

but because (he told me) that he doesn't believe in the old bait & switch, he didn't just go ahead & put in a temporary crown. no, this appt was scheduled to be for a filling so he did filling work. so he dug out some of the metal, added some enamel in a few places, & gave me a "sed filling" (whatever that is; i could've sworn he said "sedentary filling" but google gives me nothing there... & i can't remember the name of the material used either).

anyway i get to go back july 19 to get a temporary crown installed. then 3 weeks after that i get to return for my new custom-fitted crown. yippee.

when i got home i said to my sister that i had inherited my father's teeth. dad's had a few problems with teeth breaking and losing fillings and needing crowns. i wonder how much more of this i have to look forward to... maybe i'll be lucky & i won't need any more crowns for many many years.

okay, by now my numbness has gone down enough to possibly eat some dinner (i'm starving), but of course now my jaw hurts. lovely. aspirin & enchiladas for din-din tonight.

Sunday, June 20, 2004 
i've been working on a new press kit, which i'll need to try to play a couple bigger events happening this summer. there's a biography as well as a small gallery of good-sized pictures (for print they need really big ones; these are all 1280x960 [hopefully that will be big enough]). so if you don't hate me for selling out by writing up such a thing, check it out & let me know if you see any grievous errors or omissions (i can only list so many artists i've played with).

here is the online version and this is the version i will print out to actually mail in (do a print preview in mozilla to see what it will look like printed).

Friday, June 18, 2004 
i traded away my gmail invite, actually not to anyone at gmail swap (there are lots of people now & decent offers get snapped up almost instantaneously) but to someone on imn. she's supposed to send me "a shiteload of a/v mags" because i suggested i would like magazines to cut up for collaging. so that should be cool.

Thursday, June 17, 2004 
i am pretty tired. & i think i might be the slightest bit hung over (it's hard to tell if the shadow of a headache i have this morning is from sheer exhaustion or from the 4-5 ciders and 3 buttery nipples. probably both).

doors opened at 10 & we listened to the dekoy cd. it's synthpop. i don't like synthpop. so i didn't really like the dekoy cd. but copper top seems pretty into it, so it's probably good for that style. plus it's totally self-released & self-distributed. nuff said.

next up, at 11:15 or so, was fission 451. his set was described as "psy-trance". i don't like trance. so i didn't really like fission 451. but out of all the performances, he was the only one who had people dancing, so he has that going for him. nuff said.

telephone from minneapolis went on around 12:30. they're electropop or electroclash or technopop or something like that. i'm not much of a follower of those styles either, but i definitely enjoyed their set. & not just because lolly pop (the vocalist) is hecka hot. total eye candy, but on top of that she's charming, outgoing, & has plenty of charisma (very helpful if you're "frontin'" a musical act). on stage with her was dj dynamo, busting out the turntable skills (at one point drbmd said "that's the quietest scratching i've ever heard" but i thought he said "whitest", so that was amusing).

i finally took the stage at something like 1:45 (45 minutes past my usual bedtime, which is itself probably much too late). because this was essentially a new crowd (& because the other acts were all far more accessible than i), i opted to focus primarily on playing some studio tracks, with freeform improv noise in between tracks (as opposed to, say, my set at rr8 where the whole performance was freeform improv noise). i had borrowed a portable cd player from my niece's friend (both of whom are visiting us from sacramento) so that i could have 2 working cd players instead of just one... & i wanted to record the set to minidisc but i couldn't find another 1/8" to rca cable with which to hook up the md recorder (i don't know why; i was pretty certain i'd packed two such cables). there were a couple minor technical issues (like misplacing one of my cds, or somehow accidentally switching my numark cd deck to "free wheel" mode & not knowing how to switch back), but i don't think anyone else would have noticed. attendance wasn't that great overall (maybe 30-40 at most?), & by that hour half the crowd had left anyway, but some of the few who were still there seemed to enjoy it... particularly lolly pop.

