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June 29, 2004

Comments

Edward, could you change the final 'h' in the title to an 'n'? Then it would be an amusing title about some 911th Far-Out Hen Night.

Thanks James...

(who needs to know how to spell, when you can rant continuously for three hours without stopping to breathe?)

Hen Night doesn't translate here thought, I don't think (Women's Night out, or Bachelorette Party?)

Thanks Edward, I've been looking for this kind of review. I'll be seeing this in the next few days, and a little balance some of the reviews I've been reading from the right is welcome indeed.

BTW, Juan Cole wrote a review the other day that was good reading as well.

"Even under Hussein, people were getting married, playing in the streets, eating dinner with their families."

But they don't now?

"The contextual connotation was that he had not attacked us on our soil, unlike we would do to Iraqis."

Strange defense to use 'contextual connotation' when the charge against Moore is intentional use of misleading innuendo.

I read in the comments of some recent discussion on Moore that he is like a man who sees a baby thrown out of a 10 story window and uses its death to discuss a lack of nationalized health care.

Your discussion of the Hitchens points doesn't make sense. Moore isn't just STATING facts. He IMPLIES that the particular facts he has chosen are meaningful. Remember that he opposed the Afghanistan invasion. So what is his silly factoid about an Afghanistan oil pipeline meant to convey? It suggests that Afghanistan (yes AFGHANISTAN) was 'selected' by the Bush administration as a part of the War on Terror to further mere oil interests.

I find it almost amusing that you think so little of his art that you can't be bothered to talk about what it intentionally suggests.

I find it almost amusing that you think so little of his art that you can't be bothered to talk about what it intentionally suggests.

And so the tables turn. For years we've had to endure being told to judge only what the President says, not to infer. Just because he mentioned AQ and Iraq and 911 in the same sentence doesn't mean he was saying Hussein was behind the attacks. How dare we judge him based on what we see as the IMPLICATIONS of his words!?!?!?

Ahhh, sweet Art imitating Life...

lousy mail-order html course...

thanks Moe.

Edward:

Hen Night doesn't translate here thought, I don't think (Women's Night out, or Bachelorette Party?)

Ah, wondered about that too late - the latter. And Bachelor Party we call Stag Night.

Moore said that Iraq under Saddma had never attacked the United States or killed an American

Moore actually said Saddam had never attacked the US or killed an "American citizen"; obviously, we lost troops in the first Gulf War.

Iron, the context was that he had not killed Americans in America. Clearly Americans in Iraq are a different matter.

And Bachelor Party we call Stag Night.

But if "hen-night" were Doe-night that'd be too much like Donut and then aagghhaghghhgh, mmmmmm Donut.

Moore actually said Saddam had never attacked the US or killed an "American citizen"; obviously, we lost troops in the first Gulf War.

I believe, from this interview, that Moore doesn't say Iraq never "killed" an American, he says they never "murdered" an American. Here's the relevant part:

TAPPER: You declare in the film that Hussein's regime had never killed an American …

MOORE: That isn't what I said. Quote the movie directly.

TAPPER: What is the quote exactly?

MOORE: "Murdered." The government of Iraq did not commit a premeditated murder on an American citizen. I'd like you to point out one.

But they don't now?

The thousands of civilians who have been killed by the US's attack on Iraq certainly never will again, Sebastian.

When I saw the movie, I saw the clips of Iraqi kids playing, people going about their daily lives, etc. not as an attempt to say "Iraq was peaches and cream under Saddam," but as part and parcel of what Moore did next by showing Iraqi casualties - humanizing the conflict by showing whom it hurt. So yes, Sebastian, there were kids playing in the streets, there are couples getting married, and yes, they get married still. But when we went to war we started killing a lot of those kids and those couples.

It's so easy to write off the Iraqis at the same time we've supposedly shown up to save them. The image that was painted of prewar Iraq was one that was so wretched that even massive bombing campaigns would be a welcome change. That's a lot harder to believe when you see the actual bodies.

Moore stated in that interview that he thought that with all the hours of media coverage of Hussein's atrocities, he thought that the civilian casualties in Iraq deserved the twenty seconds of footage in the film. Sounds reasonable to me.

Good points Iron and double-plus-ungood.

The part of the film that was hardest for me to watch was adults carrying dead children and children whose limbs had been blown apart.

I know "war is hell" and all that, but these images should be plastered all over the Hill when our lawmakers vote and projected behind the president every time he makes a speech about "liberating" Iraqis.

If you can see those images and still support the war, then vote your conscience. If you have to ignore those images to support the war, you shouldn't support it at all.

"And so the tables turn. For years we've had to endure being told to judge only what the President says, not to infer. Just because he mentioned AQ and Iraq and 911 in the same sentence doesn't mean he was saying Hussein was behind the attacks. How dare we judge him based on what we see as the IMPLICATIONS of his words!?!?!?"

I thought you believed there was something special about art and how it communicates. I thought you believed that art was capable of communicating ideas both explicitly and not. Sorry for misrepresenting your view.

"Even under Hussein, people were getting married, playing in the streets, eating dinner with their families."

But they don't now?

Actually, not as much. From both friends who have been there and news reports I understand that there is so much fear in the streets now that daily routines are still heavily affected. Outdoor cafes are not as welcoming to non-Iraqis, families keep their children in doors despite the summer temperatures, police officers don't stop in certain neighborhoods. It's not the same.

I thought you believed there was something special about art and how it communicates. I thought you believed that art was capable of communicating ideas both explicitly and not. Sorry for misrepresenting your view.

Sebastian, my original post communicated clearly (I thought) that this film is a work of propaganda first and foremost.

