Archive for January, 2007

January 31, 2007

Dinesh Correction

Professor R from Stanford writes to correct me:

Point of clarification: Dinesh D’Souza is a fellow at the Hoover Institution (as are former Attorney General Ed Meese and former Secretary of State George Schultz), which is located on the Stanford campus, but he is not affiliated with Stanford University. He’s certainly not an academic, what with only having a B.A. from Dartmouth. He’s simply an opportunist like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh who found an easy way to make a lot of money by pandering his ravings to the right wing.

The fact that he lives in San Diego should have been a signal that maybe he does not teach at Stanford, which is about 475 miles away, and would make for a nasty commute, even in a maroon 1192 Jaguar XJS.

Love your work. Keep it up.

I should have caught that one, having spent a lot of time in California.

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January 31, 2007

Cool Stuff From Ye Olde Mail Bag

Dave writes:

I have an enormous respect for people like you who can dissect the lunacy of the right wing argument in a systematic way, and it escapes me that I used to have the focus and engagement to do that, and I can’t anymore. I now study agriculture and all I can do whenever I try to engage in this political stuff is get really angry, pissed off, depressed, paranoid, and so frustrated that I can’t even get my current work done. I don’t know how this happened or why, but I’m wondering if I’ve just gone insane at this point (my conservative southern family thinks so) or if there is something you do (whether it be the people you surround yourself with, having a hobby, etc) that allows you to continue to focus your energies constructively and not just blow up, then go get drunk.

Hell, dude, it was even difficult for me to get through your most recent piece without getting wound up. At the same time I’m an addict, just ‘staying away’ from it doesn’t work either.

If you consider those around you who do what you do, and yourself, what traits or characteristics separate those who succeed in tackling the beast again and again, and those who get burnt out and can no longer remain productive?

A saner man would just throw his hands up in the air and walk away. I’ve always been a stubborn S.O.B. and I’ve never backed away from a righteous fight. It makes for interesting times but if I ever hit the big-time financially there’s a Caribbean beach house with my name on it.

Joy wrote:

Hi Ted, I read your article ” Republicans shut up etc. I like your style, and although I am a Republican, I try to keep up with both sides. The complaint I have about your article is you went from Regan to Bush – I think you forgot someone in between, who I feel had a great deal to do with our present situation in the world. I’m tired of everyone making Republicans sound like we love the war – we hate the war, but support the war and our brave young men and women, in their courage to keep our homeland safe.

And K Morgan wrote:

Was the country “doing things the Republicans’ way” when Bill Clinton was in the White House and the Democrats controlled both houses of congress? what a moronic simpleton you are.

I don’t think I forgot Clinton in this week’s column. Au contraire, I mentioned him by name. One of the most galling aspects of the Clinton presidency was that it was a study in squandered opportunity. Everything he accomplished—NAFTA, welfare reform, GATT/WTO, even balancing the budget—was a Republican idea. Clinton was not a liberal, not by a long stretch. And what was the point of balancing the budget? Look at where we are now. Clinton should have busted the bank on healthcare and left the Republicans with no money to spend.

Oh, and Clinton didn’t have a Democratic Congress after 1994.

Steve writes:

Okay as a Republican who thinks we should keep fighting in Iraq I will shut up. I only ask one thing on you. Since we can’t win and we have no worries if we lose in Iraq I await the next cartoon from you depicting Mohammed. You have nothing to worry about right, its not important that we win. I can’t wait to see what witty cartoon you do. Why not have him talking to Pat Tillman. You seemed to weather that fiasco okay. So Ted put your pen where your mouth is and draw that cartoon publish it and then if you survive tell me why this war is not important.

If I had a reason to mock Mohammed, believe me, I wouldn’t hesitate. As for the war against Islamofascism or whatever they’re calling it this week, allow me to paraphrase Osama bin Laden: If they hate decadent Western societies so much, why haven’t they attacked Holland? Radical Islam is not in the least interested in changing our way of life, only that of those in the Muslim world.

