Air America Appearance

I’ll be on Air America’s “Unfiltered” on Wednesday morning, at about 10:30, to discuss right-wing pro-Iraq War types who are now backpedaling. If the left had been as wrong as the right has been on Iraq, we’d be losing our jobs right and left, totally discredited. But the right shrugs it off and moves right along. Why the double standard?


Yes, this offer remains in force! If you’ve emailed me already and haven’t heard back, my spam filter probably caught your stuff. Please try again. If you haven’t, now would be a good time to take advantage of this.

As long as they and I last–probably a month or two–you can buy your copies of my new books WAKE UP, YOU’RE LIBERAL: HOW WE CAN TAKE AMERICA BACK FROM THE RIGHT and GENERALISSIMO EL BUSHO: ESSAYS AND CARTOONS ON THE BUSH YEARS directly from me. And I’ll sign the books to whomever you want!

Here’s what you do:

1. Send an email to me at letting me know: (a) your address, (b) which books you want, (c) how many of each you want, and (d) how you’d like them all signed. I’ll email you back; don’t do anything until you hear back from me.

2. Figure out your payment. WAKE UP is $15.95 a copy. Priority mail is $3.95 to anyplace in the United States, so send me $20 (money order or check) for EACH copy of WAKE UP you want. EL BUSHO is available in hardback and softback. EL BUSHO hardback is $19.95 each, so send me $24 for each EL BUSHO hardback. EL BUSHO paperback is $13.95 so send me $19 for each EL BUSHO paperback.

3. Send your payment to:

Ted Rall

P.O. Box 1134

New York NY 10027

4. Payments by cash or money order result in quick shipping, within a week. Checks must clear first, so that means more like 2-3 weeks.

5. EXTRA BONUS OFFER: For an extra $50, I’ll throw in a unique 7×10 sketch of whatever I feel like–a rough draft of a published cartoon, an EL BUSHO, whatever. I’ll even take a request–but won’t honor it unless I feel like it. I will only do this for people who buy at least two books. Price is $200 for all others.

6. I will post notice on the when this offer expires.

The Onion

Better than a Pulitzer and a World Series trophy combined, I’ve been mentioned/lampooned in this week’s Onion!

In an article headlined “Nation’s Liberals Suffering From Outrage Fatigue”, there’s this tidbit:

“For a while, I wanted more fuel for the fire, to really get my blood boiling,” said Madison, WI resident Dorothy Levine, a reproductive-rights activist and former Howard Dean campaign volunteer. “I read the policy papers on the Brookings web site. I subscribed to The Progressive. I clipped cartoons by Tom Tomorrow and Ted Rall. I listened to NPR all day. But then, it was like, while I was reading Molly Ivins’ Bushwhacked, eight more must-read anti-Bush books came out. It was overwhelming. By the time they released Fahrenheit 9/11, I was too exhausted to drag myself to the theater.”

Sniff. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Shout Out to Jonathan Walsh

You sent me a money order from Japan but no address as to where to send your book. Which book did you want and where shall I send it? Please email me at

The Perfect Choice

For months Democrats anxious to restore representative democracy to our tortured nation have been asking me whom I thought Kerry should choose as his runningmate. My answer, each time, was always the same: John Edwards. He’s young, telegenic and likeable. And he’s from the South, essential to this year’s Electoral College map.

Another point worth making is, win or lose this fall, Edwards is being groomed for a future presidential run. This provides him with the spotlight he needs to gain national name recognition.

Ideologically, I would have preferred Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich. But this year isn’t about that. Because it is incumbent upon all patriots, regardless of party registration, to defeat George W. Bush and put him and his criminal gang of idiots and thugs on trial for corruption, torture and war crimes, Kerry must win. Period. Edwards is the safest pick towards that end.

Friends don’t let friends vote for Bush.

Time to Trade Up

Saddam Hussein, influenced by fascism, ordered the deaths of tens of thousands of people, fought two disastrous wars, turned his nation into an international pariah and ruined his country’s economy.

In other words, his record is identical to George W. Bush’s.

