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Gregory Lewis "Cuthbert Morgelveton Borscht" RSS Feed (Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA)
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Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot
Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot
by Bruce Leininger
Edition: Hardcover
81 used & new from $1.46

17 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hoax, June 20, 2012
"Psychic" Sylvia Browne was recently exposed as a fraud when Ohio kidnapping victim Amanda Berry was found alive. Some 10 years ago, Browne had told Amanda's mother that she was dead. I guess Browne didn't see that one coming! Pseudo-science nuts probably aren't capable of understanding what I am about to say, because if they could then they would have long since given up their irrational clinginess to such fantasies as chupacabra, Loch Ness Monster, ghosts, aliens, bigfoot, purple unicorns, and reincarnation. A quick perusal of the hostile comments left on 1-star reviews is a clue to the mindset of these gullible marshmallow heads, who insist that there is no solution except that the critical thinkers among us suspend our disbelief in the irrational, and come down to their level.

Of the flaws in reincarnation belief, of which there are many, the fundamental flaw is that believers leap frog over the simplest, most explanatory hypotheses, namely, that (then) 6-year-old James Leininger was the victim of suggestion and an unhealthy dose of confabulation by his relatives, and jump straight to the most outlandish, most complex conclusion, that reincarnation must be the answer. Of course children don't make up memories that have no basis in reality or experience (wink wink).

Let's go back to 1983, when the McMartin family of the McMartin Preschool in California came under extremely serious accusations of sodomizing preschool children. All members of the McMartin family were ultimately acquitted when it became apparent that the children were acquiescing to their parents' expectations, and that the children themselves were not the source of their "memories" of sexual abuse. Such is the case of James Leininger.

The neurology of memory shares an interesting duality with experience, because the memory of an experience is reflected in the modification of neural pathways in the brain. I wouldn't say exactly that neural pathways make the memory, but engineering of the brain may someday prove otherwise. False memories, for instance, can be stimulated on the operating table under surgery. At the same time, it is possible for the brain to form images of objects and events that never actually took place. If this were not so, then reading a fiction novel would not be entertaining.

A Tom Clancy novel uses many events and persons from real life and history, yet we would not confuse a Tom Clancy novel with actual history. Such is the case with the narrative in Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot. The author, Leininger's father wrote the book under the mistaken belief that if he used a judicious quanta of fact and history, then that must somehow legitimize what is otherwise a tragic story of exploitation and psychological abuse. But, what could be the motive for writing a book about your child being reincarnated? Surely not book deals and TV interviews...

This was a tragic case of child exploitation. Not only tragic for the boy's sake, but also the relatives of Mr. Huston who were indecently imposed upon to partake of this narcissistic folly.

So many reviewers have observed that the book seemed too focused on the parents' story, and not young James's story. There is a good reason for this, one so obvious to the skeptic but completely lost on the believer: This story, lock, stock, and barrel IS the parents' story. Perhaps not consciously or deliberately contrived, but from the beginning the "reincarnation" narrative was spoon fed and nurtured. Lo and behold, what do you know? ABC and the History Channel liked it, and now a book! Some day when James becomes a man, I would hope he emerges from his indoctrination to give his independent account, without his mother and father coaching from the sidelines.

There is abundant evidence that James's narrative just doesn't line up with certain facts. Facts that are left out of the book because they are so inconvenient to the narrative. Facts like the discovery that young James had visited an airplane museum when very young, and shortly after the visit his nightmares began. At the museum there was a Corsair exhibit.

The airplane Mr. Huston was shot down in was not a Corsair, but an FM-2 Tomcat, which is a completely different looking plane.

Reading these reviews, and the negative vote pounding one can expect if you offer a skeptical viewpoint, but an equally positive vote campaign one can expect if you provide a "believer's" perspective, this all sounds overly religious to me. It is obvious that the majority of readers want some supernatural explanation, and are positively phobic about rational, psychological explanations for young James Leininger believing he is the reincarnation of a World War II pilot. Unfortunately, there is no proof here, and the evidence is very loose, subject to a liberal degree of misinterpretation.

It seems very likely that what happened was young James's responses and expectations were reinforced--and I'm not saying deliberately reinforced, but reinforced in subliminal ways to conform to the "reincarnation" narrative.

