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The Real Shame of Ground Zero

Instead of complaining about the construction of a mosque/community center/whatever two blocks from Ground Zero, why not focus (as John Podhoretz does) on the fact that, thanks to meddling and incompetent politicians and bureaucrats, nothing at all has been built on the site of the World Trade Center, a full nine years after 9/11?
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Discussions - 28 Comments

No, I think the REAL shame is that the group that always presumes to own patriotism and the sanctity of 9/11 and its victims - the GOP and conservatives - is the group that's fighting so hard against the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act - which would help residents and workers who were harmed during the Ground Zero cleanup efforts and who were adversely effected by the debris and toxic smoke and fumes. I think that's a far bigger shame than the reluctance of investors to build some ode-to-revenge-and-machismo structure resembling a middle finger to "The Mozlems" or with a specification of some kind that has the number 1776 in it (Get it? Get it??).

Craig: You are a silly man!

PWS: Why do you say so? (Name-calling - really?)

Craig, we all wonder why you are so silly.

Perhaps because your remarks are non sequitur.

I've been down to "Ground Zero" a few times over the last few years and they have been building something .. or at least they look like they are. Only God knows what.

(3)"An April 2006 study documented that, on average, a New York City firefighter who responded to the World Trade Center has experienced a loss of 12 years of lung capacity."

(7) At the request of the Department of Energy, the Davis DELTA Group at the University of California conducted outdoor dust sampling in October 2001 at Varick and Houston Streets (approximately 1.2 miles north of Ground Zero) and found that the contamination from the World Trade Center ‘outdid even the worst pollution from the Kuwait oil fields fires’. Further, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported on November 27, 2001, that dust samples collected from indoor surfaces registered at levels that were ‘as caustic as liquid drain cleaners’.

(24) The Federal response to medical and financial issues arising from the September 11 response efforts needs a comprehensive, coordinated long-term response in order to meet the needs of all the individuals who were exposed to the toxins of Ground Zero and are suffering health problems from the disaster.

Among 25 findings in HR 847...So I can agree with Craig here, would be great to cover some of the externalities from the disaster. Several real estate builders are supporter this bill in part because the PA or Silverstein might be on the hook for some of this if the goverment doesn't step in.((also impacting re-building) Even with the whole two incidents fiasco it is probable that there wasn't enough insurance money to cover the full extent of the dammages. It is pork of sorts for NYC but it is acceptable pork of the sort our government should provide, since it does more to make the citizens whole than war could or did accomplish.

I am no expert on New York real estate but according to bloomberg the world trade center was always subsidized, always owned by the Port Authority:

"When the World Trade Center was bombed in February, 1993, at the age of twenty, it had finally begun generating profits to offset the chronic losses the PA sustained running the PATH commuter line. But it was already passing its prime as office space, overtaken by a generation of more recent, cybernetically "smart" buildings with higher ceilings and greater built-in electrical capacity. To maintain the trade center as class-A office space commanding top rents, the PA would have had to spend $800 million rebuilding its electrical, electronic communications, and cooling systems."

"Relationships among banks and developers, public corporations, the city government, the statehouses of New York and New Jersey, and even the federal government have all been transformed to a point where it is inconceivable that the World Trade Center could be built today -- or even for a moment considered a workable or desirable project. Having escaped destruction at the hands of terrorists seeking to demodernize the world, the trade towers now offer themselves as blunt evidence of the maxing out of the North American skyscraper city."


"In this sense, the World Trade Center came prepackaged as a ruin that has slowly been moving in the direction of becoming a living building. But even in the wake of the bombing, New Yorkers have never been able to successfully fill Yamasaki's twin silos with the kind of psychological investment freely poured into the Empire State, the Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building, or even Rockefeller Center. From an economic standpoint, the trade center -- subsidized since its inception -- has never functioned, nor was it intended to function, unprotected in the rough-and-tumble real estate marketplace. And in the thirty years since it was built, the social forces of which it remains so highly visible an artifact have definitively realigned."

With the commercial real estate market in New York in such dire straits since 9/11 and especially more recently, in some sense the disapearance of the WTC might have been a blessing(reduced supply provides price support) In any case one reason there is probably no real building yet is that there just wasn't a real non-subsidized demand for the original building in the first place.

