Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘911’

Ron Paul vs. sane libertarianism

Posted by Richard on May 18, 2007

I didn't watch the last Republican debate (or the first, for that matter), but I've seen the video of Ron Paul saying 9/11 was America's fault for bombing Iraq. I'd like to point out that although Paul's perspective is admired by quite a few libertarians (and quite a few 9/11 Truthers), there are also plenty of libertarians who dispute his explanation.

 I think Paul's "analysis" is shallow and ahistorical. It's rooted in ignorance of the origins and nature of the Islamists, and it's woefully ignorant of the breadth of Islamist violence. For a much deeper libertarian analysis of why the Islamic fascists hate us, I recommend Mark Humphrys. For a powerful statement of why we must fight, see anarchist libertarian Eric Raymond's Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto (also linked at right). For some evidence that Islamofascist rage is not just aimed at America and is not just about our intervention in Iraq, see here and here and here and here … and a score of other places I don't have time to link to.

According to Nathan Nelson at RedState, one libertarian — former Paul campaign coordinator Eric Dondero — was so disgusted by Paul's blame America riff that he decided to run against Paul for his congressional seat. Nelson approved:

Back when I was in the process of leaving the Democratic Party and deciding whether or not to become a Republican, Eric Dondero commented on my old blog and left me information about Republican libertarianism. This information was a major factor in my decision to indeed leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican. To this day, I consider myself a Republican who seeks to balance conservatism and libertarianism. I don't believe that these two ideological systems are mutually exclusive, nor do I believe that either system is incompatible with the Republican Party. I think that Republican libertarians are a valuable part of our coalition and will only become more valuable in the years to come, because libertarianism is growing and our party can grow with it.

With that said, Congressman Ron Paul is like a sore on the behind of Republican libertarianism. He makes it seem as though Republican libertarianism is nothing more than Buchananesque defeatism and isolationism. Eric Dondero is a positive alternative to Ron Paul: unabashedly Republican, unabashedly conservative, unabashedly libertarian, and unabashedly willing to balance these three systems. Perhaps most importantly, he is unabashedly willing to vote in favor of defending our country. He is a better choice for Texas' 14th District and for America.

Dondero is a founder of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has a website called Mainstream Libertarians and a blog called Libertarian Republican. Check them out.

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Tenet

Posted by Richard on May 1, 2007

I didn't watch the 60 Minutes interview of George Tenet Sunday night, but I read the CBS News story. Looks like yet another in a long line of fawning, softball-laden interviews with authors of self-serving, history-rewriting, Bush-bashing books. Yawn.   

CBS has already had to post a correction, but naturally, their correction misrepresents the situation:

(Editor's Note: In his book, "At the Center of the Storm," and on Sunday's broadcast of 60 Minutes, George Tenet said he encountered Pentagon advisor Richard Perle outside the White House on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the 9/11 attacks. Perle disputes Tenet's account, saying the encounter never happened because he was stranded in France that day, and was not able to return to the country until September 15. George Tenet told Tom Brokaw Monday, April 30, 2007, "I may have been off by a couple of days," but says the conversation did happen.)

Perle was indisputably in France, unable to return to the U.S. until the 15th due to the grounding of all flights — that part is verifiably true, not just a claim by Perle (as CBS' phrasing suggests). But what about Tenet's counter-claim that he was just "off by a couple of days"? Is this really a "he said / he said" situation as CBS implies?

No. Tenet's own words paint his story as bogus (emphasis added):

The truth of Iraq begins, according to Tenet, the day after the attack of Sept. 11, when he ran into Pentagon advisor Richard Perle at the White House.

"He said to me, 'Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday, they bear responsibility.' It’s September the 12th. I’ve got the manifest with me that tell me al Qaeda did this. Nothing in my head that says there is any Iraqi involvement in this in any way shape or form and I remember thinking to myself, as I'm about to go brief the president, 'What the hell is he talking about?'" Tenet remembers.

In both the book and the interview, Tenet remembered Perle saying "what happened yesterday" and remembered being on his way to brief the president that al Qaeda was responsible. Now that he's been confronted with the impossibility of his assertion, is it really believable that he misremembered both "yesterday" and the date on which he first briefed the president about this horrendous attack, and that the encounter with Perle took place a few days later? Not in my book.

Tenet's response to Pelley's follow-up question is a marvel of misdirection: 

"You said Iraq made no sense to you in that moment. Does it make any sense to you today?" Pelley asks.

"In terms of complicity with 9/11, absolutely none," Tenet says. "It never made any sense. We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America. Period." 

Unable to verify. No authority, direction and control, or complicity. Period. It all sounds so clear-cut and definitive — a "slam-dunk," if you'll forgive the expression. Andrew McCarthy pointed out how Tenet avoided the real issue (emphasis in original, as italics):

Of course, that’s not the point at all. The point was whether Iraq was working with al Qaeda, not whether it was necessarily aware of and complicit in specific operations like 9/11. Al Qaeda exists — its singular purpose is — to carry out operations against the U.S. If you are helping al Qaeda at all, what on earth do you suppose you’re helping it do?

The issue is not rogue-state culpability for 9/11. After all, there’s no hard evidence that the Taliban was involved in 9/11. Yet we attacked and overthrew the Taliban — a military incursion even liberal Democrats say they supported — because the Taliban was aiding and abetting al Qaeda. No one contends that our rationale requires proof of direct Taliban involvement in 9/11.

