Comments Back


Comment restrictions have been removed. Please keep the tone of comments on this blog constructive. This is a blog dedicated to fair and civil debate and discussion and welcomes a wide array of views. Slanderous and/or ad hominem attacks on anyone will result in the re-imposition of restrictions and the barring of the commenter from the blog.
— Steve Clemons


18 comments on “Comments Back

  1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    I’m grateful for the opportunity to engage in the discourse here at TWN..I learn a lot from Steve’s posts ad his guests and from the wide range of comments and links offered by readers…given that those in gov’t and various policy making positions often read TWN, it is helpful for them to read the unvarnished opinions of thoughtful citizens….sometimes rather colorful language is needed to capture someone’s attention in the dinnnn of words.
    That said, I consider TWN Steve’s virtual living room and understand why he would want his guests to not attack each other, personally.
    Frankly, I cuss from time to time….waaaay more since the Florida REEEEcount….so it’s all Dopey and Farth’s fault.


  2. Mr.Murder says:

    Nothing to see here, wars continue on indefinitely for the near future. Carry on.
    The point POA makes is that people prefer being quaint to calling out the organized criminal enterprise we call globalism.
    Thomas Paine opposed slavery, thank the deity that he did not get to say as much as an elected Representative. What with our interests at stake.
    Were MLK,Jr. alive today he’d stand before bulldozers and call for marches to oppose illegal wars before the closed fist of a growing police state.
    We can at least draw the line with what we say by saying nothing! So as not to ruffle the feathers of the Apartheid Ostrich and the goose that laid the golden defense sector egg.


  3. Paul Norheim says:

    Well Jon, since you brought up the case of POA and Pearlman as endangered species at TWN, some of us thought it was
    appropriate to mention that we all occasionally have had that weird feeling of being endangered species on this blog, and
    thus do not feel particularly touched by your cry on behalf of Pearlman & POA.
    Confession: For the first time ever, I emailed Steve today to complain about a certain poster, and an hour later, his
    comments had disappeared. Do you really think that this was due to *my* power? Do you imagine that I could randomly
    make Steve remove comments by, say, DonS or DonBacon that easily? Or that I could gather 20 posters complaining about
    something Dan Kervick wrote about Israel, and Steve would comply with our wishes, just like that?
    Steve uses his judgement, and has a pretty clear picture of what kinds of comments and tone he tolerates and doesn’t
    tolerate. And BTW: Wig and Nadine are not with us anymore. That damned Finnish carpenter is still here, though, alive and
    kicking. Do you think that’s a coincidence?
    Of course there is a reason why I have never complained to our host in private emails before: “policing” is not a function I
    am comfortable with. In this case, however, there was a commenter who has a record of never arguing, of always insulting
    ad hominem. I have no regrets.
    As for you, I have complained directly to you a handful of times. But you have so much more to bring to this table than
    mere insults, and it wouldn’t make any sense for me to complain to Steve. I’ll use this option only on very rare occasions.
    It’s a fact that Steve doesn’t have the time or interest to read every comment posted here. And if I see some posters writing
    ONLY to insult or enrage through personal insinuations or accusations – that is: if I notice that this is their modus operandi
    over time – with no apparent wish to argue or bring new perspectives or relevant info to the table, I’ll not hesitate to mail
    Steve again. You have provided very valuable contributions here over time, regardless of whether one agrees with you or
    not, so it wouldn’t make any sense to try to block you.
    But I would of course appreciate it if you less often treated this blog as “a testing ground for first amendment rights”, as
    Neo Controll formulated it. Relax.