it was late, i was pretty buzzed, & i didn't really keep track, but here is a setlist compiled from memory: it's probably at least a little out of order & i might have forgotten a track, but whatever:

blue screen of death
live-in butler
ludacris remix
critical stop
we will iraq you
skin to win
discount dysentery
security disruptor
open as raw

Wednesday, June 16, 2004 
because i'm an "active blogger user", i have a free invitation to gmail (i guess passive users don't get invites). i didn't think much of it until i realized this morning that gmail is still relatively exclusive (not open to the public; you need an invitation to get an account) & in high demand... apparently these invites go for $40 and up on ebay.

so i've been browsing a site called gmail swap, where you can barter away your gmail invitations to people who want them. those who are looking for invitations will post a solicitation listing what they will give you, do for you, etc. if you hook them up. unfortunately that requires leafing through a lot of crap... i haven't seen very many interesting offers, & the good ones are snapped up extremely quickly (within mere minutes sometimes). but i still reload the page faily often to keep up with new offers. hopefully i'll be able to catch one where someone sends me a cd of some unusual foreign music or a strange magazine to cut up, or something along those lines... but we'll see.

the worst is the people who say they have nothing to offer... come on people, if you spent 30 seconds looking at the site, you would see that very few people are offering anything of any real cash value (& the ones who are probably are scammers). they're offering curiosities, exotica, kind gestures, and so on... & if you can't think of something then you clearly don't deserve a gmail invite. i mean, these people are getting invitiations for offering up silly jpegs that they've downloaded from the net, or simple snapshots of their pets or their hometown. if you don't even have that much to offer, i have to wonder whether you even exist.

(note: if anyone wants to directly offer me something for my gmail invitation, i'm very open to suggestion.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004 
oh yeah, one other thing...

several years ago i went to clowes hall to hear ray bradbury & the late douglas adams speak. adams was disappointing; he mostly just read excerpts from the hitchhiker's trilogy... it was nice to hear the passages read by the author, but come on. bradbury was a much better speaker, telling fun anecdotes about the day back when he was writing fahrenheit 451. he was a charming old coot.

well apparently bradbury thinks michael moore is a "horrible human being" for naming his new film fahrenheit 9/11:

In an English translation of an interview Ray Bradbury did with the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, published last week, the Web site World Net Daily reported the author of the classic fiction novel "Fahrenheit 451" called Moore a "screwed a------" because he "stole" the title.

"He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission," the 83-year-old Bradbury reportedly said in the interview.

well, some people would call that an homage or tribute... some would say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. but bradbury's just pissed off.

he's also totally delusional about how the media works these days:

In the interview with the Swedish paper, Bradbury reportedly predicted a dim forecast for "9/11" at the box office. "Who cares? Nobody will see his movie," Bradbury told the paper. "It is almost dead already. Never mind, nobody cares."

if by "nobody will see his movie" he means it will be the biggest documentary ever in the history of ever then he's right. because fahrenheit 9/11 is virtually guaranteed to be more successful than bowling for columbine.

but okay, we can forgive the old man for a little bit of naivete about how things work nowadays. after all, he really just made a stand about principle, right? how dare moore appropriate his title from bradbury? i mean, ray bradbury thunk up all those titles in his own head, never appropriating from anyone, right? (well, except for something wicked this way comes which he took from shakespeare... & i sing the body electric, taken from walt whitman.)

oh well, he might be a total hypocrite, but he's a charming old hypocrite, so at least he has that going for him. but by my logic, if moore is a horrible human being for his appropriation, then so is bradbury (& so is just about every artist everywhere).

fahrenheit 9/11 is still in the news, ensuring it will be not only the most controversial film of the year, but the biggest documentary ever.

in current headlines, moore is fighting the mpaa's R rating in hopes of getting it bumped down to pg-13. anyone who knows anything about the mpaa ratings system knows it is very vague & subjective, but not having seen the movie yet i can't comment on whether it really deserves an R... maybe, but moore has a point when he says

It is sadly very possible that many 15 and 16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years.

