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Nation Now Alerts

Alerts, announcements and information from The Nation.

When Will James Dobson See The Light?

In her smart Los Angeles Times op-ed, "E-Gitator" Laurie David (as she was dubbed in a lavish spread in Vanity Fair's current "Green Issue,") observes that "the issue of global warming is finally catapulting toward a tipping point. With the debate firmly behind us, the focus is turning to solutions....the dots are finally being connected and global warming is fast becoming recognized as the most critical issue of our time."

David goes on to note that "the only place not feeling the heat is the White House..the Bush Administration is unmoved." But I'd argue that the Bush administration has already conceded that climate change is real. Why? Because they treat information about climate change the way they treat the truth about the Iraq war. They scrub data from websites. They rewrite science with political spin. And they give scientists like James Hansen at NASA what I would call the "Shinseki treatment"--they silence them; cut them off from reporters.

The global, fact-based evidence is too overwhelming, and the public is ready to deal with this problem, even if the administration can't or won't.

Even some (moderate) evangelicals have seen the light. In February, the Evangelical Climate Initiative was formed. Its mission: advocating personal, religious and commercial action to combat global warming.

But just in time for Earth Day, a new coalition of evangelical leaders --with close ties to the Bush White House--have launched a campaign to try to persuade pastors and churchgoers that concerns about global warming are unfounded. The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, supported by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, says it will provide information to parishioners and try to influence sermons.

Maybe the escalating battle among evangelicals over the environment and global warming will produce some moral heat and light. In the meantime, let's expose Dobson and acolytes for what they are: The deniers and procrastinators of our age.

Nation Event Note

The Nation is visiting Yale University on Wednesday, April 26. Click here for details on two public events featuring Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Giuliani Distancing Himself From Pro-Gay Past?

An interesting tidbit from the Advocate shows Giuliani's continuing campaign to woo evangelicals. Seems he's really going all-out in embracing these guys, as was reported during his recent swing through right-wing Southern churches. Now Ralph Reed and Rick Santorum, too!

Bush the Unpopular

The numbers from the new Survey USA polling on President Bush are stunning. As EJ Dionne notes in his Washington Post column today, a majority of voters approve of Bush in just four states--Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Nebraska.


It's no secret W's numbers are bad. But this bad? Fifty-nine percent of respondents disapprove of Bush in Kentucky! Similar stats prevail in once reliably red states such as Indiana, South Carolina and South Dakota (where abortion is practically illegal). A majority of Texans now frown on their old Governor.

In swing states like Ohio Bush has a net approval rating of -29 percent. No wonder Republican candidates tell Bush to stay away from their states, won't appear publicly with him or get "stuck in traffic" and arrive fifteen minutes after his Vice President has already left.

My favorite anecdote: Illinois Gubernatorial candidate Judy Baar Topinka would only let Bush raise money for her "late at night, in an undisclosed location."

Populist Potential in the South

At a time when the red-blue political map looks close-to-obsolete, check out the fascinating snapshot of Southern politics offered up in the Pew Research Center's latest poll. The study challenges those who still discount the idea of economic populism being a winning issue in the South. But, as Chris Kromm lays out in Southern Exposure's invaluable blog Facing South--the survey also describes what many have long felt is the core challenge for Southern progressives: "How do we draw on the strengths we have with economic populism"" Kromm asks, "while finding ways to creatively neutralize/ challenge social conservatism... There are no magic bullets."

Nation Event Note

The Nation is visiting Yale University on Wednesday, April 26, 2006. Click here for details on a free public event, sponsored by the Roosevelt Institute, featuring Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Keeping it Real

The New York Times has an interesting story on street fiction, the ever-rising genre of "urban" (read: Black) fiction that is moving from stalls on Brooklyn's Fulton Street to Manhattan publishers' desks. Long popular in prisons (especially with incarcerated Black men) and with Black women (women are historically bigger readers than men), some of these writers have become mini-empires unto themselves. Most white people have probably never heard of her, but Teri Woods, featured in a Salon story last year, has done millions in sales and attracted the attention of Random House. (She's also in the process of turning one of her books into a film, which may feature actors Hassan Johnson and Michael K. Williams, who play Wee-Bay and Omar on the best-show-of-all-time, HBO's The Wire ).

The Times story focuses on DeWitt Gilmore, the author of books like Push, Topless, and Platinum Dolls, who writes under the pen name Relentless Aaron. He has just signed a six-figure deal with St. Martin's.

According to the Gray Lady, "Mr. Gilmore's prison pedigree gives him a street credibility that is almost as vital as his written word," Ms. Patterson [Monique Patterson, a senior editor at St. Martin's] said. Readers of the genre want to feel that the author is drawing upon his own hard-knock experience as grist for his books.

'He's really writing about what he's been through," she said. "It's similar to the way hip-hop appealed to a mainstream audience.'"

Riiight. Cause hip-hop artists are totally known for really writing about what they've been through. Cause 50 Cent knew druglords Pappy Mason and Supreme, and Jeezy's been cooking crack for days, and Tupac didn't go to a performing arts high school. Is it that an African American experience that isn't ghetto isn't real, or just that it won't sell?

I don't really know what to think about "street fiction" --- on the one hand, it glories in misogyny and violence, passing itself -- and those things, too -- off as "gritty" and "real." On the other, it's pure entertainment, and it's reading, right? (As someone who has been known to very much enjoy listening to music about drugs and guns, it's really hard to point any fingers here.) Besides, Mr. Gilmore has gone from a convict to a six-figure deal, and you've got to give him some credit for that. But look at that Times quote again: "Mr. Gilmore's prison pedigree gives him a street credibility that is almost as vital as his written word...Readers of the genre want to feel that the author is drawing upon his own hard-knock experience as grist for his books."

It's not just readers of "street fiction" or hip-hop fans who want to feel that the artist is drawing upon his or her own life. It's all readers, and all viewers, and all listeners. It's why we have reality television and it's the cause of people's tiresome obsession with James Frey. We don't really care about telling stories anymore unless they're extreme real-life stories, unless they feature "viewers like you."

Last thing: A while back Gawker linked to an item about Marc Gerald , 50 Cent's literary agent (What, you didn't hear about G-Unit Books?). Gerald used to run an imprint for Norton called "Old School" that specialized in "gangsta-lit novellas" that are presumably kin to what 50 will oversee. The project is rumored to have fallen apart not only because writers were grossly mistreated, but because manuscripts were "blackened" with "ghetto" language. It will be interesting to note how Mr. Gilmore's writing fares under St. Martin's, and how he's pimped out for the public --- sorry, I meant marketed.

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