Tag Archives: High Plains Blogger

Missing the ‘Praise and Damnation’ of old

I dug up an old blog post that I thought I’d share once again.

It speaks to some of the give and take I used to engage in while working as editor of editorial pages in three locations: one in Oregon and two in Texas.

I carried a file around with me for more than three decades. I called it my “Praise and Damnation” file. It contained feedback from readers who either agreed or disagreed with what I wrote, either under my own name or on behalf of the editorial board of which I was a member.

This particular blog post from the past highlights a response to an editorial I wrote about Haiti, a country that’s been in news of late, courtesy of the president’s description of the island nation as a “sh**hole country.”

Damnation to the max

I discarded the file not too many years ago. I don’t regret doing so. The file took up space in my filing cabinet at home and, quite frankly, it reminded me of the unpleasantness associated with the end of my print journalism career.

This blog post from 2010, though, does remind me of how readers managed to keep me humble. I rarely took personal offense at those who disagreed with whatever I wrote. Yes, there were exceptions. Occasionally someone would question my patriotism, my parentage or even my religious faith. As a God-fearing U.S. Army veteran born to parents who were married legally to each other, well, I kind of took offense to some people’s more personal attacks.

But what the heck. It all went with the territory.

I am still able to maintain a sense of humility through this blog. I get my share of criticism to go along with the affirmation.

Believe it or not, I do appreciate thoughtful critics nearly as much as I appreciate those who cheer me on.

Happy Trails, Part 69

Blog-writing remains one of my current passions.

It gives me immense satisfaction in this era of retirement. I wrote opinion articles for many years as a print journalist. Then I stopped being a print journalist.

But I didn’t stop writing opinion pieces. I just post them now online. They get distributed via this blog platform. I have my share of subscribers to the blog and for that I am grateful. My aim is to grow that subscriber list.

I distribute the blog posts through various social media. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are my main vehicles of conveyance.

Here’s one aspect of that process that I want to discuss briefly: Facebook prompts some serious arguments among those who read these posts on that medium.

To be candid, I have a sort of out-of-body experience as I watch these folks argue among themselves.

Someone might comment on a blog post; someone else then might respond Person No. 1’s comment; Person No. 1 then might respond to the response.

And … off they go.

They’re snarling and growling at each other. Occasionally, these exchanges get intensely personal. I have read actual name-calling, although those instances are rare. What happens is that someone might insult some else’s intelligence. In one recent exchange, one of the quarrelers accused  another one of being unable to understand what he reads; thus, one guy accused the other one of being a dim bulb.

I have no particular desire to stop these exchanges. I just choose to stay away from them. No, I don’t mean to suggest that I “stay above” these arguments. I just don’t have the stomach, let alone the time, to engage in continual back-and-forth arguments that at times seem as though they have no end.

One of the lessons I carried with me from print opinion journalism to full-time blogging is that nothing I write is going to change anyone’s mind. We all have our biases. We have our own set of values, most of which were formed when we were, oh, much younger … if not when when we were children.

I prefer to state my case on this blog. And then walk away to the next topic. Oh, I might quibble and quarrel with someone, but I’m only good for about three or maybe four responses; and, yes, I’ve gone beyond that a time or three. Then I’ve had enough.

The way I see it, my relative lack of fighting spirit preserves the love I have for this new retirement adventure.

Oh, how I love blogging.

Left hand, meet the right hand

I consider High Plains Blogger to be a forum for commenting on politics, policy and life experience. I use it to comment on those matters with with great glee.

For a moment, though, I want to veer far from any of those topics. Well, maybe “life experience” might qualify.

I learned something today in Sunday school that had me scratching my noggin about our secular world and how we human beings morph the Holy Word occasionally into something quite different.

We are studying Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Then we ran into this passage from the Gospel of Matthew 6:3. According to Scripture, Jesus Christ instructs us, “But when you give to someone in need, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

Given that I am far from a biblical scholar, I wasn’t aware of those words of wisdom — until I saw them today.

Why scratch my head? Because in our contemporary society, we now use the reference to our “left hand not knowing what the our right is doing” as a pejorative. We scold individuals or those who run institutions by saying that “the left hand doesn’t know … ” You get the point, right? Of course you do!

However, according to New Testament Scripture, Jesus Christ himself tells us to avoid letting each of our hands know what the other is doing. How in the name of all that is holy did this bit of divine instruction become a metaphor for criticism?

I might never use that saying ever again when I witness confusion unfolding before my eyes. I’ll have to get creative.

There. Now, back to more worldly matters.

Sharing some good news about this blog

I feel the need to share a bit of good news about High Plains Blogger.

The old year is about to become history, and I want to thank readers of this blog for reading these musings and sharing them when you feel compelled to do so.

2017 gave High Plains Blogger its most page views in a calendar year, most unique visitors, best daily views/visitors average over the course of the year, best monthly views/visitors average.

I thank you for that.

My goal with this blog has been to expand its reach. My Word Press enables me to look daily on the worldwide reach of this blog. During the course of 2017, my blog was seen in virtually all of North and South America, most of Europe, a huge chunk of Asia (and we can include Australasia) and a growing portion of Africa. All told, more than 150 nations were represented in the past year by High Plains Blogger readers.

Much of my attention in the coming year will continue to be on politics and public policy. As those of you who follow this blog know, however, I’ll likely spend more blog-writing energy commenting on retirement and the joy it brings my wife and me as we continue our ongoing transition to this new way of life.

Bear with me on that. I simply enjoy sharing these outlooks with those of you who might be heading in the same direction we are heading.

Oh, but this is an election year. Political junkie that I am, I will be unable to contain myself as I comment on what I see occurring on the myriad campaign trails across this great country of ours.

