James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Refuting Tim Allen about Donald Trump

Posted by James McPherson on August 17, 2020

This is a very long refutation of an inane “Tim Allen” meme. I hope you find it educational, and maybe even entertaining in a couple of spots. But it is very long, so feel free to skip it, to share it, or to save it for later.)

Perhaps you’ve seen the long meme that pathetic Trump supporters have posted ad nauseum on social media, the one in which “Tim Allen” gives us some pro-Trump things to think about. I’ve seen it several times, and generally ignore it as just another dishonest Republican rant. But the meme appeared on my feed again tonight, and I decided to take a closer look. Below is my point-by-point counterargument. All words by the “author” are in quotes.

“These are not my words but definitely some things to think about!”

At least the person posting this is admits up front that s/he doesn’t really know much, is too lazy or ignorant or dishonest to do any actual research, is too cowardly or dishonest to voice a firm opinion of his/her own, and/or thinks it’s cool to quote a TV actor. In fact, judging by the punctuation (!), being a uninformed quoter of a celebrity is exciting.

“From: Tim Allen”

Oh, damn. You really believed it was written by a sitcom actor? No, some guy who happened to have the same name as the actor apparently copied-and-pasted it from various sources. Typically clueless but gullible Trump supporters then made the natural (for a Trumper) leap, making the post go viral.

“Here are some interesting points to think about prior to 2020, especially to my friends on the fence, like moderate Democrats, Libertarians and Independents and the never Trump Republicans and those thinking of ‘walking away’ from the Democratic party.”

Well, “interesting” is a matter of opinion, I guess. Still, I don’t believe any Democrats are “walking away” – the whole “walk away” movement was founded and driven by desperate Republications who recognize that record numbers of people have abandoned the GOP since Trump was elected.

“Women are upset at Trump’s naughty words — they also bought 80 million copies of 50 Shades of Gray.”

Actually, women whom I know – along with most men – are “upset” that Trump is a self-confessed abuser of women, probably a rapist, perhaps a pedophile, and is obviously sexist (and racist, meaning he especially hates/fears women of color). In addition, Fifty Shades of GREY has sold more than 150 million copies; I have no idea where the “80 million” came from, how “Allen” knows how many of those women bought, or how many of those women were wives thinking that reading about being bound and beaten during sex had to be an improvement over having sex with Republican husbands.

“Not one feminist has defended Sarah Sanders. It seems women’s rights only matter if those women are liberal.”

What were feminists supposed to “defend”? The constant lying before she killed the White House Daily Briefing? Besides, I doubt that “Allen” knows or reads many feminists.

“No Border Walls. No voter ID laws. Did you figure it out yet?”

Figure out what? There are some stretches of border wall, but of course almost every sentient being – including most of those people who actually live on the border – know there are better ways to cut down on illegal immigration. You don’t even have to lock children in cages. In addition, there are many voter ID laws, just not at the actual polling place, where it should be unnecessary.

“But wait… there’s more.”

Sadly, “Allen” finally gets one right. There is much more. And it’s as bad as what came before.

“Chelsea Clinton got out of college and got a job at NBC that paid $900,000 per year.”

Actually, that figure is badly inflated – by a full 50 percent of her actual salary of $600,000 (a realistic contract for someone on network TV with the kind of access she has). Besides, one of the Bush daughters also got a TV gig. Trump spends more than that on golf trips – and unlike with Clinton’s salary, WE actually pay for Trump’s trips. Worse, we pay Trump himself, the most corrupt president in history.

“Her mom flies around the country speaking out about white privilege.”

Isn’t that a good thing?

“And just like that, they went from being against foreign interference in our elections to allowing non-citizens to vote in our elections.”

Aside from the amorphous “they,” this makes no sense. No one favors letting non-citizens vote. Republicans have proven repeatedly that they want to suppress the legal vote as much as possible.

“President Trump’s wall costs less than the Obamacare website. Let that sink in, America.”

But wasn’t Mexico supposed to be paying for the wall? It shouldn’t cost me a damn thing. Besides, I don’t mind paying more to make American lives better than I pay for making a smaller number of immigrants’ lives even more miserable. In addition, the sentence is probably a lie, since it includes no numbers, but I’m getting tired of wading through this garbage so I’ll let someone else look that up.

