Friday, November 9, 2007

The Good and Bad of America

as gleaned from newspapers this morning because even though I'm not on strike my brain seems to be.

So the New York Times had an article that was so full of midwestern values, the heartland (blue skies and open fields) and Americana that I actually broke into a "This is ourr countrryyyy" It's entitled "A Football Power in a Small Kansas Town" (glad to see someone else isn't all that creative right now)

Their photos are on the cards traded over at the elementary school, and their exploits are on the lips of the old men who gather at the Second Cup Cafe each morning. They are the sons and grandsons of this north Kansas town, and for 30 autumns now, the Smith Center Redmen have puffed up the chests of folks here.

They are a high school football team, a superb one that has won 51 games in a row and three consecutive state championships, and has outscored opponents this season, 704-0. They are more than that, however, to the 1,931 people here who all know one another’s names: The Redmen are proof that hard work and accountability still mean something.

The trading cards, for example, are not about hero worship. Each player and cheerleader signs a contract pledging to remain alcohol-, drug- and tobacco-free. If they break that promise, they must go to the elementary school to explain to the children why they were kicked off their team, and their cards are revoked.
“What we do around here real well is raise kids,” Smith Center Coach Roger Barta said. “In fact, we do such a good job at it — and I’m talking about the parents and community — that they go away to school and succeed, and then pursue opportunities in the bigger cities.

“None of this is really about football,” he added. “We’re going to get scored on eventually, and lose a game, and that doesn’t mean anything. What I hope we’re doing is sending kids into life who know that every day means something.”

I mean I'm sure I'd hate living in such a tiny place but i'd like to think that Smith Center is what is right and good about America. Sounds like heaven on the plains and an amazing place to raise a family. Who says the NY Times is full of northeastern liberal elite cynical snobs? The only things missing from that article were a "Mom" tattoo, apple pie and an American flag, though I wouldn't doubt you'd find all those things in town.

And the bad? Per usu blame GWeeB and his merry bunch. From a column by Eugene Robinson (who is probably my fav WaPo columnist) entitled the Rage of Reason (which I thought was going to be about Intellectuals being the New Hot Thing, or either Atheists and Skeptics blowing stuff up)

Look at the situation Bush's successor will inherit. Throughout much of the world, the United States is seen as an arrogant bully whose rhetoric about freedom and the rule of law is disgracefully empty. The lawyers and students who are being tear-gassed in the streets of Pakistan's cities will long remember that, when push came to shove, Bush chose to stick with a cooperative dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, rather than live up to his words about the universal value of democracy.

The next president will be left with more than 100,000 U.S. troops bogged down in Iraq, with an unfinished war in Afghanistan -- and, between those two crises, a strengthened and emboldened Iran that hopes to dominate the world's most dangerous region. Nice work.

Bush's successor will, incredibly, assume control of a United States government that interrogates suspected terrorists with "enhanced" techniques known throughout the world by a much simpler term: torture. The new commander in chief will almost surely take custody of hundreds of people detained without formal charges and on questionable evidence, and held for years in secret CIA prisons or at Guantanamo. The next president will take over a government that claims the right to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens without meaningful judicial oversight.

Whoever takes office in January 2009 will be left with a more polarized economy -- an America where the rich have been made richer during the past six years with generous tax cuts, while more than 40 million people struggle without health insurance. The new president will be left with a government that not only failed miserably in its response to the most extensive natural disaster the nation has ever faced but that also reneged on Bush's pledge to rebuild a better New Orleans -- and to make it possible for all those who lived in the city to return.

The next occupant of the White House will find the nation's coffers depleted by Bush's wars -- the price tag doubtless will have reached $1 trillion by Inauguration Day -- and by whatever it eventually costs to keep the housing market afloat.

He or she will inherit, in short, a dismal mess. It will take most of the new president's first term to begin to set things right.

What's sad is I know that small amazing towns all over this country have lost their sons and daughters to this endless and unnecessary war. It's really sad.

You know who can save us? John Edwards, or as I like to call him The Candyman. After all:
Who can take tomorrow,
Dip it in a dream?
Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream,
The candyman? The Candyman can, the candyman can…
The candyman can 'cause he mixes it with love
and makes the world taste good…


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