Where Heart Shift Happens. Teaching the Science of Sustainable Health. What works for 7 future generations? "Do not go where the freeway may lead - Go instead where there is no path and build - A Green Road"
Where Does Occupy Wall Street Go From Here? ...a proposal from Michael Moore
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and goals of the movement. It was attended by 40+ people and the discussion was both inspiring and invigorating. Here is what we ended up proposing as the movement's "vision statement" to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:
We Envision:  a truly free, democratic, and just society;  where we, the people, come together and solve our problems by consensus;  where people are encouraged to take personal and collective responsibility and participate in decision making;  where we learn to live in harmony and embrace principles of toleration and respect for diversity and the differing views of others;  where we secure the civil and human rights of all from violation by tyrannical forces and unjust governments;  where political and economic institutions work to benefit all, not just the privileged few;  where we provide full and free education to everyone, not merely to get jobs but to grow and flourish as human beings;  where we value human needs over monetary gain, to ensure decent standards of living without which effective democracy is impossible;  where we work together to protect the global environment to ensure that future generations will have safe and clean air, water and food supplies, and will be able to enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature that past generations have enjoyed.
The next step will be to develop a specific list of goals and demands. As one of the millions of people who are participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, I would like to respectfully offer my suggestions of what we can all get behind now to wrestle the control of our country out of the hands of the 1% and place it squarely with the 99% majority.
Here is what I will propose to the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street:
10 Things We Want A Proposal for Occupy Wall Street Submitted by Michael Moore
1. Eradicate the Bush tax cuts for the rich and institute new taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations, including a tax on all trading on Wall Street (where they currently pay 0%).
2. Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries when that company is already making profits in America. Our jobs are the most important national treasure and they cannot be removed from the country simply because someone wants to make more money.
3. Require that all Americans pay the same Social Security tax on all of their earnings (normally, the middle class pays about 6% of their income to Social Security; someone making $1 million a year pays about 0.6% (or 90% less than the average person). This law would simply make the rich pay what everyone else pays.
4. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, placing serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and the banks.
5. Investigate the Crash of 2008, and bring to justice those who committed any crimes.
6. Reorder our nation's spending priorities (including the ending of all foreign wars and their cost of over $2 billion a week). This will re-open libraries, reinstate band and art and civics classes in our schools, fix our roads and bridges and infrastructure, wire the entire country for 21st century internet, and support scientific research that improves our lives.
7. Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans all of the time.
8. Immediately reduce carbon emissions that are destroying the planet and discover ways to live without the oil that will be depleted and gone by the end of this century.
9. Require corporations with more than 10,000 employees to restructure their board of directors so that 50% of its members are elected by the company’s workers. We can never have a real democracy as long as most people have no say in what happens at the place they spend most of their time: their job. (For any U.S. businesspeople freaking out at this idea because you think workers can't run a successful company: Germany has a law like this and it has helped to make Germany the world’s leading manufacturing exporter.)
10. We, the people, must pass three constitutional amendments that will go a long way toward fixing the core problems we now have. These include:
a) A constitutional amendment that fixes our broken electoral system by 1) completely removing campaign contributions from the political process; 2) requiring all elections to be publicly financed; 3) moving election day to the weekend to increase voter turnout; 4) making all Americans registered voters at the moment of their birth; 5) banning computerized voting and requiring that all elections take place on paper ballots.
b) A constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and do not have the constitutional rights of citizens. This amendment should also state that the interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.
c) A constitutional amendment that will act as a "second bill of rights" as proposed by President Frankin D. Roosevelt: that every American has a human right to employment, to health care, to a free and full education, to breathe clean air, drink clean water and eat safe food, and to be cared for with dignity and respect in their old age.
Let me know what you think. Occupy Wall Street enjoys the support of millions. It is a movement that cannot be stopped. Become part of it by sharing your thoughts with me or online (atOccupyWallSt.org). Get involved in (or start!) your own local Occupy movement. Make some noise. You don't have to pitch a tent in lower Manhattan to be an Occupier. You are one just by saying you are. This movement has no singular leader or spokesperson; every participant is a leader in their neighborhood, their school, their place of work. Each of you is a spokesperson to those whom you encounter. There are no dues to pay, no permission to seek in order to create an action.
We are but ten weeks old, yet we have already changed the national conversation. This is our moment, the one we've been hoping for, waiting for. If it's going to happen it has to happen now. Don't sit this one out. This is the real deal. This is it.
