Saturday, July 03, 2004

Michael Moore movie is a mess

I noticed lies and selective arguments in the very first few minutes of Farenheit 9/11. This set off my BS-detector, and from then on I had a hard time taking his other claims at face value. Which turned out to be a good thing.

A few early issues I noticed:
  1. Moore claims Bush's friends on the Supreme Court decided the election in his favor, ignoring the fact that, had the count gone through, Bush would still have won. Thus, the Supremes were in retrospect only deciding the election procedure, not the election results.
  2. Moore shows a talking head claiming Gore would have won under almost any recount scenario; this claim is false. I don't know whether the clip was speculative or where it came from, but the actual recounts done by newspapers after the fact showed that Gore lost in all but one of the recount scenarios that focused on "undervotes", including the specific scenario that would have happened had the Supremes not stopped it.
  3. In claiming that Bush spent too much time on vacation, Moore says "relaxing at Camp David" in voiceover while showing Bush walking /next to Tony Blair/.
    [disclosure: I read a Slate review that mentioned this scene before I saw the movie, otherwise I would have missed it. It's only on screen for a couple of seconds, but it perfectly illustrates that Bush is correct when he later claims he does work on some of his "vacations".]
Here's a big collection of problems with the claims in the movie that have come to light so far: Fifty-six deceits.

A few I found noteworthy:
  1. Moore implies the Saudis got to fly when others weren't allowed to (the comparison with Ricky Martin) but the Saudis didn't start leaving until September 13 or later, meaning after the general public was allowed to fly.
  2. Moore implies the Saudis weren't investigated. The FBI claims 30 Saudis were interrogated and all who left were evaluated and deemed not security risks.
  3. Moore asks a guy how much the Saudis invest in the US; the guy says "I've heard as much as 860 billion." Actual number is less than half that. Moore could have looked it up, but either he's sloppy or he doesn't mind making exaggerated claims.
  4. Moore implies it's unusual for the Secret service to provide protection to the Saudi foreign embassy in DC; actually they provide
    protection to all the foreign embassies in DC that request it; this is not in any way unusual.
  5. Moore implies that only one name was blacked out in a document they received and that this is highly significant because somebody is trying to hide a secret connection; in fact, many names were blacked out in that document.
  6. Moore implies the Saudis gave the Bushes 1.4 billion dollars ("who's your daddy?") of business; this charge is pretty much bogus;
    the connections are tenuous at best: "...former president Bush didn't join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm."
  7. Moore paints giving contracts to the Carlyle Group as the same thing as supporting the nefarious republican Cabal, but anti-Bush billionaire George Soros was on the board at the same time.
  8. The US-based build-an-oil-pipeline-through-Afghanistan scheme was a Clinton-era Unocal project, abandoned in 1998.
And so on. Moore is a propagandist. He makes and reports claims almost entirely without regard to whether they are true or consistent; rather, they are selected on the basis of potential to outrage and impress and entertain. Having said all that, I did find the film entertaining. Great use of old stock footage and music. I liked his making fun of the coalition of the willing. I agreed with his analysis of the Patriot Act. I was horrified at the war scenes and sympathized with the grieving widow (though we saw too much of her). I agreed that we didn't need to invade Iraq, even though Moore's theories as to why we did were laughable and weirdly inconsistent with his theories on Afghanistan.

The movie was "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."


At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mention:

"Moore implies it's unusual for the Secret service to provide protection to the Saudi foreign embassy in DC; actually they provide protection to all the foreign embassies in DC that request it; this is not in any way unusual."

Not only is it not unusual, it is required by law.

"Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961)

Article 22

2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity."


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