New York State of Mindlessness

It's (Still) The Economy, Stupid!

By George Scoville | @stackiii

I have fought every impulse in my being to weigh in on the Cordoba House debate, and to pontificate, lecture, and moralize from atop my libertarian mountain. Now that I'm actually writing about it I find myself stricken nearly dumb by the irony of what I'm about to suggest on a blog entitled THE NEXT RIGHT. But it has become clear that The Current Right has completely forgotten about The Last Right, and this could prove to be the foil for The Next Right -- at least that's my worry. I do not intend to debate the morality or legality of the construction of Cordoba House in either this post or in the comments - so if you're looking for an ideological fight, you've come to the wrong place. The Right has a new messaging problem, and if anyone intends to supplant the Democratic Party in any meaningful, long-term way, it will require pretty swift action.

The Republican Party is polling considerably well among registered voters (Gallup) on a number of factors: party identification, 2010 vote preferences among independents, and 2010 candidate preferences. The Republican Party also seems to be riding a wave of enthusiasm (RCP) that spreads quicksand all over the Democratic Party's uphill battle as November draws near. Finally, the Republican Party has retaken the lead on the generic ballot (PPP). Whatever successes the Republican Party currently enjoys it owes in large part to both the Tea Party movement and the fact that President Obama and the Democrats over-estimated their "mandate." This cannot be overstated, especially in light of the fact that only a handful of Republicans are engaging their Democratic counterparts substantively (The Weekly Standard).

Now, set all that aside for a moment. Step back 26 years to 1984.

Ronald Reagan wasn't polling well, hitting a 35% approval rating in 1983 (Gallup). The economy was in recession. Unemployment was high, though it dropped from 10.8% in '82 to 7.4% by Election Day '84 (Salon). We were at war -- each day every American faced an existential threat. Federal spending was at 22.9% of GDP (EconLib), in large part because Reagan's defense budget crested far above projections he made on the campaign trail in '79 and '80. But Reagan handily won re-election in 1984 because he kept the message simple -- this worked:

Why, then, is former Speaker Newt Gingrich -- a sort of de facto leader of today's Republican Party, an icon of the 1994 Republican Revolution, and potential 2012 presidential hopeful -- foisting a divisive cultural narrative (WaPo) onto an election cycle already dominated by anti-Big Government and anti-spending narratives that, heretofore, have been working (Pew Research via NPR)?

Ezra Klein is pickin' up what I'm puttin' down:

One political question about the Ground Zero Islamic complex/mosque/theater-space/swimming pool: Why are Republicans trumpeting this? And why, a week or two ago, did they start talking about the 14th amendment? Republicans are going to win a lot of seats this year. And they're going to do it on the backs of the economy. Getting into social issues -- particularly social issues that might anger minorities -- is a dangerous play. It loses them long-term votes that they just don't need to lose. It paints their party as intolerant and opportunistic. And it's unnecessary: It's not like they're hurting for things to talk about.

The Cato Institute's Gene Healy blames the Professional Right:

All this posturing is getting tiresome. The "mosque" controversy isn't about property rights or religious freedom. It's a bogus issue seized by the GOP establishment to distract the rank-and-file from the party's reluctance to shrink government.

Will Wilkinson, also of the Cato Institute, blames the amateur Right:

This idiotic foofaraw could be a distraction only if the GOP rank-and-file actually cared more about the size of government than the cultural politics of American identity. But they don’t. It’s not even close. American conservatism is a movement consumed by protecting and asserting a certain fabricated conception of the traditional American way of life against imaginary enemies. Support for small government is no more than a bullet point on the Right’s “What We Believe” cheat sheet, mouthed at opportune moments. I approve of what Gene’s trying to do here rhetorically, but the fact is that complaining about Muslims and keeping holy the memory of 9/11 and Ground Zero — the legitimizing altar of aggressive American imperialism —  is a direct manifestation of contemporary conservatism’s essence.

