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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 01/25/2011

Dueling bandaids

By Tom Toles



Guide to commenters

People ask me how I feel about the unending torrent of negative comments that comes cascading in daily denouncing me and all my fine efforts to shine a small light upon the political landscape. Sure, some critics here do try to engage in productive conversation. Then there are these folks:

The Taunter: This person is essentially a second-grade name-caller. Toles is a jerk. Toles can't draw. Toles doesn't give sufficient breath-support to high notes when he sings. These things hurt my tender feelings, but taunters are secretly lonely and can be tormented by singing unsupported high notes at them.

The Barker: These people believe that arguments are won by quantity and noise-level. They don't care what they say as long as they stay on message. The message is that anything remotely liberal is a mailman that needs to be barked at. Neighbors eventually sell their houses and move away.

The Closed Loop: These people don't have uptake receptors for data or argument that conflicts with a previously-adopted worldview. When climate data on temperature data is ambiguous, they can only interpret that as meaning there has been no warming and say "So, where's that WARMING???". When the data shows unambiguously that there HAS been warming, they flip the argument around and say that there is ALWAYS warming, and such. They come in two flavors. Cynics and fools.

So how do I feel about them? Short-term: Ouch. People who don't want to play a constructive role are annoying and can do all manner of damage. Long-term: you have to believe that free speech is good medicine. Good ideas rise to the top. La-la-la-la-la-la-la! --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | January 25, 2011; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Democrats, GOP, Health care  
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Next: State of the Union Cartoon Caption Contest winner

Other Syndicated Editorial Cartoons:


``The way I see it,as long as you're getting responses, good or bad, you're doing your job, which is to make people think.

Posted by: vicknair``

or your are an ass. Tired of my "light" being repeated...just saying!

Posted by: bertzel | January 25, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

The way I see it,as long as you're getting responses, good or bad, you're doing your job, which is to make people think.

Posted by: vicknair | January 25, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Technical development is necessary to bring our social skills up to the level of our technology. Otherwise, we will be our own worse enemy. We are at the point in history when we are accountable for the condition of earth. We can provide people quality lives or let our world turn into another planet like Mars. We have the technology to create a better world or hell on earth. If we are going to inherit the universe, we are going to have to start with cleaning up the part of the universe we now inhabit.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | January 25, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

bertzel: Liberal drive-by poster. Not the evil type of Liberal (has a good sense of humor) but usually throws out a critique without a supporting argument~~~ranger~~

Hmm...not sure I agree with your view there ranger....could you please describe 'evil type of liberal?'
Also can't help it if no one can argue against my points...can I?
take blub, blub, blub for example.

Posted by: bertzel | January 25, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

toles...wasn't going to partake in yet another of your pity parties but changed my mind....ouch.'nough said.

Posted by: bertzel | January 25, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

@dalyplanet - You said, "It is difficult to discount reasonable arguments from those that hold different viewpoints than my own."

And yet, somehow you succeed. I have seen your rote list of misrepresented objections countered over and over, yet you just keep repeating them as though they were fresh. You certainly epitomize the Closed Loop commenter, and I don't think you're the Cynic variant.

Posted by: fbrewer1 | January 25, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Tom the liberal tool about says it all.

Posted by: steelers01 | January 25, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Tom, I disagree with you on some issues, but I don't think I've ever engaged in personal attacks and insults. You definitely have to have thick skin to be a columnist, or even to post to WaPo forums. But I actually find the personal attacks to be hilarious--once people start doing that, the target of the insults has already "won" the argument. And I really don't mind being called an "arrogant liberal." It's a badge I wear with pride, and really means that I am educated, open-minded, tend to think issues through, and want to move my country forward. However, I draw the line at being called a "dumb stupid-head" by Tea Partyers ;-) . I suspect that people who resort to insults are extremely frustrated that the real world does not conform to their template for the world. Maybe I'm just more adaptable than many people, but I don't claim that it is easy. I claim only that it is necessary.

Posted by: ptgrunner | January 25, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

What about the hypocrite? All of Toles categories can easily be pinned on liberals, but only conservatives are skewered. Never a mention of the foibles regarding the left Tommy?

