Trump still says things in direct ways that other politicians can't. And, goodbye Facebook.

By Gary Abernathy

Sometimes I miss Trump’s hubris, and here’s an example

Donald Trump held a rally in Alabama over the weekend, and while I will always be critical of him for refusing to accept the results of the 2020 election — which led to the rally in Washington on Jan. 6, which led to the riot at the U.S. Capitol that same day — I confess that sometimes I miss him for the reasons I supported him in the first place.

One reason I miss him is the entertainment factor, and his willingness to speak bluntly. Too often that bluntness crossed the line of civility, but often it was just humorous. That was the case on Saturday when Trump was urging his supporters to get vaccinated against covid.

For people who are worried about the unknown consequences of the vaccine, Trump had this bit of Trumpian reasoning to go ahead and get it anyway: “If it doesn’t work, you’ll be the first to know.”

I don’t know of another politician who could make such a joke. Yes, some people booed, which the media wanted to focus on. But they weren’t booing that comment, they were booing the notion of getting vaccinated, and the boos were scattered, not widespread. But Trump’s comment was both wickedly funny and pointedly blunt.

Priceless.

Celebrities have a right to be political, but most shouldn’t

I liked a meme I saw online that went like this: “Has anyone asked LeBron James what to do about Afghanistan yet? Or Oprah Winfrey, The Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Alyssa Milano, Cardi B., Mark Cuban, Chrissy Teigen, Chelsea Handler? We could really use a celebrity’s advice on world events right now.”

As an Elvis fan, I’ve always loved Presley’s response at a 1972 press conference when, as the Vietnam war raged, he was asked his opinion of war protesters. He replied, “I’d just as soon keep my own personal views about that to myself, ’cause I’m just an entertainer and I’d rather not say.” It’s the gold standard of an answer by a celebrity to a political question.

Don’t misunderstand. Celebrities have first amendment rights just like everyone else. If they want to be politically active, have at it. I admire black athletes of the 1960s who worked and spoke out for civil rights. But they didn’t do it during the games themselves, or disrespect our veterans by kneeling during the National Anthem. They did it outside of the games or matches, allowing the sporting events themselves to remain a respite for people of all walks of life.

Too many celebrities today seem to feel that anything other than praise for their positions is an unfair personal attack and they portray themselves as victims. And most celebrities who get involved in politics can’t seem to do it without making snide insults directed at people who disagree with them.

After he died, we learned from numerous books that Elvis had very strong political opinions. But he knew that his fans didn’t love him for his political insights. They loved him for his talents as a singer and a performer. The biggest political statements he made were through his music and his career, first by opening the door for black performers, whose music (along with country music) influenced his own. No, he didn’t appropriate black music, as I detailed in a Washington Post column back in 2018. It belonged to him, too. He grew up with it. It was in his DNA, and mainstream acceptance of him paved the way for black artists to receive their due.

Most black performers of his time appreciated him for it, and many were personal friends of his, unlike some performers today who want to rewrite history to accuse Elvis of stealing black music. Then later, during the tumultuous late 1960s, he made socially relevant statements through songs like “If I Can Dream” and “In The Ghetto,” which were pleas for equality and racial justice.

But he didn’t make condescending speeches or disprespect people with different views. It’s an example more should follow.

Biden could admit mistakes, and be firmer with Taliban

President Biden and members of his administration are wading deeper into an Afghanistan quagmire of their own making. Yes, the U.S. withdrawal has been a disaster, but it wouldn’t reflect so badly on Biden if he didn’t go into hiding for so long between every sighting. Too often, he has been surrendering the narrative to others, and even the left is pounding away at him.

Biden would be well-served by admitting mistakes. The American people are forgiving. He’s right to stand by the decision to get out of the country. He’s wrong to try to defend every decision he’s made on how to do it.

By saying, “Hey, in retrospect I’d do this differently,” he’d win some forgiveness and understanding. Second, he needs to remain firm on getting out every last American and American ally who wants to leave, even if that goes beyond the Aug. 31 deadline. And he needs to make clear that the Taliban isn’t calling the shots — he needs to say bluntly that if we need to keep troops longer and keep airlifting people beyond that arbitrary date, that’s what we’ll do, whether the Taliban likes it or not.

Goodbye Facebook, I really won’t miss you

I shut down my Facebook account today, for a number of reasons. First, I’ve been increasingly annoyed by what Facebook and other social media platforms have become. Their stepped-up actions to censor or ban certain viewpoints are increasingly problematic. Some praise such rules as being “responsible” for separating facts from lies. But once they appoint themselves arbiters of fact and deciders of responsible from irresponsible, we’re all just left at the mercy of arbitrary choices that are wrong just as often as they might be right. They were best when they were merely aggregators of content. Now they’ve made themselves editors.

Second, like many of you, I have for many months been receiving “friend requests” from people I’m already friends with, and occasional messages that clearly were not sent from the friends whose names were being used to send them. It was easy to tell the accounts were fake — here’s a good article explaining it all — but it was still annoying.

Then, more annoyingly, last week I began to receive notes and alerts from friends informing me that they were receiving friend requests on an account using my name, and some were receiving messages under my name. Some wondered if I had been hacked. No, it’s not a hack. It’s just easy for lowlifes to do screenshots of real FB sites and create fake ones, sending stuff to all your listed FB friends. It’s a growing bit of treachery that FB does too little to police or stop. Facebook claims to go after it if you report it, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Bottom line, my ambivalence about social media in the first place made shutting down Facebook a pretty easy decision. The whole fake FB page was the half-a-reason more I was waiting on to pull the trigger. It’s good to take one foot out of the fake world of social media. Eventually I’ll remove myself from all of them. I’ll be fine without Facebook, and there’s no question Facebook will be fine without me.

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