Obama! The hype about Illinois Senate candidate Barak Obama is legit. This guy is amazing. A sample from his DNC speech:
Don't get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon.

Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems.

But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
Find out more at the Obamablog.

"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." In 1962, Mississippi sharecropper Fanny Lou Hamer and a group of blacks set out to register to vote. They were met with harassment, literacy tests, fines, imprisonment, and brutal violence. Forty years ago this week, at the 1964 Democratic Convention, Hamer challenged the state party to include her Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party into the all-white affair. "Is this America?", her speech at the convention, concludes with a plea that, in the age of Jeb Bush's Florida roadblocks and voter purges, could've been said today: "All of this is on account of us wanting to register, to become first-class citizens, and if the freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America, is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hooks because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?" (So infuriated by Hamer, Lyndon Johnson, fearing that public sentiment would be with Hamer if the American people heard her speech--and cost him the election--requested TV airtime for a press release to kill coverage of it. The networks complied, but aired the entire speech later that night.) Hamer--whose powerful voice can be heard in this NPR segment--is buried in Montgomery County, Mississippi, beneath a gravestone that reads "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."

Do something: Join People for the American Way in urging John Ashcroft to investigate voter purges in Florida and determine if the state's election officials violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act during the 2000 elections.


Misusing the Patriot Act: Why are provisions of the Patriot Act--a bit of law meant to battle terrorism--being used against the operator of a fan website dedicated to the sci-fi TV show Stargate-1? (Hint: Hollywood's industry thugs at the MPAA are involved.)

(Via Metafilter.)
Carter on Bush's extremism: Former president Jimmy Carter just hit the nail on the head in his DNC speech--the Bush administration's policies, especially in the global arena, have taken the country in a radically different and damaging direction than all other presidents, and he casts Bush as an extremist. How refreshing to hear a president take a hard stance against terrorism while also upholding American values of human rights, truth-telling, and international cooperation:
In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
And: Follow news from the Democratic National Convention through the blog aggregators ConventionBloggers, politics.Feedster.com, and politics.technorati.com.
How's Saddam? Headline of the week honors go to CNN for their piece on Saddam Hussein's health and demeanor: Saddam 'gardens, eats muffins'. (Thanks, Kemi.)


Learning to walk: After a "near-death experience," a monkey in a Jerusalem zoo began mimicking humans by walking upright on two legs. The same's true of Faith, a dog born with only one front leg (it was on backwards and was thus removed), who was taught to "stand, hop, and eventually walk on her two back legs, like a human."
Kucinich endorses Kerry/Edwards: Dennis Kucinich bows out with integrity: "John Kerry is a good friend and a decent man. He has a lifelong commitment of honorable service to our nation as a military officer and as a Senator. He can be trusted with power. He will help heal America. He has outstanding intellectual gifts he will bring to the White House and to world affairs. I am proud to stand here to say I will do everything possible to make John Kerry the next President of the United States."


Logoizing Abu Ghraib

My new column at Adbusters, first hatched here.
When I first saw that photo of a hooded man in Abu Ghraib’s sickly light, arms outstretched and fingertips wired, I wondered if I was seeing art – Goya meets Matthew Barney, Hannibal Lecter meets Christ on a crate. But the fact that it was orchestrated by American military men for maximum humiliation, rather than aesthetic effect, intensified its macabre allure. Could they have known that their prankish snapshot would fascinate us so, ending up on front pages worldwide, on folk-art murals in Iraq, on a Los Angeles highway overpass accompanied by the words "The War is Over," a suggestion of its inherent rhetorical force? Advertising’s supercharged images had nothing on this.

So it’s no surprise that’s where it ended up. A series of subverted branding posters in New York included the torture victim’s silhouette among a crowd of grooving hipsters, with white wires running not to imaginary car batteries but to gleaming iPods. Blackened out for graphic boldness, the Iraqi man has become an emblem for a dishonorable war – a logo, of sorts, as iconic as Nike’s dunking Air Jordan or the Playboy bunny. And like its corporate counterparts, it comes with a tagline: "iRaq. 10,000 volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent."

