First hand account

I have a friend who writes an agronomy column for Farm News out of Fort Dodge:

“Someone reminded me on July 12th that it was the 49th anniversary of an F2 twister that hit my home farm back in 1971. I was an active participant as I had to outrun it on foot and had to hang on to a fence post in the swirling debris as it knocked down one grove and two silos while sending five buildings skyward. I had nightmares for the next wo months and woke up thinking it was just a dream, until I look out and see the place all torn up. That same feeling has to be how many people from Carroll to Davenport have to feel as they pick up the pieces.” -Bob Streit

letter on conspiracy theorists to WSJ

Dear Editor,

I admit to being ignorant of QAnon. I also admit to being ignorant of many details surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 9/11 attacks. (9/11 and the Rise of the New Conspiracy Theorists, WSJ September 12-13)

The reason for that ignorance is the lack of available information. I don’t speculate on plots and motive. I simply want to know what is in the information that is admittedly kept secret.

President Trump said he would expose all the material in the Kennedy assassination investigations and the 9/11 Commission Report. He followed through on neither.

Mr. Graff’s name calling (conspiracy theorist) doesn’t convince me that the secrecy is necessary. It convinces me that there are grounds to doubt the official story.

9/11 and the Rise of the New Conspiracy Theorists

The persistence of the fringe movement that blames the U.S. government for the 2001 terrorist attacks suggests that QAnon and other digital-age conspiracists may be around for a while

9/11 conspiracy theorists protest near Ground Zero in New York City on Sept. 11, 2012.PHOTO: JAMES LEYNSE/CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES

By Garrett M. GraffSept. 10, 2020 4:07 pm ET

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The leaders of the 9/11 Commission wanted to avoid the fate of the Warren Commission. For decades, ambiguities in the report on President John Kennedy’s assassination had offered fuel for wild speculation about what had actually happened. “It is extremely difficult to dislodge or anticipate conspiracy theories once they start,” said Jamie Gorelick, a member of the 9/11 Commission. The commission’s 2004 report was written with such rigor, empirical clarity and narrative power in part to deflate the conspiracy theories already starting to swirl around al Qaeda’s attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “You could see this happening,” said Ms. Gorelick.

The commission’s report became a bestseller, but theories about toxic intrigues behind the attacks persist even as we mark another somber anniversary of the day. After writing a history of 9/11, I rarely made it through a book event without getting a question insisting that the attacks were an “inside job.” The fantastical allegations came in city after city: The U.S. government deliberately let the 9/11 plot succeed, the Twin Towers were brought down not by hijacked planes but by a “controlled demolition” overseen by shadowy forces, the Pentagon was hit not by American Airlines Flight 77 but by a U.S. cruise missile. When the questioners were polite, I could almost forget just how incredible—and incredibly wrong—their queries were, positing the idea that the U.S. government was complicit in the spectacular mass murder of thousands of American citizens.

To write about 9/11 is to gain some insight into how far such thinking has reached into the minds of some Americans. Long before conspiracists began insisting that children weren’t really gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, or that a child sex ring with ties to Hillary Clinton was being run out of an innocuous pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., or that the death tolls of the Covid-19 pandemic were somehow being intentionally inflated, the self-styled “9/11 Truthers” were the first major American conspiracy theory of the digital age. Their durability, nearly 20 years after the attack, suggests that we are likely to be stuck for a long time with more recent conspiracist movements such as QAnon.

The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center burn after being attacked by al Qaeda, Sept. 11, 2001.PHOTO: MARTY LEDERHANDLER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Over the centuries, many Americans have heeded the siren song of conspiracy theories based on the supposedly nefarious influence of Catholics, Masons, Jews or communists. But the 9/11 conspiracists have been something new. Those bent on pinning 9/11 on the U.S. rather than al Qaeda combine a small but fanatical in-person movement with a supercharged presence on social media. Their outlandish theories aren’t peddled in hard-to-find, self-published screeds; they are broadcast online with slick graphics and charts.

