Drew Sheneman offers an insightful comment on the street protests in Iran: A moderate (note the street clothes) Iranian attempting to confront a (clerically-garbed) hardliner who refuses to listen to him.
Other cartoonists, alas, seem to be whiffing, either because they honestly don't know what's going on, or because they have an agenda to pursue.
Moderate and hardline Iranians have been clashing in Iran since the revolution, and it's not always possible at this distance to know quite what the protests are about, and whether they are calling for overthrow or simply for reform.
Some American observers -- particularly Obama administration veterans -- are saying it's a time to observe and not interfere, for instance, Philip Gordon, who wrote:
On Friday night and again on Saturday, Mr. Trump sent out tweets calling on the Iranian government to “respect their people’s rights” and warning that “The world is watching!” That’s more than enough. At this stage, we have little idea what these protests are really about or where they will lead. But we can be fairly certain that high-profile public support from the United States government will do more harm than good.
This is being attacked by conservatives, including UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who insists it is a cry for "freedom" and has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the topic.
First of all, when a Trumpite speaks of "freedom," you should run it through your George Orwell Decoder Ring.
And you might ask how we'd have responded if Tehran had called for such a meeting in the wake of Charlestown or the Las Vegas shootings, but that would mostly be gamesmanship.
There is an issue, however, of how much our rhetoric provides cover for the regime, which is already claiming that the riots are caused not by their own unfairness but by American interference.
There is also the ethical issue of the degree to which "speaking up" requires you to know what the hell you're talking about.
For example, Mike Lester declares it a feminist protest against restrictive anti-feminist laws, and I'm okay with his opinion, though I think his hashtagged slogan over-focuses on that one aspect.
He is, however, quite correct to depict it as street-level people confronting a powerful, potentially violent government.
Fair commentary, though I think he oversimplifies. That is, I'm sure women's rights are in there, but only as one item on a much longer list. Still, I agree with him that we should empathize with the protesters.
But other commentators are piping up without knowing the basics. That's just wrong.
One of the factors the anti-Iran crowd continually misses is that there are two levels of government there, and that much of the distrust -- especially as seen in 2009 -- is over the way the Guardian Council has moved to dominate, rather than work with, the legislature.
I explained the way the mullahs gelded the Majlis in this 2004 piece for kids. It's a little dense for fifth graders to understand without a teacher's help, perhaps, but I would think grownups who comment on politics for a living would be able to process it.
Nor should they need my explanation: Failure to familiarize yourself with the dual structure of the Iranian government is, for commentators, flaming incompetence.
I even saw a cartoon that continues the idiotic, counterfactual nonsense that the Iranian cash returned as part of the nine-nation agreement was a gift or a bribe or whatever these jingoistic, flagwaving, incompetent chickenhawks decide to call it.
It may be simple ignorance.
It may be a deliberate lie.
It is not, however, a "difference of opinion."
Whether you think we should sit back or speak up, you should do some homework and behave with integrity and honesty.
Which leads us to another inescapable unpleasantness, as seen in this Ed Hall cartoon: We've got a President who is apparently not only incapable of acting with any sense of decorum but also of telling the truth.
We know that his staff can only keep him on task with dumbed-down briefings that include lots of pictures, lots of mentions of his name and very little bad news.
He seems incapable of telling the truth, but he's also not very good at hearing it, and that's an unhealthy combination.
It may be the explanation for his ridiculous, prideful tweet about having had no commercial airline deaths in the past year, which is complete and utter nonsense.
The Cheney Administration operated under the cover of an affable goof who you'd like to have a beer with. I think Harding and Grant filled much the same role.
But having the entire executive branch serve as a Potemkin Village Government to enable Republican legislators to rule seems ungainly.
In any case, since I doubt that "stupid," "vulgar" or "childish" are elements that trip the 25th Amendment, I'd like to get him under oath -- doesn't matter on what pretext -- and ask him three questions.
Color of the sky, name of the first president, what he had for breakfast.
I'm sure it would yield at least one and perhaps three openings to impeach him for the same thing Bill Clinton was hauled up on.
But I'm running out of words in more ways than one, so I'll yield my time on this topic to Clay Jones, who has a most wonderful rant on the topic already written and ready for your delectation.
And, finally --
Tom Tomorrow kicks off the New Year with a sad, true observation.
It's come to this. It's come to this.
And wasn't it a long way down?
And wasn't it a strange way down?