In a country where antiwar sentiment is pushed to the margins, it made me immediately jubilant: opposition to war has gone mainstream! Graphically powerful, intellectually interesting (if flawed: what does Apple have to do with Iraq?), the altered ads juxtapose an American version of freedom – young people expressing their individuality and nonconformity through a trendy consumer good – with another kind of "freedom" imposed half a world away. If this imagery could penetrate our commercial comfort zones and tweak our noses, maybe it could germinate resistance to the war. And how ironic if an image eerily reminiscent of the Crucifixion proved George W. Bush’s undoing – a Christian zealot finished off by pictures of a man strung-up and suffering.

But such thoughts quickly turned to unease. To have this kind of cognitive distance to coolly contemplate the rhetorical mechanics of image appropriation must mean one thing: its gut-level impact has been replaced by a less immediate, intellectual one. Its power has been dimmed. While repetition might be to blame, so might the logo-ization itself. The silhouetting negates details of the victim. Like the inherent meaninglessness of the Nike swoosh, it exists only as a vessel to pour branded messages into. Abu Ghraib’s wired man stopped being a human being when he became an abstraction into which all our antiwar gripes can be loaded. Maybe we can live with that. Like the old war photographer’s dilemma, perhaps activists have to determine whether saving a life or sparing a person greater humiliation outweighs the image’s potential to stop further suffering. That seems to be the logic of Freewayblogger, the creator of the Los Angeles highway banners, who says, "He’s already been through his torture – doing my share to remind people of that doesn’t bother me at all."

But there’s a broader tactical question: even with messages conceived on moral high ground, are we best serving our cause – or humanity – by trafficking in images of cruelty or violence? Can we compete in a media environment populated by Janet Jackson’s nipple, Dick Cheney’s "Go fuck yourself," and web photos of a contractor’s hacked-off head? And by trying, are we complicit in ratcheting up our collective tolerance to suffering? When news broke of the first beheading of an American in Iraq, I was overcome by queasiness. In the absence of an image, I imagined the sheer terror of Nicholas Berg’s last hours. But, weeks later, when I worked up the nerve to view photos of Paul Johnson, his severed head propped between the shoulder blades of his orange jumpsuit, I was calmly numb. The image was less bloody and more clinical than, say, Mel Gibson’s flayed Jesus, dressed up with special effects to leave no doubt about the depth of the man’s suffering.

Watching Fahrenheit 9/11, I winced at footage of a GI’s bomb-shattered arm, his tendons snaking out in a Terminator-like tangle, but the image didn’t linger long. What did, profoundly, was the story of Lila Lipscomb, a Michigan mom who lost a son in Iraq. Contorted by grief, physically incapacitated by loss, she testified that war’s impact goes heartbreakingly beyond the mere impact of bullets on flesh. Her story doesn’t need to be abstracted or amplified by smart design. When we logo-ize suffering, we forget what it represents: the dark heart of grief and loss that could easily be ours.
I'm in on-a-deadline/carpal-tunnel zone these days, so posts will be even briefer than usual. And listy:

$18,392: Can a family of four living at the government-designated poverty level get by? Find out on the poverty tour. And: the Department of Labor his launched a website to help the homeless find shelter and jobs. (Great idea, especially if the homeless were more wired and less... homeless.)

iRaq: The creators of the iPod/iRaq culture jam, revealed. And: the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

WTC/RNC agitprop: Russell Simmons' loft facing the Twin Towers site is a perfect place for free speech during the Republican National Convention. (Via Boingboing.)

Bill's banter: A video montage of Bill O'Reilly, who recently admitted that Fox and his No-Spin Zone "tilt right," demonstrating Fox's contested "fair and balanced" mantra by telling scores of guests to shut up.

AWOL: Bush still hasn't turned over all his National Guard service files, despite a promise that he would "absolutely" release everything related to his apparent service in absentia.

Urban playground: I love the Zen quality of this--an art installation in Toronto that's a swing hidden in a graffiti- and filth-laden alley.

