Tuesday, August 10, 2004


I mentioned this speech in an earlier post. Here it is.

Transcript of Michael Moore's speech:

I don't know what it is with right-wingers and Republicans. They seem to have hijacked over the years the word "patriotism", the American flag, these things. And it's an odd thing. I have been thinking about this lately. Because the true patriots are those who believe the important thing is to ask questions, you know. To dissent when necessary. And I know a lot of people have seen my film and the obvious bad guy in the movie is George W. Bush. But there's the unstated villain in the film. And that's our national media.

You've seen the film. Right? A lot of them are mad at me right now because I can't go on a show without them, you know. But I would be mad if I were them too, because the film outs them. It outs them as being for the Bush administration. It outs them as people who were cheerleaders for this war. It outs them as, to be kind to those who are actually good journalists, journalists who fell asleep on the job. Journalists who didn't ask the hard questions. The one thing I hear when people come out of the theater over and over again is I never saw that on the news. Right? I never saw those Black congressmen being shut down one after another. Did anyone see that?

I didn't know there was a riot at the inauguration parade. I never saw the egg hit the limo. I never saw that! I don't hear from the amputees who sit in our hospitals, 5,000 or 6,000 of them. How come I don't hear from them on the nightly news? I don't hear from the mothers. I don't see them on the evening news, the mothers of children who have been killed in Iraq and who state their opposition to this war. I haven't seen them on the news.

Why haven't I seen this? I live in a free and open country that has a free and open press where you can show us anything. That's the great thing about America. You can show us anything! You can ask any question you want to ask. And this is my humble plea to those of you from the press here. And don't any of you take this personally. I don't mean it this way, but I – we, the people, we need you. We need you to do your jobs! We need you! To ask the questions, demand the evidence! Demand the evidence! Don't ever send us to war without asking the questions!

You do us no service by hopping on a band wagon, by becoming cheerleaders, by looking the other way, because you know that's the safest way to play it if you want to keep your job. Or, you are just afraid of being accused of being un-American if you were to ask a hard question to the President or his administration. That's not un-American. That's pro-American! To ask the questions. That's patriotic! But I know it was rough. I know in those first days of the war, I know. I stood on an Oscar stage five days into the war. I know what the mood was like. It was not easy to say we are being led to war for fictitious reasons. Right?

And those of you who felt the same way at the beginning of this war, you know, remember what it was like at work or at school? You had to be kind of careful. Right? And if you expressed any opposition to the war, you had to immediately say, but I support the troops! Right? But I support the troops. You didn't need to say that. Of course you support the troops. You've always supported the troops. Who are the troops? The troops are those who come from the other side of the tracks. The troops are the people who come from families who have been abused by the Bush administration. You've always supported them. You've always been on their side! This no one should question that!

The way that you don't support the troops is to send them into harm's way when it isn't necessary. The way that you hate the troops is when you send them off, some of them, to their death, so that your rich benefactors can line their pockets even more. The Halliburtons, the oil companies. That is anti-American. That is unpatriotic. You do not support the troops when you do that. The thing here is, and again, and I am not picking on the press who are here, but it is true. We are talking about our mainstream national media. A media, for instance, NBC, owned by General Electric. You know, I understand General Electric now has over $600 million worth of contracts in Iraq. They are war-profiteers. It doesn't surprise me that their news arm has failed to do the job that it needs to do to tell the truth to the American people about this war. There's nothing surprising about that. I understand that.

I understand the Matt Lauers and the Lisa Myers and the people that have to work for this entity. You have cameras and microphones and the ability to get into places of power that the people in this room can't get in. To ask these questions. And the great thing about this country is you can ask any question you want. You can ask any question you want and not be arrested. Right? You would not be sent to prison if you ask a question. So what has prevented you from asking the question? But you've got the little lapel flag pin. Right? And the TV. Screen filled up with American flags flying. See, we are patriotic. We are patriotic. But you've thrown down with the wrong people. You haven't just been embedded. You've been in bed with the wrong people. You've listened to those in power and just report their lies as truths....

The majority of our fellow Americans are liberal and progressive when it comes to the issues. That's not just me saying this or wishing it to be true. Every poll shows that the majority of Americans believe in women's rights. The majority of Americans want stronger environmental laws. The majority of Americans want government laws much the majority of Americans are pro-labor. Put down the whole list of issues, Americans, whether they use the label or not, and most Americans don't like labels, but most Americans in their hearts are liberals and progressives. It's just a small minority of people who hate. They hate. They exist in the politics of hate. They don't believe two consenting adults should have the right to be in love and share their lives together and be legally protected by the state for doing so. What would motivate that?

