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Jim Emerson: On celebrities, Politics, and movie critics (shilling for Roger Ebert)
Chicago Sun Times ^ | October 14, 2004 | Jim Emerson, Editor of

Posted on 11/06/2004 3:59:04 PM PST by weegee

By Jim Emerson
October 14, 2004

Who's the, uh, biggest villain in "Team America"? Kim Jong Il or Hollywood celebrities?

"You should learn to keep your opinions OUT of your reviews!" Every critic I know has received at least one letter like that from an indignant reader. Of course, it's an absurd proposition; critics are paid to express their opinions, and the good ones (who exercise what is known across all disciplines as "critical thinking") are also able to cite examples and employ sound reasoning to build an argument, showing you how and why they reached their verdict.

Well, since we launched at the beginning of October, I (as editor of the site) have been sifting through a lot of e-mail from readers offering what I consider to be similarly unreasonable admonitions: "Keep your political opinions out of your movie reviews!" These have primarily been directed at Roger Ebert's reviews of the documentaries "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," "Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, the Selling of Fear and the American Empire," and the political puppet satire-musical-action-comedy, "Team America: World Police" -- nearly always with outraged references back to his positive review of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

The assumption seems to be that a film critic can and should evaluate anything and everything in the movie -- the acting, the script, the production values, the mise-en-scene, the music, the makeup -- but don't you dare respond to what the movie's about, especially if it involves politics! Talk about the cinematography all you like, these folks imply, but don't discuss the content if it's going to upset me! Illogical assertions like these, and the vehemence with which they are thrown into flaming e-mails, got me to thinking there might be some issues here worthy of further exploration:

Q. Ebert didn't like "Team America: World Police" because it makes fun of all sides and he's obviously a liberal.

A.That's assigning motives that aren't supported by the review itself. Ebert wrote: "If I were asked to extract a political position from the movie, I'd be baffled. It is neither for nor against the war on terrorism, just dedicated to ridiculing those who wage it and those who oppose it. The White House gets a free pass, since the movie seems to think Team America makes its own policies without political direction.

"I wasn't offended by the movie's content so much as by its nihilism. At a time when the world is in crisis and the country faces an important election, the response of Parker, Stone and company is to sneer at both sides -- indeed, at anyone who takes the current world situation seriously. They may be right that some of us are puppets, but they're wrong that all of us are fools, and dead wrong that it doesn't matter."

Now go back and look at Ebert's review of "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut," where he makes similar criticisms. Perhaps a more likely explanation for his opinion is that he finds fault with these particular filmmakers' scattershot approach to comedy. (And one's sense of humor is even more personal than one's politics.) This paragraph from Ebert's "South Park" review in 1999 is remarkably consistent with his criticism of "Team America": "All it lacks is a point to its message. What is it saying? That movies have gone too far, or that protests against movies have gone too far? It is a sign of our times that I cannot tell. Perhaps it's simply anarchistic, and feels that if it throws enough shocking material at the wall, some of it will stick. A lot of the movie offended me. Some of it amazed me. It is too long and runs out of steam, but it serves as a signpost for our troubled times."

Q. Do political opinions belong in movie reviews?

A. You probably already know my answer -- and Roger's: Absolutely yes. And here's why: Movies -- especially, ahem, political documentaries -- aren't made or shown in a vacuum, and when they raise political issues, it's not only the critic's right to discuss them, it's his professional duty. Any critic is a human being first, bringing his or her own experiences and predilections to the theater just like any other moviegoer. As Ebert wrote in an Answer Man column, responding to criticism of his review of "Fahrenheit 9/11":

"Moore's film comes labeled as partisan and subjective. Were you equally inspired to ask 'how much is reality and how much is exaggerated or fabricated' when the Bush administration presented Saddam's WMDs as a fact? I declared my own political opinion in the review and made it clear I was writing from that viewpoint. It's opinion. I have mine, you have yours, and the theory is that we toss them both into the open marketplace of ideas."

The more you read a critic, the more you come to know his or her individual tastes and leanings. Ebert has always been quite up-front about his politics, so you know about his convictions in that area going in. It's not that much different than knowing that a critic has a particular fondness for, or aversion to, a certain genre or actor or director. (For example, I find it almost impossible to watch Tom Cruise without my skin crawling and my teeth hurting, but I still like some of the movies he's been in. On the other hand, I love Laura Linney and Ned Beatty and the Coen Brothers and Robert Altman, so I know I approach their work predisposed to favor whatever they do -- even though I don't, always.) But remember, just because a critic is of one stripe or another, doesn't automatically invalidate their views or arguments. To quote philosopher Jamie Whyte, in his excellent book Crimes Against Logic: "You don't show someone's opinion is false just by showing that he has a motive for holding it."

As long as a critic is up-front about what he or she is bringing to the blank screen in front of him before the movie begins, no topic should be off-limits in a review. That's what's great about movies -- they come from countries and cultures all over the world, capture a wide variety of experiences, and can explore any subject imaginable. I love movies in general, but I also love that writing about them leaves every subject and question anybody can think of (and include in a movie) open to discussion at one time or another, whether it's quantum physics or abortion or human sexuality or English literature or the existence of god.

Q. Why does Ebert review so many anti-Bush movies?

A. Mainly because so many are making it to theaters. Some readers have objected that Ebert has not been reviewing certain pro-Bush (or anti-Michael Moore or anti-Kerry) films, like "Fahrenhype 9/11" or the reportedly still unfinished anti-Kerry television program, "Stolen Honor." The reality is that no critic can single-handedly review everything that comes out (and Roger comes as close as anybody). Some may see his very choices of what to review as, in part, a reflection of his politics. But in the case of the two movies I just mentioned, they also have not received significant theatrical releases, and that also helps to dictate a critic's choices. "Going Upriver" (which was begun before Kerry ran for office and only covers his experience in Vietnam and anti-war activities shortly thereafter) was showcased at the prestigious Toronto Film Festival before its theatrical release; "Hijacking Catastrophe" (while also available on DVD -- like Robert Greenwald's "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" and "Uncovered: The War in Iraq) opened at the Music Box theater in Chicago (and Ebert covers movies as they open in Chicago); and, of course, "Fahrenheit 9/11" not only won the big prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, but has become the top-grossing documentary in movie history.

Q. Yeah, well, what does a movie critic know about politics, anyway?

A. That depends entirely on the critic. As it happens, Roger Ebert (to name one critic with whom you are perhaps familiar) is an American citizen who's been active in, and informed about, politics longer than he's been a movie critic. I can almost better understand the question the other way around: "What does a politician, or any 'layman,' know about movies?" For some reason (maybe because so many people like to watch movies) it's generally accepted that, when it comes to cinema, everybody's a critic. Even if they don't know a thing about movies and don't know enough about movie history to have any meaningful perspective. But everybody knows what they like ... and what they don't.

Politics, on the other hand, is something it is actually the duty of every American to know something about, since democracy itself can't function without an informed populace. In interviews promoting "Team America," Trey Parker and Matt Stone express the opinion that if you're ignorant about politics you should just not vote. This kind of weak-willed passivity and acceptance of helplessness is pathetic. If you're as clueless about politics (and, consequently, about expressing any convictions) as Parker and Stone are, then don't stay home -- get off your butt and wise up. Go learn something about the issues that affect your life and where the candidates stand on them.

Q. Why should I listen to what a movie critic has to say about politics?

A. It's true that expertise in one field doesn't automatically imply expertise in another. But critics -- good critics, the ones who actually have a firm grasp of critical thinking skills -- can apply sound principles of reasoning to just about any subject. As a movie critic I learned never to just state an opinion without citing corresponding examples directly from the film, and to build my observations on specifics. Likewise, as anybody who reads the reviews on this site knows, there's a lot more to Roger Ebert than his thumb. He writes a full essay on every movie he reviews.

