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July 08, 2004

Comments

It's exactly parallel.

Neither Moore nor his supporters actually want to prove the charge that Bush has failed to go after the real perpetrators of 9/11 (The Saudis). This would require work.

Rather, Moore makes a scattershot of poisonous, dangling accusations, in hopes that enuff muck will stick to Bush, causing his political defeat.

Exactly what McCarthy did to a lot of folks -- use the accusation to force political concession.

Very simple. But, only effective, though, if conflicted souls, who oppose Bush, but know Moore is a vicious liar, choose the head-in-the-sand route of moral decision-making.

So far, the jury is still out!

Ruined a few other people's lives? No big deal right?

So whose lives has Moore's film ruined? I wouldn't begin to defend it, but the proper analogues are people like Coulter & Limbaugh, not McCarthy.

Moore - film maker expressing an opinion that some others disagree with.

McCarthy - senator exploiting anti-communist hysteria to get people blacklisted and jailed through a government investigation.

I have some difficulty understanding a filmmaker being criticised for half-truths, guilt-by-association and innuendo by people using exactly the mechanisms that they object to.

It's not even remotely parallel.

All together now: Moore is an entertainer...he does not work for the government...we do not pay his salary...we do not have to go see his movies...unless we go see his movie, he has no effect over our lives whatsoever, and even then, he merely makes an argument...he has no control over policy...he can't drag people before the senate or send troops into war.

Comparing Moore to McCarthy or Bush or whomever to draw parallels between his use of innuendo and that of Paid Public Servants is ludicrous.

Really, really, really, really, really it is.

PS...that was just for fun... ;-)

Neither Moore nor his supporters actually want to prove the charge that Bush has failed to go after the real perpetrators of 9/11 (The Saudis). This would require work.

Actually, would this require any work at all? Can you point to anything Bush has done to pressure the Saudi government to cut down on their hate-spewing madrases, etc.?

I have some difficulty understanding a filmmaker being criticised for half-truths, guilt-by-association and innuendo by people using exactly the mechanisms that they object to.

And many of the same people who defended President Bush's use of half-truths, guilt-by-association and innuendo to make the case for invading Iraq as not lies. Yep. Strange days indeed.

Well, of course, Moore is not as effective or ruthless at McCarthy was. That's true.

But so what? The tactics are identical:

1. Make wild accusations to reap political benefits.

2. Once political benefits reaped, forget about prior accusations made.

Boy, the "ostrich" crowd is ridin' high!:)

Navy Davy

p.s. Wasn't there some silly movies made about Clinton, alleging Ron Brown murder conspiracies, or some other stuff? Can we find them, so I can properly denounce them?:)

It's not even remotely parallel. All together now: Moore is an entertainer...he does not work for the government...

Sebastian is merely pointing out that McCarthy and Moore share similar (indeed, nearly identical) tactics, and that their "work" is thus being defended with similar arguments. Both cared only for the ends (sometimes disingenuously called the "big picture"). But the means matter.

My Word, Navy Davy: it seems that I'm now agreeing with you in pretty much every post. Have I lurched three notches to the right, or you three notches to the left?

Oh, for the love of...

No, it is not the same thing as McCarthyism. Characterizing McCarthy's larger truth as "Communism is dangerous" is rather generous. "Communism is dangerous" was not a controversial assessment in the 1950s. McCarthy argued that Communists had infiltrated the State Department and the army and the entertainment industry, gave specific numbers, accused specific people, and ruined their careers. If his accusations led to actual convictions of actual communist spies this is the first I've heard of it. I know that respectable historians have argued that Soviet espionage was a real threat, but they also say things like this:

None of it exculpates McCarthy. He remains a political bully who hurt a number of people. But his exaggerated and baseless charges also harmed the anti-communist cause. In a variant of Gresham's Law, his bad charges trivialized and weakened good ones. Genuine Soviet spies portrayed themselves as victimized by McCarthyism. They found sympathetic listeners, convinced that anyone accused of espionage or communism must be innocent because some innocent people were accused.

What lives, specifically, has Michael Moore ruined? Who has he unfairly accused of what? Anyone besides George W. Bush? Are the liberal defenders of the movie really saying its dishonest innuendoes are okay because they "serve larger truths" or that there is separate, truthful information in the film and there is more of it than the crappy innuendo? I've only heard the second defense from people I know. (Again, I haven't seen it myself.)

The President of the United States is going to be attacked. Some of these attacks are going to be unfair and dishonest innuendos. This is unfortunate, and it isn't right, but is not new and it is sure as hell not McCarthyism. It has happened in every presidential election I remember. Probably every presidential election since, oh, I don't know, ever. I don't have to go back to 2000 and the allegations of whisper campaigns in South Carolina, or Vince Foster and all the crap thrown against Clinton, or Willy Horton, or CREEP; Bush has done it in his own official ads about Kerry, and I won't be at all surprised if Kerry does it in his ads against Bush.

If you're going to insist on pretending otherwise, and coming down with public cases of the vapors whenever Bush's honor is insulted, at least try to keep the historical analogies less embarrassing than this.

Well, of course, Moore is not as effective or ruthless at McCarthy was. That's true.

