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Michael Moore's Portland Oregon Stop

Report on Michael Moore's presentation on 10/23/03 in Portland, Oregon. What the message was.
The other night I got the thrill of hearing Michael Moore live. Portland was the 25th city in a 39 city tour to promote his new book "Dude, Where's My Country?" I, along with 10,000 other folks cheered this unlikely hero onto the stage. He was hard hitting and insightful, he was funny, and he was motivating. That's the short review. I'll share just a few of the themes he talked about, but first let me quash a report being put out by the local media and by Lars Larson (an ultra conservative talk show host here in Portland Oregon).

What is being reported is that Michael Moore gave Lars Larson's cell phone number to the audience and that Lars has been being harassed and receiving "death threats" from anonymous callers. The reality is that Mr. Moore did not give out Larson's cell phone number (at least not all of it), and that somone in the audience actually gave the cell phone number to Moore. To the best of my memory having witnessed the whole thing, Michael Moore stated the area code, the prefix and (inadvertantly I believe) the last digit of the phone number. If people are calling and threatening Larson, it is NOT because Michael Moore gave them the number.

OK on to some highlights.

Mr. Moore argued that we are living in an environment of enforced ignorance in the US. That there is a deliberate lack of information and lack of knowledge about the world and our place in it. He shared a poll that had been done recently where people were asked to identify nations on a map. He said that 85% couldn't find Iraq, 60% couldn't find Britain, and 11% couldn't find the US. Regarding Iraq, he argued "Shouldn't there be a rule that if you can't find it on the map you can't bomb it?" He stated that enforced ignorance leads to fear, leads to hate, leads to violence. And further, that it is very easy to lie to an ignorant population.

To demonstrate this point he had nine self-identified "A" students from the US, and one self-identified below average Canadian student join him on the stage to participate in a "game show." The US contestants ranged from a middle school student to a PH.D. candidate in physiscs. Moore asked a series of reciprocal questions. For example, he asked the Canadian what the capital of the US is, and asked the US "A" students what the capital of Canada is. Anyway, though humorous, the Canadian (as predicted) did win hands down. The point? The "dumbest" Canadian in the crowd knew more about the world than the "smartest Americans" in the crowd.

He talked at some length about the US being the only nation in a long list of nations that "pisses" on their poor. He said that other nations could understand our actions in the world, manipulating and attacking other nations, but they couldn't understand why we treated our own poor so cruely. He argued that one of the fundamental differences between the US and Canada is that Canadians have drilled into their bones that all Canadians are Canadian - they are in the same boat. What happens to one of them is perceived as happening to all of them. Therefore it is unthinkable to let people "fall through the cracks." This is far different that the individualistic , "me me me" of the US.

Michael Moore made a passionate and cogent argument about the 2004 elections. He said that we had to take back the White House and the Congress. He argued that now is the time to push the various candidates to embrace the direction that we want to go - that it was our responsibility to make them better candidates. He argued that the Democratic party keeps edging to the right because that is where they seem to think that the public is; however, that the public is actually very liberal on social issues (from aid for the poor, to a woman's right to choose, to concerns about the environment). We are tired of being given the choice of "fake" republicans running against real republicans. In this regard, he gave a different spin to the recent events in California - Schwartzenegger had to voice a "liberal" social agenda and be married to a Kennedy, in order to win. Likewise, in the last Governor's election in California the voters elected a Democrat they despised for over a right wing Republican.

He argued that "the right" is aware of this shift in the masses and that is why they are so angry. They control the White House, the Congress, most of the state governments and the corporate media - yet they are still angry. He argued that the angry roar from the right was the roar of a "dying dinosaur." It is in this context that Lars Larson received a phone message from the 10,000 assembled to hear Moore.

Moore stated he would be putting up a web site this coming summer with those districts where there was a swing vote possibility to unseat the Republican incumbent, and extracted a promise from those attending to descend on those districts from all over the country to help in the campaigns.

Overall, Michael Moore pushed the crowd to engage in our democratic process and to reclaim the country. He feels that it is critical that we do so, and that we need to act now - not wait until after the Democrats have chosen which "horse" they will run. He argued that if it is left in the hands of the party, that they will likely choose yet another "fake Republican" to try to appeal to a supposedly broader voter base. While several times the crowd indicated that it wanted Moore to get into politics, he made clear that was not where he wanted to go. He did say that all of us should be running for office from precinct captains up.

It was good to laugh, there is far too little of that these days. It was great to see the passion of Michael Moore and of those in attendance. The evening was much more than a book tour presentation by a popular author. It was a call to arms.

