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J. KARL MILLER: The destructive politics of racism

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:02 p.m. CST, Wednesday, January 4, 2012

To me and to the vast majority of American voters, the use of racism in politics is viewed as among the most insidious and disgraceful activities in seeking votes.  Unfortunately, such activity shows no sign of declining but rather picks up momentum with each pending election.

This shameful conduct has come to be expected as a hallmark of the efforts of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Princeton University's Cornel West and various other race-hustling luminaries acting under the guise of "civil rights activists." Let us face facts — so long as there is profit or political advantage to be gained by the fomenting of  racism among the least educated and the ill-informed, it will thrive.

Directed at Republicans and conservatives, the most disturbing aspects of the charges of racism, both veiled and overt, are two-fold in that they are being leveled also by otherwise high ranking and "respected" members of government and the media and seemingly condoned by the stentorian silence of the Democratic Party's Congressional leadership.

This is by no means a new phenomenon — in 1998, the Missouri Democratic Party sponsored radio ads alleging that voting Republican would cause the burning of black churches while political fliers handed out in Maryland implied the same. Former President George W. Bush was identified as racist or racially indifferent to the plight of the black residents uprooted in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

While a few in the journalism community did the homework to attempt a balanced view of the tea party movement, the bulk of the characterization has been one of racist tactics and irrational opposition to the president. Never mind the lack of evidence to support the theory, it has been accepted as gospel by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leftist media and a number of members of Congress.

Standing out among the most reprehensible is Indiana's Andre Carson, a leader in the Congressional Black Caucus who describes the tea party as viewing blacks as second class citizens. Carson further charged the tea party as a "Jim Crow" movement to block economic opportunities for blacks and other minorities.

The most offensive and also most recent examples of these ludicrous charges were voiced by Eric Holder, current attorney general of the United States, and by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.  

Holder, under fire for denying knowledge of and responsibility for "Operation Fast and Furious," the ill-conceived selling of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, denied culpability, saying,  "This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him. Both due to the nature of our relationship, and, you know, the fact that we're both African-American." The White House has thus far failed to distance itself from this cheap allegation.

Former Cabinet member and now syndicated columnist Reich deftly employs the allusion of innuendo and half truth in depicting the tea party membership as originating from the former Confederacy or border states with southern leanings. He quotes political analyst Michael Lind who likens the tea party to "the latest incarnation of an angry white minority — predominately Southern, mainly rural, largely male — that has repeatedly attacked American democracy to get its way."

This lumping of Republicans and conservatives into a "Southern strategy white racist camp" ignores history. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was drafted by Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen and the filibuster by 18 Democratic senators was broken by Republicans. As a matter of record, the final Civil Rights Act vote totaled 82 percent of Senate Republicans voting in favor and 80 percent of the House GOP in favor. On the side of the Democrats, 69 percent voted in favor in the Senate and 63 percent in the House.

As stated earlier, most American voters are immune to or reject outright these unfounded charges of racism. Nevertheless, there is a bloc of intellectually challenged or willfully ignorant voters who blissfully ignore reality and climb aboard their party's bandwagon of rumor, innuendo and outright lies. And, it doesn't take a large percentage of them to change the course of an election.

Now I am not so naive as to believe racism does not factor in our political and social narrative. Nor, having been exposed to the American culture for 70 years plus will I accept that racist behavior is monopolized by Republicans and conservatives.  In fact, I can safely attest that in the matter of race relations, the ignorance factor is divided equally among Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals.

That there has been great improvement in matters of race is indisputable — in 2008, the U.S. elected a black president.

However, the racial climate would be further thawed if the elected Democratic leadership, from the president on down, would publicly repudiate the unfounded and  indiscriminate playing of the race card. It is as silly as it is unprofessional.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.

 


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Comments

Don Milsop January 4, 2012 | 7:19 a.m.

Colonel, the CRA of 1964 is one of the points I try making to liberals, albeit without success. Pointing out the GOP freed the slaves and cast the vote that granted women their right to vote doesn't seem to help either. Showing that top 25 wealthiest Dems in congress have an average wealth 60% higher than the 25 top wealthiest Republicans makes no difference either. Alas, facts and truth are of no consequence to the left side of the aisle. Guess we'll just have to wait for the November polls to find out which side understands it better.

(Report Comment)
Greg Allen January 4, 2012 | 9:25 a.m.

My wish: that we wouldn't try to divide ourselves by 'my party is less racist than your party'. Kind of ironic, if you think about it.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 4, 2012 | 9:44 a.m.

Good point, Greg Allen. I'm reminded of an old Quaker saying, of which I will only change [here] one word:

"Everyone in the world is racist except thee and me, and sometimes I have my doubts about thee." :)

It's ALWAYS that other guy.

Or as my grandmother would have put it, "Ve grow too soon old und too late smart." (JA!)

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 4, 2012 | 9:51 a.m.

Are you really serious? Comparing the republican party of today to the party of Lincoln is laughable at best. Eisenhower, the last good republican...IMHO, warned of us the evils of the military industrial complex, the same one so adored by the republican party of today. The reason the solidly democratic south - who hated republicans because of the race issue - have now turned republican is exactly the same reason. If you want to know more about racism in this country try checking out the Southern Poverty Law Center or www.splcenter.org. They keep track of hate groups and crimes, and they are in the upsurge again.

(Report Comment)
Jack Hamm January 4, 2012 | 9:53 a.m.

lol at Don, keep drinking the Kool Aid!

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 4, 2012 | 10:45 a.m.

Gregg A - "divide ourselves by 'my party is less racist than your party'", IMO in no way describes the political situation in this country as it is today.

If you tell me I am a racist, I have two alternatives. I can ignore you or tell you "no I am not!", with a possible good explanation of why you are wrong. This, is the scene in our politics of today. Democrats,in most instances, when deemed beneficial to the approval of some minority voters will "play the race card" without hesitation. Republicans either ignore or challenge the assertion. If you can accurately describe a situation that has occurred differently, I will willingly consider it.

Note in Mr. Straub's comment, who is helping deter illegal immigrant legislation all over the country.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 11:20 a.m.

Gary: This sentence needs clarification: "The reason the solidly democratic south - who hated republicans because of the race issue - have now turned republican is exactly the same reason."

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders January 4, 2012 | 1:29 p.m.

Please allow me to point out that the "destructive politics of racism" include the counter-attacks of those like the Colonel. No matter how factual and/or well intentioned an article is, it is still but a weapon in political fight.

In other words, the Colonel fell for the trap, and chose to fight a battle that cannot be won. It's just the ole "wrestling with pigs" scenario where the goal is to divide, and thus conquer, us all. If it wasn't for reactions like this, the "race card" would be totally void of power, falling on dear ears, being dismissed by all.

Empowering the enemy by engaging them on their own turf is bad form, Colonel. You should know better.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 4, 2012 | 3:14 p.m.

The lamestream media has some culpability in this as well. If Holder was a conservative darling of FOX News, he would have been called out by the lamestream media for his pitiful attempts at playing the race card. The man is the top law enforcer in the Country and IMHO has committed crimes that would have put most of us behind bars. When, as attorney general, you lie under oath and then try to play the race card to gain sympathy, you destroy all credibility you might have had and simply make yourself in to a tragic fool. When this kind of behavior is allowed to go unchalleneged (@Richard Saunders above...)not only is the "playa" made to look like a tragic fool, but respect for the office suffers as well. Why should anyone follow the law if they can just play the race card as a get out of jail free card. We certainly don't need any help from the attorney general in tearing down the respect for law in this country.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 4, 2012 | 3:32 p.m.

Richard Saunders - Col. Smith may or may not answer you, but I feel it a necessity to do so

Your "holier than thou" and illogical assertion that to respond to fallacious accusations is to fall for a trap, smells of the same lack of cohesion prevalent in the entire ideology of the political party that resorts to racism whenever they are losing, Democrats.

To engage these people on "their own turf" about racism or any of the many other ills imposed by them is not "bad form", it is a necessity and will cost us our way of life if ignored as you propose.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 3:57 p.m.

The problem is: When the race card is played, conversation stops.

Which, of course, is why the card is played in the first place.

The R-bomb is the rhetorical F-bomb to conversations about race, and playing the card is a huge reason little progress will be made over the next 100 years and beyond; it's a conversation stopper.

Personally, I've given up on the topic.

I'm thankful J. Karl doesn't allow the conversation to stop, tho.

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush January 4, 2012 | 4:41 p.m.

Race is not a card,
Racism is not a game,
And quantum means small.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 4, 2012 | 4:44 p.m.

What liberals haven't quite grasped yet is that conservatives don't give a tiny little damn what your race is. It's what your beliefs and ideals are that we're concerned about. We are always grateful when minorities have the courage to speak out as conservatives. Every time that happens it's another small crack in the wall of misconceptions that liberals have foisted upon the public via their media. Minorities who dare to leave the liberal plantation suffer greatly. The racist, dehumanizing, and often sexually explicit jokes about them go virtually unchallenged by the left wing media. Fortunately, liberals no longer control the message. As Juan Williams found out, conservatives are much more likely to embrace the freedom of speech of others who believe differently than are liberals. Whether it's shout downs, physical assault, or attacks via attempts at a "fairness doctrine", liberals time after time prove they are the enemy of the flow of free speech and ideas.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders January 4, 2012 | 5:25 p.m.

Frank, if you cannot understand the proverb about "wrestling with pigs," it does you little good to call me illogical and "holier than thou."

As for the "engage them on their own turf" comment, well, it seems you missed that point too. (I bet the Colonel doesn't though, as it's a military strategy going back to Sun Tzu)

Please allow me to reiterate. Simply put, the "race-card" and any similar political tools are designed to create conflict, not to foster positive solutions of any kind. In this situation, the only winning move is not to play.

In other words, the whole topic should be dismissed by serious adults, as any allegations are not worthy of a rebuttal.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 4, 2012 | 5:34 p.m.

Richard, the trouble is, if you let a lie be told often enough without being challenged, it becomes "the truth". That's why rebuttal to false allegations is important, and the allegations be proven false.
The voices of conservative minorities are very important in that regard. Their numbers are growing, and it's not easy for them.

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle January 4, 2012 | 5:50 p.m.

I think the idea that, as Don M. puts it, "conservatives don't give a tiny little damn what your race is," is too far-reaching. Some conservatives don't, some very much do. There's no such thing as "a conservative"--they have different views, as do liberals, and others.

Still, Col. Miller's effort to minimize the importance of the Republican southern strategy of the late-60s through 1980s ignores the strategy itself--which severely damaged the party in the eyes of minorities and others. Interview with Lee Atwater, Republican strategist during the 1980s, developer of the Horton ad, and then RNC chair after the '88 election:

"You start out in 1954 by saying, "N-gger, n-gger, n-gger." By 1968 you can't say "n-gger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me--because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "N-gger, n-gger."

When Atwater was dying of cancer, he made this interview--it looks like a sort of clearing of conscience (he also apologized at this time to M. Dukakis for the dirtiness of the 1988 campaign.)

Certainly there's more to the Republicanization of the white south than just the southern strategy--as the south became more economically productive during the 1970s, 80s and 1990s, many southern whites probably felt the Republican party was the more business-friendly one, and so followed their perceived wallet. (Although note that Atwater above suggests racial and economic code words were not fully separate.) In any case, to ignore the southern strategy--which RNC chair Ken Mehlman apologized for in 2004--simply ignores history and ignores some very real reasons why African Americans in general have so little time for the GOP. It's so convenient to trot out the dependency myth--the "liberal plantation" silliness that DM croaks--instead.

But when people writes columns to score cheap political points instead of rationally exploring issues, ignoring history can make sense.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 4, 2012 | 6:05 p.m.

Michael, I am not sure of what you need me to explain but I will try.
The war between the south and north was fought for many reasons but the slavery issue was the largest. The president at the time was a republican, thus the south who thought states rights included owning slaves hated the republicans for this silly notion. I believe that slavery is racism on steroids so since the civil rights movement happened under a democratic watch they suddenly became republicans.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 4, 2012 | 6:13 p.m.

Tim, in 40 years of conversations with Republicans, I've not once ever publically or privately had a conversation with a person who said they wouldn't vote for somebody because they were black, hispanic, female, or any other type of human being. To a person, it was the values that person espoused, not how much pigmentation was in their skin or their national origin or religion. To the contrary, to me, this always appeared to be the concern of liberals.

The basic philosophy of conservatives I have known is:

You can.

The basic philosophy of liberals I have known is:

You can't because...... so we must help you.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 6:17 p.m.

Don says, "The basic philosophy of conservatives I have known is:

You can.

The basic philosophy of liberals I have known is:

You can't because...... so we must help you.
______________________

Consistent with my observations, too.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 4, 2012 | 6:28 p.m.

So how do you explain why 99% of the voters in the republican caucus yesterday were white?

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle January 4, 2012 | 6:47 p.m.

@Don M: I grew up in Alabama, and lived in the Deep South for 75% of my 50 years. I have met *plenty* of Republican voters who were quite explicit about refusing to support a black candidate, a female candidate, or a Muslim one--on those qualities alone.

I knew many people in the 1980s and '90s who had jumped ship from the Democratic party to the Republican one precisely *because* the Democratic party was supporting non-white candidates. And I've lost friends because I finally could no longer tolerate their racism towards African-Americans--in each and every case, their political beliefs had migrated towards the Republican party as the place where they felt more "at home" with regard to social wedge issues.

I'm actually glad that your experiences have been different; I wish mine had been.

None of what I'm writing should be taken as a claim that racism is exclusive to Republicans. That would be absurd.

I don't really see the point of your "basic philosophy" mottoes ("you can" vs. "You can't..."); they seem like bumper stickers to me, and are unrepresentative of the real range of attitudes among both conservatives and liberals.

At its core--again, there are always shades of emphasis--liberalism simply advocates that the state has a responsibility to step in and mitigate the worst effects of unrestrained capitalism. Fools will call this socialism, but it's not. Modern liberalism and conservative each accept a strong role of the state in the economy--the differences are points on a spectrum, not wildly divergent ideologies.

(I continue to believe that Col. Miller's columns are generally unhelpful to a mature discussion of political issues.)

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 4, 2012 | 7:57 p.m.

I would like to point out the often-overlooked historical fact that the "Republicanization" of parts of the south began about 1861: Western Virginia, Maryland, & North Carolina, eastern Kentucky & Tennessee, northern Alabama & Arkansas, southwest Missouri.

Republicanism in these regions was not ushered in by Goldwater, Atwater, or Reagan, as part of some subliminal "Southern strategy". It was mostly brought on by hatred of Jeff Davis and the slavocracy, preceding the supposedly insidious machinations of that former trio by about a century.

As John Prine sang in "Grandpa Was a Carpenter", "...he voted for Eisenhower, 'cause Lincoln won the war."

Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Cornel West are among the most opportunistic race-baiting agitators of our time. The first even has his own show that no one watches on MSNBC, so I hear.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller January 4, 2012 | 8:14 p.m.

Mr Straub, perhaps if you took the time to look up the demographics of Iowa's population, you could answer your own question. However, I will save you the trouble. Iowa's population is 87 percent white and 3 percent black. And, when one considers that in the black vote nationwide tends to lean 90 percent Democratic, that should provide a reasonably accurate answer. By the way, what is your source indicating 99 percent of the voters were white?

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller January 4, 2012 | 8:41 p.m.

Mr Trayle, I am genuinely sorry that my columns don't meet your standards of "a mature discussion of political issues." Nevertheless, it is my observation that my opinions do manage to generate lively discussions, both pro and con. Whether one agrees with the author is imnmaterial--it is the provoking of thought and the exchange of ideas that is important.

Perhaps you may take solace in the knowledge that my inferior writings offer you the opportunity to demonstrate your superior maturity?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 8:53 p.m.

"...I am genuinely sorry that my columns don't meet your standards of "a mature discussion of political issues....Perhaps you may take solace in the knowledge that my inferior writings offer you the opportunity to demonstrate your superior maturity?"
_________________

I see the Marine Corps still issues rather sharp swords.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 4, 2012 | 8:53 p.m.

In 2008, Vermont, home of Howard Dean, voted 67 percent Obama and 30 percent McCain. Vermont is 95 percent white, and one percent black. Yet Vermont incarcerates blacks at a rate 8 times higher than whites (http://www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/VT_in...).

So must we then conclude that white liberals are racists?

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 4, 2012 | 8:57 p.m.

Obviously in Iowa, blacks fear the backlash if they were to openly come out as conservatives. That's the reality of liberal politics. If you break from them, they will punish you. Look at the beatings black conservatives took at tea party rallies and town halls from SEIU thugs.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 4, 2012 | 9:18 p.m.

Michael, the Marine Corps is the only branch of the service where NCO's also carry swords. When the Marine Corps adopted the Mameluke sword in 1826, the Marine officers turned their Naval officers swords over to the enlisted NCO’s. This made the Navy officers most unhappy, and they changed the sword grip from black leather to white to distinguish the Naval officer's sword from the Marine enlisted sword.

FYI, you will note that all approved Marine Corps swords appear to have the stamp of the Star of David on them. That is not the Star of David. It is the Star of Damascus, the symbol of world renowned steel and sword craftsmen. These craftsmen used two triangles joined together as a sign of their sword-making guild, which became known as the Star of Damascus. This symbol means the sword was fashioned with Damascus steel and over 1,000 years of craftsmanship and that this sword, or a sword meeting the exact same specifications, has been tested in battle, and the metal blade found "true and not wanting".

I am sure at some point liberals will attempt to have this stamp removed from the blades of Marine Corps swords.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 4, 2012 | 9:30 p.m.

Richard Saunders - Your attempt to add depth to your shallow comment is lost here. I was not aware that an uncle of socialism, GB Shaw had created such a folksy "proverb?" and still do not care.

"(I bet the Colonel doesn't though, as it's a military strategy going back to Sun Tzu)". This is intended to add more depth? The Col., I'm sure, and I are referring to the political scene in the U.S.A., today.

"Please allow me to reiterate. Simply put, the "race-card" and any similar political tools are designed to create conflict, not to foster positive solutions of any kind. In this situation, the only winning move is not to play" Your own opinion, rather than socialists of the past and communists in our present environment. is appreciated, but not accepted. Try to get real, you are advocating the usual liberal plea for tolerance. Don't argue, just accept, proceed and hope for the best. That silliness, tho having been taught in our public schools for too many years, is no longer acceptable. You may choose "to play" or not, but I suggest that the remainder of your life will be more pleasant if you and your others, do.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 4, 2012 | 10:00 p.m.

Don Milsop said: "Obviously in Iowa, blacks fear the backlash if they were to openly come out as conservatives. That's the reality of liberal politics. If you break from them, they will punish you. Look at the beatings black conservatives took at tea party rallies and town halls from SEIU thugs."

Nice job making sure that no one can challenge your argument despite the fact that it's based on no evidence. I would ask you to post some numbers on all the black "closet conservatives" out there, but obviously they would never fess up to such a thing because they're afraid of all the "backlash," right?

We don't need to manufacture any conspiracy theories to explain why black conservatives are such a rare sight in this country. All we have to do is notice that the conservative worldview is antithetical to the reality black people face today.