‘The 9/11 conspiracy movement exploits the public’s anger and sadness.’— Sen. John McCain

The 9/11 conspiracy theories began as attacks against President George W. Bush, asserting that his administration was hiding the truth about al Qaeda’s attacks and doing the nefarious bidding of oil interests, the Saudi government or “the Jews.” By March 2005, the 9/11 conspiracies were prevalent enough that Popular Mechanics devoted a special issue to debunking them—a project that grew into a book with a foreword by Sen. John McCain. “The 9/11 conspiracy movement exploits the public’s anger and sadness,” he wrote. “It traffics in ugly, unfounded accusations of extraordinary evil against fellow Americans.”

Over the Obama years, these conspiracy theories became almost declarations of faith. Hundreds of people now gather at 9/11 conspiracy conferences to hear pseudoscientific presentations, trade theories and purchase propaganda. Participants share something almost like a lifestyle.

The 9/11 conspiracy theories heralded in many ways the rampant misinformation and disinformation of the internet age. A key early driver of the movement was the online release in 2005 of the film “Loose Change,” which purported to dive into the unanswered questions of 9/11. The feature-length film, which Vanity Fair said in 2006 “just might be the first Internet blockbuster,” climbed to the No. 1 spot on the charts of Google Video, the top platform of the day.

Viewers today would see something familiar in the film’s hand-waving pseudoscience, out-of-context quotations and misrepresented findings, all glossed over with energetic music and fancy graphics. It anticipated today’s diet of misinformation on Facebook and Twitter about Covid-19. “Loose Change” and its sequels continue to warp minds today, with the help of huge tech companies. The film is still on YouTube and can be seen on Amazon Prime and Google Play.

Years of lies, innuendo and disingenuous questions have taken a toll, and substantial numbers of Americans, on the left and the right, now embrace 9/11 conspiracy theories. In late 2016, according to a poll by YouGov, 17% of Hillary Clinton voters said that the U.S. government definitely or probably helped plan 9/11, compared with 15% of Donald Trump voters. That same year, a poll by Chapman University found that more than half of Americans still say that the U.S. government is covering up information about 9/11. “We found clear evidence that the United States is a strongly conspiratorial society,” said Chapman University sociology professor Christopher Bader, who led the survey. “Most indicative is nearly one-third of respondents believed the government is concealing information about ‘the North Dakota crash,’ a theory we asked about that—to our knowledge—we made up.”

Some of what once seemed novel about the 9/11 conspiracy theories is now depressingly familiar. Nightmares such as the 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Fla., are quickly followed by fringe accusations that the shootings were “false flag” operations perpetrated by the government. The gunman who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in 2011 was drawn to “Loose Change” and other conspiracy flicks. “It was like part of him wanted to create an alternate reality,” a friend’s father said.

The 9/11 conspiracy movement has proven persistent and pervasive without support from mainstream news organizations or political leaders. That suggests something ominous about some of its successors, including the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1293525010523578375&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wsj.com%2Farticles%2F9-11-and-the-rise-of-the-new-conspiracy-theorists-11599768458&siteScreenName=WSJ&theme=light&widgetsVersion=219d021%3A1598982042171&width=550px

Civiqs poll last week found that a third of Republicans say the QAnon conspiracy—which centers on an imagined global child-sex trafficking ring backed by the “deep state” and led by celebrities and politicians trying to thwart Mr. Trump’s presidency—is “mostly true,” and nearly another quarter think some parts of it are true. Come January, QAnon is likely to have at least one believer in Congress: Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has publicly embraced the baseless ideology, won a GOP primary last month in a heavily Republican congressional district in Georgia. On Twitter, Mr. Trump called her a “future Republican Star,” and he has welcomed the support of QAnon followers, saying, “I’ve heard these are people that love our country.”

The 9/11 conspiracists have been pernicious enough as a fringe movement. Today’s new generation of conspiracy theorists are even more brazen and emboldened.

—Mr. Graff is the author of “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11,” out in paperback this week from Avid Reader Press.

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the September 12, 2020, print edition.

