Sunday, March 23, 2003

Signs O’ the Times

The antiwar protests in Washington, D.C., as elsewhere continue apace; nothing new there. There were a couple new posters posted near the White House, though.

This poster, appropriating the memorable phrase uttered by Todd Beamer aboard Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, depicts an anthropomorphic pig driving an SUV over a pile of crushed Iraqi bodies. It was pasted up on a utility box across from Lafayette Square, next to the Hay-Adams Hotel.

This one, likely torn by ideological opponents, invited people to walk out of their jobs and schools when hostilities commenced: “When the Bombing Starts, America Stops.” Looking back to earlier in the week, very few Americans followed the invitation.

Also near Lafayette Square, the drawing in this example has become almost completely destroyed. It used to be a depiction of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney:

Here’s what it looked like on March 15, 2003. At that time a couple people had pasted over it with bumper stickers reading “This Poster Paid For By Saddam Hussein.”

It was fresh and new on March 8, 2003 when this photo was taken.


Wednesday, March 19, 2003

‘When you eat pussy cat, you don't get fever’

What is it about Cameroon? Is it their lack of arable land? The unfortunate prevalence of water-borne diseases? Their proximity to the Bight of Biafra? What is it about the place that leads people to eat housecats for good luck? And as if gorging on domesticated pets wasn’t enough, you just know that, despite government opposition, they’re going to end up washing down their feline feast with a brimming glassful of their own urine. When the Bush Administration is finished bring democracy to Iraq, maybe they could stop by Cameroon and build a few Olive Gardens. I assume he and Cameroonian President Paul Biya will discuss the plan when they meet at the White House tomorrow.

Did We Get a Warrant For That?

The BBC reports today that phone lines in the offices of France and Germany’s delegations to the European Union have been secretly tapped. Le Figaro reported the story yesterday and naturally pointed the finger at the U.S. It’s not surprising that a French newspaper would accuse the U.S. of spying on our European adversaries, but one wonders what we would have heard that would give us any advantage. Both countries have done everything they could to thwart the effective disarmament of Saddam Hussein. What could they be saying in private that’s anything worse than what they’ve been saying in the Security Council?


Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Twisting the Straight Story

Thanks to a wack-job on a tractor, residents of Washington, D.C. have something else to think about besides the waking of the sleeper cells. He’s a tobacco farmer from Whitakers, NC and he says he’s upset about the state of the federal government's subsidy program. He’s been driving his John Deere through the shallow waters of Constitution Gardens, to no apparent purpose, since last night. His claim to have explosives ready to detonate has kept the 100 or so law enforcement officials on the scene at bay so far. Imagine it – people in DC have been so unnerved by the prospect of terrorist retaliation for an Iraqi invasion that a psycho roaming the Mall and claiming to have access to explosives has become merely an amusing distraction from the otherwise serious news of the day. But of course we can’t let it go one for ever. By far the most popular response in news stories and from conversations with other people downtown has been to bring out the tranquilizer guns. After all, the National Zoo is only a few minutes away by emergency vehicle ride.


Monday, March 17, 2003

War on Wednesday

From the Associated Press:

President Bush on Monday gave Saddam Hussein a 48-hour deadline to flee Iraq or face a U.S.-led invasion, saying American forces will wage war "at a time of our choosing."

The president, commander in chief of 250,000 U.S. troops poised at the borders of Iraq, addressed the nation at 8 p.m. EST.

Bush = Caligula?

The author of Why the Left Hates America was also at Saturday’s anti-war protest, and he ran into some outspoken characters. Eric Dyer, one of the demonstrators interviewed, compared the President to Hitler (naturally) and, displaying his ample knowledge of classical history, the Emperor Caligula. While I don’t think Bush has ever had a sexual relationship with a close blood relative, perhaps Eric is encouraged by the original Caligula having been assassinated by his own soldiers. Thankfully there is considerable less palace intrigue in the U.S. Secret Service than in the Roman Praetorian Guard.