What business is it, anyway, of these people? These, they aren't patriots. They are HATE-triots and they believe in the politics of HATE-riotism. That's where they stand and patriotism is where real Americans stand. And that's the truth....

They keep saying that this is a 50/50 country. This is not a 50/50 country. In their wildest dreams, it's a 50/50 country. Look at all the polls I just, and I've got all the statistics in my book and I cite them all. And these aren't left wing polls. These are Gallup polls and even ABC and CNN polls and they go right down the line and you see where Americans are at. When they, when you hear about this close election, about the 50/50 country, don't forget the key words they always use. In a poll of likely voters. Likely voters. This is how far behind the media is with the times in which we live. They are using an old paradigm. They only poll people who have consistently voted in previous elections. But the other 50% of the country doesn't vote. If they wanted to be honest, they could say it's a 50/50/50 country because they never ask the other 50% how they feel. And I got to tell you, this is what they are in for a big surprise.

Come November 2, the other 50% you can't compare this election to any election before September 11, 2001.

That day and since that day has made average Americans more aware of what's going on in the world. They want to know more about what's going on in the world. They talk politics now. We all know this. Right? At work, you go in the bar, people are talking about politics. Anywhere you go, people talk politics. It's cool now to talk about politics. Right? It's uncool if you don't know what's going on in the world. It's uncool to be apathetic. Now that has not been the case for most of our lives much. Right? If you talked too much politics you were seen as kind of strange and wonkey. Right? But that's not the case. That's why John Stewart is so popular, because people want to talk about politics. They want to hear about it, and that's the big story that the media has missed. That there's been this shift in the country. And who are these 50% who don't vote? Who are they? Are they the wealthy and the privileged?

No. They are the people who have been most hurt by the Bush administration. They are people of color. They are single moms. They are poor. They are working class. They are young people. These are the people most affected by the policies of the Bush administration and they are now talking politics. And they are not apathetic. And I think we are going to see a significant number of them leave the house on November 2 and come out to vote.

I believe we'll have the largest percentage of people voting in our lifetime come November 2! I really, really believe, you don't hear that, though. You won't see that story reported because they are just focusing on likely voters from 1992, 1996 and 2000. And it's a 50/50 country. Like if they just keep repeating it enough, it will be true. It's a 50/50 country. Put your heels together now. It's a 50/50 country.

I got to tell you, I have traveled across this country quite a bit in the last year. It ain't a 50/50 country. People are angry. They want Bush out of the White House. They want to be able to send their kids to college. (applause) They want to be able to go to the doctor. This isn't a 50/50 country. Speak the truth. Come on. Take a real poll. Take a real poll!

A few weeks ago I was flipping around on the dial and I came across a NASCAR Race on FOX and there was NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. He said what would you do, what did you do the night before while you were getting prepared for the big race? He said, "Well, I took my crew to go see Fahrenheit 9/11." And then he said, and "I think all of America should see this movie." I fell off the couch! I said a little prayer for George W. Bush. I'm thinking oh, my God, I hope he's not watching this race now and eating pretzels!

Whoa. I thought, man, if the movie has gone that far into middle America, and this is where the country's at, how come we don't know this? How come this isn't being reported? What's wrong here? Well, we have our conventional wisdom and our conventional wisdom tells us that the paradigm that we have been following over the last 20 years is the one we must follow and that's the one we are worried about. Thank you. It doesn't hurt to report the truth. It's ok. You know. I was on a, one of those morning talk shows and after we went to commercial, the person who was interviewing me said you know, you are right, I mean when the war started, it was very difficult here to book the people we wanted to book, ask the questions we wanted to ask. In fact, I got a memo about my tone of voice. And apparently the brass had received a call from the Dick Cheney's office is what – and said that he didn't like my tone of voice. And I got a memo on it to watch my tone of voice. Well you've got to tell that story! You've got to tell that story. I can't. Well why? They can't fire you.

You are like one of the most well-known people in America. And, you know, you've got to tell this story. If you don't tell it, I'm going to wait like maybe another week. What's today? Within the week, I will put this on my web site. I'll tell the whole story and I'll name who said it. So this person is unnoticed now and I am doing it in a friendly way. Because this is a good person. You know? Just that I think the people deserve the truth and they need to know how the decisions get made behind the curtain. Who is pulling the strings here? Who's calling the shots? It's like, coming from where I come from politically, we always are in this place of yeah, the man this and the man that and this corporation and this and that and there's probably a part of us that says oh, you know, it's really, there's, maybe it's not that bad. You want to believe it isn't that bad. You know? And then, they have made the mistake of giving me a peek behind this curtain and I've seen this happen and it's stunning to me, for instance this whole experience with Disney not releasing the film and it's like what? – you know, the film has gone on now to make more money than any Disney film this year.

