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Reporting in: 9 more NCS members go on USO tour (UPDATED)

Nine more NCS members have returned from a tour through Germany and Washington D.C. with the USO. This tour sent out Ray Alma (Mad magazine, caricaturist), Chad Carpenter (Tundra), Rob Harrell (Big Top and Adam@Home), Bruce Higdon (Army cartoonists and caricaturists), Mason Mastoianni (B.C.), Dave Mowder (licensing artist for Warner Bros, Disney and Peanuts), Stephen Silver (Kim Possible and Danny Phantom), Ed Steckley (humorous illustrator, MAD Magazine, Cracked) and Tom Stiglich (editorial cartoonist). The tour began by visiting both the Walter Reed and Bethesda Medical Centers and then on to Germany.

Reporting in:
Ed has blogged about his experience in good detail; Jeff Bacon covers the tour for the Military Times; it was reported on the Ramstein Air Base website. Also check a photo gallery posted on the Ramstein’s website.

UPDATE: Stephen Silver has posted his thoughts on his participation. And below is video he took:

Community Comments

#1 Mike Cope
May/4/2010
@ 11:35 am

If this keeps up, we’ll win the war on terror with humour :)

Congrats to all the participants!

#2 Ted Rall
May/4/2010
@ 3:06 pm

I kind of have a problem with this. Several of my friends have done these USO things, but it makes me uncomfortable.

Is it really cool to support troops who voluntarily participate in illegal wars of aggression? If so–feel free to cite Godwin’s Law here–would it be wrong for German cartoonists to entertain the Wehrmacht (who were mostly conscripts)?

I’m not saying, I’m asking. Am I the only person who thinks this is weird?

#3 Larry Cathey
May/4/2010
@ 3:24 pm

I see it as more of a “Support the Troops” issue – apart from an “illegal war” issue.

#4 T AB
May/4/2010
@ 6:56 pm

Anyone going to show funny pictures to the Iraqi and Afghani civilian casualties?

#5 Ed Steckley
May/4/2010
@ 7:50 pm

Anyone who thinks this is weird should simply not participate.

If any of us feels a need to support the troops, this is the perfect setting to make a profound difference. There is no politics involved. I know this first hand.
With that said, I assume that my politics differs from many of the wounded I’ve dealt with and helped. This was never an issue. What we do on these trips is simply offer support to fellow Americans who are offering everything they can on our behalf. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, this is what it comes down to.

Ted: Comparing us to the Wehrmacht is offensive. I only hope you don’t realize what you were implying with you wrote that.

#6 Chad Carpenter
May/4/2010
@ 8:50 pm

Well put, Ed. These trips to show support for these Americans have nothing to do with the political view of either the cartoonists or the soldiers – It’s simply a humanitarian issue. If you’re not able to check your political views at the door, then this sort of thing isn’t for you. As for Ted’s Wehrmacht comment, I have to admit, my blood pressure shot up a few points.

#7 Mark_Tatulli
May/4/2010
@ 9:51 pm

What I see are kids. These are somebody’s kids. These could be my kids. Politics and illegal wars aside, it would make me feel good that somebody was talking to and being nice to my kids, especially when they are so far from home and missing normal things.

Kudos to the USO and the NCS Band of Brothers for making those soldiers smile.
There is nothing better.

#8 Alec Fritz
May/4/2010
@ 10:24 pm

I want to personally thank all the cartoonists that went over there to support them. As having a brother who signed up for the military before the war in the middle east, and is going back there for a year, I know how hard and dull it can be. So thank you.

And I also think that we should stop responding and ignore Mr. Rall’s comments because they are getting to the point where I think he only says the thing he does for publicity like Jessica Simpson or Paris Hilton. Or he is that offensively ignorant like Jessica Simpson or Paris Hilton.

#9 Ed Steckley
May/5/2010
@ 7:21 am

Thanks Chad, Mark and Alec. I guess there’s always going to be someone who likes to ruffle feathers.

#10 Shane Davis
May/5/2010
@ 8:36 am

Troops don’t have the luxury of picking which missions they personally support or not. That is the nature of a military and why allow folks in war time to choose to be a conscientious objector (many nations don’t).

I think it’s great these guys will go, and support it heartily. As far as not supporting it because one disagrees with, that’s fine, too.

