Can We Be From the Same Planet?

Our neighbor, Nancy, stopped my wife for a minute of chit chat and asked what she thinks of the Bret Kavanaugh story.  My better half, never at a loss for words, and always armed with facts, proceeded to educate Nancy on the importance of the presumption of innocence to civilized society.  “Kavanaugh’s accuser has no proof or even information about her ‘assault’ that implicates him,” my wife explained.  “She can’t remember where it happened, when it happened, who was there, how she got there, how she got home – and the few things she does remember have been denied by her own named witnesses.”

Things were getting pretty hot when I happened on the scene.  “You don’t believe he raped all those girls?”  Nancy demanded.   It angered and saddened me that Dr. Ford’s original charge, that 15-year-old Kavanaugh once tried to feel her up over her clothes, has metastasized into a history of violent gang rapes.

“This woman is destroying a man with a brilliant career, along with his wife and daughters, for nothing more than politics,” I said.  “It’s just wrong.”

Nancy did not have – or need – any facts to support her position.  “They should make his daughters testify in front of Congress!” she wailed.  “Are you insane?” my exasperated wife said.  “You want them to ask the girls if their daddy has got drunk and raped them lately?”  Nancy’s comeback: “Well, I just don’t like Kavanaugh.  He’s a liar.  I believe the women.”

With the knowledge that there is no way to reason with a liberal, I grabbed my wife and hurried off to our grandson’s baseball game.

___________________

James popped in to say hi at the local YMCA.  He used to play pickup basketball with us regularly, but we had not seen him for several months.

“I’ve been too busy for hoops,” he told us, which we all agreed is a good thing.  “Make hay while the sun shines,” was my fatherly advice.

James is a young entrepreneur who started an automotive business customizing all-terrain vehicles.  To supplement his income he bought a cargo trailer and makes regional hauls.  “I’m hiring a couple more guys,” he said.  “And I am offering them three times as much money as they are making now.  There is no end to the trucking work available.”

“Business is booming all over,” I noted, and James said, kind of sheepishly, “I know, so why is everybody ragging on Trump?”  A risky statement, because we all know that any defense of Trump in the presence of leftists is an invitation to an ugly scene, and James didn’t know that my basketball buddy and I are also conservatives.  “I can’t see where Trump has done anything wrong.  He is keeping all of his promises and it’s working.  That’s what we needed, a businessman.”

I agreed.  “It’s great to live in America,” I said.  “I hope we can keep it that way.”

James gave us a little personal history.  “I’m from the ghetto,” he said.  “I’m not afraid of poverty, but I don’t like it much either.  And it sure is clear to me that things are lot better now than they have been in a long time.”

“I’ve never been political,” James continued.  “I just never talk about it because everybody gets kind of crazy, and I’m busy working anyway.  But man, this stuff going on with the judge is just ridiculous.”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

So, round and around and around we go
Where the world’s headed, said nobody knows
Oh, great Googamooga
Can’t you hear me talking to you?

Just a ball of confusion
Oh yeah, that’s what the world is today
Woo, hey, hey

Ball of Confusion – the Temptations

 

More News From the Real World

Yesterday a big truck pulled into our driveway to deliver a refrigerator.  The delivery men were both young, athletic, hard working African-American dads.  One has month-old twins and the other has a couple of young daughters.

After finishing the work, they took some time to visit with us, and I accepted their admiration for my awesome man room.  They were impressed by our new home on the lake, and I could see them wondering, how does a guy get one of these?

My “dad” buzzer went off.  I just can’t resist an opportunity to coach enterprising young people.  I am an unapologetic card-carrying disciple of free enterprise and American capitalism, and nothing makes me happier than seeing a young person who wants to move up and achieve a better life for his or her family.  At risk of embarrassment, here is our conversation, condensed.

Worker 1: “That is a big, beautiful house.  How did you guys get here?”

