Important: Read this before sending email RSS Feed




My Amazon Wish List
(Buy me presents)




Indexed Archives

Portal (links)

Contact me

Who am I?


The diary of
Iseema bin Laden

Secret Arafat
Phone Transcripts

Greatest Hits


Letters from
Captain Steve

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More




Michael Moore: Hoist on his own petard

Michael Moore got his start with a documentary called "Roger and Me," which detailed his unsuccessful attempts to interview the head of General Motors. Now the tables have been turned, and a documentary is about to be released that details the filmmaker's unsuccessful attempts to interview Moore about his anti-America bias.

Twin Cities filmmaker Mike Wilson's upcoming "Michael Moore Hates America" details his unsuccessful attempts to interview Moore, the director who won an Oscar two years ago for "Bowling for Columbine." Moore's earlier film, "Roger and Me," detailed his own failed attempts to interview General Motors honcho Roger Smith.

Wilson says his documentary tries to point out the biases behind Moore films such as "Bowling" and the highly anticipated "Fahrenheit 9/11," which will be released June 25 and which Wilson has not seen. He says it's not only a response to Moore but also to others who have added to "the shrillness that has engulfed the American conversation."

At least three months before its release, the film has catapulted Wilson into national prominence. When an item about "Michael Moore Hates America" appeared on a showbiz Web site earlier this week, Wilson says, he was contacted by nine distributors who want to help book the documentary into theaters.

Wilson says two things persuaded him to make his first film. One was "Bowling," in which Moore tells the story of a Flint, Mich., schoolgirl killed with a handgun, an incident Moore implied occurred because the assailant's mother was distracted from having to work two jobs as a result of changes in Michigan welfare laws.

"He left out a lot of stuff that was widely reported in the media at the time," says Wilson, 28, who says death threats have persuaded him not to reveal where in the Twin Cities he lives or works as a marketing writer. "But the real reason that bothered me is my mom worked two jobs when I was a kid, and it was like a personal slap to her to say you can't work two jobs and raise your children properly. My mom worked really hard, and she taught us right from wrong."

The final straw was Moore's 2003 Oscar acceptance speech, in which he characterized the war in Iraq and President Bush as "fictional." The remarks drew a mix of applause and jeers from the tuxedo-clad crowd. "Afterwards, I was saying to Chris Johnson, who's a producer of the movie, 'I guess I don't need to make my Michael Moore movie because he already made a jackass of himself.' "

But Wilson decided to go ahead with the project, conducting dozens of interviews. None of them with Moore, despite "at least 50" attempts. Moore did not return Pioneer Press phone calls seeking comment for this story.

"The closest I got was I did run into him at the (University of Minnesota) when he was on his book tour, and he started screaming at me," says Wilson. The screaming began when Wilson mentioned the title of his film in the middle of asking a question. "It was quite a sight — 7,000 Michael Moore fans, just booing me."

Wilson will finish "Michael Moore Hates America" by August. "The interviews are mostly shot, but we are actually kind of right-heavy now," says the director, who describes himself as a Libertarian who voted for Bush. "We've talked to a lot of people who don't like Michael Moore, but I'd like to talk to some more who do."

Now there's something you'll never see from Moore: An attempt at balance.

Moore is going to be mightily pissed off about this. All the accounts I've read have him reacting like a madman at being questioned at all. Can't wait to see the clips. | |

Gaza: a look ahead

Well, let's see. First, you have the US demand that the pals stop sending aid money to terrorists:

The Palestinian Legislative Council has rejected a US-sponsored demand that Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) refrain from transferring funds to individuals or groups that engage in terrorism.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) pledge, entitled "Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing," lists a range of commitments required from NGOs that operate in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They include a pledge that NGOs will not engage in activity with groups deemed as terrorist, such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

About 30 Palestinian NGOs have declared that they would not sign the anti-terrorist commitment. Many of the groups obtain funding from the US agency and American philanthropists.

On Wednesday, the PLC held a session in Ramallah during which its members discussed the USAID demand and decided to support the Palestinian NGOs' position in rejecting it.

Azmi Shuaibi, chairman of the PLC Economic Committee, said the anti-terrorism commitment is in violation of the Palestinian Authority law that forbids charitable organizations and NGOs to accept conditional aid. He described the commitment as an illegal and immoral demand.

He noted that the Palestinians have already rejected this demand and accused Israel of exploiting the issue to "distort the Palestinian national struggle" by defining it as terrorism.

Sure, because murdering children and their pregnant mother isn't terrorism. It's part of the "national struggle."

Shuaibi said the decision to vote against the anti-terrorism clause was also taken out of fear that other donor countries might follow suit and ask the Palestinians to sign the pledge.

