Saturday, July 31, 2004
Bill Clinton had "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

Al Gore had "You Can Call Me Al."

What should be John Kerry's theme song?

If you are confused, Allah will make it all clear. As long as you remember your hadiths and click on the photo.

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Hey, what's with all these people staggering in? Oh, they are vodka drinkers. Come on in, ladies and gentlemen, and make yourself at home. I'm sweeping out the cobwebs around here, but help yourselves to whatever you like: there's stuff on Democrats, some cynical stuff about Israel, a bit of F9/11 bashing. . . Feel free to mark the walls post comments, too.
Kerry speech thoughts:
  • Oh, Lord... "reporting for duty" with a salute... subtle as a slap in the face...
  • "Stronger at home, respected in the world" ...check.
  • Heh... "I was born in the West Wing." Cute. But prophecy, or just assumed entitlement?
  • The anti-Communist rhetoric is interesting, and a bit unexpected. (Cute aside about being grounded... I laughed.) Interesting point about the gratitude of West Berliners to Americans, and a fitting follow-up of restoring that positive view of the U.S. (Immediate cynical thought: does that mean we'll have to let Islamism take over Europe first?)
  • "50 years of peace..." umm, really? So what was that thing with you on the boats? And wasn't there something about Kennedy, and Kruschev, and some misunderstanding over missiles in Cuba?
  • Nasty barbs into the Bush cabinet. Not sure how well this will go over. Well, it's playing to the base.
  • Nice riff on "reinstating trust in the White House."
  • I can just see the RNC ads about Edwards: "John Edwards' American dream: suing your way to millions..."
  • OK, laying it on for Teresa is a little thick. "Down to earth?" Come on...
  • Fourth, then fifth iteration of "band of brothers." With all due respect -- stop. Please.
  • "The United States never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to." So the Iraq war was elective? We should have left it alone, even though everyone thought it had a WMD program? Thank you, drive through...
  • "Credibility to bring our allies to our side." Umm... did Australia take a coffee break? Or is Kerry promising that France will join us in Iraq? That seems like an awfully tall order. (Never mind the implication that France is an "ally.")
  • Wow, a Democrat promising to expand the military! This is something new! (But "not in Iraq." So where? Is this man really going to put new divisions into Germany? Are they really "stretched thin"?)
  • For a party whose supporters mocked Bush's use of "freedom," the Democrats sure use it a lot themselves, specifically in contrast to what terrorists allegedly want...
  • Oh brother, the whining about "questioning patriotism." What-ever. "That flag. . . belongs to all the American people." Chants of "USA! USA!" I wonder what the ultra-lephtoids will be saying about this "jingoistic display" tomorrow.
  • "It's time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families." The Democrats are in full Republican-slogan-recycling mode tonight. After-school programs, drugs for seniors, and class conflict. "Help is on the way." I guess "the powerful vs. the people" didn't play well with test audiences.
  • Kerry is really hitting the anti-outsourcing resentment hard. This will play well.
  • "We will make government live by the rule that every family has to live by: Pay as you go." They really are stressing Republican slogans. Guess we know who won that war of ideas. How ironic that Bush should be vulnerable to such attacks.
  • Drug re-importation and prices negotiated by Medicare. This is silly.
  • A vague plan on health care. Something about cutting out on inefficiency and "greed." Uhh, ok.
  • Cutting dependence on Middle East oil. Right. Good luck.
  • Haha! The Roosevelt/JohnKerry.com quip was cute.
  • "Let's never misuse for political purposes... the Constitution of the United States." Huh?
  • Something about stopping the divisions of race from race, etc. Well, good thing Al Sharpton didn't get a speaking role.
  • "I don't want to say God is on our side... I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side." Good rhetoric, though not particularly inspiring. Gee, I hope we're not evil or anything.
  • Stem-cell research part was very effective. (Another Bush vulnerability.) The after-school bit was not. Not everything needs to be set up from Washington.
A very good speech overall. Reaganesque in its optimism and attempts to inspire, to say nothing of the Reagan slogans borrowed outright. Kerry is still no Reagan in terms of delivery, but the wooden patrician was not on the podium tonight.

Not much on specifics, though. Just the usual slogans ("Stronger at home" -- oh, you know the rest), and a litany of issues that could just as easily have been listed in 2000. Nothing at all on the war on Islamism -- just the vague references to "freedom" winning that are annoying enough coming from Bush.