"Black people like myself are disproportionately underpaid, undereducated, and imprisoned, nevermind that apparently we are all to blame whenever one of us does something stupid (unlike the 'white community,' of course, which is never responsible for the misdeeds of the few white miscreants out there). Yes, I think I'll side with those who think that eliminating social programs and cutting funds to public education is the best possible thing for America. I know what it's like to walk into a room and be immediately looked down upon because of my skin color, but yeah, I'll support the guys who seriously believe that we're all born with the same opportunities in life."

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 10:17 p.m.

Don says, "I am sure at some point liberals will attempt to have this stamp removed from the blades of Marine Corps swords."
____________________

Well, way to go.....you just had to go and mention it.

;^)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 10:25 p.m.

"...never fess up to such a thing because they're afraid of all the "backlash," right?"
____________________

Well, it's not an unheard-of event around here.

Hell, how many crimes are committed and nobody saw nuttin'?

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 4, 2012 | 10:36 p.m.

"All we have to do is notice that the conservative worldview is antithetical to the reality black people face today."

What a ridiculous, double generalization - of both conservatives, and of African-Americans.

Because the "liberal" worldview has worked out so well, huh...

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 4, 2012 | 10:39 p.m.

Also,

http://www.modelshipbuilding.com/militar...
http://www.usna.org/swords.html

(scroll to the bottom of either link)

Or let's just do this,

http://tinyurl.com/72chago

Nice work with the plagiarism, Don. I'm guessing you actually didn't know anything about the engraving on the sword until you looked it up. (And not that it matters, but I've yet to find a website indicating that such a hexagram is indeed the symbol of Damascus steel--at least none that says this without reference to the USMC).

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 4, 2012 | 11:05 p.m.

Jon,

If memory serves, Don is an ex-Marine currently living in Hawaii. I think he noted that in past posts. I do not know his connection to hereabouts. If this is incorrect info, I apologize, Don.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 12:22 a.m.

Michael, with one small correction. There is no such thing as an ex Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine. My connection is to Colonel Miller, who I have known for over 10 years. We served with alot of the same people, but never in the same unit beyond being a division at the same time. Jonathan, indeed I did copy a portion of that post. But you failed to note there were other parts of my post that were not contained in anything you found in your research.

Marine NCO schools have always taken a great deal of time in teaching the nomenclature of the Marine NCO sword, as well as the manual of arms with sword. Marine NCO's are expected to know this in their ceremonial duties if called upon. This could include weddings, promotions, parades, burial details, change of command ceremonies, commemorative services such as they have at Pearl Harbor every year, and the annual Marine Corps birthday ball.

I'll venture a guess that Jonathan doesn't know anything about swords, much less used one in the performance of professional military duties. Let's see though if he has the courtesy to admit he made an accusation about me without the least bit of knowledge of my professional education on this topic.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 12:39 a.m.

Jonathan, in the last 30 years I don't recall any conservatives trying to prevent blacks from voting by physical intimidation. I have seen SEIU thugs beat up blacks at conservative rallies. I have seen blacks intimidate white people going to polls. I have heard many black conservatives openly voice the bigotry and threats they endured for being open about their political views. I won't enumerate them. You can do that research for yourself. I do recall seeing a black Houston police officer in a barber’s chair in Houston saying that Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, the black pastor of Windsor Village Methodist Church, which I once attended two blocks from my home, should be killed as a race traitor because he supported George W. Bush and was his spiritual advisor. He did the invocation at Pres. Bush’s first inauguration. By the way, Rev. Caldwell also endorsed President Obama.

However, you failed to explain why liberal democrat voting Vermont, 95% white and 1% black, incarcerates blacks at a rate 8 times higher than whites. Do you have any answer to explain that?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 5, 2012 | 7:58 a.m.

Iowa isn't a state that should be used when discussing minorities: it has a very small black population, and much of that population is found in two cities, which also have the majority of the state's hispanic population.

On the other hand, at all public education levels Iowa has been "integrated" for years, long before "integration" of public educational facilities became a hot topic. I cannot remember a time, K-12, when there weren't black students in my classes. I was president of my high school senior class; our vice president was black. (Our secretary was female, so we would have been the darlings of affirmative action!)

Although one of its alumni was both U. S. Secretary of Agriculture and Vice President of the United States, Iowa State University counts as its most famous alumnus a black man, George Washington Carver (born a slave in Missouri).

Are Iowans without racial prejudice? HELL NO! And that's the point I'm still trying to make here (see my post way up above): NOBODY is without racial prejudice - some just think they are.

My daughter attended high school here in Missouri with a farm boy who was born and grew up in extreme northern Iowa to the age of 9th grade. Until his parents and the family moved to Missouri he had never seen a back person except in movies or on TV. You may find that impossible to believe, but I don't, because I'm familiar with the part of Iowa where he spent his childhood. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 5, 2012 | 8:56 a.m.

Don initiates corrective action and says, "...There is no such thing as an ex Marine."
__________________

I knew that and flubbed it anyway.

I wuz sleepy.

That's the only excuse I can think of.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks January 5, 2012 | 10:07 a.m.

Ellis: The situation you described at the bottom of your post is the same that I experienced moving from North Dakota to Southwest KS and settling in Columbia in the middle of 7th grade. First time I ever seen an American with African decent in my life was while attending Oakland JR High.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 5, 2012 | 10:55 a.m.

The 99% I mentioned above came from CNN.
I find these political discussions both enjoyable and often insightful, however let's not go into the who's a better person because they have experienced the military or not. I am forever grateful for our military personnel who give the most and often suffer the most in the civilian world. I served voluntarily during the 60's for 5 years, but that is personal and has nothing to do with the subject.

Back to the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dUqYnbS6...

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 5, 2012 | 11:33 a.m.

I have mentioned here before that John Stossel and his family lived in Columbia while VA hospital was being built. His father told once that as a child in the segregated neighborhoods of large PA town, possibly Pittsburgh, he had never seen a black person and only knew of the label one and all were always given back then.

One day walking far out of his neighborhood two black kids approached and were moving in same direction as he. They began to talk and Mr. Stossel was enjoying the conversation when after a few blocks, his new friends turned at a corner. Stossel disappointed, said "where are you N-word's going now?" Disappointment turned to deep shock when the two pounced upon him and thrashed him severely.

It would seem one could either gain or lose feelings of prejudice in instances like this.

(Report Comment)
Derek Evans January 5, 2012 | 11:57 a.m.

I think it's a valid claim that the "race card" is pulled when someone wants to quell critical analysis of whatever topic is at hand. The problem is that race is brought into discussions as a way to deflect far less often than people who describe ANY mention of race as "race baiting" would like to believe.

Rather, such individuals will pull the "race-card card", which serves a similar function...it's an attempt by members of the group that is being called racist to skirt having to do any genuine reflection about the ways they or their group's thinking and actions might, in fact, be racist.

No political party or ideological group is without its racist members and, say, liberals or Democrats who try to paint a picture of their group as free from racism are either lying or oblivious. But to disregard that some social groups have a measureably higher percentage of racists than other groups - rural/urban, young/old, liberal/conservative, et. - is equally as dishonest and/or oblivious.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro January 5, 2012 | 12:56 p.m.

("This shameful conduct has come to be expected as a hallmark of the efforts of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Princeton University's Cornel West and various other race-hustling luminaries acting under the guise of "civil rights activists.")
I hope that Obama does not get a second term.
And, while I agree that these kind of folk are no Martin Luther King JR, or Robert Kennedy, hustling for votes comes in many different guises.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 1:40 p.m.

Ellis Smith nails it: NOBODY is without racial prejudice.

The measure of who we are as individuals and as a people is how we overcome those prejudices as individuals and as a nation. Diversity makes us interesting, but it is what we have in common as a people that binds us together. We should concentrate on what we have in common. That is what will bring us together.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 5, 2012 | 2:12 p.m.

Nice post Don.

One might say someone who could bring together people of many different races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds to unite them in their common goals would be called a leader.

Hmmmm... Been a while since we have seen one of those...

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 5, 2012 | 2:55 p.m.

Derick Evans shows some creative thinking in the assertion that (I hadn't heard this one before) the race-card, card is "an attempt by members of the group that is being called racist to skirt having to do any genuine reflection about the ways they or their group's thinking and actions might, in fact, be racist."

Problem is, to try to make his point valid, Mr. Evans has to hope that readers will not note that he has ignored the difference between the action of playing the race-card, card and the reason he says it is played.

Those being called racist attempt to skirt any reflection on what might in fact be racist. Actually the opposite is true. The accused is forced to reflect very thoroughly on what thinking or actions might make them racist and they use these "reflections" to defend themselves against the randomly sprayed accusations most generally administered by liberals in politics when they have otherwise lost the verbal debate.

It was reported that the 1994 Republicans that took control of the House, besides closing the House Post Office and House Bank, also stopped the $10,000 stipend awarded annually from the white Democrat House leadership to each of the black Democrat representatives of the House Black Caucus.

Race was large in this act, but was it racist? Perhaps R's were racist for putting a stop to it. Interesting.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 3:19 p.m.

Mike the problem is, what if your goals are so much at opposite ends, that it is impossible for you to come together? What if one or more parties isn't interested in finding common ground? What if one or more of the parties have standards that are truly detrimental to the good of the majority? What then?

(Report Comment)
Derek Evans January 5, 2012 | 3:31 p.m.

@Frank

Wait...those accused of being racist "reflect very thoroughly", but people who suggest race/racism are a factor are automatically knee-jerk liberals?

Why isn't it possible that those who assert that race/racism is a factor in whatever topic is being discussed do so only after reflecting very thoroughly about what factors are at play and determining logically that race has influence?

