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Gray to the rescue?

By Tom Toles

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You don't say

There is a saying for every situation. "Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead." You don't hear that one a lot because it's literal formulation is, well, a bit removed from everyday experience. And the larger, metaphorical meaning doesn't bring a lot of examples to mind right away, either. And I guess we are left to extrapolate that the same applies to oneself. And also, nobody HAS friends anymore, just enemies. Flies are sighted on all foreheads now.

But my point is there are a LOT of expressions. They cover all situations. "Clouds before the storm." "Always darkest before the dawn." "Every cloud has a silver lining." Every situation except probably the most important one of all situations. Certainly the most important here in D.C. There are a lot of sayings about rules. "Work hard and play by the rules." But once you're playing by the rules, the game is mostly already decided. The real game is WRITING those rules. And so here is my contribution to the lexicon of sayings: "Who writes the rules, wins the game." I expect full credit. "Give credit where credit is due!"

Anyway, even though they don't actually SAY that saying, lobbyists in Washington know it well and live by it every day. They also know one other, "He who pays the piper calls the tune." --Tom Toles

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By Tom Toles  | October 14, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  DC, Education  
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Comments

Your statements are disturbing.
Posted by: bobbo2

What the Republicans are doing to our country is disturbing. They are trying to turn our nation into a poverty stricken third world slave state.
Maybe we need a preemptive attack on the Republican Party of NO standing for Neo-Oligarchy (The new rule of the few).
The present political system is designed to corrupt the politicians.
Influence pedaling by lobbyists, paying for elections by Corporations and coercion by Political Parties has to go.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 14, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Politicians have trouble following the Constitution. Politicians have trouble following their own ethics rules. Politicians have trouble keeping their promises. With all the troubles that they have doing simple things why should we expect them to be able to run our Government?

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 14, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

How about this one, TT: “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” Then there’s the one that balances that one right out of the water: “Pick me a winner.” Speaking of water, how about: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” I’m going to assume that you’ve never heard this one anywhere; it's kind of a contrary companion: “Yes, but you can salt its oats.” Anyway, I’ve developed a new perspective about your comment-taters, and here it goes: the ones who work so hard to be complimentary and supportive of your work – they often write too much and get tangled up in their own rhetoric and smarty-pants dew-dew. While the goofier writers - the ones who form the girders and underpinnings of scary thought and are the main reason that Rushbaugh, Glenbeck, and Grizzlymom are pulling in buh-zillions of bucks – even though the goofy ones make zero sense, their stupidity has a clarity that shines with uncommon brilliance. For that alone, we should remind ourselves that: “Every cloud has its silver lining.” Or, something like that.

Posted by: dudeupnorth | October 14, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Dear OchamsRazor, where is the global outcry in agreement with your accusations? The Iraqi people seem to be happy that they are not threatened with murder by Saddam Hussein anymore. Even the Iranians were glad to see him gone. Are you suggesting that he should not have been removed from power? How many died in the Iran/Iraq war? I wonder how many innocent civilians would have survived if the West had had a backbone and made a preemptive strike on Hitler? Over 50 million people died in that war. Was that Roosevelt's fault? How many died for the goals of Mao, Pol Pot, etc. Your statements are disturbing.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 14, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

We are not taught _how_ to think, only _what_ to think.
(that one is mine)

@chaunceygardner: first of all, great movie, one of Sellers' best. second of all, China is moving ahead of America in implementing green technology. But it is easier to make claims based on your beliefs rather than on facts, isn't it?

Posted by: pete1013 | October 14, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Dear OchamsRazor, where is the global outcry in agreement with your accusations? The Iraqi people seem to be happy that they are not threatened with murder by Saddam Hussein anymore. Even the Iranians were glad to see him gone. Are you suggesting that he should not have been removed from power? How many died in the Iran/Iraq war? I wonder how many innocent civilians would have survived if the West had had a backbone and made a preemptive strike on Hitler? Over 50 million people died in that war. Was that Roosevelt's fault? How many died for the goals of Mao, Pol Pot, etc. Your statements are disturbing.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 14, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

This statement rings truer with every passing day:

"We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganization; and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization." --attribution unclear

Posted by: duke5 | October 14, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Next cartoon: the ambulance without any sirens or flashing lights is stuck in traffic and the patient -- that is, quality education for the kids -- is dead.