Al Qaeda was headquartered in Afghanistan, not Iraq, so the evidence of Saddam’s assistance to the terror network is less blatant. But the principle is the same. Let’s pretend for a moment that there were no unresolved issues about Iraq and 9/11 — no possible meeting between Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April 2001; no Ahmed Hikmat Shakir (an Iraqi intelligence operative) at the January 2000 Kuala Lampur meeting involving two of the 9/11 hijackers. That is, let’s pretend 9/11 never happened. There would still be the little matter of Iraq aiding and abetting al Qaeda. That is what the invasion of Iraq was about — the Bush Doctrine: You’re with us or you’re with the terrorists … especially if there’s good reason to think you might share WMDs with the terrorists (and remember Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002 that CIA believed Iraq and al Qaeda were working together on both WMDs and conventional weapons).

Follow McCarthy's link above and read that 2002 letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee. It's rather interesting. And read McCarthy's entire two-part, five-point critique of Tenet's claims — it starts here.

McCarthy took on CBS' distortion of the Niger issue, but missed the whopper they told (maybe it's only in the news story) regarding Iraq and nukes (emphasis added):

The vice president upped the ante, claiming Saddam had nuclear weapons, when the CIA was saying he didn’t.

"What's happening here?" Pelley asks.

"Well, I don't know what's happening here," Tenet says. "The intelligence community's judgment is 'He will not have a nuclear weapon until the year 2007, 2009.'" 

When, exactly, did Cheney — or anyone else, for that matter — claim Saddam had nukes? I'd like to see CBS' evidence to back up that statement. Maybe Dan Rather has a memo. 

And by the way, I for one wouldn't have considered a CIA assessment that Saddam won't have nukes for another four years very reassuring. 

Regarding Iraq, yellowcake, and Niger, read Daffyd's angry rant (triggered by the New York Times puff piece on Tenet) about mainstream media efforts to rewrite history:

I have now seen the same pugnaciously ignorant pronouncement of falsity from AP, Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and several other newspapers; and it has become clear that this is no accident: I am now convinced that the elite media editors have literally conspired with each other to rewrite the past. They pretend that the Intel Committee report said that Bush lied and Joe Wilson was right about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa — when in fact, it was the other way 'round.

Daffyd also did a good job of dissecting Tenet's revisionist explanation of his "slam dunk" remark, actually bothering to look up CBS' 2004 interview with Woodward (emphasis in original):

On another point, George Tenet now claims that he only used the term "slam dunk" to say that a good job of salesmanship would "sell" the war:

During the meeting, the deputy C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, unveiled a draft of a proposed public presentation that left the group unimpressed. Mr. Tenet recalls that Mr. Bush suggested that they could “add punch” by bringing in lawyers trained to argue cases before a jury.

“I told the president that strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’ a phrase that was later taken completely out of context,” Mr. Tenet writes. “If I had simply said, ‘I’m sure we can do better,’ I wouldn’t be writing this chapter — or maybe even this book.”

Even while recounting this, the Times couldn't even be bothered to interview Bob Woodward, in whose book Plan of Attack the exchange occurs, as CBS News reported:

”McLaughlin has access to all the satellite photos, and he goes in and he has flip charts in the oval office. The president listens to all of this and McLaughlin's done. And, and the president kind of, as he's inclined to do, says ‘Nice try, but that isn't gonna sell Joe Public. That isn't gonna convince Joe Public,’” says Woodward.

In his book, Woodward writes: "The presentation was a flop. The photos were not gripping. The intercepts were less than compelling. And then George Bush turns to George Tenet and says, 'This is the best we've got?'"

Says Woodward: “George Tenet's sitting on the couch, stands up, and says, ‘Don't worry, it's a slam dunk case.’" And the president challenges him again and Tenet says, ‘The case, it's a slam dunk.’ …I asked the president about this and he said it was very important to have the CIA director — ‘Slam-dunk is as I interpreted is a sure thing, guaranteed. No possibility it won't go through the hoop.’ Others present, Cheney, very impressed.”

Not "strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’" as Tenet now says he said… just "it's a slam-dunk case."

Which version should we believe? The one Tenet tells in his book, defending his career, now that he knows no stockpiles of WMD were found in Iraq (not counting all the stuff we found that was the wrong kind of WMD)? Or should we buy the version that everybody else in the room told to Bob Woodward in 2004?

For heaven's sake, the version that Tenet retails today doesn't even make semantic sense. What on earth does it mean to say "strengthening the public presentation [is] a ‘slam dunk’?" I can't even parse the sentence. It's like saying "adding more cayenne pepper to the stew is a home run": It might make the stew into a home run, but the act of adding a particular spice is not itself a home run.

And don't miss Christopher Hitchens' harsh assessment of Tenet in Slate:

It's difficult to see why George Tenet would be so incautious as to write his own self-justifying apologia, let alone give it the portentous title At the Center of the Storm. There is already a perfectly good pro-Tenet book written by a man who knows how to employ the overworked term storm. Bob Woodward's 2002 effort, Bush at War, was, in many of its aspects, almost dictated by George Tenet

It is a little bit late for him to pose as if Iraq was a threat concocted in some crepuscular corner of the vice president's office. And it's pathetic for him to say, even in the feeble way that he chooses to phrase it, that "there was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraqi threat." (Emphasis added.) There had been a very serious debate over the course of at least three preceding administrations, whether Tenet "knew" of it or not. (He was only an intelligence specialist, after all.) As for his bawling and sobbing claim that faced with crisis in Iraq, "the administration's message was: Don't blame us. George Tenet and the CIA got us into this mess," I can say, as one who has attended about a thousand postmortems on Iraq in Washington, that I have never, ever, not once heard a single partisan of the administration say anything of the kind. …

A highly irritating expression in Washington has it that "hindsight is always 20-20." Would that it were so. History is not a matter of hindsight and is not, in fact, always written by the victors. In this case, a bogus history is being offered by a real loser whose hindsight is cockeyed and who had no foresight at all.

In contrast to the liberal Hitchens, White House chief of staff Andrew Card (one of the people present during the "slam dunk" meeting) was sympathetic toward Tenet, called him a "true patriot," and defended his record at the CIA.

