August 31, 2006

Structural Failure


Robert Tracinski strikes again with his latest editorial at Real Clear Politics: The Real Lesson of Katrina.

The left is correct on one point: the story is all about federal spending and the welfare state -- but not in the way that they think. ...

[T]he disaster in New Orleans was caused, not by too little welfare spending, but by too much. Four decades of dependence on government left people without the resources -- economic, intellectual, or moral -- to plan ahead and provide for themselves in an emergency. I stated the lesson at the time:

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face.

They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men…. People living in piles of their own trash, while petulantly complaining that other people aren't doing enough to take care of them and then shooting at those who come to rescue them—this is not just a description of the chaos at the Superdome. It is a perfect summary of the 40-year history of the welfare state and its public housing projects. ...

Yes, this is about a failure of government, all right. It's about the failure of big government and the welfare state and the whole philosophy behind them. It is about the vital necessity to move away from government handouts and toward personal responsibility and private initiative. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the moral difference between self-reliance and dependence on government is ultimately the difference between life and death.

UPDATE -- Sept. 1: A similar sentiment found in The New York Times: Getting Past Katrina by Juan Willaims. (via TIA Daily)

The will to create innovative programs [addressing poverty] is missing because of a national consensus few people dare to say out loud: Americans believe that the poor can help themselves.

A Pew Research Center poll (conducted the week after Hurricane Katrina) found that two-thirds of black Americans and three-quarters of white Americans believe that too many poor people are overly dependent on government aid. Inside those numbers is the sense that welfare programs meant to help the poor create a dependency on handouts, draining people of the confidence, will to work and values that are crucial to success. ...

The crisis in New Orleans has now been reduced to a matter of government financing for rebuilding homes while reviving the business community. But the real rebuilding project on the Gulf Coast requires bringing new energy to confronting the poverty of spirit. Because that’s what was tearing down the city, long before Hurricane Katrina.

Posted by Forkum at 07:10 PM

August 30, 2006

Five Minutes to Midnight


We created this cover for the latest issue of The Intellectual Activist.

The cover story is Robert Tracinski's excellent article: Five Minutes to Midnight.

Observing the events of today—the hesitation and uncertainty, the stubborn clinging to the fantasy that the enemy can be appeased if we just keep talking and find the right diplomatic solution—I now feel that, for the first time, I really understand the leaders of the 1930s. Their illusion that Hitler could be appeased has always seemed, in historical hindsight, to be such a willful evasion of the facts that I have never grasped how it was possible for those men to deceive themselves. But I can now see how they clung to their evasions because they could not imagine anything worse than a return to the mass slaughter of the First World War. They wanted to believe that something, anything could prevent a return to war. What they refused to imagine is that, in trying to avoid the horrors of the previous war, they were allowing Hitler to unleash the much greater horrors of a new war.

Today's leaders and commentators have less excuse. The "horror" they are afraid of repeating is the insurgency we're fighting in Iraq—a war whose cost in lives, dollars, and resolve is among the smallest America has ever had to pay. And it takes no great feat of imagination to project how much more horrible the coming conflict will be if we wait on events long enough for Iran to arm itself with nuclear technology. Among the horrific consequences is the specter of a new Holocaust, courtesy of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

UPDATE I: From FoxNews: Officials: Iran Still Enriching Uranium

UPDATE II: From Gus Van Horn: Is the "Doomsday Clock" stuck?.

Posted by Forkum at 04:56 PM

August 29, 2006

Divine Intervention


From FoxNews: Rep. Harris: Church-State Separation a 'Lie'.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris told a religious journal that separation of church and state is "a lie" and God and the nation's founding fathers did not intend the country be "a nation of secular laws."

The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate also said that if Christians are not elected, politicians will "legislate sin," including abortion and gay marriage.

Harris made the comments — which she clarified Saturday — in the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention, which interviewed political candidates and asked them about religion and their positions on issues.

Separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told," Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is "wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris said.

Her comments drew criticism, including some from fellow Republicans who called them offensive and not representative of the party.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is Jewish, told the Orlando Sentinel that she was "disgusted" by the comments.

For the full context of Harris' quotes, read the interview here.

At Real Clear Politics, Robert Tracinski argues for The Secular Right: What It Is -- And Why We Need It.

Religious conservatives warn that a morality based on reason and observation is not sufficient, because men will not all agree on what reason and the evidence proves. But when have men ever agreed on religion? And without reason and evidence to settle the argument, they usually resort to force.

The real alternative to [the] secular subjectivism [of the left] is not religious faith, but observation of the natural world--the world that can be seen and understood through reason. ...

[T]o derive a secular morality, we need more than narrow conclusions drawn from sociological studies. We need broad philosophical principles drawn from the grand lessons of history. For example, we can observe, in the rise of West since the Renaissance and in the corresponding decline of the Islamic world, what happens when men embrace reason, unfettered scientific inquiry, and technological progress--versus what happens when they cling to religious dogmatism and disparage secular learning. Or, alternatively, we can observe in the history of the Cold War what happens when one bloc of societies recognizes the individual rights of their citizens, allowing them to act on their own initiative in the pursuit of profit--versus what happens when another bloc imposes a totalitarian dictatorship, expunging private property and private profits and forcibly imposing central economic planning.

The lessons of history reveal the basic requirements set by man's nature for his survival, success, and happiness here on earth. That is the secular foundation for morality.

Today's academic philosophers--steeped in the subjectivist dogmas of the left--have not been up to the job of grasping and explaining these lessons. But astute readers may recognize which philosopher I think was up to the job. My own defense of the secular right is based on the ideas of Ayn Rand, the novelist, philosopher, and famous defender of capitalism who originated a secular philosophy she called Objectivism.

Posted by Forkum at 05:35 PM

August 28, 2006

Gerald Ford


From CNN: Gerald Ford undergoes successful angioplasty.

Former President Gerald Ford underwent a successful angioplasty procedure at the Mayo Clinic Thursday to reduce or eliminate blockages in his coronary arteries, his office said Friday. ...

Ford, 93, received a cardiac pacemaker on Monday at the clinic. The nation's 38th president was admitted to the clinic 10 days ago for "testing and evaluation." ...

Ford, who's been in frail health in recent years, has been hospitalized four times since December, including late last month, when he was admitted for two days to a hospital in Vail, Colorado, after complaining of shortness of breath. ...

Ford is the only president to have held office without being elected by the voters to the presidency or vice presidency.

He became then-President Richard Nixon's vice president in October 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned and pleaded no contest to bribery, conspiracy and extortion.

Ford assumed the presidency in August 1974, after the Watergate scandal forced then-President Richard Nixon from office. He then pardoned Nixon. Ford narrowly lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.

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

Posted by Forkum at 08:28 PM

August 27, 2006

Militant Message


From The Age: Disarming Hezbollah put on hold.

ISRAEL has dropped its demand for the immediate disarming of Hezbollah and begun to focus on persuading UN forces to stop the flow of weapons into Lebanon.

Israel accepted that its goals must be realistic and the first step was to prevent Hezbollah from staging cross-border raids or acquiring long-range weapons, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.

"It is not that we have given up on disarming Hezbollah in Lebanon, but we see it as a process and the most important thing is ... to prevent their strategic rearmament," he said.

The UN-brokered ceasefire says international forces must help the Lebanese army disarm militias, but it does not specify whether they should actively remove weapons from Hezbollah fighters.

And what are the U.N.'s plans for disarming Hezbollah? From AP: Israel seeks troops from Muslim nations. (via LGF)

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed Friday it was not the peacekeepers' task to strip the guerrillas of their weapons, saying that was an issue for Lebanon's government and "cannot be done by force."

"The troops are not going there to disarm Hezbollah. Let's be clear about that," he said.

