Swickard: Each year has a lesson to teach

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  In a small unscientific study looking only at myself I find that the years go by quickly. They are packed with victories and losses. If we have a loss, at least we should get the lesson. Getting lemons doesn't help unless you have sugar and water for lemonade.
            Let's look at 2015 as we think about 2016. We must remember the mistakes that were made this year so we don't repeat them. We also need to remember our victories so we have some chance to repeat them.
            George Santayana in 1906 wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Our society doesn't seem to learn. Let's make 2016 the year we learn from a previous year's mistakes.
            If there was an organization to remember society's wins and losses each year they would say you must acknowledge both the wins and losses. Losses are difficult because people gloss over them while fixating on wins.
            The biggest loss in the last few years is the loss of the truth. Truth has become the new hate speech. George Orwell wrote, "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
            Many people are afraid of the truth because an expedient political power play has emerged in our society. It is to label as racist or worse anyone who opposes the wishes of the political parties. 2015 was a name-calling year with most of the name-calling being done for political gain.
            A friend runs a political blog and has a hard time with the inclination of some posters to name-call and act ugly. I am glad he is fighting that fight because we can never have truth in our society if the name-calling brigands are allowed to take over public dialogs.
            The year 2015 will be remembered as the year everything offended someone. David Bednar wrote, "To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else."
            This year I found I could concurrently offend both Republicans and Democrats. I got hate emails from both the same week. I have written a weekly column for more than thirty years so I am used to offending people. It happens. But this year it seemed that there was a virulent practiced response to opposing ideas and that was name-calling and ignoring the truth.
            One person was very offended when I wrote about something that happened in the 2015 New Mexico Legislature. The problem for me was that I did not witness this situation myself. But I found four people who confirmed to me what happened along with two others in law enforcement who witnessed it. I would not retract my column.
            This last year the two major political parties were nationally very similar. The only thing they disagree on was which person should be elected, not the will of the people and how Congress should protect the Constitution.
            The emphasis of 2015 for the national leaders of both parties was to make government bigger. This has been covered extensively by the national press that can be identified by their political editorial leanings. Both the liberal press and the less liberal press have their agendas. If it wasn't for the Internet they would succeed.
            Many years ago Bob Hope quipped, "No one party can fool all of the people all of the time; that's why we have two parties." A friend said to one politician, "Please act as if you actually talk to citizens and not just consultants and fixers." That didn't go over well.
            Comedian George Burns was asked, "How's your wife?" He answered, "Compared to what?" That is what we have to realize each year. When we do a year in review in some ways we are often comparing to other years.
            Can we learn from 2015? Yes, but we must want to learn. We may have to change some of our elected politicians if we want real change. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789, "Whenever people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government."
            We have many well-informed citizens but everyone loses when truth is politically inconvenient and so is absent from our society.


Christmas Wish: Intellectual Honesty......fat chance

Christmas is coming. We will have Democrats hanging around the house for the next few days. Deck the halls!

One of the topics that will lead to eye rolling faster than anything else, is a leftist’s reaction to anyone who questions Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It seems that the leftist’s views are inextricably bound to science.

Well, sort of.

Animal rights activists come to mind in exploring a curious area of "science" that most Democrats express admiration for. It seems animal rights activists always encourage all humans to become enthralled by the fact that we share huge percentages of our DNA with all species in the animal kingdom. This includes 85% our genes with fish and 99% of our genes with chimpanzees. Below is an article on one of the left’s most admired websites, Mother Jones, which posted this article as a case in point:

Among most Democrats there is utter rejection for any idea that might somehow set human beings apart from the animal kingdom especially when we are dealing with ecosystems and "habitats." In their words, we are all creatures sharing DNA with the same basic right to exist on the planet.....or so goes their argument.

Fair enough. Let's run with that line of thought. This viewpoint explains the Democrats ardent support for disruptive regulations and laws that force the displacement of farming operations that feed human beings. It is happening all over California as I write this. Environmentalists, wanting to protect the “habitats” of obscure endangered species like the snail darter, will go so far as to destroy farms to do so. Since we are all members of the animal kingdom they argue, these government actions should be seen as reasonable.

The National Park Service hires armies of Animal and Range Science degree holders. These people put their liberal educations to work doing what is best for our animal cousins. And they do a fine job. In places like Yellowstone there are signs protecting the animals from the irreparable harm that well-meaning but misguided humans can do to their DNA cousins. The explanations for why well-educated animal and range science experts insist on posting these signs in areas specifically set aside to protect non humans are pretty simple. If we allow the feeding of wildlife via handouts, these creatures will learn to become dependent on the handouts, and stop functioning as independent creatures able to procure food for themselves.

Of course these assertions are scientifically sound because they are steeped in fundamental truths regarding ALL LIVING CREATURES. Study after study shows that to survive and thrive, living creatures must be able to fend for themselves.

With a clear conscience Democrats will pound the table declaring that 1) evolution is steeped in truth, 2) human beings are inextricably tied to the animal kingdom with shared DNA, 3) we should respect the fundamental need for the independence of animals and maintain a natural system.......because it what is best for the long term survival of all species

Fair enough......so far.
Next our leftist friends, with an equally clear conscience, will call for a bloated welfare state in the human habitat that offers much more than just free food. We are to simply destroy all references to the need for independence of humans by tearing down the equivalent of all Please Don't Feed The Wildlife signs and policies.

Democrats constantly insist on doing just the opposite of what they argue for with all other species. Somehow, what they think is best for humans is precisely the opposite of what they think is best for all of God's other creatures. Except of course Democrats don't reference God. That would be offensive to atheists.

Somehow Democrats want us to all be part of nature and respect the fundamental laws of nature ….EXCEPT OF COURSE WHEN THESE PRINCIPLES SHOULD ALSO BE APPLIED TO HUMANS. Yep, we are all part of the animal kingdom with shared DNA and shared basic nature…..except when Democrats say we aren’t.