Personally, I lean more toward Hitchens' and McCarthy's view than Card's. I sure won't be buying Tenet's book. 

UPDATE: In February 2003, Tenet testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committeee. Amanda B. Carpenter compiled quotes from those hearings. There's not much ambiguity, uncertainty, or hedging in those quotes. His sworn testimony is fully consistent with the "slam dunk" characterization of the case for war — both with regard to WMD and with regard to Iraqi support of al Qaeda.

So, Tenet made the same "slam dunk" case for war to the Senate in October 2002 and twice in February 2003. Who's really guilty of mischaracterizing the December 2002 "slam dunk" statement?

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Never forget

Posted by Richard on September 11, 2006

Lady Liberty watching over the twin towers before 9/11
 

On this anniversary, no words I write could match what Gerard Van der Leun wrote several months ago when United 93 came out. I described it thus:

Nothing else I’ve read comes close to Gerard Van der Leun’s Of a Fire in a Field. I first read it several days ago and was unable to even write about it. I’ve read it several times now, and the impact is still powerful. I don’t recall anything that has ever moved me more.

In the passage that moved me beyond words, and that I quote again today, Van der Leun recalled 9/11 and its aftermath, when he lived in New York:

Inside the wire under the hole in the sky was, in time, a growing hole in the ground as the rubble was cleared away and, after many months, the last fire was put out. Often at first, but with slowly diminishing frequency, all the work to clear out the rubble and the wreckage would come to a halt.

The machinery would be shut down and it would become quiet. Across the site, tools would be laid down and the workers would straighten up and stand still. Then, from somewhere in the pile or the pit, a group of men would emerge carrying a stretcher covered with an American flag and holding, if they were fortunate, a body. If they were not so fortunate the flag covering over the stretcher would be lumpy, holding only portions of a body from which, across the river on the Jersey shore, a forensic lab would try to make an identification and then pass on to the victim’s survivors something that they could bury.

I’m not sure anymore about the final count, but I am pretty sure that most families, in the end, got nothing. Their loved ones had all gone into the smoke and the dust that covered the end of the island and blew, mostly, across the river into Brooklyn where I lived. What happened to most of the three thousand killed by the animals on that day? It is simple and ghastly. We breathed them until the rains came and washed clean what would never be clean again.

. . .

As I did back in May, on this anniversary, I urge you to read the whole thing — and think about the question he asks you at the end.

The final count, apparently, is 2,626 at the WTC and 2,996 total. The latter number is also the name of a website and a fine idea for a tribute:

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers
will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives,
and not by remembering their murderers.

I really meant to sign up for this effort, but other events made me forget. Not to worry — there was no shortage of volunteers. In fact, the list is oversubscribed (more than 3400 bloggers participating), so some victims have more than one blogger paying tribute.

Here’s the entire list of links to the tributes. Take a few moments today to read just a few, won’t you?

And never forget.

First tower falls
Fleeing through the choking dust

 

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Watch “The Path to 9/11”

Posted by Richard on September 11, 2006

I hope that, like me, you’re getting ready to watch (or record) ABC’s docudrama, "The Path to 9/11", tonight (8 Eastern, 7 Central/Mtn.) and tomorrow. Judging from what I’ve seen and heard about it, this is a powerful, riveting drama with outstanding production values and acting. In other words, it’s well worth watching regardless of the politics.

Contrary to the Clinton camp and their friends on the left, it doesn’t strike me as unfair or biased against his administration (and they’ve flat-out lied about the 9/11 Commission report contradicting major points of the film; Behind Enemy Lines and Texas Rainmaker have some examples). It’s a fictionalization, after all — not every word spoken by every person is taken from the historical record. But the overall impressions it gives, the broad points, are clearly in line with that record. The 9/11 Commission chair was the technical advisor, after all.

The portrait of the Bush administration (and Condi Rice in particular) is equally unflattering — it’s just that they failed to do enough for 9 [correction] 8 months, while the Clintonistas failed to do enough for 8 years. Let’s face it — no administration did enough until 9/12/01. There’s plenty of blame to go around, at least back to the Reagan administration. But "The Path to 9/11" also makes it clear who the real villains are — the terrorists.

Aside from its intrinsic value as entertainment and the understanding of how 9/11 came about that you’ll get, there’s another compelling reason for watching: to support ABC against the contemptible intimidation attempted by Democratic senators with their barely veiled threats.

TigerHawk has more about the left’s over-the-top efforts against "The Path to 9/11," and he thinks those efforts are backfiring. I hope so.

UPDATE: Wow. The first half was stunning. Simply stunning. Forget all the controversy and the last-minute edits (although if you’re interested, Hot Air has the "before" and "after" video for comparison). Yes, Clinton, Albright, and Berger look bad — but they’re really only bit players. Setting them aside and judging "The Path to 9/11" as a drama, I believe it’s a tremendous achievement.

The acting, writing, cinematography — everything about it is first-class. Some scenes were achingly beautiful, others difficult to watch. Throughout, there was a level of intensity, excitement, and urgency that made watching a somewhat draining experience. For instance, we all know nothing happened on New Year’s Eve 1999 — yet, the scenes leading up to and at the Times Square celebration were absolutely gripping. When the scene switched to a celebration where O’Neil said, "we dodged a bullet," I felt the tension released as if a weight had been removed from my chest.

I can’t say enough good things about this film, and you couldn’t pay me to miss the conclusion Monday night. As soon as it’s available on DVD, I’ll buy it (I hope the original "uncensored" version gets released on DVD, but I’ll buy it either way). If you didn’t watch it, I hope you recorded it (or maybe ABC will offer a download). If not, I’d still strongly recommend watching the second half. Strongly recommend.
 

