Forty years of NMSU athletics in review

© 2016 Jim Spence - My guess is the population in Dona Ana County has tripled since Kristi and I arrived here forty years ago. We attended nearly every Aggie basketball game for many years. The Aggies played top 25 teams in the Pan Am Center quite often. When ranked teams like Wichita State, Indiana State, UNLV, or our rivals UNM or UTEP came to Las Cruces, there were almost always 12,000 or more in the seats for those games. Considering how much smaller Las Cruces was 30 or 40 years ago, it seemed like everyone went to the games. Even when lesser teams came to town there would still be 8,000-9,000 in attendance.
Sometime around the late 1980’s the leadership culture at NMSU began to deteriorate. Several woefully unmotivated people secured positions of authority at NMSU. Anytime this happens, the problem lies at the top of an organization. By the mid to late 1980's the NMSU Board of Regents fell under the control of people who were less interested in excellence than in other more poorly disguised agendas. Institutionally speaking, NMSU lost sight of the fact that the Aggie basketball program must compete continuously for entertainment dollars and the customers cannot be taken for granted. 
With a weak Board of Regents prevailing, we began to see rapid turnover of NMSU presidents. Fans also witnessed the hiring and retention of a terribly weak athletic director in Al Gonzalez. You could see the beginning of a train wreck as Gonzalez began to blame everyone else for failures that were obviously his. Occasionally, observant people in the community warned through letters to the editor etc. of the obvious damage being done to NMSU athletics by poor leadership. The warnings fell on deaf ears. 
A reputation for bad service is hard to erase. Sadly, the NMSU bureaucracy gradually shirked more and more its basic customer service and satisfaction responsibilities. As laziness and sloth set in, the results were predictable. Customers defected. The number of fans who refused to hand over their hard-earned money to an institution that was no longer committed to the overall quality of the customer’s experience gradually grew.
Image result for pan american center
The Pan American Center
Of course there were some successes along the way. Coaches like Neil McCarthy and Lou Henson were able to overcome poor institutional leadership and win anyway. However in the end, the heavy weight of incompetence of presidents like Michael Orenduff and Barbara Couture, in conjunction with unmotivated athletic directors like Al Gonzalez and McKinley Boston were just too much for our teams to overcome. Financial strife becoming a way of life in the Fulton Center, is the unmistakable symptom of decades of failed leadership at the top.
We were not very deep into the disastrous McKinley Boston era at NMSU, before the most ominous challenges yet confronted NMSU athletics. The well-managed athletic departments in the WAC Conference began to seek and find stronger conference affiliations, while NMSU’s competitive position continued to deteriorate even more rapidly. While Dr. Boston went through the proverbial motions, NMSU athletics burned.
By the time Garrey Carruthers took command as president of NMSU in 2013, he inherited an athletics department disaster. Despite on court successes under Marvin Menzies, NMSU basketball attendance had slowed to a trickle where it remains to this day.
Eventually, the hapless McKinley Boston was finally vanquished by Garrey Carruthers, but the damage had already been done. Current athletic director Mario Moccia was brought in to try to clean up the decades old mess and establish improvement momentum. Moccia is most certainly a talented and high energy individual. However, there are simply too many other departments at NMSU being run by unmotivated career bureaucrats, that have controlled and continue to control the destiny of NMSU athletics. These archaic bureaucratic structures continuously disrupt Moccia’s efforts to compete in a customer service and customer satisfaction-driven endeavor. As a result, the progress Moccia can reasonably be expected to achieve should be measured in inches instead of miles. The examples of all the absurd handcuffs on Moccia’s authority to be responsive to his customer's basic needs are simply too numerous to mention here.
There have been recent bright spots at NMSU. The Aggies beat a strong Lobo team in football this fall and the hiring of basketball coach Paul Weir in the off season was a bold stroke. Weir’s Aggie basketball team has now reeled off fourteen consecutive victories and the program is attracting national attention for the first time in many years. Sadly, the attendance at NMSU basketball games does not reflect the tremendous success the NMSU basketball team has had this season.
Clearly there is much more to being able to run a financially viable athletic department than simply winning. Only a true revolution in thinking regarding the chain of command can reverse the trends at NMSU. A decisive commitment to radically streamline the structure of responsibilities for customer service is in order. NMSU must put authority for decisions affecting athletics into the hands of people who will pay a steep personal price for providing poor service. There is no other way out and time is short.

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Finally, some social justice

© 2016 Jim Spence - A couple of days after the election I wrote a column about the outcome. In it I asserted the claim that Trump made what should have been an easy win look difficult. There is an exhaustive study of the 2016 election results published on National Review this week that you can read here. The data confirms the assertions I made in November. Hillary was a terrible candidate and Trump actually under-performed thanks to his own inherent weaknesses.

Let's set aside the fact that Americans wanted CHANGE. It is now clear that Trump represents multiple revolutions within American society. Accordingly, the post-election media coverage of Trump has not been negative, it has been hysterical. The hysterics continue daily and it is obvious that prominent Democrats are continuing to collaborate behind the scenes with virtually every major news outlet except Fox. Their collaborative goal is to shape a well-coordinated assault on Trump. It is happening every day, hour by hour.

The media’s approach to “reporting” on Donald Trump has been absurd for 20 months. One had to wonder why he garnered so much attention from the moment he announced his candidacy. After years of watching the news media operate, one begins to understand that we Americans are exposed to political propaganda every day.....non-stop. We are being manipulated. It was pretty obvious that the incumbent Democrats and their nominee Hillary Clinton wanted to run against Trump all along. And with the help of the media they control, Democrats got what they wished for. Now Democrats are clearly wishing they hadn’t wished for a chance to run against Trump.

