Swickard: Their First Day in America

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  On this last day of October every year I like to tell the same story. It is about perception and cultural diversity. The story was told to me by a friend named John who was an Immigration Intake Counselor for the Vietnamese Boat People in Long Beach, California in the 1970s.
            These refugees came to America from South Vietnam before the war ended in April of 1975 and afterwards. Many refugees fled knowing that if the North Vietnamese caught them it would be death. After the country was reunited and was just Vietnam there still was quite a flow of Vietnamese who came to America.
            My friend John spoke their language well because he served two tours of duty in South Vietnam in an organization, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam referred to as MACV. Rather than being in an American unit, his job was to live in small villages and help the South Vietnam soldiers of those areas.
            From two years of living among the villagers his speech, accent and understanding of their culture was excellent. At the intake center in Long Beach his job was to walk around helping the people coming through the center with what they needed to do.
            For these people who had until then lived their whole life in Vietnam, it was their very first day in America. Almost all of the people did not speak English. John tried to show them that America was a good place and the immigrants were safer in America than they had been in their homeland.
            John liked to sit in his office next to the main walkway. He would listen to the people as they walked by chatter excitedly about how wonderful it was to be in America. He heard many times how the people were glad and grateful they made it safely to America.
            The first thing each morning John would work on daily reports and paperwork to the music of these people walking by talking happily about being in America. That was except for one day. John was busy working on paperwork when he became aware that the people outside his office were agitated. And they were not happy.
             He looked up from his desk and saw their frightened unhappy faces walking by as they talked excitedly. This was very unusual and out of character for the refugees.
            John stepped quickly to the door and tried to catch their conversation. To his surprise he heard some say they were going to kill the headmaster for talking them into coming to this terrible and evil land. Several said the Communists were right about how awful it was in America.
            John was in shock. He had never heard anything like this before from the people and could not spot the problem. Another group was saying the same things. Frantically John made his way through the crowd. The normally happy people were sullen and pulled back from him.
            He tried to speak to several groups of people, but they did not reply and moved away. What a mystery since usually they were so very glad to find an American who spoke their language.
            On his way to the office to report this amazing change of behavior his American perception came into focus with his time in Vietnam. While he had not participated in a quaint American tradition, he suddenly noticed the center's staff had decorated the center for Halloween. He remembered that the Vietnamese do not celebrate Halloween.
            Many Americans in the center were dressed in costume. The Vietnam people's first view of a real American that day turned out to be a woman dressed to the hilt as an evil witch with purple skin and green hair.
            It was touch and go the next hour as John and other counselors explained to the immigrants that this was merely a charming and quaint American tradition. At last everyone settled down and the happy chatter returned somewhat, though he heard several groups comment that Americans seemed to be good people but sometimes did crazy things.
            The Vietnamese immigrants have quite a story to tell about the very first day they spent in America since they happened to arrive on Halloween.


Swickard: Voting for a different future

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  "This is a frightening statistic. More people vote in 'American Idol' than in any US election." Rush Limbaugh
             Around New Mexico this next week are municipal elections not to be confused with the general elections held this same time next year. Having municipal elections on an off year from the general elections can be both good and bad: good because we citizens can concentrate on just the town or city leaders as a whole and bad because voting at times is less than ten percent of the population.
            How can anyone think they got a mandate "from the people" when nine out of ten of their constituents made the decision to not vote? These elections are not about who is going to be the next councilor or mayor, they are about how people will live in our little slice of heaven in the next generation.
            The decisions that are made in the next few years will not be widely known by people fifty years from now. But those people so very far in the future will either live better or worse lives because of the actions of politicians today. People who are not born yet will prosper or not because of our votes to elect differing people.
            People talk about the "Get out the vote" efforts. Personally, I do not care if people vote. If you have to be told to vote, I do not care if you do. If you are just pulling levers for the sake of pulling levers so we can say a higher percentage voted, please do not vote.
            More so, if the difference between people running for office is cosmetic rather than a test of policy, again, stay home and vote for American Idol. We should not spend our time trying to get people registered and to the polls. We should spend our time getting people to care. That starts with getting people of character and integrity to run. If potential voters believe in those running, they will register and vote.
            What do I hope for this election? I hope that the people of character and integrity in each race win, regardless of party affiliation or if they are the incumbent. I hope the will of the people triumphs over voter fraud, regardless of who wins.
            I hope that the next generation of leaders tackles the problems of the local community in an effective way so that long-term solutions work. I hope whoever is elected understands political solutions only work for political problems. They should never use political solutions for anything else.
            After the votes are counted, I hope that the animosity that is so unbecoming of our society is lifted. Vote if you care. If you do not care, please stay home and watch the stars dance
            I started watching elections when Kennedy and Nixon ran. I was just a kid. Then there was Goldwater Johnson. On election night we finally had a television that I got to stay up and watch. On the Nixon Humphrey election night I was a freshman in college and sat in the lobby of the dorm watching television and wondering what the future would bring. My first chance to vote was Nixon McGovern.
            Somewhere in a box I have an "I like Ike" button that represents one of the high points of my political life. Ike was admired by my Mom and Dad so I admired him, too.
            Some of the people I have the most respect for are politicians. Elections are like West Point, about character and integrity. The service academies concentrate on character development and personal integrity as should our elections.
            We have spent quite a bit of time on what swag the politicians will give us for our vote. We do not really know what challenges our next crop of leaders will face. Therefore, this election is not about solutions to things that have already happened. It is about the future.
            We know that people of character and integrity will do better in moments of crisis. We know that there will be chaos and crisis during the next several years. We know that, for the sake of our country, we should vote character and integrity.


