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Working For Change

February 21, 2003

If radiation knocks on your door, do not answer

It's the Ready.gov spoof site.

The real site only went live a couple days ago. That's what I call preparedness.

What he said

Krugman has it exactly right this morning:

Some observers also point out that the administration has turned the regular foreign aid budget into a tool of war diplomacy. Small countries that currently have seats on the U.N. Security Council have suddenly received favorable treatment for aid requests, in an obvious attempt to influence their votes. Cynics say that the "coalition of the willing" President Bush spoke of turns out to be a "coalition of the bought off" instead.

But it's clear that the generosity will end as soon as Baghdad falls.

After all, look at our behavior in Afghanistan. In the beginning, money was no object; victory over the Taliban was as much a matter of bribes to warlords as it was of Special Forces and smart bombs. But President Bush promised that our interest wouldn't end once the war was won; this time we wouldn't forget about Afghanistan, we would stay to help rebuild the country and secure the peace. So how much money for Afghan reconstruction did the administration put in its 2004 budget?

None. The Bush team forgot about it. Embarrassed Congressional staff members had to write in $300 million to cover the lapse. You can see why the Turks, in addition to demanding even more money, want guarantees in writing. Administration officials are insulted when the Turks say that a personal assurance from Mr. Bush isn't enough. But the Turks know what happened in Afghanistan, and they also know that fine words about support for New York City, the firefighters and so on didn't translate into actual money once the cameras stopped rolling.

And Iraq will receive the same treatment. On Tuesday Ari Fleischer declared that Iraq could pay for its own reconstruction ˇ even though experts warn that it may be years before the country's oil fields are producing at potential. Off the record, some officials have even described Iraqi oil as the "spoils of war."

It would be an interesting project, for someone with way too much time on his or her hands, to go back and index the triumphalism of the warb loggers concerning Afghanistan, and compare it to their present and undoubtedly ongoing concern for the oppressed peoples of that beleaguered country. (And, as a secondary project, to compare that rhetoric to their convenient and newfound concern for the oppressed peoples of Iraq, who we will soon be liberating with a two-day campaign of saturation bombing, if the reports of a "Shock and Awe" strategy have any validity.)

I've seen it suggested that because Afghanistan did not turn into a quagmire, those who were dubious about the operation have been proven utterly and irrevocably wrong--but of course, the quagmire was only one concern. The other was that the United States was going to quickly lose interest and leave the region to its own devices once again, virtually guaranteeing some new round of blowback in ten or fifteen or twenty years.

Think about it: the Bushies budgeted no money for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Dear god.

* * *

Meanwhile, on the other side of the page, Nicholas Kristof takes a test drive in a hydrogen powered car, which I only mention in order to note the confusion of a GM executive quoted in the column:

As Mr. Fosgard of G.M. put it only half-jokingly: "I don't want to say that this car will eliminate war, but we might not have wars for energy anymore. We'd have to find different reasons to go to war."

Silly man. He is apparently under the impression that we are about to go to war for oil, which we all know is simply not true.


February 20, 2003

Rhetorical question

If the left is as irrelevant as the right wingers like to declare, why do they spend so much time obsessing over it? If something is truly irrelevant to me, I don't give it a second thought.

Not that it's about the oil, mind you

And if you believe that, there's a lovely bridge not far from my home in Brooklyn I would like to offer you at a very reasonable price.

"Basically, the biggest problem is that 94 percent of the Turks are opposed to war," said Morton Abramowitz, who nurtured America's military cooperation with Turkey as a Pentagon planner during the cold war and later served as United States ambassador to Turkey.

Turkey's new leaders, he said, "want to delay this as much as possible to reduce their political problems and give diplomacy a greater opportunity while at the same time they want to show their own people that they are making every effort to bring home the bacon." Their rewards, he added, would be financial assistance or long-term access to Iraqi oil at a discount.


To paraphrase something someone, possibly I.F. Stone, once said, who needs conspiracy theories when the truth is on the front page?