Meanwhile in Iraq, from AP: Blasts in Iraq kill 31, injure dozens.

A series of explosions left at least 31 people dead and wounded dozens Sunday as Iraq's relentless violence remained unabated despite an appeal from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for an end to sectarian fighting. ...

The bombings — which came a day after 26 people were killed in dozens of attacks — showed that national reconciliation is a distant goal even though it was endorsed by hundreds of tribal chiefs at a conference on Saturday.

After the conference, the tribal chiefs signed a "pact of honor" to support al-Maliki's plan.

Tribal ties have considerable influence in Iraqi society, especially among rural people. But like all other institutions in Iraq, tribal affiliations are sometimes tenuous.

Among other things, the plan offers amnesty to members of the Sunni-led insurgency not involved in terrorist activities, calls for disarming primarily Shiite militias and promises compensation for families of Iraqis killed by U.S. and government forces.

But no major Sunni Arab insurgent groups have publicly agreed to join the plan, and many of the Shiite militias are controlled by legislators themselves.

This cartoon is a take on Ben Franklin's "Join, Or Die" cartoon (and not our first).

UPDATE -- Aug. 28: From the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center: "Exporting" the radical ideology of the Islamic revolution in Iran (via Iran Press News)

Surrendering this jihadist-Islamic identity, the practical implications of which would be disarmament and cessation of fighting against Israel, are viewed by the organization [Hezbollah] as surrendering a religious Islamic principle, rather than a strictly military act that is supposed to take place under external or internal political pressure. It may be assumed, against this ideological background, that Hezbollah will remain inflexible in its adamant refusal to disarm, as required in UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701. ...

Khamenei's worldview is "exported" to Lebanon in order to disseminate it among Shi'ite Muslims and turn Hezbollah into the spearhead of the implementation of the Iranian view of jihad, a kind of Lebanese branch of the Iranian armed forces.

Posted by Forkum at 07:52 PM

August 25, 2006

Pluto, Outcast


From AP: Dinky Pluto loses its status as planet.

Pluto, beloved by some as a cosmic underdog but scorned by astronomers who considered it too dinky and distant, was unceremoniously stripped of its status as a planet Thursday.

The International Astronomical Union, dramatically reversing course just a week after floating the idea of reaffirming Pluto's planethood and adding three new planets to Earth's neighborhood, downgraded the ninth rock from the sun in historic new galactic guidelines. ...

Powerful new telescopes, experts said, are changing the way they size up the mysteries of the solar system and beyond. But the scientists at the conference showed a soft side, waving plush toys of the Walt Disney character Pluto the dog — and insisting that Pluto's spirit will live on in the exciting discoveries yet to come.

"The word 'planet' and the idea of planets can be emotional because they're something we learn as children," said Richard Binzel, a professor of planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who helped hammer out the new definition.

"This is really all about science, which is all about getting new facts," he said. "Science has marched on. ... Many more Plutos wait to be discovered."

Posted by Forkum at 03:12 PM

August 24, 2006



From Reuters: U.S. family says racially profiled at NY airport. (via Little Green Footballs)

The American Civil Liberties Union and a leading Islamic group on Wednesday accused security officials at New York's JFK airport of racially profiling Muslims. 

"The price to pay for racial profiling is too high," Dennis Parker of the American Civil Liberties Union told a news conference. "All people should be treated in the same way regardless of their race, their ethnicity or their religion." 

The news conference, convened by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, highlighted the case of an Iraqi-born U.S. family, whose members said they were held for six hours, questioned and searched at John F. Kennedy Airport. 

Arwa and Sumia Ibrahim and their mother, Nagham Alyaqoubi, said they were held with 200 other people at JFK after returning from holiday in Jordan on Aug. 15, days after Britain foiled a plot to bomb U.S.-bound planes. 

The 20-year-old twin sisters, who traveled home via Dubai, said people from several other flights from different countries were also detained. 

"Of the 200 people required to go through this procedure, we would estimate that 98 percent, if not more, were Arab, South Asian or Muslim," Sumia Ibrahim said. 

"We really do feel our rights were violated as U.S. citizens," she said. She said she and her sister, who moved to the United States when they were five, were also asked their views on the U.S. invasion of Iraq. 

The women said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials took away their passports. They said they felt degraded and humiliated by the whole experience and are considering legal action.

UPDATE -- Aug. 25: From CNN: U.S. flights diverted, delayed by security issues.

Posted by Forkum at 04:41 PM

August 23, 2006



And now for a quick break from politics ... This gag cartoon is one of our many for the Buster McNutt humor column in AutoGraphic's Automotive Report. For those who may have missed it in news about "road rage" a few months back, the "IED" in the cartoon does not refer to the "improvised explosive devises" commonly used by terrorists in Iraq. No, some psychologists apparently decided to make the use of acronyms even more confusing by naming a condition "Intermittent Explosive Disorder".

Posted by Forkum at 08:18 PM

August 22, 2006

Carrot and Stick


From CNN: Iran says it's willing to resume talks.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator said his country is willing to return to serious talks on its nuclear program as early as Wednesday, Iranian media reported Tuesday.

However, Ali Larijani did not address the sticking point of whether the Islamic republic will halt its nuclear activities first. ...

Larijani, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was responding to a package of incentives offered by the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany in June, IRNA reported. ...

Larijani formally delivered Iran's response to the ambassadors of Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and Switzerland during a meeting in Tehran.

Switzerland is representing the interests of the United States because Washington does not have diplomatic ties with Tehran. ...

If the response "doesn't meet the terms set" by the six nations the Security Council will proceed with levying economic sanctions against Iran, [U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John] Bolton said.

"If, on the other hand, the Iranians have chosen a path of cooperation ... then a different relationship with the United States and the rest of the world is possible," he said.

Iran still has until the end of the month to formally respond to a U.N. resolution demanding it stop its nuclear program and allow full inspections or face a move to impose economic sanctions.

Iranian officials in recent days have already rejected the resolution, saying they are within their rights to build a nuclear energy program despite fears from the West that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. ...

Talks with European negotiators stalled earlier this year when Iran ended its voluntary cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, halting snap inspections of its nuclear facilities and beginning small-scale uranium enrichment. ...

On Sunday, the Iranian military test-fired its Saeqeh [Thunderbolt] missiles and surface-to-water missiles in southwestern Khuzestan Province, which adjoins Iraq, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Kiumars Heidari told IRNA.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 23: From The Jerusalem Post: Report: Iran planning nuclear 'surprise'.

A senior official in Teheran said Wednesday that in the next few days, a "surprise" was expected regarding Iran's nuclear program, Al-Jazeera reported.

Teheran's apparent refusal to suspend uranium enrichment set the stage for a showdown at the UN Security Council later this month.

The United States said Wednesday that a proposal by Iran for nuclear negotiations falls short of UN demands for a halt to enrichment, and began plotting "next moves" with other governments.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 26: From FoxNews: Iranian President Says Nuclear Program Poses No Threat.

Iran's hard-line president on Saturday inaugurated a heavy-water production plant, a facility the West fears will be used to develop a nuclear bomb, as Tehran remained defiant ahead of a U.N. deadline that could lead to sanctions.

The U.N. has called on Tehran to stop the separate process of uranium enrichment — which also can be used to create nuclear weapons — by Thursday or face economic and political sanctions.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that his nation's nuclear program poses no threat to other nations, even Israel, "which is a definite enemy."

Posted by Forkum at 05:09 PM

August 21, 2006

Michael Chertoff


From The Tennessean: Chertoff: "Still on high alert".

The threat has not gone away in the wake of the foiled terrorist plot to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic Ocean, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff said today [Aug. 17].

