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June 28th, 2004


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04:28 pm - Fahrenheit 9/11
Over the weekend, I saw Fahrenheit 9/11.

Oh, this might just make me unpopular, and I've thought about the implications of posting this, but I don't think I should pull punches. That would make me more unpopular.

Anyone who refuses to see this movie is a dolt.

Anyone who can watch this movie and not be affected is jaded, closed-minded, and probably couldn't get a hard-on watching Marylin Monroe take off her clothes.

Anyone who believes this movie is 100% factual is an idiot.

Anyone who believes this movie is unbiased is a moron who should go back to smoking more pot.

That said, I really liked it. It was fun to watch. It was engaging. It was the longest political ad I have ever seen. It struck at the heart and often won out over the mind. It was well-timed and wonderfully critical. It was boring and had me checking my watch, and sometimes exciting and funny.

It was obvious. It took cheap shots. It plodded along over the same ground over and over again. It didn't make logical sense.

It was fresh and sharply critical, and made excellent arguments. It stood on its own merit, yet never left the crutches far behind. My eyes rolled as I conceded good, thoughtful points.

Can you tell that my entire experience was just a bit conflicted?

Anyway, here's the deal: Michael Moore makes a genuinely entertaining, fun, thoughtful look at the events of 9-11, but often the movie (I'm not sure I'm ready to call it a "documentary" yet) descends into simple attacks on people, not actually addressing the issues raised.

Some things I liked:

1) Making W. look stupid. Of course, that's not really anything to get excited over, as you could tell very simply that the stupidity was obviously something W. does on a regular basis. Still, it was good to see that.

2) Bringing up good points about where the money is, who suffers during war, and the effect that the war has had on all sorts of people.

3) It's emotional and strong. You really want to believe what he's saying.

4) They didn't show people jumping out of the WTC. I was afraid he'd do that.

5) Michael Moore was not often on screen. This is a huge blessing (no pun intended) to many of us.

What I didn't like:

1) Annoying doubletalk. We have too much security on airplanes, but we don't have enough. It's appalling that a woman would have to drink breast milk to make sure it's safe, but equally appaling that secrurity isn't tighter about lighters and matches. We shouldn't be in Afghanistan or Iraq, but we obviously don't have enough troops over there. Osama escaped because we didn't send enough troops to Afghanistan, and yet we shouldn't have been there, right? Then, of course, there are the Saudis, who really want us to go to war, because this apparently lines their pockets, but yet the Saudis complain to no end about us attacking Iraq. Why wasn't that mentioned?

2) Factual errors/stretches. "Iraq has never harmed or even threatened a US citizen?" (paraphrased) Wtf? Did I dream the assasination attempt on Bush Sr.? What about the funding of Palistinian suicide bombers, or the planes that were shot at in the no-fly zones over Iraq? Heck, is genocide of Kurds not enough of an excuse, we need them to threaten us?

". . . relaxing at Camp David. . .", the words spoken as a shot of W. and Tony Blair walk down a path. I know they're close, but I have a hard time believing that the two guys aren't talking about something state-related as they stroll.

The bin Ladens flying out on Sept. 13 is apparently strange and frightening for some reason that I fail to divine. The movie insinuates, through its language and the images presented, that they were the only people flying at that time. Not true. I remember (yes, I was around then) that there were flights that day. It doesn't seem irregular at all that high-profile Saudis would be flown out. It certianly doesn't seem sinister.

"Biggest attack on American soil" my ass. We owned Pearl Harbor. It is a military base, and thus it *is* American soil. I'm sorry, but we were slightly worse off after Pearl Harbor, what with an organized, highly dangerous enemy hanging out on our doorstep and us with a navy that couldn't sail out of a paper bag that day. Sept. 11 was nothing in comparison. I'm ashamed to think that schoolchildren will be writing essays on the similarities between the two attacks for years to come.

There's a scene in there where an Iraqi woman is crying about her children and cursing America for killing civilians. The microphone she's screaming into is Al-Jazeera's. This doesn't make it false, but I've seen enough schlock come from them that I'm unswayed by the statement.

I'm not even going to argue WMD's. It's not worth it.

3) Ignoring details for the sake of a good story. Ooh, look at our list of allies! Haiti, Granada, and a bunch of other tiny republics. Did I miss Britain, Australia, Japan, S. Korea, and Spain (before they changed their minds?)

