Fahrenheit 9/11

I am a libertarian. For all of its faults, I am certain that unfettered free market capitalism is the most effective way to manage our society. For this reason, I have generally considered myself a weak Republican. Admittedly a dope-smoking, ultra-liberal, gay-friendly Republican who hasn’t been too happy with the choices offered by the party, but in general, the party has been more in tune with my notions of keeping government out of the affairs of business.

I voted for George Bush, Sr., in 1992. I voted for Arnold Schwartzenegger, and stand by that decision. I voted for Perot and Forbes, and in the last presidential election, I voted for Nader, but only as a sort of joke – my ballot was being counted in Chicago, a firm democratic stronghold in no small part due to the efforts of mayor Richard Daley, whose brother was Gore’s campaign manager. Election fraud goes both ways, you see, particularly in Chicago, where the dead vote democratic, and “vote early, vote often” is a rallying cry.

So, I’m going to start off defending George Bush, Jr., and arguing a few points against Michael Moore, just to get them out of the way.

Moore makes a big deal about Bush spending a significant part of his presidential career on vacation, to which I say “so what?” Bush very likely gets more work done in Texas than Washington, and it’s easier to maintain a presidential level of security in Crawford.

Moore criticizes Bush’s choice to spend a few minutes in a Florida classroom upon learning of the attacks against America. I do not fault Bush for this. I saw a look on his face that said “Shit. When I walk out of this room, I’ve got a big fucking mess to deal with. I’m probably not going to get any sleep for the next three days. Ya know, there’s nothing I can do in the next five minutes, nothing intelligent anyway, just rash ill-advised decisions. I’m just going to sit here with these kids and read their kiddie book and collect my thoughts, because maybe it’s some kind of a mistake.”

Heck, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they told him “don’t move, don’t do anything funny, it’ll take five minutes to pull the limo out front and scramble fighters for air cover, and we don’t want you outside waiting, we’ll signal you when it’s safe.” No, no harm, no foul, I give Bush the benefit of the doubt on that trivial point.

I don’t fault the administration for providing Bin Laden’s family safe passage out of the Unites States. Typically, when there is a war, aren’t diplomats allowed the courtesy of the chance to return to their own country? Wouldn’t Bush hope that his daughters, for example, would be politely returned to the US if they happened to be in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan? Besides, that way, if they were involved, we KNEW they weren’t here.

Finally, I don’t fault the administration for “ignoring” the reports predicting that this might happen. The president is, presumably, busy – he probably has 10 or 20 reports every day “threat of nuclear bombardment from North Korea,” “imminent financial meltdown due to Enron,” a dozen things, and you can’t possibly figure out what has the top priority. How do you know they weren’t PREVENTING a bigger problem that we don’t know anything about? So, no, it was just pretty much fucking impossible to prevent 9/11.

OK, enough defending Bush.

This movie got me off the fence. Now, I’m not saying the fence of supporting Bush or not – I was absolutely opposed to his “stolen” white house, and aware of most of the other issues in the movie already. I thought he was an idiot, but that perhaps, in an unpleasant way, he might be the right idiot for the country right now. After all, if he did steal the presidency, he didn’t do it by much – almost half the country voted for him, and statistically speaking, no matter the results of a recount, the race between Gore and Bush was a tie. That the supreme court made the right decision, in terms of the stability of the country and the office of the president. That perhaps the things he was doing were unpleasant, but they were things that needed to be done.

I am off the fence.

I now fervently hope that Bush will not “lead” for another four years. I can’t yet put my finger on precisely what has changed. I suppose it might be the clarity of the connection between Bush, his administration, and the good ‘ol military/industrial complex blamed for Viet Nam and the JFK assassination. Perhaps it’s the connection with the Saudi Arabian leaders, controlling 6% of the US economy.

I don’t know. But I hope to find a way to take action.

The problem is that I’m not clear that Kerry is any better. He may even be worse. Dean seemed like he might be a needed breath of fresh air… and I fear that Kerry may not win. I will say this: before the movie, I was resigned to accept Bush winning again… and now, I plan to try to do something to prevent it.

I’m not about to take to the streets with a picket sign. I’ve been on the MoveOn mailing list, but I don’t see where getting involved with, say, the local Democratic party is going to help. It’s just preaching to the choir. I’m half-tempted to join the local Young Republicans and foment rebellion and sabotage, but I don’t think there are enough Republicans in Los Angeles for that to be productive.

I will, however, take to the streets with a picket sign if the draft is instituted. Let our underprivileged continue to offer their lives in exchange for a ticket to the middle class – it’s a fair deal, really. Those that survive are, by and large, grateful for the opportunities provided by armed service. But let us not force other citizens to fight.

What can I do? Well, as an artist, I may try to create some… propaganda. Viral images to inspire people to make a better choice this fall. Adbusters-style disruptive media and culture jamming. Or, I dunno, we’ll see.

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