Fails to convince, sorry. This is a fake story concocted by the parents. Some day I believe James will have to admit this to himself, and hopefully the rest of us.
Comment Comments (44) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 7, 2015 8:23 AM PST


Name That Republican: A Field Guide to the Rogues and Rascals of the GOP
Name That Republican: A Field Guide to the Rogues and Rascals of the GOP
by Doug Mayer
Edition: Cards
25 used & new from $1.17

4.0 out of 5 stars Hillarious and informative, August 25, 2008
The crew at my newspaper gave this to me as a going away gift, and I must assume also a gag. Is my political ideology that transparent?

I have been studying these cards for several days now. It comprises 50 of the most stalwart Grand Ol' Party-poopers. Officials, pundits, commentators, talk show hosts and televangelists are represented.

Each card has a subtly caricatured portrait (yikes, Katherine Harris! There's a fine line between glamor and garbage scow), their nicknames, positions, and the reverse side includes fun facts, failures/successes, and quotable quotes.

- Who said orgies "eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged"? (hint- fortunately for the girls in the White House secretarial pool it's not Dick Cheney)

- Sean Patrick Hannity (No. 42): "Iraqis are not going to be bombed by the United States. The United States will use pinpoint accuracy, just like we always do."

- James Clayton Dobson (No. 28): Fun Facts - Born again at age 3, when he broke into tears at the altar during church service, begging for forgiveness. Despite acting like a religious authority, including preaching, quoting scripture, and waving a Bible while speaking, he has no theological credentials whatsoever.

- Richard Bruce Cheney (No. 2)- Quotable Quotes - "Go f*** yourself," said to Senator Patrick Leahy on Senate floor.

This isn't a game, it's a field guide. Study these cards like you would study wild birds or poisonous mushrooms, and arm yourself against the adversary. Cheney already is: "Bald; rotund; may be pointing 28-gauge shotgun at your face."


Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America
Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America
by Steven Waldman
Edition: Hardcover
100 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair and balanced, as were they, July 24, 2008
A couple things make this book exceptional. The first thing the reader will soon notice is Waldman's even handed portrayal of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Henry, Franklin, et al. He is, however, no apologist, nor should he be. Yet, the reasons for the "grand infidel" Jefferson's insistence on isolating Congress from decisions over states' sovereignty with regard to religion deserves--demands--that we understand his motives.

By the way, I live not far from the Massachusetts town of Cheshire, and John Leland's First Baptist Church, the one mentioned in the opening paragraph, where in 1802 local farmers presented Jefferson with a 1,235 pound cheese, emblazoned with "REBELLION TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD." Coincidentally, I attended my friend's memorial service inside that very same Cheshire First Baptist Church only two weeks ago, and mentioned this book to its present pastor.

Leland, by the way, was considered a "theological forefather" of Jerry Falwell, yet the two couldn't have been more different on the position of separation of religion and government.

"Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion in choosing representatives," Leland wrote.

The alliance of the devoutly religious with Jefferson is a remarkable testimonial to the First Amendment's protection over religious freedoms, and the gift cheese is emblematic of everything hoped for in a new nation's constitution.

The second interesting thing is the research is a hybrid of primary, later, and internet sources. If you don't read the extensive notes pages, you'll be missing out on about one-sixth the content. It's probably starting to become de rigeur, but still interesting that Waldman will list complete web page URLs as his sources. Of course, Waldman is something of his own internet source, being a founder of belief.net.

The major hero of the story is James Madison, who began his adult life as a Congregationalist in New Jersey, but whose eyes were opened when he observed Philadelphia's laissez faire. There he had an epiphany, that government should in no wise stand on any issue even remotely religious, even deciding on such seemingly innocuous matters as Sunday postal closings or Thanksgiving fasts.

Waldman eventually deconstructs contemporary myths that have grown up about our Founding Fathers' "intent," and explores the burning question of our time, whether the U.S. was really established to be a "Christian nation." He even makes an attempt at divining their psyche with respect to modern attributions on these important issues.

One of the pleasant surprises to me was learning how incredibly tolerant and non-partisan George Washington was about religious plurality.

