Endless stream of lies continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What this circus actually represents is one more example of what a disgrace the national news media is (minus Fox) for concealing the true implications of this law.

Swickard: Voting only for those citizens who care

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


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

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

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

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


Censorship, a way of life on the left

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

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

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

You can read the rest of his article here.

He finished the article with this request for feedback:

So…what do you believe?

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

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

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

"A bit too snarky to make the cut brother"

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

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

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


History revision.....it's everywhere

Oswald's sniper nest - right of three arches
© 2016 Jim Spence Revising history is one of the most favored activities of progressive Democrats. You encounter this phenomenon in every nook and cranny of the national narrative. You see historic revision in the way the founding fathers are dealt with because Democrats find it helpful to destroy the legacy of Jefferson, Washington, and Madison. Replacing the personal freedom threads running through the U.S. Constitution with George Orwell’s 1984 is an ideal.
We visited Dallas last week and made a trip to historic Dealey Plaza. In the building now known as the Sixth Floor Museum, a structure that was formerly called the Texas School Book Depository Building, there is a shrine to John F. Kennedy. It was of course on the sixth floor of this building, that Lee Harvey Oswald fired his rifle and murdered Kennedy.
Though conspiracy theories regarding the murder of JFK abound, amateur photographer Abraham Zapruder's film captured the essence of a horrible day in America in 1963 when JFK was assassinated. This film cannot be revised. 
The Sixth Floor Museum involves an arrangement of historical pictures and videos documenting JFK’s presidency. Visitors receive a headset with earphones and they hear a narrator describe the historical background behind each photograph. Unfortunately, JFK.org the non-profit that runs the museum, engages in amazing historic revision. The visit to this eerie place culminates when visitors walk past the sniper’s nest Oswald constructed out of boxes on the corner of the sixth floor facing Elm Street. However, the tour begins with the story of JFK’s election victory over Richard Nixon. It is at this point in the tour were the Democrats do their revisionist sculpting and omission handiwork. The narrator on the audio headsets states that once in office, the economy suddenly boomed under Kennedy. This is certainly true, there was a tremendous economic boom that followed shortly after JFK's election. The question would be....why? At the museum there is absolutely no explanation as to why the economy started to boom or how Kennedy's policies actually engineered the remarkable economic reversal from the stagnation that had set in after World War II.
JFK.org chooses to make no mention of Kennedy rolling back the growth destroying high tax rate legacies of FDR, policies that continued under both Truman and Eisenhower.
Amateur photographer Zapruder's vantage point
It would seem that much to the chagrin of progressive Democrats, history records that JFK was an income tax rate cutter. JFK had the wisdom to roll back oppressive income tax rates on both corporations and individuals. Economic history, which Democrats running education are loath to include in curriculum, records that both JFK and Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts unleashed economic booms.
Defenders of JFK.org might suggest that perhaps a discussion of intelligent economic policies is just not the emphasis of this museum. Therefore, it is not necessary to explain how the boom occurred under JFK. Fair enough.
However, in this presidential assassination museum, civil rights is a big emphasis in the JFK legacy narrative. Civil rights has little to do with the assassination either. Accordingly, it is instructive to see how history gets revised with convenient “omissions” of the civil rights facts during the JFK era.
It cannot be a coincidence that the Sixth Floor Museum glosses over the fact that it was Republican Senators (not Democrats) who helped LBJ pass landmark civil rights legislation that was originally introduced by JFK. The GOP passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act over the emphatic objections of.......Democrats.
The location of JFK when fatal shot struck him
Let's forget the Sixth Floor Museum and JFK.org for a moment. All one has to do to understand how much historic revision is going on is to simply attend any public school civics class when it is covering the 1960’s civil rights movement. When the unit is completed you would never know from sitting in on the instruction that a higher percentage of Republicans voted for the landmark civil rights legislation in 1964 than Democrats. The revision of civil rights history is actually a political movement. Millions of progressive Democrat curriculum engineers can be counted on to make sure that no students are ever exposed to the fact that former KKK member and West Virginia Democrat Senator Robert Byrd actually conducted a filibuster to stop the 1964 Civil Rights legislation, only to have the filibuster broken by the GOP. Look it up.
This is the world we live in. Everything is political including the crassly cynical revising of history to make history what Democrats want it to be. Because the GOP is slow on the uptake, Republicans have gradually ceded control of the public school system to Democrats over the last three generations. As such, American children are no longer taught fundamental truths. Instead, they are spoon fed revisionist history at every turn. Real history is laden with facts regarding the economic efficacy of keeping tax rates low for the most productive sectors of the U.S. economy. It is also laden with facts regarding Democratic Party filibusters of Civil Rights legislation in 1964. However, even the Kennedy family itself would prefer an ever larger government, to the teaching of fundamental truths. JFK.org wants more than anything for more power to accrue to the Democratic Party power machine. Simply teaching successive generations of Americans the truth about Kennedy’s powerful tax cuts is not important. It is a pity. A historic pity.


