From Sunday’s NY Times:

    (This post was edited by JMB at 12:22 p.m., Dec. 9, 2002)

    Today’s issue of the Times was a mixed bag. Two stories I’ll comment on. One was a horrible pro-war piece of drivel (embelmatic of the decline of the Times lately), the other was a thoughtful piece on the growing poverty of rural America:

  • NY Times: The Liberal Quadary over Iraq

    This story has an interesting premise that some liberal intellectuals (4 are featured in this story) have become hawks because of the influence of the Bosnian war. This is an interesting hypothesis that I haven’t heard before.

    BUT, that said I think these so-called liberals aren’t very liberal if they think war is the answer to anything. Really these men are not liberal. True liberals are idealistic and committed to liberal values, most notably in my book peace. These guys were alive during Vietnam. Many of them protested against it. Why not Iraq?

    I think it is because these guys are among what I will call the “white-liberal-elistist-babyboomer” pack, who in the words of the movie Reality Bites, “have traded their revolution for a pair of running shoes.” Ok, maybe not for the shoes, but they are compromising. If you read the story the whole thing is full of compromise and Orwellian double-talk. Here’s one example…

      Berman argues for a war in Iraq on three grounds: to free up the Middle East militarily for further actions against Al Qaeda, to liberate the Iraqi people from their dungeon and to establish ”a beachhead of Arab democracy” and shift the region’s center of gravity away from autocracy and theocracy and toward liberalization.Berman argues for a war in Iraq on three grounds: to free up the Middle East militarily for further actions against Al Qaeda, to liberate the Iraqi people from their dungeon and to establish ”a beachhead of Arab democracy” and shift the region’s center of gravity away from autocracy and theocracy and toward liberalization.

    What does he call Jordan? Jordan is a very open and democratic nation. What does he call the recent student protests in Iran? We already have beachheads of Middle-Eastern democracy. Now we need to support those beacons of hope and quit supporting the enemies of freedom, most notably SAUDI ARABIA, the world’s most evil regime (and good buddy of the American regime). Hussein is an evil man who oppresses his people, but an all out war on Iraq is not the way to bring about democracy there. We would be better off supporting the Kurds in their efforts to achieve greater autonomy and someday even independence (but we won’t do that because we might offend our allies in the region, most notably Turkey) and by rebuilding the economic and social infrastructure of Iraq.

    I think the reality is that these factcat liberals suddenly think war is ok this time because these guys are too old too fight and know they won’t be drafted. Nowhere in the story do you see these guys talking about the psychological effects that this war will have on young Americans. I don’t think they even care about the future of our soldiers, many of them to young to even buy a beer.— (Why is that we as a society think that having a drink is more serious of a decision, than that of taking a life? Something is seriously wrong here.)

    Nothing ever changes. War is always a rich (and old) man’s war, but a poor (and young) man’s fight. The folks who get us into these wars won’t be doing the fighting. Dubya avoided his chance to fight in Vietnam, just like Clinton, just like a bunch of the other fatcats behind this war, yet they will have no problems with sending a bunch of kids who are desperate for money and are hooked into the promise of “free college education” and job skills, to kill for their country.

    Overall though, the NY Times has been a big disappointment of late. They continually understate the significance and strength of the American and global anti-war movement (even in this story, they refer to only ten’s of thousands of protestors, when the actual numbers present at the recent major protests were somewhere between 150,000 and 300,000.)

  • Thankfully not everything in the Times was a pathetic joke. This story was very worthwhile… NY Times: Pastoral poverty — The seeds of decline
      Around the country, rural ghettos are unravelling in the same way that inner cities did in the 1960’s and 70’s, according to the officials and experts who have tried to make sense of a generations-old downward spiral in the countryside. In this view, decades of economic decline have produced a culture of dependency, with empty counties hooked on farm subsidies just as welfare mothers were said to be tied to their monthly checks. And just as in the cities, the hollowed-out economy has led to a frightening rise in crime and drug abuse.

      But unlike the cities’ troubles, which generated a national debate about causes and solutions, the rural collapse has been largely silent, perhaps because it happened so slowly.

      Crime, fueled by a methamphetamine epidemic that has turned fertilizer into a drug lab component and given some sparsely populated counties higher murder rates than New York City, has so strained small-town police budgets that many are begging the federal government for help. The rate of serious crime in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Utah is as much as 50 percent higher than the state of New York, the F.B.I. reported in October. . .

      This is a very bleak picture, BUT there is tremendous hope in this excerpt…

      In desperation, other rural politicians are looking to an earlier model.

      TWO major homestead acts were largely responsible for people moving to some of least populated areas to begin with. Now comes the New Homestead Economic Opportunity Act, introduced by Senators Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, and Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska. The bill would forgive student loans and provide tax credit for home purchasers in depressed rural areas and small towns.

      History has provided us a model to help the communities that are hurting in the heartland, Senator Dorgan said.

      But history, at least since the end of the last homestead act around 1920, has also shown that people who live in depressed rural America have been going only one way — out.

    Senators Dorgan and Hagel have a wonderful idea! We need to start calling our elected representatives to show support for this bill.