Sharyl Attkisson's 21st Century prophecy - Smear

© 2016 Jim Spence -  A few weeks ago I wrote of a book called, “Smear” authored by former CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. I urged my readers to buy and read this book.
In “Smear,” Attkisson documents in painstaking detail how smear merchants essentially control the narratives carried by the mainstream media every day. Through orchestrated efforts involving innuendos, bogus claims and counter-claims, and robotic digital assaults in social media, print, and television media, smear merchants exercise remarkable control over America.
Hundreds of millions of naïve Americans need to crawl out from underneath their naïve rocks and understand how fake virtually all forms of news are. We are talking news stories, polls, etc.
Consider what has been happening right under our noses the last couple of weeks. It all began with troubling revelations of criminal behaviors by Clinton and Obama White House buddy and campaign fundraising bundler….. Harvey Weinstein. It turns out that Weinstein is the tip of an iceberg. There are reprobates all over Hollywood and most of them are devout Democrats. What seems now like a trickle of revelations about Harvey Weinstein turned into a torrent as more and more women came forward to tell their stories. It did not take long before the atrocious behaviors of powerful Democrats served as a reminder to the public of what victims like Kathleen Willey told us about Bill Clinton two decades ago. It is important to remember that Willey, a LIFE-LONG Democrat had been sexually assaulted by one Bill Clinton in the White House when he was not taking time out of his Oval Office schedule to gratify himself with the help of young Monica Lewinsky. The treatment of Willey and other Clinton accusers by Hillary Clinton was so unabashedly aggressive it simply cannot be squared with what she is saying today about the behaviors of other men accused of far less than what her husband was.
The bottom line politically is simple. Democrats have been squirming for weeks trying to escape the hypocrisy trap they set and then got caught in themselves.
No problem. The best defense is a good offense and with a multi-billion dollar smear industry on retainer for Democrats, it did not take all that long for the Democrats to orchestrate an incredible diversion. Conveniently, the latest smear diversion served two purposes. First, it got the public’s mind off of what utter slime bags both Weinstein and Bill Clinton are. Second, the diversion is now about to help the Democrats pick off a formerly untouchable Alabama Senate seat.
Amazingly, what has happened in the U.S. Senate in response to the Democrat’s smear campaign tells you all you need to know about Mitch McConnell. As the Roy Moore smear job was unleashed, the Senate was already well on its way to shirking yet another solemn and sworn duty. Corporate tax reform was being put on the back-burner by McConnell and fellow GOP senators. Shortly after the Moore smear campaign was unleashed, Mitch McConnell and many other GOP senators stopped what they were supposed to be doing to help the country on taxes. Instead they became the self-appointed prosecutors, judges, jury members, and executioners of Roy Moore. This happened within a matter of a couple of days. Mind you there have never been any charges filed against Moore just politically charged accusations orchestrated by smear merchants. Still, Republicans in the U.S. Senate believe they are so profoundly wise they could become fact finders on the life of Roy Moore within 48 hours of the Democrat’s smear campaign. McConnell and his chimps did this on the fly to the delight of the smear merchants paid for by Democrats.
With absolutely no sense of urgency whatsoever, McConnell and his cronies announced late this week that they had decided to stop working on tax reform until AFTER Thanksgiving. That is rich. The rest of us will be back at it Monday because………we have jobs.
It is time to admit that the 2017 GOP Senate is the greatest political disappointment of a lifetime. And that covers a lot of smelly ground. America needs to bulldoze Washington D.C. and start over. I would not let Mitch McConnell walk my dog.
Share/Bookmark