Overall: good form, little substance -- which wasn't much of a surprise.

Listening to today's Democratic convention:
  • Wesley Clark - missed most of the speech, but the end certainly seemed effective. That was quite some applause.
  • Nancy Pelosi - standard Democratic boilerplate. The reference to electing a Democratic House and having "the first woman Speaker" seemed awfully self-serving. The wooden delivery of "the Democrats have it right" seemed overwrought, but I get the idea. The "we can do it" part actually sounded desperate. "No, really guys, we can do it! Honest!"
  • Madeleine Albright - a very good speech, full of messages that the Democrats need to stress. What struck me, though, was the barely-audible applause to her assertions that Kerry would not seek approval from the world, or how America is a shining light to the world. You could practically hear some of the delegates whispering, "Jingoistic wench! Go read Chomsky!"
  • Kerry sisters - OK, what is this, a funeral? Maybe it's just me, but these "just-us-folks" and "my-daddy-is-nice" stories from millionaire career politicians grate. And uhh, the hamster story? What in the. . .?
Time for Kerry.

Update: Oops, I guess it was time for the Kerry family movie. Well-done parts: personal interviews, which made him seem much more human and less imposing and aloof than he's generally appeared. Talking about the births of his daughters and his relationship with his wife certainly was well-done. Vietnam service references were well-done. Post-Vietnam activism was also well-done, which is to say, very well whitewashed. No mention of accusing his fellow soldiers of war crimes; just carefully selected sound clips of Kerry ruefully asking, "Where are our leaders?" The ending fell apart, I thought, as it began to sound like a pre-packaged political ad: the farmer with a tractor, the diverse children, the waving flag, etc. A mistake, in my view: it instantly undid the rest of the film by reminding me that I was watching a political ad.

Update II: Wow, they are really driving home the war-hero point, aren't they? The Green Beret whose life Kerry saved certainly will carry well, and it is hard to disregard Max Cleland, upbeat and enthusiastic, despite having to power a wheelchair with his only limb. Well, these men deserve that respect; regardless of their political views, they served well and suffered much, and the Bush campaign will have to dance around this very gingerly. Background thought: the Democrats sure managed to keep the hard-core anti-Vietnam "baby-killer" rhetoric silenced, no?

Update III: Uh-oh, Cleland went into shaky-voice-rant mode... Bad. Change of image from inspiring war hero to grump-on-a-soapbox was instantaneous. Also, one reference to a band of brothers is powerful. Two is overdoing it. Three is annoying. And this story about a Bible and those "kinda long, sad, eyes" sounds artificial and sappy. . . .Whoa, "a man called by destiny"?? He's a war hero and a politician, not a comic book superhero. What next, a halo?

Monday, July 26, 2004
Some thoughts watching the Democratic National Convention:

At this point, I'm pretty much a single-issue voter, and the issue is national security. Specifically, I want leadership that is willing and able to destroy Islamism. Not "make us safer," not "form a coalition," not "inspire the world" -- destroy Islamism. That, in turn, does not mean come to an accommodation -- it means killing Islamists, destroying their networks, and making it very clear to foreign governments that support for Islamists will cause them to be deposed, disposed, and decomposed. No "root causes," no asking what makes them hate me -- I'm not interested in what makes the murderous savages on this planet upset with me. I want them killed, thereby making the question of what upset them, an academic exercise.

Whoever is assigned this task, I want their hands untied. It's bad enough when American would-be "intellectuals" subordinate our national interests to some legalistic nonsense that pretends the world is just a larger version of Sweden. It is beyond unacceptable, though, to even suggest that the opinion of effete and deluded European intelligentsia, corrupt French leaders, and oil-fed Arab dictators should have any influence on U.S. policy. U.S. policy is made by U.S. citizens; end of story.

It bothers me a great deal, therefore, to hear the rhetoric coming out of the Democrats through this convention, and in the interviews they are giving the news channels. It's all a repetition of the same talking points, or rather a single point stated in different words: the image of the United States has been gravely damaged; we are isolated and distrusted; we have alienated our crucial allies; this is negatively affecting the war on terror; and, naturally, it's all Bush's fault. It's hard to figure out whether they really think this: that deluded old fool Jimmy Carter probably does, but I don't know about, say, Al Gore.

