Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 5/22/02 w/Artist's Statement

Artist's Statement

I always feel a little guilty when I turn in a cartoon that involves no drawing at all. It seems like I haven't quite done my job. But when I heard the breaking news about these memos warning of impending terrorist hijackings that the administration ignored, it made me so angry I had to do this cartoon. (This crazy color-coded advisory system has been begging for parody for a while now anyway.) But it was a good kind of anger, constructive and hopeful, as opposed to the usual impotent ulcerating rage I've been suffering ever since the 2000 election was stolen. So I will admit to a certain ethically indefensible glee at this development, seeing the "Bush" administration on the defensive, being accused of  what is at best criminal incompetence. I would love nothing more than for the old advisory to hit Condition Brown, to see that ignorant little pissant "President" run scuttling back to Texas, along with his dad's corrupt and brutal old cronies.

Let me state for the record that I am not so rabidly radical that I believe the current administration actually had advance knowledge that terrorists were going to fly airplanes into the World Trade Centers and deliberately failed to prevent them in order to consolidate their power, ram through whatever legislation they wanted, restrict our civil rights, and turn the country into a police state--although they have certainly exploited the tragedy to further just those ends. However, I will say that if it emerged that they did, I would not exactly be shocked. You don't think those people would sacrifice a few thousand of their fellow Americans to maintain their power and poll numbers? Wake up and smell the carnage. As I once heard Christopher Hitchens say, "I wish people considered their leaders as expendable as they consider you." It's not my faith in the basic decency of our leaders that makes me doubt they knew anything; I just think people are generally too inept and garralous to keep a big complex conspiracy together.

The real crime, as far as this cartoonist is concerned, is the reflexive, systemic secrecy that pervades the culture of our governmental elites. In his excellent book Voltaire's Bastards, John Ralston Saul writes, "Everything in the West is secret unless there is a conscious decision to the contrary. Our civilization, which never stops declaiming about the inviolability of free speech, operates as if it distrusts nothing more." He writes about the French government's attempt to deceive its citizens into believing that the of fallout from Chernobyl was being blown harmlessly around their country, which in fact it was not--presumably to prevent panic. But the thing is, sometimes panic is the appropriate response to a situation. Maybe if the administration just told us that there were specific threat of terrorist hijacking, some people wouldn't have flown on September 11th. They are responsible, at the very least, for a few of those deaths.

So now they're telling us that suicide bombings are "inevitable" and that we should brace ourselves for biological and even nuclear attacks. If I trusted the people running this country, I would assume they were telling us these things because they're true and we need to be prepared for the worst. But I don't, and I can't help but observe that keeping the citizenry in a condition of constant, undirected fear also serves to keep them uncertain and docile, eager to go along with whatever the government thinks is best.

Sorry to sound so pedantic and rancorous. It was one of those weeks when things don't seem very funny.