There’s a case for fighting them, but claiming we’re in danger of Sharia law being imposed on Americans is simply a lie.

Mike writes:

I read “Shut Up” and can’t agree more. I believe I could write an argument stating why we should try to “win” in Iraq and make it come off convincingly. I don’t really believe it but I could do it, mainly because we were so wrong in going to war in the first place we are obligated to make it right (if we can make it right is another question). There are probably lots of reasons why we should stay but I haven’t heard one proposed by a conservative that didn’t subscribe to the same circular logic the White House has been spewing for years. They just can’t seem to think outside of the bubble GW is living in, let alone outside “the box”.

I have seem glimmers of hope in some congressional Republicans but they are not neo-cons. Neo-cons remind me more and more of Nazis who even after 50 years of evidence still deny there was a holocaust. (see, I can say that because I’m not a national columnist).

Actually, I’m thinking of writing a devil’s advocate column next week making a real case for remaining in Iraq.

Andy writes:

I read your 1997 article on Gen-Xers after you
mentioned it on your blog and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I just wanted to make one observation:

“Xers have proven a far more difficult nut to crack;
the latest wave of commercialism is hilariously
desperate. Car companies run generic grunge music as
background music to try to convince 28-year-olds that
sports utility vehicles aren’t really just the latest
version of the stationwagon. Nike sells its
slave-labor-made sneakers with the DIY slogan “Just Do
It,” while Xers roll their collective eyes. “No icon
and certainly no commercial is safe from their irony,
their sarcasm or their remote control. These are the
tools with which Generation X keeps the world in
perspective,” Marketing to Generation X author Karen
Ritchie tells Time. It’s almost enough to make you
feel sorry for the Fortune 500.”

I’m 27, and find it extremely fucked up that
consumerism has come full cirlce with my generation.
It seems that popular culture now is all about having
the most shit (“bling,” latest technology) and who
gives a fuck how you get it? It seems that all of my
friends are on a constant spending spree in terms of
houses, cars, flat-screen TVs. They don’t save a
dime, many of them are in debt, but they all feel
that it’s their birthright to have more, more, MORE!
Iraq war? Not really familiar with it. Voting?
Don’t know who the candidates are. XBOX 360? Oh
hell, you’d better believe I was first in line to grab
that swag.

I guess this is a long way of saying that it would be
interesting to see how the Fortune 500 did an end
around on Generation X, and completely duped my
generation.

In all fairness, Gen Y consumerism is largely influenced by parents—who were Baby Boomers. So it’s not their fault. (And it’s not like us Xers are particularly zen…check out my CD collection sometime!)

Connie writes:

I just wanted to say I really appreciate your articles (and cartoons)! Thanks, it is a relief to read something that makes sense.

Thanks!

And finally…

I can just see it now. On the back cover of D’Souza’s next book will be this quote:

“Stanford University’s D’Souza is one of America’s most–arguably the most–respected conservative thinkers. … one of the brightest minds of our current political establishment, representative of thinking at the highest levels of government…” — Ted Rall

You said it, not me.

It would be the best quote since genius illustrator/incompetent cartoonist Chris Ware used my negative review of his book on the paperback version, evidently because wallowing in negativity fits with his packaged image as a Sad Sack.

January 29, 2007

New Iraq Slogger Cartoon

I have a new cartoon up at Iraq Slogger.com. It’s a reaction to Bush’s State of the Union proposal to relieve overburdened US troops in Iraq with a volunteer Civilian Corps.

January 28, 2007

Why Barack Obama is a Boomer

Bruce was among several correspondents who questioned a recent cartoon, in which I stated that Senator Barack Obama would be, if elected, America’s first Generation X president:

I believe that the baby boom was 1946-1964, so I don’t think Obama qualifies as a Gen-Xer.