In a sense Trump is a creation of the media. However, because Trump understands the media and the American public, he uses the Democrat-controlled media's own tactics against them. Trump’s press conference on Wednesday provides a case study in how different Trump is when compared to the typical Republican. Trump’s push back at the press conference was startling. And the enormous shove he gave was directed at CNN. CNN reporter Jim Acosta was bitch slapped by Trump. Ironically, it was CNN that provided perhaps the most free publicity to candidate Trump in helping defeat his GOP rivals.

A closer look at how we have been manipulated......lately.......seems in order.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, the Democrats trotted out a series of lame excuses for their losses. None of the excuses involved even a hint of introspection. And not one of the excuses stuck despite all of the blow horns in the Democrat camp working at major media outlets. Still the coordination, with the media doing the dirty work for Democrats, continues to be relentless. Let's look at the last two months.

First, Democrats blamed racists for their losses, with the media producing dubious snippets to support the bogus claim. Next, Democrats blamed sexists, with the media employing the same tactics. Then it was on to a claim that anti-immigrants and Islamophobes tipped the results for Trump. The Democrats even tried to blame anti-Semitic sentiments for a day or so, until they discovered Trump's daughter Ivanka and her children are Jewish, and Trump approves of their Jewishness. Next the Electoral College became to boogieman. The Democrat media fired off blame charges at every group except their candidate and her hapless campaign, but nothing worked. Absurdly, the Democrats even organized the Green Party vote recounts, only to see those vote recounts begin to reveal disturbing patterns of voter fraud in inner cities like Detroit. Of course these voter fraud stories were buried by the media.

Eventually, a few weeks ago there seems to have been a collective decision by Democrats to blame the Russians and computer hackers for their losses. The Democrats and the Democrat-controlled media is sticking with this outrageous narrative. The Russians “hacked” our election, is now the catch phrase that is repeated hundreds of times each day. And in what is perhaps the most asinine display of distortion and outright lies in American history, Democrats have decided to designate Vladimir Putin as the boogieman who destroyed Hillary and made Donald Trump his puppet.

Democrats have been accomplished liars for many decades. Of course Republicans lie too....and yes, they lie often. But the GOP is simply not as well-armed nor as skillful when it comes to coordinated lying. Democrats seem to have a sixth sense about effective lying and of course they do have the support of their propaganda ministry. Democrats know that an effective lie that is distributed by the media must contain at least a grain or two of truth to seem plausible. And the Russian narrative Democrats are sticking with does contain some truth. The Russians are well-known for hacking and.....Hillary sure as hell did lose the election. Other than that, this latest charade is an exercise in deceit that is so absurd it leaves reasonable people shaking their heads.

To execute this Russian lie, Democrats have had to morph. Suddenly the intelligence community, a community Democrats have never hesitated to trash (can you say fake intelligence on WMD’s that tricked all the Democrats on Iraq), has suddenly become a pillar of truth to be defended by the Dems against scurrilous assaults by anti-intelligence agency Republicans.

Here is the truth. Democrats are not defending the CIA. What they are actually defending are unattributed leaks that are being choreographed by........Democrats. What you see playing out are Joseph McCarthy-like tactics. This stuff is circa 1950's.

There is nothing dirtier than politics. And there is nothing filthier than complicit propaganda ministries in dictatorships that are disguised as news media outlets. That the American news media supports the pack of lies related to the Russian hacking helps explain Donald Trump’s confrontation with CNN at the press conference this week. It was another remarkably aggressive repudiation of a stealth propaganda ministry in America. Unlike all of his GOP predecessors, Trump does not fear the media. He wades into gatherings of propaganda ministers with his rhetorical weapons drawn. Make no mistake, propaganda ministers are taken aback. They are not used to being confronted about their corruption. It is actually a riot to watch these Trump and news media gatherings play out. Trump is cuffing these clowns around.

The truth about what actually happened to the Democrats via "hacking" is comically simple. They got snagged by the crudest form of cyber chicanery. John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, is a hapless fool. He is so stupid he clicked on a phishing email in 2016. Anyone with an email account for the last twenty years has received dozens of phishing emails. The dangers associated with clicking on suspicious emails has been known since shortly after the PC age began. Only an idiot like Podesta would click on a phishing email in this day and age. What happened to Podesta was predictable. His emails were made public, including those where he was collaborating with John Harwood, a propaganda minister at NBC News. Emails of other Democrats collaborating with the CNN were also made public. This is the so-called "Russian hack" Democrats are peddling for public consumption these days. Wikileak's chief leaker Julian Assange, a former Democrat darling, is now a pariah because he has said his source for the Podesta emails was NOT Russia.

Amazingly, Democrats seem to think these emails were even more damaging than they actually were. The email revelations should have been devastating, but they weren't, simply because the propaganda ministers at various news outlets, outlets caught in clandestine collaborations with Democrats, were not very inclined to report on their own stinking corruption. Of course Fox New reported on how the propaganda ministers at NBC and CNN were cheating. And predictably, all of the propaganda ministers dismissed those fact-based reports because......they were Fox News reports.

Another great irony of this stinking episode is the phishing operation revealed how the Clintons were cheating the holy hell out of Bernie Sanders. That all of this has now been blamed on the "Russians" is an example of just how powerful the propaganda ministry has become, even in covering its own criminal tracks.

