May 31, 2007

Unreasonable

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From Real Clear Politics: Al Gore's Insolent Assault on Reason by Robert Tracinski.

Early coverage of Al Gore's new book, The Assault on Reason, has focused on the fact that the book is largely an assault on the Bush administration. But they have glossed over the most significant and alarming theme that Al Gore has taken up: his alleged defense of "reason" includes a justification for government controls over political speech.

Judging from the excerpts of Gore's book published in TIME, his not-so-subtle theme is that reason is being "assaulted" by a free and unfettered debate in the media -- and particularly by the fact that Gore has to contend with opposition from the right-leaning media. ... [And] if the left isn't winning in the marketplace of ideas, there can't possibly be anything wrong with their ideas. It must be the marketplace itself that is "broken," and the left needs to use the power of government to fix it -- in both senses of the word "fix." ...

For decades, the left has dominated the intelligentsia: the media, the universities, and the other institutions that provide credentials for "experts" -- another term Al Gore has been harping on. This leads the left to act as if the latest consensus among its favored experts -- whether it be the superiority of socialized medicine or the imminent threat of global warming -- must be what every "rational" and well-informed person thinks, because it is the consensus of the elite.

Thus "reason," as Al Gore uses the term, refers to the ability of the leftist elite to impose its conventional dogmas on the national debate, without the need to persuade or convince others.

In reality, a genuine respect for reason starts with an absolute respect for the mind and judgment of the individual. A respect for reason requires the subordination of coercion to persuasion through the strict limitation of government power. A respect for reason requires a commitment to liberty above all else.

Al Gore stands for the exact opposite.

Meanwhile, another "assault" on Gore's "reason": NASA's Top Official Questions Global Warming.

NASA administrator Michael Griffin is drawing the ire of his agency's preeminent climate scientists after apparently downplaying the need to combat global warming.

In an interview broadcast this morning on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program, Griffin was asked by NPR's Steve Inskeep whether he is concerned about global warming.

"I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists," Griffin told Inskeep. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

"To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change," Griffin said. "I guess I would ask which human beings where and when are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

And from World Net Daily: Light-bulb ban craze exceeds disposal plans.

As state and foreign governments enact forced phase-outs of incandescent light bulbs, consumers are being kept in the dark about the many downsides of compact fluorescent lamps, replacements being billed as an environmental and energy-savings panacea.

Across the U.S., schoolchildren are being urged to replace incandescent light bulbs in their homes, state legislatures are following the leads of foreign governments in banning the sale of the bulbs in the future and the federal Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency are highly recommending the switch to CFLs. Businesses like Wal-Mart are also pushing CFLs hard, as are environmental groups. But safe disposal plans and recycling centers for the mercury-laden compact fluorescent lamps, seen as the future, lag behind the hype.

So, too, does the truth about what will become mandatory, fine-imposed handling requirements for CFLs by homeowners and businesses.

Posted by Forkum at 02:12 PM

May 30, 2007

Show of Grief

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This cartoon was originally posted on August 14, 2005, 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 CNN: Anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan gives up her protest.

Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became an anti-war leader after her son was killed in Iraq, declared Monday she was walking away from the peace movement.

She said her son died "for nothing."

Sheehan achieved national attention when she camped outside President Bush's home in Crawford, Texas, throughout August 2005 to demand a meeting with the president over her son's death.

While Bush ignored her, the vigil made her one of the most prominent figures among opponents of the war.

But in a Web diary posted to the liberal online community Daily Kos on Monday, Sheehan said she was exhausted by the personal, financial and emotional toll of the past two years.

She wrote that she is disillusioned by the failure of Democratic politicians to bring the unpopular war to an end and tired of a peace movement she said "often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

Casey Sheehan, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in an April 2004 battle in Baghdad. His death prompted his mother to found Gold Star Families for Peace.

But in Monday's 1,200-word letter, titled, "Good Riddance Attention Whore," Sheehan announced that her son "did indeed die for nothing." ...

Sheehan warned that the United States was becoming "a fascist corporate wasteland," and that onetime allies among Bush's Democratic opposition turned on her when she began trying to hold them accountable for bringing the 4-year-old war to a close.

Posted by Forkum at 04:35 PM

May 29, 2007

Totalitarian TV

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From AFP: Venezuela protests TV clampdown by Chavez.

President Hugo Chavez's clampdown on opposition television stations widened Monday as police used rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators protesting what they called an attack on free speech.

Venezuela levied charges against US cable network CNN for linking Chavez to Al-Qaeda terror network headed by Osama bin Laden. The move came just hours after the shutting-down of the country's oldest television station, the openly anti-government Radio Caracas Television network.

