Tag Archives: social media

Gen. Lee and Gen. Washington equal? Nope

I received a scolding today from someone I respect very much. We’re connected on social media; he read a blog item I published and then reminded me of something I feel the need to challenge — respectfully, of course.

My blog item mentioned that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was a traitor to the United States when he led soldiers into battle against forces fighting to preserve the Union.

My friend then responded by telling me that Gen. George Washington also committed an act of treason by rebelling against England in the 18th century. Gen. Washington led his army against the soldiers fighting for The Crown. Had the colonists lost the American Revolution, he said, they would have been hanged.

This argument comes forward every now and then by those who seek to defend Gen. Lee against those — such as me — who contend that he committed treason by siding with the Confederates in their effort to split the country apart.

I am not going to put words into my friend’s mouth, but surely he doesn’t equate the two acts of rebellion.

Had the revolution failed, we well might be speaking with British accents and paying exorbitant taxes without having any say in how much we should pay.

And if the Confederates had won the Civil War, they would have created a nation that allowed for the continued enslavement of human beings.

There really isn’t a scintilla of moral equivalence, in my eyes at least, between the struggles. The revolution produced a nation built on the concept of freedom and liberty for all; the Declaration of Independence delivers out a long list of grievances that the founders sought to be eliminated. The Civil War erupted because some states wanted the authority to determine whether they could keep human beings in bondage.

I’m not sure what my friend is suggesting. Surely he doesn’t intend to equate one with the other.

I need to stipulate, too, that had the founders failed to create a nation after the revolution, there might have been scant reason for immigrants to travel across the ocean to the Land of Opportunity. My grandparents would have stayed in Greece and Turkey. My parents wouldn’t have met. I wouldn’t have been born.

Many millions of Americans had skin in that revolutionary game.

Therefore, I’m glad the founding fathers rebelled against the king.

Melania: most ‘bullied person in the world’? Hardly

Nice going, Mme. First Lady. You have a perfectly noble and legitimate cause upon which to base your first ladyhood and then  you trample all over it with a weird assertion about how you are among the “most bullied” people on Earth.

I could not believe my eyes and ears when I heard about this from Melania Trump.

She told ABC News the following, according to CNN: “I could say I’m the most bullied person on the world,” Trump told ABC News in an interview during her first solo trip to Africa last week … . You’re really the most bullied person in the world?” asked ABC News’ Tom Llamas during the exchange. “One of them, if you really see what people saying about me,” Trump said.

She isn’t among the most bullied people on Earth.

I feel confident in making that counter claim. Mrs. Trump  married a man who would become president no doubt knowing full well what she was getting in the bargain. Indeed, Donald J. Trump has dished out all sorts of bullying insults on his way to the presidency and, of course, since he became the Bully-er in Chief.

The message that Mrs. Trump wants to send forth is designed to call attention to how social media have become a bullying instrument used against children. That is a noble cause and I applaud that effort.

However, for her then to internalize and personalize it in this manner by suggesting that she is among the world’s top victims of this (mis)behavior detracts from the seriousness of a totally serious cause.

I am amazed she would say such a thing.

FLOTUS has a point, however …

First lady Melania Trump makes a lot of sense when she says critics ought to “focus on what I do, not what I wear.”

Mrs. Trump has just concluded a brief solo jaunt to Africa, where she visited four countries while highlighting her concern for children and women’s rights and well-being.

But then she got photographed wearing a pith helmet, the kind of headgear popular during the era of colonization of Africa. Twitter trolls were all over it, criticizing the first lady for her poor choice of hats.

Her response sought to remind her critics that she is trying to do noble work on behalf of children and women. That should be their focus, not the style of hats she wears, which critics said are too much of a reminder of the oppression brought to Africa during the years of European empire-building.

That brings me to an element that fills me with mixed feelings.

The first lady’s staff ought to be dialed in, focused like lasers on the image she portrays whenever she is seen in public. I am wondering why Mrs. Trump’s staff couldn’t foresee this kind of blow back. She wore that jacket that caught people’s attention. It said, “I really don’t care, do u?” while she was touring immigration camps along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Then, of course, we have the first lady’s signature issue: bullying of children, including that which occurs via the Internet. That is a noble cause to promote, but the first lady seems blind and deaf to the bullying that occurs via Twitter — from her husband, the president of the United States of America.

So, the pith helmet outcry seems on the surface to be overblown. Critics ought to concentrate on the first lady’s deeds, not her attire.

Then again, let’s take greater care, Mme. First Lady, to avoid these kinds of pitfalls.

Why write about red-light cameras? Here’s why

A social media acquaintance of mine — and I do not know this fellow personally — posed a question about why High Plains Blogger keeps writing about red-light cameras.

He implies that I am fixated on the issue, suggesting I reckon that I am devoting too much attention to it.

Hmm. Here’s my answer to my acquaintance — who’s a frequent critic of this blog.

I write frequently about the issue because I consider it a public safety matter. I also believe that cities that deploy these devices are correct to rely on a technological advance that assists police departments in their enforcement of traffic-safety laws and municipal ordinances.

It’s merely a matter of opinion and I am aware that others do not share it. I believe in the technology. I believe the Texas law that allows cities to use it is not being abused by local authorities.