“We are one election away from open borders, socialism, gun confiscation, and full-term abortion nationally.”

Pure bullshit, of course, reflecting total ignorance of both the legislative process and the Constitution. The only way most of those things could happen is if we turn the nation into a fascist state, as Trumpers seem content to do.

“We are fighting evil.”

Yawn. Is that like fighting fire with fire?

“They sent more troops and armament to arrest Roger Stone than they sent to defend Benghazi.”

Again with “they.” Stone was arrested, tried, and convicted with Trump in office. Incidentally, four people died in the Benghazi attacks. So far Trump’s “response” to Covid-19 has probably killed at least 100,000 more Americans than would have died if Hillary Clinton had been president.

“’60 years ago, Venezuela was 4th on the world economic freedom index. Today, they are 179th and their citizens are dying of starvation. In only 10 years, Venezuela was destroyed by democratic socialism.’!!!”

The “author” included the punctuation marks, without citing an actual source, along with three (!!!) exclamation points. Why, I don’t know. Maybe the numbers are right; maybe not. If the point is to examine the results of “democratic socialism,” however, a better comparison would be almost every nation in Europe, most of which have higher standards of living than we do. And all their citizens have health care.

“Russia donated $000 to the Trump campaign. Russia donated $145,600,000 to the Clinton Foundation . But Trump was the one investigated!”

Read the Mueller report, or at least a summary of it. Also look up the definition of “in-kind” donations. And maybe the definition of “golden shower.”

“Nancy Pelosi invited illegal aliens to the State of the Union. President Trump Invited victims of illegal aliens to the State of the Union Let that sink in.”

Weirdly, the post fails to mention that the five “illegal aliens,” Pelosi invited to the State of the Union Address had all worked for Donald Trump, and were there to highlight his hypocrisy and corruption. But considering the state of the nation and of Trump’s presidency, should the reader really be reminded of things, “sinking,” especially twice in one post?

“A socialist is basically a communist who doesn’t have the power to take everything from their citizens at gunpoint … Yet!”

Yawn. This tired cliché has been disproved repeatedly throughout the world – including in the United States, where “socialism” gave us Social Security, Medicare, public education, most of our highways, rural electrification, and a host of other things that Americans now take for granted.

“How do you walk 3000 miles across Mexico without food or support and show up at our border 100 pounds overweight and with a cellphone?”

You don’t. But you’d actually have to give a shit about human beings to spend the time you spent writing this to actually look something up.

“Alexandria Ocasio Cortez wants to ban cars, ban planes, give out universal income and thinks socialism works.”

Most of that sentence is untrue. Besides, other than being a strong Latina toward whom to direct a dig, what the hell does OAC have to do with the presidential race?

“She calls Donald Trump crazy.”

As did many of the Republicans who now kiss his ass. They were right then; she’s right now.

“Bill Clinton paid $850,000 to Paula Jones To get her to go away. I don’t remember the FBI raiding his lawyer’s office.”

There’s apparently a lot you don’t remember, including a years-long investigation which – unlike the Trump impeachment hearings – actually involved millions of documents and testimony by Clinton and others in the White House.

“The same media that told me Hillary Clinton had a 95% chance of winning now tells me Trump’s approval ratings are low.”

They were right then, and probably are right now. Clinton did “win” what the polls actually measured – the popular vote – and by about the same percentage that the polls predicted.

“’The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money’— Margaret Thatcher”

Nice quote, but so what? Thatcher was Britain’s version of Reagan, except smarter and in a dress.

“Maxine Waters opposes voter ID laws; She thinks that they are racist.”

Many studies have supported exactly that. You should read more.

“You need to have a photo ID to attend her town hall meetings.”

Probably because she gets countless death threats from gun-loving, fascist-worshipping, Trump supporters. If one shoots her, don’t you want to be able to catch who did it? Speaking of town hall meetings, what happened to the White House Daily Briefing?

“President Trump said — ‘They’re not after me. They’re after you. I’m just in their way.’”

Actually he didn’t say it; he tweeted it. But it’s exactly the sort of thing that we would expect to hear from a paranoid coward who needs blind loyalty to carry out his fascist abuses.