I checked the book out from my local library, but I wouldn't mind owning a personal copy for future reference. I suggest combining this with Susan Jacoby's "Freethinkers"
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 15, 2009 3:01 PM PST


Songs of the Bushmen Pre-Release EP
Songs of the Bushmen Pre-Release EP

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bone to pick, July 17, 2008
Shearer's sharp political acumen continues to dazzle his admirers and torment the regimented "get with the programmers," otherwise known as Clear Channel, "the good people behind Rush Limbaugh and other forms of bad radio," writes Shearer on Huffington Post.

The song collection is quite an inexpensive parody kit, and one must admire Shearer's technological savoire fare. Do Republicans sell MP3 downloads on Amazon? They probably don't know about that yet, but they'll eventually get around to learning about it as a side effect of their email spyware metrics.

While Shearer's works can be either hit or miss, in my opinion (still undecided about Not Enough Indians), if you love to poke fun of such Grand Ol' Party poopers as Clear Channel, Fox, and smug arrogance, I recommend Songs of the Bushmen as a new party favorite.


Timothy Leary: A Biography
Timothy Leary: A Biography
by Peter O. Whitmer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.72
107 used & new from $0.48

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Archangel of psychedelia: A fall from grace, July 6, 2008
Timothy Leary's significance to the fate of the hallucinogens is summarized by the last sentence of Chapter 11: "Instead, even as the torch of government in America was being passed to a new generation, they handed the future of psychedelic research to the wrong man."

Many modern users of psychedelics bemoan Leary as a terrible public relations representative, which I believe is true. Under Hoffman, Osmond and Janiger LSD was hardly a blip on the screen.

Timothy Leary: A Biography is about how Timothy Leary's incompetence brought down the American psychedelics movement. As inextricable as Leary was to the story of LSD, the latter had its own identity, the full scope of which isn't properly characterized in this book. While given cursory recognition, contemporaneous phenomena such as Haight Ashbury, Owsley, the Hell's Angels, the Grateful Dead, etc. are better represented in Jay Stevens' "Storming Heaven."

The most poignant moment in the book isn't even text, it's a photograph of young Susan Leary sitting with her father in Laredo Texas, 1964. It's a crop from a photo that appeared in Life magazine, post-bust. She doesn't look 17, either, but more like 10 or 11. Greenfield's interpretation is uncannily wrong, in my opinion.

"The message conveyed by the photograph is one of outright pathology, a father-daughter relationship that had already gone so far wrong that nothing could ever set it right again."

I must be looking at a different picture. Any man who has ever had a daughter will immediately recognize the reciprocal, father-daughter bond. Susan looks up at her father in adoration (Greenfield at least got this right), worship and perhaps longing, while Timothy spreads his hands apart, as if telling a fish story or tall tale. Absent of any circumstantial knowledge (the photo was taken while Leary was appealing his 30-year marijuana conviction) one is emotionally overwhelmed by the eternal, primal father-daughter love that transcends moral rectitude.

Poor Susan, her story would be a touching biography.

Greenfield shows a morsel of sympathy toward the draconian prison sentence, calling it "incredibly harsh." He calls a Time magazine article "smug." A Buffalo doctor who wrote the New York Times said it best, comparing 30 years for pot possession to the 26-year sentences Malcolm X's murderers received. One must wonder what the judge's own son or daughter might have received for the same offense. Such is the hypocrisy of the American justice system.

"Those who love Timothy Leary will hate your book," wrote Greenfield. In fact, after reading Biography I don't find myself hating him at all. Leary comes across as one who rose to fame on the tenderloins of human frailty. Even the principled greatness of John F. Kennedy or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can be cast in unflattering revision. Learning our heroes' feet are clay isn't likely to change our minds. Out of his even distribution of innuendo the reader does come away with a sense that Greenfield is trying to provoke antipathy. But, biographers rarely have the power to detract from their subject's authentic accomplishments.

Overall, Greenfield wasn't too irresponsibly sleazy, but we discern a pattern of artistic license. He inflicts an incredible erotic scene upon the reader which suggests that young Timothy was turned on by his mother's gams while she weeded her garden. Wherever he has the choice, Greenfield would extrapolate the most negative possibility out of threadbare evidence, so the reader must weigh Greenfield's intention with a grain of salt. The reader who has already irrevocably damned Leary need not think at all, merely read and go along for the ride.

