Saturday, July 24, 2004

Rule of Law

For thee, but not for me:
U.S. Immunity in Iraq Will Go Beyond June 30
The Bush administration has decided to take the unusual step of bestowing on its own troops and personnel immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts for killing Iraqis or destroying local property after the occupation ends and political power is transferred to an interim Iraqi government, U.S. officials said. . .
add that to this:
. . . a 2002 order signed by Bush says the president reserves the right to suspend the Geneva Conventions on treatment of prisoners of war at any time . . .
and to this:
U.S. Wants Another UN Exemption from Criminal Court

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Bush administration wants the U.N. Security Council to renew on Friday a controversial resolution exempting American peacekeepers from prosecution by the new International Criminal Court.
Although the resolution is expected to be adopted, diplomats expect opposition among the wider U.N. membership following the U.S. abuse of prisoners in Iraq and general complaints about American unilateralism. .
and this:
Bush set to flout test ban treaty
Global treaty sidelined as scientists gear up to develop next generation of weapons
America's nuclear weapons laboratories have begun preparations to test a new generation of arms after strong signs that the Bush administration may be about to pull out of the landmark Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. .
and this:
ABM Treaty: US intention to withdraw from treaty
U.S. President George Bush announced his intention to unilaterally withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed with the Soviet Union. . .
and this:
When it Comes to Kyoto, the U.S. is the "Rogue Nation"

The rest of the world has decided to proceed with the Kyoto pact despite Washington's withdrawal.'s Tony Karon explains why that may be bad news for U.S. global leadership . .

Wednesday, June 30, 2004



The Poor Man has an impressive list up:
He has lied about his time in the National Guard, and lied about his criminal history. He lied about his relationship with Ken Lay, he lied about who would benefit from his tax cuts, and he lied about stem cells. He lied about his visit to Bob Jones University, he lied about why he wouldn't meet with Log Cabin Republicans, and he lied about reading the EPA report on global warming. He lied about blaming the Clinton administration for the second intifada, he lies constantly about how he pays no attention to polls, he lied about how he loves New York, and he lied about moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He lied about finding WMD in Iraq, he lied about making his decision to go to war, he lied about the CIA's dismissal of the yellowcake rumors, and he lied about the IAEA's assessment of Iraq's nuclear program. He lied about funding the fight against AIDS in Africa, he lied about when the recession started, and he lied about seeing the first plane hit the WTC. He lied about supporting the Patient Protection Act, and he lied about his deficit spending, and now my wrist hurts.
More here, if you can take it.

Meteor Blades Posts Another Headline Round-up

Well, it’s official ... according to the print media.
Washington Post: “Despite the end of the occupation …”
Knight Ridder: “Iraqis see hope in end of U.S.-led occupation”
Los Angeles Times: “…end of a deeply divisive American-led occupation…”
San Francisco Chronicle: “the U.S.-led military occupation had formally ended…”
Miami Herald: “…ended its occupation of Iraq…”
Associated Press: “…the end of the American occupation …”
Arizona Republic:: “…the 160,000 foreign troops in Iraq were transformed from occupiers into guests of a U.S.-backed government.”

A State Treasure

Atrios links to our own inky; columnist and author ("The Hunting of the President", not a documentary) Gene Lyons' latest writing.

October Surprise?

. . .The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission.
. . . Soaries was appointed to the federal Election Assistance Commission last year by President Bush. Soaries said he wrote to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in April to raise the concerns.
. . .Events in Spain, where a terrorist attack shortly before the March election possibly influenced its outcome, show the need for a process to deal with terrorists threatening or interrupting the Nov. 2 presidential election in America, he said. . .

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A Problem I'll Never Have

Billmon is shutting off comments. He was really was brimming with trolls, and I don't blame him one bit. I rarely comment on the bigger blogs anyway, so I won't miss it. When your post is #212 out of 308 your voice really just gets lost in the din. I prefer to just sit back and read the good ones.
However . . . that ain't me. Right now, and probably forever, PW is a small operation (60 or so hits on a good day). It isn't the Whiskey Bar; it's the little pub around the corner where you can enjoy a beer and some conversation with friends.
So . . . if you're dropping by, comment away!