I haven't discussed it as a work of art here at all. I'm happy to do so, but you're taking your opinions about my views on art from another thread and sewing them onto this discussion.

I felt that for instance his handling of the interview with mr. Berg showed that he may be partisan, but tries to be decent.

"Michael Moore filmed an interview with slain American businessman Nicholas Berg in Arlington, VA last December in which Berg discussed his concern for his safety before going to Iraq, Berg's family said Saturday. Moore confirmed that he had shot the interview for his award-winning documentary Fahrenheit 911 but said he would not make it public. He did send a copy of the interview to the family. Berg's brother David complimented Moore for handling the situation with "dignity, respect and discipline." He told the Associated Press: ""Michael Moore has really been a total class act with this whole thing. ... He could have sold this to the media or stuck it in his movie.""

Still have to see F911 so I cannot comment upon the film.

The valid question is whether he's lied or told the truth, not how balanced he's been. He's admitted that he's building an argument with a clear objective.

In addition, it is quite valid to question or critique his argument as well. Otherwise, discourse would not exist; only examination of fact, and should you pass that test, everyone presumably sits quietly on their hands. That makes absolutely no sense.

This is an anti-war film... When the US bombs started falling, they were not only falling on Saddam loyalists or soldiers. They were also falling on children and grandmothers and elderly uncles. We don't like to think about those deaths, we try to rationalize them away as a small price to pay for the greater good won... Moore's point was that it's only a small price if it's not your children, grandmother, uncle..."

The fact that this is an "anti-war" film does not bode well for it's effectiveness at tarnishing Bush. This sort of mushy crypto-pacificism confuses the issue - it does not matter if Bush has unsavory ties to Saudis, misleads us into war, and fails to plan properly for the aftermath. Even if he didn't do these things, the war would still be wrong, like every other war. Which incidently seems to be Moore's belief, as he's opposed every war under Clinton or Bush.

...but I came out thinking there's nothing in there that's any less flimsy than the constant "technically true" propaganda we get daily from the White House, so he's essentially just fighting fire with fire.

So you approve of the Bush White House's information output. Surprising.

You can't have it either way; you can, by your own words, either approve of both "fires," or disapprove of both. There is no other logical choice. "My dishonesty is good, but yours is bad, because you did it first" doesn't fly, does it?

Does it?

Please pick which one you'd like to stand by: "flimsy, technically true propaganda," or not, and if you wish to be intellectually consistent, either say you approve of such from whomever uses it, or you disapprove of it, whomever uses it.

Or can you make a case for such such being usable by one person/source, but not another?

I'd be interested to read that.

(I pick honesty over propaganda.)

It has opened up a long-desired pipeline in Afghanistan....

It has? What date did that happen on? (Incidentally, when that does happen, it will be bad why, precisely?)

The contextual connotation was that he had not attacked us on our soil, unlike we would do to Iraqis. It's a fair statement.

Are you saying that's the only legitimate casus belli, Edward? You are therefore willing to be on record in opposing U.S. entry into the European theatre in WWII, and in U.S. participation in WWI?

Or can you make a case for such such being usable by one person/source, but not another?

I'd be interested to read that.

First of all...glad to have you back Gary.

Secondly, in a vaccuum, the answer to your question is no. All people/sources should be honest. In context, however, where one source is an admittedly partisan provacatuer (who doesn't force anyone to go see his film [in the movie theaters, where people expect to be entertained], it should be noted) and the other is the real-life President of the United States (who, in real-life, dismissed a record-breaking, multi-million number of protesters worldwide as a "focus group" and who did force the military to invade Iraq) there's not as much of a moral dilemma here as you're trying to build.

It has opened up a long-desired pipeline in Afghanistan....

It has? What date did that happen on? (Incidentally, when that does happen, it will be bad why, precisely?)

Rephrasing: It opened up the way for a long-desired pipeline in Afghanistan.

Why it could be "bad" depends on whether any American lives were sacrificed to achieve it. If an Afghan warlord who didn't have any connection to the Taliban or AQ, was somehow threatened by hearing that a pipeline was going to disrupt his buisness, and so he attacked, then the US retaliated, and American lives were lost (and I'm purely speculating here, but to suggest this is beyond the pale lines one up for the Naivest Person on Earth Award), it would be beyond "bad."

An added agenda is not without consequences and will definitely affect military actions.

I had heard about this pipeline even before we invaded Afghanistan, but only through banker friends. Much the same way a focus on securing Iraq's oil fields and oil ministry building far outweighed securing Iraq's borders, museums, nuclear waste, secret records, etc., etc. you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to ponder whether there's more than one agenda behind any given military action. Reading history, you learn that more often than not, the public rhetoric is nothing at all close to the truth. Moore simply provides food for thought.

Did the long-desired pipeline affect the planning of the invasion (i.e., we can't blow up that section, we'll need it for the pipeline)? It's not impossible, with Bush's connections to the energy industry, to imagine it did. Obviously, Moore leaves folks plenty of room to reject the suggestion...you and a host of others are proof. The question really is how many Americans knew that the US energy industry had any commercial interest in Afghanistan at all?

Are you saying that's the only legitimate casus belli, Edward? You are therefore willing to be on record in opposing U.S. entry into the European theatre in WWII, and in U.S. participation in WWI?

Ok, now you're leaping to conclusions here. I was clarifying what Moore said. I didn't defend it. And even if I had in the context of Iraq, your conclusion that I would then have to have opposed entering WWI or WWII is ludicrous. World stability was at risk (and infinitely more so than it was by finding some other method of regime change in Iraq).


First of all...glad to have you back Gary.

Thank you. Plenty of fresh posts on my blog, too. :-)

Including this regarding Moore.