Posted by: je121819 | January 25, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Hello Tom,

Don't take it personal when people rant at you and don't feel like you are alone. I agree with what you say but I don't do much ranting. It appears that the concept of 'I disagree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it' has disappeared in the minds of many people. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: irharris | January 25, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Tom - I don't know the ratio of positive comments to inane ranting and raving but from where I am there are plenty of friends who appreciate your cartoons and the message they convey. A study done several years ago revealed that 80% of the talk shows on radio were conservative. I have many friends and family who are conservative and many who are liberal or somewhere inbetween. I relate to them all as fine human beings. A French playwright once observed that we are separated by our ideology but united by our tears and our fears. Having said that, however, I am astounded and disturbed by friends and family who are intelligent, thoughtful people until ideology kicks in. When that happens they invariably mouth cliches, slogans and one-liners that are shallow and often even beside the point. Their passion often substitutes for critical thought and, sadly, carries the day. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: WhiskeyJack | January 25, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: quiensabe | January 24, 2011 6:33 PM
You believe evolution is a science and I bring that up occasionally. Science requires empirical proof and evolution does not meet this test any more than does creationism.
I would suggest you actually read up on this. Evolution has, literally, millions of pieces of supporting evidence, from the fossil record to the twin nested hierarchy of genetics and morphological similarity, not to mention biogeography, etc.

Posted by: dfritzin | January 25, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

TT – you may have forgotten this one: The Doubter. He’s the commenting type does not believe that you’re a real person, and that your blog is the work of some suspicious package of artificial intelligence – totally. This person habitually suspects other forms of digital anomalies, like remote car starters and the light that comes on in the refrigerator when you open the door. You’ll find that they say crazy things, like “Keep up the good work, even though all of us know you’re a robot.” Or, “Once again, Toles, all you can do is talk-talk-talk the liberal party line, which means that you’re either an alien from outer space, or an I-Pad.” I was going to call this commenter “The Doubting Thomas,” but then upon reflection I decided that such would hit a little too close to home. I’ll sign off for now.

Posted by: dudeupnorth | January 25, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

It is ok for people to disagree with your point of view but the negativity and mean spiritedness of some people is totally uncalled for and very disturbing.
Tom I love your cartoons they are always on point. Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Tena2 | January 25, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

batigol85- My guess would be that Toles is given (or even assigned) a blog for the same reason he keeps his job as an editorial cartoonist: It keeps people coming back, day after day after day.

Posted by: jonroesler | January 25, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I was a national seminar leader for a few years. If I had 100 people, 98 would think the program was good or great. 2 would think it was a total waste of time, and throw verbal tomatoes at me in their evaluations. At first, I worked to eliminate those two, but it was impossible. However, I was successful over time at moving most from the good category into the great category. I chose to accept that no matter what I did, about 2% would hate me. It goes with the territory. Given the controversial nature of Tom Tole's rant and cartoons, his percentage will be higher. Unless someone has a meaningful point to make or suggestion to offer, the la la la la la defense is appropriate.

Posted by: insightinc | January 25, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Little Tom~~~Who wants to be buried when you can be bronzed!

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | January 25, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Tom for your good works. Keep up the cartoons and the commentary.

Posted by: caseyb1 | January 25, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Tom when you lose all your critiques you'll know you've lost your zeal. The famous stock car racer Jeff Gordon said once that he would really get worried if the Earnhardt fans stop throwing beer cans at me. Because that would mean he wasn't winning anymore.

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | January 25, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Very nice job on Biden. Why do the libs have such thin necks?

Posted by: jornolibist

It's not that libs have thin necks, it's that repubs have thicker skin...

Posted by: Rudesan | January 25, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I'd say starting in the late 1970s, Herblock could no longer draw either. And he was the best. So there.

