Tag Archives: High Plains Blogger

Facebook becomes den of negativity

I am going to come clean on something that doesn’t fill me with much pride.

Facebook has become a negative place. I must admit to contributing to that negativity. I regret that, but I won’t apologize for it.

I use that social medium to distribute posts on High Plains Blogger, along with Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. I seek maximum exposure for these musings/spewage. It’s improving. Indeed, I just passed the total number of page views and unique visitors year to date that I garnered in all of 2016, and we still have nearly three months to go in the current year.

I’m proud of that growth in readership.

However, I am not proud of the negativity that erupts on Facebook occasionally as a result.

Here’s what I witness with distressing regularity: I’ll post something on the blog; it goes to Facebook; my network of friends and acquaintances read this stuff; some of them comment. Then the back-and-forth commences.

I have an out-of-body experience of sorts reading these jabs and snipes and insults tossed among people who, for the most part, are total strangers. I have friends in the Hill Country who take umbrage at a comment from someone in the Panhandle. Some of my West Coast friends get riled up at something said by someone on the East Coast. One of my Gulf Coast peeps fires off a critique of a comment from someone in, oh, the Pacific Northwest. One friend who lives in Germany got involved in a mini-snit recently with one of my fellow Americans over gun violence.

The more they exchange barbs, the more heated it gets. It devolves into actual name-calling.

And what is the cause of all this nastiness? Something that came from little ol’ me. I choose to stay out of these disputes, unless someone misinterprets something I posted in the blog that precipitates the fight. Short of that, I feel like an intruder.

Arguably the most fascinating aspect of this involves individuals with whom I am not connected via Facebook or any other social media. They, too, get involved in some of this name-calling. It’s all quite strange, man.

A part of me wishes I could curtail this negativity. Another part of me welcomes the give and take, although I’d prefer to see a bit more “give” than “take” in some of these exchanges.

Now that I’ve come clean on my contribution to the Facebook negativity, I want to declare my intention to keep doing what I’m doing. The blog posts will continue to go out along my Facebook network.

If those who take serious offense at something that someone else says about whatever, well, that’s on you.

Enjoy.

Trump defies political gravity

I found a blog post I wrote not quite a year ago, just prior to the 2016 presidential election.

I’ll get this off my chest right up front: I was dead wrong about Donald John Trump Sr.’s political fortunes when I posted the item.

Here it is:

Trump is committing political suicide

There. I’ve admitted once again. Trump defied conventional political expectations.

I want to mention this earlier item as a cautionary tale about any effort to predict what might happen to the president — even as a special counsel seemingly tightens a noose around the Trump campaign’s alleged connections with a Russian government effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

I keep hearing reports about how special counsel Robert Mueller and his crack team of prosecutors are looking ever more closely at key White House aides’ involvement in dealings with Russia. They’re poring through mountains of statements and public testimony from Trump, his closest aides, even members of his family. They’re seeking to determine the truth behind Trump’s involvement with the Russian goons who hacked into our electoral process.

The president keeps bobbing and weaving. He keeps changing his story. He keeps doing what appears to be everything he can to self-incriminate himself.

Does this doom his presidency? Hah!

If the rules of conventional wisdom applied to this clown, he would have imploded long ago. The denigrating of John McCain’s heroic service during the Vietnam War; the disparaging of a Gold Star family; his admission of groping women; his mocking of a disabled reporter; his repeated insults and innuendo; his defaming of Barack Obama over the former president’s constitutional eligibility to serve as president. His incessant lying — about anything!

Any one of those incidents should have doomed this man. That he survived all of them is utterly astonishing in the extreme.

Critics of this blog are fond of reminding me how wrong I was about Trump’s candidacy. They’re entitled to keep reminding me of something I’ve acknowledged readily since this guy’s election. I take a small measure of solace in the knowledge that many other Trump critics were just as wrong. 

I offer this observation as a warning to anyone who’s ready — yet again — to consign this president to the ash heap.

Nature’s wrath eclipses political controversy

I created this blog some years ago as a forum for “politics, policy and life experience.”

To be candid, events of the past few days have ripped my mind away from the worldly political concerns that have dominated High Plains Blogger since its inception.

