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Political provocateur Bill Maher tells it like it is in a useful and hilarious guide for the many Americans who want to do more here at home to help the war effort, but are at a loss as to what. Thirty-three dynamic new posters and several classics from our government's archive accompanied by text from one of our leading pundits and cutting-edge comedians make this the perfect book for this time in our nation's history, the zeitgeist of post-9/11 America. This is the book that will help Americans make connections...
Political provocateur Bill Maher tells it like it is in a useful and hilarious guide for the many Americans who want to do more here at home to help the war effort, but are at a loss as to what. Thirty-three dynamic new posters and several classics from our government's archive accompanied by text from one of our leading pundits and cutting-edge comedians make this the perfect book for this time in our nation's history, the zeitgeist of post-9/11 America. This is the book that will help Americans make connections between what we do and how it can help (or hurt) our troops and us.
INTRODUCTION: MAKING CONNECTIONS
When the shock of September 11, 2001 wore off and Washington, D.C. went back to what it does best -- pointing fingers and renaming things -- the phrase we heard over and over with regard to our intelligence agencies was "connecting the dots." The FBI and CIA failed to "connect the dots," the strands of information that warned a real war was about to start with a sneak attack.
But plenty of dots aren't being connected by the average citizen, either, and that's what this book is about: how we all can connect what we do on the home front to quicker victory here with fewer of our servicemen overseas.
Traveling the country, I find that people want to do more here at home, but are at a loss as to what. Even when the government issues a Terrorism Advisory, it's maddeningly vague -- "Terrorist alert today! Code Burnt Orange!"
"And what?" I always want to say, "Bring a sweater?"
Of course, there are reasons why the American government no longer helps us make war-related connections, mostly having to do with where those connections might lead us politically. There's a World War II-era government poster that reads "Should brave men die so you can drive?" -- a question we might well ask ourselves today. But don't count on the government to ask it, not in an age where campaign contributions from oil companies are so important to getting elected.
And so we're on our own -- but that's OK. Because if the government won't tell you what time it is, I will. In the pages that follow are the posters I believe the United States government should be making and plastering everywhere, like they did in World War I, World War II and the Cold War. We see in posters from those eras a government unafraid to call upon its citizens to curb travel, save tin, buy bonds, plant a victory garden - whatever it took to make those connections for people, so the average Joe knew what he or she could do to help the war effort.
Of course, this is a very different kind of war, and what we can do to win it is sometimes very different from how other generations pitched in. But the common thread from then to now is the idea that civilian support can be the deciding factor in a war, provided people know what to do. Loving my country as I do, it is my sincerest hope that this book will help.
WHEN SACRIFICE WAS COOL
Perhaps the most threatening of all the connections we're not making these days is the one between terrorism and one of the great loves of the American life, the automobile. Each of us in our own individual high-performance, low-gas-mileage vehicles, exercising our God-given right to drive wherever we want, whenever we want at 0% financing and practically no fuel cost, inadvertently supports terrorism.
When we don't bother to conserve fuel and when we treat gasoline as if it were some limitless entitlement, we fund our enemies, like a wealthy junkie fattening the wallet of his dealer. Maybe not directly -- it's not like you'll find Ayman al-Zawahiri making your change in the Plexiglas booth at the Exxon station. But he may as well be, because you can bet Al Qaeda funds their most ruthless operations with money they get from people who sell their oil to Exxon before Exxon sells it to you.
The countries that have the money to offer large cash awards to the families of suicide bombers, or to send little boys to madrasses, the prep schools of hate, are getting that money from people using lots of oil.
Of course, conserving oil by carpooling may sound like a neat idea and maybe on some level we get it that we'd have more leverage with these terrorist-funding nations if we weren't beholden to them. But actually doing it means we'd have to drive out of our way to pick somebody up and that'll take time and he'll probably wanna talk and I'm not much of a morning person and what if he spills some of his damn mochaccino on my taupe, brushed-leather seats?
And there's the rub. We are hopelessly, romantically, singin'-in-the-rain in love with our cars. Rather than carpool or improve mass transit to ease traffic and commuting time, we'd rather live in the car and make it more like home: state-of-the-art sound systems, cruise control, telephones, bigger built-in receptacles to hold more food. No wonder Al Gore was ridiculed for suggesting we find a way to phase out the internal combustion engine within 25 years. You'd think he asked everyone to turn in their car keys right then and there, taking away our freedom to come and go as we please and trapping us cruelly in our homes with our spouses. But Gore was right when he said it was a matter of national security.