Edward, have you read those wildeyed right-wingers Juan Cole and Matthew Yglesias on why the pipeline is a good thing? I'd gently suggest that the American left is just as guilty of seeing things blindly through an American prism as the right is, and often speaks piously of poor nations, while coming out against policies that would actually help them because all they can see is that, horror, corporations would also make money.

In context, however, where one source is an admittedly partisan provacatuer (who doesn't force anyone to go see his film [in the movie theaters, where people expect to be entertained], it should be noted) and the other is the real-life President of the United States (who, in real-life, dismissed a record-breaking, multi-million number of protesters worldwide as a "focus group" and who did force the military to invade Iraq) there's not as much of a moral dilemma here as you're trying to build.

Unsurprisingly, I'm all for Michael Moore making whatever films he wants, saying whatever he wants, writing whatever books he wants, and for people to go see his movies, listen to him, and read him, as they wish.

That is not, of course, the issue. You've not answered the question I put to you.

You said:

...I came out thinking there's nothing in there that's any less flimsy than the constant "technically true" propaganda we get daily from the White House, so he's essentially just fighting fire with fire.
I repeat: do you support both parties equally in engaging in such techniques as valid, or do you condemn each equally, or do you have a third choice?

It's not a difficult question. Could you answer it, please?

If an Afghan warlord who didn't have any connection to the Taliban or AQ, was somehow threatened by hearing that a pipeline was going to disrupt his buisness, and so he attacked, then the US retaliated, and American lives were lost (and I'm purely speculating here, but to suggest this is beyond the pale lines one up for the Naivest Person on Earth Award), it would be beyond "bad."

Let me try to understand: do you support or oppose the American intervention in Afghanistan?

If you oppose it, I'll come back to that. If you support it, would you agree that it is good for America and other countries to give military support to the Karzai government to attempt to eventually secure a hold over the whole country and hold democratic elections and generally institute human rights, women's rights, etc?

Again, if you answer "no," I'll come back to that.

If you answer "yes," than do you feel that it is acceptable if Americans die fighting against the Taliban and warlords who oppose Karzai?

If no, etc.

If "yes," than do you feel that that is acceptable, but if a pipeline that would bring the Karzai government hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention Tajikistan, were attacked, the U.S. government should then draw a line and say "whoops, tough luck, sorry your unbelievably poor nation have lost this huge portion of your national income; a shame, but we can't help, because, you know, it would also help Americans get clean energy, and some Americans will also make a profit, and that would be evil far beyond any other factor"?

If not, then what the heck are you saying?

I'm sincerely trying to understand. It looks like some sort of knee-jerk if-Americans-make-a-profit-it's-the- most-moral-evil-ever thing, but you're a bright man, so that can't be it. So what is it?

Much the same way a focus on securing Iraq's oil fields and oil ministry building far outweighed securing Iraq's borders, museums, nuclear waste, secret records, etc., etc. you don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to ponder whether there's more than one agenda behind any given military action.

Are you seriously suggesting that Bush overthrew the Taliban government because of the pipeline?

(Incidentally, how would you explain him not simply making a deal with the Taliban for the pipeline, then?; just as if Iraq were about grabbing oil, why didn't he just make a deal with Saddam?)

Ok, now you're leaping to conclusions here.

Really? Could you quote my conclusions, please? I simply asked you two questions. I left "plenty of room to reject the suggestion," didn't I? I was just "providing food for thought."

Do you have some objection to that?

:-)

"Tajikistan."

Sorry, I meant Turkmenistan.

I repeat: do you support both parties equally in engaging in such techniques as valid, or do you condemn each equally, or do you have a third choice?

It's not a difficult question. Could you answer it, please?

I did answer it. I wrote: "in a vaccuum, the answer to your question is no." (but the question was slightly different when I did. at the point the question was "can you make a case for such such being usable by one person/source, but not another?"

To answer in detail. I don't believe anyone in a position of power should play with the truth over a matter as serious as sending our troops into battle. Period. If they want to lie about who attended an energy brainstorming session or whether they knew their medicare plan was actually going to cost more than they said, that's one thing. But when it comes to American's lives, they have no wiggle room. Zero.

I condemn it where it's important.

I'm sincerely trying to understand. It looks like some sort of knee-jerk if-Americans-make-a-profit-it's-the- most-moral-evil-ever thing,

It's a call for transparency. Nothing more. The overall objection I have to the pipeline or seizure of oil fields in Iraq is that no one discusses those in the debate leading up to the military actions. It's kept in the background...as if it's not important. You argue quite effectively that it is important, so why, if it's all so above board and necessary is that not discussed openly?

They undercut any argument that objecting to the duplicity is based on an aversion to corporate profits (and that there's nothting wrong with that) by not saying corporate profits are part of what we're doing there. If it's so good and pure, why isn't it talked about?

Really? Could you quote my conclusions, please?

Don't need why I need to, it's right there, but alright:

You concluded that opposing the invasion of Iraq because Iraq had never attacked the US would necessitate also opposing U.S. entry into the European theatre in WWII, and in U.S. participation in WWI. You posed it as a question, but I believe I've understood your point exactly, no?

"I repeat: do you support both parties equally in engaging in such techniques as valid, or do you condemn each equally, or do you have a third choice?"

Let me make sure I understand, please: shall I take it your answer is "c," you have a third choice, and it is "I don't believe anyone in a position of power should play with the truth over a matter as serious as sending our troops into battle" and "I condemn it where it's important."

Is that correct?

Is another way of putting that is that you have a double standard?

Is another way of putting that is that you believe it is fair and reasonable for those out of power to act identically unethically to those in power, and those in power should be condemned for acting unethically, but those out of power should not?