Everyone should keep their guard up for terrorists who may think attention was distracted after the recent foiled plot, Chertoff told lawmakers gathered at the National Conference of State Legislatures this week. He said the loss of life would have been in the thousands if the plots had suceeded.

"I want to empahsize: We are not saying the threat has dissipated or even substantially been reduced," he said. "We are still on high alert. Recognize that there are loose ends to this plot we are continuing literally every hour to unravel. Recognize that other plotters may see in our efforts here an opportunity for them to attack."

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

Posted by Forkum at 09:41 PM

August 20, 2006

Disproportionate Response II


From AFP: European press warns French troop offer weakens UN force in Lebanon. (via LGF)

France faced criticism in the European press for not offering more troops for southern Lebanon, which was seen as jeopardizing the UN force's difficult task of imposing peace. ...

Despite expectations that France would provide the bulk of a planned 15,000 strong UN force, Paris said Thursday it would send 200 troops to reinforce the UN mission in Lebanon.

While it said France was prepared to command the enlarged force, it also called for safety guarantees for its soliders before making further commitments.

From FoxNews: French Soldiers Among First Peacekeepers to Land in Lebanon.

French soldiers landed in Lebanon on Saturday, the first reinforcements for an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force tasked with keeping the truce in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

About 50 French troops — military engineers — were to prepare for the arrival of 200 more soldiers expected next week, said Cmdr. Bertrand Bonneau, a spokesman for the French contingent. ...

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to U.N. member states to provide peacekeepers, assuring them the U.N. force would not be tasked with fighting Israel, Lebanon, or Hezbollah militants.

A key concern of many countries is whether the U.N. force will be called on to disarm Hezbollah fighters, as called for in a September 2004 U.N. resolution.

From the Boston Herald: With doublespeaking France, honor gets lost in translation by Jules Crittenden. (via InstaPundit)

In recent weeks, France stepped forward to act as a broker of peace in Lebanon. “Act” is the key verb in that last sentence, as it now would seem that the only other verifiable part of the sentence is “in recent weeks.”

To correctly parse that sentence, one must understand that when France suggested it wanted to broker peace in Lebanon, it did not necessarily mean “broker” or “peace” or “Lebanon” in the way we might understand those words. The same is true when France further suggested it wanted to “lead” a “strong” “multinational” “force” there.

I don’t speak French, so I have no idea what the actual French words are for those concepts or what possible nuances there may be. I’ve been relying on news reports in English, which now inform me that the French do not intend to send any significant number of troops to what is supposed to be a force of 15,000 in Lebanon, like everyone thought they said they would.

The heady moment of peace brokering having passed, uponsober reflection, the French now say they already have a general and some staff in south Lebanon ordering about UNIFIL, the U.N. monitoring entity there. That’s plenty of leadership, the French suggested: All France needs to contribute now is another 200 combat engineers.

In tactical terms, when it comes to securing a Middle East conflict zone, that can be referred to as “squat.”

UPDATE I -- Aug. 21: When will our leaders finally admit the pointlessness of their U.N. resolutions? The old resolutions -- all of which were meant to disarm Hezbollah -- didn't work, so what makes them think the another one will? From AP: U.S. resolution would disarm Hezbollah.

The United States is planning to introduce a new U.N. resolution on disarming Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, but U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Monday this should not hold up the quick deployment of U.N. peacekeepers.

UPDATE II: From the Telegraph: Hizbollah pushes past guards in show of force. (LGF)

Hizbollah mourners on a funeral parade shoved aside anti-tank barriers at a United Nations base in Lebanon yesterday in a demonstration of their new political strength.

The party had been told it would be allowed to bury three "martyrs" at the Naqoura town cemetery inside the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) compound, but only if there was no flag-waving or political sloganising.

When the chanting procession, several hundred strong, reached the gates, it found the way barred by cruci-form steel tank traps. Mourners argued with the French guards, but failed to gain entry.

A mob of young men then dragged the barriers away and the UN opened the gates. "They will eat us alive," said a middle-aged official as the throng surged in.

UPDATE III -- Aug. 25: From AP: Chirac: Lebanon Does Not Need 15,000 Troops.

French President Jacques Chirac said Friday that he does not believe the expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon needs 15,000 troops, and he called that figure "excessive."

A U.N. resolution calls for the force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, to expand from 2,000 troops to 15,000.

Chirac, who has pledged a total of 2,000 French troops, said the territory in question was too small to require that many peacekeepers.

UPDATE IV -- Aug. 26: Buried in this article is the truth about disarming Hezbollah -- from AP: Israel seeks troops from Muslim nations. (via LGF)

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed Friday it was not the peacekeepers' task to strip the guerrillas of their weapons, saying that was an issue for Lebanon's government and "cannot be done by force."

"The troops are not going there to disarm Hezbollah. Let's be clear about that," he said.

Posted by Forkum at 06:03 PM

August 17, 2006



From FoxNews: Judge Rules Terrorist Surveillance Program Unconstitutional.

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution," Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which involves secretly listening to conversations between people in the U.S. and people in other countries.

The government argued that the program is well within the president's authority, but said proving that would require revealing state secrets.

It should be noted that joining the ACLU in the suit was CAIR.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 18: From The Wall Street Journal editorial page: President Taylor: A federal judge rewrites the Constitution on war powers. (via TIA Daily)

As for the First Amendment, Judge Taylor asserts that the plaintiffs--a group that includes the ACLU and assorted academics, lawyers and journalists who believe their conversations may have been tapped but almost surely weren't--had their free-speech rights violated because al Qaeda types are now afraid to speak to them on the phone.

But the wiretapping program is not preventing anyone from speaking on the phone. Quite the opposite--if the terrorists stopped talking on the phone, there would be nothing to wiretap. Perhaps the plaintiffs should have sued the New York Times, as it was that paper's disclosure of the program that created the "chill" on "free speech" that Judge Taylor laments.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 22: Tim Sumner has an added observation about the WSJ editorial.

Posted by Forkum at 05:21 PM

August 16, 2006



We originally posted this cartoon on February 8 just after the announcement of Iran's holocaust cartoon contest. This week an exhibit of the cartoons opened in Tehran.

From FoxNews: Iran Unveils Holocaust Cartoon Exhibit.

An exhibition of more than 200 cartoons about the Holocaust opened Monday as Iran's response to last year's Muslim outrage over a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.

The display, showing 204 entries from Iran and abroad, was strongly influenced by the views of Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who drew widespread condemnation last year for calling the Holocaust a "myth" and saying Israel should be destroyed.

One cartoon by Indonesian Tony Thomdean shows the Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in its left hand and giving a Nazi-style salute with the other. ...

Hamshahri said it wanted to test the West's tolerance for drawings about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews in World War II. The entries on display came from nations including United States, Indonesia and Turkey.

From Reuters: Iran seeks to test taboos with Holocaust cartoons.

"We wanted to challenge European taboos. Why should questioning the Holocaust be a taboo?" ... said [Masoud Shojai-Tabatabai, head of the Cartoon House which helped organise the exhibition]. "Why should anyone who talks about it (the Holocaust) be fined or jailed?"

It is a crime in European countries such as Germany and Austria to deny the Holocaust. ...

"After the Holocaust was questioned by the president, now I have real doubts about it," said Maryam Zadkani, a 23-year-old graphic artist as she wandered around the exhibition.

"I came here to see what other cartoonists around the world think about the Holocaust."

UPDATE: From the Jerusalem Post: 'Silence begets evil actions'.

Yad Vashem on Tuesday deplored the "alarming silence" of most of the world in the face of repeated Iranian genocidal threats against the Israel, warning that the Islamic republic represents a danger to all enlightened nations.

"The alarming silence of the world indicates that the West has not yet understood that what is taking place is an attack on Western values and civilization," said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.