Christ Complex 26.Oct.2003 06:58


No doubt, Lars wishes MM had given out his number. A-holes like Lars, love nothing more than yelling persecution. It builds thier audience and enforces an us/them attitude. I say, let's crucify lars in Pioneer Place and give him what he really wants - martyrdom!! Watch those ratings climb then...oh, wait he'd be dead...well they'd replace you Lars, and your LARSLIKE replacement would get all your ratings.

graphic from moore's website 26.Oct.2003 07:11


Michael Moore's Dept of Homeland Security
Michael Moore's Dept of Homeland Security

run for office 26.Oct.2003 08:34


Although I admire Michael Moore and have seen and read most of his works, it strikes me as odd that he urges us to run for office when he is unwilling to do the same. Is this just moore of do as I say not as I do (or don't do)?

fake republican 26.Oct.2003 09:24


Yes, Moore was funny and wonderful--until he started talking about the elections: then he lost me. He, himself, has advocated for a "fake" republican--Gen Wesley Clark. I am disgusted and disappointed by Moore's lack of discernment here. He has not done his homework on this. And why is it that he feels we need to "mold" these candidates to be who we want them to be? They are who they are--they have records. There is already a candidate who fits the bill, without the need for "molding," and that candidate is Kucinich. Moore picked out one issue out of all the many, many issues available--a woman's right to choose--and chose to bash Kucinich on that issue alone. Kucinich is progressive right down the line, with a record that clearly surpases any other candidate. I would rather vote for someone who was against the war on Iraq from the very beginning, for instance, than someone like Clark, who has changed his mind back and forth, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

In Moore's defense, however, he has run for (and won) office--school board, I believe, so the previous writer is incorrect in calling him a hypocrite in that regard.

about kucinich 26.Oct.2003 10:14

i like mike

i think mike moore is trying to be realistic- its not really up to us who ends up the democratic candidate,is it? i think he knows that THEY will not allow kucinich to make it but THEY may be agreeable to clark....and mike has had some personal dealings with clark that meant something to him. kucinich won't make it-the masses aren't ready for his policies yet-they're sheep,remember?they're still living in the fear of "terrorist" attacks (perpetrated by our own government,of course).mike realizes we have to get bush out at any cost. this may not be the time to run a risky, progressive candidate. don't get me wrong-i want to see President Kucinich up there too- but the stakes are way high this time,man.

Micheal said he might vote for Kucinich though!?! 26.Oct.2003 10:23

Kucinich dub

Micheal did bash Dennis which should be done. Moore is brash, beholden to no one, and that is the point he wants to make. And if he can't take office oh well. I appreciated him bashing Dennis, but he did say Kucinich, ". . . might get my vote," which he didn't say for anyone else.

He implicitly stated that he had not endorsed any candidates even though he did mention the fact that he appreciated Wesley Clark admitting he had spun for the white house. Wesley Clark has a lot of 'splainin' to do in regards to his involvement on the use of Depleted Uranium munitions in Kosovo. Wesley Clark was also tactical command in the assault of Waco.


Not the kind of leader I want. I want as Micheal Moore said, all the drug criminals out of jail, and all the Fascists who run the Drug War and make 500 billion a year CIA/Mafia/Wall Street in jail. Prohibition doesn't work. It is a losing equation. Wake up smell the coffee to the tune of 3 million Vietnamese? Hello? I mean did we kill more Indians or vietnemese. I suppose South America should consider it a bargain that all we are doing besides the small "drug" gangs (CIA equipped and trained) is raining defoliant agents that destroy food crops as well as 'mama coca' which has been a traditional sacrement for centuries. Mama Coca is healing. Has more vitamins than any plant. It's only when you dump a bunch of gas on the leaves which is really no more than a peasant enslavement process do you get a dangerous substance (mostly in the way of its artificially inflated value).


Michael Moore Dittoheads 26.Oct.2003 10:34

Bobala Bobala Booobala

With all the Michael Moore lies and exagerations exposed i don't understand all this dittoheads cheerleading this fake of an individual. He is just after money and being on the opposition is always good bussiness.

Left and right same coin for all of you.

Wake up and stop promoting the BS

Kucinich & Moore Sittin' In A Tree . . . 26.Oct.2003 11:42

North Portlander

Although it would be wonderful to see a President Kucinich, it ain't gonna happen. He is too "real" for the Democratic Party and a majority of television-image-fixated voters and I imagine that he won't let them tart him up or direct him as Robert Redford did in THE CANDIDATE in order to get elected. People don't like to hear the truth or be told unpleasant as well as pleasant things. Kucinich - like Nader - pulls few punches. Most of us appreciate that, but many with less inquiring minds do not. They want a sleek liar who bleats, "I will cut taxes!"