Am I misunderstanding in any way?

"You argue quite effectively that it is important, so why, if it's all so above board and necessary is that not discussed openly?"

I'm not following you here. I would in no way support going to war to build such a pipeline. Nor do I believe we went to war to build such a pipeline. I can't agree that something I don't believe happend should "be discussed openly" any more than I believe that Hillary Clinton's plot to murder Vince Foster should "be discussed openly" no matter that murder is, indeed, an important topic.

"You concluded that opposing the invasion of Iraq because Iraq had never attacked the US would necessitate also opposing U.S. entry into the European theatre in WWII, and in U.S. participation in WWI. You posed it as a question, but I believe I've understood your point exactly, no?"

Apparently not. I find it very hard to believe you are unable to tell the difference between a question and a conclusion, Edward. I don't know how to respond further about that. What would you suggest?

And what conclusion did I come to in that previous sentence?

It would have been nice if you had answered my questions, by the way, instead of ignoring them. That tends to lessen my enthusiasm for putting time and energy into dialogue.

Is another way of putting that is that you have a double standard?

Is another way of putting that is that you believe it is fair and reasonable for those out of power to act identically unethically to those in power, and those in power should be condemned for acting unethically, but those out of power should not?

Why else do we scour over the tax returns and personal lives of candidates? We don't care if Joe Doe down the street sleeps with his neighbor's wife (unless we're his neighbor whose wife he's sleeping with), but we don't want to elect him president. Of course there's a difference.

You argue quite effectively that it is important, so why, if it's all so above board and necessary is that not discussed openly?"

I'm not following you here.

You're trying to have it both ways here. I didn't explain that idea very well, but I suspect you understand what I'm saying all the same.

You argued that there's nothing wrong with the US helping Afghanistan secure a pipeline that helps its country and just so happens to help a US company, no?

If there's nothing wrong with it (and clearly the desire for such a pipeline well preceded the invasion), why is that desire not discussed as part of the invasion plans. If there's nothing wrong with Halliburon profitting from their work on the Iraq oilfields, why is that not discussed in the lead up to the invasion.

It's downplayed if discussed at all, and my point is it's wrong to insist that it's all just a happy coicidence of the invasion and that at no time are considerations that might cost Americans their lives made to further these other goals. You may argue that these goals are worthy...but my point remains if they are worthy, Bush should be announcing them in his speechs.

It would have been nice if you had answered my questions, by the way, instead of ignoring them. That tends to lessen my enthusiasm for putting time and energy into dialogue.

You're clearly well rested Gary, but not as subtle as need to be to get away with this kind of shenanigan.

List your questions and I'll answer each. Intermixing them with editorial usually leads to folks commenting on both the editorials and the questions and assuming that they inform each other.

For example, Apparently not. I find it very hard to believe you are unable to tell the difference between a question and a conclusion, Edward. I don't know how to respond further about that. What would you suggest?

And what conclusion did I come to in that previous sentence?

The conclusion you inferred was that I am confusing conclusions with questions. I'll refer you back to my previous analysis of your "conclusion within a question" and ask you tell me I'm wrong before we digress further into semantics.


"Why else do we scour over the tax returns and personal lives of candidates? We don't care if Joe Doe down the street sleeps with his neighbor's wife (unless we're his neighbor whose wife he's sleeping with), but we don't want to elect him president. Of course there's a difference."

Is that a "yes," then? They were "yes or no" questions. I kinda suspect that you'd condemn George Bush for these sorts of "let me make my point" answers to such. I might be wrong, of course.

"If there's nothing wrong with it (and clearly the desire for such a pipeline well preceded the invasion), why is that desire not discussed as part of the invasion plans."

Um, possibly because they had no part in making invasion plans?

I don't know that to be true, of course, and wouldn't assert it as such. But that would be a reasonable answer. If you have evidence to show otherwise, you can put it forth, of course. Otherwise you are demonstrably engaging in the
oft-misunderstood fallacy of begging the question by assuming your conclusion to prove it.

"List your questions and I'll answer each."

Let me try to understand: do you support or oppose the American intervention in Afghanistan?

If you oppose it, I'll come back to that. If you support it, would you agree that it is good for America and other countries to give military support to the Karzai government to attempt to eventually secure a hold over the whole country and hold democratic elections and generally institute human rights, women's rights, etc?

Again, if you answer "no," I'll come back to that.

If you answer "yes," than do you feel that it is acceptable if Americans die fighting against the Taliban and warlords who oppose Karzai?

If no, etc.

If "yes," than do you feel that that is acceptable, but if a pipeline that would bring the Karzai government hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention Tajikistan, were attacked, the U.S. government should then draw a line and say "whoops, tough luck, sorry your unbelievably poor nation have lost this huge portion of your national income; a shame, but we can't help, because, you know, it would also help Americans get clean energy, and some Americans will also make a profit, and that would be evil far beyond any other factor"?

If not, then what the heck are you saying?

Your last answer did give some good indication of what some of you believe, I take it. Correct me if I have this wrong, please: you believe that Bush should have included in his speeches discussion of the fact, for which you have no evidence, that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was significantly motivated because of the desire to reward Aramco with great profits for a natural gas pipeline. Is that correct?

Please do answer the questions, however, if you would be so kind, so I am better able to grasp your beliefs.

What would you suggest?

And what conclusion did I come to in that previous sentence?

The conclusion you inferred was that I am confusing conclusions with questions.

I don't know what to say. You believe I "inferred" that you "are confusing conclusions with questions" from my having asked "What would you suggest?"

I'm at a loss to follow this derivation. I don't see how you got from A to B. Could you explain how you did, please?

