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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 12/16/2010


By Tom Toles



Smiley face

Okay, happy time! A confessed sufferer of SAD, I have been alerted that gloom has been creeping into my blog and Facebook posts. This kind of thing used to pass muster as the complex soul of the tortured artist, but today we have medicated artists away. It's all about fun now, and I can get on board with that. When I'm not writing melancholy prose, I am a cartoonist, after all!

The economy is showing signs of life, or what passes for life in the dead of winter. In addition to possibly providing some jobs and incomes for reeling Americans, this could also mean the return of sanity to U.S. politics. I don't believe for a minute that the strange sourness of the recent election had much, if anything, to do with odd tactical miscalibrations of the current White House, let alone the fermented fantasy of Obama as Stalin. It was a perfectly understandable and predictable response to the collapsed economy, and the data on this are clear.

Anyway, if true, the fungus-like blossoming of the dark, damp impulses in American politics may be nearing its end, and I am happy, no, delighted to yield the hair shirt back to the lunatics. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | December 16, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan, National Security  
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Hey, Tom, we were WAY ahead of you with the Whack-an-Osama. Check out our Home On The Range (Bush version) video of 5 years ago. Toward the end, you'll see an animated version of EXACTLY what you portrayed in your "whacky" cartoon:


Posted by: Dallas138 | December 19, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse


Ice-on, means the day the lake is completely frozen over. Ice-off means the day the ice begins breaking up for the season. 2 weeks less means that, if you add up the total days of ice (from ice-on/ice-off observations), on average there are about 2 weeks less ice on Trout Lake now than mid-20th century. Think of it (although not completely accurate) as ice forming a week later in the winter now compared to then, and melting a week sooner in the spring.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | December 17, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

sounds like asthma, not AGW~~~

Don't have asthma...Just using a different type of science daly...would you care to test my theory?

Dog...2 weeks less ice? what is the deficiency in what? Thickness? Area? Can you give me some numbers? How do you measure two weeks less ice? You have got me worried.

Posted by: bertzel | December 16, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse


You're drawing conclusions in some studies that really can't be drawn, and are very subjective. Looking at temps within one political boundary (MN) and drawing conclusions from that is a bit unwise. The Red River watershed also includes parts of ND and Canada. Also, your suggestion that Lake Minnetonka has not been subjected to alteration is far from the truth. Minnetonka today is severely eutrophic compared to historical condition, mostly due to the degree of urban development around the lake. It makes it hard to draw conclusions about its condition based on any one variable.

A better example would be Trout Lake in Northern WI. Ice on/off records indicate for this lake (historically and currently in a rural wooded watershed) indicate that there are about 2 weeks less ice on that lake now compared to just 50 or 60 years ago.

And never mind all the evidence of melting glaciers across the globe that have been in the same condition for centuries until recently. Yes, there are some areas where glaciers are expanding, but nothing compared to the levels of melting (proving that "climate change" does not always mean local warming).

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | December 16, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

One other thing Dog

Minnesota shows NO warming trend empirically ie long term actual temp data, so why would the Red River show the greatest early ice out change in all of the northern hemisphere over 100 years is this study.

Bad science?

Posted by: dalyplanet | December 16, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse


sounds like asthma, not AGW


This type of anecdotal correlation weakens the science as the causal relationship is rarely established.

This kind of evidence shows agenda not science. Publishing long term monthly data sets of arctic temperatures would confirm rising average temps as the cause of melting ice better than proxy data.

Looking at one proxy study on ice out dates in the northern hemisphere, the Red River melts 12.9 days earlier than 100 years ago and is assigned a P value of .0003 or extremely significant, but drainage for farming in the last century accelerates melt rate and runoff of thousands of miles of black plowed farm land. Increased flowage is primarily responsible for the Red Rivers early melting. Lake Minnetonka on the other hand melts only 2 days earlier and has a P of .444 or no significance. Stable Minnetonka is much more representative of all Minnesota ice out dates as no farming activities perturb the lake. Without proper topographical accounting the study results are highly skewed to early ice out, man made, statistically correct, peer reviewed, but AGW is not causal but only corollary to the condition.

Posted by: dalyplanet | December 16, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Tom, have you tried a Lightbox or similar light therapy. I bought my light box from a outfit in MD outside DC. They have some affiliation with NIH I think. It didn't help me much but YMMV.

It's past time to withdraw from Afghanistan (and Iraq). Set a deadline, plan and withdraw. I know, I know, McCain doesn't want to set a deadline...he prefers a run-for-your-lives, chaotic, Saigon-style airlift exit. Maybe he can spring for some Frequent Flier Miles as a bonus for those who make it out. The fact is that the U.S. will never withdraw from Afghanistan or Iraq...I think even Obama has given up on the idea of withdrawing.

I don't care about heroin growing in Afghanistan.
I don't care about the Taliban. They are not the problem.
I care about what the U.S. does and to whom.

Free Julian Assange!
Free Bradley Manning!

