Tag Archives: High Plains Blogger

Social media produce schizophrenia

I made this discovery a while ago, but it’s worth sharing today. It is that social media have created a form of schizophrenia among those who are active on the various platforms provided by these outlets.

How does it present itself? Well, I have plenty of acquaintances around the world with whom I have had good interpersonal relations. That is, when we meet face to face we are cordial, even friendly when we interact.

Then when they sit behind a keyboard and send messages — even to me — they take on a different sort of personality. The Internet version of these individuals bears no resemblance to the person I have met and interacted with in the flesh.

Why is that? I suppose the physical distance gives them license to say things they otherwise wouldn’t say if we’re sitting across from each other over a meal.

Politics drives this sort of multi-personality trait I recognize.

I have friends who, to cite one notable example, are seriously avid fans of Donald J. Trump. I am an equally serious foe of Donald J. Trump. These friends and I have wonderful interpersonal relationships when we see each other. Then they choose on occasion to challenge my regular diatribes against the president. They write the most unusual things on various social media platforms, notably on Twitter and Facebook.

One friend actually decided to sever our relationship some years ago over a spat he got into with a member of my family; I believe Donald Trump was at the core of their dispute. They exchanged nasty rejoinders on Facebook. I took up for my family member. My friend didn’t like what I said. So … he “unfriended” me with an angry note that said, in effect, I could go straight to hell. 

He sort of proves my point. He never would have said such a thing to me in person. Indeed, I long thought we were pretty good friends, as we would meet on occasion for lunch in the Texas Panhandle. Then it was over. I think it was a schizophrenic response that took over his brain in the moment. Sadly, we haven’t revived our friendship. I fear it’s deader than dead.

It’s all part of what goes with the territory in this world of blogging … which I continue to enjoy greatly.

Oh, and just so you know, I try to avoid falling into the schizophrenia trap. I’ll let others be the judge on whether I have succeeded.

Keeping the streak alive

I’m on a roll. Actually, I’m on fire!

I just recorded my 265th consecutive day of posting items on High Plains Blogger. I once had a lengthier streak than the current one, but it was snapped because of a technical malfunction on the platform on which I publish these musings.

I went a day without being able to post a blog. That was, well, 265 days ago!

I’m at it again. A dear friend of mine in Oregon has told me of her “awe” at the prolific amount of items I post daily. I don’t consider it worthy of anyone’s “awe.” I appreciate the good word, though. I long have stated that I am an expert at nothing, but I do have a lot of opinions on a lot of matters.

I also do not shy away from my bias. I admit to having it. We all have bias, even when we don’t acknowledge it in ourselves. Of course, I certainly recognize it in others who do not share my world view of politics or public policy.

I suppose this is all just my way of saying that High Plains Blogger has allowed me to stay more or less in the game. It allows me a forum on which to vent about this and/or that, about those who influence policy and also about slice of life issues that grab my attention.

I also want to say “thank you” to those who read these items. I also want to offer special thanks to those of you who share them with your social media network friends, family and acquaintances.

Moreover, I also want to thank the critics out there who take me to task. Believe me when I say this: You keep me humble.

Is the president a ‘heartless imbecile’? Yes, but …

You know what they say about things that come after the word “but.” It’s likely to change the nature of what comes before it.

A gentleman I do not know personally, but who reads High Plains Blogger, took me to task for a recent post I wrote about Donald John Trump. This fellow believes I never give Trump any credit for anything.

Actually, I have. I mentioned my stated support of the president’s criminal justice reform ideas and the military strike he launched against Syria. I also mentioned the rare instances in which Trump has acted and sounded “presidential.”

My critic believes I consider Trump to be a “heartless imbecile,” to which I answered: Do I think he’s a “heartless imbecile”? Yep. I’m afraid so … until he proves me wrong. It’s possible, you know.”

Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been nothing short of disastrous. So far, he has been a heartless imbecile, but … here it comes, that could change if Trump would take just a few small steps toward decency.

He could stop blaming all the things that go wrong on his watch on everyone else. He should stop blaming President Barack Obama, for instance, for enacting measures that Trump says incorrectly have slowed down the national response to the pandemic. While he’s at it, he should take ownership of the decision he made to dismantle the National Security Council task force designed exclusively to deal with pandemics — like the one we’re enduring at this moment!