“Now, go Back & Read this Again like your Future Depends upon it, Because it Does.”

No, thank you. Aside from the random punctuation and capitalization making my head hurt, one can only wade through so much bullshit once. And though actor Tim Allen is a conservative, he also seems to be relatively intelligent. I assume he would be embarrassed to be connected to such a dishonest, poorly written piece.

Posted in History, Journalism, Media literacy, Politics, Women | 1 Comment »

My father will die soon because of COVID-19 — which he never had

Posted by James McPherson on July 18, 2020

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and outdoor

Thanks to COVID-19, along with the fact that Idahoans refuse to wear masks to protect themselves and others, my father will likely be dead within the next couple of weeks.
Conservatives whine that COVID cases may be overcounted, that perhaps the number of deaths is being inflated for unknown political reasons – a theory that makes sense only if you think medical professionals around the world are out to take down a president who is killing tens of thousands of Americans through his mishandling of the pandemic. But I am more concerned about the number of deaths that will never be connected to the virus, but which would never have occurred without the pandemic.
Deaths like my father’s, which hospice workers say is likely to occur within days. Yet Dad never contracted the virus, nor have any of his loved ones. Even so, assuming I make it in time, I’ll be suiting up in protective garb next week to say goodbye to the man who, more than any other, made me what I am today.
Dad has Alzheimer’s Disease, and he and my mother now live in separate rooms in a nursing home. Until a few weeks ago, Mom spent most of every day with her husband of 63 years. But then the facility apparently had some sort of COVID scare and residents were locked down, not just within the building but within their rooms. During the next couple of weeks, my father lost more than twenty pounds and the ability to stand, let alone to use the walker he had relied on for his multiple daily walks.
Unfortunately, Dad needed encouragement to eat, and sometimes had to be fed. My mother often took on those tasks, along with making sure he got all of his meds (sometimes he didn’t), and that he was toileted and cleaned in a timely manner (sometimes he wasn’t). Though the facility is rated well and seems ungodly expensive to me, it also always seemed to be poorly managed and understaffed, problems only worsened by the pandemic.
By the time Mom was able to get back to Dad’s side (having never been told why the strict lockdown occurred), he was bedridden. Before the lockdown, he sometimes mistook my mother for my sister, and confused their 50th anniversary photo with one of his own parents. After the lockdown he at first thought Mom was his brother. Only days later, Dad went under hospice care and soon will see his brother, who died more than twenty-five years ago.
Don’t get me wrong. Part of me is glad that my father’s suffering is nearly over. Having had a mother-in-law and some friends also go through dementia at the end of their lives even before my father’s experience, I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone. But no one should be cheated out of their final days with a loved one simply because the United States happens to be the one industrialized nation in the world that is apparently incapable of dealing with a public health crisis.
And yes, my father’s death is one of those that will be easy for most people to discount. I have certainly told journalism students many times that some deaths are far more newsworthy than others. Dad was an outstanding teacher, coach, and school administrator who impacted the lives of untold thousands of people, but he was also an 83-year-old Alzheimer’s victim who had outlived many of his friends.
So, some might say, as an Alzheimer’s sufferer Dad could have died at any time. And that is absolutely true. But isn’t it also true of the rest of us? Especially in an age in which many Americans treat a deadly pandemic as a reason for political grandstanding, even if that grandstanding kills other people?

Posted in Personal, Politics | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Happy Father’s Day: Cribbage, alcohol, my father, and me

Posted by James McPherson on June 15, 2019

My sister, my parents, and me.
My sister, my parents, and me.

I told a version of this story for an event sponsored by Pivot about six weeks ago. You can hear it here. This is the first time I’ve written it down.