Please. The EU hold the pals responsible for anything? They've been given evidence of terrorism and fraud by Arafat. They insist the evidence is faked.

Shuaibi told the PLC that the PA and Palestinian NGOs have been negotiating with USAID in an attempt to persuade the American agency to change its policy, but to no avail.

He said that USAID made some amendments to the clause, but the Palestinians remain unsatisfied. He described the amendments as "ambiguous and politically-motivated." Hassan Asfour, chairman of the network of Palestinian NGOs, said during the meeting that the PA cabinet has also rejected the US anti-terrorism commitment at his recommendation.

The new terms were set by USAID after the 9/11 attacks and presented to NGOs in 2003. Palestinian NGOs have rejected the demand as "provocative," saying they will never sign the pledge.

Y'know, here's where I just want to say, oh, eff them. Why are we contributing a penny to these murderers? Why?

Also, for those who are thinking that Arafat is ready to give up one iota of his power: Think again.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has no intention to cede control over the PA security forces, a senior PA official in Ramallah said Thursday.

The official said Arafat does not believe that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would win the backing of his cabinet for his disengagement plan – a situation that would entail general elections in Israel.

"President Arafat is a very patient man, and he is prepared to wait," the official explained. "It's most likely that Sharon and his government will disappear in a few weeks or months. Also, it does not appear that US President George W. Bush will stay in the White House."

Another PA official said Arafat was willing to appoint one of his loyalists as Interior Minister, but with limited powers over security forces. He noted that Egypt was putting heavy pressure on Arafat to reduce the number of PA security forces to three and to place one of them at least under the control of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

The Egyptians have given Arafat an ultimatum to come up with a security plan by mid-June. Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman told Arafat recently that Cairo wants to see the PA security forces united under one command.

Sure, that'll work. Not. Of course, here's the usual palestinian drivel about why they won't stop attacks:

PA Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said the Palestinians were prepared to implement security reforms and resume peace talks with Israel on condition that Israel makes a commitment to withdraw from the West Bank.

"If Israel accepts the Egyptian position to withdraw its forces from the occupied West Bank cities to positions held before the beginning of the intifada, the PA is willing to implement immediately what is demanded from it in the aspects of security," he said.

"I don't believe Sharon is capable of doing this," he said. "We are in urgent need of an Israeli who is capable of taking decisions and carrying them out."

In other words, give us everything we want and we'll stop killing you. Until we decide we want more. Yeah, eff this guy, too.

Arafat will give up his power only after he is dead. He managed to create this situation years ago, by getting all of the Arab world to agree that the PLO is the "sole, legitimate" representative of the palestinians, and of course, he is the leader of the PLO. The Europeans bought into it immediately, of course, and refuse to acknowledge that there is anyone else in the entire world who might, just might, be a better leader for the pals than Arafat. Of course, if they did that, they'd have to admit that they've been wrong for the past number of years. What? Admit error? The French and Russians got caught selling weapons to Saddam Hussein on the eve of the American invasion, and they're still denying that.

I've discussed the Gaza situation many times with Lynn (that would be Lynn B. of In Context, for those of you who have forgotten her, and who has some good posts up lately), and I've come around to her point of view on it. While I do agree that the settlements in Gaza are a mistake, I also think it's going to become one giant attack point after the IDF leaves, unless the Egyptians really intend to prohibit weapon smuggling. But gee, perhaps they're not so serious about it after all.

And please realize this: Egypt is in violation of the peace treaty it signed with Israel, for many reasons. There is no Egyptian ambassador in Israel. He was recalled sometime during Operation Defensive Shield. And Egypt incites against Israel, through its mosques, through its media, through its government press. In the meantime, Israel has kept the treaty. She gave back the Sinai and sought peaceful relations with her neighbor. Too bad her neighbor doesn't really want peace. | |



Fixing the Gaza vote

One thing you have to say about Ariel Sharon: He's one of the most ballsy politicians ever. He just fired two cabinet ministers so he can have his Gaza pullout plan confirmed by his cabinet. And there are major machinations going on behind the scenes.

Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said that ministers Netanyahu, Livnat and Shalom should now understand that in order to keep the Likud united, they had to support the prime minister's diplomatic plan. Lapid said he was glad Lieberman had been dismissed, saying that with his recent comments regarding Israeli Arabs, Lieberman sounded like Austria's Joerg Haider and France's Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Labor party sources told Israel Radio that if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan is approved in Sunday's cabinet meeting, the party would provide him with a wide security net in Monday's no-confidence vote.

Labor party officials stress that the possibility of joining Likud in a possible national unity government is not on the immediate agenda.

