May 31, 2006

Art Auction: "Like A Rat"


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"Like A Rat" is in our book Black & White World II and was originally posted on Dec. 14, 2003 on the occasion of Saddam's capture. The cartoon and its title were directly inspired by a comment from Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division which hunted Saddam, who said: "He was just caught like a rat." 

The 9" x 6.5" ink illustration is on a 11" x 7" acid-free bristol board (the black border is not part of the illustration). John and I have signed the front in pencil. Written on the left edge of the cartoon in ink is "Tales From The Crypt," a title idea by John.

As with our last auction, the starting bid is $250. Bidding takes place in the comment section below in increments of at least $10. Buyer pays shipping in addition to the winning bid amount, and the shipping method is buyer's choice (e.g, Priority Mail, FedEx overnight, etc.). Payment can be made via PayPal or directly to us.

Auction ends Wednesday, June 7, at 3:00pm CST.

UPDATE -- June 7: Bidding for this cartoon is closed. Thanks to all who participated, and our congratulations and thanks to Diggs for the winning bid.

Out next original cartoon is up for bids: Art Auction: "Dutch".

Posted by Forkum at 12:42 PM | Comments (7)

May 30, 2006

Step by Step


From Christian Science Monitor: Ethnic tensions could crack Iran's firm resolve against the world.

During the last week of May, thousands of Iranians demonstrated in the northwestern city of Tabriz, and the previous week there were protests at universities in five cities. The protests were triggered by the official government newspaper -- the Islamic Republic News Agency's Iran -- publishing a cartoon which depicts a boy repeating "cockroach" in Persian before a giant bug in front of him asks "What?" in Azeri.

Azeri-Iranians -- who make up approximately one-quarter of the country's population -- were particularly offended by the cartoon. These disturbances come at a bad time for the Iranian government, which is stressing national unity in the face of international concern over its nuclear program.

Ethnic Persians make up a little more than half the total population of 69 million, but there are sizable minorities -- in addition to the Azeris there are ethnic Arabs, Baluchis, and Kurds, for example. Some of these groups, furthermore, practice Sunni Islam instead of the Shiite branch of Islam, the state religion. The Iranian Constitution guarantees the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, but in reality the central government emphasizes the Persian and Shiite nature of the state. ...

The central government typically reacts to ethnic unrest with a combination of repression and scapegoating. For example, two men were executed in early March for their roles in fatal October bombings in the southwest. They "confessed" on state television the night before their executions that Iranians in Canada and Britain instructed them to create insecurity.

The government commonly blames foreign agitators. ...

Official reactions to the unrest caused by the cartoon of an Azeri-speaking cockroach followed the familiar pattern. Although the cartoonist was arrested and the newspaper suspended, foreigners received the blame nevertheless. According to Reporters Without Borders, furthermore, two Azeri journalists were detained without charges.

As further example of how the regime blames "foreign agitators" for their own problems; from AP: Iran: U.S. Will Fail to Spark Unrest.

Iran's supreme leader said Sunday the United States would fail to provoke ethnic strife in the Islamic republic after several days of protests over a cartoon that insulted the country's largest minority.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said in a speech broadcast by state-run television that "trying to provoke ethnic and religious unrest is the last desperate shot by enemies."

Considering that it was a state-run newspaper that published the cockroach cartoon, I'd say the regime is doing a good job of provoking ethnic unrest all by itself.

In Arab News, Amir Taheri catalogues the challenges posed to Ahmadinejab by ethnic divisions: Iran: Restive Provinces

Gateway Pundit has more on the protests, and as always Regime Change Iran has the lastest Iran-related news.

UPDATE I: The cartoonist for the Azeri cockrroach cartoon was apparently an Azeri himself. Power and Control has more on possible motives for the cartoon and the protests: Cartoons of Revolution?.

UPDATE II -- June 3: Gateway Pundit has the latest on more protests in Iran, including links to video: Despite Martial Law, 10,000 Protest in Tabriz, Iran.

Posted by Forkum at 05:20 PM

May 29, 2006

Mahmoud Abbas


From Reuters: Hamas leader Zahar rejects Abbas referendum plan.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar on Monday rejected as a waste of time and money the referendum President Mahmoud Abbas has said he will call unless Hamas changes its policy toward Israel.

Zahar is a senior Hamas leader, and his remarks were the Islamic militant group's clearest rejection yet of a referendum, underlining the widening rift between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas, the governing party since it won elections in January.

"This process needs money, we have no money. Nobody will recognize Israel, there is no need for a referendum," Zahar told Reuters during a visit to Malaysia for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The United States and its allies have cut off aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority to put pressure on Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel and abide by interim peace deals. The Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

On Thursday, Abbas set a 10-day deadline for Hamas to accept his proposal that the Palestinians agree to a peace settlement if Israel withdraws from all of the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, occupied since the 1967 Middle East war.

Abbas said that if Hamas refused to back the proposal, he would call a referendum on it in July.

Abbas opened talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday with Hamas militants and other factions, trying to persuade them to accept the proposal.

But Hamas's official representative did not attend Monday's session, saying he was blocked by Israeli checkpoints.

Hamas has demanded that the talks be moved to Gaza, its political stronghold, but has already rejected Abbas's 10-day deadline and scorned his peace proposal, which was drawn up by Palestinian leaders held in Israeli jails.

Posted by Forkum at 09:33 PM

May 27, 2006

Memorial Day 2006


UPDATE -- May 29: From FoxNews: Bush Lays Wreath at Arlington Cemetery.

Posted by Forkum at 12:01 AM

May 26, 2006


Swedish blogger Martin Lindeskog interviewed me this week for his podcast show Egoist which is produced and sponsored by Prodos in Australia. That's right -- an Australian recorded a Swede interviewing an American. I'm still amazed at what technology makes possible. In the interview we discuss the creative process, future plans and more. WARNING: The low point is my aborted attempt to sing Happy Birthday to Martin.