Steve Makes a Prediction

And I think it is a good one:
. . . Not because of wishful thinking, not because I hold him in disdain. But because time and effort is not on his side. This race is close, now, but it won't be for long. Bush is poised on a cliff to go down, LBJ-like down, with only the economy as a possible buffer against disaster. No incumbent president since Truman and LBJ has faced this kind of war time dilemma and neither ran again. Bush's numbers are bad and getting worse. Bush, as an incumbent, should be above 50 percent, and he's not. Which the big red flag of campaigns and even the Bushies know it. They are desperate for the bleeding to stop in Iraq and it won't.
. . . the difference between this and other elections is that the Kerry campaign is not the sole Democratic effort. You don't have to work for Kerry to dump Bush. There's Move On and a bunch of 527 organizations which have created a major distraction for the Bush campaign. The White House has to worry about more than Kerry and his fundraisng. They have a constant rotating set of targets, one day, it's Richard Clarke, the next, it's Michael Moore, then George Soros. None of these men are running for office.
. . . The Bush camapign is as much a captive of events as anything. And the events are all bad. Abu Ghraib, the Plame scandal, losing in the Supreme Court, John Ashcroft repeatedly embarssing himself before the 9/11 commission and Congress. Nothingt has goine right vfor Bush for months. Even Reagan's funeral ended with him getting slammed by Ron Reagan, and open denunciations of plans to tie the Bush and Reagan legacies. Now, rumors are seeping through that Bush is cracking under the pressure.

The Latest Supreme Court Ruling

I'm not sure I %100 agree with this, but what can you do?
WASHINGTON, DC—In a historic decision with major implications for the future of U.S. participatory democracy, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 Monday that the American people are unfit to govern.

The controversial decision, the first of its kind in the 210-year history of U.S. representative government, was, according to Justice David Souter, "a response to the clear, demonstrable incompetence and indifference of the current U.S. citizenry in matters concerning the operation of this nation's government."
As a result of the ruling, the American people will no longer retain the power to choose their own federal, state, and local officials or vote on matters of concern to the public. . .

On the Iraqi "Handover"

Bremer Flees Iraq Two Days Early
Paul Bremer suddenly left Iraq on Monday, having "transferred sovereignty" to the caretaker Iraqi government two days early.
It is hard to interpret this move as anything but a precipitous flight. It is just speculation on my part, but I suspect that the Americans must have developed intelligence that there might be a major strike on the Coalition Provisional Headquarters on Wednesday if a formal ceremony were held to mark a transfer of sovereignty. Since the US military is so weak in Iraq and appears to have poor intelligence on the guerrilla insurgency, the Bush administration could not take the chance that a major bombing or other attack would mar the ceremony.
The surprise move will throw off all the major news organizations, which were planning intensive coverage of the ceremonies originally planned for Wednesday.
This entire exercise is a publicity stunt and has almost no substance to it. Gwen Ifill said on US television on Sunday that she had talked to Condaleeza Rice, and that her hope was that when something went wrong in Iraq, the journalists would now grill Allawi about it rather than the Bush administration. (Or words to that effect). Ifill seems to me to have given away the whole Bush show. That's what this whole thing is about. It is Public Relations and manipulation of journalists. Let's see if they fall for it. . .
Well Juan, they fell for it. Here are the headlines from my regional papers:
Bentonville Morning News -
Problems Remain
U.S. Hands Over Sovereignty Back to Iraq
Power transfer comes two days ahead of schedule
[What's with the tiny script? Are you embarrassed that "problems remain"? -ed]
Rogers Morning News -
U.S. Hands Over Limited Power to Iraqis
[The most honest headline . . . if understated. -ed]
Fayetteville Morning News -
Handover Complete
Iraq Now Sovereign Nation
Rogue militants claiming to have killed soldier
[More tiny stuff, 'cept you're embarrassed about the handover being "complete"? Considering that the nest line is about a dead soldier. Accurate . . . but not so honest. -ed]
Benton County Daily Record -
A New Day
Handover of power in Iraq done early
[As of midnight, June 28th . . . a new day did indeed begin. Very accurate. -ed]
Springdale Morning News -
Early Handover
Iraq Gains Sovereign Identity
Militants claim soldier killed
[Embarrassed again, I guess. -ed]
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, NWA Edition -
U.S. Transfers Power to Iraqis
American captive dies, report says
[. . . sigh . . . -ed]
I agree with Juan that the media will eat this up. However, I think the public will be a little more pragmatic.
I'm convinced this is going to be another "Mission Accomplished" moment. Politically expedient for Bush in the short-term, but damaging for him in the long-term.
How much time will pass before Americans begin to ask, "Great! Iraq is sovereign! Now, uh, when is my dad / uncle / brother / niece / nephew / employee going to come home??". "It ain't going to be soon; and they're still dying" is not the answer folks are looking for.

