- A letter from Michael Moore:
Bush May Be Striking Out,
- but Can Kerry Succeed in
- A LETTER FROM MICHAEL MOORE,
- sent out to subscribers of
- April 14, 2004
- Dear Tikkunistas,
I have never seen a head so far up a
Presidential ass (pardon my Falluja) than the one I saw last night at
the "news conference" given by George W. Bush. He's still talking
about finding "weapons of mass destruction"--this time on Saddam's
"turkey farm." Turkey indeed. Clearly the White House believes there
are enough idiots in the 17 swing states who will buy this. I think
they are in for a rude awakening.
I've been holed up for weeks in the editing
room finishing my film ("Fahrenheit 911"). That's why you haven't
heard from me lately. But after last night's Lyndon Johnson
impersonation from the East Room--essentially promising to send even
more troops into the Iraq sinkhole--I had to write you all a
First, can we stop the Orwellian language and
start using the proper names for things? Those are not "contractors"
in Iraq. They are not there to fix a roof or to pour concrete in a
driveway. They are MERCENARIES and SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE. They are
there for the money, and the money is very good if you live long
enough to spend it.
Halliburton is not a "company" doing business
in Iraq. It is a WAR PROFITEER, bilking millions from the pockets of
average Americans. In past wars they would have been arrested--or
The Iraqis who have risen up against the
occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They
are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow--and
they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush? You closed down a friggin' weekly
newspaper, you great giver of freedom and democracy! Then all hell
broke loose. The paper only had 10,000 readers! Why are you
One year after we wiped the face of the
Saddam statue with our American flag before yanking him down, it is
now too dangerous for a single media person to go to that square in
Baghdad and file a report on the wonderful one-year anniversary
celebration. Of course, there is no celebration, and those brave
blow-dried "embeds" can't even leave the safety of the fort in
downtown Baghdad. They never actually SEE what is taking place across
Iraq (most of the pictures we see on TV are shot by Arab media and
When you watch a report "from Iraq" what you
are getting is the press release handed out by the U.S. occupation
force and repeated to you as "news." I currently have two
cameramen/reporters doing work for me in Iraq for my movie
(unbeknownst to the Army). They are talking to soldiers and gathering
the true sentiment about what is really going on. They Fed Ex the
footage back to me each week. That's right, Fed Ex. Who said we
haven't brought freedom to Iraq! The funniest story my guys tell me
is how when they fly into Baghdad, they don't have to show a passport
or go through immigration. Why not? Because they have not traveled
from a foreign country--they're coming from America TO America, a
place that is ours, a new American territory called Iraq.
There is a lot of talk amongst Bush's
opponents that we should turn this war over to the United Nations.
Why should the other countries of this world, countries who tried to
talk us out of this folly, now have to clean up our mess?
I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the
lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle. I'm sorry,
but the majority of Americans supported this war once it began and,
sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough
blood has been let that maybe--just maybe--God and the Iraqi people
will forgive us in the end.
Until then, enjoy the "pacification" of
Falluja, the "containment" of Sadr City, and the next Tet Offensive
oops, I mean, "terrorist attack by a small group of Baathist
loyalists" (Hahaha! I love writing those words, Baathist loyalists,
it makes me sound so Peter Jennings!)--followed by a "news
conference" where we will be told that we must "stay the course"
because we are "winning the hearts and minds of the
I'll write again soon. Don't despair.
Remember, the American people are not that stupid. Sure, we can be
frightened into a war, but we always come around sooner or later--and
the one way this is NOT like Vietnam is that it hasn't taken the
public four long years to figure out they were lied to.
Now if Bush would just quit speaking in
public and giving me more free material for my movie, I can get back
to work and get it done. I've got four weeks left 'til
- Michael Moore
- Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit
9/11' Wins Cannes Award
- Saturday 22 May
- CANNES, France - U.S.
filmmaker Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," a scathing indictment
of White House actions after the September 11 attacks, won the top
prize Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival.
