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LETTER FROM MEMPHIS

LETTER FROM MEMPHIS

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WHEN THE TREES FALLING IN THE FOREST STOP MAKING NOISE, CALL ON MICHAEL MOORE The last thing journalists like to do is borrow from their peers. That's why we're such cantankerous folks. That's why, I submit, Tuesday night's Presidential Press Conference went so well, despite the fact that the Principal was reciting gibberish... That's why IÕm including Michael Moore's latest column at the end of this one. Let me explain. As many of you know, I am not particularly a Michael Moore fan. I think he's a bit boorish, and, like myself many times, so shrill with his message that it can only be heard by dogs, creatures whom Nature has endowed with the ability to respond to high-frequency transmissions. I think he speaks for effect sometimes when he should be quiet, and let events speak for themselves. He's eerily similar, in this regard, to someone else I know... Ah, but if only the assembled talking-heads -- the White House "press corps," to use an oxymoron of the first order -- at last night's press conference, for example, had had the courage to write what Moore has written below. Alas, yet again, for the umpteenth time, they did not... Not that Moore is "great"; on the contrary, all this has nothing to do with Michael Moore, whose only fault today was to state the obvious. No, it's not Michael Moore's fault that this window of opportunity presented itself, and that the timidity of our best "journalists" (oh, how it pains me to dignify this crowd that "covers" the White House with that honorific) manifested itself so boldly that, when, face-to-face with raw power, in the person of this President, chose last night to ignore the incoherence and unprecedented abject stupidity he displayed, for one and all to see, and chose instead to simply slam that window shut, returning to their cell phones and laptops, filing "fair and balanced" reports that ignored the pure Queegish-ness of the entire event. Fair and balanced. My goodness: the poor man George cannot put together a cogent idea, let alone a grammatical sentence. And yet our "journalists" are so concerned with fairness that they missed the point entirely. To wit: if a building were burning to the ground, and the semi-survivors were fleeing, themselves inflamed, these are the kinds of "journalists" who would be telling readers/viewers the hair color of all the walking corpses. They are a disgrace -- repeat:, a disgrace; if any of you who were there should read this, please, contact me; I'll be happy to exchange correspondence. These guys are an utter disgrace to our profession. They are part of the problem, and have nothing to do with anything remotely resembling a solution... The journalist "pool" sat there for an hour plus, all dressed to the nines (well, as well-dressed as journalists can get), listening to utter drivel, focusing not upon this remarkable Presidential nadir (no pun intended) but upon "looking good" when they got their "chance" to shine, i.e. by asking a question. A special spot in Hades is reserved for NPR's Don Ganyae; when given a chance to ask the last question, he chose to ask Bush something amorphous, instead of restating the obvious: "Mr. President, I have no new question, but will simply repeat the five you have thus far no answered tonight, and ask you, sir, please, in the limited time left, to answer the one of your choosing." Instead, Don gave Mr. Bush a waffle-iron, and the rest is history. Shame! No, like poor Don, all the questioners were focused on what was important: to/for themselves. Ask the right question; make it sound good; and most of all, don't do anything that will ever, ever, let your employer suspect you're not "good" for the position. My god, is there anyone left in journalistic America who cares more for their conscience than their job? God save America, most especially from these gutless fools and, yes, the even Greater Fool now occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue... k PS Full disclosure; I have to admit to a bias towards the Moore piece below, because, well, you know, I love the "you closed down a friggin' weekly newspaper" line. Moore started out in life, as many of you know, by launching a free alternative weekly in Flint, Michigan. Understand that -- as someone who did the same dumb thing, in Memphis, not Flint -- my view of him is thus somewhat skewed. After all, if he was stupid enough to do that in Flint, Michigan, he was a hell of a lot smarter than I am, ever was, or ever will be. And yet still; note his e-mail address... PPS Read or re-read The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman, 1988.
