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February 15, 2003

What he said

From Kieran Healy, via Atrios:

So, when huge numbers of people turn out against something, at some cost to themselves, in an effort to signal to their State bureaucracy that they really, really don't like what it's doing --- well, you'd think it would give conservatives of a certain stripe some pause. After all, people aren't stupid. And it takes a lot to get them annoyed enough to join a protest march. And the strengths of both democracy and the market are rooted in disaggregated decision-making, right?

But this hasn't been their reaction. Instead, it's made many of them retreat into a more atavistic, essentially pre-modern form of conservativism. The kind that regards the people as ignorant dupes who don't know what's good for them. The kind that's contemptuous of the masses and snickers at their poorly-articulated convictions. The kind that, when faced with popular dissent, assumes that the dissenters must ipso facto not truly be Of The People. The kind, in other words, usually associated with the dogmatic worst of the Left they claim to reject.

Why am I ever surprised?

I wrote this cartoon in 1991. Nothing ever really changes. The cops I talked to today were estimating 100,000 people out there, which means there were probably at least double that, if not more. And it gets, what, a five second mention on the news? Hey, journalists, here's your damn lede: "In a city which experienced the attacks of 9-11 first hand, hundreds of thousands of citizens braved the cold to say no to war..."

But no, of course not. I don't know why this surprises me, after so many years.

Oh well. Here are some pictures I took today. (Ladies take note--that handsome fellow in the last thumbnail is none other than young August, who I ran into in one of the protest pens along First Ave.)
(Update: Images removed due to $3800 bandwidth penalty from Earthlink.)

Update: I had a pretty peaceful experience today, apart from a few hairy crowd control moments. Reader Neil Krupnick wasn't quite as lucky:

Well, you're right on target about the city's efforts to try to prevent people from participating in today's rally. Here's my story:

At around 12:30, my friends and I headed up 3rd Avenue, trying to find a block that was open to head east. At 53rd, the swelling crowd became completely bottlenecked. After about 10 minutes, the crowd began chanting: "Whose Streets? Our Streets" and the cops eventually gave in and opened up the barriers between 3rd and 2nd. The crowd was elated and cheered. Even during the bottleneck, the mood remained peaceful and festive. As far as I could see, the cops were never threatened.

As we began heading to 2nd Avenue, I saw a cop rush toward 3rd Avenue and yell into his walkie talkie: "We just lost 53 and 54." I probably should have recognized this as warning of things to come, but I was just so happy to be actually heading toward the rally. When we got to 2nd Avenue, we came upon another bottleneck. At this point, two of my friends decided to call it a day, seeing as they had their baby boy with them -- it was simply just too crowded. They made the right decision.

The remaining four of us moved toward the center of the avenue (we were cold and the sun was shining in the middle of the block). We could see a police barrier between 2nd and 1st, reinforced by 4 or 5 policemen on horses. Suddenly, approaching from the south, we saw cops in riot gear coming toward us. Instead of stopping when they got to the crowd and asking us to move, the riot police immediately starting pushing and shoving, first with their forearms and then with their batons. We tried to tell them that there was nowhere to move but that just made the cops angrier. Ultimately, I was pushed toward the police barrier with the horses (I lost my friends in the confusion). To avoid being pushed into the horses, I followed the flow of the crowd toward the barrier. Of course the cops at the barrier were furious at us, yelling for us to get back, and completely unaware that it was their brothers, New York's "Finest", who were shoving us toward them. Ultimately, our forward momentum was too much for the physical barrier and we were carried into the block. Some people began running toward 1st Avenue, others walked calmly and others were actually tackled by the police. I got to the sidewalk and never looked back.

At 1st Avenue, guess what? Another bottleneck. Fortunately, the cops let us through so we could join the rally (the crowd on 1st Avenue who were being held back from advancing toward the rally stage cheered for us). It was great to finally be a part of the actual rally and I was relieved that I didn't get trampled or tackled back at 2nd Avenue. The only remaining bummer was Pete Seeger inexplicably trying to get the crowd to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

This is what democracy looks like

(Update: Image removed due to $3800 bandwidth penalty from Earthlink.)

