Front page

Are you afraid of the dark?

(Click to invert colors, weenie.) (Requires JavaScript.)

All email will be assumed to be for publication unless otherwise requested.

What's in the banner?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Sleeper Wakes

(This is several days old, but I'm going to post it anyway.)

I've noticed an encouraging trend recently, which is that the mainstream media has suddenly become aware that there are certain sections of the media which have become, well, nuts.

For example, USA Today's Walter Shapiro seems to have suddenly noticed that some people believe some very odd things, and it's obviously upsetting his tummy. In this USA Today column, he reviews Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, more in sorrow than in anger. Let's get out the Seven-Up and soda crackers while we read:

Despite all the hype and Moore's undeniable comedic talents, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a profoundly disturbing movie that struck me as far closer to heavy-handed propaganda than to art.


Does anyone seriously believe, as Moore suggests, that the United States invaded Afghanistan primarily to pave the way for a natural-gas pipeline?

Well, Ted Rall does. In fact, he wrote an entire book on this subject. Is Rall anybody? Perhaps not.

Or that the war in Iraq was a single-minded effort to win new contracting business for Halliburton?

Yes. Yes, in fact a lot of people believe the President of the United States launched a war that was unpopular internationally and very controversial at home, and which cost 800 American lives (so far) and billions of taxpayer dollars---not to take all Iraq's oil for the US, not to give it to his rich friends, not even to allow his rich friends to buy the oil cheap, but so that a few of his rich friends could get a few percent richer selling stuff to oil companies. (Since Halliburton is not an oil company, but an oil services company). And they're not even his rich friends, they're the Vice-President's. Compelling, eh?

In fact, this reasoning is so compelling that I have noticed that the Great Satan of Afghanistan, Unocal[*], has been displaced by Halliburton.

The question hanging over Fahrenheit 9/11 is: Will viewers regard it as "just a movie" that takes frequent artistic liberties with verifiable facts, or will they see Moore's handiwork as the unveiling of a vast and frightening conspiracy?

A good question. One thing we know for sure is, Moore will try to have it both ways. He wants to be taken seriously as a political commentator (or satirist at least), but when confronted with his inaccuracies and outright distortions, will protest that he's just an entertainer and so indulges in a little artistic license from time to time. (This behavior is widespread in the tribe of pundits: Rush Limbaugh does it too, among others.)

Shapiro has some good things to say about the movie, though:

Then, in a memorable scene near the Capitol in Washington, Moore pointedly tries to persuade members of Congress to sign up their own children for service in Iraq.

Ah, you mean the one in which Moore asked Rep. Mark Kennedy to help him enlist the children of Congressmen, but doesn't show Kennedy's reply, which was that he had a nephew in Afghanistan? This Twin Cities article refers to the trailer, but Moore's own website acknowledges that Kennedy was not in the film, either, in the most brilliant bit of doubletalk this side of Noam Chomsky:

None of this exchange [between Moore and Kennedy, scroll down for a transcript] is included in the film. No statements by Rep. Kennedy are in the film. There was no editing of his remarks and Congressman Kennedy will remain in the film.

No statements of Kennedy are in the film because Moore threw them all out, possibly because it didn't suit his agenda. If you included some of Kennedy's remarks but not others, that would be editing; but if you cut them all out, leaving only the question you asked, as if Kennedy did not want to answer you, then that's OK. That's not editing. Gotcha.

When Michael Moore was asked whether he was a poseur using the adulation of those deficient in critical thinking to dismiss accusations that he was an intellectual lightweight, he had no reply.

Um, cause I didn't actually email him the question. Which is actually less dishonest than what he did to Kennedy.

[*]Unocal owned almost 50% of an international consortium, Centgas, which wanted to build a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan beginning in 1997. But Afghanistan was so unstable that it was a no-go and Unocal pulled out of Centgas in December 1998 --- this BBC report from August 1998 calls it "ironic" that the US thwarted Unocal's hopes by bombing Bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan. Yeah it's all about the oi---er, gas.

Recently I read someone letting Unocal off the hook completely, because it's obvious that Halliburton was going to build that pipeline.

Via InstantMan.