Personally, I don't really care who is to blame for the propagation of this narrative -- whether Gingrich is demagoguing, or the conservative, evangelical base needs some pandering. The bottom line is that playing with this narrative is like playing with fire, and could be as dangerous to the Right long-term as a Gingrich marriage proposal. In many ways the conservative base is like the fuel in a gas can, fuel that powers the political machine that winds up carrying water in elections -- but for God's sake, don't hand the Left a big, fat box of strike-anywhere matches. 2010 and 2012 can -- and should -- be a slam dunk for right-of-center candidates. Let's not botch it.


Ben Smith (POLITICO) notes that Gingrich's caustic remarks echo those of Mussolini:


A regular correspondent wondered why Newt Gingrich's recent declaration on the planned downtown mosque sounded so familiar, and found this:




There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.




There will be a mosque in Rome, the Fascist ruler said, only when a Roman Catholic church is permitted in Mecca.


The quote is frequently attributed to Il Duce, though I'd be grateful to any Italian-speaking reader who has a primary source.


Sorry, folks - you can call me a wet blanket all you want - independent voters just won't trade one statist polemic (Obama) for another (Gingrich).

Cross-posted at Liberty Pundits.

Further reading:

Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine

Doug Mataconis, Outside the Beltway blog

Doug Mataconis redux, Outside the Beltway blog

David Harsanyi, Reason Magazine


Garrett Quinn, boston.com


Digg!Last year in Iraq, 5,908 civilians and Iraqi soldiers and police were killed between January 1, 2008 and December 29, 2008. Members of the police carry a coffin of one of their own. Seven police employees were killed in the same incident that took this fallen officers life

In Mexico, 5,376 Mexican federal agents, police and civilians were killed by drug traders during that same time priod.

So it can be safely said that nearly as many Mexicans died as a result of drug terrorists as did Iraqi’s from the terrorism in their war torn nation.

All of us are aware of the threats posed by terrorism. 9/11 brought that fact home and since the events of September 11, 2001, America has been on guard and on the offense in that War On Terror. Since that dreadful day and our somewhat official declaration of War on Terror, not a single attack has again taken place on American soil.

That is quite a contrast from the record that we accumulated in the decades since we declared the War On Drugs.

The term “war on drugs’ was first used by President Richard Nixon in 1971. At the time it was a play on the well known “War On Poverty” penned by the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the mid 60’s. The technical aspects of the War On Drugs have varied over time but it’s basic strategy has remained the same……. employ the cooperation of other nations to eliminate the illegal drug trade and eliminate the selling and use of illegal drugs through an aggressive zero tolerance, law enforcement agenda and a persistent and wide spread anti-drug education program and campaign.

To some degree, it has helped but the amount of time and money spent on the effort has produced results that are less than stellar. The rate of success in the War On Drugs certainly would not be considered acceptable in the War On Terror and yet as far apart as the results of the two are from each other, they are about to become one in the same.

Iraq is 6,005 miles away from the shores of the Unites States off of New York.That is a long distance yet we know distance, although it may not make things easier, still does not prevent terrorist attacks from taking place here. Mexico isn’t even inches away though. So terrorism through Mexico is even easier. They are connected to us, and not just physically. They are connected to us by direct and immediate contact through trade health  agriculture and citizens, legal and illegal. But perhaps the greatest connection between the United states and Mexico is drugs.

It is a deadly connection. One that dulls the minds of millions, endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands and killsA soldier stands guard in front of the Camino Real Hotel in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. tens of thousands each year. Drugs are probably the most prolific and profitable commodity exchanged across the U.S.-Mexican border, yet, despite the negative effects, it’s illegality and the “war” on them, drugs flow form South to North with the ease of the Shenandoah River in the Virginias.

The incredibly violent rate of drug deaths in Mexico during 2008 is a loud warning bell. It rings with more dire warning than the bellowing horns of the Titanic as it went down after the iceberg tore a lethal hole into it’s hull. The incredible number of deaths occurred as a result of the increased boldness of drug cartels and gangs. They have taken a stand and made it clear that they are defiant and will not allow any government to infringe on their livelihoods.

In 2008, an increasing amount of Mexican drug lords have made incursions into the United States. One of the most recent well publicized events brought about an Amber Alert after the grandson of a man with shady loan debts to drug dealers kidnapped his grandson. The boy turned up in Las Vegas, but the drug dealer’s message was clear.