4) Flogging a dead horse. Oh, my. An election was lost 4 years ago! This is news! Amazing! Why didn't anyone tell me before! I thought Gore was president! And, ohmygods! Fox News won the election for Bush! Geez. Get over it and move on. I can't roll my eyes enoough about 10 minutes of flogging that horse. Someone get the ASPCA.

5) Asking Congressmen to send their sons to war. Yes, I know the statement he wanted to make, but what would you do if someone said, "Hey, you should send your son to war just because you're in Congress!" Would you stand there dumbfounded? I sure would. And so, apparently, would the congressmen.


Honestly, go see it. It's good. I mean it. Just take it with a small Siberian salt mine.

Now, here's the thing that irks me most about the movie, though: No one who needs to see the movie is going to go see it. Try to find a Republican in the crowd. Try to find someone who's really unsure of what he/she is going to do with their vote.

Everyone in that theatre, I suspect, already knows what to do and who to vote for. Seriously.

That is the fatal flaw of the movie. It will fall on deaf ears.

Gods willing, though, someone will get out and vote because of it.
Current Mood: bitchybitchy
Current Music: "Buttermilk Grove", -JB
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[User Picture]
From:kstanley
Date:June 28th, 2004 07:31 pm (UTC)
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The bin Ladens flying out on Sept. 13 is apparently strange and frightening for some reason that I fail to divine.

I actually didn't get the sense that they were the only ones being flown out at the time. I got the sense that once planes were permitted to fly out, the bin Ladins were put on half a dozen (or however many) planes and permitted to leave the country.

The reason I find it sinister is because so many other foreign nationals with far more tenuous connections to Al Quaida were not permitted to leave—are in fact still being detained at Quantico.

Also, as Craig Unger stated, the bin Laden family members were only briefly interviewed and were permitted to leave. Why not detain them for a few days and interview them longer? Courteously of course. The reason is that Bush and his inner circle are deep in bed with Saud family who are related to these bin Ladens and therefore they get special treatment. That is not right and should be called out and questioned. The rich and powerful friends of the Bush family shouldn't be given special treatment especially when other people of Arab and Persian descent were incarerated (and many are still incarcerated).

In my mind, MM is showing how Bush and his inner circle protect themselves and their wealthy friends at other people's expense.

"Biggest attack on American soil" my ass. We owned Pearl Harbor. It is a military base, and thus it *is* American soil.

2400 people died in Pearl Harbor. 2752 died on 9/11. I don't know the figures on the financial cost of Pearl Harbor, but obviously, even adjusting for inflation, 9/11 cost a lot more. I'm not sure how else one would measure "biggest attack".

An election was lost 4 years ago! This is news! Amazing! Why didn't anyone tell me before! I thought Gore was president! And, ohmygods! Fox News won the election for Bush! Geez. Get over it and move on.

I saw F9/11 as a slow building of the case against Bush starting with the election. How odd it would have been if the election had been left out of this film. I have never seen the footage of the Congressmen referring to Al Gore as Mr. President and standing up to the entire Senate. Personally, I find it very inspiring and thrilling.

I will never move on from the 2000 election. What happened was wrong and I think it would foolish to ever forget it and let it fade into the background. People in this country have very short memories in my opinion—dangerously short.

"Hey, you should send your son to war just because you're in Congress!" Would you stand there dumbfounded? I sure would. And so, apparently, would the congressmen.

It was Congress, people that we elected, whose salary is paid by our taxes, who authorized Bush to attack Iraq if they refused to give up their WMDs. And since there were no WMDs to give up, obviously Iraq was unable to supply them, and we find ourselves in the situation where we now with 130,000+ American soldiers in Iraq with no end in sight.

I think it is very easy to turn a blind eye to war when you can ignore the true cost. If more Congressmen had had their children in the armed services or in the Gulf War, I am willing to bet that it would have been a lot harder to pass Resolution 296-133.

Challenging Congressmen—embarassing them is a classic, non-violent method of forcing them to look at this issue in a different light. I think they should be made to feel uncomfortable. Everyone should be shown every picture of the violence, of the destruction, of the carnage of this war with Iraq. No one should be permitted to pretend that things are okay while so many of our fellow Americans are dying—not to mention so many innocent Iraqis.

Congress has a role in what is going on in Iraq and they need to take their medicine.

Try to find someone who's really unsure of what he/she is going to do with their vote.