Hurricane Harvey stormed ashore on the Texas Coastal Bend. Then it backed out over the Gulf of Mexico and returned to the Golden Triangle as a tropical storm and inundated Houston and the Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange areas under 50 inches of rain.

Meanwhile, way out west, my hometown of Portland, Ore., had been choking in the midst of a cloud of smoke and ash blown in by that forest fire along Eagle Creek. The Columbia River Gorge has been scorched. The fire jumped the mighty Columbia River and has burned many more acres of tall timber in Washington.

Now it’s Hurricane Irma that’s devastating Florida after tearing through the Caribbean Islands region.

My wife and I worry greatly about our friends along the Texas coast from the Coastal Bend to the Golden Triangle; we worry more about family and friends affected by the Eagle Creek fire; now we worry about the handful of friends who live in Florida.

And, of course, we are praying for the safety of all those millions of Americans who have been stricken by all the savagery that has attacked them.

Somehow, in this context, Donald J. Trump’s ongoing troubles — ranging from his big mouth, his Twitter tirades, un-presidential conduct and “The Russia Thing” seem strangely inconsequential.

Hey, this moment will pass in due course. I know that. I am ready for it. For now, though, I intend to concentrate on the human suffering we’re all witnessing, along with a touch of “life experience” commentary thrown in for good measure.

Meanwhile, more prayers are on the way.

Blog creates a form of separation anxiety

You know already that I suffer no separation anxiety from my working life. Retirement is good, man!

It’s not the case with this blog. High Plains Blogger occupies a good bit of my time these days. People ask me about it. “I write daily, usually several times each day,” I respond. “It’s therapy. It’s what I do. It’s a big part of my new life.”

Then there are those days when I am away from the computer for extended periods of time. Such as today. It’s now mid-evening and this is the first item I’ve posted all day.

I am suffering acute separation anxiety from High Plains Blogger. This single post will go a long way toward ridding me of it.

I’ve long believed that empty-next syndrome is overrated. Our sons left home after high school and never looked back. We’re glad they remain independent and have established themselves in their chosen professions.

My retirement came when I wasn’t expected it — entirely. Once it did, I didn’t look back either. Nor did my wife when her time to call it a career arrived.

Separation anxiety from work? Forget about it!

My “work” these days is this blog. I do it not just for pleasure, but also to release pent-up emotions; I do so to rant when the spirit moves me; I write these posts to share some life experience, not that mine are unique or anything out of the ordinary.

When I cannot write these posts regularly during the course of a day, I suffer from a bit of blogging withdrawal.

I’m getting past it, however, at this very moment.

Setting the record straight on Harvey commentary

It turns out some social media friends and acquaintances have been bickering among themselves over the nature of this blog’s commentary on Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey.

Some of my acquaintances have accused this blog of being overly negative toward Donald Trump. Others have said that’s not so.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have attached a link to all the posts I’ve put out there about Harvey.

http://highplainsblogger.com/?s=Hurricane+Harvey

It’s all right there in the link right above this sentence.

I would like you to take a look at it.

This story has many diverse facets. We have the human suffering; there’s the political story relating to government’s response to it; we can discuss the quality of the first response; we can examine whether the cities and the state were sufficiently prepared; we can talk about the federal government’s role.

High Plains Blogger hasn’t yet touched all of those elements.

In my own defense — and I’m allowed to defend myself, correct? — I haven’t been totally negative, snarky or “bitter” (as one critic keeps reminding others) about certain elements of this on-going tragedy.

My family and I have a bit of skin in this game. We used to live in Beaumont. We all have friends who are suffering. We love them dearly and we wish them all the very best. We also wish we could pick everything up and go there to lend a hand — but the state highway department is telling us way up yonder to “avoid travel to the Texas coast.”

Just want to set the record straight. So there. I’ve done it.

Ex-Trump flack made the case against armchair diagnoses

Katrina Pierson? Where are you?

The former flack for the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign has been hiding somewhere since his election.  I wrote about her a year ago after she delivered an armchair medical diagnosis on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Here’s what I wrote:

She plays a doctor on TV news shows

Pierson isn’t a medical doctor. She is — or was — a TEA Party activist and political communications consultant who lives in the Dallas area.