There's nothing that makes those who pull the "race-card card" any less knee-jerk than those who pull the race card.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 5, 2012 | 4:04 p.m.

@Don
Didn't say it would be easy ;-)

A leader may not be able to convince every single person at all ends of the spectrum to come together, but will possess the diplomatic skills to asses what would be common ground and convince most that progress is better than digging in. The current president is by far the absolute worst leader we have had in my adult lifetime. He has no interest in what is best for this country, only what is best for his re-election prospects. Slick Willie came pretty close to being a good leader. I hated what he did in the oval office to bring shame on that office, but he was somehwat of a centrist and did go out with very high approval ratings. Reagan of course has to be mentioned from the other side. Those that agreed with him loved him and those that didn't couldn't hate him and for the most part went along. I think those are two indicators of a strong leader.

Although having said that, I need to clarify that I am speaking of political leaders. I hope we don't have Marines on the front line asking their leadership to listen to their opinions and assess common ground when the you know what is flying! Thank you for your service!

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 5:47 p.m.

Mike, not only was it my duty to give back to my country, it was my honor. My family has served as Marines in every decade from the 1920s right through to today - with a short break for the 1980s. I served with many incredibly heroic men who I knew to also be ordinary people, and was privileged to meet many more. Amongst these is Colonel Miller, who spoke once at my Marine Corps veteran's group. At 83, famous Marine Corps fighter ace and retired major general Marion Carl stepped between his wife at a teenager burglar and took a bullet, which ended his life. I grew up with history at my elbow. When my youngest brother wanted to enlist, my two older brothers and I, all Marines, told him no, mom and dad had had enough. We were wrong to do that, but our heart was in the right place. My little brother never graduated high school. However, he is a plant manager for a large refinery, a fire fighter instructor, licensed paramedic, and licensed flight instructor. You can have all the education in the world. If you don't have common sense and the exercise of good judgment, you will always be a fool, and likely unsuccessful. My father dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Marines at age 16. He was at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack, and his parents got a telegram listing him as missing and presumed dead. He stayed in the war and was in the first group into Nagasaki after the bomb was dropped. In spite of having endured starvation on Guadalcanal, disease, daily bombings for months, and additional battles on other islands, it did not leave him a bitter man, nor did it the vast majority of the men he served with. They came home and went to work with no complaints and no feeling that the government owed them anything. On my father's desk at home was a little piece of blue plastic, about 4 inches by six inches on a stand. It was the Rotary Club's four way test. He lived by that, and I was always very proud of him.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 5, 2012 | 5:50 p.m.

Derek - Not sure about the meaning of you initial statement here, but in case you have not been paying attention to the verbal actions of the Democrats in our political system, or worse, choose to ignore them, lets establish that those mentioned by Col. Smith, every conservative poster and myself as injecting race into a discussion (playing the race card) have been and probably will always be identified and known, previously, as (yours) "knee-jerk liberals". Try to keep the discussion in it's context.

"There's nothing that makes those who pull the "race-card card" any less knee-jerk than those who pull the race card." The simple, logical answer to this is: Those who pull your race-card, card are doing so, Only because the Democrat (I'll rescind that insinuation with the valid presentation of an instance when the offender was not a D') has inserted race into the conversation, only to relieve the pressure of impending defeat. The D' exhibits "knee-jerk", not the accused.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt January 5, 2012 | 6:27 p.m.

I just HATE those knee jerks!

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 5, 2012 | 6:53 p.m.

mike mentor said: "The current president is by far the absolute worst leader we have had in my adult lifetime."

Care to elaborate? Otherwise, that sentence reeks of confirmation bias.

If we assume you're 90 years old (I'd be surprised if it were true), your quasi expertise on US presidents extends as far back as FDR. If we further assume that you care about the credibility of your opinions, it's not unreasonable to request that you present a convincing argument demonstrating that Obama is indeed a worse leader than any of his 12 predecessors (or whatever the actual number is based on your age).

Also, I'm genuinely curious as to which of the 2012 Republican candidates you like the most (or find the least incompetent, whichever is the case).

Finally--and everyone else is welcome to answer as well--I'm wondering if there are any fundamental differences between racism and homophobia. As cheap (and off-topic) as it may be to bring this up, I find it odd that a lot of conservatives nowadays can repudiate racism so easily yet maintain the view that gays are virtually subhuman, or otherwise worthy of our scorn.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 7:53 p.m.

Jonathan, many of our laws are based on the 10 commandments, derived from the Bible. It's only been in the last 40 years that our government has decided that many of the morals which we took for granted and were codified in law are no longer valid.

By the way Jonathan, I'm still awaiting your explanation on why white liberal Vermont incarcerates blacks 8 times more than whites, and your recognition that I do have professional knowledge of military swords - not to mention your being wrong in your accusation that I didn't.

Is the question on Vermont too difficult for you to answer, and your admission that you were wrong about my knowledge of swords too hard for you to admit?

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 5, 2012 | 8:02 p.m.

@Jonathan: I tend to lean toward the conservative end of the political spectrum, and some of my favorite people are gay, black, sword-owners.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 5, 2012 | 8:48 p.m.

Jonathan, here and before is not interested in answers or information. He is merely entertaining himself here, rather than some of the other sites he probably is visiting when we don't hear from him.

Does he believe that ""The current president is by far the absolute worst leader we have had in my adult lifetime."

Care to elaborate? Otherwise, that sentence reeks of confirmation bias." is a realistic question that should provoke intelligent debate? My guess is No,but it might ease the torture of his insomnia.

If he was sincere, he might show us he has considered some or Any liberal faults in government over the last 60 years. Not so. His answer to the query about 4T$ nat'l debt over less than 3years with a Democrat controlled government, top to bottom, was:

"You do realize that solving any of our problems will invariably require a lot of money, right?"

Jon, I hope you can get some sleep and give us a break.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 5, 2012 | 9:20 p.m.

"lets establish that those mentioned by Col. Smith,"

That's you, Col. Miller. Dunno why, but please accept my apology.

(Report Comment)
Derek Evans January 5, 2012 | 9:25 p.m.

Frank, the race-card card (as the race card) is not a D or R issue. The race-card card can be pulled ANY time - outside or within the political realm - race is brought into the equation...presidential candidates, newspersons, your local grocer, your next door neighbor.

Case in point: In response to Ron Paul's recent assertion that the War on Drugs is racist and, especially, in response to PAC's that rallied on Paul's behalf via ads claiming this was evidence of how much he cares for minorities, some "R's" claimed Paul was pandering by pulling the race card. Others responded with the race-card card's younger sibling the "it's not about race! card".

All without any thought about or attempt to research the many ways the War on Drugs DOES perpetuate and contribute to racial inequality.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 9:36 p.m.

Frank, it was Mike that said "The current president is by far the absolute worst leader we have had in my adult lifetime."

I truly believe he was honest and correct.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 5, 2012 | 9:39 p.m.

Racecard card.

Reminds me of Niles Crane (Frasier) bemoaning that his son would never learn to throw a football ball.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 5, 2012 | 9:59 p.m.

@tony
LoL.

@jon
Reagan was president on my 18'th...

Obama has proven himself as a "leadership dodger." He has spent his presidency cowering from every leadership oppurtunity he had except for one. That was bin Laden and also when strong leadership just happened to coincide with
overwhelming popularity of the issue at hand. He
has spent the rest of the time hiding from every
fight, leaving his party cronies to do all the
fighting from a position of far less influence hence
the epic failure that is our current government.
IMHO he has done this in an effort to stay clean
of any political dirt that could possibly fall upon
his pristine shoulders. Add to this all the
examples of his campaign trips and the money
he has spent on them and your left with an
accusation that his presidency has been spent campaigning instead of governing.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 5, 2012 | 10:10 p.m.

Mike, just for historical note, you stated:

"Although having said that, I need to clarify that I am speaking of political leaders. I hope we don't have Marines on the front line asking their leadership to listen to their opinions and assess common ground when the you know what is flying!"

Actually there is quite a bit of discussion just back of the front line about how operations will be conducted, how they are being conducted, and whose fault it is when things don't go quite as planned. It's important that this be part of the process by which we learn from both our errors and successes in the combat zone. On many of the islands during WW2, the division headquarters with easily within enemy rifle range, much less more lethal armaments. That ensured there could be immediate repercussions for judgments in error. On Guadalcanal, there was hand to hand combat right outside the division operations tent.

Every new platoon commander is told he would be well advised to listen to his platoon sergeant. I had a battalion commander who told a new on board company commander that should the colonel ever give the company commander an order in combat that the young captain new was tactically unsound, that he was to ignore/disregard it.

Even in the heat of combat, we must be able to trust our young leaders to be responsible and take responsibility for their actions. This is one of the great things I liked about the Marines. When a man was in trouble, his normal response was, "No excuse sir."

It's an attitude which is anathema to liberalism.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 6, 2012 | 1:27 a.m.

Don: "Jonathan, many of our laws are based on the 10 commandments, derived from the Bible."

Actually, no. In fact, from the point of view of the Constitution, none of our laws are based on them (this includes the oft-cited 6th and 8th commandments too).

Also, the Bible is nowhere near the oldest religious book, nor the oldest document to establish laws (even against murder and theft).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_anc...

Also, many other social animals exhibit behavior that could be described as "moral"--altruism, an aversion to ingroup violence/theft, etc.--simply because it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Contrary to popular opinion, we do not get our morals from the Bible. In fact, nowadays it's IN SPITE of the Bible that our understanding of morality and well-being continues to grow.

"It's only been in the last 40 years that our government has decided that many of the morals which we took for granted and were codified in law are no longer valid."