Still, Democrats find themselves in an amazing position. They quietly collaborate with the media. They use the media to cheat. And in the aftermath of a historical six year period where Democrats have taken their worst political beatings since their pro-slavery positions were repudiated by America one hundred-forty years ago, they now find themselves blaming the Russians for consequences they brought on themselves.

Finally we have a little "social justice."
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Confirmation "smearings" are underway

© 2016 Jim Spence - In the course of my adult life I have been registered as a Republican and a Democrat. Years ago I changed my voter registration to “decline to state.” Being a partisan requires too much suspension of common sense.

Speaking of suspending common sense, perhaps the saddest aspect of what is going on in America today is that tens of millions of people find it so easy to stand aside and watch character assassinations take place, while they continue to remain loyal to the Democrat Party. America will only deserve better government when this sort of thing is not tolerated......by anyone.

Democrats have made a collective 2017 political decision that became painfully obvious this week. Make no mistake, Democrats actually WANT racial tensions. This is why race relations have deteriorated. Democrats have believed for years that prodding for racial tensions helps them hold on to minority votes. So they gin up racial suspicion like bartenders stirring martinis. The media and the party faithful, who are one and the same, slurp it up.

As new cabinet appointees are brought in front of the Senate for confirmation hearings in 2017, it is now clear these proceedings are going to morph into confirmation SMEARINGS. What Americans are beginning to witness is abhorrent, simply because Democrats are settling into a vicious new way of life in the post-Obama era. Engaging in the character assassination of as many white nominees as possible, will be their plan. This is a slimy choice. And it has been made by reprehensible people like Chuck Schumer.

It should be embarrassing to every single person in America who identifies as a Democrat to watch this play out. But it won’t be. Unfortunately, within the Democrat Party, the idea of shame died quite awhile back. And with the help of public education, the film industry (i.e. Meryl Streep etc.) and their accessories to crime in the news media, these shams will continue.

Consider Senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions is a man who prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama early in his legal career. Sessions successfully argued for the death penalty for one Klan member who he convicted of murder. Yesterday Jeff Sessions was falsely accused of being a bigot by a slew of Democrats. They did this simply because he will be Attorney General of the U.S.  Democrats have the opportunity to smear him so they are going to do it. Today New Jersey Senator Corey Booker will take the stand and push the Sessions smear campaign one step further. Booker wants to be the next "Obama." Of course there are black pastors in Washington this week, men from Alabama who know Sessions well, who will defend him. They know that the Democrat's smearing of Sessions is a cheap shot so they are trying to help out. But these pastors, like the rest of us, will also realize that the truth simply does not matter in this exercise. Unprincipled DEMOCRATS are like the despicable football player who takes shots at his opponent's knees after the game has been decided. They are dirty players. Though they are trash, it is hard to administer justice to them because they are supported and defended by trash.

Sadly both of the reprobates that New Mexico voters have sent to the U.S. Senate are going to engage in spreading the big lies right along with their colleagues. Yes, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich will be part of the effort to smear the reputations of decent human beings to further the um........Udall and Heinrich “causes.” Apparently these causes center around trying to convince us that anyone who is not a Democrat is a racist.

The lies being told by Democrats continue to receive broad support everywhere in the news media except for Fox News. This explains why Fox News is now the most viewed network in cable. Fox has eclipsed ESPN viewership because millions of Americans are sick of the liars and their enablers. Americans are starving for anything that resembles objectivity in news reporting.

So on we go in 2017. Democrats still can’t explain the reasons why there are so many unsolved problems under their rule. One of the best examples of this situation is the thousands of innocent black people who are being butchered or maimed in Chicago every year. It is clear that all of the murders in the black communities, in all inner cities, are problems that Democrat's plans won't solve. This is true despite the fact that Democrats govern virtually all large cities in America. What we get from Democrats instead reforms and creative solutions that actually work, is a shameful display where good people like Jeff Sessions must endure intentional “smearing.”

This despicable display is sure to continue. It is actually the legacy of Barack Obama. That Democrats are behaving so shamefully in his final full week in office speaks volumes about who he is. Eight years ago the GOP confirmed many Obama appointees quickly and without smears. Don't expect basic decency this time around......it just isn't within those who should be decent.


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Swickard: Do what works and stop doing what doesn't work