Um, possibly because they had no part in making invasion plans?

Well, that I could believe. Their planning is so totally "by-the-seat-of-their-pants" this would not surprise me. But not in a good way.

you believe that Bush should have included in his speeches discussion of the fact, for which you have no evidence, that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was significantly motivated because of the desire to reward Aramco with great profits for a natural gas pipeline. Is that correct?

Not at all. I believe Bush knew that the pipeline was of US interest before the invasion. I believe the planning for the invasion took that into account. I believe decisions were made to lead to a win-win situation with regards to the pipeline.

These are not evil things in and of themselves. What I object to is the rhetoric, that somehow invading another country is ONLY about bringing liberty to those poor people, or ONLY about rooting out a government we can't trust, or ONLY about killing terrorists who attacked us. An invasion is nearly ALWAYS tied to access to resources.

Note the distinction. Invasion vs. other actions. We could have killed Saddam without an invasion. We could have targeted the Taliban and AQ without an invasion. I believe Bush chose invasions because then we'd have control of the resources.

Call me a cynic.

good post edward. I was wondering when someone would post on this interesting film. Funny how it's playing to solid business near military bases. I very much liked the footage of people in Iraq in the weeks prior to the invasion. Bush's propaganda had Americans thinking Baghdad was a Gulag and nothing more. Very 'black and white', like all else in the neocon world. And as for Sebastian's comment upthread about people still getting married there, yes they do but now they are getting bombed by us during their ceremonies.

I believe the planning for the invasion took that into account.

I don't know what this means. No attempt to be disengenuous. I just don't know what it means.

I believe decisions were made to lead to a win-win situation with regards to the pipeline.

I sort of, vaguely, think I may understand what this means, but definitely not entirely. So, I ask: do you believe that if, hypothetically, there were no natural gas in Turkmenistan, and thus no pipeline were relevant, Bush would have invaded Afghanistan? And, please, while you're free to "editorialize," in your word, after your "yes," or "no," response, please first just answer "yes," or "no," if you would be so kind.

(For that matter, do you believe Gore would have invaded? Clinton?)

"An invasion is nearly ALWAYS tied to access to resources."

Interesting. Can you please state which resources were "tied" to invading Normandy? Sicily? Morocco? Belleau Wood? The Marne? The Somme? Guadalcanal? Iwo Jima? Pusan? Inchon? Grenada?

"We could have killed Saddam without an invasion."

Really. How? Please support your opinion with a few cites of expert opinion, if you would. Showing your work is required, young man, or you won't receive a passing grade.

"Call me a cynic."

I don't, with due respect, care what your philosophy is, or how cynical you are or are not. I simply expect that you can support your assertions with citations.

Goodness gracious, but you're tenacious.

Do you have a point, Gary?

Mine, ultimately, is that a bit of poetic license in a film is not the moral equivalent of misleading the public on matters of war.

I do like to think Hussein might have been taken out by an assassination (Chalabi was reportedly planning one at some point, although other sources deny that, and, well, once you start trusting Chalabi, you're sunk anyway) or convinced to go into exile. But then, we would not have had our troops in there the way we do now that we invaded.

Ultimately, I'm convinced that we are getting to the oil in the ME and natural gas in Tajikistan (or wherever) before the Chinese do. The rest is, as they say, bread and circuses.

Did it work? Guess we'll see. Anyway, just to get all devil's-advocaty for a moment: "Mine, ultimately, is that a bit of poetic license in a film is not the moral equivalent of misleading the public on matters of war."

Keeping in mind that said film -- or its maker, anyway -- has a specific and stated goal, which is to unseat the current President of the United States. Don't you think that goal requires a higher standard of truth than "poetic license?" If this were a campaign ad -- and there's an argument to be made that it is, paid for by Michiganders Against George Bush -- would you be so forgiving?

If this were a campaign ad -- and there's an argument to be made that it is, paid for by Michiganders Against George Bush -- would you be so forgiving?

It's a question of freedom of speech for me. I don't appreciate how Rush Limbaugh lies on his show (and, let's face it, he does), but I would stop short of comparing what he says with anything Bush (or Clinton) said, especially if the topic were war.

Gary tried to paint is as if all subjects were equal, and honesty should not cater to the occassion.

I believe reality requires Presidents to spin now and again. I just don't think they should do so when Americans' lives are at risk.

"List your questions and I'll answer each."

This appears to not be true. Why did you say it, Edward?

Goodness gracious, but you're tenacious.

For a quite serious and important reason, Edward: I like you, and I've had considerable respect for you, and I very very very much do not wish to lose that or let go of it.

I do wish you'd help me out more in that.

Do you have a point, Gary?

Yes. a) To determine what it is you believe on this topic; b) to determine what you believe is honest discourse and dishonest discourse; c) to determine what you find morally acceptable as discourse; d) to determine whether your positions are intellectually honest and respectable and consistent, or, instead, hypocritical and dependent upon who is speaking.

I would never have thought the latter in "d," but you continue to respond in a way that is making it further and further difficult for me to retain my faith in that. I shall tentatively ascribe that to your having a bad day, or somesuch.

Mine, ultimately, is that a bit of poetic license in a film is not the moral equivalent of misleading the public on matters of war.

Having previously said:

...I came out thinking there's nothing in there that's any less flimsy than the constant "technically true" propaganda we get daily from the White House, so he's essentially just fighting fire with fire.

In other words -- and I've given you endless, multiple, opportunities to clarify that you believe otherwise, and I still remain open to you doing so in reply or in future -- if someone lies or distorts and you disagree with their politics, they are acting in a morally unacceptable way and should be condemned -- and I would agree -- but if someone lies or distorts and you agree with their politics, that is morally trivial and acceptable and "poetic license" -- to which I cannot only not agree, but am deeply shocked by.