Just got back. Astonishing turnout despite the city's best efforts. Had to walk from 42nd Street to 70th St. before the cops would let me over to First Ave., because the crowd was already so massive. The overflow crowd on Third Ave took over the street, out of necessity--there were too many people to be contained on the sidewalk. City would have been a hell of a lot smarter to just grant the damn march permit, as it was, you had people wandering all over the Upper East Side, unsure where to go, screwing up traffic.

Anyway, I'm beat. Will try to get some of my own photos up later.


February 14, 2003

Duct and cover

(Update: Image removed due to $3800 bandwidth penalty from Earthlink.)

Astroturf fights back!

From the widely discussed GOP Team Leader site:

Help President Bush Call Them Out!

Last week, the paper (Boston Globe) announced that it would no longer publish letters to the editor sent through GOP Team Leader and its letters editor admitted that letters "that just say ëGeorge Bush is a great guyí ñ will be a red flag."

Every week, thousands of Team Leaders get involved using the tools at GOPTeamLeader.com. But the Boston Globe seems to believe that because you use our online tools that your opinion doesnít matter. Write the Boston Globe and let them know that your opinion does matter!

Click here to write them today!

Ladies who lunch, unite!

They're mad as hell and they're not going to take it any more:

Responding to France and Germanyís opposition to the U.S. position on Iraq, the Womenís Republican Club of New Trier Township is taking action.

The 70-year-old club passed a unanimous resolution Monday to boycott all goods manufactured in France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. They are also urging people to boycott travel to those nations.

The resolution also expresses the groupís profound disappointment with those nationsí lack of support for the United States and efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein.

ìMembers of the group felt very strongly and wanted to communicate their feelings about France and Germanyís response for requests to protect Turkey and also on their Security Council stand,î said Jackie Benson, a club member.

Member Eva Sorock said she believes an economic boycott for the group is a natural fit.

ìPeople in this area are always purchasing goods from France and Germany,î Sorock said. ìThis is a good symbolic message.î

French cosmetics and wines, Belgian chocolates, and German beers and luxury automobiles such as Mercedes and BMW, are targeted in the economic boycott.

Because of todayís global economy, Nancy Bohrer, the groupís president, encouraged participants to carefully identify a productís origin.

Since the Mercedes M class is manufactured in the United States, not Germany, and Godiva chocolates made for American distribution are produced in Pennsylvania, not Belgium, these products are exempt from the boycott.

Story here.

And then there's this. (I had no idea how prescient this cartoon would turn out to be...)

Freedom of speech, continued

Clyde Haberman, in the New York Times:

Normally, the forecast is someone else's department. But this time it has political potential. They say it will snow tomorrow, with temperatures no higher than the mid-20's. It will be interesting to see if bad weather affects the turnout for the large antiwar rally planned near the United Nations headquarters. Some less-than-hardy souls may stay home.

They would have been able to stay warmer had they been allowed to march through the streets, as the organizers wanted. Marching keeps the blood pumping. History shows that it also lets people get their message across more forcefully than a stationary rally.

But City Hall, the police and the courts all said no to a march in Manhattan, saying that security concerns trump First Amendment considerations. Never mind that a police commander told a federal judge last week that he had no reason to expect violence.

"The court bought, hook, line and sinker, the undifferentiated-fear factor," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which had argued that marches are a vital form of free speech. Yes, we now live with security fears, Ms. Lieberman said. But the concerns in regard to the antiwar march were so "nonspecific" that the police themselves could not cite one.

And if a march is unacceptable now, said City Councilman Bill Perkins, a Manhattan Democrat, "what are we going to do when the Republican convention comes to New York City" next year?


Freedom of speech, unless its controversial

From Newsweek:

Feb. 13 ó Getting out the antiwar message has never been easy, but now a peace group has accused one of Americaís largest media companies of censorship for its refusal to run a national billboard campaign with the slogan: INSPECTIONS WORK. WAR WONíT.


From the mailbag


Coming from one of those Vilnius ten countries (Estonia) that most people heard from morning news that we had signed something like that. By most people I mean most of our politicians in the parliament as well. Two days later our prime minister called out to the party leaders for talks about backing US (or not, even though that's not possible). There's even rumour that our president was not aware of this pact or whatever it's called (president here has not much powers though - prime minister and government rules).


February 12, 2003

Another busy day...

...including, yes, another flooded hallway. But I did want to note quickly that it looks like we may actually have won one, for a change.