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Twin towers

Posted by Richard on July 15, 2006

rebuild the twin towersUPDATE: See this 22 June 2008 post for the latest news. It's still not too late. Two years later, they still haven't done anything but "move dirt around."

I don't strongly dislike the final design for Freedom Tower, the World Trade Center towers replacement, unveiled on June 28. They've removed most of the godawful aspects of the original Liebeskind proposal that won the design competition.
 
But what's being built now still pales, IMO, compared to rebuilding the twin towers. It's a single, smaller, more modest and humble building than the two towers it's replacing. Is that really the statement New York wants to make?

Like Ed Koch, Donald Trump, Penn & Teller, David Brenner, many of the families and friends of the victims, at least three-quarters of New Yorkers, and the vast majority of Americans, I support rebuilding the twin towers, at least as tall and stronger. If you agree, please join me and the numerous groups working to bring this about:

  • Sign the Twin Towers Alliance petition.
  • Visit the Twin Towers II Memorial Foundation, take a look at the Gardner-Belton plan (I love it), and vote in their online poll.
  • Visit MakeNYNYagain to see more about Gardner-Belton and compare it to Liebeskind.
  • Look at the finalists in the Team Twin Towers design competition (Coloradan Robin Heid is one of them!) and vote for your favorite.
  • Visit Rebuild-the-Towers, where you'll find some excellent commentary, such as:

    A Matter of Honor

    Our disdain for the latest version of the "Freedom Tower" is not because of what it looks like – but what it stands for. It could be the most beautiful building in the world and it still would not belong at Ground Zero because it represents retreat. It's as simple as that.

  • Watch this wonderful Penn & Teller video clip (due to language, not work-safe unless you use headphones), which is both funny and soul-stirring.
  • Donate at Team Twin Towers to support the joint efforts of the allied twin towers organizations. 

It's not too late to get the plan changed. Construction has begun, but so far it's just excavation and site preparation.

 

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More moonbat science

Posted by Richard on July 10, 2006

Moonbat science marches on! Saturday, I posted about a couple of  "experiments" conducted by 9/11 conspiracy theorist Spooked to "prove" that airplanes didn’t bring down the WTC towers. The intrepid Instapinch, who brought those experiments to public attention, dove back into the depths of Spooked’s site and found yet another amazing experiment regarding the WTC towers. Plus an analysis of United Flight 93’s crash using pencil sketches to prove that:

None of it makes a lot of sense, but the clear thing is that THE OFFICIAL FLIGHT 93 CRASH STORY IS WRONG!

You can check out the WTC experiment at Instapinch. This experiment predates the more sophisticated — I’m not kidding — rabbit fence and concrete block model. Did I mention that this one involves coat hangers?

But don’t settle for Instapinch’s teaser about the Flight 93 theory, go read the whole thing — not for Spooked’s analysis, but for the many wonderful comments. Priceless! I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks. Here are a few samples:

Anonymous said…

and despite his "genius" at fooling the world on 9/11, Bush still couldn’t figure out a way to fake WMD stockpiles in Iraq. Go figure.

Anonymous said…

This is satire, right. Please, let it be satire. Otherwise, you need some serious help and it scares me that you’re walking around unsupervised.

Anonymous said…

I saw Condi Rice in the pilot’s cabin on that flight. She deliberately flew the plane into the ground. At the last second she leaped out of the window with a parachute. The word "Haliburton" was stenciled on the ‘chute.

Anonymous said…

The "Condi Rice in a Haliburton parachute" theory has been completely discredited.

We now know that after shooting Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby was cryogenically frozen, cloned, and stored in Rumsefeld’s basement until being thawed out and used to fly the planes into the WTC, etc. If you want I can draw you a picture.

Johnny Drama said…

I’ve only one question.

Is this sort of stupidity the result of public school or lead-based paint chips?

Anonymous said…

Liberal…
its not what it used to be

John from WuzzaDem said…

Hopefully, My Last Analysis of the Flight 93 Crash

I think I speak for everyone when I say:

"Please please please please post just one more!"

(Note: The Instapinch post has some pretty good comments, too.)

The humor value of this stuff is undeniable. But, as Instapinch noted, there’s another reason to link to such material:

Without beating a dead horse here …, this sort of idiocy needs to see the light of day. It needs to see that light to show people how unhinged – how simply out of touch with the real world some of the lefty-whack jobs are. Reason and common sense are not given a back seat in these people’s worlds, they are strapped into an ejection seat and are *gone*.

It’s not just Spooked and all the total whack jobs that he shares links and ideas with. A significant portion of the left, while not True Believers, are sympathetic to the conspiracy theorists and/or "agnostic" about who brought down the WTC towers. At the DailyKos comment that Instapinch linked, Socratic joined the laughter and took a bit of a swipe at DU. But Carolita immediately came to DU’s defense:

Don’t you think the 101 comments refuting this "experiment" constitute an adequate response? Unlike the right-wing blogs, DU doesn’t rewrite history and selectively remove a post from 2005 "just in case" some wingnut might see it. And it is hardly any surpise that instapinch.com would selectively point to a posted comment as if it were an official position of the web site and conveniently forget that a multitude of commentors wrote in to refute it.

Well, each of those three sentences is bogus. First, DU removes posts all the time (it’s not secretive; they’re marked "Message removed by moderator"), including several in the Spooked experiment thread. Second, the 101 comments at the time Carolita wrote (it’s now over 280) were absolutely not all refuting the experiment. I don’t think even half of them were negative (note: there were far fewer than a hundred commenters because there was much "dialog"). There certainly wasn’t a "multitude" refuting it. Some commenters were supportive of a 9/11 conspiracy; some were "open-minded"; some were skeptical of Spooked’s experiment, but in a friendly way. I remember at least one commenter praised Spooked for trying so hard and encouraged him to refine his experiment further — I pegged that one as a schoolteacher.

