Earth Day in Montana – Day of the Wolves

wolfMy wife stepped out of the front door of our central Montana mountain home, and something moving to her right caught her eye.  She froze in her tracks.

It was a large Canadian gray wolf, ambling across our driveway, on its way to its next meal – probably one of the many whitetail deer that bedded down on our property every night.  Or maybe one of the neighbor’s new calves.

“That is one scary animal,” she said.  “I couldn’t believe how big he was.”  We had been worried about letting our small and admittedly wimpy dachshund, Stretch, out of the house without watching him.  With so many eagles and mountain lions in the area he could easily end up as somebody’s evening snack.  Now we had wolves to worry about, too.

In 1995 the Clinton administration, under cover of the Endangered Species Act, set out to “reintroduce” wolves to the Yellowstone Basin of Montana.  It was not a true reintroduction, because the wolves that were relocated to the Yellowstone were Mackenzie Valley wolves, also known as the Canadian gray wolf.   These wolves had never populated the Yellowstone.   The only wolves indigenous to the area were Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, a smaller and less aggressive species.  Northerns were eradicated from this part of Montana back in the 1920s by cattle ranchers protecting their herds, but are thriving in other areas.

Neither species is endangered.   Far from it, in fact.   They exist in great abundance throughout the northern US and Canada.  Wolves are prolific hunters and reproduce rapidly, causing many to question why this expensive and destructive program was ever even considered.

Government planners claim to have originally intended a population of 300 wolves in the Yellowstone area.  Within a few years the population exploded by the thousands and their hunting ranges had expanded to include the entire Rocky Mountain front, with migration as far as the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Wasatch range in Utah.   Southwestern Montana’s world-class elk herd was decimated, along with a significant portion of the moose population.  Hunting in southern Montana died, taking many hunting-dependent towns and small businesses with it.

Meanwhile, environmentalists embraced and encouraged the pro-wolf agenda.   After all, the wolves were not on their property, dining on their livestock and hamstringing defenseless newborn elk and moose calves in their back yards.  Taxpayer-funded programs were implemented to compensate ranchers for the loss of livestock to wolves, but in most cases it was totally insufficient.

Wolves don’t kill for food only.  Mass killings of animals, especially during birthing season, have been observed, as reported by LewistownLivestock.com:

“We raise both cattle and sheep.  During the past year we have witnessed more “joy” killing by wolves – animals that were alive with their guts hanging out or torn up so badly in the hind quarters they had to be euthanized. We’ve lost two yearling steers weighing over 600 pounds. We’ve lost several ewes and over 25 lambs. These brutal attacks have brought lots of tears. I had to look at my ewes that had their guts torn out and lying on the ground still alive and tell them there was nothing I could do. We live only 100 yards off Highway 1.  These attacks occurred within 1/4 mile of our house. We have elk on our property, and the wolves passed right through them to come down and kill our livestock; so NO, wolves don’t just prey on wild game.” – Leslie Boomer, Boomer Ranch, Drummond

In the absence of any justifiable reason for the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone Basin, critics of the program suspect ulterior motives, ranging from gun control and the elimination of the hunting pastime and industry to the unambiguous Agenda 21 objective of returning the Mountain West to its aboriginal state, unscathed by human influence.

The Endangered Species Act is one of many government initiatives that started with pure motives, but was co-opted for unrelated purposes and resulted in horrific unintended consequences.   Is it right to sacrifice thousands of elk, moose, and other wild game – not to mention privately owned livestock, the very livelihood of ranchers – in exchange for packs of predators that are not endangered in any way?

This article is available in its entirety at Watchdog Arena.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

In touch with the ground,
I’m on the hunt down I’m after you,
Smell like I sound, I’m lost in a crowd.
And I’m hungry like the wolf.
Straddle the line, in discord and rhyme
I’m on the hunt down I’m after you.
Mouth is alive with juices like wine,
And I’m hungry like the wolf!

Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran Duran

Federal Employees – Here’s How to Get More Paid Vacation Time, Free!

vacationA message for Federal Government Employees:

Are you stressed out from all of those meetings and conferences in fancy hotels?  Is that 30-hour work week wearing you out? Five weeks of vacation couldn’t possibly be enough.  Couldn’t you use a little extra time off from that exhausting desk job?