Why bring this individual up again?

She demonstrated the danger of trying to psychoanalyze her former boss’s performance as president from a distance. The president is behaving badly at almost every turn these days. His idiotic tweets seemingly reveal a distasteful juvenile quality in the man’s personality, not to mention an absolute ignorance of the office he inherited when he won the Electoral College vote this past November.

The long-distance diagnoses are starting to creep into the national discussion of Trump’s performance as president. Is he unstable? Is he sufficiently “competent” to do the job? Is there something medically wrong with a man who simply cannot change his method of operation?

Let’s not go there.

Pierson, wherever she is, should have taught us all a lesson — bigly! It is that it is inherently dangerous to pretend to be something or someone we are not.

I’m planning to just watch the president flail and flounder his way, albeit with just a touch of glee. It would serve us all well to avoid falling into the trap that ensnared Katrina Pierson when she sought to talk about something about which she knows not a damn thing.

To tweet or not to tweet …

William Shakespeare likely wouldn’t ponder that notion if he were around today.

But we’re going to give it a shot here briefly.

Twitter is emerging as the social medium of choice for some high-powered individuals. Members of Congress use it. Journalists, too. Same for assorted entertainment celebrities.

And, of course, the president of the United States. That brings me to the subject of this blog post: Should the president keep using Twitter?

I’m torn by the notion of Donald John Trump Sr. continuing to use Twitter. On one hand, the manner in which he uses it is troubling in the extreme. He fires off these 140-character messages in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t object to him doing so per se. The troubling aspect comes in the consequences of those messages.

Don’t get me wrong. I use Twitter too. This blog is distributed on Twitter, along with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. I use the medium to advance my own commentary on “politics, public policy and life experience.” It helps me expand my audience, which is every blogger’s mission. Twitter has helped me build my daily blog “hits”; while my audience has expanded manifold since I founded High Plains Blogger, it’s still not enough. Hey, it’s never enough!

I also send out tweets that comment by themselves on current policy matters and this and/or that other stuff. I’ve done so more than 16,000 times since signing up on Twitter while I was still working for the Amarillo Globe-News. I got into the game right away and have enjoyed using Twitter to convey pithy comments.

But I’m just a chump former print journalist who lives out here in the middle of Flyover Country. The consequences of my tweets pale in comparison to what occurs when the president of the United States fires them into cyberspace.

Trump on occasion has abused the medium, such as when he tweeted a policy change regarding transgender Americans serving in the military. That is far more than just a comment on news of the day. It signaled a fundamental policy shift: that the president had declared that transgender citizens no longer could serve in the armed forces. What’s more, he sent the tweet without consulting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Department or his senior White House staff.

That’s abuse of social media, dear reader.

Do I wish the president would cease and desist on Twitter? No. If it’s used properly, it can be a useful tool to communicate — even for the president. The trouble with Trump is that he lacks any impulse control and cannot discern prudent use of the medium from imprudent use of it.

I’ve heard many folks say they want Trump to continue using Twitter. I do, too. However, my wish for the president is that he use it with wisdom and discernment.

Is he capable of such a thing? Oh … probably not.

‘Fair and balanced?’ Yes on fair, no balanced

I have plenty of friends who follow this blog, right along with plenty of foes and critics.

Many of my critics happen to be friends. Some of them are good friends, too. One of those friendly critics has chided me because my blog isn’t “fair and balanced.” I’ll answer my longtime good pal here.

High Plains Blogger strives for fairness in its criticism. Whether it achieves fairness, I suppose, depends largely on who’s reading it. As you know, a huge chunk of the criticism of late has centered on Donald J. Trump, the nation’s 45th president. I detest the idea of this man representing the nation I love dearly. I am unapologetic in my harsh feelings toward him.

My friend thinks I should be more “fair and balanced.”

I’ll ponder that for a moment. OK. I’ve pondered it. This blog will continue to strive for fairness in its criticism of any public official. However, the balance isn’t part of the equation. I wear my bias proudly and do not shy away from it. It’s a blog intended to comment on public policy and politics.

Still, I have pledged to compliment the president when opportunities present themselves.

