Monday, January 29, 2007

Washington Times disavows Insight over Obama story

Like alcoholic parents trying to disavow their crack-whore son, the Washington Times is attempting to distance itself from the bogus Obama-madrassah story -- a story that they and Fox News had amplified.

The Washington Times, which is also owned by the Unification Church, but operates separately from the Web site, quickly disavowed the article. Its national editor sent an e-mail message to staff members under the heading “Insight Strikes Again” telling them to “make sure that no mention of any Insight story” appeared in the paper, and another e-mail message to its Congressional correspondent instructing him to clarify to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama that The Washington Times had nothing to do with the article on the Web site.

“Some of the editors here get annoyed when Insight is identified as a publication of The Washington Times,” said Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Washington Times.

But can the Washington Times disavow itself?
Barack Obama announced last week he was forming an exploratory committee to explore whether he can really be as fabulous as the media say. And happily the answer is: Yes. He is young, gifted and black, and white and Hawaiian and Kansan, and charismatic and Congregationalist, and Muslim. He rejects the way "politics has become so bitter and partisan," he represents "a different kind of politics." He smokes, which is different.
He was raised in an Indonesian madrassah by radical imams, which is more than John Edwards can say.


The madrassah stuff was supposedly leaked to Insight Magazine by some oppo-research heavies on Hillary Rodham Clinton's team. If true, that suggests Hillary is losing her touch. It's certainly the case that a foreign education doesn't always assist in electoral politics: John Kerry didn't play up the Swiss finishing school angle. But look at it from a Democratic primary voter's point of view, the kind who drive around with those "CO-EXIST" bumper stickers made up of the cross and the Star of David and the Islamic crescent and the peace sign. Your whole worldview is based on the belief that deep down we would all rub along just fine and this neocon fever about Islam is just a lot of banana oil to keep the American people in a state of fear and paranoia. What would more resoundingly confirm that view than if the nicest, most nonbitter, nonpartisan guy in politics turns out to have graduated from the Sword of the Infidel Slayer grade school in Jakarta?
Maybe someone at the Washington Times needs to circulate another memo.

CNN, through the rare implementation of something called "journalism," debunked this nonsense last week::

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Get ready for President Clinton

Dick Cheney, the man who's been consistently wrong about every major prediction, took a break from gathering flowers and candy from the Baghdad streets to weigh in on the '08 election:

US Vice President Dick Cheney said that Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton will not win the White House in 2008 and would not make a good president if she does.
I guess this is proof positive that Hillary Clinton will win the White House in 2008 and will make a good president when she does. I'm not much for dynastic presidencies. I think it's dangerous when running the country becomes a family business, so somebody, anybody, tell Cheney to shut up before his astonishing bizarro-powers jinx another Clinton into the White House.

By the way, if the President is serious about the need for less polarization in Washington, he might want to mention that to his hatchet-man:
Cheney, who in October had called Hillary Clinton a "formidable candidate" who "could win" the race to replace US President George W. Bush, told CNN television "I don't" think she would make a good leader.

Asked why, Cheney replied: "Because she's a Democrat. I don't agree with her philosophically and from a policy standpoint."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

RSS subscribers, you need to resubscribe

If you're a Candorville Courier subscriber, you may have noticed that the Bloglet RSS feed hasn't been delivering the blog since... well... ever. Naturally, I never got an error alert and the blog's status says "working" on their site. I've replaced the Bloglet service with Feedburner, which seems to be working. So if you'd like to keep receiving the Courier in your inbox, you'll have to re-subscribe by entering your e-mail address in the Feedburner field to your right.

Lib'ral Media Covers Up for Obama

Nice try, Chicago Sun-Times:

Barack Obama's week-old presidential campaign has been hit with a smear. Hillary Clinton's White House bid, launched Saturday, has been attacked with an unfounded accusation.

Contrary to what was reported in Insight magazine and then repeated on Fox News and in other news outlets, including a column that ran in the Sun-Times by free-lancer Mark Steyn, Obama was not educated in a radical Islamic school when he was an elementary student in Jakarta.

And there is no evidence whatsoever that Clinton's campaign had anything to do with spreading the damaging rumor that Obama hid a Muslim background.