And earlier this year, I was interviewed by Ayumi Fukuda for Business Tn magazine online: A Thousand Words: Cox & Forkum let their cartoons do the blogging. (Requires free registration.)

The word "blogging" conjures up images of written commentary published on a Web page. Though it's true that commentary on most blogs deals in verbs and nouns, there is at least one blog for which illustration-more precisely, editorial cartoons -- is the principal medium for communication. John Cox and Allen Forkum are the men behind the blogging cartoon duo Cox & Forkum. Forkum writes the cartoons, and Cox illustrates them. Befitting the manner in which blogging communities themselves are unfettered by distance, Cox and Forkum communicate their ideas to each other via cyberspace.

Posted by Forkum at 08:16 PM

May 25, 2006

Royal Pain


From AP: Some lawmakers wary of fight over FBI raid.

Some lawmakers are warning of a voter backlash against members of Congress "trying to protect their own" if party leaders keep escalating a constitutional dispute over the FBI's raid of a representative's office.

Yet not long after House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded on Wednesday the bureau return documents it took, White House aides were in talks with Hastert's staff about the possible transfer of the material, perhaps to the House ethics committee, according to several Republican officials. [See article below for latest.] ...

The confrontational approach by Hastert, R-Ill., and Pelosi, D-Calif., did not sit well with some colleagues.

"Criticizing the executive and judicial branches of our government for fully investigating a member of Congress suspected of criminal wrongdoing sends the wrong message and reflects poorly upon all of Congress," Rep. Barbara Cubin (news, bio, voting record), R-Wyo., said in a statement. "They should not expect their congressional offices to be treated as a safe haven."

A GOP colleague, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, said the public "will come to one conclusion: that congressional leaders are trying to protect their own from valid investigations."

While some lawmakers contended the executive branch overstepped its authority, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada has declined to condemn the search.

"I'm not going to beat up on the FBI," said Reid, a frequent critic of the White House's use of executive power.

Their voices were in the minority on Capitol Hill in the wake of the 15-hour search during which agents collected evidence against Jefferson, an eight-term Democrat.

Historians said it was the first such search of a congressman's quarters in the more than two centuries since the first Congress convened.

Meanwhile, from CNN: Bush orders documents seized in Capitol Hill search sealed.

President Bush stepped into the Justice Department's constitutional confrontation with Congress on Thursday and ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid on a congressman's office be sealed for 45 days.

The president directed that no one involved in the investigation have access to the documents taken last weekend from the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, and that they remain in the custody of the solicitor general.

Bush's move was described as an attempt to cool off a heated confrontation between his administration and leaders of the House and Senate.

(This cartoon was based on a suggestion by David Walz.)

Posted by Forkum at 04:35 PM

May 24, 2006

Art Auction: "Down From The Mountain"


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In the coming months, we will be auctioning a select few original cartoons to the highest bidder. The cartoon above is the first.

"Down From The Mountain" was originally posted on Sept. 12, 2004 and is in our book Black & White World II. We tried to capture the elitist attitude of Dan Rather in response to the revelation by bloggers (like Little Green Footballs and Power Line) that the Bush Guard memos were fake. The cartoon was published in Investor's Business Daily and The Detroit News.

The 9" x 6.5" ink illustration is on a 11" x 7" acid-free bristol board (the black border is not part of the illustration). John and I have signed the front in pencil. The reverse side of the board features a rough pencil sketch of the cartoon that John drew as we discussed the cartoon. Differences between the original and the final cartoon include a "Dan" nameplate and some computerized shading.

The starting bid is $250. Bidding takes place in the comment section below in increments of at least $10. Buyer pays shipping in addition to the winning bid amount, and the shipping method is buyer's choice (e.g, Priority Mail, FedEx overnight, etc.). Payment can be made via PayPal or directly to us. Auction ends on Wednesday, May 31, at noon CST.

UDPATE I -- May 31: Bidding for this cartoon is now closed. Congratulations to "Anonymous" for the winning bid, and thanks to everyone who participated.

We will post the next auction later today, so stay tuned.

UDPATE II: Here's the next Art Auction: "Like A Rat".

Posted by Forkum at 03:44 PM | Comments (16)

May 23, 2006

Core Curriculum


From The Washington Post: This is a Saudi textbook. (After the intolerance was removed.). (hat tip Jack Friedman)

A review of a sample of official Saudi textbooks for Islamic studies used during the current academic year reveals that, despite the Saudi government's statements to the contrary, an ideology of hatred toward Christians and Jews and Muslims who do not follow Wahhabi doctrine remains in this area of the public school system. The texts teach a dualistic vision, dividing the world into true believers of Islam (the "monotheists") and unbelievers (the "polytheists" and "infidels").

This indoctrination begins in a first-grade text and is reinforced and expanded each year, culminating in a 12th-grade text instructing students that their religious obligation includes waging jihad against the infidel to "spread the faith." ...

The Saudi public school system totals 25,000 schools, educating about 5 million students. In addition, Saudi Arabia runs academies in 19 world capitals, including one outside Washington in Fairfax County, that use some of these same religious texts. ...


"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus." ...


"The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills."

"It is part of God's wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment]."

"Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him." ...


"Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God."

UPDATE -- May 29: From Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center: Incitement to Jihad on Saudi Government-Controlled TV. (via Boaz Arad)

As part of MEMRI's TV Monitoring Project, Saudi government controlled television channels including TV1, TV2 and satellite channels such as Iqraa TV, are continually monitored.(1) These channels include shows with leading Saudi religious figures, professors, members of the royal family, government leaders and intellectuals. Constant themes within Saudi television shows include: calls for the annihilation of Christians and Jews, rampant anti-Americanism and antisemitism, support for Jihad, incitement against U.S. troops in Iraq, and the coming Islamic conquest of the U.S. Segments from these TV shows can be found at

Posted by Forkum at 03:39 PM

May 22, 2006

Ray Nagin


From AP: Nagin Aims to Mend Fences -- and City, Too.