It shocked me at the time, because the way I have been able to get my work out there over the years is that usually when the media companies, greed always supercedes politics or personal animosity toward me. Oh, I can't stand the guy. Oh, how many books did he sell last week? Well, OK. Print a few more. You know this incredible flaw of capitalism that has always worked in my favor.

You know the old saying that the rich man will sell you the rope to hang yourself with if he can make a dollar off it? That will eventually be their undoing. But this time it didn't happen. This time a film made for a very small amount of money that will now make, you know, at least a quarter billion dollars around the world by the time it's done, the greed didn't motivate them to release this film. I couldn't figure it out for the longest time and it took a Canadian journalist to finally do the story and thank god for the Canadians, you know?... The Canadians really do like us. They just wish we would read a little more and – but it took a Canadian journalist to write that perhaps one of the problems that Mr. Moore had with Disney is the fact that the Saudi world family owns almost 17% of Euro-Disney. And that in 1994, Prince Walid, one of the richest men in the world, and a member of the Saudi Royal Family, wrote Michael Eisner and Disney a check for over $300 million to bail out Euro-Disney. And the people that helped put the thing together to bring the two together was a company called the Carlyle group.

Now my film was already done, you know, but I was like can it get any worse? Are they everywhere? But no journalist will ask Mr. Eisner or Disney the question: Will that have anything to do with the decision because their good friends maybe don't look that good in this movie. But this is what, just a small example of what we have come to expect. But the good news is that things are going to change very soon. And the other side, the unelected side, who occupy our white house, they are not going to go peacefully. They like being in charge with no mandate. All right? They actually believe they could take us to war based on no mandate from the people. And they knew that they had to lie to the people to get them to believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with September 11th and that there were weapons of mass destruction and this, this, and that.

So they aren't going to go without a fight. And believe me, they are better fighters than we are. They have proven themselves; you have to give them their props for that. I mean, they are up at 6:00 in the morning trying to figure out which minority group they are going to screw today. The hate that they eat for breakfast. I mean, our side, we never see 6:00 in the morning unless unless we have been up all night.... So they are going to fight and they are going to smear and they are going to lie and they are going to hate. And we have to get out there and counter that with the truth. We have to get out there and we have to get up and we have to get moving. And we must not stop between now and November 2. No stopping! No stopping! I'm telling you, if we don't do it....

[R]eporters have been asking me while I have been here at the convention, so how do you square the fact, this John Kerry, that he voted for the war? And my answer to them is similar to the answer actually I gave a soldier who stopped me on street a short time back. And he said to me, you know, I was on a ship off Iraq the night of the Oscars and we watched you give your speech. And we booed along with the audience. I was very angry at you for what you said that night but now that I have been there and served my tour in Iraq, what you said was the truth. They sent us there under false pretenses. And he said to me I want to apologize to you for booing at you on that ship. And I said to him, you owe me no apology. It is we, the American people, who need to apologize to you for sending you into harm's way based on a lie. I apologize to you. And I said to him your only crime is that you believed your president. Why would you apologize for believing your Commander in Chief? You are supposed to be able to believe your commander in chief. You are supposed to be able to believe the president.

Because if we don't have that, that basic thing of being able to believe what comes out of the mouth of the president of the United States, my friend, what are we left with? What are we left with if you can't believe anything that's being said from the man who sits in the white house? John Kerry did what 70 to 80% of our fellow Americans did. He believed. And he believed that he was going to do something in a different way, but he believed in the majority of our fellow Americans believe. Do we point our finger at them now? Do you point your finger at your neighbors and your friends who supported the war at the beginning but no longer support it because now 54% of this country believes the war is wrong and never should have been fought? Do you?

Does one in this room sit on your high horse and look down at them? Oh, you supported the war! I didn't! Does anyone in this room have that attitude to your friends and neighbors and family members? Of course not. Of course not. People come to the wrong conclusions at their own speed. And you know what, friends? We are getting better at this. Because during Vietnam it took years before we figured it out. This time, it only took months. It only took a few months before the majority of Americans figured out how wrong this president was.

And that applause is for our fellow Americans, because they will always respond in the right way when given the truth. They will always come from a righteous place when they have the facts and information available to them. As soon as it was made available, as soon as that happened, they create, the shift took place, didn't it. And it's a long way from the 16 months but not that far, really, from those first days of the war. We now are the American majority. Would are with them and they are with us. And this is the American majority that's going to show up on November 2 and remove George W. Bush from the White House. I so believe that.