Film critics can also be pretty savvy about the way images and personalities are presented, molded, and manipulated in order to affect the audience. Today, politicians go through the rigorous image-building regimens that aren't that different from the ones the big studios used to prepare their contract players for stardom. Movie critic David Thomson (author of A Biographical Dictionary of Film) wrote a New York Times op-ed piece recently, exploring how the TV networks' use of split-screen and two-shots (something they weren't supposed to do) revealed more about the candidates than they may have intended:

"A true split screen was employed only by some networks, like ABC and C-Span, whereas others, like PBS, honored what might be called a spatial relationship between the two contestants.... In film studies, and once upon a time in filmmaking, the two-shot was a staple. Indeed, the shot of two or more people, not quite full length, but conversing and interacting, was often called 'the American shot' in French film commentary. That is because it used to be a staple of good American movie-making.... [It] is worth stressing that the effort before the debate to restrict the way of showing the speakers [in medium one-shots] was a gross intrusion on a kind of free speech integral to film and the society that uses it. I congratulate the networks for ignoring it and for sometimes using two shots in which the spatial bond trembled with animosity and the two men involved behaved naturally -- i.e., they let us see how much they dislike each other, and they gave us the opportunity to look into their inner nature."

Q. So many of these recent documentaries -- "The Corporation," "Control Room," "Fahrenheit 9/11," "Going Upriver," "The Yes Men," "Hijacking Catastrophe," to name a few -- are totally biased. Why can't they be objective and present a balanced view of both sides?

A. First of all, it's because these documentaries express the filmmaker's point of view, and they are quite open about that fact. The filmmakers are building a case -- and raising questions they feel need to be asked, even if the answers are still unknown. (Like: How does the long-established relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family affect American foreign policy, or the perception of it in the world? That's a legitimate question, and the fact is we don't know.) As Ebert wrote of Jehane Noujaim, the Arab-American director of "Control Room" (about Al-Jazeera television): "She doesn't take sides, but in insisting that there is something to be said for both sides, she offends those who only want to hear one side."

There's a misconception that "objectivity" means reporting "both sides" of an issue (and perhaps the worst misconception is that there can be only two sides -- black or white). "Objectivity" does not mean he said/she said reporting without good, old-fashioned fact-checking -- which is where the major news organizations have failed us so badly in recent years. If somebody says, "It's 72 degrees Fahrenheit in this room," and his opponent says, "No, it's 43 degrees Fahrenheit in this room," you don't just report each statement and leave it at that. You check a thermometer.

Whenever I see phrases like "equal-opportunity offender" or "skewers all sides" or "something to offend everyone" in a movie review, I fear what it really means is that the filmmakers are spineless flip-floppers, pandering to the audience with desperate attempts to please everybody by insulting everybody. As long as everybody gets pricked the barbs don't really draw blood and nobody really gets hurt.

So, let's look at the facts: Roger Ebert reported many of the factual errors in Michael Moore's previous film, "Bowling for Columbine," in his subsequent Answer Man columns, and has written about allegations of misrepresentation in "Fahrenheit 9/11" as well. A single review, written before the movie is released, is not necessarily a critic's final word on the subject -- if he's really engaged with the movie and the public's responses to it.

It's worth remembering that all of the docs mentioned above have been offered as commentary on, and counter-arguments to, prevailing biases (and myths) in contemporary American journalism and culture -- the "conventional wisdom," you might say, whether it's the pervasive advertising and public relations efforts of multi-million-dollar corporations or official statements from the White House. They are meant to be seen in that context -- as counter-arguments. They encourage debate; they don't seek to stifle it.

What infuriates me -- as a critic and as a citizen -- is when people (especially friends who are film critics) abandon the standards of critical thinking they apply to movies when it comes to politics. The cardinal rule of critical thinking is just this: Base your opinions on looking at the evidence (whether it's by paying close attention to a movie or reading declassified government documents on the Internet or refreshing your memory by double-checking exactly who said what and when), not on just what somebody says the evidence says. In this sense, nobody is simply "entitled to their opinion."

As Whyte writes in Crimes Against Logic: "You are entitled to an opinion, in [the] epistemic sense, only when you have good reasons for holding it: evidence, sound arguments, and so on. Far from being universal, this epistemic entitlement is the kind you earn.... If someone is interested in believing the truth, then she will not take the presentation of contrary evidence and argument as some kind of injury."

Q. What about Hollywood actors, the real threats to Homeland Security as portrayed on Fox News and in "Team America: World Police"? Who are these celebrities to express their political opinions like that?

Trey Parker and his alter ego, the Kim Jong Il puppet.

A. You mean Ronald Reagan? Sonny Bono? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Would any of these political performers have been elected if they hadn't exploited the fame, influence, and money they earned in the entertainment business? Their outspokenness and effectiveness as speakers helped them get noticed by the political parties, who recruited them to run for office. Reagan began his political career as the president of the Screen Actors Guild, model for "Team America's" Film Actors Guild, or F.A.G., but politicians began paying attention to him when he was a spokesman for the General Electric corporation. Since when does your job disqualify you from expressing your political opinions?

Entertainers have always endorsed or criticized American politicians; both are public figures engaged in image-making of one sort or another. Where's the outrage about Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. endorsing John F. Kennedy and appearing at fundraisers with him? (And then, years later, Sinatra endorsed Reagan and Sammy hugged Nixon, but that's another story...)

What really mystifies me is why anybody gets all worked up about what Hollywood celebrities think, especially if all they do is speak in ten-second sound bites on awards shows or lightweight info-tainment broadcasts. Would anyone even know about half of the things these entertainers say if it weren't for the ranting and raving of their detractors? Do their publicists actually put Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and Trey Parker and Matt Stone on the payroll to raise their visibility? If you really object to the "self-importance" of these celebrities (and, let's face it, actors are renowned for their self-importance -- ever watch "Inside the Actor's Studio"?), then the worst thing you could do to them is to stop giving them all this attention. "Team America" makes them out to be world-movers -- and then bestows martyrdom upon them by treating them to the most spectacular, ego-gratifying deaths imaginable.

With the exception of stand-up comics, few of these celebs put politics into their actual screen work, unless they write the plays or the movies or TV shows themselves. So how do their furious critics find out about their political beliefs? "Entertainment Tonight"? "Access Hollywood"? Celebrity talk shows? Anti-war rallies? (No, wait, those don't get much coverage in mainstream news media...)

It's ironic that "Team America: World Police," which uses a self-absorbed actor (puppet) as its hero, reserves its most graphic and gruesome fates for what it sees as self-important, sanctimonious politically active Hollywood celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover, Helen Hunt, Janeane Garofalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Robbins and Martin Sheen. (Baldwin's overkill comeuppance is taken straight from the treatment accorded the supervillain played by John Cassavettes in Brian DePalma's "The Fury.") Terrorists get shot and fall over, spilling a few drops of blood; these actors are grotesquely mutilated, disemboweled, chopped in half, ripped apart by animals, and decapitated in an explosion of gore. Even the character the movie sets up as being the Most Dangerous Man in the World, crazed pygmy dictator Kim Jong Il of North Korea, gets off lightly by comparison.

Which is not to say these scenes are not funny in a queasy way (and I admit I'm a sucker for meat puppet humor); but they fall far short of satire. Satire requires a coherent,underlying point of view beyond hacky stand-up cliches: "Don't you just hate self-important Hollywood actors?!?! And airline food?!?! I mean, really..." These celebrity Grand Guignol deaths are actually just a more explicit, less imaginative retread of the same dumb (but funny!) recurring celeb-bashing joke on SCTV's "Farm Film Report" ("She blowed up real good!"); or the exceedingly silly (and hilarious) Black Knight scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" -- except, there, what made the fountains of blood extra-funny was the dismemberee's stubborn insistence that his hideous wounds were "only a scratch."

By making such a big bloody deal about the opinions of Hollywood celebs, and consigning the sanctimonious offenders to the most gruesome fates, "Team America" makes them appear WAY more important and prominent than they really are -- and it takes them dead seriously as a Threat to the Republic, which is not only equally self-righteous but delusional. Can it really be that, in the insular showbiz world of Parker and Stone, the opinions of movie and TV actors are more upsetting and carry more weight than those of presidents and potentates? From the rage directed at them in "Team America," you'd think that Alec Baldwin and Janeane Garofalo are responsible for making life-or-death decisions about US foreign policy. Trey, Matt: Lighten up, guys! Get some perspective!