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I don’t read much on this thread that I can take exception to…
    On the one hand, the concensus seems to be “Its Steve’s blog, and he certainly should be able to moderate it as he sees fit”.
    Hard to disagree with that.
    But on the other hand, some of you seem to be saying “So, we’ll help him out by deciding for him which commenters should be banned, and posting our conclusions and suggestions here in the comment section”.
    Honestly, that makes zero sense to me. If he’s able to read your complaint, he’s able to read the offensive comment. And if he sees one that HE considers offensive, vulgar, ad hominem, or slanderous, I’m sure he’ll deal with it. You’re supporting his individual right to set parameters, then, attempting to impose YOUR OWN parameters. Frankly, as much as Pearlman irritates the crap out of me, I didn’t see a violation of Steve’s parameters in the post that a few of you were so offended by.
    And I’m dead set against emailing complaints to Steve, as I think its more than a bit cowardly, and too easily used as a tool to attempt to silence opinions rather than change a person’s style of delivery. It makes far more sense to me to either ignore the comments of someone you are offended by, or to directly complain to that person, here, in the comment section. Of course, the latter tactic may well escalate, so is the least favorable of the two suggestions.
    I suggest a few of you listen to Mark Levin or Michael Weiner, (AKA Michael Savage), and get a feel for how the far right addresses opponents. Bear in mind, these two enjoy remarkable popularity, and their style of delivery has widespread appeal to a huge segment of the population. Their confrontive and abrasive mannerisms have appeal, and certainly aid in making their voices heard above the din and background noise of the more mundane media celebrities.
    Many of you have expressed disagreement with my “assumption” of a certain kind of online personna. But, you must admit, my manner of delivery has afforded me a heightened exposure of my opinions and observations. I have met people in my daily life who know of “PissedOffAmerican”. Not often, but enough so that I must assume there are many out there. And call it ego, or call it simple belief in my opinions, I wouldn’t be expressing these opinions if I didn’t think they were relevent, and had no desire to make my voice heard.
    Paul brings up the possibility that these elitist criminals in DC may well be surfing Steve’s blog on occassion. That has been my hope all along. Sometime back, years, Steve hinted that Hillary’s people were a bit miffed at some of the content here in the comment section. GREAT!!!!! Remember, these elitists, who hold themselves above the law, and squander the people’s treasure with obscene excess, are supposed to be serving WE THE PEOPLE, not their own interests and that of the special intersts they too often whore themselves out to.
    Anyway, I certainly agree that it would be a shame to lose the opportunity to opine and pontificate here. But a BIGGER shame, a far more pitiful situation, would be the loss of our ability to opine here OPENLY AND HONESTLY, AS INDIVIDUALS, bringing our own STYLES, OPINIONS, OBSERVATIONS, AND IDEAS to this internet table.
    So, uh, if some of you want to pin badges on your chest, police the blog, leave me out of it. Theres too much temptation for partisan bias in such a pursuit. Those such as POA, or Pearlman, are far too insignificant to the big picture to concern yourselves with.
    Look, I’m a finish carpenter. My name is Jon. I live out here in the real world, where what the DC denizens do has real ramifications for me and mine. POA is a very small part of who I am and what I do. I enjoy posting here, and the POA thing is, well, kinda fun. And like most of you, I find it a bit gratifying to stick my nose upstairs with frequent occassion. Ban me today, and I’ll still be making sawdust, feeding the dog, mowing the weeds, and eating meat and potatoes for dinner. And I’ll simply find another place to vent. Its simply not that big a deal. And to get all hot and bothered because some dude called POA, or Pearlman, posts in a manner I disagree with makes absolutely NO sense to me.
    I mean really.
    People are emailing Steve with complaints about my “vulgarity”, when we have murdered over a million people in Iraq, have THREE reactors in critical meltdown, are engaged in three wars, have violent covert ops going in Yemen, (and who knows where else?),and are going virtually bankrupt while our leaders hold themselves above the law and enjoy obscene wealth?
    You gotta be kidding me.


