Tag Archives: Facebook

Trolls are lurking; they’re on the hunt


It’s time for another admission.

I’ve developed something of an addiction to Facebook. I’m on it quite often, looking for things my actual friends and Facebook “friends” are doing and saying.

But a curious thing keeps happening and I want to share it with you here.

These “friend requests” keep showing up on my news feed. Individuals want to become “friends” on Facebook. I’m a bit reluctant to accept many of them. I look first to see who their current “friends” might be. If some of them already are included in my “friends” roster, I might accept the request. But not always.

These days I’m getting even more selective.

You see, I’ve accepted “friend” requests from individuals and they’ve turned out to be, well, pesky.

They pester me with responses to things I post on the social medium.

I use Facebook to distribute my blog, on which I write frequently. This post is an example, yes?

That platform goes out to my friends and I encourage them to distribute my posts along their network of friends. Same thing goes for Twitter, which also receives my blog.

However, when I get these “friend requests,” I have to weigh whether the person requesting the Facebook relationship is in it for the right reason — or wants to become known as a “troll.”

A couple of those so-called “trolls” have joined my Facebook “friends” roster.

Why do they annoy me? They take liberties responding to my blog. These are people I do not know. Yet they talk to me as if we’re longtime acquaintances.

I am at least acquainted with the vast majority of those with whom I have a Facebook relationship. And I know many of those individuals fairly well.

What’s more, the tiny handful of my very best friends in the world also are included in this group. They know who they are. Indeed, I’ve long held the view that one can usually count on the fingers of one hand his true friends.

These trolls, though, drive me a little nuts.

I actually unfriended one of those guys about a year ago because of the filthy language he was posting on my timeline. I didn’t want to subject other actual friends to the filth that was coming from this guy — who sought to join my roster of Facebook “friends.” I accepted his request, and then regretted it.

I’m not inclined to take that drastic route with the others who annoy me.

At least not yet.

Trump’s ‘brilliance’ questioned

I get a lot of Facebook posts from former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who’s teaching these days at the University of California, but who remains dialed in to what’s happening politically.

Here is his latest rant … about The Donald.

“This morning I heard an apologist for Donald Trump say ‘at least he’s a brilliant businessman.’

“Baloney. Trump companies have filed for corporate bankruptcy four separate times. If you or I went bankrupt, all our assets would be used to repay our debts. If you’re a former student who can’t pay your student debt, or an underwater homeowner who can’t make a mortgage payment, you can’t even file for bankruptcy. But Trump has used bankruptcy and corporate laws to shield his personal fortune, allowing him to amass huge debts with little or no downside risk while enjoying all the upside gains.

“Trump also made his fortune by squeezing employees. As Bloomberg Business reports today, Trump operates one of the stingiest 401(k) plans in America. You can’t even join it until you spend a year as an employee, and Trump’s contribution doesn’t kick in for six years – the slowest vesting schedule allowed under U.S. law. Between March 2009 and June 2012, Trump suspended all contributions.

“He’s no brilliant businessman. He typifies the modern corporate CEO who’s rigged the rules, reaped giant personal rewards, and left communities and employees stranded.”

I think in Reich’s view, Donald Trump is a legend in his own mind.

Come to think of it, that’s my view as well.

Bye, bye Rush … don’t hurry back

I posted something to my Facebook feed the other day about Rush Limbaugh losing yet another radio station from his shrinking audience.

The post prompted an interesting exchange among several individuals with whom I’m “friends,” actual friends — and it included one of my sons.

One of the individuals encouraged another respondent to actually listen to Limbaugh’s radio show before making a judgment about his message.


It reminded me a bit of a similar exchange I had in the pre-Internet days with a man I admired greatly.

The late Maury Meyers, who once served as mayor of Beaumont and who once ran unsuccessfully for Congress against the Irascible Man, the late Rep. Jack Brooks. Meyers was a Republican, Brooks a Democrat.

Meyers was a fine individual, a progressive, pro-business mayor.

He also was a fan of Rush Limbaugh.

