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June 01, 2006

New York City, Chock Full of National Monuments and Landmarks

New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.

Just for the record:

National Monuments within New York City:

African Burial Ground National Monument
Castle Clinton National Monument
Ellis Island National Monument (jointly with New Jersey)
Governors Island National Monument
Statue of Liberty National Monument

National Historic Landmarks within New York City:

  • 69th Regiment Armory
  • African Burial Ground 
  • American Stock Exchange 
  • Andrew Carnegie Mansion
  • Bartow-Pell Mansion 
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Carnegie Hall 
  • Central Park 
  • Central Synagogue
  • Chester A. Arthur House 
  • Chrysler Building 
  • Church of the Ascension (Episcopal)
  • City Hall
  • Conference House 
  • Cooper Union 
  • Duke Ellington Residence
  • Eldridge street synagogue 
  • Empire State Building
  • Flatiron Building 
  • Governors Island 
  • Grand Central Terminal 
  • Hamilton Fish House 
  • Holland Tunnel
  • Louis Armstrong House 
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Merchants House Museum
  • New York Botanical Garden 
  • New York Cotton Exchange 
  • New York Public Library
  • New York Stock Exchange
  • Paul Robeson Residence 
  • Pupin Physics Laboratory, Columbia University
  • Rhinelander Mansion
  • Rockefeller Center 
  • Soho Cast Iron Historic District 
  • Surrogate's Court
  • Tenement Building at 97 Orchard Street
  • Union Square
  • United Charities Building 
  • Woolworth Building
  • (gacked from Wikipedia)

    Have I mentioned recently how much I resent being ruled by morons?

    Posted by john at June 1, 2006 09:24 PM

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    Comments

    JonathanMoeller | June 1, 2006 10:23 PM

    Homeland Security also reported a dire threat to our nation from an organization called the "snipe", and has started a $17 billion initiative to "hunt down" the snipe and eliminate their threat once and for all.

    Kafkaesquí | June 1, 2006 11:06 PM

    Damn snipe. Good riddance to 'em...

    Have I mentioned recently how much I resent being ruled by morons?

    Yes, you have. And have I brought up how confused I am on how we keep electing them to office?

    Jim Winter | June 1, 2006 11:27 PM

    Considering I've been to probably a fourth of those... And it doesn't even include Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Penn Station, the Staten Island Ferry, what's left of the Trade Center, including Ground Zero, numerous museums, several bridges not listed...

    I still have blisters on my feet to prove these guys are idiots, but the Wikipedia list is enough.

    You forgot Grant's Tomb and the persons buried therein. (Quick! Who's buried there?)

    Jim Winter | June 1, 2006 11:29 PM

    "Homeland Security also reported a dire threat to our nation from an organization called the "snipe", and has started a $17 billion initiative to "hunt down" the snipe and eliminate their threat once and for all."

    The vice-president and Mr. Whittington will personally conduct this search.

    John Scalzi | June 1, 2006 11:30 PM

    Jim Winter:

    "You forgot Grant's Tomb and the persons buried therein. (Quick! Who's buried there?)"

    No one. Grant and his wife are entombed, not buried.

    Sean L. | June 1, 2006 11:36 PM

    ...I'm with Kafkaesquí:

    Why did we elect them again?

    John Scalzi | June 1, 2006 11:43 PM

    Well, did we elect them?

    Annalee Flower Horne | June 2, 2006 12:01 AM

    I can understand the argument that they needed money for other cities, but I find it hard not to make some sarcastic comment about how they'd have enough money to fund antiterorism measures in all US cities if they weren't wasting it playing cowboy in Iraq.

    And this is coming from the same office that took DC's captial security money and used it to throw themself eight inaugeral balls, so I can't really say I'm surprised.

    Gabriele | June 2, 2006 12:19 AM

    Not to mention they have destroyed a lot of historical sites in the Iraq.

    Kafkaesquí | June 2, 2006 01:22 AM

    Well, did we elect them?

    Shhh. You'll make the DC pundits cry if you start talking like that.

    Jason M. Robertson | June 2, 2006 01:54 AM

    I feel like something of a dope-head expressing this simple sentiment that I imagine underlies all the more specific ones voiced here, but I do think it must be said.

    New York City *is* the iconic American city. We could scrub it clean of every single one of the cited landmarks and it would be a target for what it is, more than any other location in North America, and probably the Western world.

    If populations of realizable terrorists existed willing to die to terrorize Topeka, we'd have seen shredded bus after bus already by now in the Big Apple. The drop-off for probability of being targeted by terrorism as one leaves the signature American metropolises is immensely steep by any understanding of terrorist psychology I can imagine.

    emeraldcite | June 2, 2006 02:00 AM

    The Stones article is so depressing. If this is the kind of "democracy" we're selling to other countries, I fear for them...

    Lisa | June 2, 2006 02:16 AM

    Slightly off-topic, but a friend and I were driving around today and we saw three or four "W '04" bumper stickers today on big trucks. (And I live in a blue state.)

    My friend said, "They are driving around advertising that all these messes are all their fault and they don't even have the shame to be embarrassed about it and rip the damned thing off their car."

    Despite the horrific problems with the elections, a good portion of the population DID vote for this administration and apparently still support it and I just don't understand how that can be possible if they are halfway literate or even just own a TV.

    /end somewhat misplaced rant.

    uhura | June 2, 2006 04:18 AM

    Lisa, those bumper stickers basically point out to me people I never want to know.

    Bob Westbrook | June 2, 2006 05:38 AM

    Morons? Come on, get your definitions straight. That would be Morons with Money. There's a difference...Did you see the secret vidio of the Moron's club meeting where after Bushie raised his glass of beer in a toast to Jesus for getting him elected they decided who gets some of the homeland billions and who doesn't. (Membership dues require kissing Bush's bushy ass)

    Kevin Q | June 2, 2006 07:24 AM

    Lisa said, "Slightly off-topic, but a friend and I were driving around today and we saw three or four "W '04" bumper stickers today on big trucks.

    I just bought a new car (an SUV, long story), and I wish I could find a Kerry-Edwards to throw on the back of that thing. "It's not my fault!" I actually supported Kerry (as opposed to merely voting against Bush), but threw out my last sticker when I threw out my car.

    K

    Tom_B | June 2, 2006 09:05 AM

    Seems like someone at DHS was maybe watching This is Spinal Tap:

    Ian Faith: The Boston gig has been cancelled...

    David St. Hubbins: What?

    Ian Faith: Yeah. I wouldn't worry about it though, it's not a big college town.

    John H | June 2, 2006 09:25 AM

    Bush and his cabal give morons a bad name...

    Jon | June 2, 2006 10:29 AM

    Maybe it was some kind of computer error, saying there are no national monuments in Manhattan, Kansas, and someone deleted a cell in the spreadsheet and moved everything up.

    (Note: this is nothing against Manhattan, KS, which I'm sure is a lovely town. However, if it does indeed have a national monument, I will be shocked to the core).

    Tripp | June 2, 2006 10:39 AM

    why do we keep electing them?

    What you you mean "we," Ohio dweller!

    fibian | June 2, 2006 10:56 AM

    Have I mentioned recently how much I resent being ruled by morons?

    Yes, but perhaps before calling others morons you could become better informed. Although it's true that NYC had its anti-terror funds cut, that's because Congress cut the total funds available. As a per centage of available funds, NYC remained virtually the same (18% vs 19%).

    I understand that your main point about the landmarks loses much of its punch without the seemingly incomprehensible 40% cut in funds to NYC, but accuracy, like neatness, counts.

    scott westerfeld | June 2, 2006 11:04 AM

    In the Times today the DHS gave another reason for the funding cuts, saying the city had, "mishandled the application itself, failing to file it electronically as required, instead faxing its request to Washington."

    Ah, well that explains canceling the War on Terror in the Big Apple. It also might explain why we haven't installed democracy in the Middle East yet. Like, maybe the Iraqi people forgot to sign AND date the application. Or maybe they filled out the form in the wrong color ink . . .

    The Bush administration motto should be: "You can't make this stuff up, so we do."

    Kafkaesquí | June 2, 2006 11:33 AM

    Yes, but perhaps before calling others morons you could become better informed.

    The warning lights always go off when a sentence like that appears...

