Bit O’ Honey Accountability

Seems like nobody is accountable for anything any more. Pundits and politicians throw accusations at each other all day, every day, claiming to have irrefutable proof of some dastardly crime but nothing ever seems to come from it. No perp walks, no convictions, no jail time. No accountability.

In a spirited debate at Politicon today, conservative pundit Sean Hannity went toe-to-toe with Clinton campaign heavyweight James Carville and seemed to be getting the upper hand. Hannity listed the crimes by Carville’s boss Hillary Clinton. Carville didn’t deny anything, but claimed that Trump would be impeached and lose the upcoming election. Hannity challenged Carville to name an impeachable crime. Carville couldn’t do it. But he topped Hannity by saying [paraphrased], “If the Republicans have all this proof of crimes by Democrats, why don’t they do anything about it? Why aren’t they in jail? You have the Department of Justice!” Boom.

Carville basically admitted that the Democrats have no fear of getting caught in criminal acts because the Republicans don’t have the guts to prosecute them. And he admitted that the Democrats will throw all kinds of baseless accusations at the Republicans because they know they will never have to prove them. No accountability.

In real life, unlike in political bizarro-world, there actually is accountability. I have twin 9-year old grandkids and I even require accountability from them.

They were in my office a couple years ago and discovered my stash of Bit O’ Honey candies. They politely asked if they could have a couple the first time and maybe the second. But then I noticed over time my stash was getting hit pretty hard. And it couldn’t be mice, because they are stored in a glass jar.

So I created an “inventory control” system, by which either of the twins could appropriate up to two Bit O’ Honeys any day without asking, but only if they sign and date each withdrawal on a count sheet and calculate the remaining inventory. Of course I have to account for any Bit O’ Honey withdrawals I make too, and so does Grammy. So the twins know if there are any discrepancies in the Bit O’ Honey inventory, Grandpa knows who is accountable!

I wish Hillary had been raised to be accountable. She would never have deleted 30,000 or more emails, and smashed her cell phones, after they had been subpoenaed by the FBI. The media and the FBI aren’t being held accountable for letting Hillary get away with it. And the DOJ isn’t being held accountable for letting the FBI get away with letting Hillary get away with it. And the President isn’t being held accountable for letting the DOJ get away with letting the FBI get away with letting Hillary get away with it.

Just between you and me, a little grandfatherly advice – never trust a Democrat with your Bit O’ Honeys!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Sugar, ah honey honey!
You are my candy girl,
And you’ve got me wanting you!

Sugar Sugar – the Archies

Time to Fix the Bus

Back down the road we Americans shared a “magic bus” with four tires – two left and two right. The wheels needed to be aligned every once in a while, but generally they all pulled in the same direction and took us to a place that was better than where we came from. If we ran into a rough road, we were able to pull together to get to the other side.

The conservative right side were the sensible ones, watching the checkbook, protecting us from those who would harm us. The liberal left side were the champions of the needy, the downtrodden, and the oppressed. They were thought to be the conscience of America.

But then somehow the left became mean and ugly, adopting a one-world, “America-is-evil”, big-government-over-individual-freedoms ideology. They are now consumed with killing babies, obsess over color of skin instead of content of character, and deny biological science.

Meanwhile the right took their eye off the road and when they had opportunities to do great things for the people, some of them were only interested in holding on to their comfy positions of power.

Now that the Democrats own Congress, they seem to have lost interest in serving the people.

  • “Nonsense” Pelosi could be dealing with the homeless crisis in her own backyard. Instead, we learn that three years after Los Angeles taxpayers put up $1.2 billion for homeless housing, not a single unit has been built. Cities all over the USA are dealing with record numbers of homeless, despite the best employment numbers in our history, and instead of working for solutions, Democrat leaders double down with policies that make things worse.
  • Democrats decry the state of education in our country, but instead of taking meaningful steps to improve the quality of our schools by stopping illegal immigration, implementing school choice including support for home schooling, and focusing on productive curricula, they emphasize social/sexual/political indoctrination.
  • Liberal leaders promote extreme socialism that would consume our annual GDP many times over, thrusting the proleteriat into abject poverty, without a shred of concern for quality of life as long as the ruling class is protected.

True conservatives would happily join forces with Democrats who sincerely want real solutions to humanitarian problems, preserving the best of our American way of life and standard of living. But the liberals are suddenly determined to go off-roading.

Our bus is broken. The wheels on the left side of the bus have fallen off, and the right rear tire is flat. Our president is driving to our future on a treacherous mountain road in a Godless vehicle with only one good tire.

