Another Reason to Like Rep. Walter Jones

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), representing eastern North Carolina, has drawn fire from Republicans and praise from progressives for his growing opposition to the Iraq war. Today's Raleigh News & Observer reports another reason to like Jones: his opposition to rigged trade deals that are wreaking havoc in communities across the South:

Jones once again found himself at odds with President Bush when he appeared at a Washington news conference to oppose the administration-backed Central American Free Trade Agreement.

"CAFTA is nothing but an extension of NAFTA -- 85 percent of the language in CAFTA is identical to NAFTA," Jones said. "Since NAFTA was signed, my home state of North Carolina has lost over 200,000 manufacturing jobs."

In other words, the conservative Congressman from N.C. has a more thoughtful position on what may be the two most important issues of the day -- the Iraq quagmire and trade deals slamming millions of working families -- than most Democrats.

An added bonus: Jones also voted to support Rep. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) amendment last week to block the FBI and Justice Department from using the Patriot Act to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips, an invasive move pushed by the Bush Administration.

By the way, there have been two especially good pieces lately about Jones' conversion on Iraq. The Charlotte Observer's excellent columnist Jack Betts wrote last Sunday about the parallels between Jones' awakening and that of two conservative North Carolina Senators -- Sam Ervin and Everett Jordan -- during the Vietnam era. Jan Frel's piece in Alternet yesterday also offers a good, more editorial, account of what motivated Jones to change heart. Both are worth reading.