A Peaceful, Easy Feeling

It’s done. I’ve sent the final draft of my new book WAKE UP, YOU’RE LIBERAL!: HOW WE CAN TAKE AMERICA BACK FROM THE RIGHT to my publisher.

I say this with every book I do, mostly because it’s true: this was the hardest project I’ve done. Roughly 350 pages, all prose, insane amounts of research (the bibliography is 20 pages alone), dumping most of my thoughts about contemporary party politics, forming a coherent party platform for a revitalized Democratic Party, coming up with new solutions for what ails us, forming an argument that flows progressively and organizing it logically…it’s the product of years of work and now it’s done.

I’ll post the cover art and ordering information as soon as they become available. In the meantime watch Soft Skull Press’ website and this blog.

I can’t believe it’s finally done!

Basic Details: Wake Up, You’re Liberal! How We Can Take America Back From the Right will be published by Soft Skull Press in April 2004. Approx. page count: 350. There will be both hardback and paperback editions.

BOOK REVIEWERS/EDITORS: Contact me to receive an advance review copy.

And don’t forget to put in an order for ATTITUDE 2: THE NEW SUBVERSIVE SOCIAL COMMENTARY CARTOONISTS (NBM Publishing, February 2004, $13.95) today! 128 pages of ass-kicking cartoons and interviews with the men and women who make them, out in February:

Y’All Come Back, You Hear?

Talk about hospitality. From now on tourists visiting the United States (with the exception of 28 mostly European nations where the people happen to mostly be Caucasian) are being fingerprinted and photographed upon arrival at the airport.

Called US-VISIT, or U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, the program will check an estimated 24 million foreigners each year, though some will be repeat visitors.

Inkless fingerprints will be taken and checked instantly against the national digital database for criminal backgrounds and any terrorist lists.

Homeland Security spokesman Bill Strassberger said that once screeners become proficient, the extra security will take only 10 to 15 seconds per person. Foreign travelers also will continue to pass through regular Customs points and answer questions.

Photographs will be used to help create a database for law enforcement. The travel data is supposed to be securely stored and made available only to authorized officials on a need-to-know basis.

A similar program is to be installed at 50 land border crossings by the end of next year, Strassberger said.

Brazil’s Foreign Ministry has requested that Brazilians be removed from the U.S. list, and police started fingerprinting and photographing Americans arriving at Sao Paulo’s airport last week in response to the new U.S. regulations.

“At first, most of the Americans were angered at having to go through all this, but they were usually more understanding once they learned that Brazilians are subjected to the same treatment in the U.S.,” Brazilian (news – web sites) police spokesman Wagner Castilho said last week.

The U.S. system consists of a small box that digitally scans fingerprints and a spherical computer camera. It will gradually replace a paper-based system that Congress ordered to be modernized following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

A person whose fingerprints or photos raise questions would not be turned away automatically. The visa holder would be sent to secondary inspection for further questions and checks. Officials have said false hits on the system have been less than 0.1 percent in trial runs.

Yes, we need to take security measures. But treating visitors like criminals is wrong, wrong, wrong.

The thing is, no other nation in the world subjects tourists to this kind of degrading treatment. Some of the most arduous countries to visit include the Russian Federation, which charges extravagant fees of up to $600 for a visa and whose customs officials like to relieve new arrivals of their cash and cameras, and the Central Asian republics like Turkmenistan, where you have to register with the former KGB every time you change hotels. But even these nasty trouble spots don’t fingerprint you.

Terrorism? Russia has been victimized by Chechen and other terrorists a hell of a lot more than we have. 9/11 doesn’t make us special, folks. All of these tourists are going to go back and tell their friends and family that the U.S. treats them like scum.

Still wonder why everyone hates us?

U.S. May Cede Afghan Provinces to Taliban

The Financial Times reports that the U.S. military is starting to soften its anti-Taliban policy in view of the reality that it does not possess sufficient troops to control the entire country on behalf of the weak central government of Hamid Karzai.

The US military supports Afghan government efforts to court moderate members of the former Taliban regime in a strategy to win political support in the troubled south, the leading US commander in Afghanistan has said.

General David Barno, commander of the US-led military coalition that is hunting al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan, called government overtures towards the moderates a “terrific effort”, but denied the US military was directly involved in talks.

“It’s a hugely important initiative that will help fracture the Taliban movement and bring the Taliban who are not criminals back into the realm of active Afghan society,” Gen Barno said in an interview with the Financial Times.

His comments reflect a shift in the US posture towards the former hardline regime and a change in strategy as it turns to political tactics and reconstruction, rather than solely military means, to counter Taliban insurgency.

“If you’re a rank and file Taliban member and you reject your past . . . then you can become part of the future of Afghanistan,” said Gen Barno. He believes there are between 100 and 150 Taliban leaders who were “essentially criminals”.