Privilege and poverty


© 2016 Jim Spence -  Sometimes pictures are worth thousands of words. One word that has been getting tossed around routinely the last few years, mainly by whacked out professors at universities all over the nation, and Democrat activists, is the term "privilege."
The connotation that comes with the term "privilege" seems to be that nobody but white men enjoy "privileges" in the U.S.
At its core, the idea of white privilege is an effort to capitalize on the great scandal of slavery. Of course slavery ended seven generations ago in America. Blacks are seven generations removed from slavery as are the descendants of slave owners.
Image result for ucla shopliftersThis column contains a few pictures worth contemplating. The first picture after my mug (left), shows three UCLA scholarship basketball players at a press conference earlier this week. These three young men were arrested and detained in China for stealing sunglasses at a boutique. They admitted their crimes and seemed remorseful. Fortunately for these young men, (the term "fortunate" is a synonym for the term "privilege") Donald Trump happened to be right there in China when they were stealing. Trump was visiting the Chinese President Xi Jinping. With some encouragement from Trump, President Xi arranged for these men to avoid serious jail time and exit the country quietly. One has to wonder what would have happened to these three men if they were not high profile athletes.
The next photo (right) shows the residence of one Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick of course is the "poor and oppressed" quarterback who turned down a multi-million dollar contract offer from the San Francisco 49ers to test his value on the open market. He did this after repeatedly taking a knee during the national anthem last season and angering the 49er fan base. Even in anti-American northern California, Kaepernick's behavior was considered offensive to most of the customers. After the photo of Kaepernick's gated residence, poor Colin is shown (below) standing next to one of his cars. I might be mistaken, but it looks to me like Kaepernick is living just a bit on the north side of the "privilege equator."
The final picture is one of a family living in Appalachia. There are literally millions of Americans living in that area of America in abject poverty. It is pretty easy to say that there is no signs of privilege in that photo.....at least none that I can see.
Perhaps we should all try to reconcile these pictures with the false narratives you see on television, in the movies, and in the newspapers. It seems to me that it is pretty hard to paint with a broad brush where race is concerned in America these days. However, that does not keep Democrats from trying to do it all day every day. In their narrative, all white men have "privilege" and should be neutered politically and economically. Their personal property should be confiscated by the state to be used to address the problems all others have with "white privilege."
I prefer to leave race out of the discussion except to lament the horrific black-on-black crime rates in America's inner cities, which are being managed by.....black Democrats. This violence situation is surely the greatest scandal of our time. It goes under-reported every single day. The heart-breaking death counts in Afghanistan and Iraq made our national news for several years, while the murder counts in places like Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit, counts which dwarf the soldier deaths, continue to pile up every day. These killings are merely local footnotes on local newscasts and in local newspapers. Even the so-called "opium epidemic" gathers more press than the killing of young black men by other young black men. This situation should not be ignored.....but it is. Most certainly there are many other problems to solve and tossing money at them has not worked for fifty years. But stopping the killings seems to have taken a back seat to lower priorities like advancing the failed policies of socialist Democrats.
The truth is there is plenty of privilege out there for members of all races, along with plenty of poverty and crime for members of all races.
Personally, I long for the day when all of us Americans will not be subject to crass manipulation by politicians and their friends in the entertainment industry and news media. It is time to stop pretending that minority communities are the only communities that are poor. Even more important, I hope for an end to the big lie that brazenly magnifies the rare instances when bad cops hurt or kill members of racial minorities. We have to stop pretending a handful of atrocities are more commonplace than the epidemic of hundreds, perhaps thousands of black-on-black killings every month.
Concerning the UCLA basketball players......these young men have enjoyed more privilege in the month of November 2017, than most people do in a lifetime. And as for Colin Kaepernick........he and his gated home and red sports car make him the biggest joke in America in the last quarter of a century.
Share/Bookmark
That's John McCain holding the sign

Share/Bookmark

Swickard: Not in my backyard

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  Jet engines make lots of noise, especially military jets. It seems several communities in New Mexico are bothered by the thought that jets from Holloman Air Force Base may fly over their towns and surrounding lands while they are training for the role of combat pilot.
            The Air Force leadership at Holloman has announced that the jet pilots they are training need more area to practice what they do before they get into actual combat. Naturally it goes without saying that when you are in combat is a bad time to learn some things that should be taught before they get into combat.
            The rub is that many people in these towns don’t want to hear military jets flying over their homes. The very thought of it annoys some people. They are writing angry letters and protesting having to hear the noise of jets. They say that the pilots should fly somewhere else. What they are saying is don’t fly over my backyard.
            When I was much younger I was working on a barbed wire fence one day about twenty miles south of Carrizozo on my grandfather’s ranch. It was a warm quiet day and I was almost falling asleep on my feet while I worked on this fence. Bees were buzzing and birds were singing. Then it happened.
            Four F-4 Phantom jets from Holloman AFB came over me doing about 400 knots at two hundred feet above the terrain. Instantly I went from being almost asleep on my feet to throwing the hammer and running over the fence in a panic. Then it was quiet again.
            It is much worse for those cowpokes on horseback. There can be quite a difficulty for a rider when a horse is spooked this way. That said, I am not troubled by the military jets. To me that is the sound of freedom and I normally look up appreciatively.
            The syndrome is called, “Not in my backyard.” Be it jets overhead or highways or power lines, people will object and demand that these things not be in their backyard, they should be in someone else’s backyard.
            How do we decide who has a backyard that should be protected from things that annoy and who does not? In 1965, I lived in Aurora Colorado under the landing and takeoff pattern of Stapleton Airport. It was often very loud but we got used to it. The airport moved after we left.
            What we are dealing with is volunteers to our nation’s military who put their lives on the line for our freedom. They must have a place to train. The rigors are such that some pilots will not survive the training. And we should worry that the noise bothers some people?
            Every effort should be taken to not annoy people up to the point that the pilots are not able to get the very best training preparing them for real combat. At that point, we should take their training as more important than our convenience.

