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Keys to the Karzai

By Tom Toles



High and dry

They closed the pool I swim in for lack of water. I showed up one day, and it was empty. I stood there, staring at the odd sight and said a stupid thing to the guy there. "I guess there's no swimming today." But sometimes the dumb statement yields a helpful reply. He told me when it would reopen. On the other hand, we all know it won't actually be open by then.

I run into people all the time who swim for exercise. THEIR pools have water. While my body atrophies on dry land in the D.C. heat. When my friend Stephen mentioned HIS nice swim the other day, I said my pool was empty. He said swimming in an empty pool is the best! There was an awkward silence. He meant empty of people, I think. We didn't get into diving.

Speaking of thinking, swimming is only sort of good for thinking. It does tend to wash stress away and clear the mind, but there is the numbing washing machine churn of the repetitive strokes and the strange concentration required to remember what lap you are on. A clearer mind would be an excellent thing to bring to the American Public Discourse, if only that weren't another empty pool. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | September 9, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan  
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Next: A burning question

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We do not help anyone who is not perfect.

That makes it easy. If a perfect nation were to be out there - they would never need help.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 10, 2010 6:38 AM | Report abuse

"He is the most divisive President since Richard Nixon."

I have to ask, bobbo2, did you sleep through the W years who, together with Rove, created the toxic political climate we currently enjoy by deliberately primarying every moderate republican who refused to tow the party line?

Posted by: Kevin71707 | September 9, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Pearls of wisdom from Mr non-partisan, rational dialogue himself, bobbo2.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 9, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Public discourse would greatly improve if the Liberals would stop using character assassination with people who do not agree with them. To disagree with a Liberal you are greeted with racist, idiot, warmonger, fascist, and more of the same. It is old and it just doesn't work anymore. If the Left would end the name calling and knee jerk reaction to alternative opinions things might be more productive. President Obama campaigned on the notion that he would move beyond partisan dialogue. He has done nothing of the sort. He is the most divisive President since Richard Nixon.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 9, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Toles, it is difficult to have a ‘clear mind’ when it is constantly absorbing and being programmed since birth, hence baggage is always packed for the trip.
Also, as you mentioned, the constant ‘interruptions’, no matter how insignificant, tend to take control of one’s focus.
I agree a bit of “quiet contemplation,” no matter how one chooses to partake, would best serve not only the American Public Discourse but Public Discourse In General.

prairiedog60, I disagree with your comment about no one being aware of the Qur'an burning if it weren't for the press.

This "priest" and his 30 followers are 'religious' fanatics...and prepared to do an act of terrorism....oh yeah, that is considered their right. This is America after all isn't it.....

Posted by: bertzel | September 9, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

This is very funny!

Posted by: Bubba20 | September 9, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Karzai; always on his way to a "funny hat" convention somewhere...

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | September 9, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Nice cartoon Tom. And nice comment about the discourse being like an empty pool. I have to disagree slightly. It's not that there are no clear minds out there debating legitimate points rationally. The main problem is the nut jobs get the attention. Quiet, intelligent debate doesn't get ratings. But by golly, get a loon pastor with about 50 followers to burn a Koran, and you've got headlines! If the press wouldn't pay any attention to such idiots, then no one would even be aware of their moronic behavior.

Which is why it continues to baffle me that someone like Limbaugh gets any notice at all. He "claims" an audience of 20 million. Even if that's true (which it's not) and every single listener is of voting age, and every single one agrees with him (which they don't...some listen because they like train wrecks), then...if we assume all these things...his audience represents about 9% of the voting age public. And this is the kind of person we let control the debate (along with O'Reilly, Beck, etc...who have even smaller audiences).

I really hope Colbert and Stewart decide to have a huge rally ala Beckapalooza, as has been rumored. How funny it would be that a couple of political comedians can turn out just as many people as Beck. It might help put things in perspective.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | September 9, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Oh no! Fourth place in a world of 200+ countries! And ahead of us are only three small states with a combined population of maybe 6% of the USA's. If we're 4th, behind Sweden, Switzerland and Singapore, then where's Japan? China? Germany? France? The UK? Brazil? Canada? Italy? Russia? India?

Posted by: simpleton1 | September 9, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Toles, Here's a "tid-bit" I just read in WaPo to help clear your mind:

"Large deficits and a weakened financial system have made the United States less competitive in the global economy, the World Economic Forum said in its annual review of the competitiveness of countries.

The United States slipped from second to fourth in the survey, behind Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore. It had fallen from first place the year before.