The Texas Legislature stipulated some strict provisions on the law. It requires cities to use revenue generated by fines paid by motorists who run the red lights strictly for traffic improvements. I urged the Legislature to act while I was working for the Amarillo Globe-News; I wrote personal columns and editorials on behalf of the editorial board imploring the Legislature to act. I have continued beating that drum in my retirement years. I also have applauded Amarillo’s resistance to taking down the cameras despite the overheated protests from a vocal minority of residents.

The cameras take a picture of offending motor vehicles; cities then mail the citation to the registered owner of the vehicle, who then is required to pay the fine. He or she can appeal the fine to the municipal judge.

I answered the social media acquaintance with a semi-snarky response, telling him that I intend to keep writing about it. I’ll reiterate my answer here.

Public safety is important enough for this blog to keep raising the issue.

Gov. Greg Abbott vows to urge the next Legislature to rescind the enabling law, provided he’s re-elected on Nov. 6. If he does and the Legislature follows his lead, you can bet I’ll have a whole lot more to say on this issue.

That, dear reader, is my story and I’m sticking to it.

The scourge of doctored ‘photographs’

Oh, how I fear “photos” such as the one pictured here.

It’s fake. Phony. Doctored. It purports to show Donald Trump lending a hand to someone trapped by Hurricane Harvey’s floodwater. It’s not. The original is of some Austin Fire Department personnel in that boat helping the individual who was caught by Mother Nature’s wrath.

The picture is just one of those scourges that media folks — and that includes bloggers such as yours truly — must deal with on occasion.

This image is quite obviously doctored. The president is depicted in a suit and tie with no life jacket. That’s a serious non-starter.

But the Internet has produced its share of curses in this new media age. The ability to transmit doctored images intended to put individuals in a negative light or in a falsely positive light is just one of those curses.

We full-time bloggers need to be careful about these images. I work for myself. I have no one but myself to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Doctored images present immediate challenges that can bite us hard where we don’t like being bitten.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am happy to acquaint myself with much of this 21st-century technology. However, not all of it gives me pleasure. It does keep me more alert to the potential danger that these images can present.

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.

Trump’s tweets diminish his powerful office

As the president of the United States seeks to “make America great … again,” he is diminishing the power, stature and profile of the very office he occupies.

How? His use of Twitter has relegated what once were considered inviolable policy statements into mere “personal opinions.” That’s according to Donald John Trump’s senior staff and legal advisers.

What in the world is going on here?

There once was a time when anything that came from the president was deemed to be hard-and-fast policy pronouncements. If the president said it, the statement was solid. Good as gold. Take it to the bank. That’s what the nation stands for.

These days statements of policy now are passed off as something, um, considerably less important.

Trump tweeted, for instance, that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions “should” end the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Where I come from, when the boss said I “should” do something, that means I do it. Not so with Trump, according to Rudy Giuliani, the president’s current personal lawyer.

I have given up complaining about Trump’s tweets. I know that he is addicted to the social medium as a method of communicating.

What, though, do the messages mean? Are they directives or are they mere blathering from the commander in chief?

Donald J. Trump’s desire to “make America great again” must include an elevation of the office to which he was elected. The presidency should reflect the greatness of the nation. Isn’t that a reasonable assumption to make?

To date, not even two years into his presidency, Trump is diminishing his office through his incessant use of Twitter to declare every damn thing on what passes for his mind.

As the office of the presidency shrinks, so does the president’s objective of achieving greatness for the nation he governs.

Social media etiquette gives way to threat of war

Get a load of a tweet that came from the fingers — reportedly — of the president of the United States.

To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

Isn’t that amazing?

Rouhani made some kind of threat to launch the “mother of all wars” against the United States.

Donald J. Trump answered with this message via Twitter.

I’m a frequent Twitter user myself. Trust me on this: I am not an expert on social media etiquette, not that having good manners is necessarily a requirement at all times. I do know, though, that typing something in all caps denotes an anger that some could construe borders on instability. Is that the message that Donald Trump seeks to convey to the Iranian president?

Yes, he did the same thing with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He threatened him with total destruction. He spoke of the threat of “fire and fury.” Kim and Trump did meet in Singapore. The jury is out on what was accomplished. This much appears to be certain: The world remains under threat of a nuclear North Korea, no matter what the president has said.

So, what’s the deal with this all-cap Twitter message? If the president intends to convey the message that he is so angry that he’s out of control, well, millions of Americans have harbored those thoughts already.

Listen up: Your grandparents were right all along

Your grandparents — and, yes, mine too — were visionaries. They were way ahead of their time.

They warned us, “If you can’t say something nice to someone, then keep it to yourself” … or words to that effect.

They didn’t anticipate the advent of cell phones or the myriad other recording devices that have proliferated our society. But, man, they nailed it!

Just look at the Uber driver who has been caught recording passengers without their knowledge. Then you had the idiot at the Chicago Cubs baseball game who took a ball from a youngster after one of the Cubs players had tossed the ball to the little boy; yes, the ballpark incident was captured by TV, but you get the point.

This all happened over the weekend.

There have been instances of people cussing others out. Road rage incidents are recorded for posterity by motorists who watch them unfold in real time.

I’ve lamented before that the ubiquitous nature of these devices should make us all a lot more reticent when confronted with potential problems.

Everyone, or so it seems, has a camera these days. You say something unkind or crude, it gets recorded. You erupt in a spasm of anger, or possibly, violence — that, too, becomes part of the “public domain.” You mistreat someone, get ready for the “viral” distribution of that action all across the planet.

When will we ever learn? When will we heed the advice given to us years ago by men and women — Grandpa and Grandma — who were way ahead of their time?