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Friday, July 02, 2004

More Moore

More Soundbites from articles:

Coalition of the Wild-Eyed, By Mark Goldblatt

For in its desperation to elect John Kerry president this November, the Democratic hierarchy is busy cobbling together what the Bush campaign recently, and accurately, dubbed Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-Eyed. Rather than putting forward a coherent platform of policy objectives, the Democrats have cast a net of free-floating political rage in the hopes of scooping up every amateur conspiracy theorist with a grudge against the status quo.

Senator Kerry knows each of these beliefs is false, demonstrably false, yet he cannot afford to disown any of them because he's made the paranoid fringe a key constituency. The problem runs deeper than the political reality that he cannot distance himself from mainstream-figures-turned-partisan-flamethrowers like Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean and the entirety of the Congressional Black Caucus; Kerry cannot even dismiss Michael Moore's loopy suggestion in his new film that the war in Afghanistan wasn't about overthrowing the Taliban government, which harbored al Qaeda terrorists, but about allowing the Unocal Corporation to build a natural gas pipeline through the country. Kerry cannot, in short, speak the truth without alienating his reflexively wary base.

But that choice no longer works for the Democrats -- who just can't win elections anymore by proposing big government solutions. Their fallback strategy now seems to consist of appealing to voters' worst emotions, tapping into their delusions, their fears, their passions and prejudices, accusing their Republican opposition not merely of being wrong on the issues but of thwarting democracy and engaging in genocide for profit.

No tactic could be more cynical. Or more dangerous to the future of political discourse.

More Distortions From Michael Moore, By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

In his new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” film-maker Michael Moore makes the eye-popping claim that Saudi Arabian interests “have given” $1.4 billion to firms connected to the family and friends of President George W. Bush.

But a cursory examination of the claim reveals some flaws in Moore’s arithmetic—not to mention his logic.

Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this “connection.” The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that 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. True enough, the former president was paid for one speech to Carlyle and then made an overseas trip on the firm’s behalf the previous fall, right around the time BDM was sold. But Ullman insists any link between the former president’s relations with Carlyle and the Saudi contracts to BDM that were awarded years earlier is entirely bogus. “The figure is inaccurate and misleading,” said Ullman. “The movie clearly implies that the Saudis gave $1.4 billion to the Bushes and their friends. But most of it went to a Carlyle Group company before Bush even joined the firm. Bush had nothing to do with BDM.”

But unmentioned in “Fahrenheit/911,” or in the Lehane responses, is a considerable body of evidence that cuts the other way. The idea that the Carlyle Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of some loosely defined “Bush Inc.” concern seems hard to defend. Like many similar entities, Carlyle boasts a roster of bipartisan Washington power figures. Its founding and still managing partner is David Rubenstein, a former top domestic policy advisor to Jimmy Carter. Among the firm’s senior advisors is Thomas “Mack” McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, and Arthur Levitt, Clinton’s former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of its other managing partners is William Kennard, Clinton’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Spokesman Ullman was the Clinton-era spokesman for the SEC.

Under the Hot Lights, Michael Isikoff

Saudi flights out of the United States. The movie claims that in the days after 9/11, when airspace was shut down, the White House approved special charter flights so that prominent Saudis—including members of the bin Laden family—could leave the country. Author Craig Unger appears, claiming that bin Laden family members were never interviewed by the FBI. Not true, according to a recent report from the 9/11 panel. The report confirms that six chartered airplanes flew 142 mostly Saudi nationals out of the country, including one carrying members of the bin Laden family. But the flights didn't begin until Sept. 14—after airspace reopened. Moreover, the report states the Saudi flights were screened by the FBI, and 22 of the 26 people on the bin Laden flight were interviewed. None had any links to terrorism.

Richard Clarke: Big Part of Moore's Movie 'a Mistake'

Former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke, who served as a principal source for conspiracy filmmaker Michael Moore's movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," said this week that the central premise of the film is "a mistake."

Saying Moore's version of the episode has provoked "a tempest in a tea pot," Clarke called his decision to make the bin Laden family flyout a big part of the film's indictment against Bush "a mistake."
"After 9/11, I think the Saudis were perfectly justified ... in fearing the possibility of vigilantism against Saudis in this country. When they asked to evacuate their citizens ... I thought it was a perfectly normal request," he explained.

In May, Clarke confessed that he and he alone made the decision to approve the flyouts.

Clarke told the 9/11 Commission the same thing in March, after first detailing the episode for Vanity Fair magazine last August - leaving plenty of time for Moore to adjust his film to the facts as recounted by his primary source.

Limbaughing to the left? By Ellen Goodman

If "Fahrenheit 9/11" preaches to the choir, you could find me in the alto section.

But at some point, I also began to feel just a touch out of harmony. Not even this alto believes that the Iraq war was brought to us courtesy of the Bush-Saudi oil-money connection. Not even the rosiest pair of my retro-spectacles sees prewar Iraq as a happy valley where little children flew kites.

If even Ellen G. finds herself in doubt, then you know it's bad.

Even a blind squirell...


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