aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, November 19, 2007
Can Obama win Macon?
Of course he can. Go with me here…
My dad grew up in Macon, Georgia in an all-white school he describes consistently as having gone to hell thanks to integration. He has never been personally racist to anyone of any background in his life, but he really thinks the world went to hell starting about 1960 and that civil rights went too far too fast. His dislike for the Sharptons and Jacksons of the world couldn’t be fiercer. The N-word is pretty much the standard noun many of his family members use to describe black people. His only vote for a Democrat in his lifetime was for Carter, out of Georgia patriotism.
I had the fun experience of watching Obama’s electrifying 2004 convention speech with him. My dad, who hadn’t heard of him, just said “He’s good.” As in, “ok, I liked this guy, but he’s a Democrat, so he must be a huckster. But he’s a talented one.”
Then, late last year, his updated view on Obama: “I think I could vote for him.” I could only turn around and smirk, once I’d picked my jaw up from the floor.
Then there’s Time Magazine on Obama’s Red State appeal:
On Monday, the Obama campaign announced that over 300 Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans had decided to cross party lines to support Obama. At Obama events in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia, a good 20% of audiences routinely raise their hands when emcees ask for Republicans in the crowd. A “Republicans for Obama” website has 11 state chapters with 146 members. An August University of Iowa even found Obama running third in the state among Republican candidates, behind Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani but ahead of both Fred Thompson and John McCain. And a national Gallup poll this month also found that nearly as many Republicans like Obama - 39% - than the 43% that dislike him, compared with the 78% of Republicans who held an unfavorable opinion of Hillary Clinton.
And Barack’s been pulling in some Georgia cash:
One year before they go to the polls, Georgians have opened their wallets to candidates for the White House in unprecedented fashion. But unlike in years past, residents of the red state have given a majority of their cash to Democrats.
Contributions funneled to the Democratic field from Georgia - Barack Obama has raised more than any other candidate - are twice what they were at the same point four years ago, and five times larger than they were in the fall of 1999, according to new Federal Election Commission figures.
Finally, as this Purple America county by county map of 2006 Congressional Election Results clearly shows, there is a blue swath that stretches up through the center of Georgia. Macon’s right in the middle of that.
Oprah in Macon why???
My nephew was shocked to find himself standing next to her on College Avenue on Friday, so much so that he neglected to snap a cellphone photo for the blog. Or go to the show and get us a refrigerator with an HD TV in the door:
Macon will set up free, public viewing areas of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Tuesday at the Terminal Station and in the City Council chambers at City Hall.
The show, which was filmed Saturday in the Macon City Auditorium and featured the talk show host giving away her “favorite things” to the audience members, starts at 4 p.m.
Apparently this is the hottest ticket in daytime TV “because of the thousands of dollars in loot each person in the audience takes away.” 4,500 people applied for the 300 tickets.
So why Macon?
Oprah, who stages the “Favorite Things” show every year at holiday time, usually tries to find a deserving group to put in the audience.
In past years, the audience was made up entirely of teachers or rescue workers from Hurricane Katrina.
This year, she took the show to Macon because it consistently has the nation’s highest percentage of viewers tuned into her afternoon talk show.
Local reports say that 45 percent of homes in Macon watch Oprah at 4 p.m. - a huge market share. (In New York, the local share of audience is closer to 20 percent.)
Taking the “Favorite Things” show to Macon was a thank-you to the fans, she told the audience.
Emphasis mine. I’m dumbstruck.
LATER: Here’s the gift list.
Drought or desertification? Atlanta’s hardly alone
It sounds like there’s going to be more sand everywhere for all of us to stick our heads in:
According to the How Dry I Am Chart of “livability expert” Bert Sperling, four cities in Southern California, not parched Atlanta, top the national drought ratings: Los Angeles, San Diego, Oxnard and Riverside. In addition, Pasadena has had the dubious honor, through September, of experiencing its driest year in history.
“Resource wars” are things that happen elsewhere. We don’t usually think of our country as water poor or imagine that “resource wars” might be applied as a description to various state and local governments in the Southwest, Southeast or upper Midwest now fighting tooth and nail for previously shared water. And yet, “war” may not be a bad metaphor for what’s on the horizon. According to the National Climate Data Center, federal officials have declared 43 percent of the contiguous U.S. to be in “moderate to extreme drought.” Already, Sonny Perdue of Georgia is embroiled in an ever more bitter conflict with the governors of Florida and Alabama, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, over the flow of water into and out of the Atlanta area.
He’s hardly alone. After all, the Southwest is in the grips of what, according to Davis, some climatologists are terming a “‘mega-drought,’ even the ‘worst in 500 years.’” More shockingly, he writes, such conditions may actually represent the region’s new “normal weather.” The upper Midwest is also in rainfall-shortage mode, with water levels at all the Great Lakes dropping unnervingly. The water level of Lake Superior, for instance, has fallen to the “lowest point on record for this time of year.” (Notice, by the way, how many “records” are being set nationally and globally in these drought years; how many places are already beginning to push beyond history, which means beyond any reference point we have.)
And then there’s the Southeast, 26 percent of which, according to the National Weather Service, is in a state of “exceptional” drought, its most extreme category, and 78 percent of which is “drought-affected.” We’re talking here about a region normally considered rich in water resources setting a bevy of records for dryness. It has been the driest year on record for North Carolina and Tennessee, for instance, while 18 months of blue skies have led Georgia to break every historical record, whether measured by “the percentage of moisture in the soil, the flow rate of rivers, [or] inches of rain.”
And there this from paleontologist and author of “The Weather Makers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change” Tim Flannery:
It’s not just the Southeast of the United States. Europe has had its great droughts and water shortages. Australia is in the grip of a drought that’s almost unbelievable in its ferocity. Again, this is a global picture. We’re just getting much less usable water than we did a decade or two or three decades ago. It’s a sort of thing again that the climate models are predicting. In terms of the floods, again we see the same thing. You know, a warmer atmosphere is just a more energetic atmosphere. So if you ask me about a single flood event or a single fire event, it’s really hard to make the connection, but take the bigger picture and you can see very clearly what’s happening.
NBC hypes Dubai, ignores rape
Last spring Dubai was one of the destinations for “Where in the World is Matt Lauer.” On the Today Show just now there was a piece hyping all of the construction and growth in Dubai. CNBC correspondent Erin Burnett said, “Dubai wants America to like them.”
Alexandre Robert, a French 15-year-old...was rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home.
There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts ages 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cellphone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them.
Then they stripped off his pants and one by one sodomized him in the back seat of the car. They dumped Alex across from one of Dubai’s luxury hotel towers.
Alex and his family were about to learn that despite Dubai’s status as the Arab world’s paragon of modernity and wealth, and its well-earned reputation for protecting foreign investors, its criminal legal system remains a perilous gantlet when it comes to homosexuality and protection of foreigners.
The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.