The emerging theme is that of a succession of bad choices. Leary could have been a respectable emissary of alternative consciousness, but a selfish, adolescent need for instant gratification, especially with respect to women and alcohol impaired his judgment. Lack of commitment and follow through collapsed his ambitious enterprises into a tornado-like wake of destruction. Timothy Leary, too engrossed in future possibilities never noticed because he never looked over his shoulder long enough to take inventory.

Biography is well sourced, well footnoted and engaging. It is climactic and sad, full of unrealized ideals and potential, hedonism and wasted lives, arrogant politicians, ignorant townsfolk and police harassment.

As a curious afterthought, that forty years of politicians demonizing both Leary and LSD have done nothing at all to quell the need to explore consciousness through chemical agents, and Biography could only be successful because Leary is an enduring icon of a fantastic age.


The Collected Works of C.G. Jung: Volume 9, Part II, AION: Researches Into the Phenomenology of the Self
The Collected Works of C.G. Jung: Volume 9, Part II, AION: Researches Into the Phenomenology of the Self
by Carl Gustav Jung
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $48.33
41 used & new from $10.25

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aion: Christ as model for perfection of consciousness, May 23, 2008
"Jung in a nutshell" does not do justice to this topic. It is a bowl of nuts.

But my very rudimentary understanding (to put forth one nut of many) is that consciousness, or the differentiation of self is a progression, which arises from a world of the unconscious. Anybody might say such a thing and get lucky, without having read Aion at all. But to read Aion and then say it is putting your money where your mouth is.

The template of self begins at the Anthropos (relying on the second-to-last chapter on the quaternario schema), and crystalizes in the lapis, where consciousness becomes fully realized.

Jung was not prosyletizing Christianity, but used Christ as an allegory of development of self. This is why he resorts to alchemy and Gnosticism, more than patristic forms of Christianity. He saw the philosophical underpinnings of Christianity as a workable model to explain how the higher human, who operates on his environment as well as on his own thinking, rises above his primal, animalist soma.

We began as a perfect template in the realm of the unconscious, we descended into the world of formation (borrowing from the Sephir Yetzirah here), or "Physis," as Jung called it, only to rise again through the quaternario ladder to become Anthropos once again.

By the way, the reader might note that in later chapters Jung seems to drop any mention about "Aion", a term better explained in the middle parts of the book (Ch. 5-11). I think Jung wanted us to apply his quaternario model on a meta-scale, not just as an explanation of the perfection of self and the emergence of consciousness.

As we know, we are nearing the end of the present Piscean Aion (the Jesus era), which was preceded by the war-like Arien Aion (the Greco/Roman conquest era), but which is to be followed by a more intellectual Aquarian Aion (whatever that will be).

The progression of the Aions, I think Jung hoped we would discern, correspond directly to his quaternario schema, and that human consciousness is tied to the meta-physical laws of the universe (in this case, astronomy) just like the ocean's tides correspond to the lunar phases.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 31, 2011 11:04 AM PST


Legend of Bigfoot / Escape from Angola (Double Feature)
Legend of Bigfoot / Escape from Angola (Double Feature)
DVD ~ Paula Lebrot
32 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psychology of big foot, October 12, 2007
Reviews about "Legend of Bigfoot" I have read on other sites can be amazingly shortsighted. One reviewer called this film "pointless and boring." In fact, the footage is stunningly beautiful. We see wildlife footage rarely seen. Most of it dating to the 1950s. Near the beginning of the film, we see Marx's wife turn a page on a calendar, it is 1951. Data point.

Wildlife Tracker Ivan Marx has been all over North America, from the southwest desert to north of the arctic circle in both Alaska and the Yukon. He filmed spectacular scenes of wolves, mountain lions, musk ox, mountain goats eating dirt, and the biggest bull moose I have ever seen. I have seen a lot of moose, this one was the "monarch".

I think someone who finds nature footage "pointless and boring" might be considered sensationalist, and is probably looking for closeups, DNA testing, incontrovertible proof.