What . . .

Minds will be changed. Questions will be asked.

Monday, June 28, 2004


I forgot where I heard it first, but this kind of stuff has been compared to "working the refs" . . . harass them on every little thing in the hopes that they will become tentative in making a call against you. Anyway, Kurtz in the NY Post via Slate:
When New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau wrote a story last fall that the FBI didn't like, the bureau responded by trying to freeze him out.

FBI spokeswoman Cassandra Chandler sent top officials a memo disputing the story and assailing "the slanted and biased report[ing] style of Mr. Lichtblau. In the meantime, we encourage each of you to please avoid providing information to this reporter. He has consistently demonstrated that he lacks the ethics of a respected journalist."
During the same period, the Justice Department revoked Lichtblau's credentials -- a move that a spokesman calls coincidental.
"I was very surprised they took the action they did, both at the FBI and the Justice Department," says Lichtblau, whose credentials were restored after the Times protested. Earlier, he was abruptly disinvited from a Justice Department press briefing.
He reported in November, based on an FBI memo, that the bureau had collected extensive information on antiwar demonstrators. FBI officials were quoted as saying the effort was aimed at identifying extremists plotting violence.
. . . Lichtblau isn't the only Justice correspondent who's had prickly relations with the department. A number of news organizations signed a letter to the press office last year complaining about their lack of access to Attorney General John Ashcroft, among other things.
. . . Conservative activist Brent Bozell has long argued that the liberal media are distorting the news. Now, six months before the election, he's paying to get his message out.
Bozell's Media Research Center has raised $2.8 million for newspaper ads in 15 markets, billboards in 40 cities and a talk-radio blitz aimed at countering what he sees as a "liberal jihad" that is unfair to President Bush. The slogan (also on T-shirts and mugs) is not exactly subtle. A finger-pointing Uncle Sam declares: "Don't believe the liberal media!"
"This is a media that in the last year has gotten out of control," Bozell says. "They're so blatant in the way they slant the news. . . . It's as if people in newsrooms have just taken off the gloves, whether it's foreign policy, economic news or political news, there's a spin on everything that's said."
Steve Rendall of the liberal group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting scoffs at the indictment, saying that "things are going badly for the White House in Iraq. Accurately reporting that isn't bias. As for the economy, positive indicators are reported every day. That many Americans still see a net loss of jobs, wages lagging behind inflation and rising health care costs, well, reflecting their views is basic journalism."
. . . A look at the Bozell group's Web site shows that what is depicted as bias often tends to reflect a conservative outlook: Complaints that some journalists were too hard on Ronald Reagan, too easy on Bill Clinton and too critical of Ken Starr. "For Clinton, Dan Rather Is Putty in His Hands," a typical headline says.
. . . The effort is not designed to help Bush or hurt John Kerry, Bozell says. "If Bush wins, the media will continue to try to make his life miserable. If Kerry wins, they'll still be promoting a left-wing agenda."
. . . For decades -- at least since Henry Kissinger did business as a "senior State Department official" on diplomatic trips -- reporters have been complaining about so-called background briefings. But since nobody wants to miss the juicy stuff -- or at least marginally flavorful tidbits unavailable in on-the-record sessions -- news organizations have reluctantly gone along for competitive reasons.
Now New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent, calling these encounters "an affront to journalistic integrity," is demanding a change. Yesterday he challenged the top editors of the Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Associated Press to refuse to cover such briefings unless the officials agree to be identified. If no one played along, the theory goes, the practice would disappear.
Intriguing idea -- but don't hold your breath.

