Paxo & Moore on OCW

Jeremy Paxman talks to Michael Moore on BBC’s Newsnight program yesterday about the embryonic nature of OCW movement and whether a new form of capitalism may possibly arise from it…

It seems like an incredible stretch to imagine that anything terribly significant will materialize from this movement, although… it is quite astounding how in just a month they’ve managed to effectively shift the political frame of reference with regards to the economy, at least in the United States.

Exploding Toasters

Extended interview from the DVD edition of Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story with Harvard law professor and chair of the TARP Oversight Panel, Elizabeth Warren.

Not a perfect analogy, but I particularly liked this one Warren makes about the lack of financial regulation:

Financial products — and they are products, just like toasters — are sold today with the most dangerous features embedded in them, because that’s what drives profitability. What’s astonishing is that we let this happen. You know, you can’t buy a toaster in America that has a one in five chance of exploding. But you can buy a mortgage that has a one in five chance of exploding… and they don’t even have to tell you about it. We don’t hand people a wiring diagram with a toaster and say, “You figure it out.”

Warren’s work on the Oversight Panel can be viewed on its website here. It makes for some very very interesting reading and viewing.

Absolute Insanity

There’s not much that I feel needs to be added to this tail-end of this interview.

Last night’s address by President Obama was a huge disappointment, but one that should have been entirely expected. At the end of the day, while there may be a distinct improvement in style, there’s very little difference in terms of substance between this “commander in chief” and the former one. How depressing.

I’m with John Cole on this one: “I just don’t know what to think.”

Is it any wonder that most people are so cynical and disaffected when it comes to expecting any real change from politicians that are more often than not entirely fungible, held hostage to the corporate interests that get them installed in office and then generously provide for their welfare in perpetuity through respectable forms of bribery… It’s all such a fraudulent sham.

And with that, I need to take a shower, a long walk in the sunshine and another sanity-regenerating sabbatical away from all this nonsense for a while.

Audit Hannity

More of Michael Moore’s recent interview on Sean Hannity’s show.

WARNING: The mendacity factor here is simply off the register. Watching this video could make your head explode. Viewer discretion is advised.

In addition to his continued failure to deliver on a solemn promise to donate money to the families of military veterans in exchange for being waterboarded (something I’d dearly love to witness after having watched this) in order to “prove” that it isn’t actually torture, let’s add his probable inability to back up his assertion that he currently pays more than 60 percent of his income in various forms of taxes.

But hey, why leave the matter to a gentlemen’s bet between these two? How about instead, the IRS audit Hannity’s income tax statements for the last several years and report back…

Michael Moore v. Sean Hannity

This is why you can never talk to some so-called “conservatives”…

Notice how throughout this “exclusive interview” (which is hardly anything of the kind given Moore has made the rounds of just about every talk-show on cable TV over the past several weeks promoting his new movie) Hannity deploys numerous logical fallacies, patent lies and shifty evasions to dodge every question that Moore fires back at him.

Especially funny is Hannity’s contention that the economic collapse was caused by poor people living beyond their means — despite FBI estimates that directly contradict this ridiculous notion promulgated by the right — and his inability to recall what the nature of the sermon was in the church he claimed to have attended on the weekend. What an amazing douchebag.

A Tragic Love Story…

So, I went to see Michael Moore’s new film earlier tonight and have to say that I was a tad let down; not because the film wasn’t entertaining or worthwhile, but more because it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know (although the shockingly-named “Dead Peasants” insurance scheme was a creepy revelation) and somewhat disappointing because, if anything, it wasn’t nearly harsh enough in its criticism of the perversely cruel system laughably described as “free market Capitalism” these days.

While occasionally funny — the scene of Bush delivering his dramatic plea for the initial three quarters of a trillion taxpayer dollars to bail out the banks whereby the White House backdrop gradually collapses around him and panicked citizens run back and forth shrieking in terror, or Moore wrapping the perimeter of the Wall Street Exchange in police crime tape before calling on executives with a bullhorn to surrender themselves for a citizen’s arrest, to cite a couple of examples — much of it is relentlessly tragic. People being forcibly being turned out of their homes by squads of heavily-armed police aggressively beating down their doors, and a family of working stiffs having to burn or otherwise dispose of their own possessions in exchange for a token payment from the very bank evicting them in order to clean up the property for re-sale before they vacate and move on to places unknown are disturbingly powerful indictments of a system gone horribly wrong through rampant greed and immoral avarice.

I’ll leave it to others to provide a more extensive critique of the film, but personally, I wish Moore had gone into more specific detail about the insane Ponzi scheme that led to the collapse and explained the dynamic of that to a wider audience. To a cetain extent he does allude to this by pointing out the absurdly complex nature of the mathematical formulas underpinning derivatives and credit default swaps (which he neatly illustrates by showing some proponents stammering and getting flustered while ineptly trying to explain how they actually work), but this aspect of the problem came up far short in my opinion. I guess this is one of the unfortunate drawbacks of trying to render an incredibly complex subject down into a popular format — it’s almost impossible to present a comprehensive and intellectually coherent (yet simultaneously entertaining) representation of the whole massively dysfunctional economic clusterfuck from start to finish in less than two hours.

For whatever it’s worth, the movie was quite well-attended and received an enthusiastic round of applause at the end. Also, what struck me as more than a little amusing was the “radical” nature of the audience at the suburban cineplex where I viewed it, that I would guess about being 60 in median age. Imagine my delight when the two white-haired ladies (both in their 70s by my estimate) ahead of me in line cheerfully said they wanted “two seniors for Capitalism” Heh.

Open Season on Michael Moore

A Fox “News” anchor Brian Sullivan and guest critic Tom Tancredo viciously attack Michael Moore and his new film — which both men admit to not having seen. Brilliant.

In the interview Moore is referred to as, and I quote: a goofball, a sycophant, stupid, a hypocrite, and a freaky guy. Gee, I thought that “conservatives” didn’t engage in childish name-calling… at least, that’s what they’re always telling me. Could it be that with regards to this assertion, as with so many others, they’re completely full of shit?

Capitalism: A Love Story

I wonder how right-wingers will express their unbridled loathing for Michael Moore when he takes on the big banks and Wall Street in his new film… I suspect many of them might be forced into actually agreeing with him.

The horror… the horror!

Whatever one might think about his theatrical excesses or minor deceits as a filmmaker (that have been thoroughly documented by his many detractors) or the fact that he’s fat (something wingnuts never tire of pointing out), it’s hard to deny that he was pretty much spot on about the impending fate of General Motors, the corrosive nature of America’s gun-crazy culture, the ideological flim-flammery of the Iraq war, and the malicious bureaucracy driving the for-profit healthcare industry.

Larry King Live: Michael Moore

Mike speaking to Larry King from the Timber Lanes bowling alley in Traverse City, Michigan (where it was “Bowlers for Obama Night”) about the election, the Republican convention and other issues including his new movie, Slacker Uprising that’s due to be released (for free) on the Internet later this month. More segments of the interview are here.

“It’s foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgment and a hope that one day we will have a party that’ll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.”