Trump could stop heaping praise on himself and taking credit he doesn’t deserve. He should focus instead solely on the problem at hand and deal forthrightly with those problems.

Trump could actually apologize for the “heartless” and “imbecilic” comments he made about the cruise ship he didn’t want to dock in Oakland, Calif., out of concern that the infected passengers on board would drive up his “numbers.” I know that’s a non-starter, given that Trump doesn’t apologize for anything.

The president needs to act presidential. That would do it. That would compel me to shed much — but not likely all — of my antipathy toward this guy.

Donald Trump needs to stop attacking the media. The men and women who report the news are simply doing their jobs. They do not work for the president and he needs to understand their role in keeping government accountable to the people who pay the bills. You and I are the bosses … not Donald Trump. He works for us.

So, there you have it. The “but” has yet to materialize. It might. I am just not going to wait for it.

Still ‘no!’ on last-word duels

Four years ago I posted an item that talked briefly about my reluctance to engage readers of this blog or other social media acquaintances in a battle of wits.

I wrote: I’m leaning against a possible Last Word Contest with those along my social media network who suffer from the last-word addiction. My sense is that they have more staying power than I do when they engage others — such as me — in these idea exchanges, which is why they’re addicted … and I’m not.

Then again, I could change my mind. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Well, I haven’t changed my mind. My reluctance to engage in such repartee remains as staunch as ever.

I’ll have to admit to something in that regard: I am not smart enough or witty enough or my mind isn’t as facile as others who can’t get enough of this kind of back/forth.

High Plains Blogger allows me to vent. It provides me a forum to express my views on a whole array of issues. It also allows me to talk about matters some might consider trivial; the Puppy Tales series about our beloved pooch Toby, to cite one example. Hey, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I feel like writing. Got it? Good!

As for the last-worditis that afflicts some folks, I know who they are. They know who they are. One of them who sadly recently passed away used to acknowledge my reluctance to engage him in a discussion. I wouldn’t answer his acknowledgement, which I suppose is my way of staying faithful to the personal pledge I made to avoid that kind of (what I consider to be) nonsense.

Part of my increased reluctance has been the intensely personal nature of the volleys that participants fire at each other. One of the goals I have managed to meet with this blog is that I do not launch ad hominem attacks at individuals simply because they disagree with whatever flies off my keyboard and into cyberspace. Consequently, with only very few exceptions, critics of this blog have been relatively high-minded in their responses, although some of their critics have accused them of taking cheap shots.

That’s when it gets nasty. And personal. I watch these rhetorical fire fights from a distance and experience what I only can describe as a sort of out-of-body episode.

But this blog will trudge on. I am proud of it. I enjoy it beyond measure. It gives me relief … even if some folks want to goad me into a battle of wits.

Sorry. You’re outta luck.

Called out on a call for a return to ‘normalcy’

I have been called out by someone I do not know, but who has read a blog I posted recently.

In the blog item, I called for a return of a more “normal” presidency and I posited that Joe Biden is the man to bring it.

This individual challenged my thesis. He said: Is there something other than normalcy you would fight for? Is this the natural ending for most people politically at a certain age?

“Fight for?” I’ll just provide this addendum regarding what I published on High Plains Blogger.

  • I support the former vice president’s view that we need only to improve the Affordable Care Act, that we don’t need to toss it aside and create a totally government-run health care plan. Biden isn’t willing to provide a Medicare for All health plan being pitched by Bernie Sanders and others on the far left wing of the Democratic Party. I have said all along that the ACA isn’t perfect and that Barack Obama — the ACA’s daddy — has declared that he would be open to improving it where needed.

That’s one issue.

  • I also want the president to be a reliable ally around the world. I want him to cease scolding our friends and allies in public, demanding out loud that they pay more for the defense we provide. I am convinced that Joe Biden will exercise discretion when talking to — and about — our allies abroad.

That’s another point.