We have to get our bus fixed before we run completely off the road and into a ditch we can’t get out of. Liberals must turn away from the blatant dishonesty of their “big wheel” leaders. Conservatives must get back to the business of serving all of their constituents, not just the ones that will get them re-elected.

All aboard.

Every day I get in the queue (Too much, Magic Bus)
To get on the bus that takes me to you (Too much, Magic Bus)
I’m so nervous, I just sit and smile (Too much, Magic Bus)
You house is only another mile (Too much, Magic Bus)

Magic Bus – the Who

Entitlements In the Neighborhood

So I’m surfing through the neighborhood social media, and yet another thread is filling up about a locally owned bar/restaurant that has failed shortly after opening.

It saddened me for a number of reasons. I have been a small business owner, and I know the financial risk and hard work that a family takes on when opening a new venture, and how heartbreaking it must be to fail. This club was one that employed local musicians, which also hits home with me. A small business closure impacts many people – employees, vendors, neighbors and customers.

The bar/restaurant business is a tough gig. If the owner (or an extraordinary manager) is not on the premises at all times, profit seems to bleed out of the windows and doors. Bartenders “take care” of their friends, or pocket cash before it gets to the till. Finding and training good servers and cooks takes a lot of time and effort. The bad ones either don’t show up or kill your business when they do, and too often the good ones are lured away by a competitor for a few more bucks.

Stick with me, I’ll get to the entitlement part in a minute.

Some business owners shouldn’t be. While they may have a great talent and passion for a particular product or service, if they don’t understand the important basics of business – accounting, cash flow, managing employees, marketing and market differentiation, inventory control – they are unlikely to survive. Making the best cheesesteak sandwich in the world is one thing; making a profit is another.

Every day in the neighborhood social media, which is a pretty good indicator of the attitudes of the proletariat, I see a lot of whining about businesses, especially restaurants. “Why doesn’t somebody open a [insert name] restaurant here?” “I went to the new local bar but I didn’t like their nachos.” “The new sushi place is too expensive.” “I have to drive to the city to get a gourmet dinner.” Many of the folks in my neighborhood seem to think life owes them a world-class restaurant, on the corner of their block, that charges McDonald’s prices, pays its employees $50 an hour, and contributes to their favorite local charity.

The ability for customers to review businesses online is empowering. And dangerous. It feeds the expanding sense of entitlement that we see every day, fueled by the “free everything” political platform of the Democrats.

It’s getting harder every day to operate a small business. It’s do-able, but not for the faint-of-heart or one lacking serious business chops. Because of social media, all it takes is a couple of one-time correctable flubs, a dishonest customer or competitor, or a disgruntled employee to do serious damage to a business. Add to that high taxes and insensitive government decisions such as lengthy street closings for repairs and arbitrary zoning decisions. As a result, locally-owned businesses disappear as we see signs for the same national brands popping up in every neighborhood.

All we Americans are entitled to is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Despite the empty promises of Democrats, we are not entitled to total happiness and security. We are not entitled to free health care, free college, forgiveness of debt or guaranteed wages.

Supply and demand works. Many of my neighbors are all about demand, and never stop to consider how supply happens.

Stop whining, people.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

You made me promises promises
Knowing I’d believe
Promises promises
You knew you’d never keep

Promises Promises – Naked Eyes

The HR Dept. – How Socialism Kills Economic Progress

A common-sense principle of business is that managers must have the authority to hire and fire at will. After all, the very reason for a business to exist is to generate a profit for the owners and investors. So managers will compete for the best employees to maximize returns, just as they compete for customers by trying to provide the best product or service at the best price. The companies who hire and retain the best people will thrive, while the others will fade away.

HR (human resources) departments are poison to profit.

A product of the civil rights movement in 1965, the federal government created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to eliminate hiring discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color or national origin. Every company that does business with the federal government and has 50 or more employees must implement and document an “affirmative action program”.

The EEO/AAP was, and is, a typical big government solution to a problem that should be solved by free market supply and demand. It established rigid quotas based on race, which was then expanded to protect women and the disabled. Soon every minority group, including the evolving alphabet-soup of genders, was lawyering up.

Faced with a mountain of reporting requirements and legal complications, businesses responded by creating and staffing HR departments, a phenomenon that may have done more damage to the economy than any other factor since the depression.

