Serving the High Plains

Articles written by Tom Mcdonald


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  • Lack of climate mitigation could seal fate

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|May 22, 2024

    If you ask me, history is speeding up. Used to be, things didn’t change much from one generation to another, but with the onset of the 20th century, it all began to accelerate. And, now that we’re a couple of decades into the 21st century, we’re living as if the past doesn’t matter anymore. But of course, it does. History is how we got here, and it portends where we’re going. My baby-boomer generation has been through some incredible history. We were raised during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s, which led our nation in a...

  • Unconventional advice for grads

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|May 15, 2024

    It’s that time of year, when just about every newspaper in the state gives front-page attention to at least one local graduation. They’re always a big deal, especially to those who walk across that ceremonial stage and make their families proud. It’s also the time when yours truly offers some less-than-conventional advice to those who are about to move on to bigger and better things: First, let’s dispel the notion that you can be anything you set your mind to becoming, because you can’t. If you’re short, you won’t likely make it to the NBA no...

  • National Enquirer antics are not how newspapers behave

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|May 8, 2024

    I just want the world to know that all this “catch-and-kill” National Enquirer-style of so-called journalism is a disgusting exception, nowhere close to the rule of how newspapers behave. In my 30-plus years of newspapering, I’ve worked at big dailies and little weeklies and others in between, and I can confidently attest to the fact that I never, ever saw an editor or publisher “buy” the rights to a story, much less buy the right to bury it, as the Enquirer’s Pecker said he did for Donald Trump. That just doesn’t happen, at least not at any of...

  • Despite turmoil, plenty of levity to be found

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|May 1, 2024

    The noise may be more pronounced elsewhere, but here in New Mexico, we’ve got plenty of hot topics of our own. Hottest at the moment, I suppose, is the lawsuit that’s been filed challenging the Public Education Department’s new rule requiring 180 days of classroom instruction per year per school district, which effectively nixes the four-day schedule that dozens of school district have been operating under. There are two questions before the 9th Judicial District Court in Curry County: Whether to order an injunction that would prevent the P...

  • We should want to give children a better world

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Apr 24, 2024

    Imagine living in a household full of smokers. Whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with each other, so if you want to overcome your problem, you’re going to have do it together. More than one doctor has told you as much, but not everyone in the household believes what the docs say, opting instead for a quack’s opinion that the whole problem is better off ignored. The problem is, you’ve all got to quit together or you will all get sick and die by either first- or second-hand smoking. All that coughing and hacking around the house are obv...

  • NM taking good steps toward renewable energy

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Apr 17, 2024

    We have some big, rich and powerful neighbors, but that could change in the years ahead. Let’s start with Texas. New Mexico is heavily influenced by our neighbor to the east. In fact, a good number of New Mexicans on the east side of our state are wannabe Texans, aligning themselves to Texas values more than New Mexico’s. There’s a lot of chili (without the “e”) being eaten in eastern New Mexico. And the last time I visited the resort city of Ruidoso, I saw so many Texas license plates I wondered if I’d inadvertently crossed the state line...

  • Kids social media ban good start

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Apr 3, 2024

    The world as I know it has ended. I agree with Ron DeSantis on something. On March 25, the Florida governor and former mini-Trump wannabe signed into law a state ban for children ages 13 and younger from social media while also requiring 14- and 15-year-olds to get parental consent. Forget the fact that Florida’s new law will almost certainly be challenged in court, it’s still a step in the right direction. We’re facing a mental health crisis among our children, and social media has a lot to do with it. That and the COVID pandemic. Natio...

  • Starting to feel the effects of getting older

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Mar 27, 2024

    Lately I’ve been thinking about old age, and for good reason. Two close friends of mine, one a few years older than me, the other about three weeks younger, have given me pause about my own future at this point in my life. My older friend died after a heart attack. My younger friend had a bad fall and must now retire into an assisted living facility. They are just two of many fellow baby boomers I’ve known who have either passed on or been overcome with illness or disability. There but by the grace of God go I. At age 68, I have a couple of hea...

  • PED decision could mean good year for GOP

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Mar 20, 2024

    In the great red-blue divide that is America these days, we live in an atypical state. New Mexico is not as politically divided along rural and urban lines as other states. For years now, Democrats in New Mexico have dominated politics in enough rural counties to add to their “urban” majorities in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Meanwhile Republicans have held a grip on other rural area and many smaller cities, with a lock in the southeastern corner of the state, a region deep in agriculture and rich in oil and gas. Overall, however, it...