It's hard to describe just how much utter B.S. is compressed into these talking points. The United States has not been a popular country in the world for decades; organized Soviet propaganda, aided and abetted by "intellectuals" such as Noam Chomsky, made sure of that -- and Chomsky didn't achieve his global popularity through the efforts of George W. Bush. I traveled to Europe in the late 1990s, the height of Clinton euphoria. The shelves were filled with books mocking Americans and criticizing every American policy. (The war on Serbia certainly did not endear Americans to Europeans.) This animosity isn't surprising: it's a natural consequence of standing for something other than happy and meaningless drivel. The only difference under Bush is that we stopped pretending that we paid this carping any attention, and made it clear that the negative opinions of Europe and "the world" were not going to count in our decisions to face threats. This is both good and necessary if we are going to accomplish anything against Islamism, rather than get tied down wondering how every cowardly foreign politician will respond to our actions.

Real crucial allies -- i.e. Great Britain, Australia, and Israel -- have not been alienated, and continue to stand with us. Countries that have been alienated -- or rather, publicly humiliated -- are the likes of France, which has not been an ally in at least 100 years, and is certainly not crucial to any American interest. Any cooperation we get out of France, or Russia, or Jordan, or Qatar will never be because they love us, or because they think it's the right thing to do. They will cooperate because their interests happen to align with ours; no more, and no less. Anyone who thinks otherwise is, quite simply, unhinged, and must never be allowed anywhere near the foreign policy apparatus. One Jimmy Carter is one too many.

A while back, I was asked to join Blogs for Bush. I didn't care to: it wasn't my intention to turn my blog into partisan boosterism. I wasn't -- and still am not -- unequivocally pro-Bush, nor did I have any serious objections to John Kerry. Watching this convention, though, it's hard not to turn against the Democratic Party, if not Kerry himself. We have Al Gore, who still seems unable to get over the fact that popular votes don't elect American Presidents; we have Jimmy Carter, who actually has the temerity to suggest that Bush made the U.S. less respected abroad, and the idiocy to imply that the U.S. was admired under his (Carter's) presidency; and we have every Democratic delegate and mouthpiece talking about our "image" in the world, as though they are running a sales campaign for a luxury car. As if to underscore this, they have a woman who lost her family on 9/11, followed by a staged candlelight vigil. (Punctuated by camera flashes. Like it's a rock concert. Good grief.)

And really -- Hillary Clinton talking about her husband's reign as "8 years of peace, prosperity, and promise"? Have these people no shame? I wonder what the families of the sailors who died on the Cole have to say about this. Or the families of the dead African embassy workers. And it's George Bush that never admits to mistakes?

Sorry, but as much as I disagree with Bush -- and I disagree with him a lot -- I simply can't buy what the Democrats are selling. I can't have a President that thinks the opinion of the EU, or the UN, or the African Union, somehow matters and carries moral, let alone practical, weight. Sorry, Democrats, but I can't have a President who will second-guess himself based on how his actions might play with the Arab souk or the French café. I can't have a President who is more worried about America's image than American interests; I certainly can't have a President who can't distinguish between the two. I can't tell whether the Democrats' message is just honest delusions, or simply Saatchi-and-Saatchi-style brand positioning, but either way, it's not what I want for the next four years. This stuff is far too serious for the likes of Jimmy Carter. It's real life; not the Model UN.

Either the tone of the Convention rhetoric changes radically, or the Democrats will make up my mind for me.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A Modest Open Letter

Unsolicited advice for the State of Israel

Dear Israel,

It has become painfully clear over the past few days years decades that you, as a nation, have a severe image problem internationally. This problem is not just with openly hostile governments that have promised on many occasions to destroy you and murder your citizens wholesale; rather, it extends to inter-governmental assemblies such as the United Nations, progressive non-governmental organizations, the global press, and the academic intelligentsia, combining into what has commonly come to be called "world opinion." I believe it would be of some benefit to consider the ways in which you can bring this world opinion to your side, and gain sympathy and respect, if not outright admiration, from nations the world over.