Beyond that, nature seems to actually bore such people. How can you be, on the one hand, interested in the subject of a wild creature, as is the supposed bigfoot, but on the other hand find nature boring? I am reminded of a Japanese soldier who was discovered living on a South Pacific island in the 1970s, he didn't quite realize the war had ended, though he suspected it. When he was returned to Japan, he was startled by youth's loss of appreciation for nature. I think this movie shows a lot of the nature that probably doesn't exist any more. Even during the filming, Marx showed habitat loss in Alaska, with the beginning of the building of the Alaska Pipeline. Back to the Japanese soldier, who was saddened by a loss of sensitivity to nature. "Nature is never boring," he said, in translated quotation.

Anyway, it seems to be a contradiction to be interested in the bigfoot, but disinterested in its living habitat.

What I am driving at is how remarkably Marx does what other bigfoot documentaries fail to do, and that is actually get to bigfoot by sensitizing himself to the habitat and living patterns of wild life, in general. Most bigfoot hunting documentaries seem disproportionately focused on the actual creature, which happens to exist within a wild context. The wild life, in other words, is almost always secondary and incidental. Marx's psychology is superb. Like a detective, he uncovers what makes the bigfoot tick, and maps out a probable migration pattern, follows it, and proves his hypothesis.

To those who blindly zero in on the bigfoot by isolating it from its relationship to wildlife, you remind me of another reviewer who said something about being an "armchair" sasquatch hunter. That armchair is the problem. This documentary has nothing to do with armchairs, it is a naturalist providing us with a naturalist's view of the nature; it is immersion journalism.

As for the actual bigfoot images we see, I am undecided, but in the main I think they are authentic. Here's why: Not a whole lot about this film seems staged. Marx gives me an impression of being the salt-of-the-earth type, an exemplary tracker. The style is that 1950's "Ward Clever" or Roy Rogers style of narration. While Marx is impassioned, albeit in a simple, country way, he is also anti-sensationalist. I can tell Marx is a genuine animal lover, as he stated in the beginning that he only tracked and shot animals that were real problems to ranchers and people. I can totally identify with this character, everything about him strikes me as reminiscent of such people I have met in my own life. The tons of footage on other animals is not only interesting and beautiful to look at, but relevant, as well. He wants us to see the bigfoot as we see other wild creatures. He's right!

*Escape From Angola*
I suppose I need to comment on the second film packaged with this DVD, "Escape from Angola". Well, I don't find I have a lot of good things to say. The sound track was lousy, I had to double the volume on my television to barely hear it. Africa was beautiful, of course. The Tors brothers sort of remind me the Hanson brothers, with their Seventies-ish long hair. All very machismo, patronizing in a misogynist and colonialist sort of way.


Dreamland [Slim Case]
Dreamland [Slim Case]
DVD ~ Bruce Burgess
Offered by shopWOOP!
Price: $9.99
36 used & new from $0.01

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fails to impress, September 20, 2007
This review is from: Dreamland [Slim Case] (DVD)
Bruce Burgess is a journalist with time to kill and money to spend. When he's not a passenger in a Cessna skirting around Nellis Air Force Base (where Area 51 is located), or testing the legal boundaries with tepid attempts to penetrate Nevada airports, he is flying to Russia, leaning against barbed wire fences. His motto seems to be, "This is as close as we could get."

Now, I don't fault Burgess for trying. However, he shouldn't present his attemps and near-misses as "proof" of UFOs. Certainly, something strange seems to be going on in Area 51, but we can't quite say based on Burgess's evidence that whatever is going on is unearthly.

Before I critique some of Burgess's evidence, let me ask this question: If a flying saucer was discovered in Roswell in 1947, and if the U.S. Air Force has reverse engineered alien technology, why aren't we using it?

- Now, let's look at some of the so-called evidence presented. We get quite a lot of footage of grainy night skies with white dots and circles in the sky.

- We get some day time footage of white dots bouncing up and down in the sky.

- We get one very grainy, unresolved film clip of a thin, horizontal line moving from right to left, quickly, over a desert backdrop.