While a manager or owner will make every effort to find the most talented, qualified, and industrious people to fill positions, and reward them well with promotions and compensation, HR departments exist only to meet “diversity” requirements. The result is companies are staffed with many unqualified, unmotivated, and sometimes underpaid minorities (often H1B visa holders) who know they can’t be fired. The “Peter Principle” (individuals are promoted beyond their level of competence) is rampant in many large organizations.

Managers who try to hire or promote talented non-minority employees are stymied by HR. Add the influence of union protection (i.e. government employees), and performance predictably suffers.

Despite 53 years of EEO/AAP and all kinds of other identity-driven programs, liberal politicians still pander for votes by screaming “RAAAAACIST!” at common-sense conservative opponents, who know that for-profit businesses will hire and promote the best people regardless of minority status, which encourages all workers to improve their performance (not their pigmentation or gender) and compete for the best jobs. And that propels the economy and raises standards of living for everybody.

You got me runnin’ goin’ out of my mind
You got me thinkin’ that I’m wastin’ my time
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Don’t Bring Me Down – Electric Light Orchestra

Economic Good Things

Yesterday Congress passed yet another drunken-sailor budget, which would suspend the debt ceiling for another two years and result in an additional $322 billion in spending, ballooning the deficit to $22 trillion dollars.

Not long ago my conservative friends and I took to the streets protesting the unfathomable $16 trillion debt that the federal government had foisted upon our children and grandchildren. Then we got steamrolled by Obama, not exactly a top-drawer economist. Even holding both houses was not enough to stop the spending tsunami, and before you could blink, the Democrat socialist revolution had overtaken Congress.

In an effort to extinguish my “hair on fire” I set out looking for some little rays of economic sunshine among the dark clouds. Here’s what I found:

  • DEREGULATION is driving the economy at an unexpectedly brisk pace. All around I see businesses starting and expanding, construction projects popping up like popcorn, opportunities for workers of all types at premium wage rates, and consumer spending and optimism going through the roof.
  • FOREIGN TRADE POLICIES, TARIFFS AND ALLIANCES – President Trump clearly understands the “art of the deal”, and his push-back against China is bringing positive change. Protests in Hong Kong might drive regime change, or at least policy change. And Trump’s outsized influence on Brexit, Iran, Russia and North Korea all have economic implications. While international trade is not a “zero sum” game, other nations are finally feeling the heat of dealing with an “A-team” on the economic playing field.
  • ENERGY INDEPENDENCE – For a very long time, the USA economy was like many American families – one paycheck away from bankruptcy. At any time a Middle Eastern mullah could shut off the supply of oil, plunging our economy into chaos. That threat is now extinguished.
  • AGENCY REORGANIZATION – Russ Vought and Mick Mulvaney of the OMB are tightening the noose on agency leadership, getting more bang for the taxpayer buck, down-sizing and decentralizing, and updating personnel and procurement procedures. Every day they are changing the government culture to more closely operate like private business.

When Mulvaney was my congressman, we had several discussions about federal spending, with me venting my frustration that the debt was exploding and nobody cares. Mulvaney, always the pragmatist, said, “We can’t fix the deficit and debt by reducing spending. It’s way too late for that. We will have to outgrow it.”

At the time, Mick’s message was not what I wanted to hear. And I still would like to see a more mixed approach: cut spending while the economy is healthy and growing. But the appetite for restraint is just not there. Not with the Democrats and many weak-kneed Republicans in Congress who win re-election by giving away free candy. Not with the president, who had to adopt the same stance to guarantee re-election and time to complete his mission. And frankly, not with the under-informed spoiled-brat public, most of whom pay no federal taxes and whose ranks are swelling every day with immigrants from nations who have never participated in a consumer-driven supply-and-demand economy.

Can our debt keep expanding without consequences? Probably not. But all you can do is all you can do.

I used to employ a business strategy that seemed to work pretty darn well. Every business is segmented into products, or markets, or divisions. Too many executives and managers put all of their energy and focus into the underperforming segments of their businesses, ignoring the segments that are smoking hot and growing. I always promoted the strategy of putting maximum effort and resources into what’s doing well instead of beating your head against the wall trying to fix the losers.

So yes, we had a bad budget deal. Boogers. But if we look closer, there are a lot of “good things” going on.

Seems this worlds got you down
Your feelin’ bad vibrations frown
Well, open your eyes girl, look at me 
I’m gonna show you how it ought to be
We’re gonna’ have a good thing
Such a good thing baby

Good Thing – Paul Revere and the Raiders

In memory of Paul Revere, one of the truly good guys in the history of rock and roll.

It’s a TOOMAH!



