Cartoon for October 22

In Mike Judge’s cult film “Idiocracy” (a must-see for cultural elitists everywhere), stupid people breed at a faster rate than smart ones until, 500 years later, the U.S. has been reduced to utter moronitude.

Which got me thinking.

Perhaps, though it’s hard to imagine why, a perfectly intelligent person might have joined the military early in the Bush Administration. Four years into Iraq and six years into the meatgrinder of Afghanistan, however, it’s fair to say that only a less than brilliant person would sign away his life for, literally, nothing. (Save your e-mails, righties: citing “patriotism” as a reason to enlist doesn’t work. French patriots didn’t fight for the Vichy regime during World War II. They joined the resistance. A patriot would have nothing to do with the military while the White House is occupied by an illegitimate coup leader.)

Anyway, if the carnage continues in Iraq for another 500 years, it stands to reason that the average I.Q. of those who remain behind will increase. Thus this cartoon…

Click on the cartoon to make it bigger.

41 Responses to “”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Ted, I was just thinking yesterday that the troops were a bunch of suckers, but unfortunately I don’t think having them all die will help…Americans have proven time and time again that they never learn anything from history. There will always be a new pack of fools coming along to die for whatever nimrod is in the oval office.

    –Anonymous for obvious reasons

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Ted proves again his deep hatred for US troops, and love of “freedom fighters” (read, terrorists). Ted can pre-explain all he wants, this cartoon makes it clear what his belief is: if you are a member of the US Armed Forces, you are an ignoramus and deserve death.

    Please, who will react appropriately to this?

  3. Owen Says:

    Once again your over generalizing about the intelligence of the military has offended me. I joined the Coast Guard in May of 2001, early in the Bush presidency. As the CG is part of the armed service, and since I joined in the early months of Bush’s first term, I can only presume that you would look at some one like me as “stupid”. There are people walking this earth today because I and my shipmates put total strangers’ well being above our own. I was saving lives when September 11th was just another day on the calendar. I take pride in serving in a life saving service. I doubt you would call us unintelligent if we were saving your life.

    If you mean that people who enlist in a job that will land them in one of Jr. Bush’s war zones have questionable IQs, then say that. Don’t lump us all in together.

  4. Ted Rall Says:

    Hi Owen,
    Cartoons are all about generalizing. Are there geniuses in the U.S. military? Of course. Are there idiots teaching at Harvard? Of course. Exceptions don’t disprove the generalization, however.
    But let’s get real. The Coast Guard isn’t exactly the “real” military. It doesn’t fight wars. You’re not exactly serving at the tip of the spear, as it were.
    It would be far more accurate, and probably more bureaucratically logical, to bring the Coast Guard under the umbrella of a national police force. It’s a coastal police force that patrols borders and, as you said, saves lives. But you’re not protecting anyone from terrorists. You’re saving people from foundering ships. It’s admirable, to be sure. But you’re kind of looking to be offended when you decide to be offended by my cartoon.
    As for the broader point, why *did* you enlist after Bush seized power illegally? Surely you take personal responsibility for enabling, albeit in a small way, the dictatorship of a tyrant.

  5. Angelo Says:

    My dad once urged me to join the airforce during the Clinton administration. I told him that I did not trust the present government to use my service for the right cause.
    When Bush joined, I knew I had made the right decision.
    I think some of the people who enlist want to do good in the world. Others of them simply calculate the odds and decide it will be a beneficial personal decision in their life. The first rationale could be considered ill-informed. The second can be considered selfish.

    It is sad to admit that education cuts have created a feedback loop of ill-informedness (dumb is easier to say).
    And I admit that those cuts in education victimized me as well. Look above. Amoung other mistakes, I actually capitalized ‘bush’.
    Good cartoon.
    The second to last panel is in-line with the realistic prediction that paper mediums will persist even in the presence of the ‘mindnet’. I believe we covered this in the discussion on the future of cartooning.

