MICHAEL MOORE AND HIS AGITPROP FILM FAHRENHEIT 9/11 were nowhere to be found on the lists of Academy Awards nominees released last week. And despite his commercial success, the Writers Guild omitted Moore from consideration for its first list of documentary writing award nominees. The only award Moore received was from a gun rights group highlighting his hypocrisy after a bodyguard for this maker of the 2003 Academy Award-winning anti-gun Bowling for Columbine got arrested in New York City for carrying a handgun not licensed there.
Hypocrisy is nothing new for Michael Moore, nor the Hollywood Left. But Hollywood makes its money by anticipating which way the winds are blowing. By distancing itself from this self-aggrandizing egomaniac, Tinsel Town may be signaling that America’s cultural winds are shifting away from the Loony Left.
So who is Michael Moore, this multi-millionaire filmmaker and author of several books, who has been called “the Left’s only well-known shock jock,” compared by Christopher Hitchens to socialist Adolf Hitler’s film propagandist Leni Riefenstahl?
Michael Moore is his own fictional character, a self-written being who soon will require another rewrite if his lucrative fantasy career is to survive.
Moore’s production company, aptly named, is Dog Eat Dog Films. His agent Ariel “Ari” Emanuel is brother of Congressman Rahm Emanuel, D-IL, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a former White House operative for President Bill Clinton.
Michael Moore never was a “working class boy from Flint, Michigan,” as he pretends. He was born on April 23, 1954, in Davison, Michigan, a lily-white upper-middle class suburb 10 miles east of Flint, where his father Frank assembled AC spark plugs, and his mother was a clerk-secretary for General Motors (GM).
For a few decades following World War II, America’s global power (relative to war-shattered Europe and Japan) and the benefits provided to employees by GM and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union made life pleasant.
Moore’s parents enjoyed ample income, free medical and dental care, four weeks of paid vacation each year, and had two cars in their well-to-do Davison home. Moore’s Irish-American father had spent workday afternoons playing golf. After he retired at age 53 with a full pension, he enjoyed a life of ease, golf and volunteer work at the local Roman Catholic church.
Moore and his two younger sisters “were raised in what amounted to a mini-welfare state, where powerful unions took care of most of their members’ basic needs, right down to prescription eyeglasses,” wrote Ella Taylor in 2004 in the left-wing newspaper L.A. Weekly. “No wonder there’s so much fellow feeling between Moore and Canada, which has socialized medicine, not to mention Europe, where he is hugely popular.”
After eighth grade Moore enrolled in a Catholic pre-seminary. “He admired the Berrigan brothers [radical anti-Vietnam War Catholic priests] and thought that the priesthood was the way to effect social change,” wrote The New Yorker’s Larissa MacFarquhar in February 2004. “This resolve lasted only through his first year, though, after the Detroit Tigers made it to the World Series for the first time in Moore’s life, and the seminary wouldn’t allow him to watch the games.”
Returning to school, at age 16, Moore gave a speech in a local contest in which he condemned the Elks Club for barring blacks. He won not only the contest prize but also a first intoxicating, glory-addicting taste of fame as media reported his fledgling political activism. CBS called to ask about his views. He soon sought more attention with an Eagle Scout award-winning slide show accusing what Moore called the worst polluters in his town. He was learning that the road to fame was a harsh accusation against some established conservative group or company that, if it fit the liberal political template, would be accepted without question by the liberal media.
At age 17, he saw what remains Moore’s favorite film, A Clockwork Orange, a depiction of futuristic street bully “ultraviolence,” rape, and brainwashing, by Moore’s still-favorite director, Stanley Kubrick.
At 18, Moore ran for city school board on a simple platform: “Fire the Principal.” He won. The principal, who had been kind to Moore as a child, resigned and died soon thereafter of a heart attack. Meanwhile, Moore reveled in the nationwide publicity he received for becoming America’s youngest elected city official.
Moore began studies at the local campus of the University of Michigan but soon dropped out. He was given a job on the GM assembly line but “called in sick the first day and never went back,” which is the closest Moore ever came to being part of the working class. He became a local hippie, host of a Sunday morning radio show he called “Radio Free Flint,” and honed his skills at getting on local TV news by staging whatever protests would attract the media attention he craved.
In 1976, at age 22, Moore created a small leftist newspaper, the Flint Voice (later called the Michigan Voice), which he edited for 10 years. This position gave him access to left-wing activists, fundraisers like singer Harry “Cat’s in the Cradle” Chapin, and the opportunity to do occasional commentaries for the National Public Radio (NPR) show “All Things Considered.”
