Archive for May, 2005

May 23, 2005

Pat Tillman’s Parents Slam Military

Eric was one of numerous correspondents to email me about the following story:

I’m sure you have probably come across this already, but just in case you have not, Yahoo! currently has story up about how Pat Tillman’s parents are upset (to say the least) with the Army’s efforts to put a positive PR spin on their son’s death (e.g. lying to them about the details and then using it for political gain). Of course, as AGF mentioned a few days ago, perhaps they should just “get over it.”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/washpost/20050523/ts_washpost/tillman_s_parents_are_critical_of_army
P.S. Apparently the story is originally from the Washington Post…

While my first (egotistical) response was to say “I told you so”—after all, right-wing blowhards spent much of 2004 insulting me as treasonous and anti-American for pointing out that Tillman made one hell of a stupid decision by enlisting in Bush’s oil-company security service after 9/11—even the death threats I’ve received pale next to the devastating loss suffered by Tillman’s parents. One of the money quotes from the Washington Post piece:

“After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this,” Patrick Tillman said. “They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy.” […]”Maybe lying’s not a big deal anymore,” he said. “Pat’s dead, and this isn’t going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has.”

Which was, of course, the point of my cartoon. Even under a functioning democracy like the one we enjoyed until December 20, 2000, everyone who joins the military signs up to be used. But enlisting in the military under an illegitimate, non-democratically elected imposter worsens an already bad bargain from the standpoint of a soldier.
Pat Tillman, many have forgotten, did not enlist after 9/11 to go to Afghanistan. At the time, in 2002, that war was considered over. He, like millions of Americans who believed Bush’s lies, thought Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. And in fact, that’s the first tour of duty he did, in Iraq. Only later, when Afghanistan heated up again, did he go there—where he was shot to death in a “friendly fire” accident. In every sense of the word, then, Tillman was used. He enlisted based on the false premise that the U.S. military was fighting the terrorists who hit us, even though it has not yet even attempted to do so. He fought under the false premise that the U.S. military takes every step to keep their personnel safe. Even the circumstances of his death were covered up so that his story could be used as a “poster boy” for recruitment.
Tillman’s story, once told as the ultimate example of why and how young men and women should join Bush’s anti-Muslim oil crusade, has become exactly the opposite: a cautionary tale of a promising life squandered by misplaced hopes and beliefs.

May 19, 2005

Uzbekistan

Mike writes:

Ted, you’ve been to Uzbekistan, and now you’ve heard Condi’s lies about the place.  You’re the perfect person to respond to this fresh wave of b.s. from
El Bushissimo.

Great minds think alike! Next week’s column may be on this.

May 19, 2005

James Baker III’s Threatened Coup

Eric writes:

Ted, a couple times in your blog you have referenced James Baker III going to FLA in 2000 to stop the recount by threatening a coup de etat.  The story seems like the most probable explanation for the way things actually happended then, especially in light of post 911 events.  My question to you: Could you post a link to a good sober-reading article or source on that?  I would really like to see the whole thing spelled out, and I figure if anyone knows it, it’s you.
BTW, its chilling today to see the fascists and their media collaborators coming down on Newsweek to retract the Quran as toilet paper story, all the while maintaining the wall of silence on Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, Swift Boat Veterans, etc.  Especially in light of your column last week.  As if the the fascist media are reading your column for their next move. 
OK, thanks Ted.  Keep up the fight.  You are one of the reasons I have been able to avoid TOTAL despair the last few years. 

Here’s the money quote:

It is important, ladies and gentlemen, that there be some finality to the election process. What if we insisted on recounts in other states that today are very, very close; for example, in Wisconsin or in Iowa, or if we should happen to lose it in New Mexico? If we keep going down the path we’re on, if we keep being put in the position of having to respond to recount after recount after recount of the same ballots, then we just can’t sit on our hands, and we will be forced to do what might be in our best personal interest – but not — it would not be in the best interest of our wonderful country. And what’s happening now, if I may say so, is not in the best interest of our country. And there is a way to stop that. There’s a way to bring this thing back before it spirals totally out of control.