    Although it's true that NYC had its anti-terror funds cut, that's because Congress cut the total funds available.

    Good thing we've got anti-terror efforts on the cost-cutting block, eh? And your point represents Congress in a good light how? But let us go back to the, um, key portion of the article John quoted above:

    New York has no national monuments or icons...That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent

    The issue of moron-isity highlighted here was NYC having no locations or structures designated as "national monuments or icons" is described as the motivating issue behind the cuts. If you want to dispute that claim, go for it. But don't fault John for pointing it out.

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 11:43 AM

    Fibian:

    "I understand that your main point about the landmarks loses much of its punch without the seemingly incomprehensible 40% cut in funds to NYC, but accuracy, like neatness, counts."

    Clearly you don't understand my main point, Fibian, which is that the Department of Homeland Security is apparently under the impression there are no national monuments or national icons in New York City, period, end of sentence, and that this is an appalling declaration of ignorance. Because apparently no one at DHS has been to NYC and taken the tour.

    A secondary but equally frightening point to make is that the DHS then made its apportionment based on an appallingly ignorant assessment of the number of national monuments and icons in NYC. Apparently you are content to have the DHS divvy up money based on erroneous data; however I am not.

    Independent of all this: Why on earth are anti-terror funds being slashed at all? Have we suddenly "turned the corner," to use a favorite administration phrase, on security here at home? I'm unconvinced. I'm sure this administration has its reasons for slashing funds, but then again, this is an administration that is under the impression that there are no national monuments and icons in New York City (among other failings of intellect and planning), so I question its competence at the outset. Mind you, I've been questioning its competence for years, so this is just another log for that particular fire.

    So to sum up: these people are morons, fibian, and you apparently missed the fact that this point stands regardless of the money involved. However, the money -- the apportionment and/or lack thereof -- strengthens the point rather than weakens it, I'd say.

    Naomi | June 2, 2006 12:14 PM

    This is one of those news stories that rendered me utterly inarticulate. It makes me want to grab the nearest Republican politician by the shoulders, shake them, and scream, "What the f*cking f*ck are you people thinking?!?!" There are all sorts of much more articulate arguments that one could craft, like pointing at the Statue of Liberty, but it's hard to believe they wouldn't be utterly wasted on someone who at any point considered it reasonable to cut NYC's anti-terrorism budget by 40%. For any reason, whether it was "nothing worth protecting" or "bunch of damn illegal immigrants anyway" or "terrorists already destroyed the two tallest buildings, probably won't bother coming back."

    Lars | June 2, 2006 12:36 PM


    Sorry about the morons, John, but thanks for this. I'm writing something that's set in the future of New York, and I don't live there, or even in the States. I'd been wondering for a while how to figure out which landmarks to focus on, and beyond blackballing a few -- like the Statue of Liberty -- for being overexposed, I haven't gotten very far.

    Here's what I need to know, though: how many of these came off the top of your head, and how many came up on google(or whatever)? I need to know specifically which ones are important enough to be part of the national conciousness. If you could give me your opinion, it'd mean roughly ten fewer speedbumps for me to hit while I'm writing this thing, so I'd really appreciate it.

    fibian | June 2, 2006 12:50 PM

    John,

    Actually I do understand your point: DHS is woefully misinformed about the presence of monuments and national icons in NYC. My point is that you were misinformed about the specifics of the anti-terrorism funding and mindlessly repeated a disingenous characterization of it by ABC. Does that make you a moron? I don't think so, and I doubt anyone else does either.

    If you look at it closely, the whole story fails the sniff test. Let's grant, arguendo, your, um, less than enthusiastic appraisal of the competency and intelligence of the Bush administration. Does it really make sense that no one thought there were any national monuments in NYC? That the Statue of Liberty, for instance, just slipped their minds? Looking at the form you linked, we see that they list a total of 4 financial institutions, 4048 commercial assets, and 193 telecommunication assets. These and some of the other counts are so obviously wrong that one is led to believe that whatever they're counting (I can't tell from the form) it's not the total number of such things in the city.

    I suspect that at the end of the day, your main beef will be with shoddy journalism from ABC and special pleading from Mayor Bloomberg not the DHS knowledge of geography.

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 12:51 PM

    For the monuments, Ellis Island, Governor's Island and the Statue of Liberty jumped out. As to landmarks, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building, Carnegie Hall, Grand Central, Central Park, Chrysler Building and the Brooklyn Bridge were all in my local memory.

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 01:37 PM

    fibian

    Having been born in Brooklyn, grown up on Long Island and (mis)spent much of youth in and around Manhattan, here's my list of landmarks of NYC:

    The Apollo Theater in Harlem, Times Square, Greenwich Village (and Soho), Little Italy, St Patrick's Cathedral, Central Park (and the Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium, and Museum of Modern Art), the former site of the Fillmore East (on 2nd Ave in the East Village, which will always be a holy place even if there is a bank there now), Yankee and Shea Stadiums (with Shea Stadium being the most important), Lincoln Center (and Philharmonic Hall), Carnegie Hall, Roseland, CBGBs, and....

    my personal favorite, The Cloisters which is way, way uptown.

    Josh Jasper | June 2, 2006 01:47 PM

    fibian- Wait, your argument is that it's so stupid a mistake that it can't possibly be true?

    This is the Bush administraion we're talking about. If you don't have evideince that there's no bottom limit to how stupid they can get, I can happily point you at some.

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 01:57 PM

    Fibian:

    "My point is that you were misinformed about the specifics of the anti-terrorism funding and mindlessly repeated a disingenous characterization of it by ABC."

    Well, see, Fibian, here's where you and I differ: Your point is based on your opinion, which is to say you don't think I know the specifics of anti-terrorism funding, which may or may not be true, and which is largely immaterial to point in any event. Whereas my point is based on fact which is that the DHS says that there are no national monuments or "icons" in NYC. There's a nice little DHS form backing me up, whereas all you've got is your opinion. It's not disingenuous to note something that's a fact, but I think it's interesting that you're under the opinion that it is. Nor, your somewhat nonsensical comments aside, is it shoddy journalism to report what the DHS has on its own form.

    "Does it really make sense that no one thought there were any national monuments in NYC? That the Statue of Liberty, for instance, just slipped their minds? Looking at the form you linked, we see that they list a total of 4 financial institutions, 4048 commercial assets, and 193 telecommunication assets. These and some of the other counts are so obviously wrong that one is led to believe that whatever they're counting (I can't tell from the form) it's not the total number of such things in the city."

    Oh, I see. You're of the opinion that since the form is so obviously wrong, it can't possibly be true that it was the basis of funding allocation. Oddly, however, no one at DHS seems to be disputing that this form is central to allocation. So your opinion that this is not the case is neither here nor there in this regard.

    Now, as it happens, here's why many of the national monuments and landmarks aren't on the list, via the LA Times:

    The Homeland Security statement released Thursday said that New York's famous structures had all been counted in categories other than national icons and monuments — the Brooklyn Bridge was counted as a bridge, the Empire State Building as a "tall office building."

    Which is to say that the journalism here was entirely correct, and your assumptions, Fibian, are pretty much not. Why monuments and landmarks that are genuinely federally recognized have been reclassified as something else is an interesting question in itself, and one may suspect it's a political move; alternately one may suspect someone simply isn't thinking correctly over there at the DHS. However, regardless of that, the DHS saying that NYC has no national monuments or landmarks is a bright shining beacon of its incompetence. That there are other factual errors on the form is not suprising in this light, and that allocations were made based on this factually-challenged form is appalling.

    Now, Fibian, once again you say you understand my point, but once again you show that you really don't. You want to make it about the money allocated, in terms of percentage and real dollars. This is aside from my point, which is that the criteria by which the allocation was made is wildly inaccurate and non-sensical. Nor is this a left/right, Republican/Democrat thing:

    That explanation [about landmarks being reclassified], however, did not stop Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) from urging constituents to send postcards to Chertoff. Their sample postcards, illustrating the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge, carried the message: "Dear Secretary Chertoff, Just a note from one of New York's many national monuments and icons. Wish you were here! Hillary and Pete."