Moore is not as employed by the government or elected to office as McCarthy was either. But this is a very useful construct, Davy:

1. Make wild accusations to reap political benefits.

2. Once political benefits reaped, forget about prior accusations made.

Let's apply it to the search for WMD, for example. Or the connections between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks. It's very useful indeed.

Only thing being, it's much more serious when you apply it to someone who's sworn to faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States.

"All together now: Moore is an entertainer...he does not work for the government...we do not pay his salary...we do not have to go see his movies...unless we go see his movie, he has no effect over our lives whatsoever, and even then, he merely makes an argument..."

Whew, I'm so glad to see Edward finally admit to the complete and utter worthlessness of 'art' when it comes to changing ideas in culture. No more silly pretentions about art 'helping people see' or 'explaining' everything.

Yup, that is film for you: if you fail to see it "no effect over our lives whatsoever". It certainly doesn't have the power to effect the cultural mood in such a way as to effect those who don't see it. Nope. Art not good for that. Is it just films that have no effect? Or does that apply to novels too?

Do you honestly believe that it is impossible for a popular filmmaker to have as much effect as a Senator? Really?

I would bet right now that more people in the US know who Moore is than any single non-Hilary Senator who is also not currently on a Presidential ticket. Frankly I should probably be willing to throw in Edwards.....and maybe even Kerry.

Can you point me to anything in Moore's movie that's a lie on the scale of McCarthy's claim that he was a holding a list with the names of 57 communists in the State Dept. (when, if memory serves, he was holding a laundry list)?

I understand the appeal of the superficial parallelism, but I think Moore brings facts to people's attention in an effort to raise questions and get people talking about issues, and that's entirely different from using lies to demagogue decent people for political gain.

never mind me. what katherine said.

"1. Make wild accusations to reap political benefits.

2. Once political benefits reaped, forget about prior accusations made.

Let's apply it to the search for WMD, for example. Or the connections between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks. It's very useful indeed."

Yes, let's do that. What are your specific charges against Bush on that account? Care to quote any speeches? Which accusations were wild? The WMD charges were believed by almost every large government in the world. What else?

Also remember that Moore is at the beginning of his high-level popularity. You are comparing his beginning to the whole course of McCarthy's career.

"I think Moore brings facts to people's attention in an effort to raise questions and get people talking about issues, and that's entirely different from using lies to demagogue decent people for political gain."

Facts like:
"Afghanistan was invaded for an oil pipeline?"

"Bush is in the pocket of the Saudis" (even though they strongly objected to BOTH the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq)

"Bush let bin Ladens fly out while traffic was grounded" (When they left only after air-traffic had resumed)

WHICH FACTS DO YOU BELIEVE MOORE RAISES?

Sebastian is merely pointing out that McCarthy and Moore share similar (indeed, nearly identical) tactics, and that their "work" is thus being defended with similar arguments. Both cared only for the ends (sometimes disingenuously called the "big picture"). But the means matter.

Yes, Von, but I'd be more convinced that Sebastian was honestly outraged if he chose a political figure who used nearly-identical tactics to Moore, whose work was defended with similiar arguments (and attacked with similar venom), who also cared only for the ends* and not for the means. President George W. Bush.

But that would require a naked honesty of which it appears few Bush supporters are capable.

*The similiarities between Bush and McCarthy are even more compelling, of course, since they are both electioneering politicians with the power to really ruin people's lives.

"The President of the United States is going to be attacked. Some of these attacks are going to be unfair and dishonest innuendos. This is unfortunate, and it isn't right, but is not new and it is sure as hell not McCarthyism."

I feel dumb quoting a comment on the same thread, but Katherine is as right-on as right-on can be.

Whew, I'm so glad to see Edward finally admit to the complete and utter worthlessness of 'art' when it comes to changing ideas in culture. No more silly pretentions about art 'helping people see' or 'explaining' everything.

Sorry Sebastian, but you'll need to retake my art appreciation class in the Fall. You seemed to have missed the very critical lecture on how all Art (with an uppercase A) is totally useless. Once it has a use (such as propaganda) you need to evaluate that use within a different context from that in which you evaluate it as Art to be taken seriously in a Fine Art context.

If you want to gloss over the finer points of previous arguments and just be politcally snarky that's one thing. If you want to seriously deconstruct F911 within a Fine Art context, great...let's do it. I'll start...

It's not great Art, but it's good.

Thematically, it's inconsistent, unfocussed, and overtly one-sided.* There's no subtlety to the message, no depth, no layering. Texturally it's rather two-dimensional, and the humor is base.

Visually, within its documentary style production, it has its moments, but overall there's not much thought seems to have gone into the palette or mood (even in set up interviews, such as the family of the lost soldier...the picture was fine, but not really noteworthy) and the visual pales in comparison with his very effective, often hilarious, use of music.

Editing-wise, it is excellent. Very effective short punches, very effective juxtaposistions and voice-overs. This is where Moore is clearly an Artist with an uppercase A. The rhythm of his segments pulses. At times he lingers just enough to tweak your heartstrings, but not so longer you feel voyueristic. He can cut to a shot and match music and voice-over with laser-guided precision. It's a joy to behold.

Shall we go on?


*All those things, however, do make it good propaganda.

