- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Conspiracy.com

“Nearly five years have gone by since it happened. The trial of Zacarias Moussaoui is over. Construction of the Freedom Tower just began. Oliver Stone’s movie about the attacks is due out in theaters soon. And colleges are offering degrees in homeland-security management. The post-9/11 era is barreling along.

“And yet a whole subculture is still stuck at that first morning. They are … looking for clues that it was an ‘inside job.’ They feel sure the post-9/11 era is built on a lie.

“In recent months, interest in September 11-conspiracy theories has surged. Since January, traffic to the major conspiracy Web sites has increased steadily. The number of blogs that mention ‘9/11’ and ‘conspiracy’ each day has climbed from a handful to over a hundred. …

“[Early this month], 500 conspiracy theorists descended on the Embassy Suites for a conference called ‘9/11: Revealing the Truth — Reclaiming Our Future.’ It was the most substantial gathering of the ‘9/11 truth movement,’ as the conspiracy theorists call themselves, to date.”

— John Gravois, writing on “Professors of Paranoia?” in the June 23 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education

Wobegon tale

“It is time for us to sit down, as a culture, and have an honest talk about Garrison Keillor. … He has come to represent a crucial schism in the national taste — the Great Continental Divide between sarcasm and earnestness, snark and purity, the corrupt and the wholesome. … How has someone so relentlessly inoffensive managed to become so divisive? …

“Keillor invented a fictional territory — a mythical Minnesota hamlet called Lake Wobegon, ‘the little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve’ — and dedicated his career to exploring it. … He honored his native culture by gently mocking it. …

“Although Keillor is in almost every way the polar opposite of Howard Stern, they are working on similar projects. They’ve engineered personae to shake listeners out of what they see as unhealthy modern diseases — in Stern’s case, the plague of sexual repression; in Keillor’s, our addiction to television, the Internet, glibness, and distraction. Both men are shock jocks, Keillor is the shock jock of wholesomeness.”

— Sam Anderson, writing on “A Prairie Home Conundrum,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

Liberal loser

“If you want to be treated kindly by history, it’s helpful to choose the right friends, but crucial to choose the right enemies. Thanks to his views on laissez-faire capitalism, activist government, and the use of military force, William Jennings Bryan was the darling of the liberals of his age, which might be expected to inspire affection among the liberals of our age. But by standing against evolutionary theory in the Scopes trial, he provoked the glorious derision of H.L. Mencken and other progressive thinkers, thus dooming himself to be remembered mostly as a risible hayseed who stood in the way of science and got flattened. …

“It doesn’t help that Bryan is perhaps the most prodigious failure in American political history — nominated three times for president by the Democratic Party and getting beat each time. … His delivery of one of the most famous speeches in American history, his 1896 ‘cross of gold’ address, only confirms the common perception of Bryan as a religious crank whose oratory was as antiquated as his view of science.”

— Steve Chapman, writing on “The Prototypical Unelectable Liberal,” in the May issue of the American Spectator

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