    I also appreciate rhetorically that you are trying to recast my argument to serve whatever needs it is you have; however, I should let you know that I am rather resistant to having people trying to reframe my words because they are either unwilling or unable to work with my argument as I've stated it. You are entirely welcome to frame the argument as you will; however don't expect me to acknowledge that your frame fits my argument. It doesn't, and I don't suspect that all your heaving and twisting will make it do so.

    Coolblue: Man, I love the Cloisters.

    Polybius | June 2, 2006 02:02 PM

    As a per centage of available funds, NYC remained virtually the same (18% vs 19%).

    Except for the fact NYC got 24% of available funds in 2005...

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 02:05 PM

    Shhhh! Don't let facts interfere!

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 02:10 PM

    Oooops. My last post was meant for Lars, just in case you were interested.

    Lars | June 2, 2006 03:11 PM


    Thanks for the reply John -- and CoolBlue, since your reply seems more pertinent to me than it does to Fibian.

    And I've got some thoughts on the argument. The problem here is worse than an administration that is ignorant of the Statue of Liberty -- as Fibian pointed out, that's practically impossible -- it's an administration that doesn't care to justify its actions to the people.

    Basically what's happened here is these decision makers have made their decision, and decided additionally to exclude the general population from the process. Now THAT is something to watch out for in a democratic country.

    So I think John's right that something is definitely not right here, and Fibian's right that heart of the problem isn't sheer stupidity -- but it certainly isn't cunning. They've wildly underestimated the intelligence of the American public, and I hope they get called on it.

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 03:20 PM

    Lars:

    "They've wildly underestimated the intelligence of the American public, and I hope they get called on it."

    They're not morons, but they think we are. Wheee!

    Josh Jasper | June 2, 2006 03:27 PM

    John, if you ever want crash space 10 mins from the Cloisters, let me know. I can see them fron our master bedroom window. Also, we have the one remaining saltmarsh and old growth forrest left in Manhattan. Rose and I love company.

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 03:32 PM

    Lars

    Basically what's happened here is these decision makers have made their decision, and decided additionally to exclude the general population from the process. Now THAT is something to watch out for in a democratic country.

    Well what's really happened here is that somebody made a decision.

    There was less money this year than last.

    Thank Congress for that.

    New York got the largest slice of the pie. LA was second.

    Some are complaining that Fort Lauderdale, Louisville, and Memphis got increases. I suspect those who live in those places think its about time.

    Now I don't know how or why decisions like this are made, but one thing I do know: in a society that allows freedom of speech, things are quite so long as you just talk about stuff. Something politicians are really good at.

    Once you do something, pretty much everyone complains about the decision.

    Oh, and the name of the person who made the decisions on who got what is Tracy Henke. And she says

    "Needless to say, not everybody has nice things to say about me," she said, so "anybody who wants to say something nice, please feel free to do so. You know, it's one of those things where it's occasionally important to have a little bit of that positive affirmation. If nothing else, then I'll have to call my parents, and the reality is they don't give it to me either."

    Can't be easy.

    Glad it ain't my job.

    PeterP | June 2, 2006 03:59 PM

    Scalzi:

    Well, did we elect them?

    That article is just scary. How old is it? I didn't see a date.

    Peter

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 04:02 PM

    It's in the current issue of Rolling Stone.

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 04:18 PM

    PeterP

    That article is just scary. How old is it? I didn't see a date.

    And it was debunked (by NPR and Mother Jones to name a few "credible" sources) before it was even published.

    I posted the links before, but they got ate by the system.

    Ain't gonna do that again, no no no.

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 04:23 PM

    CoolBlue:

    Post the links again, please. I posted the link for its provocative value, but if you have some debunking info, please share with the class. We value factual information.

    PeterP | June 2, 2006 04:38 PM

    Agreed. It seems like a fairly well researched document, I'd love to some some critical commentary (not, you know, far right wing strawman attacks)

    Peter

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 04:46 PM

    OK, I'll try it again.

    For brevity, this link provides the relevent extracts from both the NPR and Mother Jones sources compared with the RS piece by RFK jr

    But for whatever reason, I'm having trouble loading that site so here is the link to the Mother Jones piece by investigative reporter Mark Hertsgaard

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 04:52 PM

    Well I posted the links again, just so you know to look for them.

    And just in case here is the "plain text" link to the Mother Jones piece by investigative reporter Mark Hertsgaard

    http://www.markhertsgaard.com/Articles/2005/RecountingOhio/

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 04:55 PM

    And here is the link that juxtiposes the two pieces (RS and MJ) for reference

    http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/008662.php

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 05:02 PM

    CoolBlue:

    If you try to post a post with more than one html-encoded URL it'll be held in moderation until I've released it. That's for future reference.

    Thanks for posting those!

    PeterP | June 2, 2006 05:45 PM

    Interesting articles. I have admitedly not read the Hertsgaard piece all the way through, but it seems like the author from Winds of Change is just contrasting a very skeptical viewpoint with a mildy skeptical viewpoint and claiming that there is no problem there.

    The problem with these sorts of debates is that you always have to plow so far into the source material to see who is using "Proof By Vigorous Hand Waving" that it ends up being exhausting.

    The false terror threat seems bad no matter how you slice it. Also, I think there is an inherent problem when the people in charge of running the elections can also work for the campaign of someone in the election. If that is not subject to massive conflict of interest, nothing is.

    Brian Greenberg | June 2, 2006 06:06 PM

    Man, if it weren't for CoolBlue, I swear I'd just pass these conversations by.

    John: I don't dispute your facts. What I do dispute is your starting premise that Bush and everyone in the Bush administration are morons, and then your cherry picking of facts that can be spun to back up that assumption.

    It is entirely possible (and, dare I say it in this thread, LIKELY?) that there were entirely logical reasons for classifying things the way they did, and that one impact of this decision was the reallocation of funding.

    But of course, it's a whole lot more fun to marvel at the "fact" that the Department of Homeland Security "forgot" that the Statue of Liberty was in New York.

    Quick disclaimer: I'm totally on board with Hillary & Peter King (as well as the various New York newspapers, which all ran banner headlines today that basically said, "Screw You, DHS!") that cutting protection funding in New York is a bad idea. My complaint here is not with that point, but with your consistent need to pounce on the "morons," no matter how obvious it is that the facts are incomplete.

    Re: the RFK Jr. article - it's about the most irresponsible piece of journalism I think I've ever seen. There are statistical errors all over the place, and many of the sources he quotes are from the short period of time after the election when many, many newspapers were printing conspiracy theories with total abandon (this decision having been made before the election, since all anyone was talking about in our first election since 2000 was whether or not the results would be contested).

    Days and weeks later, many of those same newspapers also reported that most of these conspiracy theories had been disproven by more level heads. Kerry and Edwards both said, repeatedly, that they had reviewed the evidence and were convinced that they had lost the election, and suggested that the debate did more harm than good for the election process. Obviously, RFK, Jr. doesn't agree.

    People need to remember that newspapers don't publish with Google in mind. The data is a time series, and each datapoint reflects the current thinking at the time. I'm sure RFK, Jr. knew this, but figured most people would look at 208 sources and figure, "Woah - well researched. Must be true."

    John Scalzi | June 2, 2006 06:39 PM

    Brian Greenberg:

    "What I do dispute is your starting premise that Bush and everyone in the Bush administration are morons, and then your cherry picking of facts that can be spun to back up that assumption."

    What I find charming, Brian, is your ability to be so delightfully evenhanded about the Bush administration's competence when time and time and time and time and time again they've shown they haven't the first goddamned clue as to what they're doing. It's sweet. In my weaker moments, I sometimes suspect that if Bush declared that it was national policy to eat babies, you'd say something along the lines of "Well, you know, I'm not for eating babies, but I don't think people should criticize the policy with facts they've cherry-picked." I know you mean well, and I'm glad to have you here checking me on things, but at a certain point being "reasonable" seems an awful lot like detatching one's self from reality.

    Sadly, the administration is in itself its own best argument against your position, as its continual lack of competence suggests that even if the administration is not populated with morons, it's best to lay out as a baseline for its behavior that it is. Slice this particular thing up any way you want to, call it cherry-picking if you want, the fact remains NYC is home to numerous high-profile monuments, landmarks and icons -- federally recognized and otherwise -- and blithely suggesting that, say, the Empire State Building is merely a "tall office building" rather than a national landmark and icon and then basing funding on that doesn't change the fact it is also a national landmark and icon, and at risk because of those reasons. If you're going to have "landmarks and icons" as a category, that category should have some relation to reality. Otherwise get rid of the damned category.

