Corruption – Time To Raise A Little Hell

nothing to hide corruption75% of Americans think our government is corrupt.   No kidding?

Everybody knows the game:

  1. Taxpayers give money to government.
  2. Corrupt politicians give some of that money (or favors) to organizations
  3. Organizations kick back some of the money to the corrupt politicians as campaign contributions.
  4. The politicians use the dirty money to get re-elected.
  5. Return to number 1.

The corruption game is nothing new. Call it payola, quid pro quo, scratch my back – it has gone on ever since the first government came into being, and still occurs all over the world. In Mexico and similar “banana republics” nothing gets done by government without illegal payoffs.

No, the corruption game isn’t new, but the playbook has changed. Until recently, corrupt deals were made between public officials and private businesses. That arrangement was problematic – when the public found out about massive corruption (back then we had real journalism) the citizens would raise hell until the corruption was at least somewhat beat down. They didn’t like their tax dollars going to fat cat big business operators. But corrupt politicians didn’t appreciate these temporary interruptions in the game. So instead of using corporate cronies to fatten their wallets, they learned to cycle the dirty money through government employee unions, quasi-government organizations and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) instead of private businesses.

This week’s scandal du jour is the uproar over Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer money for purposes that most citizens find repugnant. The dollars aren’t huge – only a half a billion or so – but what they do with the money sure has a lot of taxpayers’ underwear in a knot. Moreover, Planned Parenthood uses a good chunk of the money for campaign contributions and lobbying. They claim the government funds they get are applied only to honorable pursuits. But we all know that money is “fungible”.

Remember Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? These behemoth quasi-government organizations almost buried our economy in 2008 when the real-estate bubble of their creation popped and the government bailed out the big banks. Even President Obama, a master of quid pro quo, called the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac business model “heads we win, tails you lose.” We really still haven’t recovered. But the Fannie and Freddy corruption machine keeps chugging along, making big contributions to campaigns, paying monster salaries to its officials, and playing fast and loose with taxpayer money with almost no oversight.

Government employee unions are now the largest group of contributors to political campaigns. What a concept: the unions contribute taxpayer money to the very politicians who promise to protect their jobs and raise their wages. Jefferson would have loved that one.

Another cool quasi-government corruption setup is the Export/Import Bank, which uses taxpayer money to make risk-free loans that benefit crony corporations like Boeing, General Electric, and Caterpillar, to foreign governments and companies, some of whom actually compete with other domestic companies. There are all kinds of opportunities for bank employees to profit personally from shady arrangements. Some honest legislators, prodded by conservative constituents, may have finally put an end to this game, although General Electric and their political partners in crime are trying hard to keep it going.

And it’s not just about dirty politicians seeking campaign funds any more; federal agencies are in on the act. They now extort funds from US companies by threatening huge fines for trumped-up regulatory violations. Agencies like the EPA, FCC, NLRB and others routinely set up schemes that trade a “consent decree” (an agreement to not destroy a business with a long, expensive legal action) for cash. The feds also use consent decrees to take control over local government operations, such as police departments and local utilities.

Some federal corruption is simple and creative. Conservatives in Congress were furious to learn that VA Administration bigshots received big bonuses by faking the real performance records of their agency while patients died waiting for care. When the congressmen found out these guys could not be fired (this belongs in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!) they passed a law that making it possible to fire VA officials. So how many were fired? You guessed it. Zero.

The exploding corruption culture in Washington, DC is not a partisan issue – both Democrats and Republicans say they oppose corruption, but only a few true Conservatives are making any effort to do something about it. Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump admitted paying off politicians. One can only assume the practice would continue under his watch.

One thing hasn’t changed. The only way to kill corruption, or at least slow it down, is for citizens to raise hell about it.

Ask your public officials and candidates what they plan to do about corruption. Give them specific examples. Most of them don’t mention the issue and haven’t even thought about it. Let’s raise a little hell.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideIf you want to see an angel
You got to find it where it fell
If you want to get to heaven
You got to raise a little hell

If You Want To Get To Heaven –
Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Another great seventies band, still on the road, gray hair and all, bangin’ on guitars!