And here's an interesting perspective, from an Iraqi exile who doesn't buy the "liberation of the Iraqi people" excuse for a damn minute:

The Bush administration has enlisted a number of Iraqi exiles to provide an excuse for invasion and a political cover for the control of Iraq. People like Ahmad Chalabi and Kanan Makiya have little credibility among Iraqis and they have a career interest in a US invasion. At the same time, the main forces of Kurdish nationalism, by disengaging from Iraqi politics and engaging in internecine conflict, have become highly dependent upon US protection and are not in a position to object to a US military onslaught. The US may enlist domestic and regional partners with varying degrees of pressure.


February 19, 2003

And then there's this

You've probably seen this one already. But in case you haven't:

"Size of protest, it's like deciding, 'Well I'm going to decide policy based up on a focus group.' The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security ˇ in this case ˇ security of the people."

Millions of people around the world took to the streets over the weekend to protest such a war.

"Democracy is a beautiful thing," Bush said, adding that "people are allowed to express their opinion."

And people who receive fewer votes than their opponent are allowed to occupy the White House. Democracy is, indeed, a beautiful thing.

Gosh, I hate to be cynical...

...I really do. But, what is it, a year and a half after the attacks, and this is what the Dept. of Homeland Security has for us? A freakin' public service campaign?

Maybe if we wait another year, they'll have promotional keychains, too.

I didn't see this story on the news, but my wife did, and apparently they mentioned in passing that the entire campaign is being paid for by "one private source."

I'm guessing the Duct Tape Manufacturers Association.

Oops, almost forgot: here's the official site.

One more thought on the bandwidth issue

A few of you have apologized for visiting the site so frequently, or for using it as your homepage. Don't. (Apologize, I mean.) The last thing I want to do is discourage people from visiting--that would be completely counter-productive.

Hopefully in the next week or so, we'll get the site moved to a new host and bandwidth will no longer be an issue, with a couple of small exceptions--the animation page is probably going to have to go, and I'll probably post fewer images on the blog. The latter turn out to be huge bandwidth hogs, even when you're using small files, when you consider that the images are downloaded every time for every return visitor until the archive cycles through. (Bloggers beware--it could happen to you.)

In the meantime, some pages on the site are down, but the blog is open for business. Except, um, that I have to get busy stuffing calendars into envelopes...

Back to business

From CNN.com:

BEAUFORT, North Carolina (AP) -- You can get fries with your burger at a restaurant here, but just don't ask for french fries.

Neal Rowland, the owner of Cubbie's, now only sells his fried potato strips as "freedom fries" -- a decision that comes as Americans watch French officials back away from support for possible war in Iraq.

"Because of Cubbie's support for our troops, we no longer serve french fries. We now serve freedom fries," says a sign in the restaurant's window.


Rowland said the switch from french fries to freedom fries came to mind after a conversation about World War I when anti-German sentiment prompted Americans to rename German foods like sauerkraut and hamburger to liberty cabbage and liberty steak.

This is just so wrong on so many levels.

This just in...

Okay, just heard from Earthlink, and they're willing to reduce the bandwidth penalty--I don't know if I'm supposed to say how much, but let's just say that it's an utterly reasonable compromise, and I am grateful for their help in this matter.

I've raised enough in the course of this day to cover the cost of that penalty and to pay the increased hosting fees of this site, once we get it moved, for almost a year. In short, the immediate crisis is now officially over, thanks to you all.

I am overwhelmed by your eagerness to help me out here. I'll try to get the calendars in the mail as soon as I can.

Also, I just did a rough count--I think I will be able to send a calendar to everyone who donated ten bucks or more, but it's going to be close, so for the moment, I'm going to assume that there are no more available.

Victim of my success, cont'd.

I assume the big spike in calendar sales last night had something to do with the
financial annoyance into which I have been unexpectedly plunged, and I do appreciate the help.

Thanks also for the advice and tips you've sent. We're looking it all over, trying to figure out the best path out of this thicket.

To briefly recap: due to the increasing popularity of this site, we just got hit with an over-bandwidth penalty of $3,800. This is a graphic-intensive site, and there are more visitors every month, and apparently we finally slid past the limit last month. In a big way.

The people at Earthlink have generously offered to work with us on this, and I am optimistic that we will be able to come to some sort of mutallly agreeable solution. But whatever we work out, the fact is that this site has outgrown Earthlink's 50 gig limit. We need a host who can provide at least twice that for some relatively reasonable price; if anyone can offer any advice or help, please contact Harold Moss as soon as possible. (Keep in mind that we need something reliable--the page has never gone offline with Earthlink, and I'd like to keep it that way.)