Of course these leftists get the scientific assumptions correct when managing wildlife and wrong when “managing” human beings lives. Accordingly, it is utterly fascinating to listen as leftists never quite figure out why LBJ’s handout driven War on Poverty hasn’t worked. Most call for more free food and other free handout programs. They demand this for members of their own species, while they somehow argue that it is cruel, mean, and shortsighted to do this same thing for our DNA cousins better known as all "other species" in the very same animal kingdom.

Don't feel bad for your Democrat friends and relatives! Their explanations for the arguments they have with themselves wind up on a very positive note. They humbly conclude after exchanges on this topic that they are far more compassionate and morally superior than any mean greedy human bastard who points out the absurd inconsistencies in their thinking.

Merry Christmas!


Swickard: When it is too early for formal public schooling

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Question: when is the best age to start children in public schools? This is like the question: why not teach algebra to five-year olds? Answer: our brains must develop before we can do formal logic. The age to start formal public school education is not until the age of six.
            However, a big push in our society by well-meaning people and power-hungry politicians is that earlier contact with school makes a better scholar. They say that while ignoring the research. They have many reasons not involving the welfare of the children when they want to start children younger.
            However, others people, myself included, feel that certain brain development phases must occur for children to thrive in a formal education setting. Research which I will point to suggests you can injure young children by putting them in formal academic settings too soon.
            We should look at the research but the way many professional educators have been operating of late is to ignore all research that doesn't support what they want. They say, "Forget the research we want to have a bigger empire and employ more people."
            When I was young most students began their formal education at the age of six. The generation that sent men to the moon and returned them safely started their schooling at this age. It works. The children were in family or church daycare until it was time to start school.
            Then there came kindergarten. In the 1960s there was the adoption of public school kindergarten for many students. In New Mexico it was the middle of the 1970s when the public schools uniformly started offering kindergarten. But that kindergarten was vastly different than what we see now.
            Back then it was only for half of the day and focused on play activities. Children sang songs and played games and took naps and went home saying, "I love school." Then well-meaning people said, "Why don't we keep them all day." It made sense since parents would not have to accommodate the other half of the day.
            The beauty for the politicians was it allowed public schools to hire twice as many kindergarten teachers. And for a while that was how schools went. But then administrators started talking about changing kindergarten into a formal academic activity.
            They justified changing kindergarten to formal education for five year olds so when these young students are in fourth grade they will do better making the school seem more successful. Kindergarten now doesn't look like it did. The play and informal curriculum is gone and the five year olds are just trying to learn the six year old stuff a year early. How is that working? Terrible but no one is paying attention.
            Research at Stanford University suggests the move to get children into academic classrooms sooner comes with liabilities. There is an interesting study that even mainstream news organizations are noticing. It is: The Gift of Time? SchoolStarting Age and Mental Health.
            This research from Stanford University looks at when students start and if starting a year later would be better. There are countries that start their children later in school. What is the outcome?
            The later starting children do better on the fourth and eighth grade tests and seem to not have as many mental health issues. But the research doesn't fit the political needs of our education leaders. The vast industrial public education complex needs the young children in the system.
            And I am fine with that if these politicians will just read the research and see that they can make the first year a year of curiosity, play and social involvement but they cannot teach formal education to the majority of the five year olds.
            Further, we must see our young children by their number of day alive and not birth year. I was born seven days before the cutoff so I was the youngest and smallest boy in most of my classes. Some of my competing classmates were fifteen percent older than me that first year.
            The Stanford study, which can be downloaded for five dollars talks about all of these issues. I do wish some of our leaders would look at this great research.


Swickard: Free college or free students from college?

Grandfather E V McKim Sr's practical education
© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  One of the talking points for politicians is free college for students. They reason that preschool to high school graduation in public education is free, why not college? It is not free, someone else pays.
            Perhaps we should debate the aim of our education system. Thomas Jefferson wrote that education had two aims, "The laboring and the learned. Few students had the ability to be (academically) learned but our country always needs educated labor."
            In today's world our public schools push all students to attend college. In 1968 it was not my intention to attend college. My Grandmother Frieda wanted me to go so I went.
            In 1917 she got a Masters Degree from Western New Mexico University in Silver City. It was then New Mexico State Teachers' College. She had come to New Mexico in 1908 from upstate New York to be a teacher in a one room schoolhouse in Three Rivers. Later she taught in White Oaks.
            Of her children only my uncle went to college. He got a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1952 after serving in the Navy during WWII. I went to New Mexico State University in 1968 reluctantly since I already was a fine photographer. My father taught at the Air Force School of Photography. I thought I had all of the education I needed.
            But my grandmother saw something in me that a college education made better. Ultimately I got a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a focus on distance education. But I could have just been a photographer and writer. Life is a funny old dog when it comes to what we set out to do and what happens.
            America was built by artisans and laborers. Two of my great-grandparents came to America to work on the railroads, one from Sweden and the other from Ireland. My Grandmother Frieda's husband was a railroad engineer in steam locomotives.
            He only went through the fourth grade but could fix almost anything. Today some are saying that only the academics really matter. Tell that to someone with an overflowing toilet.
            In Junior High I took six semesters of shop covering tools, wood, metal, electrical, automotive, and home building during those three years. It was outstanding. I am handy enough to handle most things and experienced enough to know when things need to be fixed by someone who really knows what they are doing.
            We will always need handy people in our society. Everything will break, we just do not know when. Instead of pushing every student to college we should smile on all education, be it academic or mechanical.
            The movement for free college really is because colleges in the last twenty years have increased the tuition and fees many times the inflation rate. I went to New Mexico State University twenty years ago for my Ph.D. The tuition and fees were about six hundred dollars a semester.
            Currently at NMSU it is nearly four thousand dollars a semester so that either parents must pay the cost or the students incur lots of debt. The student-loan default rate is terrible. The solution for some is free college to keep students from going into debt. But should they be going to college in the first place?
            The college graduation rate in New Mexico is perhaps forty percent with many students just quitting. These students have student loan debt and no degree. That is one of the things driving the horrible student loan default rate.
            Many of the current graduates are either under-employed or unemployed. The college degree for many did not make life better as to supporting themselves. Now one of my favorite classes at college was a wonderful year of Irish writing from poetry to novels. But what pays the bills are the things I do which require my Ph.D. No, column writing does not require a degree, but my statistics and research background helps.
            Perhaps the current generation of college students who have graduated and cannot find a degree-required job should have explored something more practical to do. Would it be better if they had a professional trade to support themselves? They could afford college later if they found a desire to change fields.


