Response to Cockburn's "Theory of the WTC Collapse" Part 1

In the most recent issue of the newsletter Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn published another rant against those who would question the official story of 9/11.

Cockburn begins his most recent hit piece by claiming that “9/11 nuts proffer…disturbing questions though they disdain all answers but their own," however as one reads it becomes clear that it is in fact Cockburn who prefers his own answers to questions raised by the impudent “nutters.” After all, Cockburn agrees with Michael Neumann's remark that there isn’t “a single serious question about 9-11,” and with Neumann's claim that whatever lingering doubts might remain in the minds of “nutters” derive from the same kind of irrationality that perpetuates beliefs in “angels, creationism, and…channeling.”

Putting aside the fact that both Neumann and Cockburn evidently fail to understand what a logical argument is as they both blithely engage in the fallacy of association, what is especially worth noting is that the most prominent source of disturbing questions about 9/11 is the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 independent commission. The family members of the victims of 9/11 had and still have many legitimate questions about 9/11 including why jets were unable to intercept the hijacked planes if they were airborne within eight minutes of notification? And the question of why NORAD apparently waited until after the second plane hit the WTC to try and prevent possible further attacks, and why the fighter jets that tailed flights 11 and 175 as they crashed into New York’s WTC were not rerouted to intercept flights 77 or 93, before they crashed into the Pentagon and Pennsylvania?

Many contradictory answers have been given by NORAD on these subjects. Recently tapes were released that contradicted the 9/11 commissions explanation to such a degree that Kean reportedly felt that the commission had been lied to by NORAD officials, although Kean admitted the commission did nothing about the lies and omitted any mention of them in the final report.

The tapes reveal that drills and wargames helped to create confusion that day. Again this fact was not revealed in the commission report.

So, according the families, and to Thomas Kean, important questions remain on the subject of NORAD's response or failure to respond to the hijackings, but Cockburn is not interested in learning why NORAD lied about the wargames, and suggests that those who seek to know to what extent these excercises interfered with standard operating procedure on September 11th are simply delusional.

After laying out his bias Cockburn then goes on to contradict himself. His next move, in fact, is to admit that Al Qaeda was probably infiltrated by military intelligence before 9/11. And Cockburn agrees with the nutters that intelligence reports were turned in that pointed to an impending onslaught and even to the manner in which the onslaught might be carried out, but he insists that US intelligence agencies failed to act on these reports because of an innate slowness and due to an eagerness not to compromise useful informants who “have to buttress credentials by even pressing for prompt action by the plotters.” The last point is interesting in that the question of informants who press for prompt action by the plotters is mostly irrelevant when it comes to 9/11, but could possibly apply to the previous attack on the WTC in 1993. During the trial of the Blind Sheik it came out that the FBI had infiltrated the cell responsible for the bombing and that the FBI informant, a Emad A. Salem, both urged the group to create an explosive to bring down the tower, and was originally planning to provide the cell with a phony harmless powder instead of explosive powder. The New York Times reported that Mr. Salem was to have “helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.” It may very well be that the first WTC bombing was a sting operation that was terribly, lethally, bungled, but this says nothing about the attacks of September 11th.

Cockburn of course mentions none of the specifics, he offers nothing in terms of actual evidence, but instead leaps from his half baked answer to the question of whether the strong evidence of US intelligence foreknowledge implies complicity or merely incompetence, a question he in fact doesn't even articulate, to the question of what hit the Pentagon. Here he gives hearsay as evidence, citing his brother’s claim to have seen photographs of a hole in the Pentagon that “clearly showed the outline of an entire plane including wings” rather than publishing the photograph itself or providing the reader with information on how to obtain the photograph.

Perhaps because he is aware of how unsatisfactory the evidence he provides is, Cockburn then turns out a litany of rhetorical questions hurled out seemingly at random.

He asks: “What happened to the 757? Did the conspirators shoot it down somewhere else, or force it down and kill the passengers? Why plan to demolish the towers with pre-placed explosives if your conspiracy includes control of the two planes? Why bother with planes at all? Why blame Osama if your fall guy is Saddam Hussein?”

