Monday, July 31, 2006

Marquette’s Dan Maguire Mentioned on Comedy Central

On the Colbert Report, an interview with William Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Discussing anti-Catholic attitudes in American society, he mentions Dan Maguire of Marquette as among the people with the most intense animus against the Catholic Church.

These, he explains, are people who expected the Church to change to suit their tastes, and then turned bitter when that didn’t happen.

Watch the entire interview. Donahue is a hoot, and Colbert is not the least bit hostile or snotty.

And We’ll See That It’s Always “Times of War”

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Leftist Conspiracy Theorists & Wisconsin Libertarians: Strange Bedfellows

Tomorrow morning, on “Buzz Country - B94-5”/WTMB-FM, former Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Ed Thompson will deliver a partial endorsement of the conspiracy theories of UW-Madison lecturer Kevin Barrett and former University of Minnesota professor James Fetzer.

Thompson’s statement will air at 8:30 a.m.

This according to an e-mail from Libertarian Party activist Rolf Lindgren.

While much of Thompson’s statement will address concerns of academic freedom (issues where we would expect libertarians to side with Barrett), Thompson will go further and ask rhetorically “why have so many reputable scientists shown through extensive research that the towers didn’t collapse because airplanes flew into them.”

The statement is slated to be repeated at 2:50pm on “Oldies 1460”/WBOG-AM.

The Thompson statement follows Lindgren’s own partial endorsement of conspiracy theories in an opinion piece on WisPolitics.com.

Lindgren argued as follows:
* 9-11 as an “Inside Job” Theory:

Dr. Kevin Barrett argues that the tragic 9-11 terror attacks were not orchestrated by Osama Bin Laden from Afghanistan, but rather by neocons in the Bush administration. The motive was to serve as an excuse to attack Iraq, double the military budget, and roll back our civil liberties. This theory has caused intense public debate.

Benefit: More skepticism of government secrecy.

Benefit: Millions of apolitical Americans are now getting interested in politics.

Benefit: More critical thinking about government.

Benefit: More people going to the Internet for information they aren’t getting from the mainstream media.
We talked to Lindgren earlier tonight, and it’s clear he does believe in a 9/11 U.S. government conspiracy.

But note that his arguments are all cast in utilitarian terms. He is saying that, from a supposed libertarian position, it’s very good that people believe in such a conspiracy because it will make them more skeptical of government.

In fact, Lindgren’s logic is almost certainly wrong. When people conclude that “they” are in control, and there is nothing to be done about it, there is less reason to participate in the political process. Complete cynics are not good libertarians.

If people learn that the “real scoop” is to be gotten from oddball Internet sites, doesn’t that make them as vulnerable to crackpot left-wing sites as to crackpot right-wing sites? And when they go to a reputable libertarian site like reasononline, aren’t they going to be disappointed by the lack of wild conspiracy theories?

Finally, if government is so terribly competent, and able to pull off such a huge project with such sterling efficiency, isn’t it the case that if we just replace the current crop of rascals with “good people” government can solve all our problems?

What the Libertarians are doing recalls that old cliche about how the ideological spectrum is really like a horseshoe, with the extreme left and the extreme right being closer to each other than to the middle.

And indeed, the Green Party candidate for governor has also endorsed 9/11 U.S. government conspiracy theories.

All of this can be dismissed as coming from fringe players on the Wisconsin political scene. But so long as they engage in such antics, they have chosen to remain fringe players.

9/11 Conspiracy Theorist James Fetzer Moving to Dane County

Via an e-mail from Rolf Lindgren (Libertarian party activist), news that 9/11 conspiracy theorist James Fetzer is moving to Oregon, Wisconsin.

Fetzer, in addition to being a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, believes that Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plot articulated by members of the Bush administration, including Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Fetzer has a history of supporting JFK assassination conspiracy theories, including some of the wilder ones, such as the theory that the Zapruder film, claimed by a whole generation of assassination buffs to clearly show a conspiracy, was in fact tampered with in the hours following the assassination in a secret government lab.

Fetzer confirms the report, and explains his reasoning in an e-mail to us:
Retiring after 35 years of teaching courses in logic, critical thinking, and scientific reasoning, we have family in the area who asked us to move there. Plus the place has a wonderful tradition and I have friends on the UW-Madison faculty. And I will be joining forces with Kevin Barrett.
Welcome to Wisconsin, Jim! You’ll feel right at home in Dane County.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Leftists Calling Conservatives “Chicken Hawks”

From Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe.
“It’s touching that you’re so concerned about the military in Iraq,” a reader in Wyoming e-mails in response to one of my columns on the war. “But I have a suspicion you’re a phony. So tell me, what’s your combat record? Ever serve?”

You can expect a fair amount of that from the antiwar crowd if, like me, you support the war but have never seen combat yourself. That makes you a “chicken hawk” -- one of those, as Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, defending John Kerry from his critics, put it during the 2004 presidential campaign, who “shriek like a hawk, but have the backbone of a chicken.” Kerry himself liked to play that card. “I’d like to know what it is Republicans who didn’t serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did,” he would sniff, casting himself as the victim of unmanly hypocrites who never wore the uniform, yet had the gall to criticize him, a decorated veteran, for his stance on the war.

“Chicken hawk” isn’t an argument. It is a slur -- and a dishonest and incoherent slur at that. It is dishonest because those who invoke it don’t really mean what they imply -- that only those with combat experience have the moral authority or the necessary understanding to advocate military force. After all, US foreign policy would likely be more hawkish, not less, if decisions about war and peace were left up to those who have been in the armed forces. Soldiers and ex-soldiers tend to be politically conservative, hard-nosed about national security, and confident that American arms make the world safer and freer. On the question of Iraq -- stay-the-course or bring-the-troops-home? -- I would be willing to trust their judgment. Would Cindy Sheehan and Howard Dean?

The cry of “chicken hawk” is dishonest for another reason: It is never aimed at those who oppose military action. But there is no difference, in terms of the background and judgment required, between deciding to go to war and deciding not to. If only those who served in uniform during wartime have the moral standing and experience to back a war, then only they have the moral standing and experience to oppose a war. Those who mock the views of “chicken hawks” ought to be just as dismissive of “chicken doves.”

In any case, the whole premise of the “chicken hawk” attack -- that military experience is a prerequisite for making sound pronouncements on foreign policy -- is illogical and ahistorical.

“There is no evidence that generals as a class make wiser national security policymakers than civilians,” notes Eliot A. Cohen, a leading scholar of military and strategic affairs at Johns Hopkins University. . . .

Some combat veterans display great sagacity when it comes to matters of state and strategy. Some display none at all. General George B. McLellan had a distinguished military career, eventually rising to general in chief of the Union armies; Abraham Lincoln served but a few weeks in a militia unit that saw no action. Who proved more farsighted during the terrible years of the Civil War -- the military man who was hypercautious about sending men into battle, or the “chicken hawk” president who pressed aggressively for military action that he himself had never experienced?
The muddle-headedness of the “chicken hawk” charge goes far beyond what Jacoby mentions.

If one is forbidden to vote to impose burdens on other segments of the citizenry (a segment to which one does not belong), then nobody who is not rich can favor increasing tax rates on the rich.

Indeed, “soak the rich” liberals want to impose higher burdens on unwilling high income people, while hawks who didn’t serve in the military want to impose the burdens of war on people who have volunteered to serve, and indeed to fight if necesary.

If people who haven’t served in the military aren’t allowed to favor war, then no war (no matter how well-justified) can possibily have majority support with the public, since only a small minority of Americans have served in the military.

Do the leftists want to condemn the “chicken hawks” who wanted to fight Hitler?

Finally, the “you must have fought to favor war” criterion is sexist. Many fewer women than men have served in the military, and no women have served in combat forces. So women’s opinions don’t count, if we take this notion seriously.

This whole business is an example of the general lack of intellectual seriousness among liberals and leftists.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hope You Learned a Lesson


John Trever, The Albuquerque Journal

Homeless in Paris

From the Associated Press, an account of how homelessness is a problem in Paris.
Eric Creuly’s bedroom is a khaki tent on the banks of a Paris canal. His kitchen is a barbecue made from a metal barrel, and his living room is a set of mismatched chairs where he and friends smoke and watch the pleasure boats pass.

Tent camps have become a familiar sight in Paris since the aid group Doctors of the World, or Medecins du Monde, first distributed tents in December to shelter the homeless and make their plight less invisible.

But complaints about the tents have been pouring into City Hall, and four tents were burned this weekend in circumstances that are still unclear. With Paris sweltering in a heat wave, authorities say the tents are unsanitary and dangerous.

Socialist City Hall wants many of them moved, and the conservative government wants them just plain gone. Last week, the government named a mediator to find a solution.

About 300 tents with the aid group’s insignia still dot Paris -- and they are even harder to overlook in July, when tourists fill the streets and Parisians live outdoors. Now, some homeless are even saving money to buy tents themselves.

. . .

The tents have popped up under bridges on the Seine River, near the stretch of quay where City Hall sets up a sandy beach every summer. They appeared on chic avenues and on the Canal Saint-Martin, a trendy area for nightlife.

Creuly, a 48-year-old construction worker who became homeless after losing his job a year ago, has spent a few weeks living in his girlfriend’s Doctors of the World tent. It’s better than going to a shelter, he says: He isn’t kicked out during the day and doesn’t have to worry about his belongings being stolen.

. . .