Lying when the truth would do just fine

Hillary Clinton was exposed as a remorseless liar this week. But you had to watch Fox News to see the videos of her perpetrating utter deception on the American people. ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, and CNN do not care about the lies of Democrats and will NEVER report on them.
Hillary Clinton’s trail of lies are too numerous to mention here. Suffice to say that when the late legendary New York Times writer William Safire defined her personality as “congenital liar,” he wasn’t kidding. Congenital liar means, “from birth” and there is little doubt this is exactly what she is.
The amazing thing about Mrs. Clinton is not how brazenly has she lied, and still does lie, it is that she will lie even when the truth would do just as well. She simply lies when it is completely unnecessary.
Let’s look at two examples of the Clinton lie machine and how it seems to run twenty-four hours a day even when it doesn’t matter.
1.       Take the lie about the anti-Mohammed video being the reason why four Americans including our ambassador were brutally murdered in the Libya that was destroyed based on Clinton’s recommendation. Clinton emails proved she lied to the American public repeatedly (about a video being the reason) as well as the murder victim’s families. Astonishingly, the thuggish Obama administration was so committed to repeating this same lie, they actually went as far as ARRESTING and imprisoning the man who made the obscure video. Of course the lie was totally unnecessary. No one who mattered was going to think the worse of Hillary or Obama for telling America terrorists killed the Americans at Benghazi.

2.       Then there is Sid Blumenthal. Nobody knows who he is except politicians. Obama hates Blumenthal the smear artist because Sid smeared him too. But Hillary loves Blumenthal. Since Hillary does what Hillary wants to do, she was sharing classified information with Blumenthal (who had no security clearance). In fact, she was trading hundreds of emails during the course of a single week with Blumenthal. However, when Hillary was asked this week why she was so reluctant to admit he was advising her she said…….. get this….”He was not advising me.”

Hundreds of emails containing thousands of words of advice are on the record for everyone to see, and yet Hillary with a straight face, for no reason whatsoever, insisted he was not an advisor.

One has to wonder how, with so much evidence of her total disdain for truth telling, how Democrats in the news media could have looked past all of this again this week and be so hell bent and determined to suggest she is the best they have.

Then again these are the Democrats. Perhaps there is no wonder in all of this whatsoever.