If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq.

by the same argument, i think anyone old enough to serve in the military is old enough to drink. but anyway...

moore also recently announced that he had footage of american GIs abusing iraqis for months before the abu ghraib scandal came out, & that he had wondered whether he did the right thing by holding onto that footage instead of releasing it publicly.

"I had it months before the story broke on '60 Minutes,' and I really struggled with what to do with it," Moore said in a telephone interview with The Chronicle. "I wanted to come out with it sooner, but I thought I'd be accused of just putting this out for publicity for my movie. That prevented me from making maybe the right decision."

The footage, eerily similar to film of the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison, shows GIs laughing as they snap photos of each other putting hoods over Iraqi detainees.

In the same scene from "Fahrenheit 9/11," which opens Friday at Bay Area theaters, an American soldier fondles a prisoner's genitals through a blanket.

did he make the right call? i'm not sure. but at least he's man enough to publicly own up to his ethical conflicts... something that bush has never done, to be sure.

you also might have heard about a california group that is leading a boycott of the film, begging CEOs & executives at cineplex companies not to show it. not surprisingly, the group & its whole campaign is just a republican PR tactic:

The site,, claims to be "non-partisan," but a glance at the "About" page of the site reveals the director and staff of Move America Forward are all diehard Republicans, anti-tax activists, and former legislative staffers. The PR firm is Russo Marsh & Rogers.

Russo Marsh & Rogers is a GOP consultation firm. In 2002, Ron Rogers teamed up with Reagan heavyweight Lyn Nofziger and Ed Rollins to work on the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Simon.

Thanks to the detective work of, it was revealed that Move America Forward's web site was registered in the name of Russo Marsh & Rogers. In other words, Move America Forward is about as partisan as it gets without putting the GOP seal of approval on the web site. In short, Move America Forward's campaign is a Republican dirty trick designed to smear Moore and pressure move theater owners not to run his film.

speaking of anti-moore pr campaigns, there's also an anti-moore documentary coming out called michael moore hates america. i have no actual evidence yet, but the film just smacks of a PR damage control campaign: it has all the telltale signs of republican spin, so i have a very hard time believing that it's not at least funded (if not totally orchestrated) by gop front groups... i could be wrong, but it's incredibly suspicious.

yahoo has expanded their email offerings in order to compete with gmail (google's new gigabyte email service). yahoo is expanding inbox space to 100mb, improving mail search, expanding max message size, etc, & all with fewer privacy concerns than those surrounding gmail (fewer, not none).

this is good news for me because i've been using yahoo mail since 1996 when i first signed up for geocities. of course, geocities hasn't been much use to me for years, but i've had that yahoo email for so long i don't really want to get rid of it. this yahoo expansion will also give me enough inbox space that people can send me mp3s & large images without me having to immediately delete the message after downloading the attachment. i'd been saddled with a tiny 6mb inbox for quite some time (& those who hadn't been signed up for as long only had 4mb!).

Monday, June 14, 2004 
just stumbled across this: someone called wxm has done an edit of awia's a prayer for cold turkey... it's not exactly a remix since they just edit pastor tim out & loop the first 50 seconds or so of the track. i don't know what the "eight minutes plus" comment is about since the original is only 3:56, but there you have it. if you like amens & hate text cutups, maybe that's the version for you.

Sunday, June 13, 2004 
i finally figured out how to get rid of that damn indentation at the beginning of each post! turns out there was actually a space there in the template, that is being used for the permalinking function on the blog. i moved the space & voilâ!

i never would've figured it out either, if i hadn't been playing around with alternate designs... i am really in the css zone these days. (if you look at that design, let me know if it doesn't give you a headache...