Only a couple or three commenters (before the recent flood of non-DU sightseers) completely rejected the notion of a 9/11 conspiracy and ridiculed Spooked’s experiment. And they had to fend off repeated attacks and challenges from an equal number of hard-core supporters.

Across a wide swath of the American Left extending deep into the Democratic base, the question of who’s responsible for the 9/11 attacks — al-Qaeda, the U.S. government, or Israel — is open to debate.

All this "moonbat science" is pretty damned funny. But it’s also sad. And a bit disturbing, when you think about it.

UPDATE: Moonbats rule in academia.
 

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Science from the reality-based community

Posted by Richard on July 9, 2006

I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. It all began Friday with LGF’s Hilarious Lefty Post of the Day, which linked to this post at Democratic Underground:

Can a jet fuel/hydrocarbon fire collapse a steel structure? An experiment.

The post is from last October (I’m not sure what prompted Charles to link to it now; maybe he just came across it). If you’d rather not visit DU, you can read the whole thing, plus some fine introductory and concluding remarks, at Instapinch.

The poster, spooked911, is apparently a regular at DU with over 1000 posts. His "experiment" (fully documented with a series of photographs) consisted of:

  • Making a "model" from rabbit fencing and concrete blocks.
  • Simulating "airplane damage" by cutting some of the "support columns" in the rabbit fencing with wire cutters.
  • Lighting kerosene-soaked newspapers inside this "steel structure" and letting it burn for 20 minutes.
  • Observing that the heat didn’t weaken the "steel structure" (rabbit-fencing) of his "building."

Ipso facto — proof that burning jet fuel couldn’t have caused the collapse of the WTC towers!

Here’s his "steel structure" during the "experiment":

Now, that’s pretty damned funny. But wait! It gets even better! The aforementioned Instapinch referenced an earlier post of his in which we learn that this Spooked fella has his own blog with yet more experiments (these are from April 2006):

His particular belief is that no aircraft hit the World Trade Center Towers because there was no aircraft wreckage *outside* the building…or the aircraft should have bounced off….or the aircraft should have passed all the way thru, unscathed. ..or whatever.

So, he devised an experiment to prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that there was no way possible, scientifically proven, mind you, that 767 aircraft flew into the WTC.

I can’t do it justice by explaining it here….go have a read (this one first and then this one) and see the light, brothers and sisters!

Well, I’ll give you a taste of the first one, Wings Break Off:

I set up an experiment testing how a plane might break up upon impacting arrayed steel columns like the WTC wall. The plane and the columns were both constructed of similar pieces of wood (which here favors the plane, since in real life, aluminum is weaker than steel). …

I pushed the plane forcefully into the "wall", and while the fuselage penetrated the wall after reasonably strong force was applied, the wings broke off at the root where the wings met the plane. … A few "columns" broke where the fuselage went in, and a couple broke on either side of the fuselage hole, where the wings broke off– but basically the array of columns were much stronger than the long wings.

This means of course, that no 767 hit either WTC tower.

That’s pretty damned funny, too. But you really need to check out Wings Break Off (and the follow-up, Stronger Wings) for the comments! They are priceless! Here’s one of my favorites:

Anonymous said…

If we assume 9/11 was a massive psy-ops campaign, then we can assume that nothing about 9/11 is really as it seems.

If we assume you are actually a 12 point buck, we can legally shoot you in the chest with a shotgun and mount your head on our living room wall.

What a moron.

Lots more along the same lines. Believe me, you’ll laugh your ass off.

UPDATE: As for the darker side of moonbattery — if you haven’t already read about Jeff Goldstein’s problem with the psychology prof (soon to be unemployed) who gradually went completely psycho online and threatened his kid, check out this post for starters. Assuming he’s back for good — the site’s been mostly down for a couple of days due to DoS attacks. Coincidence?
 
UPDATE 2: More moonbat science!

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United 93 is outstanding

Posted by Richard on May 22, 2006

I finally saw United 93 this evening. It’s every bit as good as the most laudatory reviews said it was. Maybe better. I won’t even attempt a detailed review — there are plenty of those available. I just want to make one important point and then mention a couple of things that really struck me.

My important point is this: Some viewers and reviewers have said that this is a difficult — even painful — film to watch, and I suspect many people are reluctant to go see it as a result. Frankly, it did leave me somewhat drained. But it also left me feeling very, very good. As Peter Travers said in his Rolling Stone review, "This is the best of us."

As a point of comparison, think of Schindler’s List — a serious, emotionally wrenching experience to be sure, but aren’t you glad you saw it? Wasn’t it really life-affirming, ennobling, uplifting?

United 93 is all those things and then some. I’m in awe of writer/director Paul Greengrass and the cast, and I’m profoundly grateful to them and to the people at Universal Studios who made this wonderful film possible.

One line in the film that really struck me: Shortly after take-off, Capt. Dahl announced that (quoting from memory), "As we make this turn, those of you on the left side of the cabin will get a beautiful view of lower Manhattan and the New York skyline." Since there are no surviving witnesses, I assume that this statement was invented by Greengrass, but depending on direction of takeoff and flight plan, it’s plausible.

It’s also a brilliant and poignant bit of foreshadowing. Only a few minutes later, American Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center, changing lower Manhattan and the New York skyline forever; the passengers on United 93 may have been among the last people to see the twin towers in all their glory. Somehow, that seems appropriate, and I hope it’s true.

Something else that struck me: I knew from reviews that some air traffic controllers played themselves; I didn’t realize until the credits how many. We all knew the basic story of what happened on the plane, but most of us had no idea what happened on the ground. The scenes at the various civilian and military ATC centers were powerful and riveting. One especially powerful scene showed the controllers in the Newark tower, just a few miles southwest of the World Trade Center, staring at it in shock and disbelief after the first plane hit.