G.M. said:

As much fun as it is, Obama is still the end of the Baby boom. I mean, he graduated high school in the 70s. No Duran-Duran or Pearl Jam for him. You know, Toto and Fleetwood Mac don’t really make for proper Gen-Xing.

Back in the 1990s, before the rest of the world hated us and people cared about generational politics and magazine editors hired me to write a lot of lengthy articles, I published a lengthy treatise on the various definitions of Generation X for Link Magazine. As I noted in the article, there’s a wide range of disagreement on which birth years constitute the Gen X cohort.

Over the years I have come to accept Neil Strauss and William Howe’s definition of Gen X as running between 1961 and 1981. Americans born between these years tend to have certain cultural and economic touchstones in common. The traditional (demographic) differential, which marks the start of Gen X at 1964, doesn’t account for the fact that those of us born in 1961-62-63 (includes me) have nothing in common with Baby Boomers–whether it’s music or the ability to afford college or our first homes.

No one has thought or written more about American generations than Mssrs. Strauss and Howe, most ably in their stunning and bizarrely overlooked tome “Generations,” which literally defines generations and types of generations all the way back to the Colonial era.

Those of us born in 1961, 1962 and 1963 grew up listening to punk, disco and New Wave–for us, the Doors and Beatles were the music of our much older brothers and sisters, if not the old stoner dudes up the street (and obviousy FM radio). We became adults during the 1980s, into a world of diminished expectations and falling incomes. Boomers were already in their 30s, and had the jobs and incomes we wanted. Conduct a poll of those birth years and I guarantee you that very few of them would self-identify with the Baby Boom.

In a way, it all comes down to how someone “feels” to you. Does Obama feel more Boomer or Gen X to you? To me, he’s obviously an Xer, though perhaps barely across the finish line of our simultaneously alienated and happy-go-lucky cohort. In the end, of course, one must look to Douglas Coupland’s book “Generation X.” When it came out, Gen X = twentysomething. By that measure, I—and Barack Obama—were Gen Xers.

January 24, 2007

A Layman’s Review of SILK ROAD TO RUIN

There’s a solid review of SILK ROAD by a typical reader at the blog Rat’s Reading.

January 23, 2007

“Treated Like a Leftist Lunatic”

Kel is frustrated at the way I’ve been treated for the last six years, while consistently-proven-wrong pundits like Thomas Friedman have collected critical plaudits:

What I still don’t understand about humans or American humans is their ability to deny the obvious or their ability to deny or never bother to understand human nature.  You have been right about this scum of an administration and their evil intentions from the get-go.  Yet liars and idiots who give nothing but their less than knowledgeable opinions or they simply regurgitate White House talking points to be passed off as well thought out opinions, are given respect and accolades by this same media.  T. Friedman, G. Will or C. Matthews to name but a few, are given the utmost respect by this same media.  I can’t think of an area in which you were wrong, but if there is one or two, it pales in comparison to the multitude of things you were right about. 

The above names have yet to be right about anything in relation to Bush or this evil war.  Your writing contained research, even firsthand research in the region.  Your columns are well thought out and researched as well.  Your facts were there for all to see.  Yet you were treated by the MSM as a leftist lunatic that absolutely should not be taken seriously.  Now that you have been proven overwhelmingly correct in all your assessments, or most of them anyway, about this war and this administration, I wonder if that has changed.  I doubt it, quite unfortunately.  But my confusion about humans is why they will listen to liars and idiots as opposed to people who are correct.  Why, Santy Clause why?  It has happened throughout history as Galileo can attest (Galileo vs. the fucking idiotic lying pope or Clinton vs. Gingrich in more modern times).  I have spent a lot of time trying to understand human nature but I just can’t get my head around this aspect of humanity and its subsequent complete idiocy.  Why are people who are right marginalized and those that couldn ‘t be more wrong and are usually continuously so treated as intelligent and taken seriously? 
 