Twenty-two years ago this coming Tuesday, I stood with a group of factory workers, students and the unemployed in the middle of the downtown of my birthplace, Flint, Michigan, to announce that the Hollywood studio, Warner Bros., had purchased the world rights to distribute my first movie, 'Roger & Me.' A reporter asked me, "How much did you sell it for?"
"Three million dollars!" I proudly exclaimed. A cheer went up from the union guys surrounding me. It was absolutely unheard of for one of us in the working class of Flint (or anywhere) to receive such a sum of money unless one of us had either robbed a bank or, by luck, won the Michigan lottery.
On that sunny November day in 1989, it was like I had won the lottery -- and the people I had lived and struggled with in Michigan were thrilled with my success. It was like, one of us had made it, one of us finally had good fortune smile upon us.
The day was filled with high-fives and "Way-ta-go Mike!"s. When you are from the working class you root for each other, and when one of you does well, the others are beaming with pride -- not just for that one person's success, but for the fact thatthe team had somehow won, beating the system that was brutal and unforgiving and which ran a game that was rigged against us.
We knew the rules, and those rules said that we factory town rats do not get to make movies or be on TV talk shows or have our voice heard on any national stage. We were to shut up, keep our heads down, and get back to work. If by some miracle one of us escaped and commandeered a mass audience and some loot to boot -- well, holy mother of God, watch out! A bully pulpit and enough cash to raise a ruckus -- that was an incendiary combination, and it only spelled trouble for those at the top.
Until that point I had been barely getting by on unemployment, collecting $98 a week. Welfare. The dole. My car had died back in April so I had gone seven months with no vehicle. Friends would take me out to dinner, always coming up with an excuse to celebrate or commemorate something and then picking up the check so I would not have to feel the shame of not being able to afford it.
And now, all of a sudden, I had three million bucks! What would I do with it? There were men in suits making many suggestions to me, and I could see how those without a strong moral sense of social responsibility could be easily lead down the "ME" path and quickly forget about the "WE."
So I made some easy decisions back in 1989:
1. I would first pay all my taxes. I told the guy who did my 1040 not to declare any deductions other than the mortgage and to pay the full federal, state and city tax rate. I proudly contributed nearly 1 million dollars for the privilege of being a citizen of this great country.
2. Of the remaining $2 million, I decided to divide it up the way I once heard the folksinger/activist Harry Chapin tell me how he lived: "One for me, one for the other guy." So I took half the money -- $1 million -- and established a foundation to give it all away.
3. The remaining million went like this: I paid off all my debts, paid off the debts of some friends and family members, bought my parents a new refrigerator, set up college funds for our nieces and nephews, helped rebuild a black church that had been burned down in Flint, gave out a thousand turkeys at Thanksgiving, bought filmmaking equipment to send to the Vietnamese (my own personal reparations for a country we had ravaged), annually bought 10,000 toys to give to Toys for Tots at Christmas, got myself a new American-made Honda, and took out a mortgage on an apartment above a Baby Gap in New York City.
4. What remained went into a simple, low-interest savings account. I made the decision that I would never buy a share of stock (I didn't understand the casino known as the New York Stock Exchange and I did not believe in investing in a system I did not agree with).
5. Finally, I believed the concept of making money off your money had created a greedy, lazy class who didn't produce any product, just misery and fear among the populace. They invented ways to buy out companies and then shut them down. They dreamed up schemes to play with people's pension funds as if it were their own money. They demanded companies keep posting record profits (which was accomplished by firing thousands and eliminating health benefits for those who remained). I made the decision that if I was going to earn a living, it would be done from my own sweat and ideas and creativity. I would produce something tangible, something others could own or be entertained by or learn from. My work would create employment for others, good employment with middle class wages and full health benefits.
I went on to make more movies, produce TV series and write books. I never started a project with the thought, "I wonder how much money I can make at this?" And by never letting money be the motivating force for anything, I simply did exactly what I wanted to do. That attitude kept the work honest and unflinching -- and that, in turn I believe, resulted in millions of people buying tickets to these films, tuning in to my TV shows, and buying my books.
Which is exactly what has driven the Right crazy when it comes to me. How did someone from the left get such a wide mainstream audience?! This just isn't supposed to happen (Noam Chomsky, sadly, will not be booked on The View today, and Howard Zinn, shockingly, didn't make the New York Times bestseller list until after he died). That's how the media machine is rigged -- you are not supposed to hear from those who would completely change the system to something much better. Only wimpy liberals who urge caution and compromise and mild reforms get to have their say on the op-ed pages or Sunday morning chat shows.