The study includes statistical measures as well as a survey of business owners to compare countries. In the United States, the entrepreneurs cited access to credit and government regulation among their chief concerns.

But it was government debt and the country's overall economic outlook that pushed the United States down in the rankings, said Irene Mia, senior economist at the forum, a Geneva-based think tank that sponsors the annual gathering of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland.'

Posted by: janet8 | September 9, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I think what Tom means here by "empty pool" is having an open mind. I'll leave it at that.
PS - Florescent bulbs are Out; LEDs are In.

Posted by: Rudesan | September 9, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

More liberal rantings about pools. Have you no shame? I'm sick of you and this obsession with pools. Countless scientists have disputed the facts of the so-called "empty pool" crisis. Um, excuse me, that pool is not empty, it is full of air. DUH! I bet there is still moisture to be detected along the walls and floors, as well as some amount of liquid water at the bottom near the drains. And, hello? It does rain every once in a while, you know! That pool will not remain empty forever. It's all part of the natural cycle.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 9, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Morning Toles!

Good cartoon for a change! (Chuckle)

In response to one commenter, it doesn't matter which party one belongs to in Illinois, they're one and the same. Obama used to partake in a weekly poker game with the Republicans. That's the Chicago Way.

As far as your lamenting "A clearer mind would be an excellent thing to bring to the American Public Discourse, if only that weren't another empty pool," by "clearer mind" you mean of like-minded individuals?

If everybody was like-minded it would be a boring world, unless you're a person who doesn't like his cage rattled every once in a while.

Posted by: janet8 | September 9, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't take long,does it? Tom pokes a little tongue in cheek and right away guys like Iceman3 are ready to turn it all over to Obama. One should, as the saying goes, "be careful what you wish for!"

Posted by: quiensabe | September 9, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

The "Green" crew has done it again. The incandescent lightbulb, invented of course by Thomas A. Edison is now the enemy. It's replacement, the mini florescent bulb, contains mercury, and must be disposed of in a specific fashion. The last producer of incandescent bulbs in the United States will layoff it's workforce soon and the new bulbs are all made in China. Is that the way this is supposed to work? The new "green" energy products are to be made overseas? I thought that "green" meant jobs here in the United States? Pretty soon we will be reduced to the manufacturing competency of the old Soviet Union. A third world country with nuclear weapons which couldn't build an decent clock radio or even a toaster.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 9, 2010 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Obviously, Karzai is looking to see if swimming pools are good for money laundering as well.

Posted by: Stonebird | September 9, 2010 5:46 AM | Report abuse

Toles wrote:

["A clearer mind would be an excellent thing to bring to the American Public Discourse, if only that weren't another empty pool."]



Your prose is improving but your argument points are not. You complain all the time about some of the bloggers here and their views. You complain about the 'empty pool' of American discourse. Yet you don't offer any real defense of things that matter to you.

Take climate change for instance. You tell us and chide us that the planet is suffering and its all our fault for being dumb. Remarkably, you never offer a single shred of evidence that supports your argument. How about this: next time you wail on us stupid Americans, why not put your own beliefs to the test, a 'Toles Referendum' if you will, and list the scientists, books, articles, discussions, documentaries, et al that shape your view and let us debate with you.

Until you anny up on a more personal level, your views will continue to be all to familiar to all of us.


Posted by: pararanger22 | September 9, 2010 5:02 AM | Report abuse

"A clearer mind would be an excellent thing to bring to the American Public Discourse, if only that weren't another empty pool."

Again more pessimism. Stop with the negative waves, man!

We are not all idiots. That is an insulting statement.

Posted by: dewbob | September 9, 2010 1:52 AM | Report abuse


When I think of American Public Discourse, I don't see an empty pool. I see a pool chock full of brainless, fighting children who have bullied the decent kids out of the water.

What we need is an intelligent lifeguard with the strength to put the bullies in their place. Thankfully, after a period of distraction (fixing the cracks in the pool created and then ignored by the previous attendant), he is now able to turn his attention to the noisemakers.

Posted by: Iceman3 | September 8, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Tom, get well soon. We are praying for you. Dear Lord, we thank you for Tom Toles. Amen

Posted by: bignoisylawnmower | September 8, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

It's a banner day!

It's a banner day! A Toles cartoon that I agree with. The only question, is Karzai a Democrat? There is no way that he could win in that cauldron of corruption unless he belonged to the Party which has run Chicago for decades, the honest, caring, look out for the little guy Democrats.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 8, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

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