  • I want a president who will take on the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights fanatics. I have believed for years there are ways to legislate reasonable control on firearms without abridging our Second Amendment rights that guarantee we can “keep and bear arms.” I also believe — if he stays true to his pledge to “take on the NRA” — that Joe Biden can work with Congress to search for legislative remedies to the spasm of gun violence that has become one of our nation’s most hideous scourges.

That’s No. 3.

  • Finally, I want a president who buys into the science that tells us that our climate is changing and that it is threatening our planet, the creatures that inhabit it — including we human beings — and that we have a responsibility to deal with this existential threat to Earth’s survival. No more “hoax” pronouncements. Joe Biden has made a vow to attack climate change head on.

There. That’s just a start. Thanks to the reader who called me out.

R.I.P., ardent, avid blog critic

The picture you see with this blog post is of a man who was an ardent, avid — occasionally ferocious — critic of High Plains Blogger.

His name? Andrew Ryan. He and I worked together for several years at the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas. We parted company years ago. We once were friendly to each other.

Andy died this morning, reportedly of a massive stroke. I learned of his dire peril this past weekend from a mutual former colleague. I want to honor his memory with a brief remembrance of his frequent criticism of this blog. You see, I long have welcomed criticism because it often kept me humble. Andy’s rejoinders often were of that quality.

He almost without fail would respond to items I published that were critical of Donald J. Trump. I once asked Andy why he supported the president. He responded only with a scathing response on the quality of the opposition that sought to face him; I guess he felt Trump deserved re-election by default, that no one lining up to run against measured up to the incumbent.

Andy and I got into a beef some years ago over something I wrote on High Plains Blogger. We once were “friends” on Facebook. That relationship ended. He accused me of severing it; I don’t recall precisely how it happened, but I accepted Andy’s version of it, given that his memory was much sharper than mine.

Accordingly, we maintained a relationship only when he would blast my thoughts to smithereens. I grew to accept his responses as “going with the territory” of publishing this blog.

But as I noted already, Andy Ryan’s criticism often made valid points. He would call me out and in a style reminiscent of the late journalist Tim Russert, he would remind me of what I had said in earlier blog posts, which to his way of thinking contradicted by latest assertions.

Thus, news of his passing today fills me with conflicting emotions. Although we weren’t friends as I define the term, I still mourn his death. Andy’s time on Earth is over at a most unexpected time and in an equally unexpected fashion.

May he rest in eternal piece. My task going forward is to wonder when I write the next criticism of the current president: How would Andy respond?

Blog shows tremendous worldwide reach

I love writing this blog, but you know that already.

What you might not know, but which you are about to learn, is that one of the rushes I get from spewing out my opinions on this and that issue of the day is the reach I enjoy. It spans our good Earth.

We’re barely into the third month of 2020 and I can count page views from readers in 62 countries.

The vast majority of views, of course, come from the United States. Ireland presents a distant second-greatest view count, but it’s a lot more than the third-place nation, which happens to be India; go figure that one.

My wife and I happen to have made many acquaintances over the years. We count many of them as friends. We have friends in Germany and The Netherlands. We have a friend in Australia. I have made professional acquaintances in Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cyprus and Greece. We have made acquaintances in Belize and have actual friends who live in Israel.

I cannot account for why I would have page views from someone in, say, Fiji or Malaysia, or Ghana. Or in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia or Estonia. Don’t get me wrong. I welcome them. Really and truly!

The relatively large number of page views in Ireland well might be a result of something the older of my two sons does, which is he shares almost all of my blogs with his social media friends and acquaintances. He also has obtained many friends in Ireland, whom he has met on three trips over the years to the Emerald Isle.

Where am I going with all of this? I don’t know. Maybe this is my way of asking that those of you who take time to read these musings to share them with your own friends, acquaintances, family members.

Is that a shameless plug? Oh, yeah. I’ll cop to it.

Thanks for reading … and sharing.

Rethinking how to refer to POTUS

I am giving thought to changing the manner in which I should refer to the president of the United States.

For many years prior to entering politics, Donald John Trump was known simply as The Donald. He cultivated that moniker. He thought it was cool, I reckon.