- "Fahrenheit 9/11" was
the first documentary to win Cannes' prestigious Palme d'Or since
Jacques Cousteau's "The Silent World" in 1956.
- "What have you done?
I'm completely overwhelmed by this. Merci," Moore said after
getting a standing ovation from the Cannes crowd.
- "Fahrenheit 9/11" took
the prestigious Palme d'Or amid sharply divided Cannes moviegoers,
who found a solid crop of good movies among the 19 entries in the
festival's main competition but no great ones that rose to
- While "Fahrenheit 9/11"
was well-received by Cannes audiences, many critics felt it was
inferior to Moore's Academy Award-winning documentary "Bowling for
Columbine," which earned him a special prize at Cannes in 2002.
Some critics had speculated that if "Fahrenheit 9/11" won the top
prize, it would be more for the film's politics than its cinematic
- With Moore's customary
blend of humor and horror, "Fahrenheit 9/11" accuses the Bush camp
of stealing the 2000 election, overlooking terrorism warnings
before September 11 and fanning fears of more attacks to secure
Americans' support for the Iraq war.
- Moore appears on-screen
far less in "Fahrenheit 9/11" than in "Bowling for Columbine" or
his other documentaries. The film relies largely on interviews,
footage of U.S. soldiers and war victims in Iraq, and archival
footage of Bush.
- Go to
- Michael Moore's Candid
- By Frank
- Sunday 23 May
- But why should we hear about body
bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it's gonna happen, and
how many this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it's, it's not
relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something
like that? And watch him suffer."
- &emdash; Barbara Bush on "Good
Morning America," March 18, 2003
- She needn't have
worried. Her son wasn't suffering. In one of the several pieces of
startling video exhibited for the first time in Michael Moore's
"Fahrenheit 9/11," we catch a candid glimpse of President Bush
some 36 hours after his mother's breakfast TV interview - minutes
before he makes his own prime-time TV address to take the nation
to war in Iraq. He is sitting at his desk in the Oval Office. A
makeup woman is doing his face. And Mr. Bush is having a high old
time. He darts his eyes about and grins, as if he were playing a
peek-a-boo game with someone just off-camera. He could be a
teenager goofing with his buds to relieve the passing tedium of a
- "In your wildest dreams
you couldn't imagine Franklin Roosevelt behaving this way 30
seconds before declaring war, with grave decisions and their
consequences at stake," said Mr. Moore in an interview before his
new documentary's premiere at Cannes last Monday. "But that may be
giving him credit for thinking that the decisions were grave." As
we spoke, the consequences of those decisions kept coming. The
premiere of "Fahrenheit 9/11" took place as news spread of the
assassination of a widely admired post-Saddam Iraqi leader,
Ezzedine Salim, blown up by a suicide bomber just a hundred yards
from the entrance to America's "safe" headquarters, the Green
Zone, in Baghdad.
- "Fahrenheit 9/11" will
arrive soon enough at your local cineplex - there's lots of money
to be made - so discount much of the squabbling en route. Disney
hasn't succeeded in censoring Mr. Moore so much as in enhancing
his stature as a master provocateur and self-promoter. And the
White House, which likewise hasn't a prayer of stopping this film,
may yet fan the p.r. flames. "It's so outrageously false, it's not
even worth comment," was last week's blustery opening salvo by Dan
Bartlett, the White House communications director. New York's
Daily News reported that Republican officials might even
try to use the Federal Election Commission to shut the film down.
That would be the best thing to happen to Michael Moore since
Charlton Heston granted him an interview.
