January 31, 2007

Iran's Proxy War


This cartoon was originally posted on April 6, 2004, and in our second book (not the latest one) Black & White World II, which can be ordered via Barnes & Noble.com and Amazon.com.

From Detriot Free Press: Cleric tells militia not to attack U.S. troops.

Radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his militia not to confront U.S. forces and has endorsed negotiations aimed at easing the deployment of American troops in his strongholds, according to Shi'ite and Sadr officials.

Ahead of a planned surge of 21,500 U.S. troops intended to secure Baghdad, the cleric has instructed his Mahdi Army, recently described by the Pentagon as the single biggest threat to a stable Iraq, to keep a low profile and stay off the streets, Sadr officials said.

A deal with the supporters of the fiercely anti-American cleric would temper U.S. military commanders' concern that any attempt to secure Baghdad will inevitably lead to a showdown with Iraq's biggest private army.

The Sadrist movement has given its blessing to an initiative led by one of two mayors of Sadr City to negotiate terms under which U.S. forces will be able to deploy freely there.

If the negotiations succeed, U.S. forces would be welcome in Sadr City, said Rahim al-Daraji, the mayor of the area's southern half. He said he has been authorized to negotiate on behalf of the Mahdi Army and other Shi'ite factions.

From CNN: Al-Maliki: Iraq won't be battleground for U.S., Iran.

Iraq's prime minister said Wednesday he's sure Iran is behind some attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and he won't allow his country to be a battleground for the two nations.

"We have told the Iranians and the Americans, 'We know that you have a problem with each other, but we are asking you, please solve your problems outside Iraq,' " Nuri al-Maliki told CNN.

"We will not accept Iran to use Iraq to attack the American forces," al-Maliki said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with CNN. (Read more of al-Maliki interview)

"We don't want the American forces to take Iraq as a field to attack Iran or Syria," he added.

Asked about the role of Iran in Iraq, al-Maliki said he was confident that Iranian influence was behind attacks on U.S. forces. "It exists, and I assure you it exists," he said.

Iranian-U.S. tensions have been ratcheted up recently, with two U.S. officials theorizing about the possibility that Iran was involved in a January 20 attack that killed five U.S. soldiers.

Two officials from separate U.S. government agencies said Tuesday the Pentagon is investigating whether the attack on a military compound in Karbala was carried out by Iranians or Iranian-trained operatives.

Posted by Forkum at 07:24 PM

January 30, 2007

War Power


From AP: Congress to test bounds of its war power.

President Bush may be the decision maker, but the Democratic-controlled Congress holds the purse strings. Whether to yank them shut when it comes to the conflict in Iraq, and under what conditions, is the question facing newly empowered majority Democrats.

No one challenges the notion that Congress can stop a war by canceling its funding. In fact, Vice President Dick Cheney challenged Congress to back up its objections to Bush's plan to put 21,500 more troops in Iraq by zeroing out the war budget.

Underlying Cheney's gambit is the consensus understanding that such a drastic move is doubtful because it would be fraught with political peril.

But there are other legislative options to force the war's end, say majority Democrats and some of Bush's traditional Republican allies.

The alternatives range from capping the number of troops permitted in Iraq to cutting off funding for troop deployments beyond a certain date or setting an end date for the war.

"The Constitution makes Congress a coequal branch of government. It's time we start acting like it," said Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., who is chairing a hearing Tuesday on Congress' war powers and forwarding legislation to eventually prohibit funding for the deployment of troops to Iraq.

His proposal, like many others designed to force an end to U.S. involvement in the bloody conflict, is far from having enough support even to come up for a vote on the Senate floor.

Closer to that threshold is a nonbinding resolution declaring that Bush's proposal to send 21,500 more troops to Baghdad and Anbar province is "not in the national interest." The Senate could take up that measure early next month.

But some senators, complaining that the resolution is symbolic, are forwarding tougher bills.

Posted by Forkum at 03:54 PM

January 29, 2007

Dick Cheney


From AP: Cheney responds to Hagel's criticism.

Vice President Dick Cheney shot back at Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who has accused the Bush administration of playing "a pingpong game with American lives" by sending more U.S. troops into Iraq.

"Let's say I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican," Cheney said. "But it's very hard sometimes to adhere to that where Chuck Hagel is involved."

Cheney's comments came in a Newsweek interview released Sunday.

Hagel, a potential presidential candidate, has been outspoken in his criticism that the Republican White House lacks a coherent strategy in Iraq.

His "pingpong" remark came Wednesday as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee debated a nonbinding resolution that condemned Bush's troop buildup in Iraq. Hagel co-sponsored the measure, which the committee approved in a 12-9 vote.

He was the only Republican to vote for it.

In the interview, Cheney also said he doesn't spend any time worrying about how the public or the media view him. When pressed to react to personal criticism from people with whom he has worked before, Cheney said: "Well, I'm vice president and they're not."

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

Posted by Forkum at 07:47 PM

January 28, 2007

Pilot Error


From CNN: Hamas-Fatah violence kills 29.

Gaza was turning into a battlefield early Monday with armed clashes between the ruling Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah in Gaza City and the south. Four people were killed in the latest day of battles.

A Hamas supporter another gunman and a civilian were killed in clashes in southern Gaza on Sunday.

Early Monday Fatah gunmen killed a member of the Hamas security force in Gaza City, bringing the death toll in four days of Hamas-Fatah fighting to 29.

