The new craze, sweeping the internet, is a second incarnation of "Loose Change"...or what might be called the Latest Vast Paranoid Conspiracy Theory About 9/11.
Oh, my. What a piece of work this is.
FIRST A DISCLAIMER...
As anyone who has visited this journal would know, I despise the gang of neo feudalists who have taken over my country, who show every sign of plotting to end our Great Experiment, at-minimum stealing us blind and at-worst aiming to sell us down the road to serfdom. In taking this position, I cannot be accused of being a kneejerk leftist. Indeed, I am often caustic toward dogmatic ideologues of THAT side. (Illustrated by this very article.) Still, at this moment in history, civilization is clearly far more under threat from the loony-klepto-manipulative right than it is from flaky-ineffectual socialists. Far more.
Put this in perspective; there are reasonable people and articles denouncing the monstrous Power Grab with cogency and great credibility.
Yet, from a longer historical view, is it really surprising that yet another cabal of would-be feudal lords has arisen, funded by plutocrats and petrocrats, aiming to destroy the liberal Enlightenment by every means at their disposal? Aren't oligarchic coups the most tediously repeated phenomenon in all of human history? (Among my neocon acquaintances, not one has even tried to refute this blatant fact - indeed, they concede it with a shrug... and a worried look in the eye.) Heck, every generation of Americans has had to deal with the same sort of thing. Arguably our greatest "miracle" is that every American generation across two centuries has done so, imaginatively and resourcefully, without over-reacting or killing the golden goose of market freedom...
...though let's also admit that no living citizen can remember an episode like this one, in which neofeudal troglodytes have grabbed power so frenetically, with a fevered intensity that seems borne of desperation. As if they can sense the future rushing toward them and they know that it is time to make their big move. It is time to restore the traditional human social order. Either now, or never.
So no, at one level it is absurd to get angry at the recurring reflex of conspiratorial aristocratism - so historically trite and predictable that it seems almost bestial. We are better off treating it like juvenile delinquency, as a disease of immaturity that only affects a frantic minority of the rich... a minority who are dangerous as hell, but acting out of simple human nature.
No. What makes me angry is the incredible lack of context -- of strategic/tactical thinking -- on the part of countless people who oppose this oligarchic coup! Oh, the distractions! The number of times that supposedly smart liberals have fallen for blatant "culture war" traps, accepting combat always on Karl Rove's terms, and always on battlefields of his choosing! Oh, alas, the unsapient reflexiveness and complete political cluelessness.
(Insanity is doing the same thing over and over - falling for the same traps - while expecting different results.)
And now I see it, yet again, in so many of my friends who, amid their justified revulsion toward the Bushites, seem all-too ready to watch, listen, nod, and accept any claptrap that arrays itself in robes of opposition to the neocon monsters.
Even claptrap like Loose Change, that stinks to high heaven.
MICHAEL MOORE AND THE POLITICS OF SELF-MARGINALIZATION
Oh, there is a corner of me that feels intrigued when bright, indignation-drenched muckrakers start flinging evidence and charges at the malevolent troglodytes currently in charge. When Michael Moore crafted Fahrenheit 9/11, I was willing to nod and listen, only wincing a bit at the exaggerations and occasional blatant misstatement of facts, here and there...
...till I began to wonder: "Is this guy really on our side? Or is he trying to help divide us into simpleminded, polemical camps of reciprocal screamers? Assisting Karl Rove's so-called "culture war"? (Hint: we'd do far better waging war against culture war, rather than getting swallowed up in it.) A simple committee, providing Moore with some reality checks, advice and adult supervision, could have helped him to be vastly more persuasive. More historically potent, influential and powerful.
Only now - returning to the topic at hand - these "Loose Change" guys have burst upon the scene, making Michael Moore look like Walter Cronkite!
Let me put it bluntly. This "documentary" is a monstrosity, truly worthy of the very people it attacks.
So much so that I grow - minute by minute - more tempted to apply a label that most Americans find unfamiliar, but that is used quite often by cynical Europeans. Either the producers of Loose Change are completely loony, or they are unprincipled, use-anything fame grabbers, or else they are "provocateurs."
Any Euro will tell you what the word stands for. Provocateurs are agents of one side who deliberately try to make the other look bad by planting statements, evidence, actions or outrageous words in their mouths. Often under a pretense of being helpful.