If there is no real demand for such a building it is probably cheaper to build something smaller on the lot especially since the PA because the WTC was destroyed gets those heigh credits in a transferable form. So the PA gets TDR(transferable developement rights) or "air rights". Which means that if it builds a smaller building than the WTC it can sell off these surplus air-rights. Depending on how the property is zoned each building in New York is alloted a limited amount of air rights. Even if a builder wanted to build a taller building he would have to have unused development rights to do so.

In many ways it would be great to have "a big ode-to-revenge-and-machismo structure resembling a middle finger to "The Mozlems"".... I don't know anyone who as an aesthetic matter wouldn't prefer to see a massive building equal and superior to the WTC but it probably makes little business sense.

What actually makes little sense to me is that folks are worried that money for the Mosque might be acquired from Muslims in Saudi Arabia or Iran from the Imam Imam Feisal Rauf's travels with the state department. I know our government is somewhat incompetent, but he isn't working for the state department if he is a "terrorist", and while outside the muslim world "Hamas" is a terrorist organization, Hamas is not really considered a terrorist organization in Iran or Saudi Arabia...So if these folks("bad guys") funnel money into a mosque near ground zero that is money that goes towards building something in New York(thus marginally impacting the local economy in a positive fashion) but more importantly that also means that with finite resources this is less money that might otherwise go to Hamas(or worse).

Art - No, and you merely asserting that doesn't make it so. My comment was about the subject(s) at hand. 9/11, Ground Zero, shame.

Kate - That was devoid of substance.

That bill was a set-up to make the GOP look bad. How? Well, it's an enormous $8 billion slush fund with poor oversight, and the Dems brought it up as a "suspension bill" that could not be amended (but, as a result, required a 2/3rds vote to pass). Politics, pure and simple.

I think the GOP should be commended for voting no. They were willing to vote for a smaller bill that was put forward by the White House, but of course that's not making it into the "mainstream" media.

No one's patriotism is a function of their willingness to sign on to Carolyn Maloney's federally-funded social service projects, most particularly when neither the utility nor the premises of said projects are beyond dispute.

The bill was named for this fellow:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9400EFDA1E3CF934A3575AC0A96E9C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2

Let's see....

Venomous rant from Craig Scanlon, check.

Eye-rolling from NLT regulars in reponse to Craig's comment, check.

Long rambling post by John Lewis, check.

I see my work here is done.

Hahahahahahaha. Post of the week.

Don't include me - I want the Mosque Built. I can't wait for the muslim gay bar to be built and the first gay couple to ask to be wed in the mosque. I can't wait to find out who the liberals will pick as the "victim". The muslims, the gay muslims or the gay couple who wants to get married in the mosque. It be fun and entertaining. Because without victims, the liberal party ceased to have any reason to exist.

Craig, the vast bulk of your comments over the years provide ample substance for my little comment. Your imagery suggests that a gaping hole in the ground is a more appropriate symbol of America than any skyscraper investors had/have wished to build on the site. Somehow, a receptive and supine America seems better to you than some "aggressive" structure. Add to that the, yes, non sequitur that the squabbles of city and state government that prevent private investment is somehow related to that specious congressional act. You are ridiculous and tiresome.

John Lewis, have you been to Manhattan lately? Lower Manhattan bustles like the rest of the city, except for the boarded or shrouded buildings damaged by the WTC when they went down.

As to Rauf, try this as food for thought: http://www.shoebat.com/blog/archives/428

You're right, Owl, that IS a laugh. My short post described as a "venomous rant." As opposed to Podhoretz's soothing reflection, I suppose? I know I caved to the all-caps once in my first sentence, and used hateful words like "adversely", but that made it "venomous"??

As for John Lewis's post, well, yeah, he rambles a bit, but he also makes some good points/offers some evidence that support my claim (esp. about the very serious pollution that stemmed from the whole thing - BTW, John, can you provide a link for that stuff about the toxicity and such?), including his honest admission that "it would be great to have 'a big ode-to-revenge-and-machismo structure resembling a middle finger to "The Mozlems'"

Going back to J-Pod's column, it's funny how an agent of... government becomes the target of the small-government conservative for not doing enough. Well, if government had drowned in a bathtub how much does J-Pod think it could have accomplished?