Michigan was a hotbed of student radicalism. The radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held their first meeting in 1960 in Ann Arbor, 50 miles south of Flint, and the SDS manifesto The Port Huron Statement was signed in 1962 in that Michigan town, only 64 miles east of Flint. Moore remained involved in leftist politics at the University of Michigan and elsewhere in the state. “Moore was interested in the usual lefty international issues of the time,” wrote MacFarquhar. “He travelled to Nicaragua in 1983 to check out the Sandinistas.”
In 1986, because of his growing reputation as a hotshot left-wing journalist, Moore was hired as editor of the San Francisco-based socialist magazine Mother Jones, beating out its Managing Editor David Talbot (who later founded and continues to edit the left-wing webzine Salon.com). Four months later, the magazine fired Moore. Adam Hochschild, chairman of the foundation that owns Mother Jones, described Moore as “arbitrary; he was suspicious; he was unavailable.” Moore’s high-handed bullying and authoritarian arrogance had alienated most staff members. And Moore had refused to publish a piece by veteran leftist writer Paul Berman because it mildly criticized the human rights record of Nicaragua’s Fidel Castro-allied Communist Sandinistas. One of America’s farthest Left magazines fired Michael Moore because, among other reasons, he was too far-Left for it.
Moore, using what have become his familiar tactics, responded by staging a media-grabbing public demonstration, by going on a Bay Area radio show to accuse Berman (as MacFarquhar described) “of being a traitor to the left and giving aid and comfort to [President Ronald] Reagan,” and by suing Mother Jones for $2 million. Moore eventually pocketed $58,000 from its tax-exempt Foundation for National Progress, which became seed money for his first “documentary.” Roger & Me, an agitprop assault on General Motors, its chief executive Roger Smith and its recent worker layoffs in Flint, launched Moore into stardom.
A key influence shaping Moore’s mind and values were stories of his uncle (via Moore’s 1982 marriage) Laverne, who at a seminal moment in labor history in 1936-37 had taken part in the 44-day sit-in at a General Motors factory in Flint. This illegal hostage-taking of private property, an act of urban terrorism tacitly approved by Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ended with GM accepting representation for its workers by the new United Auto Workers (UAW) union. The UAW had been founded in 1935 as a radical ideological union eager to use more revolutionary, confrontational tactics than had the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
The UAW organizer of the Flint sit-in was Walter Reuther, later to serve 25 years as UAW President. Reuther, the West Virginia-born son of a German socialist, had supported Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas (grandfather of Newsweek Magazine’s Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas) for President. During the years 1933-35, Reuther and his brother Victor spent time abroad, including more than 18 months working at the Gorki automobile factory in Josef Stalin’s totalitarian Communist Soviet Union. Returning to the U.S. in 1935, Reuther immediately put into practice the ideology and tactics he had learned first-hand from Soviet Stalinists.
Reuther as UAW head during World War II, when the U.S. and Soviet Union were allies fighting against socialist Adolf Hitler, kept workers producing weapons at top efficiency. Any talk of sit-ins, strikes or work slowdowns was suppressed. Reuther later repudiated Communism and the Soviet Union, and returned to his socialist ideas. But the Marxist-Stalinist-tinged ideological radicalism of the 1936-37 Flint sit-in would become the magical moment and place where America’s modern labor movement was born, a once-and-future garden of socialist utopian Eden in the imagination of Michael Moore.
After Moore was fired by Mother Jones, he was rescued from near-destitution by another critic of GM, Ralph Nader, author of the seminal bible of anti-business consumer activism, Unsafe At Any Speed. Nader paid Moore to edit a media-criticizing newsletter. Moore soon lost this job too. The reason, according to Nader, is that Moore spent most of his time away in Flint instead of writing the newsletter. According to Moore (who routinely trashes those who disagree with him), Nader was jealous that a publisher had paid Moore an advance of almost $50,000 for a book (that in the end Moore never completed) about General Motors.
After completing Roger & Me, Moore at the Telluride Film Festival tracked down Roger Ebert, movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and (then) for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Ebert is a liberal who almost without exception gives big thumbs-up approval to any movie that is left-wing, politically correct or criticizes America; Moore’s fact-bending documentary was all three. Rave reviews from Ebert launched Moore on a high trajectory to wealth and superstardom. Thanks to Ebert’s support, Moore sold his documentary to Warner Brothers in 1989 for an unprecedented $3 million.
(During the 2004 political campaign, Ebert repeatedly used his television show [now syndicated by the Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista division, a potential conflict of interest Ebert seldom mentions to viewers] to promote Moore’s propaganda film Fahrenheit 9/11. Ebert promised viewers that he would give comparable airtime to reviewing any similar documentary done by conservatives but, of course, he never did, despite the availability of such fine documentaries as FahrenHYPE 9/11, partly funded by former Clinton political advisor Dick Morris.)
