I’m Taking Names and Keeping Score

scoreboard

Would you watch a basketball game if nobody kept score?  Of course not.  If nobody keeps score, nobody wins.  If nobody wins, the contestants will lose interest and probably not put in much effort.

Besides, if nobody keeps score, how do you know which team or player is the best?

Okay, I’ll get to the point.  When we elect a congressman or a senator, we assume he or she is doing what we want them to do.  But are they?  Unless you have the time to look up their votes on every issue, you can’t possibly know.  And even if you did, you would have to know which votes are important and which are just “show votes”, intended to make a legislator look good even though they don’t really accomplish anything.

Congress has an 11% approval rating, but incumbents are re-elected 96% of the time.  If we don’t like what they are doing, why do we keep re-electing them?  The answer:  they get away with lousy performance because voters aren’t keeping the score.

Fortunately, there is a great way to measure your congressman’s performance.  It’s the Heritage Action Scorecard.  Heritage Action is the activist wing of the acclaimed Heritage Foundation, and their aim is to hold members of congress accountable.  The Scorecard is the perfect tool.  Heritage Action identifies “key” votes – issues which have a direct and important impact on quality of life in America.  The scorecard shows how each member voted on every key issue, and accumulates an aggregate score.

My South Carolina congressman, Ralph Norman, has a 95% rating in the current session, which compares to 68% for the average house Republican.  That puts him near the top of the pack.

Norman score card

Digging deeper, I can see that only one of his votes did not agree with Heritage Action’s recommendation.  The Scorecard makes it easy for me to thank my congressman when I like his vote on an issue, or to ask for justification when we aren’t on the same page.   And it sure makes the check-writing decision easier at election time.

As a Montana native I still follow the politics there.  I can’t help but notice Senator Jon Tester’s 0% rating.  I hope my Big Sky friends are noticing too.

Too many citizens think they have no control over what happens in the nation’s capital.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.   With a tool like the Heritage Action Scorecard and a telephone, every voter can hold his members of Congress accountable, and can make an informed decision at primary and general election time.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I’m winning
I’m winning
I’m winning
And I don’t intend on losing again

Winning – Santana

Trump Zeroing In on Clinton Corruption

clintons

Does the name Marc Rich ring a bell?

January 20, 2001 was Bill Clinton’s last day in office as POTUS.  And it was the day that Bill and Hillary Clinton cemented their legacy as the most corrupt government officials in the history of our nation.

On that day Bill Clinton pardoned his long time friend and benefactor, Marc Rich, from a laundry list of domestic and international crimes that had made him filthy rich.  Make that filthy and rich.

When the entire civilized world boycotted trade with apartheid South Africa, Rich made a cool $2 billion illegally selling them oil.  He was a primary supplier of forbidden goods to the Ayatollah Khomeini when Iran was holding 53 Americans hostage.  His list of favorite trading partners reads like the “Who’s Who” of bad-ass dictators: Kim Il Sung, Muammar Khadafi, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic.

On the home front, Rich’s face adorned every post office as an FBI “ten most wanted”.  When Rudy Giuliani indicted him for racketeering, mail fraud, wire fraud, trading with enemies of the United States and $50 million in tax fraud in 1983, Marc Rich fled to Switzerland and other exotic locales, where he continued to enjoy the lifestyle of the rich and famous.  He was never intimidated by the FBI warrants, or the huge rewards offered by the IRS for his capture.  But after many years on the lam, Rich missed the glitter of American high society, so he started buying political favors to set the wheels of his return in motion.  These included a $450,000 contribution (via his wife) to the Clinton Library, and at least $1 million to a variety of Democrat campaigns – a small price to pay, and doubtless just the tip of the corruption iceberg.

In return, President Clinton spent one of his political “nine lives” on the Rich pardon that Jimmy Carter described as “disgraceful” and even Democrat Congressman Barney Frank, whose Washington, DC apartment was headquarters for a gay prostitution ring, called “contemptuous”.

But after a little short-term embarrassment, it appeared that the Clinton Cartel had dodged yet another political bullet unscathed.  The Rich pardon was the gift that kept on giving as associates, attorneys, and friends of Rich continued to shower millions of dollars on the Clintons, year after year, even after Rich’s death in 2013.

One of Rich’s closest associates, Gilbert Chagoury, donated millions to the corrupt Clinton Foundation, gave Bill Clinton huge speaking fees, and pledged $1 billion to the Clinton Initiative.  Yes, that’s billion with a “B”.  The Clintons have been exceedingly chummy with Chagoury in recent years.

