Saturday, July 03, 2004
The United States economy created 112,000 new jobs in June 2004. This is good news, or at least better news than a loss of 112,000 jobs would have been. But given the natural business cycles, recessions tend to be followed by employment upswings in due time. The latest recession appears atypical in many ways, and one of these is it's length: every other recession since 1939 has shown full recovery of the lost jobs within 31 months of the start of the recession. This time, thirty-nine months later, 1.2 million jobs are still missing.
The jobless nature of this recovery has economists scratching their heads. But not the Bush administration: they believe that we are experiencing the beginning of a very vibrant recovery and that the jobs are just lagging behind a little. Perhaps. But the administration has been unable to match its own employment predictions. According to them we should have 2,230,000 more jobs now, at the end of the first year after the highly touted tax cuts took effect. In other words, they promised much more than they are delivering.
Consider the numbers: The unemployment rate has remained steady at 5.6% since January this year, and the rate of underemployed people (those who work part-time involuntarily, those who are so discouraged that they have stopped looking for jobs and those who are only marginally attached to the labor force) is now 9.6%, up from 7.3% at the start of the recession. All this despite the increased number of jobs.
And what are the jobs like that were lost in the recession compared to those that are now being added? It seems that the new jobs are lower paying, less stable, self-employed and part-time jobs (eBay, anybody?), while the lost jobs were what's called high-quality jobs in sectors such as transportation, utilities, natural resources and manufacturing. The numbers of part-time workers and the self-employed have risen by roughly 5% since early 2002. Compare this to the 1.7% growth in regular employees. Since late 2001, jobs in high-paying industries fell by more than 2% and the jobs in low-paying industries rose by 1.2%.
It's fair to summarize these overall changes as a labor market that is paying less for jobs with less stability. We are not getting the good old jobs back; instead we are being offered poorer jobs with less hours of work. To be fair, the most recent statistics indicate that some of the better paying sectors are also beginning to hire, but the overall impact of these factors is to make the quality of the American jobs worse. For those who can find them, that is.
Friday, July 02, 2004
I can't force myself to post anything serious. Maybe tomorrow; I do have the materials together for something very long and tedious on labor economics. It's going to cause fireworks on the blog.
Instead of such an erudite treatise on the big questions in life, I want to ask you an even bigger question, one that requires every iota (what is an iota?) of your concentration, intelligence and senses:
If you could come back to life after death, what would you choose to be?
I would like to be very tall if human, and have eyes which send out angry zaps. If I could be an animal I'd probably want to be a turtle, if I could be a vegetable, I'd want to be an ornamental bean (they don't get eaten), if I could be a tree, I'd want to be an oak (and drop acorns on wingnuts). Oaks live a long time and don't cause a lot of raking in the fall, and I would be a very considerate tree.
Insects are not a good idea for reincarnation. Too much work for just a few days' worth of life, and I already have nightmares about being stepped on by a large rubber sole. Though being a disease-carrier could be a nice revenge for something.
Ok. This is what they mean by pure waffle. As I said, it's Friday and this is all that Friday produces in early July.
I'm posting this early both because that way more people see it (and my attempt to be nice and culturally sensitive) and also because that leaves me free to go back to being nasty over the weekend.
So if you're an American who celebrates the Fourth of July, have a good time! Beware of hot dogs in excess and political debates in family get-togethers. And wear sunscreen.
Something very patriotic to do: Get registered to vote if you haven't done so already, or get someone else to register. Then consider the candidates for presidency carefully, and decide to vote for Kerry come hell or high water.
1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me,
for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much
leave me the heck alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a
3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your
neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.
4. Sex is like air. It's not important unless you aren't getting any.
5. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be
6. No one is listening until you fart.
7. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.
8. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
9. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of
10. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their
shoes. That way, when you criticize them you're a mile away and you
have their shoes.
11. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
12. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to
fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
13. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was
probably worth it.
14. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
15. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.
16. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.
17. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes
from bad judgment.
18. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and
put it back in your pocket.
19. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
20. Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side,
and it holds the universe together.
21. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are
22. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need
23. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
24. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our
butt...Then things get worse.
25. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a
laxative on the same night.
26. There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
27. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too
28. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to
make a big deal about your birthday...around age 11.
29. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
I agree with the last one.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
Every time I log to my SiteMeter to check on if Aphrodite is still reading my blog I see the advertisements on the top of the page. Most of them are of the type that require being clicked on to tell the whole story. I never click on them, and so I'm only left with the mysterious messages they give at first.
In the spirit of proper liberal recycling, I decided to use these mysterious sayings as my meditation mantras. Here's how it worked:
The first one I chose says: "Colon Polyps. Stop them before they go bad." Translated into a mantra, this is the meditation it created:
Stop the polyps. Stop the polyps. UMMMMMM. How do you stop the polyps before they go bad? Do you squeeze your anus harder? Stop the polyps before they go bad. In the colon. In the Colin. Is this what is wrong with Colin Powell? How do polyps go bad? UMMMMM. Do they stink like sour milk? How do you find out if your polyps stink like sour milk? Do you ask a kind bypasser? UMMMMM
I don't think that I got any nearer to enlightenment with that one. The following week I had a new mantra:"How can you stop a car crash with a few ounces of metal?" This was very unpromising. Car crashes tend to make me uptight, and meditation is meant to do the opposite. But perhaps I was ready for the challenge:
Car crashes. Stop the car crashes. AAAAAA! Don't buy a car. With a few ounces of metal, AAAAA. What metal? Buy a gun and shoot all other drivers on the road? AAAAIIIIIH!
Then I had to go and have a nice liedown. The next one I'm going to work with is:"Yo. I'm Mike Mahi Mahi." It comes with a picture of a very happy fish. Happy to be eaten? I'll never know.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is in a lot of wingnuts' nightmares, it seems, given the amount of negative publicity she attracts. Here is Robert Novak, for example:
On the June 29 edition of CNN's Crossfire, co-host and syndicated columnist Robert Novak again ridiculed Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) by calling her "Madame Defarge" -- a reference to a distasteful character from Charles Dickens's novel A Tale of Two Cities .
According to BookRags.com , a website that provides study guides for classic novels, Madame Defarge is "a cruel, vengeance-seeking agent of the [French] revolution ... [who] spends her days knitting a 'register' of names of people she has marked for death."
Novak went on to say that Senator Clinton's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy "sound[ed] like communism." Pointing out that Hillary Clinton's title is "senator," Novak's Crossfire co-host Paul Begala defended Clinton against Novak's attacks:
NOVAK: For a while, I thought that Hillary Rodham Clinton was actually trying to be nice. What disappointing behavior that would be for Madame Defarge. But she has been back in form lately. This week, in San Francisco, where else, she vowed to defeat what she called the Republicans' extraordinarily ruthless campaign.
She told Democrats who paid up to $10,000 to attend that event that she was going to raise their taxes -- quote -- "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." Doesn't that sound like communism?
NOVAK: But it's probably what the rich San Francisco liberals want, and certainly what they deserve, even if they don't want it.
BEGALA: Well, what Senator Clinton -- and that is her title, Senator Clinton -- deserves is better than being called a communist and better than being compared to Madame Defarge, who the English majors here will know is the woman who sat and knitted while people were beheaded during the French revolution in the book A Tale of Two Cities.
I think, given what's happening in Iraq right now, it's a really unfortunate way to characterize one of the finest people in public life that I know. And I know you'll apologize for that unfortunate...
NOVAK: I'll tell you. Certainly, next time I talk about her, I'll call her senator. Will that make you happy?
BEGALA: What about Madame Defarge? That is kind of across the line. I mean, come on.
NOVAK: Well, not my line.
Robert Novak has a habit of calling Senator Clinton Madame Defarge. You'd think that he could find more variation; the literary canon is full of evil and power-hungry female characters. I hope that Robert stays off cheese and wine late at night. Maybe he will then dream something nicer and more creative.
Robert is not alone in his Hillary-obsession. She is hated out of all proportion to both her importance and anything that she has ever done.