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  The New Mexico Legislature is set to start and there are many plans being foisted upon the citizens for what needs to be done this session. Most do not address the reasons New Mexico is dead last in many categories and will not help the state arise from the bottom.
            Some want to spend lots of legislative time on DWI laws. But over the years all rational people have given up drinking outside their home. All that are left are the people that do not follow laws and young drivers who do not realize that if you drink and drive it will mess up your life.
            What New Mexico needs are the types of laws and rules other states have making them competitive for businesses and jobs. The biggest anchor around our collective necks is the lack of Right To Work laws. Those laws in other states prohibit unions requiring employee membership, dues and fees to be employed.
            The unions have a political death grip on New Mexico so it is unlikely to change. Many companies with jobs bypass New Mexico. If this legislature wants to kick start the economy, it is the first thing they should do.
            The main thing the legislature need to do is push the things that work rather than do the things that do not work. Example: If your horse dies, stop spurring and get off the horse. Find another one that is alive. What that means for New Mexico is quit doing what we have been doing for years and look at other prosperous states to emulate what they do to bring wealth to their citizens.
            This is not rocket science but when I look at what leaders want to do in this session it seems none of them have noticed New Mexico is last in many lists. If not last, the state is close to the bottom. What we need to do is to copy states that are doing well.
            It is not easy to become last in almost every category and it won’t be easy to stop being last because there are some politicians who prosper in an environment of failure and poverty. Still, this legislative session should endeavor to lift New Mexico out of the last places.
            It seems that when the representatives in Santa Fe look at the decades upon decades of poverty in our state they would do something different. But they don’t. How long has it been this way? It makes me think of New Mexico Territorial Governor Lew Wallace in 1881.
            Most remember him for his novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, partially written while in New Mexico. He was appointed territorial governor in 1878 and by 1881 could not wait to leave since he found corruption, gangs, violence and daily battles. Governor Wallace cautioned, “All calculations based on our experiences elsewhere fail in New Mexico.” That’s the New Mexico that was then and appears to be now.
            One of the plans to make New Mexico better will do the opposite. We should already know it but it doesn’t seem that our representative understand. The plan is to take more money from the Permanent Funds to fund more stuff rather than cut back on government. They want to spend more money when our problem is not enough money.
            New Mexico has a spending problem. We have too much government and even this session some want to increase the size of government when we can’t pay for what we already have. That’s the problem with raiding the Permanent Funds.
            Know this: the reason for New Mexico having Permanent Funds is that extractive resources of New Mexico are finite. One day they will all be gone. The oil, gas, uranium, copper, potash, coal, lead, tin and other minerals will one day be gone.
            Smarter leaders than we have now set up the Permanent Funds to compensate for extractives being mined out. Those funds provide lots of money for New Mexico. Now some want to take even more of the funds which may ultimately deplete them.
            Other states have foolishly lost those kinds of resources. Let’s not do the same to New Mexico. They should remain a permeant resource.

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Let's Pretend revisited

© 2016 Jim Spence - Most journalists graduate from colleges and universities with horrible anti-business biases. The idea of reporting who, what, where, when, and how has been replaced with a regular game of "Let's Pretend." For most journalists playing “Let’s Pretend,” is perceived as their highest calling. And their favorite narrative for the last eight years has been, “Obama saved the world from collapse.” This is of course a popular fantasy. 

The game of "Let's Pretend" is not confined to presidential politics. It applies to the spreading of ignorance in every phase of our society. One of the most fascinating forms of “Let’s Pretend” is the one that enables America to somehow be persuaded that Power Five Conference athletics is "amateur" athletics. Consider what the NCAA has to say on the subject on its own website:

Amateur competition is a bedrock principle of college athletics and the NCAA. Maintaining amateurism is crucial to preserving an academic environment in which acquiring a quality education is the first priority. In the collegiate model of sports, the young men and women competing on the field or court are students first, athletes second.”

When I read this assertion I was reminded of a video excerpt of a panel discussion I was watching a few years ago on ESPN. Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer and Alabama football coach Nick Saban were on the panel. Nick Saban actually made a statement that no individuals are making money off of college football, because the money that is made is all recycled back through each university.

To Urban Meyer’s credit, he politely chastised Saban. Meyer suggested Saban would make a helluva lawyer.........before reminding him of the gigantic salaries that head coaches make for coaching college football including himself and Saban. Here is a sampling of the highest compensation levels: Jim Harbaugh at Michigan makes $9 million per year. Nick Saban at Alabama makes $6.94 million per year. Urban Meyer at Ohio State makes $6.095 million. Bob Stoops at Oklahoma makes $5.55 million. Jimbo Fisher at Florida State makes $5.25 million. Oh yes, recently fired Texas head coach Charlie Strong was making $5 million per year. Strong was owed another $10 million when he was terminated. Dabo Swinney is making a cool $5.1 million per year to coach “amateurs.” Swinney had this to say about compensating the kids who risk a life of debilitating injuries to line his pocket:

“As far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that's where you lose me. I'll go do something else, because there's enough entitlement in this world as it is.”

Swinney’s comment regarding "entitlement" is comical. No doubt what he might do is move on to the NFL where the laborers in that industry already get paid. But for now Swinney is comfortable embracing entitlement in his own life. In Swinney's delusional mind he is perfectly "entitled" to make $5.1 million per year in a multi-billion dollar entertainment business, while using players, many who have market values in the millions, for the value of a scholarship. What is their true value? Only the market knows. Like so many others, Swinney wants to keep it that way.

The NCAA itself takes in more than a billion dollars a year in revenue on March Madness alone. Tack on the money coming in thanks to the college football playoffs and well.......you get the picture.

The point to be made here is actually pretty simple. Market forces are at work in college athletics no matter what the NCAA says about athletes being students first. The NCAA may cap the compensation of its labor pool at the value of a scholarship, but the NCAA sells rights to broadcasts to the highest bidders. Accordingly, schools bid for coaching talent in the MARKET place. It is the market that forces schools to pay top coaches millions of dollars per year. Nobody is capping coaches salaries. Coaches make more money than college presidents.

Image result for ncaa logoPerhaps the greatest of all ironies in the perverted market of Power Five college athletics is how higher education institutions, schools that are notorious for acting as breeding grounds for anti-capitalist, anti-business, anti free market, and particularly anti-monopoly economic philosophies, actually protect their own cash producing monopolies like John Rockefeller protected his oil interests. Collegiate athletic cartels have formed. They are called conferences. The most noteworthy business cartel in college athletics is a free market perverting organization known as the Power Five Conferences. This is a cartel pure and simple. It engages in rigging competition to ensure that the lion’s share of the money made in college athletics stays within those select few schools. Of course these activities, which take place in a multi-billion dollar industry, constitute market-price and wage fixing. Of course the rigging goes unpunished because America has been taught to "pretend" collegiate sports should somehow be granted an exemption from the strict anti-trust laws that apply to almost all other commercially competitive endeavors.