I wrote a column about Limbaugh’s short-lived TV show in which he’d rant for 30 minutes, sign off, then come back the day and rant some more. I couldn’t take it and I said so in my column, which ended with this: “Rush Limbaugh is to TV political commentary what Willard Scott is to TV weather predicting, with one difference: Scott makes me laugh; Limbaugh makes me sick.”

Meyers called me and invited me to listen more intently to Limbaugh. Tune in to his radio show, Maury implored me. Listen to him over a period of time and tell me if you still feel the same way, he said.

I took him up on it.

Limbaugh was worse than I thought. I wrote a follow-up column, stating that Limbaugh’s radio show was the worst piece of broadcasting I’d ever heard. OK, I’ve heard worse since then, but at that time, Limbaugh was the gold standard for right-wing trash-talk.

The term “Dittohead” was meant to be worn as a badge of honor by the man’s radio listeners who proclaim themselves to be among them. It’s an interesting term, when you think about it. To me, it more or less connotes an inability or unwillingness to think for one’s self.

That, I reckon, is Limbaugh’s audience.

And it appears to be dwindling.



‘Numbers don’t lie’

I’ve known Walter Riggs for a number of years. We served in the same service club together. He’s a banker and a smart fellow devoted to Amarillo.

He’s been on a tear lately, bemoaning the negativity surrounding the campaign relating to downtown redevelopment efforts in Amarillo. He posted this item the other day on Facebook:

“These metrics demonstrate why your city achieved a Triple A Bond Rating, one of only two municipalities in Texas to boast this. And what’s more amazing is it happened in 2009, in the depths of the 2nd worst recession in the history of the U.S. So to those that spread chicken little, sky is falling propaganda our city is poorly run, including political candidates trying to scare voters into voting for them, numbers don’t lie.”

He seeks to make a critical point about Amarillo’s current standing and its future.

Riggs notes that the city has acquired a AAA bond rating, which is about as good as it gets. I remember former City Manager Alan Taylor telling me with great pride that the city had achieved that rating. Taylor took a lot of credit for it, and deservedly so.

Yet we keep hearing from a faction — and I don’t think it’s much greater than that — that gripes about the city being “poorly run.” How can that be?

I ran into lame-duck City Councilman Ron Boyd today and railed to him about the complainers. Obviously, I was “preaching to the choir,” as the saying goes. The city can boast of its excellent bond rating; it can be proud of its low tax rate; it can take pride in the huge new infrastructure improvements planned for the western corridor of Loop 335.

The city, moreover, has laid the groundwork for a downtown renovation strategy that, to my way of thinking, makes sense. It is doable. It can be done without burdening property taxpayers. It will rely on revenue generated by people visiting here from elsewhere who pay hotel-motel taxes.

And yet there are those who contend the city is run poorly?

What in the name of civic pride is going on here?


Status quo gets thumped at Amarillo City Hall

Change is a-comin’ to Amarillo City Hall.

Mayor Paul Harpole was re-elected tonight, but by a narrower margin to which he’d been accustomed.

Elisha Demerson defeated incumbent Ellen Green in the race for City Council’s Place 1. This result disappoints me. I’ve said it before, but Green was my “favorite” council member. She spoke candidly, bluntly and truthfully on a whole array of key issues.

Brian Eades will return to his Place 2 council seat. Good call there.

Randy Burkett won election to Place 3, defeating incumbent Lilia Escajeda and several others, while avoiding a runoff. More on him in a moment.

Mark Nair and Steve Rogers appear headed for a runoff in Place 4, the seat vacated by incumbent Ron Boyd, who was appointed to the council upon the death of Jim Simms; Boyd chose not to seek election.

I’ve had to ask myself during this campaign: What in the world is so wrong with the city that got folks seemingly so angry? The city appears to be in good financial shape. Its infrastructure is under renovation at many levels: street repair, utility line installation and repair, highway construction.

I’m one who believes in the concept that’s been presented for the city’s downtown revitalization. That concept is moving forward, although perhaps more slowly than some of us would like. The demise of Wallace Bajjali, the former master downtown developer, doesn’t appear to have put the city in a huge financial bind.

And yet …

Change is on its way.


