December 27, 2014

What is the NYT saying about Nebraska?

I'm just trying to understand the graphic that appears on the front page next to the teaser for an op-ed that I'm not particularly interested in reading, "Nebraska’s Lonely Progressives."



What is that thing? At first, I thought it was the back-end of a turkey carcass (sort of exploding). Then it looked like an ugly dog coughing. Clicking through to the article, I see that the front-page image is part of a larger image. The larger image is the shape of the state of Nebraska with squiggly drawings of people inside it and the image that's on the front page extends upward from the state. It's one person bulging up out of Nebraska and screaming, presumably something like Get me outta here!

The op-ed begins: "When I travel to the East or West Coasts, people sometimes ask me, 'Why do you live in Nebraska?' Or even, 'Have you considered moving?'" So I guess the exploding-turkey-carcass-ugly-coughing-dog-screaming-lady is the author herself.

Well, at least it's not "What's the Matter with Kansas?" The author, Mary Pipher, actually lives in the state that's annoying her. (By contrast, Thomas Frank grew up in Kansas, but got out of the place he wrote against.)

Bob Dylan lyric for the occasion: "Then you ask why I don’t live here/Honey, how come you don’t move?"

IN THE COMMENTS: JMS said:
For those of you who know nothing about Nebraska, this opinion piece is very misleading. Nebraska had back to back Democrat senators from 1989 to 2013, and quite a few Democrat governors, most of them for two-terms, and many Democrats have served in the state legislature as well. Nebraskans aren’t generally ideological (see previous statement) and are nothing if not pragmatic. They were environmentally conscious long before it was a lefty cause, because it was entirely pragmatic to be so. But Nebraskans will always ask two questions about any proposed project: 1) what will it cost, and what’s the second choice for spending that money and 2) who will be hurt and who will be harmed. It is my observation that Nebraskans generally make choices from the utilitarian perspective—the greatest good for the greatest number. There is also plenty of good old “leave me alone and I’ll take care of myself” thinking, unless there is a disaster and then you can count on every Nebraskan in a 40-mile radius showing up to help. They aren’t anti-government, but they have a strong preference for small government. Nebraskans like to know that those they elect to Washington will work on their behalf, not for themselves. And maybe it’s because so many of them have farming backgrounds, but their B.S. detectors are finally tuned, and today’s typical lefty rhetoric has a hard time gaining traction with them.

66 comments:

Tank said...

I was out horseback riding in Wyoming with some people from Nebraska, and I asked them which places would be interesting to visit if we went to Nebraska.

They told me not to bother.

Bruce Hayden said...

Here is the thing that those knuckle draggers in Manhattan (NYC) don't understand - a lot of people would prefer living in Nebraska over a small island with people packed together cheek to jowel. It is much more peaceful, people tend to be nice, great bird hunting, good people, good values' etc. My complaints about the state are that it is too flat (I need my mountains) - but not as bad as W Kansas) and much of it too humid. Plus, winter storms can be brutal - I remember New Years maybe 40 years ago - I was told to take off for CO because a foot of snow was coming. Didn't, and found that a foot of snow in NE means 20 foot drifts across the highways.

Still, I would pick much of Nebraska over the home of the NYT any day. I like seeing stars at night, instead of hearing the roar of the city all night. The people tend to be polite, and you are not going to be mugged or robbed. That sort of thing.

Bruce Hayden said...

Wyoming - where the men are men, and the sheep are nervous.

Yes, there are a couple places to see in Wyoming - Yellowstone/Grand Tetons in the far corner, Wind Rivers in the middle. But,overall, one of the most desolate states in the union. One of those states you drive across to get across it, and stop only long enough to gas up as you go.

tim maguire said...

It looks to me like an elephant getting slapped in the face.

What's the matter with Kansas, of course, is that they don't let liberals tell them how to vote. It seems much the same is wrong with Nebraska.

SteveR said...

Progressives who want every place to be "progressive" are going to have a hard time in certain places. Nebraska would be one of those.

Beaver7216 said...

I have a gripe with Thomas Frank. Kansas ranks 20th in average income and 40th in cost of living resulting in the 5th best purchasing power. And ranks 18th in low income inequality. Not sure how Frank concludes that Kansas places "vague cultural differences" over material interests.
Meanwhile, Frank's new home, Washington D.C. is the home of greatest income inequality and high cost of living. I would not want to live in Kansas but they seem to be doing well economically.