Somehow, I found a crack through the wall and made it through. I feel very blessed that I have this life -- and I take none of it for granted. I believe in the lessons I was taught back in Catholic school -- that if you end up doing well, you have an even greater responsibility to those who don't fare the same. "The last shall be first and the first shall be last." Kinda commie, I know, but the idea was that the human family was supposed to divide up the earth's riches in a fair manner so that all of God's children would have a life with less suffering.
I do very well -- and for a documentary filmmaker, I do extremely well. That, too, drives conservatives bonkers. "You're rich because of capitalism!" they scream at me. Um, no. Didn't you take Econ 101? Capitalism is a system, a pyramid scheme of sorts, that exploits the vast majority so that the few at the top can enrich themselves more. I make my money the old school, honest way by making things.
Some years I earn a boatload of cash. Other years, like last year, I don't have a job (no movie, no book) and so I make a lot less. "How can you claim to be for the poor when you are the opposite of poor?!" It's like asking: "You've never had sex with another man -- how can you be for gay marriage?!" I guess the same way that an all-male Congress voted to give women the vote, or scores of white people marched with Martin Luther Ling, Jr. (I can hear these righties yelling back through history: "Hey! You're not black! You're not being lynched! Why are you with the blacks?!").
It is precisely this disconnect that prevents Republicans from understanding why anyone would give of their time or money to help out those less fortunate. It is simply something their brain cannot process."Kanye West makes millions! What's he doing at Occupy Wall Street?!"
Exactly -- he's down there demanding that his taxes be raised. That, to a right-winger, is the definition of insanity. To everyone else, we are grateful that people like him stand up, even if and especially because it is against his own personal financial interest. It is specifically what that Bible those conservatives wave around demands of those who are well off.
Back on that November day in 1989 when I sold my first film, a good friend of mine said this to me: "They have made a huge mistake giving someone like you a big check. This will make you a very dangerous man. And it proves that old saying right: 'The capitalist will sell you the rope to hang himself with if he thinks he can make a buck off it.'"
From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.
Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, "When did this all end?", I say, "It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981."
Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to "go for it" -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.
And they've succeeded.
On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.
It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?
Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started -- a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.
Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over. America, from now on, would be run this way:
* The super-rich will make more, much much more, and the rest of you will scramble for the crumbs that are left.
* Everyone must work! Mom, Dad, the teenagers in the house! Dad, you work a second job! Kids, here's your latch-key! Your parents might be home in time to put you to bed.
* 50 million of you must go without health insurance! And health insurance companies: you go ahead and decide who you want to help -- or not.
* Unions are evil! You will not belong to a union! You do not need an advocate! Shut up and get back to work! No, you can't leave now, we're not done. Your kids can make their own dinner.
* You want to go to college? No problem -- just sign here and be in hock to a bank for the next 20 years!
* What's "a raise"? Get back to work and shut up!
And so it went. But Reagan could not have pulled this off by himself in 1981. He had some big help:
The biggest organization of unions in America told its members to cross the picket lines of the air traffic controllers and go to work. And that's just what these union members did. Union pilots, flight attendants, delivery truck drivers, baggage handlers -- they all crossed the line and helped to break the strike. And union members of all stripes crossed the picket lines and continued to fly.
Reagan and Wall Street could not believe their eyes! Hundreds of thousands of working people and union members endorsing the firing of fellow union members. It was Christmas in August for Corporate America.
And that was the beginning of the end. Reagan and the Republicans knew they could get away with anything -- and they did. They slashed taxes on the rich. They made it harder for you to start a union at your workplace. They eliminated safety regulations on the job. They ignored the monopoly laws and allowed thousands of companies to merge or be bought out and closed down.. Corporations froze wages and threatened to move overseas if the workers didn't accept lower pay and less benefits. And when the workers agreed to work for less, they moved the jobs overseas anyway.
And at every step along the way, the majority of Americans went along with this. There was little opposition or fight-back. The "masses" did not rise up and protect their jobs, their homes, their schools (which used to be the best in the world). They just accepted their fate and took the beating.
I have often wondered what would have happened had we all just stopped flying, period, back in 1981. What if all the unions had said to Reagan, "Give those controllers their jobs back or we're shutting the country down!"? You know what would have happened. The corporate elite and their boy Reagan would have buckled.