    You may want to hold out hope there's some sort of logical explanation for this; you may be right. However, based on coming up to six years of experience with this group of noxious baboons flinging their crap about, my first assumption is that they have their heads up their asses unless it's proven otherwise, because that's the model that most accurately reflects reality. I would be positively delighted to start from other assumptions. But I don't think that's a realistic thing to do.

    "Cherry-picking." Crap. I'm not the one who made up a form saying NYC is monumentless. It's not "cherry-picking" to note the odious stupidity of such a suggestion. It's simply stating the obvious.

    Culfinriel | June 2, 2006 08:08 PM

    Haven't read through all the other comments so apologies if this is redundant. I wasn't aware that the World Trade Center was a national monument, either.

    CoolBlue | June 2, 2006 09:25 PM

    PeterP

    The problem with these sorts of debates is that you always have to plow so far into the source material to see who is using "Proof By Vigorous Hand Waving" that it ends up being exhausting.

    Even without this investigation, it is pretty clear there was nothing grossly irregular going on in Ohio. As Brian points our, both Kerry and Edwards were satisfied. And given the whole climate of politics, if there really was gross fraud, the press and Democrats in general would be all over it.

    Of this I have no doubt.

    In his piece, Hertsgaard quotes the Democrat party's general council who sums it up nicely:

    "That point of view relies on the assumption that the entire Republican Party is conspiratorial and the entire Democratic Party is as dumb as rocks. And I don't buy that."

    And I point this out because to me it is essential that Democrats stop using excuses like this and starts facing reality. Again, Hertsgaard states precisly what I am often trying to get across

    the focus on vote rigging distracts from other explanations for the 2004 outcome and, more importantly, from what Democrats need to do differently in the future.

    Democrats need to focus on their message. OK so they need a message first, then focus on it.

    They need to jettison the poison that is extreme Left wing of their party, It is doing more damage to them than the Extreme right wing does to the Republicans. This is mostly because say what you want about the Fundies, they are not anti-American, whereas the Far Left is. And that doesn't sell lemonade.

    They need to remember that you win elections from the center out, not the other way around.

    Democrats, if they ever hope to regain power have got to stop thinking that people secretly love them and that if only the Republicans would stop stealing votes, they would win.

    It's not true.

    And even more toxic is when they lose they have to stop saying things like "if only people weren't so stupid." That not only sounds elitist, it is elitist.

    The fact of the matter is Republicans have way more supporters in the lower and middle classes than Democrats do. Saying its the party of the rich doesn't make it so.

    And if the opposition is raising most of it's money in 5's and 10's and it's out-fundraising you, you had better pay attention to that.

    I'm just sayin'....

    Smurf | June 3, 2006 12:28 AM

    I bet a good nine or ten people a year visit the Chester Arthur house.

    Smurf | June 3, 2006 12:31 AM

    ... and three of them are probably just there for the bathroom.

    Tim | June 3, 2006 01:07 AM

    CoolBlue,

    Sshhhh! Don't tell them what they're doing wrong. When your adversary is involved in their own self-destruction, simply get out of their way.

    Anonymous | June 3, 2006 01:30 AM

    CoolBlue:

    This is mostly because say what you want about the Fundies, they are not anti-American

    I would call enforcing religious views on people who don't share them about as un-american as you can get. But thats me with the silly 1st amendment fetish.

    The radicals on either side are dangerous, but the radical left wants to regulate my economic structure, while the radical right wants to regulate my social structure. Insomuch as the two are intertwined, this may ultimately be the same thing, but I still think you end up with more freedom under the radical left than right. Lesser of two evils.

    Also, this totally ignores the reality that the radical left and right are really very broad spectrums of belief. It may be rhetorically convenient to lump them all together as radical, but it is intellectualy dishonest at best.

    Finally, it seems to be a recurring meem that the Democrats do not have an agenda. Strangely, this is most often repeated by Republican commenters, while all of the Democrats that I know seem to have a clear idea of their parties agenda. What we do not have is easily exploitable emotional issues that allow the bigoted to come out in droves. Put another way, its a lot easier to play on peoples fears than appeal to their sense of justice.

    PeterP | June 3, 2006 01:31 AM

    CoolBlue:

    This is mostly because say what you want about the Fundies, they are not anti-American

    I would call enforcing religious views on people who don't share them about as un-american as you can get. But thats me with the silly 1st amendment fetish.

    The radicals on either side are dangerous, but the radical left wants to regulate my economic structure, while the radical right wants to regulate my social structure. Insomuch as the two are intertwined, this may ultimately be the same thing, but I still think you end up with more freedom under the radical left than right. Lesser of two evils.

    Also, this totally ignores the reality that the radical left and right are really very broad spectrums of belief. It may be rhetorically convenient to lump them all together as radical, but it is intellectualy dishonest at best.

    Finally, it seems to be a recurring meem that the Democrats do not have an agenda. Strangely, this is most often repeated by Republican commenters, while all of the Democrats that I know seem to have a clear idea of their parties agenda. What we do not have is easily exploitable emotional issues that allow the bigoted to come out in droves. Put another way, its a lot easier to play on peoples fears than appeal to their sense of justice.

    Brian Greenberg | June 3, 2006 01:56 AM

    John:
    You may want to hold out hope there's some sort of logical explanation for this; you may be right. However, based on coming up to six years of experience with this group of noxious baboons flinging their crap about, my first assumption is that they have their heads up their asses unless it's proven otherwise, because that's the model that most accurately reflects reality. I would be positively delighted to start from other assumptions. But I don't think that's a realistic thing to do.

    OK, I'm pretty sure you were being sarcastic (especially since I think it's technically impossible to fling crap about when you have your head up your ass), but I'm going to take you at your word, and go looking for that logical explanation. Take it for what it's worth. If nothing else, maybe I'll convince you that you're doing more cherry-picking than you care to admit.

    (NOTE: I didn't put the HREF's in so the post wouldn't get quarantined. I quoted the relevant facts. If you want to read the whole thing, cut & paste)

    ----------------------------------------

    http://www.silive.com/news/advance/index.ssf?/base/news/1149254132288420.xml&coll=1
    DHS used multiple categories, including "bridge," "tall building," and "national monument." Funding is not determined solely by how many national monuments you have - cities with lots of bridges and tall buildings get funding as well. To call the Empire State Building a tall building and a national monument/icon would simply be counting it twice. Not calling it a monument doesn't mean it doesn't count toward terror funding. Over 7,000 of New York City's assets were included in the calculation, "including the Statue of Liberty, the Staten Island Ferry and maritime port facilities."

    http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/irawgreport.pdf
    Interesting factoid: the Department of the Interior determines what sites are national monuments & icons, not the Department of Homeland Security. I still haven't found the DHS list that said New York has no national monuments, but I did find this list in several places:

    http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/other/npark6.html
    It lists a total of 93 national monuments (as defined by DOI or the National Parks Service). New York as three: Castle Clinton, Fort Stanwix, and Governors Island. The Statue of Liberty is listed as "NY/NJ." If you look at the list, though, you'll notice that it jives pretty well with the "tall building/bridge" explanation: most of our national monuments are things like caves, caverns, forrests, or volcanoes. In other words, the kinds of things you couldn't put in any other category.

    The state with the most national monuments is Arizona with 18. The state received a total of $20.2M in funding (24th of the 56 states/districts/territories that received funding). So clearly, funding is not highly dependent on a state's (or city's) national monument count.

    http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_152174250.html
    As Polybius pointed out above, New York City got 24% of the available funds in 2005, but it has received a total of ~18% over the four years the program has been in existence, for a total of roughly $650 million. This year's share is also around 18%. To John's "have we turned the corner?" point about reducing total anti-terrorist funding, here's Tony Snow: "a lot [of the previously allocated money] was for capital expenditure, so it's natural to assume that after you've made this expenditure, a lot of it will fall off. But even now, New York City is by far the largest recipient of aid of any city in the United States of America."

    http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/grants_st-local_fy06.pdf
    To illustrate the point, here are the Top 5 cities and their grant amounts:

    New York City - $124,450,000
    Los Angeles/Long Beach Area - $80,610,000
    Chicago Area - $52,260,000
    National Capital Region - $46,470,000
    Jersey City/Newark Area - $34,330,000

    New York City got 17.5% of the money allocated to major urban areas (7.5% of money allocated to the entire nation) and 54% more than the next highest funded urban area.