But it's only going to happen with our hard work and us coming from a good and gentle place with those that we speak to in the coming months. To hold out our hand and say, come on. It's ok. I mean, you should see some of the mail I am getting from Republicans. I love these letters. You know? Because there are good Republicans. And I predict we are going to see Republicans for Kerry movements across the country. Because a lot of people who call themselves Republicans are that way because they, you know, they just don't like the government sticking their hand in the pocket. Right? That's really their big issue. You know. You've got one in your family. Come on. Everyone in here. Right? They just don't like paying their taxes. Do they? Hum? [laughter] ok. But they are good on everything else, aren't they. They believe women should be paid the same as men. Right? They don't believe companies should be dumping crud into the river. Right? They don't believe assault weapons should be made available easily on the streets. They are good on all the other things. They just don't want their hard-earned money taken out of their pocket.

Well, all we got to do is show them how George W. Bush has taken this money from them and from their children and grandchildren. These are the people that are going have to pay off this incredible debt that this war has created. George W. Bush has gone from being the compassionate conservative to the anti-conservative. He doesn't really believe in conservative values. And we need to do that. But here's my plea to the Democrats and to Mr. Kerry. You will not win this election by being weak kneed and wimpy and wishy-washy and lacking the courage of your convictions. The only way this is going to happen is if you stand up forthrightly and say what you believe and push for the liberal progressive agenda that the majority of America already agrees with. If you move to the right, thinking that's how you are going to pick up a few extra votes from that very small sliver of likely voters who haven't made up their mind yet, if you give up the very principles and things that the people in this room and those delegates believe in, to get those few votes over there, you will encourage millions to stay home.

The people who are already feeling disenfranchised who are full of despair and have sunk into their own cynicism believing what's the use? What's the use? You know, if the Democrats move that way, they will in the only energize the base, the base will stay home. I went to one of these meeting of ACT, I forget what it stands for. America coming together, one, two, and they put up on the screen a map of Cleveland, Ohio and they showed a precinct in Cleveland that was 96% African American. 96%. Total vote are turnout in 2000, 13%. You can't get more base of the Democratic Party than African Americans and if you don't have a message that will inspire them to come out on Election Day and tells them with no B.S. and shows them how their life will be better, we will not win this election....

I say this not to rain on the party. We are all in this together. And as they said last night, we have a big tent. And all of us, from conservative democrats to greens who are voting democrat, are all in this tent right now for one common goal. That's to get our white house back in our hands, the majority's.

And a word about Ralph Nader. Yes, the Republicans do love Ralph. I just came from Michigan where Ralph turned in 50,000 signatures. 43,000 of which were gathered by the Michigan Republican party. This is a painful thing to witness, because of the great Americans, Ralph Nader is one of them. His legacy, what's done for this country has been incredible. And what I and others try to explain to Ralph before he decided to run is that you already did your job. The Democratic Party of 2004 is not the Democratic Party of 2000. The threat that you posed in 2000, they got the message. And it was carried on by Howard dean and Dennis Kucinich and others in this year. And they helped push the Democrats toward where the majority of Americans that liberal progressive majority, is at.

You did a great thing and now, they are in a better place. You have to admit that. Even Al Gore of 2004 isn't the Al Gore of 2000. He's moved! And all you have to do, if you think the Democrats this year are the same as the democrats four years ago, ask yourself this question. Do you think john Kerry will ask Bill Clinton not to campaign in Arkansas for him? Hum? I don't think so. So my appeal to the Nader voters, to the greens out there, is that we have a different job to do this year....

I think that when it comes to that day people will know what to do. But I would not have the Democrats spending any time attacking Ralph Nader. All right? That is the wrong way to go. What the Democrats should be doing, and I have heard Kerry say this, is we need to give, we need to give those who are thinking of voting for Ralph Nader, a reason to vote for John Kerry. That is the right answer.

When I was in Cannes with the movie, I showed it to the American students whose were working there. There were about 200 of them. At the end of the movie, I asked them, let me just ask you a question, how many of you are college-aged student, how many of you are thinking for Ralph Nader? Nearly had a lot of them raised their hand. I invited Kerry's daughter, Alexandra, to come and sit in the back. They didn't know she was there. And she witnessed this. And we went out to lunch afterwards and she was shocked. How could they, after watching this movie, for two hours, with the message of the movie that seems to be that Bush must go, that nearly half of them would say they are still considering voting for Ralph Nader?