However, I must ask, what will it take for the drug issue to be truly taken seriously in the United States?

Would it have made a difference if that little California boy was found with his throat slashed?

How many more incidents will it take before we realize that terrorism is about to get a partner. A partner that, like Palestinians in Gaza firing missiles into Israel, will be lobbing more violence into America. America must wake up. While there are those so far on the left and so far to the right that they meet together in the ideological circle and both try to legalize illegal drug use, an explosion of death and violence that we have not seen before is about to unleash itself.

I am well aware that drug violence is nothing new, but the extent to which it is escalating is new and yet we sit idly by as though things are not different. We almost accept it as commonplace.

Do you know how ingrained the drug culture has become in our southern neighbor? Ever hear narcocorrido? antnarcoscorridos

Narcocorrido is a form of music based on a type of Mexican folk music called corrido. It sounds like a Latin polka and goes way back in time. It was used to celebrate revolutionary figures and heroes like Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. The new version is called narcocorrido and it sings the praises of drug traffickers and drug related bandits. One older narcocorrido sings about Camelia the Texan, and her boyfriend who go to Los Angeles with a load of marijuana in their car’s tires. They sell it and Camelia’s boyfriend dumps her, saying, Here’s your half, now I’m going up to San Francisco to my true love.”

The song goes on to sing about how Camelia pulls out a gun and pumps him full of lead. It concludes with the line……… All the police found was the fired pistol; of the money and Camelia, nothing more was ever known.”

Sweet tune, isn’t it?

Not that the little ditty is astonishing.

Here in America, with the likes of P.Diddy, 50 Cent, Snoop Dog, and others, the lyrics of that narcocorrido could be considered tame by American standards. Then again, standards are the problem.

Just as narcocorrido is easing into mainstream Mexico, acceptance of drugs and drug violence has been easing into American culture. That is not to say that we think violence or drug violence is good, but our tolerance of it has increased as our Photobucketintolerance of drugs has leveled off.

For example, I can recall a recall a comments board for a local newspaper in New Jersey called the Asbury Park Press. In it was a story about underage teens arrested for drinking alcohol at a party that they held in their home while their parents were away. More than 60 percent of the comments were of the “let them be” impression. Some said “kids will be kids” and others said “the police should be doing more important things than enforcing underage drinking laws”.

I am not suggesting to bring back prohibition of alcohol but I am merely pointing out the permissiveness that is increasing in society. People are actually suggesting that kids should be let off the hook for breaking laws. My point is just as it took 9/11 to finally deal with terrorism effectively, what will it take for us to deal with drugs and the drug trade effectively?

I for one feel that some of the intentions of the “War On Drugs” must be dealt with by using the same sense of conviction that 9/11 created, especially when it comes to the drug wars goal of employing the cooperation of other nations to eliminate the illegal drug trade. But more than that, I believe it would be encouraging if we at least secured our border with Mexico. In fact I believe that is, first and foremost, our nations top priority.

YES!, our most important priority. More so than even the economy.Secure Border Avavatar

Without a secure border there will be no economy to handle.

At a later date, I will detail a proposal of my own that I have previously released. It is called Open Arms-Secure Borders. It is a comprehensive immigration reform proposal that welcomes legal immigration but defends the sovereignty of our nation and respects and secures our borders.

For now though, Americans must at least acknowledge the fact that the iceberg is in sight and the U.S.S. Freedom & Prosperity better start steering in another direction or like the Titanic, we will tear apart our hull of security.





During what can, at the very least, only beanttitaniccomic considered tough economic times, Congress is looked at for acting responsibly and demonstrating some fiscal responsibility.

Yet despite these facts, Congress goes ahead and accepts an automatic pay raise.

Doing so is reminiscent of the captain of the Titanic demanding that iceberg lettuce be served with dinner the night the great vessel went down.


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Be Sure To Sign The Petition To


Sign the Online Petition - Repeal The Automatic Pay Raise That Congress Is Receiving

Pass The Link On To Family, Friends and Co-workers



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Remembering: Kneeling At The Corner Of Church And Liberty

[It is another cloudless morning here in New England, just like the morning seven years ago. Back then, two planes were already in the morning sky; observers on the ground might have seen them from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont or New York. There would be a different flight plan that day.