Saturday, June 12, 2004 
rr8 bent picture gallery
after i posted my picture gallery from rr8, EM asked me to photoshop them, to create something out of them. rather than make them into a collage i decided to "databend" some of the photos instead. i opened the jpgs in photoshop, saved them to an uncompressed format (most were PSD, a couple were TIF, & you can definitely tell the difference), opened the files in soundforge, edited them, & crossed my fingers that the edits wouldn't break the files (i have some experience tinkering with this, but i still have to "eyeball" edit & PSD files can be very fragile if you edit the header or layer information accidentally).

some files bent more easily (or more "beautifully") than others. i would keep editing until i found something i liked (often requiring many attempts, as a file would break or the image would become so corrupted i couldn't do anything more to it), or until it became apparent that image wasn't going to do anything interesting. a few times when the latter happened, i tried it with TIF, but i don't think bent TIFs are really as interesting... a couple of them really surprised me (i wish i knew ptbrr-6 & rr10 bent the way they did, i really wish i did).

anyway, here is the bent picture gallery.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004 
burn, baby, burn
connie mentioned this to me on the phone last night; i hadn't heard about it yet. since she's in california, maybe the news spread more quickly out there...

cbs has some very damning tapes of enron traders revelling in the california energy crisis, swearing "like barnacle bill the sailor", & gloating about how they are profiting from reaming their customers in the ass. i mean, this is bad stuff:

When a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders celebrated, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.

"Burn, baby, burn. That's a beautiful thing," a trader sang about the massive fire.

Four years after California's disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard – on audiotapes obtained by CBS News – gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis.

hoo boy, that's a good lead. & just in case you forgot that bush had permanently camped out inside enron's pockets, there's stuff on the tapes about him too:

Before the 2000 election, Enron employees pondered the possibilities of a Bush win.

"It'd be great. I'd love to see Ken Lay Secretary of Energy," says one Enron worker.

That didn't happen, but they were sure President Bush would fight any limits on sky-high energy prices.

"When this election comes Bush will f------g whack this s--t, man. He won't play this price-cap b------t."

Crude, but true.

"We will not take any action that makes California's problems worse and that's why I oppose price caps," said Mr. Bush on May 29, 2001.

be sure to read part 2 of the story as well, and check out both the videos to get some soundbites. i would love to get my hands on an unbleeped, unedited copy of the tapes rather than making do with the soundbites in the cbs report, but this is pretty damning stuff: it basically proves that enron "fucks california" (& those aren't even my words!)

"He just f---s California," says one Enron employee. "He steals money from California to the tune of about a million."

"Will you rephrase that?" asks a second employee.

"OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day," replies the first.

The tapes, from Enron's West Coast trading desk, also confirm what CBS reported years ago: that in secret deals with power producers, traders deliberately drove up prices by ordering power plants shut down.

"If you took down the steamer, how long would it take to get it back up?" an Enron worker is heard saying.

"Oh, it's not something you want to just be turning on and off every hour. Let's put it that way," another says.

"Well, why don't you just go ahead and shut her down."

Monday, June 07, 2004 
hmm... i'm not sure i'll ever get around to doing a proper writeup for rr8. but at least i posted some pics from that weekend.

Sunday, June 06, 2004 
after i went on my block quoting frenzy i kept on tweaking out my css for another hour or so... once i'm in the zone i just want to keep on working & perfecting. so at around 1:30 i decided to hell with it... & i built a stylesheet for pirates of the internet. it's the lamest & simplest of the styles on the site (since i didn't need to do much with it), but it's there, i think it looks okay, & i am going to bed now.

the hot news in south america is that venezuela is preparing to have a good old governator-style recall election!

the poor in venezuela love predident hugo chavez because he is progressive and actually gives a shit about the poor. the rich in venezuela hate him for the same reason. so they've taken a page from california gop's book & used it to collect some referendum signatures. on thursday, venezuela's national electoral council ruled that enough signatures had been collected for things to set in motion for a recall election.

the bush administration hates chavez too, but ironically, the gas price crisis caused by the iraq war might mean that a chavez recall could be bad for bush, according to this afp article:

"If there is another disruption to Venezuelan oil exports, the US administration would this time use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve [SPR]," said Julian Lee, an analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London.

