Went Back to Ohio…

…and had a great time. Thanks to Sally Windle and the students at Lima Senior High School for a look at a vibrant school populated by an intelligent and diverse student body. For the rest of you, I was there yesterday talking about my cartoons, showing some slides and enjoying a great back-and-forth during the Q&A session.

The only sad moment for me was talking to an aspiring art student who came back from a visit to an art school in Pennsylvania dejected, not because he didn’t get in – he did – but because he couldn’t afford the tuition. Something’s very wrong with a country that allows its young people’s dreams to be shattered for lack of money…especially since we have no lack of money.

The Curious Tale of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad

As the Administration’s tangled web of Iraq war lies unravels, today’s government-sourced report that Al Qaeda official/CIA prisoner Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, doubtlessly hanging upside down in some stinking cell somewhere in South Asia minus a substantial amount of blood, murdered Wall Street Journal Danny Pearl surely rates a mention for the questions that it provokes.


Since when is the CIA authorized to hold prisoners? Why hasn’t Mohammad, if he was really involved in planning 9/11, been charged in a US court? Why not a military tribunal? What about the extreme likelihood that the US government is torturing the poor bastard? Or are we no longer a nation of laws?


Could it be that the Bushies, unable to lay their greasy paws on Osama or Saddam, have decided to inflate the purported importance of the second-tier Al Qaeda prisoner they DID manage to snare?

For all we know, the very same guy who planned 9/11 for Osama is the same guy who slit Danny Pearl’s throat. Who knows? Anything’s possible. But that’s the point: we don’t know what’s going on because our government, paid by our taxes, refuses to tell us.

This ain’t America, folks. What it is, I’m not sure I wanna know.

Huzzah, President Bush!

We’ve waited a long time for this, but finally there’s reason to praise Bush: he’s sending 20,000 Marines to liberate the long-suffering Azeri people from the blight of totalitarian dictatorship exemplified by post-corrupt election rioting. “The fact that the US has long-term oil contracts with the current corrupt regime of Azerbaijan is no reason not to liberate the people of that oil-rich, yet impoverished nation,” Bush said. “What’s good for Iraq is good for Azerbaijan.”

Oh, wait. Bush didn’t say anything like that.

And he’s not President, either.

I’ll be away from the blog until early next week.

Saddle Up the Third Infantry Division

Oppressed Muslims in Azerbaijan have just suffered through a laughably corrupt election, wherein – for the first time since the independence of any post-Soviet state – power has been handed down from father to son. Now Azeris are rioting, but fortunately we know they can count on the U.S. to liberate them from this illegitimate ruler.

After all, we’d never let the fact that US companies have cozy sweetheart deals for Caspian Sea oil wells off the coast of Baku stop us from defending democracy.


Viva Las Vegas

Well, more accurately, Henderson. Along with fellow cartoonist-blogger Tom Tomorrow, I’ll be speaking and signing books at next week’s Vegas Valley Book Festival in Henderson, NV, a stone’s throw from Sin Strip, on Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25. I’ll be talking about my graphic travelogue “To Afghanistan and Back.”

More on the Comments Feature

Thanks for the e-mailed advice that I could add a comments feature while sorting out the asshole Bushites. But from what I hear, that would still require a lot more hourly monitoring than I’m prepared to devote to this blog. Maybe I could include a test to post that would filter them out, like quizzing them on why Bush lost the 2000 election!

The Horrible Truth About Art Comics and/or Postmodernism

Today’s New York Times puff piece on comix underachiever Art Spiegelman (Maus, bad New Yorker covers, nothing else worth mentioning) started me thinking about how artists work around their shortcomings. People like me, who have no shortage of ideas but aren’t the best draughtsmen around, end up doing smart, wordy cartoons for alternative newspapers using styles that allow us to avoid having to do a lot of detailed rendering. In other words, we work around our drawing handicaps.

Others have noticed that.

What people may not have noticed, or what I haven’t heard at any rate, is that a lot of trendy art comics types, like, say, Chris Ware and almost everyone working in contemporary fiction, work around their lack of ideas with a lot of dazzling artwork and typography.

Pick up a copy of Ware’s “Quimby Mouse” in a bookstore near you–don’t buy it, you’ll just want to bring it back–and you’ll see what I mean. The damned thingn is beautiful. Unbelievably pretty. And there isn’t a single idea in the whole goddamned book. But people buy it, and pretend that they “get it” when there’s nothing to get, because they feel stupid admitting that they don’t get it. And also because they can’t imagine that such an accomplished artist could be so bereft of original–hell, any–thought.

I’m thinking that postmodernism/deconstructionism is essentially a plot by folks without ideas to convince the world that an absence of ideas is itself an idea. The emperor, no clothes, you know.

So a world divided between idea people and art people has become a world divvied up between smart people who can’t draw and dumb people who can. Bee-yutiful.


Imagine my consternation upon publishing this week’s column. A few hours after writing the following…

Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have carried out horrendous attacks in Israel. Many innocent people have been killed. But these groups don’t have WMDs. And they’ve never indicated an interest in attacking Americans.

this happens. Of course, there’s no evidence that a Palestinian group was involved. But the fact that it occured in Gaza sure makes it look that way. So I’m waiting for the inevitable e-mails that say “see? they DO target Americans!” Well, maybe they do…now. If so, that’s a new development, one that certainly wasn’t true when Bush implied that it was.

The Bushies have a lot of problems with the time-space continuum. They like to say, for instance, that Clinton made a strong WMD case against Saddam in the ’90s, so why are Democrats arguing against the same WMD case in the ’00s? The answer is that time passed: Saddam destroyed his WMDs in accordance with UN requirements between 1998 and 2003. The inspections worked.

Similarly, Hamas et al have never deliberately targeted Americans. At least not until now–and whatever they’re up to now doesn’t change the fact that Bush lied through his simian teeth.

Why No Comment Function?

When I was researching the whole blogging thing, a cartoonist pal strongly advised me against including a comment feature in my blog. After I spent a few months reading hundreds of political blogs, particularly among the minority of bloggers opposed to Bush’s fascist takeover, I understood why. A comment feature, in an ideal world, would allow people to discuss issues in a civilized way. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and what happens in reality is that a bunch of right-wing maniacs link to your blog and encourage their right-wing maniac friends, all of whom should be in Gitmo rather than running free, to post insults in the comments section.

Yes, there are people for whom the highlight of their day is to post “Ted Rall is a commie asshole” on the Internet. Those people are welcome to post such illuminating messages on their own blogs.

Central Asia Water Wars

Ah, the irony. There you are, sitting on top of the world’s largest untapped oil reserves, enough oil to put the Saudis out of business, so much Caspian Sea oil that the United States invaded Afghanistan just to run a pipeline from your oil to the Indian Ocean, and you just don’t have enough water. Seems the Soviets knew a few things that US-backed Third World autocrats don’t, eh? Anyway, check out the piece; it’s a telling example of post-USSR problems in Central Asia.