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Comments by tomsmith1

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Posted on November 24 at 10:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Conservapedia? "It would better be called "Propagandapedia." There is nothing conservative about encouraging the promotion of information so skewed even YOU know it to be false, nothing noble in attempting to create a world that serves one's personal prejudices, without regard for truth or sincerity.

As one who considers himself conservative in many ways and liberal in others, I am deeply troubled to learn that a concerted effort is afoot to make Jabberwocky the official American language

It reminds me of how FOX "news" formed itself as the alleged antidote to the lack of objectivity in network news, not by facing the tough business of being journalistically ethical as possible, but by representing the antithesis of news; unapologetic, unbridled propaganda.

Both FOX "news" owner Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Schlafly are finding immense wealth by plumbing the depths of public ignorance. I also think it must be heady, if sacrilegious, stuff to create a universe where you massage people who want the world you're peddling, to have a hand in creating your own imaginary universe.

I will confess that, as I read this column, at one point I considered the possibility that, though he's a smart cookie, Carl Strock could be wrong, and Conservapedia founder Andrew Schlafly has merely tried to create a WIKAPEDIA ALA GLENN BECK for some giggles, then the joke would be on Mr. Strock, who missed that intent.

I mean, we have to look no further than Steven Colbert being invited to the White House Correspondents Dinner during George Bush the Younger's reign to know that many adults do at times miss the satirical form. Or we could look to the reader responses to this Strock column, which appear not to comprehend that the writer intentionally uses a satirical approach.

However, a check of biographical information on Mr. Shlafly tells me that he is not kidding; at least openly. (Neither, of course, was P.T. Barnum.)

I fear the true polarization in our country is less liberal vs. conservative, than thought vs. conditioned reflex, or education vs. ignorance.

From: Now you have facts the way you like them

Posted on November 16 at 6:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks to Bill Buell for writing this feature. It reveals to me an exceptional accomplishment of Gertrude Rice's with which I was wholly unacquainted.

I do not exaggerate in saying, however, that before I knew of this additional feather in her cap, it would be fully appropriate to erect a staute of Miss Rice outside of the Stevens Elementary School.

My fourth grade teacher, and my father's before me, rumor had it that Miss Rice kept a rubber hose in her classroom closet to whip those who misbehaved. I never saw evidence of that, but what I did see was a woman who was iron solid in her convictions about right and wrong, and tolerated nothing but the pursuit of the former.

She established that quickly, then dared to show the twinkle in her eye at the amusement she saw in her charges fumbling through the travails of learning what she believed important to teach them.

On reflection, I've no doubt that those who left her class and later on lived productive lives would be monument enough for that humble, strong-willed presence that Burnt Hills can count itself as fortunate to have had in its midst for such a long time.

- Tom Smith

From: Now in 85th year, Burnt Hills women's group still thriving

Posted on April 27 at 9:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I read the "Letters" section of the Gazette near daily. Rarely have I come across two more eloquent, pointed offerings than the ones authored by Laurie Wilson and Gregory Wolos in today's edition.

Rather you agree with their positions or not, each offers insights the average person would have a hard time articulating, has a sense of history, and clearly cares deeply about the careful sentiments expressed.

From: Letters to the Editor for April 27

Posted on December 3 at 9:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As to the above comment, Carl Strock's response in the form of his "Letter to Newt" takes on the particulars of Mr. Gingrich's assumptions as stated in the letter's plea for funds.

Strock never once even mentions Gingrich's past transgressions, choosing instead to take a higher ground and to take point-by-point issue with the fundraising letter's assertions on their own merit or lack thereof.

In other words, Strock attempts to employ objective, methodical logic and sensibility.

The cleverness of using the format of a friendly letter is that, while seemingly highly personal, it never becomes personal at all.

Why would Strock do this? Perhaps because, tossing aside the public revelations regarding Gingrich's shameful matrimonial past, many without his sordid baggage are engaging in the self-same illogical campaigns.

I think it's safe to say that Carl Strock's goal as not to beat a dead horse, but to debunk a movement that he sees as so much specious demagoguery. The signee of a letter in support of such a campaign, while not wholly unimportant, is largely beside the point.