She isn't even especially left-wing in her opinions, and she has been a good little senator during her term in office. What makes the wingnuts say things like this?:
In a Washington Times op-ed about former President Bill Clinton's memoir My Life, titled "Harry Potter and Bill Clinton: 'My Life' should be titled 'My Lie,'" Jack Wheeler, identified by The Washington Times as publisher of www.tothepointnews.com, asserted that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is bisexual.
Wheeler wrote of Bill Clinton's memoir:
All of that stuff about Hillary being mad, making him sleep on the couch, going to marriage counselors for a year, yada yada, is all made up. They have had a pact for decades: He gets to fool around with women, and she gets to fool around with women (plus the occasional man like Vince Foster).
Yes, she's bisexual -- I disclosed that in an infamous Strategic Investment column in January 1993, and Dick Morris publicly revealed it a few years ago. You knew that, right?
I know that there is a bizarre connection between being obsessed about sex and wingnuttiness, but it really gets sick when we add it to the stew of Hillary-bashing. Remember Limbaugh and the testicles in a lock-box?
There aren't enough psychiatrists in this country to tend to all those affected by the Hillary hatred. She is not just a communist but a fascist (!), not just a sexual adventurer but a woman who wants to castrate men (!). She is Hitlery, the all-powerful, all-evil woman who is going to get us all if we don't stay alert, fight our nightmares and every morning write them down carefully for publication.
I'm sick and tired of this. Hillary isn't that horrible or that wonderful. She is probably a pretty ordinary politician, but in the minds of so many she is the worst threat to Western civilization since Karl Marx. And the reason isn't that hard to figure out. She stands as a symbol for all the things that men like Novak fear in women: independence, power and refusal to play by his rules. Whether Hillary in fact is a feminist or not doesn't matter. She has become the mythological nightmare for all those who fear equality.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Hank here. And boy, don't I have a story to tell! Yesterday when I was snoozing real nicely under the table, the goddess dragged me out and bathed me. Now, I don't mind a little bit of water, even when there's nothing interesting swimming in it, but she always has to pour that stuff on me, you know, the perfume stuff that looks like soap. Soap is not bad to snack on, although the dish is kind of hard for your gullets, but that perfume yuck is horrible. Man, it's horrible.
And what really pisses me off is that the only reason I got a bath is because her royal highness Henrietta the Hound (a.k.a the Main-Pain-in-the-Butt) needed one so I had to pretend to be dirty, too. Hypocricy, I cried. Hypocricy. But she don't care.
So I bided my time. Which came this morning. We went out for some running and terrarist hunting and squirrel torturing, and I was so good you could've thought I was a libural poodle! Except at the last minute, right before we went home, I jumped into the river and then quickly swam to the muddy side for a nice long rollaround! The screaming and the hollering! Heh, heh, as my idol Limbaugh would say. That'll learn them. And then I ran back, all affectionate-like and when I got near enough, guess what I did? Yep. I shook.
That's why they call me the Baptist and the Shaker. Get it? Get it?
the Murican Labrador Retriever
George Bush in Turkey:
"Some people in Muslim cultures identify democracy with the worst of Western popular culture and want no part of it. And I assure them, when I speak about the blessings of liberty, coarse videos and crass commercialism are not what I have in mind," Bush said. "There is nothing incompatible between democratic values and high standards of decency."
I'm very relieved by this. For a while there I thought that democracy in Iraq had a lot to do with crass commercialism in the energy field.
And I'm not that convinced about the "coarse videos" either, given that we've recently heard about quite a few the administration refuses to release.
More generally, curmudgeony goddesses like me (love that!) are very suspicious of the word "decency". Far too often it refers to something that women must not do or to something that is done to women whether they wish it or not. But so does the term "indecency".
In Iran they wear black chadors and scarves in ninety degree (F) weather. This is because the alternative cooler summer outfits cost a little too much in fines, prison and even flogging. The current Iranian conservative government (which wasn't actually elected) has ordered a crackdown on women who alter the required Islamic garb by wearing lighter-colored and/or shorter chadors. These corrupt the social morale (where is the social morale located, by the way?). Never mind that being shrouded in black in boiling heat corrupts the woman inside the outfit.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Bees have taken residence in the wall above my porch door. They sting everybody who uses the door except for me. I've told them not to sting other creatures who live in the house, but it seems they are not paying attention. So now I have to deliver them an ultimatum: they have twenty-four hours to mend their ways. After that, apocalypse.
