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By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2004 12:18pm PT  

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The BRAD BLOG Unplugged.
Happy 4th of July, America!
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2004 11:24am PT  

The BRAD BLOG takes a loooong holiday weekend! Back at it the beginning or middle of next week depending on how "free" America really is.

In the meantime, I've posted my Fahrenheit 9/11 review for you to chew up below, a few toons, and one hell of a good idea for a TV show! (Fox, are you paying attention?)

Beyond that, consider this an OPEN THREAD while I'm unplugged and "loving freedom". Hit the COMMENTS button, say your piece, and "Let Freedom Reign!" We fear nothing. Have a safe and fearless holiday, all!

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By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2004 11:15am PT  

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...and ups the ante!
A 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Review
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2004 11:07am PT  

By the time Friday rolled around, all showings in the area were sold out, and, of course, the Rightwing commentators had sold out long ago. Their breathless, panicked "debunkings" and attacks were as patriotic as they were on the mark. Which is to say, not even close on both counts.

We did, however, manage to find a theater some 40 minutes away where tickets to a late showing were available. Thankfully, we purchased online, because by the time we arrived at the theater, thirty minutes before it was to begin, the showing, and the midnight one that followed it, had already sold out.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is both a remarkable and landmark film --- as will become self-evident as the years march on. It's timing is simply extraordinary, as I marvelled more than once while watching on the enormous screen what it seems as though I'd just seen only weeks before while sipping my coffee on a Sunday morning while watching Meet the Press. But in this context, through Moore's eyes, instead of NBC's or Fox's or CNN's, the familiar footage looked somehow different.

True enough, this film is agit-prop in it's most robust and commercially viable form. But to my surprise and delight, it's also one hell of a piece of filmmaking.

From the simmering, surreal and ominous tone of the opening credits, a collection of satellite feeds of some of the "Major Players" (Bush, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, Rice) being puffed and primped as they prepare to play their parts on the Media's Worldwide Stage, it's clear that this is more than hype --- it's actual cinema.

Having figured before hand that I'd already be well familiar with most of what I'd be shown, I quickly learned that Moore was, as usual, ahead of the curve. His game was bigger than mine. Bigger than the petty pundits who dutifully discredited the film before release, and before they had bothered to actually see it. Bigger than any of Moore's previous notable "documentaries".

He had more than just Bush Bashing in mind. He had a work of cinematic art to give us, which incidentally also ends up accusing just about everybody in the modern world for their part in the fine mess we now find ourselves in.

His "Op/Ed", as he described it last week on This Week is a case built carefully and deliberately brick by brick. One may find themselves wishing that the bricks would come slower in the film's first act, or perhaps it was simply a hope that the bricks couldn't possibly add up to where they seemed to be building.

In either case, these bricks are precisely what the Moore critics have tried --- so far unsuccessfully to my knowledge --- to break apart. And the truth soon becomes evident that any two or three or four bricks could easily be removed, and Moore's case would still remain as powerful. The reverberations will be felt for years.

In other words, Moore's case is larger than any number of airplanes full of Saudis secretly whisked out of the country by the Bush Administration in the days following 9/11 and subsequently denied by same for years. Larger than the silly notion of who within the Bush Administration approved such flights. Larger than any interview with a U.S. Congressman that may or may not have been misleadingly cut (transcripts made available by Moore's "War Room" suggest it wasn't). Larger than all of the shots I've seen, read or heard from those detractors who are so desperate to find something, anything to discredit Moore that --- failing that --- they'll usually toss in a "fat" crack to hold them over if nothing else sticks.

Moore's case, indeed, is actually larger than George W. Bush himself. He just happens to be the unlucky sap sitting in the Whitehouse at the time that Moore was finally able to best make his case. He also, with all his verbal fumbles and schoolboy-like enthusiasm for neat-o Photo Ops, happens to provide a crystal-clear picture of what has gone wrong in America and how terribly wrong it has gone. The smirking boy pretender is clearly over his head in a world that he didn't make, barely seems to understand, and may just be the place holder and/or unwitting errand boy for the larger more nefarious characters that actually keep the world spinning as if they were the only ones for whom it spun.

