Tuesday, December 26, 2006

R.I.P., Godfather

A career told through YouTube clips. Take a moment, there'll never be another like him...

No, this is not a sketch from Chapelle's Show...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas, Iraq, three years late

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this is something we should have done THREE @#$% YEARS AGO?

THE White House is expected to announce a reconstruction package for Iraq as part of a plan for a “surge” of up to 30,000 troops into Baghdad when President George W Bush unveils America’s new strategy next month.
Bush is being urged to give up to $10 billion (£5.1 billion) to Iraq as part of a “New Deal” that would create work for unemployed Iraqis, following the model of President Franklin D Roosevelt during the 1930s depression.

But while some of us were suggesting this very plan the moment our tanks began their dash across the desert, the Bush administration was busy laying the foundations for the insurgency by carrying out their plan to carve up Iraq and feed the white meat to Haliburton and its no-bid contract winning no-Iraqi-hiring, no-work-finishing, tax-payer-money-squandering subcontractors from Hell. Instead of putting Iraqis to work, the Bush administration was busy freezing them out of possibilities to rebuild their own country. Now with possibly 600,000 Iraqis dead and the country embroiled in a vicious, bloody civil war, the Bush team may have finally decided to allow Iraqis to go to work to rebuild their country. If only they'd come to this conclusion before the Iraqis came to feel they had nothing left to do but destroy it. In keeping with their pattern, the Bushes are a few years late to the party. Merry @#$% Christmas, Iraq.

One other thing to note here: Apparently $10 billion U.S. is now worth only 5.1 billion British pounds. Historically, that 10-large should have been worth over £6.5 billion. Anyone else bothered by this?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

When the story matches the ad...

Came across this moment of synchronicity on the Washington Post's website this morning, and just had to capture it for posterity:

There comes a time when you have to cut your losses, admit your mistakes (or at the very least, declare victory) and leave, and we very well may be at that point right now. What is the alternative, sending more troops to become targets for the resentment and bombs of an entire nation? Hussein is gone, a democratic government was created and now they're fighting a civil war to determine either who will control it or whether they want to keep it.

Do we really believe that through force of arms we can help them make that decision? Can we? What is our mission in Iraq? How will we know when we've succeeded? What exactly is this "victory" to which Bush keeps referring? The answer to that seems to change month by month. With every turned corner, we find another corner that needs turning. Seems more like a maze with no exit than a path toward anything. And every year it seems as if there are more questions than answers.

I blame Churchill.

It's all in the timing.

In 2001, according to former terrorism czar Richard Clark, he and others in the government demanded that President Bush pay attention to the threat from Al Qaeda. The White House ignored the demands (instead focusing on apparently more pressing matters, such as Internet pornography), and the entire world is familiar with the results of that negligence.

In 2001 and 2002, millions of Americans demanded an investigation of 9/11. The President and his party refused for months before finally relenting. But by then it was too late, and those who were shown to possess questionable intelligence - in every sense of the word - had already taken us into Iraq. Had we known prior to invading that we were trusting the word of the incompetent, thousands of American troops, not to mention hundreds of thousands (most likely) of Iraqi civilians, would still be alive today, and we wouldn't have spent half a trillion dollars in order to create an Islamic failed state in a formerly secular dictatorship.

In 2004, Mr. Bush dismissed John Kerry's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq in order to try halting the slide toward civil war. Bush dismissed the notion that a slide toward civil war was even occurring. Two years, and untold deaths later (untold because we and our puppet government in Iraq now refuse to count them), George Bush has changed his mind. Yet again, coming around to what may be the right conclusion only when it's far too late to matter.

Democrats have been calling for additional troops for years. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) proposed an increase of 40,000 troops during his 2004 campaign against Bush, only to be dismissed by the administration. As recently as June, the Bush administration opposed adding more troops because restructuring "is enabling our military to get more war-fighting capability from current end strength."

But Bush yesterday had changed his mind. "I'm inclined to believe that we do need to increase our troops -- the Army, the Marines," he said. "And I talked about this to Secretary Gates, and he is going to spend some time talking to the folks in the building, come back with a recommendation to me about how to proceed forward on this idea."

Most outside the White House, including Colin Powell, seem to believe additional troops at this point wouldn't help. It's too little, too late. It's all in the timing. Perhaps a surge of troops would have made a positive impact a couple years ago when everyone else first thought of the idea, but today it's likely to do nothing but give insurgents more targets for their resentment and their IED's. Furthermore, although the military seems to have largely met its recruiting goals this year, those goals were lowered a couple years ago. They've struggled to meet their goals, and there's no telling exactly where Bush thinks he's going to find an additional 70,000 troops, unless he were to propose reinstituting the draft (which ain't gonna happen). Perhaps through more stop-loss programs, shifting more troops from elsewhere, conscripting the Coast Guard, calling up the Girl Scouts, and recalling the last living World War One veteran to duty. I'm sure they'll try some combination of the above.

If only I were on the White House staff, I'd solve the problem in no time. I'd empower the President to fulfill his wish in the quickest way possible -- by walking into the Oval Office and uttering three simple words: Work release program.

Not only would a work release program allow the President to proceed with his troop increase, it would also solve our chronic prison overcrowding problem. In fact, if we were to send nothing but death row inmates to Iraq and put them on the frontlines, it may even save us a buck or two on all those needles and electric bills.

But, it's all in the timing, and this President's habitually late to the game. Odds are my phone'll be ringing two years from now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Candorville on YouTube

According to Time Magazine, we are all the "Person of the Year," and much of the credit for that goes to YouTube. YouTube's begun to fulfill the promise of the Internet: Just a few short years ago, the national pastime of America's youth (myself included, I confess) was sitting in front of a flickering TV screen addicted to the mindless crap (and the occasional thoughtful crap) Hollywood flings at us. YouTube helped change all that.
Today, more and more people under thirty are sitting in front of an unblinking LCD screen addicted to the mindless crap (and occasional gems) flung at them by their peers. The difference is - and I promise this is the end of an analogy inspired by an unpleasant trip to the zoo's Bonobo cage - now anyone with a video camera, Final Cut and an Internet connection can fling their poop right back.

Case in point: According to Time, YouTube's turning point came when someone posted SNL's "Lazy Sunday" sketch online earlier this year. Visits to the site jumped by over 80% and kept on rising. Time suggests that you check it out on YouTube, but good luck finding it. If it's still there, it's buried somewhere amidst page upon page of "Lazy Sunday" parodies uploaded by random people.

But I think this is another case of the Media not putting two and two together. Around the time YouTube blew up, another video was posted to the site. It was much funnier, far more relevant, and even a bit inspiring. It was groundbreaking. Yet again, the mainstream media drops the ball. Here is what, I believe, actually led to YouTube's success:

In case you're wondering, this was apparently based on a strip from late 2005:

...and since nothing escapes C-Dog's notice (it only took him a year):

C-Dog, "Other Guy" and I all want our royalties, YouTube.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Politics is the art of the disgusting

Democratic Senator Tim Johnson may have suffered a stroke today. Strokes are serious business. My mother suffered through one years ago and I'm not sure she ever fully recovered, even though they caught it early. Everyone wished her well and we've been pulling for her because we love her. But my mother wasn't the deciding vote in the United States Senate. If Senator Johnson is unable to serve, his replacement will be appointed by a Republican governor, and will most likely be a Republican -- denying Democrats control of the Senate.

