Thursday, September 27, 2012


With the continuing (aye, escalating) erosion of the credibility of the NFL (and other professional sports), We keep telling ourselves that this is just a game, entertainment and nothing more.  It fills space on our Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays and gives us something to talk about around the coffee machine. No one will disagree that it all comes down to the almighty Dollar - and that’s what the current NFL Officials strike and lockout is all about - Money.  Love of the game for the game and the pioneering spirit of the original players and teams are all gone, n’er to return again.  We’ve talked with some fans who’ve been watching lately just to see what the latest replacement official screw-up would be.
We are amused that with the NFL being a $9 Billion industry and the worth of some teams estimated in the billions of dollars (i.e. Dallas Cowboys - $2.1B), they have been haggling over a few million dollars with the NFL Referee’s Association (NFLRA).  We think the owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell were just plain unrealistic in their attempts to improve their bottom line, while compromising the game and their brand in the process.  This may be more about control than anything else. With the recent fiascos on the field, that objective is probably all but gone…

The differences between the NFL and the NFLRA appeared negotiable and workable with the most significant point of contention being the officials’ pension options.  Seems that the league wants them all moved from what is a defined benefit retirement plan (pension) to a defined contribution plan (401k).  What’s the rub?  Well, the league contributes to the pension while the officials fork over their hard-earned dollars (before taxes) for the 401(k).  It is a major reduction in benefits.

Pensions are more expensive to maintain and in recent years due to these higher costs many employers have eliminated them.  The NFLRA offered a compromise that would essentially allow the 401(k) for all new officials though existing officials would be grandfathered under the old pension set up.  The league hasn’t been buying it and you have to wonder where they are coming from.  They already had a major concession from the NFLRA and up until today held themselves, the officials and the fans hostage over what is a relatively miniscule sum.  No matter what happens the rest of the 2012 season, the owners rolled the dice, had to give up more than they wanted and lost on this one – OK everybody has lost including those teams that won, but lost.  We smell an asterisk by 2012…

And if you say, Gees the officials are getting X dollars for just one day’s work, well you have to factor in the headaches, hassles and escalating costs of travel in this day and age and then add another almost two days to their schedule, then you have to wonder whether that commitment, loyalty coupled with years and years of training is really worth it. The officials need to be fairly treated within the context of the big picture of The Game.  If you keep diminishing their pay, work conditions, limiting their earnings potential and all in a mostly hostile circus environment, then you have the recipe for a continuing disaster – a Titanic every year.  We will have Neanderthals that will look to the owner’s box before every call on the field. It looks like we have now avoided that scenario.  

The officials in any sport are human and that’s why an occasional failed judgment or blown call is factored in as “part of the game.”   The owners, however, didn’t figure that a blown call on one critical play would determine the unfair and unjust outcome of the recent Monday Night Football game featuring the Green Bay Packers at the Seattle Seahawks.  Then even with instant replay and longer booth reviews (and absolutely no common sense) they still couldn’t get it right. Everybody that saw that game saw the pass interference by Seattle and the interception by the Green Bay Packers – OK everybody except the officials. Then even when the NFL stated that the final play of the Green Bay-Seattle game was absolutely called wrong and the Seattle touchdown should not have been allowed, they still let the result stand.  So now even when the NFL admits they are wrong, they are – wrong when they fail to right that wrong.   Were I Paul Allen, Co-Founder of Microsoft, and now owner of the Seattle Seahawks, I would forfeit the game to the Packers on principle alone.  Seattle did not earn the victory. Bookmakers and some casinos have even acknowledged the mistake with many returning monies to those who bet on the Packers and lost.

We are not big fans of the NFLRA as some of the officiating in recent years by the “regular” officials has been outrageous at times.  While we think some of the more obvious horrific calls made by the replacement officials to include the absolutely embarrassing one at the end of the Packers-Seahawks game would probably not been made by the regular crews, the NFL owners are now smart enough to know they have to improve the officiating or permanently ruin the game and their brand.  They have already damaged the game to the extent of furious protests by NFL players and Fans alike including Hall of Fame quarterback & Fox TV’s Troy Aikman and his now famous tweet, "These games are a joke."   Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football sports analyst for ESPN and former NFL coach who led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory in Super Bowl XXXVII in only his first year as head coach, opined after the so-called “victory” by Seattle, "tragic" and "comical." Kinda tells the tale…

We had been pondering the incredible inefficiencies and added time that the replacement officials required to deliberate and then make their decisions.  Along with the newly mandated booth review of every scoring play, it appeared to us that indecision among the replacement officials was negatively affecting the natural flow and rhythm of the games.  Players never had to slow down the game by feigning injury so long as they had replacement refs on the field. No cheap shot there

