No Earmarks! Never Going Back There Again!

“As long as I’m the Speaker, there will be no earmarks.” – Speaker of the House John Boehner – July 2014

Boehner is still Speaker, having been re-elected to the post for the third time by his members last week.

Believe it or not, many members of Congress, including Republicans, have been pushing for some time to end the ban on earmarks which was put in place in March of 2010.  Senator Harry Reid pressed for reinstatement of the earmark privilege last summer, saying, ” I am proud of all the earmarks I have gotten for the state of Nevada. They’ll come back — it’s only a question of time because that’s our constitutional obligation.”

An amendment to roll back the moratorium on earmarks, led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), was brought to a House vote last Friday, and failed by a 2.5 to 1 margin.

Good.  Apparently they get it.

Earmarks represent everything that is ugly about DC politics.  “Bringing Home the Bacon” is largely responsible for our $17 trillion debt.  Control over earmark awards has been a weapon used by house leadership in the past to bludgeon members into line.  One of the more infamous recent earmarks was the $223 million “Bridge to Nowhere,” which cost Alaska congressman Ted Stevens his political career.  “Material Girl” Nancy Pelosi steered hundreds of millions of dollars to her home district via earmarks.

Senator Tom Coburn has been a long-time opponent of pork-barrel spending and especially the use of earmarks, calling it the “gateway drug to Washington’s spending addiction.”

The “wave” election of 2014 places a heavy responsibility on Republicans to restore fiscal sanity to our federal government.  That even a few Republicans considered eliminating the ban on earmark spending is disappointing.  Let’s not go there again.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideYou don’t know what it means to win
Come down and see me again
Been down one time
Been down two times
I’m never going back again

Never Going Back Again – Lyndsey Buckingham

Cool live version of a Fleetwood Mac classic!

 

Reid Out, McConnell In. I Should Be Happy, Right?

reid-and-mcconnellTwo years ago Obama won re-election and the Democrat propaganda machine (war on women, everybody is racist, global warming, gay marriage, blah blah blah) seemed unstoppable.   I was in shock and dismay for a long time.

Yesterday the Democrats got a serious butt-whoopin’ as voters roundly repudiated their tired cliches and failed policies, electing a flood of Republicans.  Shouldn’t it feel better than this?  Seems like we should be dancing in the streets.

Harry Reid is no longer the Senate majority leader.  Hooray!  Has there ever been a more corrupt, cynical, dishonest person in such a position of power?  The best interests of the country and its citizens never made Reid’s priority list.  The accumulation of personal wealth and political power were his only ambitions and he pursued both relentlessly.

Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell won his re-election bid, and will assume Reid’s role at the helm of the Senate.  I should be happy . . . I guess.

Mitch McConnell is the face of the Republican insider club who promised he would “crush” the Tea Party.   McConnell, John Boehner, and other old-guard Republicans view their sweeping victory as a death-blow to the conservatives – the very same without whose effort and money his Republican party could not have prevailed.

McConnell consummated his re-election by stating that he would not take any extraordinary measures to address our $18 trillion dollar debt.

 

Asked whether he would insist on more deficit-reduction before going along with raising the debt ceiling, McConnell noted that when the House of Representatives and Senate write their fiscal 2016 budget blueprints, there could be a “mechanism” for addressing this issue. – Reuters

 

Looks like it will be spending-as-usual in Washington, DC.

I’m trying to crawl out from under my wet blanket.  What a joy it will be to have Joni Ernst, the soldier-mom from Iowa, in the Senate.   She blew up the Democrats’ pet “war on women” mantra: “I’m a woman, and I’ve been to war.  This is not a war.”

Scott Walker, the utterly fearless governor of Wisconsin, won his third election in four years, once more deflecting everything the Democrat machine and the unions could throw at him.   He has managed his state prudently and efficiently, and treats his citizens like adults.   If that isn’t vetting for a presidential run, I don’t know what it.

In fact, Democrats are job-hunting all over the country as voters continue to replace them at every level from school boards to state legislatures.  My new home state, South Carolina, boasts a conservative all-star team that includes Nikki Haley, Trey Gowdy, Tim Scott and my own congressman, Mick Mulvaney.