Which brings me to perhaps the most stunning development of tonight’s election: Burkett’s thumping of the field that included an incumbent who, as near as I could tell, didn’t do anything to offend anyone.

It was revealed late in the campaign that Burkett had put some commentary on his personal Facebook page that some folks found offensive. I’m one of them who took serious issue with some of the political bitterness that Burkett expressed. Some of it seemed to border on racist content. He denied any racist intent and said he’s not a racist.

I also heard a couple of his TV spots in which he uttered two clichés: It’s time for a change and it’s time to run city government “like a business.”

What the bleep does it mean to run a government “like a business”?

Successful businesses are run by chief executive officers who make command decisions. Yes, they might consult with employees, but then again, they might not. They are responsible for the success of a business and take the hickey when things go badly.

A number of residents out here who think the city should put some key decisions to a vote. Is that how you run a business, by asking employees to vote on every big decision you make?

Burkett called for change. It looks as though we’re about to get it with three non-incumbents set to take office.

To what end, and for what purpose, remains a mystery.


Council hopeful reveals himself in an ugly way

Randy Burkett needs to understand something right away.

The Internet Age has opened wide the public domain of comments that politicians can make, even when they think they’re making them in private.

There’s virtually no such animal as “private communication” when it goes out on what’s known as “social media.”

Burkett is a candidate for Place 3 on the Amarillo City Council. It now turns out that he’s said some mighty ugly things on his Facebook account. They’re racist in nature. There’s a touch of homophobia in some of his rants. They’ve been revealed to the world in the waning hours of the campaign for City Council, which concludes Saturday when voters troop to the polls to cast ballots for all five council seats.

Burkett’s rants are disgraceful, disgusting and they ought to be disqualifying. Indeed, a local Realtors group and the Amarillo Police Officers Association, which endorsed Burkett over incumbent Councilwoman Lilia Escajeda are backing away from their endorsements.

Interestingly, the Amarillo Globe-News, which also endorsed Burkett — and which published the story today about his Facebook blather — hasn’t yet pulled its endorsement back. What the heck: It’s a bit late in the game to do so now, given that the election is tomorrow.

Still, I have to wonder if the folks who run the paper’s editorial page are kicking themselves today over their recommendation of this guy.

It has become a common vetting practice of employers to surf the Internet for damaging statements that job applicants make through social media. Many applicants have disqualified themselves by posting things on Facebook or Twitter that tell of drunken parties or other activities in which they participate. Employers see these posts and wonder: Should I hire this individual? I reckon not.

Given that Randy Burkett is seeking to work for the residents of Amarillo, his own statements on social media now become fodder for his prospective employers to consider when they cast their ballots.


Take a bow, Toya Graham

One of the many curious aspects of social media is that it produces stars literally in an instant.

Someone snaps a picture or shoots a video on a cell phone, posts it on Twitter or Facebook, and the subject of the image becomes a star.

The latest national social media star is a young mother of a teenager who she spotted doing something quite wrong.

Toya Graham saw her son throwing objects at Baltimore police officers and then proceeded to smack her son upside his head. Repeatedly. She chased him, scolding him with some pretty rough language.


She’s received lots of praise on social media from those who believe she should speak for a lot of angry parents.

I happen to be one of her admirers.

Toya Graham called herself a “no-tolerant mother.” She added, “Everybody that knows me knows I don’t play that.” She’s a single mother of six. She was captured on video reacting the way — I believe — most self-respecting parents would react if they saw their child committing a destructive act.

Graham’s son was taking part in a disturbance that erupted in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man who died in police custody of a severed spine. The cops have yet to explain how that happened. They’d better step up — and soon — to account for this terrible incident.

None of that, though, justifies the mayhem that exploded in Baltimore. I am struck by what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. might say to all of this. He would be horrified. As someone noted, also on social media, Dr. King “changed the world without ever lighting a fire.”

Today, though, a single mom stands tall as a symbol for parents who need to get angry — as she did — when she witnessed one of her children doing something shameful.


Pence to revisit religious freedom act

A friend of mine posted this tidbit on Facebook, so I thought I’d share it here.