Fear Factor, Episode #985674

From email:

. . . Confusion about the legal limits of interrogation has begun to slow government efforts to obtain information from suspected terrorists, American intelligence officials said Sunday.

Doubts about whether interrogators can employ coercive methods, the officials said, could create problems at the start of a critical summer period when counterterrorism officials fear that Al Qaeda might attack the United States. . .

The rule of law can be so dangerous, don't you know?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's self-coronation at the Dirksen Senate Office Building before a dozen members of Congress provides a window into the doings of a cult leader with a criminal record who is steadily buying his way into the mainstream of political life.
. . .in an exquisitely bizarre finale, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., carried a bejeweled crown to the front of the room. Moon and his wife donned crowns and robes and Moon told the crowd of doings in the spirit world where Marx, Lenin, Hitler and Stalin have learned from him.
"They have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Rev. Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent," Moon beamed. "This resolution has been announced on every corner of the globe."
Not every corner. The story in the next day's Moon-owned Washington Times diplomatically ignored its founder's assertions of godhood. It took three months and some very strange photos of Moon and his wife in crowns and robes to push the story out of the margins.
"We all think he's losing his mind. He's getting crazier every day," said Steven Hassan, a former official in the American branch of Moon's Unification Church who is now an anti-cult consultant.
But as Moon gets crazier, he also seems to get more access to power and his lieutenants become more skillful at husbanding it. He has a long history of seeking out the powerful, currying favor and looking like just another statesman, even after recklessly free-associating like a psychic on LSD.
. . . When Weldon's press secretary initially denied that her boss was at the Dirksen ceremony, she was confronted with photos, pulled from the Moon Web site, of Weldon in attendance. When she said he did not speak, up came another photo of Weldon giving a speech..
. . . Twenty years ago, Moon was sent to prison for 18 months for tax evasion. Upon his release, he held another in his series of mass weddings for couples he had personally paired. Ordinarily, this sort of behavior would scare off power-brokers in Washington, but Moon has instead refashioned himself as a billionaire donor with a few eccentric notions.
. . . Eight years ago, launching a newspaper in Latin America, Moon was shunned by Argentine President Carlos Menem. Former President George H.W. Bush felt no such misgivings. He was flown to Buenos Aires and praised Moon -- "the man with the vision" -- and told the audience The Washington Times "brings sanity to Washington, D.C."
This "sanity" is the work of a billionaire with links to the Korean CIA and whose church gained prominence by recruiting lonely college students who were put on the streets in the 1970s to sell "Bicentennial God Bless America Candy."
. . . Moon has paid out millions in speaking fees to an array of powerful people, including the elder Bush, former President Gerald Ford and members of Congress . . .

Billmon on Moore

I haven't seen the movie yet. But if it does play a little loose with the facts, omits some key details, implies more than it can prove, and generally takes after Shrub with a cinematic hatchet, I won't be surprised. But I also won't mind.

