Friday, November 04, 2005

Michael Moore, Halliburton, hypocrisy, and Me

Via Don Surber:

It seems that Michael Moore owns 2,000 shares of Halliburton.

Here's a summary of the source, a book entitled "Do As I Say, (Not As I Do)" by Peter Schweizer. And Moore is by no means the only one hoist by the petard of his own hypocrisy, courtesy of Schweizer's research into the records of the liberal rich and famous:

Using IRS records, real estate transactions, court depositions, news reports, financial disclosures, and their own statements, [Schweizer] brings to light a stunning record of shameless hypocrisy. Critics of capitalism and corporate enterprise frequently invest in companies they denounce. Those who believe the rich need to pay more in taxes prove especially adept in avoiding taxes themselves. Those who espouse strict environmental regulations work vigorously to sidestep them when it comes to their own businesses and properties. Those who are strong proponents of affirmative action rarely practiced it -- and some have abysmal records when it comes to hiring minorities. Advocates of gun control have no problem making sure than an arsenal of weapons is available to protect them from dangerous criminals.

One of my many caveats is now in order: liberals have no corner on hypocrisy; it's an equal-opportunity vice. The Republican version is a bit different, of course, since everyone already expects them to be investing in the evil Halliburton and driving gas guzzlers. Their hypocrisies tend to be on the order of marital infidelities among the morally righteous, for example.

That said, the evidence reported in this book, if true (and I assume we'll hear in due time from its targets and their defenders if it's not) is a remarkable and quite stunning lesson in hypocrisy--although, on reflection, the tale it tells is hardly surprising, human nature being what it is and all.

And now I have a confession of my own to make. I'm faced with a moral dilemma I've been expecting for quite some time: yesterday I got my first subscription renewal notice from the New Yorker. And it's even worse than that; I save a substantial amount of money if I subscribe for two years rather than just one. This is powerful temptation indeed.

I have quite a bit of time to decide; these notices tend to come way way before the subscription actually runs out, and the magazines can end up begging and pleading towards the end. The prospect of seeing the New Yorker beg somewhat appeals, I must say.

But in a way I've already made up my mind, and I'm afraid it places me in the ranks of Schweizer's hypocrites in principle, if not in magnitude: I plan to renew.

Why? I've gone back and forth about this for quite a while, and indeed it's true that I could haul myself to the library every week to read the latest issue. Or I could give it up entirely. But I'm unlikely to do either.

I can assuage my guilt by asking for the gift of a matching subscription to Commentary these holidays. But does that really atone? All I can say is that a thirty-year habit dies hard.

The last two issues have shown me once again that the magazine keeps putting out nuggets of fascinating information. The October 31st issue contained two biggies, each of which I have plans to make the subject of future posts: Jeffrey Goldberg's piece on Brent Scowcroft and foreign policy "realism," vs. the "idealism" of the neocons; and George Packer's discussion of Hemingway and Dos Passos during that literarily influential engagement, the Spanish Civil War.

As for this week's issue (Nov. 7), I've only skimmed it, but there are already these must-reads: an article about translating Dostoevsky and Tolstoi; a "compare and contrast" review of two new books about Lincoln, one of which focuses on how his depression affected his life and politics; and a piece about how Zola betrayed Cezanne that begins:

When Emile Zola and Paul Cezanne stopped speaking to each other, they had been friends for thirty-four years. They met in 1852, at their school in Aix-en-Provence, when they were twelve and thirteen, and they both cherished memories of their shared boyhood.

Zola and Cezanne were boyhood buddies?? And one betrayed the other? I don't know about you, but I'm hooked.

And this is not to mention the fiction that can still every now and then be wonderful, or the dwindling but still very real possibility of a great cartoon. And then there is the occasional advertisement that can capture my interest, like the one on page 5 featuring a recent picture of the wonderful Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the greatest dancers who ever lived--and whose arresting face has aged very nicely and attractively, thank you very much.

Yes, I'm supporting an institution that regularly publishes political pieces that make me fling it to the nearest wall and then pick it up and pencil angrily and furiously in all the margins. But we all have our vices. Plus, I can always compensate by writing about the things in there I disagree with, if I so desire. That justifies my sojourn in the belly of the beast, right?

I think I'll take the 2-year subscription.


At 1:34 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger Foobarista said...

I'm a huge un-fan of MM, but I'm always a bit suspicious of these "hypocracy of stock ownership" arguments; often, it turns out to be because someone owns an S&P 500 or Wilshire 5000 index fund or a mutual fund that had that stock in its portfolio.

But to the writer's point, to have 2K shares (worth about $60K at the moment) of HAL in a mutual fund, you would have to have a ton of money in it...

At 1:57 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

No! Say it ain't so! MM owning Halliburton stocks!