“So who needs a religious freedom law anyway. Last time I checked, you could go to any church you want. You can even go to one where they wave snakes around if that’s your thing. Or you don’t have to go to any of ’em. You can go to a mosque, a synagogue, a cathedral, a tarpaper shack. Or you can stay home and watch re-runs on MeTV. Ain’t nobody need no law on religious freedom. Oh, but if you’re in business, you don’t have a right to discriminate. Religion stops when you invite the public to your door. Got it?”

His target? It’s the Indiana law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.


Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been taking it on the chin since signing the bill into law. He’s now seeking to amend it to ensure that businesses cannot discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation.

It’s the sexual orientation element that’s gotten so many folks riled up.

The stated intent is to protect people’s religious principles. The effect in the eyes of critics has been that the law now gives business owners license to discriminate against gay individuals or same-sex couples.

Gov. Pence has been on the defensive ever since signing the bill. He’s now seeking to fix the law and I give him credit for recognizing the need to protect his state’s residents from undue — and illegal — discrimination.

I won’t question his motives for seeking to change the law. I do feel the need to point out that Gov. Pence is considering a run for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.


Wow! Ted Cruz praises Michelle Obama!

Times like these call for special attention.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TEA Party Nation, has actually said something complimentary about the first lady of the United States of America.

Cruz wrote on his Facebook page that Michelle Obama has stood up for the rights of women around the world by declining to wear a scarf covering her head while visiting Saudi Arabia.


You go, Ted!

He wrote: “Kudos to First Lady Michelle Obama for standing up for women worldwide and refusing to wear a Sharia-mandated head-scarf in Saudi Arabia. Nicely done.”

Cruz, who’s actually from Texas (of course) isn’t likely to say nice things — ever — about the first lady or her husband. He’s entertaining a possible — if not probable — run for the presidency in 2016. He’s no doubt storing up plenty of negative things to say about the past eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Just for grins and giggles, though, I am curious to know the reason Michelle Obama didn’t wear the scarf in a country where Islamic tradition plays such a huge role in people’s lives. My own hunch is that the Sharia mandate is for Muslim women and since Michelle Obama is not a Muslim, she and other women in the presidential party were exempt from the rule.

Still, it’s good to hear Sen. Cruz acknowledge the guts it took for the first lady to do such a thing in Saudi Arabia. Imagine what he and other critics on the right would have said had she shown up with her hair covered.



First family's kids off limits … period!

Elizabeth Lauten’s dimwitted Facebook post about Sasha and Malia Obama — and a blog I posted on the subject — brought a fascinating response from a dear friend and former colleague.

My friend Sheila noted that “first children” have been unfair targets for decades. She took note going all the way back to Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson’s daughters, Lynda Bird and Luci Baines.


Lauten, a staffer for a Republican member of Congress, Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, jabbed at the Obama girls because in her mind they didn’t give the ceremonial pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkeys the respect the event deserved — and you can make that determination for yourself, I reckon.

Anyhow, Lauten’s ridiculous social media post drew fire from all quarters and she apologized.

But my friend’s remark brings to mind another interesting point.

Of all the presidential kids she cited, she mentioned only one male: Ron Reagan. The rest of them are all females.

Why is that?

The twin daughters of George and Laura Bush got battered over some nightclubbing incident; Chelsea Clinton was the on the receiving end of unflattering comments for many years during her dad’s two terms as president; Ronald Reagan’s youngest child, daughter Patti, was criticized because of her near-estrangement — for political reasons — from her parents; Amy Carter received the same kind of unfair media treatment that befell Chelsea Clinton; Tricia and Julie Nixon were scrutinized constantly by the media during their time in the White House.

Who’s missing from this lineup? The children of Gerald and Betty Ford and those of George and Barbara Bush. Except for Susan Ford, the rest of the family all had left the nest; as for the equally sizable Bush brood, they all were grown and gone.

The media and others in public life often don’t distinguish themselves under certain circumstances. The manner in which they treat the children of presidents and their spouses is one of those instances in which everyone ought to take a hard look inward.

Maybe they can ask: Is this how they would want their daughters to be treated?