Obama the fool: Can we last another 58 weeks

It is strange. Everyone could smell the terrorist attack in the U.S. coming in the wake of Paris. 

Well almost everyone. Barack Obama couldn’t. Perhaps it was because he was too busy trying to convince the world that temperatures climbing into the teens in Chicago instead of staying in single digits was the most troublesome aspect of the future we Americans face.

Two hours after the shootings occurred Kristi and I plopped down on the couches and watched. It was so obvious that is was Paris part two we just shook our heads in disgust at the idea that Obama has been scoffing at anyone questioning whether he should be allowed to import another 10-20,000 Muslims from a country that is famous for an education system that teaches all students to hate America.

We switched the channels frequently to see how the coverage differed between Fox, CNN, and MSNBC.  All three networks purposefully avoided speculating that it was done by radical Muslims. Within a couple of hours of the atrocities Mr. Obama decided it was time to call for the disarming of the civilian population in America through laws that destroy the spirit of the 2nd Amendment.  He never mentioned that they did that in Paris many generations ago.

Image result for San bernardino shootersOf course the world had to wait while the law enforcement authorities worked their way through the evidence, but as soon as it was known that one of the perpetrators names was Syed Farook you could have bet your house on what was to follow.
A couple of things struck us as bizarre. First, radical U.S. Muslim organizations knew the identity of the killers before just about anyone. And they held a news conference to defend themselves. Who tipped them off? How are they privy to information the cops wouldn’t release during press conferences?

Of course the very next day Obama was back at it. Thinking the problem is we don't have gun control like they do in Paris.

It is so sad to see Obama establishing himself as the most dangerous person in the world. He is dangerous because he is responsible for so much that goes undone. Watching repeatedly beg the nation to wheel the Trojan Horse into its interior, is amazing. He will go down in history as the most naïve man to every occupy high office in America. Equally amazing are all his devoted followers who are clueless about his utter incompetence.

One thing that Obama is not naïve about is the fact he will enjoy the protection of armed guards for the rest of his life.

In the end the Democrats showed once again what happens when you put them in charge of national security. Even in an area where you would think we all share the same values.....not seeing our loved ones butchered by people known to hate America, what Democrats really want is more power for government, less choice for citizens, and even larger and more absurd intentional lapses in border security.

The insurgency of American haters was mildly annoying when we watched a World Cup soccer game in the Rose Bowl a few years ago. That was the day 80,000 Mexicans, many obviously here illegally, not only booed the American soccer team, they spit on them as they came out of the tunnel and took the field. In 2015 we realize that ISIS killers are getting free passes from Homeland Security's Democratic appointees and hires. These are the same Homeland Security people Obama would leave in charge of “screening” the crush of Syrians he wants to bring to a community near you. And he will insist on doing all of this while he tries to find a way to disarm America. And if you don't like this, it is because you are an anti-immigrant bigot.

On Friday U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch thought it would be a good idea to wag her finger at the American people and make sure they knew she would stand ready to prosecute anyone who dared cross the free speech line when talking about radical Islam. Now that is law enforcement leadership.......another Obama appointee.

Gun sales in the country are shattering records every month. Gee…….I wonder why?

Swickard: The flaw in hating flawed leaders

Pat Garrett - Guts, Gumption and Courage
© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  "The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name." Theodore Roosevelt
             There is a revisionist history move in the news which has been simmering for years but now has burst out in college campuses. Some activists want to remove many of our founding leaders from public buildings and revise our American history books because in today's world they all are scoundrels.
            Even more modern presidents like Theodore Roosevelt are legitimately under attack for their flaws. And all forty-three men who have taken the oath of office for the presidency are flawed. There are some flawed with graft, some with goofy ideas and some with being intentionally ignorant in times of crisis.
            This is not a black and white issue. We must view our leaders in a more mature way than these protesters are doing. There is a more compelling story about the founding leaders clear up to our leaders today: what did they do for the ages.
            That is the yardstick for me: what did these leaders do that others could not or would not such that we have the country we have today. Our country has brought freedom to other countries by example and by fighting wars, not for our own gain, but to insure freedom from dictators for other people.
            As to our founding leaders and the complaints currently about them: all of the leaders who founded our country either were slave holders or did not effectively resist the holding of slaves. That much is true. And we cannot change that flaw in them.
            Some people suggest we even change the name of our national capital because George Washington was a slave holder. The angels on earth who created liberty for much of the world were flawed humans. Yet through their actions we have our freedom today.
            But in the arena of public opinion there is an outcry to cleanse our national history of those who were flawed. And it is every leader we have ever had starting with the first ones during our Revolutionary War. It is a mistake to not consider all of each man.
            Thomas Jefferson is under attack and unable to defend himself. He wrote for the ages, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
            Yes Jefferson was a flawed man in that he had slaves. And with Jefferson there are other things. But one of the problems with revising history is can we do without the good just to punish the bad?
            There were arguably four men who were essential to the Revolutionary War: George Washington who brilliantly commanded the weaker American forces into ultimate victory: Samuel Adams who provided the man-on-the-street leadership in effective citizen resistance; Benjamin Franklin who got the French to side with our nation or we would not have won and Thomas Jefferson who provided the words for our new country.
            Alas, can we find anyone who is not flawed? My favorite modern person, Martin Luther King, Jr. was certainly flawed. Yet he wrote for the ages, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
            In New Mexico we falsely worship a rascal we call Billy the Kid and ignore a man, yes flawed, who is a hundred times more interesting historically and as a member of our state: Pat Garrett. He was flawed in some ways and a legend by his resolve and courage. He had gumption and guts and ran toward the problem not away.
            In no way do I advocate obscuring the flaws of our leaders. We see that Americans in general have a simplistic view of our presidents, "George Washington was the father of our country and a good man." That is a disservice to their sacrifices.
            We have had some bad actions by men in the Oval Office which should be known. But ultimately let's take a look at their entire effect upon our country.