But we didn't do it. And so, bit by bit, piece by piece, in the ensuing 30 years, those in power have destroyed the middle class of our country and, in turn, have wrecked the future for our young people. Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. Take a look at the statistics and you can see that every decline we're now suffering with had its beginning in 1981 (here's a little scene to illustrate that from my last movie).
It all began on this day, 30 years ago. One of the darkest days in American history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had the money, and the media and the cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset and wanted their country, their life, their job, their weekend, their time with their kids back?
Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget about the 20% who support the Tea Party -- we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. And not through an online petition or a tweet. We are going to have to turn the TV and the computer and the video games off and get out in the streets (like they've done in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money -- or step aside.
When is enough, enough? The middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street's plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves and Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?
Why not use today to pause and think about the little steps you can take to turn this around in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in your school? Is there any better day to start than today?
Last Thoughts Before the Turkey Comes Calling ...a letter from Michael Moore
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
As I head off for Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a final thought with you about this past week's news regarding the health care executives who sat around that table in Philadelphia four years ago and decided on a course of action to, if need be, "push Michael Moore off a cliff."
Having spent the week reading all their secret documents (and the book "Deadly Spin"), it's clear that there was something far more scary to these companies than me.
They were, in fact, scared of you. They were afraid YOU would end up pushing them over their own greedy cliff.
Yes, they spied on me and my family in the hopes of finding something with which to smear me and my film, "Sicko." Finding nothing (sorry, guys, I live a pretty boring life), they then resorted to the old chestnuts that have been hurled at me by General Motors, the Bush White House, the National Rifle Association and others since my first film 20 years ago, and they essentially boil down to this:
"Don't listen to him! He hates America! He hates our way of life! He's not telling you the truth! He plays fast and loose with it! Patriots, don't waste your good money to see his movie!"
And it's that last message that's at the epicenter of their biggest fear. Back in 2007, these health insurance companies believed that if you strolled inside a theater showing "Sicko", their golden goose would be cooked.
They knew, according to former health care exec and whistleblower Wendell Potter, that the truth was up there on that screen -- and the LAST thing they wanted was for millions of Americans to be exposed to it.
Why? Well, we need look no further than the document containing their own secret directive on how they should deal with the movie:
"[We Must] Prepare for the Worst Case...SiCKO evolves into a sustained populist movement."
There it is. Their biggest fear. Their "worst case" scenario. That YOU, the American public, would rise up against them. I wasn't their worst nightmare -- you were. Their own research and private polling showed that you were getting fed up with how they were screwing you, gouging you, ripping you off, denying you coverage and flat out just kicking you off the insurance. They knew, according to Potter, that they were killing 45,000 of you every year simply by denying you coverage.
We Americans don't like people who kill us. We're the kind of people who will throw billions of dollars and the mightiest military on earth at just one guy because he killed just 2,977 people. What would we do if we discovered who's killing 45,000 of us every year? How fast would we act to sever the head of that beast?
You don't need to answer that question because the executives of the country's health insurance conglomerates already know it -- it's their big "What If", followed by an even bigger "Holy Shit." "What If the millions of average Joes and Janes ever got it together enough to bring us all down, to end our profiting off the misery of others? What If the citizenry one day begin electing representatives who couldn't be bought and who would end our for-profit health insurance racket?" Holy shit, indeed.
Yes, they feared that day more than anything else, and a movie coming out before a big election year with two popular Democrats pushing for some vague version of universal heath care was all that was needed to get Big Insurance to spend millions of dollars to attack me. These corporate kingpins knew they had pushed their luck too far and now they were worried that a movie -- a movie! -- could ignite a "populist movement."
All that money spent smearing me because they thought you would get up from your theater seat and start a revolution.
It's a great compliment to you. They fear the power you have. But that's 'cause they're good at math. They know there will always be more of us than there are of them. And unless they can repeal "one person, one vote," they know they are doomed. In the meantime they will try to maintain the power they have by buying off politicians, dumbing us down, distracting us with Dancing/Ice Skating/Drinking with the Stars and getting us so scared we'll acquiesce to having naked pictures taken of us at airports this Thanksgiving weekend. Over the river and through the body scan, to grandmother's house we go...
So let us give thanks today that the richest 1% begrudgingly know that we are still, on paper at least, in charge. It is, I believe, a glimmer of hope of what we could possibly accomplish in the coming new year.