For years now, Limbaugh, Coulter and their inferior imitations have been passing off their slanted misreadings, unproven allegations and flimsy lies as factual reporting. When caught out on a lie or a smear, they either ignore the evidence, or - like Limbaugh - retreat into the phony defense of arguing that all they're doing is expressing a subjective opinion. "I'm just in the entertainment business," Rush likes to say.
Well, now there's someone on the left who knows how to play their game, and play it brilliantly. Moore may be an egomaniac, and a huckster showman in the best (or worst) tradition of P.T. Barnum and Walter Winchell, but man, he's effective. He's learned to play the mainstream media like a Stradivarius.

How to Lie with Statistics

. . . Based on historical patterns, Bush's job approval rating is thus underperforming the pattern of presidents who have won re-election. In the broadest sense, Bush's job approval rating has generally been remarkably stable this year, averaging about 50% (which is a symbolic dividing line for an incumbent seeking re-election) since mid-January. The current downtick in his ratings puts him below the pattern of successful presidents. Having a rating below 50% (as is the case with his last four ratings) is not a good sign for an incumbent. If Bush wins this November, he would be the first president since Harry Truman to come from a below 50% rating to win re-election.
The fact that Bush has been behind the likely Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, in several Gallup Poll re-election trial heat ballots this year, means that Bush's re-election probabilities are lower than those of his successful predecessors. None of the five presidents who won re-election were behind their eventual opponent in any trial heats after January in the year prior to their election. If Bush wins this year, he will become the first president to come from behind in election year spring polls to win. . .

And knowing it makes this just reek of desperation

. . . While the Gallup folks were busy collecting their data (June 21-23), the fair and balanced folks over at Fox News were busy collecting theirs (June 22-23). To say the Fox News results differ somewhat from the Gallup results would be to considerably understate the case.
The Fox poll has Bush up by 6 points (48-42) among registered voters (RVs). As I discussed in my previous post, Gallup has Kerry up by 4 (49-45) in the identical Kerry-Bush RV matchup. Kind of different!
And check this out. Fox has Bush ahead by 20 points in the solid red states (Gallup had Bush ahead by 8), Kerry ahead by only 3 (!) in the solid blue states (Gallup: Kerry by 14) and Kerry ahead by an identical 3 point margin in purple states (Gallup: Kerry by 9). Huh?!? Kerry ahead by only 3 in the solid blue states--and up by no more there than in the battleground states?
Was Fox really polling the same country? . . .

More on the "Torture Memo"

. . . Michael Froomkin wonders why the August 2002 memo was so bad purely from the point of view of legal craft. His conclusion, based on this New York Times piece: the memo wasn't written to guide future action. Rather, the White House was scrambling to find some legal cover for abuses that had already happened.

The Founder's America

John Quincy Adams, 1821 (emphasis mine):
And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world, the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind?
Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity.
She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights.
She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own.
She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.
She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.
She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force....
She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit....
[America's] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.
No. 1
With a bullet:

. . . With $21.958 million in the till since its record-breaking debut in New York City on Wednesday, Fahrenheit 9/11 is already the highest grossing documentary of all time

. . . Fahrenheit is also the first documentary to land in the weekend top five, let alone be No. 1. Its opening topped Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction's $9.3 million as the best ever for a Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner, and it was Tarantino's jury that handed Moore the prize this year.

. . . Fahrenheit 9/11 will add theaters next weekend and is scheduled to expand again on July 9.

We saw it last night. There was a thirty minute wait at 1100 am to get tickets. I went to the last showing of the night, and the line to get in was at least 150 ft long. At the end, the sold-out crowd actually applauded. $22 million . . . and don't forget; it is only playing on something like 850 screens nationwide.

Good times.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

That Just About Says It All, Doesn't It?
A reaction to the Plame investigation, via Digby:

"I would say there's a much larger dose of partisan politics going on right now than there is worry about national security," said Goss, R-Sanibel. "But I would never take lightly a serious allegation backed up by evidence that there was a willful -- and I emphasize willful, inadvertent is something else -- willful disclosure, and I haven't seen any evidence."

Goss said he would act if he did have evidence of that sort.

"Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation," Goss said.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Ready For This Weekend?

It's looking to be a big one, too.
Director Michael Moore's controversial documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" turned on the box office heat in its first day in theaters breaking single-day records at the two New York City theaters where it played. The movie, which aims a critical eye at President Bush and his prosecution of the war in Iraq, sold $49,000 worth of tickets at the Loew's Village 7 theater, beating the venue's single-day record of $43,435
. . .Online ticket service on Wednesday reported that "Fahrenheit 9/11" was making up 48 percent of advance ticket sales for the weekend ahead, compared to 11 percent for "Dodgeball" and 9 percent for next week's "Spider-Man 2."
A couple of reviews from the premier:
A.O Scott (NYT)
. . .Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" will be properly debated on he basis of its factual claims and cinematic techniques, it should first of all be appreciated as a high-spirited and unruly exercise in democratic self-expression. Mixing sober outrage with mischievous humor and blithely trampling the boundary between documentary and demagoguery, Mr. Moore takes wholesale aim at the Bush administration, whose tenure has been distinguished, in his view, by unparalleled and unmitigated arrogance, mendacity and incompetence.
. . .Mr. Moore is often impolite, rarely subtle and occasionally unwise. He can be obnoxious, tendentious and maddeningly self-contradictory. He can drive even his most ardent admirers crazy. He is a credit to the republic.
While his new film, awarded the top prize at the Cannes International Film Festival this year, has been likened to an op-ed column, it might more accurately be said to resemble an editorial cartoon. Mr. Moore uses archival video images, rapid-fire editing and playful musical cues to create an exaggerated, satirical likeness of his targets. The president and his team have obliged him by looking sinister and ridiculous on camera.
Paul D. Wolfowitz shares his icky hair-care secrets (a black plastic comb and a great deal of saliva); John Ashcroft raptly croons a patriotic ballad of his own composition; Mr. Bush, when he is not blundering through the thickets of his native tongue, projects an air of shallow self-confidence.
Through it all, Mr. Moore provides sardonic commentary, to which the soundtrack adds nudges and winks. As the camera pans across copies of Mr. Bush's records from the Texas Air National Guard, and Mr. Moore reads that the future president was suspended for missing a medical examination, we hear a familiar electric guitar riff; it takes you a moment to remember that it comes from a song called "Cocaine."
. . .it may be that the confusions trailing Mr. Moore's narrative are what make "Fahrenheit 9/11" an authentic and indispensable document of its time. The film can be seen as an effort to wrest clarity from shock, anger and dismay, and if parts of it seem rash, overstated or muddled, well, so has the national mood.
If "Fahrenheit 9/11" consisted solely of talking heads and unflattering glimpses of public figures, it would be, depending on your politics, either a rousing call to arms or an irresponsible provocation, but it might not persuade you to re-examine your assumptions.
. . .The most moving sections of "Fahrenheit 9/11" concern Lila Lipscomb, a cheerful state employee and former welfare recipient who wears a crucifix pendant and an American flag lapel pin. When we first meet her, she is proud of her family's military service — a daughter served in the Persian Gulf war and a son, Michael Pedersen, was a marine in Iraq — and grateful for the opportunities it has offered. Then Michael is killed in Karbala, and in sharing her grief with Mr. Moore, she also gives his film an eloquence that its most determined critics will find hard to dismiss. Mr. Bush is under no obligation to answer Mr. Moore's charges, but he will have to answer to Mrs. Lipscomb.
James Rocchi (Netflix)
Fahrenheit 9/11 examines the current war in Iraq and the events of September 11, 2001, by taking small pieces of information you'd normally find located deep in your newspaper and making them front-page news . . . it's a filmed Op-Ed piece; it isn't a thesis, it's a synthesis -- and it's also Moore's strongest film to date.
. . .Fahrenheit 9/11 is stunning when Moore steps back to show facts and their background, or people and their circumstances.
. . .Moore provides sizzle with the steak; the film is superbly cut, superbly shot, well-crafted . . . Moore is maturing as a filmmaker, and the gravity of this film's subject is mostly matched by the skill of the presentation. As with Bowling for Columbine, Moore's argument here is occasionally so broad as to border on the excessive. But unlike Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit never loses sight of that argument. Yes, the argument is indisputably personally motivated and slanted -- Moore has said flat-out that he wants Fahrenheit 9/11 to help shape the debate in 2004's presidential election -- but it's also undeniably well-crafted, with a mix of detached ironic amusement, fact-based exposition and explanations and painfully sincere sorrow and outrage.
Moore and his film have been both praised by the Cannes Film Festival jury and attacked by cultural commentators. It's easy to admire and despise the audacity of a film that can go from using a clip of The Go-Gos' "Vacation" to mock President Bush's trips to Crawford to quoting Orwell's 1984 on the state of perpetual war as a mode of social control. Moore moves beyond his own jokey smugness and triumphs in introducing us to Linda Lipscomb of Flint, Mich. Lipscomb recommended the military to her children as a route to opportunities she simply couldn't pay for, such as travel and education. Her son, Sgt. Michael Pedersen, was killed in Iraq, and now she'll never see him again. Lipscomb goes to Washington to try to get some kind of closure, and her wracking sobs are regretful and wrenching, railing against perceived ignorance and apathy in the electorate: "People think they know, but they don't know."
Fahrenheit 9/11 is full of things worth knowing about and full of things worth thinking about. Whether you agree or disagree with Moore, love him or hate him, it's a nearly unprecedented cultural event well worth seeing -- at the very least so you can form your own opinion.