In other words, you are justifying lying as morally acceptable if people you politically agree with engage in it.

In other words, you are advocating the moral position of George W. Bush, and are advocating a hypocritical position.

I do like to think Hussein might have been taken out by an assassination (Chalabi was reportedly planning one at some point, although other sources deny that, and, well, once you start trusting Chalabi, you're sunk anyway) or convinced to go into exile.

In other words, you have no citations, no facts, no evidence, merely what you "like to think," and you believe this is a convincing logical argument for a position: "I do like to think...."

Ultimately, I'm convinced that we are getting to the oil in the ME and natural gas in Tajikistan (or wherever) before the Chinese do.

And invading Afghanistan had nothing to do with September 11th or a threat from al Qaeda.

Edward, whatever you're convinced of, are you writing here -- in general, in this blog, that is -- to make logical arguments to people so as to persuade them to change their minds, or simply to announce what you'd like to believe in? Actual facts, support, evidence, citations, expert testimony are all simply too botherwise to deal with? Just "I do like to think" and "I'm convinced" are worthwhile contributions to discussions with someone outside your own head?

It's a question of freedom of speech for me.

Um, what? When you condemn President Bush's distortions, would you find that a response that a) you agreed with?; b) thought made sense?

I don't appreciate how Rush Limbaugh lies on his show (and, let's face it, he does),
Yes, he does; it's awful.

Of course he has free speech rights to say such things. Weirdly, I condemn him nonetheless, and think him a Very Bad Person for lying and distorting. Free speech has nothing whatsoever to do with that when he lies and distorts, or when anyone does.

...but I would stop short of comparing what he says with anything Bush (or Clinton) said, especially if the topic were war.

Gary tried to paint is as if all subjects were equal, and honesty should not cater to the occassion.

Yeah, put me down as thinking that "honesty should not cater to the occasion." I'm funny that way.

Edward, do you seriously wish me to believe that you will lie, in a good cause, and that I should consider "the occasion" in judging whether or not you are being honest in dialogue, rather than simply assuming it? Because that is what you are arguing. Please don't!

I'm just flabbergasted at all this. I'd like to apologize for being so harsh in this comment, but, my goodness gracious, you're the one who has consistently refused to answer questions, refused to give simple "yes" or "no" responses, obfuscated, dodged left and right, promised to answer simple yes or no questions, not done so, and repeatedly explained, now, that lying and distortion are acceptable and merely "poetic" when done to support a cause you approve of.

I just don't know what to say except to hope that you will reread this comment thread, carefully examining what has been said to you and how you've responded, and what you've been saying, and disavow justifications for distortion-and-lying-in-a-good-cause,
and disavow the notion that "honesty should [...] cater to the occassion."

Migosh, I hope you will.

Edward, have you decided that you can't answer my questions?

"List your questions and I'll answer each."

This appears to not be true. Why did you say it, Edward?

I'm guessing that Edward does not feel the obligation to discuss this topic further with you, Gary. I would recommend (in the nicest possible way) that you take the hint and go on to something else. :)

"I'm guessing that Edward does not feel the obligation to discuss this topic further with you, Gary."

And, of course, he has no such obligation.

I expect him to live up to his word, of course, or give some minimal explanation of why he cannot or chooses not to, but that's entirely up to him whether he feels that honorable behavior calls for him to stand by his word or not. He obviously need have no regard whatever for my opinions, just as no one else need have such.

Beyond that, unless I've been out of line in some way -- in which I would very much like to know of it, so I could correct my behavior, and apologize for it if called for -- I'm unaware of why Edward wouldn't want to simply explain why he doesn't wish to continue a friendly conversation. As a matter of common courtesy, that's usually called for, rather than suddenly simply ceasing conversation.

That's all. I completely agree that, otherwise, there's not the slightest obligation to continue a conversation in a blog that otherwise becomes, say, tedious or uninteresting.

I've otherwise said what I said, Edward said what he said, and on the substance of it, it's up to him to choose or not to choose to explain that I misunderstood him, or otherwise explain why he said he'd answer questions, and then didn't, and so on.

I have this quote on my sidebar:

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...." -- Desiderius Erasmus


Myself, I'm left with three choices, off-hand, if Edward chooses to not respond in any way. a) I can conclude that there's something going behind this conversation I'm not aware of. b) I can conclude that this is a case of Erasmus Syndrome, and Edward is an honest and honorable man momentarily stuck behind it. c) I can conclude that Edward defends a double standard of truth and honesty for himself and those he approves of, and those he disapproves of, but doesn't want to actually stand up to continue to defend it.

I'll choose b, but only with difficulty if Edward chooses to not pick up the conversation, sooner or later. I hope he will so choose; it's not as if I'm lashing him with whips, after all, or even being rude or, so far as I'm aware, unreasonable.

If I seem "tenacious," which I'll certainly plead guilty to -- but I'm not aware that is out of the bounds of polite debate -- as Edward said, it's because I don't have much regard for the technicque of engaging in dialogue, but then dodging questions and not answering them, in a deliberate attempt to wear down the interlocuter until they are bored. This, too, is not an honest or worthy or honorable form of communication or behavior. My expectation, though, is that Edward has not chosen to engage in such behavior, but merely found himself out on questionable rhetorical territory, because he is -- and I sympathize -- emotionally moved by Moore's movie, and by hating Bush, and by his honorable beliefs.

That's worthy. But feeling upset isn't a substitute for reasonable logical discussion.

I like you, and I've had considerable respect for you, and I very very very much do not wish to lose that or let go of it.