Heads Up April 14, 2004 Friends, I have never seen a head so far up a Presidential ass (pardon my Falluja) than the one I saw last night at the "news conference" given by George W. Bush. He's still talking about finding "weapons of mass destruction" -- this time on Saddam's "turkey farm." Turkey indeed. Clearly the White House believes there are enough idiots in the 17 swing states who will buy this. I think they are in for a rude awakening. I've been holed up for weeks in the editing room finishing my film ("Fahrenheit 911"). That's why you haven't heard from me lately. But after last night's Lyndon Johnson impersonation from the East Room -- essentially promising to send even more troops into the Iraq sinkhole -- I had to write you all a note. First, can we stop the Orwellian language and start using the proper names for things? Those are not ÒcontractorsÓ in Iraq. They are not there to fix a roof or to pour concrete in a driveway. They are MERCENARIES and SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE. They are there for the money, and the money is very good if you live long enough to spend it. Halliburton is not a "company" doing business in Iraq. It is a WAR PROFITEER, bilking millions from the pockets of average Americans. In past wars they would have been arrested -- or worse. The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush? You closed down a friggin' weekly newspaper, you great giver of freedom and democracy! Then all hell broke loose. The paper only had 10,000 readers! Why are you smirking? One year after we wiped the face of the Saddam statue with our American flag before yanking him down, it is now too dangerous for a single media person to go to that square in Baghdad and file a report on the wonderful one-year anniversary celebration. Of course, there is no celebration, and those brave blow-dried "embeds" can't even leave the safety of the fort in downtown Baghdad. They never actually SEE what is taking place across Iraq (most of the pictures we see on TV are shot by Arab media and some Europeans). When you watch a report "from Iraq" what you are getting is the press release handed out by the U.S. occupation force and repeated to you as "news." I currently have two cameramen/reporters doing work for me in Iraq for my movie (unbeknownst to the Army). They are talking to soldiers and gathering the true sentiment about what is really going on. They Fed Ex the footage back to me each week. That's right, Fed Ex. Who said we haven't brought freedom to Iraq! The funniest story my guys tell me is how when they fly into Baghdad, they don't have to show a passport or go through immigration. Why not? Because they have not traveled from a foreign country -- they're coming from America TO America, a place that is ours, a new American territory called Iraq. There is a lot of talk amongst Bush's opponents that we should turn this war over to the United Nations. Why should the other countries of this world, countries who tried to talk us out of this folly, now have to clean up our mess? I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle. I'm sorry, but the majority of Americans supported this war once it began and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe -- just maybe -- God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end. Until then, enjoy the "pacification" of Falluja, the "containment" of Sadr City, and the next Tet Offensive Ð oops, I mean, "terrorist attack by a small group of Baathist loyalists" (Hahaha! I love writing those words, Baathist loyalists, it makes me sound so Peter Jennings!) -- followed by a "news conference" where we will be told that we must "stay the course" because we are "winning the hearts and minds of the people." I'll write again soon. Don't despair. Remember, the American people are not that stupid. Sure, we can be frightened into a war, but we always come around sooner or later -- and the one way this is NOT like Vietnam is that it hasn't taken the public four long years to figure out they were lied to. Now if Bush would just quit speaking in public and giving me more free material for my movie, I can get back to work and get it done. I've got four weeks left 'til completion. Yours, Michael Moore mmflint@aol.com www.michaelmoore.com
POST-SCRIPT:I am sorry. I do not mean to be so, well, intrusive. But after Tuesday night's debacle of a press conference, our befuddled Leader Wednesday, without warning, decided unilaterally -- without reference to his Republican congressional toadies, even -- to lock in place his alliance with the Israeli right wing... This is not a matter of supporting Israel, many of whose citizens find Sharon's policies as despicable as most of the rest of the world does. Not, this is dementia; madness, plain and simple. George W. Bush is a child who enjoys playing with matches. And after planting today a keg of dynamite underneath a 100-ton wooden vat of oil, he's wondering -- just for fun? out of malice? because he likes loud noises? -- what might happen if we put a match to the fuse... Decades of American foreign policy have been tossed by the wayside, overnight, as if they had never existed. I will be very surprised if there are not a few resignations tomorrow from the State Department, no doubt departures unlamented by the White House... Cry the beloved country. Imagine what we these United States have just done. We now have made the ultimate declaration of war: right-wing America and right-wing Israel, united against the world! Let none dare stand in our way..... It is utter, complete madness. How Colin Powell, the man who advised Bush pere of the dangers of an Iraqi invasion, can look himself in the mirror, God only knows.... And mark these words: if we think we have inflamed the Islamic world before now, just wait a week. We are about to inherit the wind.... k (Kenneth Heill is CEO of Contemporary Media Inc., which publishes The Memphis Flyer, Memphis Magazine, and a variety of other Memphis-area publications. Michael Moore is, of course, the well-known author, social critic, and Academy Award-winning documentarian.)

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