Today, 9/11/08, both John McCain and Barack Obama will visit Ground Zero. In honor of that visit, and in honor of that infamous and painful day, I repost a reflection I wrote several years after 9/11/01. Tomorrow, I will offer another reflection, I think, if I feel so moved.]

Yesterday morning, Friday, July 1, I walked west on Liberty Street and came to a slow stop. It was my first time to visit the World Trade Center since it became Ground Zero. I could see the wide-open 16-acre crater left in downtown Manhattan. But it was not the view that stopped me, but something much smaller. For there, in the southeast corner of Ground Zero, stood a street sign that, for me, was full of symbolic irony. I was at the corner of Church and Liberty.

I noted the irony, perhaps with bitterness touching my heart. And then I walked into the open space, tears filling my eyes, sobs erupting from deep within.

I had not expected this. I had not expected to want to fall to my knees, to wail on the ground, to daven before a new sort of Wailing Wall. I had not expected to feel that I could never leave this place; that I could never go back to something simple, safe, tidy, even naive. I had not expected to want to keep this hole in my heart; this hole from which people leapt and fell through tumult and smoke and confusion.

There was no surprise, however, at the enormity. I had always understood that; had felt it; had known its significance. I always understood the mechanics and the engineering; the aerodynamics and the flight paths. I had already stood on the ledge of a broken window; I had fallen. I had huddled with my child in the back of a plane; felt the pressure change in my ears and the turbulence of a bad pilot; I had seen the sparkling Hudson and the September blue; the smoke ahead; and I had felt the tipping of the wings as the engines were throttled full. I had waited for death to come in 3,000 different ways; and yet my imagination remained intact enough to remind me that I had not died even once.

What I had not expected were the tears. I thought that I had passed through that. I thought that I was, if not insouciant, so to speak, I was at least through with all the grief. But I was not. And clearly neither were many of the others walking by me, slowly, each pausing at various signs, reading them, performing a sort of Stations of the Cross along a postmodern Via Dolorosa. An old man, huddled against the massive, imposing fence, his long white hair and flowing beard tangled around his weary face, played an old silver flute, its dulcet tones reaching out and up, Amazing Grace trembling in my ears. He was crying in each breath.

I became quietly indignant (I was too humbled to be truly self-righteous) at those tourists from "far-away" who posed for digital cameras. And I was miffed, though only mildly, by the hawker silently moving through the crowd with a photo album, 9/11 pictures for sale, though numerous postings declared that such sacrilege was strictly forbidden. But I could forgive all this, for grief and horror do strange things to people. The abundance of cameras reminded me of a funeral I went to last spring, where the family of the 39-year-old father killed in a tragic accident gathered at the funeral parlor before the burial so that portraits could be taken around the open casket. My friend, the owner of the parlor, told me that it "happens all the time." Grief does strange things indeed.

I strolled north, stopping frequently. A young woman next to me, her back to the scene as she waited to cross Church - heading toward the Millenium Hilton - blurted into her cell phone, "I am going to get SO f***ed up tonight!" I moved away from her and closer to the fence, admitting to myself, a little sadly perhaps, that the world is indeed a very diverse place. The brown-haired woman to my right stared in disbelief westward, her lips trembling, tears on her cheeks. She wasn't thinking about getting "f***ed up." She was grieving for those who no longer could.

But there was one thing that was physically surprising to me, and beyond the scope of my imagination. It was that, with all the buildings surrounding the site, with the highest to the north, east and south, it was if I was INSIDE something, like a temple, cathedral or sanctuary. What happened on September 11 in New York was literally IN New York; with walls echoing sounds like the Whispering Gallery in St. Paul's Cathedral. I could see the Twin Towers, their heads poking through the ceiling of New York, and I could hear sounds. Sounds unbearable.

