Archive for June, 2005

June 29, 2005


Bill notes:

I watch and listen to the right-wing corporate media outlets just to get a feel for what kind of propaganda or distraction they are trying to present. The latest has got to be that girl from Alabama who disappeared in Jamaica. I feel bad for the girl and her family but how the fuck is this national headline news? I noticed that Fox seemed to be the first to lead with this story and the rest of the corporate media just seemed to follow suit. Nothing like a missing blonde haired girl to distract people from being outraged about a failing war that’s losing support.

You’re right about Fox. Even cynical moi was amazed to see O’Reilly spend the better part of 20 minutes on the Aruba story on the same day that Republican Congressmen were calling for the Gitmo concentration camp to be shut down. Paranthetical: Closing Gitmo would merely lead to more outsourcing of torture. Closing BUSH down is the best way to start restoring some semblance of decency to US foreign policy… State-controlled media has traveled so far down the path of total obeisance that it’s now forced to ignore the day’s top story in favor of manufactured tripe.

June 29, 2005

New Books

I’m currently working on a new book about Central Asia called “Silk Road to Ruin.” That’s due out in January. Due out around the same time will be “Attitude 3: The Subversive New Media Cartoonists,” with an emphasis on artists whose work appears online. And those of you who have been clamoring for a straightforward collection of my cartoons, the sequel to 2001’s “Search and Destroy” comes out next year. Title is: “America Gone Wild.”

Beyond that, anything is possible. I’m talking with one publisher about doing a graphic novel adaptation of a European play (gotta be coy here, sorry). I’m also due to start a project I’ve been researching for years, an all-prose novel. And there’s also a possibility of doing a foreign policy follow-up to “Wake Up, You’re Liberal!”, which focused on domestic issues. Of course, I’m always open to requests, should you have one.

June 29, 2005

Merchandise Update

Much-beloved, home to El Busho T-shirts and posters, has sadly gone under. I’m considering putting up some TR merch (T-shirts, mugs, etc.) at another site–well, first I’d have to find such a site–but before I spend a lot of time on this I’m wondering whether enough people would be interested to make such an endeavor worthwhile. So…if you’d buy a Ted Rall T-shirt or somesuch item, please email…but only if you’d really, actually buy one. I do not want to hear from you if you’d consider buying one, or think seriously about buying one.

June 29, 2005

Ronald Reagan, Still Undead

Jim writes the following:

Dear Ted,
While channel surfing last night, I caught the Dicovery Channel’s show on “The Greatest American”. They polled Americans (on AOL.COM) and declared that Reagan was the greatest American ever. It made me sick and slightly disorientated to think that people would vote that way. Agh !
If you have not seen it, Here is the link to AOL’s site:
Best regards, and please keep it up !
PS: It is great to see your cartoons in the [name of publication deleted to stymie neofascists]

Lord knows that any praise for Reagan is praise too much but I wouldn’t assume that these results reflect the general viewpoint of the American public. These results reek of the sort of fake write-in campaigns conducted by right-wing bloggers (vote early, vote often, vote online) to make it seem like their icons and idols are much beloved by the public. Would Clinton beat Reagan in such a (legit) poll? Probably not. But George Washington probably would.

June 29, 2005

I Don’t Normally Do This, But…

People send me lots of suggestions of stuff to post to the blog, but most of them are redundant to stuff I’ve seen elsewhere or just plain suck. This reaction to Piehole’s speech last night (“Mission Accomplished II”), however, rates an exception:

I imagine you may receive a bit of mail looking for you post or link to stuff. But please consider doing either with this short essay I wrote, which you can find on
Thanks a lot,
Joe Farbeann