Sunday, March 16, 2003

More photos from the March 15, 2003 Emergency National Anti-War Convergence on the Mall

We all understand the idea behind yesterday's event - to stop the U.S. from invading Iraq. But who are these people that feel so strongly opposed to forcible disarmarment of the Hussein regime? Where are they from? Let's begin locally:

Greenbelt, Maryland which, according to its website, is a "National Historic Landmark," is a suburb of D.C., just outside the Beltway in Prince George's County. I couldn't find any information on the city's website about their decision to oppose an invasion of Iraq, so the sign pictured here not have been strictly authorized. It does have several charming features, though - a sprig of greenery and a Mardi Gras-style harlequin mask among them. Very creative.

But the list of peace-loving municipalities isn't limited to small liberal enclaves. The State of Florida was also represented at the event, and clearly displayed their opposition to war. No doubt there is some tension these days between George W. and his brother Jeb over Florida opposing war in Iraq. Also, perhaps fearing that the Florida state flag would have gone unrecognized, you can see on the right that the Sunshine State demonstrators have opted for the next best thing.

Not wanting Florida to be out there alone, New Jersey sent its own Coalition Against War in Iraq. Next to the anti-war New Jersians was one of several demonstrators holding a United Nations flag. One wonders what they'll do with their flags if the Security Council actually does vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq.


Saturday, March 15, 2003

Some early photos from the March 15, 2003 Emergency National Anti-War Convergence on the Mall

Let's start with the religiously themed signs:

We have confirmation. The Jews really are forcing the U.S. toward a selfish war to benefit Israel. I just hope that's not Nancy Pelosi holding that sign.

Just in case you were still confused, the Jews are bad. Don't think for a minute that as a Christian you should support the Children of Abraham in defending their homeland.

To round out today's course in comparitive religion, we have a reminder that Islam is a religion that seeks nothing more than justice and peace for everyone. I'm sure the pious men of Nabatiyeh, Lebanon couldn't agree more.


Friday, March 14, 2003

Dirty Talk in Mombasa

As any international development expert will tell you, different countries have different needs. Some nations desperately need telecommunications reform, and some are in greater need of indoor plumbing. Kenya could use a little of both. According to the BBC, a mobile phone dropped into a latrine by careless university student Dora Mwabela ended up causing the death of three people sent to retrieve it. Upon lowering themselves into the pit, police hypothesize, they were overwhelmed by the fumes rising from the pit and slipped into the “putrid mess.” Some would argue that a nation with a 40% unemployment rate and an industrial production growth rate of -1% has more pressing concerns than mobile phone toilet retrieval, but let’s not forget we’re talking about human lives here. How many have to die before officials act?

Giving War a Chance

Anti-war activists wont be the only people demonstrating in the streets this weekend. In addition to the Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles rallies being planned by International A.N.S.W.E.R. for this Saturday, Free Republic is also sponsoring events in Washington and San Francisco. While it’s always interesting to see conservatives hit the streets like their counter-cultural opponents, their ranks are generally a little thin. The pro-Bush people at the White House protest on March 8th were gathered together in a little knot of about a dozen people, chanting their slogan “War freed the slaves! War saved the Jews!” as thousands of anti-war people streamed by them on 17th Street. Very few bothered to actually talk to (rather than shout at) them until the demonstration itself wound down and everyone else had gone home. They were persistent, though, and managed to rile up even more people than the pro-life protestors with the bullhorns and aborted fetus posters from earlier in the day.

A few photos from the other side of the street: the pro-war people who showed up at the March 8, 2003 CODE PINK Protest Against War in Iraq:

The leader of the Free Republic encampment argues with some anarcho-teens while other interested parties look on. The young woman in black was in a highly agitated state.

A father and daughter duo (left) engage in a surprisingly civil discussion of the prospect of invading Iraq. I was a little disturbed, though, by the wild-eyed look of the woman on the extreme right (perhaps in more ways than one).