Early Monday, Hamas fighters mobilized around the main Fatah stronghold, the Preventive Security headquarters, and threatened to attack the compound -- a move that could set off a full-scale civil war.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia offered to mediate between the rivals, locked in a power struggle since Hamas defeated Fatah in parliamentary elections a year ago, ending four decades of Fatah rule.

The tensions have frequently erupted into violence, particularly since coalition talks broke down in December and Fatah's leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, threatened to call early elections.

In all, more than 60 Palestinians have been killed in internal fighting since December.

Posted by Forkum at 07:03 PM

January 25, 2007

Foul Weather


From FOX News: Storm Hits Weather Community Over Climate Expert's Global Warming Claims.

The Weather Channel is standing by a climatologist who is taking some heat after blogging that TV weather forecasters skeptical about man-made global warming theories should lose their professional certification.

Climate expert Heidi Cullen defended herself last week in The Weather Channel's One Degree Climate Change blog after questioning the fitness of meteorologists who disagree with her conclusions. ...

Cullen raised Cain last month when she suggested that the American Meteorological Society decertify meteorologists who don't warn about climate change.

"If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming," Cullen wrote in the blog. "If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a seal of approval." ...

According to a statement by the AMS, the society agrees with Cullen on the science of global warming, if not the certification of its approved meteorologists. ...

But James Spann, chief meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in Alabama, who has been in operational meteorology since 1978, said Cullen is wading into dangerous waters when it comes to judging her colleagues.

"I do not know of a single TV meteorologist who buys into the man-made global warming hype. I know there must be a few out there, but I can’t find them," Spann said on his blog. "I have nothing against 'The Weather Channel,' but they have crossed the line into a political and cultural region where I simply won’t go."

From Reuters: Global warming dissenters few at U.S. weather meeting.

Joe D'Aleo was a rare voice of dissent this week at the American Meteorological Society's annual meeting in San Antonio.

D'Aleo, executive director of the International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project, a group of scientists, doesn't think greenhouse gas emissions are the major cause of global warming and climate change.

Researchers who hold such contrary views do not appreciate being lumped together with flat-Earthers. They are legitimate scientists who question the mainstream, but they are a distinct minority.

"Greenhouse warming is real, but I think it is a relatively minor player," D'Aleo said.

He claims other factors like solar activity and other natural causes are probably playing a greater role in rising temperatures -- a position that gets a mostly chilly reception from this crowd. ...

"I think there's virtually no doubt that humans are a major player in warming the globe," said Robert Henson, author of the recently published "The Rough Guide to Climate Change."

"There are still people out there who will contradict that, but they are not part of the scientific mainstream," he said.

The dissenters would say that is the point: portraying them as the wild-eyed fringe or lackeys of oil companies makes even legitimate questioning seem less credible.

From CNN: 'Smoking gun' report to say global warming here.

Human-caused global warming is here -- visible in the air, water and melting ice -- and is destined to get much worse in the future, an authoritative global scientific report will warn next week. ...

Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist and study co-author, went even further: "This isn't a smoking gun; climate is a batallion of intergalactic smoking missiles." ...

That report will feature an "explosion of new data" on observations of current global warming, [said Susan] Solomon [a senior scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration].

Even the global warming data are exploding! Some believers in man-made global warming are finally becoming concerned about the hype. From Houston Chronicle: Climate scientists feeling the heat.

Scientists long have issued the warnings: The modern world's appetite for cars, air conditioning and cheap, fossil-fuel energy spews billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, unnaturally warming the world.

Yet, it took the dramatic images of a hurricane overtaking New Orleans and searing heat last summer to finally trigger widespread public concern on the issue of global warming.

Climate scientists might be expected to bask in the spotlight after their decades of toil. The general public now cares about greenhouse gases, and with a new Democratic-led Congress, federal action on climate change may be at hand.

Problem is, global warming may not have caused Hurricane Katrina, and last summer's heat waves were equaled and, in many cases, surpassed by heat in the 1930s.

In their efforts to capture the public's attention, then, have climate scientists oversold global warming? It's probably not a majority view, but a few climate scientists are beginning to question whether some dire predictions push the science too far.

"Some of us are wondering if we have created a monster," says Kevin Vranes, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado.

It's appears Al Gore is feeling some heat, too. He recently dodged an interview with journalist Flemming Rose and Bjorn Lomborg. From The Wall Street Journal: Will Al Gore Melt?.

[I]f we are to follow Mr. Gore's suggestions of radically changing our way of life, the costs are not trivial. If we slowly change our greenhouse gas emissions over the coming century, the U.N. actually estimates that we will live in a warmer but immensely richer world. However, the U.N. Climate Panel suggests that if we follow Al Gore's path down toward an environmentally obsessed society, it will have big consequences for the world, not least its poor. In the year 2100, Mr. Gore will have left the average person 30% poorer, and thus less able to handle many of the problems we will face, climate change or no climate change.

Clearly we need to ask hard questions. Is Mr. Gore's world a worthwhile sacrifice? But it seems that critical questions are out of the question.

Speaking of environmentalists leaving the poor poorer, a documentary about the European mining industry was recently released, and it looks excellent. It's called Mine Your Own Business, and you can view the trailer here. If you happen to live in the Los Angeles area, the UCLA Club LOGIC will be screening the film on January 31 with the filmmakers present for a Q&A session (click here for details). Here's a review of the film.

UPDATE -- Jan. 26: "Dissenters Blown Off" turns out to be mild compared to what some are calling for: NUREMBERG-STYLE TRIALS PROPOSED FOR GLOBAL WARMING SKEPTICS. (hat tip Chris Davis)

[David] Roberts wrote in the online publication [Grist] on September 19, 2006, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg. ...

The use of Holocaust terminology has drawn the ire of Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. “The phrase ‘climate change denier’ is meant to be evocative of the phrase ‘holocaust denier,’” Pielke, Jr. wrote on October 9, 2006.

“Let's be blunt. This allusion is an affront to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust. This allusion has no place in the discourse on climate change. I say this as someone fully convinced of a significant human role in the behavior of the climate system,” Pielke, Jr. explained.

Posted by Forkum at 05:34 PM

January 24, 2007



This cartoon was originally posted on January 26, 2006, and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our latest book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

From CAMERA: A Comprehensive Collection of Jimmy Carter's Errors.

On Nov. 27, 2006, Jimmy Carter appeared on Larry King Live to discuss his book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid. During the interview, Carter repeated an assertion that he has made in various venues: "Everything in the book, I might say, is completely accurate."

In line with this defense, the former president repeatedly has argued that his critics, who supposedly have no grounds to criticize the factual accuracy of the book, have resorted to name-calling and ad hominem attacks.

He told Wolf Blitzer that "Most of the criticisms of the book have been the one word in the title, ‘apartheid,’ and the other one [sic] is personal attacks on me." ...

The truth is, much of the criticism of the book has pointed to the misrepresentations of fact in the book, and a number of specific errors have been cited.

CAMERA ran full page ads in the New York Times and New York Sun specifically itemizing factual errors and refuting them (and calling on Carter's publisher, Simon and Schuster, to correct the false claims). But because of space limitations and the sheer number of errors in Carter's book, those ads could only highlight and correct a fraction of Carter's falsehoods.

Here, we have compiled a more detailed and inclusive list of factual errors from Carter’s book (page numbers are in italics) and media appearances. The list will be updated as we come across any further errors of fact made by the former president.

From FOX News on Jan. 12: 14 Carter Center Advisers Resign Over Former President Jimmy Carter's Book

Fourteen members of a leadership group under former President Carter's think tank resigned Thursday over concerns that Carter's book on the Middle East does not represent "the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support."

The members of the 200-member Board of Councilors, a leadership advisory group founded in 1987, join a longtime Carter aide, Jewish groups and lawmakers who have publicly criticized the former president's best-selling book "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid" for inaccuracies and distorting history.

UPDATE I: From Hot Air: Video: Jimmy Carter “apologizes” for being a Palestinian suicide bombing apologist.

UPDATE II -- Jan. 30: From Little Green Footballs: Islamic Jihad Pimps Carter's Book.

Posted by Forkum at 07:32 PM

January 23, 2007



From CNN: Is Bush already a lame duck?.

President George W. Bush is set to go before Congress Tuesday night and deliver his sixth State of the Union address against a backdrop of mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq and approval ratings in the low 30s.

The war is not likely to dominate the prime-time address, but the list of domestic issues he plans to discuss promises to be lengthy.

With an empowered Democratic majority and a wary Republican Party looking toward the 2008 elections, many are wondering whether the president has the support or the political capital left to push his agenda through Congress or whether he has become a lame duck.

"A lame duck president is someone who in our recent history is in his second term. ... He doesn't have the clout to influence the Congress, to assert himself that effectively, even in the conduct of foreign policy, because people know he is only going to be there another two years," said presidential historian and author Robert Dallek.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Monday shows 63 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Bush is handling his job, and 34 percent approve -- his lowest job rating on the eve of a State of the Union address.

The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday and was based on telephone interviews with 1,008 adult Americans. It has a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 points.

Supporters of Bush disagree with the notion that he will be sidelined for his remaining two years in office. "The president is saying he is going to sprint to the finish line," said former Bush administration adviser Mary Matalin. "The country cannot tolerate and will not tolerate two years of getting nothing done."

Posted by Forkum at 04:30 PM

January 22, 2007

Dennis Kucinich


From The New York Times: Kucinich Readies for Bid for Democratic Presidential Nomination.

As he prepares for his second consecutive underdog bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich can use a bully pulpit to draw attention to his activist liberal agenda. His appointment this week to be chairman of a new House domestic oversight subcommittee could help.

The panel headed by Kucinich is under the House Oversight Committee, chaired by California Rep. Henry A. Waxman. The Domestic Subcommittee will oversee domestic policy issues including health care, labor, pensions, energy and the environment, among others.

Kucinich said that as head of the new subcommittee, he will be able to influence Democratic policy making and “re-establish public oversight” over regulatory agencies that he said has been absent since President Bush took office.

“I will be asking questions about the operations of every federal department and expect to be able to bring to public light information that has been hidden for the last six years,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

He has broad leeway to pursue this goal. The subcommittee will have jurisdiction over the Labor, Commerce, Interior and Energy departments, as well as the anti-trust division of the Justice Department, the Federal Communications Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, among other agencies.

Kucinich is behind but doing well in the Pajamas Media Straw Poll.

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

Posted by Forkum at 08:06 PM

January 21, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction


From FOX News: Muslims Unhappy Over '24' Portrayal.

Two years ago, Muslim groups protested when the plot of the hit Fox drama `24' cast Islamic terrorists as the villains who launched a stolen nuclear missile in an attack on America.