When my father was a kid, his dad taught him to play cribbage. My grandfather – whom I never met, because alcohol killed him before I was born – was a logger, and he would wake up my father early in the morning before he went to work. They’d play cribbage while my granddad has his breakfast, and then my dad would go back to bed when his father went to work.
My dad then taught me to play cribbage when I was growing up in a small Idaho logging town, and some of my fondest memories involve that game. Especially when I was in college and would come home from college for a holiday break. Dad and I would sit up late. We’d drink Olympia beer. We’d listen to Willie Nelson. And we’d talk – about almost anything. Because if guys can talk while looking at cards instead of at each other, they often can have deeper conversations.
So we played hundreds, maybe thousands, of games of cribbage. “Fifteen-two, fifteen-four, and eight’s a dozen.” (If you play cribbage, that will make sense to you. If you don’t, that’s OK; the rest of this will still make sense.) And they were great memories.
And then of course I graduated from college, and I moved a thousand miles away, and we didn’t get together so much anymore. But I had a good job, and life was good. For a while. And then it wasn’t so good. And a few years after my high school graduating class voted me “Most Likely to Succeed,” I found myself living in a 1966 GMC school bus, working as a migrant worker on an Easter Lily farm for minimum wage.
But I did make it home that summer for my sister’s wedding. Not surprisingly, my dad and I drank more than anyone else at the rehearsal dinner, and the next morning the two of us were dispatched to pick up the wedding cake. On our way back with the cake, Dad said to me: “You know, son, you and I are both alcoholics. I’m probably too old to do anything about it, but you’re young enough that you probably still could.”
I have to admit that I was a bit surprised by my father’s words, and I’ll also admit that those words did not keep me from making a total ass of myself at the reception that night. One family member at every Idaho wedding apparently has to do that, and I was the designee for that particular wedding. But my actions that night, and his words of earlier that day, gave me something to think about over the course of the next few months, and I eventually found my way to a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. And I didn’t drink for a while. Until one day I decided that this was the day I had to go to town and get something to drink.
Now, unbeknownst to me, about a week earlier my father had been traveling with a recovering alcoholic, someone I’d never met – someone I never knew. Why this came up, I don’t know. Maybe it was just a male bonding thing. Maybe my father was just trying to make a connection with the guy, but he said, “You know, my son is doing the same thing you’re doing, going to AA meetings.”
This guy then went home and wrote me a letter. And on the very day that I had decided I was going to go to town and get something to drink, before my ride arrived, that letter arrived. I don’t remember much of what it said, but I do remember these words: “If you work the program and trust in God, you’ll be fine.”
Well, trusting in God wasn’t really my thing, but I just started to bawl. And then I literally got down on my knees, on the floor of a 1966 GMC school bus that when I bought it had the words, “Faith Bible Church” painted on the side, and I offered a prayer that went something like this: “God, I don’t know what the f*** I’m doing, but if you don’t help me I’m going to die.”
I’ve never had a drink since. I’ve never had a desire to drink since. And I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever told my father how he and his friend played into that. I know my father was proud of me when I went back to school and got a master’s degree, like he had. I know he was proud when I went into education, as he had. And proud when I got a Ph.D., and proud when I became a teacher, as he had. Neither of us would have believed that so much of my academic career would be teaching at a Christian university, but, nonetheless, there it was.
A few years later, my dad gave up drinking, too. And now when we get together, we don’t drink beer, anymore; we drink mostly water. And we don’t play cribbage, anymore, because my dad has dementia, and the words, “Fifteen-two, fifteen-four, and eight’s a dozen” probably wouldn’t mean much to him, either. Now I play cribbage with my sister and stay up late talking to my mom. And we talk about my dad.
I realize my father’s dementia is a terribly sad thing, but he has lived a very good life. He has helped a lot of people.
I also realize that, having drunk to the point of passing out many times before my brain was fully formed, and having suffered multiple concussions from a combination of football and stupidity, chances are very good that I will end up with dementia, too. I’m not sure how to feel about that, frankly, because I’ve already lived longer than I had any right to live.
Right, Dad? I mean, Dad, if you happen to hear this somehow, it really is me: your eldest son, the one who has the same name you do. And if you’re confused about what day this is, just think of it as Father’s Day. I know I’ve talked for too long, but I wanted to say: “Happy Father’s Day.” Thank you, and I love you, Dad.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments »

First thoughts on Notre Dame

Posted by James McPherson on April 15, 2019

The fact that we don’t know what caused the ongoing disaster at the Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t keeping conspiracy loons from blaming Muslims, Jews, or others. And of course Donald Trump couldn’t wait to offer a stupid tweet.