A Krugman classic: The Arabian Candidate. (Thanks, Ben.)

Sweater Vests for Democracy! From NEWSgrist, a link to Knitters for Kerry.

Pizza and privacy: A new flash animation by the ACLU on government efforts to datamine your daily life. (Thanks, Leif.)

And in ice-cream news: As Krispy Kreme announces the launch of a glazed-doughnut-flavored frozen drink, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's is on the road with his Pants on Fire Tour, which features a 12-foot image of a flightsuit-bedecked Bush with trousers aflame.

The September Project: What's your library doing on September 11? The international September Project is organizing discussions on democracy and citizenship (read: The Patriot Act) to be held on 9/11 in community libraries everywhere. See if your library is participating.


The Church of Bush: A troubling look into the minds of conservatives by Rick Perlstein in The Voice:
"If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary..."

Conservatives see something angelic in George Bush. That's why they excuse, repress, and rationalize away so much.

And that is why conservatism is verging on becoming an un-American creed.
Republican EPA expert defects:
Russell Train, a Republican, was the EPA’s second chief under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But he said Bush’s record is so dismal he’s casting his presidential vote for Democrat John Kerry in November.

"It’s almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection," he said. "I find this deeply disturbing."
Full story here.


The extent of Abu Ghraib: Seymour Hersh, who broke the Iraqi torture story for the New Yorker, says the US government is holding videotapes of American GIs sodomizing boys and women at Abu Ghraib prison. During a speech to the ACLU, the veteran reporter recounted actions that, if true, would surely amount to war crimes: "The women were passing messages saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened.' Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out." For more, see Camera/Iraq: The War of Images in the Middle East. See video of Hersh's speech here.

Correction 07.19: As Ed Cone specifies, Hersh did not indicate that it was American soldiers who were sodomizing boys. But if sodomy was going on at all in a prison under US command--by whom? Civilian contractors? Iraqi soldiers?--the story is still important. More from Cone on the background for Hersh's claims here.

The absence of Donald Rumsfeld: Rumsfeld's bad teeth and bombastic ways have been noticeably absent lately. Since April 27, the day before the Abu Ghraib torture story broke, he's only appeared in Pentagon briefings twice. As the AP reports, Rumsfeld's popularity is tanking, and the Bush campaign, understanding that, has been keeping him out of the spotlight. With new revelations about Abu Ghraib emerging, it's probably a smart tactic: it was Rumsfeld who complained that people were talking about Abu Ghraib by defining torture in a way that "doesn't fit a dictionary definition of the word that one would normally accept." (Forcing anal sex on minors wouldn't be normally accepted as torture?)

A POW on the Geneva Conventions: Douglas Peterson a 26-year U.S. Air Force vet, ambassador to Vietnam, and six-year POW in the same country, writes that "Life in a Vietnamese prison was hell, but I was never subjected to such degrading sexual humiliation [as Iraqis faced at Abu Ghraib]. The human body can withstand enormous physical pain and recover. But the human mind is different: One seldom fully recovers from ruthless psychological or sexual torture. I am certain my treatment would have been worse had the Geneva Conventions not been in place and had the world not insisted that Vietnam abide by them."

The full story on Abu Ghraib: Human Rights Watch's extensive report The Road to Abu Ghraib.
Funny money: BoingBoing links to a site that sells cut-out coins, altered to show leaders and heroes from various countries--Bob Marley, George Washington, the Greek god Democritus--smokin' up. More modified money: Sound artist (and former Minneapolitan) Kitundu's politically powerful dollars, hobo nickels (plus an essay on the topic by Jeff Kastner from Cabinet), and a gallery of counterfeit coins, The Grimoire Numismaticon.


