Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Stupid Reader of the Day

I spend a couple hours each morning answering my e-mail. I figure, if people are generous enough with their time to read Candorville each morning, the least I can do is take time to answer them when they write to me. The best part of this job is hearing from people all over the world whom I'd never meet otherwise. Whether readers agree with me or not, I appreciate hearing from them. And if they write to me even to respectfully disagree, I return that respect. If people write because they don't believe a fact they read in Candorville, I respond with my sources, so that even if they continue to disbelieve it, they'll know where I'm coming from and why I say what I say.

But there are a few different types of e-mails that tick me off. People who begin their e-mails with "I believe in free speech, BUT..." are the worst, but luckily they're among the least common. Most people seem to understand that freedom of speech is absolute except in extreme cases, and that political satire isn't one of those extreme cases. E-mails telling me to stop saying what I'm saying are almost as bad, because they're usually followed by poorly reasoned nonsense, faulty assumptions and whining -- in short, they're a complete waste of time. ...Or they would be, if they didn't provide me with an endless source of ideas for the strip.

Here's one of those, which wins the coveted spot of Stupid Reader of the Day (for the sake of authenticity, I left in his spelling mistakes):

Hey Mr. Bell,
I was offended by words in your last version that appeared in my paper of December 25th. All people of color are not that gullable to believe the lies of the liberal press. We don't all hate our courty and our president. Although you made it look as all us folks are depressed and hopless, people I talk to say things were much worse years ago. Stop making us look like a bunch of un-American loosers who constantly complain and are full of hate. Merry Christmas

After a few years of politely answering e-mails from a wide variety of readers, I've developed the superhuman ability to tell which ones deserve a polite, thoughtful response, and which ones deserve to be summarily dismissed (a.k.a. "spanked"). Here's my response:

First of all, it's spelled "loser."

Now, who told you Lemont represents "all people of color"? When Homer Simpson overeats, do you think White people are ridiculous enough to write to the Simpsons producers and tell them "You made it look as if all of us folks are obese and overeat"? Well, I'm sure some of the more obtuse audience members do, but they're just as off-base as you are here. Just as Homer doesn't represent skinny, self-controlled White men, Lemont doesn't represent anyone who's not like him.

Furthermore, you need some more education in citizenship if you think satirizing what's wrong with society is the same thing as "hating America." People who bother to criticize today's state of affairs LOVE America, and don't appreciate what our current leadership is doing to it. If you think wanting our country to do better than it's doing is "full of hate," then you don't need any help from me to look like a loser.


Darrin Bell
Cartoonist, "Candorville"

Monday, December 12, 2005

New designs, products in the Candorville shop!

As part of our ongoing efforts to attack Christmas, we've created three brand new designs, in time for the holidays, that do not feature Santa Clause, and bear only a passing resemblence to Jesus. We also have several new products that you can have these designs printed on, including custom-made stamps, black t-shirts, and magnets (because your refrigerator's looking kind of empty).

Happy Christmahannukwanzaramadanurnalia!

This way to the Candorville shop!"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Candorville Book Sells Out

No, the book hasn't decided to wear a suit and tie and vote Theocratic. There's more than one meaning of the term "sellout," and one of them is damn good.

Back in October I decided to order a bunch of Candorville books from the publisher for use at book signings, etc... I e-mailed them about it last month, and they told me I'd have to wait until November 15 to order them, seeing as how it had sold out its first printing! They had to print up a new batch of books.

The second printing has shipped, so if you didn't find it on the shelf at your local bookstore, it'll probably be there now.

And if you'd rather buy online, you can get a signed copy directly from us. We'll even deface it with an autograph and a sketch before mailing it to you, and from now until Christmas, for every 5 copies you buy you'll get 1 free.

It makes a great gift for the hippies, neocons and degenerates in your family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Misreading America's Blunder

America's intelligence agencies - and America's leaders - don't have a monopoly on stupidity. Take this recent assessment by Asian analysts, which appears to be based on America's growing domestic opposition to Bush's bungled, grotesque misadventure in Iraq:

The overwhelming assessment by Asian officials, diplomats and analysts is that the U.S. military simply cannot defeat China. It has been an assessment relayed to U.S. government officials over the past few months by countries such as Australia, Japan and South Korea. This comes as President Bush wraps up a visit to Asia, in which he sought to strengthen U.S. ties with key allies in the region.

Most Asian officials have expressed their views privately. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has gone public, warning that the United States would lose any war with China.

'In any case, if tension between the United States and China heightens, if each side pulls the trigger, though it may not be stretched to nuclear weapons, and the wider hostilities expand, I believe America cannot win as it has a civic society that must adhere to the value of respecting lives,' Mr. Ishihara said in an address to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mr. Ishihara said U.S. ground forces, with the exception of the Marines, are 'extremely incompetent' and would be unable to stem a Chinese conventional attack. Indeed, he asserted that China would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons against Asian and American cities - even at the risk of a massive U.S. retaliation.The governor said the U.S. military could not counter a wave of millions of Chinese soldiers prepared to die in any onslaught against U.S. forces. After 2,000 casualties, he said, the U.S. military would be forced to withdraw."


Officials acknowledge that Mr. Ishihara's views reflect the widespread skepticism of U.S. military capabilities in such countries as Australia, India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. They said the U.S.-led war in Iraq has pointed to the American weakness in low-tech warfare.

"When we can't even control parts of Anbar, they get the message loud and clear," an official said, referring to the flashpoint province in western Iraq.Read the whole article at Insightmag.com

Some in America will surely point to this and tell us that the growing opposition to the Iraq Occupation is responsible for our allies viewing us as weak. Those dumbasses will be just as misguided as Ishihara. War opposition doesn't weaken us -- the fact that our leaders gave us a war that Americans have to oppose is what weakens us. The fact that, for the first time in history, we're funding a war by borrowing money from China instead of taxing ourselves weakens us.

The Bush administration has long held that invading & occupying Iraq would send a message to the rest of the region and the world. Apparently it's sent the wrong message. What the analyst above fails to recognize is that while Americans detest the mounting casualties in Iraq just as we did in Vietnam, we are more than willing to sacrifice far, far more than 2000 of our men and women for a cause that's just. World War Two was such a cause. Afghanistan would have been such a cause if the President hadn't tricked us into prioritizing Iraq. The Iraq occupation is not that cause. Repelling an armed attack from China upon us - or our Asian allies - would be. If our leaders abandoned their obsession with disastrous tax giveaways to the rich that indebt us to China, and if we're forced to fight in defense of ourselves or our allies, we would have the support of the rest of the Western world and we'd have a good chance of success. Americans gradually and properly decide to cut our losses when we finally awaken to the fact that we're wrong. But when Americans are on the right side of history, there's no burden we wouldn't bear. The descendants of freed slaves, and survivors liberated from Nazi death camps can attest to that.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Mad Redundant

A few things in life are certain, aside from the death & taxes cliché. Frustration is a certainty. Heartbreak is a certainty. Punk-ass Democrats are a certainty. Sorry for being redundant. Yet again, frightened Democrats demonstrate why Republicans call them weak and why apathetic non-voters continue to believe they have nobody to speak for them:

"Democrats angrily attacked the GOP move, then lined up with Republicans to vote against a troop withdrawal in hopes of draining the issue of its political significance. The vote was 403-3 against the measure."
-Washington Post

The Democrats had a chance to make a stand and they blew it. They could have handed America what it wants and needs - an opposition party dedicated to bringing our troops home - and they blew it. They could have fought for the troops who are risking their lives in an occupation that's not turning out as we'd hoped, but they chose to side with the Republicans and leave them in harm's way in order to "(drain) the issue of its political significance." What's it going to take for Democrats to grow a spine and start fighting for the majority of Americans who want the troops home as soon as possible? Will Bush's dismal approval rating have to sink as low as Cheney's (19%. 19 f****** percent!)? Will polls have to show them 90% of Americans want our men and women home? What will it take before the Democrats realize it's "safe" to be brave?