Anonymous said...

Yankees keep moving to Texas. And then they complain about us. I've been to New England; it's beautiful. Why don't they just stay there and leave us alone?

john said...

OTOH, Bruce Dern is so determined to get to Nebraska he'll walk there.

Not having a driver's license doesn't help.

Sdv1949 said...

I had to read that as I, too, live in Lincoln. Mary and her tribe are a special lot that we keep around mostly for entertainment. Most of the time we just shake our heads and say "isn't that special."

Larry J said...

"Blogger Wayworn Wanderer said...
Yankees keep moving to Texas. And then they complain about us. I've been to New England; it's beautiful. Why don't they just stay there and leave us alone?"

And once again they're proving that a person doesn't have to go overseas to be an Ugly American.

damikesc said...

Progressivism doesn't seem to make people happier.

I've lived in the NE and I live in the South. The South is MANY times happier.

Many places are happier if Progressives would keep the ideas that fucked their original homes up back at those original homes and not to export them elsewhere. They have been trying to cock up NC and GA for years now.

Fortunately, SC has decided to tell them to kindly fuck themselves years and years ago.

Insufficiently Sensitive said...

Of course the NYT loves to focus on a flyover-country native who's going nuts because it's not NYT country. All those NPR subsidies to flyover-country stations chirping their righteous blue-state messages certainly add their voices to the Times's preaching.

How about the Times issuing a stern lecture to the poor lost soul, to embrace diversity? Not everyone in the country can be a morally superior blue-stater.

Michael K said...

"And once again they're proving that a person doesn't have to go overseas to be an Ugly American."

My favorite pet peeve can appear almost anywhere, even in a post about Nebraska which SC is going to beat this evening.

The "Ugly American" of Eugene Burdick's book was the good guy.

After the book had gained wide readership, the term "Ugly American" came to be used to refer to the "loud and ostentatious" type of visitor in another country, rather than the "plain looking folks, who are not afraid to 'get their hands dirty' like Homer Atkins" to whom the book itself referred.

You're welcome.


sane_voter said...

I drove through western Nebraska on my way to South Dakota and thought it was very nice. Scottsbluff is definitely worth a stop.

William said...

The whole concept of corn husking seems kind of weird. Sure, it may be necessary to husk corn, and I'm not judgmental about it. But it just seems wrong to brag about it and claim it as a defining trait.

Bob Boyd said...

An interesting image of a progressive.
Red faced and angry. Eyes wide shut. Shouting over everybody. No need for ears. Sharp nose for prying. Head tearing its way out of the body politic like the baby monster in 'Alien'.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Nebraska still has a lot of progressive Republicans. Chuck Hagel came fromthat tradition. In the 2014 Nebraska Senate race, the Republican candidate was a college president.

n.n said...

Bad progressive moralist. Bad girl.

Laura said...

"But I reply that Nebraska is my home and that I love its people and its geography."

Her metaphors are weak, yet telling. Yes, a cow (cash, like her clients?) gets milked every day, but farmers also replant corn year after year.

But, perhaps it's fitting for a progressive psychologist to wallow in the throes of cognitive dissonance. So much better that buffalo defecate all over the Sandhills and BNSF trains carrying oil explode, no?

ganderson said...

Insufficiently Sensitive- you are correct!Thanks for that!

St. George said...

Southeast Nebraska is beautiful. Cornfields as far as the eye can see and many lovely small towns.

There is, however, not much at all as you go west. Barren and lonely.

Paco Wové said...

B.H. – Nebraska is like Wyoming, except greener, flatter, and duller.

Danno said...

So many comments knocking the states of Nebraska and Kansas, but would you want it to look like NYC, New Jersey, or any of the other eastern urban areas? WTF?

Bruce Hayden said...

Not so sure about the flatter, but definitely greener. Nevada, and maybe parts of Utah may be drier than much of Wyoming. Not much else.

I will admit my biases here - I spend my time these days in the states on either side of Wyoming, and on occasion drive through it to get back and forth. You get a sense of it when living in Fort Collins (as I did for most of the 1980s), when the bucking horse plates would outnumber the greenie plates in the parking lot at the mall on the weekends Much of eastern Wyoming does their shopping there (and presumably the west shops in Utah).