Never Forget: Bad Wars Aren't Possible Unless Good People Back Them
Today's OpenMike blog by Michael Moore
September 15, 2010
"I know we've been "free" of the Iraq War for two weeks now and our minds have turned to the new football season and Fashion Week in New York. And how exciting that the new fall TV season is just days away!
But before we get too far away from something we would all just like to forget, will you please allow me to just say something plain and blunt and necessary:
We invaded Iraq because most Americans -- including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry -- wanted to.
Of course the actual blame for the war goes to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz because they ordered the "precision" bombing, the invasion, the occupation, and the theft of our national treasury. I have no doubt that history will record that they committed the undisputed Crime of the (young) Century.
But how did they get away with it, considering they'd lost the presidential election by 543,895 votes? They also knew that the majority of the country probably wouldn't back them in such a war (a Newsweek poll in October 2002 showed 61% thought it was "very important" for Bush to get formal approval from the United Nations for war -- but that never happened). So how did they pull it off?
They did it by getting liberal voices to support their war. They did it by creating the look of bipartisanship. And they convinced other countries' leaders like Tony Blair to get on board and make it look like it wasn't just our intelligence agencies cooking the evidence.
But most importantly, they made this war (and its public support) happen because Bush & Co. had brilliantly conned the New York Times into running a bunch of phony front-page stories about how Saddam Hussein had all these "weapons of mass destruction." The administration gleefully fed this false information not to Fox News or the Washington Times. They gave it to America's leading liberal newspaper. They must have had a laugh riot each morning when they'd pick up the New York Times and read the nearly word-for-word scenarios and talking points that they had concocted in the Vice President's office.
I blame the New York Times more for this war than Bush. I expected Bush and Cheney to try and get away with what they did. But the Times -- and the rest of the press -- was supposed to STOP them by doing their job: Be a relentless watchdog of government and business -- and then inform the public so we can take action.
Instead, the New York Times gave the Bush administration the cover they needed. They could -- and did -- say, 'Hey, look, even the Times says Saddam has WMD!'
With this groundwork laid, the Bush crowd ended up convincing a whopping 70% of the public to support the war -- a public that had given him less than 48% of its vote in 2000.
Early liberal support for this war was the key ingredient in selling it to a majority of the public. I realize this is something that no one in the media -- nor most of us -- really wants to discuss. Who among us wants to feel the pain of having to remember that liberals, by joining with Bush, made this war happen?
Please, before our collective memory fades, I just want us to be honest with ourselves and present an unsanitized version of how they pulled off this war. I can guarantee you the revisionists will make sure the real truth will not enter the history books.
Children born when the war began started second grade this month.
Kids who were eleven in 2003 are now old enough to join up and get killed in Iraq in a "non-combat capacity."
They'll never understand how we got here if we don't.
So let me state this clearly: This war was aided and abetted by a) liberals who were afraid to stick their necks out and thus remained silent; and b) liberals who actually said they believed Colin Powell's cartoon presentation at the U.N. and then went against their better judgment by publicly offering their support for the invasion of Iraq.
First, there were those 29 (turncoat) Democratic senators who voted for the war. Then there was the embarrassing display of reporters who couldn't wait to be "embedded" and go for a joy ride on a Bradley tank.
But my real despair lies with the people I counted on for strong opposition to this madness -- but who left the rest of us alone, out on a limb, as we tried to stop the war.
In March of 2003, to be a public figure speaking out against the war was considered instant career suicide. Take the Dixie Chicks as Exhibit A. Their lead singer, Natalie Maines, uttered just one sentence of criticism -- and their career was effectively dead and buried at that moment. Bruce Springsteen spoke out in their defense, and a Colorado DJ was fired for refusing to not play their songs. That was about it. Crickets everywhere else.
Then MSNBC fired the only nightly critic of the war -- the television legend, Phil Donahue. No one at the network -- or any network -- spoke up on his behalf. There would never again be a Phil Donahue show. (Little did GE know that, when they soon filled that 8pm hour with a sports guy by the name of Keith Olbermann, they would end up with the war's most brilliant and fiercest critic, night after night after night.) There were a few others -- Bill Maher, Janeane Garofalo, Tim Robbins and Seymour Hersh -- who weren't afraid to speak the truth. But where was everyone else? Where were all those supposed liberal voices in the media?