At least for now. But I guess we have to take what we can get these days.

This is an interesting point:

One important factor in the breadth of the opposition is the fact that the research project is headed by Adm. John M. Poindexter. Several members of Congress have said that the admiral was an unwelcome symbol because he had been convicted of lying to Congress about weapons sales to Iran and illegal aid to Nicaraguan rebels, an issue with constitutional ramifications, the Iran-contra affair. The fact that his conviction was later reversed on the ground that he had been given immunity for the testimony in which he lied did not mitigate Congressional opinion, they said.

I never could decide if the Bushies were just so damned clueless, they didn't understand how the appointment of Poindexter would be perceived--or if it was a deliberate middle finger aimed at anyone who cared.

In either case, it looks like it backfired on them.


February 11, 2003

Conflicting narratives

This is from antiwar.com:

MSNBC television report this afternoon that their translation of the latest Osama bin Laden tape being read on Al-Jazeera television contains an appeal to the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The online story now claims that this was a mistake, that Osama only denounced Saddam as an 'infidel." The original story contained this sentence in the second paragraph:

At the same time, the message also called on Iraqis to rise up and oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who is a secular leader.

This AP story mentions that "he denounced Saddam's secular, socialist al-Baath party as 'infidels.'"

This Reuters story says that bin Laden tells Muslims not to support "the ignorant governments that rule all Arab states, including Iraq," and that he urges support for the Iraqi people rather than the Iraqi goverment.

It appears that, for some reason, the media has made a decision to bury this part of the message.

No English news outlet has yet made a translation available.

I recorded the translation as it was being broadcast, and here's the beginning of Osama's message to the Iraqi people, courtesy of the Tom Tomorrow transcription service:

We would like to confirm at this time the lies of America and her allies. And what they are trying to do. We want you to be faithful in your fight. We want you to believe in God, the one and only God. We want you to get rid of the government that you have, they are (indecipherable). We want you to fight for the cause of God. Fight the tyrant and fight the agents of the devil because the devil is going to be overcome and defeated.

(UPDATE: I know that none of the online transcriptions feature this passage. Nonetheless, it is what the real-time translator says on my recording of the initial broadcast. MSNBC says it was just a bad translation.)

Now it all makes sense

Now I get it. We must go to war with Iraq because of the link between al Qaeda and Iraq which will be forged...as a result of our war with Iraq.

It's a pre-crime sort of deal.

(Yeah, I know, I spent the summer making fun of that metaphor. So sue me.)

They report, you decide

"If this tape exists, and it sounds like it does, of course again we don't know exactly what it contains, what is the significance of it and does it tie bin Laden to Iraq?"

--Fox news anchor, a few moments ago, asking panelists to discuss a tape none of them have heard.

Report from the ground

Here's a blog by an American peace activist in Baghdad.

Who needs "old" Europe?

They may have doubts, but "new" Europe is with us all the way. What does this mean, exactly? Quiddity runs the numbers on the Vilnius ten, and finds a combined military budget which almost rivals the budget of the New York City police department. But not quite.

On to war!


February 10, 2003

Technical difficulties

Lost a lot of time today dealing with a washing machine repairman who came to the apartment and succeeded only in flooding my hallway, so blogging will be light while I catch up on cartooning.


February 09, 2003

As noted above...

I've just updated the Crass Commercialism section. I always get a steady stream of requests for t-shirts, but more readers than usual thought that last week's cartoon ("Like Father, Like Son") would make a nifty fashion statement (probably because--unlike most of my work--it's concise enough that passersby might get the gist of it without pausing and staring at the wearer's chest for several minutes).

Up til now, this just hasn't been something I've had time to deal with. But I've finally realized that the fast-paced world of the internet has caught up with my needs, in the form of on-demand printing. Following the lead of the Propaganda Remix Project and the whitehouse.org parody site (and many others--I clearly haven't been paying attention here), I've set up a store at Cafe Shops, and if you go and browse through it, it looks like there must be a whole damn warehouse full of Tom Tomorrow crap somewhere--but none of it exists until you order it. If there's anything there you want, you may well be the only person on the planet who owns that particular item.

I, um, got a little carried away with the selection of available products, so if you've been dreaming of a Sparky lunch box or a Blinky tote bag--or even one of these-- well, today's your lucky day, champ.


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