The government also accused Venezuelan TV network Globovision of encouraging any would-be assassins of the president. ...

On Monday several people were injured as police in Caracas fired rubber bullets and tear gas to put down a demonstration against the RCTV shutdown, following the fifth straight day of protests.

A policeman's leg was broken in the fracas, a police official said.

RCTV was replaced by TVes, a state-backed "socialist" station which opened with cultural shows. Chavez supporters held a huge, night-to-dawn public party outside the network studios to celebrate the birth of the new "socialist television" and the end of the bitterly anti-Chavez media outlet.

TVes president Lil Rodriguez said the move reflected "our sovereignty."

The government will now control two of the four nationwide broadcasters in Venezuela, one of them state-owned VTV.

UPDATE I -- May 30: More at Tman and Jeff's Garage & Ale House.

UPDATE II: From FOX News: Venezuelan Opposition Leader Demands Hugo Chavez Free Jailed Protesters.

Posted by Forkum at 03:03 PM

May 28, 2007

Grave Indifference

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It's bad enough that the Bush Administration actually thinks talking with Iran is going to stop them from killing even more of our troops in Iraq. Worse still, these talks officially end our diplomatic isolation of Iran since 1979 when the Iranians took Americans hostage. But it is flat out obscene that the talks were held on Memorial Day. There are Americans at gravesides today mourning loved ones who were cut down by Iranian-backed militias.

Bush further demonstrates that he is more concerned about politics and diplomacy than he is about stopping the enemy using as few American lives as possible.

From FOX News: U.S. Ambassador: Talks With Iran Were 'Successful' and 'Businesslike'.

The United States ambassador in Baghdad said he and his Iranian counterpart agreed broadly on policy toward Iraq during four-hour groundbreaking talks on Monday, but insisted that Iran end its support for militants.

During a meeting that U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker described as businesslike, the American said Iran proposed setting up a "trilateral security mechanism" that would include the U.S., Iraq and Iran. Crocker said the proposal would need study in Washington.

"We will consider that when we receive it," Crocker told reporters in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone. "The purpose this meeting was not to arrange other meetings," he said.

The U.S. envoy also said he told the Iranians their country needed to stop arming, funding and training the militants.

"This is about actions not just principles, and I laid out to the Iranians direct, specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq and their support for militias that are fighting Iraqi and coalition forces," Crocker told a Green Zone news conference. ...

Monday's talks, as predicted, had a pinpoint focus: What Washington and Tehran -- separately or together -- could do to contain the sectarian conflagration in Iraq.

"The American side has accusations against Iran and the Iranian side has some remarks on the presence of the American forces on Iraqi lands, which they see as a threat to their government," al-Dabagh said.

But much more encumbers the narrow agenda -- primarily Iran's nuclear program and more than a quarter-century of diplomatic estrangement after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.

Further, the Iranian Shiite theocracy fears the Bush administration harbors plans for regime change in Tehran and could act on those desires as it did against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Washington and its Sunni Arab allies, on their side, are deeply unnerved by growing Iranian influence in the Middle East and the spread of increasingly radical Islam.

Compounding all that is Iran's open hostility to Israel.

Related posts on this topic:
The Iraq Talks
Unresponsive
Then & Now
Snow Gray

Posted by Forkum at 02:34 PM

May 26, 2007

Memorial Day

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For this Memorial Day, we decided to acknowledge the man credited with starting the day, General John A. Logan. From Wikipedia: Memorial Day.

The official birthplace of Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York. The village was credited with being the birthplace because it observed the day on May 5, 1866, and each year thereafter, and because it is likely that the friendship of General John Murray, a distinguished citizen of Waterloo, and General John A Logan, who led the call for the day to be observed each year and helped spread the event nationwide, was a key factor in its growth.

General Logan had been impressed by the way the South honored their dead with a special day and decided the Union needed a similar day. Reportedly, Logan said that it was most fitting; that the ancients, especially the Greeks, had honored their dead, particularly their heroes, by chaplets of laurel and flowers, and that he intended to issue an order designating a day for decorating the grave of every soldier in the land, and if he could he would have made it a holiday.

Logan had been the principal speaker in a citywide memorial observation on April 29, 1866, at a cemetery in Carbondale, Illinois, an event that likely gave him the idea to make it a national holiday. On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization, Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" be observed nationwide. It was observed for the first time on May 30 of the same year; the date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of a battle. The tombs of fallen Union soldiers were decorated in remembrance of this day. ...

The alternative name of "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882, but did not become more common until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, the United States Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved four holidays from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend.