Swickard column: Liars, cheaters and puppy dog haters

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations…” President George Washington’s Farewell Address
            Our first president knew the party system held many dangers. Not the least is the intentional lying and cheating to enhance one party over others in elections and during the time of governing. We have a government with its party interests instead of the interests of the country as a whole.
            To me it seems America has dissolved over the years into tribes. There are four tribes I see: Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Disinterested Americans. In every question of what our country should do next is the overarching needs of the tribes such that America is held hostage by the tribe in power.
            Washington realized that the pull of the party system would cause otherwise good people to lie, cheat and act to bolster their party. He opposed the very notion of the party system. While he was President Washington everyone was quiet and then the party system started full force after he left office.
            Currently two tribes run our government. We are in an election year and I hear citizens wonder why the conventions of the tribes do not allow transparency or fairness. Indeed, they are a tribe and to them this is life and death of the tribe.
            When elected those tribe members are then part of the government and swear to act honestly. But as we can see their behavior is to push their tribe regardless of the damage it does to our country. Sadly, we have put the two tribes: Republicans and Democrats in charge of our government. There are a few Independents but not enough to change the outcomes.
            I had to be a member of one of the two tribes if I wanted a voice in who was going to represent that tribe in the general election. Over the last couple decades, I have been a member of three tribes: Independents, Democrats and now Republicans.
            Each tribe is a private entity though the practitioners when running for office do have to conform with some general rules. Their fiduciary relationship is generally their own tribe. Therefore, they generally band together while in office to represent their tribe and defeat the efforts of the other major tribe.
            Citizens are fed up with their self-serving behavior but the system currently assures that only Republicans or Democrats will win the presidency. The rules assuring this outcome were agreed upon years ago in a bi-partisan effort by Republicans and Democrats.
            We also have sham local governments which proclaim they are non-partisan but by the way they run and govern it is obvious they are still tribe members who follow their tribe. Even more disturbing is that the media is supposed to not be a member of either tribe but it is obvious the media often are pushing one tribe over the other.
            You can tell by their coverage of some candidates where no mention is made of legitimate issues and on other candidates they happily spread the dirt spoken by a partisan that so-and-so candidate is a liar, cheat and a puppy dog hater.
            So what are we to do? Truthfully, we are needing patriots to take over the tribes at the local levels and not participate in tribal unity. They will be met with a vigorous defense of the same-old model when they try to make changes. So it will hinge on enough patriots in the two major tribes deciding to clean up their tribes.
            Will it work? It is the only thing that will work. One thing more: Journalism Schools must be set back to where they were when I graduated in 1972. At that time, we looked down on both Republicans and Democrats and didn’t root for either.
            Most importantly, money and privilege must be taken out of elected service. No more going to Congress in a station wagon and flying home years later in their own jet. One step at a time. Giving up the tribe mentality will be a good start.


