Ted Rall

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Sticks and Stones on the High Seas

June 3, 2010 by  


Activists Finally Fight Back—And Win

They call themselves activists. But leftist activists rarely do anything. They march. They chant. They whine.

Then they go home, satisfied that they’ve said their piece without taking a personal risk.

Oppressive governments love such phony “activists.” Not only can they carry on as usual, they point to the toothless demonstrators as evidence that they’re not so bad. Each side legitimizes the other.

Since the ’70s, passive resistance has become a religion of sorts among American “activists.” The exceptions, such as 1999’s Battle of Seattle between Seattle riot cops and anti-WTO protesters, have been notable—not least because they mark the few times the left has won.

So when Israel dispatched a group of armed commandos to seize a flotilla of Turkish ships attempting to break its blockade of the besieged Gaza Strip, they had every reason to expect the usual pathetic pacifist response: rolling over and playing dead.

“We prepared for an operation involving light resistance,” an Israeli navy officer told The Jerusalem Post about the clash on the Mavi Marmara, the biggest ship. “We anticipated that the soldiers would get spat at and maybe slapped. We did not expect that the soldiers would be met by a mob armed with bats, knives and metal pipes.

“We thought there would be verbal and passive violence, but not to the level we encountered,” the Naval officer continued. “Everyone who came toward us wanted to kill us.”

Imagine that.

For the record, the Turkish activists (no quotes, as they’re worthy of the name) claim the Israelis opened fire first. Nilufer Cetin, wife of the Navi Marmara’s engineer, recalled: “The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn’t stop these warnings turned into an attack,” she said.

IDF forces shot and killed nine passengers in the melée. Up to 60 passengers and 10 IDF soldiers were injured.

Whether the Turks defended themselves or attacked first, no one will ever know. Nevertheless, their willingness to use violence is notable. Here were lefties with guts!

This naturally came as a shock to government officials in Israel and its allies, not to mention the media outlets they control. Government thugs view violence as their exclusive purview. They’re free to bomb and torture and blockade and starve and otherwise oppress hundreds of millions of innocents. Let one of their victims fight back, however, and they’re stunned.

Officials responded to the Navi Marmara incident like any bully who finally gets the bloody nose he deserves.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon accused the convoy of a “premeditated and outrageous provocation” and described the flotilla as an “armada of hate.”

“The provocation was as cynical as it was carefully orchestrated,” complained Ralph Peters in the right-wing New York Post.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the IDF, said: “They chose to use violence. They had stocks different kinds of sticks, of knives, of metal objects. They took two pistols from our navy SEALs. They used the entire magazines on these pistols. They wounded our soldiers.”

Interesting perspective. In the official narrative heavily-armed commandos who take over a ship on international waters are not “choosing to use violence.” Only individuals forced to resort to sticks and knives have “chosen” violence over the path of peace. As for the gunplay, the SEALS might have avoided getting shot had they not brought guns with them in the first place. Or if they’d stayed home.

It goes without saying that the friends and families of the nine who died will never get over what happened. But they can take some comfort in the fact that they died for a noble cause: ending the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, home to 1.5 million stateless Palestinians whose lives have been devastated by the resulting economic collapse. Nine lives have been lost; thousands will be saved when the blockade ends.

A U.N. fact-finding mission recently concluded that Israel’s blockade of Gaza should be prosecuted as a war crime at the International Criminal Court if it continues through September: “Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed,” wrote South African Judge Richard Goldstone, head of the panel.

Was violence justified against the Israelis, even in self-defense? Maybe yes, maybe no. The point is: it worked. Had the six hundred-plus Turkish activists acted like American lefties, allowing themselves to be led off like sheep to be arrested, processed and deported, the blockage of Gaza—and the resulting humanitarian crisis—would have continued without an end in sight.

Instead—because of those pipes and axes and knives—the embargo is doomed. Israel finally went too far. The activists finally went far enough.

(Ted Rall is the author of the upcoming “The Anti-American Manifesto,” to be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL


NBM

NBM in August: The Broadcast

June 2, 2010 by  


Our main release this month is an intense psychological thriller with Orson Welles’ famous radio dramatization of The War of the Worlds as background:

THE BROADCAST
Eric Hobbs • Noel Tuazon
On the day of the historic broadcast of The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles which triggered panic in many places it sounded so real, a family in the countryside fears for its life and also has to deal with strangers and neighbors coming in for help. The tension brings to the surface long suppressed emotions and conflicts and a violent reckoning in a dark stormy night.
6×9, 180pp., B&W, trade pb.: $13.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-590-0

See previews. You might remember Noel Tuazon from ‘Elk’s Run’ published by Villard.

Also from Eurotica:

SIZZLE #47
Banana Games makes its long-awaited return, by Christian Zanier. This star-studded issue also has Kevin Taylor’s Girl, Peanut Butter, Kristina Queen of Vampires, and Omaha the Cat Dancer!
Quarterly magazine, 81/2 x 11, 64pp., b&w: $5.95

AND NOTE: we’ve got all the rest of the year’s books posted up now, so you can see all of the goodies we’ve got planned for 2009!

——————————————————————–

Meantime, over at Papercutz, we’re busy launching Smurfs graphic novels! What most people don’t realize is that it all started with these classic comics by a Belgian giant, Peyo. We’ve got a $1 comic book coming to stores in July as well as the San Diego comic-con and the books start coming out in earnest in August/September.

You may have heard: a mixed live action/animated movie is in principal photography with Sony/Columbia to come out in August of 2011…

All of this being solicited at your comic bookstore now or you can order from us online right here.


NBM

Brooke (Mr. Easter) Allen interviewed

June 1, 2010 by  


On Jazma online:

http://forums.jazmaonline.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1887


Ted Rall

Comic Book Bin on NBM

June 1, 2010 by  


There’s a good overview of my publisher at Comic Book Bin today:

NBM also ventures in prose and fiction books. They’ve supported cartoonist Ted Rall, while most of America called him a traitor for his criticism of former President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Nowadays, almost a decade later, it’s easy to see the mistakes that administration did. But it took more guts to stand behind a maverick cartoonist back then. One of my favourite NBM book is by Ted Rall and is called the Silk Road to Ruin. It’s a perfect book if you’re looking to learn about the central Eurasian republics that used to be part of the Soviet Union. Name me one comic book publisher that publishes books that can be used in the classroom as text books by academics and university students not in a literary survey function?

Indeed, NBM has always taken chances, especially with me.


Ted Rall

TCJ Reviews “Year of Loving Dangerously”

May 31, 2010 by  


History has been made! The Comics Journal has just given me my first ever positive review. Here’s a peek:

At first blush, I was tempted to think the book lacks thematic unity, a literary value much fancied by critics. If you wanted to write — to create — a story about sex as a means of survival, you might entitle the story The Year of Loving Dangerously. But you wouldn’t include the balloon bombing or road trip episodes: They have nothing to do with sex as a survival technique. But those two seeming extraneous events do pertain to unmitigated candor and to Rall’s conviction that autobiography should not spare its subject, its author. One must include everything, warts (so to speak) and all. And so Rall includes the wart plus evidence of his youthful stupidity. The book’s unity, then, is as exemplar of its genre.

Is this book worth reading? Yes, assuredly. Rall’s is an engaging story, gripping and suspenseful. His predicament is bleak; his solution is startlingly unconventional but, given the circumstances, entirely logical. And his deployment of the resources of his medium is exemplary. Rall may think of the book as “a metaphor for the insecurity of capitalism,” but his readers are likely to think of it as a metaphor for how to survive by the exercise of human ingenuity untrammeled by the niceties of polite society.


Ted Rall

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Obama’s Katrina

May 27, 2010 by  


<i>The President Can’t Lead. So He Should Quit.</i>

British Petroleum isn’t dithering. Yes, it’s been five weeks since the most devastating oil spill in U.S. history. But it’s probably impossible to fix.

The company’s execs just look calm. Deep inside, they’re roiling with anguish. Keeping it low-key is how Brits roll. Especially when they’ve got something to hide.

Talk about something to hide. Talk about tacky: a new BP document has come to light. It is a smoking gun: to save a few bucks BP executives decided to go with a cheaper, riskier well casing at its doomed Deepwater Horizon platform—one without a redundant safety system that might have prevented the explosion and subsequent spill. Greg McCormack, director of the Petroleum Extension Service at the University of Texas at Austin told The New York Times that BP’s choice was “without a doubt a riskier way to go.”

So here we are. And millions of fish and dolphins and pelicans aren’t.