Frankly, If I had been a syndicated cartoonist and someone asked me to travel to Gaza to entertain Rachel Corrie or the rest of the International Solidarity Movement, I would have said “Go pound sand, they’re nuts.”

Does that make me a mean spirited alpha-hole? Maybe, but it’s a choice.

Vive la différence!

#11 John Sheppard
May/5/2010
@ 8:39 am

First and foremost … kudos to Bruce and his band of brothers! They provided hours of enjoyment and pictures to wounded troops and service folks, all AMERICANS regardless of political beliefs. To even hint there is something wrong with this is just absurd. Everyone one of the cartoonists should be recognized for their efforts. I am sure they came away from this experience with a new perspective.

As both a cartoonist and a veteran I applaud all these gentlemen for their time and support!

#12 Ted Rall
May/5/2010
@ 9:31 am

No doubt, wounded US soldiers are someone’s kids, they’re Americans, many of them didn’t even really want to be in Afghanistan or Iraq, or they were lied to by our leaders. I get that.

Still, whatever happened to personal ethical responsibility?

1. The US military is all-voluntary. No one has to go.

2. There is an option for US soldiers who choose not to kill people in illegal wars: they can face court-martial. This is the honorable, difficult, solution.

3. Enlistees surely have some awareness of US history. If so, they know that the US has not been involved in any war or action that defends the US or US interests since 1945. So the odds are, when some president sends them to fight somewhere, it will be on behalf of oil companies or some other non-American interest.

For those who take offense at my Wehrmacht comparison, I ask: Why?

The Wehrmacht was the legitimate, pre-Nazi armed forces of Germany. German men were drafted into it. Unlike Americans, they *had* to go where they were told. But history frowns upon them. Why? Because they fought illegal wars of aggression.

What is the difference between invading Belgium without cause, and invading Iraq and Afghanistan without cause? What is the difference between imposing brutal occupation against the will of the Dutch, and imposing brutal occupation against the will of the Afghans and Iraqis?

The truth is, there is no difference. My comments make people uncomfortable because this time, the Nazis are us.

This made a lot of Germans uncomfortable too, you know.

#13 Ted Rall
May/5/2010
@ 9:35 am

Check out the first line of Stephen Silver’s blog about his visit:

“This past week I spent my time in the company of Heroes.”

Politics are always there. They can’t be ignored.

#14 Shane Davis
May/5/2010
@ 10:08 am

There was a huge difference between the Nazi Party that ran German and the Wehrmacht, it was several Generals in the Wehrmacht that plotted to kill Hitler. And Winston Churchill actually praised Field Marshal Erwin Rommel after he died for being an honorable man (for participating in the assassination plot).

I think a lot of folk even back in WWII saw the German regular army as a honorable, professional army led by thugs, criminals and psychopaths – it was the ‘Nazi’ element that made it so evil.

As far as soliders continuing to fight a war that some might disagree with, that is a lot to ask of a person to refuse to fight and suffer the consequences. It may be a volunteer army, but that doesn’t mean they still aren’t bound by law.

Expecting them to stop, quit and walk off when the stakes are as high as they are is easy for those of us who are NOT there.

Before we ask our soldiers to take a stand like that, why not set the example for them? Refuse to pay your income taxes on the basis of the money being used to fund an illegal war. Even if you don’t by William J. Benson’s arguments about the 16th Amendment, you could argue that if the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts were truly illegal then you as an American declare to be an economic conscientious objector and refuse to fund the fight.

It’s easy to declare other should take a stand, it’s hard to do ourselves.

#15 Kelly McNutt
May/5/2010
@ 10:25 am

@ T AB: “Anyone going to show funny pictures to the Iraqi and Afghani civilian casualties?”

That’s a really good idea. When are you going to arrange that little outing?

#16 Jim Lavery
May/5/2010
@ 10:56 am

Shane, that sounds like something HITLER would say. Wow, this is easy!

#17 Ted Rall
May/5/2010
@ 11:39 am

@Shane: “It?s easy to declare other should take a stand, it?s hard to do ourselves.”

So true.

I don’t think refusing to pay taxes would have any effect other than my ending up in jail.