He also really shamelessly pushes the WTC site = mosque/center site conflation. Look at how he does it, jumping back and forth between the 2 locations, treating them as all but the very same place:


"We're just three weeks shy of the moment, nine years ago, when the landing-gear assembly from the plane that hit the South Tower smashed through the roof and two floors of 45 Park Place, which housed a Burlington Coat Factory.

Imagine that, in the weeks following, you had expressed the opinion that in nine years' time, that building would sit abandoned only 560 feet from Ground Zero -- and there would be no memorial, no museum, no nothing on the 16 acres on which the towers themselves sat.

Forget the whole question of whether there would be a mosque (or Islamic cultural center) in its place. Just imagine that you'd delivered the view that New York would so completely fail to maintain a sense of purpose regarding the salvation of Ground Zero."


Apparently, what J-Pod would have preferred (presumably if his morbid preference to just leave the WTC wreckage on-site, to maintain the "horrified rage" of 9/11, wouldn't pan out) would be for government to take an even bigger swath of lower Manhattan real estate than the already extant 16-acre footprint of the WTC complex, take several surrounding blocks of properties by eminent domain (and I don't need to refer to Google maps to know that would involve a LOT of buildings and real estate), and made an even bigger monument... zone. All which, of course, with him as God-like leader of the project, wouldn't have required any pesky planning (remember, planning = Communism!) or involved any complications, and would just get done without wasting any taxpayer dollars. Goldman Sachs would probably just volunteer to rent out every square foot of office space, just for laughs.

Podhoretz suggests that if Pataki had "had done the job that posterity called upon him to do" then the old Burlington Coat Factory building wouldn't even be available for any private religious entity to purchase. That's poppycock (uh-oh, is that venomous? Sorry!). There could be a glorious 1,776 ft. tall middle finger skyscraper angled up in the sky in the direction of Mecca (I presume this isn't a new idea, but maybe I should stop, eh?), and it could comfortably fit, complete with a very large memorial campus, within the old footprint of the WTC, without ever requiring any of the space where the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque might be built.

Art - Sorry, I forgot, conservatives and the GOP are the sole arbiters of patriotism. Real patriotism here involves building monuments to "horrified rage" while addressing the claims of 9/11 First Responders with 1,000 times the skepticism that WMD and terror-connection claims were given in the run-up to our Bush Doctrine adventures - where infinitely more money was at stake.

John Moser - If you wrote that post just to elicit venomous rants, eye-rolling, and long rambling posts in response, then doesn't that kind of make you a (troll) on your own blog? Or did you post it for a more serious reason?

Anyway, the best thing I've read today about the whole contrived controversy was not at the Claremont Ivory Tower Back-Patting Quarterly or whatever, but from... Cracked!

http://www.cracked.com/blog/3-reasons-the-ground-zero-mosque-debate-makes-no-sense/

"Craig, the vast bulk of your comments over the years provide ample substance for my little comment."

Really, Kate? Can you be more specific?

I looked at your link from Shoebat. If the quotes are correct, apparently Rauf takes issue with secularism and particularly the idea of the separation of church and state. Hmmm.... that sounds familiar:

http://nlt.ashbrook.org/2008/02/religion-and-politics.php#comment-50009

http://noleftturns.ashbrook.org/comment.asp?blogID=11627#416528

What the tea-party conservatives apparently are after is an updating of the First Amendment, to limit the free exercise of religion to "real Americans" - Christians (oh yeah, and Jews!).

Kate, if all of my comments over the years provide ample substance to your calling me "silly", then I have to wonder why a person so serious as yourself would condescend to engage a clown like me in discussions at all - do you just have some selfless desire to try to enlighten?

You must have missed Dr. Schramm's instruction some time back to ignore me. Keep this echo chamber hermetically sealed!

Art - Sorry, I forgot, conservatives and the GOP are the sole arbiters of patriotism. Real patriotism here involves building monuments to "horrified rage" while addressing the claims of 9/11 First Responders with 1,000 times the skepticism that WMD and terror-connection claims were given in the run-up to our Bush Doctrine adventures - where infinitely more money was at stake.