This is not that different from other human politics, sadly. Many of our quarrels and wars have their roots in problems of communication. How do you talk to the bees? To the Republican wingnuts? To terrorists? Or if you are a bee, how do you defend your right to live in the siding of someone's house? Sometimes it seems as if we are all separate species with no idea of how to share something: a thought, some pollen, food.
Some of us have a lot more power than others. I have the upper hand with the bees, and I have also planted the flowers that lured them here in the first place. This makes me twice responsible, at least in my bleeding-heart world: I promised them something better and now I threaten them with death.
At least none of this was based on conscious planning. Can the Bush administration say the same about Iraq? Or are we more similar than I'd like to think, just two bumbling fools in a world where every hole in the siding is someone's home?
I'm going out now to have a serious conversation with the bees, but I doubt that it will do much good.
Thanks for Dave for locating this erased post. I copied the comments thread as well, so everything is now beautiful!
Halla is a prostitute in Iraq. Before the war she was happily married, with two sons and a job in her mother's beauty salon. Now she is a widow with two sons and several younger brothers to feed, and the $5 per month she could earn at the beauty salon is not enough.
So she has become a prostitute. The money is good, and she can feed her whole family. But there are disadvantages to this job:
But as the U.S. occupation draws to an end, and more conservative Islamic clerics gain power, the fate of prostitutes like Halla is uncertain. In recent months, attacks on people and establishments accused of promoting vices have escalated. Masked gunmen have shot at liquor vendors, according to Iraqi police officials. Religious leaders have run renters of racy videotapes out of town. And anonymous vigilantes have kidnapped, beaten and killed prostitutes in several major cities. Women's rights groups, including the Organization of Women's Freedom, have decried the killings, saying the women are in need of help, not punishment.
Maybe there is an order to kill all the prostitutes," Halla would recall thinking that day. "If the Islamic parties arrive to power maybe even the Americans can't stop them." As she made her way through the rubble, Halla wondered what it would be like to have a real job, of being a receptionist at a hotel, a laundry woman or maybe opening a boutique for used clothes. She was 23 years old, healthy and a hard worker. There was a chance she could start anew. Wasn't there?
The rubble Halla is described as walking through is the rubble that remained after the extremists destroyed the windows of her mother's beauty parlor as a warning to her.
Read the whole thing. It's well worth the time.
Paul Krugman is a rare type of economist: he actually knows something outside the narrow "let's pretend that all people have equal incomes and only care about how much beer they get tomorrow" models of neoclassical economics. He even reads novels and stuff, I bet.
Krugman summarizes the economic situation in Iraq in his latest column:
Up to a point, the numbers in the Brookings Institution's invaluable Iraq Index tell the tale. Figures on the electricity supply and oil production show a pattern of fitful recovery and frequent reversals; figures on insurgent attacks and civilian casualties show a security situation that got progressively worse, not better; public opinion polls show an occupation that squandered the initial good will.
What the figures don't describe is the toxic mix of ideological obsession and cronyism that lie behind that dismal performance.
The insurgency took root during the occupation's first few months, when the Coalition Provisional Authority seemed oddly disengaged from the problems of postwar anarchy. But what was Paul Bremer III, the head of the C.P.A., focused on? According to a Washington Post reporter who shared a flight with him last June, "Bremer discussed the need to privatize government-run factories with such fervor that his voice cut through the din of the cargo hold."
Plans for privatization were eventually put on hold. But as he prepared to leave Iraq, Mr. Bremer listed reduced tax rates, reduced tariffs and the liberalization of foreign-investment laws as among his major accomplishments. Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time — but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics.
