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By Tom Toles

Come on!
One day I noticed something that was true on that day and will be true always. If instead of arguing with a single person, you are arguing with a group of people who all disagree with you, you will lose the argument, and usually in some version of the exact same way. THIS WAY: after you make one of your points, maybe even a strong one, someone on the other side will reply with a version of "OH, COME ON!" This is followed by a chorus of approving noise all around, and game over. This is roughly the situation liberals are in today. Despite a few scraps of "liberal media" conservatives try to conjure, we live in Fox News World now, and good luck trying to get anywhere with logic.

Last week I launched an analogy from the old movie The Time Machine. It was not the world's greatest analogy ever, but once I got the image in my mind of the trolls in my comments section as the relentless green Morlocks, (or was the film black and white?) I couldn't resist. I now think of the comments section as a scary basement that, like in a horror film, I feel compelled to go down into. There the Morlocks lurk, (perhaps in the Black Box of Doom!) with an unremitting energy to work their havoc upon me. Their arguments are usually snide dressed-up versions of oh come on, and they seem quite determined to overwhelm me with their zombie-like persistence. But occasionally down there you run into thoughtful people who have brought their torches into the gloom! The heroes! The movie gets interesting. --Tom Toles


By Tom Toles  | September 27, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Tea party  
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Liberals live in a Fox World now? Do you read this stupid paper dude? You guys have all of the major daily papers, all of the major networks. Ninety percent of Hollywood and other media outlets like Comedy Central where you doofus get your opinions thanks to Stewart and Colbert. Oh and every little Hollywood nincompoop star. Conservatives have talk radio and Fox. That is your enemy? Seems you have them outnumbered ten to one.

Posted by: RedStater3 | September 29, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

I love you, Tom Toles.

Posted by: dc1955 | September 28, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Morlocks? Black Boxes of Doom? Scary basements? I guess with the situation facing the Democrats it is better for some to hide in fantasy. The reality is that the American people have had it with the borrowing, the Government intervention, and the arrogance. If the Democrats are so smart than why has the unemployment rate been stuck at over 9%? If the Democrats are so smart than why is the Government borrowing over a trillion dollars a year? If the Democrats are so smart than why are they in so much trouble with the electorate? Senator Kerry just said that the American people are more apt to listen to a clever phrase than to really follow what is going on. So far what does everyone think about the phrase "Hope and Change"?

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 27, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

i'll tell ya tom, the only thing that makes me feel comfortable in the face of such nonsense is the fact that no matter how strong the early church was politically/militarily, it was simply a matter of time (a long time) until people caught on.

we can see now, atheists speaking in public, where not a mere few centuries ago, they would have been killed for doing the same.

this is not minor progress. i take comfort in the fact that people, by in large, are getting smarter and more outspoken. no matter how loud the bully pulpit is at faux news, the mere fact that they need the megaphone so loud should tell you something.

political cartoons you make are truly awesome by the way. keep it up!!!

Posted by: ae-inc | September 27, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

To an honest and perceptive cartoonist:

Illegitimi non carborundum

Think of Mencken's great observation:

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public"

Posted by: merhoff | September 27, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm backing media reform. This is Robert McChesney on this topic:

"Fewer than ten transnational media conglomerates dominate much of our media; fewer than two dozen account for the overwhelming majority of our newspapers, magazines, films, television, radio, and books.

For democrats, this concentration of media power and attendant commercialization of public discourse are a disaster. An informed, participating citizenry depends on media that play a public service function.

What kind of reform? In broad terms, we need to reduce the current degree of media concentration, and, more immediately, blunt its effects on democracy. More specifically, we need special incentives for nonprofits, broadcast regulation, public broadcasting, and antitrust. I present these proposals as the start of a debate about media reform, not as ultimate solutions."

Making Media Democratic
Robert W. McChesney

Posted by: PaloAlto4 | September 27, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

PrairieDog60, Feingold is being touted as a career politician. Something that is being frowned upon in WI. Johnson is running as a 'newbe'who is looking out for the 'little guy' while cutting down on big government while Feingold has done nothing but expand the government, raise taxes, lost all our jobs and robbed social security until it ran least those are the ads that keep spamin' my tv and phone line.~~just sayin'

I am curious,tho, as to why Feingold has chosen not to 'stand' with the Prez during his last 2 scheduled visits to the state.

bobbo2, got a link to that constitution, ammendment, section thing? I'm too lazy to look it up. Course I could just take your word for it...what to do...