(Some may be tempted to ask why a sovereign nation should give any consideration to this "world opinion" to begin with. Some may even ask how this world opinion came to be considered a moral authority, especially given the rather shaky moral record of virtually all nations that presume to hold it. Such questions are beyond the scope of this letter. Suffice it to say that your UN ambassador probably does not enjoy being berated daily by virtually every country on the planet, including those that have more mass graves than your entire population.)

Let us consider the strategy you have employed for the past few decades: namely, to demonstrate your strength, but seek peaceful solutions instead, as with Egypt and Jordan; to strive to kill terrorists, but spare innocent civilians, as in Jenin; to occupy after being attacked, but not engage in genocide or ethnic cleansing, as in the West Bank; to give sworn enemies the benefit of the doubt and test their word, as with Arafat; to give all those within your borders citizenship and basic rights; to respect all your citizens' freedom of speech; to discuss your flaws openly and honestly; and to admit imperfection, but expect the world to understand the difficulties you face; to protect reporters and their freedom of speech, expecting them to report honestly and contextually; to respect world opinion while expecting it to recognize your right and responsibility to your own citizens. In short, you have tried to do the right thing, and expected the world to reciprocate. This foolishness has to stop, and it has to stop right now. It has brought you neither love nor respect from your fellow nations, and it is unclear as to why you expected anything else. But we'll get to that.

First, let us consider some suboptimal ways of getting on the good side of global opinion. These work, but the harm they do to your own nation tends to outweigh any benefit, so they aren't particularly recommended:

  • You can surrender to the Arabs. Put down your weapons, drop to your knees, and allow them to overrun the place. This will reduce you from your current position of strength, to that of innocent victims. The world loves helpless, innocent victims! Consider all the sympathy and support you got just after the Holocaust, when Jews was synonymous with skeletal Auschwitz victims. Why, the Europeans couldn't support you enough, just as long as you didn't hang around in Europe! (After all, helpless innocent victims are fine and good, as long as they are not camped out on the front lawn. That just spoils the scenery!)

    This solution has been employed multiple times over the past 100 years or so, all with roughly the same results: sympathy galore. Just ask the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Rwandans, or the Sudanese in Darfur. The problem, of course, is that sympathy is all you get, and that's worth about as much as one of Arafat's commitments to peace -- so you'll end up exactly like the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Rwandans, or the Sudanese in Darfur. Or, more likely and more to the point, like the Auschwitz victims that never left the camp.

  • You can become an enemy of the United States. It's wacky but true: if you are opposed to the United States, you can expect widespread global support, regardless of your own failings. You can set up a mass-murdering police state, invade two countries, and kill entire villages with poison gas, but if you oppose the United States, you'll be the lesser evil. There are several problems with this approach, of course, not least of which is that there is no guarantee that it will work for you. There simply isn't enough empirical data to determine whether, in opposition to the U.S., you'd actually be viewed as the lesser evil. It certainly worked for Iraq and North Korea, but then neither of them is run by Jews.

    Another problem is that being an enemy of the U.S., while popular, is exceedingly dangerous. Since 2001, at least two countries that engaged in this have had a radical change of government, preceded by some very loud urban renewal courtesy of the U.S. military. (By contrast, slaughtering Spanish citizens and Filipino expats has brought extremely promising results. You should keep this in mind.) At any rate, when picking one's enemies, the United States is probably not the best choice. Of course, in your case this option is barred even more by your strategic dependence upon the U.S. That problem is addressable, and we'll get to it shortly; nonetheless, it's easy to see that gaining popularity by being anti-U.S. is not really a viable option.

Now that we have eliminated the false leads, we shall examine the actions you will have to take in order to receive positive press and start benefitting from friendly world opinion. As you consider these options, you will no doubt find that they violate your principles, and contradict your very strongly held morals. Well, frankly, you'll just have to deal. When getting on the good side world opinion and the progressive intelligentsia, real morals are a nuisance you simply cannot afford. If you're going to insist on something as silly as principles, and be bothered by something as trivial as rank hypocrisy, you'll just have to hang out with the other pariahs, such as the U.S. and Australia. So forget it: just make like the French, and shrug it off. Principles are so simplisme.