"History has demonstrated that silence in the face of evil statements begets evil actions," he added.

Posted by Forkum at 06:55 PM

C&F at

You can now see Cox & Forkum editorial cartoons at The Funnies. We're pleased not only to be at but to be among such superb cartoonists as Michael Ramirez, Scott Stantis and Henry Payne.

Posted by Forkum at 06:54 PM

August 15, 2006



From BCC News: Israeli papers turn on Olmert, army.

An onslaught of criticism greets the Israeli government in the country's press, a day after the cease-fire in Lebanon between Hezbollah and the Israeli military came into force.

Commentators note that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert failed to achieve the objectives that he had himself set out at the start of the fighting, primarily the release of the two Israeli soldiers abducted by Hezbollah and the destruction of Hezbollah's fighting capacity.

From The Jerusalem Post: The Olmert government must go by Caroline Glick.

From all sides of the political spectrum calls are being raised for the establishment of an official commission of inquiry to investigate the Olmert government's incompetent management of the war in Lebanon. These calls are misguided.

We do not need a commission to know what happened or what has to happen. The Olmert government has failed on every level. The Olmert government must go.

The Knesset must vote no confidence in this government and new elections must be carried out as soon as the law permits. If the Knesset hesitates in taking this required step, then the people of Israel must take to the streets in mass demonstrations and demand that our representatives send Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and their comrades out to pasture. ...

OLMERT'S DECISION Friday to begin the ground offensive was by all accounts motivated not by a newfound understanding that this is a real war, but by the headlines in the newspapers that morning calling for his resignation. Yet, by Friday, the IDF had only 48 hours to achieve the objectives it had waited a month to receive Olmert's permission to accomplish.

Diplomatically, in the space of five weeks the government managed to undermine Israel's alliance with America; to hand Syria, Hizbullah and Iran the greatest diplomatic achievements they have ever experienced; and to flush down the toilet the unprecedented international support that US President Bush handed to Israel on a silver platter at the G-8 summit.

The UN cease-fire that Olmert, Livni and Peretz applaud undercuts Israel's sovereignty; protects Hizbullah; lets Iran and Syria off the hook; lends credibility to our enemies' belief that Israel can be destroyed; emboldens the Palestinians to launch their next round of war; and leaves IDF hostages Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in captivity.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 21: From FoxNews: Israeli Soldiers Push for War Investigation as Cease-Fire Concerns Mount.

Hundreds of Israeli reservists pushed Monday for an investigation of how the government and army handled 34 days of fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas, saying they were rushed into battle without enough food, water and equipment. ...

In a further sign of widening anger in Israel over the war, a group of parents of fallen soldiers called for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's resignation, saying that the government's objectives had not been achieved and that their sons died for nothing.

Olmert defended his centrist coalition, saying it had been in power for only two months when the war broke out.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 28: From Ynet News: Poll: Majority wants Olmert out. (Hat tip Boaz Arad)

Political earthquake: A poll published on Friday in the Yedioth Ahrnonoth daily shows that 63 percent of Israelis feel that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert failed in managing the war in Lebanon and should resign.   Only 29 percent believe the prime minister is fit to continue leading the country.

Posted by Forkum at 04:58 PM

August 14, 2006

Joe Lieberman


From MSNBC: Donors say Lieberman will be well-funded.

Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut will be able to raise the funds necessary to mount an campaign to keep his Senate seat, both Democratic and Republican donors say.

Having lost last week’s Democratic primary to Ned Lamont, Lieberman is running as an independent against Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger.

Lamont, a Greenwich, Conn. businessman who self-financed about two-thirds of his campaign, ran against Lieberman’s support for the Iraq war, his refusal to use a filibuster to block a vote on Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito and a number of other

Lieberman's decision to run as an independent is causing angst within the ranks of Democratic donors, some of whom were unwilling to talk on the record about his campaign because his candidacy has so divided Democrats.

The three-term Democrat will turn to donors to his previous Senate campaigns and his 2004 presidential bid. He’ll also get some money from Republican and independent donors, especially those who agree with Lieberman’s support of Israel and continued U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

At a moment when Israel is at war with Hezbollah, Lieberman's candidacy has become a rallying point for those who think it would be a singularly bad time to end the Senate career of such a staunch champion of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

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

Posted by Forkum at 10:30 PM

August 13, 2006



***Scroll for updates -- Hezbollah torpedoes Lebanese gov't meeting on disarmament***

From FoxNews: Israeli Cabinet Approves U.N. Cease-Fire Deal Amid Military Push.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the cease-fire agreement would ensure that "Hezbollah won't continue to exist as a state within a state."

"The Lebanese government is our address for every problem or violation of the agreement," Army Radio quoted him as saying. ...

The deal was seen at best as a draw with Hezbollah, and some felt Israel — unable to subdue a guerrillas force — had lost.

Neither the Lebanese army nor U.N. forces can be counted on to challenge Hezbollah and prevent the Iran-supplied guerrillas from rearming, military experts and commentators said.

The deal buys a period of calm, at best, and sets the region up for the next war with Tehran's proxy army, critics said. The truce will be "a time-out until the next confrontation, and maybe not even this," commentator Nahum Barnea wrote in Israel's Yediot Ahronot daily.

Regarding U.N. forces ... From Reuters: Hizbollah says it will abide by ceasefire. (via LGF)

The U.N. resolution authorizes up to 15,000 U.N. troops to move into Lebanon to enforce a ceasefire. France is widely expected to lead the force, which will expand the existing U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), but have a stronger mandate. ...

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy made clear in an interview with Le Monde newspaper that the mission of the larger UNIFIL would not include disarming Hizbollah by force.

"We never thought a purely military solution could resolve the problem of Hizbollah," he said. "We are agreed on the goal, the disarmament, but for us the means are purely political."

Regarding the Lebanese army ... Dafka posted an interesting July 30th letter by a Lebanese who described Lebanon's culpabilty in this war, in particuar how his country completely failed to disarm Hezbollah under the last U.N. resolution: A Lebanese Speaks Out.

[O]ur army, reshaped over the years by the Syrian occupier so it could no longer fulfill its role as protector of the nation, did not have the capacity to tackle the militamen of the Hezb [hezb-Allah : the party of Allah. Translator’s note]. Our army whom it is more dangerous to call upon – because of the explosive equilibrium that constitutes each of its brigades – than to shut up behind locked doors in its barracks. A force that is still largely loyal to its former foreign masters, to the point of being uncontrollable ; to the point of having collaborated with the Iranians to put OUR coastal radar stations at the disposal of their missiles, that almost sunk an Israeli boat off the shores of Beirut. ...

It is easy now to whine and gripe, and to play the hypocritical role of victims. We know full well how to get others to pity us and to claim that we are never responsible for the horrors that regularly occur on our soil. Of course, that is nothing but rubbish! The Security Council’s Resolution 1559 – that demanded that OUR government deploy OUR army on OUR sovereign territory, along OUR international border with Israel and that it disarm all the militia on OUR land – was voted on 2 September 2004.

We had two years to put implement this resolution and thus guarantee a peaceful future to our children but we did strictly nothing. Our greatest crime – which was not the only one! – was not that we did not succeed but that we did not attempt or undertake anything. And that was the fault of none else than the pathetic Lebanese politicians.

Our government, from the very moment the Syrian occupier left, let ships and truckloads of arms pour into our country. Without even bothering to look at their cargo. They jeopardized all chances for the rebirth of our country by confusing the Cedar Revolution with the liberation of Beirut.

And naturally Iran doesn't want its proxy disarmed ... From Reuters: Iran says disarming Lebanese Hizbollah "illogical".

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Friday calling for a "full cessation of hostilities" and for the implementation of a previous U.N. resolution requiring the disarming of armed groups including Hizbollah.