I'm sensing that this is a not-so-tacit show of support for the claim that homosexuality is evil/sinful/immoral, but I'll gladly retract if I misconstrued your statements. Just in case, however:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_...

"By the way Jonathan, I'm still awaiting your explanation on why white liberal Vermont incarcerates blacks 8 times more than whites,"

I could make several guesses, but that's all they would be. Generally I try to avoid making claims beyond what I can prove, so I'm looking at various statistics carefully in order to (try to) formulate as plausible a pseudo-hypothesis as I can.

But, it appears that you already have the answer, so perhaps you would be so kind as to share with us the groundbreaking, sure-fire methodology you've developed to dispense with the classic correlation-vs-causation dilemma plaguing statisticians and epidemiologists everywhere. I'm sure they'd love to work without having to worry about those pesky confounding variables and all that confidence-interval mumbo-jumbo.

"and your recognition that I do have professional knowledge of military swords - not to mention your being wrong in your accusation that I didn't."

Actually, the ~2 paragraphs you posted on the subject (one of which was plagiarized) are not indicative of the vast knowledge you claim to have on the subject, nevermind that I brought swords up only because I happened to notice your copy-and-paste job while looking up stuff on the Star of Damascus and the USMC Mameluke sword.

(And FYI, my "research" didn't yield any results. I've yet to find a reputable website connecting that hexagram to Damascus steel without reference to the USMC sword. Ignoring small-time websites geared toward weaponry/metallurgy/military aficionados--since they offer no literature on the subject beyond word of mouth--the Star of Damascus is a 1920 Austrian Film, as well as some business in Boca Raton, FL)

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 6, 2012 | 1:53 a.m.

mike:

Maybe we view leadership differently. Obama has gotten a lot of flak even from his own party for wanting to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans, and that to me is not a sign of bad leadership at all--especially considering that our absurd two-party political system is precisely why this country is a dump compared to what it could be. IMO it's a GOOD thing to want to move away from the childish tug of war that is American politics today.

But, perhaps we should first establish what constitutes good leadership and go from there. Got any names in mind? A brief explanation as to what makes/made them good leaders would also help.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 3:11 a.m.

"especially considering that our absurd two-party political system is precisely why this country is a dump"

As opposed to the multi-party systems of other countries which are vastly superior in quality of life compared to ours.

Uh huh.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 5:34 a.m.

Mike, Michael, Frank, Ellis, would you guys help me carry Jonathan's bags to the airport counter? I'm sure one party Castro's paradise will be much more to his taste. Jonathan, you don't mind three government TV channels and no choice, do you?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking January 6, 2012 | 6:22 a.m.

Jonathan Hopfenblatt wrote:

"But, perhaps we should first establish what constitutes good leadership and go from there. Got any names in mind?"

I'd say that a good leader is someone that can get his followers focused and motivated on whatever they needc to be motivated on. They're usually strong, charismatic personalities., with a talent for getting people to feel about their issues rather than just thinking about them. Often times make leaders - Winston Churchill comes to mind. If he had not risen to power when he did it is likely he would be just another British PM.

However, a good leader does not always lead in his followers best interest. Hitler was a gifted leader (enough to bring Germany from the depths of depression to a world power in 5 years, and be declared Time Magazine Man of the Year in 1938), but where he eventually led Germany was obviously not in the best interests of the German people.

It's easy for someone to be labeled a poor leader if they have few ready answers to difficult problems, and again in this way the times make the leader. The trouble is, today, there aren't good solutions to most of our problems. In that case, no matter how strong and charismatic a leader may be, people still won't see improvements in their daily lives. Therefore, anyone leading the country is going to fail in the people's eyes.

DK

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 6, 2012 | 7:10 a.m.

@Don: Jonathan would be swimming against the current. I hear tell most of the Cuban emigre traffic is one-way. You know, toward the "dump".

For one that bemoans the "childish tug-of-war", he seems to have a pretty tight grip on the rope.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 7:32 a.m.

Tony, too bad the grip on reality (what a great place America is) isn't as strong.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 6, 2012 | 8:48 a.m.

Other characteristics of a leader:

(1) The ability to recognize what he/she is good at,

(2) The ability to recognize what he/she is NOT good at,

(3) The ability to recognize and surround him/herself with those who augment the things he/she is good at, and

(4) The ability to recognize and surround him/herself with those who can take over things he/she is NOT good at.

Good leaders understand they have leadership assets and leadership liabilities. A leader, political or business or otherwise, who surrounds him/herself with "yes-men" will likely fail. A leader who "knows it all" will likely fail. The best approach is to hire those who will support the overall effort/goal, yet be a good source of various routes to get there.

In the political arena, many citizens see a political leader as a personal savior, as if that person will directly take corrective action that saves us all by paying our rent or finding us a job. I maintain such thought is cult-like and highly undesirable.

I want a charismatic leader who knows how to delegate to really good people. I think Presidents Reagan and Clinton did this quite well. President Obama is not doing this well, imo, by missing out on the "really good people" part; he certainly is/was sufficiently charismatic.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 6, 2012 | 8:52 a.m.

Since "leadership" appears to now be the hot topic, I'm going to post something I've previously posted (at another time):

Leadership:

If I lead, follow me.
If I stumble, help me up.
If I hesitate, push me.
If I turn back, KILL ME!

That, shown in English translation, is the motto of military types I know of in Central America. They're a bit too gung ho to suit my tastes. (I'm ex-military but not a Marine.)

As for Herr Hitler, it can easily be argued that he was the antithesis of what a positive leader should be: he invariably placed his own desires ahead of legitimate needs of the nation, and when the end - which he created - came he was willing to destroy what was left of Germany with no apparent concern as to where that left its population.

Any comments, in particular from Don and the Colonel about the above motto.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 6, 2012 | 8:59 a.m.

@ Don Milsop:

Until I'm presented with evidence to the contrary I am going to assume that Jon is capable of toting his own bags. If Jon is indeed physically or otherwise handicapped, I'll assist him.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 6, 2012 | 9:12 a.m.

Derek - "the race-card card (as the race card) is not a D or R issue. The race-card card can be pulled ANY time"

It would be helpful if you could leave What "can be" alone and direct attention to what "has been and is". You cannot do this, however, because this context is totally about politics and D's and R's.

"Ron Paul's recent assertion that the War on Drugs is racist" was in his newsletter of the 1980's. I have tried to find "some "R's" claimed Paul was pandering by pulling the race card.", with no success. A link would be appreciated. You state that race card not about politics and can be pulled Any time, then give a totally political example.

The War on Drugs, a total failure, was instituted to curtail use of drugs in U.S.A. Racial equality may be one of the unintended consequences.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 6, 2012 | 9:18 a.m.

piggy backing on Michael... Come to think of it, we may have dodged a bullet. Obama had so much charisma entering his presidency that if he had any kind of leadership ability at all he would have completed more of his objectives. Which of course would not have been good. Instead he surrounded himself with sleazy Chicago political types and radicals that were not going to influence anyone. He failed miserably to gain support from members of congress. In fact, rumor has it that he doesn't call on senators or reps at all! He came in with a scary amount of charisma. Thank goodness he wasn't able to leverage that with other skills. IMHO because, quite simply, he doesn't possess those skills...

I do believe that America is ready to follow a strong leader. I read a news report about some monkeys that were successfully bread with 6 genomes. (6 parents) Too bad I can't go all mad scientist and come up with a chimera of Romney and Paul! (Paul's brain and Romney's charisma and bank...)

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 6, 2012 | 9:54 a.m.

Don Milsop: "As opposed to the multi-party systems of other countries which are vastly superior in quality of life compared to ours.

Uh huh."

Good show of intellectual dishonesty once again. Not only have you already resorted to plagiarism, now it appears you don't have much of a problem quote mining and distorting the other person's viewpoint. For those of you too lazy to read what I actually wrote, here it is again, with the part Don omitted capitalized for emphasis:

"...especially considering that our absurd two-party political system is precisely why this country is a dump COMPARED TO WHAT IT COULD BE."

As in, my original statement spoke negatively of our current situation in RELATIVE terms, whereas good ol' Don here took that last part out to make it look as if I think the US is a dump in absolute terms, aka right alongside Eritrea and Somalia in quality-of-life indices.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking January 6, 2012 | 11:17 a.m.

frank christian wrote:

"this context is totally about politics and D's and R's."

Frank, are there any contexts you can think of that aren't?

Juat curious.

DK

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 6, 2012 | 12:17 p.m.

Johnathon, I believe that a great leader is one who can see both sides of the issues taking them into consideration and find a strategy that will: Stimulate the economy,balance the budget, help create jobs, act as a moderator, get the blessings of people around the world, not start wars, and help assure that those in need are given help.

Only one comes to mind in recent history. Bill Clinton.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 2:58 p.m.

"Johnathon, I believe that a great leader is one who can see both sides of the issues taking them into consideration and find a strategy that will"

Gary, I'd like to correct some issues: First, the Republican congress balanced the budget, not Bill Clinton. Clinton merely signed off on the Republican legislation, and that was over tremendous objections of the rest of the Democrat Party. Dick Morris told Clinton if he didn't sign it, he would not be reelected. Beyond that, both parties are presenting this falsely, because if you took SS money out of the general fund, it never got closer than $60 billion to being in balance.

Bill Clinton didn't get the blessing of anybody when he went into Haiti with 20,000 troops. He reinstalled a corrupt leader who did absolutely nothing to improve the lives of his people over the following 15 years. Even the generals running the show said our efforts were a complete waste of time in their testimony before congress.

The only people he brought together were for trysts in the Oval Office. Bill Clinton was committed rape, sexual assault, indecent exposure, perjury, subornation of perjury, he helped N. Korea gain the technology for nuclear weapons, and he authorized the sale of our ICBM staging and guidance technology to Red China in exchange for $6 million in desperately needed campaign contributions.