Yeah, I guess it was a good week.  But I have a message for Mssrs McConnell and Boehner:

We conservatives have expended great effort and money to stop the liberal Democrats’ assault on our Constitution and destruction of our economy.  In some cases we had to, again, plug our noses as we marked our ballots.  We saved your bacon, but not your pork.  If you continue to disrespect and disregard us, there’s gonna be a showdown!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideBad dreamer, what’s your name?
Looks like we’re riding on the same train
Looks as though there’ll be more pain
There’s gonna be a showdown.

Showdown – Electric Light Orchestra

Take a minute to enjoy this amazing live performance by Jeff Lynne, the genius who glues together all the magical musical pieces known as the Electric Light Orchestra.  As a musician, I marvel at the perfection of his production at every level.

 

Conservative Immigrants – Don’t Turn Around!

Turn-Around-Sign-300x196I’m trying to get a better understanding of the immigration reform and amnesty issues, and while traveling recently I have had some enlightening conversations with immigrants.

Rafael is from the Dominican Republic.  He has been working in New York City as a driver for about ten years, and is saving money to rejoin his wife and daughter back in Santo Domingo permanently.  Meanwhile, he watches for airfare bargains and makes several brief trips home each year.  Rafael believes in the “American Dream” – anyone who is willing to work hard can succeed here.  But he is skeptical of the US government.  He bought some land in the Dominican Republic and plans to build a house on it.  “Nobody can take your land away from you there,” he said.  “Once you pay for your land, it’s yours forever.  Here in the US, if you don’t pay your taxes, or if the government wants your land for some reason, they can just take it away from you.”  Hard work, personal responsibility, and property rights – Rafael is a conservative immigrant.

Jonathan immigrated to New York City from Hong Kong with his parents ten years ago.  He started a couple of small businesses in Chinatown, but both failed.  Undaunted, he is still bullish on the US economy and while working a couple of service jobs he is an ardent investor in stocks.  I asked him about the dicey situation in Hong Kong, where the communist Chinese government is now stripping away many of the freedoms citizens enjoyed when it was a British protectorate and then a quasi-independent state.  “The government has become so corrupt,” Jonathan lamented.  “You can’t do anything without having to pay off somebody in the government.”  I suggested that our government has become corrupt, too.  “But there’s a difference,” he said.  “In China, everybody knows about the corruption and just deals with it.  Here, it’s supposed to be a secret.”  Opportunity, free markets, and freedom from big, corrupt, oppressive government – Jonathan is a conservative immigrant.

Javier is from Puerto Rico.  “I’m a US citizen,” he boasts.  Still, as a Hispanic he is considered a minority and somewhat outside the mainstream.   He works long hours, and loves it.  The more he works, the more he earns.  And he has no patience for those who expect to be cared for without working, whether they are traditional American citizens or immigrants.  “They make me sick, these guys who do nothing all day.  Why should I pay taxes for them to be lazy?” he rails.  Hard work and the desire to keep what he earns.  Yes, Javier is a conservative immigrant, too.

I did not ask these gentlemen whether or how they vote.  The Democrats believe all minorities are their chattel property.  And because Democrats have so vilified Republicans and conservatives in the mainstream media, minorities do pretty much vote in lock-step for liberals.

Why?  Every immigrant I talk to is a conservative.  It is conservative values that drives most immigrants to our shores.

Donna, a native of Guyana of Chinese descent, is a conservative activist.  She told me the compelling story about her path to America.  “I was in Guyana, minding my own business.  I turned around, and suddenly I was surrounded by socialists.  So I moved to Venezuela.  I was minding my own business, and when I turned around, again there were the socialists.  So then I came to the United States.”

“The moral of the story,” she says, “is don’t turn around!”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Don’t turn around, uh-oh
Der Kommissar’s in town, uh-oh!
You’re in his eye and you’ll know why
The more you live, the faster you will die

Der Kommisar – After the Fire

 

 

 

Five Reasons Why Hispanic Americans Should Vote For Conservatives

photo courtesy politico.com

Our nation is graced with millions of loyal, legal Hispanic Americans.  They work hard, they raise beautiful families, and they vote –  almost always for Democrats.

