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

Charlotte Taxpayers Get Fouled Again On Stadium Upgrades

photo by LeighSells.com

TIME WARNER ARENA – photo by LeighSells.com

Charlotte won its bid to host the 2017 NBA All-Star game, and already the calculators are overheating.

Last fall Charlotte’s city council committed local taxpayers to $27.5 million in upgrades to Time Warner Arena, enough to persuade NBA commissioner Adam Silver that the Queen City deserves the event.  The city will spend at least an additional $6 million on All-Star Weekend, including a $600,000 hosting fee to the league and another $600,000 in incremental police, fire, and medical costs.

The city of Charlotte shares ownership of Time Warner Arena with the Charlotte Hornets, having paid $260 million of the original construction cost in 2005.  The arena replaced the Charlotte Coliseum, which was built in 1988 and was the home of the Hornets for 17 years before it was demolished despite a public outcry.

About $1.5 million of the cost will be paid from hospitality taxes and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority is forking over a similar amount.  Mecklenburg County and the state of North Carolina will also be asked to chip in, but the rest of the cost will be borne by city taxpayers.  Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who boasts a net worth of $1 billion thanks to the appreciation in the value of his team, has offered to pay $150,000 of the tab out of concession profits.

Charlotte Mayor pro tem Michael Barnes said, “We have to invest in assets the city owns.”  The city’s somewhat vague contract requires it to maintain a facility that is “among the NBA’s most modern”.  The city council approved the spending on a partisan 9-2 vote.  One of the dissenters, Republican Ed Driggs, thinks the taxpayers are on the receiving end of a flagrant foul.

“Many don’t believe public money should be used to subsidize a for-profit business,” Driggs told the Charlotte News Observer.  “How do we rationalize the terms of this?  We pay all the capital costs and receive no proceeds.  What kind of partnership is this?”

Charlotte taxpayers are still looking for an ‘unnecessary roughness’ penalty flag after the city council gave NFL owner Jerry Richardson $87.5 million for questionable improvements to Panther Stadium.    And the fiscal finish line is nowhere in sight for the uptown money-pit Nascar Hall of Fame, which cost $194 million in public funds and is still losing over a million bucks a year.

The residents of Charlotte own some of the finest sports facilities that money can buy, but most can’t afford to enjoy them, thanks to ever-escalating ticket and concession prices.  The players seem to have more success negotiating with team owners, as evidenced by Cam Newton’s new $104 million contract with the Panthers.

Maybe Charlotte taxpayers need a new agent.

• this article can be seen in its entirety at Watchdog Arena, a sponsor of “Rockin’ On the Right Side” •

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideSometimes building ivory towers, sometimes knocking castles down
Sometimes building you a stairway, lock you underground
It’s that old-time religion, it’s the kingdom they would rule
It’s the fool on television, getting paid to play the fool

 The Big Money – Rush

 

I play in a three-piece band on weekends and am occasionally looked down upon by a prospective venue booker who thinks that it takes a bunch of musicians to make good music.  Hmm.  Here’s a pretty darn good little three-piece band:

 

 

 

 

 

Hillary Stills Wants “The Village” To Raise Our Kids

it_takes_a_village20 years ago, First Lady Hillary Clinton uttered perhaps her most memorable and politically-revealing declaration, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Borrowed from an ancient African proverb, “It Takes A Village” quickly became her mantra, frequently repeated on talk shows and speeches throughout her husband’s presidential campaign.   A book by that title was published in 1996, and while Mrs. Clinton claimed to have written it by herself “in longhand,” it was ghost-written by Barbara Feinman, who was none too pleased that she received practically no acknowledgment for having done all of the heavy lifting.

Clinton’s assertion that “it takes a village” has been the subject of conservative derision and outrage pretty much ever since.  Bob Dole summed up the reaction of conservatives when he addressed the 1996 Republican Convention:  “… with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.”

Clinton doubled down on her contention when she unsuccessfully ran for president in 2007 and tripled down this year in her presidential campaign launch speech, saying, “It takes an inclusive society. What I once called “a village” that has a place for everyone.”

My local newspaper today includes an article about “Operation Backpack.”   Now in its third year, the York County Sheriff’s Foundation program provides backpacks and school supplies to county schools who pass them on to families “in need.”  It is one of literally dozens of similar programs in the area.

School supplies and backpacks are now one more thing that parents are no longer expected to provide for their children.

I am more baffled every day by the change in our culture.  There was a time, not long ago, when we expected parents to take care of their children and be responsible for meeting their needs.  Today, it apparently does take “A Village” to care for many of our children. Parents (single mothers) are no longer asked to feed their children, with SNAP, WIC, free school breakfasts and lunches provided by the leaders of The Village, year-around. They don’t have to buy Christmas presents thanks to the many generous gift programs.  There are clothing drives and free entertainment and camps and cultural opportunities.  Housing is free under Section 8.  Minority children are usually offered free college educations, regardless of merit, and enjoy hiring preferences.  Ours has become a culture of entitlement for anyone who is deemed “needy” by the leaders of The Village, and those who acquire the title are considered courageous and honorable – held in high esteem by the liberal media and the undiscerning.