The movie's hilarious when it's spoofing jingoistic, gung-homoerotic Jerry Bruckheimer/Scott Rudin/Michael Bay-style action movies (from "Top Gun" to "Pearl Harbor"), and the songs (as in "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut") are sheer genius, particularly the one in which the hero incongruously compares missing his girlfriend to the way Michael Bay missed the mark in directing "Pearl Harbor." But, especially in the second half, the so-called political comedy of "Team America" (when it's not laboriously dragging itself, straight-faced, through long boring patches of rote action-movie genre requirements that' are as tedious as the real thing by Michael Bay) is as Lite as Dennis Miller -- except that Miller is an airhead who likes to appear smarter than he really is and Parker and Stone are wily entertainers (deep down, like their showbiz mentors Don Rickles and Jerry Lewis, they just want desperately to be loved!) who like to appear disingenuously dumber (and therefore less responsible for whatever they say or do) than -- I hope -- they really are.

Disappointingly, the political humor in "Team America" aims as low as possible and actually relies on the audience not knowing very much about world affairs -- or Hollywood celebrities, for that matter. (Unlike the "South Park" feature, which was aimed at adults, this R-rated film will be funniest to kids who've persuaded their parents or guardians to take them.) It's plain bone-headed to depict the Hollywood celebrities rallying around Kim, because in fact they're the ones who have been saying again and again for years now that the nuclear capabilities of North Korea and Iran posed a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein had since 1991. To filmmakers and politicians I have this sage advice: If you're going to attack somebody (not that there's anything wrong with that!), whether it's a Hollywood celebrity or a totalitarian despot, attack them for what they've actually said and done, not for something you've just made up.

So, as Slate critic David Edelstein observed, "Michael Moore wouldn't be a suicide bomber because he thinks too highly of his indispensability. Sorry, boys: This just isn't very incisive left-bashing."

Ebert was right on the mark when he wrote: "No real point is made about the actors' activism; they exist in the movie essentially to be ridiculed for existing at all, I guess." It's funny to ridicule the sanctimonious, but to target Baldwin because (for example) he says we should all be driving hybrid cars (not only for environmental reasons but because revenues from Middle East oil directly support terrorist activities)? These sorts of ad hominem attacks (spuriously attacking the person as a person, to avoid having to engage with the substance of their arguments) are a trademark of the modern American right (see the self-righteously named "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth," whose TV ads cited no evidence for their condemnation of John Kerry beyond vague allegations that Kerry wasn't "telling the truth" about "what happened in Vietnam" -- which could mean almost anything, and so means nothing in particular.) Perhaps this sort of thing is what liberal-turned-neo-con Time Magazine political columnist and indie blogger Andrew Sullivan is getting at when he writes of that new phenomenon in American politics, the "'South Park' Republicans."

"Team America" delivers the foul-mouthed message that the world is divided into three kinds of people: the "p---ies" (another name for kitties), who are too naive and peace-loving and lack the backbone to fight terrorism, exemplified by liberal celebrities; the "d---s" (another word for detectives), who sometimes get a little too carried away with their reckless aggression and use it inappropriately, exemplified by Team America, whose "collateral damage" is worse than anything the terrorists inflict with their WMDs; and the real villains, the "a--holes" (another term for donkey rectums) who "just want to s--t all over everything," exemplified by various terrorists and Kim Jong Il. With this movie, Trey and Parker firmly identify themselves as a--holes. I don't know if they realize it.

So, there you go: More politics in film criticism. With movies like these -- where the success of the movie depends on exploiting politics for humor or thrills or whatever -- how do you propose to avoid discussing it?

It's an election year -- and everything's debatable.

Q. But this is an election year. Doesn't all this political arguing really belong on the editorial pages?

A. Yes, this is an election year. And that means, like it or not, politics is everywhere -- including the movie theaters and DVD stores and book stores and all over the Internet. Politics is especially pervasive in 2004 because the country is so deeply divided over the presidency of George W. Bush and because there's an audience hungry for basic information that isn't or wasn't being reported by the so-called "mainstream" news media -- whether it's the New York Times (where more pertinent factual information about the impending invasion of Iraq came from opinion columnists Paul Krugman and Nicholas Kristof than from the paper's beefy, well-funded reporting staff) to Fox News (which is so deeply embedded in the Bush administration it lets its anchors editorialize on the air as they read).

If you really want to blame somebody for driving political coverage and op-ed pieces into the movie theaters and onto the entertainment pages, I suggest you start with those major newspapers and news networks -- for doing such a terrible job of basic reporting in the last five years or so that a majority of Americans who had depended on them for news wound up seriously misinformed about our government's stated reasons for invading Iraq and what has happened since. (The best informed Americans turned out to be those who listened to National Public Radio -- and, probably, watched "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.")

Let's look at this explosion of politics into movies in context:

A poll by the Washington Post (a newspaper that openly supported the Iraq invasion, and later, like the New York Times, published a scathing self-assessment admitting it had uncritically accepted the administration's claims about Iraq without seriously attempting to find independent verification) last fall found that 69 percent of Americans thought there was evidence that Saddam Hussein has involved in the 9/11 attacks, something even President Bush has admitted is not true in the last few months. And another poll, conducted in May of 2003 by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that a third of Americans still believed that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. Is it any wonder that filmmakers (and Internet bloggers and TV "fake news" shows and political satirists) have rushed to fill such an appalling "fact gap"?

Consider the solid, professional-level reporting now being done in what we formerly thought of in the context of "entertainment":

++ It took a best-selling book of political satire (Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right) by Al Franken, a comedian and screenwriter ("When a Man Loves a Woman," "Stuart Saves His Family"), to investigate and thoroughly report how the media during the 2000 election bought all sorts of untrue, politically motivated myths about Al Gore's supposed "lies" without ever bothering to check them out. It was widely reported (and endlessly repeated, mostly in jokes) that Gore had said he'd "invented the Internet"; that he'd claimed the novel and movie "Love Story" was based on him; that he'd discovered the toxic waste problem at Love Canal. He didn't, in fact, say any of these things, but they took on a life of their own and the press and the public accepted them as true.

++ It took a television political comedy show -- the fake newscast "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" -- to start holding politicians accountable for what they say and do by actually showing news clips of them saying and doing it. You would have thought that major news organizations had scrapped their clip libraries; they would report "both sides" of what was said in any given news cycle, but never bothered to check on the veracity of either side. "The Daily Show" began tackling he most basic form of journalism in 2003, showing what politicians said they'd said, and then showing exactly what they'd really said (something the networks didn't bother to do until the most recent presidential debates). "The Daily Show" consistently offers a more sophisticated and open discussion and exemplary display of journalistic ethics than any regular TV news broadcast.

++ Whereas sex scandal stories during the Clinton administration were usually broken by supermarket tabloids (or their Internet equivalent, The Drudge Report), much of the important real-world journalism was done by bloggers on the web who were smart enough to simply use Google to find declassified CIA, FBI, and Department of Defense documents, actual speech and press conference transcript s (they're right there at -- as well as reports from less constrained journalists in Great Britain (our ally!), the rest of Europe, Israel, and the Arab world -- that flatly (and in many cases irrefutably) contradicted what the administration was saying and the American press was reporting as if it were fact.

Q. OK, political documentaries are one thing. But what about discussing political issues in the context of mainstream Hollywood movies, which are just entertainment?

A. Don't fool yourself into thinking anything is necessarily so divorced from the real world as to be "just entertainment." Filmmakers make countless decisions all the time about what to put into their movies, from product placement to plot points, for reasons having nothing to do with their entertainment value.

Let me cite one example from personal experience: When I was the film critic for the Orange County Register, the Libertarian paper in conservative Orange County, California, in the early 1990s, I made an political observation in a review of "Lethal Weapon III" which, I thought, violated the integrity of the characters. Danny Glover's wife wears a sweatshirt protesting the killing of dolphins in tuna nets, and tells her husband about her position. Then they sit down to watch their daughter's appearance in a TV commercial for condoms. But in the next scene, Mel Gibson's character goes into their kitchen and takes a can of Coors Light out of the refrigerator.