Swickard: Being foolishly fuelish because of politicians

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  This last week I was moderator of a local candidate forum. While we talked about taxes and how unfriendly the business climate seems in my little slice of heaven, there was something else that makes me see red every day.
            While many people do not think of it I am offended that I must buy ethanol in my gasoline. About five years ago the environmental operatives in Santa Fe succeeded in forcing the adoption of ethanol laced gasoline by everyone in New Mexico.
            I have three major objections to being forced to use E10 gasoline. First, the BTU (energy) content of E10 is not as high as regular gasoline, so I surrender gas mileage. I already drive carefully and under the speed limit to boost gas mileage. However, I do not want to spend money foolishly. Also ethanol is very corrosive to older engines and therefore causes older vehicles problems.
            Second, the use of the food crop corn to make fuel raises the price of corn-based food since the production of corn for food competes with the federally subsidized ethanol production. Farmers weigh the value of producing corn for food or for fuel where they get a federal ethanol subsidy.
            The reduction of corn in our food chain increases the cost of food both for humans and for animal feed. Increasing the cost of feeding animals results in higher animal-based food costs to consumers.
            Taxpayers subsidize the production of ethanol, which in turn raises the cost of our food. While food cost is not a problem for me, I do not want to spend the extra money needlessly. Importantly, the escalating food costs are very problematic for fragile families worldwide.
            More so, this artificial increase in food prices have causes riots in Mexico and in other countries with large populations who are mired in poverty, since the increase in food prices is very real to those people and quite catastrophic. There is no reason their corn-based food should increase in price.
            And third, closer to home, New Mexico uses its oil and gas industry to fund education. The use of E10 fuels subtracts money from our schools because the ten percent of ethanol used in gasoline is mainly produced in the “corn belt.” So ten percent of the money that could go to schools is stolen by politicians.
            I have no objection to E10 being sold. Anyone who wants to drive with E10, or E85 for that matter, is free to do so. My objection is that E10 is forced upon me with no chance to get gasoline without ethanol.
            While advocates claim ethanol is cleaner burning I am not convinced it is critical when compared to the harm done to food production and New Mexico schools. Plus, the production of ethanol has many polluting compounds so we are just moving where pollution is occurring.
            One advantage of being older is having been through lots of things. In 1973 I suddenly found that the national speed limit was politically being lowered in theory to save fuel. The 1974 Federal Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act put the national speed limit to fifty-five in some areas and in some states the top speed was limited to fifty miles an hour.
            For most of fifteen years the national speed was fifty-five and it wasn't until the late 1980s that the speed limit came up a bit and in 1995 the federal law establishing the speed limit was repealed allowing each state to set its own limits.
            This was not sold to the people, it was imposed, much like having to buy gasoline that is ten percent ethanol is imposed upon us rather than sold. Likewise if I wish to drive the double nickel which is what the fifty-five mph limit was called, no one is stopping me. In years past when ethanol was available but not exclusive, people could buy it or not.
            But I cannot find anyone even talking about being forced to be fuelish and suffer the problems that ethanol causes older engines. It is not pretty if you have an older vehicle. Let's not send our money to the corn belt any longer. Send that money to our public schools.


Let the smearing begin

Jim Spence
Dr. Ben Carson has a compelling life story. He is an inspiration to anyone who loves to see a disadvantaged inner city youth conquer the unique obstacles they face. In Carson's case he became one of the preeminent brain surgeons in America if not in the world. And now he has become serious candidate for president. Ooops. Not everyone loves his story anymore.

Ordinarily the career development of a black man like Ben Carson would be greeted with joy by all Democrats who purport to "care" about minorities, in ways that no Republican can ever match.

Suddenly Dr. Ben Carson is under a well-orchestrated assault. One Democrat, columnist Charles Blow of the New York Times, challenged Carson’s intelligence. It is according to Blow, as if somehow, even if you can perform neurosurgery at John Hopkins, you can still not be nearly as smart as a Times columnist. It turns out this Times newspaper guy is well-named, because it is crystal clear that Charles.....blows.

Dr. Ben Carson
What other situations would draw the wrath of Democrats towards a black neurosurgeon of international acclaim?

During an interview recently, Carson noted that, “the poor families of those individuals (in the Oregon shooting) had to be hurting so badly.” His interviewer made the following comment: “Dr. Carson, if a gunman walks up and puts a gun at you and says, ‘What religion are you?’ that is the ultimate test of your faith.”

Carson had the perfect response. He said, “I’m glad you asked that question. Because not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey, guys — everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all."

What was MSNBC's chief Democrat Chris Matthews' response to Carson's life-saving idea on how to respond in a situation like the one in Oregon? Matthews was not just stupid, he lied outrageously. He said, “Why would someone running for president . . . lay the blame on those young people in Oregon who were just killed by a mass murderer?”

That is right Democrat Chris Matthews suggested Carson was BLAMING the victims rather that suggesting ways to save future victims. That is sinister even for a hardcore Democrat at MSNBC.

How about the headline in the New York Daily News? “2016 contender Ben Carson defends remarks criticizing victims of Oregon shooting.” This is yellow journalism at its worst.