But hey, if we’re going to entertain conspiracy theories, do we know if Steve Bannon has an alibi?

I’m sad to say I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Notre Dame, and what I knew about it before today came as much from variations of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” as from anything else. In fact, I actually did a guest sermon about Quasimodo for my church a few years ago on Quasimodo Sunday (the Sunday after Easter).

Notre Dame has been through a lot in its history, including bombing and decapitations of statues by ignoramuses who couldn’t tell the difference between French kings and Biblical kings. It will undoubtedly be rebuilt, though of course some its treasures will be lost forever.

Posted in History, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ben Shapiro and Spokane

Posted by James McPherson on March 14, 2019

Image result for ben shapiro daily wireClose on the heels of a decision by Young America’s Foundation to keep conservative Ben Shapiro from speaking at Gonzaga University, the student government at Spokane’s other university (where I spent most of my academic career), has voted to block a student club from bringing Shapiro to campus.
For the record, despite my liberal bent and the fact that I’ve personally been criticized by his online publication, The Daily Wire, I disagree with the decision to prohibit a Whitworth University club from bringing in  the shallow-thinking Shapiro. He wouldn’t be on my list of people of favored speakers, but I would simply skip his speech.
Regardless, the witless whining by some conservatives that this split student decision means Whitworth has become a liberal bastion out to kill conservative speech demonstrates that those complainers are more ignorant than student leaders on both sides of the issue.
Note that the decision was made by students who were elected by other students to make such decisions. And as Trump supporters keep pointing out, “elections have consequences.” (One difference between Whitworth and the presidential election, of course: Student leaders at Whitworth actually won the popular vote.)
During my time at Whitworth the university granted an honorary award to Franklin Graham and in recent years has hosted talks by David Brooks, Dinesh D’Souza, Jack Kemp, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and George Will, among others. I haven’t kept count, but I suspect that political conservatives have outnumbered liberals, at least among nationally known speakers.
And of course a couple of years ago the university also cut its loose ties with Planned Parenthood — hardly a liberal decision.
Still, the university also hosted “The Vagina Monologues” before Gonzaga did, reflecting the fact that with contentious issues Whitworth has done its best to act like a university should, exposing students to a range of perspectives. I’m proud to have spent most of my academic career there.
Simply put, in this case I disagree with the student decision to try to bring in Shapiro, and I disagree with the student decision to block him. But I strongly support letting students make what I consider to be wrong decisions, assuming those decisions are thoughtfully made, don’t harm others, and contribute to a meaningful learning experience for the students involved.
Incidentally, that was also my philosophy during the more than 15 years I spent as a student newspaper adviser, to the occasional dismay of some administrators, trustees, my wife, and others — none of whom ever made a serious attempt to censor the publication. As students wrote in a surprise editorial about my retirement: “Jim allows The Whitworthian to function as a true student newspaper, offering assistance when the paper needs it, but emphasizing student ownership. … The editors may have made mistakes, but with Jim’s hands-off style, editors and writers were allowed to understand the ramifications of their mistakes and learn how to manage the aftermath.”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

After yet another school shooting

Posted by James McPherson on September 14, 2017

The school shooter could have been me.

I was a 14-year-old freshman who had friends, close siblings, concerned teachers, and two parents who loved me. I played in the school band and was on the football team and the freshman basketball team. I read a lot, wrote bad poetry, and earned good grades.

I was also tall, skinny, and incredibly uncoordinated. I had acne and a slight speech impediment, which other boys ridiculed. Girls generally just ignored me. One older boy used to stomp my toes with his boots, while another would walk past me in the lunch line and hit the back of my head with his heavy class ring. Freshmen basketball practice started an hour or so after school, after the varsity team finished, and I sometimes spent the time in between school and practice hiding from kids who were threatened to beat me up, or worse. Sometimes I fought, though neither winning nor losing a fistfight seemed to resolve much. I never told my parents or teachers.

I grew up a in small town in Idaho, and I had easy access to guns. And maybe because I had a few friends, and was involved in sports and music, I never thought about bringing a gun to school. I fantasized about beating up bigger kids, not about shooting them. Like most 14-year-old boys, I assume, I fantasized more about girls who ignored me than about boys who bullied me. I was more likely to harm myself than someone else.