Americans Agree More Than You Think

we agreeIf you listen to the network news, you probably think that most Americans favor abortion. You would be wrong. According to recent Gallup polling data, 70% of Americans think abortion should be always illegal or only allowed under certain circumstances, such as rape, incest, and life of the mother.

If you listen to the talking heads, you would think almost everybody opposes voter ID requirements to prevent election fraud. False. Rasmussen polls show 78 percent of voters are in favor of requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship.

You hear daily that you are out of the mainstream if you think illegal immigration is a big problem in this country. But that’s not true either – Rasmussen says 80% of voters consider it a very serious problem.

When it comes right down to it, Americans still share basic conservative values, despite the rapidly changing demographics. We pretty much all think it is wrong to harvest baby parts for profit.  We support our policemen, firemen, and servicemen and women.  We want to have a strong military, affordable health care, and safe roads and streets. We don’t like it when race-hustlers try to gin up conflicts among us.  We want to raise our families and run our businesses without the government taking huge chunks of our paychecks and then trying to control every detail of our lives.  We hate it when we find out the government is in bed with big business.  We don’t want our country flooded with unvetted third-world foreigners who have no intention of becoming Americans.  And we sure don’t think non-citizens are entitled to benefits at our expense.

These are not partisan issues.  The vast majority of us agree.

So why won’t our elected officials do what we – the majority of Americans – elected them to do?  And why won’t the media tell the truth about our shared American values?

Fortunately, it is not yet completely out of our control.  We can make our elected officials represent us, and we can make them clean up the cesspool that our federal government has become.  Elections have consequences, but so does good old-fashioned communication.   If you want your congressman to know what your expectations are, you should be in frequent enough contact that he or she knows your name.  If you are tired of manipulative media organizations, you can let them know your disapproval or turn them off.  And if your neighbor, your father-in-law, your preacher or your teacher disagrees with the majority of us, you can persuade and invite them to join us in celebrating our shared American values.

For over a year I have been attending political and presidential campaign events. Whenever Speaker Boehner’s and Leader McConnell’s names are mentioned, there is a unanimous and resounding boo from the audience.  The GOP candidates routinely advocate dumping the congressional leadership for a guaranteed ovation.  Today’s news that Speaker Boehner will step down proves that Americans agree it is time for change, in such numbers that he had no choice.

Yes, these are dangerous times.  Yes, there is corruption all around us.  But please don’t believe that you are the one who is out of step.  Americans agree much more than the idealogues want us to know.  If we stand firm by our common values, our grandchildren still might have a nation worth living in.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideRight, you’re bloody well right
You know you got a right to say
Right, you’re bloody well right
You know you got a right to say

Bloody Well Right – Supertramp


There’s no mistaking Supertramp’s Fender Rhodes signature electric piano sound.  They are still rockin’, and here’s a great live take on one of their super hits.

Don’t Feel Guilty If You Are Worried About Immigrants and Refugees

guilty-dogs-supercut-compilationI know you are concerned about the exploding levels of legal and illegal immigration and refugee resettlement in the USA.   You are worried about the high crime rates among these foreigners, the declining number of employed Americans and falling wage rates, and the destruction of our uniquely successful American economy and culture.   But you probably keep your feelings to yourself because the leftists and the media (sorry, that’s redundant) call you selfish, cruel, racist, and hater.  They want you to feel guilty.

Don’t feel guilty.

We have been fed a steady diet of lies about immigrants and refugees by our government and the media for decades. This is not a new phenomena – the immigration myths and atrocious government policies date back to Ronald Reagan and Ted Kennedy.  But the problem accelerates as Democrats exploit their political advantage with left-leaning third-world invitees, and the world’s poor learn how easy it is to work the system here in the States.