Related links:
History Channel: Memorial Day
U.S. Memorial Day History

Some of our past cartoons for Memorial Day:

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Posted by Forkum at 09:00 AM

May 24, 2007

Torn

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From CNN: Dems in tough spot with war funding bill.

Democrats in Congress face a tough decision on a bill funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that does not include a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Vote "yes," and they are certain to face the wrath of anti-war forces in their political base.

Vote "no," and they may further delay funding for military operations, in turn exposing themselves to the charge that they don't support the troops.

Considering those unhappy options, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate decided Tuesday to remove timetables from the bill. President Bush has promised to veto the bill if it does include a withdrawal deadline, a move that would mean delaying much-needed funding for military operations.

But conveying the Democratic leadership's hesitation to the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said members would not be forced into voting for the bill.

"I'm not likely to vote for something that doesn't have a timetable or a goal of coming home," Pelosi said.

Anti-war groups are furious at the decision of Democratic leaders to remove the timetables. MoveOn.org released a statement saying it would consider recruiting primary challengers to lawmakers who support the bill, as well as advertising against them in their districts or states.

"Voters elected Democrats in November to lead the way out of the mess in Iraq," said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action, who decried the bill as "just a blank check for an endless war."

The pressure the funding measure is putting on Democratic senators running for president was clearly evident Wednesday.

UPDATE: From CNN: House, Senate pass war funding bill.

The House and Senate passed Thursday night a $120 billion war-spending bill that had been the primary point of contention between Democrats and President Bush.

The bill now goes before the president.

The vote in the Senate was 80 to 14.

The money would fund military operations -- mostly in Iraq -- through September, or the end of the federal fiscal year. Afghanistan would receive a portion of the funding.

The president gave the bill his support Thursday during a news conference. ...

The measure passed the House in two votes: the first approved a $2.10-per-hour minimum wage increase, bringing it up to $7.25, along with about $20 billion in domestic spending.

The second appropriated nearly $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The first vote was 348-73; the second was 280-142, with 140 of more than 230 Democrats in the House voting against the war spending portion.

Among those voting no was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the call for benchmarks -- which originated with Senate Republicans, and can be waived by the president -- a "fig leaf" that failed to effectively change the course of the war.

Posted by Forkum at 03:42 PM

May 23, 2007

Cornutopia?

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From Townhall.com: The Many Myths of Ethanol by John Stossel.

If ethanol's so good, why does it need government subsidies? Shouldn't producers be eager to make it, knowing that thrilled consumers will reward them with profits?

But consumers won't reward them, because without subsidies, ethanol would cost much more than gasoline.

The claim that using ethanol will save energy is another myth. Studies show that the amount of energy ethanol produces and the amount needed to make it are roughly the same. "It takes a lot of fossil fuels to make the fertilizer, to run the tractor, to build the silo, to get that corn to a processing plant, to run the processing plant," Taylor says.

And because ethanol degrades, it can't be moved in pipelines the way that gasoline is. So many more big, polluting trucks will be needed to haul it.

More bad news: The increased push for ethanol has already led to a sharp increase in corn growing which means much more land must be plowed. That means much more fertilizer, more water used on farms and more pesticides.

This makes ethanol the "solution"?

Posted by Forkum at 04:42 PM

May 22, 2007

Slave to Fashion

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From MEMRI (with photo): Police, Improperly Clad Women Clash In Tehran.

Male and female police officers clashed with women who were not dressed according to the Islamic dress code.

The clashes, which took place at Haft Tir Square in Tehran, came during the current Iranian security forces campaign to enforce the dress code.

One girl who refused to get into the police car was beaten by police, and removed from the area by civilians who were called to the scene.

Gateway Pundit has more: Iranian Official: Unveiled Women Are Animals.

News photos of Islamic dress code crackdown in Iran

From MEMRI: Video of Islamic dress code enforcement

From Iran Press News:
Photos of Iranians under attack by Islamic regime's guards for improper clothing
More photos of Islamic dress code enforcement
Video of woman being arrested as part of the dress code crack down
Video of another woman being kickd into a police car for wearing her hijad "incorrectly"
Video of Tehran university student protesting dress code and being accosted by a disciplinary guard

From Gulf News: Iran rejects US criticism of dress code.

Iran rejected on Sunday criticism by a US-based rights group over a crackdown on women flouting the strict Islamic dress code, saying the country's efforts were aimed at "fighting morally corrupt people." ...

In what has become a regular occurrence ahead of the warm summer months, police in April launched a campaign against the growing numbers of young women testing the limits of the law with shorter, brighter and skimpier clothing.