  5. DakotabornKansan says:

    In recent years much of life is frequently translated into terms of conspiracy. Paranoia?
    TWN is Steve


  6. DonS says:

    . . . to which I’ll add, as I recall, during the last moderation “crackdown”, or maybe just before, when POA’s excess was an issue, Paul, DakotabornKansan, myself, and I believe Don Bacon, maybe others, all chimed in that we did not believe that POA’s ‘vulgarity’ was out of line in relation to the obscenity of the issue. I don’t even remember the issue, maybe the scumbag plutocrats screwing the rest of us, as usual. Who knows. Not that we would have personally expressed ourselves that way, but we understand the issue (ad hominems may be a slightly different twist). Anyway, we were informed, too bad, it’s still over the line. Pretty clear, at least that time.
    Paul’s last line just above get’s to the nub.
    I absolutely feel less than civil when addressing aberrations and crimes that the masters of the universe, war, finance, and society impose on the rest of us because of their greed, stupidity, cowardness, corruption or lack of human understanding or sensitivity. And I, too, want to be able to express that some way, and maybe even have some low level communications staffer in the WH or some Senator or reps office know that someone is at least watching.


  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Ok POA, since you seem nervous contemplating the prospect of being banned if someone complains when Pearlman or
    others deliberately violate the rules of this blog, let me be frank…
    1) You have more or less stopped writing ad hominem attacks targeting fellow commenters in the last months. I have
    no doubt that this must have required a considerable amount of discipline, since you apparently believe that certain
    commenters would have deserved whatever insults they may receive. Fine. Perhaps even impressive. But to be honest,
    the effort it must have taken to change, and what you in your heart sincerely feel that some of your opponents deserve,
    matter much less to me than the fact that you’ve changed your demeanor. Why? Because your behavior in the past
    happened to be one of the unpleasant things that threatened the very existence of the comment section. Obviously, a
    change of behavior is more important to me and others here than what you sincerely think they deserve. The fact is that
    you now behave in a much more polite manner towards fellow commenters. And kudos to you for that!
    2) Steve became less tolerant regarding “vulgarisms” or “profanities” during the last round of moderation, apparently
    due to certain complains in his inbox. I noticed this, and said so too: that was a sudden change of rules. Apparently this
    was to a certain degree directed against the language you use when characterizing public figures, but Steve has never
    confirmed this explicitly. On the other hand, you claim that the moderators at TWN have deleted posts from you that
    did not contain profanities, and you suspect that this may be an attempt to sensor unwelcome opinions. While I have no
    reason to doubt the former, I think the latter, your suspicion regarding opinions, is unfounded.
    Please consider the big picture for a moment. During at least the last half decade when I’ve been around here, people
    like POA, Carroll, Nadine, WigWag, Kervick, Kotz, Norheim, Questions, ArthurDecco, Sweetness, Outraged American,
    Cee, Tahoe Editor, DonS, DonB, and lots of others have been allowed to opine on everything between heaven and earth
    and beyond on Steve Clemons’ blog. His tolerance regarding the spectrum of political and ideological viewpoints
    expressed here has been larger than anyone could reasonably expect, considering that this is his blog, and – perhaps
    more importantly – his influence and stature on the domestic and international scene.
    Most of us appreciate this fact. It’s not something we should take for granted – given the fact that TWN is an institution
    created by one single man. I guess most of us would also freely admit that we would be less tolerant then our host has
    been if we had run a (much less influential) blog… I know that you appreciate this fact too when you’re in a good mood.
    And the advantage is increased by the fact that the size of the community of commenters is almost perfect – neither
    too small nor too large: everyone can make their voice heard if they want to.
    However, as DonS mentioned above, you’re often quite “edgy”. And the Ben Nelson post a while ago certainly brought
    up your edgy side. While most people here may agree that Nelson’s “offer” obviously wouldn’t grant him a membership
    among “ordinary folks”, you were the one that raised your voice to make that point. Not with one comment, or three, or
    five. As I recall it, I think I’ve read close to two dozen posts where you’ve ridiculed Steve’s praise of Ben Nelson, through
    allusions or direct sarcasm.
    Two or three sarcastic posts would certainly be sufficient to make your point. Ten or twenty is way too much, and if I
    were in Steve’s shoes, I would’ve been pissed off.
    Some times I feel that although you’ve changed your behavior towards fellow commenters, you constantly challenge
    Steve, as if you’re performing a perpetual dance on the red line. I have no doubt that Steve has developed a thick skin –
    partly thanks to your daily remarks on his blog. In his humorous way, I recall that he’s even thanked you for helping
    him develop that thick skin. But when I watch you perform your deliberately provocative dance on that red line, I
    sometimes get worried. Not for you, or Steve. But for the gloomy prospect of never again being able to express my own
    thoughts and participate with fellow commenters on this blog anymore, partly due to your habit of challenging whatever
    rule the host has set, in his attempt to cultivate a constructive debate on political issues.
    Don’t you get it, POA? The real issue is not YOU being banned, but ALL OF US effectually being banned if Steve closes
    the comment section! My comment is motivated by pure self interest. I want to continue expressing my views on The
    Washington Note.