Friday, November 04, 2005

New SUSAN GARCIA design available in the Candorville shop!

Has this ever happened to you: You're reading the comic strip Candorville. Suddenly you wonder: This is great and everything; I like Susan, Lemont and Clyde -- but maybe, just maybe... it would be even better if I could somehow get their heads on little round magnets. Maybe even a thong. Well, wonder no more!

Visit the Candorville shop to buy t-shirts, mugs and more featuring the Candorville characters, Lemont, Susan and Clyde. Right now there's a brand new Susan Garcia design available in the Candorville shop. Candorville merchandise makes excellent Christmahannukwanzaramadan gifts...

Visit the Candorville shop!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Profiting from terror (again and again and...)

I'm beginning to wonder if there's any tragedy or potential tragedy our leaders can't profit from...

NEW YORK (Fortune) - The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world.

Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.

The forms don't reveal the exact number of shares Rumsfeld owns, but in the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer.
The Administration just demanded that we spend $7.1 billion to produce a vaccine for a disease that doesn't exist (human-human transmitted bird flu simply hasn't happened, despite the Media scare). Coincidentally, Donald Rumsfeld just got $1 million dollars richer because he owns a great deal of stock in the one company that just happens to produce the only medicine on earth that purportedly vaccinates against bird flu. Echoing the Cheney/Halliburton relationship, Rumsfeld RAN the company until he joined the Bush administration in 2001 (coincidentally, it was around this time that Bush suddenly became interested in pandemics). Based on the recent Administration track record of war and disaster profiteering, it's hard not to suspect this is, in part, a big heaping handout to Rumsfeld.

...Until I put on my tinfoil hat and tune in Fox News. That's when I realize -- hey, coincidences happen, especially when you're governed by the super-rich.

One passage that caught my eye was the part about multi-millionaire Rumsfeld being among the richest members of the cabinet. The key members of this administration are gaining second and third (hell, fifteenth) fortunes as a direct result of the actions of this administration. This administration is one giant conflict of interest.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Be careful what you wish for...

As Think Progress notes, the Miers withdrawal was not a victory. While Miers may have turned out to be a fanatical wingnut, we have hard evidence the new nominee already is:

In his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito concurred with the majority in supporting the restrictive abortion-related measures passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in the late 1980’s. Alito went further, however, saying the majority was wrong to strike down a requirement that women notify their spouses before having an abortion. The Supreme Court later rejected Alito’s view, voting to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1991]

Alito dissented from a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated against on the basis of race. The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers by “immuniz[ing] an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate was the result of conscious racial bias.” [Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997]

In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, the majority said the standard for proving disability-based discrimination articulated in Alito’s dissent was so restrictive that “few if any…cases would survive summary judgment.” [Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1991]

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) “guarantees most workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one.” The 2003 Supreme Court ruling upholding FMLA [Nevada v. Hibbs, 2003] essentially reversed a 2000 decision by Alito which found that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. [Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, 2000]

In Doe v. Groody, Alito agued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home. [Doe v. Groody, 2004]

In two cases involving the deportation of immigrants, the majority twice noted Alito’s disregard of settled law. In Dia v. Ashcroft, the majority opinion states that Alito’s dissent “guts the statutory standard” and “ignores our precedent.” In Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, the majority stated Alito’s opinion contradicted “well-recognized rules of statutory construction.” [Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003; Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, 2004]

In Rover v. Winthrop, Alito dissented from the majority in arguing that a police officer did not violate a puppy's constitutional rights when he repeatedly kicked it in the behind during a routine traffic stop. [Rover v. Winthrop, 2005]

OK, the last one was entirely made up here in the offices of the Courier (or was it?). I believe the replacement of Miers with Alito can be found on page 231 of the Be careful what you wish for primer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Reader Mailbag - Inspiration Down Under

A reader wrote in about the current Candorville storyline, in which Lemont is interviewing a Hurricane Katrina survivor:

Dear Darrin Bell,

I thought you may like to know about something you inspired me to do. I contacted the State Emergency Service in my home state (Victoria, Australia), and suggested that (if they don't already do so) they develop and maintain a database of volunteers who would have space to carry extra people in an evacuation - and offered my family as volunteers.

I thought about how many empty car seats would have left New Orleans before the hurricane struck. I thought about the fact that we would have four adult seats and two child seats available, if we had to evacuate. And I decided to do something about it, not just on a personal level, but on a state level.

You were not the only inspiration, but the stories of the people Lemont has been interviewing, and the fact that they're based on true stories... well. I've done something. However small. And should we have to evacuate here, for real, I'll at least try to carry out people who need it.

Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Circling the Drain - Perjury and Obstruction of Justice

It's looking more and more likely that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald may indict Scooter Libby on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. The New York Times is reporting that previously undiscovered notes taken by Scooter Libby himself prove beyond doubt that he learned the identity of Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife from Dick Cheney. However, in sworn testimony given before the Special Prosecutor, it looks like Libby perjured himself by claiming he first learned her identity from journalists, and obstructed justice when he declined to name Dick Cheney as his source.

"It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government's deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration. But any effort by Mr. Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Mr. Cheney could be considered by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, to be an illegal effort to impede the inquiry."


"The notes help explain the legal difficulties facing Mr. Libby. Lawyers in the case said Mr. Libby testified to the grand jury that he had first heard from journalists that Ms. Wilson may have had a role in dispatching her husband on a C.I.A.-sponsored mission to Africa in 2002 in search of evidence that Iraq had acquired nuclear material there for its weapons program.

But the notes, now in Mr. Fitzgerald's possession, also indicate that Mr. Libby first heard about Ms. Wilson - who is also known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame - from Mr. Cheney. That apparent discrepancy in his testimony suggests why prosecutors are weighing false statement charges against him in what they interpret as an effort by Mr. Libby to protect Mr. Cheney from scrutiny, the lawyers said."
Mr. Fitzgerald is expected to announce whether he will indict either Libby or Karl Rove (or both) on Friday when the term of the grand jury expires. You'd think Fitzgerald would announce his decision a few days early, to give cartoonists a chance to get something in before press deadlines Friday.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Serenity Now

The thing about being a married 30 year-old with bills to pay and work to do, is that you rarely have time, money or the inclination to see even the most kick-ass movie twice in the theater. For the first 20 or so years of your life, having your shoes stick to the floor while a brat sitting behind you kicks your seat is sort of charming. Especially if you bring a date, in which case you don't notice all that because you're trying to time your popcorn-reaching just right so you brush against her hand with yours. But by 30, it gets kind of old -- and that's before you factor in the $30 you're going to spend for two tickets, popcorn, a hot dog and a drink. Even if you still love seeing first-run films in the theater, odds are good you aren't going to see any one film twice in that theater.