I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the impact of this film on the undecided. I mean unless you have some sort of evidence/facts that I am not aware of ;)
[User Picture]
From:kstanley
Date:June 29th, 2004 04:46 am (UTC)
(Link)
are in fact still being detained at Quantico

I actually had a dream last night where Jack Nicholson was yelling at me for not being able to handle the truth. Of course I meant to say Guantanamo, not Quantico. Too much true crime on the brain I'm afraid.

I couldn't get your post off my mind and even had trouble sleeping. Of course I know better than to read LJ before bed ~smacks forehead~

We have too much security on airplanes, but we don't have enough. It's appalling that a woman would have to drink breast milk to make sure it's safe, but equally appaling that secrurity isn't tighter about lighters and matches. We shouldn't be in Afghanistan or Iraq, but we obviously don't have enough troops over there. Osama escaped because we didn't send enough troops to Afghanistan, and yet we shouldn't have been there, right? Then, of course, there are the Saudis, who really want us to go to war, because this apparently lines their pockets, but yet the Saudis complain to no end about us attacking Iraq. Why wasn't that mentioned?

The airplane security thing was mentioned briefly, but I don't draw the same conclusion you did. I don't believe Moore said that there is too much or too little security on airplanes. He simply raised the question: Why is breast milk a threat and lighters and matches not? I think it's a good question. There have been many people who think that the security measures taken on airplanes are ineffective and I think Moore was attempting to illustrate that.

I also had a different impression about Moore's comments about Afghanistan. Moore is attempting to illustrate that Bush and his inner circle went to war with Iraq for reasons other than getting al Quaeda. First he has to talk about Afghanistan. He mentions that even though we knew that Afghanistan was harboring bin Ladin and had always known, it still took us two months to muster a response to the attack on 9/11. If we had sent in special forces, which many in the CIA and the military thought was the best way to deal with Afghanistan, in theory, we would have been able to get at al Quaeda without bombing and killing so many Afghanis. So not only did Bush respond slowly to 9/11, he responded ineffectively, despite being advised to do things differently by people who would know. This isn't Moore's theory, there have been many articles and even some books written about how Bush screwed up in Afghanistan. Moore is asking the question: Why was Afghanistan handled this way? It's a good question.

And as far as Iraq goes, I got the impression that Moore thought the case for going there hadn't been made and that it was a bad a idea. No WMDs have been found, no chemical weapons facilities, and no connection between al Quaeda (and those *were* the three reasons that Colin Powell gave to the UN Security Council for going into Iraq immediately with military force). And now we that we are in Iraq, we see that there is no way we can keep Iraq secure with the number of soldiers we have there. I don't Moore was saying that we should send more soldiers. He was pointing out how foolish it was to go in in the first place—that it has done more harm than good. He has to talk about what happened after we went into Iraq because so many people keep saying, "Well we got Sadaam, so the World is a little safer," feeling that his capture justifies all the death and the destruction and ill will that the war in Iraq has created. Moore doesn't think that's true and he is asking the question: Why did we go into Iraq? Did it make the world safer? Are the Iraqis better off? Has it been worth it?

As far as the Saudi's go, Moore implied that the Saud family wanted the war in Iraq since it would permit that oil pipeline to be built. The Royal Saud family that rules Saudi Arabia is not the same thing as the Saudi people. Many Saudi *people* have been against the war in Iraq.

If it sounds like I am jumping on your chronarchy, I apologize, because I really don't mean to. I just had a different reaction to the film than you did, and I wanted to share some of my opinions with you hoping that maybe they might give you a different way of looking at some of this.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about this stuff.
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 29th, 2004 05:45 am (UTC)
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If it sounds like I am jumping on you chronarchy, I apologize, because I really don't mean to. I just had a different reaction to the film than you did, and I wanted to share some of my opinions with you hoping that maybe they might give you a different way of looking at some of this.

No worries. Rememeber, I actually *liked* the movie, I'm just more vocal about the things I didn't like. For some strange reason, when I review things, that's how I do it. :) I do, honestly, appreciate the insight you and others have on it, as I suspect you have vastly different sources than I do (me being a crazy conservative and all *grins*)

Why is breast milk a threat and lighters and matches not? I think it's a good question. There have been many people who think that the security measures taken on airplanes are ineffective and I think Moore was attempting to illustrate that.