I wrote that no liberal-minded African-American family who was so sensitive to the political implications of their consumer food choices would buy Coors; surely this was an example of product placement that was not true to the characters in the film. The Coors family business, after all, has a notorious history of affiliations with radical right and even white supremacist groups. The organized boycott of Coors, which was much more prominent in the 1970s, is still going on today. When a Coors representative wrote in to The Register saying that today's Coors was supportive of black businesses, the paper's Ombudsman wrote a column saying that political comments did not belong in movie reviews.

Only later did I find out that the Ombudsman was actually a friend of the Coors rep, and that the documentation I gave him about Coors' history and contemporary reputation never stood a chance of changing his pre-existing opinion; another landmark of disillusionment in my experience with big-paper journalism. But, a few weeks later, I received a fax from Richard Donner, the director of the "Lethal Weapon" series, who wrote to say he thought I was quite right and that he never should have allowed Coors into that scene.

So, was it inappropriate to make that observation? Obviously, I don't think so. But maybe I'm biased. Still, when it comes to film criticism, all we critics can do is report what we see, and explain our reactions to it. If it's there on the screen, and it inspires a reaction, then it's worth mentioning in a review.

TOPICS: Society; TV/Movies
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I went ahead and posted this because I stumbled on it a few weeks ago and thought it was worthy.

I didn't have the time to get into it then.

Since the election is over but the buggy whip media still has to be taken out to the woodshed over the con game they tried to pull on the American public, I want to post this to serve as a reminder.

I've decided to term this Zogbyism. The difference between McCarthyism and Zogbyism is that Communists WERE working inside the government (Senator McCarthy's exagerated claims had merit, as the KGB's own files have revealed) but Bush WON (the Zogby poll and other media "indicators" were wrong about the electorate).

Some may say that it was a "simple" poll but the numbers led the news. They CONSISTENTLY oversampled Democrats.

Bush Country knew that the media was distorting the figures. Talk radio and the internet helped to keep our spirits up. Imagine the citizens of Soviet Russia only hearing state run media; they are exposed to nothing but party line dogma. This is what we got from the mainstream/buggy whip media. There are other avenues for information out there.

In part, the media's Zogbyism this campaign got the Silent Majority to the polls in greater numbers than had ever been seen at an election. 60 Million Americans said "Hell no!" to John Kerry and the mainstream media. We knew that the Bush haters would be out in force this election. We knew that there would be vote fraud. We also knew that we had the numbers to win in the end by sheer turnout.

I don't believe we've even reached our limit, a good number of Americans eligible to vote still stayed at home this election.

I include Rathergate (the hoaxed National Guard memos that were broadcast on CBS) along with the hoaxed images of "abuse" at Abu Ghraib as examples of Zogbyism, a deliberate distortion.

Abu Ghraib had genuine abuse that was under investigation but it was not HARSH enough for the media. They had to pose photos of British soldiers urinating on "prisoners" and pull photos from a porn site to show evidence of Americans "raping" "Iraqis". No wonder America lost respect for this war and the terrorists consider us disciples of Satan.

"Well it was just a difference of opinion"?

The media distortions of Abu Ghraib turned the war effort (here in America and in Iraq) and the inflated "combat deaths" list is purely a propaganda tool. People wrongly assume that it is an "official" list; it is not. The list is compiled from press releases of US military deaths (which list all such deaths around the world). Inclusion/exclusion is up to the propagandist compiling the list. Bigger numbers served the antiAmerican War left. They wanted 1,000 deaths by 9-11-2004 (or at least election day).

They also wrongly assume that they are war injuries; technically they are as the people were deployed in the Iraq war and therefore serving "active duty". Some of the people died in Iraq of non-combat injuries and illnesses (car accidents, drowning, electrocution, heart attacks, pneumonia, etc.). Some did not even sustain their injuries in Iraq. Many have died in Kuwait; some in Germany; and in one case, that has been purged from some lists, a woman died while crossing the highway in KANSAS. The Washington Post maintains such a list and omits the woman in Kansas; they DO include a man who died of a vehicular accident in Kuwait that same week.

I have not seen Michael Moore's F911 but I have seen FahrenHYPE 911. In it there is a man who lost several limbs. His injury was caused when a tire they were inflating exploded. It is a tragedy. It also could have occurred anywhere yet the left insists "it's Bush's fault". His buddy was killed. Michael Moore allegedly has interview footage with this man in his film. The man conducts the interview with the FahrenHYPE 911 filmmmakers to dispute the presentation that Michael gave. Several people claim that they were unaware that they were going to be in his film (and one claims it was a tv news crew that released footage to Moore).

NONE of this would have been tolerated in America during WWII. Mildred Gillars and William Joyce were both convicted of treason for their biased reporting during WWII. Both were American born propagandists.

Mildred Gillars and William Joyce are more commonly known by their Nazi broadcast names "Axis Sally" and "Lord Haw Haw". Mildred was sentenced to prison and William was hanged in England.

I don't expect to see the same punishments passed down today but make no doubt that Michael Moore and others in the media serve the same cause and are a disgrace to their profession.

People should hear that Axis Sally interviewed American soldiers wounded in Germany (allegedly posing as a Red Cross assistant). It sounds suspiciously similar to what Michael Moore engaged in to make his film.

In closing, I will leave you with this audio sample from Axis Sally (transcript follows):

"Well, I'm sorry girls but the time is really nearly up now and just in closing, girls, I like to ask you one question, on the level, straight shoulder to shoulder."

"If you child behaves badly, do you agree with its misbehavior? Do you say to yourself, 'My child, right or wrong, I don't care what he does.'?"

"No you don't."

"You try to correct that child, you try to make him a better citizen."

"Well, and what is a country? A country is only made up of people after all. Do you say, 'My country right or wrong?' No, girls. That's false sentimentality and I do NOT praise(?) my country right or wrong."

"I love America but I do NOT love Roosevelt and all his kike boyfriends who have thrown us into the awful turmoil. And I'll stick to my guns as long as I can tire(?) them, girls."

"So you've not heard the last from me and I'm sure you must reject(?) your radio because you will want to hear more of what Germany is saying through the medium of an American girl."

AntiAmericanism is still antiAmericanism.

1 posted on 11/06/2004 3:59:06 PM PST by weegee
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To: weegee

Egads, what idiocy! There's barely a lefty talking point left unturned in this smorgasbord of stupidity.

2 posted on 11/06/2004 4:17:04 PM PST by RightWingAtheist (Krugman? More like Kool-Aid Man)
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To: weegee
ZOGBYISM - the term for the media's coordinated campaign to influence the 2004 election.

Here is the timeline for some events (many of which Ramsey Clark figured into, but then I started to track Abu Ghraib to recall the name of the operative who helped bring it to the media):


Did we REALLY live through such a sustained period of distortions? No wonder the mainstream media doesn't like us archiving data here. Just the headlines alone are damning.


Ramsey Clark Role in Setting Rather's Saddam Interview Overstated, CBS Now Says (Posted on 03/01/2003)

Bush accused of supporting Haitian rebels (Posted on 02/28/2004)

Picture of Kerry with Ramsey Clark at 1971 "Peace Conference (Posted on 02/11/2004)

Ramsey Clark Endorses John Kerry (Posted on 03/01/2004)

Ramsey Clark: An American Traitor (Posted on 03/08/2003)

Articles of Impeachment of President George W. Bush [Ramsey Clark Alert] (Posted on 03/19/2003)

IMPEACHMENT ACTIONS AGAINST THE PRESIDENT BY John Conyers (D-Mich.)& Ramsey Clark (Posted on 03/13/2003)

Heads Up... from Michael Moore (Posted on 04/26/2004)

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?....I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle...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.