Lies?  Here are just a few, from Ann Coulter’s brilliant immigration exposé “¡Adios, America!”:

•  In 1986 Congress passed a special agricultural amnesty bill that granted temporary legal status to any illegal alien who claimed to have performed seasonal farm work for 90 days in the previous year.  In the first three years 888,637 agricultural amnesty applications were identified as fraudulent, but of those, only 60,020 were actually denied.  One can only guess how many millions of applications were rubber-stamped with no scrutiny at all.  One of the fraudulent “farm workers” granted amnesty was “Mahmud the Red”, the murderous Muslim who helped the “Blind Sheik” bomb the World Trade Center in 1993.

•  Tech magnates Bill Gates of Microsoft, Craig Barrett of Intel, and others convinced Congress that the H1-B visa program was necessary to obtain brainpower from India that they just couldn’t find among America’s college grads. It turns out millions of H1-B immigrants are little more than indentured servants to their American employers, working for substandard wages in fear of losing their legal status, and displacing American workers who are often forced to train them in exchange for severance pay.  There is no shortage of qualified American tech workers.

•  We are told that most immigrants are here to “do the jobs that Americans won’t do.”   But once here, most immigrants and refugees latch on to public benefits and are either unable or unwilling to find jobs, largely because they lack employable skills and make no attempt to assimilate to our customs and language.

There are so many more lies.  Most Syrian refugees are not from Syria.  Most asylum-seekers are not threatened in their home countries.  The majority of “relatives” of immigrants allowed into the USA to reunify families are not related to them.   Immigrants do not elevate our economy by paying more dollars in taxes than they consume in government services – not even close!  Immigrants are not more likely than native-born Americans to be peaceful, law-abiding citizens.

Many third-world immigrants come from cultures with values that are appalling to Americans, including abuse of women and children.  The legal age of marital consent in most of Mexico is 12.  Hmong culture considers the rape and prostitution of young girls ordinary, and most of it goes unreported.  Muslims practice female genital mutilation, and accept the stoning and murder of women for perceived misbehavior.  Illegal border-crossers trash national parks and deface native American antiquities, and continue their littering habits in their new home cities.  And while it is human nature for poor people to want the good life that others worked and died for, that does not mean it must be relinquished to them.

Are all immigrants awful people?  Of course not.  But many are, at least by traditional American standards.  The tsunami of legal and illegal immigrants and refugees must stop until we have the ability to keep the awful ones out and invite only those who bring something to the party.

If you have a hinky feeling that the United States is in trouble, don’t feel guilty.  You’re right.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

And we got nothing to be guilty of
Our love will climb any mountain,
Near or far , we are
And we never let it end

Guilty – the Bee Gees



“Most Govt. Spending Is Mandatory – That’s BS

Federal officials and elite media pundits ridicule conservatives who demand lower government spending levels. They say only 24% of the budget is discretionary, and most of that is military spending, so there is nothing anybody can do about increased spending and debt without taking a hatchet to social security benefits.

Horse Hockey. Federal-Spending-by-the-Numbers-2014-03-2-budget-trends_509There is a heck of a lot of discretion in that “mandatory” spending.

The Heritage Foundation points out that in 1965 only 27% of federal spending was mandatory. By last year mandatory spending had grown to 63% of the total, and it’s not just a function of our aging population. Over time our government has pushed a ton of new spending into the mandatory category.

Our government has made the discretionary decision to give millions of legal and illegal immigrants and refugees social security benefits, medicaid, disability, earned income credits, and a host of other “mandatory” federal benefits and subsidies. The majority of foreign-born in our country are on one or more welfare programs. And this does not even begin to address the cost of education, health care, fraudulent tax returns, cost of police and prisons and other infrastructure that cost billions. Our government has made the discretionary decision to not enforce the borders, to not follow up on visa violations, and to not keep illegal alien criminals out of the country. There is nothing mandatory about inviting foreigners to dip into the American taxpayers’ soup.