Regardless of whether he was convicted or not, we all heard him commit perjury. It's unfortunate that the senate didn't have the moral courage to find him guilty. Those handful of Senators who actually went to the library of congress and viewed the evidence said they were shaken by the depth of what they saw. They further said it was far more than the public would ever imagine.

I hardly think this is the type of leader that you want to hold up as a paragon on any issue.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 6, 2012 | 3:32 p.m.

@Gary
Mr fair and balanced here says Reagan. Clinton was by far the best dem lately, (since the 80's...) but he did have a few personal issues that affected his leadership abilities, not to mention that those issues spilled in to the office in a painful sexual harrassment situation. (Not saying that his advances were unwanted, just that when it is the boss and an underling in the office it is not kosher...) He also, in an attempt to help those that WANtED it (as opposed to needed it...) helped create the massive meltdown our economy suffered by strong arming banks in to making mortgages available to people that previously wouldn't have qualified which both significantly lowered the quality of mortgage backed securities and also helped fuel the bubble in housing prices by immediately raising demand. Mr Reagan did not suffer in that area. All he did was take the mess Carter left him and turned the domestic economy around, brought home our hostages, transformed the world by ending the cold war. Etc... And did it all from a position of moral authority. (I am no fan of his drug war legacy, just to keep it real...)

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 3:53 p.m.

Ooops, I almost forgot Clinton's other war.

U.S. troops, who entered Bosnia in December 1995 for the start of what President Clinton said was a one-year mission.
They left in December of 2004.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller January 6, 2012 | 4:03 p.m.

Albeit one whose columns "are generally unhelpful to a mature discussion of political issues," I seem to have generated a lively discussion indeed. I thoroughly enjoy the commentary, be it intelligently posed and objective or equally self serving and ridiculous. I do have a few comments to add.

First, Not to worry Frank--you may call me anything except late to dinner.

Second, the Marine Mameluke Sword was presented to 1sLt Pressley O'Bannon for his bravery in routing the Barbary Pirates at Tripoli in 1805. That sword was the personal weapon of Prince Hamet Karamanli whom O'Bannon had attempted to restore to his throne. Inasmuch as "Damascus" steel swords were fabricated in the middle east from 300 AD to the 17th century, it is hardly a stretch that the Damascus artisans had a peculiar identifying stamp.

Third, as one with some experience in leadership, there are a number of traits I have found effective in the building of respect that calls subordinates to follow. None are more important and/or critical than the leader's simple act of giving one's subordinates the credit for sucess while accepting the blame for a failure.

I am sorry to say that I have seen little, no, make that no evidence of that particular leadership style emanating from this White House.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 6, 2012 | 4:10 p.m.

Don - Billy C. almost killed Jimmy Carter when he called an air strike on Haiti's dictator before Carter got out.

The Nat'l Debt was reduced by over 500B$ between 1997 and 2000.

I was "shaken" reading "Sellout-the inside story of Pres. Clinton's Impeachment", by David P. Schippers (chief investigative counsel for the Clinton Impeachment). Reading the printed memos to VP Gore showing that the "White House pressured Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to hurriedly naturalize immigrants who were likely Democratic voters." Schippers, a Democrat, states, "In the meantime, thousands of criminals are now citizens of the United States because it was assumed they would vote for Bill Clinton and Al Gore."

The information mentioned here is as easily available to Mr. Straub and the "others" as it is to you and I. Why, do you suppose, they either have not read it or will not accept it?

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 4:16 p.m.

For additional historical reference: In 1991, we signed a "cease fire" to end the conflict. As part of this cease fire, we established no fly zones, and tasked Iraq to prove the destruction of their WMDs. It was not up to us to prove Saddam had WMDs. It was up to Saddam to prove he did not have them. Keep in mind, Saddam had them, he used them, and he failed to prove he destroyed them. He blocked efforts to ascertain the truth about his WMDs. Further, we did find reduced strength WMDs which could easily have been brought back to full strength. So he did not destroy them all. This is proven in this House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee document: http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/Iraq...

Beyond that though, you can look at snopes.com/politics/war/wmdquotes.asp

It will clearly show you quote after quote by Democrats from 1998 to Jan 2003 stating that Saddam had WMDs, and he must be dealt with. As I recall, Pres. G.W. Bush was not President until January 2001.

Add to that the number of times Iraq violated the cease fire and shot at our planes patrolling the no fly zone. Last time I checked, if you violated a cease fire, and you are foolish enough to do it against an enemy far stronger than you, it will likely subject you to an immediate butt kicking, for which only Iraq was to blame.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 4:20 p.m.

Colonel, at this very moment Jonathan is desperately searching the internet to find where you plagiarized your post on the Mameluke sword.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 4:25 p.m.

By election time I expect to see posters of President Obama in SEAL combat gear riding on horse (with a monocle night vision device) up San Juan Hill and personally dispatching bin Laden.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 6, 2012 | 4:32 p.m.

Mark and Michael:

Thanks for offering your views on good leadership, and I agree with both of you for the most part. I would disagree with the last bit of Mark's post, though.

"The trouble is, today, there aren't good solutions to most of our problems. In that case, no matter how strong and charismatic a leader may be, people still won't see improvements in their daily lives. Therefore, anyone leading the country is going to fail in the people's eyes."

My problem is with the first sentence, and it's the main reason why I think that our two-party system is a travesty. There ARE good solutions to these issues, and we COULD find them if we actually cared about the solutions and not about party allegiance. There are facts at play, which means there are demonstrably right and wrong ways to go about solving our problems. While we could look at the issues objectively and work toward an optimal solution--or at least one that doesn't suck as much--any attempt to do so is immediately dismantled by partisan politics. Perpetuating the black-and-white world created by American politics isn't going to do us any good.

mike mentor: "I do believe that America is ready to follow a strong leader."

I disagree, the reason being what I described above. A strong leader is honest first and foremost (IMO), and Americans aren't ready for honesty in the political sphere. Honesty by definition is calling a spade a spade, and in terms of governing, this means disregarding stupid opinions even if said opinions have majority support. Such a person couldn't even dream of getting on the campaign trail, much less get elected, much less survive in office. Americans today want someone who agrees with them, not someone who is actually interested in solving problems.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 6, 2012 | 4:52 p.m.

Don: "Colonel, at this very moment Jonathan is desperately searching the internet to find where you plagiarized your post on the Mameluke sword."

Wow, way to go trying to paint me as the bad guy when you were the one too lazy to type a paragraph on your own.

Fact: You are a Marine.
Fact: You (should) know this stuff already.
Fact: You stated repeatedly that you know a lot about military swords.
Fact: You ripped that paragraph straight from another website.

If I were you I'd avoid any further discussion on the matter. Insisting that you're an expert on military tradition doesn't help your case either, because you're only making it harder on yourself to justify your lazy and dishonest behavior earlier.

"Trust me, guys, I'm a world-renowned physicist. Please bear with me as I demonstrate my credentials by lifting a couple of paragraphs straight off Wikipedia and neglecting to mention that I did so."

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 6, 2012 | 5:09 p.m.

Col. - What are we going to do with you? I just got blue screen again.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 6, 2012 | 5:32 p.m.

I've solved the blue screen mystery.

Seems the only time we get a blue screen is when the colonel publishes a column.

The Marine dress uniform is blue.

J. Karl is a retired Marine.

Ergo, he's somehow responsible. (Could be Don, tho)

Logic-R-Us

PS: Actually, blue screen syndrome only happens when we get a bunch of posts. Obviously, and as he acknowledges, the colonel's intellect is so inferior that we need many posts telling him of that fact.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 5:34 p.m.

Jonathan, perhaps you might want to review what I posted earlier.

"Jonathan, indeed I did copy a portion of that post. But you failed to note there were other parts of my post that were not contained in anything you found in your research."

At least you didn't deny you don't know the first thing about military sword, and your entire knowledge on the matter is a quick internet search. You wouldn't have a clue on where to go for authoritative information on this topic.

I did note that you took the completely lazy way out of my question on liberal white Vermont and their incaration rate for blacks:

"I could make several guesses, but that's all they would be. Generally I try to avoid making claims beyond what I can prove, so I'm looking at various statistics carefully in order to (try to) formulate as plausible a pseudo-hypothesis as I can."

What you are really saying is that it makes liberals look racist, so you're not going to address the issue. That would have been a much shorter response than your non response.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 5:41 p.m.

Michael, break down and replace that Atari 64. You should see some improvement.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 5:46 p.m.

I think we can resolve this sword issue. Jonathan, at your convenience I can return to the mainland and drive you to either east or west coast Marine NCO or SNCO school, and let you explain to them that they don't know the first thing about their swords or the history behind them. Then I am sure they would educate you on why you are wrong.

I would most like to watch this conversation, but remain neutral while the issue is decided in what I am sure would be an enlightened manner.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 5:52 p.m.

My bad. Should be either Marine NCO school or SNCO Academy.
Do you think there will be more accusations coming from Jonathan?

(Report Comment)
Tim Trayle January 6, 2012 | 5:55 p.m.

*Every* state incarcerates blacks at a higher pop. percentage rate than whites. Given the welter of factors that go into why crime is more prevalent and more patrolled among poor African-Americans communities, isn't it a bit unrealistic to expect that a "liberal" state like VT would be an exception?

It'd be nice if people could tone down the general level of nastiness on these forums.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 6, 2012 | 5:56 p.m.

Don Milsop advises, "Michael, break down and replace that Atari 64. You should see some improvement.
____________________________

I can upgrade to an Atari 64???

When did that happen?