2005, despite the hype about Hollywood being in the dumps, has been a good year for films, at least as far as I'm concerned. Revenge of the Sith largely washed away the bitter taste of the first two prequels. Batman Begins showed this fan of Tim Burton's films that they had been jokes - pretenders - all along. Sideways, which many have taken to labeling "overrated" (no doubt because calling anything "overrated" always bestows some unearned cool points), was engrossing. And now there's Serenity.

The New York Times has a dead-on writeup of Serenity, the new film by Joss Whedon based on his defunct TV series, "Firefly."

It probably isn't fair to Joss Whedon's "Serenity" to say that this unassuming science-fiction adventure is superior in almost every respect to George Lucas's aggressively more ambitious "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." But who cares about fair when there is fun to be had? Scene for scene, "Serenity" is more engaging and certainly better written and acted than any of Mr. Lucas's recent screen entertainments. Mr. Whedon isn't aiming to conquer the pop-culture universe with a branded mythology; he just wants us to hitch a ride to a galaxy far, far away and have a good time. The journey is the message, not him.
Somehow, with a fraction of the budget, Whedon and the vfx wizards at Zoic Studios created a universe every bit as fantastic and realistic as Lucasfilm did for Star Wars. But damn, the writing and the characterizations in this film are something to behold. Not because of how impressive they are, but because of how down to earth they are.

Serenity cost $40 million to make, and word on the Net is if it earns $80 million (at least $40 million domestic), we'll get at least one more sequel. So far it's earned about 1/4th of that domestic number. In an ordinary world that would be great news, but we're living in a world where a film that doesn't open big is considered DOA unless it gets enough word of mouth business to keep it on screens for a few months (like Big Fat Greek Wedding a few years back).

Trust me, guys, this film is worth seeing, even if you're not familiar with the TV series it was based on (all the backstory is included in the first five minutes of the film). It's worth seeing even if you're not a fan of science fiction, because this is an engaging, fun and poignant story about a group of people down on their luck who discover something to believe in. The people and their relationships are what's important here, not the visual effects. Science Fiction is only a genre they chose to tell the story in, but this could just as easily have been told as a Western, or as a contemporary action drama. These people could just as easily be driving around in Toyotas to escape Homeland Security rather than flying around in space ships to escape an interplanetary alliance, and it would be just as entertaining.

There aren't too many films I'd care to spend $30 to see more than once. I would have seen Batman Begins five times if I could have rounded up enough people to go with me. I saw Serenity a few days ago, but I'm going to see it again this Friday in Emeryville, partly to do my bit toward making sure we get a sequel, but mostly because that's just how good this movie is. Who's with me?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rita Evacuees Can't Believe They're Being Housed In Jail

The current Candorville storyline has been prescient, unfortunately.

What's a cartoonist to do when real life keeps pace with satire?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Cartoonists Without Borders

A few of us are building a web site to help direct donations to the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts. As Michael Jantze put it, "our goal is to make sure we all stay focused on the needs of the victims for the long haul."

Check it out at CartoonistsWithoutBorders.com

Monday, September 12, 2005

Candorville Asks for Katrina Accountability

Here we go... Today Candorville begins its look at the response to Hurricane Katrina -- the most pathetic response to a disaster I've witnessed in my lifetime. I was expecting the usual head-buried-in-sand responses to this week's strips, but so far I've only received one. Maybe the failures of our leaders this time were too obvious and irrefutable.

Monday: In today's strip, as the rest of the nation did two weeks ago, Lemont puts two and two together. A reader from Northbrook, IL had a problem with that:

"The assertion that many of the first responders from Lousiana were in Iraq is a lie. There is enough objective blame to be assigned, why throw up smoke screens?"
Now, I was expecting e-mails from people who simply don't think the Katrina disaster should be discussed on the comics page, or from people repeating the childish "blame game" retort (a weapon that those deserving of blame have always used whenever someone suggests they should be held accountable for their inept behavior). But I wasn't quite expecting an e-mail from someone who's been on Mars for the past two weeks and wasn't aware that large numbers of Gulf Coast National Guard troops are stationed in Iraq (with their equipment, which would have come in handy in New Orleans) and were unable to respond to the hurricane.

What's next, an e-mail saying "Hurricane? What hurricane? That whole thing is a lie. Why throw up smokescreens?"

I haven't even begun to talk about the racial aspects of the response, but the more first-hand accounts you read, the more clear it becomes that the racial element is very real, and very disgusting.

Tuesday:Today's strip comments on the two photos that have been making the rounds around the Internet. One shows a Black person wading through chest-deep water, carrying food. The Black person is called a "looter," while the White couple is depicted as "finding" the food. The other shows a White couple doing the same. A Chicago reader was offended by Candorville raising the issue:
"Liberals dislike George Bush because they say he never admits to a mistake. Yet when a substantial portion of the black community in New Orleans behaves abominably in the face of a natural disaster, liberals blame the media.

You have a thug in your strip for whom you cut no slack. Why make excuses for thugs in New Orleans?"

As Snopes points out, there were reasons for the different labels. But those reasons are immaterial, as far as I'm concerned. Here's my response:
"I'm sorry, but that's just ridiculous. Taking food in a situation like that is no crime. You know you'd do it too, and you'd be right to do it to feed yourself and your family. Taking TVs and stereos is wrong (and White people did that too, but for some reason we didn't see images of that on CNN), but a "substantial portion" of the Black community filled their bags with pampers and food, not with DVD players."

Has anyone seen a photo of a White person in New Orleans described as a "looter?" In two weeks of searching, I haven't found one. Surely they exist, but they're not easy to find.

Whatever the reason, Blacks were more likely to be called "looters" and Whites were more likely to "find" or "take" food (not just in those photos, but on coverage I witnessed with my own eyes on CNN). The Supreme Court long ago (in the area of voting rights, but it applies everywhere IMO) settled that discrimination of results is just as bad as discrimination of intent, and I agree with that. The news services should have taken into account the circumstances (a mostly poor Black area, no food for days, no way to get to an ATM machine, and no money obviously meant most of the people taking supplies would be Black). In light of the circumstances the Media should have refrained from calling ANYONE a "looter" if they were only taking what they needed to survive. I believe taking this sort of situation into account when establishing guidelines for reporting is the Media's responsibility, and in their coverage of that part of the tragedy, they came up short.

Monday, August 29, 2005

NEW -- Talk about Candorville in our new DISCUSSION FORUM!

We receive a lot of feedback from our readers via e-mail, but now we've set up something for those of you who'd rather give feedback in public -- someplace where you can chat with the cartoonist and other Candorville readers. Candorville now has its own discussion forum! Consider yourself invited to participate. All we ask is that you respect other posters, and that you don't post anything illegal, bigoted or adult in nature (or it'll be deleted). You can even post links to your own website. Come on in and talk about the latest strips, your favorite characters, the issues raised in Candorville, or whatever's on your mind. And if you disagree with what you see in Candorville, now's your chance to talk back!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Candorville in the San Francisco Chronicle

If you live in SF, you can see Candorville every Monday on the Opinion page of the SF Chronicle, starting today. Supposedly it's going to run for the next 9 months, while Tom Meyer is on sabbatical. They may extend it longer than that, based on reader feedback, so if you like seeing it there, don't be shy about telling them (via a letter to the editor).

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Seattle readers - Write to the Times Now!

The Seattle Times has switched to a 50" web which means less room for comics, and as one of the newest comics, Candorville's been squeezed off the page (last hired, first fired).

We know that despite the change-up, the editors at the Seattle Times like Candorville and there's a good chance they'd restore it to the page IF readers write in and ask them to.