At 2:04 PM, November 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a fellow subscriber to The New Yorker, who also finds at least one or two pieces worth reading in almost every issue:
- Do you consider it an "indirect" form of hypocrisy for the magazine to support a liberal domestic agenda -against Republican cuts in food stamps, health care, student loans etc--while surrounding their articles and stories with ads for the wealthy only?
- Example: on the back cover of the November 7 issue Uma Thurman alluringly gazes at the reader while wearing a TAGHeuer watch. "What are you made of?" asks the copy? Certainly not the big bucks Uma pulls down for karate kicking in her movies.
- The rest of the ads are, in great measure, luxury items and upscale apparel and accessories for the upper 10% income bracket.
- Do you see this an "unintended" kind of hypocrisy, or simply necessary for the publication to bring readers the materials it does? Isn't there a dissonance between the liberal agenda and the richie-rich pages of lush ads? To the eye, for sure.
- I also subscribe to the NYRB. Where else can you get the laughs from pretentious personals the publication has been famous for? (Something along the lines of: "Like reading Proust in the original French together while walking on a rain-soaked beach?" Yeah, sure, who doesn't?)

At 2:33 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger ExPreacherMan said...

Neocon, Let it go.. Make a clean break from the New Yorker. That is not you any longer.. An addiction is more easily broken cold turkey. Likewise, you will no longer be supporting your enemies!!

At 2:43 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger TalkinKamel said...

Amen to what you say, Erasmus! I haven't read "The New Yorker" in years, but out here we have the L.A. Times, called by some "The Left Angeles Times." Tons and tons of sobby, weepy articles about "The Day I Discovered My Mexican Maid was a Human Being," "Gangbangers---Misunderstood Youth?" "Misunderstood Moslems," "Misunderstood Migrant Workers," "Misunderstandings among those who are Misunderstood"---oh, you get the picture!

And juxtaposed with all these are ads and puff-pieces for "The chickest little restaurants in chic L.A.!" "Touring the Wine Country." "Ravishing fall outfits!" (at something like $2,000.00 and up)---happy, decadent wallows over yummy sushi, lovely leather bags, darling little boutiques, wonderful new wines---limousine liberalism, at its most self-indulgent, and repulsive.

Neo-neo Con, make the break! Drop the subscription! Trust me, you'll feel much, much better afterwards!

At 3:15 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Here's a summary of the source, a book entitled "Do As I Say, (Not As I Do)" by Peter Schweizer. And Moore is by no means the only one hoist by the petard of his own hypocrisy, courtesy of Schweizer's research into the records of the liberal rich and famous:

We really really should have known about this earlier. Like... when Fahrenheit came out.

The reason why, is because it seems Bush didn't hire an assassin. Someone who dug into political enemy's backgrounds and came up with dirt. Like that creature of Bill Clinton's.

Bush needed to hire a Karl Rove Doppleganger... but he didn't.

And this is the result, we learn useful information after a monumentous election. Or, at the least, we learn about a "contention" after fateful decisions had been made and movie tickets had been bought.

That makes me feel very very secure to know that the fate of this nation is built upon chilvary and honor codes, instead of strength, pragmatism, and the truth.

Maybe God does favor Bush.. he won didn't he? Pure luck it seems given all we know now.

Yes, I'm supporting an institution that regularly publishes political pieces that make me fling it to the nearest wall and then pick it up and pencil angrily and furiously in all the margins. But we all have our vices. Plus, I can always compensate by writing about the things in there I disagree with, if I so desire. That justifies my sojourn in the belly of the beast, right?

I think you're just an information junkie NN Con. If someone had given you a choice between the internet and the New Yorker subscription for 50 years, which would you choose?

If you want a solution, if solution it is, find a newspaper that offers the same informational goodness but without the stupidities. Although thatcould be hard as these "magazines" seem to have a death grip on their exclusives and other monopolistic policies they deride businesses for...

Oh ya, Swift Boats had to be done by veterans to defend the truth.

I wish I had a Quantum Reality generator, then I could make changes in the past and see how it plays out all on my own universe play-forward machine. That would eliminate the need for TV all together.

At 3:46 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger Roy Lofquist said...

The cartoons are well worth the subscription. Can I get the cartoons only and save on postage?

At 6:58 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger karrde said...

It would seem more like hypocrisy if you didn't mention it to anyone (or otherwise treated it like a shameful secret.)

Not that I'm an expert on apparent hypocrisy.

The thing that makes this look like hypocrisy for characters like Michael Moore is that he builds up a public image for himself. The public image is heavily invested with certain moral claims.

When his private actions seem to bely those claims, we begin to wonder who is the man behind the mask.

I don't recall seeing you make such sweeping claims about the New Yorker, although you do give evidence of a need to defend your decision to purchase more copies.

I've got too much Midwest in my background--I never saw a copy of the New Yorker untl I moved to grad school.

If I may plug a recent discovery of mine: the journal First Things is very scholarly. However, it is likely much les enjoyable reading.

The editor of First Things keeps a quasi-blog on their website, at

At 9:49 PM, November 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not telling you what to do with The New Yorker, that's your decision. And I wouldn't fault you for subscribing to it if you get some value from it.

However, I will say one of my recently developed pleasures is to very politely tell off the people who periodically call asking me to subscribe to the New York Times. Before, I used to simply say I wasn't interested but now I say I wouldn't pay for the New York Times if someone paid me to pay for the New York Times. That got a laugh out of the last person to call me.