Why hasn’t President Obama acted like one—a president, that is? Why hasn’t he seized BP’s assets? Obama’s torturers at Gitmo and Bagram are winding up 15-year-old Taliban teenagers and taxi drivers. Why aren’t BP’s execs learning the finer points of electrodes and nipple clamps?

The damage caused by BP’s negligence is incalculable. Experts who talked to National Geographic magazine say the pressure at 5,000 feet below sea level is so high that the well under BP’s doomed Deepwater Horizon platform will gush oil until it bleeds out. That could take years.

“You’re talking about a reservoir that could have tens of millions of barrels in it,” said David Rensink, incoming president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

“We don’t have any idea how to stop this,” said Matthew Simmons, retired chair of the energy-industry investment banking firm Simmons & Company International. Ideas like jamming the leaking pipe with golf balls and other debris are a “joke,” he added.

By the way, a Purdue engineering professor called before Congress now estimates the flow rate at 95,000 barrels, or 4 million gallons, of crude oil a day—20 times the company’s official claim. If oil continues to contaminate the Gulf at that rate, by the end of July this BP spill will become the worst oil disaster ever. The previous record was set by Iraq in 1991, which deliberately dumped 336 million gallons into the Persian Gulf to slow down U.S. invasion forces during the Gulf War. Twelve years later, almost all of the Saudi coastline, including its marshes and mudflats, was devoid of life.

“It was amazing to stand there and look across what used to be a [Saudi] salt marsh and it was all dead—not even a live crab,” Miles Hayes, co-founder of the consulting firm Research Planning, Inc. and one of those who studied the spill’s aftermath, recalled.

Lovely.

So this is Obama’s Katrina. Or his second: he still hasn’t done much to help those who lost their jobs or to create new ones. Technically, he also inherited Bush’s Katrina—he hasn’t helped the 2005 flood victims on the Gulf Coast either.

What’s different this time is that people are pissed. Not fake pissed, like the Tea Partiers who think he’s a socialist (now wouldn’t that be nice!) because of his lame healthcare package. They’re actually, seriously, this-time-we-mean-it pissed. Because, get-the-guvmint-outta-my-life rhetoric aside, Americans expect their government to do something when something this big and this stupid happens. They have that right. Taxes ought to accomplish something other than killing Iraqis and Afghans.

So where is Obama?

Stuck changing planes on his way to Clueistan, evidently.

“We will not rest until this well is shut, the environment is repaired and this job is complete,” Obama told workers at Solyndra Inc., a solar panel manufacturer near San Francisco. If the experts are right that 12 years won’t make a dent in a spill this size, Barack’s going to be a busy guy after he retires.

“The spill in the Gulf, which is heartbreaking, only underscores the necessity of seeking alternative fuel sources,” he argued.

Voilà! That’s the extent of Obama’s response to Deepsix Horizon: talking about alternative energy.

Reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and transitioning to solar, wind and other clean sources of energy is long overdue. But that would/will take decades. We don’t have years. To update Keynes in an age of global warming and mass species extinctions: In the short run, we are all dead. We need radical cuts in energy consumption to slow down the rate of acceleration of global warming: at least 75 percent, according to most climatologists. Although 100 percent may not be enough.

Not that Obama is even trying. His new 2012 budget calls for a mere $6 billion increase—the same amount we spend to kill Iraqis and Afghans for three weeks—for subsidies to companies trying to develop greener fuels. From 2002 to 2008, while gas prices and profits were skyrocketing, Big Oil received $72 billion in your taxdollars. A preemptive bailout, I assume.

Obama’s efforts on automobile fuel efficiency have been equally lackluster. He has signed a law requiring cars and light trucks to get at least 34 miles per gallon by the year 2016. By 2016, industry analysts say, cars would have been getting 40 mpg anyway.

If Obama were half as hopey changey as he claimed during the campaign, BP’s North American operations would now be U.S. government property, nationalized in order to compensate the fishermen and other injured parties in the Gulf. If he had an ounce of toughness he would require that every car sold in the U.S. beginning in 2011 be a hybrid. Sales of SUVs and light trucks would be banned; existing models would have to be retired from U.S. roadways within two years. All offshore drilling would be prohibited. (Yes, gas prices would rise: about three to four cents a gallon over the next ten to fifteen years, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Whatever.)