France, with a population of nearly 63 million, has about 86,500 homeless people, according to a landmark 2001 study by the INSEE statistics agency. The Abbe Pierre Foundation, which works with the homeless, said this year that the figure is closer to 150,000.
The best estimates of the number of homeless people in the U.S. run in the range of 267 to 462 thousand people on any given day. (Click here to see the data in web page format.)

The homeless are difficult to count -- here or overseas -- and activists always tend to inflate the count. One trick to be careful of is reporting the number of people who are homeless at any time during a given year. That number will be vastly larger than the number of people who are homeless on any given night.

Other European countries likewise have a significant problem of homelessness.
Crisis report puts the number of homeless at between 310,00 and 380,000

2003-09-30

A new report by Crisis suggests that there are between 310,000 and 380,000 single homeless people. The cost of one person's homelessless over a twelve month period is estimated to be £24,500.

The aim of the report is to examine the usefulness of the term single homelessness, answer the questions of how many homeless people there are and how much homelessness costs, and address the policy implications of the findings.

The figure of 310,000-380,000 includes a number of different groups of homeless people: rough sleepers, people in supported housing, people in B&Bs, people at imminent risk of eviction, squatters, concealed households sharing overcrowded accommodation and concealed households where the head of the household deems the arrangements unsatisfactory. However, not everyone in these groups are counted. The authors use a series of filters to exclude people in those groups who may not be homeless. For example, people who choose to stay in B&Bs.
It seems the myth of the European welfare state is fraying at the edges. People who believe that homelessness, crime, unemployment and poverty are particularly American problems — that other industrial democracies have consistently done better — simply haven’t been paying attention.

Sorry, We Have Drafted You

This feature may not be reproduced or distributed electronically, in print or otherwise without the written permission of uclick and Universal Press Syndicate

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Marquette’s Education School: Political Correctness Creates More Bad Publicity

From City Journal, a round-up of accounts of leftist ideological bias in education schools around the nation.

Marquette’s Education School is featured on the basis of a couple of particularly stupid statements in a document supporting its accreditation.
The teacher education program at Marquette University in Milwaukee proclaims that it “has a commitment to social justice in schools and society” and to using education “to transcend the negative effects of the dominant culture.” It requires that all education degree candidates demonstrate a “desire to work for social justice, particularly in an urban environment.”
We’ve blogged about bias in Marquette’s Education School before, and students we know have complained about the tendentious nature of introductory education courses.

Some of the most hair-raising accounts in the article, happily, don’t come from Marquette. For example:
Brooklyn College and Washington State University, according to recent published reports, have denied students the right to become teachers after they ran afoul of their ed schools’ social justice dispositions requirements. Then there’s the notorious case of Steve Head, a 50-year-old Silicon Valley software engineer who decided to make a career switch a few years ago and obtain a high school math teaching credential. In a rational world, Head would be the poster boy for the federal government’s new initiatives to recruit more math and science teachers for our high schools.

Head was smoothly completing all his math-related course work at taxpayer-supported San Jose State University. Then in the fall of 2003, he enrolled in the required “Social, Philosophical, and Multicultural Foundations of Education,” taught by Helen Kress, whose main scholarly interest appears to be “critical whiteness studies,” a noxious branch of critical race theory that posits that white racial identity is a socially constructed characteristic and must be confronted and purged to overcome America’s institutionalized system of white supremacy. The foundations course functions as a sort of military checkpoint to guarantee that every student who passes through toward a teaching credential has properly imbibed the pedagogies of multiculturalism, critical race theory, feminism, and, of course, social justice teaching.

The easy way out would have been for Head to spew back the expected answers on racial and gender oppression and move on, as most traditional-minded education students do. But something about Steve Head—a Christian and a libertarian—made him gag at the big lies and logical absurdities about American race relations and immigration issues that he was being asked to regurgitate. So he turned the tables and deconstructed the hegemony of anti-Americanism in the classroom.

In a sworn legal document, Head recounted that when his professor showed the class a videotape purporting to reveal institutional racism against immigrants, he responded by suggesting that most immigrants actually came here because they realized they would be better off, including benefiting from healthier race relations. Professor Kress responded that anyone holding such opinions was clearly “unfit to teach.” Head further infuriated the professor by suggesting that the class be allowed to read black social scientists like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams to provide some intellectual balance on the issues of race and education.

After turning down Kress’s offer to reeducate him on these issues personally, Head received an F for the class, even though a grade below B for a student who has completed all assignments is almost as rare in ed schools as serious intellectual debate. The school wouldn’t let Head enroll in the student teaching class, and so, for the time being, it has blocked him from getting his teaching certificate. After exhausting his appeals to the university, he filed suit earlier this year, charging that the school was applying a political litmus test to become a teacher and had violated his First Amendment rights.
Professors like Kress, of course, constantly use rhetoric about “diversity.” But a diversity of viewpoints and opinions is the last thing they want. Rather, they view higher education as a sort of Stalinist reeducation camp.

European Community: Reservations About Embryonic Stem Cell Research

From Josh Schröder, the fact that even secular Europe has reservations about embryonic stem cell research. According to the Voice of America:
The European Union’s decision to continue funding stem cell research amounted to a compromise, after the bloc was able to overcome opposition from Germany along with six other mostly Roman Catholic member states. Under the compromise, EU funds would not be used to pay for research activities that aimed to destroy human embryos. Funding could be used for other parts of the stem-cell research process.

In addition, the EU will not bankroll research aimed at cloning humans or at modifying their genetic heritage. Overall, Finnish Industry Minister Mauri Pekkarinen said at a news conference in Brussels, funding for stem-cell research would be subject to tight rules and guidelines.

Pekkarinen - whose country holds the rotating EU presidency - said that so far the EU has approved nine stem-cell research projects. “If we talk about nine projects, none of the projects is devoted only to human embryonic cell research. But they are part of that project (stem-cell research). Since they are part of that project, of course, they have to go through a whole series of checks,” he said.

According to Pekkarinen, funding for stem cell research amounts to less than half of one percent of the union’s health budget. But that money nonetheless remains controversial. The seven EU members opposed to the research funding, which include Poland, Malta, Austria and Italy among others, had hoped to gather enough support to block the research funding altogether.
Of course, the EU policy is a muddled compromise. Funding other elements of embryonic stem cell research creates the incentive to destroy embryos.

But then, President Bush’s policy of not allowing government funds to be used for embryonic research but allowing destruction of embryos paid for by private funds is a muddled compromise. If human life is being destroyed, it ought to be illegal.

But muddled compromise in a democracy should hardly be a surprise.

The key point here is that the Bush Administration position cannot be called “extreme.” The position of the liberals like Wisconsin’s Governor Doyle is, in comparative perspective the “extreme” one. Not merely American Republicans, but the European Community has reservations about destroying human embryos. Doyle, of course, vetoed a bill passed by the Wisconsin legislature banning human cloning.

Opposition to embryonic stem cell research and human cloning is particularly strong in Germany. According to an August 2004 article in Deutsche Welle:
German top doctors and political parties react to Britain’s decision to allow human embryo cloning by calling for an EU ban on the practice and for Berlin to issue a more critical ethical position.

Though cloning is already illegal in Germany, medical associations and a broad roster of politicians on Friday called on the government to take a strong ethical stand on the issue and push for a binding international ban. The move came after Britain on Wednesday gave scientists the go ahead to clone human embryos for purposes of medical research. British law, however, still prohibits the actual cloning of humans.

Leading the charge, the German Medical Association called for the complete prohibition of all forms of embryo cloning. “We can’t allow embryos to be harvested like raw materials,” association president Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe told reporters.

Other medical experts concurred. “The indivisibility of human rights are being eroded under the blanket of research freedom,” said Frank Ulrich Montgomery, chairman of the Marburger Association of Doctors. He also called for a Europe-wide law protecting embryos.

Wolfgang Wodarg -- a member of the ruling Social Democratic Party and chairman off the bio-ethics commission in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament -- called Britain’s decision a “catastrophe.” The Social Democrats’ junior coalition partner, the Greens, have also called for the international community to forbid cloning.

“It’s up the German politicians to work towards holding together the nations that have spoken out against cloning,” Christa Nickels, a leading Green and chairwoman of the Bundestag’s human rights committee, told public radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

A cloning ban also found resonance with Germany’s conservative opposition. The Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, called for the imposition of a cloning ban and criticized Britain’s move as “unacceptable.”
One wonders where Jim Doyle would fit in the German political scene. On most issues, with the Social Democrats. On this issue: nowhere.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Asleep At the Wheel

Planned Parenthood: Calling its Opponents “Terrorists”

Via Modern Commentaries, an account of Planned Parenthood, on their web site, label a broad variety of anti-abortion organizations as “Terrorists and Extremist Organizations.”

What are these organizations doing to be labeled “terrorist” or “extremist?”

On the page where 15 anti-abortion organizations are listed, we find they use:
  • Conventions/meetings — training sessions and seminars
  • Crisis pregnancy counseling/centers
  • Litigation
  • Outreach programs for youth
  • Prayer and worship demonstrations
  • Publications
  • Action alerts, “get-out-the-vote” mailings, and phone calls
  • Grassroots organizing
  • Public misinformation campaigns [of course, what is “misinformation” is a matter of opinion]
  • Boycotts
  • Picketing at clinics
Wow! No democracy can allow stuff like that.

