J. KARL MILLER: Separating the journalists from the charlatans and wannabes

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:05 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Over the past few weeks, two of my colleagues in the Missourian have produced excellent columns concerning standards (or lack thereof) in journalism. 

One, David Rosman, employs the term "citizen journalist" to distinguish between us and the professional — embodied in the second, George Kennedy, a member of the Missouri School of Journalism faculty since 1974 and former managing editor of the Missourian.

I am in general agreement with Mr. Rosman with one exception: I won't call myself a journalist in that I did not pay my dues in the "grunt work"  required to graduate from an established school of journalism. 

Instead, I am an opinion columnist with the commensurate life and professional experiences to lend a measure of credibility to my expressed opinions and conclusions. Not everyone agrees with that assessment.

Rosman's questions — Who (what) is a journalist? Must one be paid to be a journalist? When is a blogger a journalist? — are germane.  

In responding, I am reminded of a line in "Deadline — U.S.A.," (starring Humphrey Bogart as a crusading managing editor), one of the really authentic and well-acted newspaper movies ever made.

In the film, night editor Jim Cleary (played by Jim Backus) interviewed a prospective hire by asking if he knew the difference between a journalist and a reporter. 

Cleary answered his own question: "A journalist makes himself the hero of the story. A reporter is only the witness."

In my opinion, a bona fide journalist, whether a reporter or opinion writer, paid or unpaid, must write or speak for an established publication. This publication must be guided by reasonable rules and regulations as to the veracity of content and source material and, most important, subject to verification and oversight by professional editors.

Consequently, Internet bloggers, uncredentialed independents, sensationalist video wielders and provocateurs are not journalists inasmuch as they are not held to any standard of ethics, truth or responsibility for their product. 

Rosman's statement that "Freedom of the press comes with a price — integrity, honesty, good faith and professionalism" is an obligation that must be maintained.

In the realm of political opinion, George Kennedy and I are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Nevertheless, his professional and personal credentials in his field are impeccable — he sets high journalistic standards for himself in his teaching, as well as in his opinion pieces.

George's column, "10 standards that inform serious coverage of the news," in which he introduces the requirement that his students read "The Elements of Journalism" and further identifying the guiding principles, is a work equally admirable for its simplicity and its applicability to writers and readers alike.

Each of the principles is equally urgent, but, I find three of them to be "more equal" than the others.

They are: "Journalism's first obligation is to the truth;" "Its essence is a discipline of verification;" and "It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise."

Truth in journalism and the discipline achieved by verification separate the reputable news sources from the supermarket tabloids and from the blogs as represented by the Daily Kos and the Drudge Report.  

And, whether reporting news or opinion, without a public medium for discussion and/or criticism, there is little to inspire credibility or interest.

Returning to Mr. Rosman's "citizen journalists," while I don't agree with his identification of those of our ilk as having earned the title, he and I, along with others, provide a service as opinion columnists. 

We (collectively) have a wide range of professional, personal and political knowledge and skills that enable us to interpret the news and render opinions proportional to our frames of reference.

Unlike bloggers, wannabe and faux journalists and political hacks, we are subject to an editorial oversight that "holds our feet to the fire" in requiring verification of source materials as the basis for opinions stated as facts.

Occasionally, this can be somewhat of an irritant; nevertheless, it is a necessary evil in maintaining the integrity of the publication.

Journalism is generally considered the world's second oldest profession. Its professionals should not permit it to rank as the second most ethical.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at

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Ellis Smith December 20, 2011 | 6:40 a.m.

J. Karl:

There seems to be some disagreement as to what profession is the second-oldest profession. According to Ronald Reagan:

"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." [1977]

(Report Comment)
Cecil Caulkins December 20, 2011 | 6:50 a.m.

I appreciate your comment about the importance of verification. I'm reminded of James Thurber's "The Years with Ross" and his descriptions of Ross's obsession with fact-checking and his desire to produce an error-free issue of The New Yorker. A recent review of the book on the NPR Facebook page included a comment from one fact-checker that "if you mention the Empire State Building ... Ross isn't satisfied it's still there until we call up and verify it." There are worse things in journalism than to be fanatical about getting it right.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 20, 2011 | 12:22 p.m.