Share/Bookmark

The NFL is in a free fall

© 2016 Jim Spence -  Watch a few commercials these days. Inclusion is wonderful. In almost every commercial you will see Asians, whites, Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans etc.using the product the sponsor is selling. Another trend these days is to show inter-racial couples pitching products. I think this is great. This is how things should be. Human beings enjoying each other.
Don't look now but the NFL is in denial and the NFL is in a free fall. Recently minted NFL millionaires, 70% of whom are black, claim they want “social justice” and “equality.” Let's explore these demands.
How does equality and social justice work exactly? The numbers don’t lie. Blacks commit a disproportionate number of crimes and accordingly, they are subject to interdiction by law enforcement officers in disproportionate percentages. Often in the inner cities it is black police officers arresting black criminals. However, talk to a dozen inner-city blacks and you will find that most do several things in grossly disproportionate numbers. First, the vast majority of inner city blacks do not trust police officers white or black. Second, the vast majority of inner city blacks vote for Democrats if they vote at all. And we are not talking voting 60% for Democrats here. We are talking 95% of the time inner city blacks vote for Democrats. No party has ever commanded a stranglehold on an ethnic group of voters like the Democrats have with black voters. There is scarce diversity of thought. In fact, often in America’s major cities, there are no Republicans to vote for. Also, out of wedlock births are still an epidemic in the black communities. Over 70% of all black children in America are born to single parent mothers with little if any participation in parenting by black fathers.
Image result for mlb logConsider the data for young black couples who wait to have children until they are adults, working, and married. It turns out there is no difference between the average income of whites and blacks who make these better life choices.
So what are we to make of these calls by multi-millionaire black athletes in the NFL and their calls for equality and social justice? The answer is pretty simple. Not much. One of the most outspoken blacks in America regarding “social justice and equality” is the NBA's LeBron James. Correct me if I am wrong, but I do not recall seeing where LeBron James donated all but $59,000 of his annual income of $71 million per year so he could know what it is like to be “equal” with the median income of Americans. I don’t see him spending his fortune to educate young blacks to make better life choices and stop committing black-on-black crimes in the inner-cities. Maybe LeBron tosses a few crumbs in that direction, but talk is cheap and we should all be spared the guilt lectures on equality and social justice.
On the other hand, there is no doubt there are bad cops out there. But there are bad everythings out there. Implying that the problems of the inner-city blacks are primarily the fault of bad law enforcement officers instead of remorseless law breakers is a colossal con job. Sadly the NFL is enabling the con artists. Black NFL players continue to pretend that blacks can’t get a fair shake in America. To make their case they choose to show no respect for the national anthem. This is going to prove costly.

Image result for nhl logoWhat is a person to do? I for one continue to watch football, but only college football. I cancelled my subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket, got a refund, and have vowed to watch only the NHL, MLB, professional tennis, the LPGA, and the PGA. Apparently, I am not the only one who has freed up his or her Sundays for other activities. Ratings for the NFL are plunging faster than bimbos at the Clinton residence when Hillary is out of town.
The great news for sports fans is the NHL puts on a good show from October until June. I recommend giving this terrific sport a try. MLB also puts on a great show from April to November. These two sport seasons cover the entire year. Just last night the underdog Houston Astros beat the $265 million annual payroll of the Dodgers in the World Series. In fact, the Astros beat the three highest payroll teams in MLB this year to win the title. Unlike the NFL, in both the NHL and MLB, self-aggrandizing behavior after routine plays is frowned upon. And more important, politics is left outside of those arenas. Though I love football, the game has changed. It is more like professional wrestling than anything else. And the last thing I want to hear from a freshly minted millionaire is a hypocritical lecture that implies that law enforcement officers are the problem instead of a cultural bias towards horrible decision-making in the black community. I have choices too.