What I am thankful for

On an entirely American holiday, Thanksgiving, it is time to be thankful. One of the things I am most thankful for is that Americans are not being conned in great numbers despite the great efforts of the world's deluded left. Always in need of a phony boogie man for all of us to fear so government can seize more power....global-warming/climate change has been a principal tool. The tool does not seem to be working.

In a recent Fox News poll, count them, 97 percent of Americans don’t seem to care about “Climate Change.” It would seem that two frigid years in a row have many in the U.S. begging for a little warm up during the dark days of winter.  And of course there is always that silly little things to worry about like……terrorism and the economy versus temperatures in the teens instead of single digits in Chicago and Milwaukee next month.

There are many problems with selling the concept of climate change. First of all, it is the words themselves. They just don’t mean anything. People sense this vague label was merely a nifty little semantics pivot by the left that enabled them to blame anything and everything on fossil fuels and CO2. Climate change is a nuanced version of, "the weather changes." We used to call this phenomenon the interaction of seasons and mother nature. Now it is used as an excuse to give more authority to big government.

Remember the last hurricane to hit the U.S.? Of course it has been years now, but the American left blamed Hurricane Sandy on……get this……climate change. They pretended we never used to have hurricanes. They indignantly pointed to Sandy and then to climate change deniers like Torquemada going after heretics during the Spanish Inquisition. They also stupidly predicted a much higher frequency of hurricanes due to climate change just as we were about to see the biggest lull in hurricanes hitting the U.S. mainland in many decades.

Apparently, even the average non-politician Democrats have reduced their concern for global warming to absurdly small numbers. Despite Bernie Sanders asserting that ISIS is a product of global warming, only 6 percent of Democrats listed global warming as their top concern. Have a little more heavily spiked eggnog Bernie and stop trying to stuff the turkeys.

It seems almost cartoon-like that people like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Kerry have said repeatedly that global warming is the greatest danger we face. The greatest danger! They have said these absolutely silly things this year. Now millions of Americans will walk past walls of machine gun toting security personnel in airports all around the country this week. The evidence of what is really a threat lies not in what these silly political parrots say about global warming, but instead, in what the TSA tries to do to protect people from terrorists.

It is a great irony that Americans will board tens of thousands of planes that belch millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere this week. They will do so just as Obama will do on Air Force One as he flies to France to gather with all of the other nodding and winking leftists who will also lament the belching of CO2. Then Obama and the rest of the con artists will get back in their CO2 belching jets and fly off to their respective dominions to "save the planet."

Pass the pumpkin pie and thank God for the 97%.


Our lives with Democrats

We live our lives in a family that is like most American families. There are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the ranks. We are Independents. Often we do not vote for GOP candidates. We vote for local Democrats.....occasionally.

Our dog Apollo
How can you tell the difference between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents? It is easy. Democrats always vote for Democrats. Republicans always vote for Republicans. And Independents vote against the evil of the two lessers (not the other way around).

Kristi and I never vote straight party tickets. There are just too many idiots out there on both sides.

Still, we are very aware of FACTS about the world. And we are forced to spend holidays with brainwashed Democrats. It is a burden. We have borne this burden for years. Often the intellectual oppression utterly destroys the holidays. You simply cannot have a discussion based on facts or logic regarding ANYTHING associated with current events with a brainwashed American Democrat. Doing so is like oral surgery. It is to be avoided. We sit and pretend nothing going on in the world matters. It is pathetic. Thank God it only lasts a few hours.

Lately, I have personally found that even simply walking my dog every day with these same types of brainwashed Democrats is far too tedious. When remarkable current events surface (like terrorism in Paris), I find that American Democrats literally have no clue what the general facts are surrounding the news of the day. This rules out all intelligent discussions. It is like wearing a straight jacket to share space with these people.

What is a person to do when basic current event conversation exposes the utter ignorance of the people? We are talking about a daily 1/2 hour dog walk, that still somehow constitutes a significant share of portion of your life?
Apollo won't walk with dogs owned by clueless people
Let's talk family first. In an effort to eliminate aggravation from my life, several years ago I made the decision to severely limit the time I spend with brain-washed Democrats during family get-togethers.

And accordingly, earlier this month after the Paris attacks, I decided I had heard enough from uninformed Democrats during the morning dog walks.

It is sad that that these American leftists are so committed to Democrats that they will support profound ignorance.

In response to endless one way conversations and overwhelming evidence of utter stupidity when questions are asked about basic facts, I have terminated my schedule of walking my dog for a half an hour with these Dems each morning. I find when I cannot share even a sliver of my thoughts with someone, it is time to move on.

The bottom line remains clear. The American left is destroying our country. And though I lament the loss of time with otherwise decent people, they are just too ignorant to commit a half an hour a day to.

Hell, I won’t commit an hour once a month to the clueless Democrats in my own family. When people suffer from intellectual dementia, they are a waste of life's increasingly precious time.

The emperor has no clothes!