In the early days of the campaign, police said thousands of people had received warnings but it was not clear how many were detained. Human Rights Watch said "thousands" had been arrested.

Barbers have also been warned against offering "Western hair cuts" or plucking the eyebrows of their male customers, according to Iranian media.

From The Weekly Standard: The Subjection of Islamic Women, And the fecklessness of American feminism.

The subjection of women in Muslim societies--especially in Arab nations and in Iran--is today very much in the public eye. Accounts of lashings, stonings, and honor killings are regularly in the news, and searing memoirs by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi have become major best-sellers. One might expect that by now American feminist groups would be organizing protests against such glaring injustices, joining forces with the valiant Muslim women who are working to change their societies. This is not happening. ...

One reason is that many feminists are tied up in knots by multiculturalism and find it very hard to pass judgment on non-Western cultures. They are far more comfortable finding fault with American society for minor inequities (the exclusion of women from the Augusta National Golf Club, the "underrepresentation" of women on faculties of engineering) than criticizing heinous practices beyond our shores. The occasional feminist scholar who takes the women's movement to task for neglecting the plight of foreigners is ignored or ruled out of order.

A tip of the hat to Archimedes2 for suggesting that we parody the TV show What Not To Wear for this topic.

UPDATE: More at History News Network: MSM Ignores Iran's Terrorizing Its People.

Posted by Forkum at 04:20 PM

May 21, 2007

Guilt Complex

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From FOX News: Jimmy Carter Backtracks on Calling Bush Administration Worst in U.S. History.

Former President Jimmy Carter backed off Monday from harshly critical comments he made of President Bush over the weekend after the White House offered a biting rebuke to the former president by calling him "increasingly irrelevant."

"My remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted but I wasn't comparing the overall administration and certainly not talking about anyone personally," Carter said in an interview Monday when asked to explain.

The comments "were interpreted as comparing this whole administration to all other administrations when what I was actually doing was responding to a question about foreign policy between [President Richard] Nixon and this administration, and I think that this administration's foreign policy compared to Nixon's was much worse. ... I wasn't comparing this administration with other administrations throughout history but just with President Nixon's," he told NBC's "The Today Show."

Carter, whose administration was plagued by sky-high inflation and a 444-day American hostage crisis in Iran, was filling in a quote Saturday in which he said, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."

The Georgia Democrat said Bush had overseen an "overt reversal of America's basic values" as expressed by previous administrations, including that of his own farther, former President George H.W. Bush.

Including the rabbit may seem a bit random, so if you don't know the story, click here. From the site:

The entire episode became a symbol of Carter's floundering presidency. ... Carter biographer Douglas Brinkley says, "It just played up the Carter flake factor.... I mean, he had to deal with Russia and the Ayatollah and here he was supposedly fighting off a rabbit."

UPDATE -- May 22: From IBD Editorials: Look Who's Talking. (hat tip Jeff H.)

Apparently the man whose idea of leadership was to sit in front of a fireplace and blame everything on America's "malaise" does not consider Islamofascists turning passenger jets into manned cruise missiles and flying them into skyscrapers a direct threat.

Nor does he consider himself responsible for the chain of events that gave us not only 9/11, but al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hezbollah and a nuclear Iran and North Korea.

Posted by Forkum at 02:49 PM

May 20, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz

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From CNN: Wolfowitz to resign as World Bank chief.

Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz agreed to resign after weeks of controversy over his handling of a pay package for his girlfriend, a bank employee, the institution's board of directors announced.

In a statement announcing the decision Thursday, the bank said "a number of mistakes were made by a number of individuals" in the matter.

Wolfowitz said the bank board accepted his contention that he acted "ethically and in good faith."

In a written statement, Wolfowitz said his eventual successor will have his "full support." His resignation will take effect June 30.

As the largest shareholder in the bank, the United States appoints its president. After the announcement, the White House said President Bush "reluctantly accepts" Wolfowitz's resignation and would announce a replacement soon.

Wolfowitz said it is "necessary to find a way to move forward. To do that, I have concluded that it is in the best interests of those whom this institution serves for that mission to be carried forward under new leadership." (Wolfowitz's resignation statement)

"Change should not be feared, it is something to welcome. It is the key to keeping this important institution relevant and effective in the future and meeting the needs of the world's poor, and of humanity as a whole," the statement said.

Wolfowitz was appointed to the World Bank post in 2005 after serving as deputy U.S. defense secretary, where he was one of the leading architects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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

Posted by Forkum at 05:28 PM

May 17, 2007

Armed Forces Day

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This Saturday, May 19, is Armed Forces Day. For their dedication to protecting America, we offer our gratitude to all the men and women of the military, especially those risking their lives. From the Department of Defense.