Any answers to these questions would obviously be incredibly speculative, regardless of their truth value. Nobody will know precisely what hit the Pentagon, or more importantly, why it was possible to hit the Pentagon at all, nor will we know why the conspirators planned to demolish the buildings, without a truly independent investigation of all the evidence. An independent investigation of all the evidence is precisely what the people Cockburn calls "nutters" are calling for and it precisely what Cockburn refuses to admit is necessary as he refuses to admit that any legitimate questions remain.

After this assault of phony questions Cockburn offers up an assertion that is probably born out of ignorance. He claims that the 9/11 conspiracy theorists scorn the notion that the WTC towers may have crashed down because they were badly built.

In fact, this is precisely the reason given for the building’s collapse at, a prominent 9/11 conspiracy website. Further, it is those who would seek answers to questions about 9/11, for instance those who seek to understand precisely how fire and damage could bring down the Towers in such a unexpected way, who are most likely to force the revelation of how the faulty construction of the Towers is responsible. Certainly the phony 9/11 Commission did not bring this forward, and neither has NIST, as both studies are designed not to fault any agency or institution, but rather to provide justifications for the failures and reasons to expand the power of the intelligence agencies most at fault.

It is also worth noting that it is largely the 9/11 conspiracy nuts who are talking about the effect of asbestos and other toxins on first responders to the WTC, and on New Yorkers in general. The EPA issued an entirely false report stating the air was clean shortly after the attacks, and it is this group that is pointing most stridently at the illegality and immorality of Whitman and Rice’s report on air quality.

At this point we leave the first section of Cockburn’s hit piece behind and encounter the main point of the article, after all he did not title his essay “Every Asinine and Illogical reason I can cook up to dismiss those who are still asking questions about 9/11,” but instead chose to entitle his essay “A Theory of the WTC Collapses.”

In the next part of this response we'll look at exactly what Cockburn's explanation is, and how well it holds up to commonly held standards about what constitutes evidence.

Can't wait for Part 2.

Nice job.


I heard Cockburn give an excellent talk on the history of neoliberalism last Tuesday. He's very sharp, has much to say that is worth listening to, but I don't understand his 9/11 position (which he wouldn't discuss at the lecture). Perhaps it's an ego issue for a person with an encyclopedic knowledge of how the world works, and 9/11 doesn't fit in to this vision. Rather than to waste time on this fellow who will have mud on his face, let's focus our efforts and spread the truth in the best way we can. No one knows it all, and Cockburn has earned his right to say what he thinks, even if he has missed the boat on this one.

Do you think it's a waste of

Do you think it's a waste of time to offer a rebuttal? Cockburn has a right to say what he think, a right that everyone has actually regardless of credentials, but that doesn't mean nobody should debate him on the facts, does it?


No, take the gloves off, but why waste your efforts on an individual who essentialy knows that our Goverment is rotten and needs to be cleaned up. Perhaps it's better to work on those who haven't seen the light on 9/11, rather than to chew on Cockburn whose present rant against the truth movement is off track.


No, take the gloves off, but why waste your efforts on an individual who essentialy knows that our Goverment is rotten and needs to be cleaned up. Perhaps it's better to work on those who haven't seen the light on 9/11, rather than to chew on Cockburn whose present rant against the truth movement is off track.

I generally appreciate the

I generally appreciate the work of Cockburn, I find Counterpunch to be a very helpful publication, but the established radical left's dismissal of those who want to reexamine 911 is very frustrating. Even if the incompetence theory proves out to be entirely correct, Cockburn and company are standing in the way of revealing THAT truth by their refusal to admit any legitimate questions exist.

He hasn't just missed the

He hasn't just missed the boat. From the sounds of it he's fallen into the drink and still insists he's bone dry!

Sorry, the "angels, creationism,...channeling" comment doesn't wash. That's just nasty irrationalism. Either he believes it, or someone's gotten to him.

Cockburn's position on the "911 truth" movement

is entirely correct. "Truthers" avoid reading or considering the much better scientific evidence against their on no Boeing hitting the Pentagon or WTC 1 & 2 being brought down by controlled demolitions. Instead, "911 truthers" start with distortions and misrepresentations of facts and then follow the conclusions derived from them by the likes of Fetzer, Griffin, Hoffman, Jones, etc. These have been discreditted and one good place to start and see this is by reading Dunn's exchange with Fetzer. Don't become a "nutter" and read the other sides points of view then you'll see who is pulling the wool over your eyes.