I think I saw one poll recently that said 12% of 18-25-year-olds are planning on voting for Ralph Nader. And I said to her, I said you have to tell your dad that, you know, because they, some of the kids that gave their reasons and they spoke with all that great honesty that comes out of an 18 or a 19-year old. Right? Because there's [beep] right? When you are 18 and 19. And they call you on it really quickly. I said you need to tell your dad that the way to deal with this is to take the strong stand that needs to be taken. The majority of Americans are already with you. Don't be afraid. Speak out on these issues. Speak out about health care in the right way. Don't put ads on TV that say we will provide health care for nearly all Americans. Don't do that. Stand up for something. Don't be afraid. Don't try to be the hamburger version of the Republican Party. And I think he got that message. And I think that from what I've heard in recent weeks, I got to say this and I've said this to everybody here who's been asking me about the war.

One thing I do know about Kerry, he will not invade a country like George W. Bush did. I believe in my heart of hearts – that this man, because you know, when you have been shot three times and you have been in that situation and you know this – if you have family members whose have been to war, if you have parents who were in World war II, my dad always says to me, he was in the Marines in the south pacific and he said, you know, if you have been there, you never want to see anybody else go there. And you want it to be the last resort. And so in my heart, I trust that when he says that. In closing, I just want to thank you for everything that everyone here has done. We are all in the same boat together....

I am glad these rallies are taking place, because, you know, I don't know how the press will write about these gatherings of these rallies.... This is not a niche of the Democratic Party. The things that the people in this room believe in is where the American public is at. Especially where I believe a large chunk of that 50%, that non-voting public, is at. And it's going to be our job to get them out on November 2 and that's what we are all going to do. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you.

This speech was transcripted by Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!


I wrote this again in response to someone on either the Citizens for Legitimate Government list or Speak-Your-Peace.

CLG is at http://legitgov.org/
SYP is a Yahoo group, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Speak-Your-Peace/?yguid=186198871

Whether it's because of Kerry or the Democrats policies on Iraq or their
lack of seriously controlling corporate influence, or for any reason,
many people on the left feel in good conscience that they cannot vote
for Kerry. They may or may not vote for Nader, but are sympathetic to
his call that both parties are essentially in bed with corporate
America, and that Kerry's plans for Iraq are not that different from

Because this list is about Peace, many invoke the fact that neither
candidate can be called anti-war. Bush obviously so, and Kerry because
he won't support US total withdrawal from Iraq immediately or in any
case sooner than we want. And that he has supported actually increasing
troop levels there.

Ya got us there.

But one of the reasons, obviously, for being anti-war, as of course we
all are, is to prevent needless human suffering and death.

In that regard, Iraq is a minor player, as I'll illustrate.

So I must ask you which candidate, outside of Iraq, contribute to and
increase human suffering and death, and which will not only not increase
it, but work to reduce it. And also to consider that, again outside of
Iraq, the actual number of deaths--actual and clearly to come-- directly
linked to this administration's policies, vs those that would be linked
to a Democratic presidency..

The other Bush policies that result in increased death and suffering are
well known to readers of this list, but are worth repeating. They mostly
involve sexual and reproductive freedom, and amount to an unprecedented
attack on women. A war, in fact.

I mentioned previously that Bush's reinstatement of the abortion gag
rule for international health and reproductive care agencies in
developing countries has resulted in the deaths of 300,000 women.
Estimates are of 10,000 civilian and military Iraqi deaths, and 1000
Americans. 5000 Americans are seriously wounded, and I don't know the
count of Iraqi wounded, but it surely is in the thousands.

We all consider those to be needless, but so are those of 300,000
women. That's vs 11,000 known dead in Iraq.

The World Aids Conference this week highlights the other front in the
Bush wars, and there are three main factors.
1. Obstructing making anti-viral drugs affordable: We know of Bush's
interests in protecting Big Pharma via the Medicare bill, which is a
megabillion dollar windfall for that industry. The US's pressuring of
poor countries to relinquish rights to make the generic drugs in return
for free trade agreements is consistent with this policy.
2: Promoting abstinence instead of condom use: The administration's
policy is ABC--Abstinence, Being Faithful, and Condoms, in that order of
priority. They believe that condom use promotes promiscuity. (That
policy applied in the US has resulted in increased rates of teenage
pregnancy and STD's.) The US does not make much effort to counter absurd
claims that condoms are ineffective, nor does it want to challenge it's
main ally in this death march, Uganda, which has adopted the Bush ABC
3. Funding: It's still apparently little known that of the
already-insufficient $15B Bush has promised over the next few years to
fight AIDS in Africa (vs the $200B Bush will ultimately use to fight
Iraqis in Iraq), 1/3 of that money must be devoted solely to abstinence

I've copies two articles, below, that go into more detail on these
factors, But the end result is millions of unnecessary cases of AIDS in
the developing world, and millions of unnecessary deaths, both of which
not only bring about major suffering but economic devastation as well,
as family breadwinners die off and nations' workforces are decimated.