I can’t urge you strongly enough to go see this film. You owe it to yourself. And to Paul Greengrass and the cast. And most of all, to the heroes on United 93.

But go see it soon. I was shocked by how few screens it’s on (half the Denver area cineplexes aren’t showing it), and there were only two or three dozen people at the showing I saw. See it on a big screen before it’s gone. You’ll be very glad you did.
 

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The lesson of United 93

Posted by Richard on May 18, 2006

Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy noticed a Michael Kinsley column suggesting that the government, at least, hasn’t learned the lesson of United Flight 93. Kinsley argued that the feds are still officially telling us to remain calm in an emergency and do what we’re told — to not do what the heroes of United 93 did:

For a while after 9/11 there was talk of changing the official policy regarding hijackings and to start encouraging the passengers to whack the hijackers with their pillows, and so on. … But today, airline passengers are still told at the start of every flight that in an emergency they should remain calm and follow instructions from anyone in a uniform…

Poking around the Web, I stumbled across the official "Hijacking Survival Guidelines" for employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They say, "Stay calm and encourage others around you to do the same. Do not challenge the hijackers physically or verbally. Comply with their instructions. Do not struggle…."

Somin said the official advice no longer mattered, but was bothered by it nonetheless:

Should another hijacking occur, I think many passengers are likely to resist the terrorists regardless of what government bureaucrats might say. Flight 93 has entered the popular consciousness in a much more powerful way than any government-issued instructions could. Still, it is deeply troubling that the homeland security bureaucracy can’t get this relatively simple issue right. If they can’t even learn the most obvious lessons of the last major terrorist attack, I highly doubt that they can effectively prepare for the next one. 

I think Kinsley set up a straw man. The standard flight attendants’ emergency spiel isn’t about hijackings, it’s about depressurization, water landings, and exiting the cabin. And Kinsley failed to note the following disclaimer in that document from the USDA site that he quoted (emphasis added):

The guidance below focuses on avoiding violence and achieving a peaceful resolution to a hijacking. This guidance was developed prior to September 11, 2001 when two hijacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. Since then, there has been considerable public discussion of a more active and aggressive reaction to the initial announcement that a plane is being hijacked. As of this writing, the U.S. Government has not developed new guidelines for how to react to a hijacking. The appropriate reaction may depend upon the presumed purpose of the hijacking — the hijackers’ goal a suicide mission to use the airplane itself as a bomb, take hostages to gain publicity for a political movement, or a simple desire to escape to another country.

I couldn’t find a revision date. BTW, it’s not a USDA document. It’s part of an antiterrorism training module created by the Dept. of Defense for military and civilian employees and contractors who travel frequently on government business. I assume these sorts of training modules are probably widely shared among agencies.

Nonetheless, I recommend Kinsley’s column, which discussed some important issues — courage and cowardice, obedience and defiance — and acknowledged that some questions are much easier to answer in retrospect:

It is the nature of authorities to assert authority, and its hard to imagine officials of anything urging people to pay no attention to official instructions. But there is also some logic here. The policies followed by police and fire officials at the World Trade Center (at the cost of their own lives as well as others’) seem very wrong in hindsight. But these rules themselves were the product of hindsight. During the first World Trade Center bombing, back in 1993, rescue attempts and fire control were frustrated by the anarchy of thousands fleeing unnecessarily down narrow emergency stairs. Emergency planners are like generals—always fighting the last war. But what other choice do they have? Let he who anticipated that the next four hijacked planes would be pointed at major office buildings cast the first stone.

With convenient symmetry, it also seems to be the nature of most people, most of the time, to obey authority. The famous Stanley Milgram experiments at Yale in 1961 demonstrated that it is frighteningly easy to induce ordinary people—good people—to inflict pain on others, when ordered to do so by some authority figure. Sept. 11 demonstrated that most people will sit tight and obey orders even unto their own deaths. The defiance of authority is a big reason the United 93 story is so thrilling. This was heroism, American-style. Dissing the Man on your way out the door. These folks were cowboys. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood don’t have time for the rules, and neither did they.

Yep, "heroism, American-style" and "cowboys" — that’s the story of United 93. Kinsley got that part right.
 

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About Ward Churchill and other contemptible vermin

Posted by Richard on May 17, 2006

The University of Colorado faculty committee investigating Ward Churchill concluded that (PDF) he engaged in "a pattern of deliberate academic misconduct involving falsification, fabrication, and serious deviation from accepted practices in reporting results from research," but couldn’t agree on whether to fire him or just make him promise to play nice from now on.

PirateBallerina has all the details and links you’ll need. Including, in the comments, some information about how Colorado’s leftist media critics at the Try-Works blog have reacted (no link; if you must go there, search).

I wasn’t familiar with Try-Works, which is apparently a group blog out of Denver. I hesitated about posting the following, but I think it’s important for people to know that such loathsome creatures exist.
 


After a long series of rants by several bloggers about the "sniveling shits" who dared criticize their hero Ward, the day was capped off when the vile being who calls herself (itself?) Wicked Witch posted this photo under the title, "Curing AmeriKKKan Exceptionalism One Little Eichmann at a Time":

In the comments, her (its?) co-blogger John Moredock announced a "caption contest." One of the entries is, "Fly, pudgy fucker, fly."
 


You know, I’m a pretty peaceful guy. Oh, sure, I rant a bit at times. But I haven’t been in a physical altercation since junior high school, and that one didn’t amount to much.

But suddenly, the phrase "fighting words" seems much more real and meaningful to me.

And I can better understand the old Texas expression, "they needed killin’."
 

