John Eby: Rainy Spring Olympics in same snowless boat as HawaiiPublished 11:58am Monday, February 15, 2010
Canada isn’t the Great White North, it’s rainy and, like Hawaii, the only one of the 50 states without snow on the ground.
There’s white stuff from Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport received more than a foot of snow Feb. 11-12) to the Florida panhandle, including on Georgia peach trees. Snowball fights were reported at Southern Mississippi University.
At something called the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey, a David Robinson told The Associated Press, “I’m calling it the upside-down winter” because Portland, Maine, had to cancel its winter festival.
The idea of 50 states with snow is so strange that the federal office that collects weather statistics doesn’t keep track of that number and can’t say whether it has ever happened.
The office couldn’t even say whether 49 out of 50 has ever occurred before.
The AP called the weather, including back-to-back blizzards burying the mid-Atlantic and Northeast in three feet of snow, “freakish.”
Listening to CNN’s “Severe Weather Center” during lunch I caught a report on “thunder snow” that was responsible for 532 lightning strikes.
I’m sure Fox or the birthers have a plausible explanation for why Hawaii lacks snow that probably blames Barack Obama.
Maybe southern snow made that woman snap who opened fire during a biology faculty meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, killing three biology professors.
December saw the most snow cover for any December in North America in the 43 years that records have been kept.
January ranked eighth among all months for North American snow cover, with more than 7.03 million square miles of white.
The all-time record of 7.31 million square miles was set in February 1978.
I tune in Feb. 12 just in time to see graphic footage of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili sailing off the Whistler sliding track with a sickening thud into an unpadded steel column at almost 90 mph.
He’s Jordan’s age.
For a few minutes it replayed like it was on a Groundhog Day loop, then the switchboard must have lit up across the NBC platforms because I never saw it again.
The opening ceremonies were dedicated to the young man who was so full of life as he began his descent.
The seven remaining members of his team marched in wearing black armbands behind a black-trimmed flag for the first indoor Olympic ceremony.
The climax was the cauldron being lit jointly by four Canadian sports legends – hockey great Wayne Gretzky, skier Nancy Greene, speedskater Katrina LeMay Doan and NBA All-Star Steve Nash. When did basketball become a winter sport?
Some hydraulic problems kept Doan from having anything to do.
The 82 countries set a record from such curiously warm, non-wintry places as the Cayman Islands, Ghana and Pakistan.
Germany and the United States are favorites, although skater Apolo Ohno settled for silver and counted on a Korean crash for that.
Germany and the U.S. were one-two in Turin four years ago.
Canada, a best-ever third in 2006, brashly decided to act as arrogant as Americans to claw their way into contention, although the USA prevailed in women’s mogul skiing.
I predict great things for the Canadian women’s hockey team if they can stay awake after pasting Slovakia 18-0.
Carrying in the American flag was Michigan’s own Mark Grimmette, 39, of Muskegon, competing in his fifth Olympics in the doubles luge.
Canada’s biggest musical stars – Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan, k.d. lang and Anne Murray – were all on hand, as were Vice President Joe Biden and the four chiefs of the First Nations.
Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr helped carry in the red maple leaf flag.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “Take Sarah Palin seriously … a public figure at the top of her game (and) a politician who knows who she is and how to sell herself. This was not the first time that Palin impressed me … Those who want to stop her will need more ammunition than deriding her habit of writing on her hand. The lady is good.”
— Washington Post political columnist David Broder
“I’m going to fight the elitists, because for too often and for too long now, I think the elitists have tried to make people like me and people in the heartland of America feel like we just don’t get it, and big government’s just going to have to take care of us. I want to speak up for the American people and say: ‘No, we really do have some good common-sense solutions.’ I can be a messenger for that. Don’t have to have a title to do it.”
— Sarah Palin on Fox News with Chris Wallace Feb. 7
“Can he hit?”
- Willie Mays, asked if Major League Baseball is ready for an openly gay player
“We in New Orleans love his style. He goes for it. This city takes to that.”
— political analyst James Carville on Saints Coach Sean Payton. “Pretty ballsy move,” Jimmy Buffett said to Payton about that onside kick to start the second half.
106.5 million: Viewers tuned in to Super Bowl XLIV, shattering the 1983 M*A*S*H finale (106 million) as TV’s largest audience ever.
In March: The war in Afghanistan becomes the longest military conflict in U.S. history.
Whatever happened to?: the grassroots army Barack Obama built in 2008 to carry himself to the White House. Especially in light of Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat being turned over to Republicans Jan. 19 and with it any chance of passing major legislation such as health care reform. Post-campaign, Obama for America (OFA) boasted 13 million e-mail supporters, 4 million donors, 2.5 million activists connected through he social network My.BarackObama and $18 million in the bank. “If you want to know how I’ll govern,” he said, “just look at our campaign.”
Yet in a race decided by 110,000 votes, 850,000 of those who voted for Obama in Massachusetts failed to turn out to make Martha Coakley the state’s first female senator.
Activists awaiting new marching orders drifted away in ensuing months.
OFA, the apparatus of an insurgent candidate, folded into the Democratic National Committee and the entrenched Washington establishment it vowed to upend.
“It made about as much sense,” Tim Dickinson writes in the Feb. 18 Rolling Stone, “as moving Greenpeace into the headquarters of Exxon Mobil.”
The move destroyed Obama’s image as a new kind of post-partisan politician. We saw the traditional way Obama pursued his agenda. Instead of millions of Americans clamoring for health care reform, he relied unsuccessfully on the typical backroom deals in trying to persuade 60 senators. When White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made his unfortunate remark about “f— retards,” he wasn’t talking about conservatives, but a liberal coalition trying to run ads targeting conservative Democrats blocking health care reform. They ceded populist outrage on health care to the far right.
Since the American people weren’t mobilized to confront insurance companies, all the headlines were hijacked by Tea Partiers and industry-funded Republicans, such as former House majority leader Dick Armey. Democrats might as well strike August from their calendars because even in off-election years the month kills them.
So, Democrats, caught napping in Massachusetts, have managed to disillusion the party base just in time for the midterm elections while having no health care legislative victory to show for it.