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"Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man" by David Hardy and Jason Clarke (6 weeks on NY Times Bestseller List)

Note: page is still under construction

Dude, Where's My Country? is a remarkable work of unintentional humor. In this tome we learn "There is no terrorist threat," (p. 95) and Richard Nixon was the last liberal President, (p. 193). Oh, and Osama bin Laden probably didn't do it ("How could a guy, sitting in a cave in Afghanistan hooked up to dialysis, have directed and overseen the actions of nineteen terrorists for two years ...?)

Even more amusingly, in chapter 8 Moore pledges to contribute the limit to whichever Democrat has the best chance of winning in the next election(p. 162), and then in chapter 11 tells the reader that the Democrats are "professional losers," that "Democratic Party leaders have told me something they will not admit in public -- that they have basically written off 2004; that they see little chance of defeating George W. Bush" (p. 204) and that they might as well run Oprah Winfrey. (p. 206). So I guess Moore will keep his money, as he has in the past. (My last check of Federal Election Commission records showed that millionaire activist Moore has made exactly one donation in his life, back in 1998).

Dude, Where's My Country? begins, as do all of Michael Moore's works, with himself. To be precise, with how 9/11 affected him Now, he is willing to allow that it affected some others, too.

[A] line producer we have worked with, Bill Weems, was not okay. As the networks started to run a scroll along the bottom of the TV with the names of those who were on the planes, along came Bill's name on the screen. My last memory of him was the two of us horsing around . . . .Three months later he was dead and -- how do they say it? -- 'life as we knew it was changed forever.' . . . . Things certainly changed for Bill's wife and his seven-year-old daughter.

We can imagine that they did. The passage is striking in a strange way, because it seems to make a transition in Moore himself, or at least in his public persona. The quintessential narcissist is learning to pass himself off as thoughtful and caring, as his recent TV appearances demonstrate. Moore's reflections on Bill Weems are more acceptable than his immediate reaction to 9/11:

"Moore ... shocked the crowd at North London's Roundhouse Theater a couple of weeks ago by ranting that passengers on plans hijacked on Sept. 11 were 'scaredy-cats because they were mostly white.'" NY Post, Jan. 8, 2003

"Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes destination of California -- these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!" Link

Perhaps the new Moore is a creation of his editors. By page xi of the intro he is back to to himself, dropping the tragedy and beginning three pages of complaints about how a publisher tried to kill an earlier book of his.

Moore hits his stride quickly. By page four he is launching into his latest conspiracy theory: the Bush Administration, source of all things evil, smuggled the bin Laden relatives out of the country before the FBI could interview them! He quotes a New York Times story,

The story began: "In the first days after the terror attacks on New York and Washington, Saudi Arabia supervised the urgent evacuation of 24 members of Osama bin Laden's extended family from the United States. . .

Yep, Mike is back to his old self. Actually, the story reads:

In the first days after the terror attacks on New York and Washington, Saudi Arabia supervised the urgent evacuation of 24 members of Osama bin Laden's extended family from the United States, fearing that they might be subjected to violence.

In his first interview since the attacks, Saudi Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan, also said that private planes carrying the kingdom's deputy defense minister and the governor of Mecca, both members of the royal family, were grounded and intially caught up in the F.B.I. dragnet. Both planes, one jumbo jet carrying 100 family members, and the other 40, were eventually allowed to leave when airports reopened and passports were checked.

Mr. bin Laden is estranged from his family. ... Most of Mr. bin Laden's relatives were attending high school and college. They are among the 4,000 Saudi students in the United States.

I'll go into Moore's conspiracy theory on another page. Here's the short version: The bin Ladens are a huge family -- 52 or 53 siblings, depending on who counts, and nobody knows how many in-laws, cousins and so on. Apart from Osama, they're rather pro-western, and thus about two dozen of them were attending American universities. The family disowned Osama bin Laden years back, and in any event he'd been in some Afghan caves for a decade. The odds of them knowing anything useful about him were zilch. In fact, one of the magazine stories Moore cites notes that one bin Laden stayed behind in Boston for a month, and wondered why the FBI didn't question him beyond a phone call. (He answers his own question: he didn't know squat about Osama):

Abdullah, the only relation who had remained in the United States (he stayed in Boston for almost a month) said that he was never questioned in person. He would have been willing to help, he said; an F.B.I. agent telephoned, but they spoke only briefly. Abdullah added that he has not seen Osama for several years, when they attended family gatherings on such occasions as Ramadan, and that he has no more idea how to find him than anyone else does. Source.

