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Throwing in the towel

By Tom Toles

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The sound of no hands clapping

Continuing my thoughts from yesterday about sound, I have to say that the best part of reading the comments section here is the blissful silence that emanates from even the most provocative needling. A faint Horton-hears-a-who-like crackle of electrons from the screen graces equally both the push-mower-like purr of my thoughtful prose and the vuvuzela-level-power-mower-like confrontationalism of certain regular readers, and you know who you are.

Even when I DON'T send my imaginary nanny-state stormtroopers out to impound your power mower, I am accused of it. I merely whispered the faintest poem of praise for those who VOLUNTARILY trim their grass like thoughtful, responsible human adults. But now it seems that it is an OFFICIAL SIGNIFIER of conservatism that you make as much racket as your machinery budget will allow, then thump your chest about it and make the Stupid Sports Face. But you will need formidable hacker assistance to bring your din to my library-like comments sanctuary.

And speaking of conservatism, here's a beautiful little rundown by Michael Lind on the last 50 years of the American version of it. While I'm innately skeptical of trying to tidy up history into neat categories, and more so of any predictions that result, this is definitely worth a read, because it sheds a lot more light than, uh, noise. --Tom Toles

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By Tom Toles  | June 16, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Environment  
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Comments

Ayn Rand is one of those authors everyone should read. It is enlightening to read the books banned by Communist and other Left Wing dictators.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 19, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"If you have too much grass to mow with a push mower, you have too much grass."

Tom, you don't know what you're talking about. The problem is not the amount of grass, but the thickness of the blade or stalk, as the case may be. I tried a reel mower. Most of the grass it cut fine, but dandelions and grass with thicker blades were undamaged. After a few mowings, they were standing there proud and tall, taunting, turning my once nice lawn into a junkyard.

So I bought an electric mower with a removable battery that I could charge indoors. The reel actually replaced an electric I'd bought last spring, but the battery was fixed inside it and couldn't be brought indoors for charging. I was faced with the choice of either having an ugly extension cord permanently running into the shed (which is not wired) during the winter months to keep the battery charged or leaving it be. I chose the latter, since an electric cord was not an original or desired part of the lawn. Needless to say, the battery power went down to almost zilch and the mower was rendered useless. I had to give it to the Salvation Army.

My current electric mower works fine. One charge will do most of the back or all the front lawn. I keep the reel in case the electric ever needs to go to shop. The electric makes noise - you'll have to live with it, be a man about it - but not as much as a gas-powered one. It also creates much less carbon pollution. That's great. But none of that means squat if it doesn't cut my lawn well, which it does. Saving the environment's great, and if that can be done without undue pollution and the lovely smell of spilled gasoline in my car, so much the better. But cutting the lawn comes first, and if I had to buy a gas mower to do that, I would have.

Here's the deal, Tom. I don't tell you how to live. If you're unwilling to do me the same courtesy, you are free to come over and cut my lawn with your preferred method any time you want, so long as you trim everything neatly and make sure to catch any strays your mower/goat/rabbit may have missed. Otherwise, keep your pontification away from my home.

Posted by: treetopflyer | June 16, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, I would like to thank you for your witty and funny work. You make me chuckle and laugh with your on-point cartoons. You also must be doing something right when you get all these right-wing k00ks ranting and raving on your board. LOL. Thanks for the laughs.

Posted by: bushidollar | June 16, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Ah yes, the days of push mowers. I hear that rabbits are wonderfully quiet yard nibblers, their pellets are great fertilizer. In fact, some people simply raise the rabbits to tend to their yards by way grass in and grass out. Too visual??

Posted by: fromthecheapseats | June 16, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I didn't realize I could comment on Tom's cartoons and comments until today, and suddenly it's as if I can say thanks directly to one of my best friends in all the editorial universe (it's not really that big a place, but what the heck...)

Toles' crackpot genius ought to be required reading in every public square and mall and even college lecture hall - with pictures printed randomly on the backs of utility bills and advertising fliers, so even Rush's dittoheads could have a chance to consider an alternate reality.

If there were any true editorial justice Tom Toles would have his own special seat on the Supreme Court!

At least there he'd still have time for drawing his always delightful cartoons!

Posted by: thanksforfish | June 16, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

He who draws liberal political cartoons has too much ink.

Posted by: marieandmike | June 16, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Mr Toles, I don’t know what fills me with more joy, the thought of you and the rest of your liberal pals hyperventilating over the prospect of another (even more right-wing) GOP takeover this November or the fact that Obama is responsible for this.

Obama, your last hope, your golden boy, the “light bringer”, the candidate the new left has yearned for since the 60’s. He’s well traveled, bi-racial, academic, handsome, articulate and a complete and utter failure. He is revealing himself more and more each day as the inexperienced, weak, and increasingly corrupt fool that he is, and he is dragging liberalisms good name through the mud.

Think about it Mr. Toles, the left almost had it all: congress, the presidency, state legislature and you threw it away in record time. Congratulations.