And not only have we given Iraq the curse of an unproven economic theory (we did the same to Russia a decade ago and you can see the consequences for yourself in the new Russian maffia and in the old people who are now starving on their fixed pensions) but we have done this with a workforce whose main claim to competence is fervent Republicanism. Never mind if the person has no experience or training; what matters is a stint at the Heritage Foundation:
If the occupiers often seemed oblivious to reality, one reason was that many jobs at the C.P.A. went to people whose qualifications seemed to lie mainly in their personal and political connections — people like Simone Ledeen, whose father, Michael Ledeen, a prominent neoconservative, told a forum that "the level of casualties is secondary" because "we are a warlike people" and "we love war."
Still, given Mr. Bremer's economic focus, you might at least have expected his top aide for private-sector development to be an expert on privatization and liberalization in such countries as Russia or Argentina. But the job initially went to Thomas Foley, a Connecticut businessman and Republican fund-raiser with no obviously relevant expertise. In March, Michael Fleischer, a New Jersey businessman, took over. Yes, he's Ari Fleischer's brother. Mr. Fleischer told The Chicago Tribune that part of his job was educating Iraqi businessmen: "The only paradigm they know is cronyism. We are teaching them that there is an alternative system with built-in checks and built-in review."
More generally, I wonder about the wisdom of focusing so much on the 'free markets' paradigm in a country where so many people are living off what we'd call welfare checks from the country's oil revenues. One can't just skip from one extreme to the other, all the time dodging bullets and scimitars, and one can't have any kind of functioning markets without a functioning infrastructure (roads, bridges, electricty, water), and infrastructure requires government expenditures.
It's also not fun to watch an ahistoric theory being forced upon people who have a very specific history, religion and culture; none of which seems to support the basic assumptions of the theory. I can well imagine a handful of rich Iraqis gaining the fruits of all this theorizing while the rest of the country dodges forgotten land mines and tries not to starve.
Monday, June 28, 2004
Of course I wish them luck, and luck is what they need. That the handover came two days before the planned date may be due to some terrorist plot to be foiled, but it is equally likely that this change was made so as to maximize the benefits of the event to the Bush administration. Consider that the Supreme Court gave Bush at least a partial slap on the fingers today. It would be nice to have something else that the media can talk about while pretending not to have time for the Supreme Court decisions. Jeez but I've become cynical in the last four years...
So what is the new free Iraq going to look like? Several possibilities come to mind: a country torn apart by civil war, a country which will put Taliban to shame in its eagerness to enforce extremism, a little U.S. lackey country and so on. The most recent suggestion comes from the new Iraq administration, and that is a country under martial law. Maybe a martial law is needed to give the Iraqis some peace and time to recover, both emotionally and physically, from the operation of having been liberated. But a country under a martial law is not a free country, and let's not pretend that it is.
President Bush likes the idea of a martial law:
"Iraqis know what we know, that the best way to defend yourself is to go on the offensive," he said, speaking at a news conference with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.
Remember that when you interpret Bush's words in the future. He also likes the new leaders of Iraq. I wonder why:
"They're gutsy, courageous and, as they say in Texas, they're stand-up guys," he said. "They'll lead. They'll lead their people to a better day."
It would be lovely if all that was needed in a leader was gutsiness and courage and being a stand-up guy, so lovely. But brains and some empathy would be nice, too. Maybe I'm just too picky for this world.
A very important day for democracy and the rule of law, I'd say. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that there indeed are limits to what this administration can do to the detainees, whether American citizens or not:
In two crucial decisions today on the scope of presidential wartime powers, the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration's claim that it can hold suspected terrorists or "enemy combatants" on American soil without giving them a day in court.
The court said detainees, whether American citizens or not, retain their rights, at least to a legal hearing, even if they are held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Guantanamo Bay is under U.S. control and thus appropriately within the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, the high court ruled.
The president's constitutional powers, even when supported by Congress in wartime, do not include the authority to close the doors to an independent review of the legality of locking people up, the justices said.
"We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens," Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in Hamdi et al v. Rumsfeld.
The two cases that were decided today are Hamdi et al. vs. Rumsfeld and Rasul et al. vs. Bush (don't you just love those terms?). The Hamdi case concerns the rights of American citizens and the Rasul case those of foreigners who have been detained as enemy combatants and are now held in a location under U.S. control. In both cases the Court argued that the detainees must have at least the right to some kind of legal hearing. As expected, Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas dissented on the decision concerning foreigners' rights to a legal hearing.