This is very true. There are serious issues with airport security (remember, Transformers toys are on the Do Not Fly list). The thing that really got to me, which I didn't mention initially, was this suspicious link between what's allowed on planes and "big tobacco". But it really, really felt like he started out with "there's too much security", and then the next scene was "there's not enough security". Maybe he simply didn't make his case clearly enough, or maybe it was overshadowed in my eyes by the big tobacco link. I dunno.

If we had sent in special forces, which many in the CIA and the military thought was the best way to deal with Afghanistan, in theory, we would have been able to get at al Quaeda without bombing and killing so many Afghanis.

We also would have committed an act of war on foreign soil, anyway. I don't really think that sending in special forces is always a good plan, and in fact, unless there's an American hostage, I would say it's one of the worst things we can do.

How would you feel if Lybia sent a group of special forces into Chicago to extridite a priest who they had no hard, conclusive evidence against? We didn't have any real evidence until well after the Sept. 11 attacks (for months we talked about how it could be Osama, but he never said anything that "gave it away" until just before we invaded Afghanistan. . . Excuse me. . . "Liberated" Afghanistan *sarcastic grin*), and I'm still not convinced that the evidence is enough to invade another country on.

But I admit that I'm happy to see the Taliban are gone.
[User Picture]
From:kstanley
Date:June 29th, 2004 06:57 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't really think that sending in special forces is always a good plan, and in fact, unless there's an American hostage, I would say it's one of the worst things we can do.

Special forces could have gotten in and out without doing as much damage. But that isn't to say that I agree with violence and war—I'm a dove.

But was I was saying here was that Moore was emphasizing the intelligence that suggested that special forces was a better way to go into Afghanistan—not that going into Afghanistan was a bad idea or a good idea, but that how it was handled was not good and did not seem condusive to getting rid of bin Ladin—which is what Bush was supposedly doing.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:June 29th, 2004 07:39 am (UTC)

Big Tobacco

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The thing that really got to me, which I didn't mention initially, was this suspicious link between what's allowed on planes and "big tobacco".

If they were going to be consistent, they would have banned matches and lighters too. But they knew that if they tried that the smokers and their suppliers would be up in arms. And from the founding of the country, the supply side of that has always had more power than their customers.

If the restrictions were real security that wouldn't matter, and I'd hope they'd tell those people to suck it up for the good of the country. But that's not what happened, so the only sensible conclusion is that either the restrictions aren't real security, or the tobacco companies have the power to hurt the security of the country. Either way, there's a demonstration of the power of the tobacco companies.


(For some reason this reminds me of when some bad law is justified with the argument that "it will create jobs," while simultaneously the drug laws have an explicit goal of eliminating many jobs -- the jobs of the drug dealers.)
[User Picture]
From:chronarchy
Date:June 29th, 2004 06:07 am (UTC)
(Link)
2400 people died in Pearl Harbor. 2752 died on 9/11. I don't know the figures on the financial cost of Pearl Harbor, but obviously, even adjusting for inflation, 9/11 cost a lot more. I'm not sure how else one would measure "biggest attack".

Gotta remember, I'm a military history major, so my view of the attack is going to be very different than some. I don't think about it in body-counts or total dollars, but rather the impact on the country's psyche (where they could, potentially, match up) and the amount that we are left open to further attacks, multiplied by the damage that those attacks can do. It's not a hard, fast formula, but it compares strategic loss to tactical loss.

Both attacks had a high impact on America, spreading fear and anger. Interestingly, even our reactions were similar: this is an act of war, let's put everyone of X descent into an internment camp. Both attacks were considered declarations of war, and both were surprises, but the similarities really end there.

The Japanese destroyed our ability to strike back. They opened a road that, had they acted upon it in a timely manner, could have lead to invasion and very bloody conventional warfare on American soil. In short, we suddenly had no military power whatsoever in the pacific. We couldn't do a damnthing about it.

The terrorists knocked down a couple of buildings that were symbolic to the rest of the world (not necessarily to all Americans) of America's commercial might. They killed a bunch of people in the process, and damaged America's sense of security. Did they have the chance to follow it up? No. If they had, we would have had much larger losses. In most ways, I consider Sept. 11 a military failure for the terrorists. They didn't do anything they could capitalize on, it didn't seem well-coordinated, and it didn't strike me as well-planned.

Both destroyed a symbol of American superiority and (perhaps) imperialism, but only one truly had the potential to continue its threat.