With all due respect, unless the Missourian is (finally) paying its columnists for all of their hard work, they are on shaky ground making these sorts of value judgments, esp. from any kind of "professional" perspective.

This concept, for instance, is an oxymoron: A "bona fide" journalist writing "unpaid" for an "established publication guided by reasonable rules and regulations" and "subject to verification and oversight by professional editors."

There are no reasonable rules that offer no compensation to bona fide journalists working for established publications under professional editorial oversight.

Professional editors -- at least the many I've worked with over the years -- offer payment for the kind of regular columns provided here, usually on a per-word basis.

Writers, columnists, and the like actually harm the profession by working for third-party "established publications" for free.

And if the old adage "you get what you pay for" holds any water, the idea that "editorial oversight" somehow makes the case that publishing uncompensated columns in a newspaper is leaps and bounds over publishing uncompensated columns on a blog certainly doesn't hold water.

At last argument with editor in chief Tom Warhover about this, no Missourian columnists were being paid. Mr. Kennedy I can kinda understand -- he's an emeritus prof "giving back" to the old team (though I'd much rather the team pay him). Tom, Scott, and all the other non-student editors and staffers are being paid. The Missourian takes in ad dollars and sells subscriptions. Link to a picture or reprint something without proper compensation, and you'll hear about it ASAP. In other words, every OTHER compensation-related safeguard is in place except those governing writers.

Non-student columnists (and probably a few students beside) ought to be paid for pumping out some of the Missourian's most popular content, week after week after week.

What kind of modeling is it, after all, for the world's top J-School to offer no pay for solicited journalism, esp. given the industry's current sad state of economic affairs?

(Report Comment)
David Rosman December 20, 2011 | 1:08 p.m.

Karl - Excellent column. One clarification.

"Citizen Journalist" is the current accepted catch-all term used to define those of us who are not paid for our efforts, but are considered part of the newspaper's, magazine's, e-Zine's and other "legit" multi-media publications.

I, too, consider myself an opinion writer, sometimes an essayist, who is accomplishing two very important goals - 1) opening the conversation and 2) maintaining our right to open and free dialog through the First Amendment.

As for Mike Martin's complaint that we are not paid, in a way he is right. The "however" here is that as unpaid commentators, opinion writers, and observers of life, we are not forced into a specific realm of political correctness and follow an editorial board's direction.

Yes, I would love to get paid - about $0.10 a word is about the going rate. That's about $70 a column a week and an extra $3500 a year per for our three favorite columnist, Rose, J.Karl and myself, may not seem that much, but may just break-the-bank for the Missourian.

I believe, Mike, that if a special fund were created asking for citizen and corporate anonymous donations, and no say in the topics or positions to be discussed, that may solve the problem. Wanta help.

I do hope this finds all of Karl's readers well and in great spirits for this holiday season.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 20, 2011 | 1:34 p.m.

"about $0.10 a word is about the going rate."

Wow. That's bupkis. I didn't realize that commentaries went so cheap. Major magazines typically pay at least 75 cents/word for articles and generally between $1 and $2 when a lot of expertise is required.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 20, 2011 | 2:25 p.m.

The Missourian doesn't pay its local columnists??


That's called "taking advantage".

Or "unprofessional".

Take your pick.

PS: Does it pay non-local columnists?

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 20, 2011 | 2:41 p.m.

No, I don't wanna help David.

As a professional journalist who only writes for free for me, I wouldn't want to insult you or the other columnists by partaking in some sort of tin cup collection effort, particularly given the esteemed credentials -- and the critical mission -- of the organization for which you write.

Is this what establishment journalism has come to? More to the point, do your editors and publishers realize the harm they do this profession by not paying you and your peers? Given what they've said to me in the past about it, and how unapologetic the unfortunate practice has become, I don't think they do.

As for the 0.10 per word rate you cite, talk may be cheap on the op-ed pages, but it shouldn't be free. $3,500 a year to pay you and the others will not -- I repeat NOT -- break the Missourian's bank.

I'm reminded of that fact when I read the Blue Book stats for the paid Missourian staffers, and enter that lovely building that houses the paper otherwise known as Lee Hills Hall.