If you're a Seattle Times reader -- in print, online or
anywhere in the country -- and you want to keep reading Candorville in the Times, you should e-mail the Times at timescomics@seattletimes.com and/or call them at 206-464-2200 and let them know you want to see Lemont, Susan and Clyde put back in the paper. Papers do listen to their readers.

As Lemont would say, the only thing worse than not trying is a spam sandwich. I still haven't figured out what he means by that.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

NEWSFLASH - Karl Rove Leaked Undercover CIA Operative's Name?

Does the United States still care when its citizens commit acts of treason during wartime? If so, then Karl Rove may be in a bit of trouble.

For the past couple years, federal investigators have been pursuing a couple of journalists who have refused to reveal the names of the "high ranking" Bush administration officials who leaked the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame either directly to reporters, or to others in the White House (who lacked proper security clearance) who in turn leaked the name to reporters. According to Plame's husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, this was done in retaliation for his revealing that one of Bush's main pieces of evidence proving Saddam Hussein was building WMD was false.

George Bush Sr. described the outing of an undercover federal agent as an act of treason. Whether that's true as a matter of law is debatable, but it is at least a federal crime. Time Magazine decided to release reporter Matthew Cooper's notes to the federal prosecutors, and according to early reports, those notes name Bush political advisor Karl Rove as the source who leaked the CIA operative's name to the Media.

From Editor & Publisher:

In another development, senior MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell said Friday night on the TV talk show The McLaughlin Group that he had learned that the Cooper documents reveal White House aide Karl Rove as the source.

In a functioning democracy with a responsible bipartisan government, Karl Rove would be prosecuted for committing a federal crime, and possibly for treason. He would surely lose his job, in any case, but would likely spend several years behind bars (or worse, considering the penalty for treason during wartime).

Ssomeone who commits treason against the United States should be punished, even if that person resides in the halls of power. But the history of the last five years has shown that the one-party government refuses to condemn - much less prosecute - its own operatives when their wrongdoings are discovered. I think it'll play out this way:

The White House will first say the documents are all wrong. They'll deny the accuracy, unless corroborating reports come out from some other reporter. They'll point to the fact that Time's Matthew Cooper never wrote a story about this, and say that the reason he didn't write a story was because he didn't have enough evidence (they'll ignore the fact that a source isn't evidence, and simply try to discredit the reporter's notes).

If that fails, three or four days later they'll start arguing that outing a CIA operative isn't really treason if that CIA operative isn't doing her job well (even though, by all credible accounts, she was). At the same time, they'll disparage Valerie Plame's character, imply she was doing something unworthy of a CIA operative (by implying she had her husband sent to Niger to purposely discredit Bush). They'll dig up any other dirt on Plame and Wilson, and if there isn't any they'll actually start referring to her as a woman who led a double life (making her undercover status into something sinister). Half the country will willfully swallow all this and start repeating these disingenuous arguments rather than believe their leaders have done something wrong. They'll believe Rove was simply doing the patriotic thing by protecting the Commander in Chief from a rogue CIA operative.

Rumsfeld and Cheney will make the talk show rounds, saying this is "old news," it's "been investigated over and over again" and that "the American people" don't care about it, and the Media will believe that.

Democrats will loudly call for Rove's firing and prosecution (and NO Republicans, not even the widely-respected John McCain, will join them), and the Republicans will point to that, claiming it's a partisan witch hunt. Porter Goss, the Bush operative the Administration installed in the CIA, will appear on the Sunday shows and say it's not a big deal, and then the White House will say "even the CIA says there was no wrongdoing here."

The Media will ignore the seriousness of the charge, and help the Republican government cast this as a partisan attack by talking only about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of "Democratic attempts to paint this in a negative light".

If all else fails, something will come along to distract the news media eventually, whether that's by Administration design or simply the fact that today's Media has ADD, and within one to two months, it will all be forgotten. And if anyone tries to bring it back up, the Media and the Republican regime will accuse them of rehashing old news that doesn't really matter.

Just watch.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Blogging Candorville

It's a slow day, so I thought I'd Google myself to pass the time, and found a couple blogs mentioning the Deep Throat series that ran in Candorville last week.

The Strips:
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six

The blog No Taming This Shrew says

...The past week or so of the cartoon called "Candorville," ...has been discussing what would happen if Deep Throat tried to leak information about a president today. Interesting and sickly funny.)

...and Scott-o-Rama says
One of my favorite comics, Candorville, has been taking an imaginary look as to what would happen if Nixon and Deep Throat happened in 2005 instead of back in 1973. How would things be different? How would the press cover it today? How would the public react to the scandal?

The comic's author presents a frighteningly realistic picture.
...to which a reader replies "How did I miss this post before? You read the comics, and chuckle until your blood suddenly freezes." Of course, another reader replies "It's true. Too bad it's not funny too."

There's nothing like the Internet to keep you humble.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings

What's going on here? Why are the U.S. and Russia shielding a dictator who boils his political opponents alive and shoots unarmed protesters? Isn't that incompatible with the national goal, as our president laid it out: to end tyranny in our world?

U.S. Opposed Calls at NATO for Probe of Uzbek Killings: "Defense officials from Russia and the United States last week helped block a new demand for an international probe into the Uzbekistan government's shooting of hundreds of protesters last month, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials."

Confusion over last Sunday's Candorville?

At the RACS(rec.arts.comics.strips) newsgroup, there's a little confusion over the numbers I used in last Sunday's cartoon:

Just a couple of thoughts.

The first is that Darrin's comic attempts to make it seem like Republicans filibuster all the time and Democrats rarely filibuster. I'm sure that isn't the case.

The second is that he is making selective use of statistics. He appears to be comparing the 7 Appellate Court nominees being blocked at the present time with some larger number of nominees that have been confirmed. I'm not sure, but he may be including cabinet members and ambassadors in the mix as well.

Mr. Bush has had 32 Appellate Court nominees returned from the US Senate. (Seven of those returned were nominated by Mr. Clinton in an unprecedented maneuver, so technically, the number of Mr. Bush's Appellate Court nominees stands at 25.)

The following site has links to the government's source documents for statistics on Appellate Court nominations for the last 50 years or so. He has also summarized things nicely so that the pattern of confirmations pops right out.

http://dalythoughts.com/index. php?p=2983

The fact is that the percentage of appellate court nominees that have made it through the nomination process has been steadily declining since Mr. Reagan's Presidency. If you check the numbers, you will find that both parties have been playing games with nominations in the final year of each President's term in office.

I'm sure there's a story to be told on the subject. I'm just not sure that Mr. Bell has found it.
My response (pasted here from the newsgroup):

I was relying on the following sources (newspaper articles, mostly). If the sources were incorrect, I apologize for not digging deeper. These sources stated (as did Sunday's Candorville cartoon) that Bush had sent 215 "judicial appointees" to Congress, and of those 205 had been confirmed (today I think the number would be 207). The cartoon used the generality, "judicial nominees". I'm not sure why Dann restricts the argument to appellate court nominees. I did not make a distinction between "appellate court nominees" and other judicial nominees because, unless I'm missing something, the Republicans in the Senate are not making that distinction. They are arguing that "judicial nominees" - IN GENERAL - should not be subject to the filibuster.

The cartoon may have indeed been stronger had I included more examples of Democratic filibusters, but the point of the cartoon is not just that this is a tradition in the Senate, but that the Republican claims to the contrary are specious (and, since they should know better, hypocritical). To that end, I weighted it with examples of Republican filibusters (including an imaginary one as the punchline).