Newly re-elected Mayor Ray Nagin immediately began trying to mend ties with political opponents and crucial leaders on Sunday as he looked ahead to another four years to oversee reconstruction of this major American city.

"We're going to bring this city together. It's my intention to reach out to every segment of this community," Nagin said a day after defeating Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. "This is our shot. This is our time."

Nagin said he reiterated his desire to work together in conversations with President Bush and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco.

The president called to congratulate Nagin and said he would rather finish rebuilding with the mayor because the two men had weathered Hurricane Katrina together, Nagin told fellow parishioners at St. Peter Claver Church.

Nagin said he pressed Bush to help accelerate the rebuilding and to help with the removal of tons of debris still littering neighborhoods. He also raised questions about the pending end of federal aid for some evacuees still living in Houston and other cities. ...

Nagin, a former cable television executive, was able to win back some of the conservative white voters who supported him four years ago but then abandoned him during the primary.

Many had sought new leadership after complaining of the slow rate of rebuilding and the national controversy caused by Nagin's tearful plea for the federal government to "get off their (behinds) and do something" in the aftermath of Katrina. His remark on Martin Luther King Day that God intended New Orleans to be a "chocolate" city sparked outrage — and then an apology from Nagin.

But during the run-off campaign, Nagin actively courted conservative white voters by emphasizing his business background in contrast to Landrieu, a longtime politician and a member of Louisiana's equivalent to the Kennedy family.

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

Posted by Forkum at 07:52 PM

May 21, 2006



From AFP: Suspension of enrichment against Iran's legitimate rights: FM.

Iran, in its first reaction to a European Union proposal aimed at resolving a nuclear standoff with the West, said suspension of uranium enrichment breached Tehran's legitimate rights.

"The suspension of nuclear activities is in contradiction with our legitimate rights," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in Kuwait in response to a question on whether Tehran was prepared to suspend the enrichment during proposed negotiations.

"(This also) is not within the provisions of the (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) NTP," said Mottaki Saturday after talks with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah.

The EU draft proposal, prepared by Germany, Britain and France, calls on Iran to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and to continue this during negotiations.

The EU offers a package of trade, technology and security benefits if Tehran stops enriching uranium to defuse an escalating international showdown.

Mottaki said his country wants the UN Security Council to stop discussing the Iranian nuclear file "because we believe the issue has been politicised by referring it to the Security Council."

Meanwhile, from CNN: Israel: Iran 'months' from making nukes.

Iran is only months away from joining the club of nations that can make a nuclear weapon, Israel's prime minister said in a recent interview.

"The technological threshold is very close," Ehud Olmert said on CNN's "Late Edition" in an interview taped Thursday and broadcast Sunday.

"It can be measured by months rather than years."

Asked whether he believes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would halt his nation's nuclear-enrichment program under international pressure, Olmert said, "I prefer to take the necessary measures to stop it, rather than to find out later that my indifference was so dangerous."

Some observers disagree with Israel's characterization, saying Iran is five to 10 years away from being able to make a nuclear weapon.

Posted by Forkum at 07:07 PM

May 18, 2006

Coming Home


This cartoon originally appeared in March 2005.

From AP: Colorado Professor Cited for Misconduct.

An investigation of a professor who likened some of the Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi found serious cases of misconduct in his academic research, including plagiarism and fabrications, a University of Colorado spokesman said Tuesday.

One member of the five-person investigative committee recommended that ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill be fired, and four recommended he be suspended, university spokesman Barrie Hartman said.

Churchill, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, said the report was contradictory and in some cases false.

"I feel like the process was a pretext" with the eventual goal to fire him, he said.

University officials said they expect to decide Churchill's fate by June 8.

The professor touched off a firestorm with an essay relating the 2001 terrorist attacks to U.S. abuses abroad. The essay referred to some World Trade Center victims as "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who carried out Adolf Hitler's plan to exterminate European Jews during World War II.

University officials had earlier determined Churchill could not be fired for his comments about the terrorist attacks, but they launched an inquiry into allegations about his research.

The committee's 125-page report said Churchill falsified, fabricated and plagiarized some of his research, did not always comply with standards for listing other authors' names and failed to follow accepted practice for reporting results.

Gov. Bill Owens said that Churchill has tarnished the university's reputation and should resign.

Pirate Ballerina has more, and so does LGF.

Posted by Forkum at 06:07 PM

May 17, 2006



From AP: Somali-born Lawmaker in Netherlands Quits.

Under withering criticism, the Dutch immigration minister has agreed to rethink her threat to revoke the citizenship of a Somali-born former lawmaker known for her opposition to fundamentalist Islam.

Minister Rita Verdonk said she acted on the basis of a television program that aired last week in which Ayaan Hirsi Ali admitted lying about her name and age on her asylum application when she fled to the Netherlands in 1992 to escape an arranged marriage.

Hirsi Ali has become one of the best-known figures in the country. She has lived under police protection since a film she wrote criticizing the treatment of women under Islam provoked the murder of its director, Theo van Gogh, by an Islamic radical.

Hirsi Ali resigned from parliament Tuesday, saying in a sometimes teary voice it would be impossible for her to function as a politician while fighting a legal battle over her immigration status.

The threat to strip Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Dutch citizenship unleashed a fierce debate in parliament at a time of heightened anti-immigrant sentiment in the country. ...

Hirsi Ali has declined to say what she will do next, or confirm reports she will go work for the American Enterprise Institute.

But the conservative think-tank's president, Christopher DeMuth, said in an open letter Tuesday he was "looking forward to welcoming you to AEI, and to America."

