Swickard column: Who profits from our problems?

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “If you want to understand any problem in America, you need to look at who profits from that problem, not at who suffers from that problem.” Dr. Amos Wilson
             A comedian once said the hardest job in the world is to be a funeral director at a million-dollar funeral. Hard to look glum with the mourners. That’s the problem in our world. Many of the problems that plague us are so profitable to other people. We should look to see who profits from our misery.
            Take poverty: if we just handed the money to the poor we would save money instead of the millions of poverty administrators who make a good living on the poverty bandwagon. It’s an industry unto itself where money is given from Washington to the states and the states employ workers in their state to carry out the aims of the program.
            The War on Poverty is a fifty year jobs program for government workers. It has been wildly successful at spending money on the administration of programs and giving political power to people. Sadly, we have as much if not more poverty than when we started. But we are not looking at who profits.
            Former president Ronald Reagan said, “We should measure welfare’s success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added.” Consider: who profits? First, politicians who promise to help those on welfare. Second, all of the government workers administering welfare.
            Our country did not have a described drug problem until the end of prohibition when all of those in the legal areas were about to be thrown out of work because alcohol was once again legal. So they latched onto illegal drugs, slowly at first but it is an industry that is scared of legalizing these drugs because it would put them out of work.
            They sanctimoniously claim they are just protecting us from ourselves but in reality if all drugs were legal and we treated drug use as a mental illness, the army of law enforcement officers would no longer be needed. So rather than look at who is injured by drugs, we know why we have the problem because of who profits from it.
            Likewise, Congress spends much of its time talking about protecting us from bad Congressional decisions. Namely, we are upset when companies move off-shore but we don’t hold Congress accountable. Why should we? Because most companies would rather be in our country but the rules out of Washington leave them no choice but to leave.
            Companies in the United States pay a thirty-five percent corporate tax. Their competitors for the same markets pay much less in corporate taxes in their countries. So our companies move to those countries. We know who suffers: American workers and our economy. Who profits? Congress who raises lots of money for themselves talking about the evil companies who leave.
            But they left because of the actions of Congress. What is the chance that Congress will lower the corporate taxes and make it easier to do business in the United States? Exactly zero. There is no political money to be made doing what is right for Americans.
            Our public education system has been administered to death with the mania for political accountability. The testing companies are profiting and so are the administrators but the students themselves lose in an environment of learn an answer, be tested on that answer, learn an answer, etc. There is so much profit that our poor students must suffer a lesser education to provide a huge profit to administrators and testing companies who of course provide political money.
            The decisions that have lead us into this valley of stupid are made by elected officials who do not personally suffer for their stupidity and misaligned priorities. Every election the same solutions are offered and the citizens suffer so that the politicians can prosper.
            Dr. Thomas Sowell said, “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.”
            What is worse is putting those decisions in the hands of people who profit by us suffering.

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The Obama and Chavez legacies crystalizing

© 2016 Jim Spence “If you like your health insurance you can keep it.” 
In 2016 every citizen, whether Democrat or Republican, now knows that this statement, which Mr. Obama echoed repeatedly as he pushed for the government takeover of healthcare, was nothing but a bald-faced lie.
Still, if you talk to Democrats, they will shrug off the Obama lie. Obama Democrats remind me of the Nixon Republicans. I have spoken with many Nixon defenders. Like Obama defenders they manage to shrug off corruption too easily. Most often Nixon defenders said of such deceit, “Everyone does it, everyone lies.”
Well there you go.
Kristi and I have had our health insurance policies cancelled three consecutive years. We know many others who have had theirs cancelled too. Essentially we have already spent dozens of hours the last three years shopping for third rate policies. Since Obamacare went into effect, our out of pocket maximums have skyrocketed from $500 to $6,500 and our prescription coverage has gone from good to terrible. The good news is post menopausal Kristi does have maternity coverage thanks to the one-size-fits-all mandates imposed by the Democrats running the government and healthcare.
Of course the real problem with America is ignorance..........ignorance perpetuated by Democrats. Consider how many times the government has seized control of something and ruined it. This is not a new phenomenon. Think about air mail service, which was taken over by the federal government shortly after Franklin Roosevelt took power. The Democrats did not like the “profiteering” going on with mail service, so they demanded that the government be put in charge to replace greedy private contractors. Dozens of plane crashes later (and poor service to go with it), Mr. Roosevelt admitted that the private sector needed to run air mail service. Nobody admits these things today. We double down instead.
Riots in Venezuela
There are so many examples of the government overpowering the private sector and then screwing up important areas of life that would be better served by the private sector, you can’t count them all. Obamacare is but another large scale example. Why are we surprised it is a disaster?
This week there are two more examples of how poorly things get run by government. These examples are rearing their ugly heads and making headlines. It seems that government control of everything is finally going mission critical in Venezuela. And there are such profound shortages of basic essentials like food and water that the people there are rioting. It seems that Hugo Chavez’s handpicked socialist successor, Mr. Maduro may well start to fear for his own safety. People get kind of hostile when the wait in line while their bellies are empty.
Do you think America has learned that government being in charge of everything is always a disaster? Think again. Bernie Sanders won the Oregon primary last night pitching Venezuelan solutions to problems that have already made worse by big government for decades. Young people love Bernie. Young people who love Bernie are stupid.
TSA security lines
Speaking of waiting in line, the other story in the news this week is the federal government’s running of security at the airports. In Chicago, a city on the verge of bankruptcy on its own thanks to big government, is now suffering at the hands of the federal government’s TSA. It seems the TSA has told Chicago airline passengers to arrive at the airports......get this,.....THREE HOURS early, so they can stand in line to get past government run security. It seems that thousands of people missed flights thanks to the TSA last week.
The TSA is another signature situation that illustrates what happens when Americans hands over its precious liberties to bureaucrats. 
What is ahead? Well, we do have to buy sub standard health insurance or be fined by our federal government. This is a constitutional law according to Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who sided with the Democrats on the constitutionality of Obamacare.

