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The door is jammed

By Tom Toles



Predicting is hard, especially the future

It seems the polls are telling us that the Democrats will be demolished in November, so let me buy the stock at a low price by saying it won't be as bad as it looks now. I could be wrong, and I often am about guessing short-term political trends. My view is that these are a lot like the weather in that rapidly multiplying variables render calculation meaningless a few weeks out.

On the other hand, long-term trends often do have a relentlessness about them that makes predicting pretty reliable, if you know the long term trend. But, unfortunately, you usually can't because of the foreground noise. The foreground noise these days is the right-wing hysteria machine, which either will eventually pass like a bad headache or will install a dysfunctional government that will do as much damage as it can in as short a time as possible.

That's the beauty of democracy. People get to learn from making the same mistakes repeatedly. But some of the inescapable long-term trends won't go away no matter who gets elected. Some of these are: America is a pluralistic country getting more pluralistic every year. The world economy is changing to favor a sane, science-based orientation of mind. We are devastating the planet's climate with our current energy use. All the noise and protest-voting in the world won't change those. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | September 1, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Middle East, National Security  
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I get the sense from some of these comments that some people are willing to bow to World Government. That is very sad. This is a sovereign Nation. Our way, with all of it's faults is our way. One guy from the United Nations made the comment that we are going to have to ditch Democracy by ballot box if we are going to save the planet. To those who agree with that way of thinking there is nothing to say but forget it. Oh, and Mr. Toles, quick think up a way to paint James Lee as a right wing wacko. I just can't believe that someone soooooo sensitive about the Planet could do such things as was done today at the Discovery Channel building. A Right Wing Wacko must have put him up to it. I am sure that the Left will try it's darndest to distance itself from this guy. I can't wait to see how.

Posted by: bobbo2 | September 1, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

bertzel, like you, I am a romantic at heart. But I push aside those feelings these days, because the situation seems dire. There's real suffering in the land because of the oligarchy's looting of the economy. Don't get hung up on who sits in elective office. Those people are just functionaries -- and not of the electorate, but of the financial controllers. Blaming Republicans or Democrats is blaming the messenger.

PrairieDog60, we have to keep industry growing. There's no "steady-state" solution. If we outgrow the Earth, that's fine. There's plenty of frontier real-estate out there to homestead and develop.

Posted by: HumanistPatriot | September 1, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

If Obama and the Democrats have led us down the road to ruin, what, exactly, would McCain and the Republicans have done differently? If the past is any indication, and I submit that it is, not really so much.

Reform health care? Probably not. Under the current plan, health care costs continue to increase at an alarming rate. The fact that they have been increasing for the last ten years at three times the rate projected for the next ten doesn't make anyone feel any better about it... and the insurance companies feel much worse. Less bad? Yes. But still bad.
Would the Republicans have done better? HAVE they done better? No.

Financial reform? What better idea was proposed for that? Reinstate Glass-Steagall? The Republicans? Puh-lease.

Bail out Wall Street? Oh, no, heaven forbid the Republican Party ever lift a finger to help Wall Street. No, a McCain administration would have allowed the American banking industry to collapse. And the American real estate industry along with it. Suuuuuuuure they would have.

Let General Motors fail? Are conservatives saying that letting GM fail would have been a GOOD idea? And the banks. And real estate. And the jobs that go along with all of it, after the money supply is just completely in ashes.

People who think basically that America should have been allowed to fail, and would have been allowed to fail if they'd had their way... these are the people to whom we should now turn for salvation?!?

The good news is that a McCain administration would no more have allowed everything to collapse than the Obama administration has, and that the people currently in office are by and large grownups and also would not, as a group, have allowed that to happen. The bad news is that there are nutcases out there who know very little about anything but who labor under the impression that the fact that they're old enough to vote automatically confers wisdom on them... that, and the fact that they can tune a radio dial to a place where they can find a blowhard college dropout who can be counted upon to tell them how to think.

And, yes. Misinformed and miseducated they may be, but they do and will vote.

Posted by: jonroesler | September 1, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I find your post interesting and ‘somewhat similar’ to my train of thought.
As far as “that other stuff that doesn’t matter,” I find that to be what should matter to us, as a nation, the most.
Politics, the economy, mother earth, the problems that arise from those scenarios, are the smoke….the fire ultimately is, and will continue to be, trying to exist in one country under one governing body while continuing to add more and more ethnicity/social integration, religion/rites/rituals,
moral values/ethics, all under one roof.

In, the long term, view of this…I don’t see how we will be able to survive as The United States of America with all the ‘push and pull’ going on. We consistently step on the toes and continue to push our separate ways of life on others.
One last thought….I, do not believe our forefathers had a crystal ball and could foresee the social problems that currently face the American people of today.
We must ‘evolve’ intellectually and ‘evolve’ as a nation if we are to survive…
Reality bites….

Posted by: bertzel | September 1, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The fact is; chimpie screwed things up SO royally, especially with the two wars still going, that Americans won't forget the trashing of America so quickly.

So the polls say that the GOP is more trusted on all of the top ten issues and their lead in the generic ballot is the highest its ever been but you labor under the illusion that the public wants nothing to do with them.

Cognitive dissonance: an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously

Just how uncomfortable are you Mr BattleOffSamar

As disliked as Bush/Cheney were/are, it took only two years for the American people to realize just how much worse the alternative is.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | September 1, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The saying goes that Ronnie Raygun showed America that they weren't as conservative as they thought they were. We learned this again from chimpie and shooter after 2004.