Streetwriter: Josh Kinberg's Bikes Against Bush project, a WiFi bike that'll spray anti-Bush messages on the streets in chalk, is featured in Popular Science. Look for the bike in use at the Republican convention (and in my feature on hi-tech protest in the upcoming issue of Adbusters). Also: Doug Schmitz's rightwing tirade against Kinberg's project contends that it (and other ant-Bush efforts) represent the Left's "psychopathic rage towards President Bush." Read Kinberg's encylopedic MFA thesis about the bike--which details its construction, specs, and development, as well as the historical role of bicycles in creative resistance and movements like suffrage--and you'll see that his psychopathic rage is about as measured, thorough, and well-informed around. Which can't be said for Schmitz.
Clean Graffiti


Slim-Fas(cis)t: Whoopi Goldberg will no longer be a spokesperson for Slim-Fast after making anti-Bush comments at a recent fundraiser.


Barcodes for bodies: Mexico's attorney general and other high-ranking government officials have had non-removable computer chips implanted in their bodies both as an identity mechanism and to thwart kidnapping. Must be a trend: next month, a Japanese school will introduce radio frequency ID tags (RFID)--a digital form of bar code--on its students.
Bucky's back: The new Buckminster Fuller US postage stamp.


FUV: A new gallery of Hummers, as framed by the universal hand gesture they so often inspire.
Wear a reminder about election day: November 2, 2004.
Writing a bomb: A wannabe novelist on a flight to Dallas was intercepted by police after a passenger eyed a bit of dialogue intended for his manuscript:
But the agent ignored the crossword, turning the paper sideways to read a line I'd scribbled in the margin: "I know this is kind of a bomb."

She pointed to the sentence, her finger resting on the word "bomb." "What does this mean?" she demanded.

Suddenly a light went on in my head. I remembered the passenger on my left leaning forward in his seat as I scribbled while we waited for takeoff. Seconds later, he'd clambered hastily over me without apology to make his way to the front of the plane. I'd assumed intestinal complications, but now that I thought about it, he hadn't used the bathroom. He'd spoken briefly with the flight attendants and returned to his seat. As the security woman looked at me, I now realized the passenger had been about as interested in my puzzling prowess as she was.

"I know this is kind of a bomb" is what I imagine Bucky, my main character, would say to Julie, his love interest, in the critical scene of my novel. I explained to the security woman that this is what happens when a 42-year-old man who is to literature what a karaoke singer is to opera tries to put words in the mouth of a fictional 19-year-old.

I opened my laptop and showed her shining example after shining example of similarly awful dialogue. She understood that that word, b-o-m-b, was no reference to ordnance or terrorist weapons of any kind.

But my explanation wasn't good enough for the three Dallas police officers who meanwhile had surrounded me — summoned, I supposed, for backup in case the dangerous character tried to write something even worse.
Read more. (Via Cursor.)


Clear Channel Bomb: Radio and billboard giant Clear Channel is reportedly making Project Billboard alter a billboard design planned to coincide with the Republican National Convention. "An illustration of a cartoonish bomb draped with stars and stripes, accompanied by the words 'Democracy is best taught by example, not by war,'" the billboard was rejected by Clear Channel because of the bomb imagery as well as the phrase "not by war." A more tame image--a flying dove--was approved, but the group, which includes founding member Alice Waters, plans on suing Clear Channel for breach of contract. More at NEWSgrist.

Serra on Abu Ghraib: Sculptor Richard Serra is the latest to offer an interpretation of Abu Ghraib's hooded man, a view that, to me, is more powerful than some of the logolike treatments I've seen. His hasty, art brut-like brushstrokes seem to underscore the visceral power of the image. Serra's piece is available for download. (Thanks, Doryun.)


Not liberal: Minnesota state Senate candidate Mary Hamann-Roland wants you to know she did not don a Wellstone t-shirt. Republicans say she did. Once. And that because of it she's not an Independent but a Democrat. Meanwhile, Tom Daschle wants you to know he did not hug Michael Moore.