We used to make that connection, because the government endorsed it. An original 1943 wartime poster warned Americans, "When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!" Oil was regarded as an essential weapon during World War II, and it is certainly no less so today.
I chose "ride alone" as the title of this book because it not only pays homage to a time when sacrifice was cool, but also warns us in a larger sense what happens when we ride alone. We've become a nation of individuals, accustomed to "getting mine" and "looking out for Number One." Even the Army's recruitment ad shows a soldier running alone and tells you you'll be "an army of one."
But we're locked now in a bitter fight for the very way of life that allows us such indulgence, and victory clearly hinges on whether we ignorantly continue to "ride alone" or rise up once again to stand together.
So remember: when you ride alone, you ride with bin Laden. And that's not an easy smell to get out of your car.
Barnes & Noble.com: What prompted you to write When You Ride Alone, You Ride with Bin Laden?
Bill Maher: Since 9/11, there's been an unending supply of advice on how we can make ourselves feel better, balm our wounds, relieve our "stress" -- and precious little about what we, the civilians in this war, can actually do to help win this thing. Civilians are often the deciding factor in a war, and if you look at other big wars America fought in the last century, the government always had a campaign going to inform American citizens how they could help: save tin, buy war bonds, plant a victory garden, conserve oil, etc.
Governments of today only know how to pander, not how to ask for real sacrifice, so I thought, If they're not going to put out the "Here's what you can do to pitch in" posters, I will. That's what the book is, with accompanying essays. To my knowledge, this is the first book that actually helps people do what they really want to do: help.
B&N.com: The main thrust of the book is that the Bush administration is not asking us to make the kind of "wartime" sacrifices that were made during previous wars. Why do you think that is? Shouldn't Bush have used his 9/11 popularity "bounce" to make such a "call to arms?"
BM: Ever since Jimmy Carter was practically impeached for suggesting Americans turn down their thermostats and put on a sweater, politicians of both parties have been reluctant to ask people to even consider the concept of sacrifice. "Ask not what you can do for your country..." is more how it goes today. Or else our president might risk having his popularity ratings dip into the 70s.
B&N.com: You assert that the U.S. is assisting terrorists like Bin Laden by continuing to drive huge, imported gas-guzzling SUVs. Is it true you have an electric car? If so, how do you like it?
BM: Last week I had dinner with my friends Arianna Huffington and Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld and current star of Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO, and his wife. All four of us drive the Toyota Prius, and we were speculating that there was probably not another table of four in America where everyone drove a hybrid car. It's a shame, too, because even if it wasn't a patriotic boon and easy on your wallet, this car would be a honey. It's a hybrid, so no plugging in or special care is needed, and it zips around with lots of power and fits everywhere that makes bigger cars such a pain in the ass. It's a terrific car, but no one in this nation, so bought off by oil companies, wants you to know that -- not even the company that makes it!
B&N.com: How do you feel when you see a Ford Explorer with American flags flying from both sides?
BM: I always want to quote from the book: "Put a flag on your car -- its literally the least you can do!"
B&N.com: Do you think Al Gore would have done anything differently than Bush has done, post-9/11, such as a Manhattan Project to get us off of foreign oil?
BM: One of the posters is called "WE DID...WE COULD." It depicts President Kennedy at the presidential podium on one side of the poster, and quotes him: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon."
Underneath that, it says, "WE DID." On the other side of the poster, there's an empty podium, with words that I only wish an American would speak: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of being completely independent of foreign oil." Underneath that it says, "WE COULD."
Al Gore should defend more vociferously what he said in his book, that weaning ourselves off the internal combustion engine should be a national goal and priority.
B&N.com: Now that the Clinton surplus has seemingly been replaced by the Bush deficit, the White House is starting to balk at spending money on things like prescription drugs and drought relief. Weren't the Bush tax cuts simply a conservative tactic to reduce the size of government, via reduced spending?
BM: And not a new tactic at that. This was the old Reagan approach: "Starve the beast." Except when the beast is Congress, it never starves, it just borrows. That's how we ended up with the huge deficit that caused Bush's father to lose his job when he raised taxes to heal it. One has to wonder whether it hurts Bush Sr. that his son, as president and candidate, hews solely to the philosophy and playbook of the man who was always Bush Sr.'s nemesis, Ronald Reagan.