Reread my response to

Reread my response to Cockburn again. I, for one, am not attached to the CD hypothesis. Rather I think there are legitimate questions about the collapse of the towers, and more importantly there is substantiated evidence of foreknowledge and cover-up.

Give us an example

"Instead, "911 truthers" start with distortions and misrepresentations of facts and then follow the conclusions derived from them by the likes of Fetzer, Griffin, Hoffman, Jones, etc."

Give us an example. Just one. Really. In two clear parts.

First part: state distortion/misrepresentaion person alledgedly STARTS with.
Second part: conclusion derived.

Feel free to paraphrase, but expect to be challenged on your understanding.

Personally, as a 911 Truther, I always start with:

Pre-meditated murder is always a conspiracy; those who tamper with the crime scene and the investigation become accesories to murder. We're not a monolithic block, mate.

I look forward to seeing your homework assignment.

For extra credit you can try to explain his gratuitous rudeness.

the much better scientific evidence

Man this statement is classic crap. Sounds like Evolution vs. Creation blah blah...

Let us wipe our minds of all the junk we have been hearing and reading about this and look at the actual, real situation inside the buildings after they were struck by the planes. Don't start; I know what you’re thinking. Stop and listen for a moment. One has to look at how this structure worked. Ya ya scientific evidence here says this and that.

Use your own mind for a second and look at the building as a structure designed to hold its own weight (dead load), the weight of its occupants (live load), and the stresses imposed on the building from known natural forces (live load). Now I know there are other things to consider (dynamic loading, earthquake loading etc.) but the fact is these other things only re-enforce the argument that the building is "designed" to handle more than what I present here. I need to keep this simple for most of the non-scientific types that rely on "better scientific evidence".

Now don't give me that crap the buildings were built faulty! Pure bullshit, because the buildings stood and performed as designed for how many years? In fact the planed did not even bring the buildings down at the moment of impact! Amazing really but not when you consider how buildings and especially these buildings were designed.

Now that you understand the forces acting on the building you need to know that it does not stop at the maximum predicted loads. That is only the start. These numbers are then "Factored" by set design amounts for safety. The factored design loads are meant to cover possible flaws in design (never considered a possibility because all design has to be perfect and perfectly checked before approved), material, and construction. As I said before these buildings both performed flawlessly while they stood.

I have read different values for the "Design Factors" used for the Twin Towers, and I do not know the exact design values, but I do know that for most structures these values start at 1.25 to 1.5 times the "maximum" calculated design loads for both live and dead loads. Notice the word MAXIMUM, and notice the factors I have stated which are far less than those used for these buildings. I know this because these factors are often used for low rise buildings and bridges of which I have design experience.

Now to the "facts". On the day, September 11, 2001 the twin towers were standing ready to handle all floors filled to the maximum with furniture and people while in a hurricane. YES, all loads are added together and then the factors are multiplied against these maximum loads. So what were the real loads on the buildings that tragic morning? No wind, building nearly empty of people, many floors empty of furniture due to "hard times" in the towers, no earthquake, and no snow load on the roof etc. These are FACTS that can not be denied. So without factoring yet, just imagine how many times more loading the structural elements of the building could handle that very morning when the real loads were so small in relation to what the design loads were. This extremely important and it is also the least considered “Fact” in all the documents I have read so far.

On that calm day, an aluminum light weight tubular structure smashed into the building ripping away at the outer columns and penetrating through the building at an angle. Let’s look at the second tower hit; as it was the least damaged but never the less it fell perfectly in symmetry like the other. NIST states less than 20% of the outer columns were damaged, less than 15% of the inner columns were damaged, and very limited fires burned in this tower after the crash. The fires were predicted by NIST to be about half as intense as the first tower hit, yet this building fell first. The building was experiencing virtually no live loading. Its live load factors were in place and built into the structure. Its dead load factors were effectively placed in the design. Please don't forget about this. This was a very very strong structure that lasted many many years under very violent wind storms.

I am not done. This is only the beginning and the official story is already looking really funky. The inner core is designed to take most of the buildings dead load and provide support for the floors, elevators, stairs, wind forces, twisting forces, and transmit these forces into a very deep and sturdy foundation. You figure it out, draw the core, draw the outer edge of the building, then draw a faint line half way between the outside of the core and the outside of the building. Take the floor area on each side of this faint line. The outer area is supported by the skin of the building or outer columns, the inside area is supported by the core. Very simplified but true never the less. Remember KISS. Keep it simple stupid! That is all it takes. The complex stuff only acts in our favor to disprove the “official story” as they add additional factors into the design that were also considered.