Posted by: BSDetector | January 25, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

~~~Tell me how cap n trade might work without Wall Street or CCE or World Bank and I will listen.~~~

Why would we want to eliminate parts/players of/in the market for the process of market-based cap and trade if we wanted it to work?

As noted before in this blog:
"An increase between 1990 and 2006 of 35% electricity generation in the U.S. while at the same time a decrease of 45% for NOx and 39% SO2 all coming almost exclusively using the same power plants using cap and trade" suggests that free market cap and trade can work in the US even with those market players that some decry. (; The Electricity Journal, 20(7), 47-58).

Those entities may have other agendas, but in the free market, everyone has their own agenda and yet NOx and SO2 cap and trade has worked well over the past decades as we discussed before. This viable cap and trade in the U.S. was initiated in 1990 by the George H.W. Bush administration's EPA.

Posted by: redhead1990 | January 25, 2011 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Good commentary on commentary, Mr. Toles. It's the good fight, keep it up.

Posted by: SarahBB | January 25, 2011 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Time to add another group, Mr. Toles. I am of the "Yes, but...." group.
Yes it is getting warmer, but that is not the whole story."

Or with the Republicans "Yes we will spend more, but that is not bad if it adds jobs."

I try to find key information that people may not have included.

Comes from a career as a science librarian where I sought out science information and gave it to my clients to use for their research. I can find and evaluate science information and have an earned PhD for credentails.

Another group, Mr. Toles.

Someone to teach you.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | January 25, 2011 7:24 AM | Report abuse

I think your cartoons are very good but I like your columns even more. I'm going to try my hand at being a barker:

"You are a besotted, foul-breathed git whose ideas make true Americans wretch! You liberals are all tree-hugging, commie weenies and global warming is stupid. Who cares! I hope Wisconsin becomes Texas! God bless America! Taxation is theft!"

Posted by: pdurand | January 25, 2011 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, JenDray and ndgirl…glad you both liked my comments!

Posted by: quiensabe | January 25, 2011 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Wow what a coincidence the State of the Union and Oscar nominations coming out on the same day and the winner is ........the teleprompter.

Posted by: billybeer6 | January 25, 2011 6:22 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for your work Mr. Toles. No disagreements whatsoever.

As for the Fauxes, why are you even visiting here? I can't go there because 30 seconds of Faux causes serious brain cramps. Reductio Ad Absurdum.

Posted by: unoiamrite | January 25, 2011 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Actually, Toles makes a few good points in his rant today. Barker/Taunter/Closed loop...not a bad description for both sides.

As for myself, I think I'm in the productive discussion bin but that doesn't mean I won't counterattack snide Liberal remarks or clearly unsupportable assumptions by posters or Toles. Toles' rant yesterday about the GOP CBO argument was factually incorrect and I called him on it. Does he put me in the 'Barker' bin for that? see Toles enjoys his blog but spends relatively little time countering the Conservative points made by posters like me. That's his call but it doesn't make for a great debate.

My take on others that routinely frequent here:

bertzel: Liberal drive-by poster. Not the evil type of Liberal (has a good sense of humor) but usually throws out a critique without a supporting argument.

PrairieDog60: Liberal who works diligently to provide a supporting argument for his causes. I don't agree with him (and he can be a bit insulting) but I enjoy the debate.

dalyplanet: Center Right Independent that comes across as an affable one-trick pony (climate change). He seems dedicated to carrying on that debate (I mean his name is 'planet') regardless of subject. He makes good points and carrys on an above board debate with everyone.

OckamsRazor: Michigan Liberal of the far-left kind. Very dark in his assessment of the Nation and politics. His lead into most posts might be stated: 'If but for the Conservatives, the Nation would be so wonderful...'. I respect his Korean War Service and folks who challenge him should remember he is a judo expert with advanced qualifications.

jornoblist. Center right Independent, I'm guessing. He is very pragmatic in his posts; not an idealogue. Makes some very good arguments.

insightinc. Left of center Independent. Excellent debator. Fair. Thinks about his posts.

jhnnywalker. Liberal. Dedicated to the Left but rational and brings out good points. Tough. I thought perhaps he was extreme Left but I was wrong. I don't take debate with him lightly - too clever for that.

There are a few other extremists that dabble here that don't deserve my analysis :) but bring out the fighter in me.

I enjoy this blog but I think Toles should be more open. He has a light touch and a sense of humor (I appreciate that) and his cartoons are funny, even if they are 95% anti-Conservative. But he seems like the close-minded 'closed loop' person that he protests against today and that's a shame.

I may be mistaken in my assessments of the poster above - no disrespect intended - just my spot analysis from months of written jousting with you folks!

Posted by: pararanger22 | January 25, 2011 3:34 AM | Report abuse