Another Rich ally is Dan Gertler, who amassed a fortune dealing in clandestine Nigerian diamonds and is a principle of Glencore, the trading company founded by Rich.

Since that one executive pardon made on the last day of his presidency, Bill Clinton and his partner in crime, Hillary, have been on cruise control, enjoying the seemingly limitless largesse of Marc Rich’s successors.  Nothing could get in their way.

Until Trump.

On December 20, 2017 President Trump enacted Executive Order #13818, “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption”.  It specifically names 13 bad guys whose assets are to be frozen and seized, including the aforementioned Dan Gertler and several other bad actors who have ties to Bill Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

And in addition to the 13 named scumbags, Trump’s order goes after anyone who is:

(A) responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse;
(B) a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in:
(1) corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery; or
(2) the transfer or the facilitation of the transfer of the proceeds of corruption

In other words, it goes after anybody named Bill or Hillary Clinton.

This could be fun.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Circumstance beyond our control, oh oh
The phone, the TV and the news of the world
Got in the house like a pigeon from Hell, oh oh
Threw sand in our eyes and descended like flies

 

Trump’s Prerogative – Cut the Red Tape

Trump cuts red tape

ObamaCare has not been repealed or replaced.  As of this writing Tax Reform is stalled.  Planned Parenthood abortions are still being funded with tax dollars and there are no bricks in The Wall.

Crooked Hillary escaped without a scratch.  We don’t have a budget and Congress will soon pass yet another bloated continuing resolution to avoid shutting down the government when it busts the debt ceiling.  Again.

Appointments for judicial, state, and agency officials languish on desks as buildings full of holdover Obama appointees and Clinton devotees spend their workdays plotting new coups against the president.

With Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the White House for almost a year now, it appears that conservative voters have little to show for their 2016 trifecta victory at the polls.  But there is a bright spot.  A very bright spot.

While Congress sits on its thumbs, President Trump has used his executive prerogative to cut red tape and waste in the federal bureaucracy.  He threw down the gauntlet last March when his perfectly-chosen budget director Mick Mulvaney announced, “The president’s beholden to nobody but the people who elected him, and yes, I understand that every lawmaker over there has pet projects. That’s the nature of the beast.”   USA Today listed the 62 agencies and programs on Trump’s chopping block at that time, and breathlessly warned that it was the tip of the iceberg.

Last week Trump and Mulvaney thoroughly enjoyed graphically comparing the mountainous volume of regulations in place today versus the small stack of the 1960’s.   The Trump administration has already cut over 1500 regulations and vows to make the “stack” even smaller than it was when the Beatles topped the charts.

“By ending excessive regulations, we are defending democracy, and draining the swamp,” the president declared. “Unchecked regulation undermines our freedoms and zaps our national spirit. It destroys our economy – so many companies are destroyed by regulation. And it destroys jobs.”

Trump is just getting started.  It’s hard work, but long overdue.  His predecessor, Barack Obama, clobbered the US economy with an additional $122 billion dollars of red tape per year, stretching his authority or even flouting the Constitution in the process.

Trump can’t force Congress to do the right thing, or keep its promises.  But as president, it is his prerogative to cut red tape and waste in the agencies under his control.  It’s good news for conservatives.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideEverybody’s talkin’ all this stuff about me
Why don’t they just let me live?
I don’t need permission, make my own decisions
That’s my prerogative!

My Prerogative – Bobby Brown

Bye Bye California

Calexit

Poor California.  She is just trying to be nice, and all she gets from most of her brothers and sisters is derision and ridicule.

She wants to save the planet, so she destroys her agricultural industry by diverting all the Central Valley’s water into the ocean to protect a tiny fish.  She feels sorry for poor people from all over the world, so she opens her borders and gives away her peoples’ jobs, streets and money.  She even chose to be a sanctuary state, so that illegal aliens who commit violent crimes won’t be sent away.

She says marijuana is cool and should be legal.  She thinks anybody should be able to choose their gender, and change it at any time.  She believes white people are mostly racists, men are mostly rapists, and if guns were outlawed, nobody would ever be killed again.  Except babies in the womb, who are terribly inconvenient.

The rest of the family just doesn’t understand her, Daddy Trump is threatening to send her to bed without supper, and poor California is so upset she wants to run away from home.

A group called Yes California leads the secession movement, saying:

Being a U.S. state is no longer serving California’s best interests. On issues ranging from peace and security to natural resources and the environment, it has become increasingly true that California would be better off as an independent country.