One wonders when Roberts and the other useful fools on the Supreme Court will rule that all of us must fly…….if we want to travel. Perhaps this will be the case according to Obamatravel. Stay tuned.

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Swickard: Practical ideas for public schools

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  When I make suggestions to public schools I usually get two rejections: one for that idea and another for whatever I think of next. It doesn’t stop me. In fact, here are two rejected ideas from the last few years.
            The simpler one is to add table tennis to public schools. While teaching at Albuquerque High School in the 1970s we started an afterschool table tennis team which had about seventy regular members. The rules had to be followed but there were no academic requirements.
            Students could play table tennis in a sixteen team league. At the time I was a tournament table tennis player so I was good, having learned the game at age seven in Japan.
            Here’s the pitch to my local school district: it doesn’t require language, gender, size or ethnic origins. But it does require that participants not drink alcohol or take drugs. The eye/hand requirements are such that participants cannot play when impaired.
            I found with the team at Albuquerque High that those students were very competitive but for behavior or grades or lack of sufficient ability could not traditionally compete. In table tennis they found something they could master fairly well in a few months and then could compete with others in their same skill level.
            It kept kids in high school. Years later when I tried to get my local school district to start it in elementary school and continue through high school, I was told it wasn’t football so forget it.
            Another idea. Back in the 1950s as a small child I was living at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. I witnessed the Air Force Thunderbirds come over at about 500 feet and several hundred miles an hour.
            As I looked up with five-year-old eyes I thought, and still do, flying is wonderful. Then I was able to get deeper into this realm when America decided to put men on the Moon. John Glenn orbited the Earth three times. I built models of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo craft and breathlessly followed.
            One of my suggestions a few years ago to my local school district is that they start building the dream of flying for students. Consider that we, as a nation, are running out of private pilots because young people are not going into aviation as they have in the past.
            This last weekend members of an experimental aircraft association took several students up flying which is great. What I have pitched a couple times and got rejected was in fourth grade to introduce flight simulator software with inexpensive yoke and pedals to students who are interested.
            Microsoft make a Flight Simulator that teaches flying nicely. The yoke and rudder petals are cheap so there is not much investment in each classroom.
            If students start in fourth grade, by sixth grade they can join Civil Air Patrol where they will learn lots about aviation and probably get some rides in airplanes. By eighth grade they can solo in a glider and get a glider license to fly. Finally, by the time they are sixteen they can get a pilot’s license. Wow! Almost before they get a license to drive they can be flying.
            A former squadron commander of Civil Air Patrol liked the idea and thought that he and his colleagues would be glad to help teachers learn the flight simulator and how to help students learn from the program.
            The people in the public schools rejected this because flying is not on the accountability tests so it would take students away from doing better on tests. Really? Right now many students are bored out of their minds with the mania for testing: learn an answer, give an answer, learn an answer, etc.
            How would it change a generation of students who want to experience flight? It would be a motivator to learn math and other concepts that flying use. Further, no one who flies sees the Earth the same as they did before they flew.
            Both table tennis and flying would add lots of sizzle to the school day for interested students but are rejected as activities for not being on the accountability tests. Perhaps practical interesting things should be.
 Email: drswickard@comcast.net - Swickard’s new novel about New Mexico, Hideaway Hills,is now available at Amazon.com

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Swickard: The real learning comes after graduation