Know that we don’t blame the replacement officials even if some were rejects from the “Lingerie League.”  With abbreviated training coupled with a lack of maturity and judgment that has to be polished and honed over many years of deliberations and officiating at the professional level, they were placed in a situation where they couldn’t possibly succeed.  That was reason enough to embrace the return of regular NFLRA officials realizing that even with all their faults, they are the best we have and their return will restore some degree of normalcy and integrity to the NFL. How would you like to have been a NFL replacement official going into Green Bay’s Lambeau Field this Sunday?  It would not have been pretty…

Monday night’s catastrophe in Seattle should be condemned by all including Seahawks Fans.  Silver Lining: It was the last straw pushing the NFLRA and the owners to compromise and agreement.  Apparently both sides made concessions on issues to include the NFLRA pension plan, wages and the establishment of an official developmental program.  The absolute outrage of Fans, the NFL Players Union and even some distraught owners pushed them together. 

Spin: Let it be known that what Goodell characterized as Fan “passion” over the incident was pure rage.  We even heard a rumor that the Green Bay Packers were considering taking a knee on every play of their next game with New Orleans.  They even deliberated going on strike.  The NFLRA votes on the agreement this coming Friday and Saturday right here in Dallas though Roger Goodell has lifted the lockout.  We will see regular officials back on the field for the Cleveland-Baltimore game Thursday night.  Yes, we have seen the last of the replacement officials.  

We need note that Federal Mediators also had a hand in this settlement – your tax dollars at work.  Well, if performance by replacements can be the catalyst to prompt compromise and collaboration, then I have a plan: Send them on to Washington, DC.  Maybe we can at least thank them for their contribution in ending the strike? OK, bad idea…


Ned Buxton

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Some may be surprised to hear that I really liked Mitt Romney.  I honestly did… and my skepticism now represents a major turning point for me and the realization how superficial and naïve I really was.  Let’s take a closer look at two of his “golden moments,” the so-called high points of his career and some of his recent gaffes.  His actions and rhetoric once inexplicable for me all make sense now.

I liked the extraordinary recovery job he pulled off at the eleventh hour for the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics in his role as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC).  He was the brave knight riding in on a white horse to save the day - a characterization we suspect would please Mitt and some Mormons.  He was a good cheerleader and as a new fresh face steered folks away from the scandals that had plagued the SLOC.

His lobbying skills were without peer though we know now he also threw a couple of folks under the bus and the Salt Lake Torchbearer uniforms were outsourced (yes, outsourced) and manufactured in Burma (aka Myanmar) then ruled by a brutal military junta. Protests poured in from all over the world with the SLOC embarrassingly insisting that, "The torch relay clothes were NOT made in Burma. They were manufactured in Myanmar." The SLOC apologized (we hope red-faced) after it was pointed out that Burma and Myanmar are the same country. Now as Mitt would remind us the buck stops at the top and the reason why Mitt stayed mum on the controversy surrounding 2012 Team USA's made-in-China Olympic uniforms.

What we really didn’t know at the time was that with eyes intent on the presidency, Romney’s real motivation was finding a high profile job that could catapult him into the national spotlight. Bain Capital wouldn’t do it and that, of course, opens up yet more controversy that still hasn’t been resolved.  

With the help of a few influential folks which included then Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, Romney was recruited then anointed SLOC President and CEO.  We and others ask why Romney (?) when there were other well-qualified candidates from both the US Olympics candidate pool (Atlanta and Salt Lake) and locals you didn’t have to bus cross country. We note now that Governor Leavitt who later served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Secretary of Health and Human Services - both under George W. Bush - is now involved along with others from the SLOC in the Romney for President campaign.  He is head of Romney’s newly chosen transition team and rumored to be in line for White House Chief of Staff or Treasury Secretary should Romney win. 

Once again pondering the ins and outs of politics we wonder however great Romney’s job with the SLOC, what was his real motivation?  We are also curious about the real connection between these Romney and Leavitt, save they are both Mormon and they and their wives run in the same circles. That’s pretty tight all by itself in Salt Lake City where all blessings flow from The Temple.  We think that Leavitt may be the best that Romney has to offer and wonder if the wrong man is running for President.  We still give kudos and high marks to Romney for his SLOC performance though no citizen-soldier he.

While Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Romney was instrumental in establishing the innovative and successful Massachusetts health care reform law which now commonly called Romneycare, was the model for what is now called Obamacare.  This one great success for which he is most admired and emulated – he now rejects. 

In 2002 Governor Romney described himself as a moderate, progressive, and nonpartisan Republican. He did appear to initially embrace a bi-partisan approach to politics.  Despite his declaration and what we have seen and read in his press releases, Romney’s tenure as Massachusetts Governor is framed not by his bipartisanship, rather by an overall arrogant and confrontational demeanor that ultimately isolated him from not only Massachusetts Democrats but Republicans as well.  In November of 2006 his overall disapproval rating hit a staggering 65% probably attributable to his considerable (excessive) out of state travel and his stumping for president political activities.  One of Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign ads shows Romney bragging about taking on his Massachusetts Legislature.   He crowed like a Rhode Island Red rooster, "I like vetoes; I vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor." 

