Archive for the ‘John McCain’ Category

Cartoon for November 6, 2008

November 5, 2008

Deep down, John McCain has got to be feeling relieved to have lost. He gets to go back to the Senate and relax. Obama is screwed, having inherited a country in a state of collapse.

NEW ANIMATION: Death Cab for Sarah

November 4, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Editorial cartoonist Ted Rall and animator David Essman have released a hilarious, vicious parody of GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to celebrate Election Day 2008.

Distributed for free on YouTube and at, “Death Cab for Palin” is an animated political cartoon that lampoons Sarah Palin’s presidential ambitions. Noting that vice presidents frequently become presidents, “Death Cab” depicts a rabid Vice President Palin trying to poison and bomb President McCain in the style of the classic “Road Runner” cartoon series.

Rall, a syndicated cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate, is no stranger to controversy. His “Terror Widows” and “FDNY 2011” cartoons after 9/11 were some of the most controversial cartoons in U.S. history. Will “Death Cab for Sarah” join their ranks? “I don’t know,” says Rall, “but it was such a fun idea I just couldn’t resist going with it.”

Permission for reproduction and broadcast are freely given under the condition that the piece not be altered in any form without express permission. To contact Ted Rall, please email

TED RALL’s editorial cartoons and columns are syndicated to more than 100 newspapers around the U.S. Twice the winner of the RFK Journalism Award and a Pulitzer Finalist, he is President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

DAVID ESSMAN is an animator currently at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His animated films have been screened across the country, including Animation Block Party, The Chicago Underground Film Festival, and the St. Louis International Film Festival.

THIS WEEK’S COLUMN: President Obama—Shut Down This Camp!

October 23, 2008

Next President Should Shut Gitmo on January 20

* Camp has become its own raison d’être
* Hundreds locked in legal limbo
* Jerking around detainees and their families
* Gesture would resonate around the globe

François Mitterand brought civilization to France. One of his first acts as president was to end the death penalty. A guy named Philippe Maurice had his date with the guillotine cancelled.

Amazing but true: the country that gave the world “The Rights of Man” was still lopping off heads in 1981.

Fortunately, things change. Other countries followed France’s lead. Today, just a quarter century later, fewer than a quarter of the world’s nations still carry out capital punishment. Nations that do can’t get into the European Union.

Our next president–probably Barack Obama–has a similar opportunity to create a transformative moment toward a fully civilized United States. I’m not talking about abolishing executions, though that is long overdue. President Obama (or McCain) should close Guantánamo.

Not after appointing a commission to look into it. Not after finding a nation willing to take the detainees. Like Mitterand, he should do it immediately.

After years of denial, Bush Administration officials now admit that hundreds of men and children–as young as 13!–have been tortured and otherwise abused at Gitmo. Inmates were penned up in dog cages, denied exercise, and waterboarded.

One guard vehemently denied urinating on a prisoner’s Koran. His defense? “The guard had left his observation area post and went outside to urinate,” according to a Defense Department report. “He urinated near an air vent and the wind blew his urine through the vent into the [prisoner’s cell].” You see, he wasn’t trying to pee on the Koran. He was trying to pee on the prisoner. His urine stream had inadvertently splashed off the man onto the book.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the inmates–who’d been sold to U.S. troops by Afghan warlords, locked up for years without being accused of anything, denied access to an attorney or their families, denied most of all of hope–freaked out. Some hung themselves. Others went on hunger strike. The military’s response? Suicide, they said, was a diabolically clever act of “asymmetrical warfare.” They strapped the hunger strikers into special chairs, pried open their jaws and jammed feeding tubes down their throats so roughly that they vomited blood.

Most of this kind of fun, the government claims, no longer happens at Club Gitmo. But there’s no way to verify that. Reporters and human rights groups are denied access to the facility and its misérables. Wherever there’s a secret, there’s something to hide. Like the detainees, Guantánamo should be presumed guilty until it is proven innocent.

Life at Guantánamo has entered a weird second phase. Originally dedicated to the forceful extraction of information about impending terrorist attacks, prisoner interrogations now torture inmates in order to obtain information on activities within the camp itself. “The primary focus is the safety of the detainees as well as the detainee guard force, and that’s why we have this intelligence activity,” said the camp’s commander, Navy Rear Admiral David Thomas in August. In other words, the circumstances of the prisoners’ incarceration necessitate further incarceration.

