Ted Rall

Please support Stephanie McMillan

January 20, 2010 by  


As I am trying to do with my proposal to return to Afghanistan, “Minimum Security” cartoonist Stephanie McMillan, who is one of the best political commentators around and certainly the best cartoonist devoted to environmental issues, is trying to raise money to fund her project, which is a children’s book co-authored with the environmental polemicist Derrick Jensen.

There are only 11 days left for her proposal, and she is only $928 away from the goal of $6000 for printing costs. Please consider kicking some cash her way. Click here!

Stephanie says: “I’m afraid of seeming tacky to ask for more support now when our focus on support is (and ought to be) on Haiti, but if I don’t make it to the end, then we don’t collect any of the pledges and will lose the $5072 pledged so far. So if you can, your contribution would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!”


Ted Rall

SYNDICATED COLUMN: David Dinkins Redux

January 19, 2010 by  


Obama Will Drag Down Democrats in November

I’m a bit late, but this is the time of year when pundits issue their predictions for the coming year. Normally I stay out of the political prognostication racket. It’s as thankless as writing for Arianna Huffington.

Like when I predicted that Howard Dean had the Democratic nomination all sewn up. Nicely played. It’ll be in my obit.

I dare not die.

Do readers remember that I was the only one to call the Afghanistan War lost back in 2001? That I was the first to note that Bush’s handling of Katrina would mark the beginning of the end for his presidency? That I was the first American pundit to criticize Bush after 9/11? Nope.

Anyway…

2010 could end up being a big year politically. So, with nothing more than my already wounded pride at stake (damn you, Howard Dean, you coulda been a contender!), I’m placing my bets.

First and foremost, the economy will continue to sour. There may be small, brief up-ticks from time to time. But the overall picture will keep trending downward. Credit markets won’t loosen. There will be more bankruptcies. More foreclosures. Higher unemployment, both official and real.

I’m a pessimist for one simple reason: none of the structural problems have been addressed. No one has done anything to put more money into the pockets of consumers or businesses. More bailouts and stimulus might help, but Congress won’t approve them after the last time, when bankers used the loot to buy new yachts. Not that they would have signed on during an election year anyway.

Things won’t get better because they can’t get better.

Obama’s job approval rating, which has already fallen faster than any president’s in the history of opinion polling, is tied to the unfolding fiscal apocalypse. Unless there’s another 9/11, his numbers will plunge toward the Dick Cheney Zone.

It’s fair, mostly. Obama could have done a lot to ease the economic pain: direct federal assistance to distressed homeowners, nationalize insolvent banks rather than bail them out, giant New Deal-style federal employment projects, all funded by immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, he kept Bush’s policies (and personnel). After the voters had rejected them.

Turns out we were wrong about Obama. He’s not smart. He’s not wise.

He’s just calm.

There’s also a racist component to Obama’s problems with the electorate. Obama is much like David Dinkins, elected in 1989 as New York City’s first black mayor. Dinkins, an affable Democrat, made the mistake of thinking that African-Americans were his political base. They weren’t. White liberals were.

At the time I overheard many variants of the following conversation: “New York has a lot of blacks. They’ve never had a mayor. Why not give them a chance to run the city?” Dinkins screwed up—not spectacularly—but he made a lot of boneheaded moves, such as ordering that white teachers be laid off first during the recession.

Hell hath no fury like a white person scorned.

“Never again,” I heard countless white liberals say after that. “They [blacks] had their chance.” White anger at Dinkins was out of proportion in response to his poor performance; if he’d been the same lousy mayor—but with white skin—he wouldn’t have been as reviled.

We’re seeing that now. Obama is a terrible president, just another Bill Clinton, one unwilling to seize the opportunities afforded by the global economic meltdown. White voter remorse, however, is a bitch. Americans hate Obama more than they would hate Clinton (for example)—because he’s black.

Racist buyer’s remorse will hurt Obama in the polls…and lead to Democratic losses in the midterm elections.

Conventional wisdom says that the Democrats will lose seats in the House and Senate in November. But no one is predicting a 1994 bloodbath. The GOP, goes the thinking, is too disorganized and fractured to wipe the floor with incumbent Dems. Also, writes Nancy Cohen in The Los Angeles Times, “what was most important about 1994 politically won’t make or break the 2010 elections. Congress changed hands in 1994 because the Christian right recruited new voters and white Southerners shifted en masse to the GOP.” That won’t happen in 2010, she says. “Neither evangelicals nor white Southerners can swing this year’s election, because they are the Republican Party.”

Generally, I agree with Cohen’s take. But I think Democratic losses will be more severe than the experts expect. Voters are being forced to flop back and forth between two parties they hate, but their contempt for the Democrats will be particularly toxic. Republicans don’t (and didn’t) promise anything more than the same old tax cuts for the rich.

Obama’s Democrats, on the other hand, ran as agents of hope and change. It wouldn’t be as bad for them if their party’s standard bearer hadn’t failed so spectacularly, managing to live down to John McCain’s denigrating portrayal of him as an empty suit.

Nothing pisses people off more than being promised the big and then failing to receive even the small.