Consider recent efforts by collegiate players to force the NCAA to share more fairly in the incredible bounties generated by the player’s labors. These efforts have been beaten back by an army of lawyers. It was the Northwestern University players who attempted to unionize a few years ago. Otherwise pro-union academic institutions fought tirelessly in the courts to keep from sharing a few nickels with the players. And astonishingly, Mr. Obama’s own pro-union NLRB decided to support the elites who run the plantations at these schools instead of the laborers making most of the sacrifices.

While everyone is pretending the NCAA laborers are merely amateur student athletes, the Power Five conferences are literally swimming in cash thanks to unrestrained success in the free market of the entertainment industry. Visit any athletic department at virtually any Power Five school in the nation and you will run across more over-paid bureaucrats than any place except Washington D.C. and the state capitols.  When a “non-profit” is swimming in cash thanks to low fixed labor costs, all sorts of dubious spending schemes get developed to absorb that cash including multi-million dollar coaches salaries and bureaucrats making six figures to shove papers around their desks.

It was fascinating last month to see the media react to announcements by Christian McCafferey (Stanford), Leonard Fournette (LSU), and Shock Linwood (Baylor). Each of these players with promising NFL careers in front of them, said they were skipping their team’s bowl games to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft. Some pundits on ESPN said the actions were understandable, considering the “market value” of these players and the risk of injury that could cost them millions of dollars. Others decided to become indignant and pretend there are no market forces. Those judging these players harshly included coaches and former coaches, many of these critics had made millions of dollars per year teaching young men to risk the possible permanent sacrifice of their healthy bodies.......for scholarship peanuts.......while the coaches and bureaucrats made millions.

My point here is not to argue whether or not college athletics fits the so-called mission statement of the institutions. And it is not to argue whether players should be compensated for the risks they take to line the Power Five conference school’s pockets with untold millions in revenue. And I certainly do not begrudge great coaches their salaries. The market works well.....not perfectly.....but better than anything else. The point here is actually best posed as a question. Why allow part of a multi-billion dollar market to be rigged, and rigged against those taking the most risks?

People can “pretend” that government can serve as a legitimate alternative to the free market all they want. College football and basketball is government football and basketball. In this multi-billion dollar revenue space the free market has been perverted. Grasping reality requires us to recognize that individuals participating in rigged markets simply adapt to all restrictive perversions. Christian McCafferey, Leonard Fournette, and Shock Linwood made common sense MARKET-based decisions to not play in for-profit exhibition games disguised as "amateur" endeavors. They where NOT going to take the risks while others reaped the rewards.

Speaking of markets that have become perverted, Democrats lined up this week to pretend that Obamacare is immune from market forces too. Democrats would have us believe that forcing healthcare providers to work for artificially low compensation has no consequences. They would have us believe that forcing workers to overpay for health insurance has no consequences. It was so perfectly fitting to watch the Democrat's latest charade.

Like most journalists, Democrats love to pretend market forces don't exist. Others usually pay the price for their childish games.

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Some New Mexico commentary

© 2016 Jim Spence - People who have visited this site for many years know that Michael and I go back a long time. While we have not always agreed on every issue we have agreed the vast majority of the time. Applying common sense and real world experience is not rocket science.
For several years Michael and I hosted a statewide radio show (News New Mexico). We had many interesting guests including Governor Martinez on several occasions as well as our U.S. Senators and House Members. Two of our most remarkable guests were Lou Dobbs and Reince Priebus. Lou Dobbs hosts his own business show on the Fox Business Channel and Reince Priebus is of course, now Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff. Priebus was on our show twice.
Our radio show was successful. However as time passed, keeping it successful required more work than we were willing to do. Major back reconstruction surgery brought my life to a stop a few years ago and Michael’s duties as caregiver for his aging uncle also took their toll on his quality of life and energies.
The topics covered in many of my columns in recent years have focused on national politics. I have written so often about America instead of New Mexico because public policies at the federal level have never been more poorly conceived as they have been the last eight years. Simply put, it is my opinion that not only is Barack Obama the most corrupt president since Richard Nixon, he is by far the most incompetent president in U.S. history.
Two things emerge as we move deeper into 2017. First, Donald Trump is a remarkable phenomenon who is difficult to analyze. Second, it is clear that the Democrats continue to underestimate Trump. As Democrats flail haplessly with the same absurdly ridiculous narratives that have seen their fortunes destroyed over the last six years, most working people have come to understand how ineffective their ideas are.
While all of the incompetence and corruption at the federal level was overwhelming America over the last eight years, we New Mexicans have had our own lives to live. Let’s explore a few random observations on our state, our county, and my city, Las Cruces.
The state has been well led by our Governor Susanna Martinez. The problem continues to be well meaning but completely incompetent Democrats in the state House and Senate. Las Cruces has sent more than its fair share of clueless people to Santa Fe. The best examples of people sent to Santa Fe from Las Cruces who have no idea what it is like to hold down real jobs for extended periods of time are: Bill McCamley and Jeff Steinborn. These naive young men have barely enough real world experience to make decisions for themselves.....let alone the rest of us. Still, Steinborn and McCamley caucus with equally uninformed people from Dona Ana County and other parts of the state. Their goal has been to thwart Governor Martinez and her efforts to pull New Mexico out of sixty years of economic underperformance……..a legacy that coincides with utter Democratic Party domination of our legislatures during my lifetime.
Minus the exciting economic activities at Santa Teresa in the southern portion of Dona Ana County, our county economy has stagnated under a Democrat-dominated County Commission. The city of Las Cruces has also taken many steps backwards in recent years. This has happened as progressive Democrats have dominated both the City Council and Mayor’s office. Job opportunities in Las Cruces and Dona Ana County are scarce. Economic performance in this area now appears to be permanently stagnant with no real rebound in sight.
It does not have to be this way. The problem may well be with what is not stagnant. What is not stagnant is the political energies of people bent on making sure Las Cruces sinks deeper and deeper into economic under-performance. That would be Democratic Party activists.
In summary, Mr. Obama and the Democrats New Mexico sends to Washington drove deductibles on working people’s health insurance in our area from $500 a year to $6,500 a year. They also buried our doctors, nurses, and other health care providers with mountains of paperwork. They did this to satisfy the whims of worthless bureaucrats in Washington,
On the state and local level, Democrats like Bill McCamley, Jeff Steinborn, and the majority on the Dona Ana County Commission and Las Cruces City Commission have shackled job creation and opportunities for working people in our area with dumb anti-opportunity burdens disguised as "save the planet" sales pitches.
It is a shame that the majority of this area’s voters are so clueless about how important economic opportunity is to the quality of life of people willing to work. This area has never been governed more poorly than it is right now. Independents and the GOP have so much work to do.
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Swickard column: I pledge no more lying