  6. owen Says:


    The Coast Guard does not fight wars? You are an educated man, and I thought you would know better than that. If we only focus on the last 92 years since the revenue cutter service, the lighthouse service, and the life saving service were consolidated in 1915, the Coast Guard has participated in every major war and conflict. Tell the men who landed on the beaches of Normandy that the Coast Guardsmen driving their Higgins Boats were not fighting the war. Likewise, tell the Marines who were island hopping in the bloody and hellish war with Japan that the Coast Guard didn’t fight there either. Tell the descendents of Douglas Munro that he didn’t fight. Tell the Coasties who conducted shallow river patrols in Vietnam that they were not fighting that war either. I had the pleasure of talking with a Coast Guard World War II veteran at my grandmother’s funeral two years ago. He was stationed on a cutter conducting anti-submarine patrols in the North Atlantic. Should I have told him that he was lying because the Coast Guard does not fight wars? But I think a picture says much more about the subject than I can:

    I take no responsibility for enabling any “tyrant”. Your question is insulting. I was twenty years old and could not afford to keep putting myself through college. I refused to become a slave to debt through student loans (I know you agree since you wrote a column on college debt), so the military was a great way to earn educational benefits. I took an oath to protect and defend the constitution, not the president. In 2009, a new president will take office, and hopefully our nation can begin to repair the damage of eight years of reckless Bush doctrine. I will still be in uniform serving proudly, even while people like you go out of your way to belittle my occupation.

  7. Ted Rall Says:

    I stand corrected; members of the Coast Guard have indeed fought in combat. But not in huge numbers, not in numbers that have caused many of them to give their lives. For example, the first member of the Coast Guard to have died in combat since the Vietnam War died in Iraq in April 2004, a full year after the invasion began and after hundreds of other soldiers had been killed.

    Why don’t you take responsibility for enabling the tyrant? Poverty isn’t an excuse for immoral behavior. If it were, poor people would be allowed to rob banks. You’re right, I feel your student loan pain. But I wasn’t willing to murder innocent people to pay off my debts. I agree, your oath is to the Constitution. However, you were well aware that the President is he Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Enlistment is a blank check that allows him to send you anywhere he wants to kill anyone he tells you to kill. That’s the job.

    As for 2009, let’s hope that there will be a new president. Even if there is, however, the disastrous occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (and God knows where else) will continue. And you’ll be a cog in the machine that makes it all possible.

    If no one enlisted in the U.S. military, the U.S. wouldn’t start any wars.

  8. Ted Rall Says:

    To elaborate on the above, this comes from a newspaper account about the April 2004 death of the Coast Guard serviceman:

    “Though the Coast Guard is traditionally associated with shoreline patrols, port security and rescue missions, there are about 300 Coast Guard members serving in the Iraq war.

    At the peak of the war, 1,250 guardsmen were deployed, working with the Navy to provide security.”

    There are about 160,000 troops serving in Iraq.

  9. Angelo Says:

    Those education cuts are a bitch.)

    2)”love it or leave it” is the army’s next recruiting slogan.

    3)Owen, I am 30,000 dollars in student loan debt. Ted just got done paying his off. You joined the coast guard and took the small risk that you would be used to do evil. We all did what we did to escape having shitty lives.

    4)My question now is: Why didn’t we all just move to a better country years ago?

    My answer is that I wanted to be close to my family and friends, and I did not want to run away from America.

    What about you guys?

  10. Owen Says:


    What’s your point? Are you unable to say, “Sorry, man… I didn’t mean to insult you…” and just leave it at that? I guess not because you continued with even greater hyperbole in implying anyone who joins the military and takes advantage of educational opportunities is a murderer.

    I take no responsibility for enabling any tyrant. My decision to join the CG was made under the Clinton administration. The recruiting process can be lengthy, so I was not able to report to boot camp until May of 2001. I was not the most politically cognizant (that’s a big word for a stupid person like me, huh?) person at the time, so I apologize that I didn’t go on hunger strike when Bush was elected. In order to shoot down your myopic and narrow minded logic, allow me to ask you this: are all police officers guilty of police brutality when one or two bad cops beat up a citizen for no reason? Are all CEOs guilty of white collar crimes because Bernard Ebers robbed MCI Worldcom blind? Of course not.