Their website lists many reasons why California should secede.  Their liberal values are impeded by our federal laws.  They are tired of contributing to the United States’ military apparatus, and think separation from the USA would make them less likely targets for terrorists.  They are convinced that their votes don’t count because of the electoral college, and as a result they now must bear the ultimate insult in the form of President Trump.

The California secessionists are right about one thing:  secession is a perfectly legal and legitimate option to states.  Despite Lincoln’s heavy-handed and bloody suppression of the southern states during the Civil War, and the federal corruption and abuse that continued for decades after his death, our Constitution allows and anticipates that states can leave the union.  The nation was created by the states, not the other way around.  The notion that secession is treason is nothing more than revisionist history.

Should anyone find the possibility of a state splitting the sheets with its mother country unthinkable in this day and age, consider Catalonia, whose citizens voted for independence from Spain and hope to raise their own flag by the end of this year.

Secession is complicated.  Will California pay its share of the national debt?  Will the USA have to shut down its military installations?  Will Trump have to build a wall around California to keep illegal immigrants from fleeing to Nevada when the state runs out of money?

Anyway, I say go for it, California.  You don’t have to put up with us meanies any longer.  Go ahead and secede.  Party on.

Just don’t call us to pick up the pieces when the fun is over.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

You can go your own way
You can call it another lonely day
You can go your own way
You can call it another lonely day

 

What the Hell is Going On In the Middle East?

Don’t you wish we still had a functioning news apparatus in this country?  The Middle East is blowing geopolitical gaskets left and right, and our news media spends every waking moment hyperventilating over Hillary’s abuse of Bernie a year and a half ago.  That and the non-stop bashing and belittling of our president.

Last week Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, arrested most of the senior leaders of his nation, including 11 princes, ostensibly on corruption charges.  A few hours later rival Prince Mansour bin Muqrin’s helicopter went down near the Yemeni border with seven other officials on board and no explanation.

Then Lebanon’s prime minister resigned after the Saudi crown prince claimed that he routinely dispatches Hezbollah attacks against Saudi Arabia. And Bin Salman again loudly blamed his ongoing conflict with Yemen on Iranian subterfuge, further angering his nearly-nuclear neighbor.

Meanwhile, the Saudi treasury is quickly bleeding out due to tumbling oil prices in the wake of a world-wide drilling frenzy.  The crown prince’s answer is to plant a glitzy mega-city called “Neom” in the desert, in hopes that if properly fertilized it will grow money.

While the mainstream media has totally whiffed trying to prove Trump-Russia campaign collusion, they also failed to notice that under Trump’s watch ISIL has thrown in the towel after getting thumped by American-led Iraqis and purged from Syria by Russian-led troops.  Now there’s some real collusion for ya.

Wait, there’s more.  It seems Qatar just signed a defense agreement with Russia.  I wonder, does that give them access to our huge military base at DoHa?

These are exciting times in the desert, all right.  But if you are one of the vast majority of Americans who gets your news from Joe and Mika, or the Comedy Channel, or Sean Hannity for that matter, you didn’t hear about any of this last week.  They can’t waste their important air time on such trivia, because you need to know who paid for the fake story about prostitutes peeing on Obama’s bed in Russia years ago.

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

The King called up his jet fighters
He said you better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the Minarets
Down the Casbah way

I usually share live performance videos, but this classic sendup by the Clash is just too much fun!

Coffee Talk on Tax Reform


Some “coffee talk” on tax reform:


Our national debt is now approaching $21 trillion ($231 trillion if you include unfunded liabilities like government pensions), and nobody seems to care.  Most of our congressmen still want to spend more and tax less.  I guess they think we can just print more money whenever we want and there is no down side.  They had better hope interest rates can be artificially held to near zero for generations to come.


Everybody knows the tax code is ridiculously complex.  But few understand what a drag on the economy this complexity causes.  Here’s something to think about:  the cost of filling out government tax forms is estimated by the IRS at $400 billion per year.  At the bottom of every business tax form is a small box that asks how many hours were spent preparing this form.  The preparer will write “2 hours” or “.5 hours” on the form, and the IRS rolls up this number, multiplies it by some arbitrary labor cost per hour, and comes up with $400 billion.  But that’s just for filling out the form!  It doesn’t include the billions of hours spent on accounting to generate the numbers to report on the form!  I know some of this accounting also serves internal purposes, but much of it does not, especially in small businesses.  And we aren’t even counting the cost of the IRS, the IT systems required for data gathering, or the Advils swallowed every April.