What Romney didn’t tell us was that of the 844 vetoes he issued, the Massachusetts Legislature overrode nearly all of them, sometimes unanimously.  When the House decided to challenge him, Romney was overridden 99.6 percent of the time.  In the Senate, Romney was overridden every single time, often unanimously – yes, ta-da even by his own party. This certainly appears to be the start of his, my way or the highway… As governor he was not accessible and never really demonstrated any positive interactive skills except when it was in his best interests.

Romney’s “bi-partisanship” was all an illusion especially when we realize that Romney vetoed seven critical (and honestly, earnestly negotiated) components of the final Massachusetts health care bill before he signed it.  Those vetoes were simply overridden in both the Massachusetts House and Senate. So, Romney ultimately played politics even with his signature health care bill then as now and managed to alienate himself from not only the aforementioned politicians but also the Citizens of Massachusetts.  Then, as history reflects, the health care program has worked admirably.

Though he was already well on his way halfway through his tenure as Governor of Massachusetts, he is now a poster boy for the ultra-conservative right wing of the Republican party.  Many on the right wing remain skeptical though it certainly does appear there is nothing moderate, progressive or nonpartisan about this man.  There probably never was.  What a relief this must be to the Tea Party who only now need debate whether Romney is Christian or not… and that Missouri location for the Garden of Eden?  No, that doesn’t work for me either… though religion for us has absolutely no place or standing in this presidential (or any) election unless the candidate’s motivation is the fulfillment of some “holy prophesy”.    

Were that Ted Kennedy still alive to see this incredible transformation – OK revelation.  While I wasn’t a Teddy fan I admired many of his accomplishments and would have loved to see his take and articulation on the shape-shifting of his old Massachusetts health care reform partner.  While Teddy would have understood that it’s all about politics in the US today, we can still mourn the loss of a potential somebody who could have made a difference by standing on bipartisan principle.

Romney has seemingly flip-flopped on so many fundamental issues that we have to question his honesty and sincerity on any topic. Today is today and God knows what tomorrow will bring.  As so many have pointed out including all the credible fact checkers, Romney continues to spin, distort and lie despite all the debunking.  He just doesn’t care because he thinks it plays well. 

With our very high regard for Mike Leavitt we wonder where he is on this.  He needs to take charge now since Romney has seemingly lost control of his campaign and his message.  Recent surveys show Romney dropping in the polls and even before his most recent “47 Percent” remarks are factored in.  Even the insinuation that Obama's supporters represent 47 percent of the country who "believe that they are victims" and "entitled" to government assistance” represents political suicide. No, I am not part of the “47%.”

Then you have Romney taking credit for the recovery of the American auto industry despite opposing the bailout via a New York Times op-ed in 2008 titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," where Romney opined if GM, Ford and Chrysler received a government bailout, "You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye."  Romney then with preposterous bombast categorically stated in May of this year that "I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry's come back." despite doing absolutely nothing to enhance or improve their position.  Now he’spinning, “Well, I meant…”
And though we could include so many more such gaffes, his recent clarification of the definition of the middle income/class as, "No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less." While that upper figure puts folks in the 4% and upper income bracket we feel it demonstrates just out of touch Mitt really is.

OK, just one more that we feel demonstrates Romney’s incredible detachment and lack of sensitivity to minorities.  We could relate the Who let the dogs out? Incident at a Jacksonville, Florida Martin Luther King Day parade in January, 2008, but we think his recent statement that he would, “…probably would get more support if his parents were Mexican” is illustrative enough.  And, no, that wouldn’t help either…  

Couple all the above and more with his most recent European-Middle Eastern visit where his inappropriate and dead=wrong slam of London and the UK and his incredible statements about Palestine and the Middle East demonstrate (despite intentions to the contrary) his total lack of understanding of and sensitivity to international politics – not to mention the ridicule he brought on himself.  We and many others wonder if Romney could be the catalyst that starts World War III.  If he has misinterpreted so much to date – if he really believes what he is saying and it’s not political spin – then there’s the rub.  Then, of course, if we assume this is all spin, then he is lying.  Not a pretty picture

Mitt Romney is a work in progress and God knows (his or mine) where that journey will take him. Hopefully, the voters in the United States will keep him as nothing more than a bumper sticker and sound byte.  Romney’s shoot from the hip, in the moment, rationale doesn’t play well – anywhere in a world that needs stability and mature, long range thinking.

OK, OK I think that I could still like him.  Probably just a personality flaw though I still don’t trust him…


Ned Buxton

Friday, September 21, 2012


So you’re off to the country, to Luberon, the most beautiful region of Provence in the South of France and inspiration for Peter Mayle and Ridley Scott's A Good Year and 70 miles from Arles and the raison d'être for Van Gogh and his sunflowers. You’re on holiday and on private property in a secluded place – the remote and romantic French Chateau D’Autet, owned by Viscount Linley, none other than Queen Elizabeth’s nephew.