As we saw at his “arraignment” before a U.S.-picked Iraqi puppet tribunal last week, however, there is a difference between the two men. Hussein is much smarter, funnier and more erudite than Bush. When Saddam pointed out that Bush was the real criminal, who could argue? He even managed to defend the invasion of Kuwait! So why not swap them out? We get Saddam Hussein as our president; the Iraqis get Bush. Consider the benefits: we get gargantuan statues and a leader capable of using language–think how fast he’ll solve the Palestinian issue! and they get, well, the guy who’s really in charge anyway.

Death Threat Phone Fun

A hapless fascist Bush supporter called me the other day to warn me to stop drawing cartoons and writing columns. “Are you Ted Rall, the cartoonist? You better stop what you’re doing,” the guy, who sounded vaguely southern despite calling from the San Francisco Bay Area, told me. “We’re watching you and we’ll kill you unless you stop.”

Fortunately, through means I won’t disclose but you can probably imagine, I know this guy’s number, the fact that he lives in Palo Alto and is a Pacific Bell customer.

He’s at (650) 858-8365.

Fahrenheit 9/11

I bit the bullet and fought the crowds last night to catch the movie at the cinema across the street from Lincoln Center. Here’s my take:

Moore’s film is essentially divided into two halves. The first half, which covers the stolen 2000 election through the invasion of Afghanistan, is riddled with spin, missed opportunities and odd or incorrect choices to emphasize. The second half, which focuses on the human cost here and abroad caused by the invasion of Iraq, is heartbreaking–I actually cried a few times–and watertight. Moore is at his finest when he points out that our poorest people, those who live in the worst neighborhoods and hold the shittiest jobs, give up their lives and limbs to fight to uphold the same society that oppresses them back home, and when he shows the impact that their sacrifice has upon them and theirs. Awesome.

One wonders, however, about why some things were mentioned and others weren’t. On the 2000 election, Moore uses the essentially ceremonial Congressional joint session where black Congressmen tried to launch a protest about Florida rather than the true missed opportunity: the Electoral College, whose Florida electors were honorbound to cast their votes for Al Gore. Perhaps he felt that the American public was too ignorant to understand the legal nuances of our constitutional system?

As I wrote in my column this week, too much is made of the planeload of evacuated Saudis after 9/11, including members of the bin Laden family. A far more interesting question concerning 9/11 is, where was the US Air Force? Why had defense spending been gutted when it came to defense, while expanded to promote hostile actions overseas? Of course that could also be attributed to Clinton, which wouldn’t have fit Moore’s preconceived agenda.

For my money the most ethically dubious spin of the film concerns the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline deal. While talking about a meeting the Taliban held with Bush Administration officials in Texas in February 2001, he flashes a screen shot of a BBC website story about Unocal-led discussions with the US about the pipeline. Look fast or you’ll miss it–I almost did–the date of the article is 1997. The narration implies that happened under Bush, but it didn’t. The pipeline discussions began in 1995-6, were dropped after the 1998 bombings of the East African embassies and revived in 2001 under Bush. If anything, the facts are more damning than Moore makes them sound, for Bush revived a deal that Clinton had disowned after thoroughly explored. But Moore probably thought they were too complicated for the typical American moviegoer to understand.

There are other problems. Ties between the Bush families and the Saudis can be at least partly explained by the fact that the oil business is a small one; it shouldn’t be surprising that Saudi and Texas oilmen would invest in one another’s ventures or become friends. No-bid contracts with Halliburton to provide food to US troops in Iraq were bad enough–Moore mentions them–but Halliburton didn’t even do the work they were paid for, having ripped off the taxpayers. He should have referenced that.

And it goes on.

So F911 isn’t the definitive case-closed slam-dunk against the Bushie Imperium some have made it out to be. But it’s a damned impressive achievement nonetheless. For those of us who follow cable news obsessively and read the UK Guardian website every morning, there isn’t much here to learn. But for the vast majority of Americans who don’t, this will be their first exposure to footage of an ersatz president who talks and looks like a total idiot, imagery of dead Iraqi children and U.S. troops who don’t support Bush. It cherrypicks the best of the worst, bundles it all together and says: Look. Here’s the state your country is in and here are the men who are responsible. F911’s success is its success, natch—the mere fact that so many Republicans will see it, and possibly be forced to reconsider their support for their party standardbearer, makes it incredibly important.