My sources:

"Democrats have blocked 10 of Bush's 215 judicial nominees through filibuster threats, contending they were too far to the right to be fair judges; 205 have been confirmed."

"Since his election, Bush has had 205 of his 215 judicial nominations confirmed by the Senate, a confirmation rate of 95 percent."
-Louisville Courier-Journal

"Chuck Colson, you first. The president has submitted 215 judicial nominees; 205 -- that's 205 out of 215 -- have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. How can you say that the president is not getting a fair shake? "
-Chris Matthews, Hardball

"That's right, the Senate has confirmed 95 percent of President Bush's judicial nominees -- 205 of 215, with some still awaiting action. In little more than one term, President Bush has appointed 24 percent of all active federal judges and 20 percent of all Circuit Court judges. Republican appointees outnumber Democratic appointees on 10 of the country's 13 appeals courts."
-Charlotte News & Observer opinion piece

"Since Bush has been in office, he has made 215 judicial nominations and the Senate has confirmed 205 of them. Ten, including Owen and Brown, failed to win confirmation because of Democratic filibusters."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

CORRECTION for this Sunday's cartoon!

In panel three of this Sunday'sCandorville, I mention "Republican Senator Strom Thurmond from 1957." The point of the cartoon, and the reason I bring up Thurmond, is in response to Republican claims that the filibuster of many of Bush's judicial nominees is rooted in anti-Christian bigotry. This cartoon points out that the Republican Party is no stranger to bigotry itself. The only problem is, Strom Thurmond was a Democrat in 1957, not a Republican.

I realized that when I wrote the cartoon, and while I thought I'd made that clear, the amount of mail I've received this morning tells me that apparently it wasn't as clear as I thought. I meant to say that this is Republican Senator Strom Thurmond who switched TO the Republican Party because of the civil rights act, as he was back in 1957. I thought the following panel (where he says "Democrats are bigots, pure and simple, and I should know...) made it clear he was a Democrat at the time. But to head off confusion, I should have written "Democratic Senator Strom Thurmond from 1957, who later switched to the Republican Party.")

However, Thurmond's party affiliation in 1957 isn't the issue, because the Democratic Party is not the same party it was prior to the 1960s. The bigots in the party fled to the Republican Party (and now the power base that supported those Democratic bigots is the same one that supports modern-day Republicans) as a result of Nixon's "Southern Strategy." Strom Thurmond was instrumental in persuading segregationist Southerners to vote for Nixon rather than for George Wallace in 1968, and that's what gave Nixon his victory. The same Southern coalition that gave Democrats so much success beginning with Andrew Jackson, and going all the way down to Lyndon Johnson, has given Republicans equal success ever since Johnson left office (which is one reason why the only two Democrats to be elected president since 1968 have been Southerners who, before taking office, were considered to be conservative Democrats). The South, because it is the only segment of the Union to vote cohesively most of the time, is the power broker in this country.

Today's Republican Party is yesterday's Democratic Party. The parties switched in response to the tumultuous civil rights era. Jefferson Davis and Ben Tillman would be Republicans today, and Lincoln and Eisenhower -- if they were alive today -- would either have switched to the Democratic Party or they would be powerless moderates, in the vein of Olympia Snow, Lincoln Chafee or Christopher Cox.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A reader takes issue with Monday's Candorville

A reader took issue with this past Monday's strip, which satirized the White House's offensive against Newsweek Magazine. Since it appears to be based on a misconception, I'll post my answer to this reader here in case anyone else got the wrong idea:

Hello, Mr Bell,

I'm still catching up after an absence, but I wanted to take issue w/
C'ville Monday.

Hey, I'm a staunch fan, but I think you crossed a line w/ this edition.
Sure, you satirized the GWB/CBS News brouhaha last fall, but no one got
(physically) hurt. I think that satirizing the Newsweek fiasco that
resulted in lost human lives and casualties is equivalent to satirizing
9/11. I think you owe an apology to your readers.


Hi *****,

I understand how you feel, but if I were to refrain from satirizing blunders because lives were lost, I would have to refrain from satirizing Bush's handling of the Iraq War, wouldn't I?

I think you may have misunderstood the cartoon. I wasn't satirizing Newsweek, I was satirizing the way the Bush administration desperately tried to blame Newsweek for making a mistake that caused deaths in the Middle East. If that isn't a prime example of hypocrisy, I don't know what is. They said Newsweek shouldn't have published an article that was sourced by one person. Well, they started a WAR (that's killed, by some reports, 100 THOUSAND civilians) based bascially on the word of one source: a man the CIA thought was so unreliable that they gave him the code name "Curveball." All the rest of their intelligence was likely fixed around Curveball's claims, to add legitimacy to them. The White House tried to blame Newsweek for our tarnished image in the Middle East, but Newsweek didn't launch a war based on faulty intelligence. Newsweek hasn't gone almost two years without restoring electricity and water to much of Iraq (and Newsweek didn't deny Iraqi businesses the lucrative rebuilding contracts). Newsweek didn't build enormous, permanent military bases in Iraq along an oil pipeline (stupidly giving Iraqis even more reason to think we're there for the oil). Newsweek didn't torture prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. The Bush administration, not Newsweek, did all that, and THAT'S what's destroyed our reputation in the Middle East.

Newsweek made a technical mistake in the way they characterized the story, but let's not forget that the content of the story has been corroborated for the past couple years in other published stories featuring accounts of prisoners in Guantanamo. People in Afghanistan didn't riot because Newsweek wrote a story, they rioted because the Bush administration's actions over the past few years have made it very easy to believe the Newsweek story (and in fact, what Newsweek wrote about is mild compared to, again, the incidents of torture, rape and murder, and all the civilian deaths).

So, while I understand how you feel, I will never apologize for pointing out hypocrisy, especially when it's such a big, steaming example of hypocrisy. I would think you'd ask the Bush administration for an apology, instead, for callously using those 17 Afghani deaths as a way to shift blame from themselves to the Media.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Door's Wide Open

I was on stage at the Reubens a couple hours ago with Lalo giving a talk about "edgy" minority cartoonists. It really drove home the need for such a panel when I looked out at the audience (of about 100) and noticed they were ALL white. But the thing is, I know syndicate execs and sales people, and I know a few editors -- and they're just as eager as I am to see more minorities on the comics pages. So if you're a woman or a member of any minority, now's your chance. The door is wide open for you. The climate is nothing at all like it was when I was trying to break in 6 years ago...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bush: U.S. Image Tarnished by... NEWSWEEK?

WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House says Newsweek took a "good first step" by retracting its story that U.S. investigators found evidence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Quran, but it wants the magazine to do more to repair damage caused by the article.
Newsweek on Monday retracted the report in its May 9 issue after officials in the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department criticized its publication and its use of an anonymous source. Protests in Afghanistan, where more than a dozen people died and scores were injured in rioting, and demonstrations elsewhere in the Muslim world were blamed on the article.
"The report had real consequences," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday. "People have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged. There are some who are opposed to the United States and what we stand for who have sought to exploit this allegation. It will take work to undo what can be undone."

