Swickard column: Windy boy windy for New Mexico

Columbia loaded for trip home- George Swickard
© 2016 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  After college my first professional job was in television production. The Albuquerque station had a weatherman who was interesting because he was not from New Mexico. The annual spring winds upset him. In fact, when you asked about the next day’s weather anytime during the year he answered, “Windy boy, windy.”
            And it is time for New Mexico’s annual spring winds. Some people are quite upset with them while the rest of us usually shrug and go about our business. Sometimes we even find humor in the winds.
            A tourist from back east pulled up to a restaurant at the same time as me and was having trouble keeping ahold of his hat. “My God,” he exclaimed with a look of horror at the dust and debris flying by, “Does the wind always blow like this in New Mexico?”
            “Nope,” I said and smiled. “Sometimes it comes from the other direction.” The man was shocked by the violence of the dust. I could not resist. “But the wind right now isn’t blowing enough to pick up scorpions and rattlesnakes so you should be fine. Watch out when the wind really picks up, they can drop right out of the sky.”
            The man could not get out of New Mexico quickly enough. Our Chambers of Commerce hate it when we play with the tourists. And in March and April each year there is plenty of wind to play with tourists. The truth is that if you were born in New Mexico and the winds in spring start blowing dust, you will not have a surprised look on your face.
            One bright spot if you are heading east. A couple years ago I went from Las Cruces to Roswell almost not using any gas in my truck. I felt pretty good about the wind until I drove back to Las Cruces and almost used a tank of gas.
            I feel bad for high profile vehicles since the wind often plays the devil with handling and sometimes even just keeping all four wheels on the ground. Some of the roads in New Mexico are closed in bad dust storms because there can suddenly be zero visibility with the possibility of a big wreck involving many vehicles.
            One of the almost lost stories of wind in New Mexico involves the only time when a NASA Space Shuttle landed in our state. More to the point, what is rarely referenced is the windy day before Space Shuttle Columbia landed.
            In 1976 Northrup Strip was selected by NASA as a Space Shuttle training and backup landing facility. We now call that facility the White Sands Space Harbor at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. New Mexico was halfway between shuttle landing areas at Edwards Air Force Base in California and the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
            STS-3 was launched in March 1982 as a seven-day mission but excessive rain in California flooded the landing area there. So the Northrup Strip at White Sands Missile Range was selected. However, it was spring wind season. On the scheduled landing day, it was a nasty dusty day of high winds and low visibility.
            The network news programs showed a New Mexico straight out of a Chamber of Commerce nightmare. It looked like a hurricane except it was dust instead of water. One reporter opined that the Space Shuttle Columbia might never be able to land in New Mexico.
            Not so. The next day at about nine in the morning it was a glorious New Mexico morning as if there had never been a dust storm. About twenty thousand people were at the landing strip and millions watched on television as Columbia landed. So we rarely mention the Wind Hall of Fame day that proceeded the landing.
            Best way to deal with the wind is to expect the coat of dust and not get too worked up about it. We have been having these dust storms in New Mexico for the last two-hundred and eighty million years, come next August so don’t be surprised.
            My advice: get yourself a beverage and stay inside with a good book. It’s going to be windy boy, windy.


The rise of fascism

© 2016 Jim Spence -  Webster provides a simple definition of fascism. "a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government"