Once in a blue moon, you might respond to what is said to you rather that to the utterances of cartoon characters conjured in a region of your mind.

Consider..

1. A lament that a municipal government is too ineffectual to accomplish or approve the reconstruction of a 16 acre building site, given nine years to do so;

2. Questions about the utility or disutility of a particular piece of welfare spending.

3. Questions on the aesthetics of public memorials.

4. One's love of country.

The presence or absence of the 4th of these will influence one's responses to the 3d. That aside, taking any one as given has no logical implications with regard to the other three, which is why your initial response was non sequitur. You need no arbitrator appointed by the Republican National Committee to ascertain this, just a bit of sense.

Well played, Sir.

Craig, I don't suppose the venomous are much effected by their own venom.

Honestly, I don't have to be specific. Notice, there is no one rushing to your defense? You can probably find me doing so in some distant quarrel. Do, go look it up.

We know you here. I was going to say that your predictably is boring as sin or as hell, but both have lingering interest for me. You know the saying that familiarity breeds contempt? I don't know that I have ever in my life so completely arrived there before. This state of mind leaves me liable to incivility. I'll take Dr. Schramm's remedy, thanks.

Ok, Art, I'll consider:

1. A lament that a municipal government is too ineffectual to accomplish or approve the reconstruction of a 16 acre building site, given nine years to do so

- Those who think that government is the problem, not the solution should not expect or even want such things from the government, nor be especially surprised when it occurs.

2. Questions about the utility or disutility of a particular piece of welfare spending.

- Well, you're just using the phrase "welfare spending" in a dog-whistle manner. See what I said about the amazing discrepancy in the skepticism applied to WMD claims that would be used to start a war with claims of need from Americans who actually helped in our immediate response to a terrorist attack. The Zadroga Act becomes a "welfare" "slush fund" while the actual - literal - loss of billions of dollars (on pallets!) in Iraq well, I guess that's some form of collateral damage that elicits not even a shrug (or a blog post here).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/feb/08/usa.iraq1

There are actually people in need who worked at the WTC site in the aftermath of 9/11 who do need help. The sudden switching-on of the fiscal conservatism strikes as bogus, to say the least.

3. Questions on the aesthetics of public memorials.

- Are you speaking of J-Pod's suggestion that we could have just left the WTC wreckage in place? Do you think his suggestion that such a thing would be similar to the USS Arizona's remnants in Pearl Harbor is actually a question of "aesthetics"??

4. One's love of country

- If you consider private property rights (and I suspect you do!!) and freedom to worship as one chooses (this is the one where conservatives are sending mixed signals) as intrinsic elements of Our America, then the current opposition to the Islamic Center is...un-American.

Kate offered, "Notice, there is no one rushing to your defense?"

Um, that an actual lefty gets no defense on a site called "No Left Turns" is not a surprise. But that doesn't mean that I was actually venomous, or incorrect on the facts.

"I was going to say that your predictably is boring as sin or as hell..."

Um... Say again, professor?

- Those who think that government is the problem, not the solution should not expect or even want such things from the government, nor be especially surprised when it occurs.

The Port Authority owns the land, reconstruction will require public works, and reconstruction must be congruent with whatever principles of urban planning govern the site. (The principal components of the World Trade Center were completed between 1966 and 1971, by the way).


- Well, you're just using the phrase "welfare spending" in a dog-whistle manner.

No, I am using a common descriptive term for what is proposed. We are talking about taking tax money and providing with it purchasable goods and services for a particular category of people. Good policy or bad, that is welfare spending.


- Are you speaking of J-Pod's suggestion that we could have just left the WTC wreckage in place?

No.

- If you consider private property rights (and I suspect you do!!) and freedom to worship as one chooses (this is the one where conservatives are sending mixed signals) as intrinsic elements of Our America, then the current opposition to the Islamic Center is...un-American.

Doesn't follow.

"The Port Authority owns the land, reconstruction will require public works, and reconstruction must be congruent with whatever principles of urban planning govern the site."

- So, see, the small-government, cheap-labor conservatives should be positively relishing this extended period where no new building or monument is built - you can use it to hammer home your mantra that government IS the problem.