Apparently Newsweek is to blame for the U.S.'s tarnished image abroad. It makes sense. After all, Newsweek did lie to the world about the certainty of Hussein having WMD -- so that Newsweek could invade Iraq, kill tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and over 1600 U.S. soldiers, and install a Newsweek-friendly government. And let's not forget how Newsweek tortured and murdered prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other prisons throughout the Middle East and Cuba -- and definitely let's not forget how Newsweek's been coddling the dictators in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

And then there's the way Newsweek has unilaterally pulled us out of global warming treaties and the international criminal court. Oh, and the way Newsweek pulled funding from international family planning organizations in AIDS-ravaged countries unless those organizations taught abstinence-only instead of performing abortions and handing out condoms.

Newsweek has an awful lot to answer for.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Lucas jabs at 'Bush's empire' in new Star Wars film

From today'sJapan Today:

"And then came the zinger, with the protagonist, Anakin Skywalker, saying just before becoming Darth Vader: 'You are either with me or you are my enemy.'"

Come on, I hardly think this is enough to draw parallels between the prequel trilogy and the Bush administration. I mean, in the prequel trilogy the Galactic Republic was attacked by an army that had been programmed by a former associate of the Chancellor. Then, in response, the Chancellor started a war based on faulty intelligence in order to consolidate his power and diminish individual rights under the guise of a wartime act passed by the legislature.

Nothing at all like what's happened in the US in the past five years.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

White House Reporters Actually Do Their Job!

They're ordering knit caps and parkas in the underworld, because for once - for one brief, shining moment, the White House reporters decided to do their jobs (even if it's about a virtually inconsequential story). If they'd behaved this way during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, there may not have been an invasion of Iraq.

When reporters back each other up by repeating the same questions until they get answers, one of three things happens:

1. The reporters look like a-holes (if the questions are frivolous, such as, oh, I don't know -- questions about oral sex in the oval office)
2. The White House spokesman gives up spinning and answers the questions.
3. The White House spokesman keeps on spinning but at least it becomes obvious he's bullsh!tting.

Since I think this was a trumped up story to begin with, I'd say this is a combination of 1 and 3 (but mostly 3).

From Editor & Publisher:

Q: Scott, yesterday the White House was on red alert, was evacuated. The first lady and Nancy Reagan were taken to a secure location. The Vice President was evacuated from the grounds. The Capitol building was evacuated. The continuity of government plan was initiated. And yet the president wasn't told of yesterday's events until after he finished his bike ride, about 36 minutes after the all-clear had been sent. Is he satisfied with the fact that he wasn't notified about this?

McCLELLAN: Yes. I think you just brought up a very good point -- the protocols that were in place after Sept. 11 were followed. The president was never considered to be in danger because he was at an off-site location. The president has a tremendous amount of trust in his Secret Service detail. ...

Q: The fact that the president wasn't in danger is one aspect of this. But he's also the commander in chief. There was a military operation underway. Other people were in contact with the White House. Shouldn't the commander in chief have been notified of what was going on?

McCLELLAN: John, the protocols that we put in place after Sept. 11 were being followed. They did not require presidential authority for this situation. I think you have to look at each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation. And that's what officials here at the White House were doing. ...

Q: Even on a personal level, did nobody here at the White House think that calling the president to say, by the way, your wife has been evacuated from the White House, we just want to let you know everything is OK?

McCLELLAN: Actually, all the protocols were followed and people were -- officials that you point out were taken to secure locations or evacuated, in some cases. I think, again, you have to look at the circumstances surrounding the situation, and it depends on the situation and the circumstance. ...

Q: Nobody thought to say, by the way, this is going on, but it's all under control?

McCLELLAN: And I think it depends on each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation when you're making those decisions.

Q: Isn't there a bit of an appearance problem, notwithstanding the president's safety was not in question, protocols were followed, that today, looking at it, he was enjoying a bike ride, and that recreation time was not considered expendable to inform him of this.

McCLELLAN: Well, I mean, John mentioned 36 minutes after the all-clear. Remember, this was a matter of minutes when all this was happening. ...

Q: But has the President even indicated that even if everything was followed that he would prefer to be notified, that if the choice is: tell the commander in chief or let him continue to exercise, that he would prefer to be informed?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, it depends on the situation and the circumstances. And you have to take all that into account, and I think that's what people were doing here at the White House, as well as those people that were with the president.

Q: I think there's a disconnect here because, I mean, yesterday you had more than 30,000 people who were evacuated, you had millions of people who were watching this on television, and there was a sense at some point -- it was a short window, a 15-minute window, but there was a sense of confusion among some on the streets. There was a sense of fear. And people are wondering was this not a moment for the president to exercise some leadership, some guidance during that period of time?

MR. McCLELLAN: The president did lead, and the president did that after September the 11th when we put the protocols in place to make sure that situations like this were addressed before it was too late. And that was the case -- that was the case in this situation. ...

Q: I have one more question. When we walked out of this door yesterday, when those of us who heard that there was a situation, when we walked out of the door, we heard aircraft, jets overhead. There is a concern that that plane came closer to the White House than the White House said, more -- it came within the three-mile radius, it was closer than you --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said that it came within three miles.

Q: OK, but you said three miles. How close --

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it came within three miles.

Q: How close was it? Because someone has taken a picture of a plane being escorted on K street. How close was the plane?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I mean, if the Department of Homeland Security or FAA has any additional information, I'm sure --

Q: Scott, how close was it?

McCLELLAN: April, it was within --

Q: You know how close it was. Please tell us.

McCLELLAN: Yes, within three miles. I don't know beyond that. Go ahead.

Q: Might there be something wrong with protocols that render the president unnecessary when the alarm is going off at his house?

Read the rest of this amusing exchange at Editor & Publisher

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Cartoon in the NY Times Today

My "Rudy Park" partner and I have a cartoon in today's New York Times, in the Circuits section. Check it out if you get a chance. I don't think they've posted it on their website, so you'd have to check out the dead tree edition.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Candorville Can't Subtract

This week's Candorville series contains a typo.Corrections were sent out to newspapers, but who knows whether they got them in time. I know comics.com didn't. OK, it's not exactly a typo so much as it is bad math. Mr. Nixton, a loyal Republican character who's been in a coma since the Carter administration, wakes up to find the country a very different place. Unfortunately, instead of writing he'd been in a coma for 26 years, I said he'd been under for 36. Sometimes I wonder how I made it all the way through AP Calculus...

Monday, April 11, 2005

US subverting Democracy in Iraq?

Ironically, it seems possible that if "freedom" and "democracy" do take root in Iraq, it may be in spite of our efforts, not because of them.

From the London Independent:

"When the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq, they expected there would be a quick handover to carefully selected allies in a secular government that would be the opposite of Iran's theocracy, and perhaps even a counterfoil to Iran's regional aspirations. It is one of the greatest ironies of the US intervention that the Iraqi people instead used their first voting opportunity to elect a government with a strong religious base, and indeed with close links to the Islamic republic on their border. The US, having destroyed the sole major secular government in the region, is now at risk of replacing it with a theocratic regime."...

...Time magazine (27 September 2004) reported before the elections on a covert CIA operation to aid candidates favoured by Washington. It reported US officials as saying that the idea was to help such candidates, but "not necessarily" to go so far as to rig the elections. In the event, the United Iraqi Alliance of mainly Shia Islamist parties won only 48 per cent of the total vote, well below their share of the population. Interestingly, Reuters (13 February) reported a few hours before the election results were officially announced that "the United Iraqi Alliance said today it had been told by Iraq's Electoral Commission that it had won around 60 per cent of the vote in the country's election". This was later confirmed by the former US chief Unscom weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, who announced to a packed meeting in Washington state on 19 February that the United Iraqi Alliance actually gained 56 per cent of the vote, and that "an official involved in the manipulation was the source"...