Barack Obama has been a disaster for America. But most of us did not know that the kind of damage he would inflict would go far beyond some of the most insane public policies ever enacted.
Jim Spence
Obamacare has forced tens of millions of Americans to look for new coverage each of the last three years thanks to cancellations. In New Mexico we are down to two bad choices. Our annual deductible has risen six thousand dollars. We have less coverage than we had before Obama and the Democrats made insurance more “affordable.” 
Then there is the trillion dollars of debt added over the last seven years. It is more debt than all previous presidents ran up COMBINED. 
Sadly, there are dozens of other public policies that have literally shackled or destroyed companies and/or entire industries. Many companies that are bare survivors of Obama’s anti-business oppression
now offer poor service thanks to regulations that keep them serving power hungry bureaucrats instead of their customers.
America now has hundreds of Obama cronies receiving new forms of corporate welfare. Each cash transfer to a crony is a scandal.
Still, each of these truly regrettable policies pale in comparison to the damage Obama has done to the way Americans see themselves and their country.
You can begin the tracing of the sudden and startling rise of fascism in America to revelations that United States government border agents were killed with guns given to Mexican drug cartels by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice. It appears to have been a bone-headed scheme designed to help unravel the 2nd Amendment. But rather than enforce the law, Obama stonewalled. While Holder was eventually censured by Congress for blatantly lying under oath about the deaths of two agents, he was never prosecuted.
Consider all of the provisions of Obamacare that turned out to be completely stupid. Rather than allow any formal amending of the law, which might be viewed as an admission that it was flawed, Obama simply refused to enforce provisions of his own signature legislation. In fact, he bragged that in effect, he had changed the law without a vote in Congress, creating waivers and non-statutory exceptions out of thin air.
There is Obama’s intentional laxity in border control that has left America with tens of millions of people here illegally, tens of thousands on expired visas, and many of those from countries that hate America. Obama simply chooses not to enforce the law.
 And perhaps the most insidious sign that fascism has been woven into the very fabric of the nation was the handling of the IRS scandal. The Obama IRS, acting as if it were the Soviet Union KGB, used the awesome power of the agency to squelch the voices of the opposition during the 2012 election season. When Lois Lerner, the person found to be on the point in this criminal enterprise was called to testify, she took the 5th Amendment. And despite smoking guns everywhere, the Obama Justice Department chose to stonewall the prosecution of Lois Lerner and others, rather than enforce the law. Lerner retired fat and happy on a gigantic pension courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers with no consequences for her actions.
Of course America has always relied on a strong and independent watchdog press to hold elected officials accountable to the rule of law. But thanks to an intense interest in more socialism, the press has become political. The New York Times and Washington Post are nothing more than unofficial Democratic Party propaganda machines. ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and NPR put their loyalty to Democrats ahead of fundamental truths. Fox does the same for the GOP. Nothing is fundamentally true anymore.
There are two telltale signs that the cancer of fascism has spread. The first sign being that there is no rule of law. If you consider how many Department of State and Defense Department employees have done serious jail time for far less than what Hillary Clinton did with highly sensitive information, and you couple this situation with all the other Obama administration refusals to enforce laws, you understand that in the highest offices of the land there are no laws, only discretion by the dictator and his underlings.
The second sign, which is even more alarming, is that the U.S. population has come to accept that fascism is the new reality. Democrats and Republicans have gotten so conditioned to accepting the rise of fascism, we seem prepared to watch the country go off the cliff without even knowing a cliff is there.
Consider the rise of Donald Trump. What Trump said in just the past couple of days about libel laws illustrates the point. Trump said he was going open up the libel laws and sue the hell out of the press when they printed or ran stories he deems to be false. 
Use lawyers to control a once free press?
Why not?
Are Trump followers flabbergasted? Nope. They have seen the IRS use its powers to intimidate those opposed to Obama without consequence. They have seen Eric Holder’s DOJ run guns to drug cartels and Holder perjure himself under oath, without being prosecuted. They have seen Mrs. Clinton’s emails that instruct her staff to commit crimes while she was Secretary of State. Mrs. Clinton goes unpunished. 
Why shouldn’t Donald Trump go after the once free press with an army of lawyers as a way of gaining greater control of what they report?
In 2016 America, we see that no Constitutional Amendment is sacred. We see that the supposedly independent press recoiled in horror as Trump suggested this press would have to start spending resources to defend its 1st Amendment rights.
A question should be asked. Where has the supposedly independent press been while all of the other gross violations of the U.S. Constitution and oaths of office have taken place over the last seven years?
Once a society and its free press accepts the rise of fascism because it would be inconvenient to hold their partisan favorite accountable to basic fundamental truths, truths that should be universal to all Americans, you know the malignant cancer of fascism has metastasized on the nation.
America needs radical surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy on the awareness of the citizens of the vital importance of the U.S. Constitution. As the left has found it fashionable to ridicule the discipline required to follow the Constitution, and looked the other way on all of this horrible president’s outrageous transgressions…….they have paved the way for Donald Trump. 
He who lives via fascism, dies via fascism.