A funny thing happened on the way to Barack Obama’s lame duck year in 2016. Not just the U.S., but the world discovered that this phony would-be emperor has no clothes.
In perhaps the most startlingly naïve (or deceptive, take your choice) moment of his presidency, Obama had the audacity to claim ISIS was “contained” just hours before they launched the latest attack wave on the world, with the epicenter being in Paris. But undeterred by how wrong he has been and continues to be, Obama wants to be even more wrong going forward.
Making a speech in Turkey, a country now led by a radical Muslim who would roll back women’s rights to the stone ages there, Obama, knowing he had been exposed as a stoop, lashed out at Republicans for daring to point out just how wrong he has been about ISIS.
The trouble is the very same day that Obama was lamenting that just a “few” bad apples in the Middle East were giving the rest of the Muslims a bad name, tens of thousands of Turkish citizens were showing the rest of the world how the man on the street in the Middle East assesses the latest murder spree in Paris.
When the public address announcer at a soccer game in Turkey called for a moment of silence, to honor the victims in Paris, the Muslim crowd of sports fans booed hatefully. Then this same crowd spontaneously erupted into a chant of “Alahu Akbar” in solidarity; not with the families of the dead innocents in Paris, but with the bloodthirsty Muslim killers. This disgusting display happened on the same day when Obama lectured Americans on their lack of compassion for Muslim refugees and outrageously mocked Republicans for being afraid of poor refugees.
Of course Obama had cynically chosen to do his moral preening as news report after news report revealed that under the cover of being forlorn Syrian refugees, the Paris killers moved back and forth in Europe as they plotted mass murders.
It is noteworthy that Hillary Clinton has been the architect of Obama’s Middle East policy the last seven years. Within hours of learning her ambassador to Libya was dead at the hands of terrorists (which her emails reveal that she acknowledged privately), publicly she blamed the deaths of those four State Department people on an American video. Of course the record shows she, like Obama, has been guilty all along of underestimating the terrorist threat and denying how pervasive the Muslim embrace of murderers is.
Then of course there is John Kerry, who contributes as Hillary’s successor what Lurch contributed to the Addams Family series. Kerry somehow let it slip as he thought out loud, that he saw the terrorist Charlie Hedbo murders in Paris earlier this year, as having a “legitimacy” or “rationale” when compared to the latest murders in Paris. Of course the “rationale” he was referring to was that he could see how Muslims could rationalize killing people who worked at the Paris newspaper because after all........it was exercising its free speech rights under the French Constitution. Apparently John Kerry could see the rationale and/or legitimacy with his unique grasp of the nuances of murder rationales and all.
Not only does the emperor have not clothes but it is increasingly clear to all but the most ardent Democrat that Obama and Hillary Clinton are surrounded by the largest collection of clueless people to ever dominate a major political party in the U.S.
In less than a year we are going to see if America is ready to take an intellectual bath and try to wash the stench of utter ignorance and stupidity out of Washington D.C.

Swickard: Thanksgiving is an Immigrant holiday

Great-grandparents Erik and Johanna and Grandmother Freda
© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  "It's a bit of a sore spot, Thanksgiving in Indian country." Robbie Robertson whose mother was Mohawk raised on the Six Nations Reservation in Canada
             The Pilgrim immigrants and the Native Americans who resided in America around the year 1600 died centuries ago. We are the descendants. Americans are divided on the question of immigration because it has such political gains and losses.
            For much of our history immigration was a benefit for both political parties. Then in 1914 something happened that changed our view of immigrants: the first year of our federal income tax.
            It passed in 1913 and in 1914 politicians had a wave of money to buy votes thanks to the people who worked. It was and is a tax on productivity therefore those who are productive like it less than those who get the benefits without working.
            Before 1914, immigration was open and appreciated. It brought workers to our country that had to stand on their own feet or suffer the consequences. Our transcontinental railroads were built by immigrants.
            The immigrants who came to America from the time of our founding until 1914 were people who could and did stand on their own feet. They added to our country's resources rather than taking resources. My relatives came from Germany, Ireland and Sweden not for American charity but for a chance to live a better life.
            My Great-Grandfather Erik Greenberg came from Sweden in 1867 and worked on the railroad. My grandmother was born in upstate New York in 1891. In 1908 the family moved to New Mexico and homesteaded land near Three Rivers. He is buried in Alamogordo.
            These days we frame immigration as our charity to the world where we take care of people from other countries. Americans support them with our productivity. This is also the debate about people who come to our country without legal status or stay illegally.
            The prime objection is that these people take our charity without giving us in America anything of value. While that is painting with a wide brush, it is the argument against allowing illegal immigration in our country. I think America should always be open to those who bring us something and follow our laws.
            I have a world view from having lived some years abroad and with the ability to speak several languages. I appreciate other cultures and especially appreciate the melting-pot aspect of America where for generations people of other lands came and made America stronger.
            This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for this wonderful country. I know Americans took by force the lands and ways of life of the inhabitants already in North America. I cannot do anything about that other than tell the truth. The Thanksgiving story is revisionist history since it happened around 1620 and the story of Thanksgiving we know came out during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars when the image of Thanksgiving was used to bolster American spirits.
            We should go out of our way to enable the current generations of Native Americans to live their lives as they wish because we know the truth of their loss. As to people who wish to come to our land without legal status or stay beyond their legal permit, I must oppose this for a reason not in public dialog currently.
            If in the year of my birth, 1950, President Truman wanted to spend money on refugees that might be fine. So what is different today? Truman would have been spending that generation's money.
            Contrast that to now when people coming to our country both legally and illegally with the intention to take our charity are not taking it from us Americans. Rather, they take it from our children and grandchildren's wealth. We Americans have already spent our wealth, and now are spending the wealth of future generations.
            Future generations should be allowed to be charitable if they so desire and not forced into it by us already spending their wealth before some of them are born. We cannot change what was done to the native populations centuries ago in what is now our country, but we can stop abusing the next generations.
            That is my prayer for this Thanksgiving.