Hollywood came courting, and in 1995 Moore gave birth to Canadian Bacon, his only non-documentary movie (unless one counts his music videos for groups such as Rage Against the Machine and R.E.M.). Its fictional plot centers on a President of the United States who boosts his popularity by engineering a war with Canada. Corpulent comedian John Candy died while filming it, delaying the film’s completion and release date. It died at the box office. Moore said he was sabotaged by the studio PolyGram because it is “owned by Philips of the Netherlands, makers of weapons.” (Moore always finds ways, however absurd, to blame others for his failures.)
Moore then directed and hosted his own television show TV Nation, a provocative and uneven magazine show. Nine episodes aired on NBC in 1994, and 8 episodes aired on FOX in 1995. It died twice for lack of viewers.
What happened behind the scenes at TV Nation gives a glimpse of the real Michael Moore. “He disliked sharing credit with his writers” like Merrill Markoe, wrote MacFarquhar. And he disliked sharing money, as well.
When two of the show’s young writers, who had been given the title Associate Producer, took steps to join the Writers Guild (the powerful union for movie and TV writers), Moore took them aside. “I’m getting a lot of heat from the union to call you guys writers and pay you under the union rules,” Eric Zicklin recounted Moore’s words for MacFarquhar. “I don’t have the budget for that,” Moore threatened them, “But if they keep coming down on me that’ll mean I’ll only be able to afford one of you and the other one’s gotta go.”
“We were scared out of our minds,” recalled Zicklin. “It was like a theme from Roger & Me” with Moore as the unfeeling, anti-union boss.
“I can’t accept [Moore] as a political person,” another TV Nation employee told MacFarquhar. “I can’t buy into this thing of Michael Moore is on your side – it’s like trying to believe that Justin Timberlake is a soulful guy. It’s a media product: he’s just selling me something. For the preservation of my own soul I have to consider him just an entertainer, because otherwise he’s a huge a--hole. If you consider him an entertainer, then his acting like a selfish, self-absorbed, pouty, deeply conflicted, easily wounded child is run-of-the-mill, standard behavior. But if he’s a political force, then he’s a jerk and a hypocrite and he didn’t treat us right and he was false in all his dealings.”
“I can’t go to his movies, and I can’t hold his books for very long,” Chris Kelly, who worked on TV Nation and Canadian Bacon told MacFarquhar. “When he started writing his column for The Nation, I cancelled my subscription. He broke my heart. That’s what he does to people.” Other employees have described Moore as a boss who created working conditions that resembled a “sweatshop” and “indentured servitude.”
Moore has apologized in vague terms to Kelly and Markoe, but he denies any other improper behavior. Other witnesses recall that Moore, a self-proclaimed champion of the proletariat, repeatedly tried to deny TV Nation writers payments, credits, and residuals for their work – and that the Guild intervened repeatedly in complaints against him.
(Moore hated President Ronald Reagan, even though Reagan was the first and only former union leader (head of the Screen Actors Guild, SAG) to become president of the United States.)
“He was the most difficult human being I’ve ever met,” his former Hollywood manager Douglas Urbanski told the Times of London. “There was no one who even came close.”
Moore struggled to stay on television with The Awful Truth (1999-2000), a satire show jointly produced by the cable channel Bravo and Britain’s Channel 4, and Michael Moore Live (1999), which broadcast from New York City but aired only in the United Kingdom.
He also created The Big One, a documentary of the tour for his 1996 book Downsize This! Threats from an Unarmed American (Perennial/Harper). One common thread in Moore’s documentaries is that they all star, and are designed to glorify, Michael Moore.
In 2002, Moore’s anti-gun documentary Bowling for Columbine reached theaters. His depiction of America as a gun-crazed violent culture was honored at the Cannes Film Festival in France and won the 2003 Academy Award for Documentary Feature, despite growing evidence that much that was “documented” in it as fact had been staged, concocted, or dishonestly and deceptively edited by Moore.
The sincerity of Moore’s anti-gun outrage became clear in January 2005 when one of his own bodyguards was arrested in New York City for possession of an unregistered handgun. The hypocritical Michael Moore is not leading the way to utopia by his example.
“We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times,” Moore told a worldwide audience in his speech accepting his Academy Award for Bowling for Columbine. “We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fictition [sic.] of duct tape or fictition [sic.] of orange alerts, we are against this war [in Iraq], Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you.”
But, in fact, much of Moore’s documentary turned out to be “fictition.” The “weapon” plant he photographed in Colorado manufactures weather satellites, not weapons. The clips he included of National Rifle Association President Charleton Heston had been edited together from several speeches given months apart so as to create a dishonest collage of sentences. The rifle Moore claimed to have walked out of a bank with as his reward for opening an account was a staged event that for real customers involves a six-week clearance process. Even the title Bowling for Columbine derived from a false claim that two adolescents who went on a fatal shooting spree had gone bowling that morning. They had not.