- Whatever you think of
Mr. Moore, there's no question he's detonating dynamite here. From
a variety of sources - foreign journalists and broadcasters (like
Britain's Channel Four), freelancers and sympathetic American TV
workers who slipped him illicit video - he supplies war-time
pictures that have been largely shielded from our view. Instead of
recycling images of the planes hitting the World Trade Center on
9/11 once again, Mr. Moore can revel in extended new close-ups of
the president continuing to read "My Pet Goat" to elementary
school students in Florida for nearly seven long minutes after
learning of the attack. Just when Abu Ghraib and the savage
beheading of Nicholas Berg make us think we've seen it all, here
is yet another major escalation in the nation-jolting images that
have become the battleground for the war about the
- "Fahrenheit 9/11" is
not the movie Moore watchers, fans or foes, were expecting. (If it
were, the foes would find it easier to ignore.) When he first
announced this project last year after his boorish Oscar-night
diatribe against Mr. Bush, he described it as an exposé of
the connections between the Bush and bin Laden dynasties. But that
story has been so strenuously told elsewhere - most notably in
Craig Unger's best seller, "House of Bush, House of Saud" - that
it's no longer news. Mr. Moore settles for a brisk recap in the
first of his film's two hours. And, predictably, he stirs it into
an over-the-top, at times tendentious replay of a Bush hater's
greatest hits: Katherine Harris, the Supreme Court, Harken Energy,
AWOL in Alabama, the Carlyle Group, Halliburton, the lazy Crawford
vacation of August 2001, the Patriot Act. But then the movie veers
off in another direction entirely. Mr. Moore takes the same
hairpin turn the country has over the past 14 months and
crash-lands into the gripping story that is unfolding in real time
- Wasn't it just weeks
ago that we were debating whether we should see the coffins of the
American dead and whether Ted Koppel should read their names on
"Nightline"? In "Fahrenheit 9/11," we see the actual dying, of
American troops and Iraqi civilians alike, with all the ripped
flesh and spilled guts that the violence of war entails. (If
Steven Spielberg can simulate World War II carnage in "Saving
Private Ryan," it's hard to argue that Mr. Moore should shy away
from the reality in a present-day war.) We also see some of the
4,000-plus American casualties: those troops hidden away in
clinics at Walter Reed and at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital
in Fort Campbell, Ky., where they try to cope with nerve damage
and multiple severed limbs. They are not silent. They talk about
their pain and their morphine, and they talk about betrayal. "I
was a Republican for quite a few years," one soldier says with an
almost innocent air of bafflement, "and for some reason they
conduct business in a very dishonest way."
- Of course, Mr. Moore is
being selective in what he chooses to include in his movie; he's a
polemicist, not a journalist. But he implicitly raises the issue
that much of what we've seen elsewhere during this war, often
under the label of "news," has been just as subjectively edited.
Perhaps the most damning sequence in "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the one
showing American troops as they ridicule hooded detainees in a
holding pen near Samara, Iraq, in December 2003. A male soldier
touches the erection of a prisoner lying on a stretcher underneath
a blanket, an intimation of the sexual humiliations that were
happening at Abu Ghraib at that same time. Besides adding further
corroboration to Seymour Hersh's report that the top command has
sanctioned a culture of abuse not confined to a single prison or a
single company or seven guards, this video raises another
question: why didn't we see any of this on American TV before "60
- Don Van Natta Jr. of
The New York Times reported in March 2003 that we were using
hooding and other inhumane techniques at C.I.A. interrogation
centers in Afghanistan and elsewhere. CNN reported on Jan. 20,
after the Army quietly announced its criminal investigation into
prison abuses, that "U.S. soldiers reportedly posed for
photographs with partially unclothed Iraqi prisoners." And there
the matter stood for months, even though, as we know now,
soldiers' relatives with knowledge of these incidents were
repeatedly trying to alert Congress and news organizations to the
full panorama of the story.
- Mr. Moore says he
obtained his video from an independent foreign journalist embedded
with the Americans. "We've had this footage in our possession for
two months," he says. "I saw it before any of the Abu Ghraib news
broke. I think it's pretty embarrassing that a guy like me with a
high school education and with no training in journalism can do
this. What the hell is going on here? It's pathetic."
- We already know that
politicians in denial will dismiss the abuse sequence in Mr.