Share/Bookmark

Swickard: When the price is wrong

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  It happens often that a local business closes. We have enjoyed years of that business in our community but now it is closed. Rarely do we understand what happened.
            There is a popular show, “The price is right” where contestants must know the correct price of items. When a local company goes out of business one explainer is that they didn’t charge enough for their products. Not always. There are other explainers.
            Restaurants are one type of business I notice when they close because several have closed even though I was a regular customer. Businesses come and businesses go. It is a natural happening in our free enterprise model of capitalism.
            The popular notion is that anyone in business for themselves are rich. Nothing could be further from the truth. The one commonality is most local businesses are started by risk-takers. They put up the money and their own time to see if we will vote for their ideas with our wallets.
            The first danger for sustainable businesses is that their prices are too low for the cost of doing business. So, they can be in business for a while before they run out of money. If that happens then they go out of business.
            The most important issue is the return on investment for someone in business. There are ways to change the bottom line such as quality and efficiency. But ultimately the buyer is the judge and jury of that success. Except for when the government gets involved.
            The government regulations are a component in the price and bottom line. They require the business to do things they may not want to do such as pay more for employees than would allow for a profit. At times.
            This is not good for either the employees or the customers when businesses close. Then the businesses that are left leave less choice and price pressure to support customers.
            Sometimes the loss of profit is obscured by inventory only to eventually kill the business. The patron of the business pays the asked price or they go somewhere else. The lure of going to a bigger town means that money leaves which does kill businesses.
            The economic pressures on local businesses include competition, cost of goods and the changing needs of our population. In the computer business, it used to be a value-added store where the customer knew little and the store experts were needed to walk customers through getting a computer up and running.
            Then it all changed and those stores closed. The new online option for purchase makes it harder to be in local business if you sell some items. The same is true for local restaurants. But there is one thing that local businesses do that the big ones do not.
            The local business owners spend their money in the local economy. The nationals ship the money out of your town quickly. Will losing money out-of-town close local businesses? Of course. That price is always wrong for your town.

Share/Bookmark





Share/Bookmark

Red October

© 2016 Jim Spence -  It has been a bad October for the Democrats. It is kind of like November of 2016 except.......criminal.
Earlier this month mega-Democratic Party fundraiser Harvey Weinstein was outed. It seems that ole Harvey is a serial sexual predator who belongs in jail. Weinstein, who has been photographed dozens of times with both the Obamas and the Clintons, visited the White House regularly and is a real buddy of the Obamas and Clintons. Almost comically, Hillary Clinton, who bashed all of Bill Clinton's sexual assault accusers has somehow found sympathy for those accusing Weinstein. When confronted with the fact she smeared all of Bill's accusers she said all of that stuff on Bill is "in the past." Sure it is sweetie.
Weinstein may well be a typical Hollywood operator/political activist. When he is not preaching to all of us about how evil GOP candidates are, he is preying on young actresses he finds attractive. Weinstein's shortcomings are not limited to a proclivity for sexual assault. It seems that Weinstein also sells reckless driving scenes and thousands of gunfight scenes on the big screen. He does this while claiming that Republicans are hurting America with their silly mid-western values. You know, work ethic, sexual accountability, oh....and support for the 2nd Amendment.
It turns out that Weinstein had multiple high profile enablers in Hollywood. Actors like Matt Damon, who also claims to possess moral superiority due to his views on the 2nd Amendment, have been captured on camera many times while preening, posturing, and preaching to us about the GOP war on women. Of course Damon likes being surrounded by armed body guards when he is not on the set doing shoot-em up pictures for Weinstein or looking the other way while Harvey bullies a nice young chick into bed. These Hollywood preachers are deeply compassionate progressives who despise misogynists......except when they are being misogynistic and worse.
It got worse last week for Democrats when The Hill, a left leaning newspaper/website broke the astonishing story that the Clintons were collecting millions from various Russian entities for their “foundation” at the same time that Bill was being paid a cool $500,000 for a single one hour “speech” in Moscow. All of this was going on while the Russians were using extortion, bribery, and money laundering operations to gain control of U.S. nuclear material. It seems the Russians needed the then Secretary of State’s (Hillary) blessing to slip the deal past U.S. investigators who were somehow looking the other way while all of this criminal activity was transpiring. Um....folks.....these are the sorts of doings that got the Rosenbergs executed.
This week, low and behold things got even worse for Democrats. It turns out that Obama’s CIA Chief, his FBI Chief, and his Department of Justice opened surveillance/investigations into candidate Donald Trump based on toxic smear innuendo that was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Originally these government investigations into Trump were supposedly launched based on “intelligence” findings. Instead, it turns out that the machinery of the government, paid for with taxpayer funds, was actually being used by Obama, no doubt with winks and nods from the Clintons, to politically smear Donald Trump with outrageous lies made up by Clinton operatives. The Democratic Party as always, has a game plan. In this case it simply exhorted cohorts working at NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, NPR, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Yahoo News, etc. to pretend that the so-called Trump “dossier” was legit instead of being a pack of lies ginned up by slimy hacks paid by smear artists on the Clinton payrolls.
I mentioned in my column last week that former CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson wrote the most important non-fiction book of the 21st Century. Smear is a must read. These latest scandals, the likes of which America has NEVER seen before, are playing out right before our eyes and they match virtually lock-step with the book’s expose of the smear industry.
Sadly, the list of willing participants in these shams/scams is long. It includes NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, NPR, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Yahoo News, and many local newspapers who carry their propaganda. Accordingly, Democrats are able to get the vast majority of media outlets in America to publish lies and other propaganda against the GOP. This is done by "journalists" with no verification whatsoever.
Not surprisingly the media seems to have lost interest in the Russia narrative now that it has boomeranged around and hit the Clintons and Obama where the sun doesn’t shine.
Still journalists and pundits wonder why they can’t trust polls. It is simple. Everyday people who are paying attention know the business of journalism is scum-plagued.
What is going on here is not a big mystery. When you lie all the time. You get caught.
Share/Bookmark