Similar deceptions and falsehoods can be found in all of Moore’s so-called documentaries. How does he get away with this again and again? One answer is that the establishment media shares Moore’s left-of-center ideology, and because most reporters and reviewers agree with his aim. Since they share his conclusions, they express few quibbles over how he got there. They regard Moore as right even when his methods are wrong. One New York Times reporter likened Moore’s work to editorial cartoons, which are designed not to be accurate so much as to sell a point of view by distorting reality. Those who share Moore’s leftist agenda and, e.g., favor ever-more gun control, will applaud Moore’s editorial cartoon Bowling for Columbine.
“I don’t believe in objectivity,” Moore has said, speaking the intellectually fashionable language of post-modern deconstructionism. “I don’t believe that any newspaper’s objective. I believe there’s subjectivity in every article, and where every article is placed. We’re human beings, we’re subjective animals, we’re not machines…It’s all personal.” Or, as reviewer Roger Ebert admitted, “Moore has granted himself poetic license.”
When caught committing falsehoods, Moore has demurred that he is a mere entertainer, a spinner of tales, jokes, and opinions who should never be held to the ethical and accuracy standards of a responsible reporter or historian. When Lou Dobbs of CNN pressed about his inaccuracies in one book, Moore dismissed Dobbs’ questions by saying: “You know, look, this is a book of political humor…How can there be inaccuracy in comedy?” To deflect another questioner, Moore declared ambiguously that Roger & Me was not a documentary but “an entertaining movie, like Sophie’s Choice.”
“If Moore gets the tone just right, he can reach the widest possible audience,” wrote MacFarquhar. “The conspiracy nuts will take him seriously and appreciate his insight, while everyone else will think he’s joking and appreciate his humor. Every leftist political figure with mainstream aspirations must have a fruitcake technique – a way to retain a hold on the passionate fringe without losing the center – and Moore is very effective.”
When criticized, Moore has often accused his critics of trying to censor a free press, as if he were delivering honest, ethical journalism rather than lies for laughs and manipulative political agitprop. He wants it both ways – to be able to exercise the irresponsibility of a comic but to have his statements taken seriously and to influence votes and policies.
In 2004, Moore declared himself a victim of censorship by the Walt Disney Corporation, which he accused of suddenly, for political reasons, blocking the release of his latest documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. The company’s Miramax Films division had spent $6 million to produce the film.
Moore later admitted that Disney a year earlier had told him it would not release his film. This partisan attack on incumbent President Bush during the 2004 election campaign could damage the company’s reputation with moviegoers. Moore had lied about this, claiming censorship days before the Cannes Film Festival as a publicity stunt to gain attention and sympathy.
Moore’s deceitful stunt worked. Fahrenheit 9/11 won the highest award at Cannes from a panel of leftward judges headed by director Quentin Tarantino. The applause continued for 13 minutes. One Finnish critic praised Moore’s “almost Shakespearean sense of absurdity.” But famed French director Jean-Luc Godard dismissed Moore as “halfway intelligent…He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
At one level the renowned film critic Richard Schickel slightly disagrees with Godard. Moore is “careless with his facts, hysterical in debate and, most basically, a guy trying to make a star out of himself,” Schickel told The Times of London in 2003. “He’s a self-aggrandizer and, perhaps, the very definition of the current literary term, ‘the unreliable narrator.’ This guy either can’t or won’t stick to the point, build a logical case for his arguments. It’s all hysteria – but, I think, calculated hysteria.”
As might secretly have been arranged many months in advance, Fahrenheit 9/11, whose title Moore stole from science fiction writer Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451, was distributed by Lion’s Gate Films. (Bradbury wasn’t pleased.) Moore’s film grossed more than $100 million at the box office.
How credible is Fahrenheit 9/11? “Even if one agrees with all of Moore’s arguments,” wrote one reviewer for the Hollywood Reporter, “the film reduces decades of American foreign-policy failures to a black-and-white cartoon that lays the blame on one family. He ignores facts like the policy to arm and support Afghan rebels that began in the Carter administration. For that matter, the Clinton team never mounted a serious effort to go after al-Qaida even after the 1998 embassy bombings in East Africa.”
Like other Moore documentaries, Fahrenheit 9/11 was packed with lies and calculated distortions, riddled with more holes than substance. To cite just two of these widely documented holes: Moore’s film depicted as a “headline” from an Illinois newspaper the words “Latest Florida Recount Shows Gore Won Election.” But, as Moore knew, these words actually appeared, not above a news report, but atop a Letter to the Editor and reflected only that one reader’s (misguided) opinion.