Dutch media also reported that U.S. Ambassador Roland Arnall had met with Hirsi Ali to tell her the United States will accept her regardless of her Dutch immigration status.

Before this latest news, Christopher Hitchens wrote at The Caged Virgin: Holland's shameful treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. (Hat tip Chip Joyce via HB List)

After being forced into hiding by fascist killers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali found that the Dutch government and people were slightly embarrassed to have such a prominent "Third World" spokeswoman in their midst. She was first kept as a virtual prisoner, which made it almost impossible for her to do her job as an elected representative. When she complained in the press, she was eventually found an apartment in a protected building. Then the other residents of the block filed suit and complained that her presence exposed them to risk. In spite of testimony from the Dutch police, who assured the court that the building was now one of the safest in all Holland, a court has upheld the demand from her neighbors and fellow citizens that she be evicted from her home. In these circumstances, she is considering resigning from parliament and perhaps leaving her adopted country altogether. This is not the only example that I know of a supposedly liberal society collaborating in its own destruction, but I hope at least that it will shame us all into making The Caged Virgin a best seller.

The Amazon link to Hirsi Ali's book: The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam .

In April, The New York Times featured a detailed, must-read profile of Hirsi Ali: Daughter of the Enlightenment by Christopher Caldwell. (Hat tip The Free West and Joel Ploumen)

Last spring, Ayaan Hirsi Ali took her ''Dutch mother'' -- the woman who taught her the language and cared for her after she arrived in the Netherlands as a refugee in 1992 -- to lunch at the Dudok brasserie, near the Parliament in The Hague. As always, Hirsi Ali's armed security detail was there. They have been her companions since she started receiving death threats in September 2002. Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and has been a member of the Dutch Parliament since January 2003, had endorsed the view that Islam is a backward religion, condemned the way women live under it and said that by today's standards, the prophet Muhammad would be considered a perverse tyrant. She had also announced that she was no longer a believing Muslim. The punishment for such apostasy is, according to strict interpretations of Islam, death. That day at the Dudok, several dozen vocational students were taking up the main restaurant, so she and her guards parked at two tables near the bar. Hirsi Ali had her back to the restaurant when one of the students, apparently a Dutch convert to Islam, tapped her on the shoulder. ''I turned around,'' she recalls in her elegant English, ''and saw this sweet, young Dutch guy, about 24 years old. With freckles! And he was like, 'Madam, I hope the mujahedeen get you and kill you.' '' Hirsi Ali handed him her knife and told him, ''Why don't you do it yourself?''

The story is, like much in Hirsi Ali's life, an inseparable mix of the terrifying and the tender.

A Little Green Footballs search for "Hirsi Ali" turns up numerous good links, including two video interviews:
February 2006 Interview
November 2005 Interview

The Dutch blog Liberty and Justice has a detailed account of Hirsi Ali's press conference and much more.

And finally, here is John's Newsmaker Caricature of Hirsi Ali.

UPDATE I -- May 18: From Peaktalk: VERDONK RETREATS. (via Tom Pechinski)

i>UPDATE II -- May 21: LGF has another video interview with Hirsi Ali.

Posted by Forkum at 04:30 PM

May 16, 2006

Meeting of Minds

Move your cursor over the cartoon to see the flipped version (may not work on all browsers).

After the "Day Without Immigrants" protests, John Podhoretz made a good point in The New York Post: Problema.
With their psychotically provocative behavior, these radical lunatics of the Left are moving the ideological goalposts of this debate toward the restrictionist Right. Unless they wise up, by the time they're through every politician in this country outside the inner cities will be paying lip service at the very least to a serious crackdown on illegal immigration.
In referencing the article above, TIA Daily's Robert Tracinski took the idea one step further: "[T]he left's attempt to capture the pro-immigration side of the argument creates a false alternative, with both sides taking for granted the false premise that the effect of immigration is to destroy America and merely disagreeing on the desirability of this outcome."

The far Left's anti-American agenda is apparent. In December, Tracinski also highlighted a similar problema with anti-immigrationists on the Right: Americans Against The American Dream.
The real essence of the anti-immigrationists' argument is not that immigrants are unwilling to work, but that they are too willing to work, that they are so eager to work that they will come here and take "our" jobs -- jobs that are supposed to be set aside, by governmental fiat, for American workers. Their crude version of being "pro-American" is that they want to protect a supposed monopoly on jobs by native-born Americans, a monopoly enforced at the point of a gun.

This is the welfare-state entitlement mentality of the left, adopted in a crudely nationalistic variation. The premise of the anti-immigration crusade is that native-born Americans have a right to be hired for menial jobs at high wages, not because they have the skills or initiative to perform those jobs productively, but simply because they were born in this country. But the idea that you have a right to a job and a paycheck, just as a reward for being born, regardless of your ability or willingness to do the work--isn't that the worst aspect of the welfare-state mentality of the left?
UPDATE I -- May 17: I've changed the cartoon "flip" to work by simply moving your cursor over the cartoon. This method doesn't require JavaScript and hopefully will work for more readers (however for some it may still not work). Thanks to Chris Davis at Quent Cordair Fine Arts for his technical expertise.

UPDATE II -- May 23: A must-read article on immigration from Jewish World Review: The real cause of the immigration crisis by Jeff Jacoby. (via TIA Daily)
To countless Americans, the difference between legal and illegal immigration is self-evident and meaningful. But is that really what distinguishes the immigrants we want from those we don't — that the former enter the country lawfully, while the latter break the rules to get here? Are immigrants like my father and son inherently desirable merely because a lot of exasperating bureaucratic requirements were met before they came? Are the 11 million illegal immigrants living within our borders (and the several hundred thousand added to their number each year) unwelcome and problematic only because they got in the wrong way?