Swickard: Solving problems with guns

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   Every year for decades there have been students bringing guns to school to “fix a problem.” In the days after the school shooting many people speculate on how the kid obtained the gun and got it to school along with many more how-it-was-done questions.
            I never hear the question: why did this kid think using a gun would solve any problems? Rather, it causes more problems than can be imagined. So where did that student get the notion that bringing a gun would make things better?
            What this something the child learned in school? Of course not. It is not part of the public school curriculum. Further, it is not modeled behavior by teachers to shoot problem students, regardless of how irritating students can be.
            Yet, students are bringing guns to school apparently with the belief that the guns will solve their problems. If they do not learn that notion in public school, they must learn it somewhere else. Is it in the home?
            Most parents reject that premise. “I certainly do not teach my children that shooting someone will solve problems.” But they do. The message is transmitted repeatedly to their children. Under their supervision kids watch hour after hour of television and movies where the solution to problems is to shoot someone.
            The average school age student watches hundreds of “shootings to solve a problem” a week. Heroes as well as bad people, all larger than life, solve their problems with guns.
            Research strongly suggests a correlation of behavior in children exposed to violence. Kids in one research project were observed with fellow students for an hour. Then they watched violent cartoons for an hour and were observed with students for the hour afterwards.
            In the second and third hours, the incidence of aggressive behavior increased dramatically. The research is compelling that watching television influences behavior. That is why advertisers spend millions on commercials. It influences behavior.
            The responsibility lies with the parents to protect their children from these influences. The copycat syndrome has been established by the police in some types of crimes. It is seen on television and then replicated in society.
            Television and movie violence is so pervasive because it is the most easily created form of drama, “Is someone going to die or not?” I’m not saying kids should be kept completely away from all television, but it should be screened.
            The issue is not to stop television from showing the use of guns as a solution to a person's problems, rather, the issue is that parents must stop letting impressionable kids watch hour after hour of this guns will solve problems message.
            It is like planting a tree. The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, the next best time to plant a tree is now. The best time to screen television programs was ten years ago. The next best time is now. No, we do not need a law, we need a culture that understands the influences on children.

Share/Bookmark

Please read: "The Smear"

© 2016 Jim Spence -  Over the years Michael and I hosted hundreds if not more than a thousand radio shows (Michael hosted many thousands of shows solo). We both have posted hundreds of columns here on this site. We had fun doing radio together and we tried our best to make sure we were well-informed. From time-to-time we made book recommendations and also embedded links to stories we posted in these pages to help people gain a sense of our perspective.
Staying informed used to be easier. We read books about history including biographies of important historical figures. We did so for the proper context and perspective. We also watched the "news" each day to keep adding the newest pieces of the puzzle to the right categories. Each piece of new information must be framed properly. This process no longer works.
Image result for the smear
We all knew something was starting to stink really badly after the turn of the century. After decades of recognizing simple media bias, which was somewhat counter-balanced by the emergence of Fox News in 1996, the journalism profession began to slide into the abyss. Journalism is dead.
Accordingly, staying informed has become much more complicated. Recognizing that every television outlet except Fox was tilting every story to the left, while Fox was tilting every story to the right, is simply not enough any more.
Most of us have sensed that news outlets were not only changing from truth seekers to advocates, they were also running bogus stories. It is actually worse than this, because formerly highly respected news outlets are now refusing to run stories that would have actually been considered BIG news in any other era.
Image result for sharyl attkisson
Sharyl Attkisson
Over the last couple of years I have railed ad nausea about the way the media acts as a propaganda ministry for various political factions in one column after another. Still, I was not quite sure about the nuts and bolts of this insidious process. I simply knew that what I was reading and seeing was not just being reported all wrong, it had become a pack of filthy lies.
Along came Emmy Award winner/Edward R. Murrow recipient, and former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Amazingly, it is Attkisson who has written the most significant non-fiction book to be published in the 21st Century. Her incredibly well-researched book, entitled “The Smear,” is absolutely a must read for anyone trying to sort through what is being peddled as “news” these days.
I am planning a sabbatical from writing columns here for at least a few weeks. Those of you who have followed my posts should do yourselves a huge favor and purchase a copy of this book. Read it carefully. It will help you understand exactly what is going on in our country.