One of Moore’s biggest claims in his film was that members of Saudi Arabia’s bin Laden family (in which Osama is one of 53 children, a disowned black sheep born not to the patriarch’s wives but to a concubine) had been allowed by Bush to fly out of the U.S. unquestioned only hours after 9/11. In fact, they did not leave for at least six days, after being questioned by the FBI, and permission for their departure was given without any outside prompting solely by Bush critic and Clinton administration White House counter-terrorism holdover Richard Clarke, as Clarke himself admitted.
Hollywood knew that Moore’s made-up film was intended to maim the Republican president’s reelection during the 2004 campaign. Moore’s crude, unethical weapon failed; Bush won, and Hollywood promptly distanced itself from Moore.
At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, however, Moore was treated like royalty and given a seat of honor at the side of former President Carter in his presidential box. (Mr. Carter’s toppling of America’s ally the Shah of Iran precipitated the Iran-Iraq War, the military buildup of Saddam Hussein, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that empowered Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, led to the oppression of millions of women, and opened a Pandora’s Box of other problems, including America’s incursion into Iraq. But Moore was proud to sit next to the failed Democrat president.)
Democratic leaders such as then-Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota embraced him and joined other prominent Democrats at the premier of Moore’s documentary. Moore was invited to write columns from the conventions for USA Today. Propaganda and the Left had carried Michael Moore a long way from “Flint, Michigan.”
But the Kerry campaign was aware of Moore’s mercurial, unstable nature and tried to hold him at arm’s length. “I can’t speak for every extremist out there,” said Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton during a Westwood One radio interview on July 24, 2004. “Michael Moore – these people aren’t part of the Kerry campaign.”
Kerry’s advisors had watched Moore endorse primary candidate General Wesley Clark, then almost destroy Clark by blurting out that President Bush had been a “deserter.” (They also remembered that Moore had in past years endorsed Ralph Nader and proposed that TV host Oprah Winfrey and liberal actor Tom Hanks run for president.) They remembered Moore’s 2003 assertion on NBC’s Today Show that “Guns don’t kill people, Americans kill people.” Who knew how loony Moore might get, or when he might explode, blowing up any candidate who stood too close with him?
How far Left is Michael Moore? “Capitalism is a sin,” said Moore on the CNN talk show Crossfire in 2002. “This is an evil system.”
In his book Downsize This! Moore proposed several laws he believes should be imposed to “protect ourselves” from capitalist corporations. His utopia would “Prohibit corporations from closing a profitable factory or business and moving it overseas. If they close a business and move it within the U.S., they must pay reparations to the community they are leaving behind.” He argued that any breakup of the “‘marriage’ between a company and a community” ought to involve “serious alimony to pay” if a “corporation packs up and leaves.” Moore would also “Prohibit companies from pitting one state or city against another” by locating where the best tax rates and other government inducements are offered.
But as the Drudge Report revealed on April 22, 2004, Michael Moore himself rejected American companies and workers by outsourcing the design and hosting of his own website to two Canadian companies. Canadians “are just like us – only better,” honorary Canadian Moore told a “Take Back America” rally of the far-Left Campaign for America’s Future (CAF), held in conjunction with the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. “We love Canadians,” he has said elsewhere. “We all aspire to be more Canada-like….And thank you, Canada, for not joining the coalition of the bribed and coerced,” said Moore, using the diplomatically insane phrase about faithful American allies by Democratic presidential aspirant Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.
(Moore could have been arrested in his beloved Canada because while promoting his movie in Toronto in June 2004, he urged Canadians to vote against the conservative candidate for Prime Minister. It is a crime in Canada for foreigners to “during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting…for a particular candidate.”)
In Downsize This!, Moore proposed to “Institute a 100 percent tax on any profits gained by shareholders when the company’s stock goes up due to an announcement of firings. No one should be allowed to profit from such bad news.” He would also “Prohibit executives’ salaries from being more than thirty times greater than an average employee’s pay” and would “Require boards of directors of publicly owned corporations to have representation from both workers and consumers.”
If Moore despises Big Business, giant corporations and chain superstores, how does he feel about small business like the local mom-and-pop shop? “You know in my town the small businesses that everyone wanted to protect?” he told a reporter from the Arcata Eye in 2002. “They were the people that supported all the right-wing groups. They were the Republicans in town, they were in Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce – people that kept the town all white. The small hardware salesman, the small clothing store sales persons, Jesse the Barber who signed his name three different times on three different petitions to recall me from the school board. F**k all these small businesses – f**k ‘em all,” said Moore. “Bring in the chains.”