A single mother who is hooked into today’s benefit programs has practically no responsibility for raising her children.  She can spend the family’s cash benefits entirely on her own entertainment, since everything her children could possibly need or want is provided by The Village.

In Hillary Clinton’s world-view, this arrangement works perfectly.  Parents can’t be trusted, so The Village must raise the child according to the directions of its leaders.  The child learns to depend on The Village and the system is perpetuated, generation after generation.  The leaders of The Village are permanently empowered.

I have a soft spot for disadvantaged kids, and I know that many of them aren’t blessed with parents who are able to give them what they need.  Been there.  The Village can be a life saver.  Unfortunately, it’s the leaders of The Village and their self-centered ambitions that worry me.  Forgive me if my family chooses to take full responsibility for raising our children, providing for them on our own, and teaching them to be independently responsible for the welfare of our future generations.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 

(instrumental)

Quiet Village – Martin Denny

 

 

Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I always associate a song performance with the topic of my rant.  This is, to date, the weirdest one ever.  Thinking of “the Village”, I couldn’t escape a childhood memory.  My single-mom family didn’t have a television, and I spent many hours listening to my mother’s eclectic (to say the least!) record collection.  Prominently included was an album by Martin Denny featuring “Quiet Village” – a set of gentle, somewhat Latin but ambiguously Polynesian compositions, featuring guys doing bird whistles and monkey howls.   It was corny but mysteriously cool.  Check it out!

 

 

 

 

Police Body-Cameras – A Good Idea Seeking Funds

On April 4, 2015, Walter Scott was stopped in North Charleston, SC by officer Michael Slater because his brake lights weren’t working. While the officer was on his car radio, learning that Scott had some outstanding warrants, Scott took off on the run.  Slater pursued him, and they scuffled; Scott was tasered at least once, and ran off again.  Officer Slater fired eight shots at Scott, hitting him five times, once fatally in the heart.  The officer’s initial report said he “feared for his life” because Scott had taken his taser, even though Scott was unarmed.

An eyewitness, Feiden Santana, recorded the incident on his smart phone.  He released his video recording when police reports contradicted what he saw.  According to Santana, Scott never took the taser, and was in fact fleeing to avoid being tasered again.

The shooting received considerable national publicity in the wake of allegations of police excesses in Missouri and New York. The Charleston Police Dept. fired Scott four days later, and the community rallied to prevent what could have been an ugly backlash. Officer Slate was subsequently charged with murder.

This ugly incident was quickly and appropriately dealt with by local officials, but the South Carolina legislature took the matter a step further, passing the “Walter Scott” bill – a law that requires all South Carolina law enforcement officers to wear body cameras.   Governor Nikki Haley said, “This is going to strengthen the people of South Carolina. This is going to strengthen law enforcement, and this is going to make sure Walter Scott did not die without us realizing that we have a problem.”

We do, however, still have a problem: coming up with the funds to pay for the newly-required technology, estimated at $23 million over the first two years.  The South Carolina legislature has yet to fully fund the plan.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials across the country are ready to make the move to body cameras, should a source of funding become available.  The Reporters Committee has compiled a list and map of states showing their status on the body-camera issue.

Congressman Tim Scott (R-SC) hopes to provide federal funding for that purpose, proposing his “Safer Officers and Safer Citizens Act”, which would allocate $500 million federal dollars over five years to help local agencies acquire body-camera technology.  Scott said,

“Across our nation, too often we are seeing a lack of trust between communities and law enforcement lead to tragedy. While rebuilding that sense of trust will take time, I believe that providing law enforcement agencies with the resources they need to equip officers with body-worn cameras is an important step. We have seen that body-worn cameras can keep both officers and citizens safer, and that video can help provide clarity following an altercation. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures.”

Congressman Scott’s bill offers what many call a common-sense solution to a nagging problem:  how to balance the effectiveness of police officers with the rights and safety of citizens.  Like all federal solutions, its fate lies in the ability to muster enough support to win an appropriation of funds.

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

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind

Eye In the Sky – Alan Parson Project

 

With a smart phone in every pocket, the “Eye In the Sky” is inescapable.  I can’t explain why I have always loved this song.  As a musician, there are just a lot of things going on here that excel.

Another Rebel Yell From House Conservatives

Speaker of the House John Boehner has survived yet another coup attempt, led by his arch-rival and one of the leaders of the conservative rebels in the house, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).