Very nice job on Biden. Why do the libs have such thin necks?

Posted by: jornolibist


Because Liberals are pencil-necked geeks, that's why.

Oops. 2d grade name-calling. Tole's rant is right on target!

Posted by: pararanger22 | January 25, 2011 3:15 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: erp2

I would say that I am somewhat in your camp (or you in mine) on this topic. The fix, if there is one, is not simple though.

more to follow

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 25, 2011 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: jhnnywalkr

I would agree there is some truth in your statement but only from a partial or incomplete point of view. I am concerned that doing something now may be the wrong path. I believe there is time to do the right thing as opposed to doing something.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 25, 2011 1:44 AM | Report abuse

You forgot "The Harper", one who constantly repeats the same theme (closely related to "The Closed Loop").

Without naming names, let it be said that this species can be observed on both sides of the argument(s).

Posted by: chaunceygardener

Funny!! I might suggest 'The Seeker' as there are very smart people on both sides of many arguments presented here. It is difficult to discount reasonable arguments from those that hold different viewpoints than my own.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 25, 2011 1:14 AM | Report abuse

To Tom Toles...
I think you are right on with your comments and your drawings.

Due to the frustration of many years of trying to get people to understand the reality of the situations that we have to deal with; I would like to let them drown in their own self-destruct primordial cess pool.
But alas and alack; one more time...

The problem is that there is not enough economic fuel to support the funds necessary to maintain viable national needs.
Economics is what ever people decide it should be. When there is a shortage of funds; it is necessary to increase available funds.
Without economic growth, nations are doomed to poverty and chaos.
When your vehicle runs out of gas, do you pump in more fuel or do you try to siphon off the bottom of the tank?
After WW2 many nations were in ruins and it was necessary to establish “super funds” to rebuild nations.
The result was a quick recovery and several years of prosperity. Nations have the know how and resources to improve people’s lives but there must be funds available for the exchange of goods and services. That is the way capitalism works. Stagnation is deadly.
Economics must be based on common sense not foolish fears.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | January 25, 2011 12:59 AM | Report abuse


Are you saying you don't think global warming isn't happening or that its not fixable?

And please, do be a cynic or critique the science behind it. Just please use plausible scientific arguments and please don't ignore what evidence/information is out there instead of ignoring the things that are convenient to ignore.

And I agree, declaring too much doom is not helpful either. But we would be helped by further studying the issue (it's incredibly complex, but not so complex that we can't come to some clear basic understandings) and better understand that a warming world is not going to be the end of life, but there are going to be lots of changes, some dramatic, some subtle, some positive, but loads of negatives too.

It's not actually that complex of a scientific question to at least begin to wrap your head around even if you don't have a science background. But it is recommended that you leave behind the emotional baggage that often comes along with this topic for many of us.

Posted by: erp2 | January 25, 2011 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Words to write in the bubble:
In order to address an ocean of problems, we must first clean up this congressional swamp!

Words to add in lower right hand corner:
Stay calm,the tearful speaker merely wocked his thumb with his brand new gavel!

Posted by: Columbiareader | January 24, 2011 11:31 PM | Report abuse

id like to add an uncredited criticism: why is an artist given a rant section? Do columnists draw? Shouldn't the art stand by itself without any silly statement from Toles, because lord knows he would never be paid to write anything.

Posted by: batigol85 | January 24, 2011 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Tom Toles Cartoon Caption Contest:

Words in Bubble: Pay no attention to the man in the window - he has been trying to get a response to his Federal job application for two years now.

Posted by: JoAnnWright | January 24, 2011 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Tom Toles Cartoon Caption Contest:

Words in Bubble: Let me start by thanking the members of Congress for their sacrifice in selling the Capitol to reduce the national debt and the kind folks at Baltimore Aquarium for donating this space.

Posted by: JoAnnWright | January 24, 2011 10:45 PM | Report abuse

dalyplanet, I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you simply deny the problem exists against all evidence to the contrary, you have given up your right to complain about solutions put forth by others, because you have none of your own to offer. If you're "plan" is "Give up, we're too far gone, too linked up to fossil fuels to get off them now, it'll be too hard we can't come up with reasonable solutions and new technology fast enough and we already did enough damage anyways there's no going back," well then step aside and let someone else actually try to do something.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | January 24, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Record cold temperatures in the U.S. and around the world are, of course, caused by man-made global warming (MMGW). All weather/climate-related issues are caused by MMGW. The solution, of course, is to give control of every aspect of human activity everywhere on the planet over to political power elites. And Mr. Toles is there obsequious shill.