Now, after a one-year respite during which Russian separatists played the bad guys on the critically acclaimed series, Muslims are back in the evil spotlight. Unlike last time, when agent Jack Bauer saved the day, the terrorists this time have already succeeded in detonating a nuclear bomb in a Los Angeles suburb.

Being portrayed again as the heartless wrongdoers has drawn renewed protests from Muslim groups, including one that had a meeting with Fox executives two years ago over the issue.

"The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims," said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season's premiere. "After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn't sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality." ...
Sohail Mohammed, a New Jersey immigration lawyer who represented scores of detainees caught up in the post Sept. 11, 2001 dragnet, watched the episode depicting the nuclear attack with an Associated Press reporter.

"I was shocked," he said. "Somewhere, some lunatic out there watching this will do something to an innocent American Muslim because he believes what he saw on TV."

Engy Abdelkader, a member of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee from Howell, N.J., launched a campaign Wednesday to encourage Muslims offended by the program to complain to Fox.

"I found the portrayal of American Muslims to be pretty horrendous," she said. "It was denigrating from beginning to end. This is one of the most popular programs on television today. It's pretty distressing."

UPDATE I: Hot Air has Saturday Night Live's take: Video: SNL on Islamophobia, redux. (via Little Green Footballs)

UPDATE II -- Jan. 22: From Investor's Business Daily: Who's Afraid Of '24'?.

Time [magazine] thinks Fox should use "24" to "improve America's image in the Muslim world." Instead of, what, depicting reality? The terrorists' religious ideas already have been sheltered enough from criticism. (So much so that the new Democratic chairman of House intelligence doesn't even know whether bin Laden is a Shiite or Sunni Muslim.)

If Fox is shocking or scaring the public, good. That's part of informing the public in wartime about the larger Islamic threat — not just abroad but at home, from sleeper cells hellbent on nuking us and martyring themselves so, yes, they can please Allah and redeem their heavenly virgins.

Too bad Hollywood didn't air shows before 9/11 that depicted Muslim men at flight schools interested only in learning to fly planes and not land them.

Someone has to think outside the box, unrestrained by political correctness. Kudos to Fox for doing what even the supposedly Islamophobic Bush administration doesn't have the nerve to do.

UPDATE III: Some helpful context from Tim Sumner who points out that FBI statistics show anti-Jewish crimes are many times more numerous than anti-Islamic crimes: Incidents, Offenses, Victims, and Known Offenders by Bias Motivation, 2005.

Posted by Forkum at 05:08 PM

January 18, 2007

Losing Strategy


From CNN: Bipartisan resolution opposes Bush plan on Iraq.

A bipartisan trio of senators on Wednesday unveiled a resolution opposing what Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- in proposing a separate bill -- called a "losing strategy" in Iraq. ...

The resolution is not expected to offer any alternative to Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq for deployment primarily in Baghdad. ...

[House Minority Leader John] Boehner [R-Ohio] argued that the president's Iraq strategy deserves a full hearing and called on Democratic leaders who are criticizing it to offer their own plan.

"And for those who don't agree with the president's plan, what's their alternative, what's their plan?" he asked. "We have a new majority in the House and Senate, and I think that at some point they need to begin acting like a majority. And that means that if you don't approve of the president's idea and his plan, you're required, really, to put one forward. And we've not seen that yet." ...

Countering Boehner's claim that Democrats don't have an alternative plan for Iraq, Daly said that the party has been saying for months it's for "responsible redeployment" of troops out of Iraq.

Bush's strategy is a losing one too, as I've noted previously, because it doesn't sufficiently address the central issue of Iran. But at least it's a strategy that acknowledges Iran. The Democrat's plan to simply leave Iraq can hardly be called a strategy at all, not if neutralizing terrorist regimes is still a priority.

Posted by Forkum at 04:35 PM

January 17, 2007

End of the World


This is our most recent gag cartoon for the humor column by Buster McNutt in AutoGraphic's Automotive Report publications. Here's an excerpt:

It was only a matter of time. One of the luxury car companies is offering a $4,000 parallel parking option. You simply pull up next to a parked car in front of an empty spot, engage the auto parking pilot, and in four shakes of a well-heeled yuppie’s tail, you are kicked to the curb. I’m guessing this feature will be added to the other 27 functions in the key fob, so you can walk away while the car is still in the street. ...

Call me old fashioned. But where does all this need-to-drive but don’t need-to-know-how-to-drive madness end? The ability to parallel park falls way toward the bottom on the rocket-science to eating-dirt intelligence scale. My generation learned how to do it on vehicles not even equipped with power steering! (Yeah, I know, we walked three miles to school each day, in the snow, up hill, both ways ...).

It’s hard to say where it all started. Maybe automatic transmissions.

Posted by Forkum at 07:53 PM

January 16, 2007

Dead Ball


In our The 800-Pound Guerrilla post I explained why I thought Bush's latest moves against Iranian influence in Iraq were not enough:

The plan, it appears, is to limit our military to attacks against terrorists and their supply lines within Iraq and refrain from attacking the source of those terrorists and supply lines: Iran. Bush is attempting to cure the symptoms while ignoring the disease. As such, the weapons and terrorists will keep flowing across the border, and the chaos in Iraq, though it may rise and fall, will ultimately continue because Iran needs it to continue. How can we expect our troops to win a war in which we don't allow them to directly attack the enemy?

In World War II, we didn't stop with engaging enemy soldiers at the front lines; nor did we stop at disrupting their supply lines. We took the fight all the way to the weapons factories and the command centers from which the war emanated.