Pansy at The Federalist

Here is an article about exponential growth of homeschooling in Texas. but the author obviously is as big a staist as the teacher’s unions.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/09/09/parents-withdrawing-students-from-texas-public-schools-to-home-school-increases-400-percent/

This is what I wrote to him:

Hi Tristan,
I linked to your article through Lewrockwell.com.
I hope this statement doesn’t say that state control and indoctrination is important to you:
“Student absence from brick-and-mortar classrooms however, has given rise to an entire new crisis on its own, where adolescents, particularly those who depend on schools for critical needs such as food and social services, are deprived of important experiences and resources necessary for health development.” 
Every home schooled kid I’ve known has been more informed, more socially adjusted, and had better critical thinking skills than the government schooled. I even know a couple brothers whose parents “home schooled” by totally leaving them alone all day. These guys (married and with children) are a cut above other kids who went to government schools. HL Mencken had a lot to say about this. Also, my wife and I were just discussing what I was saying here. She pointed out some that turned out differently. And then we agreed…. that’s the point.

A friend wrote this:

I agree, Fritz…Tristan’s statement:
“Student absence from brick-and-mortar classrooms however, has given rise to an entire new crisis on its own, where adolescents, particularly those who depend on schools for critical needs such as food and social services, are deprived of important experiences and resources necessary for health development.” 

is purely irresponsible!  And, without merit.  It is the old Party Line about “social adjustment and starving children”.
My parents were poor.  They eventually had 3 children.  I never went without a meal–never.  And never felt hunger.Mother always sent a lunch with me to school.  My parents never failed to tend any illness I had.  I never evencame close to dying.
If Tristan calls smoking and drinking and doing drugs and having sex with various other children part of socialdevelopment–then, yes–I certainly was “deprived of important experiences”.  I never got into fights at school.I always did my school work–BEFORE I played or did anything else.
My parents NEVER depended upon Public School for “critical needs”.  My parents were like the myriad other parentswhose children attended schools with me.  We grew up becoming responsible Citizens–compared with today’schildren who eat at school, socialize at school and protest and riot and create mayhem and curse everyone whoisn’t nasty like they are. 

Today’s college-age children know nothing, own nothing, have no education, and don’t work.  Yet, they supposedly
are so well adjusted that we are supposed to heed their protests and run the Country according to their debauched ideals.

Insurance Can Regulate Risk

I saw this story about the fires out West. The governor of Oregon says that “situations have been dire enough to make even firefighters retreat.”

This gives the impression that firemen are superheroes. They are people. The first thing we learned in fire class in the Hansell was, “Who is the most important person on the scene of a fire?”

The answer is, “You!” A fireman is no good to anyone dead.

My experiences with forest fires are limited. Once, as some friends and I were salvaging materials from a microwave relay tower on a mountaintop, we saw smoke coming up from down the hill a ways. We went down there with shovels and Pulaskis and found three fires, each about the size of a pickup. The duff (organic material) was about a foot deep over the rocky soil. It was obvious we needed help. One of us ran up the hill and drove the pickup down to a phone.

Before long a couple of Forest Service guys showed up to put on their gloves and tell us we would get paid for our work.

That “even firefighters” thing is haunting me. It reminds me of the old story of the fire department coming to get a cat down out of a tree. We are constantly bombarded with the notion we have to call an authority or expert because we lack the ability to think.

Any disaster soon leads to a call for help from the state; then the federal government because the states can’t print money. Republicans preach and brag about limited government and then stick their hands out just like the dreaded socialists.

The process of government help in disasters has got to be the most wasteful thing since war.

Remember the story of the truckload of ice? On September 2, 2005 Mark Kostinec loaded his truck with 20 tons of ice in Pennsylvania to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. On September 17 (Constitution Day, haha.) and 4,100 miles later he unloaded it in Fremont, Nebraska. His truck was burning fuel the whole time to keep the ice frozen.

We do have to share risk in order that individual circumstances don’t ruin us. It’s the civilized thing to do.

How this is accomplished has increasingly been delegated to taxpayers by an elite class who knows how to game the system. The lobbyists convince the tools in Congress that the uninsurable need the taxpayers to step in. But they are uninsurable for a reason.

Private insurance is the ultimate filter of financial plans. Private insurance companies study the amount of risk and charge a premium commensurate of it. The premiums for house insurance in a flood plain would make it too expensive to build there.