Share/Bookmark

Swickard: Assuming our way to school change

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.   Let us look at assumptions. They are the building blocks of change. American public schools provide an example. Not everyone agrees that they are broken; some just think they should be improved.
            As to public schools: in the past and now, there are calls for educational change by political leaders wanting to make political hay and get votes. Some say we need to innovate while others say we must reform the schools. What is the difference?
            Innovation assumes things can be better. Reform assumes things are so bad that they must be changed. Now assumptions do no harm so long as no one acts upon them. Unfortunately, people are acting. There are many attempts to reform schools when what is needed is innovation.
            Worse yet, many attempts to reform schools are not tied to research. One of the most problematic assumptions people make is that educational research is not essential. The truth is that any school change not research-based will be a disaster.
            Want proof? Every politically driven reform movement in the last fifty years has not been research-based. Constantly some politician has an idea for changing schools and everyone jumps on to the fad.
            The change may not make things better or the change will make things worse. It is like when an airplane is flying along and the pilot finds something isn’t working quite right. The pilot may fiddle with it to the point the aircraft quits flying completely.
            The standards and accountability movement is not research-based. Someone thought, hey, let’s try this. The public schools are busy accounting for themselves without a clear notion what it means when the accountability numbers vary.
            The general assumption is that the schools did something wrong when the numbers are poor. However, research assures us that schools can only teach students who want to learn. No one is attending to this truth.
            So, what is the accountability movement really measuring? The school’s effect is comingled with out-of-school influences. Do the people in the accountability reform movement realize this? No, they assume poor scores are automatically the school’s fault.
            A change should be made in the way we change our schools. Since students ultimately benefit or are harmed by educational change, those political leaders changing the schools should have to put something in escrow before making sweeping changes.
            Then, if they are right, we should reward them well. If they are wrong, they should pay a penalty. Make them risk their retirement. Then we will see how sold they are on school uniforms or quarter hour math ladders or whatever new fad.
            There would be a rush to use research. It would then be more dependable than just driving down the road, running over a turtle, and thinking that Flat Turtle Math Programs are the answer.
            That is not to say that the public schools are not ripe for innovation. Schools can be made better or worse. It completely depends upon the research assumptions. And please ignore the political school change fads.

Share/Bookmark

Swickard: The need for vocational education

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  Imagine that a wave of brown smelly sludge starts pouring over the edge of your toilet. Oh no! That is not the textbook way brown sludge should be handled by the toilet. When you press the handle the “product” should just disappear out of sight, mind and smell.
            But it is overflowing and coming down the hallway. There is the immediate necessity to find someone competent in plumbing. We are not looking for conversations about academics. We need plumbers, not professors.
            I was thinking about this because many public schools, starting even in kindergarten, are pushing all of their students to go to college. No exceptions. But someone needs to be trained and ready to fix the biffy along with other repair professions.
            If every child goes to college there will be a huge problem. Millions of young adults can look at the human waste coming down your hallway and comment on the Peloponnesian War of 431 BC which had minor similarities to the crisis you are facing.
            When they are through talking about Greek history you still have a mess unless you find a plumber. The brown stuff will just keep on keeping on down your hallway.
            So many young people will know right where to put the comma, but nothing vocational. When trying to fix things you ask: what about using a screwdriver? No, not the liquid kind. And plumbers are not the political leak finders in Washington, they are those professionals who make the plumbing work as advertised.
            I was lucky that vocational education was for all students in the 1960s so that I am mildly competent in most repair situations. Even better, I know when not to tackle a problem other than tackle it with my wallet and someone who will fix the problem correctly.
            As a society, we are looking down our academic noses at those people who work with their hands and come home occasionally smelling like low tide at the swamp. The only thing we will know in the future is what we know now: everything will break at the least useful moment.
            We should bring vocational education back and put every public-school student through some of it so that minor things can be fixed by each of us. The wave of crud backing up from the toilet will take a real plumber. I hope we still have them in the future.
            It is wrong to push all students to college. Rather, we should make students aware of the possibilities without pushing what we think and let them decide what interests them. I understand colleges are worried by dropping enrollment.
            Partly this is due to the incredible increase in college costs plus a stagnate job market. They need skills that our world will support financially.
            Many young people do not want to go deeply in debt. Be a plumber first and then use those dollars to explore other professions. When the brown sludge overflows you will know what to do other than worry.