"We are happy for the ceasefire in Lebanon. But the resolution is not balanced," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.

"It does not condemn the Zionist regime (Israel) and its crimes in Lebanon."

Asked about the call for disarming Hizbollah, Asefi said: "This is a totally unreasonable demand. It is illogical."

"Let us not forget that as long as there is occupation there is resistance," he added.

As I said before, the only party to benefit from the cease-fire is Hezbollah, and by extension its sponsor, Iran.

UPDATE I: From AFP: Truce will be Israel's last, Lebanon envoy declares. (via LGF)

Lebanon's UN ambassador bitterly slammed Israel's month-long bombardment of his country ahead of a hard-won truce, and vowed that the treaty would be Israel's last with any Middle East country.

"Lebanon will be, I think, the last state to sign a peace treaty with Israel," UN ambassador Nouhad Mahmoud told CNN television's "Late Edition" program, without explaining the remark. ...

The diplomat added that the 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to be dispatched to south Lebanon to help keep the peace alongside a similarly-sized international UN force "are not going to use force" to disarm the Hezbollah militia which has been battling Israel.

"Hezbollah will just leave the area as armed elements as I understand it, and the Lebanese army will take over the whole region along with the United Nations forces," he said

UPDATE II: From Haaretz: Hezbollah torpedoes Lebanese gov't meeting on disarmament. (via Donald Sensing who has more)

A meeting of the Lebanese government on the disarming of Hezbollah south of the Litani River was canceled on Sunday following an announcement by the Shi'ite organization that it was not willing to discuss the subject. ...

A Lebanese government source wrote on the Arab internet site Ilaf that "when it comes to crunch time, Hezbollah is refusing to give up its arms."

UPDATE II -- Aug. 14: More on the Lebanese army's complicity in arming Hezbollah. From The Australian: Iran's rocket route to Israel. (via Tom Minchin)

The Lebanese army said the transportation and storage of ammunition belonged to the "resistance". Once inside Lebanon it was subject to a ministerial policy statement of the Lebanese Government, which considers the "resistance" to be legitimate.

"As the Government of Lebanon has confirmed, the Lebanese Armed Forces has thus not been authorised to prevent further movement of the ammunitions, which had been a common practice for more than 15 years," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a letter to the Security Council in April. "Hezbollah publicly confirmed that the arms were destined for the group."

It's this uninterrupted flow of weapons, mostly made in Iran, under the nose of the Lebanese Government, that has allowed Hezbollah to stockpile some 12,000 Katyusha rockets. Over the past 29 days of conflict, Hezbollah has fired more than 3000 rockets into Israel.

The fact that Annan knew this before the latest cease-fire resolution was signed shows that there never been any real intention to disarm Hezbollah.

Posted by Forkum at 05:30 PM

August 10, 2006

Direct Intercept


From FoxNews: Terror Plot Suspects Planned 'Dry-Run' of Attacks in Next 2 Days, Sources Say.

Suspects arrested Thursday for planning to stage a massive mid-air terror attacked were in the final stages of planning and planned to run a dry-run of the plan within two days, U.S. intelligence officers said Thursday.

One official said the suicide attackers planned to use a peroxide-based solution that could ignite when sparked by a camera flash or another electronic device.

The test run was designed to see whether the plotters would be able to smuggle the needed materials aboard the planes, these officials said. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject matter.

The development came as British authorities said they were "urgently" seeking the arrests of up to 10 more suspects in the terrorist plot uncovered early Thursday morning to blow up U.S.-bound flights with liquid explosives carried onto planes via carry-on luggage, FOX News learned.

Police arrested 24 main suspects were arrested earlier Thursday, according to Scotland Yard, in what U.S. officials suspect was an Al Qaeda-planned attack.

From FoxNews: Bush Praises Effort to Thwart Terror Plot.

President Bush on Thursday praised the coordinated government efforts to stop a terror plot to blow up airline flights from the United Kingdom to the United States, and said American flyers will be inconvenienced for a while in order for officials to keep them safe.

"The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation," Bush said on a tarmac in Green Bay, Wis., before delivering a speech on the economy.

"Cooperation on this venture was excellent, the cooperation between U.K. and U.S. authorities and officials was solid, and the cooperation among agencies within our government was excellent," Bush said.

UDPATE -- Aug. 11: Allahpundit has ever crazier details about terror plot.

UDPATE II: From Stop The New York Times: UK and US surveillance stopped latest plot. (via Tim Sumner)

Posted by Forkum at 05:34 PM

Kit and Heidi interview Aug. 11

I'll be interviewed by Kit and Heidi on their Web-cast show "Seeing Red," tomorrow night, Friday, Aug. 11 at 10pm CST. You can learn more about Kit and Heidi at their blog, Euphoric Reality.

UPDATE -- Aug. 18: The interview is now available for online listening here.

Posted by Forkum at 05:30 PM

August 09, 2006

Mullah Justice


This cartoon was originally posted on August 23, 2004 and is in our book Black & White World II.

The case of Atefah Sahaaleh depicted in the cartoon has received new attention on the release of an excellent BBC documentary, which can now be viewed at Google Video: Execution of a Teenage Girl. (hat tip Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi)

Here's Michelle Malkin recent post on the topic:

Many readers across the pond are sending good reviews of a BBC program that aired this week about Atefah Sahaaleh, a 16-year-old girl hanged in a public square in the Iranian city of Neka. Her death sentence was imposed by Islamic mullahs for "crimes against chastity." I hope there's an American station out there that will air the program here. I'm sure that feminists will join me in pressuring our media to help spread the word about this sharia-mandated barbarism.

UPDATE -- Aug. 11: For a detailed account of this crime, see the FrontPageMag symposium, Why the Mullahs Murdered Atefeh Rajabi, featuring Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi.

Zand-Bonazzi: Well, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran's interpretation of the Shari'a (I don't know how it's interpreted or done in Arab countries) a woman is automatically the seductress, however young and innocent. According to them, a man, no matter how old and promiscuous, is considered to be a "victim." ...

I should add that this Mullah was not only the Judge but also the executioner and he proudly hung the noose around her neck himself. After her execution, he said publicly that her punishment was not execution but he taught her a "lesson" because of her sharp tongue.

Posted by Forkum at 09:23 PM

August 08, 2006

Snatching Defeat


Scroll for update -- After agreeing to U.N. cease-fire, Hezbollah declares victory.

From FoxNews: Israeli, Hezbollah Forces Battle as Diplomats Seek End to Conflict.

Attempts to draw a cease-fire blueprint came down to a test between a step-by-step proposal backed by Washington and Lebanon's insistence — supported by Arab allies — that nothing can happen before Israeli soldiers leave. In New York, Arab envoys and U.N. Security Council members tried to hammer out a compromise. ...

The original proposal, drafted by the United States and France, demanded a "full cessation of hostilities" on both sides and a buffer zone patrolled by Lebanese forces and U.N. troops. But the plan did not specifically call for an Israeli withdrawal. Critics said it would give room for Israeli defensive operations. ...

Washington and Paris were expected to circulate a new draft in response to amendments proposed by Qatar, the only Arab nation on the 15-nation Security Council, and other members, diplomats said. ...

The proposed changes include a call for Israeli forces to pull out of Lebanon once the fighting stops and hand over their positions to U.N. peacekeepers.

What would it mean if Israel ceases fire before Hezbollah is defeated? Nasrallah has already told us. From AP on July 23: Survival May Equal Victory for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah acknowledges that Israeli troops can sweep across south Lebanon. But if he and his militants can survive and keep fighting, he will cement his image as the unlikely new hero of Arab nationalism. ...

Anticipating the ground assault, Nasrallah sought to ensure his group's survival and safeguard its widening base of support in Lebanon and abroad by lowering the bar for what would constitute victory.

