Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What Makes a Conspiracy Theorist?

Lately I've been interested in reading information on the 9-11 conspiracy movement, or "Truthers" as they like to call themselves (most everyone else calls them nuts or moonbats). Normally, when I hear about such far-fetched conspiracies (e.g. the "faked" moon landing or the CIA killed JFK) I blow them off as the ranting of unbalanced people with too much time on their hands. But when it comes to the 9-11 conspiracy, it hits close to home for two reasons: 1)I saw the events of that day unfold before my eyes on live T.V. and 2)one of my close relatives is involved in the "Truther" movement.

For the first point, it's hard for me to fathom that people would deny the reality of 9-11 based on their hunches that the government blew up the buildings. If you ever happen to stumble on a "truther" site, their evidence is based on hearsay, quotes taken out of context, selective photos, and pet theories about how a building should fall if hit by a plane full of jet fuel. None of their evidence from what I have read holds up to scientific or logical scrutiny, yet the "truthers" stubbornly refuse to accept any data that contradicts their theories. It's as if they decided that the government was behind 9-11 and then they cherry-picked through the enormous amount of eye-witness testimony and physical evidence for anything that would support their theory. A good example of this is a parody site called Loose Trains where the author facetiously claims that the government, the CIA, and Amtrak used trains to cause the collapse of the WTC towers to benefit Amtrak and lists several quotes where people mention the word "trains."

Some truther sites such as 9-11 Scholars for Truth claim to be scientists and scholars, and dress up their claims with big words and supposed experiments to add weight to their claims. Only when you check out the credentials of these "experts" you find many of them either don't have degrees in anything or have degrees in fields entirely unrelated to anything that might give them expertise on demolitions, explosives, building construction, or civil engineering. Of the 100 or so full members of "9-11 Scholars for Truth," only 8 have a Ph.D. and those fields include environmental science, history, marketing, biology, philosophy, and physics. The two physicists in the group study superconductivity and cold fusion (red flag for pathetic science!) Also, there claims of having published peer-reviewed research supporting their claims is a joke as these papers are published in their own journal and not a single reputable scientific journal.

People not aware of the disingenuousness of the Truthers might stumble upon their claims and think that they might have good points until they look closer at the "evidence." Popular Mechanics published an article and a book debunking conspiracy claims based on evidence by real experts in the fields of civil engineering and demolition, but the truthers refuse to even acknowledge them. All the evidence in the world wouldn't convince them since they are so convinced of their moral and intellectual superiority.

How does a person become so entrenched in their beliefs that they reject all common sense and logic? Good question and it's one that's plagued me for the past year and a half since a close relative of mine "came out" as a truther. I've known this person for most of their life and I was very close to him until recently. He is an intelligent person and is normal by most respects. The most disturbing thing I noticed is that he was very secretive about his truther beliefs and then gradually revealed them as if feeling me out as a possible "recruit." Also, the 9-11 conspiracy was also mixed in with an anti-Semitic ideology that included Holocaust Denial and the usual Zionist World Domination crap. When I rejected all of these ideas, our relations became strained. I asked that we simply didn't talk about these subjects, but he seemed unable to do that because he felt like he was on a mission to spread the "truth."

Well, we eventually had a falling out and I have not spoken to him (at his request) for about 6 months. The most painful thing was coming to terms with the fact that this person was either mentally ill, or evil. I don't know which thing is worse. Having several relatives with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder made the first possibility likely, but by all other respects he seems pretty normal. So what am I to conclude except that his is a racist jerk? His personality also seems to have changed--he was a kind, soft-spoken person, and now he's arrogant and filled with resentment.

There are several sites devoted to debunking and essentially mocking members of the truther movement such as Screw Loose Change, and 9-11 Myths. However, I don't find it that humorous that there is a small, but vocal group that believes that our government is full of murderous monsters that orchestrated the 9-11 terrorist attacks for profit and the rest of us are shills or sheep. Can these people really take such a pessimistic view of their fellow citizens? If people really believe our government is so evil, is it possible that they would attempt to violently overthrow our government? At the very least, they are distracting from the real enemy--the Islamic extremists that want to destroy our country.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Texas City Decides to Do the Job the Feds Won't Do

Yesterday in Farmers Branch, a suburb of Dallas, passed some restrictive anti-illegal immigration measures in response to the ongoing crisis here in Texas.