As for attempting to diminish Strock's column by branding him as a "liberal" for his compulsion to be reasoned, that is the basest of ad hominem attempts. I do not know Carl Strock, except through years of reading his columns, but am guessing that he sees himself as one who manages to offend every special interest group at one time or another, as he is a member of none. And that, I might add, takes some courage.

- Tom Smith

From: Friendly reply to my pen pal Newt Gingrich

Posted on November 30 at 10:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Through one of my sons, who is a reviewer, I've learned how important feedback is to him as he works at his craft. This, together with retirement, has given me a newfound inclination to respond to a column or review that I find particularly important and exceptionally well-written, a practice I never exercised in the past. As I read your column this morning, I was moved to write to you.

My spirits were lifted to read your inspired, witty expose of a transparent charlatan. I think faith is precious, but think the frightening "my way or the highway" variety spawned by Gingrich, Hannity and others, that tries to brand and hijack faith, the flag, and motherhood as belonging to a specific side, is manipulative and shameful.

Such grotesquely simplistic branding efforts would be laughable, but many suck in the bogus sound bytes because they are easier to digest than profound thought. It's consistent with the popularity of junk food as the dietary standard in many folks' lives.

At any rate, thanks for soldiering on. I think understated descriptive narratives are your forte. Among my favorites over the years are one where you walked through the Lollapalooza at the Saratoga Raceway, and another that described a boxing match at some hotel ballroom in Saratoga. In each of these (as with the Gingrich piece)your opinion of the subject is never directly stated. You let precise description indirectly take the reader to a conclusion of his own, in a manner that is (and I love to use this word) journalistic.

You never once call Gingrich a fraud, but implicit in your depiction of your letter is the idea that, if he sanctions such fund raising, he is either a willful manipulator or dumb, neither of which distinguishes him as a man of noble faith.

When you're on your game, you're one of the best, in my book.

- Tom Smith

From: Friendly reply to my pen pal Newt Gingrich

Posted on November 23 at 9:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)


From: Op-ed column: A bad way to learn

Posted on September 13 at 3:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Carl Strock weaves a telling picture of the predicament in which America finds itself today. It struck me, as it did him, that President Obama's speech to Congress -- with its stress on civility and compromise for the larger good -- evoked more in the way of a call for true Christian values than any presidential rhetoric in recent memory; whereas the orchestrated paper waving and sneering responses from his polital opposition were shamefully un-Christian in nature.

Why, then, didn''t everyone see what Carl Strock and I saw?

I think that it stems from the reality that packaged, exploitative sound bytes are easier to deal with than thoughtful contemplation.

In fact, people who disagree with what I'm writing here will likely not read what I'm saying all the way through. They're content to rage at my position that's opposed to theirs, as opposed to considering what merit my arguments may have.

I see this everywhere. Recently I've watched samples of Glenn Beck's orations on YouTube. While some of what he says strikes me as accurate observation, Beck's vague musings inevitably devolve into maudlin, apoplectic incoherence, where he tearfully exhorts his army of the faithful to help him take back his country through any means necessary.

That's my analyisis of Beck's rhetoric. Others listen to Glenn Beck and hear in his buzz words a latter-day prophet whose tears prove that he speaks from his soul. His seemingly paranoid rantings give legitimacy to their worst racist fears and fuel passion for their second amendment rights.

If a transparently manipulative emotional ploy, a loosely constructed stew of truth and gibberish, connects with people, it's safe to say logic and an appeal to conscience isn't much of an antidote.

Still, it would thrill me to see intelligent conservatives, who -- unable to watch the vulgar exploitation of their party toward ugly racist ends -- speak in numbers about the hijacking of the "conservative" label by these pseudo-Christian yahoos.

The word "conservative" used to be synonymous with "responsible." As a liberal thinker, I've long held my conservative friends in high regard as ballast to my more extreme leanings.

However, I can't find a nickle's worth of wisdom in the FOX "News" demagogues who try to pass themselves off as conservatives by misting up every time the word "soldier" or "Christian" is mentioned, while peddling biased bilge that makes mockery of their motto to be "fair and balanced." Agree with them, you're a great American; disagree with them, you're a pinhead.

They bill themselves as champions of freedom, and endlessly flatter their listeners as being superpatriots. In their heart of hearts, do they actually believe that either is true?

From: Obamacare? Just more of that empathy

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