Swickard: The evil obsession with educational testing

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “Shouldn’t these early grades be a time to discover, play, and explore? ... but I guess that doesn’t fit into our testing obsession.” Teacher Ginger Rose Fox
             If our leaders flew airplanes like they manage educational resources, we would shortly be a flightless society. Jeanne Fulbright wrote, “If the purpose of learning is to score well on a test, we’ve lost sight of the real reason for learning.”
            Ask most politicians the purpose of education and you get, “Score well on the tests.” Sadly, that is not what our public schools should spend their time on, rather, they should develop lifelong learners. This is done by using curiosity to bolster learning behaviors.
            The testing obsession is driven by money and power for the leaders of public schools, not by research or best practices. Our country has many times the number of educational administrators as is needed for effective schools because the administrators have taken over the schools.
            To give themselves power and money they created a testing society where students spend most of their time preparing for and taking tests to evaluate teachers and schools. There is no educational value of these activities for the students. It serves to disenfranchise them from real learning activities.
            What if we stopped testing so much and just used that extra time for things like teaching? First thing that would happen is the educational power brokers and political leaders would lose power and money. That is what is driving our current educational testing obsession.
            What is education? Ask most administrators and you get things like: to prepare students to go to college. Wrong. Education is the concentration of curiosity such that literate and numerate resources are acquired by students to satisfy that curiosity.
            We have put accountants and political pushers in charge of our public schools and they get worse and worse because the unstated goals of the schools are now to satisfy political influences. The first destruction of education was in kindergarten.
            That grade was used to bring students into public schools in a way that the students found enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. So there was lots of play and fun activities. But no longer. Kindergarten has been destroyed by an out-of-control educational administration that does not want students enjoying themselves.
            Want to see which administrator to fire or politician to vote out of office: ask if students should enjoy being in public school? Get rid of everyone who says, “They should not.”
            To educate means to give reason for developing literacy and numeracy. Administrators say students will do so or be punished along with their teacher. The schools now spend their time intimidating teachers. Students only gain the ability to take tests and little else.
            Take a clear look at schools spending all of their time on accountability tests which students have no interest in and you will see the destruction of our public schools. Parents don’t know what to do. The law says the students have to go even when they say they hate school. Most parents can’t home school so they turn a blind eye to the abuse of their children. The media does not know either. Test scores are easy to report.
            Public schools shouldn’t operate on a top-down model where teachers have little or no say in the instructional activities. Teachers in public schools are told that they must obey or lose their job.
            When students first go to school they are curious about almost everything but curiosity is beaten out of them by all but the few teachers who have underground instructional styles to cope with the obsession of testing.
            Spiders and snakes and a thousand other things are interesting but they are not on the test so all but the stoutest teachers do exactly what the administrators demand. If administrators demanded they cut their students in two with a butter knife, many of today’s teachers would do so to save their job.
            Our society needs curiosity based schools that develop lifelong learners, not political castles where educators get rich on the backs of students not being properly served. Teachers need to be in charge, not highly paid administrators feathering their nests. A major change is needed.


Remembering Don Haskins

© 2016 Jim Spence As the Final Four of 2016 approached last week, I was quite thrilled to see some of the national sports networks take the opportunity to look back fifty years to the amazing national championship victory of Texas Western (UTEP) in 1966.

When my wife Kristi and I were going to NMSU back in the late 1970’s, we loved the rivalry with UTEP and were always amazed at how engaged the entire region was in the games between the Aggies and the Miners. We enjoyed rooting against UTEP coach Don Haskins, and we loved it more when the Aggies beat him.

Don Haskins
In 2007 I got a call from a buddy, local First American Bank president Joe Bullock. Joe told me he needed to back out of a golf game scheduled with his twin brother Van at Coronado Country Club in El Paso that afternoon. He wondered if I could fill in. I have always liked playing the Coronado golf course, and I was free that day, so I agreed. I asked Joe who the other two players would be, and to my surprise he said I would be playing with former New Mexico Governor (and current NMSU President) Garrey Carruthers, and former Aggie golfing great Steve Haskins. Steve of course is Don Haskins son. I realized it was a real privilege to play with all three of these guys, so I was very happy to make the trip to El Paso.

When we arrived at Coronado Country Club I was the first one to the driving range. Shortly afterwards Steve Haskins arrived and introduced himself to me. He said, “Jim, I hope you don’t mind, but my dad is going drive my cart and go with us for nine holes.”

I smiled and said, “Of course I don’t mind.” Then I asked, “Is coach going to play too?”

Steve Haskins shook his head sadly and explained that his dad was not doing well health-wise. His diabetes was a real problem and his feet were a mess.

I finished my range balls and headed back to my golf cart just as Don Haskins pulled up in Steve’s golf cart. The old coach hopped out of his cart and grimaced noticeably. He was in obvious pain. He was wearing sandals over white socks and it was obvious his feet were really bothering him. Reflexively I looked down at his socks and noticed they were red in a couple of spots from blood flow.

Don Haskins approached me immediately and stuck out his hand. He said, “Jim, I’m Don Haskins and I’m very happy to meet you. I hope you don’t mind if I ride along with Steve for the front nine.”

I practically giggled that a man as famous as Don Haskins would think he had to tell me who he was. I was also amazed that Haskins would go to the trouble to find out what my name was in advance of introducing himself to me. Don Haskins went to the trouble to make me feel important. I shook his hand enthusiastically and told him I had admired him for decades.