    ----------------------------------------

    John: I got all that from digging through the first TWO links in Google News under "terrorist funding new york city", plus a perusal of the DHS website - not a whole lot of work. Call me crazy, call me a right-wing-nutcase, call me pro-baby-eating, but even if you think New York's funding level is too low (which I do), the above does not portray the administration as a bunch of morons.

    Heck, even Michael Bloomberg has a better explanation than "Morons!!!": "We've tried to do analysis of some of the money given out, for political reasons. In fact, in many of the places where they got money, but arguably there's no threat, these are close elections either at Senate level or House level. Is that their motive? I have no idea." I don't see evidence for this anywhere else, but even a corruption defense makes more sense than "Duh...oops....we furgot 'bout the Statute of Libertitude...."

    So now tell me, John - are you cherry picking, or are your facts somehow more relevant to the discussion than mine?

    Anonymous | June 3, 2006 03:43 AM

    John writes: "You may want to hold out hope there's some sort of logical explanation for this; you may be right. "

    I'm sure there is a logical explanation.

    I'm also sure the logic has very little to do with security, and lots to do with pork distribution.

    This whole thing with the DHS form and "no landmarks" reminds me of a certain phrase, "fixing the intelligence around the policy".

    As in "okay, we're going to cut funds for Dem cities and move them to GOP districts. Now write up this form for NYC in order to justify the cut."

    CoolBlue | June 3, 2006 09:51 AM

    Smurf

    I bet a good nine or ten people a year visit the Chester Arthur house.

    Yeah, and they all come to Vermont to do it. I didn't know there was one in New York as well. Where is it exactly?

    Tim

    When your adversary is involved in their own self-destruction, simply get out of their way.

    Well, the reason I've been trying to give advice on this is because I do not consider Democrats my political enemy.

    I think that a healthy Democracy needs viable choices because any national political party that has the ability to take and hold power necessarily has to have a big tent. And that tent will include advocates for policies I personally don't like.

    So I want to be able to have a choice and I want it to be hard for me to choose between one candidate or another for President.

    For a long time now this has not been the case and to me it is very dangerous for our Democracy to have only one viable political party.

    That fact that I have the firm conviction that JFK could not get the Democrat Presidential nomination in today's political climate encapsulates all that I believe is wrong with the Democrat Party today.

    PeterP

    I would call enforcing religious views on people who don't share them about as un-american as you can get.

    I'm sorry, but politics is all about constituencies. The Constitution protects minority and individual rights.

    But for everything else, if it turns out that the majority of people want this or that law passed, and they elect enough representatives and Senators to make that happen, then that's what should happen even if you personally believe that it amounts to "enforceing a religious view" on people.

    Because that's democracy too.

    And that goes for "leftist" ideas as well.

    But that's not my point.

    Neither Far Left nor Far Right policies have national political appeal. They can win some local elections and have some localized Constituencies. Which is fine.

    The problem I am identifying, and you can take it or leave it, is that the Democrat Party on the National level is identified too closely with Far Leftist policies for them to have national appeal. Whereas the Republicans manage to keep their public face much more Centrist while including the Far Right on a more private basis.

    It has nothing to do with which policies are better or worse ultimately because we all have opinions about that. It is about positions that get you elected on a national level.

    Right now, today, there is no doubt that the political center is right of center and the Democrats just have to deal with that.

    Or not.

    John Scalzi | June 3, 2006 10:34 AM

    Brian Greenberg:

    "So now tell me, John - are you cherry picking, or are your facts somehow more relevant to the discussion than mine?"

    Just as an FYI, Brian, the URLs you put in did trigger my moderation filter, hence the delay. Also, if you can't find the DHS form which notes that NYC has no monuments/icons, you're not reading the main entry hard enough.

    I'm not entirely sure what your flurry of links is trying to show, other than things I've already noted in the entry or we've noted in the thread, which is that NYC monuments/icons have been reclassified into other categories among other things noted in the thread.

    The question is whether this reclassification makes any sort of logical sense. The Metlife building is a "tall office building." The Empire State Building is a federally recognized landmark and an icon of New York City. It is also a "tall office building," but if we're talking about terrorism, where does its value lie? The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a "bridge." The Brooklyn Bridge is a federally recognized landmark and an icon of New York City. It is also a bridge, but again, if we're talking about terrorism, where does it value lie? We already know via 9/11 that terrorists pick icons; they didn't attack the World Trade Center because it was a pair of "tall office buildings." By this sort of formulation, George Bush is merely a "government worker," and ketchup is possibly a "vegetable."

    Lumping in the Empire State Building with the Metlife building or any of the numerous other "tall office buildings" is stupid because it ignores its value as an icon and a target. Ignoring all of the various landmarks and icons in NYC, or reclassifying them as if they have no more significance than any other members of the general class they have been assigned to is likewise stupid, for the same general reason. Likewise, basing funding on this formulation is tendentious, because it ignores reality.

    While we're at this, what's wrong with counting these assets in more than one category? ESB is a tall office building; it's also a federally recognized landmark. While its primary terrorist value is for the latter, the fact that it's the former is not to be ignored, either. Counting them as both is a not entirely bad way of recognizing their exceptional value as targets, and basing funding therein.

    Flopping down stats that say NYC still gets more money than anyone else anyway is just really missing the point. As I noted upward in the thread, it's not about the money, it's about how the government and this administration is doing its job. If the money allocated this year is less for various justifable reasons, that's one thing; if the money is less because the DHS can't be bothered to check with Congress and the Department of the Interior as to what we recognize as landmarks and monuments or is re-classifying high-value targets into more common categories in order to justify a funding reduction, that's clearly another.

    "The state with the most national monuments is Arizona with 18. The state received a total of $20.2M in funding (24th of the 56 states/districts/territories that received funding). So clearly, funding is not highly dependent on a state's (or city's) national monument count."

    Good lord. You call this reasoning? Even if this showed that having a high number of national monuments does not affect funding (which you should well know it doesn't), it does not show that having no national monuments does not affect funding decisions. Talk about "cherry-picking" facts, Brian!

    So, in all, yeah, my facts here are more relevant than your facts, Brian. Sorry about that.

    What this comes down to, Brian, is that you don't like me using the word "moron," possibly because you voted for these morons (or, at the very least, the morons who hired these morons). However, when I'm confronted with people who make terrorist funding allocations based on poor and possibly political reasoning, I think: These people are morons. And when these poor and possibly political reasons are just one more example of many poor and possibly political reasons they appear to do anything, and this has been their mode of function for five+ years, it just confirms my "moron" assessment.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, Brian. If indeed you voted for these morons, I'm sorry you voted for them. As I've noted time and before, their being morons has nothing to do with their basic politics; there are lots of smart conservatives and Republicans out there, it's just these are not they. And I sincerely hope you do not find yourself compelled to vote for morons again. Be that as it may, unlike Mayor Bloomberg, I don't have to be politic about what I say about these morons. So: They're morons, pure and simple. And if they aren't, the way they conduct their adminstration is so awful that there is no practical difference. Poor us, to be led by such.

    PeterP | June 3, 2006 01:36 PM

    CoolBlue:

    Right now, today, there is no doubt that the political center is right of center and the Democrats just have to deal with that.

    But is that really true, or is it a fairy tale Republicans tell their children to help them sleep at night? I mean, the last presidential election was incredibly close, Bush is polling lower than Hugh Heffner in the Vatican, and TV shows like "The Daily Show" pull in millions of viewers. It seems like the majority of the country is centrist.

    I would submit that the voting majority is right of center, but again this can be attributed to the Republican agenda of divisive wedge issues. So yes, unless the Democrats can somehow appeal to the block of people that hates homosexuals, abortions, and Mexicans, they are going to have issues getting votes.

    CoolBlue | June 3, 2006 03:00 PM

    PeterP

    Right now, today, there is no doubt that the political center is right of center and the Democrats just have to deal with that.