The idea that one blog posting could in and of itself cause you to immediately lose what one must assume is not a capricious degree of respect strikes me as disengenous, but I'll try to address your concern all the same.

We think in very different ways Gary, so trying to respond to you is difficult. I try to boil things down to a single point to determine how best to communicate what I think, whereas you seem to think in multitangential spiral patterns...sort of fractalesque. This is a not a criticism, as much as an observation geared toward asking you to consider your part in the miscommunication here. If you honestly think I advocating lying just because it suits my political preference, though, you need read no further...after all, I might be lying...

I'll try to answer your question in the way that I think and hope communciation happens here.

Saying I demand honesty would be pointless, IMHO. I simply prefer it. I do think context must be considered in judging people, though. Simple black and white, binary rules on things get folks into the kinds of messes Moore is poking fun at in his film.

Let's be crystal clear: F911 would have been a much better documentary had Moore not used the flimsy innuendo he did. His out, in my opinion, is the caveat that he's not trying to be fair and balanced. I insist that it be judged in that context. You seem to find that dishonest of me. I disagree.

to determine whether your positions are intellectually honest and respectable and consistent, or, instead, hypocritical and dependent upon who is speaking.

Not WHO is speaking, surely, but IN WHICH CONTEXT.

When Bush spoke at the dinner in the movie where all are wearing white tie and evening gowns and said that these elite folks were his "base" that would be a totally impeachable event were it not for the context, in my opinion. Admitting that he's preferential to the super wealthy would mean that he's violated the vow he took when inaugurated.

Do we try to impeach him because of this? No. Clearly he was at liberty to have his little joke because of the context in which he made it. (The fact that I don't like it, doesn't make it impeachable.)

Likewise, do we indict Moore because he's using really flimsy arguments to build his case that Bush is a bad president. Clearly he's at liberty to have his say within the context of an agitprop piece. (The fact that some don't like it, doesn't make it slander.)

And really, in the end, if anyone finds Moore's movie that "dishonest" they can always sue him for slander, no? (Or would a film be libel?) The fact that BushCo is not suing him, tells me he's this side of the truth.

Re-read the first bits of this post, please Gary:

I've normally found Michael Moore too bombastic and reckless. His in-your-face style of filmmaking embarrasses me normally, and his speech at the Academy Awards struck me as in poor taste.

and
I had gone into the film expecting to see all kinds of outrageous juxtapositions and innuendoes

How you can conclude from that, that I "will lie, in a good cause" is a mystery to me. I owe Michael Moore nothing. I don't even really like him as a person. I just think his movie was pretty good and the criticism that it's a bad movie because it's not adhereing to the highest journalistic standards misses the forest for the trees. It's a piece of agitprop. Judge it as such, please.

Moreover, I refuse to equate the occasion of the president leading the nation into war with the occasion of a loud-mouth provacatuer who's clearly having fun making the president look inept.

If that causes you to lose respect for me, I'm sorry. I think you have one of the sharpest minds in the blogosphere, but I won't be badgered into judging a propaganda film on the same plane as the president's call to arms.

Edward said: The idea that one blog posting could in and of itself cause you to immediately lose what one must assume is not a capricious degree of respect strikes me as disengenous, but I'll try to address your concern all the same.

Well, Moe Lane succeeded in making me disrespect him by a single blog post. (Or rather, not so much the single blog post, which could, after all, have been posted on a Bad Day and later regretted, but by his persistent refusal to defend, discuss, or retract the ridiculously hypocritical statement he made in that blog post. I wish he would: I preferred being able to respect him.) So it's possible, but I don't quite see why it would happen here

God knows what this says about myself and Gary Farber, but I think I see what you're getting at, Edward - after all, you said it repeatedly* - and I'm not clear why Gary doesn't.

Neither am I amused to see Gary use the old canard that the US hadn't been attacked when it entered WWII. But to recap, the order of events was very simple: Japan attacked the US. The US declared war on Japan. Germany and Japan were allies. When the US declared war on Japan, Germany then declared war on the US. Any WWII timeline will give you the facts.

*That the President of the United States, justifying the sending of US troops into battle, should and must be held to a high standard of truth when he gives his reasons for doing so: certainly to a far higher standard than that of a moviemaker in one of his movies, documentary or not. If this is what you meant to say, Edward, I certainly got it, and I'm not sure why Gary doesn't.

The idea that one blog posting could in and of itself cause you to immediately lose what one must assume is not a capricious degree of respect strikes me as disengenous....
It would strike me as completely silly and un-called for, myself. We've had a long string of messages in this thread, and I've consistently tried to understand what your point of view is, and asked you for clarifications.
...but I'll try to address your concern all the same.
I appreciate that. I'm aware it takes time and effort to do so, and that you'd rathter invest that elsewhere. So thank you for your courtesy.
...whereas you seem to think in multitangential spiral patterns...sort of fractalesque.
I prefer to think of it as supercalifractalesqishexpialodocious.
If you honestly think I advocating lying just because it suits my political preference....
I should think that I've demonstrably gone to great lengths to make clear that I do not, and have simply been trying to get to you put down in clear words that you do not.
His out, in my opinion, is the caveat that he's not trying to be fair and balanced. I insist that it be judged in that context. You seem to find that dishonest of me. I disagree.
I'm a bit undecided whether it would be wiser to leave getting back to discussing the issue of the film and Moore, per se, to separate comments. But, what the hey. I certainly have no problem whatsoever with Moore not being fair and balanced. I would like him to make criticism that make sense, and are coherent, and accurate, which is not at all the same as being fair and balanced.