I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the impact of this film on the undecided. I mean unless you have some sort of evidence/facts that I am not aware of ;)

Well, if I weren't already decided on the issue of gay marriage, this film wouldn't have made me want to vote Bush out. Of course, I like my safe, secure Republicanism, so maybe I'm not the best fence-sitter out there, but I entered willing to listen to the message and came out with more questions than answers.

The rich and powerful friends of the Bush family shouldn't be given special treatment especially when other people of Arab and Persian descent were incarerated (and many are still incarcerated).

My understanding is that the couter-terrorism guy (what's his face, worked for Bush?) took the fall for that one, and said that the President and his staff had no role in getting them out of the country. That admission, if we don't start into conspiracy theories (which might be true) pokes a big hole in about 30 minutes of the documentary.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:June 29th, 2004 07:23 am (UTC)

Military vs Terrorists

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Gotta remember, I'm a military history major, so my view of the attack is going to be very different than some.


Actually you're making the same error that the Bush administration made, viewing terrorism as a military issue rather than a law enforcement issue.

Both attacks were considered declarations of war,


I don't see how 9/11 was considered a declaration of war. I remember at the time people talked about how different it was in that respect because there was no declaration of "we do this in the name of (some country)." In Pearl Harbor the attackers had Japanese insignia on their planes, but there was nothing like that in New York.

The terrorists knocked down a couple of buildings that were symbolic to the rest of the world (not necessarily to all Americans) of America's commercial might.


What's really interesting to me is how few Americans get this particular point. (If the Bush administration got it I didn't notice.) They don't understand the significance of targeting the WTC, and just saw it as an attack on Americans. I don't think there's any way to properly respond without understanding why the target was selected.

In most ways, I consider Sept. 11 a military failure for the terrorists.


Sure, but it wasn't a military action. That's what you and the Bushies are missing. Their goal was the symbolism, not a military victory. However, they failed in the symbolism as well, since Americans generally don't see the WTC the way the rest of the world does.

it didn't seem well-coordinated, and it didn't strike me as well-planned.


Huh? Maybe compared to military actions, but these guys weren't a military. Considering their resources, it struck everyone else as well-planned and well-coordinated.

I entered willing to listen to the message and came out with more questions than answers.


I think that's a good thing, in fact.

My understanding is that the couter-terrorism guy (what's his face, worked for Bush?) took the fall for that one


Richard Clarke? He worked for three presidents, I believe. He got a lot of people up in arms by saying "your government failed" the 9/11 victims. I don't remember him taking the blame for certain Saudis getting special treatment, but I might easily have missed it.
[User Picture]
From:rfunk
Date:June 29th, 2004 07:49 am (UTC)

On the target symbolism issue....

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The WTC was targeted as a symbol of commercial power. The Pentagon was targeted as a symbol of military power, though I think I remember hearing that it may have been a second choice when they were unable to reach the White House. Obviously the White House and the Capitol (the presumed target of the fourth plane, as I recall) are symbols of government power, as well as being obvious military targets (take out the decision-makers).

Yet all I heard from the Bush administration and their supporters was "the terrorists hate our freedom". Not "the terrorists hate our commercial power" or our military power or our government. If they wanted to demonstrate "hating our freedom" they would have gone after the Statue of Liberty instead of the WTC.
[User Picture]
From:kstanley
Date:June 29th, 2004 07:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
but rather the impact on the country's psyche (where they could, potentially, match up) and the amount that we are left open to further attacks, multiplied by the damage that those attacks can do. It's not a hard, fast formula, but it compares strategic loss to tactical loss.

I'm sure that's important to historian, but it doesn't make Moore a liar or even an exaggerator when he said that 9/11 was the biggest attack on American soil. Most of us would look at the lives lost and the money spent and consider that a more than adequate measurement for the purposes of calling 9/11 the biggest attack.

My understanding is that the couter-terrorism guy (what's his face, worked for Bush?) took the fall for that one, and said that the President and his staff had no role in getting them out of the country. That admission, if we don't start into conspiracy theories (which might be true) pokes a big hole in about 30 minutes of the documentary.

According to Richard Clarke (former counter-terrorism chief), the authorization of the Saud family exodus was approved at the highest levels including the White House. He testified as much in front of the Senate last year. Now either he is lying or Bush is. I don't think that conclusion makes me a conspiracy theorist.

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