Michael Moore admits Disney 'ban' was a stunt (Posted on 05/06/2004)

U.S. calls for Arab retractions (Posted on 05/09/2004)
The terrorists who killed Nick Berg would have had opportunity to see these images in the press and link them with the "Abu Ghraib scandal":

The day after a WorldNetDaily report revealed that photos circulating in the Middle East that depict GI's raping Iraqi women were fake and had originated from pornography sites, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement calling on Arab news outlets to publish retractions.

The embassy statement read, "We have done a thorough investigation of the origin of these photos and have conclusive evidence that they originated on a pornographic web site. They are clearly staged photos, done by actors, as the site itself states."

The Al Wafd newspaper published four photographs on the top of its front page that were alleged show American soldiers sexually abusing female prisoners in Iraq. Al Osboa and Al Mussawer published two of the same photos

The U.S. Embassy called the publication of these pornographic photos, with headlines alleging the involvement of U.S. soldiers, a "fundamental violation of journalistic integrity," and stated that their publication needlessly inflamed an already heated atmosphere.

Abuse photos 'were staged in UK' (Posted on 05/11/2004)

Nick Berg's Father and International A.N.S.W.E.R.(Posted on 05/11/2004) (note this thread agitated the left)

Media ethics, consistency questionable in release of photos" (Posted on 05/11/2004)

DJs Who Laughed At Beheading Are Fired (Portland, Ore.) (Posted on 05/13/2004)

Press calls prisoner coverage 'balanced' (Posted on 05/12/2004)

Anyone see the Berg video yesterday on cable news?(Posted on 05/12/2004)

(Daily Mirror) Editor sacked over 'hoax' photos (Posted on 05/14/2004)

Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has been sacked after the newspaper conceded photos of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi were fake. In a statement the Mirror said it had fallen victim to a "calculated and malicious hoax" and that it would be "inappropriate" for Morgan to continue.
NOTE: Those were the photos of a "soldier" urinating on a "prisoner". This was done using official equipment (that was not dispatched) suggesting that it was an inside smear job of the British military. I have not read up this story in recent months to see how the investigation is going. No wonder the terrorists got angry enough to cut a man's head off in revenge. The blood of the hostages is on the hands of radicals in the press who blindly pursued an agenda of ousting President Bush.

Those fake rape photos: Boston Globe attempts cover-up of fake rape pix (Posted on 05/14/2004)

See More Hersh (Seymour Hersh) (Posted on 05/14/2004)

This ghost is investigative reporter Seymour Hersh.

In 1969 as a freelance writer Hersh wrote a story for the tiny Left-wing Dispatch News Service run by his neighbor David Obst. The story, based on Hersh’s stateside interviews with soldiers back from Vietnam, was about what came to be called the “My Lai Massacre.”

This story, with its vivid portrayal of alleged American atrocities, was perfect for the propaganda purposes of the anti-war Left. The liberal media echoed and amplified Hersh’s report into front page news – and in the process turned him overnight into a journalist superstar, winner of the first of four career George Polk Awards, the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting and other honors.

Such fame is an intoxicating drug. When your story sits atop the world news wires, the telephone rings constantly – are you available to appear tomorrow on the Today Show? On CBS News? To give a speech Saturday for $25,000? It was a magical moment in Hersh’s life that he has tried again and again to recapture with shocking stories – but never quite succeeded.

And so once again Sy Hersh is making news with his investigations “Torture at Abu Ghraib: American Soldiers Brutalized Iraqis. How Far Up Does the Responsibility Go?” in the May 10 New Yorker magazine and “Chain of Command: How the Department of Defense Mishandled the Disaster at Abu Ghraib” in its May 17 issue.

AL-JAZEERA: BEHEADING A FAKE (Posted on 05/14/2004)

Rooting for the Enemy... (Posted on 05/16/2004)

A MAN has his head cut off by al Qaeda in Iraq, and The New York Times aggressively markets the idea - on its front page yesterday - that his death is somehow the fault of the United States...

"Don’t Let Abu Ghraib Overturn Our Success" (Posted on 05/16/2004)

Prior to the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom last year, I wrote that we would not find easy allies among the Iraqi people. It had nothing to do with Muslim disdain for Westerners. It had nothing to do with Iraqi fears of Western colonization. It had nothing to do with oil. It had completely to do with the average Iraqi’s horrific fear of his own government and its vast network of informants and enforcers.

The average Iraqi still possesses that fear. This cannot be emphasized enough. There remain very few Iraqi citizens willing to risk their lives in a public show of support for U.S. and coalition forces given the longstanding tendency of our civilian leadership to cut and run when the political establishment and their news media allies turn up the heat. And despite President Bush’s insistence on staying the course, he has already relented somewhat by promising to relinquish power to the Iraqis on a very premature June 30.

The recent flap over prisoner mistreatment will not help.

Lawmakers Told of POW Abuse Months Ago (Posted on 05/16/2004)

Two months before pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuse became public, the family of one accused soldier wrote to 14 members of Congress that "something went wrong" involving "mistreatment of POWs" at Abu Ghraib prison.

Separately, a suspended Army officer in Iraq wrote to Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania that he was being unfairly punished after "pictures of naked prisoners" were discovered. He sent the letter six weeks before the CBS program "60 Minutes II" first broadcast photographs of the prisoners on April 28.


Carl Levin (Michigan)
Edward M. Kennedy (Massachusetts)
Robert C. Byrd (West Virginia)
Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut)
Jack Reed (Rhode Island)
Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii)
Bill Nelson (Florida)
E. Benjamin Nelson (Nebraska)
Mark Dayton (Minnesota)
Evan Bayh (Indiana)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York)
Mark Pryor (Arkansas)
HARDLY a bunch of Bush defenders.

Sly Sy - A journalist’s latest tricks. (Posted on 05/17/2004)

EDITOR'S NOTE: The man behind many of the most provocative Abu Ghraib stories — Seymour M. Hersh of The New Yorker — is one of the best-known reporters in the business. But that doesn't mean he always gets his facts right. "If the standard for being fired was being wrong on a story, I would have been fired long ago," he once said. Hersh has admitted to lying to his sources and one former editor accused him of blackmailing them. Can he be trusted today? John J. Miller profiled Hersh in the December 3, 2001 issue of National Review.

The media on Nicholas Berg: So what? (Posted on 05/18/2004)

The news of Nicholas Berg's gruesome murder came urgently in mid-afternoon on Fox News Channel. Anchor Shepard Smith didn't -- couldn't -- show the video that had hit the Internet. He handled it gravely, correctly. He explained the deadly facts, how masked Muslim fanatics screamed praise to Allah as they savagely sawed off Berg's head -- the head of an American who came to Iraq to help it rebuild.

How would this story grab the American news media? How would it change the media's obsession with much less graphic photos of sexual humiliation of prisoners? Many suggested that since the media wanted to make such a show out of the Abu Ghraib pictures, they ought to do the same with the Berg murder. An endless spiral into more and more gory images isn't the best way to run a news business -- or a foreign policy. But it's instructive that after news reports had touted the public's "right to know" about Abu Ghraib, to see every picture, suddenly, some images weren't supposed to stick in the public mind.

But there's more to this double-standard story. While NBC aired 58 stories on U.S. prison abuse in the first few weeks of that story, NBC aired only five stories over 16 months on the discovery of Saddam's mass graves. Abu Ghraib holds 1,500 prisoners, a fraction of whom were abused. Saddam's graves held as many as 300,000 people, all of whom were murdered. How is Abu Ghraib 10 times more important than that?

Sadly, the distortions continued. With few exceptions, the Berg beheading was at best a two-day TV story, an obstacle to get around, a white-noise distraction from The Scandal. Berg died. The media's take: sad, but so what? That shouldn't register in public opinion. On the very night the Berg story emerged, ABC's "Nightline" couldn't spend more than a few minutes on Berg before Ted Koppel was back to soliciting John McCain to explain what horrific treatment Americans might dish out next.