    But is that really true, or is it a fairy tale Republicans tell their children to help them sleep at night?

    Well let's see, according to Pew Research center, who did their "political topology" report in 2005

    As in the past, there are two very different groups in the center, aside from the generally apathetic Bystanders. The Upbeats are affluent and optimistic; the Disaffecteds are struggling financially and much more pessimistic. The Republican Party's advantage in the ideological center is substantial. Far more Upbeats and Disaffecteds identify with the GOP than with the Democratic Party; when the leaning of those who view themselves as independent is taken into account, the GOP advantage is even more apparent. In large part, this is reflective of Bush's strong personal appeal among these groups. Among Disaffecteds, Bush is by far the most popular political figure tested and he rates near the top of the list among Upbeats.
    In all, the new typology features three Republican-oriented groups, two predominantly independent groups, and three Democratic-oriented groups, plus the politically uninvolved Bystanders. Because a person's typology assignment is mostly determined by his or her particular beliefs and values, the degree of partisan affiliation varies within each group. On the right, while Enterprisers and Social Conservatives are overwhelmingly Republican, there are many Pro-Government Conservatives who think of themselves as independents (though most say they "lean toward" the Republican party in a follow-up question). Similarly, while the left has two groups of Democratic loyalists (Conservative and Disadvantaged Democrats), many Liberals think of themselves politically as independents (virtually all of these independent Liberals lean Democratic).

    I personally believe that denying the above is the fairy-tale Democrats use to put their babies to bed at night.

    (http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?PageID=944)

    I mean, the last presidential election was incredibly close

    See what I mean? This is pure denial. Bush won a majority of the popular vote. Do you know who the last Democrat was to win a majority and when? I'll tell you: It was Carter in 1976 and he squeeked by with 50.08%. Before that was Johnson in 1964 and you have to go all the way back to 1944 and FDR to find another Democrat who won the majority of the popular vote. Whereas every Republican President since 1952, with the exception of Nixon's first term, has won a majority of the popular vote.

    I would submit that the voting majority is right of center, but again this can be attributed to the Republican agenda of divisive wedge issues.

    Stop with the pundit-speak already. A wedge issue is a wedge issue specifically becuase there is conflict there. It is the battleground of politics. Those issues that everyone agrees on are obviously not the subject of political debate.

    So yes, unless the Democrats can somehow appeal to the block of people that hates homosexuals, abortions, and Mexicans, they are going to have issues getting votes.

    While it is true that 2/3s of Americans are against Gay Marriage. A majority of Americans believe "Homosexuals should be accepted by society". So you don't have to hate Gays to win. But most Democrat candidates publicly oppose Gay marriage too, so that's a done deal.

    (http://pewforum.org/docs/index.php?DocID=39)

    And it is true that most Americans are against illegal immigration. No surprise there. Doesn't mean they hate Mexicans.

    And according to Pew

    Most Americans express at least some degree of support for allowing immigrants a chance to remain in the U.S. The April Pew poll, for instance, found that a majority of the public (including a majority of white evangelicals and nearly six-in-ten white mainline Protestants and white, non-Hispanic Catholics) favors allowing undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. for several years to gain legal working status and the possibility of citizenship in the future.

    So there's the fundie vote, for ya.

    (http://pewresearch.org/obdeck/?ObDeckID=20)

    And with regards to abortion, people do feel strongly about it but most Americans don't think it should be made more difficult to get an abortion. Surprisingly few let it affect their voting patterns. According to Pew, 54% of people who oppose abortion would for for someone who does not share their view on the subject.

    (http://people-press.org/commentary/display.php3?AnalysisID=88)

    So it seems the three things you think get Republicans elected over Democrats are not such big drivers after all.

    You need to recalibrate, I think.

    CoolBlue | June 3, 2006 03:03 PM

    Damn John, I did it again. The may last post got caught by the filter.

    I thought if I didn't embed the links it would make it past your ever-vigilent door guard, but no.

    I don't want it to get lost, I spent too much time researching it.

    John Scalzi | June 3, 2006 03:05 PM

    Let me look in the queue, CoolBlue.

    (finds it, releases it)

    There you go!

    Brian Greenberg | June 3, 2006 05:01 PM

    John:

    if you can't find the DHS form which notes that NYC has no monuments/icons, you're not reading the main entry hard enough.

    Right you are. I couldn't find it in Google. Strange...

    The Empire State Building is a federally recognized landmark and an icon of New York City. It is also a "tall office building," but if we're talking about terrorism, where does its value lie?

    OK, a few things: First, what makes you say the ESB is a federally recognized landmark? We're both now looking at two federal documents describing landmarks, and the ESB isn't on either of them. Second, when we're talking about terrorism, it's a high-value target and should be classified in whatever category grants it the highest value. You are assuming that "national monument/icon" garners more funding than "tall building," but I don't see that anywhere in the research I've done. In fact, given that most of the national monuments are caverns, forrests, and volcanoes, I'd be inclined to say it's "value" lies in the fact that it's a tall building.

    Lumping in the Empire State Building with the Metlife building or any of the numerous other "tall office buildings" is stupid because it ignores its value as an icon and a target.

    Again, this is your distinction and yours alone. I think the terrorists would hit the MetLife Building before Florissant Fossil Beds (a national monument), precisely because it is a tall building (NOTE: this is a spectacularly bad example, since the MetLife Building sits directly atop Grand Central Station, and its destruction would probably cause the second largest impact in the country, next to Madison Sqaure Garden/Penn Station).

    Good lord. You call [Arizona's monument/funding ratio] reasoning? Even if this showed that having a high number of national monuments does not affect funding (which you should well know it doesn't), it does not show that having no national monuments does not affect funding decisions. Talk about "cherry-picking" facts, Brian!

    Actually, it shows neither. It shows that national monument count isn't the only thing that affects funding (the point I was making). And disagreeing with the last of my many facts doesn't make me a cherry-picker...

    So, in all, yeah, my facts here are more relevant than your facts, Brian. Sorry about that.

    We'll have to agree to disagree here. You seem to have one fact: DHS (really NPS) says New York has no national monuments, therefore the administration is a bunch of morons. I cited you about a dozen facts about what it means to be classified as a national monument (basically, being important to the nation, but not fitting in any other category), about how national monument count is not the sole factor in determining funding (despite what the politicans are currently crowing about), about how the funding allocation seem to be similar to past years, and about the rationale the government's using for reducing overall funding.

    Personally, reading what I have about how New York City planned to spend their federal money, I disagree with that last conclusion, but disagreeing with the government's logic promotes healthy debate that can lead to change. Calling them a bunch of morons and citing one out of many relevant facts to "prove" it might feel good, but it promotes exactly the opposite.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, Brian. If indeed you voted for these morons, I'm sorry you voted for them.

    Well, I'm sorry they were my best choice, if that's what you mean. And CoolBlue is doing an excellent job in the other "half" of this thread explaining why. I've voted in five presidential elections (same as you), and in four of them, my vote went to the lesser of the two evils. The only time I actually felt good about the guy I was voting for was Bill Clinton in 1996.

    And I sincerely hope you do not find yourself compelled to vote for morons again.

    On this, we can most certainly agree.

    fibian | June 3, 2006 05:23 PM

    Since this thread seems to still be active, let me try again. Here are the positions as I see them (I'm really not trying to rewrite your views John, so feel free to correct my ignorance):

    John's position: As evidenced by the DHS form that John linked, the DHS thinks that there are no national monuments/icons in NYC. This is further evidence, if you need it, that the current administration are morons.

    Fibian's position: John is linking a story that says:

    (1) The DHS thinks there are no national monuments/icons in NYC.

    (2) They used this as an excuse to slash anti-terrorism funding to NYC by 40%.

    This is one of those stories that's really too good to be true (or as journalists sometimes say, when in a cynical mood, too good to check). It happens, though, that I was aware that at least part of this story is misleading. That is, that Congress reduced overall spending for the grants, and that NYC received about the same per centage as before.
    So yes, while the funding was cut by 40%, per centage-wise NYC remained about the same. That's why I said the story from ABC (not John) was disingenuous: whether or not John was aware of that fact, ABC certainly was, yet they chose to present the story in a way that allowed them to take a cheap shot at the administration.