In a television interview broadcast Friday, he defined victory as a successful defense.

And he acknowledges the gravity of defeat.

"A defeat in Lebanon will end the region's resistance movements, the Palestinian cause and impose Israel's conditions for a settlement," he warned.

LGF noted this week that in a recent meeting, Nasrallah implored Arab leaders to "stop this aggression against Lebanon". A cease fire only benefits Hezbollah.

The U.S. should not only stop insisting on a cease-fire, we should join Israel in completely destroying and disbanding Hezbollah. Keep in mind, not only is Hezbollah responsible for deadly attacks against Americans, but Nasrallah himself has raised a war cry against us. In this documentary trailer, watch Nasrallah lead a Lebanese crowd in a chant of "Death to America": Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 10: From Muslim World Today: The Cease-fire by Tashbih Sayyed. (via LGF)

The latest flare-up in a 59 years long war to wipe the Jewish state off the map of the world is fast approaching its expected closure. Israel is once again being forced to leave the job of eliminating the Islamist threat unfinished. The world's powers, blinded by their anti-Semitism, politico-commercial considerations, and regional agendas, want Israel to stop pursuing its legitimate campaign to secure itself by eradicating the Islamist threat from its door steps: they want an immediate cease-fire.

They are not ready to accept that in case of political Islam, cease-fires are nothing but tactical pauses which are used as tools to gain time in order to recoup losses, re-arm forces, and rebuild terrorist infrastructure. For example, the world thought that the Oslo Accord was a step in the right direction - peace. But for Yasser Arafat who signed it on September 13, 1993, it was just a tactical cease-fire "Hudna" that could be broken at any time. ...

Those who understand the Islamist ethos know that for political Islam, disengagement, a cease-fire, or a pull back on the part of the "enemy" is a sign of its weakness. No one has more experience with this treacherous mindset than the Israelis. ...

There is no doubt in my mind that the cease-fire at this stage when Hezbollah is still seems to posses enough rockets and other armament to continue to terrorize the Israeli civilians for some time, will be perceived as a total victory of Hezbollah by the Muslim world. The terrorist group will be transformed instantly into a standard bearer of global jihad and Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah will certainly become a leader worth emulation.

From Ynet News: Proposal: Hizbullah disarmament will wait.

Sources in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office expressed cautious optimism early Friday regarding the possibility that the latest American diplomatic maneuver will in fact lead to a ceasefire. The proposal will call for Hizbullah’s disarmament in accordance with UN Resolution 1559, but this will not be declared a precondition for reaching a ceasefire.

And as if on cue: Hizbullah declares victory.

Hizbullah did not wait for the official UN Security Council announcement on a ceasefire and launched its own media campaign declaring it had 'won the war against Israel.' In the latest video aired on Al-Manar TV the terror group says it “defeated the invincible army” and “July-August 2006: Legend shattered.” The new video clips show thousands of supporters waving Hizbullah and Lebanon flags.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 12: From Jerusalem Post: Nasrallah: We will abide by cease-fire (via Euphoric Reality)

Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV, which continues to broadcast despite repeated IAF attack on its studios and transmitters, declared "victory" over the weekend, saying that the IDF had failed to score military achievements.

The broadcasts are being aired under the banner of: "We won!"; "We have defeated the invincible army"; and "July-August 2006 - the shattering of the myth [of the mighty Israeli army]." The station has also been airing video clips showing thousands of Lebanese hoisting Lebanese flags and chanting slogans in support of Hizbullah.

Like several other Arab television stations, Al-Manar has been repeatedly reminding viewers that this was the second "defeat" for Israel, coming after the IDF's May 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon.

Arab commentators and journalists were almost unanimous in saying that Hizbullah had won the war.

UDPATE III -- Aug. 13: From AFP: Lebanon war a 'total defeat' for Israel: Iran.

The war in Lebanon has resulted in "total defeat" for Israel, Iran said.

"After one month of war, the Zionist regime has faced a total defeat and the Lebanese resistance and Hezbollah have achieved total victory," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Sunday.

"In addition to its human, military and economic losses the Zionist regime has also become completely isolated on the international level," he added. "The myth of the invincibility of the Zionist regime was destroyed and hatred against it has reached an apex."

UDPATE IV -- Aug. 14: From FoxNews: Hezbollah Leader Declares Victory for His Guerrillas.

The Middle East's fragile cease-fire, not yet a day old, was rattled Monday when Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah took to the airwaves to declare that his guerrillas had won a "strategic, historic victory" against Israel.

"We came out victorious in a war in which big Arab armies were defeated (before)," the bearded, black-turbaned radical cleric said.

Posted by Forkum at 05:10 PM

August 07, 2006

Raul Castro


From AFP on Aug. 4: Cuba insists: Raul Castro 'at helm'; Fidel recovering.

Cuba has insisted Raul Castro is "firmly at the helm" and his brother Fidel was recovering from surgery, as the Communist leaders stayed out of view but defiant against escalating US calls for democratic change.

The government released the first news on Fidel Castro's health in two days and sought to assert Raul's leadership four days after Fidel handed over power "temporarily".

But Cubans had yet to see the siblings since the unprecedented transition, which has cast a cloud of uncertainty over a country that had been ruled by Fidel Castro without interruption since 1959. ...

The center-left daily El Pais newspaper from Spain reported that Raul Castro has appointed a team of six senior communists to govern under his supervision.

Raul Castro's ruling team reportedly includes Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and Carlos Lage, who championed the country's economic reforms in the 1990s.

Also on board are three more traditional communists: Ramon Machado Ventura, Jose Ramon Balaguer and Esteban Lazo, El Pais said.

The sixth member is the president of Cuba's central bank, Francisco Soberon, who favors centralized economic policies.

The Barcelona daily La Vanguardia, citing diplomatic sources, said that Raul Castro had not appeared in public since taking power because he was suffering from "depression" due to the serious illness of his wife Vilma Espin.

From CNN today: Cuba's VP expects return of ailing Fidel Castro within weeks.

Cuba's vice president and Venezuela's leader provided optimistic assessments of Fidel Castro's health, saying the Cuban president was recovering quickly from intestinal surgery and could be back at work within weeks.

Castro himself has been out of sight since July 31, when his secretary went on state television to announce he had undergone surgery and was temporarily ceding power to his younger brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro.

"In a few weeks he'll be recovered and he'll return to his duties," Vice President Carlos Lage said Sunday when asked by reporters when Castro would be back at work.

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

Posted by Forkum at 11:35 PM

August 06, 2006

First Casualty


This weekend, Charles Johnson uncovered yet another breach of journalistic integrity: Reuters Doctoring Photos from Beirut?. Reuters has since killed the bogus photo and posted the original, unaltered photo. Apparently the photograher thought the photo of Beirut being bombed wasn't dramatic enough.

From Ynet News: Reuters admits altering Beirut photo.

A Reuters photograph of smoke rising from buildings in Beirut has been withdrawn after coming under attack by American web logs. The blogs accused Reuters of distorting the photograph to include more smoke and damage.

The photograph showed two very heavy plumes of black smoke billowing from buildings in Beirut after an Air Force attack on the Lebanese capital. Reuters has since withdrawn the photograph from its website, along a message admitting that the image was distorted, and an apology to editors. ...

Adnan Hajj, the photographer who sent the altered image, was also the Reuters photographer behind many of the images from Qana – which have also been the subject of suspicions for being staged.

Reuters has dropped the freelance photographer, who is claming that he was just trying to "remove dust marks." Yeah right. More on the work of Adnan Hajj at Riehl World and Ace of Spades.

UPDATE I: Jawa Report exposes another altered photo and inaccurate caption filed by Hajj.

UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin has more links on the topic (and still more).

UPDATE III -- Aug. 7: Reuters withdraws all photos by Lebanese freelance (via Michelle Malkin who has a good suggestion for what Reuters should have done instead)

And Power Line notes more creative captioning by Hajj.

UPDATE IV: Drinking From Home raises questions about two more photos (not by Hajj though). (via Tom Pechinski)

UPDATE V: Power Line recently questioned whether controversial photographer Adnan Hajj had staged major elements of a series of photos showing a destroyed bridge in Lebanon. However...

In the comments to the LGF post about the photos, I wrote:

I have strong doubts about these photos being staged with cars being moved, the bridge falling, etc. There's not an easy way to described what I'm seeing (a diagram would help), but I think that extreme foreshortening of a telephoto lens contrasted with the inclusiveness of a wide-angle lens could explain [what] appear to be anomalies.

For instance, the bridge appears to me to have already fallen in every picture. Notice the white, angled piece of pavement hanging on the right, far side, directly behind the upright car. You can see a hint of it in every picture, indicating to me the bridge is already down.

I think the overturned truck is simply cropped out of the picture of the guys running across the bridge. Notice the red-and-white posts. One near the rear of the truck (see truck pics) has a rust-colored object on it. That post is not seen in the "running across the bridge" shot, indicating to me that the photographer could have been standing with the truck just out of frame.

Notice, too, as someone else has already mentioned, that a large rock-like object directly under the truck bed is catching the sunlight in both pictures of the truck, suggesting the truck was not moved. There is also a flat piece of debris with a rock beside it in both photos.

There's no doubt that Hajj is untrustworthy, and there may very well be some acting going on in these photos. But I'm not yet convinced of the other accusations.

I later added:

Another indication to me that the truck was not moved is the fissure in the pavement. You can see it or a hint of it in every photo (expect of course the one of the river [Photo 3]). In the first pic [Photo 1], the guys are running across the fissure on the far right-hand side of the bridge. In the first photo of the overturned truck [Photo 2], you see a faint line of the fissure running in front of and parallel to the truck, and under the guy's feet. In the last pic [Photo 4], the truck is near the fissure (bottom left corner) on the far left-hand side of the bridge. This all indicates to me that the truck was simply out of frame in the first photo. ... I'm completely ignoring the last photo posted at Power Line since it is obviously not the same bridge [Photo 5].

I decided to quickly create some diagrams to illustrate my point. These are not intended to be anywhere near scientific or even to scale. I simply wanted to show how the differences in wide angle and telescopic lenses, as well as camera position and cropping, could explain the effects some are misinterpreting as staging. The links below contain photos 1, 2 and 4 from the Power Line post:

Diagram: Photo 1 (wide angle lens)

Diagram: Photo 2 (telescopic lens)

Diagram: Photo 4 (wide angle lens)

Sub-Update I: I added the tower to each diagram, and I added Photo 3 to the Photo 1 diagram for better context.

Sub-Update II: Power Line points to this photo. It was taken from the opposite river bank, but it still fits with my diagrams.

Posted by Forkum at 06:46 PM

August 03, 2006

Changement de Rythme


From FoxNews: Ahmadinejad's Mideast Solution: Destroy Israel.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday the solution to the Middle East crisis was to destroy Israel, state-media reported.

In a speech during an emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Malaysia, Ahmadinejad also called for an immediate cease-fire to end the fighting between Israel and the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah.

"Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented," Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television in a report posted on its Web site Thursday.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev accused Ahmadinejad of trying to rally the region to support Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

"Our operation in Lebanon is designed to neutralize one of the long arms of Iran, Hezbollah," Regev said. "Hezbollah is their proxy, being used as an instrument of Teheran to advance their extremist agenda and the blow to Hezbollah is a blow to Iranian interests and a blow to all extremist Jihadist forces in the region.

From CNN: Hezbollah threatens to strike Tel Aviv.

On the diplomatic front, France circulated a revised draft resolution for the United Nations Security Council on Thursday calling for an immediate halt to Israeli-Hezbollah fighting and spelling out conditions for a permanent cease-fire in Lebanon.

The U.S. State Department said it hoped for a cease-fire resolution by Friday, but U.S. diplomats were prepared to work into the weekend to achieve a deal.

A sticking point has been the timing of a cease-fire. France and other European countries support Lebanon's call for an immediate cease-fire. The United States and Britain have said an immediate cease-fire would not eliminate the long-term threat that Hezbollah imposes on Israel.

In TIA Daily, Robert Tracinski has been providing excellent coverage and analysis of the big picture in the Hezbollah vs. Israel war. These are a couple of his must-read articles:

From RealClearPolitics: Iran's Strategy Is Crudely Obvious--So Why Can't We Fight It?.

The new Lebanon War, like much of the War on Terrorism, has a strange character. It is a war in which everyone knows the enemy's strategy, in which it is child's play to see through all of his ruses and propaganda tricks--and yet our leaders, rather than devising their own counter-strategy, fall for every ruse and play along with the enemy's game. ...

Everyone knows that Iran is using Hezbollah's war in Lebanon to distract attention from its nuclear weapons program. ...

The Iranian strategy to buy time is utterly transparent and not especially clever. It is simple to defeat: declare that Hezbollah's aggression against Israel is proof of Iran's evil intentions and that we don't require any further diplomatic justification to bomb Iran's nuclear sites and bring down its regime.

Instead, Western leaders fell for the Iranian strategy, and the Iranians have pretty much gotten what they wanted. ...

Secretary Rice has a reputation as an intelligent, hard-charging woman who doesn't scare easily. Over the past few months, she has blown that reputation, caving in to Iran and its European sympathizers--and now allowing herself to be panicked into appeasement by predictable images of Lebanese civilian casualties. The Iranians have not been playing a sophisticated diplomatic game--yet they have consistently outplayed Secretary Rice.

Just as obvious as the strategy of the Iranian Axis are the destructive consequences of America's diplomatic retreat in the face of Hezbollah's war.

Also by Tracinski at RealClearPolitics: What Part of 'War' Don't We Understand?.

Part of the reason America hesitates to act is because generations of Pragmatists have tried to turn our brains into bags full of knots--making it harder for us to see the big picture and the bold strokes that are actually necessary to defeat our enemies.

Just as powerful is the warped logic of the "suicide bomb morality" of altruism, which identifies self-sacrifice as the essence of virtue. In any conflict, the good guys are expected to prove that they are good by backing down and sacrificing their interests--while nothing is expected of the bad guys, precisely because they are evil. That's why a Los Angeles Times op-ed demanded that Israel "has to be the most responsible party" by declaring an immediate ceasefire. Why should Israel be the first to back down from the fight? The author answers: "What, after all, can we expect from Hamas or Hezbollah?"

Notice the warped psychology this fosters: the onus is always on the good guys to turn the other check and submit to evil. This is a moral outlook that empowers the evil because they are evil and restrains the good because they are good. Should we then be surprised to see the evil emboldened to greater acts of destruction?

There is no longer any doubt what is driving the conflict in the Middle East: it is the Syrian-Iranian strategy of using proxies to strike at the US and extend Iran's fanatical influence over the region. The only question is whether we can stop tying our brains into knots and stop turning the other cheek long enough to strike back and topple these two regimes.

"Changement de Rythme" (or "Broken Time") is a fencing term meaning "a sudden change in the tempo of one fencer's actions, used to fool the opponent into responding at the wrong time." Or perhaps in the wrong way, as in the case of the cartoon.

UPDATE I -- Aug. 4: From the Jerusalem Post: As Ahmadinejad watches by Caroline Glick. (via Regime Change Iran)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the man to watch these days. And yet it would seem that those in positions of power are paying him little heed. ...