Ted says: two thumbs up.

Cassandra Rall?

A long-time fan who’s been following me since my radio days wrote this today:

Good call on the draft. I think that was over a half-a-hear ago. You had posted the email to the selective service on the blog because they were hiring. I filled out the application and I have recieved two letters back. They seem really interested !

More recently, I have been hearing alot of talk about a better draft on the radio and elsewhere.

I am keeping track of your predictions. You have a really, really good record.

I consider myself the un-official score keeper for your predictions. Your first and greatest hit was the Bush victory..which you predicted on the radio when everyone thought it was a lock for Gore. The whole Stan foresight was understandably fuzzy, but you did say on the radio that it was an increasingly important area. Years later when Dan Rather rolled out that Studio-sized map and explained to confused American’s “These are the stans. You probably have never heard of them.” I was hysterical!!!

ps. “Wake Up” is seriously killer…I assume you know about all of the spelling errors. I’m getting El Busho this week.

Most of all, thanks for getting on tv and radio more!!!!!!!

I remember the KFI days. I believe they are creeping back. Right now you are THE leftmost point in America’s mind. Keep it up.

Well, yes. I have been right lot lately. If only I knew a good bookie, yes? Of course, it helps to have a working knowledge of the rise of Nazism…

Fisking Kristof

It’s time for that right honorable blogger activity borne of frustration: the Fisking. Today’s victim: today’s New York Times op-ed column by centrist liberal Nicholas Kristof. Kristof, some will recall, believed that the war in Iraq should be given a chance to succeed because there was always a chance that some good might come out of it.

Oh, and before I start: the book offer (scroll below) remains in force. For now.

Calling Bush a Liar


So is President Bush a liar?

Plenty of Americans think so. Bookshops are filled with titles about Mr. Bush like “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” “Big Lies,” “Thieves in High Places” and “The Lies of George W. Bush.”

A consensus is emerging on the left that Mr. Bush is fundamentally dishonest, perhaps even evil — a nut, yes, but mostly a liar and a schemer. That view is at the heart of Michael Moore’s scathing new documentary, “Farenheit 9/11.”

In the 1990’s, nothing made conservatives look more petty and simple-minded than their demonization of Bill and Hillary Clinton, who were even accused of spending their spare time killing Vince Foster and others. Mr. Clinton, in other words, left the right wing addled. Now Mr. Bush is doing the same to the left. For example, Mr. Moore hints that the real reason Mr. Bush invaded Afghanistan was to give his cronies a chance to profit by building an oil pipeline there.

Kristof seems like a smart guy, but he displays one of the quintessential personality traits of a moron: the unwillingness to check things out for himself. A quick run of Nexis/Lexis would bring up hundreds of articles from mainstream news sources–the BBC, even the Times itself–that confirm the Administration’s prurient interest in building the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. This is not the stuff of conspiracy. It’s fact, as lazy journalists like Kristof would learn if they started turning over a few rocks now and then.

Did conservatives look bad in the ’90s? I guess not, since they now control all three branches of government.

“I’m just raising what I think is a legitimate question,” Mr. Moore told me, a touch defensively, adding, “I’m just posing a question.”

Right. And right-wing nuts were “just posing a question” about whether Mr. Clinton was a serial killer.

I’m against the “liar” label for two reasons. First, it further polarizes the political cesspool, and this polarization is making America increasingly difficult to govern. Second, insults and rage impede understanding.

By this reasoning, calling Hitler a murderer created polarization in Germany. Bush is a repeated, sociopathic, over-the-top liar; what’s the matter with saying so? Maybe, with luck, he’ll respond to his critics by, well, telling the truth. Rage? Anyone who doesn’t feel rage at the stolen 2000 election, two illegal wars that have killed tens of thousands and injured hundreds of thousands of people, and transforming a government with a balanced budget into a debt-ridden mess is devoid of thought, much less emotional response mechanisms.