B&N.com: You have a chapter on airline security. I read this morning that airlines are already trying to get around and delay the tougher security guidelines imposed in the wake of the attacks. How safe do you feel when you get on a plane these days?
BM: I feel safe, but not because of anything we're doing. Our security at the airport is a joke, as everyone knows. We gave Variety one chapter from my book for advance publication, and it's one of the chapters dealing with this issue, and is currently posted on my web site.
The cold comfort I have on a plane is the belief that terrorists tend not to repeat the same trick over and over. You know how it is when you're a bloodthirsty zealot: So many targets, so little time.
B&N.com: You've gotten into some trouble because of your views on "organized religion." Isn't it the overzealous exercise of religious belief that resulted in 9/11? Don't we get into trouble when we take our beliefs too far?
BM: Folks who watched Politically Incorrect over the years know I'm no fan of organized religion, to say the least. I found it disheartening that the immediate response to 9/11 from so many quarters in America was to pray and ask for greater religious devotion and for God to bless our country -- the very things that cause so much trouble in the world. Of all the things that should be regulated because they carry the potential of creating death -- like guns or drugs -- religion should really be put on the top of the list.
B&N.com: Your show was called Politically Incorrect, but ABC seemingly canceled it because it didn't like a politically incorrect comment you made about the 9/11 suicide bombers. Do you now plan to write politically incorrect books instead?
BM: This is my third book, and every time I write one I say, "I'm not an author, I hate to stay in for months at a time in front of a computer screen, and it's just an aberration." But I'm starting to wonder. I certainly would never do it full time, but When You Ride Alone has inspired me to see how much a book can really mean, if the timing is right and it's serving a bigger master than profit and there's nothing else like it out there.
Posted November 27, 2003
In this day and age all too few are raising their voices in dissent. The fascism that is rising in this country is scarcely comparable to what it will be if the junta that stole the country manages to do so again. With a measured voice Maher tells the truth as it is and points out the hypocrisy of the rank and file who can justify all manner of ugly business under the cloak of patriotism. Reading this book shows me yet another sign of courage and life amidst the clamoring voices of the ditto heads. It makes you realize just how stupid and deceived you have to be to buy into the reasons for this administrations outrageous behaviors. It also points out the power of the hard core neo-cons to influence the cowardly and the fence sitters. God help America if people don't begin to listen to the few voices of conviction like Bill Maher. Something has gone missing in America and it all comes down to greed and fear. The ultimate result is a lot of very fat people quaking inside their jello-shaking flesh as they insulate themselves from their feelings and justify each new enormous mis-deed with whatever it is that has replaced their conscience. The words of Frank Zappa return with a terrible irony, 'and they said it couldn't happen here.' It is happening here. Wake up America.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 17, 2003
There is no doubt that Maher has hit many things on the head. No one wants to be told to curb their lifestyle, it isn't in vogue not to be excessive. I think that is why so many got upset with this book. They can see themselves and many of their actions held up to scrutiny and shown for what they really are, window dressing. People are quick to try and cover their own embarassment at being found out as fakes that they are and quick to yell 'Unpatriotic!' or demand political (over)correctness. It is sad to see common sense forgotten and 'the good (feelings, esteem) of one over the best for all' taken as the best approach. Shortsightedness limits the view to the future.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 24, 2003
Posted June 24, 2003
Bill Maher not only shows time after time his lack of patriotism, but his refusal to see any good in anything. He is negative and sarcastic and many times rather than offering a solution to any of our nations problems offers critcism to public leaders and private organizations offering to make a difference. Rather lazily sitting by critcizing he could step up to plate, like many of todays celebrities, to use his influence to make a difference. Hated the book, but most of all hated what the book represents.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 10, 2003
The way Bill Maher goes ahout introducing the many problems with how the government is handling the current situations is absolutely hilarious. The illustrations, although sometimes extreme, make you want to go tape them all over someones SUV...a great book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 8, 2003
Correct me if I'm going senile in my old age, but wasnt the bombing on 9/11/01. How could he remark about it on 9/9/01? ------------------------------- On September 9, 2001, a remark he made on his show caused quite an uproar: 'We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away, that's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 10, 2003
Maher gives a remarkably humorous and sarcastic, yet accurate representation of the state of our country today. In the war on terrorism, he points out that to win, we must be logical. Yet we are too worried about people's feelings. The bottom line in any line of business is getting things done, and doing whatever is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. I myself would be considered a minority. However, I agree wholeheartedly that racial profiling would be necessary if we are going to combat terrorism effectively.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 25, 2002