The source for both slurs started in a report posted on the Web site of Insight, a conservative magazine published by the Washington Times. The article with no named sourcing alleged that researchers connected to Clinton dug up information about Obama as part of a "background check."

You mean Obama didn't attend a radical Islamist madrassa when he was six? Are they trying to tell us he didn't plot the destruction of America between nap-time and Play Doh lessons? Next the Lib'ral Media's going to try telling us he never actually burned the flag while cross-dressing when he ran that abortion clinic in San Francisco. They must think they're dealing with idiots.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

And now, for a moment of Zen...

That would be great for the Daily Show.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Finally a comics poll that makes sense

I'm sure they're paying more attention to the people voting by paper or online, but if I'm wrong -- if polling random people in a bar late at night (watch the video clip) is how the Hamilton Spectator is choosing its new comics, I think it's revolutionary. In fact, I think newspapers should choose all their features by showing them to clueless drunk people in some bar. The advice columns alone would be worth the price of a subscription.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Silence is Betrayal

It's important to notice when these settings are used to preach something other than the virtues of supply-side economics, pre-emptive wars and homophobia. There was a time when the religious movement in this country was characterized more by Martin Luther King, Jr. than by James Dobson.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Has Sean Hannity Gone Crazy?

OK, let me get this straight: If you criticize Sean Hannity and call for the impeachment of George W. Bush, that makes you an "Enemy of the State." (I know, I know, Hannity and his kind confusing a man - whether himself or the President - with "the State" isn't anything new).

I don't know what's worse -- the fact that Hannity chose to name a segment of his show after the favorite phrase of every dictator from Caesar to Hitler, the fact that anyone is actually watching that show, or the fact that I'm wasting my time commenting on it. At this point, commenting on the irresponsible behavior of the Fox News personalities may be no more necessary than pointing out how water is really, really wet.

An incipient dictator spends his political capital

His victory was determined by electronic voting machines that are indirectly under his control, he's consolidating the Media and the now virtually one-party state under his command, and he's planning to assume special legislative powers - powers previously outside the domain of the executive branch. For those of us who've criticized the GOP's determination to govern without Democratic input the past five+ years and their tendency to ignore or support the President's legally-dubious domestic spying, it's tempting to say he's George Bush's Liberal mirror image. But here's one major distinction (among several): Bush and his party never tried to eliminate Presidential term limits. I think it's necessary to say now that what we have in Venezuela is an incipient dictator.

From Yahoo News:

A leading anti-U.S. voice in the world and in the vanguard of a shift to the left in Latin America, Chavez now wants to scrap presidential term limits and lead the OPEC nation for decades.

Many of us agree with most of Chavez's stated goals; chief among them the novel idea that Venezuelans should benefit more than foreign investors do from their own natural resources, and that the United States' Monroe Doctrine (used by Presidents to justify numerous invasions and subversions of Latin American governments) is an anachronism. We agree with Chavez that the nations of Latin America have a right to self determination, they have a right to deny foreign exploitation of their own resources and to insist that the United States stay out of their political affairs. But we cannot turn a blind eye to the very real prospect that an even more fundamental right - the right of people to govern themselves - looks like it may be endangered in Venezuela.

If Hugo Chavez grows a long beard, we'll know it's game over in Caracas.

***EDIT: As a reader points out in the comments to this thread, the leaders of Chile and Brazil - whose acceptance has been credited in no small part to the popularit of Hugo Chavez - have so far demonstrated that socialist values are not incompatible with Democracy. Perhaps the teacher should start taking notes.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The SpOILs of War

Colin Powell, 2003:
"It cost a great deal of money to prosecute this war. But the oil of the Iraqi people belongs to the Iraqi people; it is their wealth, it will be used for their benefit. So we did not do it for oil."

London's Independent, 2007:

Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.

Oil industry executives and analysts say the law, which would permit Western companies to pocket up to three-quarters of profits in the early years, is the only way to get Iraq's oil industry back on its feet after years of sanctions, war and loss of expertise.