I recently talked politics with a couple of Mexican business acquaintances who both immigrated to the United States over twenty years ago, and was surprised at how similar our values and political leanings are.  We agreed on every issue, right down the line.  But when I asked them what they think of Republicans, or Conservatives, or the Tea Party, the fear and distrust was palpable.

You could say the Democrats have done an outstanding job of demonizing their Conservative opponents.  Hispanic Americans are convinced that Conservatives are hateful racists who want to hurt them and hold them back in every way possible.

Apparently Hispanic Americans just don’t know what we Conservatives believe in and stand for.  There can’t be any other explanation for the way they vote.

Here are five reasons why Hispanic Americans should vote for Conservatives and support our mission to downsize our over-reaching, destructive and unaffordable federal government.

1 – Conservatives want to improve the private economy and support businesses so that jobs are plentiful, pay rates improve, and families can enjoy a higher standard of living.  That can’t happen when so much of our cash flows through a bloated, inefficient federal government.  We think families should keep more of their earnings, and will make better spending decisions than the government can on their behalf.  Millions of Hispanics came to this country for economic opportunity, and are willing to work hard to succeed.  Why would they support Democrats whose policies have slashed personal income, exploded the national debt, reduced labor participation to record low levels, eliminated the middle class, and put one in five Americans on food stamps?  If you want to be part of a thriving and growing economy, you are a Conservative.

2 – While Democrats work tirelessly to put more control and authority in the hands of the federal government, conservatives believe in personal freedom and responsibility.  Most of our Hispanic immigrants came from countries with oppressive governments, where only those with connections or money have influence and opportunity.  It makes no sense for them to support the party that pushes the United States toward socialism and heavy-handed government control.  If you love opportunity and don’t want every detail of your life regulated by the government, you are a Conservative.

3 – Most Hispanic Americans have strong family and religious values.  While Democrats fervently support the rights of Muslims, they find Christianity abhorrent, lashing out at any display of Christian faith with a vengeance.  They have done all in their power to destroy the traditional family structure in our country.  They promote gay marriage, endorse single motherhood through tax and welfare policy, and encourage abortion.   If you treasure your family and your church, you are a conservative.

4 – Democrats are great at making promises, but somehow when they are in control, things seem to get worse.  Is there anything the Democrats have done that has made life better for Hispanic Americans?  For that matter, has any Socialist government in history improved the lives of its citizens?  If you think the US Constitution and laws,  and our rich history of defending freedom and truth are what made the United States the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth, you are a conservative.

5 – Fairness is important to all people, including Hispanic Americans.  And nothing is fairer than being allowed to keep the property you worked for and to use it as it best serves you.  Conservatives believe that our government should not try to seize or control our private property.  And it should defend our property from those who would try to take it from us.  My Hispanic American friends agree that our borders must be enforced, and we can’t provide benefits to those who only come here to take and not contribute.  And our military forces must be ready and able to defend our homeland.  If you want your property and the safety of your family to be secure, you are a conservative.

I know that most Hispanic Americans – and for that matter Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and traditional homeland-born Americans – are Conservatives at heart.  We all want the same things.  We just have to set aside political correctness and the Democrat agenda of deceit to find the higher common ground.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Powers keep on lyin’
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long

Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder

I know, Stevie Wonder is an avowed liberal Democrat, blind in more than the obvious way.  But hey, he’s an amazing musician and it’s a great song. Plus I have a soft spot for blind musicians!   (Hi Jeff!)

Marketplace Fairness Act – Just Another New Tax

tax key on keyboard

image by ConservativeActionAlerts.com

Internet-based companies are always looking for a new revenue stream on the web.  Unfortunately, so are federal and state governments.

One way the government could profit from internet traffic would be to charge a tax for internet access.  A moratorium currently prevents taxation of internet access, but that will expire on December 11 if it isn’t extended.

Another way would be to collect more sales taxes on internet sales.  Currently only businesses who have a physical presence in a state are required to charge sales taxes for orders from customers in that state.

A bill called the “Marketplace Fairness Act” passed the Senate last spring.  It would enable a state to collect sales taxes on all internet purchases shipped to its citizens and companies from other states.  Fortunately, the House chose to ignore the Senate bill, but the Senate hasn’t given up yet.