I wanted to let you know that I am a big fan and you are one of the reasons I continue to believe in humanity.  I don’t know why people like you are marginalized, even like Galileo, when you can show by the facts that you are correct. Thanks for all you do.  I know it has to take guts and some huge balls to keep fighting with all of this country’s idiots threatening you with death.  Those of us with a functioning brain see you as the hero you are.
Thank you, thank you very much, Kel

No, thank you, Kel and everyone else, for reading. And for supporting my work, not least by buying my books. It’s humbling.

January 19, 2007

Ted Rall at New York Comicon, Feb. 23-25

New York’s Comicon is only a few years old but has already grown into the biggest comics convention in the city. This year’s convention, at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center on 11th Avenue and 33rd Street, will feature me not only selling and signing copies of my new books Silk Road to Ruin and America Gone Wild at the NBM Publishing table, but also two panel discussions in which I will be a participant.

Both panels will take place on Sunday, February 25.

1 pm: “Attitude”-themed panel featuring Attitude cartoonists Neil Swaab (“Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles”), Mikhaela B. Reid (“The Boiling Point”), David Rees (“Get Your War On”), and Ward Sutton (“Sutton Impact”).

3 pm: “How to Get Syndicated” Panel (I’ll be repping United Media)

January 18, 2007

“Diesel Sweeties,” by R. Stevens

Diesel Sweeties has been a great webcomic since 2000. Now it’s a kick-ass daily comic strip that I strongly urge you to check out.

Of course, I’m biased. I first came across R. Stevens’ comic strip about the romance between a robot and a flesh-and-blood hu-man while researching my book Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists. And, when United Media asked me to pick comics for syndication to daily newspapers, “Diesel Sweeties” was my first pick.

I haven’t felt this excited about a daily comic strip for ages, and I hope you like it too.

You can check out “Diesel Sweeties” in print in the Seattle Times, Portland Oregonian, Rocky Mountain News, Detroit News, Albuquerque Tribune, Houston Chronicle and other papers across the United States. If you’d like your local paper to consider it, please write them a letter to the editor.

January 10, 2007

It’s an American Dictator, Stupid

What do you call a political leader who does whatever he pleases? A dictator. When there’s no meaningful internal opposition to his actions, he’s a durable one.

For those Americans who still doubt that the 2000 (and probably 2004) elections were a coup d’état carried out by a military-corporate junta of bandits, looters and mass murderers–OK, I get it, it’s hard to accept–the rabid cat is out of the bag. George W. Bush is a dictator.

What else can you call a leader who wages a wildly unpopular war and then escalates it after citizens have delivered a resounding and overwhelming no-confidence vote? Bush is a tyrant, and he’s every bit as deranged and dangerous as his father’s former employee, whom he sent to the gallows last week.

The Democrats? Useless, as usual. They’re planning to try to possibly pass a non-binding resolution, not even calling for a full-fledged pullout but merely asking pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top for Bush to not send another 20,000 to 40,000 troops. To a war, remember, that no one wants anymore. At all.

I don’t say this lightly: Bush is a dictator, albeit one mildly inconvenienced from time to time by remnants of the former opposition party. And we live in a dictatorship.

January 10, 2007

It’s the Iraqi Resistance, Stupid

I’ve been using the term for years, but isn’t it finally time, nearly four years into the occupation of Iraq, for the American media to join the rest of the world? That’s right. It’s time to stop calling the Iraqis who are resisting our oppressive presence “insurgents” and use a word that fits a lot better: “resistants.”

I know. They don’t wear berets or blow up Nazis. They don’t look like the French Resistance, which virtually defines the word in the American psyche. But the media has already quietly dropped the fiction that the Iraqi government is sovereign. Most press accounts refer to the “occupation.”

The Iraqi resistance fits the bill in all the important ways: they are using violence to resist the U.S. occupation and its puppet regime. More importantly, “insurgency” implies a nascent movement that may or may not last. You can have an insurgency for a year or two. What we have now looks more permanent. Can anyone imagine a scenario in which the Iraqis put away their guns and IEDs before we leave?