More controversial is “sidewalk counseling,” in which four of the listed groups engage. Women entering abortion clinics are approached and urged not to abort their babies. Planned Parenthood calls this “harassment,” but it is hard to see how this is worse than a picket line that a union might set up against a business with which it has a disagreement. Planned Parenthood liberals have uttered not a peep about this.

Somewhat more controversial is “clinic blockades” in which three of the 15 groups engage.

This, most certainly, is a form of nonviolent civil disobedience, much like sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the early 60s, or “sit down strikes” supporting unionization in auto factories in the 30s.

The protestors are willing to accept the penalty for disobeying the law.

Most controversial, of course, is a tiny fringe of anti-abortion activists who are willing to use violence. Some have burned abortion clinics -- a tactic we deplore, but find no worse than 60s campus anti-war activists who burned ROTC buildings. Even worse is actual violence against persons, engaged in by only the most minuscule proportion of the anti-abortion movement. This few really can be called “terrorists,” but none of the 15 anti-abortion groups listed on the Planned Parenthood site promote or encourage this.

As is too typical, the liberals in Planned Parenthood can’t accept that people who disagree with them have the same rights as their friends and allies do. Even very ordinary political activity is called “terrorism” when their adversaries do it, and the sorts of civil disobedience they applaud coming from the left they condemn coming from the right.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Very Fragile Thing

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Indonesian Newspaper Editor Charged With Publishing Mohammed Cartoons

From the International Herald-Tribune, a story you thought had died down, continues to have aftershocks.
JAKARTA An Indonesian newspaper editor will stand trial on charges he offended Islam by publishing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad last year, his lawyer said Friday.

Teguh Santosa, chief editor of Rakyat Merdeka’s online edition, was freed from a Jakarta prison Thursday night after being held for 24 hours by the prosecutor’s office, the police said.

Santosa said he had published the cartoon to illustrate a story on the controversy surrounding the drawings, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper. He took the image off the Web site in less than a day after people complained.

“We just wanted to let people know about the cartoons, which were being strongly protested at that time,” Santosa said. “I believe I am innocent and ready to face trial.” Santosa faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if found guilty, said his lawyer, Syahroni, who goes by a single name.

Cartoons satirizing Islam were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September, and were reprinted by dozens of newspapers, often in the name of freedom of expression. They caused angry protests across the Islamic world.

Israeli Response “Disproportionate?”

From The American Spectator’s Ben Stein:
So, now I see that some commentators are saying that Israel’s bombing of Lebanese Hezbollah strong points and neighborhoods is “disproportionate.” The Israeli campaign, so this story goes, is bullying and terrorizing the Lebanese populace, and this is (so the argument goes) typical Israeli thug behavior.

Hmmm.

Let’s see. In World War II, the Germans bombed exactly no United States cities or towns. We bombed the hell out of them, day and night, for more than two years, including helping the British with firebombing Dresden, one of the most appalling civilian killings by a free people of all time.

Was it disproportionate? Well, no. The Nazis had bombed our allies, the British, in terror raids for years. They had started a world war. They had created a genocide unspeakable in human history. So, yes, there was horrible killing, but is anyone now saying it was disproportionate? Maybe a few, but not many.

The Japanese bombed exactly zero U.S. cities except for a few stray bombs on Honolulu. We firebombed every city we could find and used the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Was this disproportionate? No, because the Japanese had started a world war and caused unspeakable suffering through Asia and the Pacific. Bombing was what it took to end the war in both Europe and the Pacific.

Now, Israel is bombing Beirut. The Lebanese have been sheltering Hezbollah killers who have been rocketing and bombing Israel for ten years almost every day. The Lebanese have admitted the terrorists into dominant positions in their government. In every way, Lebanon has made itself a haven for terrorists bombing civilians day in and day out in Israel. Is Israel finally standing up and saying enough “disproportionate”? Yes, if you think Israel and Jews should be permanent victims who suffer, bleed, and die in silence the way the Nazis preferred. No, if you believe Jews have the same rights as other people to defend themselves.
Is Stein implying that anti-Semitism is behind some of the criticism of Israel?

It seems to us he is. And it seems to us that he’s right.

Be sure to check out an interesting discussion of the Stein column on ProfessorBainbridge.com.

Bush Addresses NAACP: Nets Show Usual Bias

From the Media Research Center, the biased way in which the three broadcast networks covered President Bush’s speech to the NAACP.
Without any mention of the vicious hostility the NAACP displayed toward President Bush since he spoke before the group in 2000, including a TV ad linking Bush’s refusal to sign a hate crime bill to the dragging death of a black man in Texas, the Thursday broadcast network evening newscasts portrayed Bush as the one responsible for the estrangement. All stressed how Bush’s Thursday appearance before the NAACP convention was his first and all three ran soundbites only from attendees critical of him. “It took five and a half years, but President Bush finally said yes to the NAACP,” ABC’s Charles Gibson asserted, elaborating: “The President has ignored invitations throughout his presidency to speak to the civil rights group.” CBS anchor Bob Schieffer highlighted how Bush “spoke today to the NAACP for the first time in six years as President.” Jim Axelrod relayed how “prior to Katrina, he never spoke to the convention as President.” NBC’s David Gregory asserted that efforts to reach out to blacks “have failed” and “then came Katrina and charges that racism motivated the federal government’s slow response.”
The notion that “racism motivated the federal government’s slow response [to Katrina]” is the sort of nonsense that liberals repeat (because it fits the template) but is almost bizarre. To believe it we would have to believe that FEMA was willing to humiliate itself and appear utterly incompetent simply to avoid helping black people.

We would also have to ignore the poor performance of both a Democrat who was governor of Louisiana, and the black Democrat mayor of New Orleans (Ray Negan). Were they racist too?

Not surprisingly, Fox News gave viewers the other side of the story.
Unlike the ABC, CBS and NBC reporters, on Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC’s Carl Cameron pointed out: “Mr. Bush last spoke to the NAACP in 2000 as a presidential candidate. Afterward, the group ran an attack ad linking his opposition to parts of hate crimes bill, as the then Texas Governor, to the lynching of James Byrd, a black man dragged to his deathbehind a pickup by three white men.”
It is worth pointing out that Texas, without the benefit of any “hate crimes” law, sentenced two of the three men involved with killing Byrd to be executed, and the third to life in prison.

While Fox may not be especially “fair and balanced,” it is certainly the place to turn for information that the mainstream media won’t reveal.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Islamic 9/11 Terror Rap Video Popular in U.K.

From The Observer:
It’s rap, jihad-style. A music video with blood-curdling images, fronted by a young British Muslim rapper brandishing a gun and a Koran is the latest hit in radical Islamic circles.

The rap song is called ‘Dirty Kuffar’ - Arabic for dirty non-believer - and it praises Osama bin Laden and the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York.

The video has recently been posted on the British website run by the Islamic extremist Mohammed al-Massari, the UK-based Saudi Arabian dissident who has lived in Britain since 1994. Al-Massari claims that the video has been selling in large quantities at mosques to the younger generation and is in heavy demand overseas.

The rapper fronting the video calls himself Sheikh Terra and the Soul Salah Crew - a take on the rap group So Solid Crew. ‘Salah’ is Arabic for faith.

The video might at first be mistaken for an Ali G spoof, but the violent images quickly reveal it is no joke.

The song starts with images of US marines in Iraq cheering as one of them shoots a wounded Iraqi lying on the floor. At the end of the video, it features shots of the hijacked planes flying into the Twin Towers with sounds of the rappers laughing. There is then a list of 56 countries they claim have been the ‘victims of American aggression’ since 1945.

The four-minute rap is essentially a repeated diatribe against the ‘dirty non-believers’ Tony Blair and George Bush, urging listeners to ‘throw them on the fire’.

One of the most brutal images shows a jihadist fighter in Chechnya riddling a captured Russian soldier with a Kalashnikov. Another image labels Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf a traitor and shows photographs of Colin Powell and Condeleezza Rice with the words ‘still slaves’ superimposed across their bodies.

Al-Massari did not see a problem in using Western music and MTV-like images to sell a message of jihad. He said that it was an effective way of attracting young Muslims who had been put off by other Islamic sects such as the Taliban, which banned music and dancing. ‘I do not know of any young Muslim who has not either seen or got this video. It is selling everywhere. Everyone I meet at the mosque is asking for it.’

Al-Massari denied that the messages in the video incited Muslims to take part in terrorist attacks against the West.

He said: ‘I believe the lyrics are only metaphorical. It is not like this is a fatwa.’

Excerpt from ‘Dirty Kuffar’
Peace to Hamas and the Hizbollah
OBL [bin-Laden] pulled me like a shiny star
Like the way we destroyed them two towers ha-ha
The minister Tony Blair, there my dirty Kuffar
The one Mr Bush, there my dirty Kuffar...
Throw them on the fire
We have to urge caution in interpreting this. While The Observer is a perfectly reputable source, there are really no hard data here on the number of copies of the video sold.

If “a lot” of young Muslims like it, that doesn’t necessarily mean a majority, nor anything near a majority.

But it’s still not an encouraging development.

A Response to the Secular “You Shouldn’t Impose Your Religious Views” Crowd

Via Modern Commentaries, an account of how a priest (Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk), faced with a secular politician chiding him about “imposing his religious beliefs on others,” responded. Pacholczyk explains his experience before the Virginia legislature. He answered as followed:
Recently I was asked to speak in Virginia at legislative hearings about embryonic stem cell research. After I gave my testimony, one of the senators asked a pointed question. “Father Tad, by arguing against embryonic stem cell research, don’t you see how you are trying to impose your beliefs on others, and shouldn’t we as elected lawmakers avoid imposing a narrow religious view on the rest of society?” The senator’s question was an example of the fuzzy thinking that has become commonplace in recent years within many state legislatures and among many lawmakers.

