Sunday, July 11, 2004

Farenheit My Birthday

David Duman and I finally saw "Farenheit 9/11" this weekend, and though I felt that Michael Moore glossed over some critical information and analyses, I give the film my endorsement. Less emotionally cloying than "Bowling for Columbine," and equipped with more hard visual data and less Michael Moore trouble-making than either of his first two films, this movie I hope will prove to be the impetus for many moderates or apathetics to visit their local post offices and libraries and pick up an application to register to vote. I'm grateful that someone encapsulated into a 30-minute sequence the behind-the-scenes business relationships, political friendships, and familial ties that "just happened" to coincide with a Bush Florida victory and a virtually uncontested (and infinitely profitable) war in Iraq. When many Americans feel compelled to vote Republican because they feel the party represents "good values," it's imperative that someone point out the moral hypocracies of that party's leaders. (In a rally speech on Friday, Bush lambasted insider trading and pledged to bring about a "culture of good values" to America, even though he magically knew to sell stock in his Texas oil company right before it lost millions, and even though Ken Lay of Enron was one of Bush's highest contributers in 2000.)

Here's what I thought could have been made more prominant in "Farenheit 9/11":

- The discrepency between what Bush & Co. purported Hussein's weapons capabilities to be and what they actually were. (This may already be well-known information to most Americans, I suppose.)

- How Bush planned to invade Iraq before he even took office.

- The extent to which Democrats bended over backward to let Bush invade Iraq and limit civil liberties. (I concede that this would be a poor strategy in an election year. Moore is quicker to judge Democrats in his books; fewer people read books, I guess.)

- Exactly how much the Bush administration knew about forthcoming terrorist attacks prior to September 11, 2001. (He shows the wonderful clip of Condi Rice remembering the name of one of the pre-9/11 secuirity briefings ["Bin Laden Determined to Attack on US Soil" or something to that extent], but he didn't explain clearly why this information wasn't given attention.)

I was very emotionally impressed by the soldier interviews, both by the troops' crassness at some points and their disgust and compassion at others. It's too easy to cenceive troops as faceless people who are all too eager to kill and be killed. Instead, soldiers are mostly young, poor men who were told that joining the armed forces would be a weekend gig. Ads for the Army portray the job either like a scene from He-Man or very literally as a video game.

Along those lines, Moore incisively paid great attention to the fact that the men and women who are sent to be killed and wounded in Iraq are poor and uneducated. Though asking congresspeople to sign up their kids for combat is a silly and pointless stunt, the point is made that US armed forces mostly do not glean soliders from wealthy families. They actively recruit people who feel they don't have alternatives.

Mostly I enjoy footage of George W. Bush looking ignorant. Not once have I seen him on prime time news or Fox News or C-SPAN revealing himself to be anything more than a vessel for meaningless appeals to "traditional values" or poorly phrased metaphors. Either he is in fact a very dim man, or he deserves the Oscar more than Michael Moore does.


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