More Billmon

Man, what are they putting in Al [Gore]'s Ovaltine these days? And is there any chance we could slip John Kerry a little dose?


A guy I work with is taking his Scout troop to Canada on a float trip. As he was on his way out the door, he announced to the room, "bye everyone . . . while I'm up there stroking, I'll be thinkin' about you all!". After we all busted out laughing, he said, "no, no, no, I'm going to PADDLE some Scouts!".
I almost died.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Rule of Law, Pt 2

How could I forget this one?
International law? I'd better call my lawyer," the American President joked in response to a reporter's question at the White House

This is Such Crap

What a steaming load this is
Fahrenheit 9/11’ ban?

Ads for Moore’s movie could be stopped on July 30

Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.
. . .Another film, “The Hunting of the President,” which investigates whether Bill Clinton was the victim of a vast conspiracy, could be subject to regulations if it mentions Bush or members of Congress in its ads.
. . .At issue in the FEC’s opinion is whether documentary films qualify for a “media exemption,” which allows members of the press to discuss political candidates freely in the days before an election. . .
Does that remind you of anything? I does me.
Blackout in Russia
MOSCOW -- With the shutdown yesterday of TV-6, Russia has lost its last national television company not controlled by the government.

The action comes only nine months after the squelching of Russia's biggest privately owned communications group, Media-Most. Last April its main asset, the national TV channel NTV, was taken over by a government surrogate. The Kremlin's victory over TV-6 came more easily than the previous one and has provoked little public reaction.

Both operations were aimed at getting rid of defiant media tycoons: Vladimir Gusinsky, the former owner of Media-Most, and Boris Berezovsky, major shareholder of TV-6. . .

Too Good Not To Steal

After Reagan’s death, the cable channels insisted on reliving the right wing’s fantasy version of the 80s. Now that Clinton’s book has been released, we are now forced to relive the right wing’s fantasy version of the 90s
So sad, yet so true.

The Poor Man Goes Away for a Few Days

This sort of thing is likely to happen with some frequency, and I've been thinking I'd like to maybe try to have guest posters fill in when I'm gone, so this space doesn't go to waste, and so people don't have to press their grubby faces up against the screen like big-eyed hungry orphans who hoping against hope for new posts, or else a bowl of porridge and a job selling newspapers, depending on whether they are real people or just