Now this floor was made up of individual truss beams that extended outward to the outer columns. The floors were sheet metal covered in concrete about 4-5" thick. They are actually very light. Ya okay you would have a hard time lifting it but when you look at the actual loads the floors are like thin light membranes but very stiff in both the vertical and horizontal direction. They help transmit wind forces from the outer skin into the core, support all the live loads, and support the outer columns. They make the outer columns stiff by supporting them. The Inner core is mostly supported by itself with a series of beams and moment connections (minimizes x bracing) which keep it very stiff in all directions. The core is very stiff and than the outer columns, which begs for an explanation of why the core disappeared? Debris was seen falling away from the core, not into it so why did is disappear when it was the strongest element of the buildings? This is really hard for me to accept.

Time to look at the damage. The columns on the outside of the towers were damaged in a very asymmetrical pattern. Only one side of the building was heavily damaged when compared to the other adjacent corner side. The other sides sustained zero damage. Asymmetrical damage is the key here. The fires burned internally and may have weakened the steel columns on one side of the core. This can not be confirmed but it is very likely, and let us just say it was fact because it matters little when the facts are considered. The inner core has damage 15% approximated by NIST and some heat was present there causing the steel to weaken. Steel weakens when heated to high temperatures. The fires were not hot enough to melt the steel. Impossible, and you really have to be stupid to think they could have been. No point getting into it. We will assume the steel was loosing strength on this one side in a very localized area. Maybe even the whole side of the core! Wow. Just like the Oklahoma building, one whole side gone but the building still stood? That is right; we don't really need these columns in the core. The maximum they are good for is 25% of the dead load. We already have that covered by the factoring. But wait, that is assuming that the columns were completely gone or melted on one entire side of the core! Good enough, the numbers reveal this would not be an issue any way. Now it was more likely that less than 50% of the core was damaged on two adjacent sides. Of this 50% damage we could argue that the steel lost 50% of its strength. So we are down to 12.5% of the cores strength was lost. Man, not much but that is how it works. But wait we still have to consider no wind, few people and furniture too! What additional steel was there that was not even being used? Lots!

The outer columns function in a similar way so you count the damaged columns in the NIST report and then calculate the maximum number of damaged outer columns. Not many. Go ahead look at the NIST report don't be scared! Factor in your dead and live loads and factors of what ever they report. Hmmmm. No wind, not much load on those columns, not many columns damaged compared to the total. Man this doesn't seem right. Well that is right it doesn't seem right.

Still not done, it gets better yet! The damage was Asymmetrical. The collapse was symmetrical. This is illogical and impossible. If the floors failed in the area of the fires, the outer columns directly connecting those floors would have lost their horizontal support and collapsed. Well I got news for you; the columns were already severed and lost their bracing so it is a non issue in the most part. The floors already started falling "locally" in this zone of damage. Nothing happened, and if you look at the numbers above, you can understand why. So what did happen? The entire top section of the building falls in perfect symmetry while the damage was asymmetrical. We should have seen localized collapse of multiple floors on the damaged side of the building. Localized pancake collapse on one side first well before the collapse of the entire structure. We did not see that! The columns around 85% of the building were being supported by floors that did not sustain any damaged yet we see all floors collapse. The official story says the floors all around the cored collapsed causing all outer columns to fail from being unsupported but this is not true and contradicts the much trusted NIST report, video and photo evidence.

The building performed as designed and better than designed. Its collapse defies all logic. The symmetrical fashion of the buildings collapse defies all logic. Both buildings damaged in different ways, with different amounts of damage yet fell exactly the same. The building with the least amount of damage fails first. One might argue that the dead load was greater because the plane hit lower and there was more building above. Sorry, look at your numbers, the building was designed sufficiently at each floor to withstand the forces imposed by the floors above with the addition of all the live loads. That is a non issue.