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department -- the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. ...

The theme of the first Armed Forces Day was "Teamed for Defense." It was chosen as a means of expressing the unification of all the military forces under a single department of the government. Although this was the theme for the day, there were several other purposes for holding Armed Forces Day. It was a type of "educational program for civilians," one in which there would be an increased awareness of the Armed Forces. It was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job is performed and the role of the military in civilian life. It was a day for the military to show "state-of-the-art" equipment to the civilian population they were protecting. And it was a day to honor and acknowledge the people of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Other relevant links:
Heroes in the War on Terror
Dept. of Defense Images
Air Force Images
Army Images
Marine Images
Navy Images

A few military support links:

American Supports You, Our Military Men & Women

Project Valour-IT uses donations to purchase and shipment of voice-activated laptops for wounded servicemembers.

American Sniper

Proceeds of the book My Decision to Live by Nader Elguindi are being donated to non-profit groups supporting the wounded warriors at Walter Reed.

UPDATE -- May 19: Wide Awake Cafe has may related links.

Posted by Forkum at 03:29 PM

May 16, 2007

Gas Fumes

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This carrtoon was originally posted on April 25, 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 CNN: Gas prices hit another record high.

Gasoline prices hit a record high for the fourth straight day Wednesday, according to the daily reading on gas prices from AAA, and more records could be on the way.

From The Daily Record: N.J. moves against gas price gouging.

With gas prices increasing, New Jersey lawmakers moved Monday toward toughening gas gouging penalties that haven't been changed since Franklin D. Roosevelt was finishing his first term as president. ...

The state's gas gouging law makes it illegal to, among other things, display and charge different fuel prices and change the selling price more than once in any 24-hour period.

From the Ayn Rand Institute: Who Is Gouging Whom? by David Holcberg.

To "gouge" means to extort, to take by force--something that oil companies and gas stations have no power to do. Unlike a government, which can forcibly take away its citizens' money and dictate their behavior, an oil company can only make us an offer to buy its products, which we are free to reject.

Because sellers must gain the voluntary consent of buyers, and because the market allows freedom of competition, oil and gasoline prices are set, not by the whim of companies, but by economic factors such as supply and demand. If oil companies could set prices at will, surely they would have charged higher prices in the 1990s, when gasoline was under one dollar a gallon! ...

The true culprit that we should condemn for driving up prices is the government, which has engaged--with popular support--in the gouging of both the producers and consumers of gasoline.

Federal and state governments have long viewed gasoline taxes as a cash cow. In 2003, for instance, when the average retail price for a gallon of gasoline was $1.56, federal and state taxes averaged about $0.40 a gallon--which amounts to a far higher tax rate, 34 percent, than we pay for almost any other product. (Contrary to popular belief, gasoline taxes do not just pay for the roads we drive on; less than 60% of the gas-tax-funded "Highway Trust Fund" goes toward highways.)

Yogi Love has an excellent cartoon illustrating the above editorial.

UPDATE -- May 17: More at Jeff's Garage & Ale House: How About a Windfall Ignorance Tax?.

And from FOX News: AAA: More Americans to Hit the Road on Memorial Day Despite Gas Prices

Posted by Forkum at 04:11 PM

May 15, 2007

Postal Monopoly

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From CNN: Size matters, so does shape under new postal rates.

The postal rate increase that kicks in Monday is shaping up to be a big headache for many businesses.

Many companies say they are confused and frustrated as they try to adjust to the new rules, and some say mailings could be severely curtailed due to higher postage costs.

The new regulations mean larger envelopes and packages will automatically cost more than smaller mail. Currently, postage is determined by weight, unless it's an especially large or odd-shaped package that warrants special handling.

If your solution come Monday is to stuff the same amount of material into a smaller envelope, the Postal Service could get you there, too: There are new thickness restrictions.

For first-class, letter envelopes, the allowed thickness is a quarter inch. If you go over a quarter inch, you run into more costly large envelope or parcel rates.

Postal Service spokesman Dave Partenheimer said the new rates take shape into account because it requires more effort to process a larger piece of mail.

"Before, thickness didn't matter," he said. Now, "thickness does come into play. If it gets too thick you create a new shape."

Cindy Golebiewski, an office manager in Wilmington, Delaware, said her company faces much higher postage costs under the new rules.

"The price is just doubling," she said.

If not for the new thickness limits, "we would be better off stuffing a 6-by-9-inch envelope than putting it into a big brown envelope," she said.