Posted by: bertzel | September 27, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Bobbo2's comment reminds me of emails I get from my conservative brother, "I picture you Mr. Toles the day after the mid terms sitting in a fetal position in a corner clutching an unsharpened sketch pencil,staring at it, rocking back and forth muttering hope and change, hope and change, hope and change" .

I send my brother material that is factually correct and reasonably objective, and he responds simply by saying "that's only one point of view."

Then he sends me a screed that attacks the character of liberals or simply repeats thoughtless mantras, like "big government isn't the answer and never has been."

Toles: you're not only my favorite political cartoonist, you have some of the best op-eds on the net. You obviously have the courage to tell it like it is, and that's a rare quality today.

Posted by: Ezecat | September 27, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

(Me) - So, we actually agree on the issue. We are just arguing about where the line is separating civil from personal responsibility.
...and so forth
Posted by: DougMUSN

nice post...for that slice...not so easy to argue over ethical views, which in fact, has a lot to do with the division of political parties as well.

Posted by: bertzel | September 27, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Good comments Tom.

What bothers me these days is that you cannot be a Republican unless you; promise to repeal the new Health Care law; do not believe in global warming; push tax cuts no matter what; think Obama is a socialist; etc.

Political parties in this country used to compromise and work with each other, and let bills and nominations come up for a vote. I recall recently hearing a taped phone conversation of Lyndon Johnson, and he was talking to some people about getting enough votes for the civil rights bill. He was talking about getting enough votes to PASS, not to break a filibuster. The Republicans and Dixiecrats had enough numbers in the Senate then to filibuster the heck out of that bill. But they didn't. They let it come to a vote. Why? Because the filibuster used to be used as a last resort to give the minority a voice, not to completely stop any legislation from moving forward.

Republicans in the past have warned of the "military industrial complex", they have created the EPA, they have signed effective meaningful environmental legislation into law, they basically created many of our most beloved national parks, they have compromised on protection and future funding for social security. What has happened to this party? It is now of a single mind, with no room for compromise or "RINOs".

There are many reasons for this, but I think the worst offenders are the media liers and screamers. It's not about facts or news anymore. When confronted with incidents of distortions and fabrications, O'Reilly responds, "but I consistently win the ratings". There you go. This is what it's about. "How many people can I scare or stir up enough to keep them listening to me instead of anyone else?" Never mind facts.

I've been a liberal progressive my whole life, but have disagreed with Democrats plenty. Bill Clinton was one of the best Republican presidents this country has had. No improvement in emmission standards for cars while he was president. NAFTA, while he was president...probably one of the worst things the Democratic party ever did. And there are currently plenty of Democratic memebers of congress who disagree with their party on many things. Russ Feingold will probably lose his seat in the Senate this year, being painted as a "Pelosi" Democrat. Never mind that he's bucked his party more than just about any sitting Senator. An opponent with his own personal fortune, made from the plastics industry (petroleum derived), who doesn't believe in global warming, will likely spend Feingold out of politics, while painting himself as a hero of the little guy. *just shakes my head*

It's all about "winning". It has nothing to do with what's best for the country, or facts, or science. "Our team kicked your ass, and therefore we're better!" Our national politics have become a middle-school playground, and the bullies are winning.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | September 27, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

We get it Mr. Toles, we get it. You think that the Conservatives have all of the money and have no brains. We knew your position ages ago. Your cartoon could easily be changed to have Sutton as the Democrats taking cash from the money stash of public sector Unions. But the Democrats wouldn't have to steal the money, they have gotten 92% of public sector Union money since 1990. As the mid terms get closer the rich-dumb routine is all you have? Nothing about issues? Nothing about how our brilliant President's answer to everything is more Government? Talk about lack of intellectual property. Do the Democrats have any ideas that do not focus on more Government? Any? I picture you Mr. Toles the day after the mid terms sitting in a fetal position in a corner clutching an unsharpened sketch pencil,staring at it, rocking back and forth muttering hope and change, hope and change, hope and change. P.S. Did you create the new logo for the Democrats Mr. Toles? the circle with the D inside? Only thing to do to that logo is to of course draw a line through it like a road sign indicating no parking.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 27, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to carry on an intelligent conversation with someone who seemingly goes out of his way to say ridiculous and obviously false things. One could say, for example, that he does not trust Obama, prompting the question, Why not? But Republicans don't say that anymore, they say "Obama is an illegal alien, and Adolph Hitler, and the anti-Christ". Their apologists claim that they only mean this in a figurative way, but the problem remains, How do you even discuss ridiculous things like that? Of course, they don't really want to discuss it, they just want to beat you over the head with it. This is what passes for discourse among the stupid.