I have one more thing to mention that really bothers me. The NIST report mentions these fires burning. Let us say the entire floor area was burning for 10 floors. This is an extreme exaggeration but it really does not matter because when the building collapsed one could argue the actual fire was smothered instantly by the pancake effect. In addition, the total mass of heated material would be less than 10% of the remaining rubble. Please explain why the pile was so hot all the way through for so long. This just does not make sense. No oxygen and compressed, mostly non flammable materials. When I throw 9x more wood than the amount of wood in my fire, it always puts the fire out but is smolders. If I throw 9x more dirt onto the fire than the volume of fire it goes out and does not smolder for very long. Camping 101 people.

All this does not add up and I am very disappointed more "Engineers" have not spoken up or even taken a strong look at this. In a way I am not surprised but they need to re-consider their oath as Professionals and come clean with their conscience because it is against their oath to turn a blind eye to this structural failure. They should be ashamed, and we should be weary of them! We risk our lives and trust in their oath and they have been mute. This is disturbing.

“Ahhh, I can’t understand how this happened, and I can't believe my government would do this so I can't bring myself to think what I am reading is fact or logical.” That is what is happening in the disbeliever’s brain right now.

NOBODY really knows what happened for sure except those responsible but we can use our logic, learned math and science, and discussion to try and understand that maybe things don't look right for a reason. Then if that is the case, American's must act. It is their problem and they are responsible for the deaths of all those, Christian and Muslim, who have died due to the event that day! In a Democracy the people are the Government, therefore, the people are responsible for all the killing that has happened.

Keep your mind open, and don't pass judgment on those with a different opinion. The "Nutters" are not all "Nutters" and there is real science that can explain this but we all must keep an open mind. We have to DEMAND an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION and I challenge those that trust the "Official Story" to keep their faith in it and trust it will hold up to scrutiny if they believe in it. If that is the case what do "they" have to worry about? Why do they resist the truth? What harm could it bring if they trust their "opinion"? It really makes you wonder what they are really scared of!

"We have to DEMAND an

"We have to DEMAND an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION and I challenge those that trust the "Official Story" to keep their faith in it and trust it will hold up to scrutiny if they believe in it."


Bully for your psot; you have more fortitude than I do that early in the morning. But I think you scared 'im off.



Alexander Cockburn is a Left Gatekeeper from way back, a friend and collaborator of Chomsky. According to Deborah Davis in her book "Katherine the Great" he was living with Katherine Graham's (Wash. Post owner) daughter in 1979 when he was asked to attack Davis's book in the Village Voice.

He and Chomsky teamed up to denounce Stone's "JFK." Robert Fisk is another one. These guys won't admit to conspiracies until the CIA gives their approval. Here is what they really look like.


Would you please elaborate more on Robert Fisk?

He was a few weeks ago on the DemocracyNow suggesting that Zarkawi perhaps never existed and Amy Goodman almost chopped his head off..

My top bottom credibility list from these guys would be:

1. Fisk
2. Amy Goodman
3. Chomsky
4. Cockburn*

* died during the summer riots in Washington DC (precursor to Civil War II) of 2013 when someone from the animated crowd recognized his identity..


THAT, is damn funny. (because only thruthful things are funny).

"The truth shall make you free." Why not make the truth free? We live on a priceless blue pearl, awash in a universe of fire and ice. Cut the crap.


Where does Cockburn get his paycheck?

Ferric Oxide Never Sleeps

Couldn't resist.

From the look and style of the guy... he's not living high on some hog (with piles of money).

That doesn't have to mean much... he could 'dress' himself down out of proper modesty (although he doesn't speak modestly).... Or, he could squirrel money away... makes no difference to me. None of that really means anything.

However, if in fact he is low budget... simply earning adequate dollars from his writing and speaking whatever... it's far more disturbing if we conclude he's really a "true believer"... actually believing what he says, verses just being another literary mercenary, in it for the money.

My two cents for Cockburn (that's all I think he's worth anymore).

"The truth shall make you free." Why not make the truth free? We live on a priceless blue pearl, awash in a universe of fire and ice. Cut the crap.


Fisk, like Chomsky and Cockburn, are fine until their "conspiracy" button is pressed. Then they become CIA, I swear. Fisk said it in a recent lecture he gave with Chomsky introducing him. They won't believe it (high-level conspiracy) until it's PROVEN. Since it's already proven to people far less intelligent than they, there is only one logical conclusion. See "Noam."

Cockburn furthermore is a disgrace to the Irish race, if I may be permitted that indulgence.


"`Suicide hijacker' alive and well" by Robert Fisk

On the other hand, he doesn't think OBL is an asset.