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Smoke and dust and heroism

Posted by Richard on May 4, 2006

I haven’t seen United 93 yet. Soon, maybe. I’ve read quite a few of the reviews and comments, and everything I’ve read suggests it’s as fine a film as I’d hoped it would be.

Nothing else I’ve read comes close to Gerard Van der Leun’s Of a Fire in a Field. I first read it several days ago and was unable to even write about it. I’ve read it several times now, and the impact is still powerful. I don’t recall anything that has ever moved me more.

It’s about United 93, but Van der Leun began by recalling 9/11 and its aftermath, when he lived in New York. He’s a fine writer whose words often paint evocative images; but I can’t find adjectives adequate to describe this passage:

Inside the wire under the hole in the sky was, in time, a growing hole in the ground as the rubble was cleared away and, after many months, the last fire was put out. Often at first, but with slowly diminishing frequency, all the work to clear out the rubble and the wreckage would come to a halt.

The machinery would be shut down and it would become quiet. Across the site, tools would be laid down and the workers would straighten up and stand still. Then, from somewhere in the pile or the pit, a group of men would emerge carrying a stretcher covered with an American flag and holding, if they were fortunate, a body. If they were not so fortunate the flag covering over the stretcher would be lumpy, holding only portions of a body from which, across the river on the Jersey shore, a forensic lab would try to make an identification and then pass on to the victim’s survivors something that they could bury.

I’m not sure anymore about the final count, but I am pretty sure that most families, in the end, got nothing. Their loved ones had all gone into the smoke and the dust that covered the end of the island and blew, mostly, across the river into Brooklyn where I lived. What happened to most of the three thousand killed by the animals on that day? It is simple and ghastly. We breathed them until the rains came and washed clean what would never be clean again.

. . .

Every time I read that, my eyes well up and my breathing becomes labored. It’s as if there’s a weight on my chest.

Van der Leun went on to describe the "ordinary courage" of the New York police and firemen who went up into the twin towers to rescue those trapped on 9/11, and then he connected it to the courage exhibited in the sky above Pennsylvania that day:

To this day, those men who went up those stairs exist in my mind as starlight, beyond my capacity to comprehend — only to honor. But I went to a few of their funerals and so I know, if only slightly, the human face and the life and the families of about a dozen.

Far above and away to the west on that day, there was as we knew, and now as we have seen, another group of American men and women who, when they found out what was happening and what was to be their likely fate, also took that fate in their own hands and came on, fighting to thwart or reverse that fate, until the last moment of their lives. Ordinary people in an extraordinary situation finding the ordinary courage to resist and to fight against the evil that appeared among them.

That’s the theme and the pace and the action of "United 93:" How ordinary people, at first strangers to each other, found the courage to act together in the face of certain death.

Despite the whines and the cavils of the weak and the vile and the corrupt among us, "United 93" has no "message."

Despite the rising and continuing attempts to cheapen the film from the spiritually and politically bankrupt that batten off America, "United 93" has no politics.

You don’t "review" this film if you have an ounce of soul left to you. You watch it.

"United 93," from the first frame to the last, simply and clearly lets you see what happened high in the air on that day. It is, as the phrase on the poster says, "The plane that did not reach its target." Instead, it reached something unintended and much higher. It became and will remain a legend; an integral part of the tapestry of the American myth from which we all draw what strength remains to us, and, in the future, will surely need to draw upon even more deeply. Like the best of our legends, it arises out of our ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Go read the whole thing. Van der Leun has outdone himself with this essay. And at the end, he has a question for you.

Of a Fire in a Field has been nominated — along with another Van der Leun post — for best non-council post by members of the Watcher’s Council. On Friday, the Watcher will post the results of the voting. I haven’t read most of the other nominated posts, but I can’t imagine this one not winning. It’s simply in a class by itself.
 

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United 93

Posted by Richard on April 19, 2006

Universal’s United 93 is premiering next Tuesday, April 25th, at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. You’ve probably read or heard that some people aren’t happy that a film about the heroes of United Flight 93 has been made. When the trailer was first shown, people in a Hollywood theater audience reportedly shouted "too soon!" I wonder if those people thought Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 was "too soon"? No, I suspect they lined up eagerly to see it.

We’ve been at war with Islamofascism for almost five years (consciously and explicitly, that is; they’ve been waging war on us for longer than that, but we didn’t recognize it as such). I think it’s high time that we had a major theatrical film about this war, and it’s only appropriate that it be about what is probably the most courageous action by a group of American civilians in our nation’s history.

Back in January, I saw A&E’s low-budget TV movie, Flight 93, and I was moved by it and spoke highly of it:

It’s a story we’re all familiar with, and we all know how it ended. But I found it compelling and moving and riveting. This is no hagiography to larger-than-life heroes — it’s presentation of the events is straightforward and relatively low-key — and it’s all the more powerful for it. I’m an atheist, but when Todd Beamer and Verizon call center supervisor Lisa Jefferson spoke the Lord’s Prayer together just before Todd and the others attacked the cockpit, I wept.

"Let’s roll" was spoken firmly, but without bravado, and I didn’t cheer — but I set my jaw and unconsciously tensed in anticipation, as if hoping and wishing for success. I suppose, in a sense, success is what we got.
… 
… I strongly recommend it. I wish every American would see it.

My reaction and recommendation were driven, of course, more by the story itself than by some great achievement of the A&E production (nevertheless, it’s a decent and worthwhile depiction; it’s being rebroadcast this month, and I still recommend it). What actually happened on that flight is so compelling and inspiring that any serviceable, well-intentioned, and reasonably accurate portrayal of the events would have to be moving and riveting.

By all accounts, United 93 director Paul Greengrass has produced a film that’s far more than just serviceable, and it has the unanimous endorsement of the families of the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93.