Soldier arrested over Mirror hoax photos (Posted on 05/18/2004)

Reaction/Counter-Reaction to the Abu Ghureib Abuses in the Arab Media (Look Who's Talking V3.0) (Posted on 05/19/2004)

NOTE: It would be interesting to see how the "resistance" may have increased after this heavy rotation of "imperial abuse"

Roger Ebert: Ovation for Moore's 'Fahrenheit' lasts longer than Bush dawdled (Posted on 05/19/2004)

Media’s Selective Outrage, by the Numbers (Posted on 05/21/2004)

Court TV meets the war on terror (Posted on 05/21/2004)

(Hunter S. Thompson writing for ESPN) Let's Go To The Olympics (Posted on 05/24/2004)

The long-dreaded 2004 Olympics in Greece will be the ultimate crossroads for sports and politics in this new and vicious century. The recent photos of cruelty at the Abu Grahaib all-american prison in Baghdad have taken care of that.

Yes, sir. We have taken the bull by the horns on this one, sports fans. These horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected. I have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport. Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler ever shocked me so badly as these photographs did.

Clarke Testimony Discredits Moore's 'Fahrenheit 911' (Posted on 05/25/2004)

Moore interviewed Berg for "Fahrenheit" [index to thread at reply #1859] (Posted on 05/27/2004)

Media's Mission Accomplished: U.S. Troops Now Called 'Baby Killers' (Posted on 05/28/2004)

Berg talks of Iraq's business potential on Michael Moore footage (Posted on 05/29/2004)

New York Times Streak of Page One Stories on Abu Ghraib ends at 32 Days! (UPDATED: 34 of 37 days) (Posted on 06/01/2004)

Soros: Abu Ghraib same as 9-11 (Posted on 06/03/2004)

Lori Haigh: The Girl Who Cried Wolf? (ChronWatch Investigative Report)(HOAXTER EXPOSED) (Posted on 06/11/2004)

Cuba publishes bogus GI rape photos (Posted on 06/15/2004)


White House Suggests Media Explain Cover Up of Saddam Atrocity Video (Posted on 06/18/2004)

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan denied that the White House had a role in keeping a gruesome video of atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's regime from the media. When asked by Talon News on Thursday to explain the virtual news blackout of the horrific images of Iraqis being beheaded, tongues being cut out, and fingers being chopped off, McClellan said that he'd "leave it to the media to address those issues."

Roger Ebert: (Fahrenheit) '9/11': Just the facts? (in defense of Michael Moore documentaries) (Posted on 06/21/2004)

Moore film distributor OK with terror support (Posted on 06/21/2004)

Harry Knowles' "Ain't It Cool News" FAHRENHEIT 9/11 review (Posted on 06/23/2004)

Yes, this film does have tangible real world goals, with every sprocket hole, this flick is asking you to not re-elect that Bush dude. This is propaganda.

I love propaganda, it’s fascinating. The study of propaganda has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember.
Meanwhile, if you see FAHRENHEIT 9/11 and wished it had been meaner to George, I suggest picking up Ted Rall’s...

Official Ebert review of Moore film (Posted on 06/24/2004)

ALA hosts special screening of "Fahrenheit 9/11" at Annual Conference (Posted on 06/24/2004)

Fahrenheit''s Embedded Cameraman Revealed (Posted on 06/27/2004)

Moore's Film Is Shocking Propaganda (Good Editorial by Ed Koch!) (Posted on 06/29/2004)

Der ewige Jude - The Eternal Jew (Posted on 06/27/2004)

Der ewige Jude ("The Eternal Jew") is the most famous Nazi propaganda film. It was produced at the insistence of Joseph Goebbels, under such active supervision that it is effectively his work. It depicts the Jews of Poland as corrupt, filthy, lazy, ugly, and perverse: they are an alien people which have taken over the world through their control of banking and commerce, yet which still live like animals.

Though unquestionably vicious, many would say that, by today's standards, it is also crude and transparent. The narrator explains the Jews' ratlike behavior, while showing footage of rats squirming from sewers and leaping at the camera. The film's most shocking scene is the slaughter of a cow, shown in bloody detail, by a grinning Rabbi - and it is followed by, of all things, three innocent (presumably German) lambs nuzzling each other.

More on Hezbollah - Moore Flick: Not everyone thinks they're "terrorists"! It's a "natural" team! (Posted on 06/30/2004)

Hezbollah's Hollywood Hero [Michael Moore] (Posted on 07/10/2004)

Ramsey Clark to Join Panel for Saddam’s Defense (Posted on 08/24/2004)

BushGuard august1 memo - a FAKE (Posted on 09/09/2004)

Was Abu Ghraib a CBS Put Up Job too? (Posted on 09/20/2004) (consider that one of the men involved in the crimes was the one who leaked them to the media with the aid of ; is it really that different from the case of Sgt. Akbar who used a grenade to kill 2 officers and injured another 12?)


I think that the media certainly knew that eyes would glaze over at the prospect of another "impeachment" and that it might cost Kerry some voters in the end. His was a coalition of conflicting opinions carefully held together, in part by offering flip flopped statements depending on the crowd he was addressings. Harder to pull that off grandstanding discussing impeachment.

The media needs to look at themselves in the mirror and see what they have become. Abu Ghraib was the turning point in the war, where public opinion soured and hostilities increased in Iraq. Any book addressing the media bias in the 2004 election HAS to focus on AG (but by no means the only tale in the story). Yes crimes were committed at AG and they WERE under investigation. A number of congressmen were aware of the situation and said nothing.

Adding pictures made it an exploitable scandal. Some took that exploitation so far that they manufactured their own photos and story.

This is a crime of the highest order, a willful attempt to overthrow a President by sheer media manipulation and constant distortion (Zogbyism).

3 posted on 11/06/2004 4:25:52 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: RightWingAtheist
There are a number of threads of Roger Ebert reviews and I am sure that they generate quite a bit of email.

This was an attempt to placate Roger's critics. Doesn't seem to have worked.
4 posted on 11/06/2004 4:28:56 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: Timesink; martin_fierro; reformed_democrat; Loyalist; =Intervention=; PianoMan; GOPJ; ...
Media Schadenfreude and Media Shenanigans PING

A PING to the article, my #1 post response is something of a cut and paste of some other recent thread postings I have made. I figured it appropriate to repeat them here (edited into a single post).

5 posted on 11/06/2004 4:31:51 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: Calpernia


6 posted on 11/06/2004 4:33:36 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: RightWingAtheist

Sure is quick to fill up your BS Bingo card with the phrases in this piece of "journalism".

7 posted on 11/06/2004 4:41:28 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: weegee
There is a place where liberals can be found today and they won't hurt anyone...


RUBBER ROOM (Porter Wagoner)
« © '72 Owepar Publishing »

In a buildin' tall with a stone wall around,
there's a rubber room.
When a man sees things and hears sounds that's not there,
he's headed for the rubber room.
Illusions in a twisted mind to save from self-destruction.
hmm it's the rubber room.
Where a man can run into the wall
till his strength makes him fall and lie still...
And wait, for help, in the rubber room.
From his blurry vision of doom,
a psycho, in the rubber room.
The man in the room right next to mine screams a woman's name,
hits the wall in vain...
He's in the rubber room.
I hear footsteps poundin' on the floor,
God I hope they don't stop at my door.
Hmm I'm in the rubber room.
Now they've come to get me but they find,
I'm a screamin' pretty words, tryin' to make 'em rhyme...(*)
I'm in the rubber room!
hmm a psycho...
I'm in the rubber room

* "teetotaly moteetaly" (Babbling Dan on election night, 2004)

8 posted on 11/06/2004 4:45:06 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: weegee

Does this guy get paid by the word?

9 posted on 11/06/2004 4:54:37 PM PST by Fintan (I wanted more Bush...I GOT MORE BUSH!!!!!)
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To: weegee
FR threads of relevant Roger Ebert reviews:

Fahrenhype 9/11 (Jim Emerson review via

Ebert: Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry (3 stars)

Ebert Review: Team America (1 star)


THE CORPORATION / *** (Not rated) (Ebert review/alert) (3 stars)

FAHRENHEIT 9/11(3 + 1/2 stars)

FAHRENHEIT 911 Cannes review

CONTROL ROOM / *** (Ebert Review/Alert) (3 stars)

ESSAY: Roger Ebert: (Fahrenheit) '9/11': Just the facts? (in defense of Michael Moore documentaries)

INTERVIEW: (Political) Roger Ebert interview (from the Progressive

Q: If you were putting on a progressive film festival, what movies would you show?