Count on the conservative blogs to salivate over this (while offering half-hearted "best wishes"), not because they're evil, but because they care more about regaining power than they do about the life and health of a human being. Count also on the liberal blogs to be deeply concerned for Senator Johnson's health, not because they truly care about him, but because they care about holding on to their party's newly-won power. The latter is only slightly less odious.

It's also human nature.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Channeling one's inner loser

Not a week goes by that I don't check my inbox and see a variation of the following question: "Mr. Bell/Darrin/Moron, how do you get the characters in 'Candorville' to seem so three-dimensional? I want to work long hours for 1970's wages as a cartoonist someday, but my characters seem so flat and lifeless."

Here's how you do it, kids: stay in school, read as much literature as you can get your hands on, and always cross at the crosswalk (I don't know what that has to do with learning about character development, but it's a good idea anyway).

Other tricks: Pay attention to the people around you, and create backstories for them in your head. See a homeless person? Create a story about how he ended up that way. Not only will you be on the road toward developing three dimensional characters, but focusing on the plight of another human being helps you develop your "compassion muscle." Unless, of course, you come up with some calvinist backstory about how the guy's homeless because he deserves to be, which would be a pretty boring, two-dimensional story.

Or you can take the easy way out, and simply channel your inner loser. Be critical of yourself. Have you done anything stupid that you wish nobody would ever know about? Don't repress it deep in your subconscious, where it'll fester until it eats some choice part of your soul. Don't live in denial. Confess your loserness to the world. Not only will it keep your soul from being eaten, it'll give you some quality character development.

Case in point:

Of course, for this strip I used option A. I would never do something like this in real life.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winning Hearts and Minds, example 29,987

Disclaimer: Spotted this on SmirkingChimp.com; I have no idea what the source of this video may be, but verified stories coming out of Iraq make this look tame by comparison, so odds are it's legit. It seems more like a sure-fire method for creating an insurgent, rather than a way to instill a sense of justice. When the punishment doesn't fit the crime, you're just asking for rebellion. And when you stick a bunch of kids with guns in the middle of someone else's civil war and don't give them the planning, training and tools they need to do their job (whatever the hell that is), you're just asking for punishments that don't fit crimes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Histury Lessens

Airlines mix up luggage all the time, especially when said luggage is a nondescript black duffle bag. I returned from my Laotian vacation the other day, all rested and tanned. On the long subway ride home from SFO, I got bored, so I opened my duffle bag in search of my i-Pod. I was surprised to find, instead, what's apparently a manuscript for some sort of academic journal. This is of no use to me. A manuscript can't play Gnarles Barkley's "Crazy," or Shuggie Otis's "Sweet Thang" while I close my eyes and pretend that's only water on the seat across from me. I want my i-Pod back. I couldn't find an address or phone number anywhere in this duffle bag, so I'll post an excerpt from the manuscript here. If you recognize yourself as the author of this treatise, please contact me and I'll return the bag to you in exchange for my i-Pod shuffle.

Histury Lessens, an academick paper

I have learned as a nation, many lessens from the war in Vietnam. Chief amonst them are that we succeed in wars, unless we quit. Also chief amongst them are that Vietnam was worth fighting because if we had cut and run there, well then the dominoe effect tells you the scourge of Communism would have swept across the globe, hurting folks' economies. Free markets everywhere would fall under the knuckles of of those who hate freedom.

The first casualties of a cut and run policy are business and initiative. And I told the Vietnaminians that at their Stock Exchange today. At a lunch with a bunch of foreign investors, I told every businessman there that if America had only stayed in Vietnam and kept our promise to help them fight for freedom, maybe they would know the sweet love of entrepreneurialship. At the airport when I was leaving to go to Indonesia, I saw folks handing each other business cards and talking on cell phones. I think they got my message.

And it made me muse back to the 1970s, when I was a fighter pilot during the war protecting our homefront: How much faster would they have gotten my message if we hadn't given up on that war? And how many freedom-loving Vietnaminian women and children would be alive and safe today if we were still there to this day, shooting into the jungles and rice pattees to keep Vietnam safe for freedom?

And how many nations today would be free and libertied if we hadn't cut and runned and Vietnam hadn't become the homebase from where Communism spread across the world and snuffed out the flame of freedom, just as Rummy and Dick and other foresighted people said it would back in the '70s? And that is why we must stay in Iraq indefinitely, so that what happened to Vietnam and Asia in the decades since we cut and runned, would never happen to Iraq and the Middle East. For me, it's a lessen lurned.

I miss my Shuffle, so whoever you are, I hope you see this.

In a totally unrelated subject, Keith Olberman gave another interesting "special comment" the other day:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why can't we be more like South Africa?

I remember when this country used to be more progressive than South Africa. Whatever happened to that?

The South African parliament on Tuesday approved new legislation recognizing gay marriages _ a first for a continent where homosexuality is largely taboo...

"When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula told the National Assembly...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Desperate to Vote

At our precinct, voting was standing-room only. Or, more accurately, sitting-room only. Turnout was so much higher than expected that people were sitting on chairs (as I did) and on the floor to vote, because there weren't enough booths. People sure were desperate to vote yesterday:

READING, Pa. - Anna Urban has been voting since Franklin D. Roosevelt was president and wasn't about to miss an election.

When the 95-year-old Reading resident didn't have a ride to the polls Tuesday, she didn't hesitate. She dialed 911.

Dispatchers forwarded the call to the Berks County Election Services office, where it was considered a compliment.

"To call 911 and ask for help to vote really says a lot," said Deborah M. Olivieri, election services director. "It meant a lot to everyone in this office; it made us feel what we do is worthwhile."

County Commissioner Judith L. Schwank immediately picked up Urban, and Urban walked to the voting booth at Millmont Elementary School on her arm.

"All my life I voted," said Urban, a Democrat, who cast her first ballot in the 1930s. "You need to vote to be a good citizen."
-Philadelphia Inquirer

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ignoring that cross-burning elephant in the room

There's an old English idiom about an "elephant in the room." An elephant sits in the corner of a room, while everyone in the room just sort of pretends it's not there so they don't have to talk about it. Once they did talk about it, after all, they'd have to do something about it, and nobody wants to be the one who has to try and evict an elephant. So everyone goes about their business as if the elephant isn't there.

America is a land filled with elephants. For instance...

We all want to believe the racist practice of voter disenfranchisement is dead and gone, so much so that we're willing to ignore it when it's sitting in our kitchen, its trunk is flailing about knocking over the microwave, and it's eating our lunch. That particular elephant, which we thought we'd killed in 1964 when LBJ signed the Voting Rights Act into law, has again been sitting in our rooms ever since the year 2000 when Florida's Secretary of State - who also just happened to be George Bush's campaign chairwoman - denied tens of thousands of African-Americans their right to vote by wrongly declaring them "felons." (the felon voting rules themselves have their genesis in the Civil Rights era, as a means to disenfranchise Blacks, who were far more likely than Whites to be convicted of felonies in the South). That pachyderm has been chilling in the corner with a big tub of nachos ever since the party that benefitted from its presence refused to investigate it, and the Justice Department declined to hunt it down.

Nationwide, 1.9 million black votes were discarded. Thrown away. Not counted. That was 50% of the ballots that were discarded as "spoiled" in 2000, even though Blacks only made up 12% of the electorate.
-SF Chronicle, June 20, 2004

Now, as all people who benefit from crimes would say, "that's in the past. Get over it. Forget about it. Move along, there's nothing to see here." Well, unfortunately for our leaders, the American people - or at least a large number of us - have longer memories than they'd like us to have. When the people who committed this crime are still benefitting from it and still trying to do it again, it is not "in the past."