  8. jerseycityjoan says:

    Steve Clemons has been trying for years, poor fellow, to get everybody to behave themselves when leaving comments.
    I treat people on the internet the same as I treat people in real life and I expect the same. I think this is the expectation that Steve Clemons has of his commenters here and I can’t understand why people keep letting him down and wasting his time.
    It should be clear to people that his blog is closely tied to his work and that what goes on here is a reflection on him and his employer. If people can’t see that they should be good blog guests and use the opportunity to speak their minds in a responsible fashion, I think the fault is not with our host but with the guest.


  9. Don Bacon says:

    Frequently going off topic is the main thing that drives me out. Defend it as you will, it doesn’t fly with me. Apparently it doesn’t bother Steve, and it’s his blog. There are other blogs, after all, where the practice is different. I’ll live with it.
    It’s sort of like a prize-fighter going into a ring and when the bill rings the opponent starts singing opera or doing gymnastics. [Israel, nuclear plants or college] Sure you can keep on punching but what’s the point? There’s no opponent.


  10. DonS says:

    “So why not comment about the issues, and ignore the temptation to complain, snivel, and whine about the baited and antagonistic deposits of known trolls and instigators?”
    Sounds like a plan, POA. But if I understand, you are positing that the complaint-generated war against “style” is a trojan horse to really attack content/opinion and, ultimately shut down comments. Well, who knows, you may be correct but, even if so, I would guess that the progression leading from “whining” about comments to ultimately closing them down, as you suggest might happen, may be no more plausible than a similar progression via escalating the issue by testing Steve’s limits.
    Anyway, I haven’t felt personally constrained in what I can comment on, though I don’t think I’ve been very edgy lately overall. Given your history of usually being edgy I can guess it might be harder for you to find a comfortable groove. I might suggest, given your ability to source material that speaks eloquently for itself, a less edgy POA could be quite effective. . . and vitiate the excuse of some (possibly some agenda-driven complainers) who might attack the messenger. Also, effectively countering specious arguments is a useful example, I think, rather than eliminating them from view.
    Given the ‘vigor’ of your rhetorical approach I think, without personal criticism, that I would choose not to engage with you rather than knock heads together. We know from past experience just what sort of commenters have engaged with you, and others (myself included), on a down and dirty level. I agree the I/P threads seem to bring out the most sustained and violent exchanges.
    I chuckle when I read “For myself, such an effort requires exhibiting a civility and tone that I neither feel nor believe in when engaging certain individuals, or addressing certain topics.” I guess nearly 30 years as a therapist has somewhat inured me to this necessity. You know, among other things, I have been serially called “anti-American” — and there was a post a few weeks ago that I responded to which ,I almost said, ok, here’s where you cue the ‘anti-American stuff.
    Maybe we’ve talked this thing out as much as possible right now (at least I have), and we can only look to the future to verify whether comments have been ‘neutered’; if their ain’t no interlocutor there’s no way to gauge the environment.