  11. Ted Rall Says:

    It’s not about insults. It’s about morality. I ceded your point above: Coast Guard members have fought and died in American wars. Not in huge numbers, to be sure. But you get that point.

    If anything, your point digs your hole deeper. You enlisted knowing that some idiot president might send you to fight, die and kill in some immoral war. (Given that the U.S. hasn’t fought a legal war since 1945, that wasn’t exactly far-fetched, right?)

    Educational opportunities offered by the military are NOT an excuse for enlistment. They are a lure.

    To answer your theoretical questions:

    I would never join a police force that had ever tolerated police brutality. To do so would be to condone such behavior. Joining an organization that does wrong doesn’t make you 100% guilty. But it doesn’t make you morally upstanding merely because you don’t participate fully.

    CEOs may not be necessarily guilty of specific white-collar crimes. But they are enablers of an evil form of laissez faire capitalism that is destroying the planet and increasing poverty.

    By the way, I don’t claim for a second to be morally pure.

  12. Owen Says:

    I did not join the military to “die and kill in some immoral war”. I joined the Coast Guard to work in search and rescue, and I have done exactly that. If you state that by simply joining the military one sets themsef up to war, I can counter that by saying that simply being a male with a pulse in the U.S. makes that possible since we have selective service (though not currently active).

    Well, I will have to conclude on that note. I am on duty in a few hours, so I want to get my things together. It’s important to me to be prepared for duty. It helps me enable tyrants much more efficiently.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Anyway, now we know what the President means when he says We’re kicking a$$ in Iraq. Mensatocracy!

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Ted sorry i’m writing in this blog. This is not related to the comic strip but I read Silk Road to Ruin, Is Central Asia the new Middle East? I absolutely loved it!! I just wanted to let you know. I tried emailing you twice to let you know but it kept bouncing back which is why I am posting this in a blog. You describe the “stans” really well, the book was intriguing and I could not put it down. Now I am fascinated with that part of the world and would like to visit it. I learned about a part of the world I knew nothing about. Also the comic strips in the book were hilarious. Thank you!!! Your fan – Sheena

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Hate to see a potentially interesting thread turn into a spat about the Coast Guard.

    Ted, the math doesn’t really work for your theory, at least in this situation, though it may have in the past. The millions of dead at Verdun and Stalingrad, on the other hand, may have had a genuine influence on the phenotypes of various European peoples.

    The US army has an IQ cutoff of about 85. I’d ballpark the average IQ of enlisted men at about 95 or 100, which suggests that deaths have little effect. This may not be true of black soldier, incidentally, who have much higher IQs in the army (because of the cutoff) than their larger population.

    The various “crossroad” areas of the world tend to be populated by the descendents of maurading armies. –Intelligence is not so important in this case as other behavioral traits (ie, impetuousness, violence, lack of social conscious, etc.) In a sense, it’s the *children* of soldiers, and not their *lack* which have a serious effect on history.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    The theme of this cartoon reminds of one you published a while ago about Pat Tillman, a former pro-football player with a multi-million dollar contract – completely set for life who one day pondered “Gee! Fame, fortune and all the hot skanks I can bone OR join the military and get killed by fellow soldiers before having the government that I gave up my (lavish) life for lie to my parents and the world about my death – WHAT A STUMPER!

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Yeah Ted, your such an evil liberal terrorist, how dare you sympathize with indigenous ill equipped non-trained Iraqi’s fighting for their independence from Israeli cohearst( you can take that part out if you want) Western imperialism via high-tech state of the art billion dollar killing machines.

  18. Viviana Says:

    Too bad for the folks in Iraq that it’s going to take 500 years before this happens. Of course, we’ll find out for ourselves how awful occupation is when Canada invades (apparently a threat, as Canada has been requested to submit information to the US on all Canadians traveling through US airspace…not landing in the US, simply flying over it – the story is on the CBC website).