•Florida AGAIN tried to remove thousands of Black voters from the rolls. The state run by George Bush's brother created ANOTHER "potential felons list" filled with people who've never committed a felony. That one would've robbed more than 22,000 African Americans of their right to vote.
("Florida List for Purge of Voters Proves Flawed." NY Times, July 10, 2004)

•It was widely reported that in several urban precincts in Ohio, African Americans had to wait up to ten hours in line in order to vote. Ohio's Secretary of State, another Bush campaign chairman, refused to provide minority precincts with an adequate number of voting machines. There was no such problem in the predominantly Caucasian suburbs.


As for this year, time will tell. I would be THRILLED if I were proven wrong this year. I really hope that happens. I really do. But the damage may have already been done, as Black voters, disillusioned by the resurrection of the age-old pracitice of voter disenfranchisement, may simply stay home today.

Some Americans would have us believe it's all in the past -- still others would have us believe it never happened at all. I spoke with one of those this morning when Frank Beckmann, an ABC "News" talkshow host from Michigan, called to talk about last Sunday's cartoon (above). During the interview, he told me Blacks "have not been disenfranchised," that those 54,000 African Americans who were removed from the voter rolls in 2000 WERE felons (even though the United States government report on the election concluded the opposite), and that reports of long lines in Ohio were simply wrong. People can convince themselves that any problem doesn't exist if they don't want it to exist - or if they benefit from its existence.

Anyone who's read Candorville should know that I don't believe it serves us to ignore the elephants that stand in our rooms, no matter what they are, from the constant persecution of gays, to voter disenfranchisement, to the pervasive thug culture. We can't solve our problems unless we have the courage to first acknowledge they exist. Instead of ignoring the elephants, we should grab our elephant guns and go on safari. As difficult as it may be, it has to be done.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Hispanic voters targeted AGAIN?

In honor of the repeated attempt to disenfranchise Hispanic voters, I'll re-post that last cartoon:

Bradblog has posted a note from a Democratic voter in New Mexico. The voter's complaint prompted a judge to issue an injunction preventing the Republican Party of New Mexico from calling non-Republicans with precinct information. It seems voters with Hispanic surnames may have been specifically targeted:

Yesterday (11/04), about 1pm MST, I rec'd a phone message from the Republican Party of NM telling me that my polling location was John Adams Middle School. My polling place is usually Longfellow Elementary about 1 block away. John Adams is about 7 1/2 miles away. In my horror and disgust I quickly deleted the message.

Thinking that maybe my polling place changed, I then called the **Republican Party** here and simply asked if they could tell me my polling place. They asked my address only, I told them, and they said, "You vote at Longfellow." This is correct and I hung up.

About 5pm MST, the Republican Party of NM called AGAIN and left a message telling me that my election day polling place was West Mesa High School, even further away than John Adams. They gave the full address and zip code. My Caller ID shows "REPUBLICAN PART." I DID NOT DELETE THIS MESSAGE.

Then around 7pm MST, the same thing happened. The Republican Party of NM called and left a message telling me that my election day polling place was back to John Adams Middle School. My Caller ID shows "NEW MEXICO VICT." I did a Google search on the phone number and this entry came up:

New Mexico Republican Party :: CalendarSummary:, Contact your local county party or call the Victory Office
at (505) XXX-XXXX to find out what you can do to help our 2006 Republican candidates. …


If you want the actual phone numbers, I can give them to you...

-Read more at Bradblog.com
So far this is the only complaint about this, but it certainly fits the pattern that's plagued our elections since 2000. There's something seriously wrong with your party if you have to keep people from voting in order to win elections.

Friday, November 03, 2006

October Surprise: the Saddam Death Sentence

October Surprises happen in November these days. After being delayed for nebulous reasons, the Iraqi court trying Saddam Hussein (a court whose logistics are largely controlled by agents of the United States) has decided to announce its verdict this Sunday, two days before the U.S. Congressional elections.

As President Bush faces mounting criticism over the war, a guilty verdict announced two days ahead of tight U.S. congressional elections on November 7 could reflect positively on him as a vindication of his policy to overthrow Saddam.

U.S. officials deny Washington had any say over the timing of the verdict or the court's decisions, saying the American role was limited to logistics and security.

Of course Washington had nothing to do with this timing. They'd never politicize something as important as this. Not this White House.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vote and be deported

One reader wrote in to complain about today's strip, which he's absolutely, positively, "150% sure" is an example of Candorville "makeing up stuff all thu time!" (Since he was so creative with the spelling, I figured I'd leave it as it was). I was very surprised to learn that Mr. "Fuk off looser" (well, that's how he signed his letter) hadn't been paying attention to the news. Sadly there's no need to "make stuff up" when real life has become stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm sorry about what you said I said.

What I learned this week:

1. John Kerry inadvertently insulting the intelligence of the troops is far worse than George Bush getting those troops stuck in Iraq without adequate manpower, armor, or planning. It's certainly far worse than Mr. Bush and his Congressional rubber stamps not having any plan (or intention, it seems) of getting our troops out of that bloody civil war he created.

2. Although John Kerry was a highly educated soldier who served with other highly educated soldiers, and has spoken on and on (and on and on and on) about the intelligence, nobility and capability of modern soldiers for more than thirty years, his one botched joke yesterday proves he thinks soldiers are morons.

3. John Kerry's gaffe is more newsworthy than 104 Americans dying in Iraq in one month.

4. It doesn't matter whether Kerry was joking about Bush or attacking the troops. He should apologize for what the Bush White House says he meant, whether he meant it or not.

5: The "I'm not going to stand for anyone distorting my awful, bungled jokes" Kerry is far more inspiring than the guy who ran for President in 2004:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

How many of these does it take?

Bradblog.com has been covering multiple incidents of votes being flipped on the electronic voting machines, which will be used by well over 80% of voters next week. All of the reported incidents so far, just as in 2004 and 2002, are incidents in which votes for Democrats are flipped to the benefit of Republicans. Not some. Not most. ALL. Oh well. The Media says they're only "glitches." Besides, these "glitches" consistently doing what's statistically impossible - benefitting only one political party - is just the mother of all coincidences, I'm sure. I'll file this under "move along, nothing to see here..."

Monday, October 30, 2006

Here we go...

And so it begins...

After a week of early voting, a handful of glitches with electronic voting machines have drawn the ire of voters, reassurances from elections supervisors -- and a caution against the careless casting of ballots.

Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen -- the final voting step.
Read more in the Miami Herald

In Mexico, the Ukraine, and pretty much anyplace else where people remember what it's like to live without democracy, this kind of crap sparks riots, mass protests, and general chaos.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Painful campaign ad

Are you sick of scientific progress being held hostage by the Evangelist in Chief, yet?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Appearance: Schulz Museum, October 21, 1p.m.

As part of the Schulz Museum's celebration of the 40th anniversary of "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown," they're hosting a panel featuring myself and three other cartoonists, all discussing how Peanuts influenced our work and the industry. The other talking heads will be Keith Knight (of "K Chronicles" fame), Paige Braddock (Jane's World) and Michael Jantze (The Norm). Afterward we'll be hanging around to sign books and talk with visitors.

Schedule of Events for October 21, 2006

•12noon – Showing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (in Museum’s Theatre)
•1pm – Panel discussion about the impact of Schulz’s work (in Theatre). Panel includes Paige Braddock, Michael Jantze, Darrin Bell, and Keith Knight
•2-3pm – Cartoonists sign books and talk with visitors (in Great Hall)

•3-4pm – Producer Lee Mendelson speaks about making It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown (in Theatre) and then sign books (in Great Hall)
•4pm – Can Charlie Brown match wits with the Bully? Find out at the preview showing of Charles Schulz’s last animated special, He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown (in Theatre).

