Saturday, June 30, 2007

Steve Kangas Character In Nutbar Film?

As we have discussed, one of the more interesting aspects of 9-11 conspiracy theories has been the resurgence of the paranoid left. For the most part, the paranoid left died out in the 1970s. I was in college back then, and as a Leftist (at the time) I can well remember the conspiracy theories that swirled around Richard Nixon (until he got caught in an actual conspiracy and was forced to resign).

But there were still a few paranoid Left-Wingers around, and this article about a 9-11 crackpot movie reminded me of one in particular:

The film centers on the character of Steve Kangas (played by Bradley's brother, Steve) who is thrown into an intricate game of espionage when his girlfriend (played by Jehn Miller) receives a disk implicating Vice President Dick Cheney in the terrorist attacks. Kangas is forced to hide from mercenaries bent on recovering the disc while trying to find his missing girlfriend.

Steve Kangas? Now that name is too unusual to be a coincidence. Steve Kangas was a proud member of the paranoid Internet left back in the 1990s, and if he were around today, I have little doubt he'd be an advocate for the 9-11 Denial movement. But he's not around today, and his experience is something of a cautionary tale for today's kooks.

Kangas was a far Left commenter on Usenet who got the pretty smart idea of compiling a webpage that contained what he considered to be the best arguments for Liberals and Leftists. It was called Liberalism Resurgent. Some of the arguments were pretty good, some of them were quite awful. And some betrayed his paranoia, like this argument in favor of group compensation in the form of Affirmative Action:

Liberals respond with the following reasons for group compensation:

1. Economic efficiency. Group compensation may be the most efficient way to correct mass injustice. For example, suppose the government intentionally detonated a nuclear bomb in Dallas, Texas. Over 90 percent of the surviving population in the outlying areas develops radiation sickness, and half of them will die premature deaths. In the ensuing scandal, the government agrees to pay the surviving victims. However, 10 percent of the survivors (probably in the outermost regions) neither fall sick, nor have to move, nor see their businesses fail, despite being exposed to potentially dangerous radiation fallout. In this case, it would be far simpler and cheaper just to compensate the entire group, because it would cost even more money, time and effort to investigate, medically examine and determine conclusive proof of harm for each surviving victim.

I happen to think that if the government intentionally detonated a nuke in Dallas, we'd have a lot more to worry about than how to compensate the survivors, but that at least gives you the flavor of his nuttier arguments.

Back then, the paranoid left had one bogeyman above all, and no, it was not Dick Cheney. It was a wealthy right winger named Richard Mellon Scaife. Scaife was a major backer of the Arkansas Project, an effort by the conservative American Spectator magazine to dig up dirt on then-President Bill Clinton. The project was indirectly responsible for the series of events that led to Clinton's impeachment (Clinton was impeached, but not convicted).

Kangas did not appear to have any particular fascination with Scaife, but combating the Clinton impeachment was a major rallying point for the Left in America.

These facts are undisputed:

Steve Kangas bought a gun in Las Vegas. He traveled by bus from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh, where Scaife's offices were located. On February 8, 1999, Kangas was discovered by a janitor, hiding in a stall in the men's room of the floor where Scaife's offices were located. The janitor went to find a security guard and when they returned, they found Kangas dead from a shot from his own pistol.

Of course, to most people the solution to this little mystery is pretty simple. Kook buys gun, travels to Pittsburgh in a way that does not require passing through metal detectors, goes to the offices of his enemy and lies in wait hoping for an opportunity to assassinate Scaife, gets discovered and, panicking (and reportedly drunk), shoots himself to death.

Ah, but the paranoid left was not satisfied with the logical explanation, and so they started an Internet "investigation" starting from the premise that Scaife somehow had Kangas murdered. Here's an example. You'll see lots of similar tactics to those used by the 9-11 conspiracy theorists.

For example, consider this brief summary of the case from a site concerned with other matters, but weaving in a bit of the Kangas story:

Steve Kangas: His web site, Liberalism Resurgent, was meticulously researched and presented such a problem to the "real boss" of George Bush, Richard Scaife, that he hired a private detective to look into Kangas' past. Steve Kangas was found in a 39th-floor bathroom outside of Scaife's offices at One Oxford Centre, in Pittsburgh, an apparent suicide. Mr. Kangas, a very prolific writer, left no note. He had brought a fully-packed suitcase of clothes with him to Pittsburgh. He bought a burglar alarm shortly before he left for Pittsburgh. Why did he need a burglar alarm if he was going to commit suicide? An avowed advocate of gun control, he nevertheless bought a gun. What was he afraid of? Why did he go to Pittsburgh? After his death, his computer was sold for $150 and its hard drive wiped clean. Everything in his apartment was thrown away.

Sound a bit like the claims that a fervent Islamist like Mohamed Atta would not have eaten pork or drunk alcohol? Note in particular the "just asking questions" approach common to CTers who know that their theories will sound kooky if they spell them out explicitly. By the way, the bit about Scaife investigating Kangas is true, but misleading (what a shock!); Scaife unsurprisingly had Kangas investigated after the latter's suicide.

Kangas has come up in the past in connection with the 9-11 CTs. Some have suggested that the New World Order got rid of him two and a half years before 9-11 because they knew he'd investigate it and discover the Truth. Someone else suggested that Kangas had been murdered to send a warning to Noam Chomsky and other Leftist intellectuals that they'd better keep quiet about 9-11.

One of the constant concerns I have about the 9-11 nuts is that somebody's going to pull a Steve Kangas on some imagined co-conspirator, like Larry Silverstein or David Rockefeller.


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