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) wrote a bill that would implement the Internet Sales Tax, and in exchange would outlaw internet access taxes for ten years.  (See why I was so excited that Liz Cheney was going to run against Enzi?)  The Senate hopes to pass the bill during the upcoming “lame duck” session.  If the bill doesn’t pass, internet users well might find new tax charges on their monthly web access and smart phone invoices.  It’s the perfect crime – if you don’t let us raise this tax, we will raise the other tax!

A true free market is eminently fair, where anyone can compete on an even playing field.  Some say it is unfair that brick-and-mortar businesses have to collect sales tax from their customers while internet sellers can ship the same products to the same customers tax-free.  It would clearly be unfair to require one business in a state to charge sales tax and exempt another business in the same state.  But is it fair to impose one state’s tax laws on people and businesses in a different state?

I owned and operated a small retail business in Montana for ten years when the web was really taking off, and I heard a lot of whining by store owners about competition from internet dealers.  “Not fair,” they howled.  “We can’t compete with the internet companies.  They don’t have to provide advice or service to the customers so their prices are lower.  They can run a business out of a basement in their pajamas.”  Sales tax didn’t enter into the conversation in my state, because Montana has no sales tax, but I’m sure it was a whining point in other states.

I heard the complaints, but it all seemed perfectly fair to me.  The internet dealer offers customers an alternative to the traditional brick-and-mortar store.  The web seller has lower prices, broader selection, and unlimited shopping hours.  But the store down the street offers immediate availability, personal service and advice, and you get to see and touch the merchandise before you buy it.  Plus your local store is a citizen of the community who supports charities and schools and pays local taxes.

Some weaker small businesses just folded up.  The smarter ones built their own web presences, found new revenue opportunities online, and trumpeted the advantages their stores offered over web competitors.  It’s a tough game, but fair.

This issue is being played as if it were about fairness and leveling the playing field.  Horse hockey.  It’s about raising taxes.

Instead of laying awake nights trying to figure out how to raise more taxes, why don’t you guys inside the beltway think about reducing the size of government and cutting back on all the crazy spending?

Note to self:  call my representatives and senators, and strongly suggest that they support permanently extending the internet access tax moratorium and KILLING the internet sales tax.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I feel so good come payday
I think of all the things I’m gonna buy when I pick up my pay

Don’t you know, but then they hand me
That little brown envelope
I peep inside, Lord I lose all hope

‘Cause from those total wages earned
Down to that net amount that’s due
I feel the painful sense of loss between the two

Johnny Cash – After Taxes

Conservatives – We Got To Keep On Truckin’

Keep-On-Trucking-LogoI talk politics with friends, acquaintances, family, and even strangers, all the time.  You probably do too.  Many of these people have a growing sense that something is wrong, but they have not been engaged in politics or receiving real news and honest information about what’s going on.

They find their financial security under stress due to stagnant or declining wages and hours, difficulty finding suitable jobs or promotions, more work for less pay, relentless price inflation for most consumer items, and no place to invest their savings (if they have any) that offers reasonable safety and any kind of return.

On top of that, the people I talk to don’t understand why their biggest concerns are not aggressively confronted by our government, while much attention is given to relatively small-scale issues, like gay marriage, or who should pay for birth control pills.

These ordinary folks are concerned about national security, education, health care, deteriorating race relations, privacy, property and water rights, and a host of other things, and they don’t find comfort in the words and actions of anybody in Washington, DC – Democrat or Republican.  Trust level is at an all-time low, but the guy on the street doesn’t quite know what to do because he is not getting enough facts.

After I gave an interested but under-informed friend a mini-seminar on the many threats posed to us and our children by our over-reaching government’s accelerating failure rate, he asked, “Where do you get all this information?”

Conservatives, this is our challenge.  We can’t let up.  Not now.  People know something is wrong, and they are beginning to seek the truth.   It’s up to us to keep putting that truth out there.

I lamented to Bill Whittle, renowned conservative blogger and writer, that it seems we conservatives mostly “preach to the choir” and seldom actually win a convert to the “right” side.  Bill’s reply: “There’s nothing wrong with preaching to the choir.  When the troops are in the trenches, worn out and outnumbered, somebody has to walk down the line, hand out some more clips of ammunition, and tell them to keep their heads down.”

