Tag Archives: Facebook

Who’s the racist, Mr. President?

A social media friend of mine made a cogent and insightful observation about Donald J. Trump’s behavior and his comments about the state of affairs in certain Democratically run American cities.

Here is what my friend posted on Facebook: Things that make you slap your forehead. Why has Trump attacked the mayors of Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta for crime, vermin and housing, but not the mayors of New York, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles? They are all Democrats. What could it be? Look up their photographs, as I did.

What is my friend’s point?

It’s as clear as it gets. The mayors of Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta are, um, African-American. The mayors of NYC, Philly and Los Angeles are white.

My friend might be mistaken, though, on whether the president has been stone-cold silent about LA’s problems. I believe his point, though, is well-taken, in that Donald Trump — at best — spends relatively little emotional energy blasting white Democrats while unloading heavily on those Democratic politicians who happen to be people of color.

Is that the act of a racist politician?

Wasn’t it the comedian Arsenio Hall who used to poke fun at those things “that you make you go … hmm”?

This trend, though, ain’t funny.

Writing a blog produces occasional out-of-body experiences

Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? Or even what you believe an actual such event would feel like?

I get ’em on occasion writing this blog. I’ve been doing this since 2010, fulltime since 2012.

Here’s what happens: I write something on High Plains Blogger and then publish it. I post these items on various social media, including Facebook. Someone comments on it. The initial comment usually is negative. Then someone responds — not to the blog, but to the initial responder. Then Responder No. 1 fires back at the antagonist; Responder No. 2 shoots back.

Then it starts. Back and forth they go. Occasionally, someone else chimes in. Then perhaps a fourth, or fifth individual who happens to be part of my Facebook “friend” network will read these exchanges and decide to weigh in as well.

Oh, boy. Sometimes it gets nasty. As in real personal. There’s a bit of name-calling at times.

I think once or twice I have sought to intervene, usually via “private message” on whatever social medium I’m monitoring. I might tell one of the parties to cool it. Usually, though, I let it ride. I let the combatants have their say.

Eventually one of them gives up. Not surrender, actually. Just decides he or she has had enough of the other person.

Why mention this at all? It’s my way of acknowledging the deep divide that separates individuals or groups of individuals. There’s little I can do about it, short of not posting items that rile folks up. I can’t go there. I have this insatiable need to provide commentary that is sure to invoke the kind of out-of-body experiences I feel on occasion.

I can’t help myself.

For that I apologize. However, I’ll keep on going.

Some critics actually do hand out credit

I had a fascinating exchange of messages recently with a gentleman who is a frequent critic of this blog. He lives in Amarillo and he thinks I am too harsh and hateful toward Donald Trump . . . and he tells me so quite frequently.

I don’t have a problem with this fellow’s comments. During our brief private exchange of messages, though, I did tell him something I want to share with the rest of the readers of High Plains Blogger.

I told this fellow — who, by the way, I don’t really know — that I appreciate that he is willing on occasion to give me credit for the blog posts with which he might agree. I also mentioned to him that I have a number of critics who don’t extend that courtesy.

Why mention this? I do so to illustrate, I suppose, the ups and downs of writing this blog. Sure, I appreciate the kind words I get from those who might lean in the same political direction that I do. I also appreciate the criticism of those who tilt in the other direction. Many of their critiques are thoughtful and I do heed them.

I adopted the philosophy quite a while ago when I started this blog that I would avoid (most of the time) engaging in a back/forth dialogue with critics. The way I look at it, this blog gives me a forum to throw out my point of view and offers those who care to respond to do exactly that. I believe that once is enough, whether it’s from me or from someone who wants to challenge a point of view I have expressed.

I told my critic, too, that arguing with those with contrary views usually is unproductive. I won’t change their mind; they won’t change mine. So, there’s next to zero point in trying to persuade someone I am totally virtuous and that they’re full of sh**.

This individual and I have expressed a desire to meet one day. That might happen. My wife and I get back to Amarillo on occasion. I do hope our paths cross one day.

As for his criticism, keep it coming . . . especially if he’s willing to give me some credit even once in great while.

Reached the limit of anti-Muslim bigotry

I have just committed the rare act of disconnecting someone from my social media network.