I feel dumb quoting a comment on the same thread, but Katherine is as right-on as right-on can be.

Katherine usually is.

But Fahrenheit 911 is evidently getting on Sebastian's nerves; he usually does a lot better than this, even on topics he feels very strongly about.

I have to admit, I haven't yet seen F911*, and am therefore confining my comments to the attacks on F911, which are (from Bush supporters) entertaining enough even without having seen the movie.

*I want to go see it, and definitely plan to, but so far time and space have not coincided to let me.

Please remind me again, what political office does Michael Moore hold?

And what does free enterprise and free speech have to do with any of this?

Von,

My Word, Navy Davy: it seems that I'm now agreeing with you in pretty much every post. Have I lurched three notches to the right, or you three notches to the left?

I have seen the error of my ways, and have decided to adopt in toto every view you possess:)

Is political power the only kind of power possible? Can a person be powerful and not be a politician?

Just curious?

Katherine,

If his accusations led to actual convictions of actual communist spies this is the first I've heard of it.

Heard of the Rosenbergs? Elizabeth Bentley? Harry Dexter White? Alger Hiss?

I urge you to read The Venona Papers and anything by historians Klehr or Haynes.

But, back to Moore, Fair Katherine:

1. Did he make slanderous accusations against President Bush or not?

Yes or No would be fine:)

Okay, that's it. I saw F9/11 last weekend, and didn't think it good enough to see again. But after the series of fine Moore reviews on Obsidian Wings, I now think that Moore deserves even more of my hard-earned money, and I'm going to hit a matinee on the weekend. Hope it isn't as packed with cheering viewers as the first time I saw it.

Oh, before I forget: good cite to Klehr, Katherine!

"You seemed to have missed the very critical lecture on how all Art (with an uppercase A) is totally useless. Once it has a use (such as propaganda) you need to evaluate that use within a different context from that in which you evaluate it as Art to be taken seriously in a Fine Art context."

Edward, you keep defending Moore with "he is an entertainer". Yet his work is touted as 'documentary'. Is there to be no distinction in analysis between the two? Are there not certain requirements for a documentarian that are more strict than those for any old entertainer?

If Moore's 'work' were being billed as akin to Spiderman II, I would have absolutely no problem with it as the work of fiction that it is.

If I attack the truthfulness of a reporter, is it proper form of defense to say that he is 'writer' and 'writers' can take license with the truth?

So. Would you care to analyze it as a 'documentary'.

Sebastian said: Also remember that Moore is at the beginning of his high-level popularity.

Is he? How do you know?

Me, I think that his high-level popularity is likely to wane after the November election: I think Moore showed at his best with a real target to attack, a real cause to champion, and with Bush gone from the White House, Moore will likely never have another success the size of Fahrenheit 911.

That should be triply consoling: One, no Michael Moore picking up Oscars any more: Two, no more President Bush making all Republicans look bad: and Three, a new target for Republican venom in the shape of President Kerry. Attacking Clinton was getting old: it'll be much more fun to have a brand-new Democrat President to go for. Cheer up, Sebastian. You only have reason to feel depressed about Moore if Bush manages to get appointed President again in November, and how likely is that?

I think Moore showed at his best with a real target to attack, a real cause to champion, and with Bush gone from the White House, Moore will likely never have another success the size of Fahrenheit 911.

I heard this about Limbaugh and Clinton IIRC.

Katherine said: If [McCarthy's] accusations led to actual convictions of actual communist spies this is the first I've heard of it.

Navy Davy replied: Heard of the Rosenbergs? Elizabeth Bentley? Harry Dexter White? Alger Hiss?

I just wanna preserve this particular exchange.

Now let me ask you, Navy Davy. What in the name of anything you hold holy did Joe McCarthy (which is who Katherine was specifically talking about) have to do with any of the people you name? Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950; the Army-McCarthy hearings didn't happen until 1954. McCarthy didn't even make his laundry-list speech until Hiss was already on trial for the second time!

Moore has certainly struck a nerve here. Apparently, "connecting dots" without proof of the connection equals lying, unless done by the Bush administration, or unless a Clinton is the target.
If Kerry is elected, with R's still in control of Congress, how long until the investigations start up again?

Fair David,
I urge you to read The Venona Papers and anything by historians Klehr or Haynes.

Dr. Harvey Klehr of Emory University? He wrote the article I linked to and quoted from.

(this Marshall McLuhan moment is sheer luck on my part. I am not remotely any kind of expert on this topic and I have not read his books. He makes a convincing case that the threat was real, and specifically mentions the Rosenbergs, Hiss, Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie, and Elizabeth Bentley. He says that Bentley defected in 1945, and most of these spies were revealed by the Venona decryptions which were in the late 1940s. He does not seem to think McCarthy deserves any credit for any of this, and thinks his false accusations helped the guilty as well as harming the innocent.)

Would you care to analyze it as a 'documentary'.

That's a fair question. And long overdue in all the back and forth across the internet.

As a documentary, F911 is awful. Using Ken Burns' "Civil War" as the standard (or "Lewis and Clark" which I liked more, or the others), in F911 Moore is anything but objective or balanced or scholarly or even comprehensive. He's selective to a fault, totally subjective, and flippant.

