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Tilting at Windmills

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February 9, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

LIBRARY TOWER....Just in case there are lots of people who think that LA must be a pretty scholarly town if it dedicates a 73-story skyscraper to its library, I've got some bad news: there's no actual library in the Library Tower. The library is across the street.

Kevin Drum 6:09 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

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Libraries are obsolete like the NYT.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on February 9, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's a nice little library too. Can't really say much about the cafe on the same block though.

Posted by: Monstertron on February 9, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom Fighter: Libraries are obsolete like the NYT.

Yes, you express the rabid right mentality quite well. Books are bad - they fill people's heads with uncensored ideas. Burning them is fun though.

See "Fahrenheit 451".

Posted by: alex on February 9, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

However, there's lots of liberty in L.A.'s world-famous landmark, the Liberty Tower.

Posted by: bobbo on February 9, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

bobbo, ah, but if Smirky had gotten the name right, he still would have said "Liberry Tower."

Posted by: shortstop on February 9, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I was a bit confused by the President's remark as I work in downtown LA and I know where the library is. After I got to work - sort of relieved that the tall building I work in is not the one they were allegedly targetting - it hit me that they were targeting the bank building around the corner. BTW - the downtown LA library is a pretty good one nonetheless.

Posted by: pgl on February 9, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Actually it's now called the Crown Building or the US Bank Tower. As for the library, it's very good (even if former Mayor Riordan managed to get it named after himself without so far as I'm aware agreeing to donate any of his rare book collection to it), has lots of books, and particularly good talks from time to time. Also, it's conveniently adjacent to Cafe Pinot. A better albeit smaller library might be the main branch of the Pasadena Library where Stephen King has been known to do research.

Posted by: hollywood on February 9, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Downtown LA actually has fairly stringent height restrictions on buildings. I'm guessing city hall is the limit. There is a loophole, however. You can purchase the unused 'air rights' from shorter buildings. Much of the Library Tower skyscraper's air rights were purchased from the LA County library across the street. That may have influenced the name as well.

PS post 9-11, the security at the Library Tower would not allow you to take any picture on the ground (supposedly they even own the sidewalks). Makes a little more sense now.

Posted by: Augustus on February 9, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Not so, Kevin.

In fact, there are several libraires in he Tower each belonging to one of the law firm tenants, e.g. Latham & Watkins.

True, the Tower was not named for any of these.

Posted by: cpr on February 9, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

However, the tallest 'tower' on the Caltech campus (Kevin's alma mater) is the library.

Posted by: TDM on February 9, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

It's called the LIBERTY Tower! Our Fearless Leader said so, you stupid liberals!

Posted by: Kaptain KoolAid on February 9, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush's wife had a real job in a library once.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on February 9, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, if Paul Gann and I could have had our way, there wouldn't be any damn fool libraries.

Betcha, there are no plaintiff firms in that building across the way.

Posted by: Howard Jarvis on February 9, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus Christ, who leaked this? All of our efforts at misdirection were wasted and the terrorists now know where the books of cartoons are kept. I hope this weighs heavily on your soul drummerboy.

Posted by: W on February 9, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

That day terrorists go after our libraries, is the day we truly have to be afraid.

Posted by: Alexander Wolfe on February 9, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

I love how they were going to use a shoe bomb to hijak the plane. Yeah -- blow up the plane to save it. Yeah-haw!

And they will do the same thing they did before.

God, BushCo thinks we're stupid. And they are right.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on February 9, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

This story is bogus. Shoebombs? What was the plan? Were they going to threaten to kill the passengers with a shoe bomb unless they agreed to die by being flown into a building?

Folks, this is just the new version of the threat-level color codes people stopped believing in, and which we haven't seen since they became unnecessary after the last election. The administration has forfeited the right have its statements taken at face value. If they tell you the time, check your watch.

Posted by: Slideguy on February 9, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding one of the mentions above: Is There A Hepatitis A Epidemic In Los Angeles?

And, while the Central library is indeed OK, many of the librarians aren't exactly research experts. I can't think of a case where they helped me find something that I couldn't have done myself; perhaps that's by design.

-- PYT

Posted by: TLB on February 9, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

I seem to vaguely recall that the library parking is in Library Tower (all day weekend parking for $1 with library validation!) but I haven't been down there in a while, so I may be misremembering the geography.