This week the UN Security Council is supposed to pass a resolution giving Iran until August 31 to end its nuclear programs. The obvious meaning of the new deadline is that until then, in spite of Iran's direction of Hizbullah's war against Israel - a state which Iran daily threatens to destroy - no action will be taken against Teheran.

Indeed, in all the talk of Security Council resolutions regarding the war that Iran's proxy force Hizbullah is waging against Israel, no one has mentioned the possibility of condemning Iran, or Syria, for their sponsorship of Hizbullah.

AS THE STAKES of the war against Israel rise by the day, we find the international community, led by the US, and willingly followed by the Olmert government, scope-locked on a diplomatic agenda that is irrelevant to the imminent dangers Israel and the world now face in the midst of this Iranian sponsored jihad.

UPDATE II -- Aug. 28: From the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center: "Exporting" the radical ideology of the Islamic revolution in Iran (via Iran Press News)

Surrendering this jihadist-Islamic identity, the practical implications of which would be disarmament and cessation of fighting against Israel, are viewed by the organization [Hezbollah] as surrendering a religious Islamic principle, rather than a strictly military act that is supposed to take place under external or internal political pressure. It may be assumed, against this ideological background, that Hezbollah will remain inflexible in its adamant refusal to disarm, as required in UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701. ...

Khamenei's worldview is "exported" to Lebanon in order to disseminate it among Shi'ite Muslims and turn Hezbollah into the spearhead of the implementation of the Iranian view of jihad, a kind of Lebanese branch of the Iranian armed forces.

Posted by Forkum at 05:27 PM

August 02, 2006



From CNN: Castro's illness sparks speculation, rumors.

Celebration in the streets of Little Havana gave way Tuesday to speculation about the state of Fidel Castro's health and what would happen in Cuba if he were to die, while county officials activated a rumor control hot line.

Castro remained out of sight Tuesday after undergoing intestinal surgery and temporarily turning over power to his brother Raul. Some in Florida speculated that the leader who has defied the United States for nearly half a century already could be dead.

"When a man has been in power for so long, they don't tell people at first. I am afraid that when people begin to realize that he is dead, the real fight for power will begin," said Eric Hernandez, 33, a writer for Telemundo who said he had canceled plans to return to Cuba on Friday to visit his father for the first time in five years.

South Florida's Cuban-American community of about 800,000 is the largest segment of the state's fast-growing Hispanic community and its influence is felt across Florida. Cheering crowds waving Cuban flags celebrated the news of Castro's illness late Monday and into early Tuesday.

One group had dressed as migrants wearing life jackets, pretending to paddle a cardboard boat down Little Havana's Calle Ocho in Miami -- recalling the desperate journey many exiles have taken across the Florida Straits.

"This is a celebration of people of hope returning to their home country, something that is 40-something years in the making," said Joe Martinez, chairman of Miami-Dade County commissioners, who was born in Cuba.

UPDATE: From CNN: Cuban TV: Castro says health 'stable'.

Fidel Castro's health situation is "stable" and he is in "good spirits," according to a message attributed to him and read on Cuban television Tuesday evening.

The message provided little detail about the medical condition that prompted Castro to temporarily cede power to his brother, Raul, on Monday.

Blaming intestinal surgery, Cuban television reported the handover Monday night, the first time Castro has ceded control of the island nation in 47 years.

From CBS News: Chavez, The Future Of Communism?. (hat tip Chris Byers)

Cuba is the isolated Communist island that has never squeezed itself out from under the thumb of the West, focusing most of its energy on weathering the U.S. trade embargo. Though Castro survived U.S. attempts on his life, like the CIA’s famous exploding seashell, his famous tumble down the stairs in old age was a metaphor for his regime. Cuba became the floating prison from which thousands of influential American immigrant businesspeople, politicians, etc., hailed, and never has ceased to be the island from which citizens risk life and limb to escape. Whereas Castro envisioned that his Communist utopia would set the gold standard for the world, he has been handily upstaged by dissidents and exiles who have, over the decades, become poster children for the fundamental thirst for liberty.

Posted by Forkum at 05:53 PM

August 01, 2006

The Qana Massacre


From Haaretz: Qana bombing body count falls sharply.

Additional questions arose yesterday about the Israel Air Force's strike on a building in Qana on Sunday, even as the number of fatalities in the incident appeared to be much lower than originally published.

The Red Cross announced yesterday that 28 bodies, including those of 19 children, had been found at the site. Additional bodies are expected to be found over the coming days.

From Haaretz: Cry to those using babies by Naomi Ragen. (via At Level Ground)

"They [Hezbollah] are a lousy army. They only win when they hide behind baby carriages."

Please remember this when you hear about the "atrocity" of the Israeli bomb that killed many civilians in Kafr Qana, a place from which Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. Unlike previous administrations, Mr. Olmert has my respect when he says: "They were warned to leave. It is the responsibility of Hezbollah for firing rockets amid civilians."

Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right to complain about civilian casualties, since all they have is one goal: this entire war is to target civilians. Every single one of the more than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel, is launched into populated towns filled with women and children. Just today, another explosive belt meant to kill civilians in Israel was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus.

So don't cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using babies and wives and mothers; cry to those who store weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals and private homes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and however many of their troops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious as long as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children.

Save your sympathy for the mothers and sisters and girlfriends of our young soldiers who would rather be sitting in study halls learning Torah, but have no choice but to risk their precious lives full of hope, goodness and endless potential, to wipe out the cancerous terrorist cells that threaten their people and all mankind. Make your choice, and save your tears.

That terrorists have been unsuccessful in killing more of our women and children is due to our army, God and prayers, not to any lack of motivation or intention on their part. If you hide behind your baby to shoot at my baby, you are responsible for getting children killed. You and you alone.

From the Washington Times: Public 'won't bend' in uproar over Qana. (via TIA Daily)

The Israeli public, which has been united in support of the government's military actions in Lebanon, stood firm yesterday despite the international uproar over the deaths on Sunday of more than 30 children and several adults in the town of Qana.

"We won't bend," read the headline on a front-page column by the leading political commentator for the Ma'ariv newspaper.

"It's time you understood, the Jewish state will no longer be trampled upon," wrote Ben Caspit. "We won't allow anyone to exploit population centers to bomb our citizens. You can condemn us, you can boycott us, you are invited not to visit us, and if necessary, we will stop visiting you."

Three weeks into the war, the heavy civilian death toll in Lebanon has not changed most Israelis' perception of the war as an existential conflict over the right to live without the threat of Hezbollah rockets, as well as a proxy battle with an Iranian government bent on destroying the country. ...

In a defiant nationwide address yesterday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the army would continue to hit Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon despite an international chorus calling for an immediate cease-fire.

"There is no cease-fire, and there will be no cease-fire," Mr. Olmert said.

"Citizens of Lebanon, we regret the pain caused to so many of you, the fact that you had to flee your homes and places of residence and the unintentional harm to innocents, but we do not apologize for it.

"We will not give up -- not even for a moment -- our right to protect the state of Israel and defend our lives."

From the Washington Post: 'Disproportionate' in What Moral Universe? by Charles Krauthammer. (via HB List)

The perversity of today's international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.

In perhaps the most blatant terror campaign from the air since the London Blitz, Hezbollah is raining rockets on Israeli cities and villages. These rockets are packed with ball bearings that can penetrate automobiles and shred human flesh. They are meant to kill and maim. And they do.

But it is a dual campaign. Israeli innocents must die in order for Israel to be terrorized. But Lebanese innocents must also die in order for Israel to be demonized, which is why Hezbollah hides its fighters, its rockets, its launchers, its entire infrastructure among civilians. Creating human shields is a war crime. It is also a Hezbollah specialty.

Posted by Forkum at 06:25 PM