The French actually have much to teach you about the benefits of moral flexibility: it has taken them successfully through World War II and the Cold War -- to say nothing of the many crises in Africa and the Middle East since then -- with virtually no damage to their economy, infrastructure, or reputation. The Americans, Brits, and Russians may have fought World War II to the bitter end, while the French surrendered after a few weeks and started working for the Germans, but guess who still ended up on the Security Council? That is skill, my friends!

Anyway, enough babble -- on to the plan!

  • The first thing to realize is that negative opinion is created by negative reporting. You have naively assumed that if you allow jouralists to report everything, they really will report everything -- the good and the bad, the claims and the counterclaims, the bloodshed and the background. Such foolishness! How many reporters can you name that have won awards for reporting something positive, especially where a Western society is concerned? Reporters don't merely report facts; reporters look for "the story," and that story had better have some bloodshed, preferably involving defenseless and oppressed people. Well, there is certainly no shortage of that on the planet, but someone who is willing to kill thousands of rival tribesmen is unlikely to spare a BBC crew, so the number of opportunities to wear khaki and film misery is actually much more limited. Then, as if to answer the prayers of every Pulitzer chaser, you walk right in, with the ethnic conflict, the weak Arabs, the poweful Jews backed by the U.S. -- and all perfectly safe to film! What kind of news stories do you expect, anyway, when even the lowest al-Jazeera staffer can stand in the middle of Tel-Aviv and safely curse the Zionist entity, while every TV crew in the West Bank knows that simply showing Palestinians doing what they do best gets your press credentials revoked.

    So let's cut the crap. Close the West Bank and Gaza to journalists, and remove any who resist. Cut phone lines and satellite links; use missiles as needed on the rest. Isolate the West Bank and Gaza entirely; nothing, not even an SOS gets in or out of there without your say-so. Throw a couple of reporters in jail, just on general principle. Make it really clear that anyone who embarrasses the State of Israel can receive the same treatment; then make good on the threat. (I suggest using as examples reporters from respected but unimportant countries -- New Zealand, say, or Belgium -- you get the idea.) Make journalist visas nearly-impossible to obtain, and hold them as prizes. Demand to review all footage before it's broadcast or taken out of the country. Hey, it works for Arafat and the Saudis; it'll work for you.

    This will obviously cause you some difficulty with your own journalists, especially the more left-leaning ones. Give them the same treatment as the foreign journalists. Remember: you are trying to be a respected member of the global community. Niceties like freedom of the press are not something you can afford.

  • A large portion of your population will object to this, on account of some silly notions like freedom of speech and the need for open discussion in a democracy. I won't bother telling you how to get rid of them. All you really need is a couple examples. Just remember: you control the press, so it's not like anyone will know. (Eventually, no one will care. More on that later.)

  • There's also the whole problem of various activists and outright terror sympathizers. All I have to say is that you don't really see too many protestors in Pyongyang or Damascus. Sure, it's partly due to the fact that their political leanings match those of North Korea and Syria to some degree, but mostly it's because they doubt they'd come back from such an adventure. This seems easy enough to arrange. Let's just say that ever since Rachel Corrie became one with the earth, not too many ISMers are eager to stand in front of a bulldozer. You don't need to be too obvious: a few examples and some rumors that those who protest in Israel tend to disappear, and the activists will seek new protest venues elsewhere.

  • This only leaves one type of negative publicity: the pundits and commentators outside your borders. Without live pictures, though, the world will quickly tire of hearing their cries of "occupation!" -- that stuff is boring, and the world has a very short attention span. Still, if you're worried, surely it's not that hard to remove one or two of the more annoying ones. The rest will quickly get the message. It works for the Chinese in Hong Kong, or the Iranians with Rushdie, and it will work for you.
Simply following these guidelines should reduce to virtually nil the flow of negative publicity. That by itself is not enough, though: you need to get the world on your side. And as everyone from the USSR to the PLO to Saddam Hussein has demonstrated, you can't do that without getting really nasty.
  • First off, you need to put yourself in a position where other nations need something from you. This is the only way most of them will ever support you, under any circumstances. There's a reason why everyone pays so much deference to the Saudis, and it's not because the world loves fat men in Maybachs. Like it or not, the world is not in dire need of more Sabra oranges or high-tech toys, and advanced cancer research just makes them feel inadequate. So what you need is control of a strategic resource. My suggestion would be to push the Egyptians out of the Sinai, and take over the Suez Canal. There's not much they can do about it, especially if you quietly point out that, well, you might just have some tactical nukes that might just find their way into Cairo. It's amazing how accommodating people can be when properly motivated. You can even let them save face through nominal control of some worthless port; no matter.