- We get one computer-enhanced short video clip of something shaped like a horizontal line moving across the sky from left to right.

- We get the "flying canisters".

- The best video clip comes from a news channel covering an anniversary celebration of some type held near Area 51. That clip was the most clear, most puzzling video of all of them in the film.

None of these video clips is very stable and well-focused. None show closeups. A white dot in the sky...so what?

Burgess shows a short vintage film clip of a 1950s era American made flying disk, that barely manages to stay more than two feet in the air. It looks more like a hovercraft. Also, it is still an aerodynamic vehicle, not really an anti-gravity vehicle. Burgess asks mysteriously, "The Air Force scrapped the project 10 years later...they wouldn't say why." Well, for starters, the thing could barely fly. When it did remain airborne, even I could have outrun it. No mention of this albatross making it above the stratosphere, much less into space.

Then there is Robert Lazar, who professes to have worked for a while at Area 51, then claims to have blown the whistle on a "cover up." We briefly get to see a copy of Lazar's W-2 form. His entire taxable income from the U.S. Navy was less than $1,000. How important could he have been? As another strange looking physicist Friedman notes, Lazar's story has the sound of a Walter Mitty.

Then, we hear from a woman who purportedly worked as an air traffic controller at Nellis. She is afraid for her safety, so they filmed her in silhouette. The joke of it is, we can still clearly see her, and her voice isn't altered at all. We see her hair, her double chin, her eyes, her eyebrows. She couldn't have been less mysterious had she walked into the room wearing a teddy from Victoria Secret. If I had ever worked with this woman at any time, I could easily tell you who she was. The filmmakers did very little to disguise her identity; it couldn't have been very important to begin with.

A lot of research obviously went into the production of this piece of journalism. Burgess is eager, intrepid, energetic and curious. He asks good questions. Unfortunately, it's not enough to satisfy me. By no means does he come remotely close to resolving long-standing questions about the existence of extra-terrestrials. He seems to extrapolate proof from evidence that is tenuous, at best, to absurdly specious at worst. I had learned absolutely nothing about aliens or alien craft. What I did learn was that Area 51 is a well-guarded secret, and things fly over it at night. But, we already know that!

I give it three stars for its entertainment value.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 14, 2009 4:50 PM PST


9/11 - The Myth and the Reality
9/11 - The Myth and the Reality
DVD ~ Dr. David Ray Griffin
Price: $20.00
12 used & new from $7.72

83 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too many unanswered questions, September 15, 2007
The CIA is the agency that dosed unwitting participants with LSD in the 1950's MK Ultra project. They have already proven dangerous to U.S. citizens, why should we think otherwise? Other "false flag" and pretense operations include the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine ("Remember the Maine"), and a 2005 report showing that at least a second alleged attack against American destroyers at the Gulf of Tonkin, which propelled U.S. involvement into the Vietnam Civil War did not occur.

Theological philosopher David Griffin de-constructs long-standing American myths one at a time. That the U.S. Government is above reproach in approbate responses, like attacking Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq is one such myth. As a culture, we simply cannot get our minds around the possibility that our own government is often our adversary. Probably not so much at local government levels, but certainly at the highest levels.

So, Griffin debunks myths about the goodness of U.S. Government, and has done a fair amount of digging into evidence mysteriously avoided in the 9/11 Commission Report.

- NORAD issued three different explanations about whether they were or were not called by the FAA to track hijacked airplanes.

- Mysterious "stand down" orders from on high (re: Cheney's office), which permitted the planes to crash into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

- Mysterious spike of "put option" purchases on United Airlines, American Airlines and Morgan Stanley days before the attacks, suggesting that somebody knew in advance of impending attacks, and that whoever the purchaser was, they made tons of money off the subsequent falling stock values of those companies.

- Some double-talk by Cheney about when he was notified about hijackings, the startling revelation that George Bush's own brother was in charge of the company that oversaw security at the WTC.

- The impossible collapse of the Twin Towers, plus Tower No. 7, which must be recognized as a carefully orchestrated implosion. Griffin compares the collapse of the towers with other sky scrapers around the world that suffered much hotter fires for much longer periods, but the structures of which remained standing, even after floors collapsed. The Twin Towers had many steel core columns that should not have collapsed to what ended up being only a couple stories high of rubble.