Or as I've strolled in the lobbies and hallways of that truly stupendous facility known as the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

I'm reminded of that fact when I read about the soaring six-figure salaries of Mizzou's administrators, let alone the million-dollar figures coaches take home.

So I continue to wish you and your fellow writers good luck in getting compensation, however meager it may be. After all these years, you more than deserve it.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 20, 2011 | 3:16 p.m.

More food for thought, from UC Berkeley's Daily Californian:

"I want to write a column, I think. I want to write a column that will tell the truth about the Daily Cal, about newspapers and about journalism.

"I want to tell the truth that nobody wants to say.

"It’s not Craigslist’s fault for taking classified advertisements away from the domain of print. It’s not the blogosphere’s fault for writing and spreading news for free.

"It’s not the market’s fault for turning journalism upside down, for cutting all of The Daily Californian’s reporters’ pay, for cutting our Wednesday publication and for making us indebted to the ASUC for forgiving a portion of our rent.

"All of that stuff is on us, the journalists. It’s our fault. Our job was to report the news, and we did that. But we got complacent, and we stopped evolving, and soon the concept of a news article became far removed from what you, as a person, valued.

"Now we find ourselves in an awkward position where an indispensable component of democracy is slipping away, and we’re scrambling."


(Report Comment)
Gerald Shelnutt December 20, 2011 | 3:30 p.m.

Do these pro's use the phrase "for free" to gain extra pay for something that is incorrect?

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 20, 2011 | 8:15 p.m.

Alrighty then. I might now strain to remind myself not to make quite as much fun of you all as I had been previously. Think of it as victim's compensation or something like that.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 20, 2011 | 9:10 p.m.

Do journalism students still expect to be able to "change the world" with the acquired expertise that makes it possible for them to determine what is wrong with it?

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller December 20, 2011 | 9:28 p.m.

Mike, I am experiencing a bit of a problem with your "With all due respect, unless the Missourian is (finally) paying its columnists for all of their hard work, they are on shaky ground making these sorts of value judgments, esp. from any kind of "professional" perspective."

Paid professional or not, my "value judgments" are based on my education, experiences, values and, above all, integrity. Additionally, it is my choice to produce a weekly column sans compensation--I do it because it pleases me to do so.

In addition to writing for my own enjoyment, I write because I have something to offer in the posting of my opinions. Naturally, I don't expect everyone to agree with my positions--in fact, I am highly amused at some of those who do not.

This may be difficult for some to understand, particularly among those separated by the "generation gap" but, some of us "unpaid columnists" believe in that which we put to paper and perform the research to back up our production. Honesty, integrity and character are traits that cannot be bought.

Finally, and in all honesty, I consider my writing skills the equal of most syndicated columnists and my opinions based on better and more objective judgment. Opinion columnists are not shrinking violets.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller December 20, 2011 | 9:40 p.m.

By the way Mike, I am flattered that you include me in the same genre with the six figure administrators and million dollar coaches--but, even considering my inflated ego, I cannot imagine attracting 75,000 fans to watch me write.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 20, 2011 | 9:58 p.m.

+1 @Ellis - Funny/True.
-1 @J Carl - Self aggrandizement.

Ah, technology... the great information transfer equalizer! Isn't this true capitalism in action? The best journalists, regardless of formal training, will rise to the top, and earn the most money, in the information age.

Got journo training?
teh internetz devalyooz
Ur credenshuls

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer December 20, 2011 | 10:24 p.m.

A local "heartblog" is the best (or worst?) example of a sensationalist blogger. Grab a hot topic, stir in some half truths, make your point with irrelevant links and let the ignorant sing your praise.

As my wise grandfather (long time newspaper editor) used to say, "he's the type of fellow you listen to what he says and then divide it by two."

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 20, 2011 | 11:13 p.m.

Colonel: If it was only you affected by this insidious practice, it doubtless wouldn't matter. But it's not. It hurts everybody in this business, including the other columnists here who are not paid. Wading in with a bunch of shots at other writers, as you've done here, only compounds the grievance, IMHO.

Meanwhile, here's an "irrelevant link" for the other guy taking a shot. Second comment. Guess everybody reporting in our little town is just a sensationalist hack, eh?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith December 21, 2011 | 5:55 a.m.