And I would put the flatness of W Kansas, E Colorado, and the OK panhandle up against Nebraska any day.

Bruce Hayden said...

Danno - I prefer my mountains, but would pick the flatness of Kansas, Nebraska, etc any day before living in an urban jungle like NYC. or, indeed, much of the md Atlantic seaboard.

YoungHegelian said...

It's funny that the NYT never thinks to interview a lonely conservative in a blue state. I would imagine that in the greater NYC area such a person would not be difficult to find.

Will Cate said...

I'm glad Ms. Pipher relishes her precious victory over the Keystone XL pipeline, because it's just a matter of time before it ultimately gets built.

Bruce Hayden said...

Sane Voter - Gerring/Scottsbluff was where I got snowed in for a couple days about 40 years ago, with the foot of snow that meant 20 foot drifts. Growing up in Colorado, I was used to driving snow, and a foot wouldn't keep us out of the mountains. But they needed bulldozers and a rotary plow to open the 20 ft drifts south of there on the road to I-80.

garage mahal said...

We broke down in my 1971 Fury III in Nebraska driving out to Vail to work. The mechanic asked "did you hear that metal on metal sound, or were you hoping it would just go away"? He then asked "how much money do you all have"? We were 19 yr old kids with not a lot of money between us, and I said "maybe $300"? The mechanic shook his head, and said he would do what he could do. 10 hours later a flatbed truck with about 12 kids on it dropped off a used drive-shaft and sent us on our way. He also filled up some vital fluids, I'll never forget the generosity of that Nebraska mechanic. I think most places would have hosed us for every dollar we had.

tim in vermont said...

It's funny that the NYT never thinks to interview a lonely conservative in a blue state

Ahem... But the liberals here do provide great comic relief.

Sam L. said...

Them Progs ought to be lonelier. I believe there's a pretty good museum at Offutt AFB.

As a boss of mine once said, it's up to you to make yourself happy wherever you're at.

Birches said...

Great story Garage.

Anonymous said...

Coffee party?

Meade said...

"Great story Garage."

Ditto.

I had a similar experience at age 19, driving from Maryland to Colorado. Only mine happened iff I-70 between Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis.

Zeb Quinn said...

Nebraska inexplicably poached Oregon State's football coach, and Wisconsin's football coach inexplicably agreed to be poached by Oregon State. Did they talk about that in the NYT?

tim maguire said...

YoungHegelian said...It's funny that the NYT never thinks to interview a lonely conservative in a blue state. I would imagine that in the greater NYC area such a person would not be difficult to find.

New York City probably hosts the greatest concentration of conservatives in the country. There are literally millions of them.

LL said...

I lived in Omaha for 10 years and loved it. I've lived in the south, west, and east coast. Unlike the east coast and Pacific Northwest, the people in Nebraska are not in-your-face about politics. The people are very nice. Omaha is diverse with a decent size African-American population and a growing Hispanic population. The economy is also humming along.

What I dislike about this opinion piece is the bullshit it is peddling. First, it fails to mention in the wave of Republicans that won in 2014, in Omaha the voters did not reelect Republican Lee Terry to the House of Representatives. Second, the voters also passed an increase in the minimum wage. Third, this piece and the comments are dripping with the idea that Nebraskans are uneducated and stupid. The school systems in Nebraska are much better than NYC, DC, Chicago, et al.

It is as if those facts were left out and the image of progressives only numbering 12-15 in a state of 1.8 million in order to paint a bleaker picture.

Oh, Nebraska is wonderful in the fall but not so much in the summer, unless you are a tomato plant.

iowan2 said...

True story about the self identified cultural elites. 40 years ago a buddy asked me to help him out and be a blind date for his girls friend, over Labor day on a Lake Geneva Cottage. We Picked up my blind date in Chicago. My buddy was going to school there and thats where the connection was made. Us two guys not really separated from the farm fields of Iowa. Anyway the girls were fine, but had never left the city limits of Chicago. They were shallow and incurious. Took them to the county fair and were enthralled with the cows and pigs and sheep. Never seen anything but a picture, and I'm not sure they ever believed where hamburger came from.
They were convinced however we were hicks and new nothing, despite the fact that any attempt to discuss national or world events were met with blank stares of ignorance.