Ebert: It's a good question, because a movie isn't good or bad based on its politics. It's usually good or bad for other reasons, though you might agree or disagree with its politics.

Rog forgot that movie about the man who was on death row trying to get his conviction overturned. At some point it is revealed to the audience that he really did commit the crime. Roger thought that this was a horrible thing because it "validated" the death penalty advocates position. He gave it ZERO stars (the lowest he can go) because he absoluted hated the politics of this film. He liked the acting. He liked the direction. He hated the message.


"The Life of David Gale" tells the story of a famous opponent of capital punishment who, in what he must find an absurdly ironic development, finds himself on Death Row in Texas, charged with the murder of a woman who was also opposed to capital punishment. This is a plot, if ever there was one, to illustrate King Lear's complaint, "As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport." I am aware this is the second time in two weeks I have been compelled to quote Lear, but there are times when Eminem simply will not do.

David Gale is an understandably bitter man, played by Kevin Spacey, who protests his innocence to a reporter named Bitsey Bloom (Kate Winslet), whom he has summoned to Texas for that purpose. He claims to have been framed by right-wing supporters of capital punishment because his death would provide such poetic irony in support of the noose, the gas or the chair. Far from killing Constance Harraway (Laura Linney), he says, he had every reason not to, and he explains that to Bitsey in flashbacks that make up about half of the story.

Bitsey becomes convinced of David's innocence. She is joined in her investigation by the eager and sexy intern Zack (Gabriel Mann), and they become aware that they are being followed everywhere in a pickup truck by a gaunt-faced fellow in a cowboy hat, who is either a right-wing death-penalty supporter who really killed the dead woman, or somebody else. If he is somebody else, then he is obviously following them around with the MacGuffin, in this case a videotape suggesting disturbing aspects of the death of Constance.

The man in the cowboy hat illustrates my recently renamed Principle of the Unassigned Character, formerly known less elegantly as the Law of Economy of Character Development. This principle teaches us that the prominent character who seems to be extraneous to the action will probably hold the key to it. The cowboy lives in one of those tumble-down shacks filled with flies and peanut butter, with old calendars on the walls. The yard has more bedsprings than the house has beds.

The acting in "The Life of David Gale" is splendidly done but serves a meretricious cause. The direction is by the British director Alan Parker, who at one point had never made a movie I wholly disapproved of. Now has he ever. The secrets of the plot must remain unrevealed by me, so that you can be offended by them yourself, but let it be said this movie is about as corrupt, intellectually bankrupt and morally dishonest as it could possibly be without David Gale actually hiring himself out as a joker at the court of Saddam Hussein.

I am sure the filmmakers believe their film is against the death penalty. I believe it supports it and hopes to discredit the opponents of the penalty as unprincipled fraudsters. What I do not understand is the final revelation on the videotape. Surely David Gale knows that Bitsey Bloom cannot keep it private without violating the ethics of journalism and sacrificing the biggest story of her career. So it serves no functional purpose except to give a cheap thrill to the audience slackjaws. It is shameful.

One of the things that annoys me is that the story is set in Texas and not just in any old state--a state like Arkansas, for example, where the 1996 documentary "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills" convincingly explains why three innocent kids are in prison because they wore black and listened to heavy metal, while the likely killer keeps pushing himself onscreen and wildly signaling his guilt. Nor is it set in our own state of Illinois, where Death Row was run so shabbily that former Gov. George Ryan finally threw up his hands and declared the whole system rotten.

No, the movie is set in Texas, which in a good year all by itself carries out half the executions in America. Death Row in Texas is like the Roach Motel: Roach checks in, doesn't check out. When George W. Bush was Texas governor, he claimed to carefully consider each and every execution, although a study of his office calendar shows he budgeted 15 minutes per condemned man (we cannot guess how many of these minutes were devoted to pouring himself a cup of coffee before settling down to the job). Still, when you're killing someone every other week and there's an average of 400 more waiting their turn, you have to move right along.

Spacey and Parker are honorable men. Why did they go to Texas and make this silly movie? The last shot made me want to throw something at the screen--maybe Spacey and Parker.

You can make movies that support capital punishment ("The Executioner's Song") or oppose it ("Dead Man Walking") or are conflicted ("In Cold Blood"). But while Texas continues to warehouse condemned men with a system involving lawyers who are drunk, asleep or absent; confessions that are beaten out of the helpless, and juries that overwhelmingly prefer to execute black defendants instead of white ones, you can't make this movie. Not in Texas.

What a pompous ass.

10 posted on 11/06/2004 5:06:28 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: Fintan

I AM on this thread (not!).

11 posted on 11/06/2004 5:07:05 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: weegee

If you have a moment, please surf out my research thread:

There is some research that seems to coincide with your links up there!

12 posted on 11/06/2004 5:11:25 PM PST by Calpernia (
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To: weegee; nw_arizona_granny; Old Sarge


13 posted on 11/06/2004 5:13:05 PM PST by Calpernia (
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To: weegee

His attack on Matt Stone for telling uniformed people not to vote says it all. Stone wasn't promoting apathy, he was telling people that they have a responsibility to get the facts before they make a decision, to not be swayed by rhetorical decorum or celebrity endorsement, and not to put ideology ahead of reality. What does Emerson do? He throws a tantrum at Stone, and levels the same ad homneim comments against him (and Dennis Miller) which he supposedly deplores.

14 posted on 11/06/2004 5:21:50 PM PST by RightWingAtheist (Krugman? More like Kool-Aid Man)
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To: Calpernia
I'll get to it at some point. Some of the posts in this thread have taken a while to surf for.

I don't intend to take this thread off topic (much) and use it as a general discussion of the disortions in the media although I have put a link to it on my profile page and may from time to time use this thread as a clearing house for information on the "2003-2004 Campaign Against Bush" bias.

Pretty much I stuck to Hollywood, phoney media "outrage", and hoaxes.

The LACK of coverage on John Kerry, prosecution of terrorists like the DC sniper duo, Sgt. Akbar who killed/injured troops in Iraq (his trial has been postponed until next year citing sleep apneia and bad legal counsel I think), and other stories that could have influenced the election is a whole 'nother element of the media bias. Not to say that is or isn't "Zogbyism", I was just sticking with the fabricated and exagerated stories (some of which played out in movie theaters).

The revisionist history of John Kerry's past IS more propaganda designed to win the election. No doubt about it.

People need to realize that the Democrats wanted to win the election more than they want to win the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. THINK of all that misplaced energy and wasted time and money.

"There has to be a morning after"...

The left ran their snow job campaign like there was no tomorrow. They thought that they could shout in our faces, spit on us, call us "fascists", vandalize our homes, cars, businesses, & campaign offices, etc.

When angry Democrats attack - MN Republican Party website documents multiple incidents
keyword: BrownshirtsForKerry ( Will we hear ANY outrage from the ACLU or Southern Povery Law Center?)

Now they want us to act as if it never happened? This is why we believe in boycotts of such outspoken entertainers. What good did they do America? They divided the nation. Some even said that they did not like hearing that they had conservatives in the audience. Screw them, we'll take our business elsewhere. Some of us used to enjoy some of these performers in spite of their political views. Now it is a lot harder to separate the politics from the performance. Not every one who went on the campaign trail or appeared at a fundraiser publicly humilated themselves but there is quite a list of those who did.

We won't forget just like we won't forget 9/11. It is one reason why I log such information in this thread. So we DON'T forget. People must wake up to what was attempted.

If not they are sure to try it again. It is unAmerican.

Tell them to focus their efforts on the real problems of this world. If health care insurance is such a problem why don't they work to start a corportation to provide low cost health care to people? They are all millionaires. Why should the government have to administer such a system? Why can't the private sector address it?