Our government has also made the discretionary decision to not crack down on waste and fraud in the mandatory spending programs. A study by Senator Tom Coburn’s office indicated as many as 45% of disability claims were questionable. Social security and food stamp fraud is rampant.

When it comes to spending, our government doesn’t have a reputation for using good discretion. It has dropped billions of public dollars on corrupt and hopelessly inefficient green energy programs and other corporate cronies. It has stifled economic development with disingenuous environmental and social programs. By its fed policy to eliminate interest, it has destroyed the US currency and transferred much of the wealth saved by a generation of middle class families to the big banks and their benefactors.

Our government has made discretionary payroll decisions that have resulted in government workers earning far greater compensation than private sector workers do, and many of them are frightfully ineffective and inefficient. Five of the six wealthiest counties in the United States are Washington, DC suburbs. Much of the cost of these discretionary payroll decisions are embedded in mandatory spending.

Worst of all, our government has made the discretionary decision to pass on an insolvent nation to our future generations by refusing for decades to even write, much less balance, an honest zero-based budget. They didn’t have to do it, they chose to, pandering for the votes that bring them personal power and wealth.

I, for one, am tired of hearing that there is nothing anybody can do to reduce government spending because it is “mostly mandatory”.  Elections have consequences, so we had better elect people who won’t use lame excuses to defend this unsustainable spending and debt.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

You made me love you,
I didn’t want to do it!
I didn’t want to do it!
You made me want you,
And all the time you knew it!
I guess you always knew it!

You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want To Do It) – Judy Garland




Prediction: Trump’s Vanity Will Wear Thin


photo by Gage Skidmore

Trump, Trump, Trump!

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump continues to dominate the news, leaving other candidates scratching their heads and scrambling for scraps of airtime.

Several of the early favorites in the GOP primary race are barely hanging on as their funds dry up, their ratings continue to sink, and the only question reporters ask them is, “How about that Trump?”  Many observers thought the flop-haired tycoon would be kicked to the curb when his lack of depth on issues was revealed, but his campaign continues to gather steam.

While pundits no longer deny that his candidacy is for real, they still don’t understand how he has won the hearts of so many voters.  Insider elites call Trump’s followers at best “angry”, and at worst “stupid.”   They are still waiting for him to self-destruct.

One thing is certain: he is not winning support because of his conservative positions on the issues, which have been anything but consistent.  He was for abortion before he was against it.  He is against ObamaCare, but for single-payer health care.  Trump was for amnesty, then against it, then for it again, kinda.   He has been a consistent supporter of Hillary Clinton over the years – unthinkable and indefensible to right-wingers.

Other Republican candidates have held back their frustration with his scattershot positions and also with the apparent lack of discernment on the part of the voters.  Their patience is wearing thin.  Moderate-leaning Jeb Bush, who wanted to run a “happy” campaign, has begun to take retaliatory shots at ‘the Donald’.  Solid conservative Carly Fiorina is the latest to take on Trump, saying, “I think it’s very difficult to lead if you don’t have the requisite knowledge.”

Some speculated that Trump won early support because he was the most “masculine” of the candidates, causing opponents Cruz and Walker to visibly “cowboy up” their presentation styles.  Trump’s aggressive style is masculine, for sure, but also gratingly self-aggrandizing.

Trump certainly gets approval from disaffected conservative voters who have had a gut full of politicians whose actions don’t resemble their campaign promises – with Speaker John Boehner and Leader Mitch McConnell at the top of the list.  But Trump is joined in the race by fellow “outsiders” Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz has shown a willingness to stand up to the DC insiders as well.

It’s early, but not too early for my prediction:  primary voters will tire of Trump’s vain rhetoric and failure to do his homework on the issues. But one of the other outsiders will triumph, and the Republican nominee will have Boehner and McConnell to thank for her success.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideYou’re so vain,
You probably think this song is about you.
You’re so vain!
I’ll bet you think this song is about you!
Don’t you?  Don’t you?

You’re So Vain – Carly Simon


Here’s another of my favorite Carly’s!