Museum hours and directions!

Monday, October 16, 2006

White House punks Christians

Occasionally, Candorville features Reverend Wilfred, a Black minister who suddenly became a firebrand Republican Bush-endorser after receiving half a million dollars from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. As time goes on, and more evidence emerges to corroborate what Candorville has been saying since 2004, fewer and fewer people write to me to challenge the character. In the latest in the recent parade of unsurprising surprises, a new book by a White House insider details how the Bush White House manipulated and mocked religious conservatives and used the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives as a political machine. Keith Olberman covers the book, in two parts.

Part One

Part Two

Sunday, October 01, 2006

New Candorville book, collector's edition available here!

The new Candorville book, "Another Stereotype Bites the Dust," isn't in stores yet, but I have managed to get my grubby hands on a few dozen copies, so you can get it today from the Candorville website!

Book 2 picks up where the first one left off. Lemont's recent disastrous date with the Crazy Vegetarian Chick and his constant rejection by the New Yorker have him feeling down, but Lemont is maintaining, and things are looking up. Clyde decides to become his own boss, Susan's on the fast-track for promotion, and Lemont finds a new reason to keep on writing, the New Yorker be damned. Amidst failed love connections, voter disenfranchisement, a nosy neighbor with a big secret, and a surreal and cathartic visit from a long-lost relative, Lemont, Susan and Clyde keep on keepin' on. And contrary to popular conspiracy theories, they keep all their civil liberties -- at least according to the notes, videotape, and transcribed e-mails compiled by Federal Agent Murph.

"Another Stereotype Bites the Dust" chronicles the second nine months of Candorville. While the strips stand on their own, they really shine in book form, and that's because "Candorville" is a story that has a beginning, it'll have a middle, and, ultimately, an end. The larger story will take 50 years to tell, but within that super arc are dozens of roughly nine-month long chapters (not coincidentally, each book contains nine months of strips). Get in on the ground floor with the first two books.

You can buy "Another Stereotype Bites the Dust" from your local bookstore soon, or you can order it from them now. You can also pre-order it from Amazon.com. Or, you can buy it today right here. For the collectors out there, if you buy the books through the Candorville site, they come autographed, numbered, & with a sketch of either Lemont, C-Dog, or Susan. So you're guaranteed to get at least 1/3 of your money back when you re-sell it on eBay.*

Lastly, you may have noticed that Candorville.com has been completely redesigned in honor of the new book. Please let me know what you think, whether there are any glitches (pages not working, pages inavdvertently written in Swahili, etc.), or if you have any bright ideas about how to make it even jazzier.

*By "guaranteed," we mean "not guaranteed." Candorville books have not been approved by the Federal Government, and have been known to cause insomnia, laughter, and bouts of questioning the dominant paradigm.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Clinton on Faux: How could Roger Ailes be so confused?

There's been so much whine coming from the direction of the "Fair & Balanced" network that you'd think they were based in Napa. "Boo hoo, Bill Clinton raised his voice! Waaaah, Bill Clinton looked at me angry! Mommy! Mommy! Mommmmyyyyyy!" Today, Fox even tried to portray Clinton's forceful response to their interviewer as an attack upon all of journalism. Why Ailes confused Fox News with journalism, I have no idea.

To hear them tell it, Clinton ripped off his shirt, turned lime green and feasted on poor Chris Wallace's intestines before relieving himself on the First Amendment. That's not exactly how it happened.

Meanwhile Keith Olberman has a different take on it:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Calling all spinners -- explain how Bush has "made us safer."

There are times when being right makes you the happiest person in the world, and then there are the times it makes you crap your pants. Guess which one of those times this is. I want every angry, slogan-spouting flag-waiver who's ever written in ordering me to "leave the President alone, he's making us safer" to take a second, put down your copy of the National Review (the one with the Sean Hannity centerfold), and write to me again. Write to me and explain why our intelligence agencies now say the Iraq occupation has increased the threat of terror.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.

Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue, and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence. Their conclusions are based on analysis of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Clinton Unloads on Faux News

As anyone who's seen a brilliant trailer and then gone to find out that the movie was total crap knows, it's easy to give a false impression with a few simple editing tricks. For the past couple days, the Drudge Report and other right-wing sites have been downright orgasmic over a 50-second clip that they claimed showed Clinton coming unhinged and being forced by Fox News to admit he failed to prevent 9-11. Watch a longer version of that interview, which has just a little bit more substance following the "I failed" part than the Fox promo would suggest.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Is the Boogeyman dead?

First the crocodiles are denied their chance to bring Steve Irwin to justice, and now this...

The information purporting the death of the world's most sought after terrorist is based on what the newspaper calls "a usually reliable source," stating that Saudi intelligence sources "are convinced" of bin Laden's death.

The French intelligence report goes on to say, still according to the French daily, that bin Laden died in Pakistan on August 23 after suffering "from a severe bout of typhoid fever," and a bacterial infection provoked a paralysis of his lower body.

The Saudi intelligence report states that bin Laden's geographic isolation "rendered all medical assistance impossible. Indeed, U.S. intelligence sources have long believed bin Laden was hiding in remote parts of Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan, areas where sophisticated medical help would be difficult to obtain.

The news of bin Laden's death reached the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Sept. 4. If confirmed, that, in part, might explain the complete absence of Osama bin Laden from making any appearances on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon just outside Washington, DC.

The U.S. is skeptical, of course, as this wouldn't be the first time OBL has been reported to have gone to find his 72 virgins in the sky.

Friday, September 22, 2006

What a surprise...

This is all over the conservative blogosphere. Can someone explain to me how a person can actually be nonchalant - if not downright proud - of using divisive wedge issues to drum up support they otherwise wouldn't earn?

Staffers in the White House have been talking up the possibilities of an "October Surprise" or two leading into the mid-term elections. They say the President feels confident he can still play a role in the election, that he intends to campaign hard for Republicans, and that on the policy front, there are a couple of issues that can be used as wedges along the way.
-from the conservative mag, The American Spectator

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Islamists to Pope: Stop saying we're violent or we'll kill you.

So the Pope's been taking quite a bit of heat for quoting a Medieval text that described Mohammed as "inhuman" and evil (according to the Koran itself, he was a brutal warrior and assassin). The Pope didn't mention the brutality of the early Catholic Church. I guess he forgot about that. But what do we expect... he's the Pope. Neglecting to mention the Church's own brutal history is disappointing, but not exactly surprising.

Here's what bugs me more:

Is it just me, or are killings, fire-bombing of churches and wanton destruction a piss-poor way of responding to someone who quotes a statement about your religion being violent?

Now, the man who tried to kill the last Pope warns of a potential assassination should Pope Benedict visit Turkey. From London's Evening Standard:

Pope Benedict faces a growing chorus of demands to make an unequivocal apology for remarks seen as portraying Islam as a violent faith, despite attempts by Western leaders and churchmen to defuse the crisis.The calls came as it emerged papal hitman Mehmet Ali Agca, who is serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in May 1981, has written to Pope Benedict XVI from jail, warning him not to go to Turkey as planned in November in the light of his remarks.

Agca, a Turk gave his ominous warning in a letter to an Italian daily newspaper. For many Muslims, the Pope's attempt to explain himself on Sunday did not go far enough and observers were waiting to see if he would speak about it again at his general audience at the Vatican.