Having a point of view, and a line of argument, is one thing, and it's in contrast with attempting to be "objective" and "neutral" or "balanced."

Orthogonal to that is choosing to deliberately be accurate or inaccurate, make sense or not make sense.

I personally care about whether or not Moore makes a good case or not, because I want him to make a good case so it will convince people who are not True Believers, and so we can get Bush out of office.

I think it's demonstrable that if he, or where he, makes a bad case, he damages the cause of getting Bush out of office because with all this fuss, plenty of fence-sitters will see the film, and for all those who are easily swayed by illogic and ignorance, there are plenty who will recognize, if it is there, arguments that don't cohere, emotionalism-that-isn't-an-argument, and misrepresentations (such as, that, say, Iraq was a lovely land of kite-flying children until a year ago), and say, crap, if this is the best the anti-Bush forces can do, I guess the guy is okay after all!

So, no, I don't think it's in the least dishonest to not be "fair" or "balanced" or to have an argument, a POV, and a case one wishes to make. Never in a million years. Are we clear on that?

Likewise, do we indict Moore because he's using really flimsy arguments to build his case that Bush is a bad president. Clearly he's at liberty to have his say within the context of an agitprop piece. (The fact that some don't like it, doesn't make it slander.)
Absolutely. It's entirely up to him as to how convincing a case he wants to make, and how much he wishes to make a logical argument versus simply make use of innuendo, guilt-by-association, and silliness.
And really, in the end, if anyone finds Moore's movie that "dishonest" they can always sue him for slander, no? (Or would a film be libel?)
That's sort of going off on a trivial non-issue. Most forms of distortion or knowingly illogical argument involve neither slander nor libel.
The fact that BushCo is not suing him, tells me he's this side of the truth.
This is all besides the point, but a) see above; b) there are no grounds for Bush suing Moore -- ask your legal co-bloggers -- and Bush would be, as well as look, insane to try. If this "tells you" anything, you're not thinking clearly about it, I'm afraid. When was the last time a President sued a critic, exactly?
I just think his movie was pretty good and the criticism that it's a bad movie because it's not adhereing to the highest journalistic standards misses the forest for the trees. It's a piece of agitprop. Judge it as such, please.
That is, as I said, fine. If we want to get back to discussing which of his arguments make sense and which don't, that would please me. How good a piece of agitprop is it to folks? Clearly there's been mixed reaction out there. (Yes, plenty of strong right-wingers will tell you how terrible it is, and plenty of strong left-wingers will tell you how brilliant and convincing it is, but I'm also reading plenty of fence-sitters having mixed reactions. And they're the ones who actually matter, in my view.
Moreover, I refuse to equate the occasion of the president leading the nation into war with the occasion of a loud-mouth provacatuer who's clearly having fun making the president look inept.
I don't equate them, either. But that doesn't mean there's good reason to not bother to examine Moore's arguments, such as they are, and decide if they make sense or not, rather than whether or not they make us feel good? That is, if we think the actual issues and charges are important, rather than just laughing at That Darn President?

That doesn't mean that if we criticize Michael Moore, and find anything in error in his work, it's remotely as serious an issue as finding "errors" in the "work" of the President of the US in taking us to war. Obviously not. Only an insane person would equate them that way, and thus you needn't defend that point any longer. No one is saying that. And if you want to criticize some of the press or others for acting as if Moore should be so examined, but not the President, I join you completely in decrying that. See, we can find plenty to agree upon?

If that causes you to lose respect for me, I'm sorry.
It doesn't, as I hope I've made clear.
I think you have one of the sharpest minds in the blogosphere,
Thank you kindly for a most impressive compliment.
but I won't be badgered into judging a propaganda film on the same plane as the president's call to arms.
And that's never been what I've tried to do.

It's good enough for me that you've disavowed stating that it's okay for someone you agree with to be dishonest or distort, no more than it is for a more important person you disagree with is right to be dishonest or distort.

See, that wasn't so hard, was it?

On the substance of Moore's message, to continue that, what do you make of what I previously cited, and asked you about, what Juan Cole wrote (which doubleplusungood also brought up), and Matthew Yglesias wrote, regarding this pipeline notion?

Neither am I amused to see Gary use the old canard that the US hadn't been attacked when it entered WWII.
I beg your pardon? Please quote where I said that.

Jesurgislac posted:

Neither am I amused to see Gary use the old canard that the US hadn't been attacked when it entered WWII.

I replied:

I beg your pardon? Please quote where I said that.

Over to you, Jes. I trust waiting over two days, and after multiple other comments by you, isn't unduly pressing you.

But I appreciate your not being amused by canards, and I equally amn't overly amused by being charged with purveying them, without supporting evidence. So I look forward to your response, and thank you in advance.

Freshening this, I'm still waiting, Jes. I'm sure some may see it as rude to not let drop having my words mischaracterized, in the face of someone repeatedly not responding to polite requests that they respond in some fashion, preferably by supporting their claim, or withdrawing it, but I don't tend to let pass having my words mischaracterized. Thanks for your attention to this.

Jesurgislac posted:
Neither am I amused to see Gary use the old canard that the US hadn't been attacked when it entered WWII.
I replied:
I beg your pardon? Please quote where I said that.
Over to you, Jes. I trust waiting over two days, and after multiple other comments by you, isn't unduly pressing you.

But I appreciate your not being amused by canards, and I equally amn't overly amused by being charged with purveying them, without supporting evidence. So I look forward to your response, and thank you in advance.

Posted by: Gary Farber | July 6, 2004 03:14 AM

Freshening this, I'm still waiting, Jes.


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Think of the children! Think of the widows! For the Love of all that's good and holy, I beg you!!!!!!!!!!

; p

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