The comments in this "picture book" on Islam being forced on the people, are historically misguided. Historians have, across the board, termed this "sword" claim as a "debunked hypothesis" (See Philip K. Hitti's, A Short History of the Arabs 1973:59). An analysis of the adoption of Islamic names reveals that over a century and a half after the "conquests", less than 10% of the population of those areas was Muslim. This suggests that the masses accepted Islam much later and not as a result of the conquest (see Albert Hourani's, A History of the Arab Peoples (1991), page 46-47). Prominent Western historians (like Edward Gibbon) have called this "sword" propaganda a myth. Why are you perpetuating a myth that has been debunked by experts who scientifically analyze the evidence? The author's silence about "Holy Violence" in the Torah, and the explicit racism of the Old Testament that has been translated into the present day apartheid regime of modern Israel, shows dishonesty and insincerity. He claim that U.S Foreign Policy cannot be criticized by today's Muslims because Muslims who lived 1400 years back allegedly had a "conquering to convert" foreign policy is not only absurd, it reeks of the Israeli claim that since their ancestors allegedly inhabited Palestine 2000 years back, they are justified today in stealing the entire area from its indigenous Arab population. It is a almost non-researched, agenda driven "picture" book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2002
Bill Maher's new book sounds like an alarm clock waking us from a comfortable but dangerous sleep. In brief, hard-hitting chapters, he exposes why the U.S. government would rather strip away your privacy than stand up to big oil (keep driving those SUVs alone)or ruffle the political feathers of foreign leaders. Those who strip away our freedoms and privacy in the name of waging war against terror run the risk of destroying exactly those core American values for which they claim to be fighting.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 11, 2002
Bill Maher's new book is refreshing and insightful. In a country that our President has repeatedly described as "at war," Maher recalls what those words meant in previous wartimes when (as in World War II), conserving energy and oil were huge priorities to all Americans. With deep intelligence and humor, Maher takes a very serious look at the current state of events from a much needed global perspective. He reminds us that "we are all in this together," as opposed to "every man for himself." The book is beautifully illustrated with modern-day replicas of wartime posters, a medium which, he explains, not only reflected American priorities during previous wars but also served as a vital tool in helping Americans understand what they could do to help with the war effort. Maher's creativity, patriotic spirit, and courage to break from convention reveal that he is a true American hero. This is a wonderful book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 7, 2002
Amid a world that has changed so much in the last year, Bill Maher's new book tells it like it is. In a country that our President has repeatedly described as "at war," Maher recalls what those words meant during previous wartimes when (as in World War II), conserving energy and oil were huge priorities to all Americans. With great intelligence and humor, Maher takes a very serious look at the current state of events from a much needed global perspective. He reminds us that "we are all in this together," as opposed to "every man for himself." The book is beautifully illustrated with modern-day replicas of wartime posters, a medium which not only reflected American priorities during previous wars but also served as a vital tool in helping Americans understand what they could do to help with the war effort. Maher's insightful creativity, patriotic spirit, and courage to break from convention reveal that he is a true American hero.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 7, 2002
Good reading, points well taken. A man not afraid to speak his mind. I think the American people have become to complacence and don't grasp the full picture of the global threat of terrorism that we now face. They would only have to read Inside Al Qaeda by Rohan Gunaratna and I believe then they would understand better what Mr. Maher is trying to say. Gunaratan's book is scary, but a must read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2002
Hey, Dr. Phil isn't the only one who tells it like it is. Bill Maher pulls no punches and says it all with wit and humor. I love the way he trashes todays climate in light of these nutty terrorists.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 6, 2002
I am a huge Bill Maher fan, and was so sad when "Politically Incorrect" was canceled. I picked up his book thinking that it was going to be funny and edgy. And it is. But it is sooo much more. This book is exactly what every American needs. We are fighting terrorism, yet citizens don't do anything to help out the government. He has some great ideas and his book is terrific. Get it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2002
The intent of this book is to have everyone super prepared for terrorism on the scale the USA was during World War II. Everyone knew World War II would be over within a certain time frame. No One knows when the war on terrorism will end, my opinion is not until its all over. Who wants to live like the people in the Era of World War II forever. I think the message is sincere, but get real, we have to live our lives freely, not in perma fear and perma sacrifice. Id like to recommend a good book on this subject.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2011
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Posted December 7, 2011
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Posted January 2, 2009
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Posted May 5, 2010
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