It was a memorable day. I took every opportunity to engage in conversation with Don Haskins. I asked him about the book/film Glory Road, the situation at the 1966 championship game, and whether Hollywood got the story right in the film. Surprisingly, the Bear said the filmmakers did a very good job and everything in the book and film was pretty accurate. He also shared a couple of stories about death threats he received.

The two hours flew by. Don Haskins apologized for leaving at the end of nine. It was obvious that he was hurting. We all shook his hand and I realized it would probably be the last time I would see the man. I was right. He died the following year in September.

When we reached the clubhouse for a round of beers I asked Steve Haskins if his dad made any money off of Glory Road. Steve smiled and said he got some money, but the coach shared so much of it with former players and assistant coaches from the team, there wasn’t very much left for him.

Don Haskins never thought of himself as much more than a dedicated basketball coach. However, as I have reflected on what Don Haskins did, I realize that unlike today’s national championship winning basketball coaches, who cash in on their success and sign multi-million dollar contracts, Don Haskins compensation for what he accomplished was pretty minimal. No doubt he had big offers. But Don Haskins loved this area and he chose to stay here with his friends. When you consider what Don Haskins got paid per death threat, he came really cheap.

When Haskins coached those terrific black kids to a win over Kentucky fifty years ago, he helped pave the way for a cultural revolution in sports. Don Haskins changed America, and as such, he should be considered one of the most transformative individuals in our nation’s history. Haskins will always be an unsung hero in my mind. Accordingly, I feel blessed to have had the privilege to spend an afternoon with such a remarkable man.

Email Jim Spence jspence056@gmail.com


Swickard column: Opposing civil asset forfeiture

© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  “Civil asset forfeiture is a cancer that eats at the very heart of the integrity of the American judicial system.” Brad Cates
             Some may think it odd that a friend of mine, Brad Cates, opposes Civil Asset Forfeiture since years ago he was the Director of the Department of Justice Forfeiture Program. He knows better than anyone else the strengths and weaknesses of that program.
            I’ve known Brad Cates since 1970 when we both served in the New Mexico State University Student Senate. Later he ran successfully for Student Body President. After graduation I worked at KOB-TV in Albuquerque and Brad was a New Mexico Legislator. We talked often. Then he moved to Washington, D.C. and I lost contact with him until recently when he returned to Las Cruces.
            It pleases me that he opposes the taking of cash and assets from citizens who have not been convicted of a crime. This is a subject that I have written about several times. There is no place in a Nation of Laws for citizens to lose assets without legal process.
            Years ago when Brad Cates became involved as the Director of the DOJ Forfeiture Program the Drug Cartels and Mafia had resources they used that were gained by illegal actions. So it was thought that the police should not allow criminals to use their ill-begotten gains.
            Then our police departments noticed that it was also a convenient way to get additional financial resources to bolster their budgets. Citizens who were not indicted or convicted were fleeced of their assets so that police departments could grow on stolen money.
            Never convicted law-abiding citizens have been and are victimized by this immoral use of police force. The Washington Post in 2014 wrote that $2.5 billion in cash alone has been taken from citizens since 2001. It was done without warrants or indictments.
            But the practice is growing. In 2014 alone, according to the Washington Post, the take was $5 billion. That $5 billion was more than was lost in all burglary that year.
            So Brad Cates has been pushing to rein in the practice. I noticed one of his quotes in the Santa Fe New Mexican and contacted him.
            He explained that he is a proponent of taking the profit and proceeds from convicted drug dealers, terrorist, racketeers, child pornographers and other serious criminal in a process called criminal forfeiture. However, he is against taking assets from citizens not charged or convicted of a crime. Me too.
            It is unfortunate for liberty in our country that Civil Asset Forfeiture is in nearly four hundred federal laws along with similar laws in many states. There has been a flash fire of protests by New Mexico citizens about police departments taking cars from citizens without going before a judge.
            Please understand it has not happened to me or anyone I know, rather, I protest this action since while legal it is immoral. There is something that we can do about this if you will help.
            The next meeting of the New Mexico Legislature will be January 2017. All 112 members of the legislature are up for reelection. Today is a great time to find your legislator or person running for the legislature and bend his or her ear that a law needs to be passed and upheld if vetoed to end all forfeiture without legal action. No exceptions.
            This is the time of year that you can spend time with these politicians and they will listen since there is the November election.
            One more thing: shame on town councils and police departments who justify this immoral practice because they say they need the money. If so, then fire every municipal worker who isn’t day to day keeping the municipality going. The police, fire, sewage, water, trash and traffic workers are safe.
            Instead fire all public relations workers, extra program workers, art festivals and other nice to have but not critical programs. If we have to steal assets from citizens without judicial review, we can do without those services. Again, all they have to do is use forfeiture after judicial conviction and I will support their actions.
            You can contact Brad Cates through his website: www.bradcates.com.


