Category Archives: Media Matters

Why You’re Going to Vote for Trump and How You Can Win a Free Ticket to Mexico

2+2=5I was very, very wrong, and now it’s time to pay for my mistakes.

The good news is, when I pay, you just might be the one to collect.  My loss can be your windfall.

The catch? You too will have to publicly debase yourself

Sigh.

How did it come to this? You and I publicly shaming ourselves on the internet, each of us desperately hoping to salvage a little bit of joy as the world burns around us?

It’s all because of that goddamned Donald Trump.

Trump is about to claim the Republican presidential nomination, and a whole lotta pundits got that one wrong.  Legions of professional gabbers, from every corner of the political spectrum, badly missed the mark, assuring you that he’d never be the GOP candidate.

Despite their wishful thinking dressed up in high falutin’ gibberish, it’s happening anyway; Trump is poised to become leader of the pachyderm pack.  And so a lot of the yakkers had to make amends.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post literally ate his words.  Pass the salt and pepper.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times and David Byler of Real Clear Politics each created a laundry list of everything they got wrong, which like most analysts, was quite a lot.

Perhaps the oddest mea culpa came from polling wunderkind Nate Silver, who explained away his spectacular failure by saying that he had acted like a barbaric “pundit” instead of staying true to the “scientific method.”  Rather than relying on statistical modeling to figure out if Trump would win, Silver says he just made “educated guesses.”

Since Silver never really explains why he traded  true reason for such wild tomfoolery, I’m just gonna assume he went on a months-long bender.

Normally, it would be very easy for me to look down my nose at these losers.  After all, I’m not a statistician or a professional talking head.  I’m a historian.  And if there’s one thing studying history has taught me, it’s that trying to predict the future is pure folly.

What were these dullards thinking? Guess the future? Good luck with those crystal ball shenanigans.  Studying history has shown me, time and time again, that the future is unknowable.  The past is a mystery and the future is an illusion.  So allow me, in full haughtiness, to point a sanctimonious finger at these morons.

Except for one thing.  It turns out that I’m one of those morons.  I, too, am a loser. Continue reading Why You’re Going to Vote for Trump and How You Can Win a Free Ticket to Mexico

The Public Professor Site Redesign

cropped-Profile-Picture.jpgFive and a half years after its initial launch, this site is receiving a substantial update for the first time.  Some of it is aesthetics, with new colors, imagery, and font.  Some of it involves updating content.

The “Pages” at the top of the site (eg. “Me” and “Books I Done Written”) are not only renamed, but also updated.  Click inside and see.

In addition, I’ve added two new pages: “Books I Might Write” and “CV.”  The former contains brief overviews of book projects I’m working on.  Beyond the infamous Communities book that was responsible for launching this site but has yet to see the light of day, there are also working manuscripts on music and misadventures from the road.  The “CV” page contains my Curriculum Vitae, which is what professors call their resumé.  Is our pretentious Latin name for it better than your pretentious French name for it?  Who knows.  The bottom line is, we’re all pretentious.

Enjoy!

P.S. Yes, I’ll keep blogging here on the front page.  If you’d like to sign up for email notifications, or get them via Facebook or Twitter, that’s just to the right near the top of any page.  Viva la blog! (That’s pretentious Spanish for, “None of this stuff ends up on my resumé.”

Some of the People All of the Time (On Trump’s Legion)

Lincoln quotesYou can fool all the people some of the time
and some of the people all the time,
but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

For example, sometimes all of the people believe that Abraham Lincoln first uttered these famous words.  But he didn’t.  It originally traces back to a French Protestant named Jacques Abbadie in 1684.  The phrase doesn’t show up in American letters until some Prohibitionist politicians started using it in 1885.  Twenty years after Lincoln died.

Until recently, I simply took at face value the common claim that these were Lincoln’s words.  It’s not a very important issue, so what would push me to question it?

My decision to title this essay.

A little healthy skepticism is all it took.  After all, lots of famous quotes are misattributed to famous people, ergo the Yogi Berra line: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”  Which he really did say.

So before titling and publishing this rant, I looked up the aphorism at a reputable site with citations, just to be sure.  And presto: suddenly I am, at least in this regard, all of the people some of the time, and not some of the people all of the time.