A foreigner who enters the United States without first running the immigration-law gantlet is not congenitally unfit to be a good American any more than someone who operates an automobile without a license is congenitally unfit to drive. Our immigration laws are maddening and Byzantine. They are heavily skewed in favor of people with family ties to US citizens — nearly two-thirds of all legal immigrants qualify to enter the United States because they are the relatives of someone already here, and even then it can take 10 or 15 years to qualify for legal residence. If you were designing an immigration system that would admit people on the basis of whether they seemed likely to become good Americans — patriotic, hard working, law-abiding, English-speaking — this is hardly the system you would devise.

Posted by Forkum at 05:46 PM

May 15, 2006

Michael Hayden


From FoxNews: CIA Nominee to Face Questions on Eavesdropping.

The fate of President George W. Bush's CIA nominee could hinge on how he justifies domestic eavesdropping programs that some lawmakers contend are illegal and started without congressional approval.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden should expect sharp questioning about programs he oversaw while directing the National Security Agency as the Senate Intelligence Committee begins hearings Thursday. ...

Asked if Hayden's nomination to succeed Porter Goss was in trouble, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter said, "I would say that there are a lot of questions which General Hayden has to answer. He's a first-class professional, but he has been in charge of a program where we need a lot more information."

Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, does not serve on the Intelligence Committee, but he wants to ask representatives of telephone companies that cooperated with the NSA to testify before his panel.

A secret NSA program, disclosed last week, kept records of millions of domestic phone calls made by ordinary Americans as part of a growing database. The agency also has allowed eavesdropping on phone calls to and from the United States when the calls involve al-Qaida and its operatives.

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

Posted by Forkum at 07:06 PM

May 14, 2006

Caller ID


From Chicago Sun-Times: To connect the dots, you have to see the dots by Mark Steyn. (via InstaPundit)

I'm a strong believer in privacy rights. I don't see why Americans are obligated to give the government their bank account details and the holdings therein. Other revenue agencies in other free societies don't require that level of disclosure. But, given that the people of the United States are apparently entirely cool with that, it's hard to see why lists of phone numbers (i.e., your monthly statement) with no identifying information attached to them is of such a vastly different order of magnitude. By definition, "connecting the dots" involves getting to see the dots in the first place.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) feels differently. "Look at this headline," huffed the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The secret collection of phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. Now, are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with al-Qaida?"

No. But next time he's flying from D.C. to Burlington, Vt., on a Friday afternoon he might look at the security line: Tens of millions of Americans are having to take their coats and shoes off! Are you telling me that tens of millions of ordinary shoe-wearing Americans are involved with al-Qaida?

Of course not. Fifteen out of 19 of the 9/11 killers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. So let's scrap the tens of millions of law-abiding phone records, and say we only want to examine the long-distance phone bills of, say, young men of Saudi origin living in the United States. Can you imagine what Leahy and Lauer would say to that? Oh, no! Racial profiling! The government's snooping on people whose only crime is "dialing while Arab." In a country whose Transportation Security Administration personnel recently pulled Daniel Brown off the plane as a security threat because he had traces of gunpowder on his boots -- he was a uniformed U.S. Marine on his way home from Iraq -- in such a culture any security measure will involve "tens of millions of Americans": again by definition, if one can't profile on the basis of religion or national origin or any other identifying mark with identity-group grievance potential, every program will have to be at least nominally universal.

Posted by Forkum at 05:11 PM

May 11, 2006

No Consequences


The Palestinians elect a terrorist group to lead their government, and this is the consequence:

From ABC News: Israel releasing money for Palestinians.

Israel has agreed to release tens of millions of dollars it withheld from the Palestinians after Hamas ascended to power and is considering easing restrictions on the movement of goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip, officials said Thursday. ...

Israel stopped transferring some $55 million in tax and customs revenues it collects monthly on behalf of the Palestinians shortly after Hamas won January parliamentary elections.
The withholding of those funds, coupled with a cutoff in aid from the U.S. and European Union, has left the Palestinians broke and two months behind in paying salaries to government workers who provide for about a third of the people in the West Bank and Gaza.

The potential humanitarian crisis is fueling international alarm.

Later in the article:

Outside U.N. headquarters in Gaza City Thursday, about 40 children protested what they called an economic siege. Several stripped down to their underwear and stood on U.S. and Israeli flags.

Is that the way to ask for help? It illustrates how morally inverted the whole issue has become. And the Palestinians don't just stand on the flags, they stab them too.

The article goes on to quote the protest's organizer: "The world should act to end this collective punishment." Yeah, right. Like Hamas will ever stop its "collective punishment" of Israelis.

But Israel is not the only one rolling over. A Reuters report indicates that America might be, too: Quartet agrees to channel aid to Palestinians.

The quartet of Middle East peace brokers agreed on Tuesday on a way to channel aid to the Palestinians for a trial period to ease a financial squeeze on the new government following the election of Hamas.

The group of international mediators -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- issued a statement after a day of talks in which Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia warned of a civil war if the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority was left to collapse. ...

The move came after the World Bank warned on Monday that the Palestinian Authority could face a breakdown in law and order and basic services unless foreign donors step in to pay the salaries of about 165,000 civil servants.

The United States, which initially opposed a European proposal to channel aid to the Palestinians via an international mechanism such as the World Bank, said any such move would have to be limited in scope and [have a] mechanism so aid would not reach the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. ...

The European Union will take the lead in working out the details but has suggested in the past that the World Bank could be a suitable vehicle for getting aid to the Palestinians.

The cartoon's title and links are from AllahPundit, who has more links and commentary.

UPDATE I -- May 12: A must-read from The Jerusalem Post: America embraces the Hamas fantasy by Caroline Glick. (via Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi)

RICE'S DECISION to enable the funding of the Hamas-led PA is significant, and indeed disastrous for two main reasons. First, by so acting, the Bush administration is ignoring strategic realities that present immediate dangers not only to Israel but to the US as well.