And by the way, Reuters needs a new boilerplate. This one is biased, yes, but it's also tired now. What, they can't think of new anti-Israel propaganda?

Palestinians would welcome withdrawal from any of the land they seek for a state, but they suspect Sharon's unilateral plan is just a ruse to strengthen Israel's hold on chunks of the West Bank where the bulk of Jewish settlements have been built.

Actually, the problem that I see with the Gaza pullout is one that has been raised by many, including Lynn: What guarantee does Israel have that the terrorists won't turn Gaza into one giant weapons factory, importing rockets and missiles that can strike anywhere in Israel proper? Granted, Sharon wants to keep the Philadelphia Corridor under IDF control, but I can see the UN, the "quartet" and international pressure forcing a complete pullout of Gaza.

That would be when the countdown to the new war would begin. | |



The President's remarks to the Air Force Academy graduates

I found something to blog about.

Just as events in Europe determined the outcome of the Cold War, events in the Middle East will set the course of our current struggle. If that region is abandoned to dictators and terrorists, it will be a constant source of violence andd alarm, exporting killers of increasing destructive power to attack America and other free nations. If that region grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorist movement will lose its sponsors, lose its recruits, and lose the festering grievances that keep terrorists in business. The stakes of this struggle are high. The security and peace of our country are at stake, and success in this struggle is our only option. (Applause.)

This is the great challenge of our time, the storm in which we fly. History is once again witnessing a great clash. This is not a clash of civilizations. The civilization of Islam, with its humane traditions of learning and tolerance, has no place for this violent sect of killers and aspiring tyrants. This is not a clash of religions. The faith of Islam teaches moral responsibility that enobles men and women, and forbids the shedding of innocent blood. Instead, this is a clash of political visions.

In the terrorists' vision of the world, the Middle East must fall under the rule of radical governments, moderate Arab states must be overthrown, nonbelievers must be expelled from Muslim lands, and the harshest practice of extremist rule must be universally enforced. In this vision, books are burned, terrorists are sheltered, women are whipped, and children are schooled in hatred and murder and suicide.

Our vision is completely different. We believe that every person has a right to think and pray and live in obedience to God and conscience, not in frightened submission to despots. (Applause.) We believe that societies find their greatness by encouraging the creative gifts of their people, not in controlling their lives and feeding their resentments. And we have confidence that people share this vision of dignity and freedom in every culture because liberty is not the invention of Western culture, liberty is the deepest need and hope of all humanity. The vast majority of men and women in Muslim societies reject the domination of extremists like Osama bin Laden. They're looking to the world's free nations to support them in their struggle against the violent minority who want to impose a future of darkness across the Middle East. We will not abandon them to the designs of evil men. We will stand with the people of that region as they seek their future in freedom.

| |

Blog fatigue

I do believe I'm suffering from some kind of burnout or fatigue. Instead of writing posts, all I want to do is, well, anything else. Instead of surfing the web, I'd rather do, well, anything else.

But I am reading Ron Rosenbaum's new book, "Those Who Forget the Past," which features, among other essays, that wonderful Cynthia Ozick piece I linked to last week.

I'm readying an essay on anti-Semitism. It's been going around in my head for a few weeks now.

In the meantime, check my links page, as it's Twinsday, and Sarah and the twins are due here in a few minutes. I'll be out enjoying this beautiful June day in downtown Richmond. | |



Israel news roundup

Gaza is going to be judenrein by the end of next year, Sharon says. Frankly, I say good riddance to Gaza... but it bothers me how much the world wants to be rid of Jews.

Imshin found something funky in this English translation of a Ha'aretz article, but the article has apparently been updated. The gist of it: 18 suicide bomb attacks were foiled in the month of May.

The IDF got two terrorists carrying guns, rockets, and an RPG launcher. Those last two, of course, are against the agreement that Arafat signed oh so many years ago. I await the international condemnation. No, not really. Just kidding.

But buried in the same article is this:

The IDF revealed Tuesday night that Palestinian security officials handed over an explosives belt to soldiers manning the Walagah roadblock northwest of Bethlehem.

IDF officials said the belt contained 8 –10 kg of explosives and was blown up at the site by sappers.

Huh. Security officials... so here's the question: Did they hand in the belt to get the good PR for cooperating with Israel, or was it a sincere attempt to cut down on suicide attacks?

Just for kicks, I read a Reuters article about Gaza that also included the two dead terrorists. Let's compare:

In fresh violence in Gaza, troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen armed with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades approaching a border checkpoint, the army said. The militant group Hamas said its fighters were killed mounting an attack.