On June 9, my 46th wedding anniversary, I was launched out of bed at 1:00 am by what I was convinced was a heart attack. My father had heart disease and I was expecting the same. I perched on the side of the bed, lurching rapidly and violently, unable to breathe, talk, or stand. No pain or pressure, just the worst case of hiccups EVER. A major seizure.

We drove to Steele Creek emergency where I reported my heart attack. The doctors did a “triponin test” which would reveal the presence of an enzyme if I actually did have a heart attack. It was negative. Thank God the doctors did not just send me back home, but rather forwarded me to Atrium Hopital in Pineville for an MRI.

After my MRI, “Doctor Doom’ entered my room with a long face and said, “I have very bad news. You have a 9 centimeter brain tumor on your frontal lobe.” Despite his dramatic pronouncement, I was actually relieved – this explained some symptoms I had been experiencing over the last few months. I had been having trouble controlling emotions.  On stage with my family band “Caution! Blind Driver,” I was often singing with a lump in my throat which I had attributed to worsening “stage fright.” I also was finding that my lead guitar work was slipping – I would drift out of a lead riff into never-never land with no bread crumbs to guide me back.

I also had been playing basketball twice a week and could no longer hit a moving shot for the life of me. Plus I found the floor tilting forward and left.

These symptoms and others should have been a tip-off that something was going wrong with me.

Several friends recommended that I get in touch with Dr. Alan Friedman at Duke University, a world-class brain surgeon. We gathered up our MRI scans and headed for Durham.

Dr. Friedman entered the exam room, yanked my cap off my head, and began planning his surgery on the spot. “Hmmm . . . I will cut here, here and here, peel this back, take out the tumor, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.” I felt like I had the best hot rod mechanic in town. Friedman said that based on the size of the tumor, it may have been growing for as long as ten years.

Two weeks later, I am back at home, pretty much completely healed and rehabilitated.  After surgery I had brain swelling and weakness on my right side, but my brain re-mapped and is now back in control of my body.  My musicianship has returned and I am mobile, although I won’t be driving any time soon due to the risk of seizures.

This has been an educational and humbling life experience.  It causes one to stop and smell the roses, appreciating how fragile we are and how miraculous is God’s handiwork.  I have a new appreciation for artists, athletes and warriors who overcome adversity.

Lesson learned:  

PLAY EVERY GIG LIKE IT MIGHT BE YOUR LAST!

I hope to see you at a show this summer.



Ken Miller Found Innocent in Political Witch Hunt

See the source image

After seven years of injustice, the politically charged campaign finance allegations against Ken Miller from his 2012 run for Montana Governor have been fully dismissed with prejudice.  No wrongdoing was found.  On May 24th the dismissal was filed by Judge Seeley.

Miller states,  “Republicans filed the original false charges in the Montana Governor’s race in 2012 just days before primary voting began.”  Miller continues, “Despite our presentation of proof that the COPP charges were false and politically motivated, the media was quick to report the COPP accusations as if they were fact and true, resulting in my not winning the primary election.” Miller continues, “I hope the media can now give this matter the same attention that they did when these false charges were made.”

Miller and his campaign team along with his legal counsel James Brown, provided full documentation based on the COPP’s own data that wrongdoing did not exist, and instead of the Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP) John Motl dismissing the charges quickly, he created new fake allegations that took Miller years of  time and effort to disprove.  Then COPP changed the charges yet again.  After the election was over, the Democrat-controlled COPP office refused to admit their wrongdoing and drop the disproven charges.  They continued to hold the cloud of guilt over Miller for years, even filing a district court case three years ago as a “place holder.”

“It is obvious that the Democrat office wanted to continue this charade to make it more difficult for me to run for public office over the last seven years,” Miller says.

Miller now plans to get commitments from Montana policymakers to agree to do everything they can to change or eliminate the COPP office.  Miller believes political opponents and the COPP should not be able to continue to use the office to sway elections based on false accusations.

Miller wants policymakers to commit to the elimination of the COPP office and to require the Secretary of State to oversee the financial reporting requirements for political candidates.  If a legal dispute exists, then it should go through the court system as other legal disputes do.  Under the current system the COPP is judge, jury and executioner and the lack of due process is patently unconstitutional.

Alternatively, the Montana Attorney General should require political campaign violation cases to be processed by the local County Attorney’s office.  If the County Attorney decides not to press charges, then the complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

Miller says, “Democrats and Republicans should support this effort on a non-partisan basis because while Democrats are currently in control of the COPP, they will inevitably  find themselves on the other side of the fence some day.  This kind of injustice should never be allowed.”