Against the backdrop of Ahmadinejad's letter this week and his constant threats against the US and its allies in recent weeks and months, it is clear that Iran perceives itself as being in a state of active war against the US. It is also a fact that Hamas is now an official client of Teheran. As an Iranian satellite, an empowered and emboldened Hamas is no longer just an Israeli concern. Hamas today can and ought to be perceived as an enemy of the US as well - an enemy to whom the Bush administration just pledged $10 million in medical assistance. ...

The US and its Palestinian-obsessed European counterparts and the Israeli government claim that the hundreds of millions of dollars they are about to provide the Palestinians with in "direct aid" will not benefit the Hamas-led PA. But of course this is incorrect. Firstly, the EU is already making clear that their Hamas-evading mechanism for funding the Hamas-led PA will facilitate the payment of salaries of PA employees who are supposed to be getting paid by Hamas. That is, the EU will be paying Hamas's bills directly.

Secondly, every cent transferred in "direct aid" to the Palestinians is money that will prevent Hamas from failing. Every well-fed Palestinian welfare case will be a vindication for the Palestinian people's decision to vote Hamas into power. Every penny of Western and Israeli aid tells them that they may both escalate their war against Israel while officially joining the global jihad and eat well on the Israeli/ American/ European dole.

UPDATE II -- May 16: From the Ayn Rand Institute: Washington's Pro-Hamas Foreign Policy by Elan Journo.

Even as Palestinian terrorism raged, in defiance of Palestinian obligations under successive "peace deals," America continued to dole out rewards. It sent hundreds of millions in aid to the terrorist-sponsoring Palestinian Authority. When Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza strip, rendering itself more vulnerable to predations, America wholeheartedly approved--and insisted on further land concessions. Palestinians, who swiftly began rocket attacks from Gaza, were jubilant; they correctly saw themselves as the victors whose terrorist war had won our approval and forced Israel to retreat.

American policy teaches Palestinians that their goal of destroying Israel--and the terrorism they employ to achieve it--is legitimate and practical. The ascendance of Hamas therefore was predictable. It is by far the more consistent proponent of that murderous goal.

Posted by Forkum at 03:52 PM

May 10, 2006

All Hail Breaking Loose


This is another of our gag cartoons for the Buster McNutt humor column in AutoGraphic's Automotive Reports.

On a serious note, FoxNews reported today: Texas Tornadoes Kill at Least 3, Injure 10.

Tornadoes swept through rural North Texas after dark, reducing houses to bare concrete slabs in a path of destruction that left three people dead and 10 injured, officials said Wednesday.

An elderly couple were found dead in a destroyed mobile home in the tiny community of Westminster, about 45 miles northeast of Dallas, Collin County Fire Marshal Steve Deffibaugh said. He said a 14-year-old was found dead in a home in neighboring Grayson County.

The twister took many residents "by surprise, totally unaware," Deffibaugh said.

Westminster doesn't have sirens, and the tornado hit too fast for the county's emergency phone-calling system to respond, he said. In Grayson County, officials were going door-to-door Wednesday in a search for anyone still trapped. ...

In southeast Oklahoma, three tornadoes touched down and the region was pelted with hail, but no severe damage or injuries were immediately reported, officials said. The National Weather Service received reports of a tornado near Olney in Coal County and two others near Stringtown.

Storms also raked Arkansas early Wednesday, toppling trees, damaging roofs and downing power lines. A FedEx truck was blown into the median of Interstate 530 near Redfield, Ark., and at Bentonville, the wind speed hit 62 mph.

Posted by Forkum at 07:02 PM

May 09, 2006

From Iran With Hate


From FoxNews: Iran's President Criticizes Bush in Private Letter.

Iran's president declared in a letter to President Bush that democracy had failed worldwide and lamented "an ever-increasing global hatred" of the U.S. government. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice swiftly rejected the letter, saying it made no progress toward resolving questions about Tehran's suspect nuclear program.

"This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort," Rice said. "It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."

Rice's comments were the most detailed response from the United States to the letter, the first from an Iranian head of state to an American president since the 1979 hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made only an oblique reference to Iran's nuclear intentions. It asked why "any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime."

Otherwise, it lambasted Bush for his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, accused the media of spreading lies about the Iraq war and railed against the United States for its support of Israel. It questioned whether the world would be a different place if the money spent on Iraq had been spent to fight poverty.

UPDATE I -- May 10: James Lileks has an insightful translation of Ahmadinejad's letter. (via Tom Pechinski)

Dear Infidel Crusader Zionist sock-puppet Saudi-lackey depoiler of Mesopotamia woman-touching pigdog fiendish (293 words excised) Shah-licking son of a toad’s offal: I trust this finds you well. I have much on my mind, and have taken the pen to unburden my breast. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope should you wish to reply.

(429 words concerning Jewish penetration of the Postal System excised)

. . . Do you not realize you are beaten, as a donkey is beaten, but knoweth not his donkeyhood is cursed?  Your comics have turned against you in your own lair, and mock you without mercy. We have seen the videos of the Meal of the Correspondents, and we know how your left regards the men of the laugh as prophets and seers. It is only a matter of time before Johnny Carson (applause be upon him) returns from occlusion to request that you, Mr. President, take the Slauson cutoff, get out of your car, and cut off your Slauson, Hi-yo, salaam.   And a third part of the Slauson shall be stained with the tears of the womenfolk, and (9323 words excised)

UPDATE II: On a more serious note, Robert Spencer wonders if the letter is a prelude to an attack.

UPDATE III -- May 11: Iowahawk has another satirical take.

UPDATE IV -- May 12: From The New York: About That Letter; Understanding Iran's Nuke Kook by Amir Taheri. (via Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi)

It would be wrong to dismiss Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush as just another of the Islamic leader's many weird habits. It would be more prudent, and better politics, to take Ahmadinejad seriously and try and understand him in his own terms.