  • Sometimes just finishing is the achievement

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Mar 6, 2024

    Back in the 1970s, when dinosaurs roamed the land, I coached basketball in an inner-city league in Nashville, Tenn. Inspired by “The White Shadow” television show at the time, the Black teenagers on my team named themselves the Shadows because I was the only white coach in the league. We lost every game that season. Even though we had a standout team captain who worked the post and led the team with natural skills, a guy we all called J.C., we just couldn’t pull off a single win. Of course, we didn’t lose because I was white. Maybe “white...

  • Haley nomination would lower the political temperature

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Feb 28, 2024

    For years, I’ve been calling Donald Trump a snake-oil salesman, but that’s such an antiquated term. Then I heard about the line of shoes and cologne he’s now promoting, and now I’m thinking he’s a telemarketer. And, I must say, he’s good at it. I heard on NPR that his red, white, blue and gold sneakers are selling out. Like the Trump brand itself, they’re getting terrible reviews, but he manages to sell them to his salivating suckers anyway. Trump may be bringing down our democracy, but hey, he’s one of the best pitchmen out there. He also...

  • Lawmakers did good work in session

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Feb 21, 2024

    Pay too much attention to the goings-on in Congress and you’d think our nation is broken. But focus your attention closer to home and you’ll see an altogether different picture. Take the New Mexico Legislature as an example. It just went through a whirlwind 30-day session and got plenty done, and not just for the special interests. The people of our state, both left and right, might actually benefit from our lawmakers’ recent actions. Altogether, 72 bills were passed and now await Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s signature to become law. That co...

  • Truth, honesty no longer valued

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Feb 7, 2024

    For just a moment, let’s deviate from modern times and actually be honest about the state of our nation. Remember how, back in the old days before lawyers replaced gunslingers, honesty was actually valued. “A man’s word is his bond,” went the old adage, while a simple handshake could close the deal. Now, that handshake is considered unsanitary and you’d better have some wet wipes and a contract before you go any further. Fact is, as a society we don’t really value honesty anymore. Advertising has always been about superficial spin and mental...

  • Trump, abortion biggest issues on 2024 ballots

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Jan 31, 2024

    Seems to me that Nikki Haley is a bigger problem for Donald Trump than he’s letting on. She’s exposing a rift in Trump World, one that might just get him defeated. I still say she’s the one who can beat Biden, but Trump appears ready to run roughshod over the Republicans’ nomination process to claim the crown. Then he’ll ride herd over another thumping at the polls, up and down the nation’s ballot. It’s almost funny to say, but I think the two biggest issues on 2024 ballots will be Trump and abortion. And on both those issues, the Republica...

  • Wedge issues could trouble session

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Jan 24, 2024

    As this year’s legislative session gets underway, there’s one wedge issue already getting lots of attention. Rest assured that any and all gun-control proposals, no matter how reasonable, will get plenty of attention by the usual band of Second Amendment reactionaries and their demagoguing leaders. Remember last September when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order limiting the carrying of firearms in Bernalillo County? It was specific to metro Albuquerque, but some of the most aggressive demonstrations came in the more rur...

  • Make sure hope part of holidays

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Nov 22, 2023

    It’s the onset of our annual holiday season, when gratefulness, gift-giving and anticipation of a new year come over us. It’s coming during troubled times. Nationally and internationally, the problems seem overwhelming. One war, between Ukraine and Russia, keeps dragging along with no clear victory in sight, while horrors are unfolding in a brand-new Israel-Hamas war. All this while the Earth warms, the climate changes and the weather turns extreme. On our homefront, there’s a pitched battle coming between authoritarianism and democratic rule...

  • Up to us to discern truth in media

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Apr 19, 2023

    When it comes to Big Media news, all eyes this week will be on the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News as it goes to trial in a Delaware courthouse. It’s one of the most significant media trials in decades, with ramifications that strike at the heart of what we call a “free press.” Somewhere in Journalism 101, or maybe it was 201, I learned that a news reporting operation can get away with not telling the truth if it was done without malice. To prosecute a news outlet for an unintended error in reporting would have a chilling effect on those...