"They would have to do that in order to make sure that there wasn't a physical shortage of oil in the United States," he said referring to the SPR, an emergency US oil stockpile.

Venezuela exports 1.34 million barrels of oil a day to the US, some 13 percent of total US crude imports, according to a March estimate by Petroleum Supply Monthly.


Lee said past political instability in Venezuela has had a dramatic effect on oil prices, citing the oil workers' strike in 2002 and early last year that he said added US$6 to the price of a barrel.

"This would have serious consequences" if repeated, he stressed. Confirmation of the recall vote and subsequent events could be "very unsettling," said Fadel Gheit, a New York-based oil analyst with the Oppenheimer Fund.

If the recall vote results are contested by either side, "you are going to see demonstrations and probably another strike which could bring oil exports down and that could push prices higher," Gheit explained.

not that long ago it was hard to imagine that bush's downfall would come before it was too late... but everything has been catching up with him in the past couple months. they desperately try to spin vague economic factors like "less new people filing for unemployment" as evidence that the economy is improving but nobody is convinced, iraq looks worse every day, & enough scandals have hit that the press can no longer turn a blind eye. now even bush's enemies threaten to take him down with them...

anyway, as the miami herald mentions, getting rid of chavez will not be easy.

The referendum will likely be a simple ballot on whether to end Chávez's presidency. Vote "Yes" to remove him, "No" to keep him. The opposition needs at least 3.7 million votes against Chávez to win the referendum, the amount he received when he was elected in 2000.

But nothing is so simple in Venezuela, a nation bitterly divided by Chávez's leftist populist rule. If Chávez were removed in a referendum before Aug. 19, a new election would be called to replace him within 30 days. It's still unclear if Chávez will be able to run as a candidate.

"It is not explicit in the constitution whether he can run again," said Pedro Nikken, a Venezuelan constitutional scholar who once sat on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. "That will have to be resolved by the Supreme Court, which is likely to say he can run again."

If Chávez does so and faces a splintered opposition, he could be swept right back into office. There are five opposition leaders who are considered front-runners to be candidates, a plethora of other names mentioned and little agreement. Some in the opposition say they may hold a straw poll or a primary to pick their leader.

Saturday, June 05, 2004 
quotes quotes & quotes! stories where i probably wouldn't even bother with quotes if i didn't have fancy new quote blocks!

cia director george tenet has resigned. the telegraph sez

According to an occasionally tearful Mr Tenet the day after his resignation, the decision to leave the CIA on July 11 - seven years after he was appointed its director - was taken in order to spend more time with his family and, in particular, his son, John, who will start senior school next autumn. But one former CIA analyst, who has worked with Mr Tenet, suggested that the motives for his decision, which comes only five months before Mr Bush stands for re-election, are considerably more complicated and embittered.

"I think George, who is really a civil servant, not a politician, got too close to [the Bush administration's] policy-making agenda, above all on Iraq," said the analyst. "He got burned and now he's had enough."

of course, nobody believes tenet left simply to spend more time with his family. most people have actually been asking "why did it take so long?"

yay! i love my new quote blocks! so here's more news just so i can play around with them more (i'm simply not going to go back & edit all my old blog entries to use the new quote blocks, nosir.)

former president ronald reagan died today. if you're even loosely in touch with US news, you knew that already. but when looking at google news for stories, i found the angle of this cbs story to be interesting (this was the top reagan story when i looked):

No reporter knew Ronald and Nancy Reagan like Mike Wallace did.

This Sunday, on 60 Minutes, Wallace looks back at his interview with the Reagans at their beloved ranch in California, and at his special interview with the former first lady done just a few years ago.