Posted by: DaveHarris | September 27, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I have a very liberal friend who just happens to be a Navy SEAL - if he can keep those priorities clear, I guess I can hang out a little in Tom's basement with the trolls. All they really need is a little honest education, and a few open minds in their orbit, which they might not have, stuck in the Fox version of a fair and balanced universe.
Not that liberals and moderates are all that virtuous, just human, just plunkin' along.
The right wing prosetelyzing is much harder work than they realize, and it alienates people - they don't know how much - but they have to wonder why it is people avoid them.
Personally, when I speak with my own brother, who is a long time self proclaimed ditto-head, I feel sadness at his loneliness and his unwillingness to think for himself.
The pattern is once again playing out in the minds of millions ramped up, amped up and dividing families all over again just in time for another election...
I don't believe this is quite how they want to be investing their life's passions...

Posted by: thanksforfish | September 27, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Don't give up. Keep going into the basement. Those of us also feeling our way through the deep dark recesses need help battling the thought zombies.

Posted by: amethystmarbles | September 27, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

That's odd...the same thing happens to me at an academic institution in MA every day...I'm surrounded by the cries of liberals who shout 'racist' because I don't support unsustainable entitlement programs...I guess both sides abandon logic and resort to mudslinging when they're unable to support their arguments.

I'm just very surprised at the level of ignorance displayed if only conservatives are relegated to the 'come ooon' argument. That's a very Hannity-esque perspective.

Posted by: DrLove82 | September 27, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I just now tweeted a link to this cartoon with my comment.

Dog Whistle Code Word of the Day:

Conservative think tank

     In the tank for groupthink.

Posted by: Antibogotes | September 27, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Hang tough, Tom; we are with you. Because you are right - it's almost impossible to argue with willful, deliberate ignorance. But we dare not abandon the fight. The stakes are much too high.

Posted by: gsross | September 27, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Your "Come on!" soliliquay reminded me of a wonderful Family Guy episode (if you're not a fan, at least check out this one since it is exactly what you wrote about). Basic plot of the episode is that Peter Griffin gets sent to Washington to lobby for more lenient smoking regulations, and wins over the Senate with the powerful argument "Come on!". I think you would appreciate it:

Posted by: erikpdumont | September 27, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Fox and a zillion Frightwing radio stations broadcast absolute looney tunes daily, supporting Republican looney FAILED ideology that almost desroyed America.
No thanks!
I'm voting for Democrats this time.

Posted by: angie12106 | September 27, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, please don't let the b*st*rds grind you down. If your blog wasn't spot-on and influential, they'd be ignoring you altogether.

Those of us who come here to hear what you have to say, maybe have some thoughts provoked, maybe learn something, may not always take the time to post in support -- unlike those who only come here with the "oh, come ons!"

But never forget that we're here. We come every day. And while we may not be as noisy, there are surely more of us than them. Think of us as that "silent majority" that we used to hear so much about. Thank you!

Posted by: CynicalC | September 27, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

BattleOffSamar has hit the nail on the head. Or in video game parlance, he has scored a head shot from 1200 yards.

Posted by: Gurduloo | September 27, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tom,

In my view, these blogs are, metaphorically, 'adult video games' where, like our teenagers, we fight the bad guys - whomever we think they are. The goal, just like in the video games, is total annihilation. We gang up whenever we can. We destroy each others' arguments - only, HORROR, to see them immediately re-spawn on this, or some other, blog.

Face it, if we weren't all having fun, we'd stop.

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | September 27, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

so you believe your thoughts and comments exude logic?

Posted by: jpdtiga | September 27, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

"...I find the urge to venture into these darkened depths subsiding more and more...."

...which often seems to be the idea.