How would you like an extra two weeks of paid vacation, free?  No tricks, no gimmicks, no downside!  No kidding!  Up to 14 days of extra paid vacation time!

It’s easy.  All you have to do is screw up!

That’s right, section 5 of the civil service code says that if you screw up, your boss can’t fire you.  In fact he or she can’t even recommend any kind of disciplinary action.  Your “punishment”, if any, will be determined by some middle-management guys in your agency who don’t have any skin in the game.  These “deciding authorities” have no interest in whether you follow the rules, break the law, embarrass your department, or threaten national security.  No skin off their noses, right?  They just need to be sure that their boss has plenty of CYA sauce, and that they don’t gum up the works.

If they give you any punishment at all, it will be paid leave.  Sorry, usually that is limited to 14 days, because if they assess more free vacation time than that, the “Merit Systems Protection Board” has to get involved, and it could complicate things for the boss. But don’t worry, really there is no risk.  Nobody EVER gets fired from the federal government in the Obama era.

Here’s how it works.  Let’s say you are on assignment for the DEA in Columbia, and you need a little extra time off (with pay) for a spring break getaway.  All you have to do is go hang out at the local brothel and have some fun with the working girls.  Really! Don’t worry, your sex party is paid for by the drug cartel (you know, those guys you have been pretending to bust for shipping container loads of cocaine to the fine citizens of Philadelphia and Detroit).  So go and enjoy your time off.  Your boss doesn’t mind.

The taxpayers don’t mind either.  Heck, they have been giving out paid leave for all kinds of federal employees who have learned that screwing up is the best way to get some extra paid vacation time.  According to the Washington Post, tens of thousands of federal employees are home on paid leave right now as part of their “disciplinary action” for screwing up.  Over a recent three year period the tab to the taxpayers was $775 million in salaries alone, not to mention the cost of replacing these bad boys and girls while they were on their extra paid vacations.

The taxpayers even pay government employees at retirement time for sick pay that they didn’t use because they didn’t get sick. What’s another couple of weeks of vacation for you?  No big deal.

So if you want a couple of weeks of extra vacation, take my advice:  do something terrible!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 

Vacation, all I ever wanted
Vacation, had to get away!

Vacation – the Go Go’s

 

We Must Demand Real Federal Budgets

zero based budgetingZero-Based Budgeting is a simple concept, practiced by every family and every company in the USA.  We all determine how much money we will receive for a given period, and then decide how we are going to spend it.  We give priority to necessities, and then, if funds are available, we may indulge in luxuries or less-important items.

In fact the practice is so simple, so obvious, so common-sense that we don’t even give it a thought.  We just do it.  Most Americans would be surprised to learn that our federal government, with the largest budget on planet Earth, does not.   The government simply takes whatever amount each department or agency spent last year, and adds to it.  It is a recipe for economic disaster, and our $18 trillion debt is exactly that.

Last month Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) introduced HR1591, the “Zero-Based Budgeting Ensures Responsible Oversight Act of 2015”.  ZERO for short.  It’s his third attempt to bring reason to our federal budget process.

The ZERO Act would require each department to justify all of its spending every year.  Congressman Ross points out that in recent years taxpayers paid $615,000 to digitize Grateful Dead tickets, $442,000 to study male prostitutes in Vietnam, and $2.5 million for a Super Bowl ad.  Neither you, nor I, nor any of our elected representatives authorized that spending.  But it happened because there is no oversight, and under the current “continuing resolution” system, there can’t be.

If ZERO is enacted, departments would have to describe every activity for which funding is requested, provide the legal basis for the activity, and offer three alternative funding levels, two of which would be below the current year’s level.  They would have to provide details on the benefits derived from each activity and any added benefit for increased funding.  Plus, they must show measures of cost efficiency and effectiveness.

Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) told me he and the budget committee “will take up zero-based budgeting as part of budget reform later this summer.”  So far only one congressman, David Jolly (R-FL) has co-sponsored HR1591.