Candorville and Chicago

Mail keeps coming in from Chicago readers upset about the Tribune's decision to cancel Candorville. Curiously, many in Chicago seem to have assumed it was my decision to pull Candorville out of the Tribune, or that Candorville has ended. For instance:

Dear Mr. Bell,
I suspect you must receive a ton of complaints from Chicago when you criticize the government, but that is no reason to pull Candorville out of the paper like The Boondocks did. Maybe you don't realize that a lot of us read Candorville every day and appreciate your take on current events and look forward to reading what you have to say about modern life. The comics aren't the same without Candorville. Please bring it back.

Just to clarify for Chicago readers, I haven't ended Candorville, it was cancelled by the Tribune. I have no control over whether Candorville appears in the Trib. If you'd like to see it return, e-mailing me won't do it (although I appreciate it). If you'd like to make your feelings known to those who make the decisions, I would suggest you contact the Tribune directly and tell them what you think.

It's been an honor to appear in the pages of the Tribune for this long, and I hope those of you from Chicago will continue to follow Candorville online, perhaps in one of the other Chicago papers should they choose to pick up the strip, or in book form.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Candorville: more respect for the truth than for the dead?

"Be to my faults a little blind, Be to my virtues very kind."

I'm not sure who originally wrote that phrase. I've seen it attributed to various people from John Lennon to Ben Franklin, and I have yet to come across a definitive account of its origin. Maybe that's because I haven't spent too much time looking, but I'd like to think it's also because it's such a universal desire that it actually goes back to the dawn of time. Maybe when the first doomed nucleic acid was spit out by a primordial chemical system, it's last words were "remember me well."

The desire to be remembered as a positive force once we're gone is probably as instinctive as it is universal. Every saint and every dictator wanted to leave behind a legacy they thought positive. And because we all want the same thing, we routinely, wilfully, whitewash people's lives once they're gone -- hoping that someday, when our time comes, the world will return the favor. Some believe that pays tribute to the departed. Perhaps most believe that. I believe the opposite. I believe that by sanitizing someone's effect on the world and their history, you don't pay tribute to that person, you pay tribute to some phantom you've created in their stead. When it's a person of historical significance, you run the risk of erasing history. And we all know the other saying about what happens to people who forget their history.

Here's today's Candorville, followed by a representative response to it from a Candorville reader:

Today's strip

Reader feedback

Dear Darrin Bell,
My paper just picked up your comic strip on the first, and I was okay with it. It was mildly funny, and I could relate to some of it. However, today, you published the comic about James Brown "explaining" about what he didn't do, while you showed Gerald Ford running away. I now refuse to read your strip. If you want to attack a person, at least do it while they're alive.

My response
Thank you for writing. That's exactly what tomorrow's comic strip deals with -- the notion that we should only speak well of the departed. You really shouldn't judge a comic strip by one edition of it, or you might miss out on something you'd otherwise come to enjoy.

The reason the strip is called "Candorville" isn't because I think I know the Truth. It's my promise to always say exactly what's on my mind, regardless of what everyone else is saying. It's my suggestion that honesty is always the best policy, even when it involves sacred cows. When the war in Iraq was popular, Candorville pointed out its counterproductivity. When Barak Obama, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were being idolized as phenomena by the Media a couple years ago, I pointed out that they'd done nothing more than anyone else could do, and the only reason they were seen as exceptional was their race (What has Obama accomplished, really?). Everyone loves Oprah Winfrey, but I've commented on how she seems to regularly invite celebrity guests in order to fish for compliments from them, and I've pointed out that every single issue of her magazine features HER on the cover (which strikes me as a bit egotistical, even if it is good business sense). Not all these observations are equally important, but they're all candid assessments.

I "attack" people who are living 99.99999999% of the time, but I see no reason to sanitize someone's past just because they've died. And when the rest of the Media, from left-wingers on Air America to the mainstream media to right-wingers like Limbaugh, are ALL refusing to mention a person's drawbacks once they're dead, I believe in the case of a public official, that's dangerous. It's dangerous to ignore history, to sanitize it out of sentimentality. So I point out that the person isn't a saint, that his affect on history hasn't been as uniformly positive as the Media is telling us it has. I say "hold on a second, stop canonizing someone who has such a checkered record."

