Thursday, March 10, 2011

A letter from Michael Moore

Our pal Michael Moore sent us an update on his views about how some of the things are going "on the ground" in Wisconsin.

Here is what he wrote:

How I Got to Madison, Wisconsin
Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Early yesterday morning, around 1:00 AM, I had finished work for the day on my current "project" (top secret for now -- sorry, no spoiler alerts!). Someone had sent me a link to a discussion Bill O'Reilly had had with Sarah Palin a few hours earlier about my belief that the money the 21st Century rich have absconded with really isn't theirs -- and that a vast chunk of it should be taken away from them.

They were referring to comments I had made earlier in the week on a small cable show called GRITtv (Part 1 and Part 2). I honestly didn't know this was going to air that night (I had been asked to stop by and say a few words of support for a nurses union video), but I spoke from my heart about the millions of our fellow Americans who have had their homes and jobs stolen from them by a criminal class of millionaires and billionaires. It was the morning after the Oscars, at which the winner of Best Documentary for "Inside Job" stood at the microphone and declared, "I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail. And that's wrong." And he was applauded for saying this. (When did they stop booing Oscar speeches? Damn!)

So GRITtv ran my comments -- and all week the right wingopoly has been upset over what I said: That the money that the rich have stolen (or not paid taxes on) belongs to the American people. Drudge/Limbaugh/Beck and even Donald Trump went nuts, calling me names and suggesting I move to Cuba.

So in the wee hours of yesterday morning I sat down to write an answer to them. By 3:00 AM, it had turned into more of a manifesto of class war -- or, I should say, a manifesto against the class war the rich have been conducting on the American people for the past 30 years. I read it aloud to myself to see how it sounded (trying not to wake anyone else in the apartment) and then -- and this is why no one should be up at 3:00 AM -- the crazy kicked in: I needed to get in the car and drive to Madison and give this speech.

I went online to get directions and saw that there was no official big rally planned like the one they had last Saturday and will have again next Saturday. Just the normal ongoing demonstration and occupation of the State Capitol that's been in process since February 12th (the day after Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt) to protest the Republican governor's move to kill the state's public unions.

So, it's three in the morning and I'm a thousand miles from Madison and I see that the open microphone for speakers starts at noon. Hmm. No time to drive from New York. I was off to the airport. I left a note on the kitchen table saying I'd be back at 9:00 PM. Called a friend and asked him if he wanted to meet me at the Delta counter. Called the guy who manages my website, woke him up, and asked him to track down the coordinators in Madison and tell them I'm on my way and would like to say a few words if possible -- "but tell them if they've got other plans or no room for me, I'll be happy just to stand there holding a sign and singing Solidarity Forever."

So I just showed up. The firefighters, hearing I'm there, ask me to lead their protest parade through downtown Madison. I march with them, along with John Nichols (who lives in Madison and writes for the Nation). Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and the great singer Michelle Shocked have also decided to show up.

The scene in Madison is nothing like what they are showing you on TV or in the newspaper. First, you notice that the whole town is behind this. Yard signs and signs in store windows are everywhere supporting public workers. There are thousands of people out just randomly lining the streets for the six blocks leading to the Capitol building carrying signs, shouting and cheering and cajoling. Then there are stages and friendly competing demos on all sides of the building (yesterday's total estimate of people was 50,000-70,000, the smallest one yet)! A big semi truck has been sent by James Hoffa of the Teamsters and is parked like a don't-even-think-of-effing-with-us Sherman tank on the street in front of the Capitol. There is a long line -- separate from these other demonstrations -- of 4,000 people, waiting their turn to get through the only open door to the Capitol so they can join the occupation inside.

And inside the Rotunda is ... well, it will bring tears to your eyes if you go there. It's like a shrine to working people -- to what America is and should be about -- packed with families and kids and so many senior citizens that it made me happy for science and its impact on life expectancy over the past century. There were grandmas and great-grandpas who remember FDR and Wisconsin's La Follette and the long view of this struggle. Standing in that Rotunda was like a religious experience. There had been nothing like it, for me, in decades.

And so it was in this setting, out of doors now on the steps of the Capitol, with so many people in front of me that I couldn't see where they ended, that I just "showed up" and gave a speech that felt unlike any other I had ever given. As I had just written it and had no time to memorize it, I read from the pages I brought with me. I wanted to make sure that the words I had chosen were clear and exact. I knew they had the potential to drive the haters into a rabid state (not a pretty sight) but I also feared that the Right's wealthy patrons would see a need to retaliate should these words be met with citizen action across the land. I was, after all, putting them on notice: We are coming after you, we are stopping you and we are going to return the money/jobs/homes you stole from the people. You have gone too far. It's too bad you couldn't have been satisfied with making millions, you had to have billions -- and now you want to strip us of our ability to talk and bargain and provide. This is your tipping point, Wall Street; your come-to-Jesus moment, Corporate America. And I'm glad I'm going to be able to be a witness to it.