  19. Chris Says:

    What was that about the Coast Guard “defending the constitution?” Seems to me the Constitution’s been shredded on your watch. All the same, you’re absolutely the first folks I’d call when the boat I’m on is sinking and I’ll shower you with roses for plucking my sorry butt from the sea.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Now that’s a tuffy! How could we possibly fight off the Canadians
    when they brew such good beer? Plus they have a more common sence idea of marijuana regulation. Plus northern girls know how to keep you warm at night!

  21. James Says:

    My problem with this comic is that the “smart future guy” is reading Sartre when he should be reading something far more profound like Jaspers or Husserl!

  22. forksmuggler Says:

    This is the sort of toon that makes you you, Ted. And why I keep coming back for more.

  23. Angelo Says:

    If you hate living as an American citizen so much that you would join the military , then why not move to another country instead?

  24. Andrew Says:

    Ted, your comics kept me going after I made a rather ill advised decision just out of Cal to enlist in the cavalry – it was great to have several moments a week when I could head to work dressed in the uniform of a murderer and know that someone out there wasn’t hero worshiping me for being part of an immoral organization. Fortunately my above average IQ and ability to read allowed me to find a nice loophole regulation so as to ensure an honorable discharge from the Army after only a year of service – it was that or desert.

    Your continued poking of the obvious fact that the majority of military members are at least remarkably uneducated, if not also generally pretty bloody stupid, is welcome. I can’t help but view the Occupation as, essentially, a vicious remake of the Revenge of the Nerds – you’ve got a bunch of football jocks who weren’t good enough to get on a college team joining up to kill brown people facing off against insurgents who are not only motivated by a desire to feed their family (to say nothing of resisting an aggressor) but often have college degrees in engineering…

    Unfortunately, even if every soldier in Iraq was killed, it wouldn’t bring about Mensatocracy…the idiots still breed faster than educated folk in this country.

  25. rasqual Says:

    I suspect that perspectives like yours are uninformed by anything much higher than the scum floating in a wagon rut.

    Throwing oneself on a grenade to save others is an example of a behavior which doesn’t require a high IQ, and yet it embodies virtues not seen in many having extraordinary intelligence.

    In short, your cartooning doesn’t afford you opportunities to enact virtues seen in those you impugn.

    As a veteran, I’d happily accept even non-heroic death over the kind of existence you lead. We all die anyway someday. But not all of us live long enough to prove ourselves consistent asses. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Once again, without fail, Ted has offended me and plenty of other members of the military both active, former, and retired. Luckily, I don’t seek out Ted’s cartoons, but because of their audacity, they are presented to me through intermediaries. One current liberal mantra is “we support the troops, but not the war”. With each cartoon Ted draws, he makes it clear that he, in fact DOES NOT support the troops. As a matter of fact, Ted goes out of his way to offend, belittle, smear, and marginalize them. I’m so glad we have such intelligent people like Ted in our ranks, because Ted thinks me is too stoopud. What would we do without him? Me’s so stoopud, I don’t even realize that America is the enemy (at least in his eyes). It’s funny, because the very existence of the men and the country you trash give you the opportunity to make a living drawing pictures like a child. People have died so that you can engage in this profession. It’s obvious Ted doesn’t appreciate those sacrifices, but rather mocks and disrepects them. However, I can sleep well at night knowing that Karma exists.

  27. Angelo Says:

    rasqual, I like it, but be careful. Real vets actually visit this blog. too much irony and sarcasm might make people think you actually believe what you are making fun of. : )

    good use of the ‘jump on the grenade’ motif, though.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    Ted Rall is a synonym for elitism, ad hominem, and general idiocy. Throughout most of his work you’ll perceive a complete misunderstanding of current events coupled with an unwarranted hatred for anything sensible and dignified.