In this case, the side that is made to look bad is anyone who ever said "something's fishy about 9/11." Because this horrible so-called documentary makes the "swift boat" attacks on John Kerry look like All The President's Men.
If there are grains of truth in "Loose Change" - genuine clues to real conspiracies - those grains now lie buried under mountains and mountains of garbage.
Oh, the muckraking starts out intriguing enough, with some interesting discrepancies in the story of Flight AA 77, the Boeing 757 that crashed into the ground floor of the Pentagon.
At first I was intrigued by some real puzzlers, like why so little wreckage appears to have been found from the very large and heavy engines. Certainly the small diameter of the entry hole (before the roof caved in) seemed more consistent with some kind of bunker busting missile than with a big jet crash. Okay, I'm listening.
My biggest reaction was elicited by the claim that three video recordings with good views of the event - from a hotel, a gas station, and a freeway overpass - were seized quickly by the FBI and then never released. "Why, if they dispute all this, don't they release those tapes?" The film producers challenge. And why, indeed? An on-target question. Here, of course, Mr. Transparency completely agrees.
(If only. If these producers were to offer up their vast, complex and confusing indictment as a test case for a "disputation arena," in which every sub-set and element could be dissected in great and public detail, some kind of transparency-related service might be done. At minimum giving us a chance to separate some wheat from the chaff. A truly large and eclectic smartmob jury could zero in on things like this matter of the recordings, selecting the key discrepancies and demanding some public accounting.)
But from another perspective, those very same cameras present a real problem to conspiracy mavens! For if the Pentagon impact was not a plane (and many eyewitnesses did see a plane), why would the skulking-demonic traitors who sent the purported missile (for reasons that are never even hypothesized in the film) do all this in broad daylight? In this era, can anybody ever be sure that cameras aren't watching ? Especially outdoors, in one of the most tourist-dense cities in the world? (I was a few miles away, layered in cameras, just a few weeks before 9/11.)
What kind of morons would concoct a plan based on an assumption that there would be no such cameras? (As there were, in huge supply, in New York City, that very same day.) A plan based ultimately on complete and total dumb luck?
Well... in fact... I admit that we are being ruled by morons. That much is consistent. But the problem with this story is that the supposed perpetrator masterminds must be both fantastically horrid-stupid and spectacularly competent-coordinated, all at the same time.
Exactly the way ALL of us tend to typify our enemies! (Ever notice that?) An illogical facet of human nature, one that goes all-too unexamined, lets us watch things like this, nodding and agreeing with complete logical inconsistencies. See how the evildoers are both stupid and smart, both competent and incompetent, both dogmatic and cynically pragmatic, anything that fits the need of this sentence, right now. Anything despicable. Anything at all.
Look, it would take a year just to list the "evidence" and open accusations presented in Loose Change... and ten more years to tally all the sly innuendoes and hinted allegations! Hell, I can't afford the time to do that, to count up all the wretched nonsense, trying to sift amid the dross for real gems worth examining.
(Want just one minor gaffe, but one that indicates poor quality control? How many of you out there believe that it is possible for the Empire State Building to have been struck, during World War II, by a B-52 bomber?)
While the first quarter of Loose Change seems intriguing, you soon start to realize that it is a melange of half-truths, inaccuracies, coincidences, un-vetted rumors, misused witness statements...
... and what start to coalesce into outright lies, with the effect (as I said) of discrediting those parts that might actually be interesting clues! Distracting us, perhaps, from truly nasty deeds.
No, I won't write a detailed rebuttal. (Though I may append (in comments) a few of the most hilariously insipid and loony so-called "facts.") Heck, I have far better things to do, like fighting effectively and in an adult manner against kleptocrats and cacocrats. So let me cut to the chase and distill for you the core essence of this pile of donkey poo.
THE GIST... THE BLOODY GIST...
Let's get this straight. The entire premise of this incredible scenario is that several hundred highly skilled US officers and operatives would break their oaths and risk death penalties, committing blatant mass murder and treason as part of an unbelievably intricate and interlocking plan in order to:
* Plant demolition charges throughout THREE towers of the World Trade Plaza (a vast and intricate process, taking weeks)...
* Plant evidence of an Arab conspiracy of suicide hijackers (many of whom are claimed to conveniently turn up alive today in Saudi Arabia)...