City Council members unanimously approved fines for landlords who rent to illegal immigrants, making English the city's official language and allowing local authorities to screen suspects in police custody to check their immigration status.

The council made the series of 6-0 votes without discussion Monday night and took comment from the public afterward. A proposal to penalize businesses that employ undocumented workers was not voted on during the meeting.

I bet that they will pass that last proposal as well. Texans are just plain sick of the Federal government failing to enforce the immigration laws and cities like Dallas acting as sanctuaries for illegals. Dozens of U.S. citizens, including police officers, have been murdered by criminals that were here illegally and should have been deported before they could commit their crimes. Note that not all of the perpetrators of these crimes are from Mexico--some are from countries like Jamaica--so passing laws to crack down on illegal immigration is not meant to discriminate against Mexicans. It's meant to keep criminals which are here illegally out of the country. But of course, all the Latino civil rights group have to make it about race.

Attorneys with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a civil rights advocacy group, told council members before the vote that the proposals could violate federal housing laws preventing discrimination and the First Amendment.

Since 1970, Farmers Branch has changed from a small, predominantly white bedroom community with a declining population to a city of almost 28,000 people, about 37 percent of them Hispanic, according to the census. It also is home to more than 80 corporate headquarters and more than 2,600 small and mid-size firms, many of them minority-owned.

"They're afraid that Farmers Branch is becoming Hispanic," said Christopher McGuire, a resident of the city and spokesman for a group called United Farmers Branch. "It's going to happen, and that's not a bad thing."

Look, it's Texas for crying out loud! There will always be a Mexican/Latino presence here, and Texas is richer for it. My husband's best friends are of Mexican descent and salsa is a staple in our kitchen. We honeymooned in Mexico (and went back there this year) and we loved everything about that country (except the police and the water). Most people I know feel the same way I do. We welcome LEGAL immigrants from wherever they come from. I'm sure most immigrants (even illegal ones) are decent and hardworking people, but how are we to keep the criminals out and let deserving immigrants become citizens if we can't regulate our borders?

Farmers Branch was the first Texas City to pass these kinds of laws, but I can guarantee that more cities will follow suit if the INS doesn't step up and DO ITS JOB.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election 2006 - Post-Carnage Reaction

Whew, I'm so glad the elections are over! Being the political news junkie that I am, I ended up staying up most of the night to see who came out on top. I'll admit I was disappointed last night that the Republicans lost both houses of Congress, but I can't say I was surprised. It seemed like every year my husband and I were feeling more and more dissatisfied with the performance of the Republicans, but we also felt like we didn't have much of a choice. Today, I'm feeling pretty optimistic about the future. Most of the Democrats that took over Republican seats were moderates, not of the Kos-Kidz variety. I would have voted for the Democrat (Harris) in my U.S. district over the Republican (Barton) if Harris had clearly stated his platform and not linked to the far left blog Daily Kos. Looking at Harris' blog, all I could find out was that he was against the Iraq War and in favor of increasing veteran benefits (a good thing)--and that Barton is an EVIL conservative that hates disabled kids.

Barton hasn't done anything illegal as far as I know, but he is clearly in the pocket of big business and could care less about his constituents--especially when it comes to air quality in our county. I'll write more about that later. I wish my husband or one of his friends would run against him in the next Republican primary, but they'd be pulverized by Barton's campaign machine.

I think the Republicans have only themselves to blame for their defeat. Many of them have not been listening to their constituents when it comes to illegal immigration, the war in Iraq, social security reform, and limiting pork barrel spending. Some of them committed ethical and even criminal violations. Being in control of the government for so long made them lazy, corrupt, and complacent. The voters were fed up with them, and either voted against them or stayed home. I'm not sad to see that RINOS like Chafee and Dewine were sent packing.

The Democrats clearly learned from the last election that they have to run more moderate candidates in order to win in Red districts. I only hope that the Republicans will clean up their act over the next two years and that the Democratic majority don't screw things up too badly. I'd like to believe Nancy Pelosi's concilatory rhetoric that she intends to reach across the aisle, and act as the Speaker of the House for the American people, not just Democrats. But she is a politician after all, and I don't trust her one bit.