Re. Michael Moore's Portland event -- My friend (who uses a scooter) and I were stuck in the disabled seating which seemed a world away from where Michael was actually speaking. We were told that there were no provisions for the disabled on the main floor. He was a tiny speck waaaaaay down there with his image projected onto two screens on either side of the podium. Sometimes it felt like we were watching television. I know that was the best the organizers could do, given the crowd, but it contributed to a feeling of being disengaged. And because we came in through a door rather than a turnstile (to accomodate the scooter) we didn't get a program or a bumper sticker -- only patted down and our belongings gone through.

Since I had already read DUDE, WHERE'S MY COUNTRY? a great deal of what MM had to say was repetitive. But it's great material delivered in a compelling way and since many had probably not read it yet, well worth hearing again. Some of the stuff was new. We enjoyed his Canadian against the Americans exercise (love that audience participation) but with some frustration since either of us could have answered the questions about Canada or the Middle East. And, let's face it, the US is so "out there" in world news that only an idiot would not know who our war-mongering President is or what the capitol of the country might be (which is not the same as knowing identical information about peaceful and easy-going Canada).

My take on the Lars phone call was that he could have passed on the entire telephone portion of the show. It dragged on, became confusing, and many of us wondered exactly what had been accomplished other than an invasion of Larson's privacy to no useful end. I'm no Lars Larson fan, but getting the cell number took three or four phone calls -- one a wrong number, another to the home phone where the cell was given, and a third to the cell (where no one answered). Michael Moore did take pains NOT to give out any of the numbers until, unexpectedly, the cell number appeared on the home phone message. If he was as surprised as we were, he probably didn't have time to pull the phone far enough away from the microphone to muffle the numbers and still hear them.

The show started a half an hour late because of traffic delays, and as a result we missed the hourly bus at the Rose Quarter to get home and so spent another hour taking in the community booths. Lots of good representation there.

Moore was, meanwhile, sitting at a table patiently signing what looked like half a million copies of his book for people.

I know some have complained about the price but I didn't think it was out of line . . . much less expensive than a concert . . . and the fact that his tour is a tour of Universities is great both for him and for the schools who need publicity and support.

it ain't gonna happen 26.Oct.2003 15:27


Says who? You can vote for Kucinich in the primary. In CA, the primaries are proportional, meaning a vote for Dennis DOES NOT hurt Dean or Clark, but sends a message and allows Dennis to actually have a lot more power in getting things from Dean or Clark in order for them to get the vote.

If you're already voting for Dean or Clark, you are an idiot. But it's simple for you, isn't it? - the corporate media has told you who you *can* vote for: Dean or Clark, Coke or Pepsi, McD or Burger King, Crest or Colgate. Like the sheeple that you are, you bleat and nod your head, pick Coke over Pepsi, then go back to your clover.

Call to arms 26.Oct.2003 17:05


(Eurobased comment here): You people are nitpicking. Michael Moore is essentially right - you need to get up and fix the USA - bring back the truth of a Constitution any country would be proud to have, and that starts with freedom of speech, but don't nitpick here. Why should I care, coming from Europe? Because what you do repercusses onto everyone on the planet - you're the voters. Go for it, compadres, whoever it is - just make whoever you vote for works for you, not the other way around.

Michael Moore 26.Oct.2003 17:49

Gary Sudborough IconoclastGS@aol.com

They must be very worried that Michael Moore is reaching millions of average American citizens with his movies, books and television appearances. He has asked very pertinent, logical questions about the events of 9-11 and put these questions before a very large audience. Noam Chomsky has educated a lot of students, intellectuals, union members and particularly people in other countries where his work isn't deliberately marginalized, as it is in this country. However, I believe Michael Moore has been able to break through the media blackout of left-wing views and reach people that Noam Chomsky can't reach as yet. That is a terrific accomplishment. It sure beats me going door to door with flyers of the film about Noam Chomsky called Manufacturing Consent and hoping people order it, although I still believe that if enough people did distribute flyers, it might be effective.