I'm glad I could help clear the air.
Touch-ups: Under a headline "This Says It All," Rush Limbaugh's website runs a photo of John Kerry and John Edwards with Edwards' outstretched hand, waving to the crowd, covering Kerry's face. Is the VP candidate stealing the limelight from the Prez? Uh, no. Limbaugh doctored the photograph to make a point that, even without the magic of Photoshop, hardly seems worth making. And: Some folks think the amount of physical contact between the two candidates is suspicious (affection between runningmates? In America?!). Wouldn't seeing Bush touching Cheney--seeing anyone touching Cheney--be far creepier?
Bushworld: An incomplete summary of Bush's last few days:

He stormed out of a press conference when asked about his friend and fundraiser "Kenny Boy" Lay (who, along with his wife gave $882,580 to federal candidates, all but $86,470 of which went to Republicans). His military payroll records for his disputed time in the National Guard were reportedly destroyed in an attempt to salvage "deteriorating microfilm" they were allegedly stored on. His war in Iraq (based on horrifyingly flawed intelligence by the CIA he oversees) and the still-unfinished work in Afghanistan have killed 1,000 US military men and women. His administration is putting pressure on Pakistan to find bin Laden and deliver him "on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--a clear indication that stealing headlines from the Democratic National Convention is of greater import to him than finding 9/11's mastermind. He became the first president since Hoover to bail on the NAACP convention. His VP, Dick Cheney (whose legacy has inspired a clothing line) is under investigation by the French authorities and the SEC for an array of charges ranging from bribery to money laundering while at Halliburton. And frustrated liberals will do anything to get him out of office--even if it means having sex with conservatives to sway their votes (link not safe for the kids).
Mourning in America: Somehow, when we see footage of Iraqi mothers wailing amid the rubble of their destroyed homes for dead children buried beneath, it seems so...distant. But watch Lila Lipscomb in Fahrenheit 9/11, physically doubled over by grief at the loss of her son in Iraq, and the destruction of war hits home: my son/friend/brother could be next. Naomi Klein writes how the parents of the fallen--Nicholas Berg's father, Michael Pedersen's mother (Lipscomb), Patrick McCaffrey's mother (who defied Bush's ban on filming caskets returning home)--are finding their voice through grief. And while they don't have the numbers to outweigh the votes of NASCAR dads and soccer moms in swing states, they "might just change something more powerful: the hearts and minds of Americans."
Fury is an entirely appropriate response to a system that sends young people to kill other young people in a war that never should have been waged. Yet the American right is forever trying to pathologise anger as something menacing and abnormal, dismissing war opponents as hateful and, in the latest slur, "wild-eyed". This is much harder to do when victims of wars begin to speak for themselves: no one questions the wildness in the eyes of a mother or father who has just lost a son or daughter, or the fury of a soldier who knows that he is being asked to kill, and to die, needlessly.


Shirts against Shrub: Designs on the White House is donating all net proceeds from t-shirt sales to the Kerry campaign (all shirts are designed by visitors to the site and are printed on American-made, sweatshop free shirt stock). My favorite shows W accompanied by the word "Oops."


Thin-skinned: Remember when Irish journalist Carole Coleman asked GW some hard-hitting questions, ruffling presidential feathers? Now the administration has filed an official complaint with the Irish government over the "unnecessarily aggressive" interview. You'd think Bush wouldn't want to keep this nambypamby performance in the news, but...


Spiral Jetty: Under water for most of its 34 years, Robert Smithson's 1970 earthwork Spiral Jetty continues to emerge from the Great Salt Lake after five years of drought. Sculpture Magazine dedicates its new issue to this important work, a constantly changing, salt-encrusted "causeway of basalt coiling out into the briny lake."
Independence Day, Bush-style: As George W. Bush was pontificating in West Virginia yesterday about freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, two people in the audience were put in restraints, cited for trespassing, and told to leave because they were wearing anti-Bush t-shirts.

What America Needs: I spent last night sitting on abandoned train tracks outside the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, watching Mark Wojahn's amazing film What America Needs: From Sea to Shining Sea projected on the walls. In Fall 2002, Wojahn traveled from New York to California by train asking regular people what they think America needs. The answers were often hilarious and always surprising (see the trailer here). A perfect way to spend the 4th. More on Wojahn, including his work with the Twin Cities Artists Front, here.