Moore’s economic authoritarianism – strikingly similar to the policies of Hitler and Italian fascist Benito Mussolini – is, of course, megalomaniacal and insane. Moore’s ideas come from his myopic and shallow understanding of history and economics.
Moore’s claptrap populism is a form of economic suicide. To understand why, imagine that you are an investor deciding where to build a factory to manufacture a new technology. Would you choose to locate it in a city, state or country governed by those holding Michael Moore’s ideology of property expropriation? This is why investment and opportunity are fleeing the Democrat-dominated Rust Belt for freer places – and why in the long run Michael Moore will be unable to prevent this economic migration towards freedom.
Moore, incidentally, showed little “Buy American” patriotism for the GM cars his father, mother, uncle, and grandfather helped build. “When I became an adult, I decided I didn’t want a General Motors car,” wrote Moore in his 2002 book Stupid White Men…And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! (Regan Books), “mainly because they broke down more often than I did. So I bought Volkswagens and Hondas and drove around town with pride.” Moore, therefore, helped turn Flint into a Rust Belt city. No wonder they love Moore in Germany, where he appeared before cheering crowds in a brown jacket.
This same quest for opportunity and freedom is what brought most Americans’ ancestors (including Moore’s) here. This is one of the things Michael Moore hates most about America. Most of our ancestors were fleeing the residue of feudalism that continues in Europe. Feudalism is akin to Moore’s silly “marriage” analogy, which by logical extension would prohibit not only the company from leaving its workers but also the workers from leaving the company. Such was the bondage of vassals under feudal society, which Moore apparently prefers to liberty.
For thinking people, history has now demonstrated the stupidity of such feudal-socialist ideas. To understand why, consider one of the few missteps of President Ronald Reagan when he jawboned the Japanese into limiting the number of automobiles they exported to the U.S. Restricting this competition saved some UAW jobs in Michigan, at a cost experts pegged at $600,000 per job and an extra $2,000 higher pricetag on new cars passed on to working Americans. It would have been far cheaper to lay Flint union workers off and give each $50,000 per year for a decade.
But worse, companies such as Toyota, with their number of exports limited, sent to America expensive, gas-guzzling Cressidas. This made America more dependent on foreign oil, more vulnerable to the politics of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and more pressed to intervene militarily in foreign lands to maintain stability. And all this happened because leftist demagogues like Michael Moore blocked the drilling of new oil wells in America while demanding protection for America’s overpriced, uncompetitive union jobs. Political tampering with the marketplace always produces unintended consequences. And among the worst of such consequences are yet more laws and regulations to remedy the mess politicians caused by their tampering in the first place.
“Horatio Alger must die!” wrote Michael Moore in his 2003 book Dude, Where’s My Country? (Warner Books). “We’re addicted to this happy myth,” wrote Moore, “…that anyone can make it in America, and make it big…Listen, friends, you have to face the truth: You are never going to be rich…The system is rigged in favor of the few, and your name is not among them, not now and not ever.”
Those who become millionaires, Moore wrote, are “about one in a million.” If he is right, then America with a population of 295 million would have only 295 millionaires. But America has literally millions of citizens whose net worth in real estate and savings exceed $1 million. The average American family earns more than $1 million over its working life and could save much of that if Democrats like Michael Moore were not confiscating half their earnings in direct and hidden taxes.
But it would be far better, Moore apparently believes, if the American Dream died and people accepted their politically-determined place in a socialist-run system – where the capitalists will all eventually be expropriated by regulations and taxes, private property and “inequality” will vanish, and all jobs will become unionized government jobs. (Moore refused to see the “new class” of aristocratic rulers that arose under Soviet, Chinese and Cuban Communism, where power became the coin of the realm, determining who got the limousines and luxury dachas on the Black Sea, Beijing, and Havana.)
Michael Moore’s mentality was perfectly anticipated by the late Longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer, who wrote that if you ask a leftist at what other time in history he would want to live he will reply: the Middle Ages. This was the age of feudalism and paternalism, serfs and lords, the last time in the West prior to Marxism that intellectuals were part of the ruling elite.
The irony in Moore calling for the death of Horatio Alger, of course, is that Moore is one of these ultra-wealthy few, now probably worth more than $50 million. He claims to be a working class egalitarian who wants society to be open and honest, but Moore has always refused to make public his and his company’s tax, income, and net worth records. He claims to give a third of his income to worthy causes, but he refuses to make public records that would confirm this. If he “pays his fair share,” as leftists like to demand of the rich, and uses no tax avoidance methods, Manhattanite Moore should be paying more than half his huge income in taxes…but is he? His obsessive concealment makes one wonder what this self-appointed People’s Watchdog has to hide.
