I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

diatribe | ˈdīəˌtrīb | noun. a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something: a diatribe against the Roman Catholic Church.

An encounter on Instagram yesterday motivated Mr Polite in Public (the_crossroad_saints on Instagram) to come here, to my blog, and leave a rather ugly comment on my “Who Is This Scribbler?” page. As is the case with his kind, he provided no context and completely misrepresented our exchange. His comment:

If you enjoyed her lovely little persona here, disagree with her diatribes on Instagram. Quite a different experience I assure you. Above all, worship Donald Trump or else.

Let me set one thing straight before we get into the meat of the matter: I do not worship Donald Trump. I am able to recognize his shortcomings and truth be told, I struggled with voting for him in 2016. I almost chose to abstain from voting altogether. My interaction with the_crossroad_saints was completely focused on his misrepresentation of the facts.

When did it become verboten to express an opinion, especially when that opinion is based upon documented evidence? Much like the frog simmering in a pot of water until it’s too late, I think our Constitutional freedom of speech has been slipping away from us at a barely discernible rate. Because of “feelings,” and the inability to discuss differing views in a civilized fashion, more and more restrictions are being placed on public discourse. Mr Polite in Public’s comment brings into question my “lovely little persona,” makes it sound as though I was forceful and bitter in our Instagram exchange, and even insinuates I was threatening with his use of the words “or else.” Nothing could be further from the truth. He was motivated to come here, to my home on the web, because he had no rational response to the presentation of facts. So here we are.

Social media makes it possible for participants to express their views via the written word, photographs, and video, and to do so quickly. Until recently, Facebook seemed to be the place for words, while Instagram was the place for aesthetics: foodie photos, makers’ masterpieces, selfies, and the like.

It happened gradually, but at some point Instagram began shifting from the platform of creative expression toward something increasingly similar to Facebook. Where it was once possible to escape the Facebook wars between the left and right by visiting Instagram, now political commentary, memes, activist rants, videos, etc. populate the Gram. Scrolling through all that to find the good stuff takes more and more time. Sometimes the posts are good–like a Instagram video of the president handing a White House pen to a little kid he noticed standing nearby. It’s a sweet moment. A human moment. A moment that doesn’t get reported on the regular news, because ORANGE MAN BAD.

I watched the video and thought, “How cool is that? Wonder if that kid will use that pen to do his homework? And tell all the other kids, ‘Hey! Look what the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES gave ME?”

And then I made the mistake of reading the comments. The majority of the comments are Trump supporters: people who appreciate the good that this flawed human being has managed to accomplish in spite of his flaws and in spite of his opponents attempting to block his every move, because their hatred of him is greater than their commitment to America.

And then there are comments from people like the_crossroad_saints, who made unfounded accusations regarding the roles played by the Trump “children.” I responded to his comment thusly, to point out presidents have surrounded themselves with family members since forever. Note the link to the not conservative HuffPo article:

You must be too young to remember Jimmy Carter and all his hillbilly relatives–his mama, Miss Lillian, and his brother, Billy, who came out with Billy Beer. And wasn’t it Obama’s mother-in-law who lived at the White House with them? If we go back further, Lyndon B. Johnson’s brother worked as an administrative aide in the White House, and before that John F. Kennedy appointed his younger brother, a completely unqualified Robert F. Kennedy as the U.S. Attorney General. More recently, Bill Clinton appointed Hillary to head up the White House task force on healthcare. Here’s an article discussing the issue throughout US history: Nepotism in the White House: It’s All Relative.

So the_crossroad_saints responded:

I don’t remember any of the Carter family being on the payroll do you? .And no, a president Kennedy did not bring in other family members into his presidential administration. Are you too simple to understand the difference?

As did I:

Get your facts straight. The Trump children volunteer. They are not on the payroll. President Kennedy made his BROTHER the US Attorney General before he was assassinated in Dallas. Read the article I linked (which is from HuffPo, so not a conservative source by any stretch of the imagination). Liberals like you just can’t handle facts, so you ignore them.