Two major errors were incorporated into the senator’s question. First, the senator failed to recognize the fact that law is fundamentally about imposing somebody’s views on somebody else. Imposition is the name of the game. It is the very nature of law to impose particular views on people who don’t want to have those views imposed on them. Car thieves don’t want laws imposed on them which prohibit stealing. Drug dealers don’t want laws imposed on them which make it illegal to sell drugs. Yet our lawmakers are elected precisely to craft and impose such laws all the time. So the question is not whether we will impose something on somebody. The question is instead whether whatever is going to be imposed by the force of law is reasonable, just, and good for society and its members.

The second logical mistake the senator made was to suppose that because religion happens to hold a particular viewpoint, that implies that such a viewpoint should never be considered by lawmakers or enacted into law. Religion teaches very clearly that stealing is immoral. Would it follow that if I support laws against stealing, I am imposing my narrow religious viewpoint on society? Clearly not. Rather, the subject of stealing is so important to the order of society that religion also feels compelled to speak about it.

So anytime we come across a lawmaker who tries to suggest that an argument in defense of sound morals is nothing but imposing a religious viewpoint, we need to look deeper at what may really be taking place. That lawmaker may not be so concerned about avoiding the imposition of a particular view on others — more likely, they are jockeying to simply be able to impose their view, a view which is ultimately much less tenable and defensible in terms of sound moral thinking. Hence they seek to short-circuit the discussion by stressing religious zealotry and imposition without ever confronting the substantive ethical or bioethical argument itself. Once the religious imposition card is played, and Christian lawmakers suddenly become weak-kneed about defending human life and sound morals, the other side then feels free to do the imposing themselves, without having expended too much effort on confronting the essence of the moral debate itself.
The claim that “you shouldn’t impose your religious views on others” typically comes from people who are delighted to impose on others views contrary to religion.

The are happy to force taxpayers to fund abortions, or embryonic stem cell research, or gay propaganda in the public schools.

At root, their argument is that religious people have to leave the public square, and allow secular people (and nominally religious people who don’t take religious doctrine very seriously) to make all the laws.

That’s not fair, but it would delight the secular liberals.

Sex Education Actually Encouraging Abstinence?

From Reuters, via CNN:
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- After participating in a two-week sexual education program designed and implemented by an academic medical center, more middle-school students said they would hold off on having sex for the first time, Texas researchers report.

“Involvement by the medical profession can assure medically correct content, appropriate research outcomes, and enhanced quality of medical information in this important area of adolescent health,” Dr. Patricia J. Sulak of the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple and colleagues note in a report.

School officials in Temple had approached health care professionals at the medical school for assistance in developing a sex education program for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Parents and school officials wanted to emphasize postponing sexual activity, so the program focused on consequences of teen sex, as well as “skill building, character building, and refusal skills,” Sulak and her team point out in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Students who were considering having sex were “encouraged” to meet with a health care professional.

Before the sex education program, 84 percent of students said they would delay having sex until after high school. This figure rose to nearly 87 percent after the program.
Those numbers sound very good, but unfortunately are inflated. It’s much easier to say you will abstain from sex on a questionnaire than to resist social pressure when “everybody is doing it.” Or when a willing (or demanding) boyfriend or girlfriend presents a temptation.
The biggest effect was seen in the percentage of kids who said they wouldn’t have sex until after marriage; before the program, about 60 percent said they planned to remain virgins until they married, while nearly 71 percent said they would after the program.
Same thing here. Easy to say in junior high, but the culture tells kids something radically different.

More interesting, perhaps, is the issue of which kids are most open to the message.
Other factors associated with planning to delay sex included attending religious services and watching two hours or less of television on school nights. Students whose original parents were still married were also more likely to report that they would wait to have sex.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Middle Eastern Conflict Boiled Down to its Essence

Chris at Spotted Horse says “two pictures are worth a thousand words,” and we agree.

The Sordid Legacy of Tip O’Neill

From Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe, a comment on a governmental fiasco.
All politics is local, Tip O’Neill famously said, and it surely doesn’t get any more local than when a 6,000-pound slab from a project championed by the late House speaker falls on a 38-year-old newlywed from the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, crushing her to death as her husband drives her to the airport. O’Neill died in 1994, but the political culture he epitomized is alive and well and enshrined in the Big Dig, a slough of corruption, callousness, and cover-ups that had become a synonym for government mismanagement long before it killed Milena Del Valle on July 10.

It would be going too far to link O’Neill to the incompetent workmanship and negligent oversight that led to the collapse of a 3-ton ceiling panel in the Interstate 90 connector just as the Del Valles drove beneath it last week. But the culture that he embodied is still solidly in place. Only one month earlier the lords and ladies of Bay State politics had gathered to christen the longest section of the Big Dig as the Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. Tunnel and proclaim the immense -- and immensely expensive -- highway project his triumphant legacy.

[. . .]

Senator John Kerry, assuring one and all that “those who were sometimes critical of this project, those who worried about its cost, are going to look back and they’re not going to see the cost. . . . The fact is, this tunnel will be a bargain.”

The fact is, only someone marinated in the political culture that produced the Big Dig would say something so clueless. Granted, Kerry and his fellow preening pols didn’t know on June 5 that part of the connector tunnel was soon to come crashing down on an innocent victim. But it wasn’t exactly a secret that the project was in many ways a bloated catastrophe, vastly over-budget and marred by leaks, delays, and falling debris. For years news stories, outside audits, and internal memos had been documenting a shocking history of failures and errors. Just a few weeks earlier, in fact, six employees of Aggregate Industries, the Big Dig’s largest vendor of concrete, had been arrested for allegedly falsifying records to disguise the poor quality of the concrete supplied.

Long before the dedication ceremony in June, the Big Dig had come to stink of cronyism, corner-cutting, and deceit. The odor grew stronger with each passing year, during Republican administrations no less than during Democratic ones. But that didn’t stop Kerry, et al., from singing hosannas to O’Neill and pooh-poohing the critics’ warnings. Only now that a woman is dead is Kerry suddenly talking about how he, like “every citizen in this state, wants accountability,” and how there was “clearly a failure with respect to design and certain levels of oversight.” So good of him to finally notice.

The Big Dig is indeed a monument to O’Neill. It captures perfectly the costly big-government sloppiness for which he was the poster child. Only in the public sector, where market discipline is nonexistent and financial losses are the taxpayer’s problem, would such mismanagement be tolerated for so long. Only in the public sector, where political considerations far outweigh the bottom line, and where consumer satisfaction carries little weight, is such shoddiness and lack of oversight routine. In the private sector, incompetent performance generally means lost business, reduced earnings, or even bankruptcy. Only in the public sector -- under Democrats and Republicans both -- are negligence and failure commonly rewarded with ever-increasing budgets.

“Giving money and power to government,” P.J. O’Rourke once observed, “is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” In both cases, the results can be lethal.

Our first reaction to Jacoby’s polemic is that this is less about ideological liberalism than about old-fashioned pork barrel politics.

But at a deeper level, he’s absolutely right. He doesn’t in fact mention the word “liberalism,” but rather “costly big-government sloppiness.” When people lose sight of the limitations and typical incompetence of government, that opens the door to this sort of thing. It also opens the door to Republican senators wanting bridges to nowhere built in Alaska, and Republican representatives from Wisconsin wanting ethanol subsidies and mandates.

It is hard to know who is worse: the Republicans who know better, but do this kind of thing anyway, or the Democrats who often don’t know better.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Israel: The Reward for Making Concessions

This feature may not be reproduced or distributed electronically, in print or otherwise without the written permission of uclick and Universal Press Syndicate

Gay Lobby Intolerance: Another View

From a former student of ours, a response to our post on instances of intolerance on the part of gays in Massachusetts.
As someone who has publicly opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, I must take issue with your characterization of Gay Rights Activists as more bigoted than their counterparts in the Religious Right.

One of the things I expected when I went to work on Gay Rights issues was that people would conflate my support of Gay Rights with my own sexuality. What I didn’t expect was just how far people would take that assumption. Based on nothing more than my opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment, I have been told many, many times that I am going to hell, I had someone wish AIDS upon me and had someone try to put me in contact with a Pentecostal exorcist (I’ll admit that one is more funny than offensive). If such actions aren’t a sure sign of bigotry, I don’t know what is. While I honestly believe that the vast majority of people who are against Gay Rights aren’t bigoted or even motivated by bigotry, there are enough bigots out there to warp one’s view of the opposition.

Yes, there are many on the pro-Gay Rights side of things that take things too far (I’ve always thought that gaining popular support is a much better way to go than trying to win court battles), but a lot of that stems from the fact that they have had to deal with actual bigots their entire life. I don’t know if anyone’s ever condemned you to hell, but it genuinely hurts, especially over a matter as trivial to one’s character as opposing an amendment before Congress. It tends to make one defensive and it tends to upset people. And I speak of this as a straight man who only has to deal with this when I choose to do so, as opposed to gay people who have to deal with this their entire lives. I’m not saying this excuses taking things too far (such as wishing people didn’t have the ability to even propose such amendments or treating all Jamaicans as militant Rastas), but it does at least explain where such hostility can come from.