(Ted Rall is the author, with Pablo G. Callejo, of the new graphic memoir “The Year of Loving Dangerously.” He is also the author of the Gen X manifesto “Revenge of the Latchkey Kids.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL


Ted Rall

Ted Rall on eBay

January 19, 2010 by  


I’m preparing to list two cool items on eBay. Both are musts for the crazy over-the-top Ted Rall fans…if there are such a thing.

The first is a highly limited (under 30 copies), numbered, copy of the rare hardback edition of “Wake Up, You’re Liberal!” (2004). I just found the box under a bunch of stuff in my studio and figured someone would probably want it.

The second is arcane but significant: My entire collection of music on cassette, which includes hundreds (probably about 300) of great punk, hardcore, rock, New Wave and synthpop tapes recorded from LP or CD between my high school years (1978-1981) and the late 1980s. Each cassette is carefully handlettered by yours truly and contains the music that influenced my cartoons when I was developing as a cartoonist. From a music collector’s viewpoint, there is a lot of music here that never made it to CD.


Naomi Nowak

how to

January 19, 2010 by  


Since my last entry was about abstract and out-there stuff like magic, I thought i’d be down to earth this time.

In comics, when you work with another writer (I haven’t done this much, but I know people who do) you get a detailed description of each page and each panel of whatever you’re working on. The nice thing about being the writer and illustrator all rolled into one is you don’t have to do that. I write the text in some sort of loose script form, sometimes as dialogue, sometimes more descriptive. In Graylight I had the whole thing divided into chapters so I would do one of those at a time. Starts out with a sketch:

sketch

I do these in blue pencil, on regular A4 / letter size paper. Blue saves you time consuming and dangerous erasing (ruins the paper if you’re not careful and i’m not really that careful). Normally I don’t use photo reference at all while sketching. I learned at a young age that copying is very, very bad and shameful and that is sort of sticking with me, even though I’ve completely changed my mind about it – I don’t think tracing is bad, whatever you do that looks good works. Tracing can look boring if you overdo it though or do it inexpertly because it ends up looking sterile and takes away a lot of the “style” element from the drawings, which is something i very much enjoy. I like to see how a person interprets an image, not how a camera interprets it (unless I’m looking at photos of course). Photographs have messy angles, too, that may work in a photo but not as a drawing. That said, for my next comic I may go a little more manga style and trace a building or two… Still considering. Depends on how much time I’ll have ;)

inky

Anyway, after sketching a couple of pages I ink them, first with a brush for the thicker, more flowing lines and then with increasingly tiny technical pens. I usually work on two at a time, just taping them up on my drawing table.

moar

After I have ten or so, I scan them all which takes a while so i usually watch stupid things on youtube in the meantime. I do my colouring in photoshop, normally using about two layers, one for background/larger elements and one for smaller stuff.

scary

Then i put speech bubbles on the whole thing.

talkin

The font is my own – I made it from scratch but since I’m no expert designer I loosely based it on one of my favourite fonts, Century Gothic, so round and lovely it almost looks pregnant. Century Gothic is also the font used on the cover.

This process repeated about 12 times, with many interruptions for activities that involve making money for food & rent and then finally, there it is:

dun!

I really like it standing there on the radiator. For some reason.

Thanks to Terry, you can now follow me on amazon author central! pretty neat, it syndicates both my entries here and the ones from my blog.


Ted Rall

New Animated Editorial Cartoon: “Obama Care Made EZ”

January 17, 2010 by  


It’s here: a new Animated Editorial Cartoon with David Essman sending up the stupidest aspect of Obama’s lame-ass healthcare fiasco: fining people who don’t buy private insurance. Enjoy!

ObamaCare Made EZ


Ted Rall

New Animated Editorial Cartoon Out Monday

January 16, 2010 by  


It’s been a while, but David Essman and I are back with a new animated editorial cartoon! “ObamaCare Made E-Z” sends up the more ridiculous aspects of this lame attempt at “reform.”

Probably Monday.ep23obamacaremadeez


Ted Rall

Send Me Back to Afghanistan!

January 14, 2010 by  


I’m trying to raise travel expenses to go back to Afghanistan via Kickstarter.

I need $25,000 (covers part of the travel, that’s all). So far, 41 backers have put up $3,355.

So I need $21,645 more.

My plan is to return to the same places I saw in 2001, now under control of the neo-Taliban, to see how life has changed since then. Also planning to spend time in the most remote part of the country, the southwest desert along the border with Iran, to visit people who never see the foreign press. Best of all for politically-minded people, construction of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline is now underway near Herat! I’ll go get the exclusive untold story of one of the main reasons we invaded Afghanistan–photos too, natch.

I’ll write a book about the experience, blog from in-country, and write columns and cartoons too.

If you’d like to support my project to get the untold story from the frontlines, click the link.


Ted Rall

Syndicated Column: “The Haitian Earthquake – Made in USA”

January 14, 2010 by  


As grim accounts of the earthquake in Haiti came in, the accounts in U.S.-controlled state media all carried the same descriptive sentence: “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere…”

Gee, I wonder how that happened?

You’d think Haiti would be loaded. After all, it made a lot of people rich.