Moore's film as mere partisanship. Someone will surely echo
Senator James Inhofe's Abu Ghraib complaint that "humanitarian
do-gooders" looking for human rights violations are maligning "our
troops, our heroes" as they continue to fight and die. But Senator
Inhofe and his colleagues might ask how much they are honoring
soldiers who are overextended, undermanned and bereft of a
coherent plan in Iraq. Last weekend The Los Angeles Times reported
that for the first time three Army divisions, more than a third of
its combat troops, are so depleted of equipment and skills that
they are classified "unfit to fight." In contrast to Washington's
neglect, much of "Fahrenheit 9/11" turns out to be a patriotic
celebration of the heroic American troops who have been fighting
and dying under these and other deplorable conditions since
President Bush's declaration of war.
- In particular, the
movie's second hour is carried by the wrenching story of Lila
Lipscomb, a flag-waving, self-described "conservative Democrat"
from Mr. Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich., whose son, Sgt. Michael
Pedersen, was killed in Iraq. We watch Mrs. Lipscomb, who by her
own account "always hated" antiwar protesters, come undone with
grief and rage. As her extended family gathers around her in the
living room, she clutches her son's last letter home and reads it
aloud, her shaking voice and hand contrasting with his precise
handwriting on lined notebook paper. A good son, Sergeant Pedersen
thanks his mother for sending "the bible and books and candy," but
not before writing of the president: "He got us out here for
nothing whatsoever. I am so furious right now, Mama."
- By this point, Mr.
Moore's jokes, some of them sub-par retreads of Jon Stewart's
riffs about the coalition of the willing, have vanished from
"Fahrenheit 9/11." So, pretty much, has Michael Moore himself. He
told me that Harvey Weinstein of Miramax had wanted him to insert
more of himself into the film - "you're the star they're coming to
see" - but for once he exercised self-control, getting out of the
way of a story that is bigger than he is. "It doesn't need me
running around with my exclamation points," he said. He can't
resist underlining one moral at the end, but by then the audience,
crushed by the needlessness of Mrs. Lipscomb's loss, is ready to
listen. Speaking of America's volunteer army, Mr. Moore concludes:
"They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their
lives so that we can be free. It is, remarkably, their gift to us.
And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into
harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust
- "Fahrenheit 9/11"
doesn't push any Vietnam analogies, but you may find one in a
montage at the start, in which a number of administration
luminaries (Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, Powell) in addition to the
president are seen being made up for TV appearances. It's
reminiscent of Richard Avedon's photographic portrait of the
Mission Council, the American diplomats and military figures
running the war in Saigon in 1971. But at least those subjects
were dignified. In Mr. Moore's candid-camera portraits, a
particularly unappetizing spectacle is provided by Paul Wolfowitz,
the architect of both the administration's Iraqi fixation and its
doctrine of "preventive" war. We watch him stick his comb in his
mouth until it is wet with spit, after which he runs it through
his hair. This is not the image we usually see of the deputy
defense secretary, who has been ritualistically presented in the
press as the most refined of intellectuals - a guy with, as
Barbara Bush would have it, a beautiful mind.
- Like Mrs. Bush, Mr.
Wolfowitz hasn't let that mind be overly sullied by body bags and
such - to the point where he underestimated the number of American
deaths in Iraq by more than 200 in public last month. No one would
ever accuse Michael Moore of having a beautiful mind. Subtleties
and fine distinctions are not his thing. That matters very little,
it turns out, when you have a story this ugly and this powerful to
Monday, September 20th, 2004
Put Away Your Hankies...a message from
Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the
doomsaying! Do I have to come there and personally calm you down?
Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just
quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of
nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans are
laughing at us. Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are
finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!"
Hell no. It's never over for them until the
last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping
moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling,
kicking, blocking, lying.
They are relentless and that is why we
secretly admire them -- they just simply never, ever give up. Only
30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own
it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court
and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been
able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because
they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then
spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.
