Nationally Syndicated Cartoonist: “Only idiots signed up; only idiots died. Back home, the average I.Q. soared.”
If you’ve never heard of Ted Rall, consider yourself blessed. I’ve been following him for quite a long time, but only because he is so absurd as to be almost comedic. That quote in the title is only part of the ridiculousness that spews forth from this guy on an almost daily basis.
What brought him to my attention again recently was this column he wrote about the SEAL raid on OBL:
President Obama’s Sunday evening announcement, timed to fill Monday’s papers with a sickening orgy of gleeful triumph but little information, prompted bipartisan high-fives and hoots all around. “U-S-A! U-S-A!” chanted a mob of drunken oafs in front of the White House. Blending the low satire of two Bush-era classic send-ups of a nation allergic to self-reflection, “Team America: World Police” and “Idiocracy,” they set the tone for a week or a month or whatever of troop-praising, God-blessing-America, frat-boy self-backslapping. “So that’s what success looks like,” wrote New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley in the paper’s special ten-page “The Death of Bin Laden” pull-out section.
The whole diatribe is worth reading for the sheer humor (or, more likely anger) that you get from it. But, I decided that I would plop down my personal credit card and purchase his silly book Anti-American Manifesto on Amazon. Ranked #280,416 in Books, (100,000 places behind Frommer’s Guide to Delaware for instance) it would seem that most folks missed this piece of fiction masquerading as intellectual thought, but your humble blogger managed to read it in a bit under 3 hours. (I’ll never get those hours back, but I suppose I could have spent it in worse ways, watching Army Wives or Teen Moms for instance.)
This review was a dead giveaway on what I would find:
The Anti-American Manifesto is a "wake up call" for all Americans to stop deluding themselves with all that American Dream drivel and propaganda. Our country is fundamentally collapsing around us as once cherished institutions frantically fray about trying to maintain a minimal sense of order. We need to start a serious dialogue amongst ourselves about how crappy things really are in our country and take action. The Anti-American Manifesto is no Declaration of Independence and Ted Rall is no Thomas Jefferson, but the spirit and remedies of both resonate the same. The concept of "revolution" shouldn't remain unmentionable or considered subversive. The Great Recession is the culmination of decades worth of mismanagement, corruption and chicanery by the "powers that be" and WE THE PEOPLE are the victims (or chumps) of this bold face malfeasance. I recommend this book to any American who loves their country and who are willing to rise up and save it before it's too late. When words won't win action will.
The book was all I expected, flush with tropes about how much America sucks. The most succinct statement he makes on the intent of this trash comes at the end:
We must rid ourselves of our shitty, worthless, incompetent, evil-doing, planet murdering government and its corporate and media allies. (Page 271)
But, he must mean through non-violent actions, right? Like Ghandi sort of marching in the street stuff…. Um, nope:
Of course, nonviolent protest can effect change. [Whew, I was worried he might go off the rails…] But not by itself. [uh oh] We must understand that, in these cases, neither the demonstrations themselves nor their nonviolent nature is what prompts leaders to modify their policies or behavior. It is only the credible threat of violence, the possibility that opposition could escalate to the next level, that makes “nonviolent” protest effective. You don’t have to hit someone if they believe you will hit them. Therefore, after a revolution runs its course and “normalcy” returns to the streets, it will be possible for people to demand and obtain changes. (Pages 260-261)
And, how does the US compare to say, Nazy Germany? Not well per Herr Rall:
The United States is the most efficient fascist state ever created – even more ruthless and effective than Nazi Germany. Think that is an exaggeration? Consider the most obvious point: It has no internal opposition. (Page 227)
Reminds me of the classic scene in Dumb and Dumber where the lady tells Jim Carrey’s character that the chances of them dating is one in a million and his character responds “So, you’re saying there’s a chance!” I read Rall’s statement here to say: “So, you’re saying we are efficient and effective!”
And how do we stack up against Soviet Russia? Alas, not well there either:
America’s form of government, masquerading as liberal democracy is actually more formidable a political adversary than a totalitarian state. We can see this clearly in post-Soviet Russia, where the authoritarian pseudo-democracy of Vladimir Putin cracks down with greater ferocity and efficiency on political dissidents than the Soviet State did. (Page 228)
Just how post-Soviet Russia proves that the US sucks is open to speculation.
One might (and I suspect our commenters here will) assume that Rall is a standard leftist. Oh no, my friends, he hates the left with the same vehemence as nearly everyone else. Take for instance this passage in which he quotes another guy whose books I am ashamed to say I have read:
“The illegal wars and occupations, the largest transference of wealth upward in American history and the egregious assault on civil liberties, all begun under George W. Bush, raise only a flicker of tepid protest from liberals when propagated by the Democrats,” the journalist Chris Hedges complained in early 2010. “The timidity of the Left exposes its cowardice, lack of a moral compass and mounting political impotence. The Left stands for nothing.”
Therein lies the opportunity. Hedge’s solution – supporting the Green Party and other third parties – is bullshit. No one thinks that will work. Revolution will. What matters is that Obama has exposed the two-party system for what it has always been: ineffective [wait? I thought we were effective?], disconnected, and removed from the people. Populist rhetoric aside, both parties serve the rich. Now everyone can see that. The next step is to convince people that the answer isn’t new parties, but a different political system. (Page 129)
Anyway, you get the idea on his general Anti-American ideas. What drew me to the book though is his view of veterans and military service-members in general. The comic I used above is from October of 2007, and yet inexplicably he is still featured in over 100 newspapers around the country. Why?