There is no barrier to them establishing the socialist womb to the tomb paradise that they envision in the private sector. They have the capital. They have the clout. The problem is that their ideas are not financially sound and giving people the option of "something for nothing" and "paying for it" will have more people lining up for the handout (even if they complain that the one that costs is better).

Hillary Clinton knew this. Hillarycare would not have permitted you to privately pay for medical care. Paying for a doctor visit would have been on par with visiting a prostitute.

Never forget:


Halperin Memo Dated Friday October 8, 2004

It goes without saying that the stakes are getting very high for the country and the campaigns - and our responsibilities become quite grave I do not want to set off (sp?) and endless colloquy that none of us have time for today - nor do I want to stifle one. Please respond if you feel you can advance the discussion.

The New York Times (Nagourney/Stevenson) and Howard Fineman on the web both make the same point today: the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.

Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.

We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.

I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.

It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.

15 posted on 11/06/2004 5:56:16 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: Calpernia
I've hit upon a good book title if someone wants to blow the lid off of the media shenanigans...

Power Ghraib

They exploited a criminal investigation to smear the administration and the war effort.

They did it to try to seize power of the government.

They "raped" the President and his supporters' character to do so.

Unfortunately, the left didn't pay attention to the Bride in Kill Bill...

We're still here (the pajama people) and we will see the media pundits ousted from their desks if not put in jail over the collusion with the DNC. It was pure abuse of power and possibly criminal (what else are forged documents containing the signature of a military officer)?

This could be bigger than Watergate by the time it is over.

Ain't payback a b!tch?

16 posted on 11/06/2004 6:04:56 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: Calpernia
Compound this eye opening news with the Oil For Food scandal (UN and non-Ally corruption) and the whole policy against going to war in Iraq blows up in the left's face.

We've got to get the world on the same page politically (America is not the "ENEMY" and neither are "CORPORATIONS") so that we can fight side by side against the current threat to Western civilization and that is Islamic terrorism.

Does this mean we have to agree on domestic issues? No. Lawmakers will still debate laws on the floors of Congress (state and federal).

Does this mean we have to rout out all of the corrupt politicians in Europe? That is for their citizens to decide in elections or criminal proceedings.

Does this mean we have to bring about regime change in the muslim nations? Not at all. We DO need to eradicate state sponsorship of international terrorism (this is what is meant by "you are either with us or against us").

Does this mean that there will be world peace when the "war on terrorism" is finished? No. There are currently 34 armed conflicts (wars) going on in the world (at least by several tallies), some are internal to a nation. War will continue to be with us unfortunately. A more pressing question is how many of those conflicts are we currently involved in and how many of them involved muslims?

One of the things that must occur in order to end the war on Islamic terrorism is for muslims to have an Islamic reformation movement. Some will say that they have no association with radical Islam but that does not go far enough. They need to bring about change from within. No more jihad (physical holy war), no more nations under Islamic law (end the 3 classes of people under Islamic law: muslims, Jews/Christians, and "everybody else"), religious freedom for all (free to convert in and out of Islam, free to depict Mohammed any which way).

I see far more outrage and outspoken muslim critics of mosques/clerics that accept practicing homosexuals than I do of those mosques/clerics that teach violence, dominance, superiority, antiSemitism, etc. This is the "religion of peace"?

Some may bring up Christianity's own unappealing periods. Christianity WENT through a reformation hundreds of years ago. Islam has not (and some say that a true reading of the Koran PREVENTS such tampering).

Other organizations/practitioners besides muslims engage in terrorism but the chief threat to continued existence comes from the Islamic terrorists. Some may point to the Oklahoma City bombing as evidence of another looming threat but there are still some unfinished threads in that attack (John Doe #2). Also Bill Clinton's administration hounded "right wing extremists" for years after that. Where was the "next attack" (or even "big catch") as he harassed his political critics? Don't forget to include the environmentalist movement's terrorists, PETA's terrorists, the antiglobalist anarchists' terrorists...

No the war on terrorism is not just a war on Islamic terrorists. Unfortunately with state sponsorship of Islamic terrorism (seeking weapons of mass destruction that are biological, chemical, and/or nuclear) it remains the terrorist threat poised to do the most harm to the most people.

Some leftists may state that corporations affect more people. Do these corporations/governments DELIBERATELY poison rivers or gun down children?

To keep infighting while the wolf is at the door is at our own peril.

17 posted on 11/06/2004 6:31:12 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: weegee

Another link to identify just how Zogby's name came to stand for this technique:


Polling firm Zogby International accurately predicted President Bush's Ohio victory, as well as the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota, and accurately forecast the outcome of every Senate race in our final battleground poll, conducted October 29 through November 1, 2004. The margin of error was +/- 4.1 percentage points.



CO-Actual 53% 46% CO-Zogby 49% 47%

FL-Actual 52% 47% FL-Zogby 48% 48%

IA-Actual 50% 49% IA-Zogby 45% 50%

MI-Actual 48% 51% MI-Zogby 46% 52%

MN-Actual 48% 51% MN-Zogby 45% 51%

NV-Actual 51% 48% NV-Zogby 50% 45%

NM-Actual 50% 49% NM-Zogby 48% 51%

OH-Actual 51% 49% OH-Zogby 49% 43%

PA-Actual 49% 51% PA-Zogby 46% 50%

WI-Actual 49% 50% WI-Zogby 45% 51%

** Zogby FINAL Oct. 29-Nov. 1, MOE +/- 4.1


DASCHLE THUNE SD-Actual 49% 51% SD-Zogby 46% 48% Oct 25-26 MOE +/- 3.5

SALAZAR COORS CO-Actual 51% 47% CO-Zogby 52% 44% Oct 29-Nov 1 MOE +/- 4.1

MARTINEZ CASTOR FL-Actual 50% 48% FL-Zogby 48% 43% Oct 29-Nov 1 MOE +/- 4.1

GRASSLEY SMALL IA-Actual 70% 28% IA-Zogby 69% 20% Oct 29-Nov 1 MOE +/- 4.1

REID ZISER NV-Actual 61% 35% NV-Zogby 57% 34% Oct 29-Nov 1 MOE +/- 4.1

VOINOVICH FINGERHUT OH-Actual 64% 36% OH-Zogby 56% 32% Oct 29-Nov 1 MOE +/- 4.1

SPECTER HOEFFEL PA-Actual 53% 42% PA-Zogby 53% 32% Oct 29-Nov 1 MOE +/- 4.1

FEINGOLD MICHELS WI-Actual 56% 44% WI-Zogby 58% 38% Oct 29-Nov 1 MOE +/- 4.1

He claims that he called it right. Uhm...Didn't he predict Kerry to win more than 300 votes? In what universe is he? His defense of his predictions shows that he knows he is f-----.

18 posted on 11/06/2004 7:12:07 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: RightWingAtheist
Here's a post from me that actually addresses one of the points in the article...

It's an election year -- and everything's debatable.

According to the press, even the content of this photo was debatable. The left said that it was "proof" that President Bush cheated in the debate that they also claim he did miserably in (Which way is it? Too good of a performance or he was unprepared?)

Unfortunately "facts are funny things" there is no "debating" whether he had a radio transmitter on or not. Either he DID or DIDN'T. You can debate points of opinion but facts are not determined by popular poll (i.e. "if we all agree it was a receiver, then it MUST be a receiver").

Here is another photo of Mr. President:

Same type of buldge. Accepted now as being a strap to hold his bulletproof vest in place.

19 posted on 11/06/2004 7:20:46 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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To: weegee
People need to realize that the Democrats wanted to win the election more than they want to win the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. THINK of all that misplaced energy and wasted time and money.

Bush-Hating Groups Paid $100,000,000 an Electoral Vote

FNC's popular "Fox & Friends" program this morning noted that Bush-hating groups spent up to $400,000,000 to try to defeat him and that the only state Democrats gained from 2000 was wee New Hampshire (and barely that).

20 posted on 11/06/2004 7:34:59 PM PST by weegee (WE FOUGHT ZOGBYISM November 2, 2004 - 60 Million Voters versus 60 Minutes - BUSH WINS!!!)
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