Instead, this is what we were treated to back in 2003 and 2004:
** Al Franken, who said he "reluctantly" was "a supporter of the war against Saddam." And six months into the war Al was still saying, "There were reasons to go to war against Iraq ... I was very ambivalent about it but I still don't know if it was necessarily wrong (to go to war)."
** Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times, who attacked me and wrote a column comparing me to the nutty right-wingers who claimed Hillary had Vince Foster killed. He said people like me were "polarizing the political cesspool," and he chastised anyone who dared call Bush's reasons for going to war in Iraq "lies."
** Howell Raines, editor-in-chief of the "liberal" New York Times, who was, according to former Times editor Doug Frantz, "eager to have articles that supported the war-mongering out of Washington ... He discouraged pieces that were at odds with the administration's position on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction and alleged links of al-Qaeda." The book "Hard News" reported that "according to half a dozen sources within the Times, Raines wanted to prove once and for all that he wasn't editing the paper in a way that betrayed his liberal beliefs..."
** Bill Keller, at the time a New York Times columnist, who wrote: "We reluctant hawks may disagree among ourselves about the most compelling logic for war -- protecting America, relieving oppressed Iraqis or reforming the Middle East -- but we generally agree that the logic for standing pat does not hold. ... we are hard pressed to see an alternative that is not built on wishful thinking."
(The New York Times is so left-wing that when Raines retired, they replaced him with... Keller.)
** The New Yorker, the magazine for really smart liberals, found its editor-in-chief, David Remnick, supporting the war on its pages: "History will not easily excuse us if, by deciding not to decide, we defer a reckoning with an aggressive totalitarian leader who intends not only to develop weapons of mass destruction but also to use them. ... a return to a hollow pursuit of containment will be the most dangerous option of all." (To cover its ass, the New Yorker had another editor, Rick Hertzberg, write an anti-war editorial as a rebuttal.)
Some of the above have recanted their early support of the war. The Times fired its WMD correspondent and apologized to its readers. Al Franken has been a great Senator. Kristof now writes nice columns (check out last Sunday's).
But the support of the war by these leading liberals and the majority of the Democrats in the Senate made it safe for the Right to let loose a vicious and unchecked tirade of hate and threats on anyone (including myself) who dared to step out of line. It was not uncommon to hear the media describe me as "un-American," "anti-American," "aiding the terrorists," and being a "traitor."
Here are just a couple of examples of what was said about me over the airwaves by two of the nation's leading conservative commentators:
"Let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong? I stopped wearing my 'What Would Jesus Do' band, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, 'Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore,' and then I'd see the little band: 'What Would Jesus Do?' And then I'd realize, 'Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death.' And you know, well, I'm not sure." (Glenn Beck)
"Well, I want to kill Michael Moore. Is that all right? All right. And I don't believe in capital punishment. That's just a joke on Moore." (Bill O'Reilly)
(Ironically, O'Reilly made his threat/joke the night after Janet Jackson's breast was bared at the Super Bowl -- which got CBS fined over half a million dollars because, you know, nipples are far more frightening than death threats.)
So that's how I'll personally remember the early war years: living with a real and present danger caused by the hate whipped up by right-wing radio and TV. (I've been advised not to recount certain specific incidents that happened to me, as it would only encourage other crazy people.)
So I dealt with it. And I'm still here. And I know many of you went through your own crap, standing up against the war at school, or work, or at Thanksgiving dinner, taking your own blows for simply saying what was the truth.
But how much easier it would have been for all of us if the liberal establishment had stood with us? We didn't own a daily newspaper, or a magazine with a circulation in the millions. We didn't have our own TV show or network.. We weren't invited on shows like "Meet the Press," because they simply could not allow our voice to be heard.
The media watchdog group FAIR reported that in the three weeks after the war started, the CBS Evening News allowed only one anti-war voice on their show -- and that was on one night inone soundbite (and that was four seconds of me in a line from my Oscar speech) -- even though in March of 2003 our anti-war numbers were in the millions (remember the huge demonstrations in hundreds of cities?). We were around 30% of the country according to most polls (that's nearly 100 million Americans!) and yet we had no way to communicate with each other aside from through the Nation and a few websites like CommonDreams.org and Truth-Out.org.