I cannot for the ever-lovin’ life of me attach the word “President” in front of his last name. Yes, he was elected under the rules of the U.S. Constitution. I do not dispute the Electoral College victory he scored over Hillary Rodham Clinton, despite his losing the actual vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

It’s been his conduct as president that makes me shudder. It has been the hideous extemporaneous riffs into which he launches when he stands before his adoring fans. I happened to attend a Donald Trump rally in downtown Dallas this past summer. It was at the same time both fascinating and disgusting. I met some truly nice people wearing MAGA hats and t-shirts bearing “Trump 2020” lettering.

I sat through the rally for as long as I could inside the American Airlines Center. Then I left. I drove home. I can now say I attended a Donald Trump rally

However, he hasn’t earned the title of “President” before his name … at least on this blog.

I might revert to referring to him as The Donald. Hey, it worked for him when he was making all that money and living with that glitzy glam, while he was walking into beauty pageant contestants’ dressing rooms and while he was boasting how he could grab women by their pu*** because his celebrity status enabled him to act like a total boor.

Has this guy elevated his public profile while serving as president of the United States? Has he risen to the standards his high office demands? Hardly. He’s just The Donald.

Love, not hate, fuels anti-Trump rhetoric

I am an old-fashioned fellow in many respects.

I love pageantry. I love singing the National Anthem. I enjoy military parades. I take pleasure in shaking the hands of World War II and Korean War veterans. I revere political tradition and decorum.

Thus, when I criticize Donald J. Trump, it is not out of hate — as some critics of this blog seem to believe — but out of love. Not for the president, mind you. But for the office he occupies and my love of the tradition he has managed to trash almost since the moment he pulled his hand off the Bible at his inauguration.

Critics of this blog purport to read my mind and delve into my heart when they accuse me of spewing hate-filled rhetoric. The thing is, they don’t know me. Some of ’em, though, do like referring to me by my first name, as if to suggest some form of faux familiarity with me. They don’t understand why I say what I do about the president.

One does not go to war for a country he hates. He does so out of love for the country. I got the call to go to war for my country in 1969. I didn’t do so gladly, but out of a sense of duty to the nation that ordered me to go far away and participate in a war that was raging when I arrived and was still raging when I left.

It’s my love of country that fuels my anger today at what I see happening to our political institutions, to our national mood, to the tribalism that has consumed so much of the dialogue between and among various segments of our vast and diverse population.

Who’s responsible for that? It has to stem from our national leadership. It comes from the very top of the political food chain. It starts in the White House, where Donald Trump now resides. It festers in the policies coming from the Oval Office, where the president makes command decisions.

Do I love what I see and hear coming from the White House these days? No! Of course not!

Hatred, though, is not the spark that ignites the rhetoric coming from this blog. It is a deeply held love of country. I want a return to the tradition that I grew up admiring and revering. It cannot happen until we get a change in the leadership at the top of the political chain of command.

I don’t expect to change the minds of critics who’ll continue to ascribe hatred to the rhetoric they will read here. However, it is how I feel. Take it or leave it.

Time for a vow on Trump posts

I have struggled a bit with this, but I am going to make a vow that I hope I’ll be able to keep as it regards future blog posts on Donald J. Trump.

It is that I need to stop making specific reference to my view of Trump’s complete, absolute and abject unfitness for the office he has occupied for nearly three years.

It is abundantly clear to me — it has been clear for some time, actually — that I ain’t changing the minds of those who disagree with me. Those who continue to support Trump are likely to keep doing so until hell freezes over. Even then, I am not entirely certain their minds will be swayed.

Trump once boasted he could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” and he wouldn’t lose any votes. Those of us who weren’t stunned speechless at such idiocy laughed out loud. “Yeah, you tell ’em, Donald!” they said between guffaws.

So … I have decided to throw in the towel on that particular score. This blog will continue to look critically at Trump’s performance as president and at his conduct on the re-election campaign trail — presuming, of course, that his presidency survives the upcoming trial in the Senate on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

It’s just that I have grown weary of stating what I consider to be the obvious about his suitability as president. I am preaching to the proverbial choir to those who agree with me. To others, well, they are ignoring my angry rants. That’s their call.

If I ain’t gonna persuade ’em to what I believe is true, then I am no longer gonna try.

I intend to keep using this forum to make the case that we need to elect someone other than the incumbent to the nation’s highest office.