Moonbat Guano in my Local Paper

Yesterday's edition of my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, contained a utterly despicable article by one Steven Gintz chronicling a recent gathering of lefty lunatics. The tone is set by the headline:

9/11 speech tries to unlock public myths: About 75 come to Portsmouth for event

… the clear implication being that we're dealing an earnest speaker interested in debunking "myths". Let's see:

PORTSMOUTH — One attendee wore a shirt reading "9/11 = Inside Job." Another called the Bush Administration a "bunch of hacks." Another said the entire discussion was ridiculous, like "going back to Dallas and looking for shell casings."

That last guy seemed to sound the only vaguely critical note in the whole affair. As we'll see, it's almost the last half-hearted attempt at skepticism or balance in the entire article.

More than 75 people from all backgrounds and opinions [sic] visited the library Tuesday to hear a speech delivered by Thomas Hansen called "Creating Public Myth: The 9/11 Commission Report."

A decent editor would have simply deleted the phrase "from all backgrounds and opinions." Even if the faulty parallelism were fixed, it's unverified, and almost certainly false.

Note also the reported date of this shindig: Tuesday. Hm. This was in Monday's paper. Yes, they are reporting this nearly a week after the actual event. Not exactly breaking news.

Hansen, a retired mathematics professor from Charleston, Va., was invited by the local Seacoast 9-11 Questions Group, and both spoke and performed songs he'd written concerning the numerous controversies regarding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Yes, songs. If you were unlucky enough to miss the event, Hansen has a CD, and if you follow this link you might be one of the 200 lucky people to snag a free one.

As a further indication of the reporting quality, by the way: there is no "Charleston, Va." A little Googling shows that Hansen is from Charlottesville, Va.

And, as a matter of fact, a little more Googling turns up some of Hansen's other works. For example, he has his very own website, Cosmic Cooperation? Well, yes. Fortunately, there's a Declaration of Cosmic Cooperation where he describes what's involved with that:

The Declaration of Cosmic Cooperation is designed to state human intention to now join in peaceful relations with Off Planet Cultures. At the present time, a handful of people in the world are determining for all of humanity how we relate to beings from other regions of the Universe, and these few people are not choosing a path of peace. President Eisenhower reportedly said in the 1950s that the subject of actual UFO and ET presence on Earth is not in the best of hands now, being controlled by a covert military/industrial group. Those persons currently in control of Off Planet Culture contact wish to weaponize space, they have actually engaged in attacks on Off Planet Culture craft and occupants, and they also refuse to use what has been learned from Off Planet Cultures for the benefit of all of humankind.

Oh. Quite frankly, that's a much bigger story than the 9/11 stuff. Too bad the Foster's reporter didn't ask about it.

Anyway, back to the Foster's story:

While recognizing that some Americans feel those who question the government are "un-American," Hansen said recent polls show a sizable portion of Americans feel there are many unanswered questions and want a new investigation conducted.

Argh, the "questions" thing: this is the typical strawman deflection of the conspiracist. Nobody's responded to this better than Bill Whittle:

"We're just asking questions" was the official, voice-over disclaimer. You hear that too from the 9/11 Truth crowd when confronted with the lunacy of their claims. We're just asking questions... Well, in that vein I'd like to ask some questions myself. Is Michael Moore a serial pedophile? I'm just asking, and I'm sure a lot of my readers would just like to have some questions answered. I heard that Rosie O'Donnell ate a baby at a Satanic Ritual once -- is that true? Can you please provide the evidence that this did not in fact happen? Thanks. Who has murdered more hookers: Bill Maher or Charlie Sheen? Come on, you can't tell me there's no smoke there. I just want a possible explanation...

And of course, people like Hansen and his ilk aren't just "questioning". They're positing a mammoth conspiracy amongst hundreds of people to murder thousands of their fellow citizens. That's not specifically un-American, but … again, as Bill Whittle asks:

How much hate for your own society do you have to carry in order to live in such a desolate and ridiculous mental hell? What psychoses must a mind be riddled with in order to negate what was perfectly obvious and instead believe a theory of such monumental fantasy? How much pure constant hatred does that take?

All honest and important questions, unfortunately unasked at the Portsmouth Public Library last week, and apparently unconsidered by anyone at Foster's Daily Democrat. Back to their story:

Citing a recent poll, Hansen said "49.3 percent of New York City residents said that some of our leaders knew in advance attacks were in the planning and 66 percent said they want a full investigation planned of the events on September 11."