    The point is, once you have control of a waterway so crucial the the Euroid economy, expect to see a radical change of tune from the French and the rest of Europe, especially the Old side. Don't bite off more than you can chew, though: it's probably best not to tweak the Brits this way, and I strongly suggest you give Americans perpetual free passage. As to the rest, you can pretty much do as you wish -- and I suggest making it really clear that you intend to play favorites. It'll certainly alter the calculus a bit: the Arabs may have oil, sure, but it still has to get to Europe somehow. And that's really hard, especially what with all those sabotaged pipelines. What sabotaged pipelines? You figure it out.

    Oh, please, don't blanche at me now. This is global opinion we're talking about. Just imagine how much the Europeans will love you once they realize their economies are now completely dependent on your whim. I predict a total love fest. Chirac will go nowhere without his yarmulke.

  • You should also throw a bone to those intellectuals and progressives who are not rotting in your jails, just to make them forget their comrades. This is not too hard to do. Some anti-U.S. rhetoric might be nice, but you can do well enough just by espousing some pet issues of theirs, and adopting their language. For example, instead of the boring moniker State of Israel, perhaps you can adopt the name The Jewish State of Social Justice. Progressives love the phrase "social justice," and they'll accept anyting that promises it, no matter how absurd.

    (Sort of like "free universal medical care." Which I also suggest you implement, at least in the West Bank. It doesn't have to be medically competent, or especially caring -- the point is, it's "free" and "universal." A couple of Potemkin villages and some carefully orchestrated trips with properly instructed reporters will do wonders. It worked for the Russians and the Cubans; it will work for you. Progressives are much more willing to accept a boot in someone's face, if the wearer of the boot explains that the face receives free universal medical care. Like quantum mechanics, it's weird and counter-intuitive, but it works.) By the way, now that I think about it, you should probably remove the "Jewish" from the new name of the state -- it polls negatively with global opinion. Perhaps the Hebraic State of Social Justice, or maybe something like the Multicultural State of Social Justice. Don't worry about what that means; it's the name that counts.

As you can see, you've been going about this world opinion thing all wrong. Silly Jews, you've tried to do the right thing under difficult circumstances, and -- oh the hilarity! -- expected fair treatment from the same people who brought you the Crusades, the Pale of Settlement, the pogroms, the Dreyfus Affair, the Holocaust, and exploding buses. Now you'll probably just ignore me, stick to your silly morals and principles, and wonder how a Communist dictatorship manages to castigate your behavior without even a slight trace of irony.

You naive fools.

There seems to be a lot of noise about how there are "two Americas." To which I say:

Duh.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Let me see if I have this straight: The so-called International "Court" of "Justice," the self-declared "principal judicial organ of the United Nations", presided over by "judges" from such illustrious places as China, Egypt, Jordan, and Russia -- staunch defenders of human rights, all! -- has issued a decision that Israel's barrier against Palestinian terrorism is verbotten because it amounts to an illegal grab of land that Israel has already won properly in a war of aggression it did not start. (Never mind, of course, that there is no such country as Palestine, and no borders of theirs are recognized by the UN or by Israel.)

The General Assembly, with all the usual suspects, votes to support this, and demand that Israel "comply" with this farce. The only two countries whose opinion matters at all -- i.e. Israel and the United States -- vote against. The usual leftoid screech chorus reaches its loudest crescendo since just before the invasion of Iraq.

In a new twist, the EUroids and the rest of the nuanced, progressive world sell out the Jews to a band of genocidal psychopaths, hiding their venality behind high-minded bullshit. Well, ok, that part is not really new.

The Chinese state press goes into overtime preening about Israeli perfidy in the face of human rights and "international law." I guess 15 years is plenty of time to wash the blood off the tanks. Feichang hao, tongzhi!