Posted by: NoniMausa | September 27, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Doug MUSN, As a libertarian, I find that the line of which you speak becomes inordinately hard to pin down in light of (1) our exorbitant national-debt obligations and (2) our extreme political polarization. Would that more careful thinkers emerge in our political discussions instead of the continued domination by the politically expedient. Thank you for your contribution. I would want those on the right to work with someone like you to come to a compromise any day.

Posted by: xcept4alltheothers | September 27, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse


Or "Let us get on?"

Do not have time for an essay - just one example.

We have a mess of a system for Mexican (Latino) workers in the USA. Right now many were recruited to work and brought In on buses. The laws are not enforced but used as a "club" over their heads. Mess up and ask for more money and we will deport you. OK. Old system is a mess and basically evil. Solution of the Republicans is to deport them all. Now that is nutso since we will need the workers to build our economy back to speed.

So how do we move on?

Get a bipartisan bill to have guest workers for well defined terms of work and then go home and perhaps with a trust fund to set them up in nice homes and retirements when they retire (IN MEXICO) and push intot he future.

Abandon the past and check mate the Republican "Kick them all out" message.

If you want to retire on time, Thank a Mexican.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 27, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

"But occasionally down there you run into thoughtful people who have brought their torches into the gloom!"

I hope those torches are the new LED versions. Burning torches brings to mind witchhunting and burning something to heat the tea.

(but I don't know if one in ten people know how to make the older type - that burns without gasoline.)
Maybe the reason that arguments are usually "won" by a majority is that there are so few individual thinkers left?

Posted by: Stonebird | September 27, 2010 6:48 AM | Report abuse

WHAT???There is money involved in politics? Do Obama/Clinton/Kerry/Bloomberg know about this? An outrage...
Wonder where their money comes from???

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | September 27, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles: We do not have just a Morlock/Eloi problem--we have a thinking problem. While Republican Tea Partiers wield ad populum arguments ("Everyone knows climate change is a hoax, so why are you fussing?"), Democrats counter with ad hominem attacks ("That so-and-so had 20 speeding tickets/20 suits/etc. so his ideas are nuts."). In the good sense of the verb, can't anyone ARGUE anymore? Sadly, I think not. We watch our "representatives" scrap over acquisition and maintenance of power.

I am proud to think of myself as a progressive, but I do not believe this to be a manichaen dichotomy. It's all about how you slice a pie. I prefer a Socratic argument along these lines:

(Me) - So, how did you get here today?
(Other) - I drove my car.
(Me) - On what did you drive?
(Other) - The road.
(Me) - Who built the road?
(Other) - The city built the road.
(Me) - Your house catches fire. Who do you call?
(Other) - The fire brigade.
(Me) - A burglar breaks in. Who do you call?
(Other) - The police.
(Me) - So, you would agree there is a role for government in the lives of it's citizens, like road building, public safety and fire protection?
(Other) - Yes.
(Me) - And safe water, safe food, public health?
(Other) - To a certain extent.
(Me) - So, we actually agree on the issue. We are just arguing about where the line is separating civil from personal responsibility.
...and so forth

Take my torch, Tom. I am sitting down for a spell.

Posted by: DougMUSN | September 27, 2010 5:39 AM | Report abuse

Toles, as usual you miss the bigger picture. You are little more than a progressive lacky.

I'm sure Big Money, Republicans, and even moderate Dems would love to somehow attach themselves to the conservative wave passing across America (although the Tea Partiers only pick up a small portion of this negative energy), the fact remains that it is not the Koch brothers, or any other ideologists who control the movement, but rather the anger and disgust across America that is fueling this anger.

But you go ahead and stick to your Washington suburb mentality, and you'll no doubt miss the biggest potential story of your sorry career.

Posted by: r_loveland | September 27, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Yes. That is why in a political (or scientific) debate, as opposed to the kind of shouting fest or pre-ordained consensus of "polite" society, there is an attempt to give the two (or more) sides equal time and equal hearing. "Oh come on" is not a respectful response to an argument. It is an appeal to pre-conceived notions of what is and is not true. That is, it is an appeal to the mob.

Hence the futility of "speaking into the whirlwind".

Posted by: askalib-CA | September 27, 2010 2:03 AM | Report abuse

It's a crazy-maker, no doubt. I find the urge to venture into these darkened depths subsiding more and more.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | September 27, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

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