Kindergarten graduation a long long long time ago
© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   “People in school today can expect a lifetime in which knowledge itself will radically change, not only in its details but in its structures; so that the mark of a truly educated person will no longer be how much or even how variously he knows, but how quickly and how completely he can continually learn.” Richard Kostelanetz, 1986
             Having been born in 1950, this is the 65th year that I have not been asked to speak at graduation. And I have some thoughts since I graduated from kindergarten, eighth grade, high school, a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a Ph.D. So I have listened to graduation speeches a few times.
            At my high school graduation in 1968 the speaker told us that we were the leaders of tomorrow so we must go out and take charge of the world. The next day I was hunting a job and was not selected to take charge of anything. The big liar.
            It was also mentioned that the older generation watching us graduate in 1968 were ready for us to take over the management of the world. Nope, that would be thirty years later. But it sounded good that night and we felt great as they called our names and we got our diploma.
            I was thinking of graduations past because it is graduation time at New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico. I am an alum of both institutions and have also worked for both. At the graduation ceremony there will be that long wait and then the short walk across the stage.
            Almost twenty years ago I got a Ph.D. That graduation they did the advanced degrees last. So Swickard is late in the alphabet. There was only one person behind me when the people noticed that the ceremony was coming to an end.
            My name was called and the entire audience yelled and clapped. My Aunt Shirley later remarked I had lots of friends. No, I assured her, it was just the ceremony had gone on a couple hours and they were glad it was over. But I digress. What I want to talk to this graduating class about is the never-ending learning they must do.
            As the quotation by Richard Kostelanetz in 1986 points out: these graduates will have a lifetime in which knowledge will radically change, not only in its detail but in its structures; so that the mark of a truly educated person will no longer be how much they know but how completely they can continually learn.
            Often we paint a picture of graduates as wise men or women come down from the ivory towers to take their places in the work-a-day world. Most of us in college spent long hours on subjects which have little relevance to the world, but in doing so we have learned to learn, and that is a great thing.
            The employers will some of these graduates. Quickly though, it is what they can learn to do on the job which will impress people. It can be called, “Just in Time Learning.” Very quickly graduation will cease to be mentioned, the focus will be on what they learned that week.
            The college graduates are celebrated now for an achievement called graduation. The real celebration is for their ability to learn. So I have two messages for the graduates, congratulations on getting this far, and, more importantly, keep on learning!
            But there is more. Some will learn to build wealth; some will always be in debt. Some will find a partner in life and face the world with someone by their side while others will not. The most satisfied and successful people will be well-rounded and will learn how to live life well.
            None of this happens by accident. You must take charge of your life and understand the financial side of life so that in your 50s you can retire if you so desire. With a secure wealth, not flashy money to throw around but debts erased and money socked away you can try your hand at other things rather than work until you drop.
            You can be free of the debt chains if you are disciplined financially.
Email: drswickard@comcast.net - Swickard’s new novel about New Mexico, Hideaway Hills,is now available at Amazon.com

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Mitt Romney - picking up his marbles and going home

© 2016 Jim Spence You have to hand it to Mitt Romney. He is very upset because he sees a wave of “populism” sweeping through the GOP.
Mitt Romney is a paradox. When Governor of Massachusetts he made dumb deals with Democrats every other day to hold power. His explanation was that because he is a businessman, he is "flexible." Some of the Romney contradictions were very stark. Accordingly, the GOP voters noticed during the 2008 election season. Ultimately and equally as foolish, the GOP primary voters rejected Romney in favor of John McCain in 2008.
John McCain was and still is a war hero. That is pretty much it for him. McCain voted against intelligent policies that catapulted America back from the recession that set in at the end of the Clinton presidency. John McCain also voted against tapping oil reserves in the federal government’s mosquito infested frozen swamps near the Arctic Circle. McCain is a dumb big government Republican.
Perhaps a bit of economic history is in order. America has been saddled with three terrible economies since the end of WWII. John F. Kennedy inherited the big government over-taxed malaise of the FDR era that was continued under Truman and Eisenhower. JFK slashed personal income tax rates across the board and an economic boom quickly ensued.
Ronald Reagan took over an economy that was in terrible shape after LBJ, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter all increased taxes as well as the size and scope of government. Reagan slashed personal income tax rates across the board and an economic boom quickly ensued.
George W. Bush inherited an economy that went in the tanks after the tech bubble burst and the 9-11 attacks smashed the global economic environment. Bush slashed personal income tax rates across the board and an economic boom quickly ensued, America experienced the fastest rates of economic growth since the Reagan and JFK tax cuts.
After four nightmarish years of Obama anyone with half a brain knew he was fundamentally destroying America. By 2012 virtually half of the country (47%) was not contributing a dime in federal income tax to support Obama’s fat and more bloated/over-extended government. Romney addressed this problem in a speech during a private fundraiser. With the help of the media, the parasites in the Democratic Party called foul. Democrats and the news media feel it is unfair to point out the fact that half the nation is freeloading. Instead of re-iterating the truth about freeloaders, Romney chose to backslide and pretend he meant something else. It was at this moment that most of us knew how flexibly corrupt Romney was capable of being. Of course we voted for Mitt Romney anyway as we knew another four years of the American version of Fidel Castro was unthinkable.
Please fast forward to 2016. These days Mitt Romney is very upset. Why? It seems that another flexible guy, just like Romney, has won the GOP nomination. The problem is the nominee isn’t the one Romney supported. 
Personality-wise Donald Trump is certainly no Mitt Romney. Trump likes pretty women, lots of them. Romney is a one-woman man. Trump even likes to brag about his female conquests while Romney brags about his grand kids. However, much like Romney, Trump is rich thanks to the tremendous boost of inheriting hundreds of millions of dollars from his daddy.
The main difference between Trump and Romney is that Mitt Romney is slick and Donald Trump is coarse. It seems that Romney is somehow astonished that there is so much “populism” out there in America. Populism of course is a form of political appeal that includes grains of truth, something Mitt is all too familiar with. Romney was OK with the truth too…….sometimes. Now he says he won’t support Trump because of his high standards. Hmmmm. What about those of us who made the same sacrifice when we voted for him?
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Swickard: Making our lives worse than they need to be

