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THE WEEK IN COMMENTS: Politics, bus changes, nuclear arms, an earthquake and the South

Sunday, August 28, 2011 | 5:49 p.m. CDT

Earthquakes on the East Coast, op-eds, proposed changes to bus services and unfinished apartment complexes dominated the comments section on The Missourian’s website. We picked out a few of the best.

GEORGE KENNEDY: Seeing Barack Obama as a pure-blooded pragmatist

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George Kennedy’s column drew heated discourse and by far our most comments of the week. Users discussed the president's policy, his public image and media coverage.

“His actions since his inauguration have shown those always concerned ‘understanding’ of this person. Those actions and the destruction to our economy they have caused now add large new numbers to the concerned group and leave him with the ... approval rating he presently ‘enjoys,’” commenter Frank Christian wrote. “How much more 'understanding' do we need before we reject this man and his party as undesirables concerning the health and wealth of our country?”

Brian Wallstin defended the president and pointed out the nastier comments that have surfaced in political discourse:

“There is no substantive evidence … that Obama is a socialist, a Kenyan anti-colonialist, not a citizen of the U.S., a chimpanzee (see San Diego Tea Party), the second coming of Adolf Hitler, that he hates America, that he ever dressed like a witchdoctor or that he bears any resemblance to the blatantly racist and ignorant things the Tea Party has said about him, all of which make your complaint that Obama is ‘divisive’ something of a joke.”

Michael Williams wrote about the president’s reputation as a “pragmatist” generating buzz in the media:

“Everyone jumps on board and ... ALL OF A SUDDEN ... all those things liberals wanted from this president, but didn't get, get cast by the wayside and ... All of the disappointments become OK? All of the disappointments become excellent policy? … He has corrupted the intellectual honesty of his own base via a quick morph of their collective minds and ... voila ... everyone is faithful once again.”

Tim Trayle said most presidents try to present themselves as centrists heading into an election year and discusses examples of when Obama has chosen the center instead of the left:

“He didn’t immediately withdraw from Iraq but instead followed the previous administration in favor of a phased, gradual exit. He has increased our military involvement in Afghanistan (NOT something one might expect from one rooted in leftist ideology),” Trayle wrote.

Proposed changes to bus system draw the ire of Missourian readers

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On Monday night, city leaders proposed changes to the bus system that would raise prices, end weekend evening shuttles and shorten some routes. Missourian columnist David Rosman offered his opinion on the issue while the readers vented in the comments sections of several articles.

Mike Martin said he sees Columbia going through the same plan every year.

“City leaders cry poverty in the midst of tremendous luxury (e.g. their own spanking new offices) and some grand new spending plan (e.g. parking garages). Then, they cut — or threaten to cut — an important or popular human service.”

Louis Schneebaum said the proposed changes disregard the “real people” who ride the bus.

“How can Columbia charge more for a service that is light-years below what could be described as a 'good' bus system?”

He went on in a separate comment:

“I was so happy to see the bus system improving here and now this, a complete undoing of what has been done. I noticed that the new bus design is a tiger motif — with the new MU-centric system (most of these students are not true Columbians and won't ever ride the bus) this looks like the Mizzou Fantasy World Tram. Fuhgeddabout 'REAL' people. Ride a bus sometime, that's who's on board.”

Corey Parks joked that the city should just make the system free:

“Hell the tax payers are already subsidizing the public transit system 95 cents on the dollar,” Parks wrote. “Might as well just make it free and cover the entire city. Money grows on trees around here.”

J. KARL MILLER: U.S. nuclear arms are an unfortunate but necessary deterrent

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Missourian columnist J. Karl Miller wrote about the continued necessity of a nuclear arsenal as a political tool and military deterrent. Readers offered their perspective.

Don Milsop wrote:

“The problem today is that those nations holding nuclear weapons in the past were basically mentally sane and not driven to self-destruction. However, nukes in the hands of a real nut job such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have disastrous results ... While nuclear deterrence is important for possible major belligerents such as Russia and China, having them in the hands of Pakistan, Iran or N. Korea is not a guarantee they will not give them to others, much less use them on their own.”

Citizens Police Review Board discussion continues

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The Citizens Police Review Board continues to work on possible changes to its organization.

Commenter Mark Flakne attended a review board meeting this week:

“While the review board and city legal staff did a respectable job standing up to the onslaught from the CPOA representatives during the 'work session,' the format of the meeting did not demonstrate the board's independence,” Flanke wrote. “While it might be prudent to chat with Burton, inviting two paid representatives from a privately funded police labor union to the work session, the CPOA, was an insult to the public.

“There were plenty of privately funded citizen groups represented at the meeting who were not given a seat at the table and who were denied a chance to comment on, refute or rebut the unlimited and perverse comments from the CPOA.”

East Coast shakes, Columbia giggles

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A 5.9 strength earthquake shook the East Coast on Tuesday. Some commenters worried about their relatives and the New Madrid fault line; others joked.

Michael Williams shared some quips worthy of being repeated.

“This quake took place along a well-known fault: Bush's Fault."

More from Williams:

"Newzflash: In a major speech today from the safety of Martha's Vineyard, President Obama declared this fault was inherited from the last administration. It should be clear that this is not Obama's fault. In other news, Fox News declared the Washington Monument was leaning to the left; however, MSNBC declared the monument was definitely leaning to the right. Libertarians insisted the monument was pragmatically centric, and George Kennedy apparently agrees. (Disclosure: I cannot take credit for these puns. Except the last one. The others are viral ... apparently.)"

Southern Living Magazine ranks Columbia on best college town list; sparks debate

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More jarring than the earthquake coverage was Southern Living Magazine's proclamation that Columbia is one of the "The South’s Best College Towns" for some of our readers.

Hank Ottinger offered some insight as to why Missourians are divided about the state's geographical designation.

"I'm not sure who first said it, but it goes like this: those from the South think Missouri a northern state; those from the North regard it as a southern state; Westerners see it as an eastern state; and Easterners look at it as a western state."

Eric Newoehner said he was proud of Columbia's "Southern" status.

"I am not ashamed of my Southern heritage. I like the way I talk, the down-home sense of humor I picked up from people I grew up with, great Southern cooking, beautiful Southern architecture, the joyful song of the fiddle and the richness of the gospel, ragtag and jazz of black Americans. Columbians should embrace this heritage and come to know it."


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