Go figure.

Official Story Defenders

Never ever once I have seen anyone trying to support the official story use logic to answer their own questions.

It is always reduced to name calling and what about this? What about that? Before you can ask that question. You have to know the answer to all these other questions.

There is no logic to their arguments. They are wasting our bandwidth dealing with obvious official spin. Lets focus our energy on driving the EVIL-DOERS out of office. These morons don't deserve our attention in their efforts to support this EVIL.
Come on folks. They ain't that blind.
"Not being aware of these facts is in itself an evil because ignorance serves evil." Juri Lina - "Architects of Deception"

Defenders of Evil-doers

"Come on folks. They ain't that blind."


"Bugger this: I want a better world."

Hijackings & lack of fighter interceptors

Am I correct that we all are of the like mind that somehow the US government was involved for whatever reason(s) and that at least some of the alleged terrorists hijackers were found to be alive ?
I do not think that any of the 4 named passenger flights were crashed into anything on 9/11/2001.

The Pentagon was hit by something else so why is the culprit still being called Flight 77 ? Who hijacked Flight 77 and where did it land ?

The United 93 landed and deplaned in the Cleveland airport due to a bomb threat. So who hijacked the plane to Cleveland ? The physical airplane itself was sighted as a different United flight after 9/11. Pictures of the "crash site" in Pennsylvania show no wreckage of an airplane crash they just show people dressed in protective clothing walking around a smoking ditch.

There is evidence that the plane that crashed into the second tower was not a passenger airplane due to the color and a "pod" on the bottom and a obvious "flash" just prior to impact. So who hijacked that flight ? Where did the substitute drone plane take off from ?

Since there isn't sufficient film available to rule out that the first plane that crashed into the tower was not Flight 11, for me there is sufficient evidence that it was a substitute similar to the second plane because it also has the same obvious "flash" prior to impact that the second plane shows. Therefore this flight was also hijacked and the open questions are who hijacked it ? Where did it land ? Where did the substitue drone take off from ?

Why would anybody assume that fighters should be scrambled to intercept planned exercises ? It is a moot point get past it.

FEMA was deployed to NYC the night before the "attacks" so there must have been some planning.

I feel that as long as everyone reinforces the concept that the "hijacked flights crashed" the government will continue accept us reinforcing their official 9/11 stories.
I also don't think that we are doing anybody any good worrying about fighters intercepting the substitues that replaced the original hijacked flights.

My response to questions about what happened to the unfortunate passengers on those flights is I don't know. I didn't say they died.

Does anybody know if either American Airlines or United Airlines filed claims with their insurance companies ? And if so, is it possible for me to obtain copies of those claims ?

"The fallacy of

"The fallacy of association". I like that. I didn't know there was a linguistic or rhetorical term for this type of argument, but I see proponents of the official conspiracy theory using it all the time.

This is excellent, and what we need more of: point-by-point deconstruction of the deceptive arguments of the true believers.

Here's a definition of the

Here's a definition of the association fallacy at wikipedia:

links, please!

Very well written, thanks!

Could you please provide the links to Cockburn's article(s)? Sorry to ask you but I for some reason could not find them.

Boris Epstein

Unfortunately this essay of

Unfortunately this essay of Cockburn's was published in his print only newsletter. I'm a subscriber, for the moment.


Subject: Why Cockburn (Coburn) has trouble with association

I recently went to a lecture at U.C. where Alexander Cockburn (pronounced Coburn) gave a splendid account of the history of neo-liberalism in the U.S. and in the context of Globalization. While I have read many essays by this gifted writer/critic over the years, I had no idea how to pronounce his name until he was introduced to the audience. No matter, his ideas are what we pay attention to.

He began his talk with a short statement that he had no intention in discussing 9/11, so as not to be distracted from the topic of the lecture. In recent weeks, Cockburn has essentially said that the Truth Movement was a misguided effort by "nutters" that distracted the Left from the important issues of the day, indicating the overall ill health and weakness of opposition groups in American politics. See:

A response to some of Cockburn's anti 9/11 movement were posted this week at Essentially, Cockburn dismisses the entire movement by it's association to some of the more extreme 9/11conspiracy theories we're all well aware of: 'no planes', holographic imagery, etc. Just because some of the positions associated with the Truth movement are exotic, should not nullify the basic core of truth uncovered by of the efforts of countless individuals, to flush out the inconsistencies, absurdities, and untruths that our government has besieged us with since 9/11. Association is an indication of guilt or innocence, but it is not the litmus test of anything.

