Third, Moore reveals that our soldiers are conflicted and confused. Every negative review I've seen demands that he either show our soldiers as bloodthirsty or as confused kids. I claim his stance is proper: he shows them as being conflicted. They need their adrenaline to stay alert and keep from dying, but during any time to think, they're left wondering what the hell we're doing there. To be clear, he selects a small group of
soldiers who demonstrate these sentiments but fails to reveal how large a percentage that is. Despite this, there is validity in his point: shouldn't all our soldiers have a clear objective and a clear conscience that they are doing the right thing? (See also, point one: George W. Bush, lousy leader who's unable to rally the troops.)
One of the things that I keep seeing in reviews is that Moore uses only the facts that support his argument. To this I have two responses: of course he did—it's an opinionated argument; and at least he used facts to present his argument—case in point: WMDs.
Reviews also mention that he exaggerates numbers to his advantage, especially when speaking of the investment Saudi Arabia has in America. The hard number given is around US$500 billion which is then estimated to be more accurately US$850 billion, and Moore begins using the figure US$1 trillion. It was foolish to do so because it gives reason to nitpick, but in my mind, overblown exaggeration only occurs when as the
figures approach a change in the order of magnitude—as long as you fall short of ten-times more or don't reduce to one-tenth as much, it's valid to speculate about it. The 2002 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the United States was about US$10.2 trillion dollars, so even the US$500 billion figure represents nearly 5% of our entire GDP: that's a fucking lot of money, which was Moore's point.
Anyway, I considered taking a stance that I believe everything in the movie and refuse to hear arguments to the contrary. However, I realized that would make me a "conservative" in the sense that a "liberal" will always question his beliefs, but a "conservative" knows he's always right. (I opted to put the political terms in quotes in a futile attempt to save them from further abuse through doublespeak.) Regardless, I think
it's great that the people who believe our country could be much better than it is now have a shorthand: "Fahrenheit 9/11." Sure the movie has its faults, but at least we can all start from a common point in discussion and don't have to swim around in the muck of the details so much anymore.
As I was saying about getting onto some list of suspicious agitators, I left the theater and talked with one of the guys selling the "Socialist Worker" newspaper, then I went to
(16 Gibb St.)
and hung out with some guy I barely know and a group of his friends and acquaintances who decided to smoke tobacco from their hookahs (which, although perfectly legal, just looked suspicious.) While I was there I signed a petition to get a Libertarian candidate on the ballot for the national election. Oh, and of course, I rode my bike the whole time instead of driving a car like a Good American™—pardon me:
driving the largest SUV available like a Good American™.
While I'm talking politically, I had a peculiar thought the other day. It's related to the fact that the thing I fear most in the world today is my own government (and this government is supposed to subservient to the will of the people.) So I came upon the idea that I seem to be able to use the phrases "terrorist enemy" and "current administration" pretty much interchangeably. Here's some examples:
- "The [terrorist enemy | current administration] is trying to weaken our will."
- "The [terrorist enemy | current administration] exploits the vulnerabilities of this country to their advantage."
- "The actions of the [terrorist enemy | current administration] is to keep Americans frightened, intimidated, and passive."
- "The [terrorist enemy | current administration] hates the Bill of Rights and all it stands for."
- "The [terrorist enemy | current administration] is trying to intimidate the free world."
- "The [terrorist enemy | current administration] hates America."
- "If we are afraid to travel, then the [terrorist enemy | current administration] has won."
- "The [terrorist enemy | current administration] is attempting to derail the democratic process."
Naturally some things don't make sense, like "the [terrorist enemy | current administration] want to ensure that George W. Bush is not elected again" or "the [terrorist enemy | current administration] feels that money is more important than people."
Speaking of capitalism run amok, the upcoming
Bands on the Bricks
shows at the
The Rochester Public Market
(280 Union St. N.)
have banned food and drink brought in from outside except for "one sealed bottle of water per person." It's obvious they want to make a profit at the events, so by creating an event in the middle of summer that's "free," encouraging people to dance around, then demanding they pay $3 for 12 ounces of water so they don't dehydrate, they achieve their goal handily. I would much rather see them just charge people at the gate instead.
Of course, that has its own problems. Take, for example, the recent
East End Fests
(East Ave., near Scio and Richmond St. near Main St.)
for which they now charge people a dollar. Ordinarily I don't have any problem with this kind of thing except that these are public streets. My tax dollars pay for them, and I'll be damned if anybody gets to make money on them: every penny should come back to the taxpayers. If you want to have it on private land, charge whatever you want, but if it's public land, that's another story.
We'll see if I can't do anything about that.
Anyway, last Saturday I had a fine (but very different) time at
(165 State Street.)
As I expected, nobody else from the regular group showed up. So I just read a book and dined. I spent almost four hours just sitting around watching people go by and eating one course an hour, starting with a bagel and cream cheese, a cup of soup, a sandwich, and a cookie. It was friggin' great.
I even had a pleasant debate with an army recruiter who's a friend of John's. The first point of debate was that the intelligence information the United States releases concerning the terrorists being (essentially) "irrational haters of America." This does no good at all. If you watch their behaviors, most of them are against the Middle East being financially manipulated by the west, and the way western religions and culture are
designed to run roughshod over anyone else's. The targets they choose are not to kill as many Americans as possible, but to attempt to disrupt the western capitalist machinery in place that causes the problems they see.
He cited that the terrorists wish to kill "100,000 American children," but I believe that stems from the attacks in Iraq when they said they would kill "1,000 American child for every Iraqi child killed," which is very different. However, based on the flat 100,000 quote, U.S. intelligence is assuming that terrorists will try to attack schools and day-care centers. If this were true, how can you explain their pattern of attack in Iraq?
Wouldn't they seek out the sites where western children congregate in Iraq (such as schools and day-care centers there) and kill them?
Essentially there is no way to be rational with a soulless, pure-evil enemy. The intelligence community is successfully making a case that terrorists are soulless monsters, and that is why we must kill them all. I concede that we are far from any form of agreement, but it is foolish and self-defeating to refuse to understand your enemy. The argument that they are trying to kill our children just underscores a lack of understanding, a
condemnation as incurable psychopaths, and ultimately, downright deception that's designed to keep us afraid.
Unfortunately the guy had to take off, but I wanted to also address with him the flaws of using traditional military might to fight an enemy who does not fight on those terms since all our arguments against terrorism are mirrored in our own past: it is what the British said about us when we would use guerilla tactics to defeat their "civil" armies.
As a final note for a little amusement, if I were to program a jukebox to ensure it made lots of money, I would have it carefully select the songs it would play between purchased tracks. It would specifically choose songs that are entered in the last hour before the bar closes and that are not played any other time. Those are the songs that are so intolerable that people would pay not to listen to them.
Now that you know, please never implement that kind of jukebox logic.