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.    Maybe it’s me but it doesn’t seem that the citizens control our elected folks. There is talk about listening to the citizens but I see a different picture. Those we elect and hire often make more money than us, drive better cars, have better offices and a great retirement system. Our “servants” have a retirement system while most citizens do not.
            Who are the giving units providing benefits and who are the rulers commanding obedience? Did you think they are our servants? Silly to think that. We’re the burro putting the money into their coffers and they are the monarchs who rule us.
            Many, not all of them, can barely contain their contempt of citizens. And they are quick to offense when one of their subjects questions them.
            Over the last two decades I have been laughed at for wanting the main roads in my city to have their traffic lights timed. One elected representative asked if I needed my food cut up also. Another said timing the traffic lights was impossible.
            We sent men to the Moon. Timing the main arterial road lights would be a snap. They don’t want to because it isn’t their idea and they hate pushy citizens.
            I was thinking about drivers like myself who drive a block, get a red light; drive a block get another red light etc. It is a waste of resources to stop, get going and then stop repeatedly.
            What made me think of this is that the New Mexico Department of Transportation has been replacing a freeway bridge in Las Cruces over Missouri Avenue. The job has taken a year. Recently it was announced that work done to improve the safety of the nearby streets would be torn out by the city because the city did not agree that the state should construct safer intersections.
            We taxpayers paid to put the safety barriers in and we will pay to take them out and have less safe intersections. The state put in concrete curbs in the turn lanes of some intersections to prevent vehicles from going into the opposite lane thereby causing an accident. The City of Las Cruces apparently wants vehicles to be able to strike other vehicles unimpeded.
            My uncle, Ralph Smith, was for years the Safety Manager for the New Mexico Highway Department for District Two headquartered in Roswell. I grew up spending summers with him so I had a front row seat on someone who liked to talk highway safety.
            From that background I could see that the concrete curb barriers were done to protect drivers. So let’s connect the dots: I want timed lights because that is safest. Accidents happen when vehicles change speed. It is also a question of efficiency and not angering drivers. Get them all going the same speed.
            Likewise, over the years I have protested in several columns putting anything in the divided street medians because the medians are an emergency runoff area for when crap happens in the driving lanes. Imagine if you dart onto the median to avoid an errant car and BAM you run into a tree that is pretty, but it kills you.
            The city likes the beauty of the medians and they ignore the dangers if a motorcyclist was to wrap themselves around one of those median trees. A death here and a death there, I guess they don’t care.
            One more thing: it is foolish to make citizens mad while they drive unnecessarily. Because I live near the bridge project I noticed the traffic at the bridge intersection is typically backed up for blocks and blocks because there are single lanes and gridlock in the intersections.
            At times going East on Missouri under the freeway the gridlock is so profound that sometimes during two or three lights no one going East gets through because it is clogged by North and South traffic turning East.
            Recently it took around thirty minutes to get through the intersection and people were driving over curbs close to road rage. Is it unfortunate or is it no one in the city thinks they are our servants? The response from the city predictably will be: how dare I criticize them? Indeed.
 Email: drswickard@comcast.net - Swickard’s new novel about New Mexico, Hideaway Hills,is now available at Amazon.com

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Endless stream of lies continues

© 2016 Jim Spence Wow! There seems to be a big stink over what is being described as North Carolina's discriminatory law against the LBGT community. And for some reason most of us are slow to understand, there seems to be quite an alliance between Marxists and the LBGT community. Marxists will support all sorts of group identity entitlements and the LBGT community will support failed Marxist economic policies.

If you sift through all of the articles posted on the Marxists websites, you will see all sorts charges of bigotry and/or worse against the state legislature in North Carolina for passing a bill that they claim singles out the LBGT community for harsh treatment.