I haven't seen "Bowling for Columbine," but one of my first thoughts upon seeing F911 was "How the hell did this guy win an Oscar in the Documentary category?" He's a muckraking hack in the context of documentary filmmaking.

In the context of muckraking hacks, however, he's a God.

Having seen "The Control Room" but not "F 9/11", I'd be willing to bet a little money that The Control Room is the better movie. Not that there aren't problems with that one too, but there is some balance and you learn something.

Can't decide if I should see "The Control Room" or "The Corporation" next. I get to see only about 2 movies a month unfortunately.

Dr. Harvey Klehr of Emory University? He wrote the article I linked to and quoted from.

Yeah, that was good! I did give you credit for this at 6:52 post above: Oh, before I forget: good cite to Klehr, Katherine

See, I'm always Fair, Katherine:)

Now, go read the Klehr books!

Whenever Von and Navy agree, I just have to concur, right Edward.

In summary, it looks like everyone here believes that Moore's 9-11 movie is a crock just like Moore, himself.

I like how Moore's crime is "getting his idea out," while Sebastian blissfully chooses to ignore the fact that McCarthy destroyed innocent people's lives and careers for political gain.

Sebastian
"Is political power the only kind of power possible? Can a person be powerful and not be a politician?"

The price we pay for an open society eh? When you start harping on the 700 club and the NRA channel then I'll still tell you to turn the channel or don't buy a ticket.
But when the president sends friends of mine to die while we take resources away from the hunt for Osama bin Laden or any other direct threat then you can tell me to turn the channel...
honestly though, under the circumstances, I don't see it working as well.

Sebastian
You are certainly taking the administration's classes and putting them to good use. I never suspected so many fans of Nigel from Spinal Tap in that crowd though.
Keep turning up the hyperbole machine to '11' and the rhetoric levels to the same number. I'm certain it works in restuarants. I'm not so certain about the voting booth though.

Timmy tried to summarise a complicated thread: In summary, it looks like everyone here believes that Moore's 9-11 movie is a crock just like Moore, himself.

That's a crock of a summary, Tim. I'm just saying.

Which lie? How about the "i never said immememnt" lie?

Even Daniel Drezner said you lost that argument sebastian. You going to fess up to that chimpsky saying that lie or not?

Sheesh.

It is indeed an interesting parallel...

• Their last names both begin with "M"

• They're both from the Midwest (which also begins with "M")

• Moore has a secretary named Kennedy; McCarthy once owned a used Lincoln

Does Moore have subpoena powers to compell testimony or disclose documents? Can he prosecute folks for contempt of Congress, or can he just accuse them of contempt of the American people? Just wondering.

Actually jerry, I believe if you read Drezner's post on the 'imminent' question he says that I lost that bet on the wording of the question presented--i.e. there was an example of an official suggesting the threat was imminent at an early part of the debate, and I lost on that basis even though he believed that 'imminent threat' was never a major part of the case and that for most of the debate (and all of the later part of the debate) Bush's administration strenuously argued against an 'imminent threat' standard.

But keep those 'lies' coming. I look forward to you jumping all over the time Bush said the Earth was round when everyone knows it actually bulges toward the equator.

Actually, it's a slightly irregular oblate spheroid. With pear-shaped and other components, of course. But Bush never said round, he said rounded.

I think it depends what you're drawing a parallel between.

If it's broad tactics and philosophy, then I'd say there's an interesting point there.

If it's a comparison of abuse of influence, I'd say it's more than a touch on the ludicrous side.

Slartibartfast: If I had a fijord, I'd give you it for your post at July 9, 2004 03:45 AM. Excellent!

:]

I notice that Giblets comes down on Sebastian's side on this, noting further that Big Bird uses the same techniques as Hitler.

(Dare I claim to be the first to allude to an earlier thread with this next sentence?)

Seems like every Moore thread occasions some serious pudding on the wall.

[Text deleted by editor]

Sebastian, I don't really want to extend the pudding mess, but since you asked, the whole point of this thread is that Moore makes very few actual accusations (for example, I don't think he actually says the war in Afghanistan was started to help an oil pipeline, although as an aside, I think that may be the weakest part of the movie).

As I think I've said before, I don't think Bush wakes up and thinks of what he can do to help the Saudis, even if it's not in America's interest. But at the same time, given the stories of tourists being locked up in solitary confinement for 9 months on suspicion of terrorism because they videotaped part of Manhattan, I find it very hard to believe that anyone thinks the Bin Laden family did not get special treatment when they were flown out of the country on the very first flights, after minimal questioning.

Off the top of my head, other facts I think he brought out include the inauguration protests, the electoral college protests, the tactics of military recruiters, the tactics of businesses engaged in what's starting to look like war-profiteering, etc.

Too Kind By Half,

Please read the site's posting rules.

You're welcome to contribute comments, but words like imbecile and idiot violate the "Be reasonably civil" rule.

Sebastian is neither, and further reading of the site will show you that.

In fact, an apology should precede any additional comments, should you wish to keep commenting here.

Good thing the president never directly said "imminent threat" because now he won't look contradictory about having only 13,500 troops in Afghanistan but 140,000 troops in Iraq.

"Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenants, operating from hideouts suspected to be along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, are directing a Qaeda effort to launch an attack in the United States sometime this year." - NY Times, 7/9/04

He obviously doesn't see an imminent threat to America's security as a priority worthy of expending resources on.

What he does prioritize is still a mystery though.

Democracy in the Middle East? Yeah right.
Stability there? He has a strange way of going about it.
Peace? huh?
Oil? Well it's obviously important to our economy but again - he has a strange way of going about it.

"Facts like:
'Afghanistan was invaded for an oil pipeline?'
'Bush is in the pocket of the Saudis'...
'Bush let bin Ladens fly out while traffic was grounded'"
...

You think attributing quotes to Moore's film that aren't actual quotes is a legitimate mode of argument?"

When the Moore film uses almost exclusively innuendo to make his suggestive argumentation, of course I have to do that do address him at all. We all do. Moore doesn't explicitly say anything in his movie. If I was restricted only to the explicit arguments Moore makes I could only address: "Bush exists".

You are asking me to ignore everything about how film works and how Moore argues. He almost never argues explicitly, he always argues by suggestive juxtaposition. In my view, the difference between Moore's suggestions and the so-called 'Bush lies' is that in Bush's case the suggested interpretation of the juxtaposed elements directly contradicts the message of the speechs in which they are imbedded. In Moore's case the juxtaposed elements are the whole argument.

If you do not understand that the film argues that Afghanistan was invaded for a pipeline then you do not understand the film.

Under your interpretation of the film Moore basically makes no arguments or statements whatsoever.

And if you believe that, you don't understand the film at all.

Sebastian is a smart man, but he has done a foolish thing. He has angered our overlords at the Faflog...

[Text deleted by editor.]

In my view, the difference between Moore's suggestions and the so-called 'Bush lies' is that in Bush's case the suggested interpretation of the juxtaposed elements directly contradicts the message of the speechs in which they are imbedded.

Ah. So when Bush referenced 911 and Saddam Hussein in the same paragraph of SOTU 2003

Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes.cite

in your view, this argument by juxtaposition of unconnected events (it would only have been a "lie", of course, if Michael Moore had done it) was in direct contradiction to the message that the US intended to invade Iraq?

Sebastian
The terrific movie Roshomon has a plot description that may read : "A rape-and-murder incident in a forest is reported by four witnesses."

But as you say, "if you believe that, you don't understand the film at all."

typo: Rashomon

Saw this film last night and have refrained from discussing it till having done so.

See the film. All of you. Especially if you want to discuss it intelligently.

I also must take issue with Sebastian's quoting Moore saying: "Afghanistan was invaded for an oil pipeline?"

Here's what Moore actually says in the film:

Or was the war in Afghanistan really about something else? Perhaps the answer was in Houston, Texas. In 1997 while George W. Bush was Governor of Texas, a delegation of Taliban leaders from Afghanistan flew to Houston to meet with Unocal executives to discuss the building of a pipeline through Afghanistan bringing natural gas from the Caspian Sea. And who got a Caspian Sea drilling contract the same day Unocal signed the pipeline deal? A company headed by a man named Dick Cheney: Halliburton.

MARTHA BRILL OLCOTT: The point of view of the US government is this was kind of a magic pipeline (laugh), um, because it could serve so many purposes.

NARRATOR: And who else stood to benefit from the pipeline? Bush's number one campaign contributor, Kenneth Lay, and the good people of Enron. (shot of BBC News website, 3 December 1997) Only the British press covered this trip. Then in 2001, just 5 1/2 months before 9/11, the Bush Administration welcomed a special Taliban envoy to tour the United States to help improve the image of the Taliban government.

NARRATOR: Here is the Taliban official visiting our State Department to meet with US officials. Why on Earth did the Bush administration allow a Taliban leader to visit the United States knowing that the Taliban were harboring the man who bombed the USS Cole and our African embassies? Well, I guess 9/11 put a stop to that. When the invasion of Afghanistan was complete we installed its new president, Hamid Karzai. Who was Hamid Karzai? He was a former advisor to Unocal. Bush also appointed as his envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad who was also a former Unocal advisor. I guess you can probably see where this is leading. Faster than you can say Black Gold Texas Tea, Afghanistan signed an agreement with her neighboring countries to build a pipeline through Afghanistan carrying natural gas from the Caspian Sea. Oh, and the Taliban? Uh, they mostly got away. As did Osama bin Laden and most of al Qaeda.

- from this transcript

Look, if you want to disagree with the facts as presented, then go ahead. You do your criticism a great disservice, however, by making stuff up.

My belief after having seen the film is that it neither a documentary nor propaganda per se. It is rather a personal essay by Moore who has the means to get it into about 1500 theaters in the country. It will serve as documentary to those who did not know the facts presented - believe it or not there are folks out there who have never even heard of the blogosphere ;-). It will serve as propaganda to those who are not able to discern fact from opinion.

Are some of the facts presented inaccurate? Perhaps, so discuss them.