    Now, once I realized part of this story wasn't quite right, I started looking at the rest of it. From the form it appeared that the numbers couldn't possibly mean what John was assuming they meant. So my point wasn't really that it was too stupid to be true, but rather that the numbers were inconsistent with things even the DHS couldn't get wrong (4 financial institutions, e.g.). Then there was the whole matter of believing that DHS really didn't think of the Statue of Liberty and all the other monuments/icons. While it's pleasant to imagine that bureaucrats really are that dumb, deep down inside we know that something must be wrong with our assumptions. Ironically, John provided the answer: The monuments/icons were placed in other categories. So the whole premise of the post is wrong: DHS doesn't think that NYC has no monuments/icons and NYC still got about the same share of available funds.

    That leaves some questions:

    Should NYC have received more funding? I don't know. Obviously those in the city think so, but I don't have the facts (or even the expertise) to make an informed judgement.

    Should Congress have cut the funding? Again, I don't know because I don't have the facts or expertise to evaluate them if I did. Certainly on an emotional level the answer is no, but rationally I can't say.

    Does it make sense to count a given building (or whatever) in only one category? You can probably make an argument for either case, but they chose the rules and evaluated every city by the same set of criteria.

    Does the fact that they put the ESB in the tall building category rather than the icon category mean that DHS are morons? It's hard to see why (given that it can only be in one category), especially if the categories count equally (I don't know whether they do or don't). It may not be what you would have chosen and it may not be what I would have chosen but that doesn't mean that the person who made the choice is ipso facto a moron. Remember, no one is saying that the ESB is just a tall building and not a national treasure, only that it has to go in one bin or another and they chose to put it in the tall building bin. Based on 9/11, perhaps that puts it in the bin that gets the most weight, I don't know.

    So let's review. I am not, heaven help me, defending DHS. They have certainly done lots of moronic things. It's just that believing that NYC doesn't have any national monuments/icons isn't one of them. I am not saying John is a moron. I actually think he's a pretty smart guy. What I do think is that he saw this ABC story, which confirmed his previous views of the administration, and passed it on without looking at it skeptically enough. I don't agree that the fact that DHS chose the categories they did is stupid, but I do think it's an arguable position, so I'm happy to agree to disagree about that.

    Sam Greenfield | June 3, 2006 06:04 PM

    For a fun list of landmarks in New York City, check out the National Register of of Historic Places search page. You can see all 958 locations in New York City listed by county and alphabetically. (New York City is in five different counties.)

    Of course, the register doesn't list New York City as a historic location in and of itself. I hate to sound too New-York-City-biased, but it is arguably both the most recognizable city in the world and the capital of the planet.

    SladeJ | June 3, 2006 06:20 PM

    "-I mean, the last presidential election was incredibly close-

    See what I mean? This is pure denial. Bush won a majority of the popular vote. "

    Um, OK. Bush - 62M, Kerry 59M sounds pretty close on the bare surface (2.5% difference or so), but the election was far closer than that in some of the pivotal states. This includes none of the possible chicanery (some of which I have personally witnessed) Republican political employees have used to prevent probable Dems from voting, because that debate is done.

    "Do you know who the last Democrat was to win a majority and when? I'll tell you..."

    Again with the um, OK. The fact that Bush gathered a bare majority of the popular vote does not make this occurrence particularly significant. Leaving aside the simple fact that the Repos outspent the Demos hugely, which is an enormous indicator of victory in politics, BOTH parties made a vast effort to increase voter turnout in this election. Turnout for both parties was up OVER that 1976 election. The fact that no Democrats have gotten the majority in so long is more of an indicator of low voter turnout than anything else. Kerry would have slaughtered Bush with 59M in the 2000 election. 2000 would seem to be a decent indicator of the people's political variance : 1/2 a percent

    Punditry disguised with research and numbers is still punditry.

    WARNING: RANT
    My personal soapbox: I think having multiple parties with differing views is what makes democracy tick. I'm glad there are Republicans. I'm not a Democrat, I vote on policy and voting record. That said, the modern Republican party is very clearly doing two things I find either disturbing or despicable. First, and disturbing, they are allowing a vast number of their public policies, both foreign and domestic, to be shaped by religious beliefs, primarily by Fundamentalist Christian religious beliefs. Abortion rights are not my concern here, but what about sex ed? Contraception? Religious cough*Ten Commandments*cough icons in government buildings? The separation of church and state is one of the fundamental principles of American democracy. It's not a law, it's in the friggin' Constitution. To the best of my knowledge, that has not been amended. Christianity is not the law of the land. Speaking of Heinlein, does this sort of thing ring any bells for any of you?


    Second, and despicably, the Republican administration has lied. Lied, lied, lied. They have lied about Iraq. They have lied about the benefits of tax bills. They have lied about voters' rights. They've lied about science. All politicians are demagogues, it's part of the job description. There's a difference between slanting the facts to make a point, and making them up. Cynicism in the political process is an especially time-honored tradition, but it's a poison, like nicotine. A cigar every now and then won't kill you, but a 3-pack-a-day habit will. Republicans + Rupert Murdoch (really, centralization of press) = democracy waking up with a hacking cough. All politicians exaggerate, because they want you to get excited. This administration lies, and they don't even bother to try hard to cover it up. They know perfectly well they won't get punished for it. They control the highest court, and Shrub has a get-out-of-jail card for anyone who needs it. They get paid well for it too. Saying it's the party of the rich doesn't make it so, but the fact that they cut taxes for the rich, and taxes and controls on corporations does. The only thing I disagree with you about, John, is the motivation for the moronic behavior. Some of them are surely morons. But the reason they are still there? It's because the people at the top know stupidity is a good cover for the fact that the real culprit is cynicism.

    Oh, and I know Demos lie too. I said I don't vote ticket for a reason...


    /rant

    John Scalzi | June 3, 2006 10:21 PM

    Brian Greenberg:

    "First, what makes you say the ESB is a federally recognized landmark?"

    Because it is. As are all the other landmarks and monuments I noted in the main entry. Are you under the impression I pulled that list out of my ass or something?

    "You are assuming that 'national monument/icon' garners more funding than 'tall building,' but I don't see that anywhere in the research I've done."

    Well, Brian, inasmuch as your research couldn't turn up a fact I actually provided in the entry itself, I don't see this as much of a vote of confidence. Second, do you honestly think New York City having an entire major category of asset zeroed out on this form didn't have an effect on its funding allocation?

    Also, let's have a bracing moment of sanity here: Not every National Monument or icon in NYC can be comfortably shunted into another category. Something should have been in the monument/icon category. Even if we (stupidly) agree that the Empire State Building is just a "tall office building" there are lots of genuine federally recognized monuments and landmarks that aren't "tall office buildings" or "bridges." Please, for example, tell me what other category you'd put The African Burial Ground? Perhaps Governor's Island is listed merely as an "island" on the asset list? (Hint for you: "island" is not one of the asset categories.) These are both genuine National Monuments. And what asset category should we put National Historical Landmark Carnegie Hall? "Theme Park?" Perhaps "Stadium"? No? Well, then.

    And here's fun for you: according to The New York Times, the DHS has admitted that the Statue of Liberty was left of the form due to an "oversight." Because it's so easy to overlook the Statue of Liberty. Now, I have a word for people who can manage to overlook the Statue of Liberty as a national monument or icon, Brian. But you won't like the word I use. Honestly, it's hard to believe it's anything other than malice or stupidity, or some toxic combination of both.

    We can argue back and forth as to whether a "tall building" is worth more or less than a national monument, but I suspect it's axiomatic that having any national monuments/icons listed on your funding allocation form is better than having none. And if the DHS has some other metric for describing what is a national icon or monument other than the one already established by Congress, I'd sure like to know about that too.

    Fibian:

    "So the whole premise of the post is wrong: DHS doesn't think that NYC has no monuments/icons and NYC still got about the same share of available funds."

    But as noted above, even allowing for the transmutation of some monuments and icons into tall office buildings and bridges, there are enough left over that you have to bend over backward not to list them as a national icon or monument. Central Park, surely an icon (and a national landmark) does not comfortably fit into any of the noted urban assets categories. Nor does the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the New York Public Library. Not all of the monuments and icons are accounted for. If they were, then that line of the form would be occupied by something, and, one suspects, the allocation of funds would be affected. And the fact these icons are not accounted for leaves the DHS open to aforementioned charges of malice and/or stupidity. Or, simply, incompetence.