@ J. Karl & Mike Martin:

Sorry, Karl, but I have to go with Mike on this one: something is either a professional enterprise or it isn't. Doesn't make any difference whether we're talking about journalism or some other profession (including the supposed oldest one).

BTW is anyone still investigating the murder of Jeong Im in an MU parking garage?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 21, 2011 | 10:56 a.m.

Contributions can come free of charge in other professions as well. Are we trying to make an argument that one who might mentor a younger professional person or one who might offer advice to management of a company from which they have recently retired without demanding pay are hurting the consulting profession and should cease and desist?

Mike, I think this might be one of those things you are just going to have to accept.

I do think that learning the trade from someone who is actively producing in that trade means more than learning from a career theorist. For that, I applaud the professors who write for free. I applaud the Col for just being on the right side ;-)

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 21, 2011 | 11:30 a.m.

Nobody is learning a trade here at the feet of some older, wizened, recently-retired professional or master craftsman, especially after this many years of these free columns.

But even if that oddball comparison were applicable, paid, on-the-job training (OJT) is standard in virtually every profession and trade.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 21, 2011 | 11:49 a.m.

I agree with you that paid training is the standard. Just making an observation that you will run in to these kinds of things in other professions as well. I feel ya...

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 21, 2011 | 12:43 p.m.

What other professions don't pay their people?

And please don't confuse unpaid weekly columnists from the community who've been writing for the Missourian for years with either students or faculty.

They are not J-school students doing class assignments. They are not like law students clerking for judges. They are not like paid professors or grad assistants working off tuition.

They are not taking a class in how to write a newspaper column that has somehow lasted for years.

They are regular columnists for a working, money-generating newspaper surrounded by other working members who ARE being paid and would yelp to the high heavens if they ever missed a paycheck.

At the same time, some of these unpaid columnists have recently claimed professional status while attacking writers they have deemed amateurs, charlatans, wannabes, hacks, phonies, and the like.

By every definition I've ever read, this means they should -- at the very least -- be paid.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 21, 2011 | 12:51 p.m.

Years ago when I worked in intelligence, I received three weekly secret NOFORN (No Foreign Dissemination) estimates - the CIA Weekly Summary, the DIA Weekly Intelligence Summary, and the NORAD Weekly Intelligence Review. These all made interesting reading, but much of it was full of beans and inaccurate because of the filtering processes that occurred between the time it went from the field to a Pentagon or CIA functionary who had to add their own touches to the information. When I really wanted to find out what was going on, I read the U.S. News and World Report.

USNWR carefully segregated their news from their opinion. News was raw news. They made no attempt to do analysis if it was not in their opinion section. They told you who, what, when and where, and sometimes how. Why was kept to their editorial section.

Of critical importance though is the background of those presenting the news. So many of today's "journalists" have virtually no experience beyond the classroom. They have no background concerning the stories they are covering. Time after time I've seen glaring errors in context and nomenclature when dealing with military subjects - particularly from Vietnam and prior. It would be very useful for journalistic publications to have teams of people who are experts in subjects to review stories prior to publication for errors of this nature. It could be military, science, history, or any other discipline.

But beyond all this, what is just as important is not only what the journalists tell you, but what they do not tell you. Shading the news by selective presentation of information is just as dishonest as lying about the story, and in affect is the same. Those who carefully follow current events are aware of what selective editing of words can do to distort the context of a speaker's or writer's words. I believe because 85% of professional journalists vote liberal, this is why they have lost so much credibility amongst so many people. Major journalistic enterprises such as the New York Times and others have been caught by the Audit Bureau of Circulations distorting their subscribers in order to keep up their advertising rates.

If a "news" organization is willing to falsely present their circulation numbers, what else are they willing to distort?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams December 21, 2011 | 2:24 p.m.

Don says, "...Shading the news by selective presentation of information is just as dishonest as lying about the story, and in [effect] is the same."

A nice, concise summary of my feelings on the matter.

Slanting the news is bad enuf; slanting what news is reported is even worse.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 21, 2011 | 7:49 p.m.

Michael, you are kind with your comments, lol, but I did mean affect.