Surely it's all the stuff of the wild-eyed conspiracy set. A case more appropriate for the Rightwing Clinton-is-a-Mass-Murderer crowd. But here, with no small mountain of evidence at his disposal, and in his favor, Moore makes a ready-for-prime-time showcase of some usually ignorable Far Left screeds.

But even there, his case is still larger than the too-easily dismissed "No Blood for Oil!" arguments of the Far Left. It's a case that, in fact, he's largely made previously in the leitmotif of his Bowling for Columbine: that the collusion between Government, Media and the Military/Industrial Society to keep us Americans fat, frightened and clueless is precisely what allows the monied cretens at the top of the Financial Food Chain to manipulate the markets and the mentalities of the citizenry any way they damn please, and all to benefit their own personal fortunes. Certainly not ours. And in the bargain, it's almost always the losers of Life's Lottery who end up as their unknowing lackeys, giving up money, blood and freedom so that the Rich can get richer, and the less so might well stay that way.

Neither Democrats nor the "Liberal" Media catch much of a break in the bargain either in this film as they too passively play into the hands of those in charge and continue to be cowed by the influence of Big Money, Big Military and the Little Big Men who endeavor to keep the status quo flowing.

Lest you the get the idea, from this review, that this movie is a tedious excercise in the philosophical shadowy worlds of realpolitik, it should be added that this film is very, and too often disturbingly, hysterical.

True, Moore owes a debt of gratitude to Rush Limbaugh, who invented the very rudimentary forms of what Moore so adeptly now uses to his own advantage. (Which clearly pisses off the Right something fierce, an irony which is also clearly lost on them). But it has taken guys like Al Franken and Moore and The Daily Show and all the other Friends of O'Reilly, folks with actual senses of humor and comic understanding, to make it an art form.

And while we're at it, to make it a hell of a lot more honest than Limbaugh ever even pretended to be. If Limbaugh was willing to document and source his arguments as extensively and openly as Franken and Moore do --- so that folks really could come to their own conclusions --- perhaps we'd not be in the clueless and dangerous mess we now find ourselves in.

I'm loathe to give away too many of the details and delightfully troubling surprises in the movie to those who have yet to see it, so I'll not go into too many specifics for the time being. Though I will say that Moore may deserve the Academy Award this year if only for his choice of music during the montage of Dubya's famously lampoonable landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier to announce "Mission Accomplished" at the "end" of "major hostilities" in Iraq. Pure unadulterated genius, that.

I'd also note that, after all the Fake Conservative commentators have endlessly and shamelessly held up the severed head of Nick Berg as if to somehow justify our War in Iraq, I've not heard a one of them comment on the tape of the Public Beheading from Saudi Arabia that Moore shows in the film. (No worries, it's from very far away, and grainy enough to take the bulk of the graphic violence out, while keeping in all of the horror and sad irony.) In any case, those who would support George W. Bush for attacking Iraq, even while he coddles the Saudi Kingdom and in fact invites them over for family weekends at home, may have some 'splaining to do. So, of course, they won't.

In the days ahead, in any case, the backlash will undoubtedly continue. The idea that this polemic "will change nobody's mind about anything" will continue to show up amongst the cowards in the Media who create "Conventional Wisdom" before our very eyes and ears. The seeds for the case that "Michael Moore is a liar" will be endlessly dropped wherever there is a gullible Talk Radio listener or a Drudge Report reader. But the impact of this film, at this time, would be underestimated only by a fool.

After November 2nd, its message may still keep a new generation on at least Orange Alert when it comes to the way they'd previously passively accepted whatever they were spoonfed by the Politicians in Power and the Mainstream Media that serve them. But the message that there is a whole new way to reach a broad audience across America, and fly beneath the radar and restrictions of Federal Election Laws will likely be the film's longest lasting impact.

While I will openly admit that I hope Fahrenheit 9/11 does make a difference at the polls come November 2nd, and I think likely will, the more interesting reverberations will be yet to come.