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 6, 2012 | 6:44 p.m.

Pretty funny how Clinton was not responsible for any of the many good things that came during his 2 terms, and totally responsible for the negative... and yes there were many. One cannot be a moderate without people on both sides having issues. Also funny how Obama is personally responsible for all our problems. Does one have to be a bigot to become republican or does it happen afterwards?

If a leader who sleeps through most of their meetings, uses American hostages to finance an illegal war, de-regulated everything business, practically destroyed the economy, and had to be pardoned after leaving office before he was even charged of anything, is the best example of superior leadership. Than yes I probably am delusional,(my words).

Also, not only am I very well read, I have also lived through those times. To even mention the biggest witch hunt since the Brits dumped their religious fanatics on us, is not a good argument. Think Kenneth Starr, the American Enterprise Institute, Linda Tripp, Newt Gingrich, et alia. Then do a little research about how many lives were destroyed during this witch hunt, think Susan McDougal (sp). That kangaroo court broke more laws and wasted an enormous amount of money trying to prove that Clinton did something. And, used an illegally recorded private phone conversation, detained an American citizen to finally find something,(lying about an affair) against him. Then impeached him for it. Of course, he was re-elected.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 7:05 p.m.

Gary, he was elected before the impeachment trial, not after.

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 6, 2012 | 7:09 p.m.

Ooops, reelected.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 6, 2012 | 7:17 p.m.

Don: "Jonathan, perhaps you might want to review what I posted earlier.

"Jonathan, indeed I did copy a portion of that post. But you failed to note there were other parts of my post that were not contained in anything you found in your research.""

Yeah, not specifying that I was talking about that one paragraph absolves you of everything, right? Going off either word or character count, your post is ~43% not yours. Please forgive me for not checking beforehand whether or not the plagiarized portion was within the 50% international standard of acceptable unsourced copypasta.

"At least you didn't deny you don't know the first thing about military sword, and your entire knowledge on the matter is a quick internet search. You wouldn't have a clue on where to go for authoritative information on this topic."

I'm not feeling too bad about that, considering that your definition of "authoritative information" appears to be any non-scholarly website using that exact same paragraph to explain the difference between the Star of David and the symbol found on a USMC Mameluke sword.

We should note here that hearsay does not count as "authoritative information." A historical claim of this sort is considered legit only to the extent that its veracity is attested to by multiple, independent, expert sources. Scholarly literature is indeed hard to find even on the internet, but there's no reason why this bit of history should be so esoteric as to lack references to academic journals, encyclopedias, history books, etc. so consistently.

I'm not trying to cast aspersions on the US military or anything. I'm simply saying that yes, it's possible that the story behind the Star of Damascus is just word of mouth, and by extension that generation after generation of US Marines may have been given incorrect information.

"I did note that you took the completely lazy way out of my question on liberal white Vermont and their incaration rate for blacks:

[...]

What you are really saying is that it makes liberals look racist, so you're not going to address the issue. That would have been a much shorter response than your non response."

No. What I'm really saying is that I don't like to draw uneducated conclusions based on a piece of statistics from which it would be incredibly dumb to infer anything else without additional information. (As in, I'm not you). Like I said before, correlation and causation are huge problems in the world of statistics, and it's something statisticians grapple with on a constant basis.

Also, what I'm really saying is that I have several browser tabs open since yesterday, all of them with a bunch of numbers about a bunch of stuff, and that I'm trying to make sense of them all before jumping to conclusions. (As in, I'm trying to avoid being you)

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 6, 2012 | 7:26 p.m.

Is there a Star Trek convention in town, or something?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 6, 2012 | 8:25 p.m.

IMHO in a "conversational type" forum like this the words one chooses to post are more important than who originally typed them. It would be nice if we didn't have to waste everyones time. Its the thought that counts!

Other than that i have enjoyed the thread. Thanks everyone! TGIF!

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 6, 2012 | 9:50 p.m.

This does seem like a Star Trek episode, but I stopped watching when they put the women in trousers. Considering G. Straub's remarks about Clinton impeachment, which character would he best represent?

(Report Comment)
Don Milsop January 7, 2012 | 12:30 a.m.

Yeoman Rand never seemed that bright. Never saw her perform any duties except standing close to Kirk in a short skirt. If she had performed a yeoman duty, Jonathan would have been checking to see if she did a cut and paste.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub January 7, 2012 | 11:41 a.m.

Live long and prosper!
I know nothing of the Damascus steel swords of the Marine corp. However, I have spent a large part of my life trying to find the steel that would hold an edge the longest, as a furniture maker. I do know the the term is generally used for a method of hammer welding many layers of a softer steel around a extra hardened piece of steel so that the cutting edge has limited exposure. From what I know this process was perfected by the sword makers in Japan for the Samurai. This craft is still practiced today in Japan - only more for wood cutting tools. For you military buffs, you may find interesting that today the finest steel makers in Japan are using old war ship anchors dredged from the sea for the soft metal. They claim it is the best metal they have found for that purpose. That steel was made right here in the good ol' USA, long before steel making was out sourced to the vastly inferior steelmakers of China.

(Report Comment)
John Bliss January 7, 2012 | 1:48 p.m.

Colonel: Good to see you again. I hope you and yours had a good New Year's. I see you can still stir up a storm. By the way, J. Karl served our country in the Marine Corp for over thirty years, retiring as a full colonel. I, again, thank you for your service, Sir! John

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 7, 2012 | 2:50 p.m.

I think U.S. sold it's scrap metal to Japan before ww2. They began "dumping" huge quantities of less expensive steel in U.S. and caused the first problems for our industry. Chinese steel came of age with the rest of their industry when great switches to capitalism came in 1978.

Wikipedia on our largest steel mfg., U.S. Steel, it's demise.

"After 1970 the company could no longer compete effectively with low-wage producers elsewhere." This cannot be referred to as "outsourcing". The word you are looking for is Unions!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 7, 2012 | 3:28 p.m.

@ Frank:

That's correct: Japan purchased significant quantities of steel from the United States prior to WWII.

Two things to consider about that. First, both then and now Japan is a country with limited raw materials. One of Japan's major sources of raw materials for metallurgy today is Australia. Also, for some years before the attack on Pearl Harbor Japan was involved in a lengthy and inconclusive war with China. In other words, Japan was already at war.

Modern (post-WWII) steelmaking techniques originated in a number of countries, but the major ones originated in Europe. For example, at the end of the war European steelmakers found themselves with a lot of steel scrap but needing equipment to process it with. Rather than rebuilding using former designs they came up basic oxygen steel making, while the Americans, who hadn't had their mills bombed, kept on using the much slower open hearth method.

Americans continued to pour liquid steel into ingot molds (a process still used world wide for pouring certain grades of steel) while the Europeans initiated continuous casting (taking liquid steel directly to semi-finished shapes).

If you visit an American steel mill today, much of the process equipment is European design. If you are afforded a chance to see operations, take it!

[This information brought to you not by Wikipedia but by one of only 7 degree programs remaining in the United States in Metallurgical Engineering, located right here in Missouri.]

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 7, 2012 | 3:53 p.m.

I have an American History magazine from 1978 or 79, a special issue on the US home front during WWII. There is a photo of a young boy of probably about 10 or 11, pulling a wagon, collecting scrap metal from his neighbors, to donate to the war effort. Painted on the side of the wagon is this poem:

"Don't be a sap, and keep your scrap,
It'll only help the dirty Jap.
So clean your cellar of all your tin,
And give it to the American."

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks January 7, 2012 | 5:27 p.m.

Ellis: Is that your background or just know of it from attending the same school of thought? My sister in law graduated with a degree in Metallurgy just about a year and a half ago from the same school. Works with titanium now.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 7, 2012 | 5:57 p.m.

Tony, I recently told a story about the effort of the Columbia Public School system's war effort in regard to scrap metal. Benton School let us all out early for that purpose and we all put our "wagons" into use. A group of us noted a pile of metal behind a business on N8th St. So asked if we could "collect" it. We were told SURE! Take all you want! The place was a heating concern and the metal was corrugated sheet metal for furnaces and of no value as scrap. We put wagons together under a furnace base and somehow got a large mess back to Benton at the back of a ball field. Many years later I noted that material for the war effort still laying in our pile. Apparently No one wanted it.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 7, 2012 | 6:09 p.m.

Tony:

Sans the poem, that could have been me. Metal scrap and newspapers. We cleaned out quite a few attics (old newspapers). Newspapers were shredded and used as packing for shipping small aircraft parts.

Corey:

I am a Ceramic Engineer. Today at MS&T Metallurgical Engineering and Ceramic Engineering are combined into a single department, but the degree programs are separate. We do that with some other mineral engineering programs. It doesn't save taxpayer much money, but allows for lots of cooperative research programs.

During my career I spent time with metallurgical operations, domestic and foreign, because those operations rely on ceramic items called refractories. I've had formal metallurgical training (since graduation) but don't pretend to be a metallurgist.

Titanium is a hot item these days; in its oxide form it's also a ceramic material.

I noted above that MS&T is one of only 7 Metallurgical Engineering programs in the United States; Ceramic Engineering is one of only 2 programs in the United States (there are some ceramic science programs).

Nobody who graduates from those programs, 1950s to present, has problems finding a job.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin January 7, 2012 | 7:30 p.m.

I'm wondering if a separate Forumer or phpBB Missourian board wouldn't be a good option after reading a few of these mostly Karl Miller columns, which seem to get wildly off topic with a core group of followers.

The Trib had a popular board -- the Trib Board -- for some years designed to accommodate this sort of free-form, water-cooler discourse.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks January 7, 2012 | 8:54 p.m.

