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At the Watergate Hotel, has anything changed?

By Tom Toles

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Friday rant, Atlas smiled edition

Tea Partiers like conspiracy theories, so here's one for them. You've been tricked! The maestros of the Mighty Wurlitzer of the right-wing noise machine have spun you around three times and pointed you in exactly the wrong direction. Those maestros, in case you haven't bothered looking behind the curtain, are the already wealthy and powerful who want to keep things that way. Psst... maybe Rush is in on the game, and those things he's been telling you... maybe they're NOT ALL TRUE!

Perhaps the maestros are just taking ADVANTAGE of your unfocused frustrations. Those copies of the Constitution and Atlas Shrugged they handed you after your pirouettes, perhaps those are serving THEIR interests, not yours. The Constitution's limits on government power that so enthrall you, they were designed for a time of yeoman farmers and local shopkeepers. The power denied government flowed back to them. But those days are long gone. Power doesn't disappear; it goes somewhere. Guess where it goes today? NOT TO YOU.

And Atlas Shrugged! Mr. Atlas, do you think perhaps you are dangerously over-leveraged? Atlas shrugged! Do you think maybe you are cutting corners on well-head and coal mine safety? Atlas shrugged! How come you're still getting your multi-million dollar bonuses while the country is reeling with 10 percent unemployment? Atlas shrugged again, and smiled that puzzling little smile of his. --Tom Toles
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By Tom Toles  | May 28, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  DC  
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Comments


So, Tom, we should give the bonuses to the executives of Fannie Mae? Why not directly to Obama? If he's not Wesley Mouch, then who is he? John Galt?


Posted by: quiensabe | May 31, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"You should have read this paper during the Vietnam/Nixon years if you think that they are leftist now!"

I did. The NVA never has a better advocate. And Nicholas von Hoffman was against just about everything.

Go read "Two klutzes On the Moon," Washington Post, Apr. 24,1972.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | May 30, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

"a time of yeoman farmers and local shopkeepers...."

The USA is not what it used to be.

But it never was like this.

Not with international forces at work.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | May 30, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

"I thought the WP had a conscience. In truth, the WP has become the MSNBC (i.e., unapologetic shills for the Democrats) of the print/web news community."

Right, George Will, Charles Krauthamer, and Michael Gerson (to name just a few of the conservative voices) are unapologetic liberal shills. Having read the WaPo for about 50 years, I think that it is pretty well balanced at this point in time at least in the views of their editorial staff. You should have read this paper during the Vietnam/Nixon years if you think that they are leftist now!

Posted by: hakngolfer1 | May 29, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

In response to
Bertzel,
Interesting post. Perhaps you could deploy to Afghanistan and help the troops. You might find it instructive in sorting out what a 'hero' really looks like.
Posted by: pararanger22

What I find interesting is your receptiveness of my “opinion’.
You seem to have “latched” on to two words…war & hero.
While I do not glamorize war, I do realize it is a necessary ‘evil’ at this point in time.
A very close person to me always reminds me, sometimes with annoying fashion, that words are just words. The person on the receiving end ‘chooses’ how those words have an effect on them…the word, by and of itself, has no power.
That being said, I stand by my statement.
I don’t fully understand what you mean by the word “help” in your post, though, I believe the best way for me to “help” the troops in Afghanistan would be to stay out of their way…they have a job to do, mission, if you will. That is not my purpose, passion or expertise.
I assure you of one thing though pararanger22…come Monday morning, I will get out of bed and head out to one of the many parks in my area. I will gather with others, listen to the local City Band and Honor the Servicemen and Women, past and present, with the due respect they deserve. I will listen to the “speeches”, give applause, acknowledge them and give a moment of silence, as I do every year….
I’m sure the majority of Americans who choose to honor these same people by simply calling them a “hero” will be doing the same thing???
Have a memorable week end pararanger22.

Posted by: bertzel | May 29, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

But Mr.Toles, drawing caricatures is a service, writing on the level of a caricature is a disservice. How about you go back to your day job and draw that big powerful Republican George Soros for us?

Posted by: bmb2000 | May 29, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

By the way, your local Giant employee? They start at under $6 per hour.

The days of them starting at $10 and getting yearly raises died decades ago - back when rents were 1/3 of what they are now.

Now, it's $5.75 in Virginia. Arlington, Virginia, USA. And NO full time allowed. You tell me, HOW one survives on that. And pays medical bills?

You're crazy.