There are five distinct words here. When “affect” is accented on the final syllable (a-FECT), it is usually a verb meaning “have an influence on”: “The million-dollar donation from the industrialist did not affect my vote against the Clean Air Act.”

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 21, 2011 | 8:41 p.m.

That makes your sentence infinitely more awkward.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 21, 2011 | 9:25 p.m.

How many of you have ever read an article printed in a newspaper (or online news), that you had first-hand knowledge of? Has the information and details *ever* been reported accurately, and sufficiently completely, from your POV?

It's certainly never happened to me. Just sayin'...

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 22, 2011 | 4:13 a.m.

Derrick, there is the reality that man of us recognize that there is only so much print space available to cover any given story. As for judging if a story is accurate, I believe most reasonable people are able to do so. As to whether or not the story is sufficiently complete, that likely depends on if you were involved in the story, and how near and dear the subject matter is to you.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 22, 2011 | 11:37 a.m.

According to analysts working for the CIA about eighty five percent of intelligence is gathered from reading various print media. Of course, now electronic is becoming important. I believe that it is possible to read something once and separate facts from fluff and fiction. I know that in instances when things are called into question that the first thing that is used is to check a story against the same presented by an alternate source or sources. I try to also do the same. I really hate the way some people write.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 22, 2011 | 2:06 p.m.

A blogger was slapped with a 2.5 million defamation judgement and was not afforded the shield laws in place in the state that are afforded journalists. The judge wrote, "there is no evidence of any education in journalism, any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity or proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking or disclosures of conflicts of interest."

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 22, 2011 | 2:18 p.m.

Ya godda saurce fer that?

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 22, 2011 | 2:19 p.m.

And what would you call the Huffington Post?

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield December 22, 2011 | 2:33 p.m.

All you have to do is Google the quote.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 22, 2011 | 3:00 p.m.

Thanks Jimmy...

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 22, 2011 | 3:10 p.m.

John Schmidt "According to analysts working for the CIA about eighty five percent of intelligence is gathered from reading various print media."

Case in point. I was reading my weekly DIA secret report and saw a photograph of a Palestinian carrying an AK 47 that I immediately knew I had seen before. It was classified confidential. I looked at my back issues of Time and Newsweek, and find the exact same photograph. I don't know if your 85% is accurate, but it sure carries some truth.

Analyzing the national intentions of various nations and leaders has always been an inexact science at best. What was more important was analyzing their capabilities - strengths and weaknesses, and any indications of preparedness for military action. Iran isn't of great threat to the United States for invasion, and if they develop a nuclear weapon, could, as a whole, destroy very little by blast and fire.

However, a one and a half megaton EMP weapon exploded 300 miles high over the central United States would destroy virtually every electrical device from Mexico City to Northern Canada - from Vancouver, British Columbia to New York City, - from San Diego to Miami. Every electrical device. No more TV, radio, pacemakers, generators, machinery. Our entire infrastructure would be gone, including the machines to replace them, and all the replacement parts. Just two more over Europe and China, and earth's entire civilization as we know it would revert to the year 1850.

In all the debate I've heard from "journalists" regarding Iran, I've seen exactly two stories regarding this possibility. How can the press be so absent in presenting the true threat of what Iran's nuclear program could mean. And no, they don't have ICBM's, but they do have IRBMs that launched from a ship 200 miles out in the Pacific could accomplish the job if the warhead is available.

Can we afford to underestimate the threat, and why has most of the media given this so little thought?

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 22, 2011 | 4:12 p.m.

The cool think about EMP's is that through testing most vehicles would still run but of course the machines used to refine the oil would not. If anyone has access and happens to be in Albuquerque swing by the AFB and check out the testing site. A few years ago you could drive by on the paved road just to the South of the BX.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin December 22, 2011 | 4:26 p.m.

So I'm coming back to check in on this convo and I read "a one and a half megaton EMP weapon exploded 300 miles high" and "no they don't have ICBM's, but they do have IRBMs that launched from a ship 200 miles out in the Pacific could accomplish the job if the warhead is available."

And I thinks to me-self, boy did this conversation take a wildly-different turn.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 22, 2011 | 4:28 p.m.