Posted by: ptgrunner | December 16, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The Taliban had actually reduced heroin production until our special forces showed up in 2001. It was around 2,000 tons annually. By 2007 it had increased to 7,000 tons.
Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH

What would you expect from a corrupted nation that worships wealth.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | December 16, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

~~~Ah, dave…the guts of the conversation...just where do you expect that money to come from???
Posted by: bertzel

My understanding of where money comes from…
It comes from the same place all money comes from; it comes from the trust and fidelity of economic systems.
Capitalism is a method of providing the necessary exchange of goods and services through value systems that determine what people pay and what they are paid.
Banks lend more money than they have available and governments insure the value of the loans.
Cost of manufacture and services that include overhead, taxes and profits determines costs and available loans and wages makes possible purchases.
The golden mean is sufficient wages to buy products and services and sufficient cost to cover the cost of providing the goods and services.
At times (like these) it takes an influx of capital (money) in order to rebuild nations or prevent nations from going bankrupt destabilizing the nation.
There is not enough gold in the ground to cover the costs of the present world economy. Capitalism is based on numbers that keep a dynamic flow of goods and services to support human life.
There is no magic, just the right numbers to support quality nations (or not the right numbers) that cause inflation or insufficient funds.
Right now we are doing “insufficient funds” which is destabilizing the quality of everyone's life and the ship of state is sinking fast.
Anal retentive economics can be fatal.
Posted by: OchamsRazor~~~

Ahh dave...I see you took my advice concerning your verbiage... no surprise...

Posted by: bertzel | December 16, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Dalyplanet and Dog-dog too!
…you go ahead and ponder over all the scientific data, if that is what trips your trigger. I on the other-hand will choose the simplest route.
I have noticed this past summer while running outdoors my breathing became more labored and I began to breathe more deeply. That was fine when I was in remote areas away from cars, trains, trucks and areas where work was being done using asphalt to ‘pave the way’. I also discovered when I came into contact with those vehicles and paving, I could barely breathe at all and in some instances began to cough (which is no fun while running).

I also came to the realization that; during the winter months, when the furnace is ‘running’ and I happen to be in the area where the vented ‘air’ blows, I cannot breathe (I suppose some of that has to do with me choosing to ‘hold my breath’)…in fact I am almost positive that if I were to stay in that area for an extended period of time I would eventually pass out and die (with or without the ‘breath holding’).
I admit I am too ‘chicken’ to test that theory. Perhaps someone else would like to ‘step up to the vent'?

Maybe it‘s just me…perhaps I have bad lungs. My Dr. says they are ok …then again, maybe it is I who is in need of more lab work….
You see…that is all the research I need to convince me that we do indeed have a problem concerning ‘pollutants’, if not for the planet then perhaps for ‘life’ itself…including we humans of course.

I also know for a fact that; in times of ’trouble’, every little bit helps.

Posted by: bertzel | December 16, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

There is also a vast amount of research out there regarding observable effects of climate change. Migrating jet streams, expanding tropics, species migrations and alterations in their life cycles, etc. Again, SkepticalScience provides a good many links to some of this research, but there are plenty of articles in science journals discussing these effects.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | December 16, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse


Thank you again for the info.

While we may differ on specifics at this time, I am sure that we are in agreement with your central arguement. The timing of the end of fossil fuel is an important variable with global repercussions. Debate and discussion will only expand the knowledge base.

Posted by: dalyplanet | December 16, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

dalyplanet, check this page:

You'll see that nearly every method of measuring temperature gives the same basic results for the last 35 years or so. This includes some with sea measurements, some accounting for poorly maintained weather stations, and other anomolies.

As far as IPCC goes, yes they produce a "political" product. Many of the scientists on the IPCC believe they have moderated the recommendations too much to make them more palatable, and that in reality, things are much worse than they seem. But when dealing with politics, they have to try to "not offend" as best they can.

I will come back once more to a central tenet of my (and other's) arguement. If there is even a 50% chance that the research behind global warming is indeed correct (and it is a much higher chance from all indications), then that, on TOP of the fact that fossil fuels are finite and dwindling in supply, should be enough to provide strong impetus to wean ourselves off them as soon as possible. Crude oil and natural gas will run out, or at least become prohibitively expensive, by mid-century. Coal will last a while longer. Once the tipping points for those resources are reached, it's too late to start "planning" to create an economy based on renewable energy. It has to be done now while we still have relatively inexpensive energy sources that can fuel the transition.

In essence, if we want to preserve any sort of economic stability for the near, and distant future, we need to start NOW in the establishment of a society powered by renewable energy. The fact that science is also saying that the use of these fossil fuels is unnaturally altering our climate (leading to extinctions, refugees, loss of coastal land and islands, migration of tropical diseases, etc.), should be enough to move us in the right direction.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | December 16, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Changing light bulbs and some hybrid cars will not do a thing to reduce humans global carbon footprint.

Posted by: dalyplanet | December 16, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

What can be done about it, how effective that will be, how much it will cost, and if it's worth it based on all those things is a debate worth having. It is the one you lose by denying the problem exists.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | December 16, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Dixiecrat Republican. Is that an oxymoron? Wouldn't they just be Dixiecans? Or in the modern era, Dixiecants?