Knowing the truth about just how little appetite Republicans have for legalized bigotry, I decided to look into this situation to determine why in the hell the state of North Carolina would not let LBGT people do number one or number two when they really have to go to the bathroom, simply because of bigotry and discrimination.

Low and behold it turns out the media is lying through its teeth again.

The bottom line on the North Carolina law is as follows:
Transgender people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificates have no legal right under state law to use public restrooms of the opposite sex.....period.
What this means in day-to-day life is this.....if you are Kaitlynn Jenner and you want to use the little girl's room in North Carolina, no problem, go right ahead. The same is true for Renee Richards etc. True transgender persons are treated according to the gender they have become.

However, let's say you are Bubba Jones and you simply feel like a woman trapped inside a man's body. Maybe you have yet to make time for a surgeon or summon the courage to do some serious alterations to your junk. However, you still want be identified as Barbara Jones, Well, according to the law, even if you feel more comfortable prancing around in a nice flower patterned dress or a cheerleader's outfit, rather than a pair of cowboy jeans and boots, when it is time to drain your lizard, you aren't going to be able to barge into the little girls room where young ladies are using the stalls and fire away from a couple of feet above the bowl.

Alternatively, if you are endowed with female plumbing but would rather be John Wayne, but you haven't gotten around to getting a nice johnson surgically attached, so you can stop being Juanita Wayne, you will have to head over (no pun intended) to the ladies room when you need some bladder or bowel relief.

That's it. That is the bad news in the law. For cross dressers, the pretend game or wish game, ends at the potty room. The good news is there won't be any cross dresser men allowed in the little girl's room until after they have their johnsons and dingle berries removed, which is really pretty much all that anyone cares about. Frankly, I don't care who uses the men's room...though I kind of hate waiting in line.

Are these circumstances created by this law grounds for claiming horrible, discriminatory, bigoted, and shameful situations for the LBGT community? Nope. Just the cold hard realities of getting along with others. We all need to poop and pee in designated areas. Sorry.

What this circus actually represents is one more example of what a disgrace the national news media is (minus Fox) for concealing the true implications of this law.
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Swickard: Voting only for those citizens who care

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  Four years ago I wrote, “The election this year has felt like going to the dentist and having the same tooth filled every day for a whole year.” It is even more so this time around. This election has brought out the worst in Americans rather than the best.
            What is either forgotten or never learned by most Americans and the media is that the system of presidential election is designed to sustain the party bosses and no one else. The media is not telling the truth to the American public.
            What is the truth? Our founding leaders did not trust average citizens to select the president so we have rules allowing party bosses almost unlimited power to select who they want. Hilary Clinton will be the Democrat Nominee regardless of the votes garnered by Sanders because of Super Delegates. Likewise, Republicans who think they have any control over the party bosses are mistaken.
            I like Ted Cruz but realize that he and Donald Trump have little chance to win regardless of how I vote. The party bosses pull the levers at the convention. Occasionally the people’s choice wins but not often.
            Why did the founding leaders and the subsequent members of Congress make a system where the citizen on the street has little to say as to who will be running for president in the general election? They did not trust citizens to use good judgement. Hence, the Electoral College where influence has been used to steal elections.
            Remember, only a quarter of American colonists were for Revolution. A quarter of the colonists opposed them. And the remaining half of the colonists didn’t care either way, they were too busy with their teenagers and making a living to care or take part.
            Today the same is true. Half of all Americans either are not registered to vote or do not vote. America votes more for Dancing With The Stars than for President. Perhaps our citizens are not fit to select the winner.
            Several years ago on election day I was in a store. One person said that they voted for president. Another asked, “Who is running.” That was after millions was spent on ads and television was 24/7 about the election.
            Four years ago I wrote, “We, the people, have concentrated on the personal trivia of candidates and the untrue about them. We have not had an authentic dialog about our country’s needs.”
            Still true. Lately people have been talking about how to get young people to vote. That’s a population who can name every song from a Rap artist but can’t tell you when the War of 1812 happened.
            How do you get young people to vote? By selling them on their own interest. I am always surprised that young men will register for Selective Service without the awareness they’re in line for war if we need soldiers.
            They look so surprised when I mention this to them and say, “Naw, can’t happen to me.” Well, of course it can happen. It has before and will again. I got a letter from President Nixon greeting me and sending me to an induction center on December 28, 1972. As luck would have it President Truman died two days earlier and they did not take me into the Army because it was a National Day of Mourning for Truman. I spent two years in ROTC in college for which I’m glad.
            We should not spend our time trying to get young people or for that matter anyone registered and to the polls. We should spend our time getting these people to care. If they care, they will register and vote. Caring, not voting, makes the democracy.
            What do I hope for this election? I hope people of character and integrity win, regardless of party affiliation. I hope the will of the people triumphs over voter fraud, regardless of who wins. I hope leaders tackle the war on terror, social security, taxes, health care and education with an understanding that political solutions only work for political problems. Never use political solutions for anything else.
            Vote if you care. If you do not care, please stay home and watch the stars dance.

