Category Archives: media news

Who in the world can trust POTUS?

Donald J. Trump’s obsession with Twitter is diminishing his standing around the world, or so it would appear.

I keep circling back to a question: How do world leaders trust anything the president of the United States tells them when he continues to tweet ridiculous messages?

Take these instances involving Trump and his tweets:

* He said former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of his campaign office. That was false.

* The president said Hillary Rodham Clinton’s popular vote margin “victory” in the 2016 election was because of “millions” of illegal immigrants voting for her. Another falsehood.

* He says Germany is making “too many cars” and selling them to Americans.

* Trump ripped into London’s mayor after the Manchester shooting by misquoting what the mayor said about the threat of international terrorists.

I am missing many more examples just since Trump became president, but you get the idea.

The man cannot control his impulses. He fires off these tweets and then changes the subject. He meets in private with world leaders and then blabs his brains out about them.

The president’s Republican allies in Congress, though, give him a pass. House Speaker Paul Ryan blithely states that Trump is “new at this,” meaning he’s “new” at governing, new at understanding the limits of presidential power.

The world is a volatile place, which I am sure the president understands. What I do not get is why he cannot control himself. I’m pretty sure we’ve got leaders all around the planet who are wondering the same thing.

No more ‘Fair and Balanced’

Fox News Channel is dropping its long-standing mantra of being the “fair and balanced” news network.

I don’t quite know whether to cheer loudly or to sigh out of exasperation.

Fox is going to adopt a new slogan eventually, according to reports. For now it’s dropping the “fair and balanced” label, which was the creation of ousted Fox president Roger Ailes, who lost his job in 2016 after being accused of sexual harassment.

I’ve long believed the network is neither “fair” or “balanced” in its presentation of the news. I also have long acknowledged the impressive audience it has created out here in TV Viewer Land with its decidedly conservative slant.

Go to any public location in the Texas Panhandle where you’ll see TV sets — doctor’s office, dentist’s office, restaurants, banks or other financial institutions — and you see Fox News anchors giving you their version of the news. That is the power of the network that Ailes founded as an antidote to what he believed was a liberal tilt to the presentation of news.

Fox has done a number of things well. For instance, it spiced up its news programming with a bit of pizzazz, bringing other cable news outlets along to do the same for their presentation.

Fair and balanced? It never was any of that. At least not to my eyes and ears.

Happy Trails, Part 26

Retirement has changed many of my habits. I don’t roll out of the sack early every single morning; I am no longer obsessed with the time of the day; indeed, there are times when I forget what day it is.

I also have changed one of my major travel habits.

No longer do I look for newspapers to purchase when I travel around the country. My wife has kidded me at times over the years about how much more stuff we are carrying home than when we leave.

My journalism career seemed to compel me to look at local newspapers. We would stop somewhere, I’d ask for a local newspaper stand and then I would purchase the paper.

Why? Well, I was always looking for new ideas on how to present, say, opinion pages. Since I edited opinion pages in Beaumont and Amarillo, Texas, for nearly three decades, I thought it helpful to see how other newspapers presented their opinions — and the opinions of contributors — to their readers.

These days, my newspaper-purchasing habit has virtually vanished. I no longer work for a living. I no longer have a need to see how other editors do their job. I no longer feel virtually obligated to fill my vehicle with newspapers, to bring them home, cart them into the house and pore over them to search for better ideas.

On our latest adventure, I did purchase one newspaper: the Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial-Appeal. It’s still a pretty good read. So, I read it — and then tossed it.

Life continues to be so very good.

Why give Alex Jones a platform?

People such as Alex Jones give me heartburn.

I happen to be a First Amendment purist. I believe in the amendment’s guarantee of free speech and I do not want it watered down.

Then along comes people like Jones, the radio talk show blowhard who’s been thrust into the news yet again. Broadcast journalist Megyn Kelly has booked him on her NBC News show and snippets of her interview with Jones have enraged some survivors of one of the nation’s worst tragedies.

Jones has spoken infamously about how the 9/11 attacks against the United States were an “inside job” and then — and this goes way beyond anything resembling human decency — he has alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut was staged; he says the children who were slain were “actors.”

Kelly is giving this guy’s moronic views a platform.

Should he be allowed to spout that trash? Should he be given air time on a major broadcast network? That pesky First Amendment says “yes.” Tenets of good judgment and basic humanity suggest that this guy shouldn’t be given a platform to spout the filth that pours out of his pie hole.

Kelly deserves the criticism she is getting from at least one of the Sandy Hook parents who lost a child in that hideous act of cruelty.

And that damn heartburn continues to churn in my gut.

Let’s call it James Comey Day

I guess some of the TV news networks think Thursday is going to be a big day.

At least one of them, CBS News, is planning to pre-empt its daytime programming to broadcast the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee hearing featuring former FBI Director James Comey.

Comey is going to speak publicly about his firing by Donald J. Trump, as well as the conversations the two men had prior to Comey’s dismissal.

Hey, it’s a big deal, man!

Comey was heading up an FBI investigation into allegations that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian government agents and hackers who were seeking to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Then he got canned. Just like that! 

Vice President Pence said the dismissal had “nothing to do” with the Russia probe. Then the president told NBC News that, yep, he fired Comey because of the “Russia thing.”

So, let’s ask former top federal cop what went down, shall we?

Let us also determine which man to believe: a meticulous note-taker such as Comey or a serial liar such as the man who fired him.

Get the popcorn and the soda ready.

Even presidents need a ‘filter’

The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.

OK, there you go. Donald J. Trump has tweeted — yet again! — in a rant that takes aim at the “mainstream media” because it is seeking to do something the president of the United States does not want to do.

The media are seeking to drum into the president’s thick skull that these tweets represent the statements of the head of state, head of government, the commander in chief of the world greatest military apparatus.

Thus, this individual — the president — must exercise some self-control, self-restraint, and even some self-awareness in sending these messages around the world.

George Conway, a lawyer of some repute — and the husband of Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway — has warned Trump about the danger of firing off these tweets.

Moreover, he is stripping away any claim of “executive authority” he might want to claim as he does battle with Congress, special counsel Robert Mueller and former FBI director James Comey over the “Russia thing” that continues to bedevil the Trump administration.

Does anyone consider U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to be a tool of the “fake media”? He isn’t. Even a Trump ally such as Sen. Cornyn has acknowledged the self-inflicted “problems” associated with Trump’s tweet storms.

The bottom line is this: Mr. President, the so-called “FAKE MSM” is issuing you a well-deserved warning about the trouble your own impulses can produce.

Get a bleeping grip!

Arguments produce ‘out-of-body experience’

I am going to admit to having something akin to an out-of-body experience, thanks to this blog.

High Plains Blogger posts get distributed along several social media platforms. Twitter and Facebook are the most reliable of them.
I write these posts, then they are shared automatically through these and other social media.

What happens next produces the out-of-body feeling.

I have quite a few Facebook “friends.” Many of them are actual friends or, to be more precise, personal acquaintances with whom I have good relations. Some of them are close friends, some are members of my family. My longest-tenured friend goes back with me to the seventh grade in junior high school. Still others are just folks who are hooked up on Facebook with people I might know.

It’s a big networking deal, you know?

Quite often I will post something on Facebook that draws a sharp response. Someone then will read that response and then fire back at the individual who wrote the initial reaction. Person No. 1 fires back at No. 2. Then the back-and-forth commences.

I stay away from the fray most of the time. I will decline to say I stay “above” it all, because that sounds too self-serving.

I do enjoy the repartee, although I regret that at times the jousting gets too personal. Some folks hurl insults at each other. Even a few of them resort to profanity, which I personally dislike intensely. I don’t like cursing in public, although I’ll drop an occasional “hell” or “damn” in my blog.

The jousting is quite fun to watch. My own philosophy is that I like putting the thoughts out there … and then watching the fur and the fecal matter fly. I don’t have the stomach, the perseverance — or the time — to participate in long-running contests to see who gets the last word.

I leave all of that to others … most of the time.

Have at it, dear reader.

Why not explain ‘covfefe’?

Donald J. Trump’s “covfefe” tweet has detonated the Twitterverse.

Social media of all stripes also have exploded with commentary, questions, bewilderment and confusion.

It seems to center on this fundamental question: What in the world was the president of the United States meaning when he wrote: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”?

This is an example of one of the many failings of the Trump White House communications team. It cannot — or will not — offer a simple explanation of what happened.

Did the president hit the “send” button prematurely?

Did he get distracted?

Was it just a damn mistake?

The White House flacks won’t say.

Oh, wait! Maybe their reticence might have something to do with related questions that an answer might generate.