Googling is easy, and had the reporter taken the time to do it, he would have discovered that the "recent poll" is actually nearly three years old. A skeptical take on the Zogby poll is here, noting that the poll was sponsored by the conspiracist group "", and speculates that the poll methodology was tilted in a sponsor-pleasing way.

He said both scholars and the public have raised numerous questions regarding the attacks, and the 9/11 Commission Report does not adequately address many of them, and in some cases, such as a woman's discovery of 9/11 money laundering and illegal activities, leaves out what may be crucial testimony uncovering government corruption.

Gosh, that would make a pretty good news story. Of course, a reputable news organization would check sources, nail down dates and details, evaluate reliability, and so forth. If it were true, you could win a Pulitzer!

Unless the news organization is Foster's Daily Democrat; in that case, you just uncritically echo the vague and unsubstantiated accusations of a nutball, evading your responsibility by prefacing the whole thing with a deadpan "He said."

Hansen discussed popular topics including how the hijacked planes were in American skies for so long without being either heeded [sic] or shot down by American forces, and the multiple accounts reporting warnings to government officials not to fly on Sept. 11.

Don't want to sound like a broken record, but: more uncritical echoing of vague and scurrilous accusations from Foster's. Interested people may want to check the debunking of various "Foreknowledge" allegations at the 9/11 Myths site.

In one instance, Hansen quotes testimony from Former Transportation Secretary Norman Minetta [sic] recounting a story in which Vice President Dick Cheney was alerted to the impending attack, and even fled to a security bunker 40 minutes before. Hansen claims the 9/11 Commission Report excludes this testimony.

"The 9/11 commission said the government only knew two minutes before the attacks and didn't have time, but Minetta [sic] said Cheney knew 12 minutes before," he said. "They left Minetta's [sic] testimony out of the report."

Geez, it's Mineta. M-I-N-E-T-A. Other than that silly error: People are aware that Mineta's retelling of the timeline of 9/11 events differs from just about everyone else's. Most people, including the 9/11 Commission, concluded that Mineta was confused. Conspiracists, of course, conclude that Mineta was, for some reason, telling the absolute truth and everyone else was lying. Good debunking on this is at the Screw Loose Change site.

As near as I can tell, the claim that Mineta said Cheney "fled to a security bunker 40 minutes before" the "impending attack" is just a flat lie from Hansen or—I wouldn't be shocked—a reporting mistake.

Amherst resident Ed Helm said he lived in Washington, D.C. that September, and a friend worked in the White House.

"He said the Secret Service had come in ahead of time and could read radar that the Whitehouse [sic] was targeted. It's consistent with your statement that the timing doesn't match in terms of the Minetta [sic] testimony."

I'm sorry, Ed, but I don't believe there's any way to get a radar to tell you "ahead of time" about the target that (say) United 93 might have been destined for, given that it crashed about 125 miles away in Pennsylvania. I think your whole story is bullshit. And I think Foster's did its readers a disservice in echoing it uncritically.

Hansen said that although conspiracy theories are brought up, the point of the discussion is not to take sides, but to create public discourse and push for a new review.

Disingenuous nonsense.

"My whole point of having this discussion is to show there are people ranging everywhere from "they made it happen on purpose" to "they let it happen on purpose" to "you're crazy,'" said Hansen.

At least in the case of Thomas "Cosmic Cooperation" Hansen, I vote "crazy." Do I see any other hands out there?

Some, including local residents Robert Unruh and Deborah Terreson had their own opinions.

"I don't think they had direct involvement, but it was the perfect excuse for the government to push their agenda," said Unruh.

"It was not a conspiracy of action but a conspiracy of opportunity," said Terreson. "It doesn't strike me the administration would be intelligent enough to orchestrate a conspiracy. These guys can't get Bin Laden. They couldn't find a way out of a paper bag."

I suppose I can take some relief that even after exposure to 9/11 moonbattery (including songs!), neither Robert nor Deborah could work up much enthusiasm for uttering anything beyond tired Bush-bashing clichés.

Still, the bottom line here is pretty simple: Thomas Hansen is a vile loon. His audience, to the extent they went along with his delusions, are a collection of gullible losers. And, most importantly, Foster's Daily Democrat ran a shoddily reported and incompetently edited article, far below minimal journalistic standards.

Last Modified 2012-10-19 5:38 AM EDT