...The significance of this voting manoeuvre is revealed in a Washington Post report (14 February): "A senior State Department official said yesterday that the 48 per cent vote won by the Shia slate deprives it of an outright majority. 'If it had been higher, the slate would be seen with a lot more trepidation'."

That our leadership would allegedly rig an election to achieve a desired outcome should come as no surprise to those who remember the voting "irregularities" in Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. However, in case influencing the outcome of the election isn't enough, the US may have a plan B:

There is already evidence of a strong movement in southern Iraq to establish autonomous Shia provinces as a precursor to introducing clerical rule in the whole country.

To forestall a clerical-driven religious regime, Washington has a plan in reserve, according to Asia Times (15 February), to arm small militias backed by US troops.
These militias would be comprised of members of Saddam Hussein's (some would say Fascist) Baath Party.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


So it's come to this...

I'm writing a letter to a friend in cursive right now, and I realize, it's been at least five years since I've written anything longer than my signature in cursive, by hand (and now that I think of it, my signature's degraded into a barely legible scribble that looks more like "Oin Zel" than "Darrin Bell"). I send dozens of e-mails per day, post in here and on other discussion forums nearly every day. I type over 60 words per minute.

But I've lost the ability to write in cursive without nearly having a nervous breakdown. In college, I could write longform as fast as I could type. I could make it through a whole day of final exams, filling up to four entire bluebooks without a sweat. After 5 years off, though, I'm finding it's all alien to me. It looks like a seventh grader's handwriting. I can't keep the @#$% lines straight. Keeping the pen pressed against the paper to make tight little turns and scribbles is excruciatingly mind-numbing. It's so @#$% slow compared to a keyboard. I can't remember how to write an upper case "J". I have a nearly irresistible urge to lift my pen from the paper after every letter, and IT'S DRIVING ME INSANE.

It's so frustrating, I wish I could hit delete and just start over in print instead of cursive. I've come to realize in the last few minutes that I may have discovered the only humane means of torture. Make a person either type or write in all-uppercase print for five years, then make him write three paragraphs in cursive. He'll tell you anything you want to know after the first paragraph.

I just had to release all the pent-up energy by typing this post. Now, back to the torture...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sign up for the Candorville newsletter

If you'd like to be notified when the Candorville book is released, or if you'd like to hear about appearances and other Candorville-related news or chat with other Candorville readers, you can sign up for the newsletter. You can choose to have it e-mailed to you or you can instead visit it on the Web whenever you'd like. All you have to do is send a blank e-mail to candorville-subscribe@googlegroups.com

Friday, February 25, 2005

CHAT LIVE with Darrin Bell @ the Washington Post today!

Join the chat at WashingtonPost.com or submit a question before the chat.

Join Washington Post Comics page editor Suzanne Tobin online once each month to discuss the comics pages. From artists to writers to editors, Tobin is joined by a different guest for each show. This week, Tobin will be joined by cartoonist Darrin Bell to discuss his cartoon, Candorville.

Join Tobin and Bell online on Friday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) to discuss the art of cartooning.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wondercon in San Francisco This Weekend!

I'll be manning the National Cartoonist's Society booth at Wondercon this Saturday from 1-2pm, where I'll be hawking Rudy Park books and reviewing portfolios. If you'd like signed copies of the two Rudy Park books, Peace, Love & Lattes and The People Must Be Wired, please stop by. Also stop by if you're an aspiring cartoonist who's looking for candid feedback about your work (make sure you actually bring the work with you - I don't want to see you pantomiming your comic strip. Well actually, I do - that would be cool). Or if you just want to meet me or other cartoonists, Wondercon's a great place to do it.

Too bad the first Candorville book won't be out unti September or October (sigh)...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

DETROIT UPDATE: Candorville to Return on Monday!

It looks like Candorville's going to be back in the Free Press next Monday, so we can call off the hounds, put the pitchforks back in the barn and stow away the rest of our metaphors.

I have a source - let's call him/her "Deepthroat" - who assures me this is just a temporary test-run, and that as of next week Lemont, Susan and Clyde will be reporting back to the bus stop for their continuing adventures. Although word on the set has it Clyde's demanding more money and a bigger dressing room. Industry insiders speculate that if Clyde holds out much longer, he may be replaced by Flava Flav, or possibly Malcolm Jamaal Warner.

Keep writing letters, though. Even if Candorville's not on the chopping block, newspaper editors appreciate hearing from their readers. It helps them decide which features are working for you and why.

Remember, you will still get free stuff (a sketch and a signed copy of the first Candorville book) if you write to other papers that don't currently run Candorville (make sure you live in that city, and that you send us a copy of your letter), and that paper ends up adding Candorville within one year of the date of your letter.

Detroit readers, make sure you check out this week's comics online, because this week's developments might be very important for one of our main characters.

DETROIT! Where'd Candorville go?

I woke up yesterday morning to find dozens of e-mails from Detroit readers asking where Candorville went. Apparently the Free Press pulled the strip yesterday. I'm not sure whether this is a permanent change or they're just trying out something new. If you live in Detroit and you want to keep reading Candorville, write to the Free Press and politely ask them to return Candorville to your comics page as soon as possible. This week's developments mark a turning point in the life of one of the main characters, and you dont' want to miss it.

Newspapers have to regularly update their comics pages to provide new stuff that appeals to an increasingly diverse readership. It's a shame they usually replace other new comics instead of the ones that are long since past their prime.

I've received a lot of feedback from readers in Detroit over the past year, so if you want to keep reading Candorville (and, incidentally, get some free stuff), now is the time to act:

As a bribe -- I mean, an "incentive," -- Anyone who writes a letter or e-mail to the Free Press and the News - and sends us a copy - will receive a free autographed sketch of Lemont, Susan and Clyde. If the Free Press restores Candorville after you send your note, you'll get a free signed copy of the first Candorville book when it comes out in the Fall. Also, Lemont and Clyde will mow your lawn for a month.

Detroit provides a lot of inspiration for Candorville. As a diverse city, Candorville is about you.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Who Really Won the Civil War?

This is a sample of the e-mails I've received this morning because of this strip, in which a small child questions who really won the Civil War.

"Good morning.

I've usually enjoyed your cartoon, but today I was really sad that you are perpetrating that tired old liberal lie about Ohio and some other states not letting people have enough voting machines.  Now, really, as a Democrat, you lost the election.  I don't know how to say it any other way, but you guys did and you did because people really did want a man of God in office.  I'm a conservative who voted for Bush - one of those who voted on moral issues and the war, and I have to say, what really makes the liberals sound so petty are people who keep talking about things that just aren't true.  I know you don't care, but heck, I thought I'd just write you and let you know that I wouldn't be reading your comic strip anymore.  I don't mind strips that are liberal or conservative, but actually, I enjoy the comics just to smile and get away from the other stuff.  That's why I don't read most political cartoons - although there are a few I enjoy.  So, anyway, I thought you might want to check facts next time before you put something like you did today in your comic strip.

I want you to know also, that I'm not angry with you, actually just disappointed that stuff like this keeps being portrayed as truth.  And, as for me, I stood in the voting line for 2 hours and my husband 3.  Guess we didn't have enough voting booths in our county either or we'd gotten done alot quicker than that.  I would have stood in line 10 hours if need be.  I'm just so thankful that I live in a place where all I have to do is stand in line a few hours and not get shot at just for voting. 