After Time magazine pestered me enough I finally filled out the little card with much the same sentiment (crossing off any reference to the number of issues I wanted, of course), and mailed it back to them - no postage necessary. :)

I figure if I'm going to turn them down then the least I can do is tell them why. If enough people do that, maybe something will start to sink in.

At 9:52 PM, November 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neo, if you were accusing the New Yorker of causing the deaths of American soldiers just to steal government contracts and had a subscription, you would be a hypocrite. Since you're not doing that, you're not.

At 9:56 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger terrye said...

I have a job and the internet takes enough of my time.

So I don't have to worry about the New Yorker because I don't have time to mess with it anyway.

As for Moore, I also heard he owns an estate in Michigan and a pricey penthouse in Manhattan.

I guess that makes him one of those bad rich people.

At 9:56 PM, November 04, 2005, Blogger who, me? said...

Well, since the thread is all over the place, let me second First Things (theophilosophical take on life in the Public Square) and add The New Criterion, literate arts talk with lots of conservative wit and learning.

As to the New Yorker, even though I hated the cover with the abaya, the magazine -- film reviews, profiles of international architects, etc. -- is the best for the gym treadmill. I don't think Neo has to apologize.

And I don't think the high-ticket ads are contradictory to the Demo-left tone. Plenty of D-l are trial lawyers, coupon clippers, self-proclaimed "Creative Class" rich-ies, and look down on us because of that, too.

At 10:17 PM, November 04, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust your instincts Mark

At 12:00 AM, November 05, 2005, Blogger ATMX said...

Ugh, the New Yorker. We were given copies in AP English Lit (forced subscriptions in reality paid for by our tutition) my senior year in high school (in Tennessee) and had to write journal entries about articles. Pretentious crap!

At 12:38 AM, November 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're no hypocrite. If there are articles you enjoy, then the New Yorker has earned your subscription money. To deny yourself the NYer or other publication b/c of occasional or, okay, frequent objectionable articles would seem like a censoring of all material that didn't agree with your views. I'm sure there are Nation readers who would never touch a National Review (and vice versa); like their heads would explode if exposed to an opposing viewpoint. I always check out the New Yorker when I'm in the airport. I really want to buy it so I'll have something else to read on the plane. Sometimes I do, but most of the time it just doesn't interest me.

By the way, I really enjoy your writing -- it is a pleasure to read such well considered and well expressed thoughts. And as a New Yorker surrounded by knee-jerk liberals (who I have remained friends with) I REALLY know where you're coming from!

At 8:17 AM, November 05, 2005, Blogger Fausta said...

I feel your pain. I've been a subscriber to The Economist for years but the last 4 years the editorial board of TE has gone down the drain. Since they still have decent business, books, economics and science sections, and the obit page, I've continued the subscription.
As for the rest of The Economist, I use it as a good source of blogging material.

At 10:07 AM, November 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I recently cancelled my subscription to The New Yorker. Additionally, I received a prorated refund for unreceived issues. I was tired of getting ticked off at their leftie idiocy. I gave the person taking my cancellation information a good piece of my mind as to why I was cancelling. She was probably a third party contractor's employee, but she heartily agreed with me.

In the past, I have enjoyed The New Yorker also...mostly because it kept me informed about cultural happenings in NYC (I love visiting NYC even though many NYC elitists would consider me a Texas "cracker").

I also have thoroughly enjoyed their cartoons through the years. However...for the earlier commenter CAN get LOTSA' New Yorker cartoons for . It's a great site where New Yorker cartoons are indexed by genre and time of publishing.

At 3:04 PM, November 05, 2005, Blogger David Foster said...

Anyone who is into the (justified) mockery of the New Yorker needs to read Tom Wolfe's essay "Tiny Mummies", which will provide plenty of material for further mockery.

At 9:30 PM, November 05, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

Waiting at the doctor's office, I usually have just enough time to read the cartoons and one article. That's about right.

At 2:23 PM, November 07, 2005, Blogger Alan Sullivan said...

I'm 57 and grew up in NYC with NYT and the New Yorker. I let NYT go in the Seventies, when I started reading Bob Bartley's WSJ. I quit the New Yorker about the time I started The Economist. I dropped all print periodicals after I got onto the net in 1998. Everything's on the net. Everything. Save your money; waste your time!

Good blog you've got here. I've linked it.

At 11:29 AM, November 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greets from Tampa, Fl --

Stumbled on your blog by searching for the "Do As I Say" book (had heard of it somewhere or another, and was searching for gift suggestions to give the parents).

Just posting to say, it's okay about the New Yorker. I call myself a liberal conservative Republican (if that makes any sense), and am about to re-subscribe to the St Petersburg Times. Blatantly liberal and leaning in their politics.. and they sometimes annoy the !@#$ out of me because of it.. but they're simply one of the best written and put together dailys I've ever read.

It's okay to realize and respect quality even if you have to ignore some aspects of it!

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