That year, for whatever reason, my body seemed to catch up with itself. As a sophomore, I became a starter on the football team and a regular on the varsity basketball team. I was tall and could make people laugh – with me, rather than at me. I graduated second in my class, and my classmates voted me “most likely to succeed.”

Today, my biggest regrets about my younger years have nothing to do with being bullied myself. What I regret are the times I failed to step in to defend someone who was being bullied. There are worse injuries than those that come from being punched in the face. And sometimes those who end up paying the biggest price are neither the bullies nor the bullied. I grieve for all involved.

Forty-five years later, I still can’t help but wonder what might have happened if things had been only slightly different in my case. If the social awkwardness and/or the bullying had continued. If I hadn’t had loving parents and friends and siblings and creative intellectual outlets. If I hadn’t become a star athlete and a good student. If I hadn’t lived in a small town where I watched little television and rarely went to movies, long before the invention of video games or the Internet. If I’d suffered a great loss of some sort.

I harbor no illusions that I’m morally or emotionally stronger than anyone else. Perhaps, under slightly different conditions, the school shooter could have been me.

Posted in Personal, Politics | Leave a Comment »

My 9/11 story

Posted by James McPherson on September 11, 2016


On Sept. 11, 2001, the first day of a new school year at Whitworth, I was getting ready to teach my first freshman seminar about media & society when the attacks came. Whitworth gave faculty the option of cancelling classes, but I decided that having an afternoon forum for discussion would be good for my freshmen and me.
Like most Americans, I spent the morning following the events of 9/11 on both television and my computer. Yet I remained strangely unmoved — perhaps partly because of my former training and experience as a reporter, but even more, I think, because of the unreality of it all.
Part of my brain just couldn’t process the pictures of a jetliner full of people slamming into a massive tower full of people, let alone the pictures of those two giant towers crumbling to the ground. And maybe the numbness of shock explains my relative lack of emotion.
Yet as a media scholar I suspect that part of my brain recognized what people at the scene kept saying: “It’s like something out of a movie.” Yet in the movies, we had often seen the sound and visuals “done better” than what live television had to offer — more “realistic”-looking explosions, from multiple angles, with music helping tell our brains how to feel.
So, though I am not proud of the fact, on that morning I couldn’t seem to make myself feel the emotions that I thought I should. Frustrated with the media coverage and myself, I walked outside into a beautiful fall day, though a door near which an American flag already flew at half staff. At the base of the flag were bright yellow flowers, planted to greet returning students and their parents. And there, a bee flitted among the blossoms. I stood and watched that lone bee, a tiny creature unaware of the events that would forever change all of our lives, doing what it was born to do.
“Well,” I thought. “Life goes on.” And then, standing there alone in the middle of campus, away from the media deluge and 3,000 miles away from New York or Washington, D.C., I began to cry.
Those tears weren’t the last I shed tears related to 9/11 — those came a little while ago when I read this story aloud to my wife. Insects play a role in Adam Langer’s story, too, and my wife and I have outlived a couple of dogs that looked like the author’s.
We all are witnesses to things we cannot fathom. And sometimes inexplicably, life goes on.

Posted in Education, History, Media literacy, Personal, Politics | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Fear not about race or guns: a BEAFRAID solution

Posted by James McPherson on August 17, 2015

Photo from Twitter @OathKeeper101st

Photo from Twitter @OathKeeper101st

I have refrained from pretending to be someone of another race, at least since picking the losing side in childhood games of “cowboys and Indians” or envisioning myself as Bob Gibson while pitching in Little League baseball games. Still, that obviously can’t prevent me from commenting on issues of race or gender.  (Examples on race can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Examples relevant to gender here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)

So, with the wisdom that is inevitably inherent to all white, middle-class, middle-aged American men, and after careful consideration of recent problems involving racial divisions and gun fights in America, I have managed to come up with an idea that is bound to please beleaguered African Americans and gun lovers throughout the nation.