With an expectation of privacy you decide to take advantage of that assured absolute seclusion and sunbathe by the pool with your husband…. You take off your top to work on your tan line… and put sun screen on your backside.

Unknown to Kate an opportunistic yet unidentified photographer (Peeping Tom/Tomasina?) with a telephoto lens sitting on a public roadway an estimated three-quarters of a mile away was snapping photos of she and William who perhaps for the last time felt safe and secure - even though, their staff and security detail were not present. That should be the subject of an inquiry by and the concern of UK security authorities.  If the Taliban want Harry so bad, then they would love to get their hands on this couple.

The French tabloid, Closer, apparently anticipated the Royals visit and is rumored to have dispatched paparazzi to invade the privacy of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  The photographer took shot after shot with the end result being Closer’s revealing issue with the appalling cover which shows Kate in all her glory with the headline Oh my God! 

Now, a title of Oh My God! certainly seems to reflect a more prurient and the apparent not so noble (“young couple, beautiful, in love, living a normal life”) proclaimed intent of editor Laurence Pieau who told Agence France-Press that he doesn't regret the decision to publish the photos. We suspect that his intent was probably to verify rumors that Kate is pregnant and/or catch them in an even more intimate act and, yes, good old fashioned greed.

Pieau apparently occupies a domaine not of this earth naively countering or willing to do anything to deflect the condemnation and huge public outcry with his estimation that the protests have been “disproportionate.”  Given the overwhelming outcry from around the world it would appear that Pieau is also particularly bad at math since he obviously occupies a remote and diminutive minority view.  We suspect that he will be invoking The Almighty once again though probably in some future court room. Perhaps he can create an alliance with the anti-monarchists?
Proving that his bravado is only skin deep Pieau withdrew all the photos from Closer’s web site even before the French courts ordered him to do so.  However unrepentant, we suspect that he will ultimately regret his decision to publish the photos given that whatever he has gained in short term magazine sales will be eaten up in the cost to defend himself and the potential fines to Closer for this indiscretion and gross violation of privacy.  Pieau could even serve jail time… Yes, Kate and William have sued the magazine using the full weight of the Court of St. James.  French authorities are apparently searching for the photographer so this story will be in the news for some time. It would appear that Kate and William (and surely The Queen) are willing to go the distance on this one…  No doubt they do this to ward off future intrusions though everybody will benefit from their courage and persistence.
Once again the reaction to this incident is part of the real story.  The anti-monarchists are now out in full splendor and, seemingly amused, proclaiming that any expectation of privacy demonstrates once again how out of touch with reality the Royals really are?  We don’t get that and believe whether it be Duchess, housewife, actor, truck driver or anybody else – everybody needs to be treated with respect and have an expectation of privacy.  For the anti-monarchists to try and rekindle any debate or referendum on the monarchy at this time would appear to be bad timing and certainly not in their best interests.

Others condemn Kate’s behavior reflecting that as a Royal she doesn’t have a right to privacy and whatever her location, she should never have taken her clothes off – that she “brought this on herself.” These absolutely absurd statements reflect the pathetic, distressing values of those who demean and compromise us all.  Would they have Kate bathe with her clothes on?  

We condemn the photos as grossly insensitive, criminally intrusive and the perpetrators as predatory - uninvited guests in a domestic scene not meant for anybody’s eyes except William. We do note that Europeans in general have a different take on sex and sensuality than we mostly Puritanical Americans who are, for the most part, seemingly uncomfortable contemplating our own sexuality - that old sin, shame, guilt and penance thing.  However sexually ambivalent, we don’t appear to have any problem, yea even a fascination, embracing the seeming visceral violence that permeates our media and society.  When you go to the UK please expect to find full frontal nudity in most media including TV.
Having said that we do understand there is a fine line between a free press and privacy issues though this all appears to revolve on financial gain and not "principled freedom of expression" or any legitimate public interest.  Speaking to our previously referenced photographer, stalking is a crime in the US, Britain and France (and most other civilized countries!) and as such an invasion of privacy and – even to a lesser degree – could result in at least fines and depending on severity, potential imprisonment.  The photographer was no doubt under cover and doing their dirty work surreptitiously.  He/she had no right to know or reveal to the world any aspect of the very private life of William and Kate.

We think that Kate and William at that time had a real expectation of privacy and whether these shots were taken by paparazzi on a public road up to three-quarters of a mile away or even by helicopter, drone or satellite – it’s all the same. Just because she’s a Royal, has celebrity and committed to public service doesn’t mean that she has to forfeit her privacy. The British Media understands that and for the most part have stayed their distance.  No, Kate and William are not, “contracted national pets” as one sneering thread participant recently opined.