"Fresh violence." Sure. Because killing two terrorists who are trying to kill you isn't, oh, defending yourselves.

Remember that Iranian who got into Israel without being detected? Heads are going to roll over it.

Once again, the pals make it clear they have no intention of stopping the terror groups. After the Gaza pullout, there will be rockets landing in Israel. Just watch.

One of thoe non-existent weapons smuggling tunnels—the one the ISM say don't exist, anyway—was discovered in an abandoned building in Rafah. Yeah, that's the town that everyone said Israel was wrong about. What tunnels? How about these:

A weapon-smuggling tunnel was uncovered Wednesday in a yard between abandoned residential houses during an IDF and Border Police activity in the outskirts of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, IDF officials said.

This is the 15th weapon-smuggling tunnel uncovered since the beginning of 2004.

Since September 2000 approximately 90 weapon-smuggling tunnels were uncovered along the Gaza border with Egypt.

I wish they'd been a little more clear. Was it in one of the houses abandoned recently? I'd lay odds it was. | |



Today's moment of kitty zen

This one is too funny not to share. Just got this one this evening.

Tig's bath, interrupted

Have fun thinking of a caption for it. The winner gets, uh, to win the contest. | |

Laptop screen update

Contrary to what Gary Farber declared, you can remove a laptop's monitor. I watched my friend do it this afternoon. He took the Sony apart, took the screen completely apart down to its bare LCD (it's a Hitachi! Sony screwed me!). We got the backlight to work, then not, then work, then not. The screen is dead. So here are my options:

I can permanently dock this one and use a monitor. Ugh. Defeats the purpose of a laptop.

There's a same-model Sony for sale on Ebay. I could buy it and swap hard drives. (Bid's only up to $51 so far.)

I can keep the loaner that the anonymous donor gave me. (Not all that comfortable with this.)

I can buy a new laptop, except, well, can't afford it. But I was thinking: I might mix my offline business with my weblog. I make digital photo scrapbooks. I need to get a sample scanned or turned into a PDF to show you, but you can get a pretty good idea of what I do by looking at some of my cat pages, as well as my IEAPD page. I take your digital pictures, crop them and arrange them on a page, and add captions. See, anyone can print pictures. But not everyone can pick out the best ones, edit them properly, and arrange them nicely on a page.

If you're interested, let me know. If there's enough of an interest, I could earn the money for a laptop fairly quickly. Readers can mail me a CD, or email a small number of pictures (with permission only! Please don't fill up my emailbox). I put a maximum of six photos per page, and charge about $20 per page. They get printed out on high-gloss photo paper. You get three copies of each page in a nonglare sheet protector, ready to go into your photo album/scrapbook, and the files on CD. I can take them on memory sticks and flash cards as well. I'll try to get some PDFs online so you can see what I'm talking about, but first I'd like to see if there's any interest from my readers.

Yes, I really am a woman of many talents, most of which I haven't yet written about. (I can fold my fingers backward at a 90 degree angle from my hand. Yeah, ew, well, everyone has at least one strange [and useless] trick like that.)

Some of you have already made a generous donation. Let's talk about turning your digital/scanned pictures into scrapbook pages as a thank-you. | |

One giant leap for Meryl

Time for a personal post update.

I am personally still here.

That is your update.

Okay, there's more to the story. Let's see: The cyst is in complete retreat, thanks to a course of antibiotics (and no grossness involved, so feh on those of you who warned me of that).

I had a wonderful day at Heidi's and G.'s. Sorena's latest school project is to create her own game. We had "Make Your Own Opoly" software, which was pretty cool, and came with a board and label paper and a box you cover over with the labels you make. Sorena modeled her game after the Series of Unfortunate Events, and we called it "Misfortuneopoly." The properties were all named after places in the books, and the good news/bad news cards were a hoot to create. "You are chosen to be the first Freak to be thrown into the lion pit. Lose a turn." I especially loved putting 667 Dark Avenue on the Park Place/Boardwalk area property. Sorena is very happy with her game, and almost happier with her Aunt Meryl, who saved the day by shooing Heidi away from the computer and editing the cards and board as Sorena dictated, printing them out, and overall doing the typing and software (which freed Heidi up to make dinner, and may I say, yum). The only ones who weren't happy were Worf and Willow, who were locked out of the room while we worked.