Moore seems to me to be frank about this:

This movie is perhaps the most thoroughly researched and vetted documentary of our time. No fewer than a dozen people, including three teams of lawyers and the venerable one-time fact-checkers from The New Yorker went through this movie with a fine-tooth comb so that we can make this guarantee to you. Do not let anyone say this or that isn't true. If they say that, they are lying. Let them know that the OPINIONS in the film are mine, and anyone certainly has a right to disagree with them. And the questions I pose in the movie, based on these irrefutable facts, are also mine. And I have a right to ask them. And I will continue to ask them until they are answered.

- from his July 4th message.

Now are Moore's researchers and the New Yorker's fact checkers more reliable than the CIA on Iraq prior to the war? It remains to be seen, but that he has made an effort to distinguish fact from opinion, to my mind at least, is a step up from the production we've witnessed from the White House Office of Global Communications.

If you do not understand that the film argues that Afghanistan was invaded for a pipeline then you do not understand the film.

If you do not understand that the film poses the question of whether the pipeline and the relationship of Karzai and Khalizad to it's construction might have influenced how the war and aftermath in Afghanistan was prosecuted...

If you do not understand that the film wonders if the relationship between Bush and Bandar might have influenced the response to 9/11 and the relative abandonment of the search for Al Qaedea and Bin Laden in lieu of a massive campaign in Iraq...

... then you too should be up in arms with the arguments presented by the White House for the war against Iraq and the post hoc justifications since they evaporated.

I won't hold my breath. ;-)

Oh and one more thing before drifting out of the blogosphere in answer to the siren call of the Real World that seems to have gripped Katherine as well... Morford's right.

Yermum, are you agreeing or disagreeing with me? Because your preface suggests you are disagreeing with me, but your quoted section doesn't seem like it. If you think I am misinterpreting that passage, please share what you think the proper interpretation ought to be.

Jesurgislac, even divorced of other context, the paragraph you quote proves my point exactly. You want the juxtaposition to mean that Bush is suggesting Saddam caused 9/11. But the explicit argument of that paragraph is about how 9/11 revealed a totally different kind of risk, and a risk that Saddam could contribute to. That paragraph is forward looking and talking about avoiding the risk of Saddam being involved in future 9/11-like events.

This is made even more explicit in the next paragraph:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

You want such juxtapositions to mean that Bush made a faulty argument about Saddam being directly involved in 9/11. But the clear and explicit argument is that Saddam has terrorist connections and can not be trusted to refrain from using them in future attacks against the U.S.

You can certainly argue in good faith that such a standard as applied to Saddam is unfair. You could argue that Saddam could in fact be trusted to refrain from using his terrorist connections in such a way. But that is not the same as calling Bush a liar for suggesting that Saddam caused 9/11. He suggested that the past actions of Saddam led Bush to the belief that Saddam was not likely to be a good candidate for long term detterance.

My interpretations of Moore's juxtapositions are not contradicted by his explicit arguments because he restricts himself almost entirely to suggestive juxtapositions. Either you must say that Moore makes practically no arguments whatsoever--which takes a supreme act of misreading, or you must admit that he argues mostly by suggestion.

And frankly it is supremely frustrating that I have to spend time defending the idea that his film might actually make an argument or two instead of talking about the truth of the arguments. It is one thing to say that I have misinterpreted his arguments and then explain what they are. That would be engaging in discussion.

It is another thing to say I have misinterpreted his arguments and then refuse to explain what you think his arguments are. That would be engaging in annoyance.

But it is another thing entirely to suggest that Moore does not make arguments just because he does not make them explicit. I'm not sure what that is, but it isn't a good reading of the film.

Like so much of the criticism of Moore, Holsclaw simply devolves into ad hominem attacks about him and his film. Many of the above posts have already shredded the premise of this post, which are largely unanswered by Holsclaw. No reason to add more.

Except to emphasize that the basic premise for attacking Moore -- that he presents all sorts of distorted innuedo and misleading factual narrative, applies precisely to most of the positions of the Bush administration. From playing games with science to lying about Iraq, Bush & Crew are well in front of Moore in this department.

I wasn't clear... to me the argument is decidedly not that the war was fought for a pipeline. It is rather that the war was fought because Al Quaeda and Taliban were undisputedly culpable in the events of 9/11.

The argument, such as it is, seems to be that the pipeline issue and the relationship of key players to it rather may have informed the manner in which the war and follow up (or lack thereof) was prosecuted.

It also fits neatly into the parallel narrative offered by Moore of the benefits reaped by the "haves" and the "have mores" at the expense of the "backbone of america". If you want an argument, made by Moore, I'd say that's it - not that Bush invaded Afghanistan for a pipeline deal.

It is perhaps a dispute of interpretation, but I think your reading on this particular point is simplistic and incorrect. That there were interests who benefitted from the deal is not factually in dispute, is it? That some who benefitted are within Bush's sphere of influence is of some consequence, is it not? I would have thought that those who were installed in positions of power in the post-war were favorable to the pipeline is of interest, given what we have known for some time about the administration's tendencies to appoint individuals to positions of power based on ideological synchronicity.

In my view, Moore presents questions that should be asked and answered.

"to me the argument is decidedly not that the war was fought for a pipeline. It is rather that the war was fought because Al Quaeda and Taliban were undisputedly culpable in the events of 9/11."