Marita Noon: Ethanol loses its few friends

Commentary by Marita Noon http://energymakesamericagreat.org/
Early in his campaign, now top-tier Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, supported ethanol—a position for which I called him out. It has long been thought, that to win in Iowa, a candidate must support ethanol.
However, in a major policy reversal, Carson told a national audience during the CNBC GOP debate that he no longer supports subsidies for any industry, including U.S. ethanol producers: “I have studied that issue in great detail and what I’ve concluded, the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get the government out of our lives and let people rise and fall based on how good they are.”
Plainly irritated, the ethanol industry shot back immediately, saying it receives no government subsidies. But it neglected to mention a very important fact. Instead of subsidies, ethanol producers get something better: a mandate that orders refiners to blend ethanol into motor fuels which forces consumers to buy their product. A federally guaranteed market beats a subsidy every time.
The ethanol industry also benefits indirectly from agriculture programs that support farmers who grow corn for ethanol. And recently, the Obama Administration announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering $100 million in grants tosubsidize the installation of blender pumps at gas stations all over the country.
In attempt to push more ethanol into the motor fuel market, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) readily admits it plans to “drive growth in renewable fuels by providing appropriate incentives. (Italics added.)”
Carson, and a majority of Republicans and many Democrats, knows the ethanol mandate is a do-gooder program that has gone horribly wrong. Enacted by a well-meaning Congress, in a different energy era, it is part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners to add biofuels to gasoline and diesel—ostensibly to reduce imports of foreign oil. This multi-headed hydra is siphoning money from consumers’ pockets.
The ethanol mandate has been blamed for rising food prices—particularly for beef and poultry—because it has increased the cost of animal feed. Ethanol-blended fuel provides fewer miles per gallon because ethanol contains only two-thirds as much energy as gasoline, forcing motorists to fill up more often.
The mandate puts at risk millions of vehicles owned and operated by private citizens and fleets. Ethanol is corrosive. In tests, it has been proven to eat engine components, including seals and gaskets, causing expensive repairs. The government does not reimburse motorists for their loss; rather it is allowing—in fact, encouraging—the sale of fuels containing more and more ethanol.
Most vehicles on the road today can withstand E10, a gasoline blend containing up to 10 percent ethanol, but the EPA has granted a “partial waiver” for the sale of 15 percent blends. AAA advises owners of non-flex-fuel vehicles to avoid E15, warning that manufacturers will void their warranties. Although the EPA maintains that 2001 model-year and newer vehicles can safely use E15, studies by the prestigious Coordinating Research Council found that E15 caused engine damage to some of the EPA-approved vehicles, leading to leaks and increased emissions.
Likewise, marine engine makers also caution boat owners to avoid E15. During winter storage, they suggest pouring a fuel stabilizer into built-in gas tanks to avoid problems. A survey of boat owners has shown ethanol-related repairs cost an average of about $1,000.
These days, ethanol has few friends. Opponents include such strange bedfellows as the petroleum, restaurant, livestock and auto industries—and environmental groups.
Despite government claims to the contrary, studies show ethanol also harms the environment. Earlier this year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered the EPA grossly understated the amount of carbon spewed into the air by the expansion of corn farming. This month, the EWG found the corn-ethanol mandate is discouraging advanced biofuels development, which could have environmental benefits.
These are just some of the problems. There’s also the EPA’s complicated Renewable Identification Number (RIN) trading scheme, which allows refiners to buy ethanol credits when not enough is available for purchase. This poorly managed program has allowed phony ethanol companies to sell fictitious credits and abscond with millions of dollars. And then there were the huge fines levied against oil companies for failing to add cellulosic ethanol to gasoline although the advanced fuel did not exist in commercial quantities—even according to the EPA’s own data.
All of these costs have an impact on consumers who buy fuel and for taxpayers who pay the salaries of the bureaucrats who administer the RFS program. Yet the RFS continues to stumble along because Congress has not mustered the will to repeal it.
By November 30, the administration must finalize the amount of biofuels that must be blended into motor fuels in the next couple of years. A pitched battle is developing on Capitol Hill. On one side are those who want an even larger market share for ethanol. On the other side are those who see the program for what it is—a massive payout to one allegedly “green” industry.
The latter group includes more than 180 Washington lawmakers, including Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), who have sent a letter to the administration asking it to “limit the economic and consumer harm this program has already caused.” Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT.) was more direct. “We’ve got to just acknowledge that the corn-based mandate is a well-intended flop,” he said.
If their effort succeeds, it will not end ethanol production, as there is a free-market call for it. Energy Economist Tim Snyder, who was influential in developing many early ethanol plants, told me: “Regardless of the limits the EPA sets, or the fate of the RFS, we will continue to use ethanol as an additive to provide an adequate oxygenate for our fuel. Oxygenates are beneficial in reformulated fuels to reduce carbon monoxide and soot. Formerly we used lead. We replaced lead with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) then ethanol replaced MTBE. Ethanol was initially targeted as only a replacement for previous oxygenates, however, today with ethanol being 23 cents per gallon more expensive than NYMEX RBOB, the math doesn’t work and the need to increase blends of ethanol doesn’t meet the test of proper blending economics.”
Wisely, Ben Carson has figured out that government meddling in the marketplace is a bad idea. Contrary to conventional wisdom, his rejection of special treatment for ethanol is not hurting his campaign. Although the State of Iowa has made support for ethanol a litmus test for presidential candidates, polls conducted before and after the Oct. 28 debate, when he announced his revised view on ethanol, show Carson continues to rise in popularity nationally. Even the pro-ethanol lobby, using its semantic gymnastics, cannot dispute that fact.
Congress could learn from Carson’s positive poll numbers by once and for all ending the ethanol subsidies, er, mandates, without fearing political reprisal. Like Carson, doing so might even help Congress’ pitiful approval numbers.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.