But that was no way to build a huge mass movement of Middle Americans to oppose the war. Unless you had just lucked out and been handed an Oscar on live television in front of a gazillion people where you had 45 seconds to say something before they cut you off and booed you off the stage (hahahaha), you had no public platform. (Jeez, I sure did get booed a lot that year: simply walking through an airport, or eating dinner in a restaurant, or sitting at a Laker game where they suddenly put me up on the Jumbotron and the place went so angry-crazy that Larry David, who was sitting next to me, felt that maybe for his own safety he should perhaps slide a few seats down or go get us a couple of wieners. Instead, he stuck by my side -- and his skillful ninja moves got us out of there alive after the game.)
I know it's hard to remember, but when this war started, there was no YouTube, no Facebook, no Twitter, no way for you to bypass the media lords so you could have your own friggin' say.
Too bad for the bastards, those days are over.
The next time around, it won't be so easy to shut up a country girl band or try to silence someone while he accepts his little gold statue -- or completely ignore the millions of citizens in the streets.
So now we can hope that one of our wars is over. Too bad we lost. I hate to lose, don't you? But the fact is, we lost the very day we invaded a sovereign nation that posed absolutely no threat to us and had nothing to do with 9/11. We lost lives (over 4,400 of ours, hundreds of thousands of theirs), we lost limbs (a total of 35,000 troops came back with various wounds and disabilities and God knows how many more with mental problems). We lost the money our grandchildren were supposed to live on.
And we lost our soul, who we were, what we stood for as a once-great country -- lost it all. Can we now ask for redemption -- for forgiveness? Can we be... "America" again?
I guess we'll see. The vast majority of the country eventually came around to the Dixie Chicks' position. And we elected an anti-Iraq-war guy by the name of Barack Hussein Obama.
But, please, promise yourselves never to forget how our country went crazy 7 1/2 years ago -- even though, to many people at the time, it seemed completely normal. And I'm here to tell you, no matter how much better it's gotten, no matter how normal you may think things are now, we're still halfway nuts. Just listen to the new batch of "sensible pundits" as they start to beat the drums about what we should do to Iran. One war down, one (or two or three) to go.
C'mon, Mr. President, not one more kid needs to die overseas wearing a uniform with our flag on it. We can't win like this. Let's dig a few thousand wells in Afghanistan, build a few free mosques, leave behind some food and clothing, fix their electrical grid, issue an apology and set up a Facebook page so they can stay in touch with us -- and then let's get the hell out. Your own National Security Advisor and your CIA Director have told you there are less than 100 al-Qaeda fighters in the entire country. 100???
100,000 U.S. troops going after 100 al-Qaeda? Is this a Looney Tunes presentation? "A-ba-dee-a-ba-dee-a-ba-dee -- That's All Folks!" Let's get real. I'm glad one war is "over." But I know how we got there -- and I'm willing now to fight just as hard to stop these other wars if you won't, Mr.. Obama."
P.S. Just a thought, Mr. President. Can I ask that you go back and watch this movie I made -- "Fahrenheit 9/11." There might be some answers there. I give you my permission to download it for free by going to this site: TorrentHound.com. Don't tell the studio I said it was ok! They've only made a half a billion $$ on it so far.
P.P.S. To everyone on my list: Thanks to your thousands of generous donations, we've raised over $60,000 for the Muslim community center near Ground Zero. This has made news around the world, that there are Americans who believe in our stated American principles.
The second part of Mike's interview with Wolf Blitzer will air today on CNN's The Situation Room (5-7pm ET).
Also: Bill Maher has asked Mike to be his first guest of his new season this Friday at 10pm ET on HBO.
"Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now"
FIVE THINGS WE DEMAND THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS DO IMMEDIATELY:
1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.
2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery. The bill to make this happen is called H.R. 3200. You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand its passage, no compromises allowed.
4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?" (Click here for some info about the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.)
5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!!
FIVE THINGS WE CAN DO TO MAKE CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT LISTEN TO US:
1. Each of us must get into the daily habit of taking 5 minutes to make four brief calls: One to the President (202-456-1414), one to your Congressperson (202-224-3121) and one to each of your two Senators (202-224-3121). To find out who represents you, click here. Take just one minute on each of these calls to let them know how you expect them to vote on a particular issue. Let them know you will have no hesitation voting for a primary opponent -- or even a candidate from another party -- if they don't do our bidding. Trust me, they will listen. If you have another five minutes, click here to send them each an email. And if you really want to drop an anvil on them,send them a snail mail letter!
