A letter from Michael Moore: Bush May Be Striking Out,
but Can Kerry Succeed in Beating Him?
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A LETTER FROM MICHAEL MOORE,
sent out to subscribers of TIKKUN magazine
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HEADS UP
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 note.

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 worse.

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 smirking?

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 some Europeans).

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 people."

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 completion.

Yours,
Michael Moore
mmflint@aol.com
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Update:
 
Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' Wins Cannes Award
 
 CNN
  Saturday 22 May 2004
  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 frontrunner status.
  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 value.
  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.
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  Go to Original
  Michael Moore's Candid Camera
  By Frank Rich
  Sunday 23 May 2004
 
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 haircut.
 
  "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 war.
 
  "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 right now.
 
  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 Minutes II"?
 
  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 us again?"
 
  "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 tell.

Monday, September 20th, 2004

Put Away Your Hankies...a message from Michael Moore

Dear Friends,

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 check.

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 lie).

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 November.

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 sleep...sleeep...sleeeeeeppppp...

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 choice?

Yours,

Michael Moore