“Michael Moore would never withstand the scrutiny he lays on other people,” his former manager Douglas Urbanski told the Times of London. “You would think that he’s the ultimate common man. But he’s money-obsessed.”
Moore owns a New York City apartment worth at least $1.9 million. He owns a beachfront estate in Torch Lake, Michigan, worth at least $1.2 million. (His comrades at the left-wing propaganda operation Media Matters frantically attacked a 2004 report that Moore was simultaneously, and therefore illegally, registered to vote in both places.) His daughter Natalie, born in 1981, got much of her education in elite private schools.
Moore’s typical audience is not workers but college students, who pay dearly for the honor of his celebrity presence and speechmaking. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) launched an investigation into Moore’s 2004 “Slacker Uprising Tour” of dozens of colleges and universities, most in swing states, during the closing days of the presidential campaign. The filmmaker charged student organizations or the schools up to $30,000 per appearance to share his ideological views. In many instances, this may have involved a one-sided, and hence illegal, partisan use of government facilities and money at state universities and colleges to subsidize Moore’s pro-Kerry efforts.
“The slacker motto,” Moore told one cheering crowd of adolescent college students, “is ‘Sleep till noon, drink beer, vote Kerry November 2,’” adding “’Pick nose, pick b*tt, pick Kerry” and ending with an echo of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels from the Communist Manifesto: “Slackers of the world, unite!”
“We need to let the working class know that we don’t think we’re better than them,” said Moore. We? Them? As Daniel Radosh, son of famed author Ron Radosh, wrote in June 1997 at Salon.com: “If [former Republican House Speaker] Newt Gingrich said anything so patronizing, the Left would never stop ridiculing him.”
“To effect change we have to get off our high horse and start living in the real world,” Moore told one activist audience. “I want you watching [the TV sitcom] ‘Friends’ every single week. I want you listening to country music.”
“Rap music and country music, these are the voices…of people who are disenfranchised,” Moore told one college audience. “I know the music sucks, but don’t you want to put yourself through some pain to see what people are feeling?” Added Radosh: “Not that we’re better than them or anything.”
Moore’s response to Daniel Radosh’s investigation was to smear Radosh by accusing him of being right-wing, to smear Salon.com by accusing it of taking ad money from Borders Books (a company that Moore claimed banned him after he tried to help unionize its workers), and to smear Salon publisher David Talbot by accusing him of a “personal grudge” from when Moore beat Talbot by becoming editor of Mother Jones. But Moore, using his usual theatrical bluster to distract the audience, avoided answering most of the questions Radosh raised.
Moore also threatened a lawsuit against Salon.com. As Slate.com editor Jack Shafer wrote in a similar context: “Moore’s hysterical, empty threats” to sue critics of one of his documentaries shows that he “appears to believe in free speech only for himself.”
Moore’s threats, like those long used by consumer advocate Ralph Nader to stifle his critics, have apparently frightened some publications out of publishing articles that cast Moore in a less-than-glowing light. His techniques, are, well, Moorewellian.
To be fair, capitalism, Republicans, conservatives (or as he calls them, “hate-triots”), and America are not the only things Michael Moore hates. He apparently hates Protestants, and has semi-seriously proposed that the way to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland is to forcibly re-baptize all Protestants there as Catholics.
Moore hates Cuban-Americans, largely because they vote Republican. Moore, writes Humberto Fontova, author of Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant (2005, Regnery), has also said that Cuban-Americans are “terrorists,” “drug smugglers,” “gangsters,” and in Moore’s word, “wimps” for not staying in Cuba to shape their socialist utopia. In 2000, on his website Moore wrote an “Open Letter to Elian Gonzalez,” in which he accused the boy’s mother (who drown bringing her five-year-old from Castro’s island prison to freedom in America) of kidnapping her son. “The truth is your mother and her boyfriend snatched you and put you on that death boat,” wrote Moore, “because they simply wanted to make more money.”
By contrast, Cuba’s government-run television broadcast Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 unedited because it was already, by Castro’s exacting Marxist standards, perfect anti-American propaganda.
Moore apparently hates Jews, at least those in Israel, and their supporters. As David Brooks wrote in the June 26, 2004, New York Times, “In Liverpool, [Michael Moore] paused to contemplate the epicenters of evil in the modern world: ‘It’s all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton.’”
Moore dedicated his book Dude, Where’s My Country? to Rachel Corrie, an activist with the radical International Solidarity Movement (ISM) accidentally killed by an Israeli bulldozer she was attempting to impede as it destroyed tunnels used by terrorists to smuggle weapons.
“In their hearts [Israelis] know they are wrong,” wrote Moore in Dude, Where’s My Country? “and they know they would be doing just what the Palestinians are doing if the sandal were on the other foot.”