Free Speech, real Free Speech, massive Free Speech for the masses, has only now begun to make itself heard in the new American Century. I suspect there will be a lot more noise still to come in the years ahead. And the Right and Left wings both will have Michael Moore's courageous, forward-thinking and --- yes --- patriotic vision to thank for that. Like him or not.

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A TV Show We'd Love to See!
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2004 8:22am PT  

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One or two Republicans have a rare brush with Intellectual Honesty!
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2004 4:42pm PT  

We spend a lot of time here at the BRAD BLOG discussing the seemingly endless hypocrisy of (usually) the Right.

So it's only fair, on those rare occasions when someone on the Right displays a penchant - accidentally or otherwise - for Intellectual Honesty, that we make a point of giving credit where credit's due.

Doug McIntyre, usually the Far Right overnight talk radio host here on KABC was sitting in for Larry Elder on his syndicated show and --- as is the fashion these days --- the talk was of course Fahrenheit 9/11.

To McIntyre's credit however, and unlike most of his other brethren, he actually went to see the film yesterday and therefore was able to acknowledge some of the film's important issues without simply dismissing it, lying about it, and making "Moore is a pig" jokes like most of the voices you'll hear.

Though he had his wife pay, so that he could say he "didn't give a dime" to Moore, and he found the film to be in no small part "demagogic and agenda-driven" he was honest enough about it to hold a discussion on several of the "troubling issues that the film raised".

And as if that isn't good news enough, joining him was Larry Klayman of Judicial Watch (yes, that Larry Klayman! Of Paula Jones Mania fame!) Klayman again displayed the rare Republican trait of Intellectual Honesty recently as it was his Judicial Watch that brought Dick "Fucking" Cheney to the Supreme Court in order to get the Accountable-to-No-One Veep to disclose who was involved in his ultra-super-secret (and ultimately pointless) "Energy Task Force".

Their honest discussion of the real troubling issues that the film raises was a refreshing break from all the lying liars that have been documented frequently here (Rush, O'Reilly, Al Rantel - as Jaime mentioned yesterday in a comment, etc.).

On the "Bush family being in bed with the Saudi's", Klayman, who is running for a US Senate seat in Florida, confirmed that that was true, acknowledging as well that he finds it appalling that Saudi Arabia has still not been placed on our list of Terrorist Nations.

On allowing Bin Laden family members to escape the country scot-free without interview in the days following 9/11, and the FBI's claim that all necessary interviews were made, despite denying the existance of those very flights for years, Klayman added "If you believe the FBI about that, then you are in Alice in Wonderland."

McIntyre also took the time to point to Colin Powell and Condi Rice's statements prior to 9/11 (as seen in the film) that Iraq was no threat whatsoever, and no longer had the capacity to develop Chemical, Biological or Nuclear WMD's. They were notable comments that I'll try to get around to quoting specifically here later.

He also concurred with the movie's suggestion that we should never be sending our troops to war unless our country is in real danger or unless there is a verifiable urgent threat. Not the made up "danger" and "threat" that the Bushies sold us prior to going to war.

As mentioned in my F9/11 review (still not published here, but hopefully will be shortly), the issues of the film are much bigger than any single piece of disputed information that most of the Rightwing is wasting the bulk of their time trying --- but being unable --- to disprove. Most of them continue nattering about it in some sad attempt to save some part of their political asses somehow.

So hopefully as the unsupported and unsubstantiated cases of the chattering heads against Moore subside, the real issues of concern raised by F9/11 will begin to emerge and we can begin to discuss them. That would actually be good for America.

McIntyre and Klayman's discussion today was encouraging in that regard, and wins them the very rare Not Entirely Hypocritical Republican Windbags Award!

Hopefully we won't go so many weeks from here on out without awarding another...but I'm not yet all that hopeful.

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Going, going...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2004 12:40pm PT  

New NY Times / CBS Poll:

Bush Job Approval: 42%
Country on Wrong Track: 57%
Disapproval on Iraq: 60%
War not worth it: 60%
Bush statements on Iraq: Hiding something (59%) Mostly lying (20%)
Entirely Truthful about Abu Ghraib: 15%(!)
Involvment in Iraq creating more Terrorists: 55%
Divider or Uniter?: Divider (51%) Uniter (32%)

So why is Kerry still (essentially) tied with Bush? This number may tell the story...

