Q.  What is a haiku anyway?

A.  Haiku is a traditional Japanese poetic form consisting of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables respectively.

Q:  You claim these poems are haiku, but real haiku are supposed to invoke nature and have a poetic turn.  What's up with that?

A. We do take liberties with the traditional haiku poetic form, however, according to Webster's, haiku can also mean "a poem written in this [haiku] form."  So, really, any poem that has three lines of five, seven, and five syllables can be considered a haiku.

Q.  Why haikus?  Couldn't you just write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper?

A.  We certainly could, but where's the fun in that?  There's something of a challenge in putting our opinions into a strict and all too short format, and we think the haiku have better impact.  We hope these haiku are more entertaining and memorable than reading someone's political blog or the Times' opinion section.

Q.  I see a lot of pictures and haiku making fun of  my favorite politician or public figure.  What do you have against my favorite politician?

A.  Well, personally, probably nothing.  We try to be somewhat evenhanded in our  target selection but are limited by a lack of readily available photographs.  Since almost all photographs taken by federal employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain it's often easier to take the cheap shot at the most visible target.  We don't claim to be fair and balanced in doing this, but we will try to hit everyone from time to time as opportunities present themselves.  Being in the news or doing something particularly egregious or stupid will also catch our attention...

Q.  Speaking of the pictures, where'd you get them, and do you ask permission from the people in the photos before you use them?

A.  We cull our photos from many available public domain sources, usually web sites run by the federal government (whitehouse.gov, the Department of Defense, the State Department, etc.).  John Kerry and John Edwards' web page at  www.johnkerry.com also encourages people  to "Feel free to use these photos in print or electronic publications. We particularly invite individuals, local media, and school media to use them. Please credit Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. from Sharon Farmer."  We provide photo credits if at all possible, even for pictures in the public domain. On rare occasions when a picture is just too good to pass up, we purchase a license to use from the appropriate news agency, usually Reuters, or the Associated Press.   We don't ask permission of the people in the photographs if they're public figures and consequently we will sometimes be forced to obscure the face of people who aren't famous (and who are usually incidental to the photograph anyway).

Q.  The haiku you write suck.  I've got a better one.  Can I submit my haiku?

A.  Feel free to add your haiku to the comments section.  We'd get a kick out of reading them, and you're right, some are much better than ours.