No wonder Moore has been honored by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Muslim American Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Moore in a speech before the ADC said he would not attend a scheduled screening of one of his movies in Israel until Israel ceased to occupy the West Bank and Gaza.
And no wonder that an affiliate of the Iran-linked terrorist group Hezbollah offered to help promote his film Fahrenheit 9/11 in the Middle East, especially after Moore tried to prevent it from being shown in Israel, as reported in the February 16, 2004, issue of the New Yorker.
In Fahrenheit 9/11, Saddam Hussein’s brutal Ba’athist socialist dictatorship – which put more than 300,000 of its victims in mass graves – is depicted by Moore as a land of children laughing and flying kites. Then come the American bombers, bringing death and destruction. “I’m just trying to present another side of the story,” Moore told ABC News.
Part of Moore’s movie lionized Congressman Jim McDermott, D-WA, a member of the socialist Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives who traveled to Iraq before the 2003 war to support the Hussein regime. Moore never mentioned that McDermott also received more than $10,000 in cash and travel expenses from Hussein operatives.
And Moore praises the Islamist terrorists killing American soldiers in Iraq today. “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy,” said Moore. “They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow – and they will win.”
Do Moore’s anti-American books and films cause or help terrorists legitimize violence? Apparently so. The Indonesian convicted of the Bali terror bombings of 2002 had his lawyer read to the court excerpts of Moore’s Stupid White Men as justification for his hatred of the West.
Moore has said he wants “regime change” of the democratically elected governments in Australia, Italy, and Japan because they are part of the Coalition of the Willing.
And Moore hates and, like a petulant child, attacks those who refuse to give him whatever he wants. When, for example, Pete Townshend of the British rock group The Who refused to give Moore the rights to use his song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore responded in his typical way. He trashed Townshend in the press and accused the musician of supporting the war in Iraq, even though it was widely known that this was untrue.
Several websites courageously persist in documenting what their authors see as Moore’s shortcomings and deceits. Among these are Moore Watch, Moore Exposed, Spinsanity on Michael Moore, and Moore Lies.
In June 2004, Regan Books, the publisher of Moore’s book Stupid White Men, published Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man. Its co-authors are former U.S. Interior Department attorney David T. Hardy, who founded Moore Exposed, and Jason Clarke, creator of Moore Lies. This book gives precise details about the distortions, contradictions, hypocrisies, errors, and outright lies in each of Moore’s writings and film documentaries, as analyzed by two of Moore’s most relentless critics.
Moore has said that he is at work on a sequel to his 2004 political propaganda film Fahrenheit 9/11. He is also preparing a documentary critical of the pharmaceutical industry and American healthcare that Moore has tentatively titled “Sicko.” Moore is likely to schedule its arrival in theaters for mid-2006 to provide propaganda helpful to Democrats running in the congressional midterm elections.
Thus far, the candidates Moore has embraced, or who have embraced him like Clark and Daschle, have lost on election day, leading some to wonder whether receiving a political blessing from Michael Moore is a curse. In 2006, Moore could again become what analyst Collin Levey called “the new Ralph Nader,” an ego-driven left-wing albatross around the neck of the Democratic Party.
Days after the 2004 election, Moore appeared on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The audience was stunned as the usually unkempt filmmaker walked onstage neatly shaven, wearing a suit and necktie. The outcome was good for him either way, Moore jovially explained.
Moore made a mountain of money by exploiting the Democratic convention, campaign and media to sell his products to the leftist faithful, who were almost his only customers. Moore’s shrill propaganda was a sermon to the choir that converted almost nobody, but it diverted tens of millions of liberal political dollars from the campaign to Moore’s own pockets. Moore boasted to Leno that President Bush’s tax cuts will now let him keep more of his fast-growing wealth.
“Moore’s shtick is to deftly read the emotional contours of the liberal left and then to profitably mold and expand himself to fill the void,” wrote Marc Cooper last March in LA Weekly. “He’s a polarizer, not a teacher. His ramped-up stage style, shouting and screaming profanities at Dubya, no doubt provides some satisfying moments for the already-converted but can only alienate and confound those still in doubt.”
Some Democrats watching the show must have wondered whether undermining their candidate’s campaign to help Bush win had always been Michael Moore’s secret plan. Is Michael Moore America’s most influential propagandist against capitalism, or its most cynical, self-serving capitalist? Is Michael Moore really a closet Republican, the GOP’s most cunning secret agent? Is Michael Moore an elephant (or a pig) disguised in donkey clothing? He is exactly what he appears to be: a radical leftist who has grown wealthy by exploiting an economic system he would destroy in a nation whose founding principles he despises.