Worse, a video of the collapse of Tower 7 shows a remarkably precise free fall. Yet, inexplicably, only a few floors were on fire. Some might say, "oh, yeah, well the Twin Towers' structural integrity was compromised because they were hit by jets," but Tower No. 7 wasn't hit by a jet! Fire made it collapse? Incredible, in the most literal sense of the word.

One of the very few companies licensed for tactical implosion-type demolition made "a tidy profit" when they were hired to clean up the rubble. We'll never know why those monstrous steel girders collapsed because the steel was shipped overseas to be smelted. The forensic evidence was tampered with.

- A Sheraton Hotel and a CITGO gas station's surveillance cameras were confiscated by Gov. agents after the supposed plane crashed into the Pentagon. If it was a 757, like the Government is telling everybody, why can't we see those films? What's the big secret?

These are a few among many solid questions Griffin asks. His scathing indictment of the 9/11 Commission Report as being an inside job, with Phillip Zelakow, a long-time Administration friend and colleague as too closely affiliated with the Administration to provide impartial, penetrating guidance of investigations. Those investigations, by the way, were severely compromised, and the final report reads more like an appeasement, neatly tying together explanations to satisfy a war-hungry public.

And, war is just what the desired effect was. Getting back to my opening statements, the need for a Pearl Harbor-like attack was, Griffin conjectures, exactly what Empire expansion requires to mobilize public opinion to a war, the underlying purpose of which is fat private contracts and the securing of natural resources (read, "oil").

Griffin sprinkles many other unusual little tidbit mysteries throughout his presentation, which seemed to switch between two locations throughout the film, at The Commonwealth Club, San Francisco and The Grand Lake Theater, Oakland. He provided some comic relief, too, especially still shots of Cheney's ubiquitous snarl...He really does snarl!

- Found in the micro-pulverized rubble of the WTC was an intact passport supposedly belonging to one of the hijackers! The fire was supposedly hot enough to melt steel (which it wasn't, by the way), but a paper passport survived intact? Worse than incredible, scary. We don't know who to trust any more.

Griffin recognizes it is normal for citizens to think in patriotic terms. Most of us are patriots, he conjectures, and as such, we can barely conceive that our own Government (again, at the highest levels) would murder its citizens to start a war for commercial purposes. Yet, that seems to be exactly the case, and everything the President and Vice President have since done shows every indication that they are above the law, beyond the reach of Constitution or conscience.

By the way, much comment has been made on President Bush's facial gestures in that Florida school room when he was told of the attack. I personally don't see any clues in his look. To me, he looked worried and thoughtful, and that's about all I can deduce from his body language. A lot of people, including myself, when we first heard about the first plane crash didn't properly process that news.

Now, are there any weak spots in Griffin's analysis? I think there are. It's rather confusing and non-specific, but Griffin gives the impression that the hijackers were not necessarily who they were said to be. The "planted" passport in the WTC rubble, for instance; and that another of the named hijackers, Walid Al-Shiri turned up 11 days later in Morocco, where he worked as a pilot. During a Q&A session, Griffin answers, "Do we know that?" to one of the questions about Solicitor General Oleson's wife Barbara being on the plane that struck the Pentagon. He somehow implies that she might be elsewhere, alive, or who knows where, since it is his contention that a plane did not really hit the Pentagon.

Well, whether or not a plane really did hit the Pentagon, and whether or not Barbara Oleson was on that plane, we have pretty conclusive proof in the form of hundreds, if not thousands of eyewitness testimony, and amateur videos that planes hit the WTC towers. Those planes weren't flying themselves. There were people on those planes. There's a certain incongruity about being a skeptic about who the hijackers were, on the one hand, but knowing that there were hijackers, on the other. If the hijackers were not Mohammed Atta, et. al., then who? And why, if our government was complicit, would some men commit suicide, if not for ideological hatred of America? These are loose ends in Griffin's logic. I don't believe he should answer them just to make an elegant, persuasive polemic, because then he is guilty of the same transgression he accuses the 9/11 Commission of doing: Formulating an elegant and intuitively sensible story. If Barbara Oleson did lose her life on a hijacked plane, it might be seen as insensitive and irresponsible to imply she was "in on it." At one point Griffin even suggests that Flight 77 crashed in Tennessee, not the Pentagon. I don't think you can hide a crashed 757 in the Tennessee mountains for six years, but I might be guilty of falling for False Myth #3: "Such a big plan could not have been kept a secret because so many people were in on it."
Comment Comments (30) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2013 3:43 PM PDT