Keep your heads down, my friends.  Keep on Truckin’.  And keep Rockin’ On the Right Side!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Ain’t nothin’ holdin’ me back . . .  nothin’!
I’ll keep right on, right on truckin’.
Ain’t nothin’ holdin’ me back . . .  nothin’!
I’ll keep right on, right on truckin’.

Keep On Truckin’ – David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks

 

Made in the USA – By Mexicans

mexican concrete crewMy wife and I are building a new home.  We are doing some of the work ourselves but the majority of the work is done by subcontractors, mostly hired through our general contractor.  Working on a major project like this brings many current political and economic issues from the big-picture level down to the up-close and personal level.

Today, as our driveway was being installed, I had quite a discussion with the owner/operator of our concrete finishing company.  Alex (not actual name) is a legal Mexican immigrant and has been doing business in the US for almost twenty years.  He went through channels, got a green card, and studied English for two years.  Alex pursued the American dream, and got it.  He has handled several segments of our construction project, and does top quality work at a fair price.  Working in the same space every day we got to know each other and today we spent some time discussing business and politics.

Alex’s business is doing well.  In fact, there is much more demand for his work than he can fulfill.  He would like to hire more employees and expand his business, but he can’t see a way to do it and still maintain quality.  As a retired corporate manager and business owner, I offered some growth strategies and personnel practices that have worked for me.  But his circumstances are quite different than mine were.  You see, all of his employees are (probably) illegal Mexican immigrants.

In fact, almost all of the residential construction work in the Carolinas is being performed by illegal Mexican immigrants.

Why?  Have Mexican immigrants taken all of the construction jobs because they will work for lower wages than American tradesmen?  Are American men now too lazy or pampered to take on the difficult, physical work required in the construction trades?  Have our schools convinced every American student that anyone who doesn’t pursue a college degree and a desk job is a failure?  Did our government over-regulate our traditional construction businesses into extinction, so that only “under-the-radar” groups of illegal immigrants can function at a feasible cost?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

But there’s more to it than that.  I talked with another general contractor today who was interested in hiring Alex and his crew for some of his projects, only to learn they are over-booked.  “It’s a shame,” he said.  “Most of the (American) subcontractors went broke during the housing bust five years ago, and they aren’t coming back.”

Alex and many entrepreneurial Mexicans like him are able to seize the market opportunities because they are connected to the available army of illegal Mexican immigrant workers.  Alex can find them, hire them, manage them, communicate with them, and help them with the considerable personal challenges they face working in the shadows of American life.   Still, his business growth is limited because he employs these men.  “My business can’t grow,” he said.  “None of my workers can advance to be managers because they don’t even try to learn to speak English.”  He would employ English-speaking American construction workers, but there just aren’t any.  It’s a very complex business model.

I had heard that Latinos are being barraged with liberal propaganda, painting conservatives, Republicans and especially Tea Party guys as hateful monsters to be avoided and feared.  So I made it a point to tell my new Mexican friend Alex that I am a conservative.  Tea Party, even.

Alex winced.  “I’m not a monster,” I said.  “I’m not a racist and a hater.  You know me.  You can’t believe the stuff you hear in the media.”

“Well, the conservatives don’t want to allow any immigration,” he said.

“Not true,” I countered.  “We want LEGAL immigration for people who can bring value to our country.  What we don’t want is  dangerous, uncontrolled borders, or slackers coming here to take advantage of taxpayer-funded benefits.   And we DO want our legal immigrants to assimilate – to become patriotic, law-abiding, productive Americans, not Mexicans who just happen to live in the US.”

Like you, Alex.  Without you, and men like you, there would be no new homes under construction in my neighborhood right now.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Save me from this prison, Lord, help me get away
‘Cause only You can save me now from this misery
‘Cause I’ve been lost in my own place
And I’m getting’ weary, how far is Heaven?
And I know I need to change my ways of livin’
How far is Heaven?
My favorite Mexican band – Los Lonely Boys! (this song is also on my set list)
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