But I’m not sure cartoonists ought to be tacitly endorsing the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

#18 Mark_Tatulli
May/5/2010
@ 11:52 am

Sooooo…to follow your logic, Ted…doing something nice for an American soldier on foreign soil is an endorsement of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan? Albeit “tacitly”

#19 Ed Steckley
May/5/2010
@ 12:14 pm

Ted, you are fighting a war of words you cannot and will not win here for many reasons, not the least of which is this: this is a forum not about politics, but about cartoonists, and the good things that cartoonists are doing. Picking a political fight in here is just tacky. If you don’t agree wiith this particular cause, then don’t offer to go on a USO trip. (though weren’t you on the list to stop and see soldiers at Brooke Army Medical Center with the AECC in San Antonio a while back? You must’ve had a change of heart.)

You can’t seriously think us going over to put a smile on our soldiers faces and help morale of enlisted Americans is ‘tacitly endorsing the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq’. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but man, that’s harsh.

#20 Shane Davis
May/5/2010
@ 12:20 pm

Didn’t Garry Trudeau go to Iraq last year with Pastis and some other cartoonists for USO? If a guy as far left as he is would go…
well…

#21 Stephen Beals
May/5/2010
@ 12:22 pm

Once again, a nice little piece about cartoonists doing something nice is interrupted by a defecating schizophrenic bat.

I think the Daily Cartoonist has become the Daily Rall. I like your alternate reality, Ted, but a little dab’ll do ya.

Full disclosure: My cousin, born the same day as me, is currently serving in the army.

#22 Ed Steckley
May/5/2010
@ 12:23 pm

BTW, you asked why anyone would take offense to your Wehrmacht remark, it’s probably because you mentioned it in the same sentence at Godwin’s Law.

#23 August J. Pollak
May/5/2010
@ 12:25 pm

But I?m not sure cartoonists ought to be tacitly endorsing the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ted, I’m as strongly against the war as you are but I don’t consider doing something nice for a soldier stationed in Iraq as a tacit endorsement of their presence there. As one in four homeless people will tell you, how unhappy and discontented a soldier is isn’t going to change whether or not we keep sending them off to kill, die, and come home effed up. That’s blame to put on the government and the media, not the USO. The USO’s mission isn’t to fight or start the war, any more than a doctor pulling a bullet out of Fred Phelps’ chest would be endorsing the Westboro Baptist Church.

Besides, while there are good and decent members of the military, there are monsters too, and if they’re so bored over there I’d rather have them occupied hanging out with cartoonists that killing time electrifying peoples’ genitals and murdering children from a helicopter.

#24 Shane Davis
May/5/2010
@ 12:32 pm

“killing time electrifying peoples genitals”

Wasn’t that an Anthrax album?

#25 Ted Rall
May/5/2010
@ 12:42 pm

I’m real sorry, Stephen, to interrupt your daily ain’t-America-grand reverie with an icky reminder of genocide and mass carnage.

#26 August J. Pollak
May/5/2010
@ 12:48 pm

?killing time electrifying peoples genitals?

Wasn?t that an Anthrax album?

No, that was Slayer. Anthrax released “Defecating Schizophrenic Bat.”

#27 Kelly McNutt
May/5/2010
@ 12:53 pm

“I?m real sorry, Stephen, to interrupt your daily ain?t-America-grand reverie with an icky reminder of genocide and mass carnage.”

LOL – because we need a reminder. That’s a good one. Thank you, Ted.

I see the cartoonist USO tour as a good thing for the soldiers who probably could use a little reminder that there’s a little good in the world… y’know, as they’re kind of inundated with “genocide and mass carnage” and all.

#28 Shane Davis
May/5/2010
@ 12:58 pm

“No, that was Slayer. Anthrax released ‘Defecating Schizophrenic Bat.’ ”

Oh, my bad.

I was getting it confused with Megadeth’s “Fred Phelps? Chest: The Greatest Hits” LP.

#29 Stephen Beals
May/5/2010
@ 3:20 pm

Ted, I’m just saying take this issue and book time on Sean Hannity’s show so I can ignore the both of you. Going after US soldiers on the Daily Cartoonist is bat—- crazy.

#30 Tom Wood
May/5/2010
@ 3:57 pm

po·lem·ic
? ?/p??l?m?k, po?-/ [puh-lem-ik, poh-] ?noun
1. a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
2. a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist.
3. Ted Rall [img]

#31 Rich Diesslin
May/5/2010
@ 11:01 pm

Chad and Mason together again … that should be fun. Looks like a good group and a good cause. Godspeed y’all. ;)

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