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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Posts Tagged ‘Willie Nelson’

Texas and Idaho consider devolution into confederacy of ignorance

Posted by James McPherson on March 25, 2009

Perhaps because some Texans can’t stand being upstaged in their ignorance by the likes of Kansas, Idaho and various states of the Deep South–and perhaps as a reflection of dismay over the fact that the end of the Bush administration has taken away the state’s national platform for promoting scientific ignorance–the Texas Board of Education apparently will vote this week on new science standards that may promote religious views over scientific theories.

Of course, I’m not surprised when Texas looks  stupid, and I appreciate much of what the state has given us. (My Top 10 list for today: Molly Ivins, Bill Moyers, Barbara Jordan, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carol Burnett, Steve Martin and Babe Didrikson Zaharias.) But Texas matters more than most of other states in the discussion about science textbooks because it’s so big that decisions made in the Lone Star State can influence textbooks in other states.

As it is, U.S. kids trail much of the world in math and science, finishing behind Finland, Canada, Japan and a dozen other countries. On the plus side, we beat Mexico so we finished second in North America.

In the meantime, a state legislator in Idaho has convinced fellow Republicans to go along with a resolution declaring the United States to be “a confederacy.” The resolution “declares Idaho’s sovereignty from the federal government and ask the federal government to ‘cease and desist’ from violating that sovereignty.”

Since the biggest “violation” would seem to be to make Idaho (where support for its own residents is an embarrassment) into a welfare case (like most Republican states, Idaho takes in more federal tax dollars than it pays, about 20 percent more in this case), the action is a ludicrous and unnecessary, but typical, effort to suck up to the base.

Keep in mind, this is the state that elected Bill Sali and Larry “Wide Stance” Craig to Congress, and where, despite the state’s conservatism, for many Idahoans Sali was considered the bigger embarrassment of those two. Yet the only way to defeat Sali was to have a conservative former Republican–who probably will lose to some other Republican in 2010–run against him.

The state house of representatives approved the confederacy resolution–which has absolutely no power to do anything other than to make Idahoans look like idiots–by a 51-17 vote. The article didn’t mention how many of the legislators were actually capable of counting to 51.

Same-day update: Though Idaho’s legislature is dumber than most, I didn’t mean to imply that the state of my birth is the only one (though almost all are  red states that get more than they give in federal funds) now talking about sovereignty. As I’ve said before, I’m willing to let them go, if they’re willing to stop taking my money. But now I’m curious: Just in case things ever went so far as the creation of a new confederacy, I wonder what percentage of Idaho legislators can name any of the states in the original Confederacy–or realize that Idaho doesn’t share a border with any of them.

Posted in History, Politics, Religion, Science | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Merry Christmas! Twelve YouTube Christmas videos

Posted by James McPherson on December 24, 2008

After posting for 23 consecutive days (and 33 of 34), I’m taking a few days off for Christmas. As my holiday greeting to all of you, whether you’ve been bad or good, I’m posting YouTube versions of a dozen of my favorite Christmas videos below. Nat King Cole’s “A Christmas Song” might normally top the list, but Queen’s “Thank God It’s Christmas” seems especially appropriate this year.

One warning: The last two are difficult to watch, and therefore perhaps the most important. Frankly I think everyone should see the last one, but if reality bothers you more than reality TV does, you may want to hold off on this video until after Christmas Day–perhaps just before you do your New Year’s resolutions.

Queen: Thank God It’s Christmas

Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song

Mariah Carey: O Holy Night

Mahalia Jackson: Go Tell It On the Mountain

Willie Nelson: Pretty Paper

Celtic Women: In the Bleak Midwinter/The First Noel

David Bowie and Bing Crosby: Little Drummer Boy

Kristin Chenoweth: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Sarah McLachlan: Wintersong

Enya: Silent Night (Irish)

Band Aid: Do They Know It’s Christmas?

John Lennon: Happy Christmas (War is Over)

 

 

Posted in History, Music, Personal, Politics, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »