Ted Rall

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Tea Party: Why the Right Doesn’t Get It

April 22, 2010 by  


Larry Elder, a black conservative columnist and Tea Party speaker, has a piece out this week titled “Tea Party: Why the Left Doesn’t Get It.”

Setting aside the question of why any African-American would vote Republican (did any Jews vote for the Nazis?), Elder’s column unintentionally reveals the intellectual inconsistency of the Tea Party.

For liberals the Ur question about the Tea Party concerns the timing of its origin: February 2009. Where, they ask, were these self-declared deficit hawks when Bush and his Republican Congress turned Clinton’s budget surplus into record deficits? Where were these advocates of small government when Bush hired the biggest roster of federal employees in history and created a new federal department—the Department of Homeland Security—that became a national laughingstock due to its incompetence? Where were these Constitutional purists when Bush suspended habeas corpus, built concentration camps and signed off on torture?

“As to Bush’s non-defense, non-homeland security domestic spending, [right-wing] people did complain—lots of them and frequently,” Elder points out.

And he’s right. There was grumbling. I remember.

But there weren’t anti-Bush rallies, much less scary guys showing up at presidential appearances brandishing automatic weapons. Under Bush, of course, said scary guys would have been declared “enemy combatants” and tortured into psychosis like Jose Padilla.

“Better late than never,” Elder lamely retorts.

Another right-wing columnist, Jonah Goldberg, goes so far as to call the Tea Party “a delayed Bush backlash.”

But 57 percent of Tea Partiers say they like Bush. Huh.

On most of the policies Tea Partiers claim to deplore—deficit spending, expansive government, the bank bailouts—Obama is identical to Bush. The only difference between the two men is the color of their skin. Which makes lefties think anti-Obama racism is the Tea Party’s true driving force.

As Paul Butler wrote in the New York Times: “No student of American history would be surprised to learn that when the United States elects its first non-white president, a strong anti-government movement rises up.”

“Slanderous hogwash,” Goldberg calls the charge that the Tea Party is motivated by racism.

If not racism, then what?

Stupidity. Or at least intellectual dishonesty.

Elder’s qualifier that righties didn’t like “Bush’s non-defense, non-homeland security domestic spending” is revealing. Bush’s two wars and tax cuts for the wealthy will account for a staggering 70 percent of the federal deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. (Obama’s bailouts will cost five percent.)

Either you’re against deficits, or you’re not. Making an exception for optional military spending—neither the Afghan nor the Iraq war was necessary—is like saying you adore sharks except for all the sharp teeth.

My leftie friends find the Tea Party frustrating. They applaud Tea Partiers’ distrust of government, their willingness to take to the streets to express their grievances. If only the Left had their energy!

Progressives also find much to like in Tea Partiers’ calls for a return to core values embodied by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But only in theory.

The Tea Party’s selective Chinese-menu style approach to constitutional purity and small government is appalling. They’re loud and proud when it comes to the right to own guns, yet oppose or remain silent when it comes to the right of gays to sleep with whomever they want-and marry him. They decry government intrusion in the form of healthcare reform, but have nothing to say about the fact that the NSA is listening to their phone calls and reading their email. They complain about illegal immigrants but not about the corporations that hire them. And what should be more terrifying to opponents of big guvmint than reserving the right—as Bush did and Obama does—to assassinate American citizens just for fun? (The Tea Party is silent on this too.)

If the Tea Party is to emerge as a potent force in American politics, it will need to develop a coherent platform with broad appeal across class, party and racial lines. An appeal to fiscal sanity, constitutional freedoms and a government that keeps out of our bedrooms could form the foundation of a new majority. Otherwise, the Tea Party will be remembered as the latest incarnation of the nativist white wing of the GOP (c.f. “angry white males” circa 1995).

(Ted Rall is working on a radical political manifesto for publication this fall. His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL


NBM

The next big thing in indie comics

April 20, 2010 by  


That’s what Gutter Geek on The Comics Journal site says of Brooke Allen and her A Home for Mr. Easter:

“Allen is a pitch-perfect storyteller with total control over the page.  To call Allen’s art fluid would be like announcing that water is wet.
Imagine that Jack Kirby created Little Lotta for Harvey Comics in 1953, and she was a friendly, kind-hearted and always ready to use her tremendous strength for what she deemed as good.
Bravo to the folks at SCAD for nurturing this sequential force of nature, and kudos to NBM for recognizing a young talent like Brooke A. Allen and publishing her work. I think she may be the next big thing in indie comics.”

Woah! Tell us something we don’t know.

Another review:

Andrew Wheeler in his review blog Antick Musings (sorry, too lazy to type out the entire title of this blog):

“A Home for Mr. Easter is somewhat rough in spots, and its plot is mostly of the one-damn-thing-after-another school. But it has an undeniable electricity, from Allen’s energetic and appealing lines to her slangy, funny dialogue to that deeply weird plot that nevertheless comes across as utterly believable. It’s the story of one girl and her rabbit, and the vast hordes that try to stop them. It’s quick and funny and exciting and just plain good comics. I can’t wait to see what she does for Christmas!”


NBM

Comics Creators: as you consider the Harvey Awards noms

April 19, 2010 by  


… We ask you to keep in mind what we published in 2009, most particularly:

The Big Khan
The Year of Loving Dangerously
Famous Players
But also: Joe & Azat, Things Undone, the Dungeon series, Little Nothings, Mijeong, Vatican Hustle, Graylight. We had not much luck with the Eisners, maybe the Harveys? If you’re a comics creator, get your ballot to nominate. Deadline is this Friday!


NBM

On Odd Hours…

April 15, 2010 by  


“Liberge’s illustrations are very strong.  Detailed and moody, each page swirls with dark colors, and Liberge’s strong character work enables readers to immediately emphasize with Bastien and those around him.”
Newsarama

“One of the strangest yet most haunting novels I have been privileged to read.”

Grasping for the Wind

Adding another review (4/19) which appears on both Omnivoriacious And Shelfari:

“Perhaps the only thing standing between Liberge and true disbelief is his amazing artwork, which renders the museum and its contents in a dazzling light. Statuary and paintings that you may even have seen in the Louvre, which you may take for granted, become startlingly new due to Liberge’s approach.
I also applaud this willingness to look strange. This is a very dark series, and it speaks volumes that the Louvre’s trustees and administrators seem to revel in allowing others to create odd myths about the museum.”

Alas, though, many reviewers, such as Andrew Wheeler at Antick Musings or Capt. Comics at Scripps News, are not shining to Bastien, the main deaf character, because of his surly behavior. But the man does have a legitimate chip on his shoulder: living as a deaf person in a society that doesn’t understand him, and it is this rebel in him, not always likable, that makes him the right candidate for ‘hearing’ the works of art’s complaint, as it were…


Ted Rall

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Free the Troops

April 14, 2010 by  


The Case for Professionalizing the U.S. Military

The number of new U.S. Army recruits who are high-school dropouts soared during the Bush years, peaking at 29.3 percent in 2007. The economic collapse made life easier for military recruiters. “Only” 17 percent of soldiers who joined in 2008 failed to graduate from high school. But high unemployment hasn’t resulted in enough new high-quality soldiers and sailors.

Recruit quality is important. Uneducated or incapable soldiers are less likely to do well operating high-tech equipment. And they’re more likely to do stupid things, like beating up, robbing and raping civilians in U.S.-occupied territories.

The U.S. military is bigger than ever. But it’s becoming dumber. It’s also getting meaner: in 2008 one in five recruits received a “morals waiver” because they had a criminal record, including felonies. “The main reason for the decline in standards is the war in Iraq and its onerous ‘operations tempo’—soldiers going back for third and fourth tours of duty, with no end in sight,” reported Slate’s Fred Kaplan in 2008.