Then there was my climbing gym experience Saturday night. There's a course that's used mostly for team-building called the high ropes course. It's a series of ropes and bridges set up on platforms at the top of various rock walls at the gym, about 30 feet up. I've seen people do it, but never got the chance to myself, until Saturday night after closing. I decided to try it. There's the Broken Bridge, a plank bridge that has one or two planks missing that you have to step over quickly. There's the Shaky Bridge, which are three single boards with ropes, connected together, that are extremely wobbly. There are two tightropes—one you can swing across with the aid of a rope on a pulley, and one that's one of those trust things, where you face a partner and put your hands flat out in front of you and push against each other while walking across the rope sideways. And the last one is the Leap of Faith, where you stand on a small platform and leap outward to catch a trapeze. You're on ropes (called lobster claws) the entire time, so there's no real danger. But tell that to someone who's afraid of heights. Which would be me.

Anyway. It took me a very long time to make the first step onto the Broken Bridge. The Shaky Bridge was fairly easy. It took a long time to gather the courage to swing across on the rope and pulley, and I only made it halfway and had to walk the tightrope the rest of the way. Then there was a small tightrope to get off that platform onto the one for the Leap of Faith. I liked that little tightrope. It was easy.

My friends very generously let me go first on the Leap of Faith, which probably pushed me into doing it faster than I would have if I'd been, say, last, where I might have decided to decline completely. I counted to three a whole lot of times before I finally psyched myself up to leap onto the trapeze. I caught it with both hands. And slipped off. On the way down, one of two things happened: Either I instinctively reached out to grab the rope, or my hand got tangled in it accidentally. I frankly don't know, but suspect the first. Problem is, my left hand got caught between the two ropes holding the lobster claws. End result: Biggest case of rope burn I've ever had. I ripped a couple of inches of skin off my middle finger, blistered the forefinger and ring finger tips, and scraped a patch raw on the back of my thumb. And let me tell you, a friction burn feels every bit as painful as a flame burn. I fell asleep with my hand wrapped in a coldpack after discovering that Advil doesn't do squat for burn pain.

Then again, I made the Leap of Faith. And completed every other aspect of the High Ropes course.

Not bad for someone who's afraid of heights. | |



Apology accepted

So five days ago, Peter Hansen, the UN Creature-In-Residence, er, sorry, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, demanded that Israel apologize for smearing the name of the UN ambulance corps in the territories.

GAZA, May 26 (Xinhuanet) -- The commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Peter Hansen, demanded Wednesday an apology from Israel for allegations against the agency's ambulance drivers in the Gaza Strip.

"We demand an apology and retraction from the Israeli Government and military for the damaging and baseless allegations they have made against UNRWA's ambulance drivers in the Gaza Strip," Hansen said in a statement.

On May 14, Israeli Minister of Defence Shaul Mofaz alleged that a UN ambulance had transported body parts of Israeli soldiers.

It was also reported that, in a letter faxed to the UNRWA, Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major General Yossef Mishlev claimed that a video tape showed Palestinians using on 11 May ambulances belonging to UNRWA, apparently for the purpose of transporting body parts.

Hansen said that despite UNRWA's repeated requests, no evidence of UNRWA ambulance drivers transporting the body parts of Israeli soldiers has been presented by the Israeli government.

Accordingly, he has no reason to believe that there is any truth at all to the "extremely unfortunate" accusations being made against UNRWA, said Hansen's statement.

The IDF has since released video evidence of terrorists using UN ambulances to flee IDF troops.

Israeli Channel Ten television broadcast video footage this week showing armed Palestinians using UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Work Agency) ambulances to flee Israeli forces operating in the Gaza Strip.

The television report, filmed in Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood on May 11, on the same night the first IDF armored personnel carrier was destroyed, killing six Israeli soldiers, clearly showed armed Palestinians boarding a UN-marked ambulance with a UN flag, and fleeing the scene.

The Channel Ten reporter stressed that this was not a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, known to have transported armed Palestinians in the past, but rather a supposedly neutral ambulance of the UN.

I don't think we can expect an apology from Hansen, though. I sure won't hold my breath. But the Israeli ambassador to the UN ought to demand one. | |

Take a break, folks

The transfer of information is not going as well as I'd hoped. But you know what? Today will be my only day off between now and July 4th. I'm not going to spend it blogging.

You'll have to go elsewhere for the Memorial Day pictures and stories. | |



I'm ba-aack

Nope, the laptop screen hasn't been fixed. But I have a monitor and new laptop thanks to a computer geek who wishes to remain anonymous. I'm catching up on email and other things, and should be back to normal within a day or two. Hey, it's Memorial Day Weekend, and tomorrow, I don't have to work at any of my jobs. I'm headed to Heidi's for a barbecue and some all-around hanging out. On Tuesday, I'm bringing the laptop to a friend's to see if he can fix the monitor.

I foresee many typos with this new monitor. The type's too small. (Yeah, I know, I can change it. I will. Sometime.) | |


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary is also a good bet if you've never been here before.