Most of the time, gay rights activists’ hostility towards opposition is a mere reaction to the open bigotry that an outspoken minority on the other side displays towards them. Whereas the hostility by the worst on the other side seems to be motivated by ignorance at best (condemning a straight man to hell because they assume he’s gay) or flat out hatred at worst.

Alright, I’ve had my peace.
Our conclusion that people on the “gay rights” side of the issue are more bigoted than people on the “anti-gay-rights” side was based on what we have observed of the elite political discourse: blogs, speeches on college campuses, opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines, speeches in the House and Senate. We continue to maintain that, in these venues, liberal bigotry is much more often expressed than conservative bigotry.

But we won’t deny that the above message reflects a very important reality. There are anti-gay bigots out there, and (like bigots of any kind) they make the situation worse.

Who Are the Bloggers?

From the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a survey of bloggers. Some of the key findings, quoted verbatim from the Summary of Findings:
  • Blogging is bringing new voices to the online world.
  • While many well-publicized blogs focus on politics, the most popular topic among bloggers is their life and experiences.
  • The blogging population is young, evenly split between women and men, and racially diverse.
  • Relatively small groups of bloggers view blogging as a public endeavor.
  • The main reasons for keeping a blog are creative expression and sharing personal experiences.
  • Only one-third of bloggers see blogging as a form of journalism. Yet many check facts and cite original sources.
  • Bloggers are avid consumers and creators of online content. They are also heavy users of the internet in general.
  • Bloggers are major consumers of political news and about half prefer sources without a particular political viewpoint.
  • Bloggers often use blog features that enhance community and usability. [Meaning comments, blog rolls, RSS feeds and friends lists]
This, of course, is just a superficial overview, so at least scan the entire report for a variety of interesting findings.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

U.N. In the Middle East: Impotent as Usual

Anti-Wal-Mart Crowd: Over the Top

The leftist activists at Wakeupwalmart.com, apparently stung by a web page outlining the finances and people behind the attacks on the company, have entirely lost it.

Check the following page:

http://www.abunchofgreedyrightwingliarswhoworkforwalmart.com/

Yep, the URL conveys the tone of the web page.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Exposing the Anti-Wal-Mart Activists

Exposing the Paid Critics is a web site from Working Families For Wal-Mart.

That group, of course, is nothing more nor less than a part of the Wal-Mart public relations operation.

But that’s fair enough, since the organizations that oppose the giant retailer are merely fronts for Big Labor, and some rich leftist fat cats.

Exposing the Paid Critics has the details.

So is the entire battle over Wal-Mart merely a fight between one set of corporate fat cats, and another set of leftist union and Democratic operative fat cats?

Mostly.

Do ordinary Americans have a say.

Yes they do. Wal-Mart workers have refused to vote to unionize.

And millions of Americans have chosen to shop at the giant retailer.

So when the issue is fought out in markets, ordinary Americans have power. And they have power when they vote for or against union representation.

But they aren’t visible when the issue is joined with propaganda campaigns, manipulation of friendly media outlets, lobbying and producing documentary films.

Poisoned Fruit

Kevin Barrett Fiasco: University of Wisconsin Failed

From the blog of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a comment on the Kevin Barrett situation at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The University of Wisconsin has an obligation to hire responsibly, but it also has an obligation to defend the academic freedom, not to mention the First Amendment rights, of those it does hire.

After some hemming and hawing, UW did meet its second obligation. But it does not seem to have met the first one. Barrett was the only candidate for the job, and his principal qualification seemed to be that he had gone to graduate school at UW and had once TA’d for the course in question; in other words, he appears to have been hired because he was there, not because he was the best qualified person for the job. He seems to have caught the University by surprise with his announcement of his beliefs (hence the University’s questionable investigation of Barrett once it learned what those beliefs were). And UW seems to have upheld Barrett’s academic freedom not because it really supports either his ideas or his intention to pass them on to students, but because supporting him was the lesser of two evils. Firing Barrett for his views--before he had ever set foot in the classroom, and while he was promising to encourage a diversity of viewpoints among his students — would have been far worse.

The problem here is not academic freedom itself. The problem is sloppy hiring. All university teachers should have the academic freedom to teach as they see fit. But not everyone deserves to be a university teacher, and not everyone can be trusted with the privilege of academic freedom. UW needs to tighten up its hiring practices, and it needs to take the hiring of adjunct lecturers just as seriously as it takes the hiring of tenure-track teachers. Otherwise, it fails the student — and the taxpayer — in a fundamental obligation to ensure that those it allows into the classroom are legitimately there.

Gay Lobby Intolerance in Massachusetts

From the (very liberal) Boston Globe, and account of how gay political activists have shown themselves to be very intolerant of people who disagree with them:
PROVINCETOWN — Town leaders here are holding a public meeting today to air concerns about slurs and bigoted behavior. And this time, they say, it’s gay people who are displaying intolerance.

Police say they logged numerous complaints of straight people being called “breeders” by gays over the July Fourth holiday weekend. Jamaican workers reported being the target of racial slurs. And a woman was verbally accosted after signing a petition that opposed same-sex marriage, they said.

The town, which prizes its reputation for openness and tolerance, is taking the concerns seriously, though police say they do not consider the incidents hate crimes.

“Hate language is usually the early-warning signal that could lead to hate-motivated violence,” Town Manager Keith Bergman said. “And before that happens, we try to nip it in the bud.”

Gays have coexisted fairly peacefully alongside other residents in this community on Cape Cod’s tip, home to a long-established Portuguese fishing colony.

Along the main shopping street and the wharf, residents of this 3,400-person town — which swells to some 30,000 over the summer — say tensions are rising in part because of strong feelings about same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, Jamaicans say the intensifying debate over immigration is making racial issues worse.

Winsome Karr, 45, originally from Jamaica, has worked in town since 2002. Lately, she said, the off-color comments stem from gay visitors who mistakenly believe that all Jamaicans share the views of an island religious sect that disagrees with homosexuality.

Karr’s strong accent reveals her Jamaican roots.

“After a while people from here get used to you, and it changes,” said Karr, who works at a Tedeschi Food Shop not far from Commercial Street. “It’s just because of the image that gay people have of Jamaicans. People — no matter who they are — get defensive of their lifestyle.”

On same-sex marriage, the clashes have occurred as the state Legislature grapples with whether the electorate should vote on a measure to limit marriage to heterosexuals. A group that supports gay marriage, knowthyneighbor, has created a website displaying the names of more than 100,000 signers of a petition that calls for the state Constitution to be amended to prohibit same-sex marriage.

Knowthyneighbor’s tactics are controversial, with critics alleging that knowthyneighbor is making the names of same-sex marriage opponents public in an effort to expose or intimidate them. The group’s founders say they are simply promoting civic discourse.

The names of 43 Provincetown residents are listed on the website. Most of the petition signers attend St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church, which serves the Portuguese community and others in town. The Catholic Church has helped lead the fight against same-sex marriage.

One St. Peter’s parishioner, Yvonne Cabral, was verbally accosted last Friday by Provincetown Magazine publisher Rick Hines after Hines learned that Cabral signed the petition, according to police.

Police Chief Ted Meyer plans to seek charges of disorderly conduct against Hines, who saw Cabral shopping and loudly called her a “bigot,” according to both Hines and Meyer. Other people who signed the petition — and subsequently had their names posted on the same website — said manure has been spread on their properties in recent months, Meyer added.

All parties involved agree that Cabral was shopping and Hines was buying a hotdog when Hines told Cabral that she was a bigot.

Police said the matter was under investigation and declined to provide the Globe a copy of the police report.

The Rev. Henry J. Dahl, pastor at St. Peter’s, heard about what happened to Cabral, and about another parishioner who said she felt intimidated after a flier was stuck on her car in the middle of the night with a list of the names of petition signers — including her own. Dahl decided to call the police chief.

“People who signed the petition, I think they knew what they were getting into,” said Dahl. “There was a certain expectation of knowing that when you make a statement like that, there could be certain consequences that follow.”

“But this was a dramatic experience,” he said, referring to Cabral’s encounter with Hines.

Hines said the matter was being blown out of proportion.

“I knew she signed the petition and I ran into her, and I gave her a piece of my mind,” said Hines.

Hines added: “After being pushed and prodded your whole life for being gay, you run into someone you know sees you as a second-class citizen and it’s human to respond. . . . I regret that it happened that way.”
It’s difficult to see publishing the names of people who signed an anti-gay-marriage petition as anything but an invitation to harassment.

In all fairness, it’s worth pointing out that anti-abortion groups have used the same tactic against doctors who work at abortion clinics. And of course, liberals have roundly condemned the tactic when used against abortion doctors.

But while it’s tempting to say there is intolerance on both the right and left, that would be a bogus even-handedness in this case.

Activist gays, and their liberal allies, have abandoned the notion that dissent from their views is acceptable. They don’t believe that even mere discussion of their agenda is legitimate.

In fact, some of the gay activists in Provincetown admit that this is their view. According to The Cape Codder:
The Cabral/Hines incident sparked debate because, while many see Hines’ actions as inappropriate, they, along with Hines, say Cabral committed a hate incident by signing the petition. The Anti-Defamation League considers the distribution and circulation of hate propaganda and information a hate incident when the action seeks to make a group of people feel uncomfortable. But many Catholics in the area say that is exactly what is happening to them, as their disapproval of homosexuality is based on their faith.

But Hines and others don’t buy that argument.