It really is a gorgeous library with a very good collection, but I'm still pissed off that it was named after Riordan and not longtime Los Angeles resident and author Ray Bradbury.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 9, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK


Richard Clark, the former "White House Counterterrorism Coordinator", told Charlie Rose on March 22, 2004 that there had been NO TERRORIST PLOTS STOPPED IN PROGRESS since the Millennium, when President Clinton was still in office.

Clark was on the Charlie Rose show to discuss his book 'Against All Enemies: Inside the White House’s War on Terror - What Really Happened'.

Posted by: VJ on February 9, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK


In 2003 I still would have accepted Bush's assertion that this was a target as fact. Not now. It seems plausible, but no more plausible than it would have seemed before Bush said it.

One of the 10 terror attacks supposedly thwarted was Jose Padilla. You sure would think that, say, some charges could be brought against a guy like that. Seems plausible that he would have done it, but without a trial I have to presume that he's not guilty.

My favorite quote was this one:

'Bin Laden, Bush said, deludes his followers into becoming suicide bombers. "He assures them that . . . this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride," Bush said.'

Posted by: Saam Barrager on February 9, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

TDM: Yes, it's true. Milliken Library is the tallest structure on the Caltech campus. My recollection is that the donor made this a condition of his contribution.

However, I also recollect that this condition only ran through 2000, so Caltech can now build a taller building if it wants to. I don't imagine they ever really plan to, though.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on February 9, 2006 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see a new poll question on CNN, related to today's revelation from Bush:

Do you believe the latest load of horse droppings?

Posted by: SED on February 9, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

I've lived in LA since 1983. Today I learned for the first time that this particular building is the "library tower." Silly me, I thought the nifty six-story art-nouveau edifice that houses the library was the "library tower." I guess I should have known better, especially since I live in a part of town where if you are heading due west, you're on the "101 North."

That aside, I had no idea that this building had any particular significance. And I'm thinking Bush's friends in al Qaeda, who are clever but not particularly smart nor grounded in American popular culture, probably didn't either. I'm thinking they'd pick a target that means something to all Americans and is familiar to the world. There are places like that in Southern California. I don't think the Library Tower is one of them. Hell, Prince Mishkin couldn't even get the name right.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Li'l Georgie was being less than truthful here. Wait a minute -- yes I am. This whole thing smacks of truthiness.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on February 9, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

I was thinking the same thing, SED. How many slack-jawed yokels are still falling for this? My guess is the number is much smaller than the administration thinks.

Posted by: shortstop on February 9, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oh. So THAT's Library Tower. Now I'm scared - my daughter was working there in 2003.

Actually, I'm not scared at all. I don't believe for a minute that the Bush Adminstration has decided to break with tradition and tell the truth on this matter. Look at their history - the more pressure they're under, the more they lie.

Posted by: cmac on February 9, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK


Richard Clark, the former "White House Counterterrorism Coordinator", told Charlie Rose on March 22 - VJ

Oh, who are you going to believe man? Richard Clark or Fibber McGee? I mean, if you are going to disbelieve EVERYTHING Bush says just because he has been incapable of truth telling in the past (what, 59 years?) then you're not much of a patriot! It's the duty of every American to blindly follow the elected leader of our country... so what IS Gore's position on this?

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on February 9, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK


You made my day. Prince Myzhkin indeed.

(aside, to the audience) "They all find me. How do they find me?"(louder) "Yes, Prince Myzhkin?"
"Mr. Bialystok, this is no time for levity!"

Posted by: jprichva on February 9, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

(aside, to the audience) "They all find me. How do they find me?"(louder) "Yes, Prince Myzhkin?"
"Mr. Bialystok, this is no time for levity!"

Starring George Walker Bush as Leo Bloom and Dick Cheney as Max Bialystock?

I can see that. I can see it so clearly that it's scary. After all, no one looks into the books of a show that lost money ...

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 9, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin a CalTech grad? Hey Kevin, how's that cannon we loaned you a few years ago?

: )

Posted by: HarveyMudd on February 9, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

"as a human being, as a human being..."

Apparently his defense rests on a technicality.