Lets see draw on of your subpar stick figured cartoons on that.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | June 16, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"It is past time for our government to take control of the oil well hole in the GUlf and Plug it. IT is ridiculous to think that BP has more expertise than the U.S. Navy, our National labs, NASA, NSF, ... Our government has resources that are far greater than BP's"

**********************

Vitually all expertise, technological advancement capability, and ability to efficiently manage large scale projects is found within the private sector. When we needed bridges and dams built throughout the last century, the government contracted with the private sector. When the military wants the best fighter jets and other hardware, they turn to the private sector. When vaccines are needed for a swine flu outbreak, it's once again, the private sector. When government does anything, it misses deadlines by a mile, it explodes budgets, and it's agencies generally retain the same pesonnel even after a major screw-up. There is no discipline like that found in the market place.

Posted by: kreminitly | June 16, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Jimtwest3,

It is obvious that you don't know, but the NSA is not in the business of drilling wells of any kind, much less in deep water. Obviously, neither is the federal gov't, or we would be seeing profit margins like the oil companies do.
The US Navy is a military group, dude, not an oil company. They blow up ships, they don't drill deep water drills. Nor does the NSF, or anyone else that you mentioned.
Other oil companies don't know any more than BP does, and why should they care? They are in it for obscene profit making, and the oil will be GONE in a few decades, so they feel they may as well make hay right now, and damn the consequences.
Short-sighted morons, every one of them.

Posted by: taroya | June 16, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives and libertarians (except for the militia types) are okay with laws that ban killing, stealing, fraud, etc, because these harm the individual immediately. Their inability to embrace any type of environmental law that prevents a more slow and collective harm to society and future generations is due, I think, to an inability to understand the complex issues of how ecosystems work, how climate is being changed and how man's altering of the planet is making it less habitable for all sorts of creatures, including ourselves.

As long as there are powerful forces (read, "vested interests") wanting to maintain our fossil-fuel and consumer-based society, there will always be smear and fear campaigns against any "science" that says we might need to change. And it will always be successful to some degree because it's much easier to appeal to people's fears than to help them understand complex systems. But...if we don't start developing a sustainable economy soon, it's quite probable that, much like the original inhabitants of Easter Island, we will use up the last of our natural resources in an effort to keep worshipping our gods (in our case, consumerism and convenience), not even recognizing that we just destroyed our home.

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | June 16, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The problem with fixing our addiction is that steps to recover will be very painful, and it won't be cheep.

1. Create a federal requirement for all cars to pass inspection that they have to exceed a MPG standard and it has to be something in the 40 MPG + range until we have electric cars.

2. A building freeze on undeveloped land. Its time for society to build up and not out. Also we need to start making renewable energy standard on new homes.

3. re-direct all fossil fuel taxes to completely subsidize green society until it can stand on its own.

Posted by: alex35332 | June 16, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Push mower? What are we, animals?

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | June 16, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

It is past time for our government to take control of the oil well hole in the GUlf and Plug it. IT is ridiculous to think that BP has more expertise than the U.S. Navy, our National labs, NASA, NSF, ... Our government has resources that are far greater than BP's resources, but we have a President that does not believe in them. Obama is not demonstrating much leadership in this situation. Obama appears to be a politician trapped in the situation without the vision to know what to do.

Posted by: jimtwest3 | June 16, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

"Change we Can Believe In". That tinkling sound of the coins rubbing together in your pocket after Obama raises your taxes either directly or indirectly. "Yes We Can".

Posted by: barrysal | June 16, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"Change we Can Believe In". That tinkling sound of the coins rubbing together in your pocket after Obama raises your taxes either directly or indirectly. "Yes We Can".

Posted by: barrysal | June 16, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

bertzel---Obama is All Talk and No Action and is setting the stage for major uprisings in America. He inherited a catastrophic mess and is just making it worse.

You have your opinion and I have mine.....
Time will tell..I'm betting on the Prez.

Posted by: bertzel | June 16, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Dear MRA104, what you say is true. However big business does not pass laws that we must abide by. I have always believed that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts, absolutely". That goes for business as well as government. Big Government working too closely with Big Business usually equals eminent domain. More and more we see people losing property for the good of the State or a business. A real travesty.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 16, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

People did not like oil before they started to use it. It was cheaper than anything else. We had electric cars long ago. They were great. But expensive.

Still are expensive.

It is not a choice between good and bad or even stupid and smart.

It is just economics.

So with some government support, we may go clean.

But it will cost more for a long time in the future.

But the good news is that it will not be that much more and if we work at it, may even break level.

But to pose it as a smart and stupid move is to ignore reality.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 16, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

When you're slimy, the urge to get clean is a compelling one. http://scientificsonline.com/Product.asp?pn=3053617&sid=google&cm_mmc=google-_-cpc-_-edmu-_-thedrinkingbird&WT.term=the+drinking+bird&WT.campaign=29&WT.source=msn&WT.medium=cpc&WT.content=362431&cshift_ck=1953685268cs362431&WT.srch=1 My birds weren't hurting anyone and I am not the one who took things to this level. Remember that as best you can and take what comfort you can in not being invited to a certain marathon swim. One way or the other.