That point, I thought, deserved it's own cartoon, especially since the White House is bending over backwards to "reassure" everyone that we're only engaging Iran within Iraq. For instance, from Newsweek: Tough Talk About Iran: How Far Will It Go?.

In fact, administration officials (anonymous due to diplomatic sensitivities) concede that Bush's Iran language may have been overly aggressive, raising unwarranted fears about military strikes on Tehran. Instead, they say, Bush was trying to warn Iran to keep its operatives out of Iraq, and to reassure Gulf allies—including Saudi Arabia—that the United States would protect them against Iranian aggression.

And from an article last week:

Asked whether the United States is preparing for a potential military conflict with Iran, President Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley told NBC's "Meet the Press," "No, the president has said very clearly that the issues we have with Iran should be solved diplomatically."

And another:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the House Armed Services Committee that U.S. troops are trying to crack down on the spread of Iranian-supplied explosives into Iraq, and the administration is "making it clear that those who are involved in activities that cost the lives of American soldiers are going to be subject to actions on the part of the United States inside Iraq." [Emphasis added]

We owe it to our troops to minimize the risks they face, and to do that in Iraq, we should let them go into Iran and eliminate the Iranian IEDs, the Iranian weapons, and the Iranian-trained jihadis at the source before more Americans are killed and maimed.

UDPATE I -- Jan. 18: FOX News Poll: Most Think Troop Surge is Bush’s Last Chance in Iraq.

A majority of Americans consider President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq his last chance for victory there, according to a new FOX News poll.

Overall, the president's plan receives only minority support, and that comes mainly from his party faithful. A large part of the public's opposition to the plan could be based on the fact that most see it as a continuation of the same strategy, rather than as a real change.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from January 16 to January 17. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

By 59 percent to 36 percent, Americans oppose sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, not only because most believe it is unlikely the plan will succeed, but also because few voters see the plan Bush announced last week as a significant change to current policy.

UDPATE II -- Jan. 25: Bush publicly stated he has no intentions of going into Iran to stop the flow of weapons, explosives, and jihadists into Iraq, confirming that he has no plans to do what is necessary to win. From CNN: U.S. troops allowed to kill Iranians plotting attacks in Iraq.

"Some are trying to say that because we're helping ourselves in Iraq by stopping outside influence from killing our soldiers or hurting Iraqi people that we want to expand this beyond the borders," Bush said.

"That's a presumption that's simply not accurate. We believe that we can solve our problems with Iran diplomatically.

Posted by Forkum at 05:53 PM

January 15, 2007

Daniel Ortega


From Reuters: Iran, Nicaragua leaders tour slums, share goals.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a U.S. foe, toured shantytowns with Nicaragua's leftist President Daniel Ortega on Sunday and said the two countries share common interests and enemies.

On his second trip to Latin America in four months, Ahmadinejad called Ortega, a former Cold War opponent of Washington and part of a growing wave of leftist presidents in the region, a symbol of justice in Nicaragua.

"We have to give each other a hand," Ahmadinejad told reporters. "We have common interests, common enemies and common goals."

While distrusted by Washington, oil-exporting Iran's Ahmadinejad is welcomed in many Latin American countries where leftist leaders are trying to reduce U.S. influence.

Ahmadinejad, an ex-soldier, and Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, both came to power on populist platforms.

Ortega drove Ahmadinejad on a tour of Managua's poorest slums, past houses made of plastic sheets and Sandinista supporters waving banners and holding up photographs of the Iranian leader.

Ortega, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, began his term last week after winning November's election on promises to fight hunger and corruption.

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

Posted by Forkum at 07:26 PM

January 14, 2007

Belly Up


From CNN: Venezuela to nationalize 'absolutely all' energy sector.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said on Saturday the country's entire energy sector had to be nationalized, reinforcing his socialist revolution and possibly giving himself more targets for state take-over.

But he said he would permit foreign firms to hold minority stakes in energy deals.

The anti-U.S. leader, in power since 1999, this week announced he would nationalize power utilities and the country's biggest telecommunications firm, confirming his status as the catalyst of Latin America's swing to the left.

"We have decided to nationalize the whole Venezuelan energy and electricity sector, all of it, absolutely all," Chávez said in his annual state of the nation address to parliament, potentially opening up more projects for state acquisition in the No. 4 crude exporter to the United States.

The president was reinaugurated this week for a term that runs through 2013.

Chávez has already pursued oil and gas projects and power utilities but on Saturday left no leeway for a private company to hold a majority in operations anywhere in the energy sphere.

What will be targeted?
It was not immediately clear whether his pronouncement on nationalizing the whole sector was a precursor to moves against specific projects or companies.

Venezuela will have to judge how closely private firms must be connected to the country's oilfields, refineries, pipelines, gasoline stations and coal mines to count as targets for nationalization.

Huge oil service companies such as Halliburton and Schlumberger operate in Venezuela but Chávez gave no indication whether deals involving such businesses were now in his sights.

Also from CNN: Venezuela, Iran to finance opposition to U.S..

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- fiery anti-American leaders whose moves to extend their influence have alarmed Washington -- said Saturday they would help finance investment projects in other countries seeking to thwart U.S. domination.

The two countries had previously revealed plans for a joint $2 billion fund to finance investments in Venezuela and Iran, but the leaders said Saturday the money would also be used for projects in friendly countries throughout the developing world.