I can think off hand of two such occurrences: the president’s decision to launch missiles at Syria in response to Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons; and the president’s signing of a veterans administration reform bill into law that protects whistleblowers who tattle on VA officials who mistreat veterans.

I should add here, I suppose, that not a single regular or frequent critic congratulated this blog for its complimentary tone on those instances. Hey, no worries. It goes with the territory. I believe that’s what I’ve cautioned the president as he rails against critics of his public policy.

So … the beat — and the criticism goes on.

Time to say it again: Trump is unfit for the presidency

I feel compelled to share a blog I wrote slightly more than two years ago.

I posted it immediately after Donald John Trump declared his candidacy for president of the United States.

It posits the notion that Trump was unfit for the office he sought.

Here it is:

The impossible has happened … now what?

OK, I couldn’t actually believe that Trump announced. I couldn’t believe he would be nominated by the Republican Party. Nor could I believe, once nominated, that he could be elected president.

Silly me. I was so very wrong on his nomination and then his election.

Events of the past 24 hours, though, have affirmed my initial thought about Donald Trump’s fitness for the very first public office he ever sought. He is not fit for the job. He is unfit to be the nation’s leader. He has no understanding of the dignity that the presidency requires of the people who hold the office.

He has tweeted something hideous about a TV news talk show host. It’s only the latest example of this individual’s view of (a) women, (b) the media and (c) the presidency itself.

The public record is full of statements from Trump that denigrate women. He fat-shames them, which perhaps is about the most ironic aspect of this man’s utter lack of self-awareness, if you get my drift.

He has declared the media to be the “enemy of the American people.” He cannot stand criticism, which I have noted many times already in this forum is part of the job of being president. His predecessors all have taken their share of criticism from the media; most of them have reacted well, others, well, not so well. But the media do their job, which is to hold public officials accountable for their statements and actions. That is most essential when it regards the nation’s head of state.

Finally, Trump’s constant berating of critics via Twitter demonstrates as clearly as is humanly possible that he doesn’t appreciate the office he occupies. He denigrates the presidency. He vows to “make America great again,” but his social media petulance weakens this already-great country.

I admit readily to being wrong about how this guy ever got elected president. I take small comfort only knowing that almost everyone in America got it wrong, too.

However, I stand foursquare behind the view that this clown is unfit for the presidency. Donald Trump shames this nation’s greatest office, even if he is without any capacity for personal shame.

Why let ’em squawk? Here’s why

I received this inquiry today from a longtime friend and former colleague; I figure I’ve known this fellow for just shy of 30 years. He asks:

Why do you let these crazed Trump troglodytes comment on your blog? You know you can set up your blog to screen that stuff. This … dingbat and her dingbat Trumpster pals are mucking up what is otherwise a thoughtful message. They hate the free press. Let ’em go somewhere else and make their ridiculous, baseless comments. Let ’em tell it to Hannity. He loves that sort of crap. (She)  is obviously an elitist ne’er-do-well snob who, for lack of real work, spends her waking hours trolling progressive sites like yours, looking to pick fights with folks like me, thinking her silly and childish retorts will somehow make her seem like a real force to be reckoned with, when, in fact, she comes off merely reaffirming to the world that she really is the jerk she appears to be. Why, John, why?

He asks “why?” The answer is pretty straightforward.

I consider this blog to be a forum for the free expression of ideas. I distribute it along a number of social media platforms; Facebook gives High Plains Blogger its greatest exposure. I long have followed the policy of declining to block anyone simply because I disagree with their view. I’ll admit, though, to some trouble with Facebook becoming so political. I like it as a sort of social media gathering place where people at varying levels of “friendship” can talk among themselves about their lives, or about life in general.

Politics at times poisons that interaction. Indeed, my blog has cost me some friendships over the years. We’ve gotten entangled in some angry discussions about this and/or that. One fellow “unfriended” me from Facebook over a snit, which tells me he didn’t regard our friendship as greatly as I did. I regret it, but as they saying goes: It is what it is.

Thus, I don’t intend to block individuals from expression themselves. After all, I use social media to distribute my own world view to the world. Doesn’t it seem more than a little presumptuous to block someone simply on the basis of a political disagreement?

It’s a big ol’ world out there. Let ’em squawk.