So did the_crossroad_saints read the HuffPo article? I don’t know. But here’s what he said next:

Yes, trumps trust fund baby grifter spawn are most certainly on the payroll. You don’t care much for objective reality do you.

I have to admit, I did get a little snarky, but I’m not sure it would qualify for a “forceful and bitter” attack:

Trump Derangement Syndrome is strong in you. So sad.

You probably didn’t even read the HuffPo article to get a more balanced view of presidential family involvements in administrations. It’s easier to ignore facts like the Kennedys, the Johnsons, and the Clintons, who proudly proclaimed they were a “2 for the price of 1” when Bill and Hillary Clinton won.

I have to admit, his next comment was pretty clever:

There are variant strains are there not, See your healthcare professional.

These grifters of Don’s have absolutely no experience in anything other than deadbeat trust fund baby grifting, and you know it.

My last comment was this:

Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton. You ignore the truth because you can’t handle it.

And this is where our Instagram exchange ended. When I woke up at 6:00 am this morning, I discovered the comment left on my blog at 3:04 am Mr Polite in Public’s time, wherever it is that he lives.

I’m just dumbfounded by the conscious rejection of what is historical fact when it doesn’t fit the narrative. John F. Kennedy did make his brother the United States Attorney General in 1961. It was this appointment that became the basis for the The Federal Anti-Nepotism Rule (sometimes called the “Bobby Kennedy Law.”) More recently legal opinion has determined the law applies to federal agencies and not the White House:

Finally, we believe that this result—that the President may appoint relatives to his immediate staff of advisors in the White House Office—makes sense when considered in light of other applicable legal principles. Congress has not blocked, and most likely could not block, the President from seeking advice from family members in their personal capacities.
A President wanting a relative’s advice on governmental matters therefore has a choice: to seek that advice on an unofficial, ad hoc basis without conferring the status and imposing the responsibilities that accompany formal White House positions; or to appoint his relative to the White House under title 3 and subject him to substantial restrictions against conflicts of interest.
In choosing his personal staff, the President enjoys an unusual degree of freedom, which Congress found suitable to the demands of his office. Any appointment to that staff, however, carries with it a set of legal restrictions, by which Congress has regulated and fenced in the conduct of federal officials.

There are some interesting articles online regarding the role played by the children of a variety of presidents over the course of multiple administrations. Rather than remain ignorant of history (like my wee morning hour visitor), check these out and then form an educated opinion about the roles played by the hardworking Trump children and other presidential kids.

Behind the Law That May Keep Donald Trump’s Children from White House Jobs

Donald Trump’s Children Wouldn’t Be the First Presidential Kids to Work in the White House

It seems that in addition to concerns about possible conflicts of interest, people like our friend, Mr Polite in Public, get their shorts in knots because they think the Trump children are getting rich off the American taxpayer. Here are a couple of articles that disclose who gets paid what at the White House. The first article has to do with White House salaries and the second is a comparison between what Michelle Obama’s 24 staff members and Melania Trump’s 9 were paid. It seems to me with the president, Ivanka, and Jared working for free, and Melania having one staff member for every 2.7 staff members employed by Michelle, the Trumps are a bargain.

White House Salaries: Who Makes What?

Michelle Obama’s Staff

(Michelle Obama’s staff was paid $1.5 million in 2010. Melania Trump’s staff was paid $486,700 in 2017.)

Resistance is futile, you must assimilate…

So my efforts at divorcing Facebook are proving to be more difficult than I originally anticipated. As much as I might despise certain aspects of The Borg, one thing you cannot argue: if you are involved in any kind of business or group effort, FB can’t be beat for getting the news out to large numbers of people quickly.

I fought with myself (as is often the case with addicts trying to kick a habit), and I will own it — I confess I peeked at the notifications on my account a few times since my last post. Not nearly as often as I usually do, but I did peek.