Me:  “You know, my wife and I started out dirt poor.  We had absolutely nothing.  But we worked hard, and saved, and kept working and saving, and here we are.  It’s America!  We are living proof that the American dream is real and success is out there for anybody who is willing to work for it.”

Worker 1: “I’m thinking about starting my own business, I have a couple of ideas.”

Me: “Owning your own business is great.  If I had known how fun and profitable it is to have your own business, I would have done it long ago.”

Wife: “And it’s a great time to start a business. The economy is booming!  There are all kinds of opportunities right now.  Companies are starting up and growing and hiring people because of the tax reform.”

Worker 2: “Yeah, business has really picked up.  Our company can’t find enough people to hire.”

Wife:  “I’m a Trump supporter and he has really turned things around after Obama.”

Workers 1 and 2 simultaneously:  “That’s for sure, Obama didn’t do us any favors!”

Me:  “Maybe the best thing Trump has done is get rid of all the crazy regulations.  We moved here from Montana, and the oil and coal and mining and agriculture industries have taken off again there because Trump got the EPA and other agencies to back off.”

Worker 2: “I’m going back to school to finish my classes in underwater welding.”

Me:  “Wow!  That sounds like a great career with a lot of demand.  Are you a welder now?”

Worker 2: “Yes.”

Me: “Well if you want to make some big money in a hurry, go to the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and eastern Montana.  Welders there can make six figures because there is so much demand.  Even drivers make big money, and the employers pay for CDLs, help with housing, and have good benefits.  It’s not a great place for the family, but a lot of young guys buck it up for a year or two, make some big money, and then they are set.”

Wife: “There are always great opportunities somewhere.  You may have to move, or do some kind of work you don’t want to do.  We have all done work we didn’t want to, but that’s part of building wealth.”

Me: “I’ve always said I can do anything for a while.  You don’t have to bust your rear end and save your money forever, just for a while.  Then things get a lot easier.”

Worker 2:  “Well, maybe I’ll have a place like yours some day!”

As I said in my last post, don’t believe the silliness you see and hear on the evening news.  They would have you believe that young people, especially minorities, are angry and oppressed.  The leftist politicians and talking heads predict a “blue wave” led by socialists who will save us all from the greedy corporations.

It just isn’t true.  These young African-American dads are typical of the guys on the street that I enjoy meeting and with whom I am proud to share our great American heritage and values.  They understand responsibility, work and reward, they respect employers and capitalism, they know when somebody is trying to blow smoke, and they are optimistic about the direction our country is headed.  And – surprise!  They love Trump!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Stand in the place where you live (now face north)
Think about direction, wonder why you haven’t before
Stand in the place where you work (now face west)
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t before

Good Times! Don’t Listen to the Left!

 

Anyone who listens to the leftist mainstream media must think that America is in crisis – a desperate and mean place rife with racism, cruelty, poverty and hate.  It’s no accident.  The Democrat playbook for all of my adult life has been the same: create a crisis, try to scare the hell out of everybody, and then promise to save us.  Never mind that there is a new crisis every day, and they never actually solve any of them!

It’s such a false picture of life in the USA.  Here are some recent vignettes observed by my family:

  • I was in WalMart yesterday, and no I did not “smell” the Trump supporters.  But I did see a senior shopper cheerfully pushing two carts from the parking lot into the cart corral at the store entrance.  As I grabbed my cart I told her, “I’ll bet you are a conservative Republican.”   After a stunned pause, she said, “Why yes, I am!  How did you know?”  “Simple,” I replied.  “See those carts left in the middle of the lot and hanging off the curbs?  They were left there by Democrats.  We conservatives not only clean up after ourselves, we take care of the Democrats too.”  We shared a laugh.
  • Our community is growing like crazy and there are new homes popping up all over.  One is under construction next door to my home.  This morning my wife noticed a construction worker’s Mercedes convertible parked on the edge of our lawn, which is no problem, but she wanted to warn him that our automatic sprinkler would go on and she didn’t want him to get caught with his top down.  They had a nice conversation, and she couldn’t help but notice how happy the craftsman, an African-American brick mason, was.  “I just love my work,” he said.  “And man, have I been busy!”  They agreed that the economy is smoking hot, and my wife, ever the promoter, said, “Trump is doing great, isn’t he?”  The brick mason flashed a huge grin. “He sure is!”
  • Speaking of WalMart, after the tax reform bill was passed, we asked several employees about their jobs.  They got raises and bonuses and are thrilled about it.  Same story at Lowe’s and Home Depot.  My men’s bible study group used to pray for church members who were unemployed.  Not any more – there aren’t any.
  • The Charlotte Observer printed an editorial this week decrying the requirement for voter IDs.  An African-American woman replied the next day, saying, “I am so tired of being told that because I am black I am too stupid to be able to get an ID card.”  She speaks for all minority citizens.  And the Democrats wonder why they are rapidly losing their minority base.  A steady diet of condescension is not a great way to win supporters.
  • My stepmother called to wish my wife a happy birthday and as always, the conversation turned to politics.  My stepmom remarked how much she hates Trump.  My wife asked her what she thinks of the tax cuts.  “Oh, well, that’s a good thing.”  And she asked if reducing all the regulations was helping the economy.  “Yes,” stepmom said, “that’s working really well.”  And my wife asked if Montana was enjoying all the jobs returning because the EPA attacks against oil and coal and mining and agriculture have been shut down.   “Oh that’s been really great,” stepmom agreed. We’re still not sure she gets it, but we’ll keep working on her.

So next time a frantic Democrat tells you how evil and mean and racist and bigoted and homophobic America is – how the conservatives want dirty water and foul air and starving children and abused women – just look around at all the happy faces.  And vow to keep moving ahead, not back.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Good times, these are the good times
Leave your cares behind, these are the good times
Good times, these are the good times
Our new state of mind, these are the good times

Good Times – Nile Rodgers and Chic

 

If this song doesn’t make you happy, I can’t help ya!

Are You a “Maker” or a “Taker”?

photo by Kenneth Song

There are “makers” in this world and there are “takers.”  Some produce more than they use, and some don’t. We are at a point in our crazy history when the number of takers is right on the cusp of outnumbering the makers.

My father left me only a few gems of wisdom; here is perhaps the best:  “Son, there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Sadly, half of our population believes it is possible for the government to provide free college, free housing, free medical care, free food, and even free spending money to anyone who wants it.  Actually, the socialists (who have taken over the Democrat party) claim we all “deserve” free stuff.

No, there is no such thing as a free lunch, or free anything for that matter.  If government gives something to one person, it must be taken – at threat of physical force – from somebody else.  By definition, that is theft.

People are charitable by nature, and most will give some of their own property to someone who they feel is truly in need.  But our Constitution does not say that the government has the duty or the right to force one citizen to give their property to someone else whether they approve or not.

Thank God there are people who care and give freely of their time and money to others. While many Americans (and many illegal aliens) sit and complain, demanding free stuff and benefits that they have not earned, a few “makers” are hard at work trying to make our nation a better place for the generations that will follow.

I have a friend who was diagnosed with a rare cancer several years ago and was given three months to live.  He is no longer able to operate the business he built through years of hard work and risk.  But he continues to work every day for conservative leaders and to promote legislation that will benefit all Americans.  “I can’t just quit,” he says, and “leave a mess for the kids and grandkids.”  Everything he touches ends up better than the way he found it.  He is a “maker.”

Another friend has spent her entire life defending American traditional values, especially the rights of the unborn.  Despite withering physical problems that would stop most people in their tracks, she still teaches and convinces and cajoles those who don’t understand the “free lunch” problem.  Those who are lucky enough to meet her are inspired and blessed.  She is a “maker”.

My adult son is totally blind.  Despite his college degree, the job market has not exactly welcomed him with open arms.  So he volunteers his time as a reading tutor for at-risk sighted kids, and works at a hospice soothing dying patients in their final hours with a little conversation, a magazine article, or a bible reading.  He’s a “maker”.