Kafka would have loved it. We keep them in Gitmo, not to keep us safe, but to keep Gitmo itself safe.

As anyone who has spent time behind bars will attest, uncertainty is worse than abuse. Bruises heal; urine dries. Not knowing whether you will ever again be free to walk down a street, sit in a café or hug your children is constant torment. You deaden your emotions in order to survive, wondering whether you’ll ever be able to get them back.

Perhaps the most sinister aspect of America’s premier gulag, however, is its use and abuse of military and civilian courts to jerk around inmates and their families. The quasi-judicial system set up to process the detainees is itself a paragon of psychological torture characterized by sadistic glee and aggressive indifference.

There is, of course, the case of the Uyghurs, Muslims who live in China’s far west Xinjiang province, which is part of Central Asia. I was one of the first American commentators to champion their cause. Guantánamo’s Uyghurs are members of the East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETIM), encouraged by U.S.-financed Radio Free Asia to rise up against Chinese occupation. They obtained weapons training at camps in neighboring Afghanistan. After 9/11, however, China threatened to use its U.N. security council veto to stop the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan unless the Bush Administration threw its pet Uyghurs under the bus.

The U.S. promptly reversed its policy, not only declaring ETIM an officially-designated “terrorist organization,” but agreeing to dispatch its leaders to Guantánamo. Bush even invited officers from China’s Ministry of State Security to interrogate the Uyghurs at Gitmo, softening them up with torture before the Chinese arrived.

The Uyghur prisoners cooperated with interrogators. The Pentagon concluded they weren’t anti-American. “[The Uyghurs] were transferred to Guantánamo more than six years ago and were cleared for release in 2004,” according to Newsweek.

Proven innocent, the U.S. has kept them at Gitmo for the last four years. They can’t go back to China. Why? “The U.S. government credibly feared they would be tortured.” Well, they would know.

Except for Albania, which agreed to take five Uyghurs in 2006, other countries don’t want to validate Guantánamo by accepting those released through its illegal military tribunal system. “The Bush Administration has conceded that none of the Uyghurs is an enemy combatant,” reports Newsweek. A federal judge ruled that 17 Uyghur detainees be freed from Gitmo and brought to the United States. And that should have been that.

But when it comes to Gitmo, that is never that.

Government lawyers persuaded an appeals court to stay the ruling, arguing that the 17 Uyghurs are dangerous. Get this–they’re dangerous to America because, the Justice Department argues in court documents, the Uyghurs “were detained for six years by the country [the U.S.] to which the district court has ordered them brought.” They may not have hated America before–but they might now.

This week the Pentagon decided not to pursue charges against five other Gitmo prisoners. Apparently government prosecutors were afraid that the trials–even those conducted by the military’s kangaroo courts–would publicize how people are treated at America’s Devil’s Island. “They have been cornered into doing this to avoid admitting torture,” said Claire Algar, executive director of the legal group Reprieve.

So the lucky five go free, right? Wrong. “There are no plans to free any of the men, and the military said it could reinstate charges later,” writes the Associated Press.

Bush, it came out recently, “never considered proposals” to close Gitmo. Both Obama and McCain say they want to shut it down, but neither has said when. Their reticence stems from the mentality expressed by a Bush Administration official: “The new president will gnash his teeth and beat his head against the wall when he realizes how complicated it is to close Guantánamo.”

There is nothing complicated about it. Gitmo is useless. It’s evil. It–and the secret detentions at Bagram, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere–have destroyed America’s reputation far too long.


EARLY RELEASE: Cartoon for October 23, 2008

October 21, 2008

I’m releasing Thursday’s cartoon early because of its newsworthiness and because my syndicate’s online division has decided not to release it on its official website.

I know that some readers, particularly supporters of John McCain, will be offended by my referencing of a classic 1931 Life magazine photo of an Indiana lynching which shocked the nation. However, I believe it is fair to call McCain, Palin and their campaign for their dangerous tolerance of intolerance among some of their supporters.

