The Good: Funny, Well-written, Insightful, Clever, Well-cited
The Bad: Moments are over-the-top
The Basics: Satirical and Well-researched, Stupid White Men goes a long way to undermining the faith one has in the Bush regime.
In the brief time I have been reading the books of Michael Moore (this is, to be fair, only the second one I've read), I've learned that he is a polarizing guy. People tend to like him or hate him. The people who like him tend to like his sense of humor and his arguments. The people who hate him tend to dislike him on the grounds that he is a jerk. The problem is, so many people are blinded by a dislike of Moore's personality that they fail to comprehend or consider the validity of many of his most poignant arguments and ideas.
Stupid White Men is a look at how the United States of America went horribly wrong in the 2000 election and how dangerous the state of the union was going into the 2004 election cycle. Moore writes about how (specifically) voters were disfranchised in Florida, resulting in that state turning the tide of the Electoral College in 2000, resulting in George W. Bush becoming "president." Moore explores other poignant issues of our time, including the poor Clinton legacy, the connections between current high-ranking politicians and big businesses, and the sorry state of education in the United States. His topics are wide ranging, but always come back to how it affects the common person in the United States. Moreover, Stupid White Men is remarkably unbiased in its criticism of the Republican regime and the Democrats who live and die by the same rules.
Moore does several things right in Stupid White Men. The first is that he is remarkably funny. Moore has a real tongue (or pen) for language and a knack for taking offensive subjects and turning them into something worth smiling about. He writes with open humor, tongue-in-cheek satire and biting sarcasm about the state of the world and how the United States has become less run by the people who ought to be running it and more by the big businesses who should be serving it.
Moore has a wonderful grasp of the facts at hand in all of his arguments. For example, when he makes controversial statements in chapter 2 about the drinking histories of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, he backs them up with at least four sources. The strength of Moore's arguments come, not simply from having citations, but having decent citations and a good number of references from a diverse number of sources. Part of the idea of Freedom of the Press is that if there is a truth out there, the wider the net is, the more likely the truth is to get caught. By having a wide variety and political range of sources, Moore effectively insulates himself from the possibility that the conspiracies and networks he exposes are false. They are there to be found and Moore does an excellent job of putting the pieces together.
Moreover, Moore has an excellent way of exposing the hypocrisies of our society while trying to offer genuine remedies to the problems. Chapter Four - "Kill Whitey" goes a long way to belabor the problems with race relations in the United States today. Moore exposes differences between attitudes toward white and black people and observes - with a great amount of sadistic humor - that most of the world's ills are perpetrated by white people. After spending many, many pages belaboring the idea that whites still keep people of other ethnicities down and "in their place," Moore offers several viable solutions, not the least of which is a request for resumes from non-whites to come work on his films with him. More than just some gasbag of wild philosophies, Moore practices what he preaches.
And that is not to say that Moore is some philosophical god or anything. In Stupid White Men, he takes some time to belittle recycling without ever actually proposing that recycling plants actually recycle. Moore also fails to mention that his bad experiences with recycling trucks and the recycling industry have a lot to do with where he is writing from; New York City. There are many admirable recycling programs where products actually are recycled, just in smaller areas.
But Moore does many an important social service by publishing Stupid White Men, a task that was hampered (according to his following book, Dude, Where's My Country?, reviewed here!) by the attacks on September 11, 2001. There are many biting criticisms of people in the Bush regime that the faux "national unity" created after the attacks undermines. The problem with trying to censor this book is that the fundamental wrongs he tries to expose here exist now more even more than before (take a look at John Ashcroft and his "Patriot" Act, for example).
The social service Moore provides comes early in the book. His exposure of the specific ways the Republican party and Bush family removed the power to vote from hundreds to thousands of Floridians is astonishing, worse so by its truth. No matter how one feels about the injustice over the counting of votes in Florida in 2000, chapter 1 of Stupid White Men exposes a fundamental wrong wherein the reader is led down the systematic way individuals were stripped of their write to even cast a vote! It doesn't matter one's political party; the write to vote is sacred in this country. If you can read Chapter 1 of this book and not call your Board of Elections to make sure you're still on the rolls, you have a lot more faith than you should in the government!
Even more than Dude, Where's My Country? Moore's Stupid White Men succeeds in exposing too many of the hypocrisies of the U.S. government and the sorry state of the world. Better than his latest book, Stupid White Men brings up points and unearths truths that will be true for many (too many) years to come. A must-read for anyone who wants to vote.
For other political books, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Keeping Faith - Jimmy Carter
The Onion Presents Our Front Pages
High Crimes And Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton - Ann Coulter
For other book reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2010, 2007, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
btw . . .ReplyDelete
The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).
Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. Elections wouldn’t be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in a handful of swing states.
Now 2/3rds of the states and voters are ignored — 19 of the 22 smallest and medium-small states, and big states like CA, GA, NY, and TX. The current winner-take-all laws (i.e., awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in each state) used by 48 of the 50 states, and not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution, ensure that the candidates do not reach out to all of the states and their voters. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or care about the voter concerns in the dozens of states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. Voter turnout in the “battleground” states has been 67%, while turnout in the “spectator” states was 61%. Policies important to the citizens of ‘flyover’ states are not as highly prioritized as policies important to ‘battleground’ states when it comes to governing.
The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes–that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).
The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.
The bill has been endorsed or voted for by 1,922 state legislators (in 50 states) who have sponsored and/or cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.
In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed in recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO-- 68%, IA --75%, MI-- 73%, MO-- 70%, NH-- 69%, NV-- 72%, NM-- 76%, NC-- 74%, OH-- 70%, PA -- 78%, VA -- 74%, and WI -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE --75%, ME -- 77%, NE -- 74%, NH --69%, NV -- 72%, NM -- 76%, RI -- 74%, and VT -- 75%; in Southern and border states: AR --80%, KY -- 80%, MS --77%, MO -- 70%, NC -- 74%, and VA -- 74%; and in other states polled: CA -- 70%, CT -- 74% , MA -- 73%, MN – 75%, NY -- 79%, WA -- 77%, and WV- 81%.
The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR (6), CT (7), DE (3), DC (3), ME (4), MI (17), NV (5), NM (5), NY (31), NC (15), and OR (7), and both houses in CA (55), CO (9), HI (4), IL (21), NJ (15), MD (10), MA(12), RI (4), VT (3), and WA (11). The bill has been enacted by DC, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington. These seven states possess 76 electoral votes -- 28% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.
:) Thanks for the comment! :) Glad to know people are reading and enjoying what I write!ReplyDelete