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Audubon Goes over the Edge (Jan/Feb 2016 issue promotes anti-science alarmism)

Bob Endlich - The cover of the January-February 2016 issue of Audubon Magazine proclaims: Arctic on the Edge: As global warming opens our most critical bird habitat, the world is closing in. In reality, it is the magazine’s writers and editors who have gone over the edge with their misleading reports on the Arctic.

Bob Endlich
This magazine is so awash in misstatements of fact and plain ignorance of history, science, and culture, that they must not go unchallenged – especially since they epitomize the false and misleading claims that have characterized far too much of the U.S. and worldwide “news coverage” of “dangerous man-made climate change.” The following analysis corrects only some of the most serious errors, but should raise red flags about virtually every claim Audubon makes from the front cover to the back page.
Audubon on the Arctic
Figure 1: Cover of the January-February 2016 Issue of Audubon Magazine.
Country-by-Country Deceptions
The first part of the January-February issue devotes pages to each of the countries surrounding the Arctic Ocean. The Finland page says “storms become more severe” with warming. The writers are either clueless or intentionally misleading. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, as they likely did not take Earth Science or Meteorology, and they certainly have no clue about atmospheric fluid dynamics. The pole to equator temperature difference drives the strength of storms. If there actually is more warming in the Arctic, that temperature difference declines, and storm strength becomes less severe – not more so.
The Russia page mentions a familiar location, the Yamal Peninsula, home of one of climate science’s most famous trees. Both the Russia page and the Finland page say that current warming is causing “soggy tundra,” which is certainly not the case in North Slope Alaska, as discussed later in this article.
The Norway page describes the Black-legged Kittiwake and speculates that warming in the Barents Sea attracts herring which feed on Kittiwake prey. The authors are clearly unaware that natural warming and cooling cycles have been occurring for centuries. In the map below (Figure 2), the green dashed line shows extensive warming in the Barents Sea in 1769, just prior to the American Revolution, as derived from the Norwegian Polar Institute’s recent examination of ship logs to determine the extent of Nordic Sea ice. During that particular warm period, ocean currents and weather conditions made Svalbard and even parts of Novaya Zemlya (where the Soviets conducted their nuclear tests) ice-free.
Arctic Sea Ice
Figure 2.  Map showing maximum (April) sea ice extension in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic (Norwegian Polar Institute 2000). The map is based on a database on sea-ice extension in the area during the past 400 years, largely derived from written records found in ships logbooks.
 The Greenland page features “Greenland Warming,” with an image of tundra and a glacier in the background. However, only about 80% of Greenland is ice-covered; Greenland was warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period; and abundant new ice formed in Greenland during the past century. A recent blog post estimates that only 0.3% of Greenland’s ice was lost during the twentieth century, and enough snow and ice accumulated on the Greenland Ice Sheet that Glacier Girl,the P-38 airplane that landed there in 1942, was buried in 268 ft of ice before she was recovered in 1992. That’s 268 feet in 50 years, well over 5 feet a year of ice accumulation, much of it during a period when Earth was warming and Greenland supposedly losing ice.
The cover photograph features a Russian oil rig amid an ice-covered Arctic Ocean. It, too, is supposed to instill fear, based on the suggestion that a once solidly icy Arctic is rapidly melting. However, history shows that the Nordic ice extent has been decreasing since at least the 1860s, and probably since the depth of the Little Ice Age, around 1690. The historic data, shown in Figure 3 below, indicate that multi-decadal variability of the Nordic Sea extent (on the order of 30-45% up or down each time) has been occurring for over 150 years.
Figure 3