  • Santa Rosa saves a load of Chihuahuas

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Jan 11, 2023

    SANTA ROSA - A head-on collision just outside Vaughn resulted in five human and at least 10 canine injuries early Jan. 3, and a van-load of Chihuahuas and other mixed miniature dogs at Santa Rosa's animal shelter last that morning. According to Ray Wilson, public information officer for New Mexico State Police, the wreck occurred about 12:45 p.m. Jan. 3 when a 2000 Chevrolet Astro van driven by Missael Rodelo, 40, of El Paso, Texas, was going south on U.S. 54 about two miles northeast of Vaughn...

  • The world lost a great one in Pelé

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Jan 4, 2023

    The world, and particularly Brazil, lost a great one when Edson Arantes do Nascimento, famously known as Pelé, died on Thursday. Pelé was incredible in the sport of football, famously known in the U.S. as soccer, with championship play that lifted the spirits and the national pride of South America’s largest nation, even as it suffered through a brutal dictatorial regime in the 1970s and ’80s. Widely known as “the king of football,” Pelé is the only player to ever win the World Cup three times and is arguably the greatest ever in his sport. He...

  • Year another one of existential crisis

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Dec 28, 2022

    Wow. Another “existential” year. It seems they all are these days. COVID hit in 2020 and we, as a nation, argued over masks. Then 2021 brought vaccines and deeper divisions after an attempted insurrection. And this year is ending with a “tripledemic” and a stage set for a divided Congress and, probably, a more deeply divided nation. It must have been a couple of years ago when “existential crisis” became staple mainstream media language. Now it’s almost cliché, even if it is justified in its use — between a changing climate, threats to democ...

  • Thank you, kids, for all the words

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Dec 21, 2022

    Every year about this time I get to be Santa’s editor helper. I clean up letters that children in Santa Rosa, Vaughn and Anton Chico write to him, for publication in my newspaper’s Letters to Santa special section, which is a big deal around here. Actually, I do very little editing, because a misspelled word here and there is somehow “cute” when a kid does it. More than anything, I format their letters for the purpose of “flow” and “readability,” which is something a paginator understands and readers appreciate even if they don’t notice. I...

  • Outside views worth listening to

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Dec 14, 2022

    Ever wonder how other nations view us? For New Mexicans, the first thing a foreigner might think is that we’re a part of our neighbor to the south. If they knew Billy the Kid became famous as a Wild West outlaw here, then maybe they’d know we’re a bonafide state in the good ol’ USA, but as most traveling New Mexicans already know, U.S. citizens don’t even know that. Personally, I once had a man in Memphis, Tenn., when he saw me wearing a New Mexico T-shirt, engage me in a conversation about illegal immigration until I explained that I’m alrea...

  • Politics doesn't define state, people

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Dec 7, 2022

    Every time I go back to my home country, I pine for the good old days of my youth. I was born in Ozark, Ark., where the Arkansas River Valley meets the Ozark Mountains, and graduated high school upstream in Fort Smith. In between, I also grew up in other small Arkansas cities and towns, as the son of an itinerant minister. In the mid-1970s, I left Arkansas, and started bouncing around, mostly between Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. By the 1980s, I “settled down” in my native state, back to be close to family, and started a family of my own. I...

  • Hope lies in taking up challenge

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Nov 30, 2022

    The other day I heard a program on NPR discussing how children and youth are taking in the threat of climate change. One teenager spoke of how he became keenly aware of the threat when he had to leave his home as he viewed an approaching wildfire just outside his window. He’s an example of someone who recognizes the threat because he’s had a glimpse of it up close and personally. Other children and youth see it from a distance, like a cloud choking off their future. Anger and depression grow from such a dark view of what’s ahead. The NPR discu...

  • Thanksgiving feast for body, soul

    Tom McDonald, Syndicated content|Nov 23, 2022

    If you ask me, Thanksgiving is better than Christmas, for a whole host of practical, spiritual and personal reasons. For one thing, it hasn’t been commercialized the way the Yuletide has. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may fall near Thanksgiving, but those shopping-spree days are in preparation for the giving and getting of Christmas. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a feast for the body and soul. Sure, it may be based on a misleading narrative in American history, but at its core Thanksgiving is about something much bigger — a spirit of gra...

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