Swickard: Hardening America's soft targets

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. "As George Orwell pointed out, people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Richard Grenier
             We live in a violent world and as the above quote proclaims we are either the people defending ourselves with violence or we are made safe by rough people doing violence on our behalf. Sometimes we are not at the wrong place at the wrong time, but sometimes we are.
            Worldwide terrorists intend to create terror in our hearts with violence. Again we are only safe from terrorists when rough people do violence on our behalf in neutralizing those of evil intent.
            The terrorist attacks we have seen this year and especially in the last weeks have one message for Americans: soft targets are attractive to people who wish to harm Americans. America like Europe is full of soft targets. How can we harden our soft targets?
            The definition of a soft target is a place where the people do not have a robust active defense. Examples are public schools and community areas. They are especially Gun Free Zones where citizens are prohibited from having a gun for defense. A lack of defense is very attractive to people who are going to break the law anyway.
            To people who only have seconds to live, the police will be there in minutes. The attackers assume being able to shoot unarmed citizens is good. Occasionally attackers will strike and an off-duty policeman will end the attack because he or she is armed which the attacker did not know.
            As I point out often to the opponents of having citizens be allowed a robust defense, the very nature of not having a defense is what motivates some attackers. It is not often that attackers decide to shoot up a police station. That doesn't end well for the attackers and they know it.
            The hallmark of soft targets is that none of the victims can shoot back. All they can do is ask for mercy as the terrorists kill them. It does not seem terrorists are deep into mercy.
            So terrorists seek soft targets because it is far easier to achieve their goals. That doesn't preclude that once in a while a high value target will have armed resistance. It means that armed resistance is the only way that the terrorists can be defeated and the helpless victims might survive.
            The goal to defeat attackers who hit soft targets is to not make the defense easily identifiable. When Sky Marshalls were put on commercial airplanes incognito skyjackers did not know if the plane had a defender and more importantly, if the skyjacker was going to get their head blown off. That discouraged rational skyjackers.
            That is the only real defense for our soft targets: the defense must be such that people of ill intent cannot spot the defense but they know it probably will be there and active. There is not easy defense when attackers are very motivated. Having someone with a gun standing there does not always work because the person showing a gun may be the first one attacked.
            But in the audience at the music hall in Paris the attackers had no one opposing them until the police arrived much too late to save many of the victims. If at the moment of attack the terrorists were summarily shot by citizens, it might have saved many victims.
            There is a great truth in a false quote that is repeated often by historians of World War Two. Probably the best military man of Japan, Admiral Isoroko Yamamoto studied at Harvard University and was part of a delegation that visited the U. S. Naval War College. He spoke English well.
            A false Yamamoto quote often repeated: "You cannot invade the mainland United State. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass." No, he didn't say it. But it is good advice to terrorists. In America there might be a rifle behind every blade of grass so leave us alone.
            That will discourage or dispatch attackers. It is only by an active robust defense can we have any hope of being safe here in America.


Defend everything, except the civilian population

Some of our best friends and family members are D’s and R’s. To be a loyal Republican or Democrat party loyalty expects you to defend practices, political tactics, and policies that are moronic. However, being a loyal American should mean you never defend anything you know to be stupid.

Sadly, there is a shortage of Americans who dislike morons. In particular, Democrats now find themselves in the untenable position of defending stupidity at almost every turn.

Here is a short list of the things Democrats defend as a matter of routine:

  • They actually defend Obama when he says global warming (he calls it climate change now that the data shows the earth is not warming) is the greatest threat to the world.
  • They defend Obama when he refuses to enforce border controls in an era where loose borders are causing mass murderers to set up shop in Europe and butcher innocent people.
  • They defend Obama’s latest declared intention to allow tens of thousands of Syrian Muslims into the U.S. despite the danger that there will be many radicalized killers in their ranks.
  • They defend Obama when he makes an absurd agreement with Iran, a country with a Parliament that chants, “Death to America” on the floor.
  • They defend Obama when just hours before ISIS engineered the butchering of more than a hundred people in Paris, he said ISIS had been "contained” and also asserted that the terror cell had been stalled in Iraq and Syria.
  • They defend Obama’s repeated calls for gun control and his citing of places like France as an example of how much more safe it is, thanks to guns being illegal there. Of course with some of the strictest gun controls on earth (France) more than a hundred unarmed law abiding citizens were shot to death in cold blood by people who somehow dared to violate gun control laws in a nation without a 2nd Amendment.
  • They defend the borrowing of more money by the federal government under Obama than all the previous presidents combined.
  • They defend an economy where more people than ever before depend on the government for food stamps.
  • They defend an Obama economy that has more able-bodied adults not working than ever before.
  • They defend Obamacare despite the fact that people like my wife and I have had our health insurance cancelled for the second year in a row. We are now scrambling to find another carrier in a space where fewer carriers are offering coverage at vastly higher prices and deductibles than we were paying just two years ago. Democrats don’t seem to care about this. They prefer to defend Obama.
  • They defend Obama’s government takeover of the Internet that will lead to slower speeds and higher rates.
  • They defend a public education system that is so bad that despite Obama and other Washington Democrats continuous defense of it, they send their own children to private schools instead.
  • They defend widespread distribution of racial paranoia and the promotion of dozens of preposterous myths regarding chronic racism. Despite the fact that the poverty rate amongst married blacks is the same as that of whites, and thousands of black celebrities, athletes, and movie stars are completely embraced by hundreds of millions of Americans, they defend the telling of the big lie that somehow blacks can’t catch a break.

In the end, the asinine destruction of our healthcare insurance system, the toleration of a pathetic public education system, the hijacking of the Internet, the borrowing of ten trillion dollars in just six years, the spreading of myths regarding racism, the ballooning use of food stamps, and the rewarding of lethargy and sloth instead of work will pale when compared to the refusal to label radical Islam a cancer that is growing on civilized societies all around the world. It is clear that Democrats will defend everything except the country to hold on to political power.

