June 29, 2004


Kevin Holtsberry

I won't get into a big argument over this as I doubt it would be helpful but I think you miss the point when you state "I am not aware of a single untruth in the film, no out and out whoppers of the caliber that the right specializes in." I will ignore the asserttion about lies on the right and pose two issues:

1) There are no "facts" in the film that I am aware of but rather insinuations and conspiracy. Moore uses emotional manipulation and selective information - including deceptive time lines etc. - to imply things that are not true or at best are unproven. Do you believe it is okay to assert serious wrongdoing with nothing more than a couple of tenuous connections? Is it alright to accuse Bush of going to war to help his oil buddies make money even if there is no proof or evidence? Can you call something a documentary when it fact it is agitprop?

2) Are you know willing to say two wrongs make a right? Are you saying that politics require deception, manipulation, and a lack of integrity? Everybody's doing it so it is okay? If so then you are in essence conceding the fight. You are perpetuating all of the bile and smear tactics you claim to dislike. Either this kind of thing is dishonest and low or not. You can't just claim to approve of it when your side does it. Once you are in the mud there is no going back.

I reject this type of communication left, right, or center.

Interesting invocation of the Marquis of Queensberry rules here, Mark, because you're absolutely right: this isn't gentlemanly contest, it's a bare knuckle brawl. As result of the stolen election, thousands of lives have been lost, and our national honor is being knocked out of time. Four years ago I would have agreed with the gentleman above that "two wrongs don't make a right," but there's too much at stake.

Footnote: When John L. Sullivan, last of the bare-knuckle brawlers, took the title from Paddy Ryan, Oscar Wilde was in America and a London newspaper sent him to cover the spectacle. Wilde's affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, got him into hot water with Douglas's father, the eighth Marquis of Queensberry, who set down the rules that transformed boxing from a criminal activity into a modern sport.


Hey there Kevin,

I try not to get stuck in the comments-go-round - typically I leave this space at the disposal of commenters, figuring I've got the bigger real estate above. However I would like to respond here.

I think it's no surprise to either of us that we're not likely to see eye to eye on this one. If you do, in fact, reject this sort of communication "left, right or center" you are a good deal more principled than most of your brethren on the right, and I laud you for that. As for specifics:

1) There are, in fact, dozens and dozens of facts and here is a mere smattering:

FACT: The woman who certified the Florida election result was, in fact, Bush's FL campaign chair.

FACT: A conservative Supreme Court halted a recount which many independent sources have since found would have gone for Gore.

FACT: Republican operatives did, in fact, show up in Florida to intimidate vount recounters.

FACT: Bush did receive an August 2001 briefing about Osama bin Laden.

FACT: Bush sat by helpless and unmoving for seven minutes after the 9/11 attacks.

FACT: Bush failed at every single business venture he ever undertook and was bailed out time and time again by Daddy's rich oil friends.

And on and on and on. You may not like any of this, but every one of these points (and dozens of other raised in the film) is supported by the public record. Moore is at liberty to weave these facts together in any way that suits his purposes, and to allow the public to judge for themselves whether it flies. And you can see for yourself, agitprop is precisely what I call it - much-needed agitprop.

2) Do two wrongs make a right? I find that a facile question, given the realities of the political marketplace. I prefer to say that two wrongs can win an election, and given the demonstrated willingness of the right to say and do absolutely anything at all to gain and keep power, the left would be foolish not to fight fire with fire. This is, after all, the party and administration that exposed Valerie Plame as punitive political payback; that continues, as recently as last week, to hew to the lie of an Iraq 9/11 connection. These people have no shame; we can't afford it, either, if we're to win back the White House. And frankly, there's nothing more important in the world right now than ensuring that Bush is a one-termer like Dad.

Again, I know you say you reject this sort of tone, but here's a copy of an e-mail I recently received from a conservative Republican of my acquaintance - one who I find quite typical of the breed:

Why won't "Fat Ass" agree to debate anyone that isn't in favor of his movie? His people have turned down every request.