Dennis Prager attended a preview screening of United 93 recently, and he was impressed. He, too, thought it was about time rather than "too soon":

Five years after the most devastating attack on American soil, people are asking if Americans are ready to see a film — not some fictional, politically driven, reality-distorting film by Oliver Stone, but a film based on the phone conversations of the passengers and flight attendants, on the flight recorder tape, and approved by the families of all 40 passengers — one of the most terrible and heroic events in American history.

Did anyone ask in 1946, five years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, whether Americans were prepared to see a film about the Japanese attack?

Hollywood’s lack of interest was especially odd, Prager noted, considering the values and goals of our Islamofascist enemies:

… For five years, America has been battling people who are dedicated to destroying every value that Hollywood claims to care most about — freedom, tolerance, women’s rights, secular government, equality for gays — and Hollywood has yet to make a film depicting, let alone honoring, this war.

Prager objected to a post-film bow to political correctness that Universal assured him would be removed, but otherwise strongly recommended this film:

I believe it is just about every American’s duty to see this film. There is no gratuitous violence — if anything, Universal went out of its way to prevent us from seeing the reality of the throat-slashing of passengers and crew — but there is unremitting tension and sadness, since we all know what will happen to these unsuspecting people, and we know this is real, not fiction.

There is also American heroism. People completely unprepared for an airplane flight to become their last hour alive rise to the occasion and save fellow Americans from death and from the humiliation of having their nation’s capitol building destroyed.

The only people likely to object to this film are those who don’t want Americans to become aware of just how conscienceless, cruel and depraved our enemy is, or those who think that our enemies can always be negotiated with and therefore object to depicting Americans actually fighting back.

Teenage and older children in particular should see this film. If the younger teens have nightmares, comfort them. But young Americans need to know the nature of whom we are fighting. If they are attending a typical American high school or college, they probably don’t know.

Congratulations to Universal Studios on making this film (presuming that, as assured to me, they removed the post-film politically inspired message). And shame on Hollywood for only making one such film in five years. 

United 93 opens around the country on Friday, April 28. I probably won’t see it right away because of some other things going on — personal and family matters. But I certainly intend to see it, probably more than once, as soon as I can. I fervently hope that many millions of Americans watch this film.

We need to remember what happened on September 11, 2001 — not just the tragedies, but also the triumph. We need to remember that on that day, a group of forty Americans thrown together by chance became the first to be fully aware of the nature of our enemy, and they chose to fight.

And they won. With no weapons, training, or special knowledge, and only the briefest period of time to fathom what was happening and determine what to do about it, they defeated our enemy’s best men carrying out their most sophisticated plan.

We need to let their courage and commitment inspire us and serve as an example of how free people act. Please make plans now to go see United 93

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Colorado LP jumps the shark

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2006

I was going through the past few days’ mail tonight, and there was the March Colorado Liberty. On page 5, I noticed an ad for a Denver event on March 31 — hmm, bad timing on somebody’s part — called Critical Analysis: 9-11. Well, shucks, I missed it. So I didn’t get to hear Morgan Reynolds of LewRockwell.com and Don Paul of physics911.net present evidence that:

  • Airliners weren’t hijacked and flown into buildings on 9/11, and the government faked all those cell phone calls from people on the planes.
  • Autopsies (!) proved there were no Arabs on Flight 77 (you know — the plane that wasn’t hijacked and didn’t fly into the Pentagon).
  • The WTC towers were destroyed by professional demolition involving scores of people precisely placing thousands of explosive charges over a period of weeks.
  • Guiliani was in on it.
  • So were the CIA, MI6, Mossad, Bush, Cheney, the NY Port Authority, the Rockefeller family, international bankers and financiers, the handful of plutocrats who control all the oil and defense industry corporations — I could go on, but what’s the point?

Really, you ought to visit the Critical Analysis: 9-11 web site. Notice that they’re proud to have Ed Asner and Charlie Sheen on their side. Click some of the links they provide for additional information about the 9/11 conspiracy. You’ll discover more fascinating facts: Britain’s MI6 secretly controls and funds al Qaeda, the captured Saddam is a fake, the London bombings were staged by the Blair government, …

Then ponder this: Critical Analysis: 9-11 is a project organized and financed by Rand Fanshier and some of his Libertarian friends. Rand had a column in the Colorado Liberty adjacent to the ad. In it, he described how he became convinced there was a conspiracy:

Then I did the math. An elementary momentum analysis, using a spreadsheet and data and formulas I checked and double-checked with my own hand, proved beyond any doubt that the WTC towers could not have fallen by damage or fires alone—that they were demolished. The implications were obvious; regardless of how implausible, some alphabet agencies—or people in their employ—at the Federal, State and local levels actually were instrumental in the murders of all those people and the destruction of so much property.

But I have continued doing my job in the LP here at the state level, for years, pushing back here in Colorado at the misuse of government power in so many little ways. All the time also pushing back in my mind the reality that these little things make no difference in a country that has essentially just had a coup d’etat, where the leadership doesn’t protect the people but kills them for geo-political utility.

So, despite the hopelessness of it all, Rand’s still doing his job for the Colorado Libertarian Party. What is his job? Why, he’s on the Board of Directors. In fact, he’s the Outreach Director.

Ponder the irony of that for a moment. To promote the LP among the vast horde of Republican, Democratic, and independent Coloradans, to convince them to take the LP seriously and not dismiss us as fringe kooks, to persuade them to consider becoming Libertarians, the Colorado LP relies on Rand "there were no Muslim terrorists, Bush/Cheney did it" Fanshier.

I believe this is compelling evidence that the Colorado Libertarian Party has jumped the shark (definition 3).

UPDATE: Check out also Libercontrarian’s excellent remarks on this subject, which predate mine by 6 days. Apparently, Nick’s Colorado Liberty was delivered earlier than mine, and he read it right away. He’s already officially left the LP.

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