Okay--two dozen people who know nothing of use, have a very realistic fear of being lynched (a Sikh was murdered around this time for no greater reason than that he wore a turban), and the ambassador, a major friend of the US, is requesting their evacuation. If any do get killed, it'd create a major rift with an ally whom you're going to need very much in the near future. What do you do? Round them all up where they can't be killed, verify that they haven't seen Osama in years and don't have the foggiest idea which cave he's living in, and get them out of the country. Sounds like a plan to me.

From there, Moore digresses into another conspiracy theory: the Afghan invasion and overthrow of the Taliban wasn't over a little affair on 9/11, it was meant to get an oil pipeline built. The gist of Moore's argument: some former Soviet republics have major oil supplies, and to get at them there were two pipeline plans. Unocal wanted to run the pipelines through Afghanistan, while Enron wanted to run the pipelines under the Caspian Sea. Although the Unocal idea would have put lots of money in the Taliban's pockets, "even President Clinton was all for the idea of the Unocal pipeline." (p. 28). Texas governor George W. Bush, on the other hand, backed the Enron plan. Then in 1998, President Clinton responded to some terrorist attacks and a wayward intern by firing cruise missiles at an empty camp in Afghanistan. Unocal thereupon shelved its Afghan plans. Then followed the election, 9/11, the overthrow of the Taliban, and in late 2001 the new Afghan government signed a deal to permit the pipeline.

An interesting tale .... but how do you fit a George W. Bush conspiracy theory into it? After all, Bush had backed the Enron plan, which put the pipes under the Caspian and avoided Afghanistan. Clinton was the one backing the rival Unocal plan to put them through Afghanistan.

Moore solves his problem by mixing up the two pipelines (as any reader would, unless they outlined the details). First, he discusses that Taliban representatives were in the US in 1997 and 1998, the latter trip "sponsored by Clinton's State Department," (p.27), and met with Unocal in Texas. Moore continues (pp. 28-29):

. . . . In late 1996, Unocal had begun looking into including Uzbekistan in its pipeline deal heading thru Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

And then you, Mr. Bush, decided to get in on the action. You met personally with Uzbekistan's ambassador on behalf of Enron. Enron chairman Ken Lay ended a letter to you prior to the meeting with this little bon mot: 'I know you and Ambassador Safaev will have a productive meeting which will result in a friendship between Texas and Uzbekistan -- Sincerely, Ken.'

What role did you play in the Unocal meetings with the Taliban? I'm guessing you knew that the leaders of a foreign country were visiting your state and meeting with people who were donors to your campaign. So why exactly were brutal dictators being wined and dined in your state when you see to be so against brutal dictators?

Moore is almost as good with pen as he is with camera, when it comes to juxtaposing things to create a false impression. Now read that same passage with a bit of emphasis:

. . . . In late 1996, Unocal had begun looking into including Uzbekistan in its pipeline deal heading thru Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

And then you, Mr. Bush, decided to get in on the action. You met personally with Uzbekistan's ambassador on behalf of Enron. Enron chairman Ken Lay ended a letter to you prior to the meeting with this little bon mot: 'I know you and Ambassador Safaev will have a productive meeting which will result in a friendship between Texas and Uzbekistan -- Sincerely, Ken.'

What role did you play in the Unocal meetings with the Taliban? I'm guessing you knew that the leaders of a foreign country were visiting your state and meeting with people who were donors to your campaign. So why exactly were brutal dictators being wined and dined in your state when you see to be so against brutal dictators?

Yep. Bush was intervening in support of the Enron plan -- which meant NO Afghan pipeline and NO money to the Taliban. The people who were touting the Unocal-Taliban deal, with its wining and dining of brutal dictators were ... the Clinton Administration. But read it quickly and you don't spot that detail.



(Actually, you could formulate one heck of a conspiracy theory here. The problem for Moore is that the fingers would point in a direction he wouldn't like. Let's see... )

The Soviet-backed government fell in 1992. The Northern Alliance (yep, our future allies) took over ... then the Taliban roses up against them, drove them back and finally seized power in Kabul in 1996. That is, the Taliban overthrew the Northen Alliance during Clinton's term in office. There are charges that Unocal, whose approach the Clinton Administration endorsed, backed the Taliban takeover in order to get the pipeline, and to exclude an Argentine firm which had cut a pipeline contract with the pre-Taliban government:

US [i.e., Clinton appointee] Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel spoke in favor of the Unocal project in two visits to the Pakistan capital, in April and August 1996 (Rashid, 166). Raphel has since said that "We worked hard to make all the Afghan factions understand the potential, because the Unocal pipeline offered development opportunities that no aid program nor any Afghan government could" (Washington Post, 11/5/01).