Figure 3.   From Vinje (2001), showing the reduction in April sea ice extent in the Nordic Seas since 1864.  Nordic Seas (NS), eastern area (E), and western area (W) time series given by 2-year running mean and regression lines. Linear year-to-year interpolations of the ice extent have been made for the western area for 1940 and 1944–46, and for the eastern area for 1868–70, 1874–78, 1880, 1892, 1894, 1940–41, 1943–48, and 1961. The blue area to the right shows the time extent of the satellite-era. Apparently, much of the sea ice reduction in this region occurs in concert with planetary warming as the Little Ice Age ended and with the warming that followed during the twentieth century. 
Melting tundra deceptions
Toward the end of the January-February issue is an account of a visit to Wainwright, Alaska, an Inupiat village of about 556 natives, located on the Arctic Ocean in North Slope Borough. The native Inupiat desire to maintain their subsistence culture, which has been their tradition since their ancestors settled nearby about 13,000 years ago.
Figure 4
Figure 4: Wainwright, Alaska. From the online version: “The IƱupiat use portable houses and sandbags to shield themselves from rising waters and melting permafrost, but can they save their culture?”
The article on Wainwright cites a 5 degree F increase in temperature on Alaska’s North Slope, an apparent reference to a supposed increase of that amount around Barrow. However, that increase was found to be contaminated by the urban heat island effect: even in Alaska, a winter average contamination of +4 degrees F to an extreme of almost +11 degrees F. In reality, there has been little or no warming in Barrow or the North Slope, as proven by the fact that, a mere four miles east-northeast of Barrow, the Berkeley Earth measuring station shows no temperature change over the past decade.
The caption to Figure 4 (from Audubon magazine) emphasizes rising ocean waters. However, most of Alaska has falling sea levels, the result of the isostatic adjustment of northern North America. This rebound effect began with the melting of the Wisconsin Ice Sheet, as Earth emerged from the Wisconsin Ice Age and entered the Holocene between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago. The nearest tide gauge to Wainwright is Prudhoe Bay, and sea-level rise there is very small, 1.20 mm/year +/- 1.99 mm/year – so small that sea levels might actually be falling there, as well.
The Audubon writers mention “melting permafrost” numerous times, but when the natives spoke in 1979, they clearly did not think this is a problem. In fact, in their own words, as recorded in The Inupiat View,the natives specifically note that melt water is scarce in the North Slope Borough. What has happened in the years since?
First, the North Slope has a summer, and from early June until mid-September air temperatures average warmer than 32 degrees F; Wainwright’s extreme maximum once reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit! During the summer months, the soil melts, creating an “active layer,” meaning the surface is not permanently frozen, but is melted part of the year. Whether there actually is a “melting permafrost,” as claimed by Audubon, can be determined only by finding the long-term trend in the thickness of the active layer.
Specialists do study this phenomenon and publish reports on it in the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring Network, NOAA’s annual Arctic Report Car and elsewhere. Not all the Arctic Report Cards address permafrost issues, but the 2012 edition had an extensive section on permafrost.  A quote from this edition pours freezing water on Audubon’s “melting permafrost” claim:  “Active-layer thickness on the Alaskan North Slope and in the western Canadian Arctic was relatively stable during 1995-2011,” it notes.
The literature seems rife with alarmist claims, many of which seem to be politically motivated, as is this issue of Audubon. The NOAA Arctic Reports have a heavy dose of alarmist rhetoric, especially in the boilerplate introductory sections. But the actual measurements and data present nothing that supports the alarmist polemic of the day. If you look at the data, especially long-term data, the pattern which emerges is a centuries-long slow warming, with multi-decadal fluctuations. Significant or alarming anthropogenic trends are simply not there.
Audubon should focus on real problems
The Audubon Society and its magazine should stay away from areas where they have no expertise – specifically the imagined or invented catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Audubon’s equivocal policy on wind power ostensibly calls on wind energy developers to consider planning, siting, and operating wind farms in a manner that avoids bird carnage and supports “strong enforcement” of laws protecting birds and wildlife. On the other hand, the same Audubon policy speaks about “species extinctions and other catastrophic effects of climate change” and “pollution from fossil fuels.”
When read together, this schizophrenic policy clearly puts Audubon on the side of climate alarmism – with the loss of protected, threatened and endangered birds and bats merely a small price to pay in an effort to save the planet.
Another article shows that Audubon’s alarmist climate claims, rather than bird safety, clearly dominate president David Yarnold’s concerns, Beneath a picture of a forest fire, an editorial quotes him as saying: “Climate change is the greatest threat to birds and biodiversity since humans have been on the planet.”
This latter piece is rife with the alarmist propaganda of recent political statements: increasing drought (actual data show that drought is decreasing in the United States over the past 110 years in regions where we have temperature and rainfall measurements) … forest fires (not so, according to actual data) … species extinctions  (virtually no extinctions have occurred except on isolated islands where predators have been introduced by humans) … and flooding (nothing outside of normal experiences and variability has been documented).
Audubon needs to concentrate on saving birds and other flying creatures not from imagined or exaggerated global warming and climate change – but from very real catastrophic deaths enormous taxpayer-funded “alternative energy” machines that kill countless thousands, and perhaps millions, of them every year. These killing machines include wind turbines that chop up raptors, song birds and bats, and heliostats (installations that use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays) that incinerate them.
Bats pollinate crops and consume insects, but the number of bats killed has been conservatively estimated at 600,000 annually, and may be as high as 900,000.  In the pursuit of “renewable energy” the Ivanpah solar-to-electrical-energy plant in California’s Mojave Desert actually ignites birds in flight; the dying birds are called “streamers,” because they emit smoke as they fall from the sky. One report estimates that over 100 golden eagles and 300 red tailed hawks are killed yearly by wind turbines at California’s Altamont Pass, but another analysis uses detailed European studies to calculate that tens of millions of birds and bats are killed every year by US wind turbines.
Audubon needs to get some real science in its research and show true empathy for the human-caused deaths that our feathered friends face on a daily basis. It needs to focus on ending the real threats to our birds, rather than on threats that exist only in computer climate models and overly active imaginations.
___________
Robert W. Endlich served as Weather Officer in the USAF for 21 Years. From 1984-1993, he provided toxic corridor and laser propagation support to the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at White Sands Missile Range. He has published in the technical literature and worked as software test engineer. He was elected to Chi Epsilon Pi, the national Meteorology Honor Society, while a Basic Meteorology student at Texas A&M University. He has a BA degree in Geology from Rutgers University and an MS in and Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University.

