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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-08-27 - 3:02 p.m.

How the U.S. is Seen From Afar

A letter from Michael Moore included a column from Tuesday's The Guardian by John Berger. It piqued my curiosity to hear more of what was said about the movie abroad, so I Googled for a few minutes and found this column from The Australian. It was not so much the comments about Fahrenheit 9/11 that I found fascinating, but the examples of Bushisms he cited. What do you think? But first...here's a quotable quote from Berger's column:[Note: The paragraphs in bold are my emphasis.]

"The film proposes that the White House and Pentagon were taken over in the first year of the millennium by a gang of thugs so that US power should henceforth serve the global interests of the corporations: a stark scenario which is closer to the truth than most nuanced editorials. Yet more important than the scenario is the way the movie speaks out. It demonstrates that - despite all the manipulative power of communications experts, lying presidential speeches and vapid press conferences - a single independent voice, pointing out certain home truths which countless Americans are already discovering for themselves, can break through the conspiracy of silence, the atmosphere of fear and the solitude of feeling politically impotent.

"It's a movie that speaks of obstinate faraway desires in a period of disillusion. A movie that tells jokes while the band plays the apocalypse. A movie in which millions of Americans recognise themselves and the precise ways in which they are being cheated. A movie about surprises, mostly bad but some good, being discussed together. Fahrenheit 9/11 reminds the spectator that when courage is shared one can fight against the odds.

"In more than a thousand cinemas across the country, Michael Moore becomes with this film a people's tribune. And what do we see? Bush is visibly a political cretin, as ignorant of the world as he is indifferent to it; while the tribune, informed by popular experience, acquires political credibility, not as a politician himself, but as the voice of the anger of a multitude and its will to resist.

"There is something else which is astounding. The aim of Fahrenheit 9/11 is to stop Bush fixing the next election as he fixed the last. Its focus is on the totally unjustified war in Iraq. Yet its conclusion is larger than either of these issues. It declares that a political economy which creates colossally increasing wealth surrounded by disastrously increasing poverty, needs - in order to survive - a continual war with some invented foreign enemy to maintain its own internal order and security. It requires ceaseless war.

"Thus, 15 years after the fall of communism, a decade after the declared end of history, one of the main theses of Marx's interpretation of history again becomes a debating point and a possible explanation of the catastrophes being lived.

"It is always the poor who make the most sacrifices, Fahrenheit 9/11 announces quietly during its last minutes. For how much longer?

"There is no future for any civilisation anywhere in the world today which ignores this question. And this is why the film was made and became what it became. It's a film that deeply wants America to survive.

From The Australian

Bob Brown: Whose lies hurt more?


MICHAEL Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which officially opens today in cinemas across the nation, is a polemic. It mercilessly reveals the inadequacy and, at times, immaturity of US President George W. Bush and, in doing so, turns the tables on the farce we often get when watching television news.

We got it last October when John and Janette Howard climbed up the steps of Air Force One instead of waiting at the bottom to welcome George and Laura Bush to Canberra. All four turned to wave under floodlights to a nonexistent crowd in the middle of the night to beguile Australian TV audiences next morning.

We got it when the terracotta pots and plants were stacked outside Parliament House so the cameras would not see Bush exposed to thousands of Australians protesting against his Iraq war down the slopes of Capitol Hill.

Remember how the Australian people were locked out, TV cameras banned and the elected representatives gagged while the non-elected Bush gave his speech in our House of Representatives instead of in the perfectly adequate Great Hall next door?

What about Bush's scrambled eulogy to Howard in Canberra in which he claimed that the term "man of steel" was the Texan equivalent of the Australian fair dinkum. Howard would have vetted the speech. He let the gaffe stand -- it made him feel so good. That helps answer Moore's question: "How is it that someone like John Howard could get in bed with George W. Bush?" Which begs the question: Has our Prime Minister seen Fahrenheit 9/11 and did he feel as good afterwards?

Moore a villain? How about Howard's 2004 justification of the Iraq imbroglio despite his 2003 statement that: "I couldn't justify on its own a military invasion of Iraq to change the regime"?

Moore takes licence, but his film is no match for the most fallacious polemic of the past decade: the weapons of mass destruction lie used by Bush, Howard and Tony Blair to justify the invasion of Iraq and the consequent death toll of tens of thousands of men, women and children.

Bush's moment of truth came when he sat reading My Pet Goat to schoolchildren while the twin towers burned. Where was the maturity, intelligence and action to be expected of the most powerful human being on the planet in such a moment of peril? What do his defenders make of the gormless failure of the Commander-in-Chief to take immediate command in the crisis?

The office of the president is held in great respect by Americans. Maybe Moore's film is doing so well in cinemas because he shows how the office, not Bush, has been betrayed. Bush has purloined the office for himself and his rich cronies while poor Americans are sidelined, sent to the Iraq frontline or, worst of all, brought home secretly in body bags.

"I really hope they don't re-elect that fool," US soldier Michael Pederson wrote to his mother before he was killed in Iraq. Pederson was talking about Bush.

Now that Moore has made a film aimed to help Pederson's wish come true, the critics are howling from every fence. The problem for Moore's critics is Bush, not Moore. The documentary is successful not because Moore nails the President but because the President nails himself. No Bush absurdities, no Moore Palme d'Or.

Moore's earlier film, Bowling for Columbine, had a signal scene in which a boss at the nearby Titan rocket factory cannot comprehend how the boys who shot their fellow pupils at Columbine High could plan such a violent act.

Fahrenheit 9/11 has a signal scene in which Bush regales wealthy Republican donors with a toast to "the haves and have-mores". This, in a nation with 30 million people too poor to access hospital care. It is an unforgettable scene where Bush exhibits his unfitness as president of a great nation, let alone as world leader.

One is left wondering how else the US might be. What if the President, instead of spending $60 billion extra per annum on armaments for Iraq, had set up a new Marshall Plan to feed, clothe and ensure schools for the world's 1 billion citizens living in abject poverty?

* * * * * * * *

This all ties right in with people who want tickets to a Bush appearance must sign a pledge of support first...no independents/undecideds may listen or ask questions. Makes sense to me!??? And, of course, we've long known that photo ops are scripted and staged here with crowds cheering and yearning to shake his hand, but waving to bright lights as though there were crowds cheering and yearning to shake his hand. That's just too much!

It's been perfectly clear to me for a long time that our economy is war-based. Not that it has to be. But just take a look at the Pentagon budget and the contracts it lets out.[A note from their page: Contracts valued at $5 million or more are announced each business day at 5 p.m. Contract announcements issued within the past 30 days are listed below. Older contract announcements are available from the contract archive page. Contract announcements are also available by e-mail subscription.] Yowsa!

However, not being an economist, I'm still a little bewildered about how going trillions in debt strengthens our economy. Wish Dubya would clarify that for me. Or anyone...jump right in.

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