I loved the Trib board. Got banned from there numerous times. :)

Ellis: I would agree. Of all the people she went to school with and came home to visit on weekends and other events not a single one of them had to look for a job. They were tracked down by the companies. I think it also helped that she is female and top of her class and was an athlete and "mathlete". The toughest part for her after graduation was turning people down as she does not like to disappoint people. Well that and also not sure what she was supposed to do with all the "extra" money she was making each month after paying her bills.

(Report Comment)
Tony Robertson January 7, 2012 | 10:24 p.m.

Trib Board was a fun read. I still chuckle and shake my head, when I hear the phrase "tastes like chicken." He took ranting to the status of high art.

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 7, 2012 | 10:44 p.m.

Corey P. - Do you think the right thing to do is to out your sister-in-law and her lucrative new position in this manner? Your comments would certainly lead one to believe that she has fallen into the grasp of an evil CORPORATION. Tell us you were in jest and that she is in truth "finding" herself with those stalwarts of PETA or one of the other "progressive" entities. But then, they are all incorporated as well. Which way may we turn?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 8, 2012 | 6:03 a.m.

Corey:

According to our federal government - assuming one can believe their statistics - there is no record of a Ceramic Engineer ever being unemployed during the Great Depression. I knew some of those engineers from my early days in practice. Some of them didn't make a lot of money - a lot of people weren't making much money then - but they never wanted for employment.

As you've probably surmised, I have little sympathy for those who have chosen "easy" college majors, attended a second-rate academic institution (because all their friends did, or because the institution has wonderful athletic teams, etc.) and now moan because they can't find the job to which they THINK they're entitled.

All the good jobs in this country aren't technical.

In recent years as many as 50% of graduates in the two U. S. Ceramic Engineering programs have been female. Metallurgy doesn't seem to have quite as many (I am going by graduation photos from MS&T). The one that blows my mind is Mining Engineering, where at several U.S. programs at least 50% of the graduates are female! Maybe Sigmund Freud would have an explanation for that. Not only are women graduating, several mining companies have them in important positions.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer January 8, 2012 | 9:06 a.m.

@Mike — Thanks for the suggestion for a more general discussion forum similar to Trib Board. I'm intrigued.

A lot of news organizations have comment policies that insist users stay on topic. We've talked in the newsroom about whether we should take a more active role in guiding conversation back to the topic of the story at hand.

In general, I see a lot of value in allowing for tangents and off-topic comment threads. The main problem with our practice of allowing it, though, is that some of the more frequent commenters continue their ongoing debate across story pages, making it difficult for new voices to enter, and sometimes bogging down new conversations with old arguments.

When we asked readers for their about thoughts about the comments, we heard from people that they were intimidated by seeing the same (sometimes aggressive) commenters over and over. http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

(I will say that our comments are largely more civil than what many newsrooms have to deal with.)

I wonder if a more general comment board would help? Unfortunately, our technology now doesn't allow for nested comments, and it's not easy to see when one comment is responding to another. That gets more problematic as threads get longer.

I'd love to hear more about your guys' thoughts on this. I'll keep my eye on this thread, and feel free to also email me at mayerj@missouri.edu.

Joy Mayer
Director of community outreach
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks January 8, 2012 | 9:17 a.m.

I would be willing to bet that if someone brought back the Trib board with similar rules then you would see less comments from us regulars here. Those that post and post often are the ones more likely to gravitate to an area where they can not be censored every single click.

The Missourian should also take steps to allow for post editing or deleting like most every place else. Most have an edit function that allows the poster to go back and fix structure or spelling errors or delete something they themselves found offensive but posted in the heat of the moment. The Edit function though does not let people rewrite something without proof. It tags the post letting everyone know that the post has been edited.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer January 8, 2012 | 10:11 a.m.

@Corey, can you send me an example of a comment system you really like? That goes for everyone, actually. What features do you think contribute to a robust commenting system, and who's got 'em?

Also, Corey, are you saying you want an unmoderated place to comment?

Joy Mayer
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
frank christian January 8, 2012 | 10:17 a.m.

Should we assume that this conversation (about as far from Col. Miller's subject as one could stray), is an examination of ways that free speech, rather than prohibited, may only be controlled?

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks January 8, 2012 | 11:03 a.m.

I will see if I can send you a link from another message board I am on. The one is more specific to topic and has categories. My guess is you will only be able to see the specific topic type set up as a lurker but if you were a member and have a few more sections open up to you.

I do not mind moderators and most boards have them. Even the trib did. I think what most people like is more freedom.

I know here we respond to specific topics which is fine but most message board will have set topics but also have a free range section where people can move discussions and continue them on for as long as they want. Not an anything goes type of thing but I could talk about poodles and puppets until my heart is content if that is what I want. Of course no one would have to join.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 8, 2012 | 1:54 p.m.

A minor (Miner?) suggestion, which I've made before: It would be helpful if as each post is made to a topic the post is assigned a consecutive number. This is possible, and I've seen it done elsewhere.

Why do that? Because particularly when we have a large number of posts to a topic, as is frequently the case with Col. Miller's columns, posters can easily reference prior posts by number: for example, "See post 21..."

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin January 8, 2012 | 2:46 p.m.

The main problem (problematic circumstance may be more apropos) is
that this forum is set up in a linear fashion. Everything about it is traditionally linear, from the front-page scroll to its general non-reliance on moderators/moderation.

However, readers are using it in a bi-linear, if not almost loop fashion (fancy terms for some ways people exchange info. in a digital medium). In other words, it's a system being used for something it wasn't designed for. In the end, this can defeat the purpose of linear comments built around individual subject pivots, in this case, stories.

One instantly recognizable result is that only a handful of people -- about the same dozen, maybe 14 or so -- have become comfortable in this setting. Few others participate.

This is a common and sometimes exasperating problem encountered by moderators in many and varied social media environments.

Here's a fancy A/V app I wrote about last year designed around bi-linear or loop-style social media. As you can see, it's quite a different model than the one most news comment systems are designed to handle:

http://www.technewsworld.com/story/71956...

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks January 8, 2012 | 3:04 p.m.

Oh and one last thing. If nothing else if I had to decide between a much better comment section vs a total website that is designed for other devices besides the computer I would much much rather check the news and comment on the Tribunes mobile function then the Missourian. Slow and gives my phone and my itouch the fits.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt January 8, 2012 | 7:52 p.m.

The Trib board allowed individuals the opportunity to headline their own topic. There was no need to wait for a weakly related article to eventually be produced if you had something you wanted to discuss. The topic would always come to the top of the list when someone commented. The thing that made it so much better than a regular discussion forum was that it was local and in the newspaper for everyone to view. It took a half a year or more for the people to start commenting after the paper got rid of the news forum. Possibly not as many as would have been had it been left alone. The pay wall killed it all.
I would consider paying at this point, but who would I argue with?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 8, 2012 | 10:48 p.m.

I agree that it would be a good idea to have a general forum where people can start new discussions without having to stick to whatever articles are up at the time. This would also help keep discussions on-topic, given my uncanny ability to sidetrack conversations (sorry about that).

Also, more on the functionality/appearance side:
-I like the suggestion someone made about numbering posts.
-Text formatting options, big time. Simply being able to bold and/or italicize text would be a huge improvement, but maybe you guys could go a step further and add some more HTML/BBCode functionality such as quote boxes (though I'd be hesitant to allow posting images directly, as they can clutter up a screen quickly).
-Being able to edit your posts would be nice, though I realize that there's potential for abuse with that one.
- Wider margins. I understand that some of the regulars here appear to be posting from computers powered by hamsters on a wheel ;), but IMO the site could stand to utilize more screen space. Obviously there's less wiggle room on a regular monitor, but the Missourian on my widescreen is about 50% empty space at a regular font size.
-And because I brought it up a while back, the disappearance of space between paragraphs on the preview screen still drives me bonkers, heh.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt January 8, 2012 | 11:16 p.m.

Eh, I missed the part where Joy already addressed nested comments, so just disregard the suggestion about quote boxes.

(p.s. The very fact that this post exists is a testament to the greatness of the edit button ;) )

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer January 9, 2012 | 12:00 p.m.

Wow -- thanks, guys, for the specific suggestions (and for your emails, Corey and Chuck).

Unfortunately, we're about maxed out on what our current comment functionality can handle. But as we plan for the next version of the website, I'm noting all of this.

(And Jonathan, thanks for the reminder on the spaces between paragraphs. I queried folks here about it, but I neglected to follow up after the holidays.)

Joy Mayer,
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 12, 2012 | 11:20 a.m.

Liz Peek just wrote a piece blasting Obamas lack of leadership. Calls him a taster instead of a chef. How appropriate!
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/01/1...

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt January 12, 2012 | 12:59 p.m.

I'm curious to know what part of the article or which comment your comment pertains to.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 12, 2012 | 2:38 p.m.

@John
I'll assume that you are asking me since mine is the only new post on here. We don't have numbered posts to refer you to (Hi Joy ;-) but about at the middle of the posts the "conversation" turned to be about leadership for a while... Who had it, who doesn't, etc...

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt January 12, 2012 | 3:24 p.m.

See, Joy?
Wouldn't things be so much better were Mike allowed the ability to initiate his own attack that he sourced from weak writer rather than be forced to attempt to fit it somewhere that had nothing to do with the discussion(s) already at hand? This paper is clearly too small in that it does not have enough articles that pertain to what Mike really wants to say.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor January 12, 2012 | 4:25 p.m.

Guess I should start my own paper. Until then, you might be stuck with me... I think we are supposed to be commenting on articles, topics, ideas, etc. and not so much on each other. Clearly you don't like my viewpoints. Please try not to make things personal on here. I will do the same. Have a good one...

(Report Comment)

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