Later, I spoke with a woman who witnessed nearly everything on September 11. She told me that she was in the shower of her 23rd floor apartment on Liberty (the southwest corner) when the first plane smashed into the North Tower. She confessed that that she didn't realize what was happening until she was drying herself off. She said she heard a roar of jet engines overhead (the second plane), and then, echoing throughout her house, the sound of thousands of people screaming. (I think I can hear that sound right now.) And I know it was one of the sounds I could still hear trembling in the faint murmurs of the buildings surrounding Ground Zero. The walls do speak. And they speak sorrowfully. (The woman, a Manhattan lawyer I fortuitously met on the train home, told me that she was never able to return to her apartment after closing the door to it just before the towers fell. It was essentially uninhabitable, at least for her. And she told me her entire harrowing story: the dust cloud filled with glass particles; the people screaming and pressing in the dark, the leaping into a boat on the Hudson, a thrown puppy, the vomiting, the uncertainty about more attacks, and so much more.)

But at the end of my too-short visit to Ground Zero, I could not shake from my mind the street sign, Church and Liberty. For Osama bin Laden attacked America - at least according to his own fatwa - because of its "Christian" infidelity (and its support and alliance with infidel Jews) and the liberty both synagogue and church provide. And it was America's liberties, our very freedoms, he turned against each of us: our freedom of travel, our easy borders, our freedom to build, and work in, tall buildings; our freedom to believe in God and liberty, or not. This is our vacant lot: that our virtues were turned against us by a man and men too impotent to build a nation, too weak to fill it with soldiers and weapons and wealth and commerce and hope; and too poor to attack us with something created by the superiority of their own vision. No, they attacked us with our own virtues, turned into weapons against us. They did not attack us with their virtues, but with their own spiteful vice. And for a moment, we staggered.

This morning, though far from New York, I still stand at the corner of Church and Liberty. I look up and understand: This is the World Trade Center. And I ask myself, "What world are you willing to trade?" My enemy has already asked that question, and he has shown me his answer. And now I give him mine: I am not trading.

Yesterday I walked through New York wearing a T-Shirt my wife gave to me two years ago. It reads on the front, in small print, "July 4, 1776: Remember Why." On the back, in quiet letters, it reads, "Live Free." I was amazed at how many people looked at my simple message as I passed through subway lines or strolled The Mall in Central Park. It is a good message.

Remember why.


©Bill Gnade 2005/Contratimes - All Rights Reserved.

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Once again, 9/11 is upon us. I speculate that the people at MSNBC will not run all day coverage of 9/11/2001. Nor do I think that they will broadcast, like they did last year, the unfolding of the morning of 9/11/2001. I may be wrong but, I don’t think MSNBC or CNN would like to show the images of planes going into buildings this year. Perhaps it might make the viewer think, 7 short years after 9/11 and one Muhammaden slip by Obama bumbling about his "Muslim faith" and the fact that his middle name is Hussein, just how absurd it is that this man is even being considered for the job of President.

If you don’t wish to watch coverage like this please tune into Chimpsy Radio. All day on 9/10 & 9/11, we will remember 9/11 in our own way
www.chimpsyradio.com/ctl.html. It will begin at 1pm Est and end with my show at 9:30pm Est. I will speak about Obama and ask not where Obama was but, what exactly what was he thinking just days after 9/11. I will not be talking about 9/11 truthers. Been there, done that so many times.
Of course, with every year approaching 9/11 the truthers come out. I’ve often advocated beating the fuck out of them when they approach you with your ideas but I think now it’s just a matter of tuning them out. Some of you may know them. They might even be your friends and while I’ve ended a couple of friendships over this scurrilous viewpoint. No, I don’t think you should do the same. But if you must engage them, please bring common sense. The truthers hate that shit.

For instance, truthers like to make wild claims that building 7 was brought down in a controlled demolition. First, do you really think that a truther understands laws of psychics? Why bother with that? Simply use common sense. Ask them, can you explain to me why collapse would begin at exactly the point where damage was inflicted, since the conspirators would have had to been able to predict exactly where debris from the fallen North and South Towers would strike WTC 7? And while the makers of the documentary Loose Brains comment that WTC 7 "fell straight down, into a convenient pile," the TRUTH is that the pile of debris was 12 stories high and 150 meters across, hardly the kind of "convenient pile" described by shit for brains like Dylan Avery and Corey Rowe.