When everyone else had wandered off to Starbucks and McDonald's, a few dedicated souls from each side linger on 17th Street next to the Renwick Gallery. The Saddam poster (left) and U.S. flags (center) are from the Free Republic people, the UN flag (right) from the other side.


Hipsters for Peace

John Fund’s Political Diary this week takes a good look at the entertainers who have found a second career as anti-war foreign policy experts. As the subtitle goes, “Hollywood celebs aren't antiwar. They just hate the president.” He compares remarks made about unilateral use of U.S. force during the politically fashionable Clinton Administration with the current anti-Bush rhetoric. There seems to have been nothing wrong with bombing Bosnia, Afghanistan (the first time), Sudan and similar targets when Bill was in office, but now that Bush is directing the pilots it’s bordering on genocide. As Janeane Garofalo explained, though, there’s an obvious reason Hollywood types never thought about marching against the Clinton-ordered attacks: "It wasn't very hip."


Thursday, March 13, 2003

Blogorama at Kalorama

Today has brought yet another usual-suspects blog theme story, this time from the Baltimore Sun and featuring quotes from Cato Institute policy guy Julian Sanchez. The story itself, or at least the experience of reading it on the Sun’s website, reinforces why blogs continue to draw so many dedicated readers despite the massive investments many metropolitan dailies have made in their own elaborate websites. Despite being about the blog trend and referencing several specific sites, the only link in the online version of the story was to the Sun’s own visitor’s guide to North Baltimore. In order to find any of the sites described, you’d have to go to a search engine, copy the titles, and scan through the results, several of which are likely to be other newspaper story cites like the one you just read. Will they ever learn?

Vandals for Peace II

At least one of the anti-war protestors who defaced a September 11 memorial in Orange County, California last weekend has now been arrested. Jennifer Quintana, angry 19-year-old, was taken into custody not for her original vandalism of March 8th, but because she assaulted two women at the site of the memorial after returning there yesterday. According to press reports, the assault of the two women, one of them the organizer and caretaker of the memorial, included pushing, grabbing and poking. Quintana was later described by one of her victims as “one hamburger short of a Happy Meal.” Just as I guessed – probably a vegetarian.

Just Mix It with a Spoonful of Sugar

Despite the already poor public health infrastructure throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Republic of Cameroon has recently taken steps to ban one of the nation’s most popular and versatile treatments for everything from hemorrhoids to snake bites – drinking human urine. With a life expectancy of only 54 years and an adult AIDS infection rate of almost 8%, you’d think the government of Cameroon would want as many options available to their local healers as possible, yet they have taken an inflexible stand against therapeutic urine drinking. And Africans are not the only ones medicating themselves with their own fluids – Indians of the Brahmin caste have been drinking their own urine for centuries. In fact, Morarji Desai, the Prime Minster of India from 1977 to 1979 was a great believer in the therapy and never shrank from advocating the refreshing practice to his fellow countrymen, whatever their caste.

Last Minute Reprieve

It appears, going against my prediction, that convicted murderer Delma Banks did get his eagerly-sought stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court. Now with legal assistance from the NAACP, Banks is hoping the Supremes will choose to review his case in detail. High-profile supporters include three former federal judges, one of them former FBI director William Sessions.


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

They’ll Have BBQ at the Wrap Party Afterward

The State of Texas is poised for a milestone of recent history – its 300th execution since restoring the death penalty in 1982. The oddly-named convict, (Mr.) Delma Banks, is protesting his innocence and hoping for a reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court, but I’m not betting on him getting it. Texas didn’t get to 300 by having their sentences overturned frequently.


Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Vandals for Peace

Nothing riles up an anti-war protestor like an honest display of patriotism. In the case of protestors in La Habra, California, that display came in the shape of a flag-covered fence. According to the Whittier Daily News, demonstrators tore apart a September 11 memorial on Saturday afternoon, burning and slashing American flags while police watched. What a difference a year makes.