The Direct Marketing Association in New York is "very, very unhappy," said spokeswoman Stephanie Hendricks. "The rates go into effect on Monday under protest."

From Capitalism Magazine a few years back: Privatize the US Postal Service
by James L. Gattuso.

A second, perhaps even more important step would be to repeal USPS' statutory monopoly on letter mail. Few firms enjoy this sort of legal protection. Potential competitors can literally go to jail if they carry letters. Allowing such competition would be good for USPS as well as for consumers -- after all, postal service's insulated status fostered much of its famous inefficiency in the first place. The fundamental culture of the organization needs to change, and that would be fostered by more competition, not continued protection.

Posted by Forkum at 03:11 PM

May 14, 2007

Hamas Kindergarten

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FOX News reported May 8: Hamas 'Mickey Mouse' Wants Islam Takeover.

Hamas militants have enlisted the iconic Mickey Mouse to broadcast their message of Islamic dominion and armed resistance to their most impressionable audience -- little kids.

A giant black-and-white rodent -- named "Farfour," or "butterfly," but unmistakably a Mickey ripoff -- does his high-pitched preaching against the U.S. and Israel on a children's show run each Friday on Al-Aqsa TV, a station run by Hamas. The militant group, sworn to Israel's destruction, shares power in the Palestinian government.

"You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," Farfour squeaked on a recent episode of the show, which is titled, "Tomorrow's Pioneers."

"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers."

Children call in to the show, many singing Hamas anthems about fighting Israel.

Israel has long complained that the Palestinian airwaves are filled with incitement.

An Israeli organization that monitors Palestinian media, Palestian Media Watch, said the Mickey Mouse lookalike takes "every opportunity to indoctrinate young viewers with teachings of Islamic supremacy, hatred of Israel and the U.S., and support of 'resistance,' the Palestinian euphemism for terror."

Hamas later announced that it would remove Jihad Mickey, but it didn't last long. FOX News reported this weekend: Hamas Continues Running Kids TV Show Featuring 'Mickey Mouse' Look-Alike Preaching Terror.

A weekly children's show on a Hamas-run TV station featuring a Mickey Mouse lookalike preaching Islamic domination was broadcast as usual Friday, two days after the Palestinian information minister said it would be suspended immediately.

The show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice, made headlines worldwide because the character has preached against Israel and the U.S. and urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It is broadcast on Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa TV.

Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction, shares power in the Palestinian government with the moderate Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti, an independent, said Wednesday that the show reflects a "mistaken approach" to the Palestinian struggle for independence and would be suspended immediately to allow for a review.

But the station's manager, Hazem al-Sharawi, said on Friday the show called "Tomorrow's Pioneers" has an educational message and will not be canceled.

Little Green Footballs has followed all the ins and outs of the story and has video (links start with oldest):

AP Notices Hamas Islamic Supremacism
AP Revised Headline: Hamas Mouse Preaches Resistance
Disney's Daughter: Hamas Mouse is 'Pure Evil'
Hamas TV Drops Death Cult Mickey
Outrage: CNN Covers Up Death Cult Mickey Mouse Video
The Protocols of the Daily Kos
Death Cult Mickey Still on the Air
AFP Dubs Hamas Mouse 'Resistance Mickey'
Video: Death Cult Mickey Still Teaching Islamic Supremacism
More Islamic Supremacism from Death Cult Mickey

John had a good alternate title for the cartoon: Tragic Kingdom.

Posted by Forkum at 03:55 PM

We're Back

Our hiatus is over, and we're getting back to our old schedule. Scroll up to see our latest cartoon (or click here).

John and I thoroughly enjoyed our time off from editorial cartooning. We tried to relax a little -- for me that meant avoiding the daily news as much as possible, for John that meant creating some new canvases. But we also worked on some side projects, which we'll talk about more in the coming weeks.

So keep checking back. We'll have another new cartoon sometime tomorrow.

Posted by Forkum at 03:52 PM

May 13, 2007

Nicolas Sarkozy

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From The Washington Times: France braces for reforms under Sarkozy

With election fever over, France speculates about whether the much-promised change by President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy is coming, and to what extent.

He has pledged a "rupture with the past" and new policies that some of his opponents say are likely to be brutal.

"Fasten your seat belts," warned a Socialist politician embittered by his party's third futile effort to win the presidency.

"Can Sarkozy transform his votes into a reform-ready majority of citizens?" asked another.

Mr. Sarkozy swept to power May 6 with a comfortable 53 percent of the votes, defeating Socialist rival Segolene Royal in a runoff election. The new leader promises to lift France out of economic stagnation, a crisis of confidence, and to improve relations with the United States.

