O'Reilly vs. Moore

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So last night Bill O'Reilly and Michael Moore went at each other The O'Reilly Factor, a clash of titans not seen since Godzilla mixed it up with Mothra or Liza Minelli took on David Gest. The fair and balanced folks at Fox News have posted a transcript here.

Now I can't stand Moore. But as a critic of the war and an occasional guest in the No Spin Zone who routinely has his mike cut off whenever I appear, I have to admit I was sort of pulling for the left's crying on the outside clown. I hoped at the very least that he would have held up his considerable end of the argument. But he didn't; more than that, his grasp of the facts seemed pretty weak or nonexistent.

Especially annoying to me–and again, I say this as someone who was against the invasion of Iraq–was Moore's insistence that the U.S. was somehow "sacrificing" its "children" in Iraq. I would do anything possible to persuade my kids not to join the armed forces (just as my father, a WW2 infantryman who "won" a Purple Heart in Europe) did everything to make sure I never signed up. But Moore's rhetoric falls flat when you're talking about an all-volunteer army that's made up of legal adults. Of course, that doesn't mean the U.S. should feel free to send soldiers everywhere, but it does undercut the Moore's implicit characterization of US soldier as 15 year old draftees.

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  1. you gotta catch susan estrich on O’reilly tonight. almost in tears she took on bill in a quite astonishing fashion on a segment over a t-shirt, which turned into an remarkably passionate, reasonable case for “pro choice’. O’reilly was outmatched, and partway thru the interview, he knew it.

  2. I don’t want to get all false consciousness on everyone, but “adult” “volunteers” or not, I don’t think that the majority of the kids in any of our armed forces (except, possibly, the marines) really signed up with the intention of heading off to the land of hostile pseudo-civilians and fun roadside improvised explosive devices.

    So I think you sort of have to hand it to the fatty there, although as usual, he kind of overstates the case.

  3. No, Nick’s original point is correct, I think. That’s what bugged me about the transcript when I read it, too. This isn’t a minor point. It is a revealing one about how Moore and his ilk view personal choices that conflict with the choices they believe to be “rational.” As it happens, I know a number of men who volunteered for the armed services precisely because they wanted to protect and serve, and who have been deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan to accomplish the kind of mission they signed up for.

    To depict them as children or as puppets on Haliburton’s strings is to offer them a gross insult and suggest that regular, ordinary folks can’t be trusted to make their own decisions. Obviously, you don’t have to believe their mission was wisely chosen to grasp the point, and we shouldn’t wait for Michael Less to comprehend it.

  4. I guess the military is really just a big welfare program. A volunteer welfare program…

  5. In a previous meeting, Moore told Bill that a good tax rate for everyone would be 70%. I don’t see Moore leading the way by donating any extra income from his flick to the U.S.Treasury.

    Do you think he’ll take any deductions on this year’s tax form?

  6. One thing that bothered me about that interview is Moore’s facile “Che Guevarism” when he went off on the people of Iraq and how they should rise by themselves and seize their own freedom. O’Reilly correctly countered that it would have been impossible in a Nazi-style state to do that (note to the moron Moore, last time that happened in 91 when the US shied away from overthrowing Saddam — Mr. Halliburton himself, Cheney, even advised against it at the time — Saddam ripped the Kurds and the Shiites several new assholes. I can go on further on Moore’s incredibly condescending contempt for the “masses” (in Iraq as well as the US, where he’s repeatedly labeled the Americans “idiots” to cheering crowds in France and Germany), but that’s not the point I wish to make here.

    Nick pointed out Moore’s poor command of facts and realities, and here’s one that I thought O’Reilly should have called him on. As Moore was pontificating about how the American revolution happened and how the Iraqis should have been able to do the same, he forgot that the American fight for independence did indeed use the military help of a foreign nation, France (egad!). Of course back then it wasn’t Chirac who was in charge, thankfully! The same can be said about several of today’s democracies. In fact, as Andre Gerrits recently remarked (see my blog for further details) two thirds of the world’s democracies achieved it with some sort of intervention by other nations. It just simply is part of the way it works.

    I then caught Moore with Koppel where this point arose, and Moore wiggled around it with his usual stupid logic that he mistakes for intelligence.

  7. I don’t want to get all false consciousness on everyone, but “adult” “volunteers” or not, I don’t think that the majority of the kids in any of our armed forces (except, possibly, the marines) really signed up with the intention of heading off to the land of hostile pseudo-civilians and fun roadside improvised explosive devices.

    What’s with the scare quotes around the words “adult” and “volunteers”? They are adults, and they did volunteer. They signed up with the *intention* of being in the military, and for the past century and a half the United States military has regularly had to deal with “hostile pseudo-civilians” in various shithole countries around the world.

    Moore’s argument, stripped of its euphemisms, is “the people in the military are too stupid and uninformed to have consented to military service”. He’s an arrogant prick, and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  8. Yeah, Moore really got his ass kicked. Excerpt:

    MOORE: So you would sacrifice your child to secure Fallujah? I want to hear you say that.

    O’REILLY: I would sacrifice myself?