I’ll bet the cost of reporting taxes easily exceeds a trillion dollars.  Think about it:  our annual GDP is $20 trillion.  Ask any business owner what percentage of the labor hours in his business are spent punching computers, gathering data and doing accounting.  A conservative average might be 25%.  That would be $5 trillion of bookkeeping per year.  Imagine what our economy could do if we didn’t spend a quarter of our time bean-counting instead of making something useful.


OMB Director Mick Mulvaney knows that there is terrible waste in government, and we could cut a huge chunk out of the federal budget without causing any pain for Americans.  And while he is making the effort to cut spending as best he can, it won’t work.  “Too slow,” says Mulvaney, an honors scholar and holder of advanced degrees in international economics, commerce, and finance.  “The only way to turn the ship around is to grow the economy.”

Mulvaney believes 3% GDP growth, which has been fairly common in our history, would grind down our debt and reduce the drag on the economy, but only only if we could muster some restraint in the growth of spending.  It’s encouraging and discouraging at the same time.  It’s definitely do-able.  But our elected class has learned that they can get elected and re-elected by promising to give everybody somebody else’s money.


The purpose of taxes is to fund the government.  Collecting taxes should be simple:  Here is the budget for next year (say $1 trillion).  Add up the total wages of all adult citizens ($33 trillion).  Divide – the answer is 3%.  Ask each citizen to send a check for 3% of their wages to the swamp.

That might be a little bit too simple – for example, all business and investment profit would need to be distributed as personal income, not retained.  But our tax code has grown to over 75,000 pages, and that’s because it is used for much more than just funding the government.  It’s all about controlling our behavior.  Most tax laws were put in place to reward some of us with tax breaks, or to punish some of us with higher taxes, or to encourage (or require) all of us to act in a certain way.

If you think the government should have less control over your daily life, you should want the tax code to be severely simplified, and the corrupt IRS whittled down to reflect its core mission.


Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

It’s Hell! Tryin’ to make it
When you’re doin’ it by yourself
It’s Hell! Payin’ taxes
When there’s no money left

Money Can’t Buy Me Love – Or Votes

The recent Republican primary runoff victory by Judge Roy Moore over Luther Strange in the race for Jeff Sessions’ Alabama senate seat is just the latest in a string of expensive losses for the Swampers.  Nearly a full year after American voters turned the pollsters and pundits upside down, the DC good-ole-boys are still in full Trump Denial.

Here are some of the Swampers’ embarrassing defeats:

  • Breitbart News reports Strange lost the runoff election by 20%, spending an estimated $30 million ($137 per vote) compared to Moore’s $2 million ($7 per vote).  This is after Moore pounded Strange in the first primary despite being outspent 25 to 1.  Strange was heavily funded by Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund and the NRA.
  • Issue One claims Democrats blew $32 million in a failing effort to push Jon Ossoff past Republican Karen Handel for the Georgia congressional seat vacated by Tom Price, who has already resigned his administrative office.  Issue One says Handel spent $23 million, but other analysts claim Handle was outspent 8 to 1 – the truth is probably somewhere in-between.
  • Hillary Clinton spent about $15 per vote, three times the amount Donald Trump invested on the presidency in 2016.

The first shot over the DC Establishment bow was fired by Dave Brat in 2014, when he sacked Eric Cantor, Republican house majority leader, in the Virginia congressional primary race.  Cantor had the backing of the entire swamp, including the Chamber of Commerce, the NRA, and the National Association of Realtors.  All of the Republican money and every loose dollar on K Street was bet on Cantor – $5.5 million in all.  Brat had a measly $200,000 and a warm smile from the Tea Party.  It’s fitting that Brat’s first name is David, as Goliath (Cantor) fell in a large, thunderous heap.  Brat has since been a stellar Freedom Caucus member.

My Congressman, Ralph Norman (R-SC), spent a little bit more than his opponent, Archie Parnell, seeking the seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney a few months ago.  And most of that spending was his own money.  “I don’t want to owe favors to anybody,” he told me early in the race.  And he has stayed true to his word, already taking strong positions against the powerful, big-money lobbyists.  Norman is also on the Freedom Caucus.

Maybe the Swampers will finally “get it” and stop trying to buy political offices against the will of the people, who are tired of business as usual on Capitol Hill.

Nah, it won’t happen.  The DC Establishment Swampers will continue to do what Swampers do – spend other peoples’ money.  They can’t help themselves.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

 

I don’t care too much for money,
Money can’t buy me love!

Can’t Buy Me Love – the Beatles

 

The lads are rockin’ it with their Rickenbackers and Voxes!