Until just a few moments ago, we were “friends” on Facebook. I will concede that we aren’t close personal friends, although I know this person’s spouse quite well, as he served in local government for many years during my time as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News.

What did this person do to incur my social media wrath? She posted a vile anti-Muslim meme, saying in effect that Muslims need to be destroyed by nuclear weapons.

Oh, yes. Feelings run high at times when we talk about those who believe in one of the world’s great religions. This one crosses the line. It goes way beyond what I consider to be anything close to reasonable.

I hereby am going to declare a state of proverbial “war” against those who post such things on my Facebook feed.

You are welcome to criticize this blog. I truly don’t object to that, although some of the personal criticism does sting a bit. Hey, I ask for it with some of my blog posts. I should be willing to take what I dish out, correct?

However, those who believe in a certain religious faith do not deserve to be treated in a hideous manner. My now former Facebook “friend” has revealed a terrible element in her emotional makeup. Therefore, I no longer will use my own social media network to spread such hate.

Her ghastly meme should have been targeted toward those who have perverted Islam. She didn’t do that.

She can consort with her fellow haters all she wants.

Blog alert! Having trouble publicizing these musings

High Plains Blogger uses several social media platforms to publicize its musings, missives, essays . . . whatever.

Facebook is one of them. At the moment, your friendly blogger — me! — is experiencing difficulty with Facebook.

I have notified the gurus at Facebook trying as best I can to explain the issue. I keep getting messages that say they’re working on the problem.

I’ll continue to post items on High Plains Blogger, but will depend on Twitter as my primary publicizing platform.

Bear with me. And with Facebook.

Political differences need not destroy friendships

I sent a letter via snail mail to a friend of mine this week.

His name is Ernie Houdashell. He is a devoted Republican Party elected official. He serves as Randall County, Texas, judge. Houdashell is as devoted a partisan as anyone I know.

He and I differ fundamentally on politics. We’ve actually argued a time or two over the years, particularly since my departure from the Amarillo Globe-News in August 2012.

But here’s the deal: He and I remain friends. I have great respect for this good man. I wrote him a note just to give him an update on where my wife and I have relocated. He’ll likely have received the letter, and I hope he takes to heart the way I ended it. I told him I am “proud” that he and I have maintained our friendship.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I want to illustrate how easy it can be for people with vastly different philosophical outlooks to retain their personal affection for each other. They can be friends, just as Ernie and I are friends. I believe in my heart that my friend feels the same way I do.

We hear too much these days on social media and in other media about those who have seen their friendships shattered in this toxic and divisive political climate.

I keep reading Facebook posts from individuals who admit to losing friends because of disagreements over policy matters. Man, that kind of news really saddens me!

I worked for more than two decades in a region known for its severe rightward tilt. The Texas Panhandle arguably is the birthplace of the modern conservative Republican movement. I lived for that entire time in Randall County, where Democratic elected officials have gone dormant since 1995.

I won’t belabor the point that I have many good friends in Amarillo who happen to view the world differently than I do. I’ve said it and I’ll leave it at that.

I just wish the current bitterness that infects our atmosphere wasn’t so destructive to so many other people’s relationships.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said of his opponent that year, President Barack Obama, that the two men had little time for personal animus toward each other. “There more to life,” Romney said, “than politics.”

Indeed.

Wanting to share some wisdom from a friend

I feel an overwhelming need to share something that a friend and former colleague posted on social media.

Her name is Beth Butler. We worked together for a few years at the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News. She left quite a few years ago. I stayed on until Aug. 31, 2012.

Beth posted this item on Facebook:

I have never met a single person who believes we should throw the borders wide open, much less give cars to immigrants (legal or not). I have never talked to anyone in real life who thinks no more newcomers should be allowed into the U.S. I have never met a Democrat who thinks it’s great that Steve Scalise got shot. I’ve never met a Republican who thinks mailing pipe bombs is a good way to solve political disagreements. These people are extremists. They are not rational. They do not represent America. Why are we letting them set the tone?

Please, please, please let’s stop reacting emotionally. We will not agree on everything. None of us can have everything our way, but we can work together to find workable solutions. If we keep letting the lunatic fringe define our positions, we will destroy this country and one another.