Lefties have been asking me whether Mr. Bush has already captured Osama bin Laden, and whether Mr. Bush will plant W.M.D. in Iraq. Those are the questions of a conspiracy theorist, for even if officials wanted to pull such stunts, they would be daunted by the fear of leaks.

I don’t subscribe to either of those theories. But why be so quick to dismiss the possibility? This Administration, after all, still wants Americans to believe that Saddam, and not Osama, was responsible for 9/11.

Bob Woodward’s latest book underscores that Mr. Bush actually believed that Saddam did have W.M.D. After one briefing, Mr. Bush turned to George Tenet and protested, “I’ve been told all this intelligence about having W.M.D., and this is the best we’ve got?” The same book also reports that Mr. Bush told Mr. Tenet several times, “Make sure no one stretches to make our case.”

In fact, of course, Mr. Bush did stretch the truth. The run-up to Iraq was all about exaggerations, but not flat-out lies. Indeed, there’s some evidence that Mr. Bush carefully avoids the most blatant lies — witness his meticulous descriptions of the periods in which he did not use illegal drugs.

Obviously someone at the Times read my column from last week. Do I get royalties or a footnote?

True, Mr. Bush boasted that he doesn’t normally read newspaper articles, when his wife said he does. And Mr. Bush wrongly claimed that he was watching on television on the morning of 9/11 as the first airplane hit the World Trade Center. But considering the odd things the president often says (“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family”), Mr. Bush always has available a prima facie defense of confusion.

Mr. Bush’s central problem is not that he was lying about Iraq, but that he was overzealous and self-deluded. He surrounded himself with like-minded ideologues, and they all told one another that Saddam was a mortal threat to us. They deceived themselves along with the public — a more common problem in government than flat-out lying.

Did Kristof really read “Plan of Attack”? The book, which the Republican Party has officially approved, doesn’t read like paranoid lunatics working themselves up into a lather. It reads like determined ideologues using 9/11 as a pretext to do what they wanted to do years ago: invade Iraq. And if Kristof is right, what kind of defense is that? I’d rather be led by lying fascists like the Bushies I perceive than the delusional psychopaths Kristof portrays.

Some Democrats, like Mr. Clinton and Senator Joseph Lieberman, have pushed back against the impulse to demonize Mr. Bush. I salute them, for there are so many legitimate criticisms we can (and should) make about this president that we don’t need to get into kindergarten epithets.

Great. Two Republicans-in-Democrats-clothing defend Bush. Big deal.

But the rush to sling mud is gaining momentum, and “Farenheit 9/11” marks the polarization of yet another form of media. One medium after another has found it profitable to turn from information to entertainment, from nuance to table-thumping.

Or, alternatively, the American people are turning to formats whose practitioners are honest enough to say in public what people like Kristof believe privately. The “polarization” that Kristof derides has been with us for years. Now it’s out in the open, where we can have an open exchange of ideas. Kristof’s whining reminds one of genteel Southerners decrying unruly civil rights protesters. Why can’t the oppressed be more polite?

Talk radio pioneered this strategy, then cable television. Political books have lately become as subtle as professional wrestling, and the Internet is adding to the polarization. Now, with the economic success of “Farenheit 9/11,” look for more documentaries that shriek rather than explain.

What’s there to explain, Nick? Haven’t you read your own paper for the last three years? For Chrissake, man, your “president” opened concentration camps, encouraged torture and disappeared thousands of innocent people! Your “president” is a neofascist. People need to wake up and channel their anger. Explanation time is over; perhaps we can find you a tutor so you can catch up with the rest of the class.

It wasn’t surprising when the right foamed at the mouth during the Clinton years, for conservatives have always been quick to detect evil empires. But liberals love subtlety and describe the world in a palette of grays — yet many have now dropped all nuance about this president.

Alleluia! It’s about time.

Mr. Bush got us into a mess by overdosing on moral clarity and self-righteousness, and embracing conspiracy theories of like-minded zealots. How sad that many liberals now seem intent on making the same mistakes.  

All we’re doing is fighting fire with fire. Don’t worry, we can all go back to sipping sherry while listening to NPR after we get our country back.