How did Haiti get so poor? Despite a century of American colonialism, occupation, and propping up corrupt dictators? Even though the CIA staged coups d’état against every democratically elected president they ever had?

It’s an important question. An earthquake isn’t just an earthquake. The same 7.0 tremor hitting San Francisco wouldn’t kill nearly as many people as in Port-au-Prince.

“Looking at the pictures, essentially it looks as if (the buildings are of) breezeblock or cinderblock construction, and what you need in an earthquake zone is metal bars that connect the blocks so that they stay together when they get shaken,” notes Sandy Steacey, director of the Environmental Science Research Institute at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. “In a wealthy country with good seismic building codes that are enforced, you would have some damage, but not very much.”

When a pile of cinderblocks falls on you, your odds of survival are long. Even if you miraculously survive, a poor country like Haiti doesn’t have the equipment, communications infrastructure or emergency service personnel to pull you out of the rubble in time. And if your neighbors get you out, there’s no ambulance to take you to the hospital—or doctor to treat you once you get there.

Earthquakes are random events. How many people they kill is predetermined. In Haiti this week, don’t blame tectonic plates. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll is attributable to poverty.

So the question is relevant. How’d Haiti become so poor?

The story begins in 1910, when a U.S. State Department-National City Bank of New York (now called Citibank) consortium bought the Banque National d’Haïti—Haiti’s only commercial bank and its national treasury—in effect transferring Haiti’s debts to the Americans. Five years later, President Woodrow Wilson ordered troops to occupy the country in order to keep tabs on “our” investment.

From 1915 to 1934, the U.S. Marines imposed harsh military occupation, murdered Haitians patriots and diverted 40 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product to U.S. bankers. Haitians were banned from government jobs. Ambitious Haitians were shunted into the puppet military, setting the stage for a half-century of U.S.-backed military dictatorship.

The U.S. kept control of Haiti’s finances until 1947.

Still—why should Haitians complain? Sure, we stole 40 percent of Haiti’s national wealth for 32 years. But we let them keep 60 percent.

Whiners.

Despite having been bled dry by American bankers and generals, civil disorder prevailed until 1957, when the CIA installed President-for-Life François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Duvalier’s brutal Tonton Macoutes paramilitary goon squads murdered at least 30,000 Haitians and drove educated people to flee into exile. But think of the cup as half-full: fewer people in the population means fewer people competing for the same jobs!

Upon Papa Doc’s death in 1971, the torch passed to his even more dissolute 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. The U.S., cool to Papa Doc in his later years, quickly warmed back up to his kleptomaniacal playboy heir. As the U.S. poured in arms and trained his army as a supposed anti-communist bulwark against Castro’s Cuba, Baby Doc stole an estimated $300 to $800 million from the national treasury, according to Transparency International. The money was placed in personal accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Under U.S. influence, Baby Doc virtually eliminated import tariffs for U.S. goods. Soon Haiti was awash predatory agricultural imports dumped by American firms. Domestic rice farmers went bankrupt. A nation that had been agriculturally self-sustaining collapsed. Farms were abandoned. Hundreds of thousands of farmers migrated to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince.

The Duvalier era, 29 years in all, came to an end in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. forces to whisk Baby Doc to exile in France, saving him from a popular uprising.

Once again, Haitians should thank Americans. Duvalierism was “tough love.” Forcing Haitians to make do without their national treasury was our nice way or encouraging them to work harder, to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Or, in this case, flipflops.

Anyway.

The U.S. has been all about tough love ever since. We twice deposed the populist and popular democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The second time, in 2004, we even gave him a free flight to the Central African Republic! (He says the CIA kidnapped him, but whatever.) Hey, he needed a rest. And it was kind of us to support a new government formed by former Tonton Macoutes.

Yet, despite everything we’ve done for Haiti, they’re still a fourth-world failed state on a fault line.

And still, we haven’t given up. American companies like Disney generously pay wages to their sweatshop workers of 28 cents an hour.

What more do these ingrates want?

(Ted Rall is the author, with Pablo G. Callejo, of the new graphic memoir “The Year of Loving Dangerously.” He is also the author of the Gen X manifesto “Revenge of the Latchkey Kids.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL


Ted Rall

Editorial Cartoon: Tax Today, Bailout Tomorrow

January 13, 2010 by  


Congress might tax bankers…but they probably don’t need to worry.

Banker Blowback


NBM

The Onion puts Geary in top 25 of decade

January 13, 2010 by  


Specifically, they rave about his Mystery of Mary Rogers Book:

“Roughly once a year throughout the ’00s, Rick Geary delivered another of his carefully researched, beautifully drawn “Treasury Of Victorian Murder” books (or lately, “Treasury Of XXth-Century Murder”). All are essential reading for comics fans and history buffs alike, but The Mystery Of Mary Rogers is especially fine.

Geary portrays the culture of New York in the mid-19th century as a hybrid of European sophistication and frontier barbarism, and as he muses on how a case can scandalize a community yet remain an utter mystery, he shows how fiction is born from our unceasing fascination with the lurid.”

We might have chosen another volume of Geary’s but hey! who are we to quibble?