The Pope enraged Muslims in a speech a week ago in Germany quoting 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who said everything the Prophet Mohammad brought was evil "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".

The leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics said on Sunday he was 'deeply sorry' for the reaction caused - but stopped short of apologising for his words or retracting them. In a telegram to the order of an Italian nun killed in Somalia who may be the crisis' first victim...
Read the rest...
Most Muslims in the world haven't responded to the Pope's predictably one-sided comments by being total whack-jobs (and some have denounced the violence) -- but as usual when it comes to organized religion, the few morons out there are doing everything they can to validate the negative stereotypes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Democrats on Bush on Osama

The Democrats have created yet another simple, effective advertisement. I wonder how long it'll take them to apologize for it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fox News finally notices the Diebold voting machine scandal

Now that the Democratic Party seems poised to retake the House, Fox News gets concerned about the voting machines. Where were they in 2002 and 2004, when the polls were nearly dead-even and every single Diebold "error" miraculously ended up favoring the Republican Party?

...and, a 10 minute video summarizing the Princeton study (which is one of many studies & tests showing how our votes are being stolen):

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Reader mailbag - "But Lieberman IS 'moderate!' the Media says so!"

This is representative of the feedback to today's cartoon about Joe Lieberman and the mainstream media:

By candor do you mean your opinion?---no humor?

Most people do not want a time table to pull out of Iraq.The people who are against privitization of SS don't have an alternative solution.Most people don't want to raise taxes to supprt universal health care.I'm sure the people you surround yourself with don't think Lieberman is a moderate,but most Americans do,based on facts,not the"mass media".--Is your comic ever humorous?--it so one sided.

-Steve N.

...And my response...

1. As recently as last month, 57 percent of Americans supported a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

2. The people who are against privatization of Social Security DO have an alternative solution: it's called Social Security. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. A plurality of the country believed in 2005 that the system wasn't broken, and modest changes to the system, along the lines of the changes made in the '80s, would keep it solvent for generations.

3. Most people do want universal health care, even if it meant raising taxes.

In short, you're wrong on every count -- which leads me to believe that your assessment of the humor in Candorville is probably equally faulty. Thanks for taking the time to write!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Candorville on Israel

Israel is our ally, and rightly so. And any nation has a right to defend itself. Almost everyone agrees about those two precepts. I believe Israel has a right to exist, and just as with the U.S., I'm going to speak out when I think their tactics are either inhumane or counterproductive. The best way to ensure your nation's longevity is to avoid behaving in a way that costs you the support of the world and causes much of the Arab world, which increasingly held Hezbollah in disfavor, to change its mind. Today's Candorville questions the wisdom of Israel putting a rush order on cluster bombs that have a wide radius of destruction if what they were trying to do in the Lebanon War was be precise and avoid civilian casualties. One of my favorite newspaper editors received a phone call about that, and passed it on to me (I've removed the names):

Promised the reader I would pass this along.

Just received a telephone call from a reader regarding your strip today. (name redacted) called to request that you write an "equally hilarious strip about Palistinian suicide bombers" --

My response:
Hi (name redacted),

If you wouldn't mind, please suggest to the reader that he check out yesterday's equally-hilarious strip about an Iranian president who wants to wipe Israel off the map. I'm always intrigued at how people can completely ignore the strips they agree with but zero in on the one they find objectionable.

You might also tell him that responsible, rational governments such as Israel's should behave with more restraint and wisdom than a suicide bomber. We shouldn't excuse either our own actions or those of our allies by comparing them to the despicable actions of terrorists. Otherwise, what makes "us" better than "them"?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Vote for Candorville in another ridiculous newspaper poll

Cartoonists hate them. Editors pay too much attention to them. Newspapers shouldn't use them. They're completely unscientific. The only people who do enjoy them are 105 year-old readers who live in fear that Beetle Bailey may get court-martialed and they'll have nothing left to live for. Coincidentally, they're the ones who have nothing else to do but sit around all day filling them out. You guessed it: it's time for another newspaper comic strip survey.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is running what another cartoonist described as a “keep or drop” survey. Strips on the chopping block include:

Dog Eat Doug
Fred Basset
Non Sequitur
Piranha Club
Red and Rover

Every reader can vote once a day (yes, I know, that makes no sense at all, but it's their rules) by e-mailing comics_survey@pioneerpress.com and naming one strip from that list you want them to keep, and one from that list you want them to drop. If you want to keep reading Candorville in the Pioneer Press, you need to e-mail them every day (I guess for the next month) and tell them to "Keep Candorville."

Candorville's always got a handicap in these polls, because while unfunny comics don't prompt a lot of hatred from readers, comics that discuss politics certainly do. Candorville has to contend with people who believe the comics page shouldn't explore anything more controversial than whether cats should be eating lasagna. You can bet all the people who are shocked by the issues discussed in Candorville are going to be writing in to get it dropped, and all the people who think it's just a "black interest strip" (believe me, there are plenty of those people out there) will be calling for it to get the axe, so it's up to you, the readers, to keep those guys from getting their way.

Vote Candorville, and vote often!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Foiled Terrorist Plot Doesn't Help Republicans

Dick Cheney and others in the G.O.P. (which, for all intents and purposes, includes Joe Lieberman), are trying to use the recently-foiled, alleged terrorist plot for partisan gain. According to them, Connecticut Democrats who voted against Lieberman last week are America-hating, terrorist-supporting surrender monkeys. The G.O.P. is blanketing the nation with the message that Democrats -- who keep suggesting that Bush obtain warrants before prying into Americans' private lives in violation of the Fourth Amendment -- oppose policies like the ones that foiled the recent terrorist plot. I suppose that means policies such as Bush's illegal domestic surveillance programs.

Only one problem with that message: The British investigation didn't come across this plot through the wiretapping and datamining of millions of people. The British uncovered this plot because of a tip. In Britain, the authorities don't have to present a court with probable cause in order to obtain a wiretapping warrant. But in America, a tip like this would be all the probable cause a court would need to allow surveillance without violating the Fourth Amendment.

Far from rationalizing the White House's illegal surveillance programs, the thwarting of this alleged terror plot demonstrates why such illegal programs are unnecessary.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

BE AFRAID! Plot to bomb planes thwarted!

Nabbing a few poor Black people from the projects who surprisingly aren't fond of the government wasn't scary enough. Neither was foiling a boneheaded plot to flood Manhattan by bombing the Holland Tunnel - a scheme that didn't take into account the fact that New York is above the water level (you never know when water's going to decide to flow up though, so thank God Homeland Security was on the ball on that one). No, the latest election-year scare has been ratcheted up severeal notches on the Rove scale.

If they've already pulled an international large-scale plot out of their hat in August, they're going to have to top themselves in coming months. Expect American and British intelligence to thwart an attack on Disneyland by aliens from the rings of Saturn around, oh I don't know, late October.

Still, this could all be real, of course. Even the boy who cried wolf was eventually eaten.

**UPDATE: Surprisingly, the White House is seeking to capitalize on the alleged plot.

"I'd rather be talking about this than all of the other things that Congress hasn't done well," one Republican congressional aide told AFP on condition of anonymity because of possible reprisals.

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Candorville book sells out (sort of)

Thanks to those of you who still had a little money left after your job was outsourced and Exxon-Mobil mugged you on your way to the unemployment office, I've just sold my last copies of the Candorville: Thank God for Culture Clash book! A new batch should arrive tomorrow, so if you ordered a book in the last few days, you should be receiving it by the end of the week.