The people in flyover country are much more interesting.

Rusty said...

At least its not Illinois.

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Humperdink said...

@Zeb. Former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini left a trail of napalm as he exited the program. I can't recall anything like it.

JMS said...

For those of you who know nothing about Nebraska, this opinion piece is very misleading. Nebraska had back to back Democrat senators from 1989 to 2013, and quite a few Democrat governors, most of them for two-terms, and many Democrats have served in the state legislature as well. Nebraskans aren’t generally ideological (see previous statement) and are nothing if not pragmatic. They were environmentally conscious long before it was a lefty cause, because it was entirely pragmatic to be so. But Nebraskans will always ask two questions about any proposed project: 1) what will it cost, and what’s the second choice for spending that money and 2) who will be hurt and who will be harmed. It is my observation that Nebraskans generally make choices from the utilitarian perspective—the greatest good for the greatest number. There is also plenty of good old “leave me alone and I’ll take care of myself” thinking, unless there is a disaster and then you can count on every Nebraskan in a 40-mile radius showing up to help. They aren’t anti-government, but they have a strong preference for small government. Nebraskans like to know that those they elect to Washington will work on their behalf, not for themselves. And maybe it’s because so many of them have farming backgrounds, but their B.S. detectors are finally tuned, and today’s typical lefty rhetoric has a hard time gaining traction with them.

David said...

The lady picks George Norris as one of her "progressive" heroes. Norris was an isolationist. a sometime racist, an eccentric opportunist. The lady says that Norris was a Republican who later became an Independent, implying a principled shift. Wikipedia has the actual truth. "Norris left the Republicans in 1936 since seniority in the minority party was useless, and the Democrats offered him chairmanships."

Anonymous said...

I am a fifth generation Iowan. I am always amazed that people think rural residents are isolated in the era of cell phones, interstate highways, cheap airfares, satellite radio and TV, and the internet. Iowa has a very large middle class who have the financial means to travel, and they do! They have friends and relatives all over the country. Many keep in touch with relatives in Europe. The main competition for the soybean crop is in South America so the weather in Brazil is a common feature of the business shows aimed farmers, grain traders, equipment dealers and anyone whose income is affected by the health of the local economy. One thing that is of little interest is how police in big cities do their jobs.

Bob R said...

Virginia Tech had a home/away football series with Nebraska a few years ago. Everybody agreed that the Nebraska fans were as nice as they ever encountered. (And I think we narrowly won both games.) Some people get really freaked out lining among nice, generous people. Must be a shock if your whole worldview is built around the idea that people who disagree with you are evil.

damikesc said...

We broke down in my 1971 Fury III in Nebraska driving out to Vail to work. The mechanic asked "did you hear that metal on metal sound, or were you hoping it would just go away"? He then asked "how much money do you all have"? We were 19 yr old kids with not a lot of money between us, and I said "maybe $300"? The mechanic shook his head, and said he would do what he could do. 10 hours later a flatbed truck with about 12 kids on it dropped off a used drive-shaft and sent us on our way. He also filled up some vital fluids, I'll never forget the generosity of that Nebraska mechanic. I think most places would have hosed us for every dollar we had.

A lot of small town folks didn't and don't have tons of money and aren't interested in fucking over people.

Now --- and be honest --- would you expect similar treatment in NYC, Boston, LA, etc?

Scott said...

"I also explain that Nebraska needs Muslims. Boston and San Francisco have plenty of people to work for our causes, but in Nebraska there are only a few of us and every one of us is essential. We don’t have an easy job and we are not appreciated, but if we leave, who will voice our agenda?"

Ooops, I changed a word there. But the essential evangelical earnestness still comes through, doesn't it?

Progressives need to come out of the closet and acknowledge that they are a religion with a political component, much like Islam.

Scott said...

If you're driving a two-lane blacktop in South Dakota, and you see a car in the distance in the oncoming lane, wave at them as they go by. Most of the time they will wave back.

Try the same in Nebraska. Most of the time they won't. Nebraskans have a certain smug no-bullshit attitude that a NYT reader ought to appreciate.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

I also explain that Nebraska needs progressives.

Yeah. Like a fish needs a bicycle.