Meantime, with that icky wall depriving the "defenseless Palestinians" of convenient Jewish targets, the savages have turned, rat-like, upon one another. Oh, and while they are at it, they began using their UN enablers for hostages. The UN workers, committed to nothing if not principle, bravely stay in the Palestinian territories, helping the helpless and counting on Arab hospitality and good sense to protect them. . . No, haha, I'm only kidding! The UN, at the first sign of trouble, ran for the protection of that illegal, immoral, totally-buzz-killin' wall so fast, they made the Filipino scramble from Iraq look heroic. This is the outfit whose approval the U.S. should have sought before removing Hussein from power. World opinion, legitimacy, multilateralism, very very important, donchaknow.

Meantime, of course, the Israeli wall is saving lives, Hussein is in U.S. custody, and as to the weight of "world opinion," 150 times zero is still zero.

Sunday, July 04, 2004
Has anyone ever noticed that Michael Moore has never opposed child molestation? It's true: read his books, watch his movies, read his web site -- not once does he utter a single word of opposition to this disgusting practice. Don't you wonder why this purported defender of the defenseless and speaker for the voiceless has never once interrupted one of his anti-Bush, anti-small-business tirades to call attention to the horrors of this crime? Do you suppose he has a secret to hide -- and if so, what is it? Is this why his daughter has never appeared in public?

And what do you suppose he was thinking when the planes hit the towers on 9/11? I wonder if he thought, "Man, if I play this up right, I can pay off the condo in Manhattan!" He may have added afterwards, "Unless, of course, real estate prices plummet. Damn it -- why does this have to happen to me!" Then he might have gone back to scarfing down donuts without bothering to open the box.

In case you haven't caught on, yes, I just came back from seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, and it actually managed to fall below what I thought were bedrock-level expectations. The style of "argument" I used above is omnipresent throughout the film -- in fact, it is the film. This has been billed as a "controversial" and "thought-provoking" film, so here are some of the thoughts it provoked from me:

  • First, this film is nothing but an agonizingly long infomercial for the MoveOn.org agenda (i.e., "Bush bad!"). To call this a "documentary" is to equate Ron Popeil to Jacques Cousteau.

  • As a propaganda tool, this movie is virtually useless. It will only appeal to people who were already convinced that Bushitlerliedhalliburtonbloodforoil. To everyone else, it will come off as exactly what it is -- a cheap, incoherent celluloid babble that hardly even merits the term "propaganda." It is slightly more suble than a KCNA press release, though much longer and far less punchy. The huge ticket sales are significant, of course, but no small number of people went to see the movie just to find out what the fuss was about. In the end, this will have as much meaning as the critical mass of Deaniacs did during the Democratic primaries.

  • The rabid right-wing fools who tried to ban this movie did their cause a disservice. They would have done much better to buy tickets for all their friends -- rent out the theater! -- and then introduce the movie as what passes for left-wing anti-war argument these days. (Hey, I didn't say it'd be fair. Just effective.)

  • It's been commented on by many others, but the scene with the mother who lost her son in the war simultaneously manages to be pointless, disgustingly manipulative, and completely disingenuous. I sympathize with the loss of this woman's son, but -- and this is just me -- I don't generally invite a muckraking bloat sack with a camera to film my grief for days on end. The whole thing felt as staged as, well... At best, this is grief porn at its lowest. At worst, it's an attempt to manipulate the viewer by Moore and a woman who clearly has an agenda. And even if the whole thing was 100% genuine -- imagine the reaction if the right abused a grieving 9/11 family this way to justify the invasion of Afghanistan or the detainment of illegal Arab immigrants. The gallons of cappucino that would come pouring from Stabucks cups crushed in outrage could probably fill Lake Superior.

  • I really can't believe the ratings this film has got -- and the Palme D'Or?! The narration is incoherent and preachy, the music choices obvious, the anecdotes non-sequiturs. Moore leads the viewer directly to his conclusions with neither subtlety nor wit -- and then, in case you missed it, he spells out the conclusion for you. It's hardly a surprise for me that the American and international movie critics trend left -- but really, even if the politics fits, shouldn't the quality of the film count for something? I mean, how partisan can this film "criticism" get? Have our would-be cultural elites sunk so low that they can no longer even judge the merits of a work if there is a political slant? Why don't we just outsource all our movie reviews to Pyongyang, and save ourselves the trouble?
It seems that I could lay a turd and say that it's anti-Bush, and it would be the next contender for the Oscar. I wonder what Michael Moore would think if I did that. I suppose he would think, "Dude, that guy stole my idea!"

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