A Tale of Two Americans
June 28, 2005-
One American strode boldly into the Ft. Bragg military base in North Carolina to deliver a speech about a war on an abstract concept.
A second American was nearby in a similar setting, a navy brig in South Carolina.
The first American surrounded himself with U.S. troops, cynically using them as political props so that he could justify keeping them at risk in a dangerous occupation in a hostile land in order for the first American’s friends and campaign contributors to make a fortune off the occupation.
The second American was surrounded by the U.S. troops that have been brutally interrogating him for over 3 years, denying him his 5th Amendment rights and Geneva Convention rights. His interrogators are subverting the rule of law and trashing human rights and the American way because he is thought to be an “enemy” in the war against the abstract concept, and the government lacks the evidence to formally try him.
The first American put the second American where he is. The first American is responsible for authorizing the kidnapping of the second American, who, despite numerous court rulings ordering him to be set free, remains in confinement. The first American is the real criminal while the second American must still be considered innocent according to what at least used to be American law.
The saga of George W. Bush and Jose Padilla continues. While one still needs to be held accountable for systematic torture and illegal war, the other has already been held accountable despite not being convicted, let alone charged with a crime.
For those who still believe in constitutional and human rights, this is a most critical juncture.

June 8, 2005

A Stitch in TIME

I know, I know. I promise that the Rallblog is back, then I fail to update it for weeks. Weeks! This may not make me a liar on par with, say, a certain American dictator, but it’s still a broken promise. And for that, I’m sorry.

I don’t have an excuse but I can offer an explanation. Which is, quite simply, that I’ve been busy. I’m working on my new book, due out January 2006, with the working title “Silk Road to Ruin.” Using a similar mixed cartoon/text format as “To Afghanistan and Back,” this book will be a lot longer, as will be the essays and cartoons included therein. “Silk Road” will include seven graphic novellas, each covering a trip that I took to Central Asia. There’ll be long analysis pieces about the region, why it matters to you, why it’s interesting, why it’s essentially the new Middle East as far as we’re concerned.

I’ve got 48 of the total approximate 280 page count done and, though this doesn’t sound like much, any author will tell you that getting started is the hardest part. So I’m psyched. Visitors to the NBM Publishing table at the Book Expo America in New York last week picked up the limited edition sneak 48-page preview; a few copies will undoubtedly show up on eBay if you’re interested. (Sorry, I can’t sell you one. I’ve only got one.) But we’ll post a few teaser pages at at some point.

I’m also starting the interview process for “Attitude 3: The Subversive New Media Cartoonists.” This time the focus is primarily on cartoonists whose strips appear exclusively online. Besides interviewing each cartoonist as I did for A1 and A2, I’m compiling more than 500 cartoons into a format that master Attitude designer J.P. Trostle can work with. So that’s work too.

Coupled with all that, this is what we in the toon trade call convention season. I’m writing this from 33,000 feet over Nebraska, en route to my third favorite reason for living (my first, cheesy but true, is my family and friends. my second? I’m sticking around for Bush’s show trial), the editorial cartoonists convention. 200 cartoonists from all over the country, and a few from overseas, converge on an unsuspecting hotel to drink, debate politics and talk shit about editors. There’s another convention next week, much less interesting but no less important.

My plans sometimes change, but it looks like the remainder of 2005 will be spent finishing the books along with a final trip to Central Asia–most likely Tajikistan and, to see what things look like four years after the U.S. invasion, Afghanistan. Republicans, start your death-prayer engines!

But enough of that.

I realized while perusing the last two issues of TIME magazine that this micro look at the media is an excellent primer at what’s wrong with journalism in the United States. I’ll run through a few examples of what I mean:

I won’t even get into coverage priorities. The June 13 issue features a cover story on the housing bubble (now there’s some exciting news you can’t find anywhere else!) and a puff piece about “Iranian twentysomethings” (They drink! They use illegal drugs! They have sex!) during a week in which Amnesty International condemned the United States as not only a horrific serial torture state on par with China, but also its most influential. “Why We Suck” or “Support Our Goons” seems like a more appropriate cover to me, but hey, that’s why I don’t get the big TIME dough.