President Trump left a lucrative business career, spent a huge amount of his own money, and has withstood inhumane abuse from the media and opponents from outside and within his own party.  He could be multiplying his wealth and enjoying life with his beautiful wife and family.  Instead, he works long hours and take all the heat his enemies can dish out, because he loves our country and knows what is needed to set us back on the course to prosperity and success.  President Trump is a “MAKER.”

I, and most people who want the best for our nation and all of its people, celebrate President Trump and the other “makers”.  And frankly, we are repulsed by the “takers” we see on our television screens and computers every day.  There is no middle ground.  Each of us must choose a side.  Maker – or taker.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get
Oh, you find God’s grace in every mistake
And always give more than you take

My Wish – Rascal Flatts

 

Please watch this beautiful vignette of some American “makers”, Rascal Flatts.

1 in 20 Working Age Americans is on SSDI!

ssdi-benefits-application

I am nearing Medicare age and have made some recent visits to the Social Security office to get things figured out.

Like most Americans, when I think of Social Security, I picture white-haired grandmas and grandpas getting their money back after a lifetime of contributing to a retirement account, along with their employers.  But there’s much more to it than that.

On our first visit to the Social Security office, we couldn’t help but notice that we were the only retirement-age people in the room.  The second visit was the same – everyone there was under forty years of age.  Almost all were minorities and many were non-English speakers.

On the third visit I asked our Social Security advisor “Why is the waiting area full of young people?”

Without a blink, she answered, “ADHD.”

At first I didn’t make the connection.  But then I remembered hearing a while back that ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) was one of many new qualifiers and relaxed standards for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) eligibility introduced during Obama’s term.

I was surprised that a federal employee would be so candid, but she was clearly upset.  “We are overrun with people filing for SSDI for their kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD at school.”  As a school board trustee a few years ago, I learned that public schools are labeling students as ADHD as fast as they can, both to receive additional Title I federal funding and also to ease cumulative testing pressure.  With the new rulings and interpretations that allow ADHD kids to receive SSDI payments, the benefit floodgates are wide open.

“But isn’t SSDI intended to replace lost income for workers who are disabled?” I asked the advisor.  “Kids don’t have any income to replace!”

“Exactly,” she replied, unable to hide her disdain for the abuse of public funds.  “If the parent is receiving any kind of government benefits, the ADHD kid can receive SSDI payments.”

Later I learned that ADHD isn’t the only questionable qualifier for disability payments.  Others include obesity, limited education, lack of work skills, adult ADHD, physical problems caused by drug abuse, and inability to communicate in English.  And many non-citizens can qualify.

I would expect that some Social Security offices rubber stamp SSDI approvals without much resistance, while others do extensive due diligence.  And judges who ultimately rule on eligibility in the event of appeal will also vary in their discretion.  Amazingly, the Social Security Administration pays attorneys to advocate for benefits for applicants.

2018 marks the first year in which the Social Security retirement trust revenues fall short of payments.  SSDI also takes in less than it pays out.  Some analysts predict doom and gloom for these “entitlement” programs, and also Medicare, while others are not as alarmed.  In 2015 the Daily Signal reported that a stunning 1 in 20 working age Americans was receiving SSDI payments, up from 1 in 40 in 1990.  Maybe this is partly why our labor participation rate is still only 63%.  The explosive growth in SSDI participation may have been partly due to the economic malaise of the Bush/Obama era and seems to be leveling off with better economic conditions under the Trump presidency.

SSDI is not a “get rich quick” scheme – 91% of recipients get less than $2,000 per month.  And there are many legitimately disabled people who need the benefit.  Most Americans are fine with that.   But the program is not cheap, costing $143 billion last year.

Was the advisor in my Social Security office a “canary in a coal mine?”  It’s hard to know, but it seemed that a lot of the folks in the waiting room could have been at work, especially at a time when unemployment is non-existent and employers can’t find enough able bodies to meet their needs.

Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN) has offered a bill, HR 6532, which would initiate reforms to the SSDI system, including

  • improvements to judicial case review
  • elimination of double-dipping from unemployment and disability funds
  • a review of eligibility guidelines
  • frequent testing for ongoing eligibility
  • elimination of delayed retirement by SSDI recipients.

The bill is in committee and deserves the attention of budget-conscious congressmen and constituents.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I don’t want to work
I want to bang on the drum all day
I don’t want to play
I just want to bang on the drum all day

 

Jim Jordan Would Be a Winner as Speaker

 

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will retire his position at the end of the current legislative year.   Assuming the GOP maintains control of the House, the swamp-dwelling elites on the Hill hope his equally feckless accomplice, Kevin McCarthy, will succeed him.

Ryan’s predecessor, John Boehner, was reviled by most conservatives during his stint as speaker.  I frequently complained to my congressman, Mick Mulvaney (founding member of the House Freedom Caucus and current director of OMB) about Boehner’s refusal to maintain regular budget and appropriations order, and his trembling fear of Nancy Pelosi and the minority party.  Boehner was so afraid of “owning” a government shutdown that he allowed President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the compliant news media to utterly violate the Republican House majority with omnibus spending bills and other atrocities.  When I asked Mulvaney whether Boehner had any redeeming characteristics, he said, “At least Boehner did away with earmarks.”

Despite their loathing for Boehner, House conservatives couldn’t enlist a principled member to replace him when he stepped down in 2015.  They meekly accepted Ryan as speaker.  Knowing Ryan was a Boehner protege, and expecting a continuation of weak-kneed if not downright liberal leadership, I pressed Mulvaney for an explanation.  Why didn’t we fight?  “Nobody wanted the job,” he replied.  “And Ryan promised us regular order in the House.”

We didn’t even get that.

So here we go again, faced with the prospect of yet another sissy as speaker.

But this time a principled conservative has stepped up for the job.  Jim Jordan, Freedom Caucus founding member and former chairman, has announced his intention to run for speaker of the House.

President Trump has taken bold action on behalf of the American people,” Jordan told The Hill. “Congress has not held up its end of the deal, but we can change that.”

His announcement was enthusiastically received by grass-roots conservatives, who favor him 99 – 1 over McCarthy.  Jordan said a top priority would be border security and immigration reform.  He also would make sure that committee chairs are selected by their members instead of being “purchased” from the speaker with contributions, as has been the recent practice.

It didn’t take long for the swamp-elites to react.  Ryan immediately said he would not support Jordan for speaker.  “I’m not going to be here,” Ryan said. “I support [House Majority Leader] Kevin McCarthy. Everybody knows that.”  And an attack against Jordan was launched by “deep state” provocateurs Perkins Coie (the same firm that compiled the fake Trump dossier) claiming that Jordan, as an assistant college wrestling coach 25 years ago, ignored students’ reports of sexual abuse.  The fabricated claim was immediately extinguished with Jordan receiving support from all corners, including Ryan’s.  Jordan’s moral and leadership credentials easily withstood the assault.

There is evidence of a side benefit from Jordan’s candidacy.  Reports show increased enthusiasm for the GOP in the 2018 election among voters who know that Jordan might be the Speaker of the House.  Certainly Jordan’s positive relationship with President Trump can be leveraged to win votes for conservative House candidates and preserve the majority.

While Jordan is still considered an underdog in the race for House speaker, growing support from grass-roots conservatives and strong backing from the House Freedom Caucus makes him a solid contender.  When I asked Congressman Ralph Norman about Jordan’s bid for the speakership, he said, “The election of Jim Jordan will be a GAME CHANGER for our entire conservative movement and will finally put our great nation on a pathway to financial solvency.”

Jordan had a record 156 wins as a college wrestler.  We could sure use a winner leading the House of Representatives.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

It took a long time and I knew for now
I can see the day that I breath for
Friends agree there’s a need
To play the game, and to win again
I’m winning!