In it, Nancy Reagan talks about living with the president in his final years, watching her husband deal with Alzheimer’s disease.

She told Wallace she can tell immediately when disease has him in its grips: "A different look in the eyes," she said. "A whole different look. You know, it really... it's been said often, of course, and it's true, it really is the long, long goodbye."

the man has only been dead a few hours, but already the lead of the top cbs story is about how fucking awesome their 60 minutes tribute to him will be.

this post is mostly to test a new quoting system i'm trying to set up with css so i don't have to keep using that lame italics convention.

fahrenheit 9/11 has a distributor!

As most of the Western world knows by now, it attracted controversy before it was ever screened, when Moore announced the Walt Disney Co. had refused to let its Miramax Films division distribute the movie.

Moore accused Disney of wanting, among other things, to protect alleged tax breaks in Florida, where the governor is the president's brother, Jeb.

Miramax chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein bought the $6-million movie personally and are distributing it through a partnership with Lions Gate Films and IFC Films.

They will probably laugh all the way to the bank.

you might notice the nifty new dashed lines separating the blog entries. i've wanted a good post separator for a long time but didn't know enough css to do it. now it's done. if the only thing you ever look at on this site is the blog, i encourage you to look around, because that is only the subtlest change of an all-around makeover. virtually the entire site has been updated to use css.

for example, this blog uses a stylesheet modified from glish. in the blog, i modified the template to add those lines & a few other custom things (like the image & links to the right, for example). just a few tweaks, really. but for the rest of the stAllio! site, i've used the glish stylesheet as a jumping board to create some similar-looking yet definitely different styles. at the very least, it no longer has that "mosaic" feel to it that the pure html formatting always had.

similarly, i really tweaked out the awia news template & applied a variation of that to the rest of the awia site. i think the awia color scheme is really improved now.

so yeah, i spent a lot of time the other day revamping the awia styles. i spent most of today revamping the awia site... then when i thought i was done, i had to go back & fix many of the st! pages to compensate for a bug in the way internet explorer implements css (they looked perfect in mozilla... luckily i had a book that mentioned the IE bug or i never would've caught it. just one more reason to use a good browser such as mozilla or firefox).

so take a look around, & let me know if you find anything awry. there are probably still a few nooks & crannies you can find through google that aren't css-ified (like the playlists from my long-defunct radio freedom show), but the only publicly linked material that hasn't been updated should be pirates of the internet (because the pirates deserve their own style, yet there are only two pages there... hardly enough to warrant restyling).

anyway, soon i might get back to actual blogging, but rest assured i haven't forgotted; i'm just trying out my new css skills...

Friday, June 04, 2004 
holy shee-it!

i graduated high school 10 years ago, so i'd been wondering when i would hear about a 10-year reunion. after all, these things usually happen in summer, summer is upon us, & i had heard nothing (i even logged on to classmates but found nothing).

so today i got the invitation. my 10-year reunion will be on july 10. it will cost $40. but i'll say it again: holy shit. check out this actual paragraph from the invitation:
Food, drink, and entertainment,
Featuring Tone Loc, provided.

wait, did i read that right?

fucking Tone Loc?

if tone loc is playing at my fucking high school reunion, i am fucking going, & that's that.

Thursday, June 03, 2004 
hey there, i'm back from my rr vacation. a pretty good party (oops, "salon"), a good set (i think; i'll know once i hear the recording), and lots & lots of quality time with my girlfriend. at some point i should probably do at least a brief write-up... hopefully soon.

but for now i've taken it upon myself to learn CSS, so that i can use it when drbmd & i redesign the bad taste site. stay tuned for that: bad taste will return. for now, you might notice some minor formatting tweaks here in the blog, and a new look for awia news. soon (starting tonight) other sections of the awia site will look more like awia news & less like 1996, as i develop a new stylesheet & start applying that to other sections.

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