National ID or Uncontrolled Immigration – Make Up Your Mind

CurveballAs a teenage baseball pitcher  I had a pretty good fast ball, and liked to throw everything hard.  But my curve ball just wasn’t working.  Then I got a physics lesson from my coach.  “Son, ” he said, “you can either get speed on the ball or spin.  But not both.”

He was right of course. The more spin you put on the ball, the more it will curve.  With less spin, the ball will go straighter, and faster.  Watch the “jugs” gun at a professional baseball game.  A good pitcher throws a 95 mph fast ball, but his curve ball will come in at about 80 mph.

I think of that lesson whenever a news story reveals the trade-off between security and freedom.

Conservative Americans tend to guard their anonymity.  They don’t think the government has any right to know a lot of details about their lives.  Many just don’t trust the government to keep our information confidential, and recent examples of sloppy data security and failure to prevent hacking would seem to support that skepticism.

Others worry that corrupt government officials might actually use personal data to harm us for political purposes. Again, there is recent evidence that this kind of stuff happens; the IRS has become a weapon of personal destruction. It’s not hard to see why many Americans would prefer to be invisible to their own government.

But many of the same people who want to fly beneath the government’s radar also demand that the government provide us optimum security, which would require the feds to know a lot about everybody who is inside our borders. Here’s the hard truth:  you can have security or anonymity, but not both.  Speed or spin.

The United States has a serious problem with immigration in all varieties: legal, illegal, and refugee.  Unskilled and under-educated illegals, mostly Mexicans, flow across our southern border, wreaking havoc here that would not be tolerated in their home country.  USA Today  reported this week that 76% of immigrant families with children are on welfare.   Media sources say about 30% of inmates in our federal prisons are illegal immigrants, but that number is based on “self-reported” immigration status by prisoners and is likely much higher.  Criminals who are illegal immigrants are routinely released by law officers in our sanctuary cities.  Illegal immigrants have made a multi-billion dollar industry out of tax fraud – the IRS is totally indifferent to the outrageous refunds they receive, using fake tax returns and fake social security numbers.

Immigrants who are legally admitted to the US with temporary visas for work, education, or other purposes, often overstay their visas or take up permanent residence.  Vote fraud by citizens and non-citizens alike is a growing problem, largely due to the failure of precincts to prove that voters are legitimate.  Identity theft losses continue to accelerate.

Homeland Security, ICE, and the other federal agencies all say there is nothing they can do about any of these problems because they just can’t keep track of everybody.

Well, people, it’s time.  It’s time for all legal American citizens to have a micro-chipped USA identification card, and the federal government must update its technology to be able to identify every human being within our borders.   Our government should collect DNA, retinal scans, palm scans, or any other physical individual identification from everybody who lives here, visits here, or is discovered to have arrived here.  The technology is readily available, and the cost should be more than offset by savings.

Scary?  Yes.

But so is the reality of thousands of Muslim refugees arriving on our shores unvetted at a time when Iran is on the verge of receiving $150 billion and a free pass to build nuclear weapons which it will share with its aligned Muslim terrorist groups from all over the Middle East. So is the prospect of a US economy crushed under the weight of an exploding population of needy, unskilled third-world immigrants and refugees, reproducing at a much greater rate than native-born Americans.  So is the loss of our national identity, our character, our traditions, our heritage, and our sense of unity, as American-born citizens become outnumbered by foreigners who don’t speak the same language, don’t understand our unique system of government, don’t recognize our laws, and don’t intend to assimilate into our common culture.

It may be hard to trust the government after what we have been through the last several years.  Under the circumstances we have no choice but to trust, and we’d better be careful who we put in power.  I don’t see how we will ever get this hot mess back under control until we know who is who.

Speed or spin.  Security or anonymity.  Time to make up our minds.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Did you ever have to make up your mind?
And pick up on one and leave the other behind?
It’s not often easy and not often kind.
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind? – the Lovin’ Spoonful


The Guy Who Works At the Dump is Angry

boehner-and-mcconnell-3I haul my own garbage to the dump.  Call me old fashioned.  Or cheap. Or both.