They just did an episode of NCIS Los Angeles on the EMP threat. Of course NCIS saved the day and blew up the EMP before it went off...

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.

@Don: Every story is almost infinitely complex. To be clear, I meant news reports: the who, what, when, where, how stuff; I've seen consistent failures in reporting fairly basic facts. The thinly veiled condescension of your "near and dear" quip aside, this underscores just how hard it is to delineate between news, and stories. It's a vast grey area, and tends to make those who favor binary judgement uncomfortable.

Being a frequent subject of MU J-school student character sketch assignments, I get to see a lot of stories that come out of being the subject of interviews. Of course, these kind of profile assignments are relatively easy; there's little controversy to convey. But the stories students develop from their contact with me are all really good, and some are absolutely outstanding. These works are proof that an extremely high degree of accuracy is possible.

Real world practicality almost always compromises what's possible. I will reiterate that, because of first-hand experience, I understand and am aware of the compromises that get made in almost every news report or story. It's a healthy perspective to have, until you wind up hypertension from taking everything that comes from news outlets with a few grains of salt.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2011 | 4:44 p.m.

EMP: so easy and effective, we have no explanation why it hasn't already been done. At least my bicycles will still work after the apocalypse. I will have a new and exciting career in the food transportation and distribution industry!

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 22, 2011 | 5:16 p.m.

Derrick, to be very clear, there was no "thinly veiled condescension" towards you or any other person in that comment. It was meant as a generalization of how anybody would feel about a particular subject or news story. Are you suffering a persecution complex? I'm in Hawaii and I had/have no idea who you are or what you do. Honestly too, I really don't care.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 22, 2011 | 5:22 p.m.

Derrick, in a post EMP world, people bigger and stronger than you would take your bicycle away from you. They would also take away the food of those who were weaker. But beyond that there would be no food industry. In the six weeks it would take to grow vegetables, most people would starve. After the food and government stores were exhausted, the 280 million urban dwellers would take to the countryside and denude the land of every edible animal and plant on the continent. The unburied bodies and animal carcasses would create such a pestilence that disease vectors would be rampant.

And there would be no media to report it, much less distort it.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 22, 2011 | 6:40 p.m.

Wait, please, Don. Derrick is preparing his numerically proven answer.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 22, 2011 | 8:40 p.m.

Well I'm just glad to have narrowly escaped the severe catastrophe that was associated with the millenium bug.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 22, 2011 | 9:43 p.m.

It's very sad to think about my bicycle being taken away, and all the other terrible things that could happen, too. Thanks, now I really do feel kinda persecuted.

I agree with you on the potential horribleness of the situation. This is something I regard as evidence that war pretty much sucks.

We might still differ on preferred methods to address the potential problem.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 23, 2011 | 12:17 a.m.

Derrick, you should only feel potentially persecuted. You haven't been actually persecuted yet (unless you were a Marine recruit prior to the mid 1970s).

War does suck. Being a slave is worse. And failing to address a known tyrant who has stated their wishes to destroy other nations out of pure hatred or ambition, and those tyrants have a current record of obvious brutality towards their own people and any others, well, then, that is being incredibly naive. And when you are a national leader with the power to stop such tyrants, and you fail to do so? Then what?

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 10:13 a.m.

But I'm REALLY worried about what's going to happen when the Mayan calender ends in 2012...

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 10:34 a.m.

I've seen a dramatic shift in the way many banks operate over the past so many years, especially regarding small accounts and small loans. Since they don't want the headaches involved with either, I don't see why it will be a problem to move such business to a place where it is appreciated.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 23, 2011 | 11:06 a.m.

"I've seen a dramatic shift in the way many banks operate over the past so many years, especially regarding small accounts and small loans."

Gosh, my bank provides my wife with a no charge, no minimum, checking account and I've been getting my auto loans over the telephone. Is my bank the only one so easy now? Gosh!

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 11:20 a.m.

Yah, probably just me. Paid my house in a year and went back three years later and they told me they couldn't make a loan because I didn't have established credit.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 23, 2011 | 11:37 a.m.

Wrong bank, huh?

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 11:45 a.m.

The banks were fairly universal in telling me I had no established credit. They use the same handful of agencies to provide their information. Had I some credit cards and a car loan I'm sure everything would be fine...