Posted by: brucdsb on February 9, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

I remember a story about the Caltech library. The engineers who built it were excited waiting for the next earthquake to see how it stood up. When an earthquake came, the building did just fine, but, when they went inside, the books were lying everywhere as no one had thought to bolt down the bookcases.

Who does use libraries anymore? Back before the internet, it was how you looked stuff up, but now...

Posted by: Frank J. on February 9, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't the Repukes be privatizing the libraries?

Posted by: t on February 9, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it IS L.A.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on February 9, 2006 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

I noticed that on the Jim Lehrer News Hour they cut this bit from George's video clip.

Posted by: JohnK on February 9, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

not to be a spoiler about Final Destination 4 or whatever, but as a long time Angeleno

i'd be curious as to exactly when in the flight the Elite Shoe Bomber Squad was going to steal our Freedom Plane and ram it into the Library Tower.

frequent users of LAX are very familiar with with the (up to) 180 degree turn that incoming air traffic makes over (or generally near) this very tower.

but even the most basic student of the pattern notices that the outbound, fuel-laden aircraft take off to the west over the ocean

so either AQ Shoe Bomb Crew is taking a (relatively) empty jet at the end of its flight, or they have decided to eschew their previously fuel-centric strategy of building/freedom hating and hit us with Shape Charged Air Jordans when everybodys tuckered out at the end of a transcontinental flight, rather than at the beginning.

i suppose, to be generous to whichever college drop-out BushCo hack was charged with half-baking this turd for insertion into Hambali's fake "interrogation" file, it is possible they were going to seize an outbound jet

but it strains our already-exhausted credulity to think that they hoped to do so with shoe bombs (at all), let alone before the seat belt sign gets turned off over San Bernadino (on eastboard flights),

some is not doing a heckuva job in the story-editing dept.

Posted by: wintermute on February 9, 2006 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

That's a beautiful picture, the way the sun highlights the top of LAX, I mean Liberry Tower, against the bank of smog... sigh

Posted by: mikmik on February 10, 2006 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, for god's sakes -- if you actually believe this "plot" I've got a plot to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches I'd love to sell you.

If the Bush Bumbler Brigade had actually managed, through sheer chance, to actually thwart a terrorist plot in 2002 what are the odds that they wouldn't have immediately trumpeted it in order to gain an edge in the midterms? What are the odds that they wouldn't have claimed that Iraq was behind it and used it as annother excuse for the invasion?

Posted by: Stefan on February 10, 2006 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Who does use libraries anymore? Back before the internet, it was how you looked stuff up, but now...

Some people actually use them to check out books to read for pleasure.

Posted by: Stefan on February 10, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Some people actually use them to check out books to read for pleasure.
Posted by: Stefan>>

Then again my local library has a whole bank of computers in the kid's section reserved as 'game computers'. Another room is stuffed with nothing but CDs and videos.

Reading? How passe is that.

Been in an actual library lately? Asked an "Information Retrieval Specialist" (formerly known as 'librarian') about book classification?


Inquired as to their book acquisition budget?

Be prepared for pr gibberish about how they're making the place accessible to 'a greater proportion of the public'....the non-literate public that is.

Posted by: CFShep on February 10, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Bush wasn't the only one confused by the name of the tower. This shocking NSA intercept of two of the shoe-bombers shows even the terrorists were confused:

AQ#1: Have you received our target yet?

AQ#2: Yes. The Literary tower in Los Angeles.

#1: The Literary Tower?

#2: Yes. You know, the really tall one.

#1: Fool, you mean the LIBERTY Tower, not the...

#2: No no no, the Literary Tower, I remember specifically. That's the big one. With all their books.

#1: Their books?? Who cares about the infidel's books? The plan is to strike down their liberty. That makes our target the Liberty Tower, not the Literary tower. Are you sure we're talking about the same tower? Do you have a map? We are talking about Los Angeles, aren't we?

[paper shuffling]

#2: Um... uh... I can't figure this out. Oh, who cares what it's called. It's the tallest one. How many tallest buildings can there be in Los Angeles, anyway?

#1: Three? Four?

#2: Well, it doesn't matter. Any one of them will do. Do you have the information on our weapons?

#1: Yes, I am told we will hide high explosives in our shoes, and then...