“I’d call it a hate initiative,” said Hines. “I don’t think the majority should vote on the rights of the minority. It’s just flat wrong.”
It’s chilling to see gay activists say that people who oppose gay marriage have no right to use the political process to express their views. But that’s exactly what this activist is saying.

Gay activists demean and vilify anybody who disagrees with them.

They are the true bigots in this debate, and conservatives ought to loudly insist on saying so.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hard For Democrats to Admit

Another Wacky Leftist Theory: Bird Flu a Government Conspiracy

From Irish Election web site, an interview with one Morgan Stack, a university lecturer who is going to run for Parliament. He believes in 9/11 U.S. government conspiracy theories.

But he also has another one:
Q. Do you think that Bird flu is another government conspiracy?

Yes. The reasons for this are numerous but revolve around the fact that Donald Rumsfeld was CEO of the company that created Tamiflu and a member of its board of directors since 1988. (Would you buy a drug off Donald Rumsfeld? Well, we already have). I’m no expert on bird flu but when I read that the ‘discovery’ in Scotland recently was by a bird flu team ‘drilling’ the discovery of an infected bird I nearly fell off my stool. . . .

—–

And finally we have the deaths of over one hundred scientists, mostly microbiologists, in the past decade, the number rising sharply since October 2001. What were these scientists able to do? Maybe blow the whistle if an artificially created disease was about to be used in a manner those who created it did not approve of?

On a matter entirely disconnected we noted recently that Donald Rumsfeld was Chairman of the company GILEAD that created the bird flu drug ‘Tamiflu’ that governments around the world are stockpiling. The US government is spending $2 billion on it.
Think this is isolated?

A Google search for “rumsfeld ‘bird flu’” turns up 985 web pages. (The first page of results claims 716,000 “results,” but this number, as is usual in Google, is inflated.)

Of course, many of these simply report that Rumsfeld stands to make money from his investment. Suppose we search for “rumsfeld ‘bird flu’ death microbiologists.” We find 608 results.

The “deaths” list is reminiscent of the famous JFK assassination “mystery deaths” lists, which of course are entirely bogus.

Anti-Clinton conservatives, unfortunately, produced their own bogus “mystery deaths” list to support notions of nefarious dealing by their least favorite president.

Where conspiracy theories are concerned, what goes around comes around. And comes around, and comes around, and comes around.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Kevin Barrett: American Troops “Christian Terrorists”

From Stop the ACLU, an account of what Kevin Barrett, the UW Madison lecturer who believes the U.S. government staged the 9/11 attacks, said on the Michael Medved show.
File this under: “Not knowing when to quit.”

Kevin Barrett, University of Wisconsin Moonbat Emeritus, is at it again. A short time ago (approximately 4:10 Eastern) on the Michael Medved show, Barrett further solidified his already firm lunatic status.

Barrett on the US Armed Forces: Our troops are “Christian terrorists” occupying Iraq who played “Christian heavy metal death rock” (played what?) prior to the invasion to get their bad terrorist selves pumped up.

Also, he claimed that the Mossad had been caught setting up al-Qaeda cells in “Palestine,” but shortly after that cited a BBC program to support his assertion that al-Qaeda doesn’t really exist. So what is it?
We have reviewed the audio from the show (downloaded from the Michael Medved web site), and the account above is correct.

Other tidbits:
  • Daniel Pearle was killed by our own CIA . . . he was getting too close to the truth of 9/11
  • Videos of captives supposedly being killed by terrorists have actually been faked by a psychological warfare unit linked to Mossad and Western intelligence.
  • The U.S. government was behind the Oklahoma City bombing
  • Vice President Cheney “who is the most likely 9/11 suspect is very likely to find himself hanged for treason within the next year”
Barrett has stretched his 15 minutes of fame to about a half hour now. So far as we are concerned, he can stretch it out as long as he wants.

The more he runs on, the more he discredits the hard left.

Canadian Bureaucrats Censor Word “Blessed”

From the Canadian Free Press:
The ultra, politically correct, Kingston-based License Renewals Unit of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation finds the word “blessed” offensive.

Christian Cornelia J, Magcalas wanted the word “BLESSED4” on her license plate.

The Ministry of Transportation deemed the word unpalatable for the constituency it serves.

“Since the introduction of this program in 1983, the Ministry has taken the position that we would not knowingly issue any plates with words or slogans which other citizens might consider offensive or inappropriate,” supervisor Sandi Wood wrote in response to Magcalas. “This is often a difficult task since what may be seen as offensive or inappropriate by one individual may not be seen as such by another. However, a decision has to be made one way or the other, Therefore, we can only hope for the understanding and co-operation (sic) of either the requester or the public at large, depending on the decision made.”

“The Ministry’s concern, in your particular case, is that the plate would be considered by some members of the public to have a religious connotation.”
See how this works?

Liberals claim that they don’t want government to “endorse” or “promote” religion.

But how do they react to a private individual’s expression of religious conviction? They want that shut up too!

If you are an atheist, you apparently have a right to be “offended” at any expression of religious faith. But what about Christians? They are supposed to be “tolerant” of even the most vicious and hostile speech aimed at them.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

9/11 World Trade Center Collapse Was a “Controlled Demolition?”

The 9/11 conspiracy theorists, such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Kevin Barrett, believe the Twin Towers were brought down by a “controlled demolition.”

Of course, they believe this was the work of the U.S. government, and not Islamic terrorists.

There are certain things they won’t tell you about, however.

In the first place, the buildings were showing evidence of structural failure before they actually came down.
June 18 (Bloomberg) — Federal engineering investigators studying the destruction of the World Trade Center’s twin towers on Sept. 11 said New York Police Department aviation units reported an inward bowing of the buildings’ columns in the minutes before they collapsed, a signal they were about to fall.

“No evidence has been found to suggest the information was communicated to all emergency responders at the scene,” said an executive summary of a progress report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is conducting the study.

Investigators also found evidence that the south tower, which fell 56 minutes after it was struck by terrorists in a hijacked commercial jet, had less fire proofing than the north tower, which held up for about double the time after it was hit. The buildings were about a third full when the planes struck, and had they been fully occupied with 50,000 people, a complete evacuation would have taken four hours, probers found.

“The NYPD aviation unit reported critical information about the pending collapse of the building,” said Sivaraj Shyam- Sunder, who heads the institute, at a press briefing in New York. “Any time that information could have been communicated faster to the emergency responders in the buildings, it would have helped save lives.”
Of course, there can be no evidence of a “pending collapse” if the buildings were brought down by a “controlled demolition.”

A description of the report from the NIST can be found here.

And here is the Final Report of the NIST.

Yea, we know. Reading this kind of stuff is a lot less fun than the juicy conspiracy theories.

But sometimes one really, really wants to know the truth of what happened.

The World is Heating Up

More 9/11 Moonbattery: James Fetzer on 9/11

Jim Fetzer is the fellow who appeared with Kevin Barrett at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, this past Sunday.

Barrett, in turn, created a huge furor when it was discovered that the University of Wisconsin, Madison had hired him to teach the history of Islam.

This video shows Fetzer giving his standard talk, which turns out to be almost identical to the talk he gave at UWM.

Racism in European Soccer: Marco Materazzi & Zinedine Zidane

With a hat tip to Mike Sever, the “inside scoop” on a violent confrontation in the World Cup final.
It is the question on every football fan’s lips. What did the Italian footballer say to prompt Zinedine Zidane’s shocking headbutt in the closing moments of Sunday’s World Cup final?

The answer, it has emerged, was a vile stream of racial and personal abuse.

First Marco Matterazzi called the French star the Italian equivalent of “n*****”, and then insulted both his mother and his Muslim background by saying he is the “son of a terrorist whore.”

The revelation will prove even more of an embarrassment to football’s governing body than the ironic award of player of the tournament to French captain Zidane.

To millions of television viewers around the world it appeared as if the two sportsman were enjoying a jocular exchange, until the moment Zidane lowered his head and sent his opponent plummeting to the ground.

With the help of an expert lip reader the Daily Mail was able to decipher what led to the violent outburst.

First defender Marco Materazzi spoke in Italian - a language understood by Zidane who once played for Italian side Juventus - grabbed his opponent and told him “hold on, wait, that one’s not for a n***** like you.”

It is not clear whether the Italian was referring to the ball heading their way or his own groping of Zidane.

The expert, who can lip read foreign languages phonetically and translate with the aid of an Italian interpreter, was unable to see what Zidane said in reply.

But she saw that as the players walked forward Materazzi said: “We all know you are the son of a terrorist whore.”

Then, just before the headbutt, he was seen saying,: “So just f*** off.”

The translation tallies with the words of Zidane’s agent who said the player had told him the Italian made a “very serious” comment.
What exactly was said continues to be debated, but there is no doubt that Zidane, who is the son of Algerian immigrants and was born and raised in Marseille, has been taunted about his heritage during his entire soccer career.

This is just a tidbit for those on the left who think that, on issues as diverse as the death penalty, the Iraq War or gay marriage, Europe is somehow more civilized than and morally superior to the United States.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Putin’s Russia Turning More and More Authoritarian

From Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe, some details of the Russian descent into authoritarianism.
In early 1990 I visited Eastern Europe for the first time, traveling in Hungary, Romania, and what was then Czechoslovakia just a few months after the revolutions that had freed them from Communist dictatorship.

One indelible lesson from that trip was the remarkable role that had been played by the US government’s broadcast services — Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty — in providing a lifeline to people trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Several times in private homes I was shown the shortwave radio on which a family had for years picked up the American-produced programs that were their only reliable source for news and analysis, especially about events in their own country.