More at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/election/july-dec00/florida_11-10.html

May 19, 2005

The Media’s Double Standard

FOR Izzy helpfully sends the following, which reminds me of my friend’s adage–“It’s OK if you’re Republican!” Without a doubt, I would have been fired from KFI Radio had I uttered something similar about a Republican public figure.

(From Media Matters)

Why is this (below) okay?!!!

Why aren’t 20 federal agents dragging this a-hole off to the Black Hole of Calcutta, like they would be if some terrorist-supporting lefty blogger (ahem) had said something even remotely similar about one of the right-wing fascista?
How can this double-standard continue???
We are soooo screwed.

=========================================

Radio host Glenn Beck “thinking about killing Michael Moore”

Clear Channel radio host Glenn Beck said he was “thinking about killing [filmmaker] Michael Moore” and pondered whether “I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it,” before concluding: “No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out — is this wrong?”

From the May 17 broadcast of The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: Hang on, let me just tell you what I’m thinking. I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out — is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus — band — Do, and I’ve lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, “Yeah, I’d kill Michael Moore,” and then I’d see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I’d realize, “Oh, you wouldn’t kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn’t choke him to death.” And you know, well, I’m not sure.

Beck’s program is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks (owned by radio conglomerate Clear Channel Communications) on more than 160 radio stations across the country to an estimated audience of 6 million listeners. He has previously falsely accused Moore of “taking help and money from Hezbollah” and calledMichael Berg, who criticized the Bush administration after his son Nick was beheaded in Iraq, “despicable” and “a scumbag.”

May 19, 2005

Stupid Inhuman Tricks

An anonymous conservative wrote:

re: Stupid Inhuman Tricks
That was boring.I expect better from you. Oh yeah, and that kid who got shot? Got what he deserved. Don’t diddle married women. Unless you’re the husband, and then you probably don’t want to anyway.
The father is a joke! “My son bled to death because emergency responders could not reach him on time, and by the time he got to the hospital he was pronounced dead,” Uh, no. Your son is dead because you never taught him right from wrong, and because he was sticking his schlong where it didn’t belong.
Later Ted

Gee, I’m sorry if the story of a man bleeding to death because of a completely avoidable bureaucratic fuck-up fails to entertain some people. It happens to be a good illustration of an importrant topic, one that I don’t see other columnists attempting to address, and I’m proud of doing this sort of thing instead of following the herd.

And: If everyone who cheated got murdered as you believe he or she deserves, the US population would drop by 80 percent.

May 19, 2005

Newsweek and the Flushing Qurans

I’ve been amused by some of the reactions to my column this week. Liberals and conservatives alike seem disappointed that I didn’t tackle the Newsweek retraction of their story mentioning the fact that US torturers at the Guantánamo Bay concentration camp dedicated to holding, torturing and murdering Muslim civilians flushed at least one Quran down the toilet in order to fuck with their detainee victims.

One of my primary motivations as a cartoonist and columnist is to shine a spotlight on stories that deserve more attentioin and on viewpoints about big stories that are being marginalized. The Newsweek story doesn’t fit the bill for me as it has not only received widespread attention but has also received reactions similar to mine: the development of hypocrisy as atool of propaganda by the Bush Administration, the wussiness of the media in general, etc. Of course, anyone who has read “The Torture Papers” knows that U.S. torturers at Gitmo and other post-9/11 gulags have routinely desecrated Qurans and insulted Islam, including forcing devout Muslims to eat pork. Given the fact that Newsweek’s supposed “sin” was its use of a single source for this story, common sense posits that it’s probably–unlike the Bushies’ numerous fictions about WMDs, Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, the Saddam statue story and Osama hiding out in Afghanistan–true.

Even were this specific incident to be proven fictional, however, America’s global reputation as a Muslim-hating and -murdering hate state would nevertheless be established by the shitty way it treats Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. Surely a nation that bombs mosques isn’t too worried about flushing a Quran down the can.

I am, however, a little baffled by the Muslims’ own reaction to this story. They get their panties in a collective bunch over this–the damage of a book–but not the fact that the United States has murdered over 100,000 of their brothers and sisters since 2003 alone?

