Fahrenheit 9/11 in China?

Check out Danwei’s piece — apparently it just might happen. And he says the DVD is already out in some areas. On the one hand, I can understand why some in China would delight in making the US appear dysfunctional, corrupt and creepy. On the other hand, do they want to inspire local Michael Moores-in-training to think about making their own movies criticizing the CCP? There’s ample material.


I know, I know, too much US politics

Most of my readership (all 12 readers) are in Asia, and I know they come here for brilliant commentary and deep insights, especially on China. I apologize for being so engrossed (a nice way of saying “obsessed”) with US politics lately. And with Michael Moore’s new movie. I’ll try to get back to a more balanced menu of topics, but I have to admit, right now I feel America is at war — with itself. And I feel if we (the smart people) don’t take this country back from them (the not-so-smart people), our great country will inevitably slide further backwards as the Bill of Rights is whittled away and blatant, unashamed lying forever replaces productive political discourse.

I am obsessed with censorship in China, so I have to be equally obsessed with what I see as similar patterns in America. No, not necessarily government imposed censorship — but an eerie post-911 pressure to not speak out, to be silent on that which only a few years ago would have created a national outcry.

I’m not putting up this post to argue any specific point, just to explain why this blog has taken such a turn lately, which some may say (and have said) is off course. It may be a somewhat different course than before, but I don’t think it’s “off” — just focused on a different part of the world for now. I promise, Asia isn’t going anywhere. As long as part of me is still there (in other words, forever), this blog will have an Asia slant. Sometimes, like now, as our elections approach, that slant may just be a little less obvious.



Why Gephardt would be a great choice for VP! Hilarious.

Gephardt would have an amazing pull with loser voters, voters who like losing the House to opposing parties, voters who have a long history of being supported by decrepit and dying labor institutions in failing political campaigns, just people who generally like to lose. He could swing loser states, such as Wyoming or Rhode Island, or put states with a large loser population, such as Nevada or Alabama, into play.

The upside to having a Kerry-Gephardt ticket is it would take all those people who go into shock in the voting booth thinkin’ “Oh dear god we nominated Kerry?!” and push them just far enough over the edge with “Oh dear god we nominated Kerry and Gephardt?!” that it would sort of jar them into a feeling of complacent somnambulism that would render them susceptible to voting for Kerry-Gephardt anyway. The downside to this is that such a hypthetical waking sleepstate could also get them to vote for Nader.

Via Belle at Crooked Timber, who in turn says:

This is so, so very true…. Gephardt? Gephardt??!! Please, God, don’t let the Democratic party snatch certain defeat from the jaws of potential victory by choosing Dick Gephardt as the VP candidate. Pleasepleaseplease. Anybody but Gephardt. If the DP makes me cast a vote for a Kerry/Gephardt ticket I’m going to…well, crap, just put out like a straight-ticket ho. They could put a can of processed cheese food on the ballot against Bush, and I would vote for it. But I’m not going to enjoy it! And no ticket with Gephardt on it is going to win, ever in a million years! How can this blindingly obvious fact be so clear to Giblets yet obscure to Kerry? Maybe they are just toying with us. Maybe. Then when they pick Vilsack, instead of saying, “who the hell?” we will all just be so grateful they didn’t pick Gephardt that we’ll get all fired up, like, “Hey, that Vilsack, he sure does…have a lot of consonants in his name! Frickin’ awesome!”

John, are you listening? (I thought Vilsack was a type of pickle.)


GOP bumper sticker

cheney fuck you.gif

Actually, it’s a bit big for a bumper sticker. Wallpaper, maybe?

Via UggaBugga.


Drudge instigates another Kerry witch hunt

It was bad enough when Matt Drudge tried to make a ruckus over an alleged affair between John Kerry and an intern — a total fantasy. Now he’s banging the drum to get Kerry’s old divorce records unsealed, hoping to create an instant replay of last week’s episode with Jack Ryan in Illinois.

This is sickening because it so dramatically goes against the role of the journalist. Any idiot can see in a heartbeat what Drudge is doing. (Whenever Drudge uses exclamation points in his stories, you know he’s trying hard to stir up the shit.)

After last week’s front page headlines over ugly unsealed divorce records in the Republican Illinois senate race, media outlets now face a dilemma: What to do about Democrat presidential hopeful John Kerry’s sealed divorce records!

The race is on in political and media circles to gauge the import of Kerry’s sealed July 25, 1988 divorce from his first wife, Julia Stimson Thorne.

TRIBUNE, which successfully sued a court to gain access to Illinois Republican Jack Ryan’s divorce papers and child custody records [over the objection of both Ryan and his former wife], is considering a similar push on Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

[TRIBUNE owns WLVI-TV Channel 56 in Boston. It could use its Massachusetts connection as a jumping point to petition the court which granted Kerry a divorce, sources explain.]

Other news outlets may soon follow.


The Kerry campaign late Sunday called any old divorce digging a game of political “gutter ball.”

“This is a trash hunt,” said a senior Kerry source, who asked not to be named.

“No, I do not have a clue what is in the papers,” explained the source. “But it is none of my business. And its none of your business, or any one’s business… You’re playing a game of gutter ball, Drudge.”

“Other news outlets may follow.” Oh, that is journalism at its finest! Why not, “Other news outlets may not follow”? Both are equally true. No, what Drudge is really saying, exactly as he did with the Kerry kerfuffle, is, “I sure hope I can whip up the other news outlets to run with this piece-of-shit smear campaign of mine.”