At a number of their campaign rallies, attendees have shouted comments like “kill him!” and “terrorist!” and “treason!” about Barack Obama. Now, as my readers know, I have been sharply critical of Obama and will continue to criticize him and his policies as I see fit in the future. Furthermore, I am well aware that crazy people show up anywhere and everywhere, and that the McCain-Palin campaign is not responsible for the random hateful comments of some of their supporters.

It is shocking, however, that neither candidate is willing to tell racists that their support—and attendance at rallies—is not wanted. When McCain, and especially Palin and their surrogates, hear these comments, they are silent. This amounts to tacit consent. When they appear on television to answer questions about hate speech at their rallies, both of them deflect. They do not directly confront the issue by saying, as they should have said at their rallies: “Bigots and racists are not welcome in our campaign or the Republican Party. We do not want their votes or their support.”

Instead, at the third presidential debate, McCain responded to Obama:

Let me just say categorically I’m proud of the people that come to our rallies. Whenever you get a large rally of 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 people, you’re going to have some fringe people. You know that. I’ve and we’ve always said that that’s not appropriate.

But to somehow say that group of young women who said “Military wives for McCain” are somehow saying anything derogatory about you, but anything—and those veterans that wear those hats that say “World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq,” I’m not going to stand for people saying that the people that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women that are in this nation and they’re great citizens.

And I’m not going to stand for somebody saying that because someone yelled something at a rally—there’s a lot of things that have been yelled at your rallies, Senator Obama, that I’m not happy about either.

In fact, some T-shirts that are very unacceptable.

In other words, says McCain, calling racists to account is tantamount to insulting war veterans. And he dares to compare his supporters’ calls—calls he didn’t speak out against at the time–for Obama’s assassination to T-shirts (he didn’t say what he didn’t like about the shirts).

I was only three months old on November 22, 1963, but I am reminded of historical accounts of the hateful atmosphere that had poisoned Dallas before the assassination of John F. Kennedy. McCain and Palin are playing with fire. I am calling them out for their drive to win at any cost—including that of our national soul.

Before releasing this cartoon, I searched archives of editorial cartoons to see if anyone else had done anything else similar. Apparently, no one else has. I don’t know why—the idea seemed obvious to me. And it needs to be said.

Now let’s see how many newspapers have the guts to print this.

October 2, 2008

Cartoon for October 2

McCain doesn’t only have an economic plan. He’s leading the way to recovery!

September 22, 2008

Cartoon for September 22

If I were John McCain, I wouldn’t turn my back on my extremely ambitious running mate.

September 20, 2008

Cartoon for September 20

Just wait…a few years from now, we’ll look back at George W. Bush and wonder why we were so hard on him.

September 18, 2008

Cartoon for September 18

I’ve heard enough guys say they wanted to do Sarah Palin to justify this cartoon.

September 15, 2008

McCain on Meds?: Let’s Find Out

In May the McCain campaign revealed that the Republican presidential candidate is taking a variety of medications. This isn’t surprising; many elderly Americans do.

But there’s definitely more than eight years separating 2000’s Straight Talk Express–the glad-handing, shoot-from-the-hip aging flyboy who liked to shoot the shit with the journos in the back of the bus–and today’s carefully calibrated, creepy-smiling control freak. And I think I know what that something is: antidepressants.

Zoloft? Prozac? Who knows? What’s obvious is that McCain’s personality has flattened. Anyone who knows someone who has gone on antidepressants knows what I’m talking about.

If McCain is taking one of these meds, which are known for serious psychological side effects in some people, the American people deserve to know now. Toward that end, I renew my offer to contribute $10,000 to McCain’s presidential campaign (the previous offer expired when he and his toadies were unable to back up his assertion that the U.S. had been created as a Christian nation). All he has to do is take a comprehensive drug test administered by a qualified neutral party in order to determine what, if anything, he is on. In order to qualify for the $10,000 said test should be administered, and its results released, prior to October 1, 2008.

Maybe spending eight years licking Bush’s bunghole has transformed the quick-witted, hot-tempered McCain of 2000 into the Stepford Wives robot before us today. But $10,000 says it’s more than that.

September 15, 2008

Cartoon for September 15

John McCain, who has served in the Senate for decades, pledges to take on entrenched special interests.

He already shows signs of senility. Is he also bipolar?