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The “system”, here, seems to fluctuate as to criteria.
    What was different about my posting style these last few months than the posting style I have used here for YEARS, often with Steve’s encouragement? NOTHING. Apparently, my behaviour and style was A-OK, as long as complaints were not waged.
    I am not offering these arguments in a vaccuum. I am a bit anal as to emails, saving the correspondence I have had with certain individuals that interest me. My folder of Steve and my email exchanges are complete, from the first emails we exchanged, to the most recent. There have been a number of past exchanges where I queried Steve if I was offending him or was crossing lines, and in return recieved assurances that I was not. My style didn’t change these last few months, yet Steve’s reaction to my style did. The alleged difference??? Complaints.
    Despite both Carroll and I seeking to have the nature, and, more important, THE SOURCE of these complaints explained or revealed, we have made no headway. So, we are left to ponder whether it is my style that spawned these complaints, or my opinions that the “complainers” sought to silence. I have my suspicions, but thats niether here nor there.
    As far as this business of…
    “In the meantime, Steve has endorsed policing of his guidelines by commenters; that is the sort of help he appears to want JUST SO, AND BECAUSE he cannot monitor all comments”
    …you are not really “policing” when you simply lodge a complaint to Steve, here, in the comment section. In fact, you are repudiating your own argument. If in fact Steve reads YOUR complaint, isn’t it logical to assume he has already read the comment you are complaining about? I note you didn’t link to the comment from Pearlman that so offended you. So? You expect Steve to censor or banish Pearlman just on the merit of your complaint? Actual “policing” here, is impossible for us mere regular folk commentors. If “policing” is your aim, wouldn’t it make more sense to address Pearlman directly? Yet, you cannot really do so, as such an exchange will undoubtedly escalate into the exact kid of echange that Steve admonishes us not to engage in.
    So, in respect to “policing”, one must employ such an effort internally, towards oneself. For myself, such an effort requires exhibiting a civility and tone that I neither feel nor believe in when engaging certain individuals, or addressing certain topics. Certainly, the civility and respect being demanded of me is NOT a civility or respect that is returned by the subjects of my derision. I have been accused here of being a conspiracy theorist, an anti-semite, a sexual pervert, an anti-american, a Muslim troll, a terrorist sympathizer, and more. Carroll has been called a “cunt”, Steve has been called a “faggot”, Norhiem has been continually insulted and maligned for his views, a past Muslim poster was subjected to steady litany of insult and derision to the degree she no longer posts here, and we have seen one pro-zionist antagonistic foul-mouthed troll after another come here and drool their venom on one and all that dare challenge the Israli/zionist agenda. And this ALL has occurred, until late, without censor or comment moderation. So why now this sudden penchant for for a civility towards these hasbarist agent provocateurs and their taskmasters in the Israeli propaganda machine? Apparently, because someone, or something, has launched a campaign of complaint sufficiently volumnous to prod Steve to act.
    And you think complaint to Steve is productive, helpful, or constructive? Perhaps so, if you wanna help those such as Pearlman shut this thing down. Because make no mistake, there IS an agenda to shut this down. And I suspect that agenda is being rather forcefully pursued via correspondence that we are not privy to, nor are we privy to the origin of that correspondence. We, (or I), may have our suspicions, but I strongly doubt we will be made privy to information that may reinforce, or disprove, those suspicions.
    So why not comment about the issues, and ignore the temptation to complain, snivel, and whine about the baited and antagonistic deposits of known trolls and instigators? Such an approach will achieve the same end that you are asking of Steve. If an antagonizer cannot antagonize, and an instigator cannot instigate, I assure you they will eventually give up and retire to back underneath the rock from whence the came. Give it a try.


  12. DonS says:

    “If someone says something offensive, readers can either choose to ignore those comments”
    Both POA and DKB have made this point, which is fine, but impractical, for Steve to live with.
    But also, interestingly, POA also makes the point, which I have made before, that lobbing incendiary comments may indeed be a tactic by some to get comments shut down, i.e., the forum for certain ideas and facts. So square that circle, thread that needle for me if you would. If you can’t have it both ways, which would you choose?