As if that weren’t bad enough, America’s armed services are losing their smartest officers faster than ever. After graduating from West Point, cadets must serve five years. More high-caliber officers are choosing not to reenlist than at any time since the Vietnam War: 44 percent in 2006, up from 18 percent in 2003. Some analysts blame the endless wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.

There isn’t much glory in shooting up buses and taxis at checkpoints in the hot dust of Central Asia and the Middle East. And it doesn’t help that, yellow-ribbon magnets aside, the United States of America doesn’t give a damn about its veterans. Whereas other countries treat their warriors like heroes, providing them with free housing and other benefits, the U.S. uses up and discards them like tissue paper. “Veterans make up almost a quarter of the homeless population in the United States,” reports CNN. “The government says there are as many as 200,000 homeless veterans; the majority served in the Vietnam War. Some served in Korea or even World War II. About 2,000 served in Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Higher salaries would increase the military’s applicant pool and thus the quality and quantity of enlistees. But no one ever talks about the most obvious way to professionalize the U.S. military: treat servicemen and servicewomen like professionals.

Consider my experience.

Motivated by curiosity, contrarian rebellion and the loss of my full scholarship due to the Reagan budget cuts, I went down to my local Army recruiting station during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college. I thought perhaps there was some way to finance the remainder of my education by doing military service. The recruiter set up an appointment for me to take an aptitude test.

Then the phone calls began. They were excited. Apparently I had gotten a perfect score. This didn’t happen often.

Which didn’t surprise me. Two things leapt out at me when I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. First: it was appallingly easy. I was an AP student; I hadn’t seen material so simple since elementary school. Second: the other guys taking the test were dolts. Where did they find such losers? Even my school’s shop classes didn’t feature such a sad collection of yahoos, misfits and morons.

Allowing for the obvious seduce-and-destroy tactics of Army recruiters, I did believe that they wanted me more than the average schlub who took the ASVAB. I was a straight-A student. All my test scores were in the top percentile, including a perfect score on the math SAT. I’d gotten into Columbia University’s engineering program. I knew I was a catch.

I went in to talk.

One recruiter handed me a brochure. One of the photos showed a German village. “You’ll probably be sent to Germany,” he said. Probably.

“Can you put that in writing?”

Of course not. You go where they send you. That’s the Army way. The military way. But look at it from the viewpoint of an 18-year-old. I had options! I could stay in school, take out student loans, earn a degree and get recruited by some deep-pocketed defense contractor. A deep-pocketed defense contractor that couldn’t make me pack up and ship off to, say, Afghanistan or Iraq. A deep-pocketed defense contractor whose job I could quit just like that.

I was drawing cartoons and doing reporting for my campus newspaper.

“You’ll almost certainly end up as a military journalist,” the other recruiter said. “Stars and Stripes. Would you like that?”

Well, shucks and golly gee, why not? I’d be another Bill Mauldin! “Will you guarantee that?” I asked.

Nope. You do what they assign you to do. Where they tell you to do it. For as long as they want you to do it.

“Can I put in a request for the kind of job I’d prefer?” I asked. “Or for where I’d like to be stationed?”

There was a pause. The two men glanced at each other. I noticed a smirk, ever so slight, on one of their faces. As I knew it would be, the answer was a lie:

“Well, um, sure, I suppose we could submit your preferences,” the liar-recruiter lied.

“No reason why not,” the other one chimed in.

They only had one real carrot: the college tuition program. I was looking at paying $13,000 a year in tuition and fees. They were offering $4,000 a year for one term of enlistment. Actually, “up to $4,000.”

If the military wants to attract smart young men and women like I used to be, with high test scores and clean criminal records, they’re going to have to start treating recruits like employees, not slaves or indentured servants. Fix enlistment terms, abolish both the current “stop-loss” rule scheduled to end next year and commit never to start a new one. Let people choose their jobs. (They can request one now. That’s not enough.) Let people decide where they want to serve. If a brilliant recruit doesn’t want to go to Afghanistan, why not let her serve elsewhere? The intelligent, independent thinkers a 21st century military needs demand and deserve the same respect they would enjoy in the private sector.