#2: Uh, say that again? It sounded like you said "high explosives" and "shoes."

#1: Yes. Explosives. In our shoes. We'll use them to gain access to the cockpit...

#2: Uh, Mohammed?

#1: Yes Mohammed?

#2: Something, um, doesn't sound right. Are you quite sure...

#1: Of course I'm sure. It says right here [sounds of more paper shuffling] that we are to use high explosives to gain access to the cockpit, where we then threaten to blow up the rest of plane if they don't fly it into the Liberty...

#2: Literary...

#1: Liberty, Literary... I don't... [sighs] Look, just tell the pilot "The tall one." I'm quite sure they'll know which building you're talking about. Just tell them that if they don't immediately fly the plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles, you'll blow them up with your Sneakers of Mass Destruction. They won't want that, I can assure you.

#2: Uh... there's something I don't understand.

#1: Yes?

#2: How do we explode our way into the cockpit and still threaten to blow up the plane?

#1: Fool, that's why we hide the explosives in our shoes. Just use one shoe on the cockpit door. That way we still have the other shoe to threaten to blow up the rest of the plane with.

#2: Ooooh. That makes sense. Sort of. [long pause] We get to take them off first, right?

#1: I assume. Let me check [paper shuffling]. Well, I don't see where it says we can't. So I suppose it should be okay. [pause] Wait. Did you hear that?

#2: Yes, I did. Is there somebody else on the line? You don't have a party line, do you? Please tell me you paid for a private line...

#1: Yes, of course this is a private line. Now shut your hooka-hole, I'm trying to listen. ["if you'd like to continue this wiretap for another -ten- minutes, please insert an additional -75- cents"] ACK! I think this line is being tapped!

#2: Do Americans have such technologies?

#1: Damn. I once read where they did, but I completely forgot about that.


Posted by: Thumb on February 10, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I am crying, Thumb! That totally made my day.

Posted by: shortstop on February 10, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Bravo, Thumb!

Posted by: Stefan on February 10, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

No Library in the Library tower?!

My God, I suppose there are no Elephants in Piccadilly Circus either!

What is the world coming to?

Oh, and good one Thumb. You could be a script writer.

Posted by: Tripp on February 10, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Thumb, that is sheer comedy gold. Hope you don't mind I'm sharing it with the gang at ObiWi.

Posted by: CaseyL on February 10, 2006 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

To Roddy McCorley: as noted earlier in the thread, the Library Tower is so called because it "borrowed the air rights of the public library nearby". This was necessary to get around the height restrictions imposed by L.A.'s weird zoning laws. Up until 1957, L.A. City Hall was, by fiat, the tallest building in L.A. (I can't remember if it was restricted to downtown or if that was anywhere within the city limits). Although that was eventually lifted, there were still all kinds of weird zoning rules, products of earthquake fears, lots of available land, and the bizarre city politics of Los Angeles.

Posted by: Rick on February 10, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I heard a good question about this whole issue. The contention is that the hijackers were planning on using shoe bombs to breach the cockpit doors. However, at the time that the plot was being planned, I don't believe reinforced cockpit doors had been installed yet. I know that they were planning on installing them, but were they installed and would the hijackers have had to plan around them? If not, then clearly that part of the alleged plot, which has been emphasized, could actually be the key to proving that the whole thing is a steaming pile of...

Posted by: Rick on February 10, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hope you don't mind I'm sharing it with the gang at ObiWi.

It would be my honor.

(I also understand Digby's picking it up for a run tomorrow)

Posted by: Thumb on February 10, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

No, the tower is not called "Library Tower" because it borrowed the air rights from the Library. Rather, it was originally built by First Interstate Bank (which also built the second tallest building in LA) and called the First Interstate World Tower. When it was built, it had the bank's logo on the top.

Then, First Interstate was bought out by another bank, so they took the bank's name off the building and changed it to Library Tower. The reconstructed and expanded LA Central Library is across the street.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on February 10, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Liberty,library in texas they both start with l partner

Posted by: sticky on February 10, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else think Bush's "mistake" in calling it the Liberty Tower was on purpose? I do. It makes the story so much better. It was not an attack on some stupid building on the Left Coast, it was an attack on LIBERTY!

Posted by: ecoboz on February 10, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK



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