More Jackson County Opinions...

DECEMBER 3, 2003


By:Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
December 3, 2003

What’s the real issue?
Every big name, big time newspaper columnist in America writes daily about the situation in Iraq. News magazine editors put in their two cents’ worth every week. Radio talk show gurus run their mouths around the clock. Television analysts analyze the Iraqi war every hour on the hour, then go back and analyze their analyses. And retired generals and admirals are more than willing to show their expertise and/or ignorance on whatever medium they can get on. We still don’t know how we got in this mess, or what is going on over there now.
That being the case, I think it is time for an humble columnist with a great newspaper (that would be The Jackson Herald and me)to set the record straight. For what it’s worth, here’s my take:
The march to Baghdad by coalition forces was quick and easy because Saddam Hussein wanted it to be. He knew his pitiful military outfit didn’t have a chance in a real war with U.S. and British forces. So he told his troops to retreat in an orderly fashion as the enemy approached the capital. Stay just ahead of ‘em.
Our soldiers were not chasing the Iraqis. The Iraqis, in effect, were leading our men and women to Baghdad. As they approach the city, Saddam told his folks to cut and run like hell.
Here’s my English version of what else he might have told them: “Take your weapons with you. Go home. Take off your uniforms. Hide in every nook and cranny of the house. Fade into the shadows. Get lost in the woodwork. Lay low and bide your time.”
That they did — for awhile. Now they are crawling out of the woodwork and wreaking havoc. Aware that they could not win a conventional war, they are waging a war of terrorism for which they are well trained and to which they are totally committed. And they are not in any hurry. They have an object lesson in al-Qaida and a role model in Osama bin Laden.
They bring down a helicopter here. They ambush a convoy there. They drive a car bomb into a hotel where Americans stay. They drive a truck bomb into the British embassy. They plant land mines. They blow up pipelines. They fire on a Hummer, and teenagers drag out our wounded soldiers and beat them to death with concrete blocks.
They don’t expect us to cut and run, the way they did. They believe we will gradually pull away, back off, be overcome with fear, lose our resolve, tuck our tails between our legs, declare victory and bring our brave men and women home.
They, too, remember Vietnam.
Will it happen that way? I certainly hope not. But I really don’t know.
One reason for my uncertainty is another war (of sorts) that is being fought in another part of the world. It is a war between the hawks and the doves, and it is being fought right here, in the United States.
And neither side is winning. Both sides are losing. They are becoming more and more polarized. The whole country is breaking up into opposing factions.
You are one or the other: hawk or dove, war monger or peace lover, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, black or white, rich or poor, for me or against me.
Come, let us reason together? What a joke! The voice or reason is dead. We better revive it — and soon.
A good way to start would be for all of us to admit that there are three sides to every question — my side, your side and the right side — and begin to meet in the moderate middle between the extremes.
But that would take compromise, and I wrote a month ago that compromise is dead, too. That is something else we better revive — and soon.
Do you think that Iraqis, over there, are encouraged by our cat and dog fights, over here? You better believe it! They not only have an object lesson in al-Qaida and a role model in Osama bin Laden, they can take comfort in our demonstrations and protests and our sign waving warriors and peaceniks on both sides of the street.
What about or object lesson? Is it not our country, our constitution, our freedom, our rule of law?
Our role models? Should they not be our leaders, our elected officials, and those aspiring to be elected? I believe some of them are.
We are on the eve of important elections in our country — from president of the United States to county commissioners and town mayors. Campaign strategies and slogans will overwhelm us.
“It’s the economy, stupid!” Remember that one from eight years ago. Some will pitch the economy as the main issue in 2004. But it’s not the economy. Not now. and it’s not about taxes.
It’s not the Ten Commandments or separation of church and state. It’s not homosexuals, same sex marriage or family values. It’s not teen pregnancy or abortion. It’s not about jobs or fair trade. It’s not about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or prescription drugs. It’s not about homeland security. It’s not about the courthouse. It’s not about Michael Adams and Vince Dolley. It’s not about me. It’s not about you.
I am no big name, big time newspaper columnist. (I do work for a great newspaper.) I’m not a retired general or admiral. I’m just an old Navy seaman from a bygone era. Nevertheless, I am prepared to tell you what the real issue is in the year of our Lord 2003-2004 and beyond.
It’s survival, stupid!
Virgil Adams is former editor-owner of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
December 3, 2003

Keaton gets romantic role despite age—wows many
Diane Keaton managed to land a romantic role opposite Jack Nicholson despite the actor’s tendency to be paired with women more than half his age, in real life and on screen.
Their new movie, “Somethings Gotta Give,” features a love triangle between Nicholson (65) and Keaton (57) and Nicholson’s doctor, Keanu Reeves (39). Keaton plays the mother of Amanda Peet who is Nicholson’s current light-of-love in the movie. Nicholson’s character Harry Langer dates only women under 30 (and has done so for 40 years) because he finds them uncomplicated. Keaton playing someone’s mother and Nicholson playing a roguish bachelor is a typical synopsis for Hollywood. But then the plot thickens. Nicholson has a heart attack at Keaton’s home. Gradually, while Nicholson recuperates, Keaton falls for Nicholson though he refuses to believe he can feel anything for someone her age. Meanwhile, Nicholson’s young doctor, Keanu Reeves, falls for Keaton. Can Nicholson change 40 years of assumptions about him and women over 30 or will Keaton end up with Keanu?
“I was struck dumb,” said a Macy’s shopper Monday. “She’s [Keaton] only eight years younger than him [Nicholson]. I thought he had contract clauses or something.”
It seems most actors do. Sean Connery wooed Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment and Julia Ormand in First Knight. Tommy Lee Jones courted Marcia Gay Harden in Space Cowboys. And the list goes on and on. The trend of having older men in their 40s, 50s and 60s win women in their 20s and 30s is almost as popular as a ‘butt double.’
“I can’t quite figure it out,” said the Macy’s shopper. “Old, saggy men and young, pert women—are they dreaming? Sure, if it’s Sean Connery, I’m buying, but not if he’s some overaged bank robber or even King Arthur. Why not employ older actresses, too? They’ve got to eat.”
While some felt the Nicholson-Keaton pairing was justified after so many young starlets had shared the screen with him, a few felt perhaps the movie had gone too far in the Keanu-Keaton match.
“The hardest part for me to believe was Keanu and Keaton,” said one moviegoer who wished to remain anonymous. “Everyone knows older women and younger men are almost taboo on the big screen. Do they really think anyone is going to see this movie?”
And another thing for critics to ponder is Keaton’s brief, very innocent, nude scene which causes Nicholson to fall into a wall and the movie’s rating to perhaps fall from PG to PG-13. Though not catching as much controversy as Bate’s stint with Nicholson in the hot tub, Keaton felt her nude scene was no big deal because she has gotten older. Guys felt it didn’t matter how old you are. Neked is Neked.
“I’d like to see every woman naked,” said one University of Georgia student. “It’s a guy thing.”
Women, not quite satisfied with the Keaton-Keanu match which finally let women cash in on the age question, felt it should have been a nude Nicholson scene.
“Why is it always women getting undressed?” asked one Christmas mall shopper. “Men’s clothes come off, too. Keaton is opening herself up to all kinds of criticism and Nicholson just stands there looking. The double standard is disgusting.”
Though not ready to combat that question, the movie opens December 12.

Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.
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