    The PayPal link on the front page is probably the most telling indicator of Mr. Rall’s career. Being the elitist that he is, he probably considers his inability to support himself via publication a badge of honor, and a sign that he is too edgy for mainstream media. Most sensible people will see his need for donations as a sign of the old adage regarding the loudest voices not necessarily being the opinion of the majority.

    Thankfully disconnected and quite disaffected people like this will never get a voice any louder than your local mouse click.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    to anonymous 10/22 (the second comment from the top):

    We ARE “reacting appropriately”; we’re calmly trying to discuss divergent points of view.

    To do otherwise would be a brutal abnegation of everything Americans in uniform are SUPPOSED to be fighting for. Ted’s right about Bush being an illegitimate warlord (well, I say he’s marginally legitimate, but so what). So if we could drop the patriotism ruse and discuss rationally what makes this cartoon so imflammatory, a much greater purpose would be served.

    By the way, Ted. I think you kinda stepped in it. The satire’s kind of diffuse and obscure. And this comes from a guy who liked Idiotocracy. Mostly because it had electrolytes…

  30. Anonymous Says:

    The cartoon is leaving out the simple extrapolation that in 500 years, leftists, like this cartoonist, will have destroyed all that is good in the American experiment. There is no such thing as Utopia – surely even the gifted and talented cartoonist understands that. And our soldiers choose to die for an ideal (to live free or die) – only a few lucky people in the evolution of humanity really understand this – it is the unique brand of freedom that is worth living for – and also worth the ultimate sacrifice, death.
    This cartoonist will never get it –
    he’ll never be more than a coward with a big mouth. At the end of my life, I will die happy having understood and appreciated American freedom – having loved the same flag that our soldiers love. I could send my son or daughter to die fighting for that flag, having instilled in them the values that enable them to recognize the gift they’ve been so fortunate to have experienced, to me the pinnacle of humanity (even in it’s less than perfect form – again, there is no such thing as Utopia). It is painful to watch the left slowly but surely destroy all that is good – all that was considered worth fighting for in previous generations. The survival and evolution of the American experiment is the only hope for the world, for humanity, for “the beloved environment” – what good is the environment with out freedom? How do we preserve what is good and move forward toward a better America with the left acting like a group of ungrateful, spoiled, delinquent (if not criminal) children? The success of the American ideal is not dependent upon intelligence (illegal immigration and dumbing down in public schools will take care of that quicker than even WWIII) – it is entirely dependent upon the heart. And the left have no heart. They will stop at nothing to ruin any and all things good and hopeful. Fortunately, when the Muslim extremists take over the world, their freedoms will be stripped and they will be find themselves feeling VERY religious (or headless). The American ideal is the only hope for ALL freedom-loving people of the world, even if the left can’t stand to admit it. I’ll be happy if global warming is actual, and not just a political fear tactic of the left – I welcome death rather than live under leftist tyranny (some of us get it – let natural selection begin, but hold on to your head, Leftie!! It would be amusing see how quickly you’d be wishing for a brave American soldier to protect you from what is to come if you have your way).

  31. rasqual Says:

    Angelo: When I enlisted in ’79, the Navy was allowing ASVAB scores as low as 12. Maybe lower, but that’s the lowest boot I met. My score was 97 or 99, I can’t remember which. And I’m no genius. But in subsequent years, the military’s standards rose sharply. Gone were the days of making deals with jail-bound youth. We went to zero tolerance of drugs in the early 80s, when it was discovered that at any given time a majority of the Navy (enlisted OR commissioned) was stoned. Entrance standards rose.

    I downsized military might not have been the best idea, but it did result in better standards.

    That’s not really to the point regarding the cartoon, but it gives some background, suggestive in part of why I find Ralls so banal and, well, stupid.


  32. Anonymous Says:

    Ted, do you pay taxes? If so, aren’t you enabling the war machine by forking over your dollars and cents for bombs and missiles?

    You say you’re not going to claim for a second that you’re morally pure. Those claims would sound more sincere if you were more intent on self improvement and weren’t making a living off of chastising others. What kind of person derides a man who’s made it his work to rescue people at sea, whether or not those people are military or civilian?