A reliable Pentagon source has told me for months that the Bush Administration is beginning to realize that Afghanistan will be Talibanized one way or another. Since a return to 2001 conditions seems more or less inevitable, U.S. planners are starting to consider negotiating a friendlier relationship than the one that prevailed before the October 2001 war. The first step to reaching an accomodation with the radical Islamist clerics we accused of harboring Osama bin Laden is cooperating with mid-level Talibs. If that works out well from the American standpoint, high-level Taliban leaders like Mullah Mohammad Omar could be in control–with U.S. approval–of such provinces as Helmand as early as 2005.

The Bush Administration, as I wrote in my book “To Afghanistan and Back” and subsequent columns, was never seriously dedicated to the occupation of Afghanistan or in establishing a viable post-invasion regime in Kabul. Many Central Asia watchers expect Afghanistan to be fully back into Taliban, or Taliban-like, control within about three years. The Defense Department’s new accomodationism would seem to be a first step towards withdrawal.

2004 Book Tours and Appearances

I’m starting to put together book signing tours for my upcoming books WAKE UP YOU’RE LIBERAL and GENERALISSIMO EL BUSHO, due out in April and June, as well as speaking appearances related to the elections. If you or someone you know is interested in bringing me to your city, now’s a good time to let me know. Send me an e-mail and let’s work something out!

We’re All Judged by Our Enemies

I’d like to (sniff) thank my cat…the food I ate…my dead friends…everyone who made it possible for me to be named No. 1 Most Annoying Liberal by the Right Wing News blogger site! This is the second year in a row that this list, which travels around the Usenet faster than the I Love You virus, has been compiled by the friendly fascists, but the first time that I beat out such worthies as Michael Moore (#2), Gov. Howard Dean (#3), Nobel Prize winning President Jimmy Carter (#7), Al Franken (#15) and yes, the Dixie Chicks (#20)!

The best part is reading the justifications for each entry. It seems that, to these brave teenagers, anyone with an original thought in his or her head is a danger to the republic. I’ve won many awards, but this is one is nearly as good as a Pulitzer Prize!

Will I make the list next year? Just wait until these goofs read my upcoming book WAKE UP, YOU’RE LIBERAL: HOW WE CAN TAKE AMERICA BACK FROM THE RIGHT (Soft Skull Press, April 2004)!

USA Patriot Act II Partly Enacted

Thanks to FOR Russ Williams for forwarding this interesting tidbit from the San Antonio Current alt weekly newspaper. Generalissimo El Busho, it seems, took advantage of the Saddam capture hype to sneak part of the neofascist USA-Patriot Act II legislation into law without the trouble of unseemly public debate.

A brief cut:

The Bush Administration and its Congressional allies tucked away these new executive powers in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, a legislative behemoth that funds all the intelligence activities of the federal government. The Act included a simple, yet insidious, redefinition of “financial institution,” which previously referred to banks, but now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and any other business “whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters.”

Saddam in Custody, US Less Safe Than Ever

Among the silliest of charges leveled at Democratic presidential nominee apparent Howard Dean is that he somehow mispoke when he remarked that the capture of former CIA errand boy Saddam Hussein–nothing more than the latest chapter of a lengthy labor-management dispute if you think about it–hasn’t made Americans any safer, whether in Iraq from local resistants or here in the U.S., from terrorists.

With news of U.S. troops continuing to come under heavy fire in Iraq, it’s time for former contenders like Dick Gephardt and John Kerry–both worthy men who would have made fine opponents to Generalissimo El Busho had they not already lost–to stop criticizing Dean for speaking something that’s so plainly true. Dean’s plainspokenness, after all, is what has brought him so far. It’s also time they drop out of the race and endorse Dean.

A Guide to Today’s Cartoon

Not every cartoon works. Some are so obtuse that no one gets it; to wit this week’s offering “The Triumph.” The original idea was to show Bush having captured Saddam but himself being trapped by the war itself. So I drew two Iraqi jihadis celebrating as Condi and Colin were forced to drag a cage containing Bush and Saddam, the latter held in chains by the former.

Still don’t get it?

You’re not alone. Looks like I blew it. Probably has something to do with all the Nyquil I’ve been taking for this godawful bug.

Now Hear This: Ted on Athens GA Radio on Xmas + 1

“In the fight against radio fascism, at least one liberal beacon has emerged victorious on the AM airwaves. Dan Matthews has hosted an hour long live call in talk show in the Athens, Georgia market on NewsTalk 1340 WGAU (AM) since August and has ruffled the feathers of ne’er-do-wells such as Senator Zell Miller and assorted other conservatives. So far we are unaware of any way to get it on the computer, but if you are within 20 miles of the University of Georgia in Athens, you should be able to hear award winning author and illustrator Ted Rall this Friday morning, 9-10 am EDT, along with 12th district congressional candidate John Barrow, who has raised more money for this Georgia race than any other U.S. congressional candidate at this point. Should you want to call in a question for Ted Rall, dial 706-549-8255 between 9:06 and 9:20 am Friday, December 26, 2003. Thanks for your interest. “

Now back to bed.

Happy Holidaze

I’m sick as a dog and, in any case, busy being festive and stuff. I’ll be away from the blog pretty much until Dec. 30.