"No, I am using a common descriptive term for what is proposed. We are talking about taking tax money and providing with it purchasable goods and services for a particular category of people. Good policy or bad, that is welfare spending."

- Ok, so, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been welfare spending. If the same people who don't seem to really care (show me some evidence of at LEAST a similar level and scale of conservative outrage over the billions lost in Iraq compared to the disgust shown to the Zadroga Act) about billions lost in an elective war suddenly get all vigilant of the purse-strings when it comes to spending money (fine, welfare benefits!) on people who actually served the USA during and after 9/11, then they just really seem ridiculously committed to be consummate a-holes.

[Me] - Are you speaking of J-Pod's suggestion that we could have just left the WTC wreckage in place?

[You] "No."

Ok, then, what are the "questions on the aesthetics of public memorials" at issue in this thread?? I've somehow missed that part of this discussion, or within J-Pod's venomous rant.

[Me] - If you consider private property rights (and I suspect you do!!) and freedom to worship as one chooses (this is the one where conservatives are sending mixed signals) as intrinsic elements of Our America, then the current opposition to the Islamic Center is...un-American.

[You] - "Doesn't follow."

Sure it does. It follows (along with the argument in my original comment) perfectly well - much, much better than any of the weak arguments the right is employing about the Ground Zero Al Qaeda Mosque (or whatever absurd title you're giving it today)...

- So, see, the small-government, cheap-labor conservatives should be positively relishing this extended period where no new building or monument is built - you can use it to hammer home your mantra that government IS the problem.

Strange as it may seem to you, Craig, there are people in this world who have objects other than press agentry.

- Ok, so, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been welfare spending

No, the services provided by the military are a public good, as the term is used in elementary economics. There are private companies which do this sort of work, but only on a very small scale and typically as contracted by public authorities. Medical services are will be generated and traded in self-organizing markets, so are not a public good.


Ok, then, what are the "questions on the aesthetics of public memorials" at issue in this thread??

Other than your remarks, no specific discussion.


Sure it does. It follows

No, it does not. You conflated the formal right to use the property for a particular purpose and the formal right to worship with the appropriateness of so doing at that particular location. (You also imputed two sets of views to me that I do not hold, but that is another matter).

"...the services provided by the military are a public good."

That's highly debatable.

"You also imputed two sets of views to me that I do not hold."

Please - seriously - let me know where I did that so I can stand corrected and apologize.

That's highly debatable.

No, it is not. The benefits provided by the armed services cannot be contained to a body of paying customers. Also, they are and must be geographic monopolies if there is to be a modicum of public order. The services of schools and medical clinics may be subject to individual provision or common provision. With military services, there is only common provision (with some ancillary exceptions).

If you consider private property rights (and I suspect you do!!) and freedom to worship as one chooses (this is the one where conservatives are sending mixed signals) as intrinsic elements of Our America, then the current opposition to the Islamic Center is...un-American... So, see, the small-government, cheap-labor conservatives should be positively relishing this extended period where no new building or monument is built - you can use it to hammer home your mantra that government IS the problem.

Incorporated within this is...

1. An understanding of private property rights; I offered none.
2. An understanding of freedom of worship; I offered none.
3. An understanding of what is intrinsic to Our America; I offered no such understanding.
4. The notion that I am pleased to see a public works project fail in order to win an argument I have not entered with a person I know not who.

"The benefits provided by the armed services cannot be contained to a body of paying customers."

Well, you're operating under the laughable assumption that actual BENEFITS are being provided (to a national population).

You failed to notice the "If" that started the sentence; it's a crucial word there. If those things don't apply to you, then fine. (My responses have been a mix - some of it was specifically to you, some of it a more general response to the small-government conservatives (who obviously comprise a significant portion of the bloggers and commenters here) opposed to the mosque. I didn't explicitly delineate things, which perhaps created confusion).

But as to your specific views on this issue, yes, you're right, you've offered none and "no understanding" - all quite mysterious.

Well, you're operating under the laughable assumption that actual BENEFITS are being provided (to a national population).

Craig, the world is unsafe and anarchic. Has been for some time.

I agree with Craig!

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