These decisions are wonderful, and made me skip and jump from joy. Which is really quite sad, as their contents are what any sane person would expect from a democratic country with an evolved legal system and values. So far have we strayed from such an ideal, I guess, that I fully expected something less from the Supremes. I'm glad I was proved wrong, for once.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
And this one I can't hide. I deleted the post about prostitution in Iraq by accident, and I never copied it anywhere. It was mainly just a link to the story in Washington Post, so not that much was lost, but when the post went the comments went with it. I do apologize for that and will try to do better in the future.
I'm going out now to see it. The fuss here in the Snakepit Inc., all of us looking for something that would make me look like your average run-of-the-mill recanting wingnut (I want to use this outing for a good purpose)! We've decided on a very prim look with a flowery dress and white pumps and a handbag, but the look is beginning to unravel at the edges. Some hair coming out of the bun, some smeared lipstick, perhaps, and some very strong-smelling cough drops. And lots of tissues; I plan to weep buckets. Which of course I would do anyway.
More seriously, I'm going to post more once I get back, but if you want to you can use the comments to tell what you thought of the movie if you have seen it or even if you haven't.
I have seen it now. The theater was sold out, as theaters have been all over the country this weekend, and the audience gave the film a spontaneous applause at the end, as also seems to happen all over the country.
My impressions about Fahrenheit 9/11 are a little bit like my impressions about life: good and bad, all jumbled up in complicated ways. The whole movie looked to me like fireworks, the way the storyline ran around and suddenly erupted into a major joke or something painfully poignant. In fact, there were many storylines: the legitimacy of the administration, the bin Laden connections of the Bush family, the 9/11 massacres and how the president coped with this emergency, oil and its relationship to warfare and the utter inanity of the needless blood-shedding and destruction of lives in so many different ways in Iraq. At times I felt like watching a speeded-up rerun of my own recent memories about the politics of this country, but then something new would be added to the story, something that would make me go "ooh" and "aah" like when I watch fireworks. Yet the underlying plot is really about class in the United States, and its inadmissibility as a concept in public debates. Even Moore sneaks it in without calling it what it is: that the rules for the poor are different than the rules for the rich, that the poor are fighting the wars that the rich got us into.
This is of course one of Moore's major themes, and he deserves kudos for persisting on it. I believe that the public debate in the U.S. would be immeasurable richer and more meaningful if we did take class more seriously. And in his movie he shows us how class interlinks with patriotism, with serving ones country and even with who will die and when.
And of course I cried when watching the movie. It was hard not to, while listening to a woman telling how she heard about her son's death, or while seeing the damage that war does to little children. But I laughed, too, at the silly one-liners and the funny juxtapositions of politicians words against each other. And on the use of spit as a hair spray...
There has been a lot of debate about the meaning of Fahrenheit 9/11, especially whether it really is a documentary, or perhaps just sarcasm or propaganda; whether it is 'fair and balanced'. I don't think that a documentary can ever be objectively neutral, and no really good film would avoid trying to affect the emotions of the viewer. Whether Moore intends his movie to be seen as sarcasm is not clear, but considering that it opens with a 'dream scene', I think that he would agree with me in seeing our whole lives as a kind of sarcastic dream by someone else. All he is really doing with this movie is showing us the other sides: of politics, of politicians, of war, of suffering, of wealth.
So, yes, I'd recommend going to see this film. Still, it didn't affect me as strongly as I expected, given the prior accolades I had read. The most probable reason (other my cold and callous character) is that I have spent the last year reading blogs and other sources of news on the internet, and very little in the information of the movie was new to me. Still, to show something by using living pictures, sound and every single emotional device that filmmakers govern is different than reading about it in a newspaper or blog. It's a more direct way to the brain and heart of the audience, and as we desperately need the American public to hear both sides of the story, and as this side of the story has so long been neglected and misrepresented as "America-hating", I believe that Moore's movie is an important one to see by as many people as possible. And no, it's not an anti-military movie; if anything, it is an ode to the common soldier.