The potential downside of any protracted legal action is that this controversy, however noble Kate and William’s intent, will keep the pot stirred (perhaps for years) and that many more people interested in the dark side of this story. No doubt a protective William passed from saddened to annoyed on to mad as hell as I would have been had my partner been so violated. These are predictable and understandable text book reactions though again they knew the risk of just such an event from day one.  Indeed, the Italian magazine Chi and the Irish Daily Star have both published the photos though now both are in the sights of criminal investigators. They have both shown their true colors and at least will lose the respect of honest journalists and the public worldwide.

Commenting on demeanor, Kate does not act like the very vulnerable Diana and looks to be very strong - seeming to possess all the maturity, self-confidence and savoir faire of someone twice her age.  She appears comfortable in her own skin and able to settle securely into any environment.  Photos taken of her shortly after the Closer exposé, reflect a dignified and resolute Kate, certainly capable of taking care of herself.  If this is all part of some test to see if the Modern Royals can take up the gauntlet of the British People, then they have passed with flying colors.  It appears that they are among the best of their generation and will be excellent future stewards of The Empire. I like and respect them…

The French Justice system has reacted swiftly and already in high gear has ruled totally in favor of The Royals by banning Closer from publishing any more topless photographs of Kate or selling them to any other media in the world.  If they do so Closer will be fined $13,000.  The Courts ordered Closer to hand over the original photos to William and Kate within 24 hours and failing to do so be fined $13,100 for each day it delays the handover. In addition, Closer must “give back” (we assume to William and Kate) the equipment on which the digital images of Kate were stored.

We wonder if this might be an empty gesture since it would appear that the photographer and his/her agent may own and have retained the originals. We do ponder that the photographer once identified may fully open Pandora’s Box and result in even further fines and criminal charges against Closer.

In addition, Closer has been ordered to pay the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 2,000 euros to cover their legal fees.  As we mentioned earlier, Closer was also ordered to remove the images of Kate from the Internet which they had already done several days ago.

Actually this is just the opening legal salvo since an investigation has now been launched to formally determine if the photos criminally breached the privacy of William and Kate. Given the rulings already handed down this would appear to be a slam dunk.  If found guilty Closer could be fined up to 225,000 euros plus civil damages and while unlikely, its editor, Laurence Pieau could do jail time.
William and Kate have started criminal proceedings against the John or Jane Doe aka “person or persons unknown” aka the photographer who took the pictures and who remains unidentified as of this posting.  Maybe they should check any photographer who recently flew to the Solomon Islands…

It will be interesting to see if the French Courts continue to adjudicate the criminal aspect of this case as quickly and fairly from this point on given what has been characterized as the toughest privacy laws in the world.  There now appears little doubt that taking the photographs and then publishing them was perceived as illegal, even criminal, acts.   

The fallout from these responsible acts isn’t nearly over yet.  The Irish Daily Star which published some of Kate’s topless photos is now apparently in danger of being closed down with the tabloid’s publisher suspending the Irish Daily Star’s editor.

Prince William and Kate are now setting their sights on Chi, the Italian celebrity gossip magazine that recently published a 26-page special edition of the illegal photos. An almost euphoric Chi appears fully engaged and unrepentant like Closer in France used to be.  Italian Closer editor Alfonso Signorini defended and justified the publication of the photos in order, “…to show how the royal family in Britain had modernized.”  Right… We suspect that if Kate was fully clothed he wouldn’t have been remotely interested in the photos.

The Swedish magazine, Se och Hor (See and Hear) bought the photos despite an order by the French Courts for the photographer not sell the photos and to turn the originals over. This was all done in defiance of the injunction with Se och Hor publishing the lot including four that showed the Duchess topless.  Their Danish sister magazine, Se og Hor, published the same photos of Kate today.  The editor of the Danish magazine was more honest than most by offering that they will, “…satisfy our readers' curiosity." 

Predictably, copies of Closer even made in onto US Internet auction giant eBay before eBay management motivated by user feedback banned their sale. Curiously, copies of the Italian Chi remain for sale on eBay.  There will surely be more to come though we are carefully noting for posterity those that have embraced the dark side for the coin of the realm. We understand that the Royals’ attorneys are doing the same.

Weasel publications like Closer, Se och Hor and others of that ilk will always make decisions to invade the privacy of any citizen of any country on the basis of money - anticipated revenues v. the potential fines.  However, when you enter a criminal complaint against the editors, writers and photographers of that media, who then face the prospects of doing jail time, well, you have a whole different paradigm.

Thanks to William and Kate for pursuing criminal charges against these thugs and holding them accountable for their behaviors. Vive Justice!