* Fly big jets into the towers as a flashy distraction to cover for the pre-set demolition charges...
* While, in super-rapid realtime, faking the voices of passengers and flight attendants calling the ground from cell and air phones...
* While diverting Flight UA 93 to Cincinnati Airport, secretly unloading its 200 passengers into the NASA Lewis Research Center hangar without anyone noticing, then hiding the plane, then surreptitiously blowing up a hole in a Pennsylvania field and dumping some wreckage there and spreading the Legend of UA93...
* All without air traffic controllers noticing a switcheroo, relying utterly upon there being no passersby or observers, at ANY point during a long and frenetic day...
* Similarly disposing of the passengers and plane of flight AA77, so that it can be replaced with a missile aimed at the Pentagon (only in this case the filmmakers don't even mention or try to concoct a story! They simply vanish AA77! How? By beaming it up?)...
* Simultaneously arranging for Osama bin Laden to be a CIA client, an innocent victim and a terrorist, in successive contradictory statements...
* Suborning not hundreds of sworn professional officers, civil servants, officials and citizens... but THOUSANDS, since any simple tracking of the lengthy "Loose Change" expose results in a labyrinthine scenario so tangled and vast that it would seem to require at least that many, all of them superbly coordinated, all of them keeping to the game plan, hewing to the hundred-page conspiracy, not out of dedication, professionalism and patriotism, but motivated by venality, greed, partisanship, momentum or fear...
...and none of them even remotely contemplating the value of whistleblowing, as opposed to treason against everything they were ever raised to believe.
(Note the underlying agenda of CONTEMPT that pervades not just this scenario, but every smug conspiracy theory! In order for the brave discoverers to be truly superior, everything must be going on beneath the very noses of a public that is no more intelligent than a flock of bleating sheep!)
(Even more fascinating is the psychological urge to keep upping the ante. I have seen this in the UFO community and in McVeigh style militias. At every branching point between two options -- between a mundane explanation and something outrageously improbable, but evil - guess which path is always chosen? The dramatic-romantic-paranoid turn gets taken, every single time. Fie on Occam's damned razor!
(Even though the sum effect is to utterly undermine any credibility that a sensible person might have given to the more plausible portions of the story.)
PEOPLE, WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS
Oh, please don't think I come away with singleminded and monotonic hostility to these fellows. Practicing what I preach, I am willing to contemplate the possibility of being wrong, in several places. Indeed, I have - of late - been re examining some of my own assumptions.
For one thing, I have long believed that large and truly heinous conspiracies cannot hold for long in this open society. That - for example - the members of the United States Officer Corps are nowadays too well-educated, too loyal, and too professional, to let themselves be fooled endlessly into supporting what amounts to a cynically rapacious criminal gang.
Indeed, lately there have been some eminent defectors and patriots who see what's happening and have decided to stand up, at a time when their country desperately needs them. Men and women who realize that left and right matter little, in comparison to the health of the Great Experiment.
(A single billionaire could enhance this trend, this by financing my Henchman's Prize... but as yet nobody has proved brave and visionary enough.)
Alas, so far, the numbers have proved disappointing. We keep hearing rumors of how deeply the intelligence and flag officer communities hate the Bushites. And yet, so far, my prediction of mass whistleblowing has come to very little more than wishful thinking. I may have to rethink my hypothesis...
...which is what a reasonable modernist does. Perhaps reasonable modernists are fewer than I thought.
That possibility is supported and driven home by the cousins and fellow travellers and lefty-counterparts of Karl Rove who gave us "Loose Change".
Look, this rant of mine wasn't a scholarly or hifalutin-formal. I took too long with apologias before getting to the point. Relying on logical mockery, I did very little refutation-of-fact. But in a way, this format is a fitting homage to those guys. It is sinking to their level.
Oh, I'll concede it is possible that maybe 4% of the charges contained in this vivid mountain of drivel may prove to be true. If even that much is valid, then some pretty awful stuff has gone on, and we citizens desperately need the cleansing light of justice to shine upon such wretched misdeeds.
Only now, thanks in part to "Loose Change," that 4% lies buried deeper under garbage than a gold bar under the collapsed second tower.
Moreover, so long as we are bandying paranoid fantasies around, I have to suggest to you that this obscuration, this artful provocation, may have been the intent all along.