You can anticipate a well-orchestrated smear campaign of Dr. Carson to intensify as he gains popularity in the GOP polls.

You see, with most Democrats, black lives and their reputations only "matter" when they are black Democrats. Lynching men like Dr. Carson and Justice Clarence Thomas is a matter of routine.

Any black Republican who gathers momentum in the polls will always be subjected to efforts to have his or her name and reputation destroyed by Democrats in the media no matter how amazing their life's work has been.

Why is this so? It is simple. If blacks do not vote overwhelmingly for the Democrat, Democrats cannot win a national election. This would be all the more reason to support this brilliant man.......Dr. Ben Carson and tell these smear artists to go straight to hell.

21st century journalism different yet much the same

Photo by Michael Swickard, 1969
© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  "I think journalism gets measured by the quality of information it presents, not the drama or the pyrotechnics associated with us." Bob Woodward
             Because of changes in technology, journalism today is different than when I first started, but it is also much the same. The stories are still the stories regardless if ink is used or a blog. The quality of information is most important. The window dressing may impress some people, but the story better have a good lead.
            I got into journalism via photo-journalism. My father taught at the Air Force School of Photography. We had a darkroom at home. He taught me the school's curriculum so I was a good photographer by high school.
            This last weekend I was on a panel talking about journalism and the student newspaper at New Mexico State University. It no longer is acting like a traditional print newspaper of the past.
            A student newspaper has two broad functions: first, as a learning lab for students who want to become journalists and secondly as a watchdog on the student government and college management. Both functions are critical and it's obvious every public university needs an independent news source.
            On the panel were three currently working journalists who fairly recently worked on the student newspaper in the past and myself who had been a photographer, cartoonist and columnist over the years. How I got into journalism: at a high school basketball game I took a picture my father thought was good. I had several for the student newspaper. He picked this one out and said, "Take that down to the local paper, they may buy it."
            I left it at the counter of the newspaper with my name. A day later my photograph was on the sports page with the caption, "Photo by Sports Editor Stan Green." I went down to straighten this out. At the front counter I explained the picture was mine. The secretary said, "You must be mistaken."
            There was a clinching argument: I pointed out to the secretary that to one side in the picture was Stan Green standing with his camera as the player went by. Mr. Green came out of his office laughing. "I saw myself in that picture and wondered who in blazes shot it?" I was invited to be a photo stringer.
            In 1967 the Alamogordo Daily News was typeset via hot type in the way newspapers had been set for more than a hundred years. Over the last forty years journalism and media have changed entirely.
            There are fewer daily and weekly newspapers. But there are more news organizations with all of the connections via the Internet. In 1968 when I started as a photographer at the NMSU student newspaper both the photography and newspaper printing were essentially much as they had been for many decades. More important, it was likely that the technology of journalism was going to remain the same when I graduated and got a job.
            What I realized sitting with those working journalists is that 21st century journalism is different yet much is the same as I experienced at college. Ultimately however the information gets to consumers there is still the requirement words make sense. Sentences must adhere to principles of grammar and spelling.
            And the purpose of journalism is still as it was when Bob Woodward worked as a team with Carl Bernstein at the Washington Post to report on the Watergate scandal. The downfall of President Richard Nixon was achieved by relentless investigative reporting.
            It was what started many careers in journalism over the decades with the realization that a free press was all that kept us Americans free. That is more so now than then.
            Journalism at universities will continue. I wish students going into the field of journalism were better educated in statistics, economics and history along with all of the other things they must learn about the new Internet opportunities.
            And like me through decades of journalism the next generation students must have a thick hide as the powerful elites try to squash them. We consumers need the next generation of journalists to be as strong as Bob Woodward if we are to remain free.