The fact is; chimpie screwed things up SO royally, especially with the two wars still going, that Americans won't forget the trashing of America so quickly.

Every day the teabaggers drive this point home with their wingnuttery. All the Democrats have to do is let them run wild and then play the more prescient points back in ads during the elections season. "He's a socialist muslim, blah blah blah" All the Democrats have to do is ask their opponent if they agree with beckapalooza and flush rimbowl. If they do, they can't get elected by the general public, if they don't, then they get trashed by their own GOBP brethren.

Those are the facts. Painful as they may be for the teabaggers. As Kathleen Parker points out in her article; the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. And like beck, mitt and palin make perfectly clear; 'that ain't gonna happen'!

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | September 1, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

There is little that can be done for our economy in the short term. Obama is doing what he can, but he can only do so much. He is, however, doing some fair planning for the long term, with stimulus money focused on high-speed rail and other mass-transit projects.

The problem with our economy, with the world economy, is that it is based on continuous growth. This is not possible and not sustainable. Continuous growth means that we must always be making more, selling more, harvesting more, extracting more. It anticipates an ever-increasing clientele. It imagines endless raw materials and cheap labor. Okay...stop and think about this. Such imaginings mean we have to keep increasing the world population, keep raising everyone's standard of living so they all can buy the latest gadgets and frills, while keeping some populations marginalized as a cheap work force. What do you suppose this will do to the planet?

The Earth can only support so many people (we don't know what the carrying capacity of Earth is...we may have passed it already), the Earth does not have endless resources, and the Earth does not have endless sinks for our waste products.

We will continue boom and bust economics, until the bust comes along that represents the critical mass of the collapse of the continuous growth economic model (is this deep recession the beginning of such a collapse?). That is, unless we shift now...unless we start realizing that we cannot keep expanding and making bigger and bigger profits. It's time to start creating an economy based on sustainability.

In the meantime, these fights over who's got control of Congress and the White House, are kind of pointless. All Democrats, all Republicans, have bought into this idea of continuous growth. The Republicans seem dead set on destroying the planet as quickly as possible, and the Democrats really only represent a slower death. The post-depression 20th century is long passed, and we will never see growth like that again, in any healthy or sustainable way. We need true leadership regarding the future of our planet and the need to discard continuous growth economics. Basically, without a healthy planet, there is no such thing as an economy.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | September 1, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

You know I was going to type this whole long thing here but it's not even worth arguing with some of these conservatives anymore. Anything you say they accuse you of worshipping Obama or something stupid like that. It's impossible to have a rational discussion with these people anymore. It's all SOCIALISM this and THE END OF AMERICA BECAUSE THEY HATE IT that.

Hey. I have news for you. Different people believe different things can work. It's possible to be wrong, it's possible to be right, it's possible to be half right and half wrong or for someone else to come up with decent ideas that don't necessarily fit into the way you think things should be rather than the way things are.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | September 1, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Tommy boy.... "....a dysfunctional government that will do as much damage as it can in as short a time as possible."???.....Oh, like what BHO and the loonies under Pelosi and Reed are purposefully inflicting on the country???
Maybe we'll experience enough "buyers remorse" from the nitwits that elected this socialist/Stalinist atrocity, that maybe the country as we know it will survive. One can only hope at this point.

Posted by: Shrimper | September 1, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

TT proffers these fish in his editorial barrel:

"America is a pluralistic country getting more pluralistic every year."

Really? Looks more like America is a segregated country getting more segregated every year as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Or, did you mean pluralistic in terms of race, ethnicity, religion and that other stuff that doesn't matter?

"The world economy is changing to favor a sane, science-based orientation of mind."

This is gibberish. The world economy is changing to favor a fascistic, Machiavellian orientation of mind, as the central banks and their public-sector agents inflate economic bubbles, pop them, and buy up hard assets for pennies. That's the new business cycle.

"We are devastating the planet's climate with our current energy use."

Possibly hyperbolic, but even if accurate it just means that Earth is an inadequate arena for staging human industry. So, let's move on . . . .

Posted by: HumanistPatriot | September 1, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Bulls eye with your Iraq 'toon' Toles.

Your outake is quite funny. The topic of concussions,tho, is no laughing matter...

Posted by: bertzel | September 1, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles is diligent in reconciling his views of Iraq with the events. Sooner or later, he will make sense at the same time. We can only wait.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | September 1, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Is this your pre-post mortem Tommy 'ol Boy? Are you all ready conceding the 2010 midterms? Interesting thing about those long term trends you speak of. With the exception of 06 and 08, the coronation of you messiah, your dear leader, the country has seen what a sham a left wing government is and what it means: unemployment, decay and stagnation. We learned well Tommy ol’ Boy and this country is more conservative than we have ever been.

Think about that for a minute …. who would have thought that 18 months after you Dear Leader’s coronation with his 40 seat majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate that the democrat party would be facing the biggest political slaughter in history. 100 seats in play in the House and the possibility of liberal bastions like Wisconsin, Washington and California going Republican.

You and the rest of your cackling left wing cadre were SO CLOSE to fulfilling all of your wildest dreams. Tell me Tommy ‘ol Boy, is it better to have had it and lost it, or to never have had it at all. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

You sure as heck are right about the beauty of democracy though. The people HAVE learned from making the same mistake and have rediscovered the folly of having a democrat congress and president governing the country. We are going to correct the mistake of the 2006 midterms and come 2012 we will correct the 2008 presidential mistake.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | August 31, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

How did you get to Italy? What devastation in your mind did you cause?

Posted by: bignoisylawnmower | August 31, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

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