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 23, 2011 | 1:19 p.m.

So you found a lender that does not use the credit agencies nor care what your past history had been?

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 1:39 p.m.

Nothing was any different about my credit when I financed the house the first time except that I bought it and paid it off in about a year's time. I would think that would have improved my ability to a great extent, but no. I was able to get the loan for the house with even less credit history than now, and now I can't borrow even a small amount. But yes, sometimes there are ways around financial institutions.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 1:40 p.m.

So you know what I have to say about the banks.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 23, 2011 | 2:47 p.m.

@Don: " tyrant...wishes to destroy...pure hatred...tyrants...brutality..."In a word, fear; and your solution is proactive violence against the things you fear. Because, of course, our "...power to stop...tyrants..." is none of that.

I think getting to work on actually re-engineering, expanding, and hardening our electrical grid would be a good choice of action, among other things.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 3:52 p.m.

Say, admin, I probably shouldn't walk over there to speak about this, so I hope that you can straighten this problem without any further insistence. The comments made between myself and Frank Christian starting at 10:34, just after I expressed my concern about the end of the world that is to come in approximately a year, and continuing to 1:40 followed the opinion article regarding divesting from larger banks. This is not the first time it happened and I had wondered if I was in error the previous times. However, I am confident this time that I made my comments under the article that they pertained to and I will even trust Frank to bear witness to that despite his advanced age and questionable opinion.
Do please place his and my comments on the proper page so that we don't look so ridiculous. Also, for your sake, see if it is possible to learn how comments got switched around so that you can also prevent yourself from looking so ridiculous. Thank you.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 3:55 p.m.

Because I know you want to be journalists and not a bunch of charlatans and "wannabes."

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Don Milsop December 23, 2011 | 4:03 p.m.

John, not to worry. 2012 will only be the end of the world for Democrats.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 23, 2011 | 4:07 p.m.

Derrick, are you a direct descendant of Neville Chamberlain? I believe he told us Hitler was no danger too. Of course it was British foreign policy that caused Hitler to annex Austria, the Sudetenland, and Czechoslovakia, wasn't it?

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 4:13 p.m.

The Republicans will be no danger, provided, of course, that Palin, Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, or Paul are not elected. It breaks my heart to have to say that about Paul. He has such a great name...

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 4:24 p.m.

But this is SURE to help you survive the coming apocalypse...

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 23, 2011 | 4:27 p.m.

John, I've been laughing at the people buying gold. If there were ever a true economic collapse, toilet paper would have a far greater value than gold.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop December 23, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.

John, I looked at your link. Today, people are paying me real good money to wear normal clothing. The birthday suit God provided us seems to have a limited warranty regarding beauty and wear.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 23, 2011 | 5:15 p.m.

John - I must be too old to be of help to you. I'm not able to figure what on earth you are complaining about.

I knew when you were maligning our entire banking system because of your personal dissatisfaction with one or maybe more banks. Hope this clarifies my "questionable opinion".

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks December 23, 2011 | 8:02 p.m.

"Don Milsop December 23, 2011 | 4:27 p.m.

John, I've been laughing at the people buying gold. If there were ever a true economic collapse, toilet paper would have a far greater value than gold."

Don, No one with any smarts started buying gold the last 2 years. They have been buying it for decades. A little here and a little there. The fools you see on TV give the true owners a bad name. There was a time when I would tell people that whatever the pawnshops or cash for gold would give them I would give them $20 more. Always a good investment. Your right though. Most of the current purchasers will be in for a huge surprise the first time they try to bite into one of those coins or wipe their arse. But I will gladly train with them.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 23, 2011 | 11:40 p.m.

Why would anybody need toilet paper when they have this comment section to use? Talk about a fool and his money...

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 24, 2011 | 10:02 a.m.

"The birthday suit God provided us seems to have a limited warranty regarding beauty and wear."

I'm fairly confident that I can agree with that in your particular instance.

"I must be too old to be of help to you. I'm not able to figure what on earth you are complaining about."

I also agree with that statement.

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 24, 2011 | 11:24 a.m.

"Why would anybody need toilet paper when they have this comment section to use?"

Maybe they don't. Go ahead and try it.

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