Posted by: ex-Virginian4 | October 14, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Less than 20% of Americans call themselves liberal. That is not a majority. This country has always had a center-right majority. But the Left can always yell louder than that majority and make their percentage seem bigger than it is. It takes alot to rile up the majority. President Obama, Senator Reid, and Speaker Pelosi have done just that. The Democrats could have taken a moderate, bi-partisan route and put the majority to sleep. They chose not to. The consequences of that decision are just around the corner.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 14, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Playing by the rules?
Posted by Bobbo2

When it comes to "playing by the rules" the Bush/Cheney Republican Administration was a prime example of not playing by the rules. They broke every rule in the book.
Bush/Cheney should be in jail.
They are responsible for the death of millions of innocent people through lies and deceit. They also started a new threat to humanity with their preemptive war without good cause based on a possible threat that did not exist. Now, other nations can start a war just because they think there might be a threat. People would have been extinct a long time ago if everyone lived by that principle.
The Republicans are anal retentive threats to the survival of our nation. They are undermining the principles that have made our country great. If the Republicans have their way, we will all be living in a malicious and greedy nation. Sociopathic behavior is a threat to all of humanity.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 14, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic reality: Who writes the rules wins the game.

Voters should understand that the leaders of any human group (or nation) always determine the extent to which different classes of their members share in the group's productivity.

They set the rules for membership requirements (e.g., taxes, military service) and how benefits are acquired (e.g., inherited wealth, stock trading, actual work, etc.)

Tom: yours is the best blog on the net. I wish more people had guts enough to tell it like it is.

Posted by: Ezecat | October 14, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

battleoffSamar, interesting post.

as for your last remarks, while there may not be a dimes worth of difference, there is still a difference and like it or not we do still have an election coming up and therefore should in fact vote....teaparty is not a justifiable option.

Posted by: bertzel | October 14, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

There's a guy, I think he's dead now, named Edward De Bono. He developed an entire set of methods for breaking out of traditional thought patterns.

He teaches that our brains are like a flat dry desert, then it starts raining. Our thought patterns start small then become like the Grand Canyon in their predictability (like fox news viewers).

For anybody interested in actually solving problems and not regurgitating learned speech, this is a great guy to study. Search on "lateral thinking" or "Six thinking hats".

"We may need to solve problems not by removing the cause but by designing the way forward even if the cause remains in place."
Edward de Bono

You can't just vote in new morons. There's not a dimes worth of difference between Dems and Reps. We need to think differently.

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | October 14, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Tom,

Your cartoons and writing are; "like a broken drum, you just can't beat it!"

Credit to H.F.

