OPINION: Doug Thompson, Daddy Warbucks, Brian Matthews

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Tomorrow, the enemy of today
By Doug Thompson

The hard problems of 2007 have disappeared in long-range coverage of 2008.
The practical political benefits of this overshoot are enormous. Republicans want to concentrate on 2008 because it gets Iraq out of the news. Republicans never get tired of talking about Hillary.
Democrats want to concentrate on ‘08 because Iraq is a really tough problem. They have no consensus about what to do, especially since all the good options would require self-sacrifice at home. You know, taxes, conservation of fuel: That sort of thing. Debating the proper course of action only highlights their divisions, and their lack of any clear idea of what to do with a war is embarrassing.
As for the president, all he wants is for this war to last long enough that he can plausibly — in his own mind, anyway — blame his successor for losing it.
Witness the much-ballyhooed “surge.” It won’t work because there is no Iraq government to take over afterward. The study group led by this president’s daddy’s lawyer was quite clear about that.
Congress, including many Republicans, is dead set on making the president take all the blame. The Democrats want to vilify him and the Republicans want out from under this rock.
So the troops get to fight their holding at until at least November 2008. The Battle of the Beltway rages on.
There is one thing to be glad of, however. It’s in this extensive quote from a Pew Center Survey, which can be found at http://pewresearch.org/pubs/432/iraq-and-vietnam-a-crucial-difference-in-opinion:
“Shortly after the start of the war in March 2003, a Pew survey found only about one-in-five Americans (22 percent) calling the intervention a wrong decision. By December 2005, that number had risen to nearly one in two (48 percent) and, after some ups and downs as events unfolded, reached 54 percent in Pew’s February 2007 poll.
“At the same time, however, positive attitudes toward the military, at least as a whole, have scarcely diminished….
“In a May 2002 Newsweek poll, positive attitudes toward the military were nearly universal: Six in ten among the public (59 percent) expressed a very favorable view of the U.S. military and an additional 34 percent said they had a mostly favorable view. Three years later, in March 2005, a Pew survey found little decline in those high levels of approval: Fully 87 percent said they had a favorable view of the military including half (49 percent) who said they had a very favorable view. Pew’s most recent sounding on this opinion in January 2007 found those numbers virtually unchanged: 84 percent expressed a favorable view of the military including 47 percent with a very favorable view.”
Washington is catching the blame for this fiasco. At least there’s some justice in that.
Meanwhile, a Zogby poll of 944 American troops in Iraq in March shows that 72 percent want U.S. military forces out within one year. Only 23 percent believe the United States should stay as long as needed. A whopping 85 percent believe the primary mission, “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the Sept. 11 attacks,” is accomplished.
In short, the only reason there’s any support for the Iraq mission is the delusion that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11.
“We were surprised by that, especially the 85 percent,” John Zogby said in the account of the poll in Stars and Stripes. “Clearly that is much higher than the consensus among the American public, and the public’s perception is much higher than the actual reality of the situation.”
I chalk it up to cognitive dissonance, the refusal to accept a fact that conflicts with deeply held beliefs. We can’t believe this was all for nothing.
As for the media, it’s never been clearer that the media’s job is to get ratings. War doesn’t generate ratings once the blitz is over. Neither of the divided political camps wants to watch news about the war. Everybody wants to talk about ‘08.
Oh well. At least the 2008 election coverage can’t avoid Iraq. At least we get a break from constant chatter about some gold-digger who died of a drug overdose.

DADDY WARBUCKS

Nothing could be finer than No. 1

This is what Fayetteville folks have known for decades and the rest of the nation (dare we say the world) is finding out – that this is indeed the best place to live, work, grow up a crop of kids and even retire. Woo Hoo. Another No. 1 ranking was doled out this week, the 21st, or is it 22nd, (Daddy W. has about lost count), from various ranking services. This one came from Bert Sperling of the Sperling Guide of the Best Places. Old Bert carried the water for the area saying in essence that Fayetteville is the nation’s No. 1 spot to work, live and grow a business. His rankings, for all you cyber-cats out there was posted on MSN.com – a hottie of the short news story websites. Fayetteville’s elected civic leader, Mayor Dan Coody, quipped that “Our quality of life is legend.” So much for the municipal cheerleading. The ranking focused on the affordability, economic strength of the community, schools and business climates. Idaho Falls, Idaho., was No. 2 on the list. Such rankings simply mean – more and more folks will be moving to the Fayetteville Metropolitan Statistical Area (all of Benton and Washington County and some outlying areas too). Watch for your new neighbors… they are already on their way.