The defeated and bruised Socialist Party immediately began plans for the June parliamentary elections that will determine Mr. Sarkozy's "elbow room" for the reforms he promises. He is scheduled to move into the Elysee presidential palace May 17 after a week of rest on a yacht in the Mediterranean.

The political horizon of the 52-year-old conservative president-elect is clouded by warnings of unrest in the "suburbs," the jerry-built, riot-scarred settlements on the outskirts of major cities, mainly housing poor immigrants from France's former colonies.

Mr. Sarkozy, as interior minister, clamped down on suburban rioting in the fall of 2005, promising to punish "the scum," as he termed the rebellious unemployed youths setting the suburbs on fire. His offensive epithet has not been forgotten.

Now, some of Mr. Sarkozy's opponents, including Miss Royal, forecast more polarization and riots in France's restive suburban slums.

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

Posted by Forkum at 10:58 AM

May 10, 2007

Race Baiting

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This carrtoon was originally posted on April 7, 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.

A marginally related story today, from CNN: Dale Earnhardt Jr. to leave DEI after season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will leave the company founded by his late father at the end of the year in a shake-up certain to ignite a bidding war for NASCAR's most popular driver. He told Dale Earnhardt Inc. on Thursday that he had decided to make the switch to another team when his contract expires, intent on going to a more competitive team. "At 32 years of age, the same age my father was when he made his final and most important career decision, it's time for me to compete on a consistent basis and contend for championships now," Earnhardt said at a news conference. "I believe I'd have my father's blessing." ...

"It's not the guy who gives me the biggest paycheck. It's the person I feel like will allow me to accomplish what I want to in my career, on the race track, in this shop itself," he said. "There's some things you can't get with money, peace of mind and satisfaction in what you do everyday. ... I'm seeking to have that peace of mind and that comfort to be able to really be an asset to somebody. I want to go somewhere and really make things happen for somebody."

Posted by Forkum at 02:55 PM

May 09, 2007

Some Assembly Required

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Here's another gag cartoon for the Buster McNutt humor column in AutoGraphic's Automotive Report.

Posted by Forkum at 03:14 PM

May 08, 2007

Tariq al-Hashimi

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From CNN: Iraqi leaders 'melt the ice' over threats to quit government.

A meeting Tuesday between Iraq's Shiite prime minister and the country's top Sunni official appeared to ease tensions over threats that the entire Sunni bloc could pull out of the government.

"The meeting was necessary to melt the ice that was accumulated over the brotherhood between me and my brother, the prime minister," said Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, after meeting with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Al-Hashimi previously told CNN if key amendments to the Iraq Constitution are not made by May 15, he will step down and pull his 44 Sunni politicians out of the 275-member Iraqi parliament.

Al-Hashimi's cooperation with the Shiite-led government is considered essential if there is to be a realistic chance of bridging the Shiite-Sunni divide in Iraq -- one of the key goals of the Bush administration.

The rhetoric the two imparted to reporters about the meeting included imagery of brotherhood, words that belied recent Sunni frustration over issues such as constitutional reform and the failure to be consulted by the government on security matters.

Fostering support among Sunnis is a major effort for the government, which held power in Iraq throughout the Saddam Hussein era. Many of the insurgents in the country -- which has a Shiite majority -- are Sunni militants and supporters of Hussein's Baathist party.

Al-Maliki said the pair reviewed security and political issues. ...

Al-Hashimi, meanwhile, said the meeting was frank but "encouraging and productive" and "that we are able to build a promising future based on the real partnership and mutual trust, which is very important to make the political project going on toward the good."

Al-Hashimi recently told CNN that he turned down an offer by President Bush to visit Washington until he can count more fully on U.S. help. He said he wants guarantees in the constitution that the country won't be split into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish federal states, which he says would disadvantage Sunnis.

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

Posted by Forkum at 03:12 PM

May 07, 2007

Arthur Szyk

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In July 2002, I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The museum itself was moving beyond description, and I highly recommend it, but also I was pleasantly surprised to discover there an art gallery featuring the exhibit The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk.

In exile from Poland during WWII, Arthur Szyk (pronounced "Shick") waged a battle against the Nazis with his cartoons. From the dust jacket of the exhibit's book:

Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was one of the most creative an determined political activists of his time. A gifted book illustrator and illuminator, a skillful caricaturist, and a crusader for causes, this multifaceted artist ceaselessly defended the rights of Jews and advocated on their behalf.