But that isn't what your quoted passage says at all. It doesn't address Al Qaeda or Taliban culpability in 9/11 as a reason for the attack at all. It goes from pipeline discussions to invasion to 'installing' a leader to pipeline contracts. 9/11 seems to mentioned only as a time reference.

Furthermore my interpretation is wholly in line with previous statements of the artist on the topic of the pipeline and Afghanistan.

"That there were interests who benefitted from the deal is not factually in dispute, is it? That some who benefitted are within Bush's sphere of influence is of some consequence, is it not?"

Here you play a coy game worthy of Moore. That 'interests' tend to benefit from 'deals' is practically a tautology. The whole purpose of deals is to serve interests. Nothing at all shocking about that. That some who benefited are within Bush's sphere of influence means what exactly? Bush worked in the oil business. Oil businesses tend to have interests in fossil fuel pipelines. That they would fall under the President of the United States' 'influence' is completely banal. Unless you mean to imply something else? And of course you do. But to come out and say what you imply--that a noticeable part of the invasion of Afghanistan was about oil interests--would look silly because it is silly. So instead you merely leave the innuendo out there hanging where it does not have to be explicitly addressed.

And look you do it again here: "...the administration's tendencies to appoint individuals to positions of power based on ideological synchronicity."

Which administration are you talking about here? I hope I don't shock you but.... all Presidential administrations tend to appoint individuals to positions of power based on ideological synchronicity to a very very large extent. When Presidents of any political party appoint people that are non ideologically in synch it a something very noticeable because it is very rare. That ought to be an entirely non-shocking non-revelation to anyone who has paid attention to politics for more than a minute. Yet you attempt to infuse it with dark intentions.

You want such juxtapositions to mean that Bush made a faulty argument about Saddam being directly involved in 9/11. But the clear and explicit argument is that Saddam has terrorist connections and can not be trusted to refrain from using them in future attacks against the U.S.

I thought so. Sure, Bush never explicitly said that Saddam Hussein was connected to September 11. Any more that Moore explicitly said that Bush & Co's attack on Afghanistan was fuelled by the need for that convenient pipeline.

You've conceded, in your persistent attacks on Moore, that this kind of argument amounts to a lie.

What your justifications of Bush's lies amount to is that the President of the US is entitled to lie to Congress and to the people of the US if the cause is right. I disagree: especially I disagree if the cause is that of leading the US to war.

To make the further point:

Moore could have made a documentary in which he outlined Bush and Cheney's connections to the oil industry: clear, factual, correct. It doesn't appear that's what he did (I still haven't seen F911, so I'm not making any judgements on it, but assuming that you have, I'll accept yours for the moment). That would have been an interesting film to watch (I'm a documentary nerd), but would probably not have drawn the crowds that F911 has.

Bush could have made a clear, factual, correct speech in which he outlined what actual threat Saddam Hussein presented to the world. That would have presented some difficulty, since if Bush had been honest, he would have had to admit:

1. Present day connections to terrorists amount to cash gifts from Saddam Hussein to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Palestinian suicide bombers do not represent an immediate threat to the US.

2. There may exist some evidence that several years in the past al Qaeda approached Saddam Hussein, but there is no current evidence (going back five or six years) of any immediate connection: al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are politically opposed.

2. Current evidence of Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological stockpiles is sketchy. He might have them, but experts suggest that any remaining stockpiles that Clinton didn't get are deteriorated to uselessness by now.

3. There is no evidence at all of any nuclear threat from Iraq.

4. We don't know what the state of his chemical/biological weapons development is. Since Clinton forced the UN weapons inspection teams out of Iraq in 1998, they haven't been allowed back in.

Those are 4 honest points, and make a good case for threatening Saddam Hussein to get the UN weapons inspections teams back in - and, as we know, he let them in, they inspected, and - as Kay confirmed - found nothing because there was nothing to find.

Bush didn't try to make an honest case for invasion, because he didn't have an honest case for invasion. Instead he used a farrago of innuendo, juxtapositions of unconnected events, made claims on dubious evidence, and altogether, Sebastian, if you're going to call F911 a lie, you have to call the 2003 SOTU a lie.

The difference: in F911 Moore does what any citizen in a free country is entitled to do. He criticized the government. This may upset loyalists, but even loyalists should acknowledge that he had a right to do it.

You may think that the President has a right to lie in the SOTU because if he can't make an honest case against someone he thinks is a threat, he should make a dishonest case. I disagree. The President speaking in the SOTU isn't speaking as a private citizen: he doesn't have the freedom of Michael Moore to say what he likes regardless of consequences.

The consequences of Bush's lies in SOTU 2003 have included 1001 American dead in Iraq as of this day: Iraqi dead reached the 10 000 mark some time again.

You defend Bush: you attack Moore. They've both used the same tactics. I think you're wrong both times, and your priorities do you no credit.

[Text deleted by editor]

"But it is another thing entirely to suggest that Moore does not make arguments just because he does not make them explicit."

Dear God it's like I woke up in Bizarro World.

I agree with Giblets. This is an interestin' idea.

You will have noticed that the content of three posts were deleted from this thread; their authors have also been banned. I'm not particularly tolerant of egregious violators, particularly ones who jump in, post and jump out again.

