Monday, January 30, 2006

Move On, Michael Moore...

...and make way for Aaron Russo....

Russo, award winning film and TV producer (The Rose, Trading Places, Mad As Hell) and a 2004 candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination for President, is finishing work on an upcoming documentary called "America: From Freedom to Fascism". It's an expose into the workings of our Federal government, with a majority of attention paid to the legality of the income tax, and the arrogance and abuses of the IRS. The Federal Reserve, the National ID, and RFID chips also get some harsh criticism. I was in Phoenix this past weekend and had the opportunity to take part in an advance screening of the film, followed by Q&A with Russo himself. It is still in need of final sound engineering, and needs a little more editing work before its May 2006 release, but for the most part, there's a storm brewing.

My take on the film? If Russo can clean it up a bit, iron out some rough spots in the storyline, and make some minor factual and spelling corrections, this film has a real chance at causing a controversy in America. Some of the parts about the abuses and arrogance of IRS and other government officials are enough to give even the most lobotomized government school student among us a temporary blood pressure problem.

The highlights of the film? In one scene, Russo and crew are attempting to set up their equipment outside the IRS building, and a "security guard" comes out and tells them they can't be there. When Russo challenges the guard repeatedly to indicate what law prevents him from doing so...get this...Homeland Security is called! Russo gets in some real humorous jabs at that.

But undoubtedly the best part is when Russo (finally) is able to convince a former IRS commissioner to sit down with him for an interview. (The IRS has a tendency to ignore anyone who tries to simply ask the IRS to explain certain things to them...preferring the violence of guns, raids, confiscations, and other over-the-top enforcement tactics to act as their "response" to critics) . Russo asks straight asks tough, pointed, and direct questions to the commissioner about the legality of the income tax, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court, and other subject, catching the commissioner is some blatant self-contradictions. At one point, the Commissioner makes the suggestion that the IRS and its rules supercede the rulings of the Supreme Court! If that isn't bureacratic arrogance gone wild, I don't know what is....

The drawbacks of the film? There's some small sprinklings of conspiracy theory underpinning some of Russo's arguments. As most will know, I've never been a big fan of conspiracy theories, because, for one, most people aren't interested in them, and two, it's easy for critics to label those who voice them as kooks, nuts, and wackos. My hope is that, for as important a film as this documentary is attempting to become, Russo should not leave a door open for critics to dismiss him and his message as just another fringe player welcome to be ignored.

When Michael Moore produced "Bowling for Columbine", a thoroughly flawed, error-laden, and duplicitous film on violence in America (with strong criticisms of the right to keep and bear arms), well-informed gun-rights advocates were quick to attack, and demolished Moore's credibility on the subject with all but the most dogmatic left-wingers. Subsequently, when Moore produced "Fahrenheit 9/11", a film addressing a substantially more important topic, he had already lost much credibility with faux-Conservative Bush-Worshipping Warmongers, so his message had been lost to that group because of his prior film. If Russo is to succeed in stirring average Americans back to consciousness about the fascistic nature of their government, he cannot give the State's Intellectuals room to speak. For the most part, he's done that.

So...mark your calendars and remember the name "America: From Freedom to Fascism". And let's cross our fingers and hope that it gets picked up by some major film distributor. This film elevate could Russo to the libertarian movement's equivalent of Michael Moore.

(Note to self... I wonder how many "Fair Tax" proponents will respond to this film. Will they point at this film as evidence that we need to replace the IRS with their own version of a national tax collection agency charged with extracting 2.7 trillion out of the hides of American workers?)


Blogger Wilson Freeman said...

RFIDs? The 'legality' of the income tax? I weep for our party sometimes.

That said, I'll probably see the movie anyway.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

I know what you mean.. I was worried a bit about that as well... As much as I dispise the income tax, many of the anti-tax crowd do tend to be a little fringe-ish.

But I think the difference between this film and other anti-tax arguments/films/books, etc... is that Russo isn't taking a direct position on the matter...(although he certainly doesn't disguise his obvious feelings)... but rather takes the IRS and the FedGov to task for its refusal to even _discuss_ the arguments put forth by the Anti-income tax crowd. Seriously...the IRS' view on the matter has been that their response to questions about the applicability of the income tax is via their enforcement. No discussion. No direct answers to direct questions. Just pull out the guns and start shooting people who don't lay down and follow orders. How civil is that?

I think, for that reason, this film can have a real impact, and can do a decent job of showing that the "fringe" isn't really so fringe at all, but rather just average and normal, if somewhat skeptical, people who have real, bona-fide questions about the income tax, while showing it's the IRS and the FedGov who are the crazy ones.

8:41 AM  
Blogger CincinnatiLibertarian said...

Aaron Russo is a loud mouth a**hole. He is able to lead a pack of bullies to beat up on the little kid on the playground (although I suspect that he may have been that little kid at one point). That makes it perfect for him to put his energies into making that pack of people all mad at the government, rather than at other Libertarian politicians. That is the role Libertarian a**holes (sorry, I don't like swearing, but I can't think of a better word to use right now)should take.

I hope he does not take the fringe position of all taxes should be abolished, but as a tax preparer myself, I can tell you of many stories of how badly flawed the system. This should be an interesting film.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

I think Russo's goal is to get more people to begin questioning their government, the taxes they pay, WHY they pay them, and so forth.

Other than his obvious disdain for government and taxes, he doesn't really take any positions at all.

10:12 AM  

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