Skilled in medieval manuscript illumination and Persian miniature painting, Szyk redirected his artistry during World War II into political cartoons that unmasked the face of the Nazi enemy and mobilized popular opinion. Calling attention to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, he was determined not to "escape to still lifes, abstractions, and experiments" while darkness engulfed the world.

His caricatures became daily fare in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States. In the 1940s, Szyk's war-driven cartoons were published in Esquire, Collier's, Look, Liberty, Time and the Saturday Review of Literature. One magazine reported that Szyk cartoons were as popular as Betty Grable pin-ups for troops heading overseas.

I did not know about Szyk until I saw the exhibit and have since sought out his work. The editorial cartoon above is from his book The New Order (1941, G.P. Putnam's Sons), a collection of Szyk's wartime illustrations. You'll find a color version of the cartoon in the exhibit's book, which also states:

Szyk, for his part, created images that showed a valiant and defiant England fighting along against Nazi Germany. Though shaken by France's defeat, he retained an impassioned optimism in Britain's final victory. ...

Although Szyk's attitude toward Great Britain changed dramatically during the war over the issue of Jewish immigration to Palestine, he never lost faith in the ultimate victory of the Allies or in the just nature of their cause.

For more about Mr. Szyk and to see samples of his work, visit:

Arthur Szyk, Master Illuminator
Arthur Szyk, Artist for Freedom (Library of Congress)
The Arthur Szyk Society

And here's another post we created about him a few years back.

Posted by Forkum at 03:40 PM

May 03, 2007

Cease Process

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This cartoon was originally posted on February 10, 2005 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 AP last week: Hamas armed wing breaks truce.

Hamas's armed wing declared an end to a five-month-old Gaza ceasefire on Tuesday by firing rockets into

Israel, but the Palestinian government led by the Islamist group called for the truce to be restored.

Hamas's armed wing said it fired the rockets from the Gaza Strip in response to the killing of nine Palestinians over the weekend by Israeli forces.

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz warned the Palestinian unity government, formed last month by Hamas Islamists and President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah faction, against allowing additional rocket attacks.

The rockets caused minor damage but no injuries as the Jewish state celebrated its Independence Day.

"The violation of the truce is an exceptional event that will not last," Abbas said at a news conference in Rome. "I take this opportunity to appeal to Israel to show the necessary self-control so that this will not happen again."

Egyptian security officials in Gaza planned to meet on Wednesday with Hamas's armed wing and other militant groups to try to head off any further escalation.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was also expected to meet his security advisers to consider how to respond.

Peretz was quoted by Haaretz newspaper as saying the "Palestinian unity government will not provide any (Palestinian official) with immunity" if the rocket fire continues.

"There is no calm between us and the (Israeli) occupation. The occupation ended the calm," Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Hamas's armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, said after the group resumed rocket fire for the first time since the November truce took hold.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government later called for the ceasefire to remain in place.

Posted by Forkum at 03:00 PM

May 02, 2007

John's Sketchbook

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In a first for the Web site, above is a page from John's sketchbook. It's one of eleven 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.

In an interview in the book, John says:

My sketchbook is full of stuff that I make up, and thats my vacation from the realism that we try to put into our cartoons. Im just goofing around. ... I kind of use my sketchbook as a fuel source for the editorial cartoons. What Im not able to play with in our more serious cartoons, I immediately go to the sketchbook and kind of do a little workout. In fact, Id be willing to bet Im busiest in my sketchbook after one of our darker cartoons, when were trying to portray a certain amount of tragedy or some sort of travesty against people. Those drawings can get very dark. My sketchbook is a sort of therapy.

Posted by Forkum at 03:00 PM

May 01, 2007

Adel Abdul Mahdi

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Back in February, Mahdi was in the news for a bad reason. Milblogger Bill Roggio had coverage: Bombing targets Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq's Vice President.

An explosion at the Ministry of Public Works nearly assassinated Adel Abdul Mahdi, one of Iraq's two Vice Presidents, as well as Riad Ghraib, the Minister of Public Works. Twelve were killed and 42 wounded after a bomb placed in the ceiling of a ministry's conference room. Mahdi and Ghraig were both "lightly wounded" in the explosion, and were treated for "scratches" at U.S. military hospital.

The bombing was an inside job. "The explosion happened when the party arrived at the meeting room," reports the BBC. The bomb would have to have been planted by someone working inside the Ministry of Public Works, and the culprits would have needed to know the schedules of Vice President Mahdi and Minister Ghraib to properly time the attack.

Here is his Wikipedia entry: Adel Abdul Mahdi.

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

Posted by Forkum at 03:00 PM