  13. DakotabornKansan says:

    Do we want to ban certain opinions and specific opinion-writers from TWN?
    Are comments to be shut down and so justified because of some readers


  14. Neo Controll says:

    “The truly amazing aspect of this whole thing, to me, is that rather than complain, alleged adults don’t simply self-police themselves into skipping over the posts of those people they find offensive or irritating. . . . For whatever reason, I’m still here, and so is Pearlman. Are your complaints about Pearlman worthier than those complaints Steve is recieving about me?”(POA)
    POA, you’re still fighting the system. While your points may be logical, it’s not the way the proprietor wants to run the place. Getting across strong messages within limits set out is something all commenters need to attempt; Steve could not have made that more clear. If you, and all, do your part, you have to assume Steve will do his and not ban people for content or opinion but for the package it comes in. And,if you do your part, then an email campaign to ‘get POA” wont have any fuel. This is the proprietor’s blog, not a testing ground for first amendment rights.
    In the meantime, Steve has endorsed policing of his guidelines by commenters; that is the sort of help he appears to want JUST SO, AND BECAUSE he cannot monitor all comments. That, and the standards Steve outlined, is part of the price for not having comments moderated.


  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Considering that the shut down of the comment section has been justified by the citation of emailed “complaints” lodged by readers, I hope that Paul, Neo, and nh will reconsider their tactics. Steve recieved a large number of complaints about my commenting style, which was in no small part a reason for the shut down of open comments.
    Complaining about Pearlman may well achieve the same results, much to Pearlman’s delight, I’m sure.
    The truly amazing aspect of this whole thing, to me, is that rather than complain, alleged adults don’t simply self-police themselves into skipping over the posts of those people they find offensive or irritating.
    Who here is forced to read my comments, or those of Pearlman? Is it really so unrealistic of me to imagine that in finding a commentor offensive, one should simply not read the comments of that particular commentor?
    If complaints can incite Steve into banishing the comments of certain individuals, than you all better kiss my ass goodbye, because I guarantee I’ll be one of the first to be sent packing.
    And whats to stop indiviuals or opposing entities from lodging email complaint campaigns to institute the banishment of opinions or facts they would rather not see aired here?
    I would hope that Steve banishes people due to his own set of criterias, rules, and expectations about behaviour, rather than based on the volume of complaints he recieves about a commentor’s conduct or opinions.
    I really think you guys are barkin’ up the wrong tree by sniveling to Steve about Pearlman. Let it be. For whatever reason, I’m still here, and so is Pearlman. Are your complaints about Pearlman worthier than those complaints Steve is recieving about me? If he shuts Pearlman up because you are complaining, than, due to complaints, why shouldn’t he shut me up as well?


  16. non-hater says:

    I hope you don’t close comments here again, but would you please find a way to block Pearlman. He is one of the most nauseating commenters I have ever run across. Thanks.


  17. Chumanist says:

    This blog should be seen as true and genuine ‘ideas promoter’ in the international community of the world’s issues’ debate and to extend this credo of the blog , the ethical requirement of civility and affability of the language is highly justified.


  18. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks for removing the moderation again, Steve. While I wrote a heartfelt lament in another
    thread hours before you opened the doors again, I appreciate your concern and support your
    WOAHA (War On Ad Hominem Arguments).
    The challenge is to strike a balance between vigorous, informed, and passionate discussions,
    and vicious personal attacks that distract and make many readers avoid the comment section of
    this blog. Maybe we could be a bit more helpful in achieving this balance, not only through our
    personal conduct, but perhaps also through some kind of collective self moderation – by saying
    so whenever we see commenters cross the red line? Yes I know, it’s a pain in the ass to act as a
    policeman on a blog, but what else is there to do when Steve lacks the resources to filter and
    moderate the comments in a timely fashion?


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