The Washington Post reported last week that, under pressure from Moscow, scores of radio stations have stopped airing the Russian-language news programs produced by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. With hundreds of journalists across the country, and a combined network of more than 70 affiliates airing their stories and commentary, the US-sponsored broadcast services have been among the largest and most independent news organizations in Russia. “In a country where the news media increasingly avoid controversial subjects,” the Post noted, “millions of Russians had made the broadcasts a listening staple.”

But over the past year, the number of stations carrying their broadcasts has collapsed, sinking from more than 70 to just nine. Beginning last September, regulators from the Ministry of Culture descended on the stations, warning them that they were likely to lose their broadcast licenses if they continued airing material from Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Nearly all of them capitulated. The few stations still carrying their shows are mostly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where their influence is minimal. But in the far-flung regions beyond Russia’s two biggest cities, where they were an essential source of information, they are no longer being heard.

So it goes in Putin’s Russia, where the stifling of independent media voices is now routine. Since coming to power in 1999, Putin has seized control of the country’s major TV channels, all of which are now under the thumb of the government or its allies. Local media outlets rarely challenge the regional governors, most of whom are Kremlin loyalists — especially since Putin abolished the popular election of regional officials two years ago.

A bill now before the Russian Parliament would broaden the crime of “extremism” to include media criticism of public officials. If convicted, journalists could be imprisoned for three years and their publications closed down. Yet crimes already on the books are not always prosecuted zealously: Since Putin became president, 12 journalists have been murdered in contract-style killings, including American Paul Klebnikov, the 41-year-old editor of Forbes Russia. To date, none of the killers has been brought to justice.

The rollback of press freedoms is of a piece with the Kremlin’s deepening authoritarianism. Nearly all serious opposition to Putin has been broken or marginalized. Prominent businessmen unwise enough to oppose him have been prosecuted and imprisoned, or forced to flee the country. Neighboring countries have been outrageously bullied. Putin has even gone out of his way to defend Soviet-era crimes like the occupation of the Baltic states in 1941.
Jacoby goes on to point out the nature of Russian foreign policy.
“Just as in the old days,” Garry Kasparov, the chess champion and Russian democracy activist, wrote in a New York Times column on Monday, “Moscow has become an ally for troublemakers and anti-democratic rulers around the world. Nuclear aid to Iran, missile technology to North Korea, military aircraft to Sudan, Myanmar and Venezuela, and a budding friendship with Hamas: These are the West’s rewards for keeping its mouth shut about human rights in Russia.”
We all thought the Cold War ended in 1989. For most purposes it did. But the combination of repressive demestic policy and trouble-making anti-democratic foreign policy that we are seeing from Russia certainly look like a reprise.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vintage Moonbattery from Kevin Barrett

From the The Herb Allure Forum Complex, a post on an online discussion board from Kevin Barrett, the controversial Madison instructor who thinks the U.S. government staged the 9/11 attacks.

The date is October 9, 20005, and reacted to the fact that one Gary Schmitt was going to be in Milwaukee.
9/11 Terror Suspect to Speak at U.W.-Milwaukee

Citizens’ Arrest in the Works?

The head of the terrorist organization suspected of planning the attacks of September 11th, 2001 will be speaking at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee this Tuesday, October 11th at 6:30 p.m., risking a citizens’ arrest for 9/11 crimes against humanity. The terrorist chief will also be verbally pilloried by outraged citizens on the Ben Merens show Monday at 3 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Radio: http://www.wpr.org/webcasting/live.cfm

The speaker, Gary Schmitt, is the Executive Director of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a radical rightwing think tank that called for a “New Pearl Harbor” in September, 2000 — and got one on September 11th, 2001.
Like most of what Barrett says, the sheer mean-spiritedness stands out.

He calls for a “citizens arrest” (kidnapping) of a person with whom he disagrees, and further that he should be “verbally pilloried” during an appearance on Wisconsin Public Radio.

Barrett is simply full of hate, and he’s rationalized that hate by adopting a conspiracy theory that sees the people he hates as the sponsors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Kim Jong Il and the Bomb

Riber Hansson

9/11 Conspiracy Theories Dissected on Channel 4 Tonight

A source at WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) informs us that “Live at 10:00” will have a segment tonight that will take a close look at the “9-11 Truth” movement and will be talking to two of its members — including Kevin Barrett, the controversial lecturer who is slated to teach the history of Islam at Madison this fall.

The focus will not be on the controversy surrounding Barrett and the University of Wisconsin, but rather on the movement itself, and its beliefs.

We’ll most certainly be watching.

We’ll see whether Barrett does better than he did last night on Hannity and Colmes.

[Update:]

We just finished watching the segment, which was brief (about 3 ½ minutes), but good. The “highlight” was Barrett explaining that the Osama bin Laden seen in a video admitting to planning the attacks was really an impostor.

Mick Trevey, who hosted the segment and conducted the interviews, took our class about the JFK assassination when he was at Marquette, and therefore knows how to critically scrutinize conspiracy theories.

Intelligent Design at the University of Wisconsin?

From Fraley’s DAILY TAKES, an interesting issue in academic freedom.
Now that the Kevin Barrett decision has been made it will be interesting to hear what the left says about The Brotherhood of Scientific Faith, a group of inter-disciplinary teaching assistants at the UW and other system schools. Their goal, according to conversations I’ve had with several of their members, is to encourage their students to merely consider what is known as Intelligent Design when undertaking the study of biology and other sciences.

While the membership is currently made up of about two dozen, mostly-white, men at three UW system schools, the group expects membership to grow seven fold and diversify over the course of the next several semesters.

While controversial, Intelligent Design is a theory that certainly has more believers and is conceptually more probable than any whacked out conspiracy theory spouted by Kevin Barrett.
If the group gets larger and gets any public visibility, I think we all know how it will play out.

We will be assured that academic freedom does not protect people who want to bring religious ideas into the college classroom.

It only protects secular people and ideas.

Michelle Malkin on Kevin Barrett

Via Jessica McBride (her radio show, not her blog), conservative blogger Michelle Malkin “Vents” on a couple of moonbat professors, one of whom is Wisconsin’s Kevin Barrett.

Monday, July 10, 2006

How the New York Times Would Have Covered World War II

From Truth Guys:

. . . how the New York Times would have covered World War II.

Be sure and click on the image and see an enlarged version.

This, of course, it the perfect complement to “If the New York Times Had Covered the Revolutionary War.”

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Is Target as Bad as Wal-Mart?

From the leftist Alternet, a discussion about whether big-box chain Target is as bad as its even larger rival Wal-Mart.
Shopping in a Target store, you know you’re not in Wal-Mart. But the differences may be mostly skin deep.

Targets are spaciously laid out and full of attractive displays and promotions. While many people associate Wal-Mart with low-income, rural communities perhaps dominated by a prison or power plant, life-size photos throughout Target stores remind you that their customers are a lively, beautiful cast of multi-cultural hipsters.

“Their image is more upscale, more urban and sophisticated, sort of a wannabe Pottery Barn,” said Victoria Cervantes, a hospital administrator and documentary-maker in Chicago who regularly shops at Target. “I’m not sure if their customers really are more upscale. But that’s the image they’re going for. They have a very good PR campaign.”

In contrast to this image, however, critics say that in terms of wages and benefits, working conditions, sweatshop-style foreign suppliers, and effects on local retail communities, big box Target stores are very much like Wal-Mart, just in a prettier package.
The author goes on to cite the usual left-wing litany about poor pay, bad diversity, sweatshops, lack of unionization and poor benefits.

For example:
  • A survey by the UFCW found that starting wages are similar in Targets and Wal-Marts — possibly higher overall at Wal-Marts - and that Target benefits packages are often harder to qualify for and less comprehensive. (Target’s media relations department refused to comment on its wages and benefits policies; individual wages and benefits policies are not included in their annual report.)
  • Meanwhile a glance at labels on a few racks of stylish $20 cardigans and capri pants shows that, like Wal-Mart and most major clothing retailers, Target itself sources its products in India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Mexico, Bangladesh, Kenya, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and other low-wage, developing countries.
  • An African-American employee at the flagship Roseville, Minn. store (who asked that her name not be used for fear of retribution), said she feels as if she constantly suffers racial discrimination. She said there are no black supervisors on the overnight shift she works. “There are a lot of Somalis working on the overnight shift, but no Somali team leader.” She said she is tired of young white “team leaders” repeatedly telling her to work faster or do things differently.
  • Workers generally complain about a pressurized and patronizing work atmosphere where they are constantly pressed to work harder and faster and at the same time to act cheery and invested in the store’s success. The company’s website boasts that workers will respond with “cheetah-like” speed within 60 seconds to customer calls on the red phones throughout the store.
We aren’t especially impressed with this list. The notion that unskilled workers should somehow make $15 dollars an hour and get good benefits simply doesn’t pass a market test. And even $7.50 per hour is a “living wage” if one factors in the policies (Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid, Food Stamps, child care and rent subsidies) that government provides the working poor.

Government has abandoned the economically absurd notion that even marginally productive workers should have a job at high pay with full benefits, and decided to give help to people who can only command a modest wage — work being better than idleness.

Equally absurd is the idea that only American made (and union made at that) products should be sold in U.S. stores. If we expect foreigners to import our stuff, we have to import their stuff. And do the leftists believe that the average welfare mother can afford to pay for U.S. union made goods?