At least three presidential candidates are advocates of Zero-Based Budgeting.  Two of them, Rick Perry and Jeb Bush, are governors who understand budgeting.  The third is Carly Fiorina, a dollar-savvy former CEO to whom ZBB is second nature.  Fiorina told Breitbart News about something I personally experienced as a small business owner:

“I started my career in Washington, D.C. and sold to the federal government. As anyone who has done business with the federal government knows, in the last six weeks of every year, every government agency spends every dime,” she continued. They do that because they want to make sure the appropriations process is focused on the rate of increase for the following year – not what they actually need or whether they actually need to spend it.”

We taxpayers are dropping the ball.  First of all, we don’t understand our own tax returns.  And second, we don’t do a good job of holding our elected officials and the bureaucrats they are supposed to oversee accountable for spending our money.

It is admittedly hard work to budget every year, and to actually plan and prioritize spending.  Families do it.  Businesses do it.  Is it too much to ask of our government officials and employees?  Let’s encourage our congressmen to get behind real budget reform.

This article can be seen in its entirety at Watchdog Arena.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

What’s that honey?
Pick you up at eight?  And don’t be late?
But baby, I ain’t got NOOOOOOOO money, honey!
Oh, all right honey, you know what I like!

Chantilly Lace – the Big Bopper

 

Here’s a fun video about a guy with a budget problem:

 

Rep. Mulvaney on DEA Official’s Inability to Fire Corrupt Agents: “This Is Nuts!”

Have you had some nagging doubts lately about whether our system of government still works?

When you get home from your 50-hour work week, kick your shoes off your tired feet, and sit down to watch or read the news, do you get that hinky feeling something is terribly wrong — when even after spending everything we give them, and accumulating an $18 trillion debt, our government still can’t perform the basic functions it was designed for?

Do you wonder once in a while if the federal government has become so huge and out of control there is absolutely nothing anybody can do about it, regardless of who is elected?

I’m sorry to say, this won’t make you feel any better.  

A while back the Inspector General’s office learned that a number of DEA agents on assignment in Columbia were enjoying the services of prostitutes paid for by drug cartels.  The first agents who “‘fessed up” were suspended for two to ten days.  Later investigations revealed the problem was much more pervasive than first thought, and had been going on for a much longer time.

Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) thinks like you and I do.  In the real world, this kind of thing is simple.  When an employee egregiously misbehaves, utterly fails, is engaged in corruption, or worse yet – endangers the important mission he was hired to perform, you fire him.  Right?

In the real world, yes.  But not in the federal government.  When Mulvaney, a member of the House oversight committee, asked top DEA administrator Michele Leonhart whether she could fire these bad actors, or whether she has ever seen a DEA employee who deserves to be fired, her answers were nothing short of breathtaking.  Watch:

You didn’t know our government was this screwed up?  It’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Congressman Mulvaney was right when he said, “This is nuts.”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Mental wounds not healing
Who and what’s to blame
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train!
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train!

Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne

 

 

Gay Wedding Cakes – What Difference Does It Make?

gayweddingcake

photo courtesy of The Blaze

I hate to admit it, but just this once I agree with Hillary Clinton when she says, “What difference does it make?”

I’m not talking about Benghazi, I hope she goes to jail for that one.  But most of the hoo-hah in the press is about stuff that is totally inconsequential.  What difference does it make?

Once again, the news media has sacrificed a week of our waking, thinking lives on stuff that has absolutely no significance to the vast majority of Americans.  The big item this week:  Indiana’s “religious freedom law”.  What a nothing-burger.

Indiana’s law just says if you own a business, and you are sued for discrimination by a customer for refusing to participate in what you consider to be a sacreligious act, you may use your religious commitment and beliefs as a defense.  Doesn’t mean you will win.

Ann Coulter said in her brilliantly sarcastic column, “Evidently, the sole function of the media these days is to subject the public to a steady stream of manufactured events . . .  [such as claiming] a law protecting religious freedom will lead to separate water fountains for gays in Indiana.”

Manufactured is right, and anyone with a modest sense of proportion can see that the stuff they are manufacturing doesn’t amount to a rat’s derriere.  Do the math.  How many people are gay?  Maybe 3%?  How many of them get married?  Maybe 5%?  How many of them are likely to run into a bakery that will turn down a $200 profit by refusing to bake their wedding cake?  Maybe 1%?  I’m not a statistician,  but according to my non-Common-Core math I think we are talking about .0015% of the adult American population.  All this fuss over maybe a hundred people?  And that’s a stretch.