    Something about “Judge not” and not throwing stones from glass hosues perhaps belongs here.

  33. Angelo Says:

    rasqual, oh shit. You are serious. Well in that case…I was thinking about heading down to the recruiter on Monday to join up. I just want to serve my country, and become a better person. I want to get your opinion. Would that be a good idea?

  34. Anonymous Says:

    As a riff on the “Idiocracy” idea it’s pretty funny. As an assault on the dead, whether idiotic, idealistic, or simply unfortunate, it’s despicable. Does it disturb your conscience to consider that heirs of the dead may have been terribly hurt by this? Shouldn’t it? If it does not, then you’re a prime candidate for the infantry.

  35. rasqual Says:

    Angelo: I have no idea. Usually when we hear of extraordinary virtues enacted, the extraordinariness lies in how far the acts exceed our expectations. Whether the military is the best way anyone can move on to exceed their own expectations of themselves isn’t my call. But intuition tells me that such exceptional accomplishments are as rarely planned as they are commonly wrought by circumstances beyond one’s control.

    IMO, Civilian life is in general about seeking a comfortable, predictable lifestyle. Disney provides the engineered adventures and Six Flags the faux risks. The military, arguably, is a case of volunteering to accept the unpredictable — indeed, what one’s enemy may engineer.

    That kind of circumstance can bring out the best and the worst in a person. Disney, I’d assert, brings out mainly the mediocre.

    I’m just using the military and Disney as metaphors for what takes us beyond ourselves, or doesn’t. Obviously there are civilian challenges to the self, which afford folks the opportunity to be seized by life and changed for the better (beyond their own ability to control).

    My view is that seizing the day does not afford us as likely a chance to see what we’re made of — and move beyond it — as when the day, rather, seizes us.

    On the other hand, one thing we used to say in the Navy — alluding with a twist to the recruiting slogans of the time — was that the Navy “was not just an adventure. It was a job.” 😉

  36. angelo Says:

    1)If you join the military knowing full well that you might kill innocent people for no reason, and all that happens is people call you “stupid”, you should feel lucky.

    2)Being poor is no excuse. If this country has failed you, then you can always move to another country.

    3)People who simply say that they are “offended”, without any real effort to address the real issue at hand annoy me. It’s so Hannity. It is not okay to be ilinformed.

  37. angelo Says:

    rasqual, I give up trying to out-sarcasm you. You are a true master. Thanks for the advice. I would expect that after having served, you would have the same advice as my friends who served.
    An older AF vet friend of mine said that he would shoot me if he found me near a recruiting office. I have been thinking, though:

    Shouldn’t the decision to join the military be based upon he impact I think my service will have upon the world?

  38. angelo Says:

    military spending=education cuts
    education cuts=bad voting
    bad voting=military spending
    education cuts=military spending
    we’re finished

  39. john manyjars Says:

    Way to nuke the mouth-breathers, Ted!

  40. rasqual Says:

    “An older AF vet friend of mine said that he would shoot me if he found me near a recruiting office.”


    Keep that friend.

    “Shouldn’t the decision to join the military be based upon he impact I think my service will have upon the world?”

    There’s no way you can know. But if that’s a criterion that really matters to you, then you should probably consider choices that have a high probability of leading you with some certainty in the direction of that kind of positive impact. Personally, I have no idea whether the military could be that for you. How could either of us guess what our foreign policy will mean in some context where we’re not in complete control, 10 years from now? No way to know.

    But that’s the difference between Disney and real adventure — not knowing.

    At any rate, whatever a person’s politics I think they better follow their conscience informed by wisdom. Best of luck.

  41. angelo Says:

    thanks for the insight rasqual.
    Joining the military is like casting lots.
    One lot decides whether you will live or die. Another decides whether you will improve as a person or become worse. A third lot decides if you will impact the world negatively or positively.

    So you get these dice and throw them out there and see what you get. Gambling is very popular in this country because people are desperate and, perhaps, lazy. I am not a gambling man.

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