Nothing is coincidental, I said to myself, as I read the following discussion on the word "cock" in a magazine I picked up by chance, the day after the Cockburn lecture:

From American Heritage magazine:
Why Do We Say...?

Rooster is the common term today for a male chicken, and most people utter it without realizing that it is a euphemism, a “good” word employed in place of a “bad” one.

The word rooster is an Americanism, and its appearance in the written record toward the end of the eighteenth century helps signal a major cultural and linguistic change, as people began to be much more fastidious when speaking of sex, death, and their bodies. This is the period when bosom, limb, and donkey replaced breast, leg, and ass; when breeches and trousers became inexpressibles, unmentionables, and nether garments; when died was superseded on gravestones by passed away, laid to rest, and fell asleep; and when the sexually potent barnyard bull was converted into the cow brute, cow’s spouse, and gentleman cow.

The oldest example of rooster in The Oxford English Dictionary comes from the diary of a 12-year-old girl, Anna Green Winslow, who was sent in 1770 from her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to school in Boston. A bright and sensitive observer of the contemporary scene, she noted in her journal for March 14, 1772: “Their other dish … contain’d a number of roast fowls —half a dozen, we suppose, & all roosters at this season, no doubt.”

Rooster’s origin is self-evident, referring to the bird’s habit of perching on high (ultimately from the Old English hrost, the spars or rafters of a house). Anna certainly didn’t invent the word; she picked it up from her elders, who had begun using it in preference to cock, the bird’s traditional name for a millennium. The Old English name is innocent enough, mostly likely deriving from the bird’s crowing ku-ku-roo, but it made newly genteel Americans nervous. They couldn’t say or hear the word without thinking of its other, anatomical meaning.

Americans were far ahead of their British cousins in latching on to rooster. Fifty years after Anna’s observation, James Flint still felt that he had to explain to readers back home in his Letters From America (1822) that the “Rooster, or he-bird [is the] Cock, the male of the hen.”

This squeamishness led to a raft of other changes during the nineteenth century. For example, Americans began speaking of haystacks instead of haycocks; of children’s riding horses instead of cockhorses; of roaches and rooster-roaches instead of cockroaches; of rooster fighting instead of cockfighting; of the rooster of a gun rather than its cock; and of weather roosters and weathervanes instead of weathercocks. The nervousness even extended to people’s names. We know the author of Little Women as Louisa May Alcott because her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, changed his surname from Alcox, itself a euphemistic distortion of the earlier, more highly charged Alcocke (in turn, possibly, from Allcock).

Other evasions appear to have been proposed with tongue in cheek, among them roostercade for cockade, rooster swain for coxswain, the doubly euphemistic rooster’s shirt for cocktail, and, a rare triple euphemism, rooster-and-ox story for cock-and-bull tale. The apparent jocularity shows what was on people’s minds, however. And sometimes there was no joking. Well into the twentieth century, inhabitants of the Ozarks were still watching their words very carefully. As Vance Randolph reported in a 1928 article in Dialect Notes, “I myself have seen grown men, when women were present, blush and stammer at the mere mention of such commonplace bits of hardware as stop-cocks or pet-cocks, and avoid describing a gun as cocked by some clumsy circumlocution as she’s ready to go or th’ hammer’s back.”

All this may seem quaintly funny in our present liberated age. Yet we continue to say rooster (as well as donkey and haystack) and, when presented with the rooster’s spouse at the dinner table, we are likely to ask for white meat or dark meat instead of breast or thigh and for a drumstick instead of a leg. Thus we honor our ancestors’ hang-ups. We ourselves have none, of course.


Is it not to be expected that we all attempt to gloss over things that make us, and others, uncomfortable- even our very names? Perhaps the brilliant Cockburn (Coburn) has run aground on the 9/11 issue due to our human tendency to ignore the obvious truth out of the need to feel comfortable despite the absurdity of such a position.

~Scott Page

Buildings don't collapse

Buildings don't collapse from kerosene fires. Period. The collapse of building 1,2 and 7 are all the evidence anyone needs. Argue all the other crap all you want.
Kind of makes you wonder where Cockburns loyalty lies.