Although the book's doing well, and a second one is coming out in just a couple months, this book needs to do a little better in order to ensure a third one with full-color Sundays. So if you haven't yet bought the Candorville book, now's the time. You can get them from the Candorville website (where they're defaced with an autograph and a sketch), from Amazon, or better yet, you can ask for it at your favorite local bookstore (if they don't have it in stock, they'll gladly order it for you).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Candorville on Stem Cell Research

Chuck posted the following:

I'd like to make a comment on today's strip--but I'm afraid it would take too much time. Suffice it to say: We apparently value our own citizen's lives over those of other country's citizens. But 10000 in 4 years is less of a holocaust than millions over 30 years.
First of all, it's not 10K in 4 years. John Mcglaughlin stated the current tally of dead Iraqi civilians at more than 160,000. The lowest estimates, as of 2004, were in the mid 30,000's. As a percentage of Iraq's population, it would be the same as if at least 3 million American civilians had been killed. Feel free to check me on that - I was never great at math.

The stem cell research issue has nothing to do with abortion. Scientists are not using aborted fetuses, they're using excess blastocysts left over from in vitro fertilization. Blastocysts that would be thrown away anyway. They're never - never - going to become living, breathing human beings. They're going to become rotten dead cells sitting at the bottom of a dumpster under banana peels.

I don't know about you, but if I were a blastocyst, I'd sure want them to use my stem cells to save countless lives before I rot. At least I would want that, if I had a brain.

UPDATE...And then there were the e-mails like this one (I've included my responses below):

"What a fake comparison!   The US military did not kill ONE civillian on purpose.   Most of the civillians killed were killed by  terrorists.  The only reason some were ACCIDENTLY killed  by allied forces is that the cowardly terrorists hide behind civillians after they set off rockets.  They are followed to housing which may or may not contain civillians.  
Then the allies send a rocket to the house where they hide.     Some of the civillians killed are terrorists own families (who ought to run from them).   Others are just innocent victims of terrorist cowardice.   Sometimes people dressed in civillian clothes carry weapons or run toward our soldiers or Iraq's and are killed because they are perceived to be threats.  Our soldiers have to make split second decisions to kill or be killed.  In a few cases, these were innocent people, but again, understandably perceived to be threats.    Sometimes the terrorists have even sent children with bombs or grenades toward our military!   This is a clever way to kill our military and a child, and blame US!   Many of those killed were teens in civillian clothing with weapons.   Are these INNOCENT civillians?   No.  Is this OUR fault?   Of course not!  Terrorist wars are not like others where civillians are nowhere near." 

I'm sorry, I thought you were complaining about Monday's cartoon. You seem to be complaining about something else entirely, because Monday's cartoon said nothing about the US military killing civilians on purpose. The cartoon spoke of innocent civilians killed during the war. It doesn't matter who killed them, it only matters that they were killed, and people such as yourself think that their deaths were worth it if it'll save more lives in the long run. That's all the cartoon said. I have no idea why you're trying to pretend that I said what I didn't say, unless you're doing it because you can't dispute what I actually did say.

"But terrorists have to be stopped.   What would you suggest?   That we allow them to get strong and confident, take over Israel, and finally take over our country?  (Do you know any history of what happened after we chickened out of the VN war?   Would you have wanted to live in Cambodia?  Laos?  VN?)    You liberals never have a solution of your own!!!!  All you know how to do is criticize others."

"Chicken out" of Vietnam, a war we had no business fighting in the first place? How old are you, by the way? Adults don't usually speak this way about life and death matters. The solution would have been to not invade Iraq, a country that had no WMD, no ties to Al Qaeda, had never attacked us, and was not about to attack us. The tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who are now dead would still be alive, and because our manpower wouldn't have been diverted from Afghanistan, we might have actually caught Osama bin Laden.

"Also, your figures are greatly exaggerated.   "Tens of thousands" of Iraqi civillians have not been killed.  This is a baldfaced lie!   Get your figures straight!"

I never state anything as a fact unless I've researched it. If you have a problem with the numbers, take it up with the Administration whose invasion caused chaos in Iraq. You can also take it up with the Stars & Stripes (the military paper that reported on the death toll reaching 50,000 - http://tinyurl.com/ejz6s), or with CNN, which reported that 14,000 of those deaths happened just this year (and the year's only half over) - http://tinyurl.com/mr6pl

  You call our presence "occupation".  It's true that some in the Sunni party wants us out (Of course!   They were benefitting from Saddam's reign and living like kings.)  but the people of 3 ethnic groups who got saved from Saddam's evil death plan do not consider our presence "occupation".    They know that if we leave before the present administration is strengthened, they (and the Israelis) are all dead ducks, just as if Saddam were still ruling."

The definition of "occupation" (from something called a "Dictionary"):

1. Invasion, conquest, and control of a nation or territory by foreign armed forces.
2. The military government exercising control over an occupied nation or territory."

If you have a problem with that, don't bother me with it, take it up with the good folks at Brittanica.

" (By the way, I suppose you have ignored all the news about  finding the more than 500 weapons of mass destruction, some with mustard gas, and some with sar  --- (news which certain people have been trying to suppress for a couple of years.)   You liberals all owe the Bush administration an apology.   Wasn't it kind of stupid to assume that Saddam had gotten rid of his WMD's when we KNEW he had them during the gulf war?"

No, I didn't ignore it. I did something called "paying attention," which you may want to take a stab at some time. Those 500 "weapons of mass destruction" were pre Gulf War weapons that were useless, and that were disposed of exactly as we instructed Hussein to do in 1991 - by burying them deep in the desert. You've been suckered by Rick Santorum, who was so desperate to hold on to his Senate seat that he fabricated this WMD find. The Defense Department denied that these 500 shells were the WMD we were looking for, and went on to say that they could never be launched because they were already degraded and useless prior to our invasion.

By the way, that's the second time you've spewed "liberal," as if it's something bad. Do you even know what "liberal" means? Are you aware that our Constitution is a liberal document written by our liberal Founding Fathers, based on the liberal principles of the liberal Enlightenment? Anyone who believes in that Constitution - and in the separation of powers, separation of church and state, and Bill of Rights protections it enumerates - is a Liberal.

The second fallacy of your fake comparison is that there is absolutely no proof that stem cells from embryos (which are tiny baby humans!) are superior to stem cells from the placenta (which is the tube connecting mother and baby when the baby is in the womb.)   The placenta cells can be harvested without killing anyone!!!!!  (This is because the placenta is discarded after the birth)  So there is no need to kill a baby human!!!!!  There should be no argument about this!   It is absolutely not necessary to kill baby humans!    And these are truly innocent, unlike some of the "civilians".  
Carol Barnes

Again, your arguments would be taken more seriously if you were actually talking about something the cartoon said, rather than making up strawman arguments (look that up) to knock down. The cartoon doesn't say embryonic stem cells are the only way, or even the best way. The cartoon is about the argument against embryonic stem cell research contrasted with the argument rationalizing the death of tens of thousands of civilians. The cartoon is about hypocrisy, and none of the red herring issues you've raised disputes what the cartoon actually said.

And by the way, there is no proof that placentas provide stem cells that are as useful as those found in embryos. That's not for you or I to say, that's something only the scientists can determine - if only people such as yourself would allow them to do their work in peace. And NOBODY IS KILLING A BABY HUMAN. These are excess blastocysts that are going to be thrown away. Not a single one of them is ever going to be allowed to grow into a human, unless hundreds of thousands of Carols across the country volunteer to be inseminated with them and give birth to them.