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | October 14, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

~~~The unwillingness to stay in school and to learn comes from the home. ptgrunner~~

If the kids are in school it is up to the administration and teachers to keep them interested in education...you cannot blame it all on the parents..some perhaps, BUT if the parents got them to school evidently the school is dropping the ball. I have heard on occasion, "my teacher is boring, this topic is boring, I just don't get it," Who's at fault in those situations? The student? The parent? I think not..
Sports are expensive but the parents flip part of that bill as well, at least around my neck of the woods.....

Posted by: bertzel | October 14, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles:

You are kidding, right?

If not "And the larger, metaphorical meaning doesn't bring a lot of examples to mind right away, either." does have an answer.

Vietnam.

Or even Afghanistan.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | October 14, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

"It seems the worm has turned"– An awkward sports analogy I heard during play-by-play, referring to a possible shift in momentum in a local college football game. The comedy was in how the co-announcers took it as profound.

Posted by: dbond1 | October 14, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

"It seems the worm has turned"– An awkward sports analogy I heard during play-by-play, referring to a possible shift in momentum in a local college football game. The comedy was in how the co-announcers took it as profound.

Posted by: dbond1 | October 14, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

@bobbo2: The disturbing thing is that they don't believe people notice.

No, to me the disturbing thing is that you believe these problems are isolated to one political party.

America has GOT to get beyond party-brand loyalty.

Posted by: egc52556 | October 14, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Playing by the rules? The Left always changes the rules to fit their needs. A Democrat can belong to the Ku Klux Klan but is not a racist. A Democrat can call a woman a very nasty name but NOW will let it slide, "until next time". A Democrat can drive off of a bridge with someone in the car, then leave the scene of the accident and continue to be a Senator for decades. Democrats can fail to identify donors to their campaigns but Republicans dare not. The Democrats have always been hypocrites. The rules apply to others but not to them. The Democrats yell fairness but never play fair. The disturbing thing is that they don't believe people notice.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 14, 2010 6:26 AM | Report abuse

The most salient aphorism for our time I can think of comes from www.despair.com -

"It's always darkest before it goes jet black"

Posted by: DougMUSN | October 14, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

The New Mexico contribution is simple and to the point: "He who plays by the rules, loses." It would be the state motto, except Lew Wallace sewed up that spot in 1881 with: “All calculations based on experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.”

Posted by: gluten | October 14, 2010 2:25 AM | Report abuse

Sketch: China

China owns us. I asked yesterday, what to do about China's carbon emissions?

No responses. Tough nut to crack, eh?

Posted by: chaunceygardener | October 14, 2010 1:39 AM | Report abuse

To Tom Toles,
I do not know whether or not it is original or not but I do use a counter saying to, "keep your nose to the grind stone" which is when your nose is to the grind stone , all you can see is the grind stone.
If you have heard my counter saying before, be sure to let me know.
There seems to be counter sayings to every saying. For instance, "any fish can swim down stream but it takes a live fish to swim up stream". The counter saying is, "if you are going downhill, be sure to bank it so you hit all of the right places".
There is also the saying, "the faster I go the behinder I get". I have told my wife, “I really am trying" and her reply was, "you have got that right".
My read on the education situation is that everyone is trying to get it right but the system is designed in such a way that no matter how hard people try, the system will produce failures.
To start with, the system is designed to reward compliance instead of constructive thinking. The end result is that the students are trained to regurgitate information like a parrot and not understand any of the implications.
Children need to learn how to learn first and then how to apply what they learn.
Children should learn, logical consequences, a second language and social skills in Grade School not in High School. By then it is harder to learn and even harder to retain not to mention raving hormones.
My read on politics is that just like the education system; the political system is designed to corrupt the politicians.
Influence pedaling, "Good Old Boy" clicks and nepotism has to go.
"An Army, Travels on its stomach" Is a truism just as is people are only as good as is the systems that make them what they are.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 14, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

From what I've heard of Rhee's approach, I can't say that I approve of it. Apparently, the people of DC didn't either.

On the whole, there is no evidence that Charter Schools produce better results that public schools. And from everything I've read, they are no better than public schools _on average. So spend the money and make the public schools better. Moreover, I see absolutely no benefit to the dramatization of the student selection process by holding them in such a public manner. Parents and students leaving in tears when little Johnny or Janey is not selected. For Pete's sake, suck it up and make it work in a public school, you idiots. Don't act like it's the end of the world.

That said, I live in a rural are. The local HS, the one I attended back in the 1960s when they offered sports, but did not emphasize them, is now rated among the top 5 schools in WNY for athletics but between the 2nd and lowest 3rd among school districts overall in WNY. The vast athletic infrastructure is very expensive. I believe the school uses athletics to help keep students in school to graduate. The unwillingness to stay in school and to learn comes from the home.

Posted by: ptgrunner | October 13, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

'tis good to comment on something close to home, is it not??
Kudos Toles!

Posted by: bertzel | October 13, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

The people most annoyed by Ms. Rhee were those that wanted to maintain the status quo in D.C. schools. And they made more than their fair share of noise. From day one.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 13, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Tommygun, do you think the Washington Post Corporation is paying some pied piper lobbyists on K Street to stop our government from outlawing for profit education corporations like Kaplan which is the cash cow paying you salary? First our government takes control of student loans and now our government says no students loans for citizens who want to attend a for profit college like Kaplan. Sounds like Marx writing the rules.

Posted by: jornolibist | October 13, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles,
In addition to the concern I infer from your cartoon, I worry about school reform that is only flashing lights and noise, without quality content and well-trained teachers.

Thank you for your consistently excellent commentary.

Posted by: dlowell63 | October 13, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Tom it seems the game being played by many doesn't have any rules. If there are and they are being changed most of the players are not being notified of it.

Your sketch is very interesting. A man fighting something so big has little chance of overcoming the odds even with the so called Free World behind him. I know all to well from personal experience that true Justice seems to have little meaning to most. Global Turbulence I fear more than Warming.

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | October 13, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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