Gotta love the NYT.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Garage's anecdote tells me more @ Nebraska than the NYT wordy article. I get it; Nebraska is lot like a state I'm familiar with: Arkansas.

This also explains why stuff like this is a total non-sequitur: "We are still fighting the tar sands pipeline, but we have expanded our mission to clean energy, environmental justice and the local food movement." Local food movement in a farm state -how stupid is that?

chuck said...

in Omaha the voters did not reelect Republican Lee Terry to the House of Representatives. Second, the voters also passed an increase in the minimum wage.

That just ain't right, sounds like one of those nasty east coast diseases has taken hold. I hope the CDC is keeping an eye on things and has a team ready to go.

T J Sawyer said...

Ah yes,William Jennings Bryan and Progressivism. If 16 ounces of silver aren't equal to an ounce of gold, pass a law to make it so.

And if you don't believe Global Warming is caused by unicorns, well, we can pass a law to control that too.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

I steeled myself and read (well, truth, skimmed) the whole linked article.

Please tell me that OpEd is a parody piece.

furious_a said...

The halftime PSA for televised 'husker games:

The University of Nebraska -- the 'N' stands for 'Nowledge'!

furious_a said...

Ms. Pipher reminds me of the Rita Wilson character in Volunteers -- an earnest, well-meaning missionary type who knows what's best but the kind, open-hearted, bucolic natives just aren't buying her bullsh*t.

And probably giggling at her behind her back.

garage mahal said...

Now --- and be honest --- would you expect similar treatment in NYC, Boston, LA, etc?

Oh I'm sure not.

Funny part is when I got out to Vail, and in the mountains, my car ran perfect, like it had never run before. A lot of people that had just arrived were having problems with their vehicles and the altitude. Hah.

Paco Wové said...

I believe it's correctly spelled 'Nollij'.

James Pawlak said...

It is too American for "Liberals".

Ambrose said...

Funny how she mentions William Jennings Bryan. We all know the left loves to pick and choose their predecessors, but they can even split up one person. "Bryan's progressivism, that's all ours. The monkey trial? That must have been his inner Republican sneaking out."

Vile Pliskin said...

I live in Nebraska. I've never done so much as twitch my pinky or delay a fart in an effort to keep her from leaving.

Vile Pliskin said...

@Ambrose

I attended William Jennings Bryan Elementary K-3. Doesn't even come close to a humble brag.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have a gripe with Thomas Frank. Kansas ranks 20th in average income and 40th in cost of living resulting in the 5th best purchasing power. And ranks 18th in low income inequality."

Good point!

It's all about that purchasing power.

I took a 30% pay cut when I moved from NYC to Madison in 1984, and we were SO much better off financially. The quality of life was much better. And it's not even cost of living, but what you need to buy to be able to live well.

That said, when you are young and without children, there's a lot of free pleasure in NYC. Walk out your door, and the festival of life is there and free. I had a fabulous time living there between the ages of 22 and 33.

Ann Althouse said...

"A lot of small town folks didn't and don't have tons of money and aren't interested in fucking over people."

In the 1970s, we young people of the northern United States believed that if you drove south and your car broke down, wily southerners would take you for all you had. You'd be lucky to get out alive. I had family in Florida, and I looked at the map and thought that getting through Georgia would be dangerous.

YoungHegelian said...

@Prof. Althouse,

About 20 years ago I had a conversation with a Jewish co-worker whose in-laws were advising his wife (their daughter) not to fly to Birmingham for business because the Klan would, no doubt, meet her at the airport.

This co-worker was telling me this because he had visited the South many time without incident (he actually liked the place!) & he knew I was from Alabama. He just couldn't believe how stupid his in-laws were, and wanted a guaranteed sympathetic ear.

Mark Nielsen said...

Bruce Hayden said: "Yes, there are a couple places to see in Wyoming - Yellowstone/Grand Tetons in the far corner, Wind Rivers in the middle. But,overall, one of the most desolate states in the union. One of those states you drive across to get across it, and stop only long enough to gas up as you go."

Bruce -- I live in the same part of the country as you, and really enjoy your comments. But you're missing out on Wyoming. Yes, what you see from I-80 is desolate and empty, but Wyoming's "Big Empty", aka the Red Desert, has some spectacular stuff. Get 15 miles off the highways in the South Pass area and find out.