Posted by: DirtFarmer1 | January 24, 2011 10:06 PM | Report abuse

You forgot "The Harper", one who constantly repeats the same theme (closely related to "The Closed Loop").

Without naming names, let it be said that this species can be observed on both sides of the argument(s).

They can be observed in a myriad of many different kinds of foolish and/or cynical habitats.

Posted by: chaunceygardener | January 24, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Very nice job on Biden. Why do the libs have such thin necks?

Posted by: jornolibist | January 24, 2011 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I suggest that the text in the bubble read:
"Ask not what your court can do for you; ask what you can do for the lobbyists."

A second suggestion: "Life, liberty & the pursuit of jobs."

A third suggestion: "LIFE, LIBERTY and EMPaThY." crossing out "a" and "h."
Below:GOP sees only Empty talk.

Posted by: tigertale | January 24, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

quiensabe, you've demonstrated that you're one of the Closed Loop commenters. Anyone who hasn't accepted evolution is not interested in argument on the basis of evidence.

Love your cartoons, Tom, and I share your worldview. Am glad you have a platform to set it forth.

Posted by: ndgirl | January 24, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Keep it up Tom Toles, you're the best thing at the Post by a mile.

Quiensabe, thx for reminding us that global warming deniers also don't accept evolution.

I can trace your movement's mental evolution all the way back to the Salem witchhunters, and the Spanish Inquisition.

Posted by: JenDray | January 24, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

CO2 emissions were relatively stable throughout history, until @ 100 years ago. Since then, they've gone through the roof, particularly these last few decades. Ocean temps have gone up. Average temps have gone up worldwide, sharply given former rates before CO2 induced climate change. 2010 was tied for the hottest on record since 1880. Glaciers that have been around forever are melting within our lifetime

Posted by: chop1 |

So if ya buy this story you are ok person anything else a cynic or a fool huh. I wonder which am I in your opinion.

I was for a time a buyer of the first story but it has a lot of holes Mr Toles, a lot of holes. Lets say it true for a second.

How will the Chicago Climate Exchange (having Obama and Gore involvement) really reduce carbon output. 2/3 of cap and trade plans are pretty much a money transfer.

The other part of cap involves sequestration which for the most part involves pumping thousands of billions of tons of CO2 into old wells and such at very high pressure. Some scientists thought nuclear bombs were a good idea and some scientists think this is a good idea. I could rather live with the heat.

There is disagreement for a reason and not just stubborness. A handful of humans are telling us doom is tomorrow (You Mr Toles) and then a lot of others are much less dramatic.

This topic needs better solutions rather than quick ones. A lot of change has been started already, but free solar and wind are a long way off. If some of you would agree that some of the AGW acolytes may be a bit extreme in their views there may be some more needed discussion other wise I can only continue to lob snowballs.

redhead maybe discussion later or the future? Tell me how cap n trade might work without Wall Street or CCE or World Bank and I will listen.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 24, 2011 8:10 PM | Report abuse

This is an entry for the inaugural Tom Toles Caption Contest "What would you write in the bubble".

"Before I begin, I'd like to thank the Chinese for this beautiful aquarium..."

Submitted on behalf of my son William Kast, age 15.

Posted by: larrykast | January 24, 2011 8:06 PM | Report abuse

What topics are opinionated isn't alway's what is said. But fun to Draw your own conclusions

Posted by: BillSaidIt | January 24, 2011 7:29 PM | Report abuse

To an Artist insult is just as important as gloryfication. It's the bowl of fruit that people just walk by that is hardest to take.

Posted by: BillSaidIt | January 24, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Tom Toles,

Way many more people enjoy your art and commentary than dislike it. Customers that have a bad experience tell everybody, those that have a good time generally keep to themselves.

You should feel good that you elicit such harsh unrelenting attacks around your advocacy for sane energy and climate issues. It means you’re doing good work.

Posted by: EarlyBird1 | January 24, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

What do you do, Tom, to those of us who don’t believe like you do? You believe evolution is a science and I bring that up occasionally. Science requires empirical proof and evolution does not meet this test any more than does creationism. That seems to me to be “play[ing] a constructive role that may be annoying to you but doesn’t seem to “do all manner of damage.” You, like other liberals, most it seems, don’t want opposition. You want unquestioned obedience. I left that mode at Fort Leonard Wood a number of years ago.

Posted by: quiensabe | January 24, 2011 6:33 PM | Report abuse

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