As for Newsweek, it’s safe to say that they yielded to White House pressure. Perhaps they were threatened with reduced access (which would be a blessing in the long run, since hobnobing with pols is the last thing journalists ought to be doing anyway). And the White House certainly wanted the world to see that pressure in action.

Rick from my hometown writes:

I hope someone finds the truth about their story regarding the Quran being flushed down toilets. This is another case of media incompetence. I’m not saying it didn’t happen but you have to be damn sure before you print it. Didn’t they know what would occur from a story like this? Are they that stupid?

The United States has already admitted murdering scores of innocent Muslim detainees at Gitmo and other U.S. gulags. If those stories didn’t elicit such a reaction, why would the editors at Newsweek believe that this one would? Anyway, you don’t hold stories because there might be a negative reaction to them and you don’t source potentially controversial stories more thoroughly than others. You source all stories the same, run what’s important and let the riots fall where they may.

I wonder how different things would be if the Democrats had put this passion against the war in Iraq as they have with the judges and Bolton. Bolton is of so little consequence. How can he make the world’s view of us any worse? Nobody of any stature in the UN is going to listen to him. The only thing he could do is drive what few allies we have left away which would be a good thing.

That’s a good point. Democrats, it seems, are choosing battles they think they can win by tactics rather than those they should win by the force of argument. Thus the judicial filibuster (which is a sleazy new tactic which apes the GOP’s own novel use of parliamentary procedure in Texas redistricting and elsewhere), the Bolton fight, etc.

Samir writes:

I’m interested to know what you think of the incredible blowback that has come on Newsweek for the Quaran-flushing story. I’ve noticed an alarming trend lately: the divestment of blame. To any sane persons, the major reasons Americans and Westerners are dying abroad are the following:
1) People are trying to kill them because they hate the west or western foreign policy and how it affects their countries
2) The governments (particularly the US) are not sufficiently protecting troops
3) The western and local governments are not doing anything to improve perceptions of the west
4) America’s government has somehow fomented a climate based on repeated torture, war, and incredibly bad public relations that lead to many Muslims feeling and fearing attacks on their religions.
Enter Newsweek. They were certainly negligent in reporting, but that happens. The critical point here is that we’ve allowed for situations like Abu Graib where this is a plausible event.
And now, the press and Whitehouse are hell-bent on making Newsweek fully culpable for the riots abroad. The insanity of this position scares the hell out of me; imagine a world where GM made defective
cars that don’t work over 65 MPH but since the proximate cause of an accident was a cheerleader telling her boyfriend to go faster, we do an inquiry into the morality of cheerleaders.
Newsweek unfortunately tweaked a sensitive spot. But how can they be to blame for these deaths?

Answer: they can’t. I’ve written that Dick Cheney is a greedy, murderous asshole. There–I’ve done it again! But if you go and toss a pie at him, that’s your problem. I don’t endorse that sort of thing any more than Newsweek’s editors endorsed the riots…which are, in any case, indigenous acts of resistance against American invasion forces.

Dierdre writes:

Hey, Ted. I want to get your opinion on something. The Newsweek Quran abuse story reminds me so much of the Dan Rather National Guard scandal that it makes me wonder: what if the Right is behind this? I mean, if
you think about it, can you remember a time during any other administration when presumably reliable sources associated with the government have fed such erroneous information to the press? Perhaps this is a concerted effort by the Right to further discredit the media – another step towards fascism.

The right is certainly attempting to destroy what’s left of the fourth estate after it has largely committed suicide, but I doubt that this is the work of a brilliant Rove-ian agent provacateur. This is probably just what it looks like: opportunism meets wussidom.

May 15, 2005

Pat Tillman: Get Over It?

AGF writes:

Do you know that the military is dangerous? That people get killed in training? In peacetime? From friendly fire? You can bash the troops, piss on the flag, and hump your Noam Chomsky blowup doll all you want, but I’m sick and tired of you running around like you’re Bob Woodward and this is Watergate. Yes, Pat was shot in the back by his own troops. Get over it.