Posted by: Thinker_ | May 29, 2010 5:30 AM | Report abuse

And you've got a "blue collar job" with health benefits? Let me guess:

Virginia Power?

Oh, you poor thing. I'm betting you pull down at LEAST $20 per hour. Not to mention, you obviously have the benefit of being full time, or you'd have no benefits. So, basically, you're making bank.

Look around crybaby. What do you think your waitress is making? What about the guy at the 7-11? How about your local WalMart employee? Or UPS warehouse employee? Or FedEx warehouse grunt? How about the gardeners? The babysitters?

But you, oh, you've got it so bad. You're an absolute martyr. ATrueChristian, Indeed. Like Jesus himself, only with a blue collar.

*fart*

Posted by: Thinker_ | May 29, 2010 5:26 AM | Report abuse

The left only looks to more government power. Is there no limit on what the left wants government to do?

Posted by: bobbo2 | May 27, 2010 9:24 PM

OK, bobbo2, but don't blame the left for the patriot act, or suspending habeas corpus, or making torture part of our policy. I'm not remembering where any of that stuff is OK, according to the Constitution. Because it's not. And the right (wrongly) jammed it through when our nation was most vulnerable... coincidentally.

------------------------------------------

Anyone reading this: Toles is LYING. While it is true the Republicans are rich and are funded by the rich, but FOLLOW THE MONEY because you will find that the Democrats also have rich friends and guess what?! They are rich themselves! Don't trust me because I posted it here, do the research that Toles and his right wing equivalent don't want you to do and you will find out that there is almost no real difference between the parties. Do your own research and find the FACTS, not Toles' OPINIONS or only HALF of the FACTS.

Posted by: ATrueChristian | May 28, 2010 11:54 AM

Dear ATrueChristian,

First, I'd like to congratulate you on your handle. A gesture of TruePietyUnsurpassed I would say. You are certainly not one to wear his religion on his sleeve in order to secure the benefits of a symbolically sacred existence. Kudos, Sir, unto you. Amen.

And YES, both parties are rich. But there is a difference between Barack Obama rich and George W. Bush RICH. If you don't know the difference, I'd suggest you do some research yourself.

Obama made his money (what we sometimes call "earned") with his book. Georgie Fascist Bush was handed an oil company by his Daddy. Through his signature mismanagement and general idiocy, he managed to screw up even this, finally relegated to part owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team... bought with what? What had he earned?

Those who earned their money and those who had it shoveled onto them by the kilo have very different ideas of what the world, the market, indeed, life, itself, is like. How can a guy who drinks and parties into his 40s, only to become President of the United States in his 50s, relate to the plight of a 22 year old struggling to pay rent, pay for daycare, pay for medical bills, pay for phone and electric, while making $7 an hour PART TIME?

They just cant.

And maybe Obama, who went to Harvard and became a millionaire author can't either, but I'll give him the nod over the "old" and "endless" money ANY day. And I would urge anyone with a brain to do the same.

I went to school with Bush-type money, and let me tell you, they will NEVER understand what it is to be poor. They don't even know what it is to WORRY about money. EVER.

Dont try it, OhSancimoniousOne. I know too much. Been there, pal.

Posted by: Thinker_ | May 29, 2010 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Boy, the tea party must be nuts to oppose federal waste and crony capitalism. Big government works in Russia, Greece, Venezuala, China - it will work here, too.

Posted by: bcbay | May 28, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The government has always been political. Even our late friend John Murtha was political, but I trusted him a heck of lot more then those that were never in harms way supporting our country.

Signed
A Vet.

Posted by: nstein1 | May 28, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Tom,

Got some news for you. Most of the Dems in power are RICH too! Hey, you think Teddy was worried all those years about the average person? Hah! He was one who voted for all the loopholes for the rich who inherited their wealth and every so often he'd throw a bone to the masses, supposedly, since the majority of the blue collar workers pay more taxes than he ever did, guess who ended up paying for their "bone". HAHAHAHAHAHA and sheeple like you eat it up, still do! Who is going to get hurt by this new healthcare bill? The rich? HA! It will be those of us who took lower paying jobs in exchange for better health insurance. Yep, us blue collars again get the shaft.

Anyone reading this: Toles is LYING. While it is true the Republicans are rich and are funded by the rich, but FOLLOW THE MONEY because you will find that the Democrats also have rich friends and guess what?! They are rich themselves! Don't trust me because I posted it here, do the research that Toles and his right wing equivalent don't want you to do and you will find out that there is almost no real difference between the parties. Do your own research and find the FACTS, not Toles' OPINIONS or only HALF of the FACTS.