Republicans running for public office are “defining” the views of Democrats, but they are lying their backsides off in the process.

The nation’s top Republican, Donald Trump, is leading the amen chorus of lies.

My friend’s brief message is calling them out. I want to thank her for doing so.

Pondering whether journalism ethics apply to bloggers

A longtime friend of mine — and a former journalism colleague — posted an item on social media I feel like sharing here.

Because of journalism ethics, I can’t like candidate pages. Even though I might like the candidate.

My friend still writes for a major West Coast daily newspaper. He is a freelance columnist, meaning he isn’t on the newspaper’s payroll; he is self-employed, but he gets paid by the media outlet for his commentary.

It brings to mind a question I’ve had regarding my own status, as a former journalist who writes a blog that concentrates on politics and public policy … along with the occasional slice of life entry.

I, too, do not “like” political candidates’ pages. Yes, I do talk about candidates, whether I support them or oppose them. The blog allows me to lay out my own bias for the world to see and to make judgments about whether my bias comports with their own.

Do I “like” pols’ pages on Facebook? Should I continue to avoid doing so? My gut tells me that even though I no longer work for anyone but myself, I shall eschew such statements. It’s not that I want to disguise my political leanings; those who read this blog know where I stand.

It’s just that old habits hang on. I damn sure didn’t “like” these candidates while I was working for a living. I’m just not ready to start doing so now.

Alex Jones: no free-speech martyr

Alex Jones has been kicked off some social media platforms.

I have to offer a huge round of applause for those platforms that have seen fit to abide by the standards they set for those who use them. Jones didn’t do that. He’s gone at least from those particular venues.

Who is this clown? He’s a talk-show blowhard and noted conspiracy theorist. His infamy grew exponentially when he alleged that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. — where 20 first- and second-graders and six teachers were gunned down in 2012 — was a “hoax.” He said the grieving parents were actors brought in by anti-gun activists to carry the cudgel for disarming the American public.

He is a monstrous purveyor of hate speech.

Facebook, Apple, Spotify and YouTube all have banned Jones from using their platforms to spew his garbage.

Jones’s response has been predictable. He says the First Amendment guarantees him the right to speak his mind. No matter how vile his thoughts might be.

Hold on, buster.

This argument reminds me of discussions I had throughout my journalism career with individuals who would submit letters or other commentary that I found unsuitable for publication on the opinion pages I edited.

They would say, “But what about free speech?” My response was the same. “You are free to purchase and run your own newspaper and then you are free to publish whatever you want. We have rules and standards and your submission falls short of them.”

So it is with Alex Jones’s hate speech. The social media platforms are within their own constitutional rights to set standards that those who use them must follow. Jones crossed many lines with his hideous pronouncements.

He’s still able to spew his filth. The U.S. Constitution allows it. He simply is no longer able to do so using the venues whose owners and managers have done what they should have done long ago.

They cut him off.

Facebook steps into election interference maelstrom

The social media platform known as Facebook has taken its share of hits regarding whether it has done enough to protect subscribers’ privacy.

So now we hear from Facebook that it has uncovered a widespread attack on our nation’s electoral process in advance of the 2018 midterm election.

The Hill reports: Facebook said in its post on Tuesday that “whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past.”

The IRA has gotten involved in this year’s election and Facebook is seeking to act as an Internet whistleblower.

The Hill continued: The social media company did say that while it lacked the “technical evidence” to attribute blame directly, it found that misinformation strategies carried the hallmarks of the IRA’s previous efforts.

“Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections. And we’ve found evidence of some connections between these accounts and IRA accounts we disabled last year,” Facebook said explaining one case in which one of the inauthentic pages briefly had an admin who was also an admin in IRA page from 2016.

On a conference call with reporters, Facebook said that it used a “range of leads” similar to this to detect inauthentic accounts.

I understand fully that we are talking about a tremendously complicated process that requires equally tremendous sophistication to prevent. How does the world’s most sophisticated nation remain so vulnerable to this kind of cyber assault?

I fear we are heading for a new kind of war against forces and interests that are intent on disrupting our democratic process. As elusive as the enemy has been in our “international war on terror,” the cyber foes that have declared war on us are going to take this fight into an entirely new realm.