Soon after the Taliban capture of Kabul in September 1996, a Unocal executive, Chris Taggart, told wire agencies that the pipeline project would be easier to complete now that the Taliban had captured Kabul (Rashid, 166). The State Department also announced within hours that it would send a diplomatic representative to Kabul to make contact with the Taliban (Washington Post, 9/28/96). Both statements were quickly retracted, but not before they had convinced Iran, Russia, and the anti-Taliban alliance that the US-Unocal partnership was backing the Taliban and wanted an all-out Taliban victory (Rashid, 166).

In November 1996 Raphel told a closed meeting of UN diplomats to work with the Taliban: "It is not in the interests of Afghanistan or any of us here that the Taliban be isolated" (Rashid, 178).

And need anyone ask where Unocal was putting its election money?

"Last week business executives accompanied Commerce Secretary William Daley to India on the largest trade mission in the Commerce Department's history. Some of the leaders who went on the trip include contributors whose companies have given generously to the Democratic party this year. Some of the companies represented on the mission include Synergics Group, which has given $50,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Metropolitan Life Insurance, which gave the DNC $40,000, and Unocal Corp., which distributed $25,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee." Source

The political investment paid off, as the Clinton Administration looked the other way (or perhaps helped) as the Taliban seized power, and then lobbied the Taliban on behalf of its contributor:

The Clinton administration ignored the rise of the Taliban from October 1994 onwards. . . For the next three years, between 1995 and 1998, especially after the fall of Kabul in September 1996, Clinton administration officials openly lobbied for the UNOCAL before Taliban authorities. That America ignored the rise of the Taliban and courted them on behalf of the US oil concerns led to a widespread perception in the regional media, also expressed officially by the anti-American Iranian regime, that the CIA was behind the Taliban movement. Source

While we're at it.... Osama bin Laden popped up in Taliban-run Afghanistan during Clinton's tenure. Apparently his administration had something to do with that, too. Bin Laden was quite an asset to the Taliban, whose efforts they were backing -- he brought important organizational skills and quite a few million in support. Mansoor Ijaz later wrote in the LA Times:

President Clinton and his national security team ignored several opportunities to capture Osama bin Laden and his terrorist associates, including one as late as last year. I know because I negotiated more than one of the opportunities.

From 1996 to 1998, I opened unofficial channels between Sudan and the Clinton administration. I met with officials in both countries, including Clinton, U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger and Sudan's president and intelligence chief. President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who wanted terrorism sanctions against Sudan lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of Bin Laden and detailed intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt's Islamic Jihad, Iran's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. Among those in the networks were the two hijackers who piloted commercial airliners into the World Trade Center.

The silence of the Clinton administration in responding to these offers was deafening. As an American Muslim and a political supporter of Clinton, I feel now, as I argued with Clinton and Berger then, that their counter-terrorism policies fueled the rise of Bin Laden from an ordinary man to a Hydra-like monster.

Realizing the growing problem with Bin Laden, Bashir sent key intelligence officials to the U.S. in February 1996. The Sudanese offered to arrest Bin Laden and extradite him to Saudi Arabia or, barring that, to "baby-sit" him--monitoring all his activities and associates. But Saudi officials didn't want their home-grown terrorist back where he might plot to overthrow them.

In May 1996, the Sudanese capitulated to U.S. pressure and asked Bin Laden to leave, despite their feeling that he could be monitored better in Sudan than elsewhere.

Bin Laden left for Afghanistan, taking with him Ayman Zawahiri, considered by the U.S. to be the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks [and others] . . . Some of these men are now among the FBI's 22 most-wanted terrorists.


Clinton's failure to grasp the opportunity to unravel increasingly organized extremists, coupled with Berger's assessments of their potential to directly threaten the U.S., represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures in American history.

That, we might add, from a Clinton supporter.

So we can weave a conspiracy theory with considerably more validity than Moore's (not that that says much).

The Clinton Administration wanted the Unocal pipeline for that company, a major Demo donor.

The major impediment at the outset is that the Northern Alliance favors giving the contract to the Brazilian competitor, and the near-anarchy prevailing is going to hold up any pipeline.

So the Clinton Administration:

(a) backs the Taliban overthrow of the Northern Alliance, which will bring stability with an iron fist, and also a government interested in the Unocal plan,

(b) as part of that, Clinton turns a blind eye to one O. bin Laden reinforcing the Taliban, and then the Administration

(c) brings Taliban leaders to the US for wining and dining. (All of which occurs under President Clinton: strange that Moore asks, with hints of conspiracy, just what Gov. George Bush was doing while the Taliban were in his state -- a better question would be what Pres. William Clinton was doing while they were in his country -- his Administration, not a state agency, had arranged the trip.).

A tidy conspiracy theory, which unlike Moore's, does not require rewriting history or confusing the reader. It can even have a happy ending, as one G.W. Bush, who wanted the pipeline to bypass Afghanistan, and thus doesn't give a hoot what the Unocal or the Taliban think, is free to engage in the world's first effort at bombing a country out of the Stone Age.


As to the rest -- well, no sense reinventing the wheel. Bryan Keefer in Spinsanity does an excellent job of listing Moore's other departures from truth. Keefer notes:

"Bush's policies towards Iraq come in for particular criticism - and, in several cases, gross distortions. Moore writes that "There were claims that the French were only opposing war to get economic benefits out of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In fact, it was the Americans who were making a killing. In 2001, the U.S. was Iraq's leading trading partner, consuming more than 40 percent of Iraq's oil exports. That's $6 billion in trade with the Iraqi dictator." (page 69) In reality, that "trade" was done under the auspices of the United Nations oil-for-food program, which allowed Iraq to sell a limited amount of oil to purchase humanitarian supplies. (For details on the program, see this report to Congress.) One can only imagine what Moore would have said if the U.S. refused to purchase Iraqi oil and allowed its citizens to starve.

[Hardy injection: we need not imagine. In one of his letters Moore says "the American government is responsible for the deaths of a half-million children in Iraq over the past decade through its sanctions and bombing." A perfect illustration of how, to Moore, Americans can do no right. When they bought Iraqi oil, it's "making a killing" and "$6 billion in trade for the Iraqi dictator." When they didn't, it's causing the "deaths of a half-million children."]

At another point, Moore attacks Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement to the United Nations that "What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence." According to Moore, "Just days earlier, Powell apparently was not so sure. During a gathering of CIA officials reviewing the evidence against Saddam Hussein, Powell tossed the papers in the air and declared: 'I'm not reading this. This is bullshit.'" (page 82) Moore makes it appear as though the speech Powell gave at the UN included the evidence he had called "bullshit." In fact, the US News & World Report article that Moore cites does note Powell's exclamation, but it details the process by which Powell winnowed out pieces of evidence he was uncomfortable presenting. The article concludes "And plenty was cut [from Powell's speech]. Sometimes it was because information wasn't credible, sometimes because Powell didn't want his speech to get too long, sometimes because [CIA Director George] Tenet insisted on protecting sources and methods."

Nor is Moore above twisting facts to attack the Bush administration's tax cuts. Moore criticizes the 2003 Bush tax cut for reducing revenue to the states. As one example, he writes, "Take the kids in Oregon, whose schools were shut down early this year because they ran out of tax money." (page 160) While Moore makes it appear as though the 2003 Bush tax cut shut down Oregon's schools, Oregon actually passed a law in May 2003 decoupling its state income tax system from the federal government's, insuring that the 2003 tax cut would have no impact on the state's budget. Moreover, as an article from the June 8 New York Times Magazine - one of Moore's own sources - notes, Oregon voters had rejected a referendum earlier in the year that would have raised taxes to pay for schools and other spending.

Page 180: Moore claims that "The overwhelming support for the war in Iraq came only after the war began. Before the war, the majority of Americans said that we should not be invading Iraq unless we have the backing of all of our allies and the United Nations" (he provides no source for the claim). In fact, a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted on March 17, which asked "Would you support or oppose the United States going to war with Iraq?" showed 71 percent in favor (59 percent were in favor one week earlier). Another Washington Post/ABC News poll taken February 9 found 66 percent in favor of taking action against Iraq; when those who said they supported such action were asked if they would still support it without the backing of the United Nations, total support fell to 50 percent, with 47 percent opposed." [End of Keefer article].


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