Over the last six years it has become clear that no party in the history of America has ever gotten so many things wrong as 21st Century Democrats.

Swickard: Generations acting like suckers

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  "It's morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money." W. C. Fields
             I was smacked around a bit for saying last week in my column that young people are not acting smart about their future. The fact is that their future finances are being spent now by politicians therefore young Americans, some of whom are not even born yet, are going to be left holding an empty financial future.
            When we are talking about young people who are of voting age this is even more egregious. Those young people could put a stop to the theft if they all worked together. Alas, not only are they not putting a stop to their future being stolen, they are actively handing to the thieves their valuables.
            We are all responsible for our actions so mostly I protest for the young people not of age to vote or not even born yet. They are being pilfered without any way to resist. The mainstream media pushes the scam of politicians spending the future money as if it was a responsible action. In a word it is the national debt which must be paid back at some point yet there are no plans currently to do so.
            How did we get to this place? The clever but morally corrupt people in our society are taking advantage of the citizens in our society who are not paying attention to the effect of printing money and borrowing money without any intention to pay that money back. Sadly even though clever politicians have stolen the young people's future financially most young people would vote for them again.
            There is a term, "Grifter" which is used for someone who swindles using deception. That's our politicians. We refer to them as a con artist or a swindler or a scammer. In the future young citizens will live lesser lives because of what is stolen today.
            At the coffee shop the question was asked: is this because of a collapse in public education? I do not think this is connected to education. Rather it is willful ignorance. Americans ignore data all the time to their detriment. Let me give you an example: a fantasy football betting operation is proudly touting that they will pay out two billion dollars this year. Wow, two billion dollars will be paid to the winners.
            When many Americans hear that statistic they want some of that money. They do not stop to ask a pertinent question: where does the fantasy football betting company get the two billion dollars to pay winners?
            The most common answer was that they have no idea where the money to pay out two billion dollars comes from. Well burro, the answer is it comes from those people who play the game and lose. In fact, collectively in the betting pool it is not two billion dollars lost it is more since betting operations make a profit.
            Likewise Las Vegas, Nevada was built with people who came and left their money. Some people can see this fact while others either cannot or will not. These same people are also unable to realize if the government gives something to one citizen, they must take those resources away from another citizen.
            And there is the Lottery which is viewed as good by most people. To be sure I am not against the Lottery since it is a tax on ignorance rather than some money you are compelled to send to the government against your will. The odds of winning are such that you are more likely to be struck by lightning.
            And I even say that people should play the Lottery with this proviso: play with money you can afford to lose. Same for Las Vegas and fantasy football betting. But what about stealing the money from generations that will follow us? That is a horrible crime that is going unseen and unchecked.
            The professed national debt is twenty trillion dollars while unfunded mandates are around a hundred twenty trillion dollars more. America has borrowed this money. The borrowed money must be repaid by someone eventually. The bill will come due in the future. Who will pay it? You know, the suckers.


What in the world is going on?

Sometimes when you are trying to explain what you see out there in the economy, and more important, in the aggregate it is very hard to be concise. Everyone prefers to examine FACTS rather than opinions. There are multiple factors at work that all lead to a decline in the living standard of the median family in America.

With the October jobs report sending the treasury market into a free fall Friday, it might be a good idea to take a look at several variables confronting the U.S. economy and American living standards. Here are the facts:

1. Federal debt is soaring.

This chart illustrates why the pressure on the federal budget will now be dramatic if rates rise. This is actually the elephant in the room. The impact of rising rates on the economy, given the increasing influence of federal spending on the economy is much greater.

2. The Feds are printing an unprecedented amount of money.

Notice that despite the expansion of the money supply how low the GDP growth numbers have been. We get an occasional bump to acceptable growth numbers, but in the aggregate, despite an unprecedented level of monetary expansion, growth is sluggish. It is hard to imagine how the economy would behave if we shifted towards a monetary policy contraction.

3. Wages are stagnant.

Perhaps better than any other graph this chart explains how little all the debt/spending, and monetary expansion has found its way into the wage base. Of course asset prices benefit from a system that gets flooded with cheap financing, but real wages don't.

4. Nearly 40 percent of Americans are not working.

Essentially this graph explains how the unemployment rate could possibly have dropped so far over the last six years. This chart counts all people of working age who actually work, rather than only counting the people who claim unemployment benefits. America is not working much.

5. The business workforce’s share of income is declining.

This is a "follow the money" chart. If you think wages looked stagnant think about private sector wages. This chart does not show where all of this cheap financing and liquidity and financing is going. It shows where it is NOT going. The logical conclusion when considering this chart and the stagnant wage chart is that government employees are thriving since in the aggregate, private sector workers are losing an incredible amount of ground. 

6. Spending on food stamps is soaring.

When you consider the civilian workforce participation rate is at a multi-decade low, you have to wonder how millions of people can feed themselves. This chart on food stamp spending answers the question. More well-paid bureaucrats are handing out more money to food stamp recipients than ever before. 

7. Student debt is soaring.

The chart on student loan debt may be the most disturbing of all, because it shows what is happening to young Americans while they are in college. The minimum wage has climbed to levels that completely suppress employers willingness to hire college students. The incredible availability of student loans provides college kids not just with tuition, but with LIFE STYLE previously unheard of for the age group. Tens of millions of kids emerge with degrees that qualify them to earn next to nothing while being saddled with mountains of debt.

8. Home-ownership is still falling.

It is little wonder that home ownership has fallen dramatically. The student loan debt chart shows how that debt is gradually taking the place of debt service capacity that could be used to own a home. America's young people emerge from college with their futures mortgaged to the hilt. 

9. Real median family income is down.

This chart on median family income sums it up. The median family in America has seen its living standard plunge. It is a combination of all the factors illustrated in the charts that preceded this one.