You can find the written version of my speech on my website. Please read it and pass it around far and wide. You can also watch a video of me giving the spoken version from the Capitol steps by clicking here. I will be sending you a second email shortly with just the speech so you can forward a clean version of it without the above story of how I abandoned my family in the middle of the night to go to Wisconsin for the day.

I can't express enough the level of admiration I have for the people of Wisconsin who, for three weeks, have braved the brutal winter cold and taken over their state Capitol. All told, literally hundreds of thousands of people have made their way to Madison to make their voices heard. It all began with high school students cutting class and marching on the building (you can read their reports on my High School Newspaper site). Then their parents joined them. Then 14 brave Democratic state senators left the state so the governor wouldn't have his quorum.

And all this while the White House was trying to stop this movement (read this)!

But it didn't matter. The People's train had left the station. And now protests were springing up in all 50 states.

The media has done a poor job covering this (imagine a takeover of the government HQ in any other country, free or totalitarian -- our media would be all over it). But this one scares them and their masters -- as it should. The organizers told me this morning that my showing up got them more coverage yesterday than they would have had, "a shot in the arm that we needed to keep momentum going." Well, I'm glad I could help. But they need a lot more than just me -- and they need you doing similar things in your own states and towns.

How 'bout it? I know you know this: This is our moment. Let's seize it. Everyone can do something.

Michael Moore

P.S. This local Madison paper/blog captured best what happened yesterday, and got what I'm really up to. Someone please send this to O'Reilly and Palin so there's no mistaking my true intentions.

P.P.S. Full disclosure: I am a proud union member of four unions: the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA (the last two have passed resolutions supporting the workers in Wisconsin). My production company has signed union contracts with five unions (and soon to be a 6th). All my full-time employees have full medical and dental insurance with NO DEDUCTIBLE. So, yes, I'm biased.

The outcome of the Wisconsin incident (the authoritarians passed the legislation without the democrats being there) was as Dredd Blog expected and stated in a recent post (authoritarianism is the final phase of American "capitalism").

After reading the book "The Authoritarians" I realized that the most often made mistake people default to, when thinking about authoritarianism, is to consider the authoritarian leader to be the "be all", the big picture, or the most important factor in the matter.

Actually the leader is the least important factor while authoritarianism is developing, because in reality it is the insecurities of the authoritarian leaning people who let it happen, who are the primary reason for the spread and ascendancy of authoritarianism.

Authoritarianism is always preceded by a period of time when the substantial portion of the populace is led in the wrong direction by an influential few, an influential elite.

The professional class of journalists in the U.S.A. have been subverted to not listen to the populace, even while the populace voices that it senses something is wrong about the nation's direction.

Current attempts to eradicate Social Security, through "privatization" (giving SS to Wall Street for MOMCOM), and current attempts to eradicate unions (by removing collective bargaining, etc.) are examples of the wrong direction.

The majority of U.S. citizens think we are going in the wrong direction, but do not have a comprehensive unity as to what the proper destination might be.

The stupid wars (yes, Iraq is still a war) are two more examples of THE Wrong DIRECTION, The W Direction.

As it ends up, our national sentiments are senses about where we should not be more so than a sense of where we need to go.


  1. The reaction to the Wisconsin union busting-becoming-law is reactionary to the core:

    "Dealt a major setback Wednesday night in a high-stakes battle over union rights in Wisconsin, labor leaders nevertheless insisted that they would emerge from the three-week long saga energized and eager to continue fighting." (HuffPo).

    Perhaps they will figure out that it is better to be visionary about these matters than reactionaries, always having to resurrect some dead policy.

    Defending good policies with competent visionaries and before the attack defensive tactics is a better strategy than giving up ground so you can try to retake it later.

    While Obama and the gang plan "bi-partisanship" (a.k.a. capitulation) their foes admit that they are planning the demise of Obama and the gang.


  2. I'm really impressed by the tenacity of the opposition in Wisconsin. They're going to lose the battle for sure, but they're certainly preparing the ground and letting the Tea Party conservative right authoritarians know that future such battles won't be fought without considerable pain and opposition.

    Strategically, I suppose there's even a slim chance now that the US sheeple will react and wake up in time to reverse recent political events in 2012, but I doubt it. The people who actually stand to gain by events in Wisconsin (poor, working class, fear driven authoritarian followers) still vote overwhelmingly hard right conservative, and if anything, events in Wisconsin will only harden their positions.

    Authoritarian followers' (I grew up surrounded by them in the midwest. How I managed not to become one I don't know, but I guess it must have been by joining the military and getting away from them. I guess even MOMCOM serves some small utilitarian purposes.) positions are forged over lifetimes of fear based, closed minded thinking, and are not likely to change during times of chaos and turmoil.

  3. Doncha wonder about some of the conversations the Jewish families had before, during, and after internment in the NAZI death camps during WW II?

    Talk about evolution of thought processes.

    That evolution needs to take place before the fact, not after the fact, which they found out the hard way.

    The emotional healing done by a massive, national "fix-it or we will" type of sentiment could heal us.

    The Wisconsin resistance is the serum to neutralize the authoritarian disease infecting that state.

    Michael, ship us a few tons of that good stuff or we are likely to repeat the discourse of the Jewish families sometime in our future.