You will also note that dmbeaster's post of 1:26PM (as just one example) has not been touched, altered or commented on by me except here. This is because dmbeaster knows how to disagree - even vehemently - without violating the Posting Rules.

Please calibrate accordingly.

Moe

Jesurgislac, I don't understand how such a fine parser of arguments can quote me while totally ignoring the quoted passage.

You quote this:

You want such juxtapositions to mean that Bush made a faulty argument about Saddam being directly involved in 9/11. But the clear and explicit argument is that Saddam has terrorist connections and can not be trusted to refrain from using them in future attacks against the U.S.


But then you say this:

I thought so. Sure, Bush never explicitly said that Saddam Hussein was connected to September 11. Any more that Moore explicitly said that Bush & Co's attack on Afghanistan was fuelled by the need for that convenient pipeline.

I already outlined what I thought the distinction was. You aren't arguing against it, you just pretend I didn't address it at all. Which is exactly what you do to the Bush arguments in order to turn them into the Bush 'lies'.

Bush is making an explicit argument in the State of the Union. That argument is explicitly found in and around the passages you quote. I discuss that arguemnt at length above. That explicit argument IS NOT IN HARMONY with the juxtaposition/innuendo argument which you claim that Bush was making. It is in fact in contradiction with that argument.

Moore is not making an explicit argument. He avoids making explicit arguments. He argues mainly by suggestive juxtaposition and innuendo. Therefore my proposed interpretations of his arguments (which by the way I do not see you labeling as incorrect interpretations) are not in conflict with his explicit arguments. They could not be, because Moore chooses to avoid explicit arguments.

What you do with Bush is pretend that his explicit arguments do not exist. You give zero weight to the explicit arguments and 100% weight to your interpretation of what you see as an implicit argument.

That is a little weird.

I would love to address Moore's explicit arguments, but he purposely chooses not to make them. That is why we fall back on analyzing the innuendo--BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING ELSE.

I believe that Giblets has already firmly established exactly why the main thesis spawning this thread is so worthy of consideration, so shall not comment further.

I would simply like to point out, for those who, earlier, were looking for examples of Bush outright lying, that they're not really that hard to find.

"For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose.

But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details."

Of course, it can be claimed that Bush, himself, never actually specifically said "this flight did not take place." There was another occupier of that office in your country, though, who believed very firmly in the adage "the buck stops here." If The White House says something and Bush, though he disagrees with it, cannot prevent it, then he is a terrible president who cannot even run his own administration. It is to be assumed, therefore, that Bush agrees with statements made by the White House. Fleischer and McClellan were and are the Metatron, they are conduits only for the message from on high.

Last time I checked, saying something that was the exact opposite to what you know is true is pretty much the textbook definition of a lie, needing no "by omission" prosethes to justify the use of the word.

Of course, I make no judgements. Maybe it's OK, over there in the Land Of The Free, to lie about Saudi Dictators being given authorisation to fly private aircraft before American citizens, two days after fifteen Saudis bring about the deaths of three thousand people. I merely offer the information for public consumption, and trust you all to form your own opinions.

Gibblets establishes something? I believe that by the standards of the Moore defenders on this post he makes no argument whatsoever.

He establishes that you're right about everything, Mr Holsclaw. At least, he does for me.

Why, is there a different interpretation you feel one could draw from the text?

I've read that article, McDuff. It falls rather short of substantiating the conclusions you draw. I'm not saying it's unworthy of consideration, just that there's not nearly enough evidence to conclusively support either of:

a) That the government approved the departure as described in the article, or

b) That the government lied about having done so.

Just sayin'. If there was any meat to the story, it'd have been followed up with something more substantial. If that's happened, the St. Pete Times didn't publish it.

Indeed, it's possible that a private aircraft was in the air two days following the September 11th attacks without top-level authorisation. But given that it wasn't shot down by F-16s, and that the foreign nationals on-board were flown out of the country very shortly afterwards -- rather than being detained for questioning for three months -- I am disinclined to stretch the credibility of any hypothetical statements.

As for the White House's denials of this flight, well, it's old">http://www.tampatrib.com/MGA3F78EFSC.html">old news.

JFTR, the denials of the FAA regional office != White House denial. All this article really says is the State Department said it wasn't involved. NSC not returning the call doesn't equate to denial.

As for the rest, it ain't proof. It's a little bit of evidence, but I'd want to see more, conclusive evidence before declaring it proof.

Sebastian, I have to apologize for this. You've been arguing politely and consistently (albeit I still don't agree with you) for a very long time in blogosphere terms, and I appreciate your politeness, if not your consistency, but I've just been away for a very pleasant short break, and now I'm back, I really just don't want to keep on arguing about this. It's gone stale on me. If we were arguing in real life I would at this point nod politely, offer to buy you a drink, and suggest a subject change to whatever we saw on TV last night that wasn't political. Consider the virtual offer made.

Cheers.

Bush is making an explicit argument in the State of the Union. That argument is explicitly found in and around the passages you quote. I discuss that arguemnt at length above. That explicit argument IS NOT IN HARMONY with the juxtaposition/innuendo argument which you claim that Bush was making. It is in fact in contradiction with that argument.

And Brutus is an honorable man.

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