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln
             I won’t lie to you, I do lie. Michael Swickard is a big fat liar. Well, I am big and no one calls me my nickname of “Slim” any longer without laughter.
            This year my resolution is that I am going to cut out lying. It is such a habit for me to lie. Sometimes it seems the only thing I can do. Often the people that I am dealing with know that I am lying and they prefer a lie.
            Example: I am at the hospital for a routine blood test. Every time I go I must start from scratch. I was born as a small child at Holloman Air Force Base August 24, 1950 at 11:35 a.m. in delivery room B. Yep, we get all the paperwork out there with my numbers and names which are always photocopied again. Then the lie.
            I am given my paperwork to read and either initial where indicated showing that I read that paragraph or at the bottom of some pages to sign and date to show I read it all. What a liar I am. I rapidly scribble my initials and sign the bottom of the many pages and hand the packet back.
            The counter person always sees I didn’t read anything but doesn’t rat me out for being the liar that I am.
            Same at Comcast and Verizon. I am handed a couple pounds of paperwork and told to read and sign it. I am done in less than a minute. The representative doesn’t blink that I read lightning fast and, get this, I understood what I had read before I initialed and signed the many sheets of paper.
            This is a quandary for me because I hate lying. As I grew up, lying was a real offense. Get caught lying and the day turned sour. While there were three of us kids, my mother seemed to know which one of us was not telling the truth.
            One time I told my rehearsed lie and my mother said, “Michael, that is a lie. I can see it on your forehead. The next time I told a lie, I held my hand over my forehead and she still saw through it though she turned to my father and said, “He gets that from your side of the family.”
            Incidentally, she could see through both hands and a cap. And there were severe consequences for not telling the truth. So, in my family we were plain-spoken and just said what the truth was without trying to hide it. The punishment for doing wrong was much better than the punishment for doing wrong and lying about it.
            This is why it pains me to tell such big lies about actually reading the paperwork that I was supposed to read. Therefore, this year I am turning over a new leaf and when I must initial and sign paperwork I swear I will read it. All of it. You have my word on this.
            I intend to pack a lunch and drink whenever I go to places that have those many pages of lawyer words that are supposed to be signed. You have seen the documents that read: … the party of the first part with the party of the second part and the party of the first part with the party of the second part with the party of the first part and second part blah blah blah.
            Perhaps I should take a pillow also since that puts me to sleep. I know if anyone really understands those words, some lawyer will get fired since they are not meant to be understood. And the terms on the paper are not negotiable even if you somehow understand them.
            Further, I promise to not repost hoax news. This will be a snap because I can look stuff up easily. You have my word on this to only post what I know is true. I will forego political sites since lying and politics are bedfellows.
            I’ll let you know how the counter workers handle me spending hours reading every last word.

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“I have here in my hand a list"

© 2016 Jim Spence - Yesterday's column traced some of the lies foisted on the American people by the outgoing president. The comparison to the child who is allowed to get away with lies from early in life is completely valid. The result with a child who is enabled in this way is that he or she becomes a compulsive liar who will say anything to produce the desired outcomes. The child in question is Barack Obama. Those who should be holding him accountable instead of enabling him is, unfortunately, our so-called free press. Free press apparently means journalist's political biases are "free" to dominate how "news" is presented for consumption by the masses.

Here is a real news flash. The American public now fully understands the dangers to a free society of having a news industry that has become the ministry of propaganda for one political party (Democrats). This understanding helps explain why the press sanctioned polls are so wrong. The public is shunning these con artists and their pollsters and lying right back to them.

One of the most disgusting charades of the Obama presidency is unfolding right before our eyes with a full assist from the ministers of propaganda. Just a few days ago the Obama Administration released a "report" that it claimed "proved" the Russians were behind the hacking they say affected the election by hurting Hillary's billion dollar campaign. The report released did no such thing. Mr. Obama, his lieutenants, and any reasonably intelligent news person knows this report was a joke.....a bad joke.

The White House goons made the decision to try to tell people what this so-called report meant. They must have been hoping that nobody would read the report. Many people did read the report looking for the "proof." Don't take my word for it. You can read the report itself right HERE.