"It will permit us to underpin investments ... above all in those countries whose governments are making efforts to liberate themselves from the [U.S.] imperialist yoke," Chavez said.

"This fund, my brother," the Venezuelan president said, referring affectionately to Ahmadinejad, "will become a mechanism for liberation."

"Death to U.S. imperialism!" Chavez said.

Ahmadinejad, who is starting a tour of left-leaning countries in the region, called it a "very important" decision that would help promote "joint cooperation in third countries," especially in Latin America and Africa.

Posted by Forkum at 05:16 PM

January 11, 2007

The 800-Pound Guerrilla

I'm not at all hopeful about Bush's "new" Iraq strategy. It did have a few long-overdue elements, such as an ultimatum for the Iraqi government to disarm militias and take control of security. And Iran and Syria finally appeared to be on Bush's military radar. This News Max article highlights those comments: Bush Targets Iran in Speech, Implies Military Action.

[Bush] singled out Iran, adding that she "is providing material support for attacks on American troops."

Bush made an implied military threat against [Iran and Syria]: "We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

That's fine as far as it goes, but it won't be enough. And not being enough, it will continue to drag out the war and put American troops at unnecessary risks.

Bush says we will "interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria" and "destroy the networks providing weaponry and training." The plan, it appears, is to limit our military to attacks against terrorists and their supply lines within Iraq and refrain from attacking the source of those terrorists and supply lines: Iran. Bush is attempting to cure the symptoms while ignoring the disease. As such, the weapons and terrorists will keep flowing across the border, and the chaos in Iraq, though it may rise and fall, will ultimately continue because Iran needs it to continue. How can we expect our troops to win a war in which we don't allow them to directly attack the enemy?

In World War II, we didn't stop with engaging enemy soldiers at the front lines; nor did we stop at disrupting their supply lines. We took the fight all the way to the weapons factories and the command centers from which the war emanated.

Bush did imply that more might be in the works regarding Iran, saying:

We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.

But why should we put any confidence in such moves being the start of an offensive against Iran? Bush has so far merely waged a war of words with Iran and done nothing to punish the Islamic state for the Americans it has murdered. Furthermore, I think Bush gave us a glimpse of his approach when he said in his speech:

Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship.

But why not? Why shouldn't Ahmadinejad and his Supreme Leader sign an unconditional surrender? For that is exactly what needs to happen. Bush was referring to terrorists within Iraq with his comment, but it's nonetheless apparent that he does not see the crucial necessity of totally defeating Iran, which is not only killing Americans in Iraq, which Bush freely admits, but is also the primary state sponsor of Islamic totalitarianism. He is still narrowly focused on Iraq as if it's not part of a regional, state-sponsored proxy war. Remember the Bush Doctrine and not tolerating state sponsors of terrorism? I do.

Iran is fighting to defeat us in Iraq, and they have demonstrated time and again a determination to succeed. To top it all off, they are also seeking nuclear weapons. The only way to secure Iraq--and, more importantly, America--is to topple the Iranian regime. Tragically, nothing in Bush's new strategy indicates a plan to go as far as is needed.

At NRO, Andrew C. McCarthy expresses a similar sentiment: Don’t Get Too Excited about the President’s Warning to Iran and Syria. (via Jihad Watch)

At a background briefing before the president’s speech, administration officials, quite appropriately, refused to get into what the new strategy for dealing with Iran and Syria precisely entails. But it was fairly clear that military steps outside Iraq are highly unlikely.

And here are two articles that make the case for taking the war to Iran. The first is from Real Clear Politics: To Win in Baghdad, Strike at Tehran by Robert Tracinski.

If [Bush] wants to succeed in Iraq, he has to do something now. So we can expect President Bush to go big, ordering a "surge" in US combat troops in Iraq.

But there is another, far more effective option: go wide.

Going wide means recognizing that Iraq is just one front in a regional war against an Islamist Axis centered in Iran--and we cannot win that war without confronting the enemy directly, outside of Iraq.

Going wide means recognizing that the conflict in Iraq is fueled and magnified by the intervention of Iran and Syria. One of the reasons the Iraq Study Group report flopped was that its key recommendation--its one unique idea--was for America to negotiate with Iran and Syria in order to convince these countries to aid in the "stabilization" of Iraq. This proposal wasn't so much argued to death as it was laughed to death, because it is clear that Iran and Syria have done everything they can to de-stabilize Iraq, supporting both sides of the sectarian conflict there. ...

Every day, we see the disastrous results of fighting this war narrowly inside Iraq while ignoring the external forces that are helping to drive it. ...

Going wide also means recognizing that more is at stake in this war than just the fate of Iraq. This is a war to determine who and what will dominate the Middle East. Will this vital region be dominated by a nuclear-armed Iran, working to spread Islamic fascism? Or will America be able to exert its military influence and political ideals in the region?

This second article I've linked to twice before but it deserves revisiting. From The Objective Standard: "No Substitute for Victory": The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism by John Lewis:

We must demand the unconditional surrender of the Islamic State in Iran--and of every other Islamic Totalitarian State on earth--to the legitimate laws of man, the laws that protect individual rights.

Dr. Lewis posted a follow-up to this article at Jihad Watch.

Islam itself is stateless, meaning that it respects no borders. It was designed precisely to rise above ethnic / tribal / clan groups, to unite all those who submit to Allah. We have to adopt the same attitude, only with freedom and individual rights as our central ideals. By defining the enemy as Islamic Totalitarianism -- meaning, government imposition of Islamic Law -- we exempt no such state from our reach, and yet allow every state a chance to avoid the title and our action.