His letter contains a crucial message: The present regime in Iran is the enemy of the current international system and is determined to undermine and, if possible, destroy it.

It would be wrong to dismiss that message as the product of a 50-year-old teenager's folie de grandeur. Ahmadinejad believes that the "Hidden Imam" is about to return and that it is the duty of the Islamic Republic to provoke a "clash of civilizations" to hasten that return.

As he asserts in his letter, Ahmadinejad also believes that the liberal-democratic model of market-based capitalist societies has failed and is rejected even in its traditional homeland. He has been impressed by the recent riots in France, where the extreme left provided the leadership but the Muslim sub-proletariat much of the muscle in the streets.

Rather than ignoring Ahmadinejad's letter, President Bush should reply to him by inviting him to abandon Khomeinism and convert to liberal democracy. For, when all is said and done, the fight over Iran today is not about real or imagined nuclear weapons; it is about the kind of Iran with which the Middle East, indeed the whole world, can feel comfortable.

Posted by Forkum at 05:00 PM

May 08, 2006

Ehud Olmert


From AP: Olmert Moves Into Prime Minister's Offec.

Ehud Olmert moved into the prime minister's office Sunday, vowing to redefine Israel's borders while cracking down on wildcat settlement activity.

During his five-month caretaker government, Olmert had refused to take over the office he inherited from Ariel Sharon after his devastating Jan. 4 stroke. He also refrained from sitting in the prime minister's brown leather seat during Cabinet meetings.

Now, nearly six weeks after voters swept his Kadima Party into power in March 28 elections, Israel's new prime minister has occupied his official residence, declaring that reconfiguring Israel's borders would be his government's key mission.

"In the next few years, we will change Israel's character to ensure it will be a state with a solid Jewish majority living in defensible borders that can provide security to the residents of Israel and separate us from those who must live alongside us and not among us," he said.

Olmert has gone further than any other Israeli leader in spelling out his plans for Israel's future borders with the Palestinians.

He intends to uproot Jewish settlers from heavily populated Palestinian areas, while fortifying major settlement blocs. He also says he'll try to reach a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians but would act unilaterally if their militant Hamas government doesn't renounce violence and recognize the Jewish state.

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

Posted by Forkum at 10:38 PM

May 07, 2006

Reflections of a Despot


From FoxNews: Chavez Proposes Referendum to Stay President Until 2031.

President Hugo Chavez said that if opposition parties boycott December's presidential election he would call a referendum asking voters to decide whether he should govern Venezuela for the next 25 years.

Speaking Saturday at a stadium packed with supporters in central Lara state, Chavez rejected allegations he was a power-hungry tyrant but said he might seek to extend his rule beyond current term limits if the opposition pulls out of the presidential vote, as it did last year's congressional election. ...

The Venezuelan Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. Chavez is eligible for re-election to another six-year term in December, but if he wins he wouldn't be able to run again in 2012.

It wasn't clear if Chavez, 51, was talking about holding a legally binding vote to eliminate limits on re-election or proposing a plebiscite. Before Chavez took the stage, thousands of his supporters chanted: "Oh, no! Chavez won't go!"

Opposition leaders accuse Chavez, a former paratroop commander first elected in 1998, of becoming increasingly authoritarian and opening dangerous divisions along class lines in Venezuela — the world's fifth largest oil exporter.

Chavez supporters won all 167 seats in the National Assembly on Dec. 4 after major opposition parties boycotted the election, saying they did not trust Venezuela's electoral system or the country's elections council. The opposition has raised doubts about the nation's electoral registry, an electronic voting system and electoral audits conducted by the council.

UPDATE I -- May 8: From Mosnews: Venezuela Signs $2Bln Oil Deal with Russia to Avoid Default on its Contracts. (via Chuck Salvi at HB List)

Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, has struck a $2 billion deal to buy about 100,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Russia until the end of the year, the British Financial Times reported on Friday, April 28.

Venezuela has been forced to turn to its ally Russia, because the Latin American country faces a shortfall in its own production, a person familiar with the deal told the paper. This in turn puts the country in risk of defaulting on contracts with “clients” and “third parties”. Venezuela could incur penalties if it fails to meet its supply contracts. ...

Under President Hugo Chavez, PDVSA’s oil output has declined by about 60 percent, a trend analysts say has accelerated in the past year because of poor technical management. Chavez’s push to extend his influence throughout Latin America and the Caribbean with promises of cheap oil for friends and allies may be overstretching PDVSA’s finances, however. Venezuela currently supplies about 300,000 barrels per day of oil and products to Cuba, Nicaragua and others under favorable long-term financing arrangements.

UPDATE II -- May 9: The Charlotte Capitalist notices that Chavez is not the only one who uses gasoline to loot.

Posted by Forkum at 05:05 PM

May 04, 2006

With a Whimper


From CNN: Moussaoui curses America but judge gets final word.

Publicly blasting the United States one last time, al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui was formally sentenced to life in prison Thursday for his role in the September 11 attacks.

"God curse America. God bless and save Osama bin Laden -- you will never get him," he told a packed federal courtroom that included family members of people killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema responded: "You came here to be a martyr and die in a big bang of glory.

"But to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper," she said, borrowing a line from "The Hollow Men." ...

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Moussaoui most likely will be locked up inside the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, which is sometimes known as the "Alcatraz in the Rockies."

"It is a place of extraordinary security, 23 hours a day in cells, one hour of recreation," Toobin said. "It is as close to permanent solitary confinement as exists in our prison system." ...

Jurors were stone-faced Wednesday as the lengthy verdict form was read in court. Spectators, including some September 11 family members, fell silent and Moussaoui showed no immediate reaction.

As he left the courtroom, Moussaoui clapped his hands and said: "America, you lost. I won."