With all the publicity you would think there is NOTHING IN THE WORLD more important than wedding cakes for a couple of cranky gay couples.  Starving kids in Guatemala?  Doesn’t matter.  Radiation in Japan?  Yesterday’s news.  Violent civil unrest in Myanmar?  Forget it, Rachel Maddow doesn’t know Myanmar from a Mars Bar.

We are being played for idiots.  You and me.  The media / liberal Democrats (same thing) are so condescending to us, the American people, that they think they can convince the masses that we all are losing sleep over the ten or twenty gay people who go out of their way to cause problems for a few families trying to earn a living and live by their religious principles.  And they think this chicanery can swing elections.  God help us if they are right.

I’m not worried about the working families.  They will be fine if we all just let them do their thing.  The couple of gay activists making trouble?  Not even a mosquito on an elephant’s ass.

Can we talk about something important now?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Doesn’t matter what the pain we go through
Doesn’t matter if the money’s gone too
Just as long as I’m with you
Nobody but you, baby, baby

Doesn’t Matter – Janet Jackson

 

It’s the OTHER Jackson, and she’s hot.  Check it out.

Liquid Natural Gas – Good For Ecology and Economy

LNG tankWhat American product could . . .

The answer:  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The USA holds the potential to be the world’s energy leader.  The shale-oil boom that resulted from new fracking (hydraulic fracturing) technology has created a very happy unforeseen consequence:  a seemingly endless supply of natural gas, perhaps the cleanest, safest and most efficient energy source available.

When cooled to a temperature of -260 degrees Fahrenheit, natural gas becomes liquefied, and its volume shrinks by 600 times.  Traditionally, natural gas has been transported by pipelines.   The new LNG technology makes the shipment of natural gas practical and affordable, even overseas to energy-starved regions.  The efficacy of LNG for the production of electricity and automotive transportation applications is breathtaking.

It’s great news, and not only for the US economy.  Many nations, including Japan and China (the world’s largest energy importer), are in dire need of affordable and reliable sources of energy.  We have what they need.  So what prevents the USA from moving ahead and taking advantage of this narrowing window of opportunity?

Sadly, it is politics.  Not exactly partisan politics, but politics nonetheless.

Environmental activists like the Sierra Club oppose the extraction of virtually any fossil fuel, including natural gas.  They claim that increased demand for natural gas would encourage fracking, a practice they abhor.  They label anyone who defends the remarkable environmental accomplishments of the United States (in sharp contrast to China and other Asian nations) a “science denier.”  Yet it is these same environmentalists who fight the development of clean-burning natural gas and its export to the world’s worst polluters.

The Obama administration has done a balancing act in recent years, at times offering support for increased exports of LNG, and at other times acquiescing to pressure from its liberal base.

A lingering question about the benefit of exporting liquefied natural gas is the contention by some, including big players Alcoa and Dow Chemical, that domestic natural gas prices would increase if exports increased.  Numerous studies say it’s not true, and lately the Obama administration and the DOE seem to agree.

As I reported back in January of 2013, advocates of the export of LNG have been pressing the federal government to remove the roadblocks and get after it, before Russia and others beat us to the market.  Both the Dept. of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have imposed delays on the approval of LNG exports, invoking restrictions attributed to “impacts on health and the environment” and “economic, security, and domestic supply considerations”.  Cynics say well-funded lobbyists are in control.

In January the US House passed, on mostly partisan Republican support, a bill to speed up the approval process for LNG exports.  A similar bill was passed last year.  The likelihood of getting such legislation through the Senate and signed by the president seems slim.

If there is one issue that should have bipartisan support, it is the need for a new American energy policy.  The benefits of energy development, especially LNG, to our economy, employment, the environment, and national security are unassailable, the Sierra Club notwithstanding.   Pandering news reports and crocodile tears about climate change and science denial are nothing more than transparent demagoguery in the face of such an opportunity to really improve the economy and the environment simultaneously.