Related, FOX News reports: U.S. Forces Detain 5 Iranian Diplomatic Staffers in Overnight Raid in Northern Iraq.

UPDATE I -- Jan. 12: Some Senators are indicating they are against engaging Iran militarily. And Gates provides a confirmation that the present plan is to work only within Iraq. From CNN: Senators to Bush: Stay out of Iran (via LGFer Killian Bundy).

President Bush's warnings to Iran and Syria to not interfere in Iraq and the arrest of six Iranians in Iraq by U.S. troops raised eyebrows Thursday on Capitol Hill, where senators warned Bush against widening the nearly four-year-old war.

Sen. Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Bush did not have the authority to send U.S. troops on cross-border raids.

"I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority to do that," Biden, D-Delaware, said during a Thursday hearing on Iraq. ...

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the House Armed Services Committee that U.S. troops are trying to crack down on the spread of Iranian-supplied explosives into Iraq, and the administration is "making it clear that those who are involved in activities that cost the lives of American soldiers are going to be subject to actions on the part of the United States inside Iraq." [Emphasis added]

UPDATE II -- Jan. 14: More signals coming from the White House that it doesn't want to treat Iran as the hostile regime it is. From CNN: White House: Can't rule out attack on Iran.

The White House said Sunday it is not planning military action against Iran, but refused to rule out the possibility, bucking pressure from several senators who said the administration is not authorized to do so.

Asked whether the United States is preparing for a potential military conflict with Iran, President Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley told NBC's "Meet the Press," "No, the president has said very clearly that the issues we have with Iran should be solved diplomatically."

But, on ABC's "This Week," Hadley would not rule out the possibility of such an attack and would not say whether he agrees with those senators who say that the Bush administration would need congressional backing for such a move.

The really scary aspect of all this is that the "we have no plans to attack Iran" line is supposed to be reassuring to some.

Posted by Forkum at 05:43 PM

January 10, 2007

Militant Message


This cartoon was originally posted on August 27, 2006 and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our new book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

Long-overdue from the Iraq government: Iraq PM tells Shiite militias to give up. (via Little Green Footballs)

Iraq's prime minister has told Shiite militiamen to surrender their arms or face an all-out assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday, as President Bush said he will commit an additional 21,500 American combat troops to the war.

Under pressure from the U.S., Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to crack down on fighters controlled by his most powerful political ally, Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric, according to officials. Previously, al-Maliki had resisted the move.

"Prime Minister al-Maliki has told everyone that there will be no escape from attack," said a senior Shiite legislator and close al-Maliki adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak for the prime minister. "The government has told the Sadrists: 'If we want to build a state we have no other choice but to attack armed groups.'"

In his address to the nation Wednesday evening — exerpts of which were released in advance by the White House — the president said al-Maliki had promised that U.S. forces would have a free hand and that "political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated."

Following through on this is another matter entirely. We'll see.

Posted by Forkum at 07:45 PM

January 09, 2007

Cut and Run


From CNN: Democrats considering ways to block escalation of war.

As President Bush prepares to announce an increase in the number of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq, some Democrats say they would consider blocking funding for the escalation.

When asked whether Congress would consider cutting off the funds, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "We're going take a look at it, of course."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said his "office is now investigating what tools are available to us to condition or constrain appropriations" for the surge in troops. But he cautioned he doesn't want troops already in Iraq to be "shortchanged."

"So it creates a difficult situation for Democrats," he said.

Aware of this concern, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, told reporters at a Capitol news conference Monday, "Democrats will not cut off funding for our troops."

But, an aide later explained, the speaker is open to restricting money for the escalation, after hearings on the president's new plan.

"We will always support the troops who are there," Pelosi said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday. But, Pelosi added, "If the president wants to expand the mission, that's a conversation he has to have with the Congress of the United States.

But that's not ... a blank check to him to do whatever he wishes there."

Bush is scheduled to introduce his new Iraq strategy Wednesday night.

From CNN: Soldiers tell Gates more troops needed in Iraq.

Posted by Forkum at 03:51 PM

January 08, 2007

Zalmay Khalilzad


From FOX News: Bush to Nominate Khalilzad as United Nations Ambassador.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Monday that President Bush will nominate Zalmay Khalilzad to be the U.S. envoy to the United Nations and Ryan Crocker will replace him as U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Both changes were revealed in news reports last week. The White House on Monday also issued a written statement of the president's intent.

Rice said she has trust and confidence in both men, who will have a lot of work since much remains to be done at the United Nations and in the Middle East.

“Zal has performed heroically and at great personal risk to help Iraqi reformers and responsible leaders build a foundation of democracy in their country,” Rice said in an afternoon statement to reporters. “Ryan will be a demanding boss in our embassy, you can be sure of that, but a fair and inspiring one."

Khalilzad, who is Afghan born, has also served as ambassador to Afghanistan. He will replace John Bolton, who could not win Senate confirmation and resigned last month as his temporary appointment as U.N. ambassador was about to expire.

Bolton said he hopes the Senate moves quickly to confirm Khalilzad.

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

Posted by Forkum at 07:46 PM

January 07, 2007

Saber Rattling

From Fox News: Report: Israel Planning, Training for Low-Level Nuke Strike Against Iran.

Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons, according to a report in the Sunday Times of London.

The paper cites several Israeli military sources saying that two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry denied the report.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said it would not respond to the story. ...