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Censorship, a way of life on the left

© 2016 Jim Spence Earlier this week an old friend from the bay area in Northern California sent me an article he posted on his blog. An excerpt and link to the entire article follows:

STEM Education and the Underrepresented Pipeline
April 20, 2016 Alexander Zwissler
There’s been a lot of discussion and debate about the lack of diversity in the technology workforce recently, particularly here in Silicon Valley.  In the industry, engineers and tech workers from minority communities are woefully underrepresented. This is bad for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the lack of diversity of perspective and experience that is brought to new technologies that are needed to serve an ever more diverse society.

There are innumerable initiatives that have been launched to address this stunning shortcoming.  And yet we continue to be frustrated by the progress made to date.
I want to focus in on the so-called pipeline that should feed the system.  Simply put, there are not enough under-served youth choosing or able to go into STEM related fields out of high school.  It is not for lack of trying.  

You can read the rest of his article here.

He finished the article with this request for feedback:

So…what do you believe?

I took him at his word when he asked, "What do you believe," so I wrote the following response and submitted it to be posted in his comments section:

Lack of diversity is a widespread problem that reaches far beyond Silicon Valley. Unfortunately the lack of diversity in various work forces goes under-reported. There are literally dozens of professions outside of Silicon Valley where the lack of diversity issue exists.
Some people believe that ignoring the merits of placing an extremely high value on diversity begins with parents and how they shape their relationships with their children. The argument can be made that the importance of diversity is simply not taught often enough within the family. Instead, parents tend to influence children greatly with their own preferences on how children should think and direct their energies. Of course there can be programs run by a government agency or non-profit organization to address the problem, but biased parenting seems to always get in the way.
Take the NBA for example. When I watch a basketball game the first thing that comes to my mind is the lack of diversity. I wonder why the front offices of virtually every NBA franchise (and the coaching staffs) have virtually no interest in the diversity of their teams. It can be inferred that the parents of future NBA players are not managing their relationships with their kids in such a way that emphasizes diversity. This is a real shame. When a young aspiring basketball player finally makes it to the NBA he should benefit from an experience that involves a much better work environment where all races, colors, and creeds are much more equally represented in the work force.
Of course there is a similar diversity problem in the NFL. Often when I watch games the entire starting lineup of a given team’s offense or defense will be made up of players from only one race. When I see this lack of diversity I am puzzled. Why don’t the team owners and coaches in the NFL recognize the value of diversity? Why don’t they call for programs that will create a much more equal representation of each race on their teams?
No doubt what we truly need to do is use billions of taxpayer dollars to fund more diversity-oriented programs at the local, county, state, and federal level to help parents understand the importance of the diversity mission. Perhaps all of our efforts should begin within these programs by targeting the highest profile professions in our society......the NFL and NBA. These leagues need to set an example and emphasize the importance of diversity in the work place.

It turned out that the last thing he wanted was to know what anyone else thought.....unless they pretty much agreed with him. He refused to post my comment with this explanation:

"A bit too snarky to make the cut brother"

If you want to continue policies that call for an endless stream of taxpayer dollars to try to get certain groups of people to be more interested in certain types of work, that is one thing. But of course this is not an argument for "diversity." It is an argument for how to allocate resources for racial preferences. 
The bay area is where there are more lunatics per square mile than anywhere else in America. Pointing out that a simple concept like "diversity," is a concept that is often misrepresented isn't an opinion, it is blasphemy, Accordingly, censorship seems perfectly appropriate.....even to an otherwise reasonable man. The censorship excuse offered is that the presentation is deemed to be too "snarky." Can you imagine the damage that can be done by such a micro-aggression as too snarky? 

The point here is that thought control is alive and well at Haight and Ashbury, even after all of these years. In fact it is fast becoming the defining characteristic of the American left. 

And of course the left knows precisely what the definition of the word "diversity" is. Substituting this word for a more precise term is much more palatable for the flower children of the 21st Century.

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