As for the black women who feels discriminated against: maybe she is a malcontent, or maybe she has a supervisor who is a jerk. No matter how well managed a huge retain chain, some supervisors are going to be jerks — although any business has a big incentive to fire supervisors who can’t get along with the workers.

This article does raise the question: why is Wal-Mart, and not Target, the object of so much vitriol from the left?

We think the reason has to be cultural. Wal-Mart is headquartered in the South — Arkansas to be precise. The stereotypical customers are from decidedly uncool groups — Southerners, working class whites, and blacks (the latter group being patronized by white liberals, but not considered cultural equals).

So the campaign against Wal-Mart is just a big battle in the Culture Wars.

It’s certainly not the result of any rational policy calculus.

Kevin Barrett & James Fetzer: 9/11 Moonbats in Milwaukee

Thanks to a heads up from Jessica McBride’s blog, we decided to go out this morning to see a talk by Kevin Barrett – the UW Madison instructor who thinks that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a U.S. government conspiracy. On the program with him was a certain Prof. James Fetzer, until recently a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and likewise a hard core conspiracy buff.

The talk was at something called the Midwest Social Forum, which was previously called RadFest – a name that better conveys the ambiance of a meeting of left-wing radicals from all over the region.

The whole shebang is run by something called the Havens Center, which is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Sociology Department. The “contact” phone numbers listed on the Social Forum web site ring through at the Havens center, and the directory at the UW-Milwaukee Union (where all the events were held) lists each event as being sponsored by the UW-Madison Sociology Department.

That’s right, the nonsense you are about to hear described was sponsored by the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

James Fetzer

We arrived shortly after Fetzer began the talk, and he was denying that any of the Moslem terrorists could have piloted any of the planes supposedly involved in the attack. He mentioned that one of them “couldn’t get a Cessna off the ground” – ignoring the fact that taking off and landing are far and away the most difficult part of a pilot’s job, and just flying a plane into a building is child’s play in comparison.

He spent a lot of time explaining why he thought the destruction of the Twin Towers was a “controlled demolition.” He claimed, for example, that the fire caused by the jet fuel was not hot enough to melt the steel beams, that there was “not enough kinetic energy” in the top floors to crush the lower floors when they fell on them, and that a video showed one of the towers “disappearing before your eyes faster than a grand piano can free fall.”

What the point of this latter argument was, we haven’t figured out, but Fetzer seemed to think it was important.

Fetzer did not think that the “controlled demolition” was the normal kind, where charges in the basement of a building blow out supports and cause the entire building to collapse. Rather, he believes that thermite charges were set on each floor, and each floor was “blown out in sequence” by a detonation that “had to be computerized.”

In support of the “thermite” claim, he quoted a worker as saying that pools of molten steel were found in the basement level of the ruins four or five weeks after 9/11!

He asked, if the floors of the building “pancaked,” “where are the pancakes?” as he showed a photo of a large pile of rubble. He apparently believes that if a building “pancakes” it will leave a stack of what look like pancakes on the ground.

Just who was responsible? Clearly a lot of people in the Bush Administration, right up to the President. He reported, for example, what Bush said “. . . when I saw the first plane hit the tower. . . .” But, Fetzer asserted, Bush could not have seen the “first plane hit the tower” since footage of that was not available at the time Bush said it.

Why Bush would lie about this is not something for which he had any explanation. Indeed, he didn’t appear to have thought about the issue.

New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani was clearly one of the conspirators, since he had the scrap steel from the towers shipped off to China, according to Fetzer.

And also fingered was the president’s brother, Marvin Bush, who was on the Board of Directors of a company called Securecom, which provided, between 1995 and 2001, security at the World Trade Center, Dulles International Airport in Washington and United Airlines. Supposedly Bush engineered a breach of security that allowed planting of Thermite charges on each floor of the Towers.

The Plane That Hit the Pentagon

Of course, Fetzer thinks that the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11 was equally a government conspiracy.

He claimed, for example, that the military should have video footage of the plane hitting, and then showed a video with the Pentagon wall intact and no plane visible in one frame, and an explosion in the next. He overlooked something clearly visible in his video: the low frame rate that would miss anything happening within a second or two.

Of course, government officials point to sheered-off lampposts near the building as evidence that a plane hit, but Fetzer dismissed these as “props.”

Likewise, several photos show pieces of the wreckage of a 757. But Fetzer claimed that a fellow named Jack White has shown that all of these photos are of the same piece of wreckage.

Jack White has a long history of claiming faked photographic evidence in the JFK assassination. He has claimed that the Backyard Photos of Lee Oswald were faked, and more recently that the Zapruder film was faked. When he went before the House Select Committee on Assassinations to face people with genuine expertise in photo analysis, he was humiliated.

Fetzer did suggest that a plane hit the Pentagon, and he identifies it as a “JT8D Skywarrior” on the basis of the kind of “photo analysis” that is always turning up assassins in the shadows in Dealey Plaza.

In fact, the theory is that a piece of debris in photos of the scene is from a Pratt & Whitney JT8D jet engine in an A-3 Skywarrior attack plane. Unfortunately for this theory, it appears the JT8D was never used in the A-3 Skywarrior.

Another problem with Fetzer’s “JT8D Skywarrior” theory is that he has a web page asserting that no airplane at all, but rather a cruise missile, hit the Pentagon.

In today’s presentation, he suggested that maybe the “JT8D Skywarrior” fired a missile before it hit the building. (In reality, the A-3 Skywarrior, which is obsolete, has never been able to fire cruise missiles.)

But then he added yet another element to his scenario. He quoted an eyewitness who claimed to have seen a 757 fly toward the Pentagon and veer off seconds before hitting the building.

So now Fetzer has two planes and a cruise missile all involved in the plot.

But then, within a few minutes, Fetzer told his audience that American Airlines Flight 77, the 757 that supposedly hit the Pentagon, was lost from radar near the Kentucky/Ohio border. Fetzer assured listeners that merely turning off the transponder would not cause the plane to go off the radar screens.

So either Flight 77 made it back to Washington, D.C. in spite of Fetzer’s claim that it “disappeared from radar,” or there was yet another 757 involved in buzzing the Pentagon.

Or else Fetzer is making wild assertions and using unreliable witness testimony.

Fetzer ended his talk by claiming that “the American government has been practicing terrorism on the American people.”

For this particular crowd, it was music to their ears.

Kevin Barrett

Barrett’s talk was much shorter than Fetzer’s, and more political.

He claimed that 9/11 conspiracy theories can be the “magic bullet” for the political left. They can be the “silver bullet that can kill the monster.” What is the monster? The post-9/11 world.

Barrett talked a bit about a relatively arcane psychological phenomenon called the “Gruen Transfer” which is supposedly used by retail marketers to sell their wares, and the CIA to brainwash people.

Barrett views it as a “coercive” technique – how you an coerce people by merely talking to them is an issue that doesn’t disturb Barrett, although it disturbs people who value liberty.

Barrett clearly has a demeaning view of the American people, whom he said have been “infantilized” by the manipulators who pulled off 9/11. He further claimed “We in America have been brainwashed.” Indeed, he said that “a lot of people on the left . . . are in denial,” an explicit admission that even the hard-core aren’t necessarily lapping up his spiel.

He also seems to buy about any conspiracy theory you can imagine. He mentioned the JFK assassination, and discussed Pearl Harbor, making it clear he thinks that Roosevelt let the attack happen to get the U.S. into war.

(Ironically, historically it has been FDR’s right wing enemies who have pushed this notion.)

He said that “they” sent Anthrax to the offices of the two senators who opposed the war on terror, and also that “they” killed Paul Wellstone (the very liberal senator from Minnesota who was replaced by a Republican). On this issue, Barrett is buying one of the nuttier theories of Fetzer, who believes that Karl Rove had Wellstone killed by an Electromagnetic Pulse that took out the electrical system of his small plane, making it crash.

Why, according to Barrett, did evil governmental forces mount the 9/11 attacks? “To keep America top dog.” Also, to encourage enmity against Muslims, since “Muslims live where most of the world’s remaining oil reserves are.”

And also to rein in civil liberties. According to Barrett, where civil liberties are concerned “we are just another banana republic.”

A political agenda was explicit in Barrett’s talk. He views the spread of 9/11 conspiracy theories as “the ultimate teachable moment. It doesn’t get any better than this if you want to wake people up.” Wake them up to do what? Just the opposite of what the evil neoconservatives want. If the “neocons” want to increase the military budget, an “awakened” public will want to cut it. If they want to stay in Iraq, and “awakened” public will want to pull out.

Conclusion

We would not for a minute minimize the likelihood that what Barrett wants will happen. Conspiracy theories are an easy sell. All one has to do is ask “how could Lee Harvey Oswald have shot the president with that lousy rifle?” and Joe Six Pack is hooked. Only a minuscule number of people know anything about a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, which was quite a serviceable weapon.

Thus when 9/11 conspiracy buffs ask “why was a piece of a JT8D jet engine found in the rubble at the Pentagon,” very few will know to respond “that’s simply untrue.”

Look for this issue to be exploited by the hard left for decades to come.

Happily, the liberal mainstream media probably won’t buy it, just as they have not bought JFK assassination conspiracy theories. That will limit the damage. But mainstream media opposition to JFK conspiracy notions has not prevented about three quarters of Americans from believing he was killed by multiple plotters. 9/11 may be the new JFK assassination.