The same would hold true for a house surrounded by brush in California. I imagine PG&E’s decision to invest in green energy instead of maintaining safe infrastructure was partially influenced by the massive government safety net (along with bankruptcy and corporate structure laws).

Why, if I choose to live in a safe place, should I pay to rebuild a foolish person’s house? This isn’t just a selfish opinion. To replace government disaster aid with private insurance would benefit everyone. The brushy hills of California and the marshes around Houston could be left as wildlife habitat to be visited by tourists.

Less risky lifestyles and business decisions would be promoted by individual relationships with insurance companies if taxpayers didn’t furnish a safety net.

Overweight smokers would have incentive to discard bad habits. People who want to live in arid brushlands would keep an area cleared of fuel around their houses. Insurance wouldn’t just regulate these extreme examples. How buildings are built and minor lifestyle choices can make a big impact on survivability in weather and health events.

It’s time to get the government out of the insurance business. From crop insurance to health insurance, taxpayer funding promotes bad decisions. Firemen know when to retreat. We are people just like them. 


 Insurance Can Regulate Risk

I saw this story about the fires out West. The governor of Oregon says that “situations have been dire enough to make even firefighters retreat.”

This gives the impression that firemen are superheroes. They are people. The first thing we learned in fire class in the Hansell was, “Who is the most important person on the scene of a fire?”

The answer is, “You!” A fireman is no good to anyone dead.

My experiences with forest fires are limited. Once, as some friends and I were salvaging materials from a microwave relay tower on a mountaintop, we saw smoke coming up from down the hill a ways. We went down there with shovels and Pulaskis and found three fires, each about the size of a pickup. The duff (organic material) was about a foot deep over the rocky soil. It was obvious we needed help. One of us ran up the hill and drove the pickup down to a phone.

Before long a couple of Forest Service guys showed up to put on their gloves and tell us we would get paid for our work.

That “even firefighters” thing is haunting me. It reminds me of the old story of the fire department coming to get a cat down out of a tree. We are constantly bombarded with the notion we have to call an authority or expert because we lack the ability to think.

Any disaster soon leads to a call for help from the state; then the federal government because the states can’t print money. Republicans preach and brag about limited government and then stick their hands out just like the dreaded socialists.

The process of government help in disasters has got to be the most wasteful thing since war.

Remember the story of the truckload of ice? On September 2, 2005 Mark Kostinec loaded his truck with 20 tons of ice in Pennsylvania to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. On September 17 (Constitution Day, haha.) and 4,100 miles later he unloaded it in Fremont, Nebraska. His truck was burning fuel the whole time to keep the ice frozen.

We do have to share risk in order that individual circumstances don’t ruin us. It’s the civilized thing to do.

How this is accomplished has increasingly been delegated to taxpayers by an elite class who knows how to game the system. The lobbyists convince the tools in Congress that the uninsurable need the taxpayers to step in. But they are uninsurable for a reason.

Private insurance is the ultimate filter of financial plans. Private insurance companies study the amount of risk and charge a premium commensurate of it. The premiums for house insurance in a flood plain would make it too expensive to build there.

The same would hold true for a house surrounded by brush in California. I imagine PG&E’s decision to invest in green energy instead of maintaining safe infrastructure was partially influenced by the massive government safety net (along with bankruptcy and corporate structure laws).

Why, if I choose to live in a safe place, should I pay to rebuild a foolish person’s house? This isn’t just a selfish opinion. To replace government disaster aid with private insurance would benefit everyone. The brushy hills of California and the marshes around Houston could be left as wildlife habitat to be visited by tourists.

Less risky lifestyles and business decisions would be promoted by individual relationships with insurance companies if taxpayers didn’t furnish a safety net.

Overweight smokers would have incentive to discard bad habits. People who want to live in arid brushlands would keep an area cleared of fuel around their houses. Insurance wouldn’t just regulate these extreme examples. How buildings are built and minor lifestyle choices can make a big impact on survivability in weather and health events.

It’s time to get the government out of the insurance business. From crop insurance to health insurance, taxpayer funding promotes bad decisions. Firemen know when to retreat. We are people just like them.