Monday, September 14, 2009


Say What You Will, Charlie Sheen Isn't Giving Obama a Pass

I know, I know, Charlie Sheen is probably not an expert on structural engineering. I offer the video below (HT2LRC) for two reasons: (1) I think we should acknowledge that Charlie Sheen is at least holding Obama's feet to the fire as well; let's hope he ups the ante when Obama continues to ignore him. And (2) listen carefully to the news anchors, cops, and firefighters in the clips. The "truthers"* aren't inventing their theories out of nothing; people on the scene thought there were charges and that it was a controlled demolition. (And for those who are new to this, the significance of the clips where the news correspondents are discussing the collapse of the Salomon Bros. Building / aka WTC 7 is that it hadn't collapsed yet. That's what the superimposed arrows are showing, which are admittedly hard to see in this particular video.)

Note that I am not saying "9/11 was an inside job." I have looked into this stuff, and I get two apparently qualified experts (airline pilots, engineers, etc.) saying diametrically opposed things, so I can't really judge.

* Remember, if you can classify your opponents with a two-syllable word (see also: "birther," "Bircher," and "Paultard") then they must be nutjobs. Hence, Austrians should reclassify their opponents as Maynards. "Keyne-si-an" is too respectable.

Kudos to anyone with the guts to face ridicule. Go Paultards! Go birthers! (Sorry, "Maynards" don't qualify, because they DON'T question. It was very funny, though!)

As for 9/11, the thing that stumps me is that many civil engineers were unable to explain the collapses (1 & 2, and especially 7). Then there's that whole unnecessary war thing....
The Blackadder Says:

I'm not sure I get the whole WTC 7 conspiracy thing. I'm not just saying that the evidence is weak (which it is for all the 9-11 conspiracies); I'm saying I don't even understand the proposed counter-narrative. Is the idea that a plane was supposed to fly into that building to but didn't? If the plan is to fly planes into buildings then blow them up with explosives, why wouldn't The Man have flown a plane into WTC 7 too?
Or even further back in the logic train, why would "the man" be sitting back in his office chair thinking "you know, flying planes into the trade center isn't going to be quite traumatic enough, someone is going to have to go in there and plant explosives in all the buildings and complicate this scheme by an order of magnitude. This will be so much harder to keep secret but it will be worth it. Oh, and blow up WTC 7 too. I've always hated that building."
Good comments. I'd add that if I were the government official in charge of the 9/11 project, I'd plan it exactly as Bin Laden did. I'd find and provide for some Islamic extremists to do the job for me. But I'd make sure they were from Iraq or some other country rich in oil, so we didn't have to come up with ridiculous excuses to invade that part of the Middle East.

Seriously, at most, I'm willing to grant plausibility if the conspiracy theorists would just say there were people at some government office that knew about the plan, but kept it to themselves in order to then get promoted for the head of the agency, get more funding or whatever (the principal agent problem).
With regard to the physics of the demolition, I'd just say that if we'd follow common sense then we'd still assumed the Earth was flat. Better luck into figuring out that such as the Earth pulls the apple that falls the tree in its direction, so is the apple exerting a symmetric force. We are very ill equipped to understand such physical phenomenas that go outside the realm of what our ancestors had to deal with in their quotidian. The Skeptic and other magazines have published articles on the physics of the 9/11 that implode with a number of those myths.
I recently read Murray Rothbard's The Conspiracy Theory of History Revisited. Timely.
The Blackadder Says:

Btw, clearly what the 9-11 conspiracy folks need to do is come up with some two syllable word to describe people who don't think 9-11 was an inside job. Because obviously the reason think of "truthers" as nutjobs is not that what they say is crazy, or that many of them look like they forgot to take their medication. No, the reason people think "truthers" are crazy is that The Man cleverly came up with a two syllable word to describe them. Well, turnabout is fair play. All you have to do is come up with a good two syllable word for the conspiracy deniers, and thinking bin Laden was behind 9-11 will become as disreputable as thinking Bush or Mossad was behind it is today.
The fact that the same government that can't run a profitable post office could pull off arguably the greatest conspiracy in the history of the world is a little too much for me. However ...