Here in South Carolina we have “waste collection and recycling” centers conveniently located around the county. Instead of sending out an army of men and trucks to pick up trash door-to-door once a week, whether we need it or not, our county lets us take our trash to them.  No charge (other than the small cost of operation added to our property taxes). No wasted miles, no noisy diesel trucks fouling the air, no bloated union driver pensions.  It’s one more example of how refreshingly common-sensible I find our state and local government to be – unlike our federal government.

Yesterday my truck’s radio was tuned in to my favorite political talk show, and as I jumped out at one of the huge trash collection bins, I couldn’t help but notice the caretaker’s radio was on the same station.  “You have a great job,” I kidded him.  “You get to just sit around and listen to Rush all day!”

That started our discussion about the current state of political affairs and, of course, the presidential campaign.  And it reminded me how ignorant the mainstream media and the political elites of both parties are about the voters’ state of mind this time around.  It is unfathomable to me that they still underestimate or totally dismiss the level of discontent out here on the street.

The man at the dump is backing Donald Trump all the way, and he defends his position vigorously with facts and figures about the damage illegal immigration is doing to our country.  He is furious with the corrupt Republican house and senate leaders and the sheepish representatives who abandoned their conservative promises for fear of retribution.  He is pro-life, pro-second amendment, anti-ObamaCare and anti-Iran-agreement.

Just like virtually everybody I meet.

My next-door neighbor is educated, wealthy, and black.  He is raising his three beautiful girls with traditional conservative American values: work hard, have respect, be responsible, and don’t expect to receive anything you don’t earn.  He hasn’t picked a presidential candidate yet, but is watching the race closely and says he will vote for the most conservative one.

The guy that set up my pool table puts in sixty hour weeks, and he loves it.  He enjoys the competition, the financial rewards, and the independence of owning his small business.  He just bought a bigger building and will be hiring more people, but government intrusion makes running his business difficult, and the anti-America agenda of the left just makes him mad.   “I can’t understand these liberals.  They waste so much time and money on things that really aren’t important, and won’t deal with the things that are.”

This week I attended Congressman Jeff Duncan’s “Faith and Freedom” barbecue event.   In addition to some fine barbecued pork, we also got a heaping portion of red meat politics from presidential contenders Governor Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, and Senator Ted Cruz.  These guys know what is on the minds of the common folks, 2000 strong, who sang the national anthem with inspiration and harmony.  The candidates hit every hot button: Planned Parenthood, ISIS, tax reform, energy independence, ObamaCare, Iran, national debt, corporate cronyism, honesty and values.  They know the man and woman on the street are angry at the Republicans they elected and who refuse to represent them.

“If you elect me,” Ted Cruz bellowed, “I will always tell the truth, and I will do what I said I would do!”

Trump’s supporters unanimously appreciate the way he “tells it like it is.”  After initially dismissing Trump as a serious candidate, pollster Frank Luntz finally admitted, “Trump is punishment to a Republican elite that wasn’t listening to their grassroots.”  Charles Krauthammer insisted in a recent editorial that Trump’s nomination would guarantee Hillary Clinton a victory.  Then he added, “Yes, I understand. The anger, the frustration, etc., etc., that Trump is channeling. But how are these alleviated by yelling “I’m mad as hell?”

The guy at the dump is mad as hell, and he doesn’t know what else to do.  Like the rest of us, he studied the issues and voted for people who promised they would be conservatives when they got to Washington.  We thought we elected conservative majorities in both houses, but things keep getting worse.

The DC elites need to put down their martini glasses, cut their Martha’s Vineyard vacations short, and take a good hard look at the guy on the street.  He’s angry, and they had better not ignore him any longer.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

There’s a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl
And he’s always at home with his back to the wall.

Angry Young Man – Billy Joel


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