You really don’t want to be some of those people who get fooled all the time.  Which brings us to Donald Trump. Continue reading Some of the People All of the Time (On Trump’s Legion)

My Second Book: Welcome to the Oglala Nation

Reinhart book cover (photo by Reinhardt)I’m happy to announce that my second book was recently published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Special thanks to editor Matthew Bokovoy, editorial assistant Heather Stauffer, and the entire UNP staff for all of their help and professionalism during the past several years in shepherding this project to completion.

The book is entitled Welcome to the Oglala Nation: A Documentary Reader in Oglala Lakota Political History.  The UN Press website for the book is here.  The Amazon page for the book is here. Continue reading My Second Book: Welcome to the Oglala Nation

Donald Trump and Heidi Klum Probably Deserve Each Other Right Now

Donald TrumpThere’s obviously no end to the list of dumb things Donald Trump is capable of saying.  He’s an endless wellspring of arrogance and stupidity.  And given some of the bumbling insanity that has issued forth from his mouth of late, his latest verbal turd seems hardly worth mentioning, much less discussing.  But alas . . . Continue reading Donald Trump and Heidi Klum Probably Deserve Each Other Right Now

Baltimore’s May Murders

murderAs has been widely reported, May was an exceptionally violent month here in Baltimore.  The city has witnessed dozens shootings and 42 murders.  That is the most murders in any one month since 1990.

Such a spate of violence is certainly worth reporting, and the national media has been quick to pick up on it.  However, many media outlets are also drawing lazy connections to the riot and protests that took place several weeks back.

The typical analysis, whether implied or explicit, goes something like this.

There was a riot in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained while in police custody.  The riot amplified already troubled relations between Baltimore’s African American community and its police force.  The police, unhappy about the indictment of six officers in the Gray case, are staging a work slowdown.  The result is tremendous violence across the city.

This brand of analysis is not factually wrong. Some of those statements may be a bit vague, but they’re wrong in and of themselves.  However, when those those facts are strung together in this manner, the narrative they produce is just a bit too facile to offer a penetrating explanation for recent upswing in violence.

The problem with such an analysis is that it’s:
A) Too focused on the present and fails to account for historical forces, and;
B) Too narrow in the way it corrals all the immediate factors but fails to make room for larger structural forces Continue reading Baltimore’s May Murders

A Love Letter from Baltimore

Baltimore postcardLast Wednesday I wrote an essay on the Baltimore riot, not the protests that followed or the de facto police state Baltimore has become since then.  I grappled with the conditions in Baltimore that led to the riot, and talked about rioting as a form of social violence.

However, now that the most immediate tensions are winding down, the curfew has been finally lifted, and the soldiers are melting from our streets, I would like to offer a more personalized reaction to the events of the past two weeks: fragments of thought and experience amid the choppers circling overhead, parks filled with protestors, streets lined with soldiers. Continue reading A Love Letter from Baltimore

What David Brooks Gets Wrong About Poverty in Baltimore (and Everywhere Else, for that Matter)

Daivd BRooksNew York Times columnist David Brooks wrote the kind of piece today that really infuriates me.  It angers me not because it’s completely wrong.  Stuff without any redeeming value is easy to move on from.  Rather, Brooks’ essay gets me in a tizzy because in some ways it’s very good.  However, at the end, it completely goes off the rails in ways that are not only quite wrong, but really damaging as well, despite Brooks’ sincere efforts to make a positive contribution. Continue reading What David Brooks Gets Wrong About Poverty in Baltimore (and Everywhere Else, for that Matter)

Buying The Public Professor

PayolaFor some time now, I’ve been getting offers to run commercial content at this website.  Once every few months or so, a marketing company will contact me about the possibility of paying to publish a “guest blog.”

Typically they dangle an undisclosed amount of cash in front of me, with promises of  serving up guest content that will be “consistent” with my site.  They also assure me that I’d have final say about the content.  As if they’re doing me a favor by letting me decide what goes up on my own website.  So kind.

Of course it’s a quasi-scam.  They’d give me nothing more than a thinly veiled commercial to run.  And for that, how much are they willing to pay?

I don’t know, I’ve never followed up.  Whenever one of these offers pops up in my Inbox, I just trash it.  If they’re persistent, and some of them are, I spam it.

Recently, however, a new kind of commercial offer came my way.  Something a little more insidious, perhaps, than supplying material for the website.

I’ve been offered a form of payola. Continue reading Buying The Public Professor