Posted by: ATrueChristian | May 28, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I will once again point out that the reason that "big business" has so much power isn't because we are living in a country with limited government. The only times the Government has had more power was during the Civil War (Martial Law in Maryland, imprisonmemt of political dissidents) and WWII (forced relocation of Japanese-Americans to camps).

If we were living in a Jeffersonian model of government and we still had all the power flowing to Big Business then Mr. Toles would have a point.

However, the reason we have our power usurped is because the government has too much power. If the government didn't have the power to play favorites with businesses and to pander to lobbyists then guess what? We wouldn't have lobbyists dumping money into Washington to try and sieze power. Mr. Toles is rightfully sceptical of giving power to those in Big Business but why is he willing to blindly give that power to the Government?

"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him?" - Thomas Jefferson

Those in Washington are certainly no more saintly than those on Wall Street. So why condone the formers power while demonizing the latters? Why not limit both?

"When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object." - Patrick Henry

Still true over 200 years later.

Posted by: BradG | May 28, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm a little confused. Are you saying that the population of the US today is more or less able to make decisions for themselves than the yeoman farmers? Too much government will turn us into a nation of house cats. If someone doesn't put out the food and clean the litter box, we're done.

There will always be those who work harder, take chances, fall down and get up again. There will always be those who are happy to do their job and go home. There will always be those who will take from anyone, lie, cheat, and steal. There will always be those who sit bemoaning their fate and wait for manna to fall from heaven. It's all a matter of human nature and to believe otherwise is to be guilty of magical thinking.

By the way, I think that you belong in the first category. Congratulations on your success.

Posted by: lderusso | May 28, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse


C'mon Tom, don't be coy. Just say it:

Marx was right about the Capitalist slave system.

Posted by: HumanistPatriot | May 28, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Pattersonville, New York loves your work, Toles. Your rants are almost enjoyable as your cartoons. "Almost" because of the picture and a thousand words deal we all subscribe to. Don't normally comment but today your Friday rant tipped the scale. And Atlas shrugged.

Posted by: joejay17 | May 28, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Bertzel,

Interesting post. Perhaps you could deploy to Afghanistan and help the troops. You might find it instructive in sorting out what a 'hero' really looks like.

Posted by: pararanger22 | May 28, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Mr. Toles. You are one of the last remaining voices of reason on WaPo's op-ed page. Everyone else seems caught up in the GOP-DEM grudge match, as if it somehow matters which side wins.

Posted by: CynicalC | May 28, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

It is obvious that we do indeed “dance to the beat of a different drum”. I prefer that phrase over “march to the beat of a different drummer”, because visions of war pop into my head with the latter.
I love quotes…when I was younger I would read the “quotable quotes” In the Readers Digest. A few would make it to my “wall of fame” One such quote being, “Music is the Shorthand of emotion”.
Thank you tomcammarata, for your “opinion” on the meaning of Atlas’s shrug, for that led me to Ayn Rand (guess that explains Rand Paul’s name). I must admit I have not heard of Ayn Rand before your post. Interesting woman…guess I’ve found my summer read : )
It appears we, as a people, are lost, spinning in circles, desperately seeking answers to “happenings” beyond our control.
Unfortunately the “problems” don’t just lie with “big corporations” do they? I’ve witnessed it almost everywhere I turn in our society (on my journey). It is common place.
Sometimes I think one (all) needs a “wake up call” to put things into perspective.
I also believe we are getting quite a few big ‘wake up calls’ and we should listen and learn. For what does not kill us makes us stronger.
Yep, I’m a romantic. Not in the sense of the opposite sex per say. I am a romantic when it comes to life. I don’t believe in heroes and have yet to “idolize” anyone or anything.

Posted by: bertzel | May 28, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

For many of the dead-enders, it's not about their economic self-interest. It's about their fear and loathing. No one listens to Limbaugh to be informed. They listen to be inflamed. Limbaugh and company just give them what they want: validation for their hatreds.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | May 28, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

You know, I always have liked Tole's cartoons but he is kind of a Cheech and Chong character, isn't he? Sees the world from the glow of his lava lamps and velvet paintings illuminated with blue light and thinks that the whole world is just like him -- and those who aren't are just big Republican meanies. I mean, I love that all of the WP columnists think conservatives are all a bunch of dumb lemmings that follow the Piper's music(Rush/Hannity/Levin/etc.) without any thought, without any analysis, without any individual decisions about what is the right way to go. The real issue with Tole's rants is that he doesn't really offer a debate topic -- just the usual Democrat Siren songs that bash the conservatives without any supporting arguments. Take today's rant against multi-millionaires wanting to protect the status quo whilst 10% unemployment is hitting the common man. Toles talks about Rush and others making these big bucks while instigating the masses to protect their treasure but refuses to talk about the big government $$ going to the unions to support them. Does anyone on the WP staff want to have a real discussion or will we continue to be gobsmacked with the same drivel with no outlet for 'real' debate. I've been a WP fan for awhile (even though I'm conservative) because I thought the WP had a conscience. In truth, the WP has become the MSNBC (i.e., unapologetic shills for the Democrats) of the print/web news community.

Posted by: pararanger22 | May 28, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Per bobo2's comment, and in complete agreement that the US is, all in all, a wonderful place to grow up and live in, the US Constitution did not "endure" the Civil War. It utterly failed to prevent it, and required significant amendment afterward.

Posted by: adamfi | May 28, 2010 4:24 AM | Report abuse

Saddest no faces of democrats ((((( 30 days late for top kill)))))

Posted by: carbonhog | May 27, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

It bears noting that many of today's corporate executives, and not a few of our politicians, have more in common with Atlas Shrugged's villains that with its heros.

Most commentary makes fun of Ayn Rand's heroes and ignores the other half of her moral presentation: the hucksters, the chiselers, the people with pull who were the ones causing all the trouble in Atlas Shrugged's failing society.

Ayn Rand, self-stated, was not a Libertarian. She felt that its near abolition of government of any type was anarchistic and doomed to failure. It must be remembered that she grew up in the worst totalitarian state of the last century, the Soviet Union, a form of government that murdered millions of its own citizens to enforce its will and protect itself.

When Ayn Rand saw here people and policies that were echoes of what she witnessed in the U.S.S.R., she could imagine it all happening again. It's hard at this distance in time to recall the paradoxical way Russia was held by the West in the mid-20th century: first a social threat in the 1930s, an ally in the European war in the '40s, then an absolute threat in the Cold War of the '50s. She lived to escape it and did not want to see it all rise again.

In Ayn Rand's mind the socialist form of government, as demonstrated by the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics in Russia and the National Socialist or Nazi Party in Germany, was just such an absolutist threat. She did not believe that the kind of social democracies that eventually evolved in post-war Europe were possible or desirable. There was too much danger that such government could overreach and grow too powerful, become too much of a threat in its drive to "protect and care for" its citizens.

She advocated for a form of Jeffersonian republican democracy, substituting scientists and industrialists for Jefferson's gentlemen farmers and country scholars, assuming that their belief in a rational moral code of mutual trust and trade for mutual benefit would keep the peace. "That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves..." as Jefferson is reputed to have put it.

Ayn Rand's great caution inherent in this view of necessary government was that thinking was a voluntary action. One has to will to be rational, it doesn't just happen. And when people don't willfully choose a rational course of action, but the opposite, you get the bad guys she populated her novels with.

That Ayn Rand often ignored her own principle in later life is a sad demonstration of the voluntary nature of thought and action she portrayed in her heroes, and why we have so many of her villains about today. To me. that's really why Atlas shrugged.

Posted by: tomcammarata | May 27, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

For all the faults of our system of government. For all the failings of our Representatives in government. I would live nowhere else. Our Constitution is alive and well. It has endured civil war and world war. It has endured racial strife and economic disaster. Our Constitution will endure regardless of what the left has to say. When I look to see things change I look first to our bedrock, the Constitution and it's limits on government power. The left only looks to more government power. Is there no limit on what the left wants government to do? The inevitable end is total government control, crushing taxation, and most important, loss of our freedom. Our freedom has been maintained by men and women far greater than me. I will resist those that want to take from me what others have died to preserve.

Posted by: bobbo2 | May 27, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

The Government is already in bed with Big Business. There is no seperation. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are guilty of this. Those in power in the Government and those in power in Business are the same people. They pretend to fight to keep us complacent.

Power in the hands of anyone but the individual is dangerous and needs to be limited. That means limited government as well as regulations to keep big business from crowding everyone else out. We give the Government too much power and they use that power to play favourites and distort markets in favor of thier cronies which in turn reduces freedom.

In a way it's all of our fault. We don't elect representatives we elect politicians. Personally I don't think we should have elections. We should have lottery similar to jury duty. That way the government would stop being political. Failing that we need term limits and non-partisan elections.

Posted by: BradG | May 27, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

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