Anyway, here are some gems on his military/veterans views and Foreign Policy:
Over the course of four hundred years, Anglo-American foreign policy has created and expanded one of the most willfully aggressive and genocidal modern nation-states in history, killing and stealing on a scale that rivals Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany. Conservative estimates put the number of Native Americans murdered by British colonists and their American successors at more than ten million people. More recently, American bombs claimed more than two million Vietnamese lives and at least one million Iraqis and Afghans. The United States has covertly propped up scores of vicious dictators around the world who loot their nations’ treasuries, brutalize their people, and leave nothing but death and destruction in their wake; it is impossible to count all the victims of such regimes. (Page 71)
…to say nothing of the fact that America also invented Reality TV Programming and Spongebob, both of which committed genocide on gazillions of brain cells….
So, how have we done at making war? Well, apparently we are efficient at killing but not winning, per General Rall (comparing the US once again to what Lennin called for):
First, the United States has suffered military defeat. And not just one, but a whole half-century plus of clusterf***ery! Since 1945 every major military conflict has ended in either a draw or a loss: Korea (loss), Vietnam (loss, with a generous helping of total humiliation) and the Gulf War (draw). Afghanistan and Iraq appear to be headed into the decisive loss category, although some optimists hold out for a draw in Iraq. Whatever. (page 216)
Whatever? Really? So, you don't really care if peace is achieved in those countries? Bit cavalier aren't you?
There is only one other passage I want to address, and only that because he manages to accuse the Legion of trying to seize power from the Federal Government, albeit in 1933. It’s the same accusation I get occasionally from the wackjobs at Veterans Today who implored me to look into it and then do the right thing by quitting immediately. Just why I would quit a great job over some nefarious plot from before my Dad was born is (again) not explained. Nonetheless, I decided to look into it finally.
Do not assume that these sentiments [subverting the national government] are limited to fringe militia types living in the middle of the woods in the upper peninsula of Michigan. “Mainstream” right-wing Republicans have been itching to seize power from what they perceive as a vast Jewish communist liberal cabal that has controlled the media and the government for many years. (Page 242)
As an aside, Vets Today is anything but right wing, and argues daily that a vast Jewish conspiracy is running the gov’t and media. In fact, they were arguing just this week that Osama was killed 10 years ago, and some vast conspiracy of CIA and Mossad kept him frozen until now, and that we actually killed an Osama clone and then dumped the frozen body.
Anyway, back to the Legion portion of the conspiracy:
In 1933, for example, top officials of the American Legion, the military veterans [sic] organization, approached a popular retired general, Smedley Butler, and offered him the support of five hundred thousand armed veterans to forcibly install him as a so-called Secretary of General Affairs – a de facto dictator. FDR would have remained president, but as a figurehead. (Page 242)
Naturally there is no footnote or anything else to suggest the source on this. So, I did some digging. The clearest exposition of what happened is found in a book entitled “For God and Country: The American Legion, 1919-1941” by William Pencak.
So. Ted Rall’s “top officials of the American Legion” were not top officials, and the plot made no sense for the Legion as a whole. Further search revealed the House transcripts on the investigation into this plot. It is interesting, if a bit long. For instance, the “INVESTIGATION OF NAZI PROPAGANDA ACTIVITIES AND INVESTIGATION OF CERTAIN OTHER PROPAGANDA ACTIVITIES” found that:
According to Butler's testimony, MacGuire and Doyle suggested to him that he become a candidate for national commander of the American Legion at its convention at Chicago to be held in October 1933 and further stated that he told him that he was not interested and realized that he could not be elected commander.
According to his further testimony, they discussed ways and means of his becoming a delegate, even suggesting that he might be named from Hawaii. This is the only conferences Doyle attended.
Butler further testified that MacGuire returned on several other occasions and suggested to him that he go to the Legion convention at Chicago and make a speech urging a resolution, the import being that the United States return to the gold standard.
Butler testified that he told him that "I don't know a damn thing about gold."
Butler further testified that on this occasion MacGuire showed him a bank book, the pages of which were flipped, indicating deposits of approximately $42,000.
Doyle was a Department Commander (Mass), but didn’t attend any of the meetings with Butler that were alleged to have been in furtherance of this plot. In fact, he was a Democrat, and supporter of the President.
And the high office that MacGuire held in the Legion?
The CHAIRMAN. You are a past department commander in the American Legion?
Mr. MacGuire. No, sir; never held an office in the American Legion. I have just been a Legionnaire—oh, I beg your pardon. I did hold one office. I was on the distinguished guest committee of the Legion in 1933, I believe.
Our Library Director informs me there were 20 members of that Committee in 1933.
Anyway, you get the general idea: Ted Rall hates America, hates veterans, hates service members, REALLY hates the government, and thinks all of us who served are idiots. Fair enough, I hate him back. (So there, in your face Ted Rall!)
Want just another example of why you should hate him too? How about this piece he drew where he intimates that the then-recently deceased Pat Tillman was a racist moron:
This “cartoonist” is still featured in 100 newspapers across the country if Wikipedia is to be believed. According to his employer, “Universal Uclick”:
Ted Rall writes for a generation unjustly maligned as a pack of lazy slackers. He voices Generation X's frustration and resentment at the excesses of baby boomers who left a wheezing America in their mammoth wake. Ted's irreverent attitude and deft use of satire combine to make his work thought-provoking and enjoyable to read. Ted's ability to connect with current culture gives his work a fresh, informed perspective.
Actually, seems to me that his work is less a “fresh, informed perspective” and quite a bit more “bullsh*t written by a narcissistic a-hole who wrote a book read by about 37 people”, but your mileage may vary.