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God Bless the Leftie Limbaugh!


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GOD BLESS THE LEFTIE LIMBAUGH

 

Wed Jun 30, 8:00 PM ET

By Ted Rall

 

Michael Moore and the Battle for Hearts and Minds

 

 

DAYTON, OHIO--I've never met Michael Moore. I know several people, however, who have. They all say the same thing: Michael Moore is an arrogant, hypocritical blowhard.

 

The same goes for "Fahrenheit 9/11." I haven't seen it, but friends who have say the film is a throw-everything-at-the-wall-in-the-hope-that-something-sticks mess riddled with exaggerations, innuendos and inaccuracies. They also call it powerful and important.

 

From what I hear, Moore's new hit documentary dwells on the fact that the Bush Administration allowed a planeload of Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s Saudi relatives to leave the U.S. a few days after the attacks. Moore's insinuation that the flight was unusual is patently false; in most countries, it's standard diplomatic practice during periods of crisis to evacuate foreign nationals who might become targets of violence. It is true, however, that the Bush and bin Laden families have a long, unholy and possibly treasonous relationship. Here a functionally false factoid points to a bigger truth.

 

During a sequence explaining how Hamid Karzai came to become the president of Afghanistan (news - web sites), the film references the notorious Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project (TAP) conceived by the Unocal Corp. to carry oil and gas from the landlocked Caspian Sea basin to Indian Ocean ports. Beginning in 1996, the U.S. overlooked human rights abuses and heroin cultivation in hopes of signing a TAP deal with the Taliban. Karzai, then a Talib himself, worked as a Unocal consultant. Bush inherited TAP (and Karzai) from Bill Clinton (news - web sites), but the movie makes no mention of this fact. However, Bush did revive TAP after the Clinton-Taliban talks had collapsed. And he went a lot further than Clinton, invading Afghanistan and installing Karzai as his puppet. True, Moore's decision to exclude the Clintonian origins of the TAP scheme from his script was disingenuous. But, given that Bush's interest in TAP was so much greater than Clinton's, does it matter?

 

"The Left's only defense against [sic] Moore's mockumentary," writes David Limbaugh, "is to charge that people on the Right, like Rush Limbaugh, also distort the facts to fit their ideology. It is no defense to a specific charge to say that other people do it."

 

If we lived in an ideal world, I would agree with him.

 

In an ideal world, Americans of every political stripe would enjoy a forum to discuss the issues of the day. In an ideal world, communists and conservatives and militiamen and socialists and centrists and Christianists and atheists and libertarians and anarchists would all get the chance to express their opinions and propose changes in law and policy in the media as well as the corridors of power. In an ideal world, vigorous debate would never degenerate into name-calling or threats. In an ideal world, a losing political party would play the role of the loyal opposition as it plotted its return to power. In an ideal world, an imaginative, freewheeling, independent media would cast a wide net, broadening our national dialogue to include the previously disenfranchised.

 

In the real world, however, a narrow subset of right-wing conservatives controls the Supreme Court, White House, Congress and most state legislatures. In the real world, no American to the left of John McCain--including John McCain--has a chance to propose a law and see it signed into law. In the real world, newspapers, magazines, radio and television outlets are owned by a shrinking pool of conservative corporations motivated by short-term profits and cozy ties to the right-wingers who run the government. In the real world, the Democratic Party has given up hope of recapturing either the House or the Senate, and Democratic politicians vote along with the Republicans. In the real world, anyone who questions the president's justifications for starting wars, or questions whether he even has the right to call himself "president," should expect to be insulted and ridiculed, blackballed, smeared as a traitor and threatened with death by conservative commentators.

 

We are at war, but the terrorists aren't foreigners. We are fighting for our nation's soul. The right-wing Republicans who control the government and the media have no intention of sharing their power. Thus they present themselves and their ideas--that we should spend our national treasury on invading oil-producing nations but not on national healthcare, that it's acceptable to throw people into concentration camps--as the living embodiment of what it means to be American. Meanwhile the neofascist bullies slime everybody else--the majority--as "anti-American."

 

The United States is living under ideological apartheid. There are a many more of us than there are corporatist neofascists, but as any prison inmate can attest, numerical superiority does not assure victory. Excluded from access to mainstream politics and media, measured and even-toned opponents are ignored and marginalized.

 

The current situation calls for radical, loud, even ugly, tactics. Nelson Mandela, fighting the racist white minority government of South Africa, resorted to building bombs to loosen the grip of apartheid. Here in America, one unfair, dissembling movie by a liberal loudmouth like Michael Moore, no matter how successful, could never be powerful enough to counter the millions of conservative lies disseminated by thousands of talk radio stations and newspapers every minute of every day of every year. But it's a beginning.

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