For now, I simply want to say “thank you” for giving High Plains Blogger its best year yet.

Happy New Year. Let’s enjoy the ride together.

Blog logs another year; the fun will continue

Another year as a full-time blogger is about to fall by the wayside.

High Plains Blogger has been at full throttle for more than five years. Given that I no longer work for a living, I am spending a lot of time — some might argue an inordinate amount of it — at a keyboard pounding out musings/spewage on this and/or that issue of the day; I like sprinkling the blog with what I call “life experience” posts, which comprise mostly thoughts about retirement and pet parenthood of the most lovable puppy God ever created.

My daily “hit” count continues to grow. 2017 produced my best-yet yearly total of page views and unique visitors. I’m getting my share of “likes” and commentary from readers.

The blog will continue into 2018 and I hope well beyond.

The only issue I have yet to resolve with the blog is what to call it. I came up with the name High Plains Blogger as sort of a two-pronged tribute: One was to the location where my wife and I have lived for more than two decades, on the High Plains of Texas; the other was to pay a small tribute to one of my favorite film stars, Clint Eastwood, one of whose films is “High Plains Drifter.”

We’ll be relocating — we hope soon — to North Texas. I am torn between changing the name to a more generic title; I have a working name in mind, but I haven’t yet made that decision.

You see, High Plains Blogger has developed something of a following that I don’t want to jeopardize; and by “following,” I don’t mean to imply that everyone is a fan. The blog has its critics.

But as the old year passes on and we welcome the new one, I feel the need to tell the whole wide world — or at least the portion of it that cares to hear this news — that I intend to keep up the pace of commentary for as long as I am able.

My strongest hope of all is that I remain able to a long time.

Happy New Year.

Break from politics? Umm, not this year, folks

The past couple of years have enticed High Plains Blogger — meaning me — to take a break from political commentary during the Christmas-New Year holiday period.

I am not going to take such a break this year.

I decided to stay in the game, but with one important caveat: I am going to refrain from some of the occasionally harsh rhetoric I use to describe certain politicians with whom I disagree.

You know about whom I refer, in particular.

There are others, to be sure. But my intention for the next few days will be to keep a civil tongue in my mouth — so to speak — and offer criticism without referencing the president in ways that I have been prone to do on occasion.

It’s my way of adhering to some semblance of civility and decency during this holy time.

It’s a joyful season for my family and me. Indeed, I intend to avoid discussing politics with friends and family members on Christmas day. Those who read this blog, thus, are forewarned. No discussion of the president, his administration, his policies, his pronouncements … nothin’, man!

I might, time permitting on Christmas, take a moment to salute a pol or two who does something that merits praise.

That would enable me to maintain the Christmas spirit … wouldn’t it?

For now, I’ll try my level best to keep the dagger sheathed, the arrows in the quiver … whatever!

The coming year promises to provide plenty of ample targets of opportunity. Hey, it’s an election year!

Enjoy yourselves.

Blog deliberates how to handle POTUS references

High Plains Blogger is entering a period of deliberation. It might last a few days, perhaps through the weekend.

It deals with how to refer to the president of the United States during this holiday/Christmas season.

I have sought periodically to tone down the criticism of Donald Trump, seeking to honor the feeling of good will toward “all men (and women)” during this time of the year.

I’ll admit that it is difficult. You see, the president of the United States has this way of driving me nearly to the point of insanity with his ridiculous public pronouncements, his policy decisions, his use of Twitter … you name it, he makes me nuts, man!

If this blog is going to refrain from hurling bombs and brickbats at the president, my hope would be that he would reciprocate at least by acting with a semblance of reason and rationality during this time of the year.

I know I cannot demand such a thing of him. He isn’t likely to read these posts, although I know he has fans who read this blog; they’ll stand up of for the president, defending him against the criticism I might toss at the man.

My inclination is to continue the criticism, but refraining from the epithets I am prone to hurl in his direction. I can do that at least through New Year’s Day. After that? I dare not make any promises.

That’s the ticket! I’ll seek to be a gentleman. Now, the question goes to the president: Will you, sir, do the same thing and behave like someone who occupies the most exalted and revered public office in the United States of America?

One troll disappears, more to emerge

I have become “acquainted” with trolls.

They aren’t my favorite audience members. They seem to lurk out there, waiting for my posts to appear. Then they pounce with negative responses.

I don’t mind the negativity if it is based on principled arguments to substantiate their point. I do mind the pointed barbs that contribute nothing to current discourse.

I’ve been reluctant to comment on them because, well, because I don’t want to encourage other trolls.

Recently, I took the rare step of blocking one of them. He and I aren’t connected on any social medium. He just kept chirping about issues on which I would comment. Then he got into name-calling, challenging my intelligence while remarking about how my posts were a “waste” of his time, which I presume is of great value to him.

So I cut him off.

Recently, another frequent critic of High Plains Blogger apparently has decided to block me. Imagine that, will ya? This individual is a fervent supporter of Donald John Trump Sr. She took supreme offense at my constant carping against the president.

This individual — and I reluctantly use the term “troll” here — is an actual acquaintance of mine. But I guess I have to describe this person as a classic “troll” as it has been used to define certain Internet users.

I found this description via Wikipedia: In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll’s amusement.

Yep. That describes the individual who blocked me. This person would engage in some heated back-and-forth with other readers of this blog, arguing just for the sake of arguing.

I won’t lose a wink of sleep over getting blocked by this person, because I am acutely aware that there will be others who’ll step up to take the place of any such “troll” who drops off this blog’s grid.

Oh, just so you know, I still love writing this blog.

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.


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.