  4. Yeah, evolution of thought processes ... from left to right ...

    The wrong direction.

    The McCarthy hearings of the day are beginning.

    You can tell when an authoritarian is doing something by the security brigades that surround them.

    Michael Moore travels alone and mingles with the people, while King of The House has to travel like M. Quadafi in Libya (with a mercenary army).

  5. There is a good article over at HuffPo that describes the scenario well.

    Obama's incontinence led to the loss of joy and energy in those that rejected W in 2008. Obama, before the last election, had become W lite, which led to authoritarian gains because those voters did not show up to continue to vote against the W movement.

    Obama sucks for that, but the people suck for wanting a hero instead of being the hero themselves.

    They are now talking what they should have been talking about before the last election:

    "Without question, there are other avenues that should also be pursued: Occupy the capital. Recall Scott Walker. Show up at every town hall meeting one of the cowardly 18 state senators dare show their face. But this is put up or shut up time for the labor movement. For too long, labor's power has been slowly eroding like a vintage car left out in the rain. It's certainly true, as the poet Shelley wrote, that "We are many, they are few." But a muscle doesn't mean a damn thing unless you flex." (Dave Zinn).

    That is a strategy based on reacting which is all they have now, but in the future a proactive offense must replace the folly of always being on the defense.

    That is why football teams have offense and defense.

  6. There is a lot of Orwellian talk out there today guys:

    "The phrase "Moment of Truth" first appeared in English in Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon. It was originally a Spanish expression for the final sword-thrust in a bull-fight, the one that finishes off the bull after the matador is done taunting and tormenting him.

    Remember that whenever you hear about "The Moment of Truth Project," the latest public relations venture from the Social Security-slashing Pete Peterson crowd. It could be el momento de verdad for your future financial security
    ." (Richard Eskow).

  7. I think it is good to remember that the elderly are the targets of the cowardly authoritarians trying to take down Social Security Insurance.

    Many elderly went to the gas chambers of the authoritarians in years past.

    The conservative authoritarians are in the process of de-synthesizing the populace to the plight of the elderly so they can steal the insurance those elderly paid for already.

  8. Perhaps the elderly could persuade the Social Security Administration to adopt accounting policies like the Pentagon uses:

    "The US administration is taking a hard look at problems in the Defense Department's accounting, after a report called its books unauditable, the Treasury said Wednesday." (Raw Story)

    We covered the issue once upon a time here and here.

    If the Social Security Insurance budget was unknown, instead of being in the black til 2037 as now known, then how can anyone prove ... hey that's the ticket.

    The Pentagon entitlements are near the trillion per year, or more, mark, so those MOMCOM entitlements need to be hidden from the public so the elderly can be shaken down to add to the Pentagon budget.

  9. Keith Olbermann comes down on the side of Marx and Moore, that is, they feel that the conservative authoritarians will take a big hit in January 2012 in recall elections.

    That is contrary to this Dredd Blog post's expectations and is, to my way of thinking, not taking into consideration the damage that has been done to the national psyche via the overriding of reason with fear through the activation of the national amygdala by the authoritarians.

    I hope Keith & Mike are correct and that I am wrong on this issue.

  10. I guess the truly amazing thing about all this is that, yet once again, the very people who are hurt by all this are the one's supporting those who aim to impose their hurt. Truly amazing stuff, even when you do grasp the lunacy of authoritarian followers.

    On the other hand, I'm quite sure the way SS and MC cutbacks will be sold to the public is by dropping the bomb on those 10-20 years out and more from collecting. Current recipients and near recipients will be grandfathered in to prevent all hell from breaking loose, then the rest will be told to take a hike. The hard part about THAT calculation will be that in order to pay off current recipients without totally cratering the budget deficit, SS & MC taxes will need to continue to be collected until most of the recipients die off, which, given the current state of medical technology and cost control - not to mention our reluctance to consider practical end of life measures for the terminally ill - could be a VERY, VERY long and expensive time indeed!

    One way or another, SS, MC, and HC in general promises to be perhaps THE major issue of our time once the federal government goes belly up and begins wholesale reneging on its obligations. In addition to a well deserved class war, we'll likely have a generational war to boot that may well dwarf all of the others until it's played out.

    The war of all against all is shaping up to be a specter straight out of a Gothic horror novel.

  11. quote from disaffected "I guess the truly amazing thing about all this is that, yet once again, the very people who are hurt by all this are the one's supporting those who aim to impose their hurt. Truly amazing stuff, even when you do grasp the lunacy of authoritarian followers."

    I am truly amazed at this too. I see it in all walks of life from the very educated to those with none. None of it makes sense until you understand the whole authoritarian, MomCom perspective.

    I am 53 - these mind numbing bufoons better not even mess with me. I will organize a way to not have my SS wages taken out or refuse to pay my income tax. Put me in jail. That's likely to be my retirement plan anyways.

  12. One more comment - I do not think the Republican Party has harmed themselves at all. I have noticed an inexplicable pattern of immunity they seem to arise with the next day no matter how noxious their actions or deeds.