What all of this means is that I'm going to have to eat a little crow here. Despite recent comments on the subject of tip jars, I'm afraid I'm going to have to start rattling one myself, at least for awhile. The cost of maintaining this site is about to double, at a minimum, to at least $2,400 a year, and this Earthlink penalty is going to cost me some as-yet-undetermined amount above that--all because more and more people value what I have to offer. It's like Bizarro-universe capitalism. Success at this rate will bankrupt me.

So, if you're one of the people whose enjoyment of my work is literally costing me money--well, I'm not going to make a hard sell, but if you want to donate a buck or two, it probably wouldn't hurt. (Any donation of ten bucks or over gets a calendar, until my supply runs out, and, well, my sincere thanks after that.)

UPDATE: Thanks to the extraordinary response of TMW readers, as well as Earthlink's ultimately reasonable compromise, the immediate crisis is now over. I think I have enough calendars to send to everyone who donated, but it's going to be close.

(Note: right now, several of the more graphics-intense pages, including some of the archives, animation, and the Grab Bag, are disabled. I also had to take down my pictures of Saturday's rally for the time being. I apologize for all of this, and hope to have it all back as soon as we get all of this straightened out.)

Thought for the day

To my friends on the right: it is disingenous at best to dismiss or ignore the overwhelming turnout of hundreds of thousands of anti-war demonstrators in this country, and millions worldwide, while simultaneously trumpeting every pathetic group of freepers and warblogger wannabes who stand around in groups of ten and twenty--or even a couple hundred--with signs like these. Really. It just makes you look silly.

We don't need no stinkin' subpoenas

EBay is happy to help, officer:

EBay has probably the most generous policy of any internet company when it comes to sharing information. [...]

Our policy is that if you are law enforcement agency you can fax us on your letterhead to request information: who is that beyond the seller ID, who is beyond this user ID. We give you their name, their address, their e-mail address, and we can give you their sales history without a subpoena.

We also do other things to facilitate your [law enforcement] investigation by looking around and doing some searches on our own, typically to see if there are some other user IDs associated with that thing.

From Ernest Miller of LawMeme, via Patrick Nielsen Hayden, both of whom have some thoughts on the subject.

Just go...

...read the first few entries at Body and Soul, about Turkey, the Kurds, and Iraq.

How government works, lesson 3,232,984

From The Hill:

Threats by Republicans to cut the General Accounting Office (GAO) budget influenced its decision to abandon a lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, The Hill has learned.

Sources familiar with high-level discussions at the GAO said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Appropriations Committee, met with GAO Comptroller General David Walker earlier this year and ýunambiguouslyţ pressured him to drop the suit or face cuts in his $440 million budget.


February 18, 2003

Victim of my success

Here's the deal: just got hit with an unexpected $3,800 bandwidth fee from the hosting company. They've indicated a willingness to try to work with us on this (and in the interests of making that happen, the previous post on this subject has been replaced by this abbreviated version). In the meantime, a lot of bandwidth-hungry pages on this site are going to be down for awhile. I'll keep you posted.


February 17, 2003

Gosh, this is getting confusing

It's not about the oil, except it is. It's about the democracy, except it's not.

The US is abandoning plans to introduce democracy in Iraq after a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to Kurdish leaders who recently met American officials.

The Kurds say the decision resulted from pressure from US allies in the Middle East who fear a war will lead to radical political change in the region.

The Kurdish leaders are enraged by an American plan to occupy Iraq but largely retain the government in Baghdad. The only changes would be the replacement of President Saddam and his lieutenants with senior US military officers.

You guys have got to get your stories straight

I thought it wasn't about the oil.

Update: this was sent to me by a reader who attended the protest, but looking through the rest of the slideshow, I realize that once again, the omniscient Atrios is already on the case, having previously linked to this image, which encapsulates the sheer poetry and brilliance of pro-war demonstrators. (And these guys complain about our slogans...?)

I don't know...

...why the cartoon wasn't posted on Salon today. At any rate, it'll presumably be up at Working for Change tomorrow by noon.

Update: D'OH! It's a holiday Monday. We freelancers tend to forget these things, because, ha ha, every day is a holiday.