Whatever happened to Voltaire?

© 2016 Jim Spence  Decades ago I listened to a history professor I admired. He was lecturing on the topic of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He was also extolling the virtues of freedom of speech by quoting the inspired words of Voltaire,
“‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Of course Voltaire is one of the great men of the period in history known as, “The Enlightenment." However, somewhere between the 1970’s and today, our “enlightened” values regarding freedom of expression have been eviscerated from the minds of most Democrats.
Why do I say this, and what proof do I have? The evidence is mind boggling and overwhelming. It is absolutely stupefying to watch progressive Democrats, particularly young people at colleges and universities around the nation crush the liberties implicit in our 1st Amendment. It is quite sad that nobody is quoting Voltaire anymore. The unenlightened era is well underway.
Consider students at Rutgers University who were so ardent in their opposition to former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice speaking at their commencement a couple of years ago, they forced her to withdraw. She did so to take pressure off of the Rutgers University President. Then there is the recent appearance of Ben Shapiro’s at UCLA, which had to be protected by police because aggressive students who disagreed with his views, blocked the entry ways and harassed people trying to get into the auditorium to hear his speech. There have been efforts on virtually every college campus to quash free speech.
The 1st Amendment crushers have gone even farther. There have been many proposals of as well as adoptions of “speech codes” at various colleges around the country. These codes are attempting to prevent the possibility that a student might “take offense” at something said. A new term has been coined to censor people. It is “micro-aggression.” Micro-aggression is code for the easily offended who can now claim micro-aggression as some sort of assault, by pointing to virtually anything vague and insinuating that it is based on racism.
Where does support for this kind of overt censorship movement come from? How could any self-respecting American support censoring what another person says, minus standard opposition to the shouting of “fire” in a crowded theater?
Look no farther than the actions of the White House yesterday as French premier Francois Hollande was addressing the War on Terror.
Hollande said this in French: “Europe has been hit more, given that it is also the target of the terrorists and ISIS. We’ve seen it in Paris last year, as well as in Brussels. And together with President Obama, we worked on coordinating further our commitments, our organizations, our services when it comes to fighting against these terrorists. We are also making sure that between Europe and the United States there can be a very high level coordination. But we’re also well aware that the roots of terrorism, Islamist terrorism, is in Syria and in Iraq. We therefore have to act both in Syria and in Iraq, and this is what we’re doing within the framework of the coalition. And we note that Daesh is losing ground thanks to the strikes we’ve been able to launch with the coalition. We are continuing to support Iraq. This is also a decision we have taken, supporting the Iraqi government and making sure that they can claim back their entire territory, including Mosul.”
Hollande’s remarks seem fair enough. Wrong.
Mr. Obama’s speech police were fast at work on part of Hollande's speech since Mr. Obama refuses to use the term, “Islamist terrorism.” In the White House video of Hollande’s comments, the entire audio of the video feed is muted right before Hollande says, “Islamist terrorism.” And after Hollande says the phrase “Islamist terrorism,” the audio returns, but without any English translation. In fact, the interpreter’s voice is not restored in the video until 12 seconds later.
Hollande’s use of the phrase “Islamist terrorism” was also censored from the White House’s official MP3 audio recording of the event.
A quick glance at the media reports this morning found that not a single mainstream media outlet even noted this outrageous censorship. Voltaire must be spinning in his grave as Mr. Obama arrogantly censored a French premier simply because Mr. Obama objects when anyone to uses the term, “Islamist terrorism” to describe Islamic terrorists. Obama got away with it. There was not a single mention, let alone a rebuke of his trashing of the 1st Amendment (minus Fox News, of course).
No, it is not difficult to see why young progressive Democrats think it is OK to shut people up, even with the use of force when they don’t agree with their views. Mr. Obama and the other fascists on his staff do it as naturally as they inhale and exhale.