What about war? Shouldn’t a president be able to send troops wherever he wants, consent be damned?

No.

When the public supports a war, there are plenty of volunteers and enlisted men and women ready to go and fight. If there aren’t enough people willing to go, there isn’t enough political will to win. No one should be asked to fight—or die—for a cause they don’t believe in.

(Ted Rall is working on a radical political manifesto for publication this fall. His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL


NBM

2 of our Manhwa make top ten must-read.

April 12, 2010 by  


A post over at Manga critic that makes us blush. Around an exhibit of Manhwa and a list provided there of the best, this critic sought to make a revision and added two of our 3 manhwas to a top ten must-read list: Run Bon-Gu, Run and at the very top: Buja’s Diary.


NBM

Mr. Easter gets attention

April 12, 2010 by  


From ComicMix:

“Her black and white artwork is unique and comical. This is a terrific first effort and I look forward to more from Ms. Allen.”

Realms of Fantasy will soon have this review by Andrew Wheeler:

“[Tesana]’s soon being chased by a large and varied cast of ne’er-do-wells, stage magicians, animal rights activists, nasty pet-shop owners, and – scariest of all – her own mother. Throughout it all, Allen has a light touch with her dialogue and a great eye for caricature and grotesquerie in her pen. This isn’t a major graphic novel, but it’s a great romp and a wonderful debut.”


NBM

MoCCA: Mr. Easter a sell-out!

April 12, 2010 by  


Saturday was a busy day at the MoCCA Fest last weekend, definitely an upbeat event with many who came ready to buy.

One of the hits was the premiere of A Home for Mr. Easter, Brooke A. Allen‘s debut graphic novel. It sold out by mid-afternoon of that day. We had to go back to the office to scrounge for more copies for Sunday! The book was also a featured give-away at the MoCCA after-party which was packed that evening.

This wasn’t the only book that sold well. Greg Houston’s Vatican Hustle also sold out  that day which meant having to cancel his appearance on Sunday… Ted Rall sold all of his books and so did Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani of The Big Khan.

Nice to see such enthusiasm and also nice to see this show pulled off without any hitches we were aware of, in a venue with a comfortable temperature level (last year’s was sweltering).


NBM

MoCCA party saturday night

April 9, 2010 by  


Re-posting this from Brian Heater’s Cross Hatch:

“The always-amazing Paul Pope was kind enough to create the poster for the official MoCCA after party (designed by the folks at Dark Igloo). The party is this Saturday, after the festival. There will be live comics readings from the likes of R. Sikoryak and Michael Kupperman; DJ sets from Pope, Dean Haspiel, and myself; live rapping from one of Top Shelf’s Swedish artists; giveaways; and lots more.”

And we’ll add that the first 25 who show up, we’re giving away free copies of A Home for Mr. Easter!

See ya there.


NBM

Meet us and our artists at MoCCA this weekend

April 8, 2010 by  


The MoCCA Festival is coming right up, here in NYC this weekend of April 10 and we’ll be busy with quite a few of our authors appearing! Come and meet:

Brooke A. Allen premiering our brand new ‘A Home for Mr. Easter.’
Greg Houston
(Vatican Hustle)
Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani (The Big Khan, Brownsville)
Ted Rall (The Year of Loving Dangerously) but also with ‘A Silk Road to Ruin’ about Central Asia which is astir with Kyrgyztan’s revolution.

Here’s the schedule of their appearances:

Saturday

11-1: Brooke Allen & Ted Rall
1-2: Nicolas Cinquegrani
1-4: Greg Houston
2-4 Brooke Allen
4-5: Nicolas Cinquegrani
4-6 Ted Rall

Sunday:

11-1: Ted Rall
noon-1: Neil Kleid/Nicolas Cinquegrani
1-4: Brooke Allen
1-3: Greg Houston
3-5: Kleid/Cinquegrani
5-6: Houston

And of course, we’ll be bringing our latest graphic novels for sale besides these guys’!

Meet ya there.