Posted by: beowulf3 | June 16, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

bertzel---Obama is All Talk and No Action and is setting the stage for major uprisings in America. He inherited a catastrophic mess and is just making it worse.

Gov. Jindal is doing more to clean up that mess in the Gulf and prevent it from going all the way inland and completely destroying the marshes than Obama and his inadequate leadership of our Nation. Mark my words! BP will get off easy because Obama has skeletons that they will rattle in his face. That is why Corporate America wanted him in the White House to begin with.

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | June 15, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Tom, thanks for giving America exactly what it needs right now: brilliant, progressive analysis of our most pressing issues AND the most humorous political cartooning to be found on any editorial page in the world! And to think I almost gave up reading WaPo when it went ... well ... you know. Thanks for sticking with it!

I just needed to let you know that there many more of your fervent admirers here than the silly other provocateurs who seem to have nothing better to do than yell at you. I got tired of being the "Silent Majority", so now you know!

Keep up the GREAT work!

Posted by: JC505 | June 15, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I TOUCH TREES, as others might stroke the fenders of automobiles or finger silk fabrics or fondle cats. Trees do not purr, do not flatter, do not inspire a craving for ownership or power. They stand their ground, immune to merely human urges. Saplings yield under the weight of a hand and then spring back when the hand lifts away, but mature trees accept one’s touch without so much as a shiver. While I am drawn to all ages and kinds, from maple sprouts barely tall enough to hold their leaves off the ground to towering sequoias with their crowns wreathed in fog, I am especially drawn to the ancient, battered ones, the survivors.

Scott Russell Sanders

Just happened to be reading again...my bad.

Posted by: bertzel | June 15, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Dear bobbo2, I "hear the quote" and I notice that Ayn Rand was seeing only part of the picture. The ongoing struggle to uphold our freedom is not as simple as citizen-vs-government. There are other players on the field too, like the big corporations some liberals are always concerned about, which left to their own devices can threaten our freedom and well-being as much as the hypothetical dictators you rightly fear. We need a resourceful and competent government to keep these forces in check, just as we need to ensure the government doesn't overstep certain bounds. It's a question of balance. (And yes, I did call the police.)

Posted by: MRA104 | June 15, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh & Toles...I am currently reading The Alchemist...Rand is going to have to wait.
Also, Silos, is also on my list of "reads".

Posted by: bertzel | June 15, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

'Cap and trade has nothing to do with clean energy. When you energy plan consists of "taxing people more", then you really don't have an energy plan, no matter what you want to claim.'

You get what you pay for Ombudsman1.

Posted by: bertzel | June 15, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you all go to the Energy Fair in Wisconsin this weekend....plenty to see and learn..People do come from all over the U.S.
Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this year for I will be at a soccer tournament. I have attended this Fair several times and it is indeed worth the visit.
I still cringe when the subject of storing 'Nuclear waste' involves the United States...could be the 'death' of us all...then again, I am not familiar with the facility.

cschotta1----Takes One To Know One.

Posted by: bertzel | June 15, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Dear stanassc, You are talking about a Breeder Reactor. It uses Thorium. A technology that we should dust off and move forward with. Our Government should promote research into that and other forms of atomic energy. And while the Government is at it we should open Yucca Mountain for it's purpose. To store spent fuel rods. NOW.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 15, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I have a favorite quote of Ayn Rand. "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force". A Libertarian or Conservative hears this and their face stays straight, understanding the possibility that always exists. A Progressive hears the quote and either smiles or smirks while dismissing the possibility. I don't know which is worse, those who quietly hack away at freedom. Or those who make alot of noise while doing it.

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 15, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I don't know where to post this, but some reporter look in to the American Scientist article

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors
An old idea in nuclear power gets reexamined
Robert Hargraves and Ralph Moir

I worked as the electronic technician at the MIT Nuclear Reactor in the late 1950s while getting my ScD.

There were mutterings about the thorium reactor and its advantages. It has incredible environmental, technical, safety, construction time and economic advantages.

It has been criminal we have not pursued this over the years. Iran, North Korea and Israel should be offered this to develop! (India already is.)

Dr Robert Stanfield

Posted by: stanassc | June 15, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Toles, wish everyone was as perfect a responsible human adult like you and able to afford to live in your clean energy socialist utopia. Some of us good human adults are physically unable to use a push mower, but remember a time in our life when a push mower was all there was and pushed the heck out it. The way to look at this is the same way you look at abortion. It's my body and if I want to mow my grass using a gas guzzling lawn mower that's my choice and no life is lost.

Posted by: taxcutsin12 | June 15, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

The man is a true idiot! I'm waiting for him to ask George Soros to return in millions funded to him by US taxpayers, so that Soros could drill for oil off the Brazil coast. lol

Posted by: cschotta1 | June 15, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Cap and trade has nothing to do with clean energy. When you energy plan consists of "taxing people more", then you really don't have an energy plan, no matter what you want to claim.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | June 15, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

CLAP, CLAP, CLAP! to you" President Obama!
You are still "The Man" as far as I'm concerned....I believe in you, and your words.

Posted by: bertzel | June 15, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

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