Springsteen Says It Best: What Writing Is Like (for me, too).

Springsteen Says It Best: What Writing Is Like (for me, too).          

               I re-discovered Bruce Springsteen in about 2009 and have enjoyed re-learning about myself by re-considering his old stuff and listening to how he talks, and writes, about his life. In preparing for his upcoming “Bruce on Broadway” he gave a long interview to the New York TIMES where, of all things, he captured what creating writing is like. Continue reading

The Two Young Men Legislative Candidates in “Practicing Democracy”

The Two Young Men Legislative Candidates in “Practicing Democracy”

          In “Practicing Democracy”  https://practicingdemocracy.org/ Tom Kelly and Ryan Brown are two ambitious young candidates aspiring for the state legislature who meet an elder statesman (Mr. Adams) aspiring to restore democracy. Tom and Ryan reflect the hundreds of young male students I have taught as a college professor. They are representatives of types of young men I am familiar with but are not composites of specific people (as Mr. Adams, the main character, is). Continue reading

Need Not Appear, if Paid in Full

Need Not Appear,  if Paid in Full

 

                This morning I drove a guy to court in an adjoining country related to his plea bargain for check fraud that he thought he has settled last year. He has been paying restitution for six months but might have had his probation revoked because, much to his surprise, he had not paid the court costs of $312.  He had believed that the court costs were rolled into the restitution plan that he had agreed to and honored. As it turns out, he missed a half day of work, and pay, for his two-minute court appearance.  He works maintenance at two low-rent motels and needs medical attention and the flexibility that having money in your pocket gives you. Continue reading

How I became interested in government and politics

                                How I became interested in government and politics       

  To promote my play “Practicing Democracy”  https://practicingdemocracy.org/ I have given a dozen talks around town to non-academic audiences. The question that has surprised me the most is “Whatever caused you to study politics all your life?” My ears heard a tone of a mixture of disbelief and sympathy, almost like “whatever made you think you could fly like a bird off the top of the state capitol?” Continue reading

Synopsis and Characters “Practicing Democracy”

“Practicing Democracy,” which I wrote, will be performed in Columbia, Mo September 21-23, 2017 at 7:30 and September 24 at 2:00 at Missouri United Methodist Church (9th Street).  Below is a synopsis and list of characters.

Tickets are at https://practicingdemocracy.org/

Synopsis
Two ambitious young candidates aspiring for the state legislature meet an elder statesman aspiring to restore democracy. The mix of campaign practices and information technology provide challenges and opportunities affecting the election result. The play is in two acts—pre-campaign and the campaign and Election Day.
SETTING: Almost any medium-sized town in America.
TIME: Current
CAST OF CHARACTERS
MR. ADAMS, 75, military hero, Marine in Viet Nam, former two-term legislator, retired bank president.
TOM KELLY, mid-30s, insurance salesman, family man.
RYAN BROWN, mid-30, had a variety of jobs, mostly politics; an Army Vet.
CONNIE SCHMIDT, early 40s, an experienced campaign consultant (could be a man–Charlie).
JENNY TURNER, young, TV reporter (could be a young man–Jason)

GUEST COMMENTARY: Korea — how we got here and where we are headed

Because of teaching opportunities, I spent more than 24 months of the last eight years in South Korea. While my academic specialty is American politics, I’ve read many books, attended conferences and have had numerous discussions with Koreans about the future of the two nations.

 

First, conflict with North Korea has been the defining issue in the South Korean public arena since 1953. It would surprise most Americans that South Koreans seem able to just go about their lives. Just in the past week, I became aware of three South Koreans who will be visiting their homeland despite the headlines. Apparently, they just don’t believe that Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un would take actions that annihilate the peninsula.

The two most promising opportunities for obtaining a more stable situation on the peninsula were the end of the Clinton Administration 2000 and during the George W. Bush’s 2002 visit to Korea. Bush including North Korea as part of the “Axes of evil” was not helpful. Sadly, not much has changed in the last 15 years between the U.S. and North Korea, except that a young man succeeded his father as Supreme Leader and has chosen to be more brazen and brutal.

The standoff since 1953’s ending of the Korean War without a peace treaty seems bizarre to many Americans, but it has been stable. Support for Korean unification is difficult to ascertain. It is included as a national goal in the South Korean constitution, but few Koreans seem to really want it. Economic and cultural disparities between North and South have grown tremendously since the 1970s. Economic equalization, a goal nearly achieved in East and West Germany’s unification is considered to be unrealistically expensive requiring massive commitment assistance from the United Nations, United States and China.

Perhaps because of concern with Japan and China, Korean problems have not received the attention they should have in Washington, D.C., over the past 50 years. This is partly because there has not been a clear solution. In fact, both the U.S. and China prefer the status quo over an expensive unification that runs the risk of tipping the scales between U.S. and Chinese dominance.

In hindsight, what should have been done is aggressive nation-building with U.N. and U.S. aid flowing into agriculture cooperatives, community schools, health clinics, and information dissemination. Such community-building activities by churches, health agencies, and even environmental organizations are present in North Korea and are slowly increasing. Ultimately, a society collectively determines how long it will accept a non-democratic leader. There are pockets of opposition to Kim Jong-Un, but the price is high. Information technology has been a useful tool for helping North Korea learn about the outside world and to set up meetings with each other.

American leaders seem content to place the full responsibility for solving the Korea problem on China. This is a mistake. China’s South Sea actions, trade practicing, and aggressive patriation in international tribunals suggest that they aspire to be a, if not the, global leader. We need to cooperate with China, letting them take the strategic lead, in resolving North Korea issues, but we need to maintain our economic assistance and political presence.

 

The ultimate goal should be to welcome North Korea into the family of nations so that they have no reason to use their nuclear arsenal. President Trump’s escalating rhetoric is certainly unconventional. Perhaps it will prove productive when Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts Kim and Trump for a weekend visit and they all toast and have a laugh about how “three wild, and crazy, guys” shook up the status quo and scared the pants off half the world.

 

David Webber joined the MU Political Science Department in 1986 and wrote his first column for the Missourian in 1994.

https://www.columbiamissourian.com/opinion/guest_commentaries/guest-commentary-korea-how-we-got-here-and-where-we/article_4de93698-8216-11e7-9ec7-cbdc446f5713.html