I'll say this... if 9/11 was "an inside job," there's no point in fighting "it" anymore. A government capable of this (in the moral / ethical sense as well as the logistical sense, i.e. keeping it a secret) has already won. The ron paul / liberty movement cannot succeed against these odds.
For what it's worth, I am an engineer and I do NOT find the controlled demolition theory to be believable. The fact that two 110-story buildings collapsed in close proximity to WTC 7 should be enough to believe that it suffered some degree of structural damage. Frankly, I think it is a miracle that there was not MORE damage to surrounding structures. Plus it was deforming for a while before it finally collapsed, which can explain the premature reports.
Now they're planning the crime of the century
Well what will it be?
Read all about their schemes and adventuring
It's well worth the fee

So roll up and see
How they rape the universe
How they've gone from bad to worse

Who are these men of lust, greed, and glory?
Rip off the masks and let see
But that's not right - oh no, what's the story?
There's you and there's me

(That can't be right)
Good for Charlie, yes... but I'm still waiting for Men at Work 2 and can't be bothered with this conspiracy stuff.

I'm glad you admit that commonsense is on the side of the truthers. As far as the WTC 7 thing, the theory I've seen is that that was the building where the "inside job" was run from. And then they obviously had to clean their tracks.

And you ask, "Huh? Is there any evidence in the wreckage of such an operation?"

No, because the government sealed off the sites and shipped all the evidence away to be destroyed as quickly as possible.

Again, I'm not endorsing any particular "inside job" theory, I'm just pointing out that this isn't merely a bunch of hippies ranting, "Qui bono?" You talk of guys needing their meds, Blackadder, but have you seen the actual engineers going through PowerPoint demonstrations of why they think it's a controlled demolition? "Mental illness" doesn't jump out at me when I watch those presentations. Perhaps "clever liar seeking publicity and riches," but not "insane."
Ha ha they didn't say "cui bono?" either...
I suppose that "Maynard" refers to JMK's middle name, not to Maynard G. Krebs.

Just showing my age again.
Oh sorry I conflated "Black Sheep" and "Blackadder".
The Blackadder Says:

As far as the WTC 7 thing, the theory I've seen is that that was the building where the "inside job" was run from. And then they obviously had to clean their tracks.

I guess the government black ops types have never heard of a shredder?

Seriously, though, "destroying the evidence" is overkill as a motive, but even if you accept it that doesn't explain why they wouldn't just crash a plane into that building too to cover their tracks (or if you're going to bring the building down using explosives, why not blame that on the terrorists too?) It doesn't make any sense.
For the "why not just crash a plane in to that building too?" question, from that video it didn't look like WTC 7 was the tallest tree in the forest, so hitting it with a plane may have been a harder task. I'm not fightin' for either side, but I agree with Murphy that educated people appear to be on both sides of this.
On building 7. Keep in mind there were a lot of government agencies in the building, including the SEC.

Blowing up a building for reasons that are difficult for an outsider to understand is not outside the realm of the U.S. government:
Great. Just what I needed. Now I really can't send anybody here anymore.

"The Inside Job", "Steel don't melt at that temperature", "cui bono", and all the rest is just so plain idiotic, it baffles the mind.

Penn & Teller covered this best:

Yup. Thank you, Penn and Teller, for finding the humor in this idiocy.
And every 'white persons' (C) favorite humor rag, the Onion:
The biggest question I have for liberty minded "Truthers" is what the point is? I already believe our government is evil, without conspiring to crash planes into American buildings. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are evil regardless of who was behind 9/11.
The Federal government didn't even take the recommendations of the relatively tame 9/11 commission, why would they take action on the recommendations of an actual, thorough, investigation?
Why go into conspiracy theories that may or may not be true, and definitely can't be proven. All you do is alienate people from the freedom movement.
The point would be that a lot of innocent people died on that day and the truth of what happened has not been presented. Whether you believe it was an inside job or not, I think it is clear that the official story has holes that need to be addressed. If you had a family member that died that day you would want to get some answers, I'm sure. Not only that but the 9/11 issue has awakened millions of people to the idea that the State is evil. The freedom movement has only benefited from the 9/11 movement. I have friends that will listen to me and read Austrian economics books only because they believe that our Government is willing to take their lives to push an agenda, and they want to know how we could eliminate them from our lives. It is a heck of a lot easier to convince a 9/11 truther that we don't need the State then a Bush or O'bama supporter.
The "Truth" of what happened has been presented. A group of people consisting mostly, or even exclusively, of (Saudi) Arabs conspired to crash planes into important American landmarks in something left-wing anarchists would have dubbed 'propaganda of the deed'. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, partially because they correctly anticipated the reaction of the American government. In another way, they failed - since the anticipated uprising of the "Arab Street" did not happen.
The American Government, willfully and stupidly walked right into what COULD have been a major bear trap, only to go right ahead and dig themselves a massive hole, and succeed in achieving what the perpetrators of the 9/11 did not achieve directly.
Osama bin Laden is probably still giggling at this in utter disbelief.

The "Truth" movement, no the other hand, is little more than the outgrowth of a wild combination of hubris and paranoia.Hubris, because these people cannot believe that their powerful State has been outsmarted by a bunch of Arabs. After all, the Arabs are wild, uncivilized people who can barely count to ten and are too stupid to understand the first thing about our Great Nation. Paranoia, because the only way to explain the failue of the powerful state is to reinterprete the failure as a evil plan.

In reality, the Truth Movement is very much like the "Stab-in-the-back" movement in Germany post-WWI. Why, our powerful Empire could not have possibly succumbed to those Franzen and Tommies and Ivans and Amis - it must have been the evil people in our own government, probably the JEWS!!!!!!

Your Truthers are little more than the budding shock-troops of Fascism. Seriously. You think these crypto-Patriots, these flag-wavers, these paranoiacs are on the side of Liberty?

Maybe you people should broaden your reading list to include a little Hannah Arendt in addition to Rothbard, in particular her The Origins of Totalitariansm.

Not having read The Origins is a serious lack in your education, and probably one of the reasons you don't recognize the Truthers for what they are.

Get real, and stop embarassing the rest of us.
James Rothfeld said:

Not having read The Origins is a serious lack in your education, and probably one of the reasons you don't recognize the Truthers for what they are.

Get real, and stop embarassing the rest of us.

Hey tough guy, at whom are you aiming that?
Hey, Bob - you're no shrinking violet, either :)

I'm talking about Libertarians missing the threat the Truthers pose to the cause of liberty.

They are not our friends - they are in fact more dangerous than your run-of-the-mill leftist.

Their arguments are lousy, to put it mildly, but that is not the worse - the cause in which it is advanced is what's really scary.

Few people in North America may know this, but the Nazis did NOT originally run on a platform of "strong State". In fact, they were very good at appealing to anti-State and anti-Political sentiments.

The Truthers are rarely about individual liberty, like their naive Libertarian fellow travellers - they are mostly about General Will, about "We, the People" (a slogan that always scares the living daylight out of me).

Seriously, read Hannah Arendt.

And as a atheist Libertarian critical rationalist, your regular excursions into Wackfield seriously annoy me.

As I have said before, and will say again: I have no doubt you are a decent fellow - and when it comes to economics, you are excellent. If it weren't so, I wouldn't bother.

Call it tough love :)
James, yours is identical to the official story. Explain yourself please because the official story is wrong in most cases.

Those 3 guys that Penn & Teller happened to "find" for their video were such incredible crackpots... of course nobody would want to be associated with those guys!
"James, yours is identical to the official story."

You noticed that, didn't you?

"Explain yourself please because the official story is wrong in most cases."

What do you mean? The official story on this even is wrong in most cases, or that the official story on most events is wrong?

If the former - I think I made my position clear. If the latter - please elaborate AND quantify.

(i'm not holding my breath)
"Those 3 guys that Penn & Teller happened to "find" for their video were such incredible crackpots... of course nobody would want to be associated with those guys!"

It's a good representation of who the main pushers of the 'inside job' story are. A bit like Holocaust deniers, really: some of the hangerons may be misguided but well-meaning, the main pushers and majority of followers, however, are just plain nuts.
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