Image result for joseph mccarthyThe report does not even attempt to prove anything. It is merely a simplistic outline of how phishing attacks take place. John Podesta should have read it. Apparently he is too stupid to know he shouldn't be opening every email that hits his mailbox. Still, there are no specifics in this report whatsoever. The report does not even give the IP addresses or the Mac numbers of the hackers. It provides no details regarding the origins of the attack. It does not reveal how the hackers gained entry, how they appropriated the data, or even how much data they took. There was no disclosure of trace routing information whatsoever. And since all of these essential details are either missing or unknown, the report does not reveal how this data was then passed on to the Russian government.

Based on what the White House said the report was.........this report is basically a sham. Trace routing information is what would be necessary to justify the White House claims of a Russian connection.

Back to the real world. Mr. Obama regards himself as the great diplomat. He believes that everything can be worked out via diplomacy. Obama cited this bogus report release as justification for forcing 35 Russian diplomats to leave the U.S. and other sanctions on Russia. This is shameless grandstanding at its worst. Obama had eight years to recognize the danger of Russian hacks.

There is a good reason for the mainstream media to now be referred to as the "propaganda ministry." Apparently reporters and producers working at every news media outlet except Fox did not bother to read this report. Journalists choose to be willfully ignorant or bald-faced liars regularly. Parroting the Obama claims of what the report means is the latest disgrace.

Mr. Obama has adopted the tactics of one of the most despicable people in American history. He is now rivaling Joseph McCarthy. Mr. Obama has accomplices at every major news outlet except Fox. Edward R. Murrow is spinning in his grave.
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Propaganda ministers reap what they sow

© 2016 Jim Spence - In just three weeks Democrats will be able to truthfully “say” they HAD a two-term president from 2009 to 2017. The GOP said the same thing until Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974.
Obama lives in the post-shame era. The late night talk show comedians don't even make fun of Obama like they have every president before him. I have a New Years prediction for you. Prepare for a return to normal. I predict right now on this site......that late night talk show hosts will tell a joke or two about Trump after he takes the oath of office.
History suggests that Mr. Obama and Mr. Nixon have so much in common. Both conducted themselves distinctly....as remarkably dishonest liars. Nixon surrounded himself with liars and so has Mr. Obama. Eventually Nixon resigned in disgrace because he was caught in a web of lies. Mr. Obama has been caught in one lie after another too. However, it is very fortunate for him that CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times and the Washington Post are defined by their own dishonesty. Mr. Obama’s lies are condoned by those who should expose them. What a waste of 1st Amendment protection. Not coincidentally, the Fox News phenomenon is no surprise. The popularity of Fox, which has eclipsed ESPN in cable/satellite network viewership, can be explained by millions of Americans rejecting the con games of Obama adoring by the rest of the media.
Lying is insidious. Think about parents who let their children tell lies without consequence. Unrepentant liar children grow up to be sorry adults like Nixon and Obama. Getting away with lying has defined Obama’s entire life. It began long before he became president. He lied on his student aid application decades ago when he claimed he was NOT an American citizen. He did so to get foreign student aid. To stay comfortable in lifestyle Obama had to lie. He was lazy. His grades were not going to produce academic scholarship dollars. Obama may be lazy but he is smart. He realized that claiming he was a foreign student would create cash for him to spend. Obama lied to get what he wanted, and he got away with it.
After Obama’s political ascendancy, his volunteer propaganda ministers defended his lies. Anyone who dared to question the citizenship of the half-white Obama, the citizenship he himself had denied for money, was branded as a racist. They simply hated the half of him that is black. The dismissive birther label was coined and plastered on all interlopers. CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times and the Washington Post made up one hell of a support group for Obama. It never occurred to anyone at these completely discredited media outlets to report that Obama himself was the original birther.
Remember Jonathan Gruber? Gruber was the architect of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Like so many who work with Obama, Gruber is a serial liar. Gruber was caught on several videos insulting American voters and bragging about how lies were used to pass the law.
"It's a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter," Gruber said at the Honors Colloquium 2012 at the University of Rhode Island.
And at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 Gruber said, "If you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in -- if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed, OK? Just like how people -- transparent -- lack of transparency is a huge advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."
Like Obama, Mr. Gruber captures the essence of the elite Democrat’s attitude towards voters. Elite Democrats think they are so much smarter than voters that their willingness to lie to people to advance their agenda is justified. Read Animal Farm if you are confused about this mindset.
Fast forward to the dawn of 2017 and consider the final days of the Obama presidency. He is still at it. It appears his presiding over the disintegration of his party is going to culminate with his feigned outrage over the “Russian interference in our elections.” What this actually means is that during the Democratic primary season, hackers based in Russia exposed the lies being told to fellow Democrats by the Democratic National Committee. It seems there was an incestuous relationship between so-called news reporters in the Obama propaganda ministries and the leaders of the Clinton Campaign. Their lies and their super delegate cheating schemes were hurting Bernie Sanders badly and the far left fringes of the Democratic Party did not like it. What Clinton boss John Podesta gave the hackers on a silver platter by clicking on a phishing email was leaked to media members willing to publish the filthy facts.
Here is the con. Everyone including Mr. Obama already knew the Clintons were cheating Bernie Sander’s brains out before the so-called Russian hacks of the DNC. Obama and his henchmen were hoping that most Democrats would not care about these revelations of Clinton cheating. It turned out most Democrats didn’t care about the cheating......so Sanders got beat.
Folks, the hack story died months ago. However, what Mr. Obama did not count on was Trump beating Clinton seven weeks ago. When Trump astonished America and captured the win that was supposed to go to Clinton, the initial shock eventually wore off. Since mid-November all of the Democrats, including Obama, have been trying to come up with a plausible narrative of lies to justify blaming others. The goals were to absolve themselves of any fault, and discredit Trump before he takes office. Not exactly accepting the election result.
Democrats began with the most reliable con angle they know. They made the charge of racism. But this con wouldn’t stick. Next, Democrats tried the sexism charge. But that bogus excuse did not stick either. Next Democrats blamed the Electoral College. This angle, and the subsequent coup attempt with electors also fell flat. Finally, the Democrats came up with their last stand. It is the lie they are going to stick with until eternity (or 2020). It goes like this: “The Russians helped Trump, and by god they are going to be sanctioned!”
Earlier this week Obama feigned toughness. He doesn't do tough well. He is more of a pillow than a Putin fighter. Still he had to run the con. Out went 35 Russian diplomats. That will show those sons of bitches! We will teach them a lesson for helping Trump. The charade was so comical the Russians didn't even respond by tossing out a few American diplomats.
This Russian hack ruse is a huge and historical lie. Naturally it is repeated by the propaganda ministries. It is simply more executive branch fraud a la Nixon.
While Obama is once again disgracing himself, the amazing part of his existence is that he is like the child who was never punished for lying and cheating. Obama will get a free pass from the propaganda ministries for what amounts to him sanctioning Trump because Hillary got caught cheating Bernie.
It is a fitting parting shot for Obama. One more lie piled on a life of deception that has been propped up and propelled by CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
What the ministers at America's premier fake news outlets don’t realize is that the Americans have learned to lie too. They lie to pollsters about who they approve of. They lie to pollsters about who they will vote for. It is the law of the jungle. The law Obama has popularized.
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2017 - 36 years since the last renaissance