How about we all pledge to never buy another issue of the aforementioned magazines or any of their breed or the products that advertise within their pages? You remove the reward and you eliminate the incentive… Successfully accomplishing that, however, shouldn’t require us to return these folks to the Human Race.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, September 15, 2012


The graphic to your left demonstrates how the two recent US political conventions revealed once and for all two diametrically opposed parties with differing visions how our country should proceed.  Red is getting redder and blue is even bluer.  The conventions with all their political rhetoric apparently validate that the contentious environment which exists in Washington has seemingly spread to the populous and will continue for some time.  As one Dallas Morning News writer recently opined, “The only thing we agree on is how deeply we disagree.” We concur, but ponder the real degree of divisiveness?

The frustrating thing for us is that so much of the disagreement is based on lies, innuendo and spin intended to do one thing – keep the pot stirred and forward the agenda of the offending party.  Would that our Founding Fathers could see the mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into. 

Frankly, I don’t believe anything I hear, see or read unless I check it out with any one of a number of watchdogs including the Washington Post "Fact Checker", the St. Petersburg Times PolitiFact, The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania’s, Snopes, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and others who can offer an unbiased and objective analysis of the claims or statements of any individual or party. 

Unfortunately, for many folks that just doesn’t work when so polarized at the extremes, they just reject out of hand any debate, blindly accepting any spin or lies as a matter of course.  Even when caught in lies their strategy is to attack the fact checkers labeling them as “irrelevant”.  For them there is no debate, rather the “so what?” perception that these watchdogs are nothing more than partisan left/right-wing entities with their own agenda.  Enter the age of - my way or the highway.

Now a primer for the Fourth Estate (look it up) - We need to encourage journalism to return to that honest truth in reporting mantra and not a continuation of the so-called entertainment venues we see at Fox and other media outlets where they speak to their audience, not as objective reporters of the news of the day, rather as vehicles for persuasive, partisan political propaganda.   
We say thank God for Bob Schieffer and ask in the same breath what ever happened to the journalistic work ethic espoused and practiced by Eric Sevareid, Howard K. Smith, Huntley & Brinkley, the old Walter Cronkite and a mostly objective Tom Brokaw who would have fought the ever present blatant attempts to influence the thoughts and feelings of sometimes unsuspecting viewers? 

So, lots of us out there (me too) have been carefully and systematically propagandized, indoctrinated if you will, and not so subtly, by our political parties. Whether by deliberate design or a failure to pursue the truth, some of the media have bonded with the politicians maybe because it’s a better story or an expedient avenue to an enhanced accessibility.  

Conclusion: Fact checkers are a great start of the return to honest journalism since they are motivated by VERITAS – The Truth - with the intention to pass it on to any who care.  While that number seems to be dwindling especially on the extreme right, some folks appear to be listening including some enlightened politicians on both sides of the aisle who have recently admitted that they check their own scripts with any one of the aforementioned fact checking organizations lest they repeat a debunked and false claim. We say, well done. Fact checking, we hope, will be the inspiration for an emboldened media to hold politicians accountable for their misleading statements. If you want let’s call it news analysis

Failing that, there are some including, candidate Romney who continue to spin, spin, spin probably for no other reason than it “plays well.”  Example:  Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post’s Fact Checker opines, “With Romney, for instance, no matter how many times we say it is not true that Barack Obama apologized for America, he (Romney) will not change that line. For his political interests, it's a good line."  We can cite many other instances of oft repeated lies by this candidate who however debunked keeps repeating them? Spinning, we maintain, at that level is, indeed, called propaganda in its most negative form.

That segues us to one of our main points today.  With all the spin and outright lies filling our airspace why are the perpetrators not being called on the carpet and held accountable by the mainstream press?  We keep hearing that the media has a liberal slant but time and time again we see Romney and Obama in press conferences and no one, we repeat no one, from the Fourth Estate questions them on the deceit.

As David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief of Mother Jones recently commented, “A politician mangling the truth is hardly news. Yet what was notable about this moment was that the candidate felt no compunction about appearing before more than 1,500 journalists and repeating whoppers that their own colleagues had so roundly debunked. Nor was Romney challenged about any of these untruths when it came time to ask questions. He was able to peddle a string of officially determined falsehoods before a crowd of newspaper editors—repeat: a crowd of newspaper editors—and face absolutely no consequences. The uncomfortable question for the press: With the news cycle overwhelmed by the headline-of-the-nanosecond, and with politicians ignoring or openly challenging the truth cops, how much does the much-heralded political fact-checking industry really matter?”

Despite their very public denials the Republicans do pay attention to fact checkers as do the Democrats though many in both parties keep spinning.  One very defiant Romney campaign pollster, Neil Newhouse, recently stated, “We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."  OK, for me that’s a declaration that the truth of any issue doesn’t really matter to them.

So, our reality now is that with so many folks spinning yarns and mainstream journalism seemingly unwilling or unable to broach the truth, we have to depend on fact checkers to sort out the facts.  That said, who is there to check the fact checkers?  The obvious answer is We the People using common sense and that gray matter between our ears by sorting through whatever is thrown at us and then coming to logical conclusions. Use all the resources out there.  Stop, look and listen to the evidence and then come to your conclusions but do so honestly and for no one else except you.