(Disclosure: I drew editorial cartoons for TIME between 1998 and 9/11, the Day America Stopped Laughing. Editors–seriously!–told me that “humor is dead as an art form” and promptly scrapped their entire slate of cartoonists, including Jim Siergey (“Cultural Jet Lag”), Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Constitution and Don Asmussen of the San Francisco Chronicle. Reprints of syndicated material have recently made a reappearance in the newsweekly but the mag has a long way to go before reaching the heights of the pre-9/11 era. Also: where’s Joel Klein? But anyway…)

In the June 13 issue’s “Verbatim” section of notable quotes from the week, one entry reads: “Mishandling of a Koran here is never condoned.” It is attributed to “Brigadier General Jay Hood, commander of the Guantánamo prison and head of an inquiry that turned up five cases of mishandling of the Islamic holy book by U.S. personnel, including one in which a guard’s urine was accidentally splashed on a copy.”

A casual reader might be forgiven for taking Gen. Hood at his, um, word–especially considering the 100 percent pure bullshit that follows his assertion. First, his inquiry didn’t “turn up” five cases. FBI debriefings of released (innocent) detainees mention dozens of instances of alleged Koran abuses (abuses, not “mishandling,” which implies carelessness rather than the malice that is alleged). Hood focused on nine of these, agreeing that five had occurred. Extrapolation naturally yields one to the conclusion that 55 percent of such cases are legit.

And how exactly does a “guard’s urine…accidentally” splash a Koran? According to other published sources, the guard pissed through a vent in a Gitmo cell holding a prisoner. The Koran got splashed then, as did the prisoner–who has never been charged or allowed to see a lawyer. The soldier might have not have had pissing on the Koran in mind when he peed through that hole into the tiny cell, but calling such behavior “accidental” is astonishing–not nearly as much, however, as the fact that the media seems to be OK with pissing on the detainees themselves. Just make sure the piss stays on the POW.

Always insipid TIME columnist Joe Klein (not to be confused with the brilliant humorist Joel) actually has the nerve to argue a two-page rant calling for increased globalization with this gem: “…and a preemptory withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq might leave civil war and a safe haven for al-Qaeda operatives.”

Ahem. As opposed to now? Wake up, Joe: all those Sunnis blowing and shooting Shiites and vice versa? Kurds killing Sunnis and vice versa? Hundreds of them a day? That is a fucking civil war, Joe. As for Al Qaeda, Iraq never became their stomping grounds until after we went and removed Saddam like big stupid douches. Now that the joint is hopping with Islamists, we’re obviously having the opposite effect: Muslim fighters are going to Iraq in order to fight American members of the low-rent occupation army. There may be a good argument to be made against getting out now, yesterday, two years ago, but we haven’t heard one yet.

Here’s a personal one:

Andrew Arnold, TIME’s comics critic, calls war travelogue cartoonist Joe Sacco “virtually a one-man subgenre of reportorial comic-making. Ahem. Did Arnold forget “To Afghanistan and Back”? He reviewed it, liked it. But whatever.

Back on May 30, TIME’s “Blogwatch” discussed bloggers’ reaction to the politics, or lack thereof, of the new Star Wars flick. They quote three blogs: “Blogs for Bush,” “Centerfield” and “Instapundit”–the first and last being so far to the right that they’d be aligned with banned fascist parties were they in Europe. Two out of three–for that kind of fairness and balance we can tune to you-know-what–without wasting money on a magazine.

Again, the execrable Joe Klein farts out a diamond about Iran: “Before we talk, give up your nukes.” No one, not even a Bush shill, has asserted that Iran has nukes. If we end up going to war with Iran down the road, this sort of faux factoid will be partly responsible for planting the mistaken impression among Americas that the war is justified: Klein is every bit as much of a liar as Bush.

Same issue: In an article about the Newsweek Koran desecration story and controversy, the magazine writes: “Defense Department spokesman Lawrece Di Rita called Newsweek on May 13 to say the story was wrong. Four days later, he told reporters there were no credible allegations of Koran abuse to look into.”

This wasn’t true, obviously. The Pentagon admits it found at least five confirmed incidents of Koran desecration at Gimto. But TIME still hasn’t retracted this lie.

It’s probably unfair to single out TIME for sins committed by its rivals and daily newspapers every day. I just happened to have those two issues handy. But I hope my point is made.