Anyway, have a great day."

I'll post my response here, because it's easier than sending it out to everyone who writes in.

Dear Ms. XXXX,

Thanks for taking the time to write. First I should point out that I'm not a Democrat. I'm also not a Republican. You don't have to be a Democrat to read the official investigations and the countless newspaper articles that described how Black people were disenfranchised both in 2000 and 2004. I know you believe you made a moral choice in November, but in my opinion, it's not moral to turn a blind eye to voter fraud. It's not reasonable to say it "just isn't true" in the face of official investigations, newspaper articles and first hand testimony that says it IS true. You may be right - Bush may have won the election in 2004, but we will never know because all the circumstantial evidence points to an unfair election (and if circumstantial evidence is sufficient for murder convictions, as the Supreme Court has long held, it's sufficient in cases of voter fraud). The lack of voting machines in Democratic and minority areas was only one aspect of the Ohio problem. I haven't even mentioned the fact that every "glitch" with the electronic machines resulted in tens of thousands of extra votes for Bush. Not a single error resulted in more votes for Kerry. I haven't brought up how the maker of those machines said, in his own words back in 2002, that he would make sure he delivers Ohio's votes to Bush in 2004. I haven't mentioned how the Republican Secretary of State, the man in charge of overseeing the election, was Bush's campaign chair in Ohio. I haven't even mentioned how he has since refused to comply with court orders that he turn over records from the election, or how he obstructed the recount until Congress ratified the vote.

You would have waited ten hours to vote, but would you have lost your job if you did? The Conyers investigation (link below) counted numerous instances of people (mostly minorities) who simply could not wait that long, either because they'd lose their job, they had to take care of a sick or elderly person at home, or they themselves were sick or elderly. It's not moral to dismiss that as "petty."

If you'd like to hear why I wrote what I did in today's comic strip, please read on:

First, the relevant links:

I did not approach this topic lightly, nor did I rely on hearsay. I relied on the official investigation into Election 2000 by the US Commission on Civil Rights and the official Conyers investigation (as official as it could be since the GOP House leaders refused to participate) into the Ohio voter fraud allegations. I'm afraid the disenfranchisement of Blacks in 2000 and 2004 is no myth. I understand that you would like to believe that in this day and age, nobody would resort to anti-democratic means to win an election in the U.S. I would like to believe that as well, but that simply is not the case. In Florida, the Republican secretaries of state in 2000 and 2004 employed a post Civil War/Jim Crow era law that was aimed at decimating the Black vote -- banning convicted felons from voting. That is a problem in itself, because statistics show Blacks are more likely than Whites to be convicted of felonies (that's the reason the law was enacted in the 19th Century, in opposition to Reconstruction).

But the immediate affront to democracy here, the one that's been proven by a US Commission on Civil Rights investigation, is that a company since renamed "ChoicePoint", which has ties to the Bush family and was hired by Florida's Secretary of State (who also just happened to be Bush's Florida campaign chairwoman), added thousands of people to the felon list wrongfully. These are people who were never convicted of felonies. According to Florida law, local officials were supposed to verify the findings of ChoicePoint, but in most cases they did not. These people who were wrongfully labeled felons were predominately Black. Thousands of Black people were barred from voting in Florida in 2000, and Bush's margin of victory was fewer than 550. Since 90% of Black voters in Florida voted for Gore, had those thousands of people been allowed to vote, It's certain the outcome would have been different.

This is not even taking into account the other instances discussed in the report, such as a police checkpoint being placed outside a polling location in a Black neighborhood, and doesn't take into account the fact that 65% of the spoiled ballots discarded as "spoiled" (in some cases because the voters wrote in "Al Gore" and that write in vote was counted as a stray mark that invalidated the ballots) were cast by Black voters.


Congressman John Conyers, Jr. of the House Judiciary Committee conducted an extensive investigation into reported abuses in Ohio. You can download the report as a PDF from the House website, or you can read the text of the report online here: http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/010605Y.shtml One of SEVERAL instances where the report concluded Blacks had been disenfranchised was this one: "The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters." Many more instances - over 100 pages worth - are catalogued in the Conyers report if you would like to see them for yourself.


Contrary to what you may have heard on Fox, CNN, internet weblogs or talk radio (all of whom have misquoted the findings of the USCR investigation over the years), the US Commission on Civil Rights concluded that 4439 Black voters who were incorrectly purged from the voter list by the company hired by Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris (who coincidentally was Bush's Florida campaign chair) were not allowed to vote. 90% of Blacks who voted in Florida in 2000 voted for Al Gore. 90% of 4439 is far greater than the margin of victory, which was fewer than 550 votes. In other words, if these Blacks hadn't been wrongfully purged from the voter roles, Al Gore would have won Florida in 2000. Here's the wording of the conclusion, and you can find the entire report online at http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/report/ch1.htm :


The Voting Rights Act prohibits both intentional discrimination and “results” discrimination. It is within the jurisdictional province of the Justice Department to pursue and a court of competent jurisdiction to decide whether the facts prove or disprove illegal discrimination under either standard. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights does not adjudicate violations of the law. It does not hold trials or determine civil or criminal liability. It is clearly within the mandate of the Commission, however, to find facts that may be used subsequently as a basis for legislative or executive action designed to protect the voting rights of all eligible persons.

Accordingly, the Commission is duty bound to report, without equivocation, that the analysis presented here supports a disturbing impression that Florida’s reliance on a flawed voter exclusion list, combined with the state law placing the burden of removal from the list on the voter, had the result of denying African Americans the right to vote. This analysis also shows that the chance of being placed on this list in error is greater for African Americans. Similarly, the analysis shows a direct correlation between race and having one’s vote discounted as a spoiled ballot. In other words, an African American’s chance of having his or her vote rejected as a spoiled ballot was significantly greater than a white voter’s. Based on the evidence presented to the Commission, there is a strong basis for concluding that section 2 of the VRA was violated."

Thanks again for writing, and I hope you'll continue to read Candorville.


t r u t h o u t - The Conyers Report: What Went Wrong in Ohio: "The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Candorville causes bipartisan cooperation in Washington

Apparently Candorville is doing its part to help bridge the red state-blue state divide. I found this amusing item while I was Googling myself (hey, we all do it. Admit it.):

FromShea Andersen, at The Albuquerque Tribune:

"My thanks to James Brosnan, the Tribune's correspondent in Washington, D.C., for this item: After all the acrimony over the election count in New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Pete Domenici, an Albuquerque Republican, found time to chuckle when they met last week in Washington, D.C.

Richardson was in the nation's capital Wednesday to address a group of Democratic senators in his capacity of chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Domenici gave Richardson a copy of the cartoon strip Candorville, which recently featured the recount issue.

The strip by syndicated cartoonist Darrin Bell appears in the Tribune. This one featured a newscaster reporting that despite voting irregularities in New Mexico 'Democratic Governor Bill Richardson refuses to assist a statewide recount.' The final cartoon panel said, 'In a totally unrelated story, because John Kerry lost, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will be one of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination in 2008.'

Richardson said Domenici was 'kidding me. I laughed.'

Richardson conceded that his failure to carry New Mexico for Kerry probably hurts his own national standing, 'a little. But it's over.'

I presume he means the election."

You can read Shea's entire column at the Tribune's website. I think his writing is insightful and witty. And I'm not only saying that because he spelled my name right.