Now embracing the truth you can for whatever reason you don’t like a candidate - whether they support political philosophies you either embrace or reject including a stronger centralized government, more robust state’s rights, nationalized health care or you just don’t like them, their religion or ethnicity or even their personalities – you are now finally free to express and reveal yourself for who you are and honestly define and embrace your political positions and ideology.

Finally, we strongly believe what Morris Fiorina, a Stanford University political scientist, expressed in Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. Fiorina reflects that, “most Americans stand in the middle of the political landscape and are in general agreement even on those issues thought to be most divisive.” We think so too and in this election it appears that most of us reasonable, middle-of-the-road, mostly well-educated folks are being played – big time

And what is the middle?  If you want to inject a little humor into your day go surf on the Net and see how Romney recently defined middle income/class folks. It’s good to know where I am classified though by his standards I am in the pauper category and God only knows what class.

So, reckon it’s time to step up and ask ourselves the question: Do We have confidence in someone who will lie to us?  Most of us may end up voting for the one that spins the least.

To all those honest and objective Fact Checkers we offer a sincere and heartfelt, thank you and kudos for a job well done!


Ned Buxton

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Back in that kinder and gentler year of 2007 some amused Canadian Friends forwarded me an e-mail and what turned out to be a rant entitled Proud to be a Canadian.  I now suspect they knew that I would manically snatch the bait and run for the light.  I did.  You see - that e-mail was penned by a Canadian who claimed Canadians invented just about everything from The Zamboni to Velcro. I had seen and perused other sites making equally ludicrous claims so by this time I was primed and ready to right these wrongs.

Most of that infamous e-mail was written/screamed in bold 36 point, all caps and meant as a literal in-your-face to the United States.  Well, I knew that many of his claims were not accurate and probably shouldn’t have responded to his assertions but was troubled that if not rebutted, some might start believing his nonsense. I did my homework and using the writer’s own title responded to most of his claims on my blog. We noted that while most of his statements were not correct (Pants On Fire) some were worthy of a note. Canadians are an inventive people with many accomplishments to their credit so no need to reinvent history. They stand well above the madding crowd without anybody’s help.  To that end I did not and still do not care who invented what and where they came from.  Nationalism to that degree is absurd.

All but a few of the responses/comments to my post were an “about time somebody responded” to a few screaming protestations to one downright condemnation of the United States?  One understandably anonymous and not so laughable respondent recently called me a “Nazi” for the post.  That’s what prompted this very unusual response from me.  Enough is enough…

The Internet is essentially a public medium where right or wrong all are invited to participate in the sharing and dissemination of information, opinion, entertainment, etc.  That means we need be aware that the Internet also provides a forum for those individuals with a skewed agenda who would propagandize, twist, embellish and outright lie to further their causes. That’s the downside. No, Virginia, not all you see and read on the Internet is true.

The upside is that the Internet is even here and that this medium is available to anybody with access to a computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.  Now, everybody has a voice.  Would that Plato, Aristotle, Einstein, Churchill, Roosevelt, Frost, Kipling, Ghandi and all the great thinkers of the world had access to this medium in their time.
We note that with the exception of “Marcel” all the negative responses to my original post, not surprisingly, were anonymous reflecting again a lack of willingness by some to engage in civil debate on the issue.  Sounds like the US Congress…

One commentator made a lot of sense but when making his point that whether Canada was a country or not at the time of the event or invention, then all the inhabitants of that space from the dawn of time to present should be given credit as “Canadians.”  That dog don’t hunt (or fight) especially when you consider the ebb and flow of populations/cultures and the politics therein.

This respondent went on to offer the question - how could the United States possibly claim the Alamo as a part of American history when Texas was not a part of the US at that time?  The commentator makes a very good point as that’s what you’ll see in our history books. The great participation by Americans in Texas history from 1821 on - to especially include those at the Alamo - is probably sufficient explanation.  We note that many of the Americans on the Texan side at the Alamo were motivated more by the cause of Freedom rather than the Manifest Destiny being cooked up in Washington, DC.  Having said all that, many Native Texans embrace The Alamo event as purely Texas and a part of their “sacred” history as a Republic. 

That point aside, one of the purposes of our original post was to express the sentiment that Canadians don’t need to rewrite history and to encourage Canadians to continue to strive to be Canadians – as if they need this counsel, or any help. They don’t and my Canadian Friends are fiercely loyal folks that embrace equality, diversity, mutual respect and a cooperative / collaborative attitude.  Put that alongside the joke that is transpiring on the floor of the United States Congress – well you get the point.

Thanks to those who had the patience and respect to read the whole original post.  If any reader wants to debate any issue or opinion contained in any post, offer your comments and leave your e-mail address.  If you are not profane and appear sincere, I will reply.