Let America Be America Again
Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

And: Give us back our damn flag: The leftist case for patriotism," from LA Weekly.


F9/11 "Disputable Scenes": In fairness, here's a page that outlines a few scenes from Michael Moore's movie that are seen as questionable. If this is all they've got, it ain't much. That is to say, the rest of the film's assertions--far more damning claims that the few listed here--are essentially spot-on.
Werner Herzog on Michael Moore (by proxy): If only detractors of Michael Moore--especially verbal excrementalist Christopher Hitchens--applied the same scrutiny to the utterances of George W. Bush or the talking heads at Fox News as they do to Fahrenheit 9/11. Because news is the realm where such arguments of fact belong. If a documentarian flubs the facts, call him to the matt, but if his interpretation of fact displeases his critics (as seems to be the case here), that's a different matter altogether. I'll say it slowly: Documentary films are not journalism. While news purports to be "objective," documentary films present facts subjectively presented within the context of a point of view. Even a stolid documentary on the mating rituals of peahens arises from such a vantage point--certain facts are emphasized, others minimized, others left out of the frame altogether.

In 1999, legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog presented his manifesteo "Minnesota declaration: truth and fact in documentary cinema" on stage at the Walker Art Center. His first six points have great relevance for the discussion on Moore's film.

The others, not so much.

1. By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.

2. One well-known representative of Cinema Verité declared publicly that truth can be easily found by taking a camera and trying to be honest. He resembles the night watchman at the Supreme Court who resents the amount of written law and legal procedures. "For me," he says, "there should be only one single law: the bad guys should go to jail." Unfortunately, he is part right, for most of the many, much of the time.

3. Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.

4. Fact creates norms, and truth illumination.

5. There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.

6. Filmmakers of Cinema Verité resemble tourists who take pictures amid ancient ruins of facts.

7. Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.

8. Each year at springtime scores of people on snowmobiles crash through the melting ice on the lakes of Minnesota and drown. Pressure is mounting on the new governor to pass a protective law. He, the former wrestler and bodyguard, has the only sage answer to this: "You can´t legislate stupidity."

9. The gauntlet is hereby thrown down.

10. The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn´t call, doesn´t speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don´t you listen to the Song of Life.

11. We ought to be grateful that the Universe out there knows no smile.

12. Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of a hell that during evolution some species - including man - crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.
Kerry = Pessimism = Hitler: fafblog on Bush's Hitlerian Democrats ad:
Look at Al Gore, and how ANGRY he is over the torturing of Iraqis in American-run prisons. Such rage and pessimism! Look at Michael Moore, and how FULL OF RAGE AND PESSIMISM over his country being sucked into a bloody war of choice! And look at dark, dour John Kerry, crackin' a joke about his ass! About his rage-filled, pessimist ass. The ass... of HITLER.
Liar, liar: A great post on The Poor Man (and an entertaining string of reader comments) about Nicholas Kristof's column insisting that while "The run-up to Iraq was all about exaggerations, but not flat-out lies. Indeed, there's some evidence that Mr. Bush carefully avoids the most blatant lies," Bush is no liar.

He has lied about his time in the National Guard, and lied about his criminal history. He lied about his relationship with Ken Lay, he lied about who would benefit from his tax cuts, and he lied about stem cells. He lied about his visit to Bob Jones University, he lied about why he wouldn't meet with Log Cabin Republicans, and he lied about reading the EPA report on global warming. He lied about blaming the Clinton administration for the second intifada, he lies constantly about how he pays no attention to polls, he lied about how he loves New York, and he lied about moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He lied about finding WMD in Iraq, he lied about making his decision to go to war, he lied about the CIA's dismissal of the yellowcake rumors, and he lied about the IAEA's assessment of Iraq's nuclear program. He lied about funding the fight against AIDS in Africa, he lied about when the recession started, and he lied about seeing the first plane hit the WTC. He lied about supporting the Patient Protection Act, and he lied about his deficit spending, and now my wrist hurts.