These brain dead losers will go as far to say that not only WTC 7 but the WTC 1&2 were controlled demolitions as well. Again, common sense. Please say: Dumbass, since the building was wired for a controlled demolition and targeted to be hit by airplanes why not just do the controlled demolition, ditch the airplanes and blame it on the terrorists of your choice? Go further. Doesn’t prepping a building for demolition takes considerable time and effort? Usually a building targeted for demolition has been abandoned for considerable time and partially gutted to allow explosives intimate contact with the structure of the building. But since all of the WTC buildings were occupied right up to 9/11, how did the government gain access to wire 3 towers for complete demolition without anyone noticing? Imagine trying to sneak wires and bombs into buildings while thousands of people are working in offices, riding the elevators and milling about in the halls that scenario is HIGHLY unlikely.

They love to start talking shit about the Pentagon.
Their claim that the plane never crashed and that a missile or a bomb did this damage. We’ve heard it before and the mentally impaired like to refer to this as Pentegate. Again, remain composure and let common sense prevail. Say this: You poor fool. A speeding Boeing 757 will not leave a snow-angel style impression of itself in a concrete building (vs. the mostly-glass exterior of the WTC buildings, which did leave an outline of a plane). And the contention that no remains of Flight 77 were found at the crash site is simply absurd. Many pictures taken of the area around the Pentagon crash site clearly show parts of an airplane in the wreckage. Allyn Kilsheimer, the first structural engineer to arrive at the Pentagon after Flight 77, spoke about his own observations as crashed. "I saw the marks of the plane wing on the face of the building. I picked up parts of the plane

with the airline markings on them. I held in my hand the tail section of the plane, and I found the black box. His eyewitness account is backed up by photos of plane wreckage inside and outside the building. I held parts of uniforms from crew members in my hands, including body parts."

You might want to follow up that factotum with: I guess Kilsheimer is just another Bush loving nea-con to you, huh? Who made up the fact that he was traumatized by holding peoples arms and legs? Take your medicine.
When discussing Flight 93 with a truther it might be difficult to keep composed. For most of us, Flight 93 was a valiant effort by heroes to fight back and stop further destruction and loss of life. Not to a truther. I know, it may be hard at this point to fight the urge to take the anti American piece of shit by the throat and choke the stink out of em! But, common sense is like the force and may it be with you.

Truthers have often claimed Flight 93 had landed safely in Cleveland. This has been rejected by every credible news outlet in the country. Then the unsupported assertions that the main body of the engine and other large parts of the plane turned up miles from the main wreckage site was too far away to have resulted from an ordinary crash. This is incorrect because the engine was found only 300 yards from the main crash site and its location was consistent with the direction in which the plane had been traveling. Let’s not forget the black box for the flight records the struggle onboard preceding the plane’s crash. Those are facts. Let common sense prevail: Excuse me you infinitesimal minded crack pot. Why would the same U.S. government that allegedly destroyed the WTC shoot down Flight 93 before it could cause similar damage to other buildings?
I can sit here and go on pages more. It’s your choice whether you wish to debate this subject, beat someone to a pulp or turn the other cheek and ignore. I personally recommend ignoring the ignorant. Remember, these are the same people who believed that George Bush was responsible for Hurricane Katrina by blowing up the levees because he hated black people. These are also the same people who for years believed that JFK was killed by the government rather than a lone and known Communist. And to them, the government that killed JFK is always a conservative government because, after all, they’re evil. Meanwhile, the JFK administration was liberal democratic. I guarantee you that if JFK was a conservative republican, Oliver Stone would’ve romanticized Lee Harvey Oswald instead of vilifying the government.

Finally, pity these fools. Seriously. Some conspiracy theorists themselves don’t really believe what they are saying. The main appeal of 9/11 conspiracies is that they are easy to understand and to accept. Like children, they are easily led to believe this easy brush off of a catastrophic event in which we, citizens of the United States, were the target. For most of us proud Americans who understand this catastrophe and know who did it to us, we realize how precious and fragile human life and liberty are. And perhaps that may be the greatest rebuttal to those who wish to live life pursuing delusions.

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