He could do other things. The presence of U.S. troops in Iraq caused a huge leap in oil prices. Bring them home. Solar panels should be mass produced by government-owned and operated factories and distributed at federally subsidized prices to homeowners and developers. The wind power and geothermal industries could be radically expanded with the two billion dollars a week we’d save by ending the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Obama can’t lead. He’s in the pocket of Big Oil. In fact, he’s making things worse: even after the spill began in the Gulf, his Department of Energy was still issuing new offshore drilling permits!

Resign, Mr. President. You won’t be missed.

(Ted Rall is the author of the upcoming “The Anti-American Manifesto,” to be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL


Ted Rall

Afghanistan Update

May 26, 2010 by  


I’m leaving for Afghanistan the second week of August. I have three goals:

1. Go to Taloqan in Takhar Province, to revisit the place where I spent much of the fall of 2001 during the battle of Kunduz. I’ll try to track down my fixer and his family to see how they’re doing (and give them some money) and see how things have changed during the last nine years of America’s longest war. Taloqan has changed hands several times recently between forces loyal to the central government and the Taliban.

2. Visit the site of the construction of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline project between Turkmenistan and Pakistan. This is supposed to be north of Herat. TAP is one of the most underreported stories of the last decade.

3. Travel to the remote western deserts near the Iranian border where U.S. forces and reporters rarely venture or report from. I will stay with local families to see how life is going for them.

And of course I’ll be working on a book for Farrar, Strauss & Giroux’s Hill & Wang imprint.

I will also be filing a daily cartoon blog about my observations and experiences along the way.

We’ll be “in country” one month—that’s the limit set by most media outlets for reporters covering rural Afghanistan, and with good reason. It’s a hard place to travel, not just from a security standpoint but also because of the harsh climate and poor food and lodging, not to mention lack of basic infrastructure (running water and electricity).

You can follow our route on the attached map. We’ll fly into Dushanbe, Tajikistan, obtain permission from the Tajik Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enter the restricted 100-kilometer zone along the southern border with Afghanistan, then drive overland to Taloqan, and head west and then south before crossing the border into Iran.

We’ve purchased our Aeroflot flights to Dubai, ongoing via the tiny Somon Air (two planes!) to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. So we’re applying for visas from Tajikistan. We have also applied for media visas for Iran. Since we’ll end up in western Afghanistan, it makes sense to drive to Teheran and catch a flight to Europe from there. Hopefully we’ll be able to get these without any problem, but we won’t know for 25 days, according to the Iranian Interest Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. We’re also applying for Turkmen visas to allow for the possibility that we can’t exit through Iran.

Ah, yes. “We”?

Going along will be two of America’s most gifted cartoonists, Matt Bors and Steven Cloud. Matt Bors (www.mattbors.com), is a brilliant editorial cartoonist I signed for syndication at United Feature Syndicate. Steven Cloud (www.stevencloud.com) is currently on hiatus from his amazing “Boy on a Stick and Slither” webcomic; hopefully, he will start doing cartoons again in the near future. This will be Matt’s first trip outside the United States. Hell-o, diarrhea! Steven caught the Central Asian travel bug last year when he drove a car in a charity rally from eastern Europe to Mongolia via, among other places, Kazakhstan and Russia.

More updates when there’s something to say. Wish us luck!


Rick Geary

Axe-Man

May 20, 2010 by  


“The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans,” one of the nation most mysterious serial killers, gets the full treatment in my newest graphic novel, due out this summer. Here is a preview in the form of a four-page episode.

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NBM

The complete Trondheim

May 19, 2010 by  


A great overview presentation of Lewis Trondheim at Comic Book Resources’ Robot 6 site. An excellent way to get to know more about this prolific genius.


NBM

Mr. Easter lays beautiful eggs

May 19, 2010 by  


 

Publishers Weekly on A Home for Mr. Easter by Brooke A. Allen:

“Halfway between Precious and The Incredible Hulk, obese urban teen Tesana is the unlikely hero of this delightful debut book from Allen. Allen’s unrefined black and white line art is similar to Nate Powell’s, but her subject matter is refreshingly light. The characters rush through a very satisfying one volume adventure that hits all the right notes and leaves no threads unresolved, like a well-written screenplay. Mr. Easter signals Allen as a new artist to follow.”

“By the time I was done I had a big smile on my face. Allen’s story has heart, and her art is fantastic. As a first graphic novel, A Home for Mr. Easter is an impressive debut. I definitely look forward to seeing what she has up her sleeves next.”

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