Share/Bookmark

No jokes

© 2016 Jim Spence - Read this column a few times over the last few years and you will see repeated charges lodged by me that not only has American journalism sunken into being a propaganda ministry for the Democratic Party, but the entertainment industry, Hollywood if you will, is nothing more than a megaphone for Democrat causes too. The trouble with this sad decline, as my idol Mel Brooks so aptly said just a few days ago, is that this process is killing comedy. Comedy took another few nails in its coffin just yesterday.
Every late night talk show host does a joke monologue. They all have done so for several generations. In fact they have made fun of every sitting president relentlessly……until the arrival of Barack Obama. Suddenly for fairly obvious reasons, Obama became off-limits. Make fun of Obama and somebody is bound to call you a "racist" instead of a hilarious comic.
One thing that has returned with Donald Trump is the great American tradition of seeing comics have their fun at the president’s expense. Too bad many of us stopped watching late night talk show hosts once we realized the fix was in across the board for Democrats.
Enter stage left (pun intended) one Hollywood icon Harvey Weinstein yesterday and an amazing revelation that not only has he engaged in sexual harassment for decades, but he admits it. We also find from a former New York Times reporter that simply because Weinstein is a serial contributor of millions of dollars to the Democrat Party, the New York Times squashed all investigations into Weinstein’s reprehensible behaviors.
Say what? Yes you heard that right, the New York Times refused to run the well-documented stories simply because Weinstein gives millions to help Democrats. The reality here is we have little more than sham journalism and a sham entertainment industry. 
Let's take an even closer look at the late night talk shows. While the clowns have rediscovered how funny it is to make fun of the president……the Weinstein news should have also triggered a barrage of monologue gags raking ole Harvey Weinstein over the coals. This should have happened last night and it should go on for at least a week or so. But instead, for the opening night at least, there was deafening silence on the Weinstein outrage. Let’s see why this is hypocrisy in the extreme.
Consider what a field day these same comics had with the unproven allegations against Bill O’Reilly. I’ll spare you the details of what he was accused of since it has never been proved. Suffice to say that what used to happen in these situations, and still does with GOP types is that they suffer from the rule that famous people from all walks of life are fair game for the late night joke tellers should their name get soiled by some unseemly news. No more is this the case. Now comedy is political.
Late night talk show hosts are no longer comedic artists. They are not playful people who are willing to needle anyone who is famous who gets embarrassed by allegations. What we have now are hardcore Democrats who will only go after accused sexual predators known to have conservative leanings. This is comedy?
Not so much as a peep was heard from the comics on Weinstein, despite his own ludicrous statements being enough to fill the Rose Bowl with pages of written jokes.  It would seem that sexual-harassment/assault allegations that Weinstein essentially copped an absurd plea to, along with suggesting he was “seeking help” for his ways, was not deemed fertile ground for the one line gags.
Where is Johnny Carson and Jay Leno when you need them?
How does this square with these comics handling of less unseemly, but still provocative admissions by Trump? The same comics and their army of joke writers have jokes ready for any Trump “news” with little more than a moment’s notice. And they pound away for days according to my sources.
People tracking Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and Stephen Colbert made note of the fact that every single one of them passed on the Weinstein news in their monologues. Perhaps these clowns will mix in a few Weinstein barbs tonight. Who knows? Don’t bet much on it. Either way, I won’t be watching any of these scabs. As for the New York Times quashing the stories years ago? This what journalism has come to. Most reporters are not doing their jobs anymore…..nor are the late night comics. No wonder newspapers and talk shows are dying a slow death.
Share/Bookmark