Perfect Timing

Maybe avoiding an invasion isn’t where his heart is after all. With the Security Council talking about giving Saddam Hussein even more extended deadlines for compliance with relevant resolutions, he seems unwilling to let well enough alone, and is now recruiting a new corps of suicide bombers to take out U.S. soldiers in a future invasion. Not content with forced conscription of a terrified and captive population for his regular army, he’s now giving fanatics from around the world a new path to martyrdom. Many of them have apparently become bored with blowing up buses full of Israeli civilians.

Yet more photos from the March 8, 2003 CODE PINK Protest Against War in Iraq

We're ready for some more entertaining protest signs:

This one highlights how contentious the protesting lifestyle can become. As anti-war forces were milling around in front of the White House waiting for the bulk of their compatriots to arrive from Meridian Hill Park, they were confronted by perennial demonstrators of the pro-life variety. Coming as it did on a day of feminist empowerment, many of the progressive women in attendance were noticably chagrined by the anti-abortion rhetoric and posters.

This gem was riding the umbrella of a Code Pink protestor on the sidewalk next to the Old (now Eisenhower) Executive Office Builidng. If you look close enough you can see that despite its aggresive phrasing, the signmaker saved herself from employing obscenity by noting that SOB stands for "Son of Bush." Though if you're an anti-war protestor that's probably just as much of an insult.

The South Lawn of the White House with anti-war signage in the foreground, taken from the Ellipse. This was late in the afternoon when most of the protestors from 17th Street had retreated to either the McDonald's across from the New Executive Office Building or the Starbucks on K Street and Connecticut Avenue.

More photos from the March 8, 2003 CODE PINK Protest Against War in Iraq

Now, for some of the imaginative and incendiary signs carried by the day's participants:

This one is actually a poster, pasted up on H Street, on the North edge of Lafayette Square. Nice Austin Powers reference.

Here's one that was being carried early in the afternoon on the pedestrian-friendly section of Pennsylvania Avenue directly in front of the White House. It's nice that they restrained from calling the President pure evil. From this person's perspective, the approaching War on Iraq isn't his fault at all - what can we expect from a misguided simpleton?

Remember, folks, that the French and their partially-Americanized cousins have feelings too. Pride appears, inexplicably, to be one of them.


From the March 8, 2003 CODE PINK Protest Against War in Iraq

Code Pink marchers entering Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the U.S. Treasury building

Low-key face off with the police on 17th Street near the Old Executive Office Building

The Granny Bus drives down 17th Street through the crowd


Friday, March 07, 2003

Dispatches from the Fringe

Some recent highlight from Reason magazine’s daily Brickbats feature: The new Chief Justice of Afghanistan, Fazl Hadi Shinwari (who is coincidentally also a Muslim cleric), has decided to ban all cable television in that his country because of the smut it shows. Satellite transmissions are, praise be to Allah, beyond his reach…Also out of Afghanistan, a Taliban soldier who fought against U.S. and British forces has been granted asylum as a political refugee by the UK. It seems he fears for his life if he returns to now Northern Alliance-dominated nation…And in a disturbingly French-sounding move, Labour MP Harry Barnes wants to legislate American words and phrases out of British broadcasting. You can take your aubergine into the lift while you’re on holiday, just don’t try to carry an eggplant on an elevator while you’re on vacation.


Monday, March 03, 2003

Singing Songs and Carrying Signs

Jennifer Bishop has a great summary of one of San Francisco’s recent anti-war protests, complete with photos of inane sings and placards. As she points out, the last place anyone is going to find good anti-war arguments is at an anti-war rally. Such protests, especially in insular liberal-activist communities like San Francisco, have long since ceased to make any attempt at moving the opinion of the general population. Rallies like the one Bishop describes are now mostly victimization carnivals, where the people who can boast the most categories of oppression (female/black/gay/disabled/non-Christian/non-English speaker) get the most applause, and everyone else competes for the self-abasement award, lamenting their inalienable privilege and agreeing that, no, they could never really understand what it’s like to be a lesbian midget albino from a developing nation.

Link originally from Cruel.