In Fat Ass' interview on Letterman, when asked where he did his research he said "The New York Times". The crowd thought it was a joke and went into an uproar of laughter. He didn't get it.....I did.

Fat Ass keeps asserting that he's "just a blue coller guy, don't need anything.....trying to figure out how to give away all this money....". BTW, he owns a nice place in New Jersey for $2m and another place in an exclusive area in Michigan for about the same amount.

Note the personal attacks on Moore (why is the right, even a writer of Christopher Hitchens' gifts, so obsessed with his weight?), and the attempt to discredit him without addressing a single point raised in the film. As I've mentioned, there are some legitimate points where Moore can be questioned, but that's absent here. It's typical of the responses I've heard on the right.

As I said, I don't expect you to agree with me (and I agree with you that a big argument is unlikely to be helpful); let's merely hope that my side prevails in November.

OK, now I'm getting back to literature - all this politics gets my stomach upset ...


The following piece from the Sun Times is IMO a fair look at some of the major points;

Link: http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-true28.html.

Ultimately this is a polarized country, and Moore plays to that fifty percent that hates Bush. I don't have a real problem with that; there's a lot of money in it. And certainly the left has been looking far and wide for it's own Ann Coulter.

Some people have never forgiven the 2000 election. I'm not going to get into that, let's just say that many reasonable people have differing views of what occurred. The combination of 2000, though, with 9/11 and the new era has driven a certain segment of the population up the wall.

Also, there are certain people who just viscerally hate Bush. I don't, but I understand it, as I hated Clinton in just that way. Hell, I hate him still. He rubbed me just as raw. I think it's a cultural/personality thing.



Kevin: The deceptive timeline argument applies to Moore's "Roger & Me" (as uncovered by Harlan Jacobson in "Film Comment" years ago), not "Fahrenheit 9/11". Get informed.

The facts this time around are airtight. The film is a mouthpiece for Moore's argument, dwelling upon topics that remain curiously absent from the mainstream media. Granted, I prefer documentaries in which the footage speak for itself and I have a problem with Moore turning the Left into a bunch of head-nodding lemmings (as despicable as the Coulters, O'Reillys and Limbaughs). It's a sad day when political discourse becomes not a matter of each side presenting arguments, but of one side having to counter the other with the same dirty street fighting, whether it's Michael Moore, Al Franken, or the like.

You want an overhaul? Guess what, Kevin, your goddam hero fucked it up while he was busy waging war on the downtrodden and ending the Cold War by dousing the enemy into bankruptcy and starvation. Restore the fair time doctrine dismantled by Reagan. Offer counterprogramming and broaden the spectrum so that we see a Klansman debating a socialist during a presidential debate instead of the same two talking deadened heads. At the very least, it would be entertaining. At the very most, it would reveal the true horror of the American public -- the same indecent monsters who tortured innocents at Abu Ghraib.

U.S. politics has in recent years become the narrowest, most despicable and hopelessly corrupt topic for discussion. And it would sicken Jefferson, Madison, et al. to know that democracy has now transmuted into a state where quasi-dictators are far from benevolent and the commonwealth is reduced to two choices: (a) remain frightened and helpless or (b) abide by some Limbaugh/Moore unilateralism.

Moore is just as guilty of playing on this fear (also in the name of profit!) as the targets he sets up in his crosshairs. He should be ashamed of himself. Likewise, Americans should be ashamed of themselves for remaining silent and allowing this sham of a system to flourish.


And Mark, I'm sorry for polluting your backblog with more bile. I'll behave in the future.

Kevin Holtsberry

How about that James Joyce? Could he write or what?!

[Coughes awkwardly and slowly backs out of the room . . .]


Hey, we're all family here. The backblog is speifically for venting and unlike the Bush administration, I'll never cap dissenting opinions. Your bile is always welcome here.

Jimmy Beck

I love you guys. [sniffs and wipes away tears in maudlin, Dick Vermeil-esque, apple pie fashion].


Alright. I'm ready for a "Whoa, Bundy" moment. :)

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