Drudge is a disgrace, a blight on the profession, a gossip monger and a whore. To hell with him.

Update: Andrew Sullivan comments.


Not unimpressive

This speaks for itself.

Michael Moore’s anti-Bush “Fahrenheit 9/11” became the highest-grossing documentary of all time on its first weekend in release, taking in $21.8 million as it packed theaters across the country this weekend.

The movie, mocking President Bush and criticizing his decision to go to war in Iraq, was No. 1 at the box office, beating out the popular comedies “White Chicks” and “DodgeBall,” which were playing on almost triple the number of screens.

Theater owners in large cities and smaller towns reported sellout crowds over the weekend, with numerous theaters declaring house records.

The phenomenal opening represented a decisive victory for Mr. Moore and for the Miramax movie executives Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who released the film independently after it was rejected by Miramax’s corporate parent, the Walt Disney Company, as too political.

“We sold out in Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg,” in North Carolina, Mr. Moore said on Sunday. “We sold out in Army-base towns. We set house records in some of these places. We set single-day records in a number of theaters. We got standing ovations in Greensboro, N.C.

“The biggest news to me this morning is this is a red-state movie,” he said, referring to the state whose residents voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election. “Republican states are embracing the movie, and it’s sold out in Republican strongholds all over the country.”

Harvey Weinstein said: “It’s beyond anybody’s expectations. I’d have to say the sky’s the limit on this movie. Who knows what territory we’re in.”

Update: And here’s what’s in the Wapo:

Jim Welsh, 65, drove more than 120 miles from his home in Salisbury, Md., to see the movie. The editor of a film and literature magazine, Welsh said, “I’d like to see for myself Mr. Moore’s methods and message, unlike those right-wing people who will trash it without having a clue what it involves.”

Kitty Dana, 48, said she cried through two-thirds of it. “It was incredibly moving, not just satirical,” said Dana, who works for the American Friends Service Committee, an antiwar group.

“It says a little about American arrogance and power,” said Chandra Pant, 51, of Delhi, India, who was visiting the Danas.

Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel had no comment on the box office numbers, but suggested that those wanting another view visit www.GeorgeWBush.com and see a compilation of clips titled “Kerry Coalition of the Wild-Eyed.” In general, the campaign has said it did not want to take on Moore because it would lend him credibility.

Moore made no apologies for his partisanship. “Documentaries by their very nature are supposed to have a point of view,” he said during the conference call. He calls his documentary “an op-ed piece — it presents my opinion based on fact.” He said he believes the movie is playing strongly in Middle America, and that it has confounded theories that “it would only speak to the choir.”

“The documentary filmgoing audience is not that large. . . . I would imagine tens of thousands of people came this weekend who had never been to a documentary in a movie theater in their lives,” says Moore.

The distributors say they plan to add a couple of hundred theaters this coming weekend, and additional theaters the following weekend. By then the competition will include one of the summer’s anticipated blockbusters, “Spider-Man 2.”

“We look forward to joining with ‘Spider-Man’ to bringing truth and justice all across America,” Moore said.


George Bush, underwear model

Bush in skivvies.jpg

Good headline; good photo. Maybe Calvin Klein will offer him a job. Move over, Marky Mark.

[Photo courtesy of the anonymous Philly blogger.]


Quote of the day

Billmon on why the right is so frightened of Michael Moore, and so willing to adopt a double standard when discussing him.

For years now, Limbaugh, Coulter and their inferior imitations have been passing off their slanted misreadings, unproven allegations and flimsy lies as factual reporting. When caught out on a lie or a smear, they either ignore the evidence, or – like Limbaugh – retreat into the phony defense of arguing that all they’re doing is expressing a subjective opinion. “I’m just in the entertainment business,” Rush likes to say.

Well, now there’s someone on the left who knows how to play their game, and play it brilliantly. Moore may be an egomaniac, and a huckster showman in the best (or worst) tradition of P.T. Barnum and Walter Winchell, but man, he’s effective. He’s learned to play the mainstream media like a Stradivarius.

No wonder the right wingers are scared of Moore – he’s even better then they are at using the media as an unwilling amplifier. Which is why all the conservative caterwauling and all disapproving tut tuts from the “responsible” press have only helped ensure Fahrenheit 9/11 a wider distribution.

In other words, Moore’s managed to break the code. He’s figured out how to sell an angry radical (or at least semi-radical) message to a mass audience.

That’s a major accomplishment. And if the end result isn’t exactly my idea of a civilized political discourse (I’ll reserve judgement for now) it clearly is a powerful and successful example of fighting fire with fire.

And right now, a little fire may be what the American left needs most.

The right has been giving us much, much, much worse than Moore for a decade. Now when given a mild taste of their own recipe, they go bonkers. They curse. They hiss. They shout treason and “liar!” At least Moore backs up what he says with evidence, usually self-incriminating video clips of those he’s criticizing.


Maureen Dowd on potty-mouthed Cheney

Very funny. Dowd looks at how Cheney is roaming the nation, wreaking havoc on Bush and his image. (His intimate invitation to Patrick Leahy to “Fuck yourself” hasn’t helped.) He comes across as a deranged and dangerous man.


Bush’s bad hair week

After reading this rundown of the past few days’ headaches for our dear leader, all I can say is “Heh.”

Poor guy. My heart goes out to him.