Ned Buxton

Monday, September 3, 2012


A recent post on The Recruiter Network dedicated to the use of “useless” words used in resumes today begged an opinion and observation from us.  The article contained some good thoughts but we have a concern that some recruiters could lose the point here.  The author conveyed an important message for those who create their resumes, those who interpret them and it is our ultimate goal to positively reinforce his point.

The use of meaningless superlatives as opposed to specific, quantifiable statements made by a candidate to describe their work experience raises the alarm in my recruiting frontal lobe and can allow for a quicker go/no-go interview decision and ultimately a good hiring decision – though maybe with another candidate.  While we need to entertain candidates that can toot their own horns and demonstrate a “fire in the belly” passion for their chosen work, for me a little humility and less grandstanding is far better in the long run especially from a Team perspective.

You may be surprised but some of the words we’re talking about include, among others - “Driven”, “Effective”, “Energetic”, “Excellent”, “Demonstrated”, “Exceptional”, “Extraordinary”, “Good”, “Hard Working”, “Outstanding”, “Seasoned”, “Strong”, “Motivated”, “Vitally” and one of my favorites - “Visionary.” It’s redundant and a given that qualified candidates should have these qualities.
My perspective is also that, whether or not we see candidates using weasel words/phrases or useless extraneous terms to describe themselves to that extent, the real point of this post and the other side of the coin is that we also need understand that up to an estimated 53% of all candidates literally fake their resumes.  Many more will fudge or discreetly take a title or responsibility and tweak it to the dark side; what some now call resume padding.  Examples of famous folks that have fudged on their resumes include former Notre Dame Football Coach, George O'Leary; former Chief Executive of RadioShack, Dave Edmondson; former FEMA Director Michael Brown and then there’s Joe Biden… Admittedly these are folks that occupy the upper echelon of their chosen professions, but the fakery is even more omnipresent as you dip towards entry level positions.

As author David Callahan opines in his 2004 The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead, cheating is pervasive in our society.  With a widespread winner take all philosophy where you gain a benefit whatever the cost, it’s a wink and nod and easy segue to embellish your resume.  Look at the state of sports and politics where we seemingly value victory even if it means sacrificing personal integrity and honesty in the process.
My advice on the business side – if you see candidates that run themselves up the flagpole and come to conclusions best left to former associates and managers (or you), then that’s a good marker for you.  If you can validate work experience and quantifiable, relevant skill sets or accomplishments and work ethic then - great.  If not, and however talented they may be, then you may have a dishonest candidate – simple as that.

Recruiters need to drive down to the basics of who that candidate really is in terms of work experience, their measurable benchmark accomplishments (specifics, please) and what they can bring to the table - now.  It means Recruiters have to be Recruiters once more and not token gatekeepers (no call centers, please).  We all need to move closer to the philosophy of talent acquisition.

Since this data usually is offered to Recruiters via a resume or biographical sketch, let me also make another point here.  People are always asking me the difference between a CV and a Resume.   While some Recruiter Wannabes or Newbies want to slather themselves with glory and call them CVs as if the term gives them some degree of sophistication or business acumen, most do not know the difference. 

In a nutshell a resume is a brief and concise summary of the candidate’s current contact information, relevant work experience, educational background, professional organizations or any other information they deem germane to their application – the information you need to initiate and then with everything else being equal - ultimately drive down to those more ambiguous and esoteric aspects that include personality fit, business perspectives, organizational culture preference, career path, ability to adapt, etc.

The curriculum vitae (CV) is a much more detailed synopsis which in the United States is primarily used when applying for, academic, scientific or research positions.  It’s also applicable when applying for fellowships or grants so has its real basis in academia and science.  It’s appropriate for a CV to include papers and articles (really all publications), presentations and honors. My experience in Scotland and the UK is that most folks present a CV, no matter 

No doubt that those first ten to fifteen seconds when you are reviewing a resume are important, it’s the sum and substance of that document that has all the bearing on your interest and ultimately your interview decision. With presentation and marketing so important, resumes have to pop though we have found many candidates that never craft that ever important cover letter or just use an internet generated template and plug their work experience and history into their resume. I am sure we have all seen candidates who cut and paste the position description.  It’s an embarrassing no brainer to see a resume dedicated to pursuing a career in the medical field wind up being entertained and used for a CPG or Hospitality position.

So, treat those meaningless superlatives as “generic hyperbole” - markers of ego-driven candidates or desperate folks looking for a pedigree and platform to capriciously market themselves or as in the case of most - candidates who just don’t know any better. With effective communication and positive interactive skills critical for that right candidate for any position, these behaviors are a red flag begging your attention.

Having said all this, they just might be who they say they are and with a little work might just be your next best Employee. That’s why we’re here and as Recruiters the engine that drives the process…


Ned Buxton