...Have you done that, Carol?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Candorville lampoon of Senator Bunning "treasonous and traitor-like"

From yesterday's Lexington Herald-Leader:

Sen. Jim Bunning made newspapers across the United States again yesterday -- this time in the funny pages.

A national cartoonist with a reputation for wry political humor took a swing at Kentucky's Hall of Famer after Bunning called for The New York Times to be charged with treason.

Candorville, which runs in about 50 papers across the nation as well as another in Ecuador and the Pacific Stars & Stripes, featured a faux political commercial yesterday from "Senator Bunting." However, the face on the TV is that of Bunning, a Republican in his second term in the Senate and a pitcher in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The strip's main character, Lemont Brown, hears the ad apparently from the bathroom -- the third panel features a flush as "Bunting" denies that his attack on the "Candorville Chronicle" is politically motivated.

Cartoonist Darrin Bell said Bunning caught his eye last month after condemning the Times' report on the Bush administration's not-so-secret surveillance of international banking transactions.

"Senator Bunning at the time seemed to be the GOP's point man for the treason charge against The New York Times, so he was the logical one to use as a representative for the whole party," Bell said yesterday. The flush was "the most appropriate" activity that came to mind, he said.

He had not gotten any feedback yesterday from Bunning's office on Capitol Hill. "I don't really expect to. Somehow, I really doubt they read Candorville," he said.

Bunning's office did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment for this story.

Bell said he doesn't see his work as falling into either the Democrat or Republican camp. In the 1990s, he was called a fascist for picking on President Clinton.

"I just go after whoever's in charge," Bell said.

As for Senator Bunting, he could make a return appearance, but that depends on Bunning.

"He's got my attention," Bell said. "The next time he gives me material, I'm going to use it."

Apparently, one reader was not amused:

I have always thought political cartoons to be inherently anti-Republican, and this has gotten to be even worse with all the nationwide progress witnessed in the last 5 years. It's even possible that this drawn criticism has in fact lent itself to limiting the progress we have had...because it's so treasonous and traitorlike.
Posted by: Bill

This was one of the comments below the article (comments have since been removed, possibly because the argument got sort of heated. People stopped just short of burning each other in effigy. Barely.

The "treasonous and traitorlike" comment doesn't interest me as much as "limiting the progress we have had..." in the last five years. What progress is that, again? And if there is any progress, how can it be undone by a comic strip? If only Bill would have explained himself further. It would have been fascinating.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The President and the Pig

Will Ferrell's got nothing on this Bush impersonator. It is an impersonator, right? Please tell me this is a joke:

Monday, July 17, 2006

More Fake Outrage, More Wimpy Democrats

A few days ago, the Democratic Party posted an ad on their website. For once, it was a powerful, effective ad, full of emotional imagery that succinctly presented an unmistakable message: The past six years have been awful, and it's time for a change. Naturally, the Republicans in Congress and Republican bloggers were outraged! Outraged that the ad was effective, but the official line was they were outraged that the ad showed images of flag-draped coffins coming home.

The Democrats who created that ad stood up and faced the latest bout of fake rage. Naturally, they then tucked their tail between their legs and ran as fast as they could in the other direction, but not before they removed the ad from their website.

Instead of giving in (yet again), why didn't the Democratic Party respond by saying the real outrage is that these young men and women are dying in the first place in a war that didn't have to happen, and that it's their duty as patriotic Americans to point that out?

Why didn't they point out that, to some people, it's only ok to feature soldiers in campaign ads when they're alive or when their widows are staring at George W. Bush in adulation?:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Al Qaida hates Indiana, loves NYC!

For anyone who's worried about Al Qaida coming after you: Did you know that it's much safer for you to live in the crown of the statue of liberty than by your neighborhood donut shop?

Also, be sure you stay away from your local bean fest. Al Qaida apparently hates beans. You'd be much safer going to the top of the Empire State Building, apparently.

Y'know, our current leaders operate with such brazen ineptitude and thievery that it's almost as if they feel they don't have to worry about elections...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Superman Returns

I can't help it, I'm addicted. In a few hours I'm going to see Superman Returns for the third time. I'll probably see it a couple more times this Summer. Every once in a while a film comes along that makes you feel five years old, and for anyone who was blown away by the Christopher Reeves films as a kid, Superman Returns is it.

From the opening credits that show Moses's -- I mean, baby Superman's perilous journey to Earth, to the moment Lois Lane spots a familiar blue and red streak flying to her rescue, to the moment at the end when... well, go see it for yourself -- this film's a time machine.

Of course, nothing's perfect. Here's something that's been bugging me ever since I saw it in the theater at the age of 5:

What the hell was that? Never in my comic-book-reading life have I known Superman to have lame cellophane weapons that incapacitate villains for all of two seconds. Like me, you'll be glad to know that Superman Returns is cellophane-free.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Scrutinator: Dishonest Darrin Bell

I usually delete cryptic e-mails that contain nothing but a URL. Especially when, as in the case of the one I got this morning, the URL is accompanied by a phrase like "Click here to be amazed and shocked." You just know the next thing you see, if you follow directions, is likely to get you fired if you're at work, or divorced if you're at home. But for some reason, I just couldn't help myself this morning. Something told me to click on that URL.

What I saw was more amazing and shocking than the three-legged amazon twin sister contortionists the Web usually offers you. Here it is (I've bold-faced and italicized the amazing part, to make sure you don't miss it):

The Scrutinator: Dishonest Darrin Bell

Darrin Bell, author of the comic Candorville, makes this blatantly false claim about Condoleeza Rice:

In fact, she didn't say "bracket insert name bracket."

President Bush, 2002 State of the Union address:

"Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom. ...

States like these [Iraq, Iran, and North Korea], and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

Those words are as relevant today as they were then.

I suppose nobody claims Candorville is serious analysis. But at least he could be honest (especially with "candor" in the title). Alas, I ask for so much.

-James (Something-or-Other), a.k.a. "The Scrutinator"

This might be an incorrect assumption on my part, but I think maybe they've never heard of "satire" on this guy's planet. It's no thong-wearing, three-cheeked ass, but it's as weird as anything else on the Internet.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jenna Bush Leaves the Country

From the Washington Post:

Jenna Bush , the nation's most famous public-school teacher, is skipping the country and bidding a happy adios to the young-Washington social scene she once ruled. Uh-oh, what do we do now?

Friends say that the blond, younger-by-minutes First Twin has been quietly making plans over recent months to leave D.C. for a teaching job in Latin America, most likely around the end of summer.

Instead of Latin America, shouldn't she be headed to -- oh, I don't know -- IRAQ?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

"The Daily Show" = Enemy of Democracy?

A recent study shows that college-age viewers of "The Daily Show" tend to be more cynical about politicians and the Media than non-viewers. Keep in mind, that's all their data shows.

Why, then, does the mainstream conservative Media conclude from this study that this effect is likely to lead to citizens deciding not to vote? Sure, the study's authors posited that as a possible outcome, but they also said the opposite -- increased voter participation, is just as likely. In other words, they have no idea what this study means. Yet the Media has been spinning it entirely in the negative, an action that pretty much validates our allegedly Jon Stewart-inspired cynicism.

Some alternative news sources have reported both possibilities. Oddly enough, one of those sources was Fox News. Of particular interest is one of their last lines, where they -- again, without even a trace of irony -- point out that The Daily Show is a "fake" news program.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Well, at least the Stalinists love us...

I wonder if anyone else is disturbed by a recent Seattle Times article...