Actually, I must credit the gun-toting, freedom-loving, birther/truther Oath Keepers for prompting the idea. You may have heard of the Oath Keepers because of their recent unwanted-by-law-enforcement incitement help in Ferguson, Missouri. As described by that liberal rag the Washington Post, “The men — all of them white and heavily armed — said they were in the area to protect someone who worked for the Web site Infowars.com, which is affiliated with talk-radio conspiracy theorist and self-described ‘thought criminal against Big Brother‘ Alex Jones.”

As the National Rifle Association has regularly reminded us, our problem isn’t too many guns; it’s too few. My modest proposal: a group of heavily armed African Americans who would show up at random events to make sure order is being kept. I’ve even come up with a name for the group: Blacks Exercising Armed, Free, Responsible, American Interventional Defense. That’s BEAFRAID, for short.

You’ll notice that I made sure to get the words, “free,” “responsible,” and “American” in the name to enhance the credibility and trustworthiness of the group.

The Oath Keepers have apparently been thinking along similar lines themselves, supposedly offering to arm 50 Ferguson African American protesters with AR-15 rifles. That’s a start, and at $800 or so each, a significant investment. I wonder if they’ll also provide the ammunition. Or if they’ll be able to find 50 black guys willing to openly pack firearms while surrounded by white guys with guns and badges.

Obviously we need to think bigger, with a permanent, heavily armed African American paramilitary force ready to step in wherever the potential for unrest exists. Just think of the places the presence of BEAFRAID could be useful. Some that come immediately to mind: Confederate Flag rallies, NRA meetings, the 2016 Republican National Convention, Rush Limbaugh’s next wedding.

A couple of potential problems come to mind. The first is money. But “life NRA member” Donald Trump is rich and always looking for a good cause or something that will bring him media attention. When his presidential run inevitably ends, perhaps he’ll help out. He may also want to buy the domain name beafraid.com.

The second potential problem is leadership. As a white, middle-class, middle-aged American man with great ideas and at least a couple of black friends, I would naturally be an excellent choice. Unfortunately, with a full-time gig as a professional corrupter of young minds, I don’t have time to do take this on. But I think Rachel Dolezal might be available. And she has her own guns.

Posted in History, Legal issues, Personal, Politics, Women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Fake hair, white skin & tall tales

Posted by James McPherson on June 20, 2015

The headline above could refer to either Donald Trump, the latest passenger in the Republican clown car, or to serial liar and former Spokane NCAA president Rachel Dolezal, both of whom I commented on via Twitter and Facebook during the past week or so. Below are some of my tweets and Facebook posts from the period:

With Trump declaring his candidacy for president, I noted that I want to see his birth certificate because I don’t believe he’s from this planet. Also on the issue of politics, I commented on Jeb! Bush’s bad logo, and on the fact that President Obama had no objection to changing the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali. “Of course not; McKinley was a Republican,” I tweeted. “And Dinali means ‘Great One,’ so Obama can pretend it’s named for him.”

I commented on dumb complaints by Jerry Seinfeld and Bill O’Reilly about the supposed negative effects of “political correctness.” In a perhaps-related issue I shared a Psychology Today piece about how “Anti-intellectualism is killing America.”

Dolezal prompted widespread discussion about race  even before racist lunatic Dylann Roof killed nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church. The latest American massacre prompted the usual idiocy from the National Rifle Association, the expected cowardice of politicians, the typical dishonest of Fox News, and predictions from Jon Stewart and me that the long-term effect would be exactly zilch. As I noted on one post, “soul. ‪#‎Columbine‬ didn’t matter. ‪#‎VirginiaTech‬ didn’t matter. ‪#‎Aurora‬ didn’t matter. ‪#‎GabbyGiffords‬ didn’t matter. ‪#‎Newtown‬ didn’t matter. ‪#‎Charleston‬ won’t make a damn bit of difference, either.”

On a lighter note, there was one hero in the news this week: a cat named Tara that won a “Hero Dog Award.” I took it upon myself to come up with a quote for Tara: “Deep in my heart, I identify as a dog.”

I also commented on the fact that a woman’s picture will appear on the $10 bill, beginning in 2020. We don’t know which woman. We do know that she’ll be dead, which leaves out Sandra Day O’Conner, Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice and Caitlyn Jenner. I’m leaning toward favoring Eleanor Roosevelt, Sacajawea or Jeannette Rankin.