So let's compare:
Deaths from the Iraq debacle: 11,000 so far
Deaths from Bush's other policies: Millions

All of the policies that contribute to Bush's war on women, sexual and
reproductive freedom will be dismantled or reversed under a Democratic

So it seems clear and irrefutable that to be truly anti-war, one must do
all one can to defeat Bush. And that means voting for Kerry. The person
who does not vote out of protest over the Democrat's positions on two
war fronts (Iraq and the battle for control of our democracy) thereby
accedes the third front (the war on women and reproductive freedom and
AIDS) to the reactionaries, and rather than preventing needless death
and suffering, actually contributes to them.

Surely that is not the intent of the non-voter, but it is the result.

Please reconsider. The struggle to eliminate armed conflict as anything
but a last resort will continue no matter what, and for the foreseeable
future, regardless of who wins this November. But the number of deaths
from other "wars" will continue in the millions if Bush wins. If
conscience and principle are the guiding forces, how in good conscience
can one contribute to these millions of deaths on the grounds of
protesting thousands of deaths. It may be unseemly to reduce this to a
numbers game, but it surely is one. The greater good needs the
non-voters hearts to listen to these pleas, bite the bullet yet again,
and vote.

Here are the two articles:

*AIDS is "Terrorism'' Richard Gere Tells World AIDS Conference
by Vijay Joshi
The Associated Press/

(Bangkok) France accused the United States of ``blackmail'' tactics to
pressure poor countries into ceding rights to make cheap generic HIV
drugs, while the AIDS conference issued a stirring call Tuesday to get
more medicine to millions of needy in the developing world.

``A vicious terrorist is out there. It is not Osama bin Laden, it is
AIDS,'' Hollywood actor Richard Gere told the conference. ``The biggest
threat to our livelihood, our happiness is AIDS.''

A U.S. official denied the French allegation as ``nonsense,'' while
conference delegates lamented World Health Organization figures that
show only about seven per cent of the six million people in poor
countries who need anti-retroviral treatment are getting it.

``All of us with the power and responsibility to make a difference, can
only hang our heads in shame,'' said Jim Kim, WHO's AIDS director. ``We
know what we need to do. We know prevention and treatment must be
accelerated together.''

Since the last AIDS conference in Barcelona in 2002 generated optimism
about the availability of new anti-retroviral drugs, six million people
have died of AIDS and 10 million have become newly infected.

``By these measures of human life _ the ones that really matter _ we
have failed. And we have failed miserably to do enough in the precious
time that has passed since Barcelona,'' Kim said.

The number of people on treatment has doubled in the developing world to
440,000. UN officials hope to treat three million people there by 2005.

Cost of the drugs is a key issue. European and U.S. pharmaceutical
giants make most of them, protected by patents and costing as much as
$5,000 US ($6,600 Cdn) per person per year.

Some developing countries such as Thailand, India and Brazil are making
cheap generic drugs but not enough to reach everybody. Some 38 million
people are infected with HIV, mostly in poor countries: 25 million in
sub-Saharan Africa and 7.2 million in Asia.

French officials accused the United States of pressuring poor countries
to relinquish rights to make the generic drugs in return for free trade
agreements. In a written statement to the conference, President Jacques
Chirac called that tactic ``tantamount to blackmail.''

France's global ambassador on AIDS, Mireille Guigaz, said Chirac's
comments were not aimed at creating new tensions with the United States
but were ``a question between the United States and developing countries.''

``The United States wants to put pressure on developing countries who
try to stand up for their own industries,'' Guigaz said. ``This is a

World Trade Organization rules give developing countries the flexibility
to ignore foreign patents and produce copies of expensive drugs in times
of health crises. All WTO members including the United States have
signed an agreement to respect that clause.

But there is nothing to prevent a country from imposing patent
restrictions in a bilateral trade agreement, such as the one Washington
is negotiating with Thailand.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, called the French
allegations ``nonsense,'' and insisted the trade agreements will be
consistent with WTO rules that will allow poor countries to make generic

``There really is no issue,'' he said.

Chirac also called on rich nations to raise donations to the 2{-year-old
UN Global Fund aimed primarily at fighting AIDS by $3 billion ($4
billion) per year. Wealthy countries have committed only a fifth of the
$3.5 billion ($4.6 billion) the fund needs for next year, UN officials said.

A group of African protesters interrupted a French minister delivering
Chirac's message to demand more AIDS funding from developed G-8 countries.

``Shame! Shame!'' they chanted in harmony for nearly a minute. Activists
at the venue have also splashed red paint on posters of the G-8 leaders.

*Condoms vs Abstinence Divides World AIDS Conference
by Ian Mader
The Associated Press

Posted: July 12, 2004 11:02 am ET

(Bangkok) AIDS conference delegates were deeply split over the use of
condoms Monday, with Uganda's leader drawing criticism for insisting
they are less effective for HIV prevention than campaigns to promote
abstinence and loving relationships.