Doesn’t anyone vet the president?

Doesn’t anyone counsel him against using Twitter?

Does the president even listen, or care, what his advisers are telling him?

Oh, the chaos continues.

Looking for the constructive, beginning right now

I am able to get reflective on occasion. This is one of those moments.

As I look back on the history of High Plains Blogger, I am struck by the thought that it is quite negative in its approach to discussion of politics and public policy.

Frankly, I remind myself of the people of whom I used to poke fun back when I was working for a living.

I toiled in daily journalism for nearly 37 years and I would hear the following from readers of the work I produced:

“Hey, I really like what you said the other,” they would say.

“Oh, what was that?” I would ask in response.

“Shoot! I can’t remember. I’ll have to think about it,” they’d say.

Now, if they disagreed with something I wrote, they likely could recite it back to me, virtually word for word and have a ready-made method for me to change my way of thinking.

That’s human nature, I suppose. I passed it off as such.

My blog is taking on much of that narrative.

Those of you read my musings know, for example, how strongly I feel about the man who won the 2016 presidential election. I’ve spoken frequently — and almost always angrily — about Donald John Trump.

I admit to being quick to point where I believe the president has failed, and is failing. I also admit that I while I’ve been long on complaints, I’ve been short on solutions.

I am going to seek to change — when it is possible — my approach to discussing this man’s time as president. Also, I intend to make good on my earlier pledge to speak positively of actions he takes, or words he says when the opportunities present themselves. I did so just the other day when commenting on a speech Trump made in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; I thought he sounded reasonable and said so — which drew some sharp rebukes from a couple of readers of this blog.

I get that we are drawn more readily to respond to negativity with more negativity. I lived through all of that during many years writing editorials and columns for daily newspapers. Readers get their hackles up and speak out quickly and forcefully. They are much less inclined to do so with the same vigor when they read something with which they agree.

So it is with this blogger.

Don’t expect a huge change overnight. If public officials mess up, I’ll be all over ’em like ugly on an ape; that includes the president of the United States. However, I intend to seek to add some constructive thoughts along the way. When they do something that pleases me, I’ll weigh in on that, too.

I never will forsake my humanity, though, by muffling my own righteous indignation.

Dear Vietnam vets: Return to that beautiful land

A blog post I wrote noting a preview of an upcoming PBS documentary special on the Vietnam War brings to mind something I’ve told Vietnam veterans for the past 28 years.

They should return to that land, to the place that was so ravaged for decades by war. Vietnamese battled the Japanese during World War II; then they fought the French who tried to re-colonize their country; then came the Americans, who went to Vietnam ostensibly to protect the south against communists invading from the north.

I was one of them who went there in the spring of 1969. The Army sent me there after training me to service OV-1 Mohawk airplanes. They ordered me to Marble Mountain, just south of Da Nang.

After I returned home and eventually separated from the Army, I re-enrolled in college, got married, produced two sons, started my career in journalism and then, in 1989 had the opportunity to return to Vietnam as part of a delegation of editorial writers and editors.

The PBS series that will debut on Sept. 17 contains interviews with many veterans, one of whom comments on how beautiful the country was — and is! He is so correct.

Two decades after serving there, I found a country that had commenced its recovery from all that warfare. It, indeed, is a beautiful land, with beautiful citizens who — even then — welcomed these American journalists with open arms.

I’ve told many vets since that marvelous journey that they should return. Most of them beg off. Too many terrible memories, they tell me. The combat veterans especially seem to want no part of returning there. I tell them candidly that they should go nonetheless. They will find healing in a return there. Indeed, my trip to Vietnam with fellow journalists included several veterans, some of whom saw their share of combat during the war. They, too, felt revived upon returning to that place.

I did, too. I discovered one of the big surprises of my life upon returning to Marble Mountain in 1989. It was that I had been lugging around emotional baggage and I didn’t even know it!

Our government guide — a true-blue communist named Mai — was explaining to me how the Vietnamese were able to absorb all that we had left behind. The building materials, the equipment, even the pierced-steel planking (PSP) upon which we parked our aircraft all was put to use by the Vietnamese, she said.

That’s when I lost it. That is when I shed my emotional baggage.
The PBS documentary produced by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns is going to bring much of that home to vets who watch it.

I would urge them all to return to Vietnam if they can. Take my word for it. They will not regret returning.

Get ready for a major history lesson on Vietnam