    MOORE: Your child?It’s Bush sending the children there.

    O’REILLY: I would sacrifice myself.

    MOORE: You and I don?t go to war, because we?re too old?

    O’REILLY: Because if we back down, there will be more deaths and you know it.

    MOORE: Say ?I Bill O?Reilly would sacrifice my child to secure Fallujah?

    O’REILLY: I?m not going to say what you say, you?re a, that?s ridiculous

    MOORE: You don?t believe that. Why should Bush sacrifice the children of people across America for this? …

    MOORE: Right, I would not sacrifice my child to secure Fallujah and you would?

    O’REILLY: I would sacrifice myself.

    MOORE: You wouldn?t send another child, another parents child to Fallujah, would you? You would sacrifice your life to secure Fallujah?

    O’REILLY: I would.

    MOORE: Can we sign him up? Can we sign him up right now?

    O’REILLY: That?s right.

    MOORE: Where?s the recruiter?

    O’REILLY: You?d love to get rid of me.

    Please go to O’Reilly’s site (link above) and watch the tape of O’Reilly saying he’d give his life to secure Fallujah. I’d give my life to see O’Reilly (or John Hood) risk a sunburn to secure Fallujah.

  9. PapayaSF: How dumb do you have to be to not understand that knucklehead Michael Moore???? Here’s Moore’s quote, in context, on Hitler:

    O’REILLY: Any government? Hitler, in Germany, not a threat to us the beginning but over there executing people all day long ? you would have let him go?

    MOORE: That?s not true. Hitler with Japan, attacked the United States.

    O’REILLY: From ’33 until ’41, he wasn?t an imminent threat to the United States.

    MOORE: There?s a lot of things we should have done.

    O’REILLY: You wouldn?t have removed him.

    MOORE: I wouldn?t have even allowed him to come to power.

    O’REILLY: That was a preemption from Michael Moore. You would have invaded.

    MOORE: If we?d done our job, you want to get into to talking about what happened before WWI, whoa, I?m trying to stop this war right now. [end]

    Moore is obviously alluding to the importance of US intervention in WWI in the rise of Nazism, saying that in lieu of such intervention, there would have been no Hitler.

  10. Here’s Moore’s quote, in context, on Hitler:

    O’REILLY: Any government? Hitler, in Germany, not a threat to us the beginning but over there executing people all day long ? you would have let him go?

    MOORE: That?s not true. Hitler with Japan, attacked the United States.

    Um… so the “context” is that Moore is an idiot? Hitler had nothing to do with Japan’s attack on the United States.

    Moore is obviously alluding to the importance of US intervention in WWI in the rise of Nazism, saying that in lieu of such intervention, there would have been no Hitler

    That may well be the stupidest theory World War II theory I’ve ever heard. I don’t see why you’d think this “context” helps Moore’s case.

  11. MOORE: That?s not true. Hitler with Japan, attacked the United States.

    Um… so the “context” is that Moore is an idiot? Hitler had nothing to do with Japan’s attack on the United States.

    In fact, while Hitler didn’t conspire with Japan to launch her attacks on the U.S., U.K. and Dutch possessions in the Pacific, he did honor the Axis treaty and declared war on America. Conceivably, Berlin could have double-crossed Tokyo, treated the European and Pacific theatres as separate wars, and gambled that FDR would not be able to convince Congress to declare war on Germany.

    Germany and Japan would still have been co-belligerents against the British Empire, while the U.S. and U.K. would have the same status vs. Japan. Hitler probably figured that Roosevelt would have given so much aid to Churchill that an actual declaration of war would be a formality. The U.S. Navy was virtually at war in the North Atlantic before Pearl, frex.

    Political discourse in this country would have really improved if we could have shoved O’Reilly and Moore through an interdimensional portal while they were on the same stage.

    Kevin

  12. Maybe Moore could get into his time machine and save us all by going back to the Garden of Eden & stopping Eve from eating that damn apple.

  13. “Moore’s argument, stripped of its euphemisms, is “the people in the military are too stupid and uninformed to have consented to military service””

    I don’t think they consented to be sent off to a poorly planned war, poorly equipped, all to validate the cack-handed ideological fantasies of the tinfoil hat loonies of Paul Wolfowitz and the AEI.

    Or, for that matter, to put a conman / Iranian agent / embezzler in power.

    I suspect that, when they signed up, they did so with the assumption that the powers that be would use them wisely, not as playpieces in a big ol game of Risk.

  14. Political discourse in this country would have really improved if we could have shoved O’Reilly and Moore through an interdimensional portal while they were on the same stage.

    Well said!

  15. Dan: You don’t think the outcome of WWI, specifically the outcome created by US intervention and the US management of the peace process, led directly to the rise of Hitler? In fact, you’ve never even heard the theory proffered? And you don’t know that Germany and Japan had a binding agreement before Pearl Harbor? Perhaps you should put down the remote control and pick up a book.

  16. In a previous meeting, Moore told Bill that a good tax rate for everyone would be 70%.

    No, he did not. He was not referring to “everyone”, but rather to the top tax bracket shared by himself and O’Reilly. I don’t like Moore or happen to agree with that opinion either, but at least please get the facts straight.

  17. Oh, dear…’the U.S. management of the peace process’. I’d say the Versailles Treaty had a lot more influence than Wilson’s 14 points. Someone needs to pick up a book, and it ain’t Dan!

  18. There is an inherent paradox to “voluntary” military service, and I use scare quotes because of the very paradox I wish to address. That is, sure, you volunteered to sign up, but once you have done so, you’re Government Issue, you take orders and you do what you’re told. To make clear if I haven’t yet, you no longer have a choice once you’re in. Now, I’m not trying to take Moore’s side. Only pointing out that there’s a two sided aspect to this issue and anyone addressing only one side or the other is not addressing the whole issue.

    I think we can all agree that the adult and initially voluntary nature of our troops does not make unnecessary the need to employ their service in only the wisest and most necessary manner. Perhaps we should also go further to consider that any deployment must take into account the involuntary nature of their service once they have signed up and the great danger they are being placed in, which of course does not take into account their own personal opinions about the merits or lack thereof of the deployment in question.

  19. i think you might be taking much too seriously what is probably just a necessary (and certainly justified — for we need bright lines) legal construct: i.e., 18 years as the age of majority, consent, etc., such that one has legal capacity to form a valid contract. that seems to be the basis of your attempt here to discredit moore’s argument.

    he’s making an emotional appeal, outside of whether one is allowed to volunteer to kill and die, about whether we, as a society, ought to be using them for this particular mission in this particular way. they are, as a matter of fact, available for the commander-in-chief’s disposal; the issue is whether bush has exercised his power appropriately.

    whether they are to be considered “children” or not depends on one’s perspective. i, as a 27yo, regard 18yos as “kids”, but i call myself & my same-age peers the same thing. but i wouldn’t, for example, (probably) have sex w/ an 18yo — i wouldn’t think it appropriate. kurt vonnegut’s slaughterhouse 5 is sub-titled “the children’s crusade”. i’m fairly certain that it would be an ineffective consolation for the parents of a deceased soldier to tell them, “at least he got to exercise his right to contract.”

  20. “I don’t want to get all false consciousness on everyone, but “adult” “volunteers” or not, I don’t think that the majority of the kids in any of our armed forces (except, possibly, the marines) really signed up with the intention of heading off to the land of hostile pseudo-civilians and fun roadside improvised explosive devices.”

    Hmmm… as a current Navy reservist and former Marine (8 years), I kind of resent the implication that somehow being a Marine is equated to socio-pathic behavior. That being said, there are a few things that I think are good fodder for thought…

    A volunteer military is the embodiment of the Liberterian ideal of rational, individual choice; interestingly Liberterians in general (at least the ones I know) accuse me (as a military person) of not being a good Liberterian because of my affiliation with the military. Interestingly, the Liberterian party only requests that you affirm to the moral high ground of violence only in defense. The conundrum for the miliary affiliated Liberterian is when he or she is asked to deploy to wage violence absent a ‘qualifying’ attack.

    To the question of whether people who volunteer for the military believe they “really signed up with the intention of heading off to the land of hostile pseudo-civilians and fun roadside improvised explosive devices,” varies with their motivations for joining the military in the first place. More importantly, however is the fact that very few people in the military (except, of course, the sociopaths — primarily self selecting themselves into the special forces) really want to deploy and wage war at all. In fact, this is the whole concept behind deterrence. Showing the big stick means you rarely have to use it. There are differences in recruiting between the services as well and this shows up in the “I never knew I’d have to actually go to war” comments the media love to give us. Ever notice you’ve never seen or heard a Marine make that comment? Ever notice that it is almost always an Army affiliated individual? This goes back directly to the message each service conciously puts out regarding the life a recruit will lead. The Marines conciously don’t offer slavish college benefits or promise humanitarium missions — they are fastidious that being a Marine is tough and will require sacrifice — and yes killing. The Navy and Air Force are a little softer, more of the “see the world” type of message with moderate economic benefits. However, they don’t have the same problem of conditioning Airmen and Sailors to kill that the Army and Marines face. It is well known that the further away a combatant is from his ‘enemy’ the easier it is for him or her to rationalize their act of killing. Ergo a sailor launching a tomahawk missile from 500 miles away feels not a lick of guilt for destroying his ‘target.’ The Army and Marines don’t have that luxury as we were (and still are) often face to face with our enemy. The Army’s problem is they recruit on the front end with awesome benefits, short contracts, etc. without exploring the the envelope of the recruits’ non-economic motivations.

    To wrap up, it would be impossible to graduate any of the infantry based services boot camp without understanding that the rifle they put in your hand to shoot at human silhouttes (sp?) can mean anything other than you may be asked to kill. Very few military people I know really want to go to war, but they’ve decided they’ll do it if required.

  21. Moore continues to struck me as a snotty adolescent who’ll say anything to win an argument, regardless of whether his statements add up to a coherent whole. When he says about Hitler “I wouldn?t have even allowed him to come to power” he blows his own non-interventionist, let-the-people-rise-up ideology out of the water.

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