President Yoweri Museveni's comments on the second day of the
International AIDS Conference were in line with the policy of U.S.
President George W. Bush but at odds with a majority of researchers and
AIDS activists at the meeting.

Condoms have been promoted as a front line defense against AIDS by
countries such as Thailand where a campaign to get sex workers to insist
on condoms yielded a more-than-sevenfold reduction in HIV rates in 13 years.

An epidemiologist tracking Asia's emerging epidemics told conference
delegates that additional countries - including China and Bangladesh -
face HIV problems largely driven by prostitution, and that promoting
condoms is best to block further spread.

``I disagree with (Museveni) ... condoms are greatly shortchanged in
Africa as a prevention method,'' said Tim Brown, of the Hawaii-based
think-tank East West Center. ``If you increase condom use by 50 per
cent, I guarantee you that HIV will go down by 50 per cent.''

Uganda has waged a successful battle against the spread of HIV in a rare
success story for sub-Saharan Africa - though some experts say it's
unclear how that success has been achieved.

Museveni said loving relationships based on trust are crucial, and that
``the principle of condoms is not the ultimate solution.''

``In some cultures sexual intercourse is so elaborate that condoms are a
hindrance,'' he told a conference plenary session. ``Let the condom be
used by people who cannot abstain, cannot be faithful, or are estranged.''

Museveni, in a departure from many western proponents of abstinence
before wedlock, said marriage should be flexible, and that sticking with
someone when a relationship turns sour might mean that an unfaithful
partner brings home an infection.

``Ideological monogamy is also part of the problem,'' he said.

Uganda pioneered a strategy that later became known as ``ABC'' or
``Abstinence, Being faithful, and Condoms'' - in that order - a policy
backed by Bush. Critics have said promoting condoms should come first.

Uganda has brought its infection rate down from more than 30 per cent in
the early 1990s to about six per cent of the country's 25 million people
last year.

Many conference delegates criticized the Bush administration's AIDS
funding initiatives for requiring that one-third of the money allotted
for HIV prevention support abstinence-until-marriage programs.

``In an age where five million people are newly infected each year and
women and girls too often do not have the choice to abstain, an
abstinence-until-marriage program is not only irresponsible, it's really
inhumane,'' U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee said, presenting a report by
family planning group Population Action International.

Lee, a California Democrat, and other delegates urged more spending to
expand the availability of affordable condoms in the developing world.
Activists at a youth session punctuated those demands with a song to the
tune of Queen's We Will Rock You - with the lyrics, ``We want, we want

Some 25 million of the 38 million infected with HIV worldwide are in
sub-Saharan Africa, but the virus is taking root increasingly in Asia,
where 7.6 million are infected.

In Asia, the sex trade has been the main engine behind infections in
countries such as Thailand and Cambodia, where epidemics exploded by the
late 1980s - sparking aggressive responses including campaigns to boost
condom use, said Brown.

Other Asian countries where the proportion of men who visit prostitutes
is lower will face the same problem but more slowly.

``The slowly evolving epidemics of Asia are very dangerous, because they
will grow steadily and silently,'' Brown said, and are less likely to
prompt aggressive government responses.

Brown said China and Bangladesh are potential hotspots because their
rate of condom use is only about 10 per cent.

©Associated Press 2004


A response to a friend about Obama:

Yes, I felt the same way. Out of the blue, a brilliant contender appears. And I agree with one of the pundits, who later said he will--not may, but will--be our first black president. He was positively mesmerizing.

And how about that Theresa? Forget Hillary for prez--I'd go for Theresa, after hearing that quietly powerful speech. I've always liked Hillary, but I never heard her tell an asshole reporter to shove it. So she can be VP.

We were lucky enough to get in to see Howard Dean, Michael Moore, Robert Reich, Carl Pope and others in the first day of the Campaign for America's Future's "Take Back America" forum. Dean and Moore were absolutely incredible. Dean spoke for 30 minutes, and got us all pumped up--much better than he did at the convention last night, or even during his campaign. Reich was his in his usual bright, witty and feisty form, and then Moore took us over the top. All the media--dozens and dozens--were surrounding him and the stage while he lambasted them repeatedly for their impotence, cowardice and co-option over the last four years. We jumped out of our seats applauding at least a dozen times. I missed the Boston Social Forum, so it was a thrill to be in ballroom full of progessives, on the floor and at the podium.

Inerestingly, though, among all the speakers at that event and at the convention itself, Moore was the only one who even mentioned the equal marriage issue, with a comment that anybody ought to be able to be with anybody, nobody's elses business, etc. Clearly "they" have decided to strategically ignore this issue this week.