But the atmosphere of goodwill during Bush's meeting with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and other EU officials was tested when European reporters pressed Bush on widespread anti-American sentiment in Europe.

"I thought it was absurd for people to think that we're more dangerous than Iran," Bush snapped when asked, in general terms, about the poll results. His irritation grew when an Austrian reporter read him some specific poll numbers.

Now, the fact that Europeans view the U.S. as a threat to world peace is not actually the disturbing part (a fact which, in itself, is disturbing). Here's what disturbed me (emphasis mine):
[Bush] later flew to Budapest, Hungary, for another day built around his effort to explain the reasons for the Iraq war in the more politically friendly territory of post-communist Eastern Europe.

Does it disturb anyone else that this was written with a complete lack of irony?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Candorville on MySpace

In the hope of connecting even more with readers, long-lost friends, long-lost enemies and the NSA, I've set up a page on myspace.com. If your Myspace screen name is "rummy911," please stop trying to add me as a friend -- it's not gonna happen.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Will Ferrell on George Bush on Global Warming

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was fascinating and scary, but this one's just a little bit funnier:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Reader mailbag - "Do you hate everything Bush does?"

A G.I. posted a comment on the blog from overseas, and for the benefit of our Stars & Stripes readers, I thought I'd answer it here, point by point.

Staff sergeant (name witheld) said...
Please don't mind me for being rather blunt, but do you hate EVERYTHING Bush does and try to twist it in a way to look bad?
Can you point out anything Candorville has presented as fact that wasn't true? Can you point out any specific incident of Candorville "twisting" something to make Bush look bad? When I comment on the Bush administration, I remind readers of the President's actions and promises. If he looks bad, it's not because of any twisting, its because his actions and unkept promises have not been good for the country.

Also, sometimes when your strips come out, the topic becomes old.
I accept blame for many things in life, but the nation's short attention span is not one of them. I remind people of what they'd rather forget, sometimes. That's why nearly a year later, Candorville still brings up Hurricane Katrina, and four years later Candorville continues to bring up the lies that led to the Iraq occupation. Our leaders would rather we forget. I'm not going to help them accomplish that goal. You should resent it when you're told that events don't matter because they're "old news." That's an intellectually lazy way to conduct a debate.

They don't go to that extent with spying such as the NSA guy writting on his notepad what Lemont says.
First of all, that's satire. Satire always exaggerates - everyone knows not to take satire literally. Secondly, how do we know that? A year ago, nobody thought they would go to the extent of wiretapping thousands of Americans, or of data-mining 200 million Americans. We have no reason to trust that they aren't violating the Fourth Amendment in other ways.

Have you ever thought what good the Pat. Act did? They caught bribes at the border, child abuse, lies, porn, and others.
And absolutely none of that has anything to do with terrorism. Placing an armed FBI agent in every American home would also produce positive results, but those results are not worth weakening our Bill of Rights protections. The Patriot Act allows the President to disregard the Bill of Rights -- the Bill of Rights, incidentally, along wih the rest of the Constitution, is what you (or at least your commanding officers and the Commander in Chief) are sworn to defend.

You also don't give repubs a fair chaance of sspeech, such as the Rep black guy sitting next to Lemont saying he's glad the USA Pat. Act is there because he might be a terrorist.
What's unfair about that? Again, it's satire. The man at the busstop represents Americans, such as yourself, who don't mind trading their hard-won civil liberties for a little more imaginary security.

Most importantly, shouldn't you only fear the Act if you've done something bad?
If our system were perfect, you would have a point. But no system is perfect, especially when it's being run by an administration with a history of breaking laws, locking up people who haven't committed any crimes, and violating the Constitution. They're trying to use the Patriot Act to go after reporters who expose government crimes, such as the leaking of an undercover CIA officer's name and the repeated violation of the Geneva Conventions. That is un-American.

The Stars & Stripes (I live overseas in the Army) is a cross of Rep. Dem. Independent, unlike the very liberal papers back home. It points out both pros & cons. on AFN we get Fox News, unlike the heavy heavy VERY heavy liberal CNN or CBS channels you watch or the New York Times and even 75% AP.
None of what you mentioned as "heavy heavy VERY heavy liberal" media is the least bit Liberal. They all supported the war, they all give room to people like Ann Coulter while denying it to people such as Greg Palast.

I myself am an independent but I don't see you give Repubs a fair shot at things. Hey, Over here there are naturalized US citizens from Mexico, Costa Rica, etc. who disagree with liberals at immigration (there are some who agree, however). I would like to point out that S&S got some liberal workers so now I get your Strip (started in Oct 02, 2005) along with other unfair stuff.
My job isn't to be "fair and balanced," my job is to tell the truth as I see it. If the Republicans in Congress start looking out for the average American and the President starts fulfilling his promises and stops violating the Constitution, I'd be more than happy to talk about that. In the meantime, I'm going to cover it when people do things they're not supposed to do, whether they're politicians, thugs, bosses, whatever. Pointing out wrongdoing and injustice is the purpose of social and political satire.

You also downgrade those in the Army, even to those enlisted before the war started. You said we're hopeless in a number of strips and we're doing the wrong thing. Well guess again. Zarqawi was killed, a dictator was overthrown, women have hope and we've even stopped some more hijackings. People die in war, and that's just that. They didn't die in vain (at least those who supported the war) and I'll be wrong if we lose. Bush's popularity has risen, why not include that in a future strip? Even Demos gave him a break (some)!
I haven't "downgraded" anyone in the Army. Can you point out a single Candorville strip that ridiculed enlisted men and women, or even officers or generals? Candorville has never lampooned anyone other than the civilian leadership. Even in the case of Abu Ghraib, Candorville made it clear that those who set the torture policies were to blame, not the troops who carried them out. The troops deserve better, more honest leadership than the Bush administration is providing. You deserve to have leaders who don't order you to invade and occupy a country that didn't attack us and had nothing to do with 9-11. You deserve leaders who don't order you to torture prisoners, and who don't create conditions that lead to an insurgency, which in turn leads to a few soldiers predictably snapping and committing atrocities like the Haditha massacre. The responsibility for all this lies at the feet of the people who ignored generals who asked for more troops, who ignored all the doubts about the intelligence and who presented that intelligence as iron clad - a lie that led directly to the current war. Dont' let anyone tell you that criticism of the President is anywhere in the same ballpark as criticism of the troops. There's nothing but support for the troops in this country, and increasingly condemnation for the civilian leaders who led the troops into this quagmire.

About Zarqawi, Bush could have had Zarqawi killed in 2003 in Northern Iraq. He didn't, because that would have robbed him of a reason to invade Iraq. All the deaths, beheadings and chaos Zarqawi started wouldn't have happened. And had Bush not decided to invade and occupy Iraq, Zarqawi never would have had the opportunity to wreak havoc. You're asking me to praise the President for cleaning up a mess he created.

So all I've said, would you please take it to mind?

PS, this isn't personal, but I just wanted to know: Do you approve of the ACLU (or at least some things). And also, I'm not against all liberals, in fact, you shouldn't be too conservative that you don't help! And last but not least: what do you think of independents?

An American Soldier.
I think most self-described "independents" are closeted Republicans. That's why they spend most of their time defending conservatism and Republicans, and complaining about "liberals" and the "liberal Media." And yes, I approve of the ACLU, who do nothing but defend the Bill of Rights in court. They defend anyone, Left or Right. All Americans who value their civil liberties should approve of the ACLU.

Even Rush Limbaugh probably does, these days.