© 2016 Jim Spence - I find myself thinking about the retirement of Thomas Sowell more and more.....even after paying tribute to him in my previous column. Sowell isn't dead, but 2017 won't be the same without him.

For the last thirty-three years I have worked in an industry where there are great rewards for being correct, and very severe penalties for being wrong. At Spence Asset Management we work in the belly of free market capitalism, a place where risk and reward are a way of life and clear thinking is a must. The price of being dead wrong is often so severe it keeps us up at night. I do not get the impression that most Democrats ever even consider the idea they might be wrong, let alone what being wrong might cost them. It is not their world to pay for thinking errors. They prefer to think deep thoughts and deny failure. This has been a way of life for Mr. Obama.

The cold reality of confronting risks regularly explains why I hold a very deep aversion to any sort of extended contact with progressive Democrats where ideas are exchanged. Astonishingly, their approach to decision-making is simply not based on risks and rewards or results. I say this because there are far too many policies that clearly don’t work that progressive Democrats want more of. 

It is hard to count all of the failing policies we have seen over the last eight years that Democrats continue to pretend are working. Rather than provide a long list of all of the bad ideas Democrats insist on embracing, let’s get to the heart of this conundrum. Why would anyone pretend that a litany of bad ideas that are proven failures are actually good? 
Thomas Sowell provides the answer with this gem of a quote - "Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good." 
Democrats are very much into their feelings. It is the most bogus of all alleged substitutes for actually thinking. Quite often Democrats will delude themselves into believing their feelings are actaully critical thoughts. Engage a Democrat for a few minutes. I know this is going to be very tedious, but if you haven’t done so recently, please do it. Notice how they will always tell you how they “feel” and rarely tell you how they “think.” It is the essence of progressive Democrat to feel more than they think, and this essence leads to an endless supply of costly follies. I asked a Democrat a couple of years ago why with strict gun control laws in Chicago, were there so many shootings (60 over Christmas 2016) and why would laws like those everywhere improve public safety. He admitted there was no data to support the safety argument. He said he would......get this......"feel better" if there were more laws making it harder to buy guns everywhere.

Michael Swickard wrote a wonderful column (see below) on barking less and wagging more. He referenced a bumper sticker for this cheery thought. I saw the same sticker on another vehicle and liked it too. My problem with the proverbial wagging of my tail at progressive Democrats is they do not live in my world where doing stupid things is extremely costly. Again it is Thomas Sowell who best summarizes how dumb this is with the following quote -
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."
Let's return to a basic question. Why do so many Democrats pretend Obamacare works? The answer is they pretend it is working because Obamacare has NOT cost them dearly, like it has millions of other Americans. They do not share the burden of stupid policy. Those who have paid the price hate Obamacare.

Why do most elected Democrats pretend there are no risks associated with bringing Muslim refugees into the U.S. from countries that teach all children and adults to hate America? Again the answer is simple. It is because they work in places with armies of armed security guards. They never consider soft targets like those in Orlando or San Bernardino simply because they do not occupy places that are soft targets. It is very easy to simply be in favor of disarming law abiding citizens when you yourself have armed guards protecting you. There is no cost to them.

Of course the bad ideas Democrats support kind of goes on and on. As we move into 2017 Donald Trump has said in ways never before heard from an elected official heading to Washington, that he is going to begin to correct many of the things that have cost Americans deeply.......but cost elected Democrats still in Washington absolutely nothing. We shall see about these Trump promises in good time. A lady asked me the other day if I was optimistic about Trump. I told her I had learned to keep my expectations of what can be accomplished in Washington D.C. very low because most people who work there, both Democrats and Republicans pay no price for being wrong.

What is wrong with America? There are still far too many incumbent Democrats pretending what they vote for is working, while they pay no price whatsoever for being dead wrong about how they "feel."

It is my guess that 2017 is shaping up to be a watershed year in America. It is either going to be a renaissance the likes of which we haven't seen since 1981, or a major disappointment. Let us pray for the former.

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