I disagree with Michael Moore about Wesley Clark, Yugoslavia and Mumia Abu Jamal. However, as leftists we can surely have disagreements without becoming antagonistic toward one another. Michael Moore is a very good-hearted, intelligent man. He has personally admitted in one of his videos that he is a little lazy and needs to do more reading, but then don't we all. I have personally reread several books I read over 30 years ago so that it would be fresh in my mind. Considering Michael Moore's accomplishments, I think he was being self-deprecating with the remark about being a little lazy. There is one thing about Michael Moore that I don't doubt for a second and that is that he is very supportive of the working class. If some of us disagree with a few of his views and feel strongly about it, send him an e-mail. I'm sure he is open-minded enough to consider all view points.


Lars Attack 26.Oct.2003 18:07


I felt it ironic when Lars reported all the hate he received as well as a few death threats on his cell phone, from people who apparently got his number during the show, aren't we all supposed to get along despite our differences? Where's the diversity in thought? Where's the peace man? Peace.

Or is it more like FU Let's KILL KILL KILL KILL BILL KILL!?

Borders and Amazon.com ? Shame on you Michael Moore 26.Oct.2003 23:49

Steve Sears (steve@psyduck.com) steve@psyduck.com

While I enjoy watching his movies, reading his books, and seeing him in person, I found it very disturbing that here in Portland, where we have Powells, a good union bookstore (who I believe is still in contract negotiations) Moore has Borders at his show, and continues to link to Amazon.com on his web site and emails. Lets not forget the Northwest workers who lost their jobs at Amazon while trying to form a union. Someone in India is now doing their work. Is it just me, or is this a mixed message from Michael ? We need to send him a message that talking the good talk is not enough, he needs to walk the walk. Supporting a Union Bookstore over Borders or especially Amazon.com is what he should be doing. Please, visit his website, and send him email letting him know what he needs to be doing

smells like a sell-out 27.Oct.2003 07:13


I agree re the books. I have a lot more respect for Jim Hightower, recently in town twice. For his first appearance, he spoke at Powell's. For his second appearance, at PSU, he had Laughing Horse Books there, another independent. Unlike Michael Moore, Hightower has been using exclusively independent book stores on his tour, and making his connections with independent radio stations, such as KBOO and the Alliance (who sponsored Hightower's second appearance in Portland this Fall). Hightower is showing more integrity than Moore. I really respect that. In addition to that, he made no ridiculous statements about candidates.

Moore's 27.Oct.2003 11:26

a phony

He preaches anti corporate crap while he lines his pockets with the big bucks he makes on his speaking and books. He's a hypocrite. If he meant what he said he'd do it for free. Screw him.

The other thing about Michael Moore's event 27.Oct.2003 11:29

a former fan

The other thing about Michael Moore's event--where did all the money go?

Someone else mentioned Hightower's recent event--he spoke at PSU and it was a BENEFIT for the Alliance, and other worthy institutions. When Micahel Moore raised some $100,000 or more (someone else wanna do the math?--10,000 tix at at least $10) the money went where?

It went to pay for the hall, went to Micahel Moore, and did not go to any worthy institutions that the guy supposedly supports. It went to PSU (which isn't bad, but is not great), maybe to the corporate sponsors like the Portland Tribune and Ticketmaster.

What a hypocrite.

And I can't beleive so many people would shell out that much money.

envy? 27.Oct.2003 11:54

sadder but wiser

The thing that you are forgetting is that Michael Moore isn't a saint. And neither are you and I. "If he meant what he said, he'd do it for free." C'mon! What kind of a juvenile thing is that to say? If dentists really cared about their patients' teeth, they'd work for free. If cops really cared about law and order, they'd work for free. If veterinarians really cared about animals... Well, you get the point.

He is getting across a very important message. Don't nitpick every little thing. Face it--no one is going to hold 100% of the values and ideals as you do, so just appreciate the ones you have in common and don't expect sainthood out of everyone but yourself.

wow 28.Oct.2003 10:12

annother Euro

He is the best thing you have going for you. Americans are never happy with anything. Not saying you have to agree with him but c'mon. Look who you have in office and look who is the voice against that. Wake up!! He makes you loo good!

I sat in the Press booth 30.Oct.2003 23:44


According to the press notes it took at the event. It was said that over $200,000 dollars went to Outside In. But I have not yet called Outside In to verify that yet, but this will remind me to.

Re MM 11.Nov.2003 08:05

Jo Routens

I'm heartened that someone in America CAN make some bucks with leftist opinions. And about the LL Cell Phone business--the man (Lars) is a bully and a boor, a small-town thug who probably still drives with a tire iron under his pickup truck seat. I have heard his show enough to believe that he deserved every rude 3AM call that he got. My president is Michael Moore!