One of Meadows’ rebel friends in Congress told me yesterday that the move was ill-fated from the start and would “set back” the cause of the small but growing group of conservative members who are trying to do what their voters back home sent them to do.  “I don’t know what Meadows was thinking,”  he said.

Republicans on the street (or should I say “former” Republicans, because almost nobody I know still claims the GOP) are livid at the leadership.  Conservative voters, still the largest ideological group, are furious that the Republican members have consistently legislated against their wishes since winning majorities in both houses.  Under Boehner and McConnell Congress has voted against defunding ObamaCare, voted in favor of giving Obama fast-track authority over trade deals, voted to raise the debt limit, and voted against reducing federal spending.  They allow Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty to continue and refuse to put an end to the flaunting of federal law by sanctuary cities.  They abdicated all foreign policy direction and oversight to a comicly inept administration and State Dept., resulting in Obama and Kerry’s disastrous nuclear proliferation agreement with Iran.  More examples abound.

Boehner claims to be a stellar leader, saying, “Under Republican leadership, Congress is getting things done.”  He’s right.  The problem is, everything they are getting done is exactly what the Democrats want, not what conservatives elected them to do.

Conservative Americans feel completely disenfranchised.  We find current Democrat policies and priorities wrongheaded and even repugnant. And the Republicans we elected to Congress seem unwilling or unable to stop even the most egregious actions of the left.  Even the obsolete, corrupt Export-Import Bank, thought to be dead and finally buried, was resurrected by McConnell.

Boehner and McConnell have no idea how upset the grassroots conservatives are, or how significant are our numbers.  GOP presidential hopefuls are starting to get it, especially seeing how even a clunky outsider like Donald Trump is hailed for giving voice to conservative values in public.

What was Congressman Meadows thinking?  Did he think maybe he could embarrass Boehner into stepping down?  Or did he hope that his fellow rebels would finally jump into the fight with guns blazing this time?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideHe lives in his own heaven
Collects it to go from the seven eleven
Well he’s out all night to collect a fare
Just so long it don’t mess up his hair.

Rebel Yell – Billy Idol

 

Here’s Today’s News You Didn’t Get

latest news

As a democratic republic, it is our duty to know what’s going on in the world and to direct our government to protect our interests. Unfortunately, these days our leaders only give us the “mushroom management” treatment, and the news media follows in tow.  If you don’t know what “mushroom management” is, check here.

While we gnash our teeth over the latest headlines – who Donald Trump offended today, what flag is flying where, and whether we will be sued if our barbecue smoke wafts over the neighbor’s fence – there is real international news taking place about which we are kept clueless. Here’s a sampling of news items you did not hear about today:

In a recent three-week period the Shanghai composite stock market lost a third of its value, and after a short reprieve, it dropped another 8.5% yesterday, as China’s economy shudders through a slowdown and a crisis of investor confidence.  The 21-day loss in value exceeded four trillion dollars.  Meanwhile, we are fixated on Greece, whose entire annual GDP is around $200 billion.  If China’s economy craters, it could have a profound effect on our own economy.  Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody told us what’s going on?  Do we even have diplomatic relations with China?

According to a top Indian nuclear scientist, Pakistan has the fastest-growing nuclear weapons program in the world and expects to have 200 nuclear warheads by 2020. Most of them are aimed at neighboring India, and they have developed a serious stockpile of high-tech intermediate-range missiles. The BBC reported that Saudi Arabia intends to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan. There is international concern that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of terrorists. The Pakistanis also recently bought eight submarines from the Chinese.   When is the last time you heard anything about Pakistan?

Nigeria’s exports dropped 27% from the same period last year due to declining oil prices and the “unpredictable political environment.”  The Nigerian government continues to battle Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group, while simultaneously trying to restore its police services and pay its teachers for months of back wages.  Meanwhile, reports emerged that a former Nigerian minister stole $6 billion of public money.  Life in Nigeria is rough these days.

Russia’s arms manufacturers are enjoying rapidly growing revenues despite western sanctions and a weak economy. President Vladimir Putin’s drive to modernize his military and the booming trade in arms exports has provided a double-digit annual growth windfall for Russia’s defense industry.  Simultaneously, China continues to build military facilities and claim ever-greater chunks of the South China Sea for economic and military purposes.  While our adversaries expand their forces, the Obama administration announces further cuts in US military power.

We know that the news business is not what it used to be.  It is naive to think that anything other than the most salacious and shallow headlines will ever appear above the fold.  Nor can we expect our government to keep us enlightened.  A few of us are blessed with representatives who go out of their way to keep constituents informed and involved. Most federal officials are only concerned with their re-election and power, and our money.  So it’s all the more crucial that we make the extra effort, as citizens of the still-greatest nation on earth, to be informed about what’s happening in the world.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Daddy is a rare millionaire
I don’t care
Yeah you got the muscle
I got the news

I Got the News – Steely Dan

 

 

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