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. 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. 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.