The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead
by Ayn Rand
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.36
576 used & new from $0.01

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Drawing my own conclusions, September 8, 2007
Having heard that Rand was the poster-child for unrestrained capitalism, I wanted to read The Fountainhead with a mind to hate Rand. When I finally had an opportunity to buy a used copy, a 50th Anniversary Edition, it was shamelessly full of in-my-face self-promotion and Ayn Rand marketing hype. Before I could even begin to read the story, she had two-strikes against her.

Inexplicably, I found myself liking the story, and even appreciating what Rand was trying to tell the reader through the voice and actions of her characters. It was also a fun read, a page turner for at least the first 400 pages. And, while there was a lot of tedium in the last 200 pages, the story climaxed fruitfully at the trial. I was climbing walls during Toohey's God-awful monologue in Peter Keating's apartment.

At extremes of believability in the four or five main characters, there was Wynand on the believable end of the spectrum, and Toohey on the list of the century's least believable characters of any novel. I felt that Rand had to satirize the Collectivist in order to scapegoat him. Ellsworth Monkton Toohey wasn't just satire, he was a caricature.

Keating, Roark and Dominique each had their shining moments, but Roark's didn't come until the end: Once, when Keating sold his dignity (yet again) for the Cortland Homes, and also at the trial. Before those flourishes of verbosity, it was as if Roark was unable to speak in complex sentences. If you had to ask yourself honestly, how was Roark any different from an idiot savant, you wouldn't be able to show that he was.

Though her characters wouldn't necessarily behave like people you or I might know, Rand used them effectively to teach her little lesson about where America seemed to her to be going. As for character types, I know Peter Keatings and Ellsworth Tooheys. My disgust for some of these people in my own life actually came into focus after reading The Fountainhead.

And, each of us have seen the bad and ugly side of capitalism, but compared with the prospect of losing individuality, creativity and the purity of our own excellence, I guess it is an idea worth defending. This review comes a day after reading that Osama is telling all Americans we must convert to Islam, and only then will he stop terrorizing us. Pause for thought.

The Fountainhead was predictable at every step of the way. I found myself saying, "Keating will stab this guy in the back and get his job," "Keating is going to ask Roark to do his work," etc, from start to finish. There was one event I didn't know how it was going to turn out, and that was what defense Roark was going to use at his trial, and the trial's outcome. But, even Guy Francon, Dominique's father kind of gave that away when she and he were talking over the phone. That defense, by the way, seemed rather brilliant to me. First, it explained satisfactorily why Roark did what he did; second, it was a genius bit of psychology to cause the jurors to think of themselves as Creationists and not Collectivists. Put in those terms, who could refuse?

Ironic that the Second-hand Man was so reprehensible to Roark, and yet he ended up marrying a second-hand woman. I conclude the whole dysfunctional relationship with Dominique could only be explained as Rand's sexual fantasy. After all, look at Roark: The strong, silent type. Red hair, sweats a lot, full of testosterone. Look at his antithesis, Toohey: diminutive, doesn't engage in anything physical, 100-percent cerebral.

If you can read The Fountainhead as a novel without getting carried away by the Ayn Rand philosophy merchandising, then there is no reason why it should not be an enjoyable, educational read.

Incidentally, I recently got to see some of Rand's world played out in real life. Two camps of people were promoting a new town flag, or condemning its artistic merits. The against side were invoking some pretty specious accusations, ones that seemed they couldn't substantiate, when questioned. A third man walked into the conversation from off the street. "Very nice," he said, making a statement of his own, without asking anyone what he should think. Later, another woman was asked, and she looked from face to face, unable to form an honest opinion all by herself. "I don't know, what am I supposed to think? Am I supposed to like this, or not? I'm not a history expert."


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