I’m surprised that AGF is so obtuse. Of course what happened to Pat Tillman has happened in every war. There’s nothing particularly newsworthy about the way that he died. The way that he died, however, is not the point of my column. (And I’ve hardly played Bob Woodward here. I’ve quoted mainstream media courses throughout the piece as prima facie proof that I was commenting on a reported story rather than uncovering new facts.)

What’s noteworthy is the massive gap between what the American people believe happened–because the government told them via their state-controlled media–and the truth. The credibility chasm is made all the more worthy of discussion by the fact that the government used Tillman’s death to sell the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Had the Bushies and their media poodles settled for issuing an “ain’t that sad” statement after his death (even if they’d lied about the friendly fire aspect), this story wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But they didn’t. They broadcast a nationally televised paean to the man and the war in which he fell. They set him up as an example to emulate.

A few months ago an interviewer asked me: “Don’t you care about Pat Tillman?” “No,” I told him. Because it’s too late to care about Pat Tilllman. Had I met him before he enlisted, I would have strongly advised him not to serve in a patently immoral cause under a despotic, idiotic and careless commander in chief. But I didn’t. Now I care about the young men and women who might (mistakenly) view Tillman’s example as one worth copying. Deconstructing the Tillman myth–and it is a myth–is part of desconstructing the whole post-9/11 myth that we’re invading oil-strategic nations in order to defend ourselves. Tillman’s story is one of foolishness, brashness and misguided ideals.

It is a cautionary tale, and one that should be retold until not one single American continues to believe the official lie.

May 14, 2005

Boycott the New York Times?

Well, they certainly boycott me. Only one of my books has ever been reviewed in their pages and as part of a lengthy round-up of humor books at that. John asks:

I just finished that astonishing column and wondered, is there anything this administration has done that has truly shocked you? And do we really need to keep patronizing the New York Times? Can’t we target one of these media giants for an economic boycott?

It takes a lot to shock me, but yes, the Bushies managed to shock the shit out of me by sending James Baker III to the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer during the 2000 Florida recount to threaten a coup d’état in the event that the recount wasn’t stopped. That act convinced me that these were dictatorial maniacs who despise our constitutional system and the rule of law. Moreover, it convinced me that they were capable of anything.

Much of what they did was garden variety conservative Republicanism: supply-side tax cuts gone wild, scapegoating minorities, etc. But even their more extreme acts–openly condoning torture and murder, preemptive warfare against countries that posed no threat, etc.–didn’t really surprise me. Anyone capable of overthrowing the duly elected president of the United States (Al Gore) is obviously capable of anything.

In a way, there’s already a media boycott of the New York Times and other media outlets. Their circulation is falling as younger readers turn to alternative news sources online and the freebie alt weeklies. All we have to do is long enough; eventually pro-censorship dailies will die the dog’s death they richly deserve.

May 13, 2005

WHere’s His Book Deal?

Joshua write:

Death by enemy or friendly fire is a fact of life in war. Tillman joining up was inspirational in its own. The way he died did not take away from that. Unfortunately, rewriting his death the way the Army did does take away from his sacrifice.
As far as Jessica Lynch is concerned: She and the rest of her unit were ambushed and captured due to their own substandard performance. Their weapons jammed because they didn’t clean them and they were hit through a lack of vigilance and tactical awareness. Glorifying leadership and soldier failure is again the wrong answer. My unit did everything right, where’s my book deal. I guess I need to fail miserably at command at the expense of human lives for my own 15 minutes.

May 13, 2005

Down the Spider Hole

Because people are asking:

Pastor writes:

I love your comic and the article I just read on Yahoo was great
stuff too. It was the article talking about all of the propaganda about the
military coming through the media these days. You posed the question of
whether it was really Saddam emerging from the spider hole. You we’re
close, I guess you never saw this story:

Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction

http://www.wokr13.tv/news/national/story.aspx?content_id=422B960A-26BA-4891-9E60-21C8818788D4

Apparently your cynicism is ahead of your research. Keep up the good work.