Always doing what we always do

© 2016 Jim Spence - Michael’s column this week strikes up a conversation we have had many times over the years, dating all the way back to his solo radio show days. It is wise to scrutinize the idea of whether NMSU’s scheduling of football opponents for big paydays makes sense. Michael and I have opined on the topic for years and neither of us thinks it is a good idea. We have suggested that if NMSU cannot schedule a home and home arrangement with another school, NMSU should make no scheduling deal.
We have watched NMSU the institution, operate for the last fifty years. The case made by administrators for playing “money” games, which Michael better describes as “selling losses” goes something like this: "NMSU needs the money because NMSU simply does not have the resources to compete." This is basically the argument. Amazingly, NMSU the institution, has chosen to be a money whore for two or three games each year to ”make ends meet.” Unfortunately this is pretty much what prostitutes choose to do. They sell themselves to "make ends meet."
Let’s give NMSU administrators some credit. Let’s assume there is some logic to playing money games. If this tactic is reasonable, the process should eventually lead to a positive outcome. It has not. Instead, playing only enough money games to “get by” each season has resulted in NMSU making ZERO bowl game appearances for more than fifty years. This is unmatched futility. It does not merely suggest institutional failure, it confirms the false premise of thinking playing the role of prostitute a couple times a year is a legitimate long-term strategy.
To be fair, the current administration at NMSU inherited a big mess that has been snowballing. A.D. Mario Moccia is still paying for the previous A.D.'s mistakes and Moccia has no authority to implement a long range plan. None of the predecessor presidents at NMSU, who were responsible for decision-making for NMSU football, ever implemented a plan for success. The atrocious hire of Barbara Couture truly accelerated NMSU’s decline, including the loss of several conference affiliations, which is the surest sign of institutional failure. One cannot overstate the horrific damage previous A.D. McKinley Boston did to NMSU athletics through neglect.
Why did Boston and Couture fail so miserably? They always did what NMSU always did.....or worse.
Let’s assume selling losses/prostituting the program for money games makes sense. If this actually makes sense, and the Aggies are going to loose their conference affiliation after this year anyway, why not play only UTEP and UNM each season and use the rest of the schedule to arrange ten huge money games. Why settle for two paydays to merely get by? The Aggie Athletic Department with the blessing of the administration, could pocket close to ten million dollars per year (after cutting expenses to the bone), and move towards the goal of building a quarter of a billion dollar football endowment over time. In perhaps fifteen years or so, NMSU could have a gigantic permanent endowment that would be capable of funding a competitive football team EVERY year. There would be no more “getting by” or living hand-to-mouth until the end of time.
Strangely enough, I floated this idea in the early 1990’s. The responses were predictable. Successful business-people who have built winning organizations and understand the need for adequate long term capital liked the plan. They saw the wisdom of committing to a long range self-funding plan, to one day accumulate the resources required to be competitive. However, virtually every highly paid bureaucrat immediately searched for reasons why instituting a long range self-funding plan just couldn't be done. It is the classic “Can’t do, stay inside the box,” mindset. I am not sure why people who think like this should be paid $275,000 a year by NMSU. But that is roughly what the institution paid Boston to find ways to do nothing.
If this strategy had simply been implemented in the early 1990’s, when the idea was first floated, NMSU would ALREADY have a gigantic football endowment. And it would have accomplished this without having played any fewer bowl games over the last twenty five years....than NMSU played anyway.......with nothing but lost conference affiliations to show for it.
In the end, NMSU the institution seems plagued by the same sort of inertia that leads to always doing what it has always done. And NMSU the institution, also seems destined to always get what it has always gotten.
Doug Martin has done a great job this year with impressive football wins over UTEP and UNM. But there is still no long range plan to get competitive financially.

Share/Bookmark

Swickard: Taking money to lose games

© 2017 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
             On page C5 of the Sunday, October 1, 2017 Albuquerque Journal is a headline: Aggie offense shows well in money game.” While some weak football programs do it, I object to the ethics of selling losses in “money games” to national powerhouses.
            It is certainly the right of NMSU to engage year after year in this ethical morass of selling losses. But it is not right for them to do so. The football team plays mostly unwinnable games a couple times a season for money.
            Over the last forty years NMSU has sold losses in a sport entirely judged by the team’s win-loss record. I have spent those forty years complaining about this to no avail.
            In the modern NCAA Football era comes an unethical practice of strong national teams spending millions of dollars for an easy week while weak teams collect millions providing a loss. This last week the University of Arkansas paid NMSU $1.35 million to go there and lose.
            Over that forty years NMSU has won twice and lost more than a hundred times. Many Aggie Football coaches have been fired because of their win-loss record.
            Three concerns: first, it appears giving two losses a season keeps the Aggies from going to Bowl Games. NMSU hasn’t gone to a Bowl Game since Eisenhower was the President in 1960. I see a trend.
            Secondly, smaller teams playing physically larger teams often get players hurt. This is not a strong team in your conference, these are national teams.
            Finally, it is a thumb in the eye of home fans. Not going to Bowl Games because of selling losses makes selling season tickets harder.
            Partly personal: I have watched NMSU football for fifty years. My first year was with legendary coach Warren Woodson in 1967. I have had season tickets most of the time including this year.
            The NMSU Athletic Department have spoken to me over the years due to my criticism. They say I don’t understand Higher Education. I always respond I have a Ph.D. in Higher Education from NMSU. But they don’t listen to me.
            Former NFL Head Coach Bill Parcells wrote, “The only way to change people is to tell them in the clearest possible terms what they’re doing wrong. And if they don’t want to listen they don’t belong on the team.” This is true at NMSU where the same old strategy has failed for so many years.
            The way to change the fortunes of the NMSU Football program is: first, never ever sell a loss. Secondly, play teams you can beat. Finally, with enough wins go to Bowl Games. Any Bowl Game The program will pick itself up and success will follow.
            As Bill Parcells said, “Success is never final, but failure can be.” The NMSU Football Program will be shrouded in failure so long as they continue to sell losses.

Share/Bookmark