On the media front, I lamented the state of local journalism and the short-sighted critics who are helping kill it, and forwarded a tweet about the Charleston Post and Courier which put a stick-on advertisement for a gun store on its front page — directly over a huge banner headline stating, “Church attack kills 9.” I noted that the media coverage of the killer might encourage others, and criticized Howard Kurtz — who used to be a credible media critic but who has become just another pitifully biased Fox News shill.

I also shared an excellent Politico story about Bloomberg News. I’ve visited Bloomberg several times with students, who have chuckled over the fact that our hosts brag about the company’s “transparency” right after telling us that specific comments will be “off the record.”

OK, off to the lake for a few days escape from politics, media and home projects. Have a good week, everybody. Don’t shoot anyone.

Posted in Journalism, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Catching up: A brief social media summary

Posted by James McPherson on June 10, 2015

A couple of nice comments on my most recent post made me realize that it had been more than three months since I’d written anything for this blog. Twitter, Facebook, my classes and one letter to the editor about Baltimore protests have been my only outlets for commentary during that time.

I can’t recapture here what happened in classes, but thought it might be worth sharing a few highlights of what I’ve posted on social media. I’ll exclude my regular ranting about the ineptitude of the Seattle Mariners, and there’s no way to include my hundreds of witty or snarky or reflective comments; after all, I’ve posted more than 1,300 tweets since February. For those comments, you’ll need to friend me on Facebook and check out my Twitter feed.

Topics, in no particular order, have included:

The idiocy of John Thune complaining that a Supreme Court decision against the Affordable Care Act (a decision scheduled for this week or next) could cost 6 million people their health care subsidies, which helps show “why Obamacare is bad for the American people.” Of course, the subsidies would not exist without Obamacare, and are at risk now only because of a Republican lawsuit, King v. Burwell. And even Ted Cruz has signed up for Obamacare.

Related to health care, as many of us already knew, Americans pay more for worse care than some people elsewhere.

Evidence that American politics have shifted far to the right, even as the American people have not. The good news about that is that it makes it more difficult for Republicans to ever again win the presidency.

The unprecedented secrecy of the Obama administration (also here).

Evidence that the economy performs far better under Democrats than Republicans.

“Altruism pornography” via “The Briefcase“: Just because reality television and privileged Americans’  disdain for the poor haven’t quite hit bottom in a country that is become increasingly divided economically.

Doubts that allegations regarding the Clinton Foundation will amount to anything, though I also have concerns about the foundation and its donors.

Problems with journalism in regard to dying newspapers, how Facebook filters news, and Fox News viewers being LESS informed than people who watch no news.

Lies or hypocrisy by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, in a fundraising email; Jeb Bush in talking about his brother’s rationale for the Iraq War; Ted Cruz over federal aid; Mike Huckabee over military service; Carly Fiorina about Chinese ingenuity; the State of Tennessee over a law making the Bible its official book; Idaho legislators worried about Sharia Law; the NRA restricting guns at its national convention; Cruz again about a variety of topics; Fox News over Benghazi.

In education, separating Wheaton (College) from the chaff (Dennis Hester), an arrogant professor, and the largely mythical idea that political correctness is scaring teachers. Plus God helping Ben Carson cheat in a chemistry class.

Craziness involving guns in Idaho, TexasHollywood (Vince Vaughn), an NRA seminar and the NRA’s national convention.

Race issues on Twitter and elsewhere on the World Wide Web, and new “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah.

The “American tradition” of rioting, the deadliest hate crime in U.S. history, LGBT equality and Republicans who favor it.

An old negative review of L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics, along with the insanity of Paula Geller, who compared herself to Rosa Parks, and of a Playboy-posing veteran who wants to “protect” the American flag.

The stupidity of war as tied to patriotism and the end of the world by the end of this year.

Why Americans should slow down and take it easier. Huh; maybe that’s why I haven’t posted for so long until now.

So there’s a small sample of what I’ve been thinking and writing about. But I’ll try to make better use of the blog as the political season heats up.


Posted in Journalism, Personal, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 19 Comments »