Then I saw a friend request from one of the main players at Baystar Group (the publishers of Image magazine, where I recently had an article published).  I received a very nice letter from the president of the Alvin Historical Society regarding my article on the museum, and she also sent a copy to the editor of Image.  My new FB friend at the publisher scanned the letter and posted it to FB. I’d be fibbing if I said that wasn’t a bit of an ego boost.

I learned that FB is one of the primary ways that the group communicates regarding the magazine, as well as promoting the magazine, the articles, the writers, photographers, etc. This set me thinking about the FB group that our church utilizes to spread the word regarding prayer requests, and the FB page that I use to post photos of window treatment projects I’ve completed.

* * * H E A V Y     S I G H * * *

So I spent a good part of this morning, between sneezes (because, of course, I’m coming down with an allergy-inspired spring cold) trying to fine-tune FB to work for me, rather than me work for it. I unfollowed dozens and dozens of people and pages, while still remaining FB friends. The way I hope this works is that when I share a blog post, or something pertinent to my freelance writing, my window treatment business, or my church family, the right people will see it. And I hope that I will not be inundated with videos of fluffy puppies. political diatribes, and endless recipes.

As always, if you have something to say, please say it down there ▼▼▼▼▼ in the comments box, rather than responding on FB. I will be eternally grateful. 💗


My Name is Laura, and I’m a FB Addict

I’ve toyed with the idea, off and on, for years about severing ties to Facebook. Thoughts race through my mind regarding this idea, with increasing stress, indicating there is a problem. Thoughts, in no specific order:

  • “How will I stay in touch with people?” The same way I stayed in touch with people before. I’ll email. I’ll text. I’ll call. I’ll blog. And hopefully, if they care about me as a friend, as family, they’ll do the same.
  • “How will I know what’s going on?” See above.
  • “It’s fun!” Really? This morning, while reading a loved one’s comments regarding the current election cycle, I became stressed, angry, and frustrated as to how someone I truly consider brilliant could reach the conclusions reflected in a FB post. Right now, I’ve a pounding headache because I chose to spend time unwisely – I knew this person was leaning in that direction, but because the topic had been avoided in conversation, I was able to put it out of mind. FB forced it into my periphery where I could not ignore it. There’s a reason our votes are supposed to be secret – so we can vote as we believe we should, without judgment or judging others.

I’m tired of the effect FB has on my attitude, on my day, on my time management, and most importantly my feelings towards others (I totally get it now, Marcelyn). I’m tired of wasting hours of my life scrolling through a newsfeed to see if something interesting has happened. I’ve decided I would rather be doing interesting things than watching other people do them.

I’m tired of wasting time I could be using to do productive things like WRITE… Years ago, I started blogging at Xanga (does anyone even remember that site any longer). I blogged faithfully, at least three or four times a week, and through that site I made several good friends. (Hat tips to Marcelyn, Tim, and Jennifer…)

After several years of blogging, I remember hearing that FB was going to be opened up to the general public (rather than just university students) and I thought I would check it out. It was fun, with silly games (does anyone remember collecting “Flair” or “Water Globes?”) It was easy to communicate in sound bites, rather than lengthy posts, and much time was spent re-doing FB pages every time Mark Zuckerberg’s minions decided to change FB layouts. The more time I spent on FB, the less time I spent on blogging/writing.

So I’m stepping back. I’m done with it. I’ll be blogging here from now on. I’ll share my blog posts for a while — I’m not sure how long I’ll continue to link to them on FB, because I really want to make the separation complete. If you are at all interested in reading what I write here, please subscribe to my blog so you’ll get it in your email box. Because at some point, I’m not going to share them with FB any longer.

And for the love of pete, please comment here – NOT FB. I’m not going back over there, so I’m not going to see your comments if you make them on FB. FB is like crack for me. If I log on, I lose minutes or hours of time that could be used better elsewhere. So I won’t be logging on to see anything. 

I guess this is one good way to find out who really loves and appreciates me. I hope you’ll come along for the ride here.