Which is to say, every day is a work day. Don't be too damn envious.

Bert the turtle is back...

...duct taping and covering, courtesy of Mike Konapacki. Go watch it, it's brilliant.


From this morning's NY Times:

The fracturing of the Western alliance over Iraq and the huge antiwar demonstrations around the world this weekend are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.

In his campaign to disarm Iraq, by war if necessary, President Bush appears to be eyeball to eyeball with a tenacious new adversary: millions of people who flooded the streets of New York and dozens of other world cities to say they are against war based on the evidence at hand.

Incidentally, one other unfortunate by-product of the city's asinine Bush-backed refusal to allow a march as well as a rally was that the group which organized the rally in New York was unable to raise as much in donations as they were hoping (much easier to rattle the tin cup when you're standing still and an endless sea of humanity is washing past you, I suspect). So, they need money, now. Go here for details. Tell them Tom sent you.

Of course they did

Again, why am I ever surprised?

There's a peace march scheduled in New York City today. But it will be more like a peace standstill. Unlike the 602 cities around the globe where protesters plan to march together to protest a war on Iraq, New York authorities won't allow it.

The Bloomberg administration made the decision well before last week's heightened security alert. A federal three-judge panel affirmed it - even though The New York Times reported a police commander told a federal judge that he had no reason to expect violence.

The Homeland Security Department alerted the country that there's a possible threat, but urged Americans to go on with our lives. Anyone considering marching with 100,000 other people can decide for themselves whether to take the risk.

But there's more to it than that. The Bush administration - which is in the midst of trying to sell the war to the public - filed a brief urging the judges to uphold denial of the permit. And the Bloomberg administration has no intention of forcing a St. Patrick's Day standstill instead of a parade - even though it's bigger and likely more raucous.

More here, via Atrios, who adds:

The Bush administration filed a brief in support of a city government's attempts to suppress a march which was protesting their policies.

Let's say that again.

The Bush administration filed a brief in support of a city government's attempts to suppress a march which was protesting their policies.

They even had a rally at the South Pole

Seriously. Check this out.

I used to have a reader at Amundsen-Scott Station. Wonder if he's still there?

Our city

Salon's Michelle Goldberg on Saturday's rally in New York:

Yet even as demonstrators declared that they were standing with the world -- and especially with Germany and France, whose opposition to war with Iraq in the U.N. was commended on sign after sign -- the event was filled with the burnished spirit of New York. Although there were marchers from across the country, locals predominated, many angrily rejecting the way they say the administration has hijacked their city's grief. "The New York that I knew growing up is coming back," said Brian Ferreira, a 24-year-old substitute teacher from Queens. "For a long time we've been in a docile mourning state." The Bush administration, he said, is "trying to profit off our loss."

More here.


February 16, 2003


...I may have been pessimistic about media coverage. A lot of readers tell me they've caught much better segments than I saw, and the Times is all over it this morning.

On a related note: you've probably received the Bomb Iraq song ("if you're happy and you know it..") in your inbox at least half a dozen times; lord knows I have. For those of you not up on the story, this is a rare instance in which we are able to definitively and unquestionably trace the origin of one of these viral memes. You see, the song made its first appearance in this very blog, courtesy of reader Albion Lawrence, who was inspired by this cartoon. Readers of Atrios' blog soon picked up the ball and ran with it, and soon thereafter, it became one of those little email ditties that you forward on to everyone you know, if you're the sort of person who does things like that.

And now it's made an appearance in the paper of record:

Then there was Elaine Johnson, 59, a retired social worker from Rochester, who was buried beneath a mound of shawls, sweater and caftans, all of it topped by a foppy hat. A member of a group called the Raging Grannies, Ms. Johnson spent nearly seven hours on a bus with her friends, all of them similarly costumed. "We've got to stop the madness," she said. "We came to rage against war, and we rage by singing."

To make her point, she offered up one of the more popular ditties, sung to the tune "If You're Happy and You Know It":

If we cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.

If the markets hurt your mamma, bomb Iraq.

If the terrorists are Saudis and the banks take back your Audi

And the TV shows are bawdy, bomb Iraq.

Clearly, the influence of this blog is as pervasive as it is inconsequential.


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