UPDATE I -- May 6: Committees of Correspondence makes the case for not having executed Moussaoui. Tim Sumner makes the case for death. I personally think death would have been the only real justice. But short of that, we created the cartoon to emphasize the best of a bad less than ideal outcome.

UPDATE II -- May 7: Perry on Politics has details about what kind of existance Moussaoui can expect.

Posted by Forkum at 03:52 PM

May 03, 2006

For al-Sadr?


This cartoon was posted in August 2004 and is in our book and Black & White World II.

In the original post we lamented the fact that al-Sadr, already wanted on murder charges, had not been captured or killed during the battle of Najaf, a battle in which America soldiers lost their lives. Instead al-Sadr was being invited to become a politician in the newly forming Iraqi government. Today we are seeing the ugly consequences of letting this theocratic thug evade justice.

From The Los Angeles Times: Sadr Loyalists Push for More Cabinet Posts. (via TIA Daily)

Loyalists of radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr have demanded control of a greater share of Iraq's public-service ministries, in what many worry is a trend toward a government more concerned with satisfying demands for political patronage than serving Iraqis. ...

Izzat Shahbandar, an Iraqi lawmaker loyal to former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, said that the proposed Cabinet divisions had "established the basis for an ethnic and sectarian system that will lead Iraq to hell."

Sadr's followers, who control as many as 35 of 275 parliament seats, representing working-class Shiites in eastern Baghdad and the country's south, already hold the ministries of health and transportation. But they are eyeing education, youth, commerce, agriculture and electricity as possible additions to their portfolio.

Iraqi and Western officials have criticized the ministries under Sadr's control during the last year as corrupt and ideological. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists say the health system is poorly run and deteriorating. Sadr's loyalists in the Transportation Ministry have removed alcohol from airport duty-free shops and put portraits of ayatollahs on the billboard in front of the Baghdad train station.

The thirtysomething cleric and his fast-growing movement have become a formidable political force. They agreed to forgo claims on the important ministries of interior, defense, finance, oil and foreign affairs and instead focused on building up power and patronage through public-sector jobs and services.

"We prefer to control only those ministries that serve the Iraqi people to build a strong base," said Fadhil Sharih, one of Sadr's deputies. "We will also be directly involved with the Iraqi society, to listen to their needs and serve them."
The formula is similar to the tack taken by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

Posted by Forkum at 08:32 PM

May 02, 2006



This cartoon was inspired by a Robert Tracinski comment in yesterday's TIA Daily:

Over the weekend, Condoleezza Rice rejected a bogus Iranian offer for international inspections, saying that the Iranians are "playing games." They sure are, but they're playing the game we started: the charade of trying to establish the basis for war by going through a United Nations Security Council that is sympathetic to dictatorships and hostile to the US.

This is the same charade we played before the invasion of Iraq, and as with that game, the slowdown will only help our enemies, while carrying the real risk that the US will cleverly box itself into a diplomatic corner, permanently stalling our efforts to stop Iran.

From FoxNews on Sunday: Rice: Iran 'Playing Games' in Dispute Over Nukes.

The United States rejects Iran's offer to allow a watchdog agency to inspect the country's nuclear facilities and will press ahead for U.N. penalties against Tehran, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday.

"They've had plenty of time to cooperate. I think they're playing games," Rice said.

Iran on Saturday offered to allow inspections to resume if the Security Council turned over the dispute to the U.N. nuclear monitor, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

A report from the IAEA confirmed that Iran had successfully produced enriched uranium and defied the Security Council's Friday deadline to stop the process.

Rice said the offer to resume IAEA inspections suggests the Iranians "are indeed somewhat concerned" about actions the Security Council might take to further isolate Iran.

From FoxNews today: Diplomat: Resolution Could Allow for Sanctions Against Iran.

The U.S. diplomat leading six-nation talks on Iran's nuclear program predicted Tuesday that European governments would prepare a resolution for the U.N. Security Council that could allow for sanctions, and he insisted that diplomatic efforts were not dead.

Meanwhile: Iran Discovers New Uranium Deposits, Continues Enrichment Program.

Iran said Tuesday it had found uranium ore at three new sites in the center of the country, an announcement that appeared designed as a fresh challenge to the drive by the United States and allies to curb Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran already has considerable uranium resources available for its nuclear program, a fact that called into question the importance of the new discoveries — beyond their propaganda value.

"We have got good news: the discovery of new economically viable deposits of uranium in central Iran," Mohammad Ghannadi, deputy chief for nuclear research and technology, told a conference.

Posted by Forkum at 03:12 PM

May 01, 2006

Tony Snow


From The Washtington Post: Tony Snow's Washington Merry-Go-Round by Howard Kurtz.

In the summer of 1996, Tony Snow, a former speechwriter for the first President Bush and the brand-new host of "Fox News Sunday," welcomed to the program George Stephanopoulos, a top political adviser to President Clinton.

The interview went smoothly enough, but some conservatives were mad at Snow because he didn't press his guest hard enough.
In 1996, White House adviser George Stephanopoulos departs a Fox News set before the Republican convention as host Tony Snow looks on. Now, Stephanopoulos hosts ABC's "This Week" and Snow has moved to the White House.

Ten years later, Stephanopoulos is a Sunday morning talking head for ABC News and Snow is the newly anointed spokesman for Bush's son, both of them having whizzed through the fastest-spinning door in Washington.

The trek from politics to journalism and back again has become so commonplace that nobody bats an eyelash anymore, except for some media traditionalists who believe that their business should not become a refuge of former spokesmen, strategists and spinners. But when someone like Snow makes a second trip across the divide, the issues get more complicated. How, for instance, does he wave away his previous criticism of the president he now serves?

"It's an interesting and legitimate question," Snow says. "You've got to do a lot of thinking about going from journalism to a political role."

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

Posted by Forkum at 10:03 PM