According to the Sunday Times, under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

“As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70 feet of concrete and rock.

However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

From Ynet News: Iranian official: If threatened, we will use nuclear weapons.

Iran's chief nuclear envoy Ali Larijani said on Friday that Iran is committed to the peaceful use of nuclear technology but warned the situation could change if his country is threatened.

"We oppose obtaining nuclear weapons and we will peacefully use nuclear technology under the framework of the Nonproliferation Treaty, but if we are threatened, the situation may change," He told a news conference after two days of talks in Beijing.

Iran's nuclear chief said his country has produced and stored 250 tons of the gas used as the feedstock for uranium enrichment, state-run television reported Friday.

Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Iran has kept the uranium hexaflouride gas, or UF-6, in underground tunnels at a nuclear facility in Isfahan to protect it from any possible attack.

UPDATE -- Jan. 9: At Israel Matzav, some questions raised about the writer who broke this story (via Soccer Dad). I guess we can only hope that Israel has such a plan.

Posted by Forkum at 05:09 PM

January 04, 2007

Madame Speaker


Today Rep. Nancy Pelosi made history by becoming the first female Speaker of the House. Yesterday...

[S]he alluded to one of the reasons women have been slow to climb the political ladder, saying federal policy has never recognized women's need for child care. "This Congress is going to be about children," she said.

In other words, congress is going to be about expanding socialistic entitlements, and children will be used as the rationalization. But apparently "anti-war" leftists have different priorities: Sheehan, Iraq War Protesters Break Up House Democrats' Press Conference.

Iraq war protesters broke up a press conference by House Democrats on Wednesday with chants to bring American troops home from Iraq.

Chanting "de-escalate, investigate, troops home now," the protesters disrupted a briefing aimed at outlining priority goals when Democrats take over the House and Senate on Thursday.

Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war activist and mother of a soldier who died in Iraq, led the group to Capitol Hill to warn Democrats that party activists expect them to end the war in Iraq and confront the White House on a change in Iraq strategy.

"We didn't put you in power to work with the people that have been murdering hundreds of thousands of people since they have been in power," Sheehan said. "We put you in power to be opposition to them finally and we're the ones who put them in power."

Posted by Forkum at 04:22 PM

January 03, 2007



This cartoon was originally posted on May 15, 2005 and is one of over 400 illustrations you'll find in our new book Black & White World III, which can be ordered via Cox & Forkum, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

From Reuters: FBI: Guantanamo interrogator squatted over Koran. (via Little Green Footballs)

FBI agents at Guantanamo saw a military interrogator squat over the Koran in order to anger a prisoner and observed a detainee whose head was wrapped in duct tape, according to recently released FBI documents from a 2004 internal inquiry.

The documents stemmed from a survey of nearly 500 FBI employees who were asked if they saw any aggressive interview techniques, interrogations or mistreatment of prisoners at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. More than 25 incidents were reported. ...

One military interrogator squatted over the Koran which "incensed" the prisoner, the document said.

Posted by Forkum at 08:56 PM

January 02, 2007

Somalian Front


From CNN: Somalia's prime minister: Major fighting over.

Somalia's prime minister said Tuesday he does not expect any more major fighting against rival Islamic fighters, and his Ethiopian military backer described the operation as within weeks of being completed.

With attention shifting to suspected al Qaeda fighters believed to be sheltered by the hard-line group, a security official in neighboring Kenya said 10 foreigners who had fought with Somalia's Islamic movement had been captured. They had told interrogators the militia was doomed by internal rifts, the official added.

Government forces, backed by Ethiopian troops, were pursuing the remnants of an Islamic militia that until two weeks ago controlled most of southern Somalia.

Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said some of the militiamen offered to surrender Tuesday.

"We asked our troops to collect them and bring them back home," he said, refusing to provide any details about how many fighters were involved or where they were.

The rest of the "Islamists are scattered in the bush," he said. "Maybe small fights can take place, but we are trying to destroy them."

In the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told his parliament his troops were not peacekeepers, and it would be too costly to keep them in Somalia for much longer. He called on the international community to act quickly to send in peacekeepers to avoid a vacuum.

From CBC News: Kenya arrests as many as 2 men with Canadian passports: reports. (via Little Green Footballs)

As many as two Somali Islamic fighters who claim to be Canadian were among 10 fighters arrested by Kenyan police, according to separate reports Tuesday.

The 10 were arrested on Monday at the Liboi border crossing in Kenya as they tried to flee Somalia, the Kenya Daily Nation reported.

Two were reportedly carrying Canadian passports, while the remaining eight were said to have Eritrean passports. According to the newspaper, all 10 militants were being detained in the Kenyan town of Garissa. It is not known whether they have been charged.

Posted by Forkum at 04:58 PM

January 01, 2007

John Edwards


From AP: Edwards pushing universal health care.

Democratic presidential contender John Edwards says it is more important to invest in universal health care and lifting people out of poverty than to reduce the budget deficit.

The 2004 vice presidential nominee said in an interview broadcast Sunday said "there is a tension" between the two directions, but he has made his choice.

"If I were choosing now between which is more important, I think the investments are more important," he said on ABC's "This Week."

Edwards' proposal, which includes tax cuts and a million housing vouchers for the poor, may place him at odds with Democrats in charge of the congressional spending committees.

I'm hoping the negative reaction to this idea is even stronger than it was when Hillary tried it in the '90s.

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

Posted by Forkum at 07:57 PM