SUPERIORLESS MOVES
In this space Daddy W. has railed (and continues to do so) about local economic and business leaders missing the boat and allowing all those good paying, blue collar jobs at Superior Industries to leave… headed for other plants and ultimately Mexico. Shame on you Chamber of Commerce, shame on you City Administration. Shame on you business community. Let’s all hope the next thing not to leave NWA will be rankings like the Sperling Report.

TRAILER(LESS)
The decades old mobile home park along 15th Street (near Armstrong Drive and the city’s once thriving Industrial Area) is history. The land sold and the 40 or so families, many of whom have been paying rent on the wearily used mobile homes (some for a decade or more) have been evicted. While the mobile home park may not have been Fayetteville’s civic garden spot – the area did house many families. Now some of the residents have no place to go (there are few rent-by-the-week or by-the-month trailer parks anywhere in the area. The whole deal was, well rather trailer-park like, in its timing and dealings with some of the city’s poorest and ill-equipped folks. Another black eye on development and business.

STAR WARS STAMP CRAZE
Daddy W. has seen one of the R2D2 U.S. mailboxes painted by the U.S. Postal Service to promote a “no brainer” – the soon to be issued Star Wars stamp. The boxes, painted to look like the little robot in the Star Wars movies is a good promotion. It is rumored this stamp will challenge the Elvis stamps of not so long ago. Daddy W. has to ponder… wouldn’t all this hype (and money) be better spent to eliminate those long lines at the postal counters and for better service? Remember the cost of a first class stamp is on its way to 41 cents – soon. Where or where did the four cent stamp go?

Daddy Warbucks reports on the local business scene. Send comments and tips to daddyw@freeweekly.com.

Tune In
By Brian Matthews

A few nights ago, in an effort to wind down before drifting off to dreamland, I decided to read a short story. My wife peacefully snoozing beside me, I cracked open a collection of writings I borrowed from the library and turned to a particular entry about a talking bird.

“Perfect,” I thought. A story about a friendly bird would be nice, light reading. My mind was filled with images of Sesame Street and that crappy kid’s movie Paulie.

So there I sit in bed, anticipating a light read, only to get a few pages in and realize that the bird in this story, a macaw, has much more in common with a Hitchcock movie than a PBS production. Within paragraphs, the thing is spouting dirty phrases in front of children and by mid-story it has started harassing a poor housewife.

Here is where I went wrong. As soon as I realized that I’d been tricked into reading a story about evil poultry, I should have cut my losses and dropped the book. But by now my curiosity had risen.

“What is wrong with this bird?” I asked myself quietly in disbelief, making sure I was not disturbing my sleeping wife. I was sure that the next paragraph or page would reveal a huge misunderstanding. The bird must have had low blood sugar or been wrongly convinced that the housewife had killed his brother. Soon enough, I was sure, new evidence would arise, the bird would be vindicated and I could get some rest. But instead, the bird continued cackling profanity, attacked the previously mentioned housewife, and then killed itself by repeatedly bashing its head against a window.

I was taught as a youngster to embrace my imagination, be creative and to never be afraid of new and innovative thoughts. But this way of mental functioning backfires when it is almost midnight, you’re tired, and you just read 25 pages about a crazy winged creature-of-the-night.

I put the book down, flip off the light, crawl back into bed and snap my eyelids shut only to suddenly be face-to-face with “Wild Bill” that vengeful creature from my reading. The static image stuck in my brain involves the final moment of the story where the insane bird smashes its little birdie cranium against the plate glass one final time while a tortured housewife nurses her wounds and looks on in horror and disbelief. This is not the type of image one should ideally leave marinating in his brain overnight.

Needless to say, I awoke the next morning helplessly bothered and disconcerted. And to be honest, even though it has now been weeks since I first read the piece, that feeling of upset, at least in regards to flying animals, has yet to vacate my body. My radio show co-host, Jennifer Irwin, has been trying to convince me for months that there is a group of local birds out on a crusade to annoy and anger her (a select few have been trying to live in the upper recesses of her porch and defecate in her hair as of recent), but I never used to think of poultry as plotting and vindictive. Now I am not so sure.
So take this short column as a personal warning and please BEWARE – of both your local bird population and my overactive imagination. Trust me when I say you don’t want to upset either one!

Catch Brian Matthews wreaking havoc on the radio as part of the “Waking Up with Jennifer Irwin” show weekday mornings from 6 to 9 a.m. on Y94.9.

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