When “Earth Day” is celebrated later this month, I hope somebody brings up the subject of LNG – a game-changing technology whose time has come.

This post, and many more outstanding current and topical articles can be seen in its entirety at Watchdog Arena.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

CLASSICAL GAS

My vote for the world’s greatest guitar player is Tommy Emmanual of Australia.  Watch this great video of him playing the timeless Mason Williams hit “Classical Gas”.

Here’s the video:

Liberals, Please Don’t Ruin Sports For Our Kids

Conrads first baseball game 7My grandson just turned five, and that entitles me to coach his little league baseball team.  It’s Grandpa Heaven.  Our first game was last Saturday.

At this age, the coach pitches to his own players and if they can’t hit it after five good pitches, they hit from a tee.  My grandson smashed my first pitch into deep center field, but I digress . . .

I didn’t expect a baseball game for five-year-olds to have a political slant.  But it sure did.

Our team took the field first, and the other team sent up their first batter.  He hit a grounder to our first baseman, who stepped on the bag for the first out.  But instead of returning to the dugout, the batter stood on first base, held there by his coach.  My other coaches and I looked at each other, confused.  Our players looked at us wondering what was going on.  We told the opposing coach, “Hey!  That kid is out!”  (There are no umpires for T-ball.)

“No, we are going to let all the kids run the bases,” he said.  “Nobody goes out.”

The second batter hit a grounder to our pitcher, who tossed the ball to first base.  Out number two.  But no, the coach left both runners on the bases.  We didn’t put up a fight at the time, because it was our first year coaching in this league, and the other team’s coaches seemed to be veterans with authority.  “This is the way we play in this league,” they barked.  We had been given the leagues “rules” before the season started, stating, “There will be a maximum of 5 runs or 3 outs per inning, whichever comes first,” and “An out is an out.  Player must leave the field of play.”  Apparently rules mean as much to these dads as the Constitution does to President Obama.

This morning I wrote a note to the coach of our opposing team next week, asking him to agree that “an out is an out” in our upcoming game.  I explained that the kids were confused because rules weren’t enforced, and many of them were getting really bored because every play had the same outcome.  I copied my email to the league’s director.

That started a flurry of emails.  Turns out the league director is a knuckle-headed liberal who thinks that it is more “fun” for the kids to never fail than it is for them to actually succeed.  I pointed out that kids, especially at that age, need order and structure. They want to know what they are supposed to do.  What’s the point of throwing the ball to first base if the runner is always safe? And why bother to run hard to beat the throw if you will be safe anyway?  The “putout” is fundamental to baseball.  There is no game without it.  And besides, what is more fun than getting a legitimate base hit, or a putout?

The director, of course, launched into the predictable liberal tirade about the evils of competition.  “Besides, kids at this age never put anybody out anyway,” he claimed.  That got my daughter (assistant coach) into the fray.  “Our team made five putouts in the first inning, three in the second, and two in the third!” she countered.  She was a very competitive athlete in younger years, and was obviously keeping score, mentally.  “The other team got several putouts too.  So did the teams that played after us.”   She, too, pointed out that the players were getting bored because every play had the same outcome.

The director said he would think about it.  But I’m not optimistic that the integrity of our T-ball league will be saved from a liberal fate.

Why do liberals think they have the only correct understanding of fairness?  How fair is it when you put a kid out at first base and he gets to stay there anyway? A “game”, by definition, is a competition with a winner and a loser. Results. Consequences. Reality.  No consequences, no game.

Imagine the NCAA championship game coming up in a couple of weeks.  Every player gets to take the same number of shots.  Every shot is good for two points, whether it goes in the basket or not.  But nobody keeps score anyway, because it might make somebody feel bad. Do you think anybody would pay to watch?  Or want to play?  Even a five-year-old knows that’s just plain stupid.

** UPDATE 3/28/15 – our little “protest” worked – with support from other parents and coaches, we got the league director to enforce the rule.  Starting today, in our little kids baseball league, “an out is an out.”  Victory!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideJust to hit the ball, and touch ’em all
A moment in the sun
It’s a-gone and you can tell that one good-bye!

Center Field – John Fogerty

 

 

check out Fogerty’s “baseball bat” guitar!

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