    Now, as I've noted before, this administration has shown time and time again over five years that it is not competent; I don't think at this point I need to drag out all the examples of this. At a certain point I simply decided to assume that the reason this administration is incompetent is that it is staffed by morons -- or, as noted earlier, with people whose ability to do things competently is so suppressed that for all practical purposes, they ought to be considered morons.

    This may not appear helpful to some of you, but I find it marvelously clarifying. If you assume that the adminstration will inevitably find the worst possible way to do something -- as indeed it always seems to do -- you can plan accordingly.

    Brian Greenberg | June 3, 2006 11:53 PM

    Well, Brian, inasmuch as your research couldn't turn up a fact I actually provided in the entry itself, I don't see this as much of a vote of confidence.

    Low blow, but I guess I deserve that. Just trust that I read the text more carefully than I read the hyperlinks, OK?

    Are you under the impression I pulled that list out of my ass or something?

    You said you gacked it from Wikipedia, so that's where I assumed you got it from.

    Second, do you honestly think New York City having an entire major category of asset zeroed out on this form didn't have an effect on its funding allocation?

    No, I'm sure it had an effect. I just don't know what kind of effect. As Fibian pointed out, "Tall Buildings" might score more points than "National Monuments." So classifying these things as buildings might have increased funding. I don't know, and neither do you.

    I will note that the form doesn't say "Tall Buildings," it says "Commercial Assets," which I'm sure includes tall buildings, but also probably includes Carnegie Hall, Yankee Stadium, etc. I'd also note that if anything in New York is going to become an oversight, it's going to be the Statue of Liberty, because there's been a battle going on for years over whether it's in New York or New Jersey (or, to add to the confusion, controlled by the Port Authority of NY/NJ, which owned the World Trade Center, even though that was entirely located within NYC).

    I suspect it's axiomatic that having any national monuments/icons listed on your funding allocation form is better than having none.

    Axiomatic? No. Your assumption, clearly. As I (and Fibian) said above, maybe classifying the ESB as a building yielded more funding. In that case, having one national monument would have been worse than having zero.

    Meanwhile, all of this is beside the point. In spite of your original post, we're now discussing the methods DHS used to arrive at their conclusion and, to some extent, whether that conclusion was the right one. That's a good thing. And it doesn't require suggesting that everyone in Washington forgot all about the Empire State Building when allocating terror funds.

    John Scalzi | June 4, 2006 12:31 AM

    Brian Greenberg:

    "Just trust that I read the text more carefully than I read the hyperlinks, OK?"

    Heh. Fair enough.

    "I will note that the form doesn't say 'Tall Buildings,' it says 'Commercial Assets,' which I'm sure includes tall buildings, but also probably includes Carnegie Hall, Yankee Stadium, etc."

    Ah -- but the 38 Urban Area Asset Types listed in "FY 2006 Risk Methodology and the Urban Areas Security Initiative" paper does not list "Commercial Assets" as one asset categories, although it does list "Tall Commercial Buildings" (category 35) and "National Monuments and Icons" (category 19). (Yankee Stadium, incidentally, is covered by category 34: Stadiums.) One may surmise that "Commercial Assets" on the form is a catchall for the commercial asset categories (which include commercial airports and commercial overnight shipping facilities as well as tall commercial buildings), because the other categories of the DHS form in question also seem to cover multiple assest categories the DHS uses in its evaluation.

    However, this still leaves out place like Carnegie Hall, Central Park, the New York Public Library, and so on. Interestingly, these asset classes would also leave out City Hall, which is not especially tall nor a commercial asset -- unless it were lumped in as a National Monument/Icon, because it is, you guessed it, a National Historical Landmark.

    Point is -- again -- no matter how you slice it, there should be National Monuments/Icons on that form. There are none, and that's a serious issue of competence.

    "In spite of your original post, we're now discussing the methods DHS used to arrive at their conclusion and, to some extent, whether that conclusion was the right one. That's a good thing. And it doesn't require suggesting that everyone in Washington forgot all about the Empire State Building when allocating terror funds."

    Well, no. Because -- once again -- there are several monuments and landmarks in NYC that don't fit into any DHS asset class anywhere but in the monument/icon category. They're not there not because they don't exist and not because they are not vulnerable, but because the DHS apparently overlooked them -- which once again returns to the issue of actual competence.

    Again, all issues of money are aside the point that something this fundamental was missed as part of the asset allocation formula. I suspect it was to the detriment of NYC's funding, but even if it wasn't, the issue is whether the DHS' assessment of NYC's risk factors has any relation to reality. It doesn't.

    fibian | June 4, 2006 10:26 AM

    Guys, this thread appears to have been reduced to howling at the moon. We started with, "The DHS are such morons they think there are no national monuments in NYC. Look! Here's the proof in this rating form." Now some of us are saying, "Well, OK they didn't say exactly that, but some of those monuments don't appear to fit into any of the categories, so the DHS are morons." Others of us are saying, "See, you were wrong about the rating form, so everything is fine. Leave DHS alone."

    The truth is that at this point we don't have the facts. Perhaps John is right and this is another example of DHS incompetence. Perhaps Brian is right and the monuments are all accounted for in some fashion and perhaps even in a fashion that is most favorable to the city.

    One thing we can be sure of, IF any of those monuments were left out officials from the city will make it known and very loudly. Either the DHS will be able to satisfactorly explain an omission or not. In either case we will have an answer. Until then, all we can do is speculate and shout are own beliefs ever louder. Satisfying, to be sure, but not very edifying.

    John Scalzi | June 4, 2006 10:45 AM

    Damn you, Fibian, for trying to seek closure!

    Threads often are like this, of course -- we're all just talking here. If nothing gets settled, that's fine (and if they do get settled, what then? We take over the government? Hmmmm...).

    Brian Greenberg | June 4, 2006 01:15 PM

    I think if we ever did settle anything, the entire blog would implode in a puff of logic.

    Till next time...

    David Harmon | June 4, 2006 07:11 PM

    I have coined a phrase, directly in response to the offenses of the ShrubCo cabal:

    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice."

    Those guys *claim* to be for everything nice and patriotic, but their actions say otherwise. As far as I can tell, the actual welfare of America, or any Americans outside ShrubCo's social circle, is simply not on the Republican agenda.

    Smurf | June 10, 2006 08:09 AM

    Cool Blue:

    Chester Arthur House
    123 Lexington Ave.
    New York, New York

    Make sure that you make your reservations early.


    Chet Trivia:

    - Chet caught an 80 pound bass off of Rhode Island

    - Chet suffered from Bright's disease, and most likely died of a cerebral hemmy brought on by hypertension.

    - Mark Twain once said something like "I'm just 1 out of 100 million... but I think that it would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."

    - Despite his vow to never marry again, he got 4 wedding proposals from young women on his last day in office.

    - Chester refused to move into the White House until he hired Louis Tiffany to restore the place. They carted away 24 wagons full of stuff to be sold at public auction, some of it dating back to John Adams.

    - Chet's sig is on the first general immigration bill, which barred paupers, criminals, and the mentally ill.

    - Chet assumed office after somebody moped out President Garfield.

    -Chet's wife died less than a year before he took office. He had his sister "run" the White House, and attend functions in her stead. He also had a stained glass window installed within view of his office, and had the church keep it lit every night.

    - Chet's big move was turning his back on the NY cronies and passing the Civil Service Reform Act.

    Lisa | June 22, 2006 12:21 PM

    I can tell you what's in Omaha: The huge processing facility for First Data Corporation, one of the world's largest processors of credit card transactions (6.5 billion in revenue and global in reach). Two days after 9/11, FirstData offered up its data and the Bush administration relied heavily upon it. In his new book "The One Percent Solution", Ron Suskind writes, "The massive data sweeps
    [at FirstData]...implicated the privacy of tens of thousands of Americans..."
    One of the first infringements upon our civil liberties and privacy rights by our current totalitarian regime began in Omaha - now there's a "landmark" worth protecting by the secrecy-fueled Bush hegemony.

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