Swickard: Gun Free Zones attract attacks

© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  "There are two fundamental problems in American politics. The first is that most Americans do not believe that elected officials represent their interests. The second is that they are correct." John Gastil
             This last week with the murder of people unable to defend themselves in the classroom of a college in Oregon we Americans have come to the very ends of sanity. Our elected officials do not represent our interests and our media is absent in this discussion.
            Over the last several decades an insane policy has been foisted upon the American public and it is time to repeal it. The notion of Gun Free Zones is defective and is leading to needless deaths. As a country we protect everyone but the most important Americans, our students.
            Our elected officials who are protected with guns have a political notion that endangers us. As George Orwell noted in the 1930s, "We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us."
            But we Americans have fallen for the defective notion of Gun Free Zones as being safe. They are not in the least, in fact, they expose people to violence because they are attractive to criminals who have no intention of following the law in the first place.
            Everyone who wants Gun Free Zones should be compelled to live in a Gun Free Zone. Those members of Congress who huff and puff about gun violence but are protected by guards toting guns should have to face their fate without hope of defense, the way they condemn our young people to attack without defense.
            Banning guns makes as much sense as saying that now that drugs are illegal there is no way for an American to get illegal drugs. Let us count the ways that making guns illegal does not work: first, criminals do not follow the law or especially that law, and second, it neuters the American tradition of protecting ourselves.
            Do we Americans have the right of self defense? Or must we be defenseless in the face of crazed killers who pay no attention to the placard: This is a Gun Free Zone? More so, how long will we continue a strategy of defense that actually draws killers to defenseless victims?
            There always has been and there always will be people who are evil or sick or both. How have we handled it in days past? Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association wrote, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
            In his book, Principles of Personal Defense, Jeff Cooper wrote, "If violent crime is to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it. The felon does not fear the police, and he fears neither judge nor jury. Therefore what he must be taught to fear is his victim. If a felon attacks you and lives, he will reasonably conclude that he can do it again. By submitting to him, you not only imperil your own life, but you jeopardize the lives of others."
            For those of us who have the means of defense, we owe it to the next victim to not roll over. We must stand and fight for ourselves and the next victims. Know this: every time we stop a criminal we make safe untold other victims who may not be able to fight.
            At the core of this discussion is the realization that guns cannot be removed from the world, there are too many factories making weapons. Some of the most prolific gun manufacturers are in other countries. Like drugs, if someone wants a gun enough, they will have it. What we are discussing is if their intended victim will have a gun for defense or not.
            Blogger Mike Rowse noted: a man pulled a knife on me and asked, "Would you die for your friends and family?" I laughed as I pulled my gun, "No, but I would kill for them."
            If he was in a Gun Free Zone would you rather that he gets killed by the evil man with the knife?


The most insidious lie of all

Over the years I have written more than a few columns exposing the ways that Democrats are destroying the nation with a huge assist from the public education system, an ultra-biased news media, and the entertainment industry. These entities seed radically progressive themes in the minds of Americans with dubious course material, false narrative newscasts, and countless television and movie productions.

The results of this avalanche of propaganda is an Ayn Rand-like national nightmare where our nation steadily declines as Democrats call for more and more policies that are leading the decline.

As various presidential candidates unveil their “tax plans” for the 2017-2020 time frame it becomes clear what the most insidious lie is that has been foisted on the country.

If you want to guess what the most insidious lie is let me give you some wrong answers so you don't waste your time.

Forget the lie that somehow another “law” or another rule or regulation of business will save the nation. A bad lie, but not the most insidious. You can also forget the lie that a vote for bigger government with more bureaucrats controlling more national resources and running more “programs” is better for the country. This too is a bad idea that is horrible for America. Yes, these two ideas alone, which have been implemented on an incremental basis, are killing the nation like slow-dose poison. But neither is the most insidious lie.

The most insidious lie is that all of these things, more laws, more rules and regulations, more bureaucratic control, more damage to business, and more programs can somehow be FREE for half the nation.

The greatest disservice done to America over the last six and a half dreadful years was done to it by Mitt Romney. Remember that Romney got "caught" on an I-phone video explaining why it was impossible to fix the country when 47% of the adult population was asked to pay NOTHING in income tax in exchange for the massive government that Democrats have saddled America with. When this truth-telling video was made public, instead of defending the TRUTH, Romney inexplicably went into denial mode and acted as if the content of the video was taken out of context.

So here we are in 2015. In the last national election the GOP presidential nominee joined Democrats in lying to the country about the true costs of more laws-regulations of business and bureaucrats controlling more national resources and running more “programs.” You see, these things are not only destroying us; due to their sheer size and scope of their reach, they can't possibly be FREE. The assumption that it takes only half of the adult population of the country to be contributing to the cost of these supposedly wonderful big government ideas, is undoubtedly the most insidious lie ever foisted on our nation.

The GOP led by sheep is joining the Democrats in the movement to swan dive or nation right into the abyss.