Look at us -- what a bunch of crybabies. Bush
gets a bounce after his convention and you would have thought the
Germans had run through Poland again. The Bushies are coming, the
Bushies are coming! Yes, they caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat
thing. Yes, they found the frequency in Dan Rather and ran with it.
Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY IS FALLING!"
No, it is not. If I hear one more person tell
me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of
COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a Democrat, for heavens sake!
That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win!
What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket?
Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run --
and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.
Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a
better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked
each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE
are not running for president -- Kerry is. So quit complaining and
work with what we have. Oprah just gave 300 women a... Pontiac! Did
you see any of them frowning and moaning and screaming, "Oh God, NOT
a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were happy. The Pontiacs all
had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal. You want more than that,
well, I can't help you. I had a Pontiac once and it lasted a good
year. And it was a VERY good year.
My friends, it is time for a reality
1. The polls are wrong. They are all over the
map like diarrhea. On Friday, one poll had Bush 13 points ahead --
and another poll had them both tied. There are three reasons why the
polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely voters." "Likely" means
those who have consistently voted in the past few elections. So that
cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and a ton of
non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second,
they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary
phone. Again, that means they are not talking to young people.
Finally, most of the polls are weighted with too many Republicans, as
pollster John Zogby revealed last week. You are being snookered if
you believe any of these polls.
2. Kerry has brought in the Clinton A-team.
Instead of shunning Clinton (as Gore did), Kerry has decided to not
make that mistake.
3. Traveling around the country, as I've been
doing, I gotta tell ya, there is a hell of a lot of unrest out there.
Much of it is not being captured by the mainstream press. But it is
simmering and it is real. Do not let those well-produced Bush rallies
of angry white people scare you. Turn off the TV! (Except Jon Stewart
and Bill Moyers -- everything else is just a sugar-coated
4. Conventional wisdom says if the election
is decided on "9/11" (the fear of terrorism), Bush wins. But if it is
decided on the job we are doing in Iraq, then Bush loses. And folks,
that "job," you might have noticed, has descended into the third
level of a hell we used to call Vietnam. There is no way out. It is a
full-blown mess of a quagmire and the body bags will sadly only mount
higher. Regardless of what Kerry meant by his original war vote, he
ain't the one who sent those kids to their deaths -- and Mr. and Mrs.
Middle America knows it. Had Bush bothered to show up when he was in
the "service" he might have somewhat of a clue as to how to recognize
an immoral war that cannot be "won." All he has delivered to Iraq was
that plasticized turkey last Thanksgiving. It is this failure of
monumental proportions that is going to cook his goose come this
So, do not despair. All is not over. Far from
it. The Bush people need you to believe that it is over. They need
you to slump back into your easy chair and feel that sick pain in
your gut as you contemplate another four years of George W. Bush.
They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't windsurf and who
was just as smart as we were when WE knew Bush was lying about WMD
and Saddam planning 9/11. It's like Karl Rove is hypnotizing you --
"Kerry voted for the war...Kerry voted for the war...Kerrrrrryyy
vooootted fooooor theeee warrrrrrrrrr..."
Yes...Yes...Yesssss...He did! HE DID! No
sense in fighting now...what I need is
WAKE UP! The majority are with us! More than
half of all Americans are pro-choice, want stronger environmental
laws, are appalled that assault weapons are back on the street -- and
54% now believe the war is wrong. YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO CONVINCE
THEM OF ANY OF THIS -- YOU JUST HAVE TO GIVE THEM A RAY OF HOPE AND A
RIDE TO THE POLLS. CAN YOU DO THAT? WILL YOU DO THAT?
Just for me, please? Buck up. The country is
almost back in our hands. Not another negative word until Nov. 3rd!
Then you can bitch all you want about how you wish Kerry was still
that long-haired kid who once had the courage to stand up for
something. Personally, I think that kid is still inside him. Instead
of the wailing and gnashing of your teeth, why not hold out a hand to
him and help the inner soldier/protester come out and defeat the
forces of evil we now so desperately face. Do we have any other