2. Take over your local Democratic Party. Remember how much fun you had with all those friends and neighbors working together to get Barack Obama elected? YOU DID THE IMPOSSIBLE. It's time to re-up! Get everyone back together and go to the monthly meeting of your town or county Democratic Party -- and become the majority that runs it! There will not be many in attendance and they will either be happy or in shock that you and the Obama Revolution have entered the room looking like you mean business. President Obama's agenda will never happen without mass grass roots action -- and he won't feel encouraged to do the right thing if no one has his back, whether it's to stand with him, or push him in the right direction. When you all become the local Democratic Party, send me a photo of the group and I'll post it on my website.
5. Start your own media. You. Just you (or you and a couple friends). The mainstream media is owned by corporate America and, with few exceptions, it will never tell the whole truth -- so you have to do it! Start a blog! Start a website of real local news (here's an example: The Michigan Messenger). Tweet your friends and use Facebook to let them know what they need to do politically. The daily papers are dying. If you don't fill that void, who will?
FIVE THINGS WE SHOULD DO TO PROTECT OURSELVES AND OUR LOVED ONES UNTIL WE GET THROUGH THIS MESS:
3. Do not invest in the stock market. If you have any extra cash, put it away in a savings account or, if you can, pay down on your mortgage so you can own your home as soon as possible. You can also buy very safe government savings bonds or T-bills. Or just buy your mother some flowers.
4. Unionize your workplace so that you and your coworkers have a say in how your business is run.Here's how to do it (more info here). Nothing is more American than democracy, and democracy shouldn't be checked at the door when you enter your workplace. Another way to Americanize your workplace is to turn your business into a worker-owned cooperative. You are not a wage slave. You are a free person, and you giving up eight hours of your life every day to someone else is to be properly compensated and respected.
5. Take care of yourself and your family. Sorry to go all Oprah on you, but she's right: Find a place of peace in your life and make the choice to be around people who are not full of negativity and cynicism. Look for those who nurture and love. Turn off the TV and the Blackberry and go for a 30-minute walk every day. Eat fruits and vegetables and cut down on anything that has sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour or too much sodium (salt) in it (and, as Michael Pollan says, "Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants"). Get seven hours of sleep each night and take the time to read a book a month. I know this sounds like I've turned into your grandma, but, dammit, take a good hard look at Granny -- she's fit, she's rested and she knows the names of both of her U.S. Senators without having to Google them. We might do well to listen to her. If we don't put our own "oxygen mask" on first (as they say on the airplane), we will be of no use to the rest of the nation in enacting any of this action plan!
I'm sure there are many other ideas you can come up with on how we can build this movement. Get creative. Think outside the politics-as-usual box. BE SUBVERSIVE! Think of that local action no one else has tried. Behave as if your life depended on it. Be bold! Try doing something with reckless abandon. It may just liberate you and your community and your nation.
And when you act, send me your stories, your photos and your video -- and be sure to post your ideas in the comments beneath this letter on my site so they can be shared with millions.
C'mon people -- we can do this! I expect nothing less of all of you, my true and trusted fellow travelers!
Thanks for viewing, noted, and forward this one....maybe some unexplained deaths may not be so unexplained. Even if no foul play was done, do you really want your employer getting rich off your death?"
As Michael Moore explains in the movie, insurance laws on us peasants prevent us from taking out insurance policies on our neighbors and co workers. We cannot get fire insurance or life insurance on our bosses, since it would create a conflict of interest, and tempt us to do something illegal in order to profit... So why is this common sense law that applies to us peasants not applying to the huge corporations that do this for all their employees? I am talking about large blue chip companies here... not scammy fly by night fraudsters, which is what I would expect from them...
What makes it worse is that the financial companies that almost brought down the worldwide money system with leveraged ARM loan derivatives, are now doing the same thing with these insurance policies... They are now gambling on your death and selling it on the open market to the highest bidder, worldwide.. They add a leverage factor of forty times, which is their profit.. the same as the Arm Loan Derivative scandal...
They got bailed out of one huge mess, so now they are creating an even LARGER mess, with taxpayer money. No laws exist for this and it is the WILD WEST... anything goes, same as Arm Loans.. Because it pays such HUGE PROFITS, it is attracting the brightest minds, the smartest people and the biggest scammers who are going to make BILLIONS if not TRILLIONS on this next fraud.. They will sell this to investors who will lose EVERYTHING, just like those who invested in ARM Loan Derivatives.
Watch the movie: Capitalism at your local movie theatre now, to learn about this and many other scams that large corporations are doing on your behalf, to try and 'help' you, the loyal peasant employee...
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