Respondents Opinion of John Kerry: Undecided/Not Heard Enough (36%)

Bring 'em on.

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By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2004 10:46pm PT  

The Supreme Court finally gets one right! The US Constitution and the Essence of a Free Society finally trump an Unconstrained Executive Branch. Perhaps they felt they felt they owed us one. Even Scalia and Renquist got it right! (Though Thomas, alone, continued his sad unbroken streak.)

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By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2004 10:05pm PT  

I never voted for him. But in retrospect, if I had to chose between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush today it would be like choosing for dinner between a nice piece of medium-rare prime rib and a big hot steaming plate of poo. But maybe that's just me.

Nonetheless, while the Clinton detractors have come out from under their rocks as the ex-Prez barnstorms the country on his book tour, Ron Brownstein took a look in today's LA Times at a few of the items that Bubba's detractors seem to be conveniently over-looking.

As Brownstein says, in a piece that doesn't give Clinton a completely free ride, the critics who would dismiss so many of his accomplishments as "'trivial' says more about the critics than about Clinton."

The most notable of accomplishments, obviously, were on the economy. Read the full article for his thoughts on Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics, etc. But here's some of Clinton's notable numbers (all according to Census Bureau figures):

During Clinton's two terms, the median income for American families increased by 15% after inflation.
It rose even faster for African Americans (33%) and Hispanics (24%) than it did for whites (14%).
The growth was so widely shared that from 1993 through 1999, families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution saw their incomes increase faster than those in the top 5%.
By comparison, under President Reagan in the 1980s, those in the top 5% increased their income more than five times faster than the bottom 20%.
The poverty rate under Clinton fell 25%, the biggest eight-year decline since the 1960s. (It fell even faster for blacks, Hispanics and children.)
In two terms, the number of Americans in poverty fell by...
77,000 under Reagan.
8.1 million under Clinton!
In two terms, the number of children in poverty fell by...
50,000 under Reagan.
4.1 million under Clinton! (a ratio of 80 to 1!)

That's just a few of things that a Democrat in the White House has recently given to America. Ponder it.

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Grosses $24 Million in first weekend of release!
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2004 4:24pm PT  

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 has become, in just three short days of nationwide release, the #1 Documentary film of all time, grossing $24 Million at this weekend's box office.

It has outpaced the lifetime totals all of Moore's previous docs (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, etc.) in that time, as well as trouncing the #2 film of the weekend (White Chicks) by some $4.5 million, despite the latter being shown on a full 2,726 screens, while Moore's film was available on only 868 nationwide.

F9/11 in that same short time, has also, incidentally, become the most lied about film in Internet and Talk Radio history! As everyone from Slate's Christopher Hitchens, to O'Reilly (who only saw the first part of the film), to Rush (who hasn't seen it all) to the rest of the local Talkers out here in Los Angeles (ditto) have attempted in their panic --- and without success --- to describe "lies" in the film and/or discredit the filmmaker as fat, or a bad man, or a traitor, or any number of desperate rallying cries.

I've given you links above to a number of those breathless lies, distortions and misrepresentation. But let's take a look at just one. Here's just a snippet from Rush dissembling today:

The fact of the matter is that some of the lies there are in this movie are profound. One of them is that Bush authorized the bin Laden family to fly out when all the airports were closed after 9/11 because he's in bed with the Saudi royal family, he and his dad are, and it's all about oil, and therefore the attempt by Moore is to say that Bush knew that bin Laden's family was here and they let them go. Well, it wasn't Bush that authorized the bin Laden people in this country to leave. It was Richard Clarke, and he says so in his own book --- and Richard Clarke is held up as a hero in the Michael Moore movie.

Unfortunately, that paragraph --- despite going out to what Rush describes as "more people in a 15 minute period than saw the Michael Moore movie over the weekend" --- contains virtually nothing that one could call "truthful".