Moore revealed another reason for Disney's refusal to distribute his film. It turns out one of the Saud family's richest princes (Moore named him, don't remember the name) bailed out EuroDisney to the tune of $300 million a while back. Another good point that he made, that maybe you have thought about but I confess I hadn't, was that all of the polls that claim the country was 50/50 divided did not poll that "other 50%," that portion of the populace that doesn't vote. The pollsters poll "likely voters." When the opinions of that "third 50%" were taken into account, there was no 50/50 split--a majority of the people supported traditional liberal/progressive positions, and are looking for standard bearers to represent those positions, not be Repub lite yet again.

As many times as I've seen Moore on TV being interviewed or on talk shows, his talk--not a speech-- yesterday was light years more insightful, informative and inspiring--and funnier--than I have ever seen from him.

As we exited, we were video-inteviewed by a French TV reporter, who asked us about Kerry distancing himself from Moore and the movie, and yada yada about the campaign moving rightward as a strategy, whether we thought that was true and whether it was a good idea. We told him to shove it and go eat some freedom fries, you cheese-eating surrender monkey. No, actually we told him that we all felt that taking the advice of Clinton (even though his speech seemed to belie his backroom DLC-centrist maneuvering) and the DLC and moving to the center or rightward was a big mistake, and used Moore's comments as support for that conclusion, and by the way we love France but honi soit qui mal y pense, eh, cochon?

What a day.

I expect CAF will have these talks available recorded or transcribed on their website at some point: http://www.ourfuture.org/

Meanwhile, Amy Goodman has compiled them all, and many others, for downloading in transcript, audio or video format. At least she did. Now I can't find them on her website: http://www.democracynow.org/index.pl


A letter I wrote to CNN after watching some of their disgusting DNC coverage:

Dear CNN,

I don't get it.

I used to trust CNN as being truly fair and balanced, as opposed to that other network. But watching the DNC coverage on CNN, at times it was hard to tell if I was watching Fox or CNN. I had that same reaction watching MSNBC--is this Fox?

If all three major cable news networks are going to fill their airtime with conservative pundits, conservative newscasters who fail to keep their slants to themselves, or Republican spin, then you will drive us all to the internet or the Daily Show (in spite of Brokaw's out-of-the-loop comments).

You're already losing market share to those venues. Do you really want your audience to comprise that percentage of the conservative half of this country that watches anything other than Fox? Don't see how you can stay afloat economically if that trend continues. Obviously I'm on the left, but you should know that everyone I talk to was so disappointed with CNN this week that they are tuning off. Can you affford that? Do you want that? You can't outfox Fox--so why try?

You once were fair and balanced. CNN has an opportunity to reclaim the role of an independent and thoughtful news network that shook off pressures to conform to any political point of view, and thus was a real alternative. You can be so again--if you want.

With that will come greater market share. Don't you want that?

My family encourages CNN to return to its roots. More than ever America and the world needs what made CNN a household name in the first place. We don't need another Fox wannabe.

Arthur Cohen


A letter I wrote to the PR flack at Unilever, parent company of SlimFast.

Dear Ms. Keckler,

Shame on Unilever for giving in to an orchestrated campaign of intimidation. You, being in Communications and PR, know as well as anyone that this is an artificial controversy created by one small segment of our society as part of their campaign to advance their own extremist agenda. And you surely know as well that the media have been too often uncritical accomplices to much of this political grandstanding, as demonstrated yet again by essentially parroting that segment's criticism of Ms. Goldberg, and that entire fund raising event.
In this regard, Whoopi has become yet another scapegoat, and you have also become accomplices. Giving in to intimidation by self-censoring is the worst form of citizenship--corporate or individual. And of course you are aware that--this being a created scandal--the vast majority of your customer base does not give a hoot about Whoopi's so-called "offensive" remarks. But they do care about intimidation of thought and speech.

It has been suggested that Unilever has much to gain by supporting the Bush administration due to its military contracts. We will never know your company's true motivation for this action, but it is suspect, because surely this huge multinational corporation cannot be intimidated by extremists who would attack for political gain one of the foundations of this democracy, the First Amendment--the very amendment that guarantees your company's right to promote itself as it sees fit, including who you choose as a spokesperson. The irony of your decision is not lost on your customers. You may not have compromised Ms. Goldberg's free speech, but you surely have done so for your own.

Our family and friends will join the growing boycott of all Unilever products, and will urge everyone we know to do the same, We may or may not effect your bottom line, but we will not forget your cowardice in the face of these hypocritical attacks on our constitution.


Arthur Cohen