If you want to hear the sanitized line on issues, the rest of the Media provides that. If you want to hear candid opinions and truthful depictions of modern Americans and their actions & discussions, Candorville tries to provide that. If you're offended by that sort of candor, then perhaps Candorville isn't the strip for you, but I thank you for giving it a chance up 'til now. Thanks again for writing, and I hope you have a happy New Year.

Looks like I spoke too soon. The above feedback was representative of a handful of e-mails early in the morning, but the vast majority of the feedback since then (all of it, in fact) has been positive. Here's another note which is more representative of the feedback for this strip:

I have been a fan of Candorville since the git go. As a afro-cubano who was raised in Pasadena I can relate to Susana and the entire cast of characters. Since I was a teen in the mid-60s listening to KGFJ 1230am, I have been a fan of James Brown, I also lived the stain of Tricky Dick's scandal and the behind the scenes arrangement he made with Ford to get pardoned, all the while I was on the front lines of the struggle, freedom fighting and protesting the Nam conflict

Your Jan 8th strip with the Godfather at the pearly gates hit home and if not your best, fo sho it is in your top 5 im my book...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More on Candorville and Chicago

Some mention about this on the Web. From the Tribune's Letters to the Editor section:

I'm disappointed in the Trib's decision to cancel the comic strip "Candorville," by Darrin Bell ("Meet our new comic characters," Tempo, Jan. 2). This strip was one of the few highlights of the funny pages, and one of the more consistently funny strips I've seen in almost 30 years of reading them. The characters were fully fleshed out and very relevant. Please bring it back, as I have spoken to many others who feel the same way!

Fred Nickl
Arlington Heights

That thread also includes a typical comment about how Candorville "always" attacks conservatives, which - also typical - ignores Candorville's caustic treatment of Hillary Clinton, Ray Nagin, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, etc... People all along the ideological spectrum, from left to right, have an amusing habit of ignoring countervailing evidence when it might get in the way of a good hate.

And then there are the obscure blogs (even more obscure than this one, if that's possible). From M. Rittle at Random Social Thoughts:

We are lucky if a comic strip in the newspaper depicts non-white characters, much less characters of multiple races and classes in the same strip. Candorville accomplishes this social reality with finesse. I read Candorville because the strip breaks racial stereotypes of poverty through depiction of white homeless men. I read Candorville because the highest paid character in the strip is Latina. I read the comics page in the hope to find a humorous depiction of everyday life realities, and no comic strip satisfies this goal as well as Darrin Bell's Candorville.

***Edit - Rest of the post removed for... oh hell, it's Midnight Friday after a long week, I'm too tired to keep typing. Let's just say it's been removed for the hell of it.***

And now for something good...

Hobbies always help when you need to take your mind off of a soul-crushing loss. One of my hobbies is playing around with Final Cut Pro, and I just recently put together a demo reel for my wife, Laura Bustamante, a beautiful and talented actor whose done voice-over work (in English & Spanish) for everyone from Spielberg to Kaiser Permanente. She also hosts & reports for a TV show about Latino culture, among other things. She just recently finished a run as Diana Morales in the 6th Street Players production of A Chorus Line. Oh, and she's also the inspiration for Susan Garcia. For a break from the madness, here's the demo reel. It's mostly in Spanish, but you'll enjoy it anyway.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Chicago Cancels Candorville

What a New Year's present. Today the Chicago Tribune cancelled Candorville, as well as Prickly City. This was in my inbox this morning:

Dear Mr. Bell: My New Year's present from the Chicago Tribune was dropping your strip. Every morning it has been my pleasure to read Candorville. I am angry (pissed is better). My next e-mail goes to the Trib editor who made this stupid decision. I'm hoping enough of us make a fuss to get you back.
Skokie, Illinois

Another reader wrote:


I've really liked your strip since it appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Liked pretty much everything about it, even the references to Josh! I can't believe the Trib dropped your strip--is there anything that the readers can actually do to get it back in?

Fred N.

I don't know if there's anything readers can do, but when you approve or disapprove of something in your favorite paper, writing a letter to the editor is a good idea. It's the only way newspapers know what their readers feel about their content. You can try writing to the Tribune and letting them know how you feel. Papers do sometimes listen to their readers.

Happy New Year!