Moore does not claim that the flights described occurred when "all the airports were closed after 9/11", so that's just an out and out lie on Rush's part (or perhaps just an accident since he didn't actually see the film he was speaking of?). As well, surely Rush knows that even if Clarke signed the approval for those planes to leave, he was at the time, WORKING ON BEHALF OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION! The part about being "held up as a hero" in the movie is just an exaggeration in that yes, Clarke appears briefly in the movie as he gives some testimony to the 9/11 Commission, but the "hero" part is pure fabricated Rush Spin.

Rush is also telling his (apparently?) gullible listeners today...:

The one thing about this movie, about Fahrenheit 411 or whatever it is, this Michael Moore movie. This just cannot be allowed to stand. The publicity in this movie is it's the biggest movie of the weekend. It's the biggest movie ever. Really, they're saying that.

Really, Rush? Who's saying that? Because I haven't heard a one. I have heard it says it's the biggest movie of the weekend. I have heard it said it's the biggest documentary film of all time. Both of which are undisputable. But I've yet to hear anyone say that "It's the biggest movie ever". I welcome all Ditto Heads to show me such an instance. From anybody. Liar.

Spin on, Ditto Heads! Rock On, Lefties and Other Intellectually Honest Patriots who put their Country above partisan politics! November is just a few short months away! And perhaps then we can look forward to the beginning of the end of our long national nightmare!

(P.S. I've written a full review of Fahrenheit 9/11 but have not yet published it here for a number of reasons...Hopefully to be explained...and posted in full here shortly.)

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Worse even than Michael Moore makes it seem.
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2004 4:33pm PT  

Judge for yourself. Click on the link to take a look at the uncut video of Bush's 5+ minutes in the Florida schoolroom after being informed that a second commercial airplane had hit the second World Trade Tower.

In Moore's film, it's troubling and interesting and sad.

When viewed straight through however, without any commentary, while you know the clock is ticking, it's actually a bit terrifying. Judge for yourself.

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By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2004 4:24pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2004 1:50pm PT  

After outgrossing the lifetime take for Roger & Me on just it's first day of nationwide release, Fahrenheit 9/11 is on track to not only outgross Bowling for Columbine's lifetime numbers, but also become the #1 Documentary film of all time after only it's first weekend of release.

Dubya won't learn the news until November 3rd (since he doesn't read the papers), Dick "Fucking" Cheney is likely in his undisclosed secure bunker cursing out Lynne, and Rush Limbaugh, no doubt, is today spinning in his oxycontin soaked third divorce settlement. Sean Hannity is waiting to hear what Rush will have to say about it in the morning. And Alan Colmes is waiting to hear what Sean Hannity will have to say about it shortly thereafter.

There will be many words in the upcoming weeks about how these numbers are fake or distorted or signifying nothing. That, along with other desperate attempts to "debunk" Moore and/or the film, all without substance or accuracy (neither of which being necessary when the Right wishes to "debunk" something).

And rest of us will be counting the days until November 2nd. It shouldn't be long now...Keep up the good work! God Bless America!

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The Dick 'Fucking' Cheney way.
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2004 6:50pm PT  

"We must change the tone of Washington, D.C."
- George W. Bush, campaign speech at RNC Gala, 4/26/00

"Governor Bush and I are also absolutely determined that [we] will restore a tone of civility and decency to the debate in Washington."
- Dick Cheney, at campaign rally in Philadelphia, 8/4/00

"Go fuck yourself."
- V.P. Dick Cheney to Sen. Patrick Leahy on the floor of the U.S. Senate, 6/24/04

"It appears the vice president's previous calls for civility are now inoperative."
- Leahy spokesman, David Carle to The Washington Post, 6/26/04

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By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2004 4:13pm PT  

"If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us."
-George W. Bush, Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000


(Graphic courtesy of The Mahablog)

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About Brad Friedman...
Brad is an independent investigative
journalist, blogger, broadcaster,
VelvetRevolution.us co-founder,
expert on issues of election integrity,
and a Commonweal Institute Fellow.

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