Posted by: Rudesan | December 16, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I've said you are a smart guy a lot of times. So, you see why I have trouble with you not seeing the last election as being exactly about the Obama administration, pure and simple.

Posted by: quiensabe | December 16, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

The mid term election always goes against the incumbent President. Economic bad times just make it worse. 80% of the people have their heads screwed on right, but there is a very loud and active 20% who are anti - everything, and think that "reverse!" will solve all the problems. I have lived through twelve Presidents, and history repeats itself too much. We don't seem to learn (or the loud 20% doesn't). Only during McCarthyism have I seen such a polarized culture war. There is always a paranoid right who think we are losing our country. The economy will recover, and the sane shall prevail. Our Constitution will be upheld. The part of the 80% who stayed home, out of apathy during the midterm, will be back in 2012.

Posted by: B_Al_Zebub | December 16, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

@JONAHandtheFISH: I have been told by members of our military that they are not allowed to destroy any of those poppy fields. Hmmm. NOW WHAT IS THIS WAR REALLY ALL ABOUT?

Big pharma has to get the raw ingredients for Oxycontin from somewhere.

Posted by: amethystmarbles | December 16, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

"All we need for Christmas .."

What the USA needs is political parties that do not see every election as a lottery win and the keys to an unlimited future.

We have limits and it is time to take care with them.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | December 16, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

What we want to do in Afghanistan is possible and reasoned. It will not please either side, but it may be good enough.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | December 16, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering about all these Dixiecrat Republicans wanting a return to the "real" Constitution.
We have Michelle Bachmann who refused to turn in her census form (required by Article 1, Section 2)
We have Sarah Palin who wants a religious test for office (banned by Article VI)
We have Glen Beck who wants to charge immigrants a fee based on Article 1, Section 9 (which was a fee for slaves brought into the country until 1808)
And I'm sure there are quite a few that would like to reimpose the 3/5 clause also in Article 1, Section 2 and rewrite the Second Amendment to cut out the first part about well trained militias.
They also would like to edit the preamble to say instead of "We the People..." to say "God"

Posted by: roscym1 | December 16, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Just a few more days, and daylight increases in the northern hemisphere.
Good news.
Joyful solstice!

Posted by: GeneTouchet | December 16, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

bertzel, he's doing exactly what I said he would do yesterday. He's looking for little things he doesn't "get" to pick at to validate his rejection of the entire thing as a whole. His statements expressing the desire for enlightenment on the subject from "real hard scientific reports" were entirely disingenuous.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | December 15, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I am trying to figure out if this AGW thing is science with agenda or agenda with science. There are many like me. This site has many in the science camp and some are quite clever. I do not reject the entire thing. I am looking for external validation of the IPCC report and findings. That is science. Endless repeat of the report is agenda. pdog 60 pointed me into some better stuff. Maybe other true believers will do the same. If you all want me to stop this line I will. Maybe you will convert me to a true believer. Maybe I will moderate your certainty in the IPCC doctrine. Changing light bulbs and some hybrid cars will not do a thing to reduce humans global carbon footprint. Skeptical is not stupid but rather engaged. Yesterday I 'got' the GISS method of determining average temperature deviation and posted a little of it so you might get it too. Perhaps its unusual method is of no interest to you. Maybe another though. Mr. Toles is responsible for sending me down this rabbit hole.

Posted by: dalyplanet | December 16, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Cheer up Tom and do something funny with that Fox memo on climate change.

That leak (its not just government at risk of losing its secrets) should cheer you up as it pulls the curtain away from the deceitful and manipulative editorial process that passes as "news" on that channel. Can't hurt to show what's really going on.

Posted by: moore_te | December 16, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse


Glad you are feeling better.

There is enough gloom here.

Posted by: billh39 | December 15, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Business, already flush with well over $2 trillion (that's TRILLion with a "T") in the bank as a result of previous tax cuts, would be unwise to start spending that money until they see a real increase in demand. That's just simple economics and good business practice.

So, it's simply up to Consumers, with wages that have been stagnant at best (if we are not underemployed or just plain unemployed) to irresponsibly borrow money we don't already have in order to spend more than we've BEEN spending in order to increase demand so Business will start spending a smidgen of that pent-up capital in order to satisfy the increased demand.

Never mind that we Consumers also need to actually save for retirement, because only a tiny minority of us are born to money or stand to inherit (tax-free or not) enough not to ever have to actually work.

So, good luck with that!

Posted by: jonroesler | December 15, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Wacky...yep :-)

Posted by: bertzel | December 15, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

This might cheer you up a little bit, a take off of the "Twelve Days of Christmas."

All we need for Christmas is 1 lame duck Democrat Congress who will bring us another 63 Republican House seats, another 20 Republican Senate seats, 1 Republican Presidency and a partridge in a pear tree in 2012.

Posted by: jornolibist | December 15, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Ah Yes Afghanistan. This region of the world produces 90% of all the heroin worldwide. I have been told by members of our military that they are not allowed to destroy any of those poppy fields. Hmmm

The Taliban had actually reduced heroin production until our special forces showed up in 2001. It was around 2,000 tons annually. By 2007 it had increased to 7,000 tons.

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | December 15, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

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