Winning – Carlos Santana w/ Alex Ligertwood

 

The Senior Executive Service IS “The Swamp”

photo: NJ.com

I don’t like the idea of publishing a story that I can’t verify.  But recent political events in our capital and around the world have just been too strange.

Corrupt leftist politicians are caught red-handed in all kinds of illegal and immoral shenanigans, with absolutely no consequences.  Meanwhile, leftist government employees conduct expensive and fruitless witch hunts, trying to pin something – anything – on the current President.  And the leftist pursuers somehow actually work for the President they are trying to destroy!  They vilify and attack anyone who actually loves our country and wants to enjoy and preserve our success.  All the while the complicit leftist news media whip their vapid charges into a frenzy as the abused “conservatives” on the Hill barely complain, let alone take any defensive action.

Nope, it’s just too strange.  This kind of upside-down, illogical stuff just doesn’t happen.  It’s dogs loving cats.  Blizzards in July.  Rosie O’Donnell eating a salad.  Something is wrong here.

There has been a lot of talk about the “Deep State”, and at first I blew it off as conspiracy theory.  But the strangeness continued and accelerated.  Eventually I had to accept the fact that most government employees are leftists, voted for Obama, and violently hate Trump along with everybody who doesn’t hate Trump.

But that begs the question:  we have a majority of Republicans in both houses and a Republican president.  Why are these foaming-at-the-mouth leftists on the government payroll? What or who is the “Deep State?”  And why do they have so much power that they can turn reality on its head?

My bewilderment about this strange state of affairs led me on a mission to try to make some sense of it all, and on the journey I stumbled into something called the Senior Executive Service, or SES.  It seems that back in 1978 the government was so screwed up that President Carter decided to create a new tier of civil service employees who were a cut above the average government plodders.  They would be recruited from the private sector with higher pay, nice perks, and no oversight.  That’s right, no oversight.  They can’t be fired (in 2016 out of 8000 SES employees exactly two were discharged), and they can pretty much do whatever they want.  Every administration after Carter added SES employees, and as their numbers grew, so did their autonomy and power.

In December 2015 President Barack Obama issued an executive order to “strengthen” and further build the ranks of the SES, with huge pay raises and new employees grateful and beholden to Obama.  There are now over 8,000 SES employees, and over 7,000 were passed on from Obama to Trump.

Then in December 2016 (coincidentally the month after Trump was elected president) the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs did a study of personnel policy and endorsed the following statement: “By law, the appointment or removal” of SES positions “shall not be subject, directly or indirectly to review or approval by an officer or entity within the Executive Office of the President.”  Read that last sentence again.  Senator Ron Johnson ostensibly headed the committee, but Senator John McCain was the cheese.  Other notables:  Jon Tester, Ben Sasse, Heidi Heitkamp, Corey Booker, Tammy Baldwin, Joni Ernst, Kelly Ayotte.

Hmmm.

When you add it all up, it starts to smell swampy.  Reportedly the ranks of SES members include Horowitz, Rosenstein, Comey, Paige, Strzok, Podesta, Holder, Jarrett, Lynch, and many more of Obama’s “cadre”, as he referred to the SES.

How can the obvious corruption and animus against the “outsider” Trump be so pervasive throughout the federal agencies?  How can FBI, DOJ and other security agency employees be so feckless in the conduct of their jobs and fearless of any attempts at accountability?  Think about it: WACO, Ruby Ridge, the Hammonds, LaVoy Finnicum, the unexplained Las Vegas concert massacre, Fast and Furious, the IRS Tea Party scandal, the EPA land use outrages, the refusal to investigate Clinton scandals and the Foundation, the ongoing funding of Planned Parenthood, the refusal to enforce immigration laws, the unfounded attacks on Trump and his people, and so many more inexplicable events.

I can’t prove that the SES is organized enough to actually embody the creatures of “the Swamp”.  But when people act this strangely, you can’t help but wonder if the conspiracies are more than just theory.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down

People Are Strange – the Doors