Baby, The Rain Must Fall, The Wind Must Blow. And Congress Must Spend.

A conservative friend posted a clever and shrewd tweet today.  Democrats (and some Republicans) on the Senate Finance Committee are holding up confirmation of US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, demanding a bailout of union miners’ pension funds in exchange for their votes.  What’s new?  This kind of arm-twisting politics is standard operating procedure in Congress.  But my friend’s exasperated reaction to the benevolent-sounding Miners Protection Act points out a fact that never seems to occur to anybody inside the Beltway:  “Taxpayers are not ATMs!  It’s not your money to give away!”

taxpayers-not-atmsI realized a while back that most legislators (and presidents for that matter) don’t worry about taxpayer disapproval when they pass a spending bill.  Here’s why:

  • Most voters don’t pay federal income tax, or pay very little.  They don’t feel personally impacted by government spending, because they think the money is extracted from somebody else – the “rich guys”.  Members of Congress (especially Democrats who rely on low-income or no-income voters to keep them in office) are heroes to their constituents when they spend more money.  In fact, incumbent legislators are almost always re-elected because they can brag about “bringing home the bacon” to their home districts.
  • Americans don’t worry about spending more money because there doesn’t seem to be any down-side.  Unlike families or businesses, the government never runs out of money, regardless of tax revenue or spending levels.  Our leaders have learned that they can print and/or borrow money without limit, because nobody has the courage to shut down the government and send employees home.  Yes, we have a $20 trillion debt.  Yes, interest on savings has been non-existent for many years.  Yes, wages have been stagnant for decades as the government crowds out private enterprise, gobbling an ever-growing bite of the GDP pie.  Yes, if continued it will all come crumbling down on the heads of our children and grandchildren. But the average Joe still doesn’t relate government spending to his own financial well-being.  In fact, most people think more government spending helps them.
  • And when you get right down to it, our congressmen are only doing what they were born to do.  The job description of a legislator can be boiled down to four words.  What do you do for a living?  Spend other people’s money.  The rain falls.  The wind blows.  Congressmen spend.  It is existential.  In the eyes of a government official, the solution to every problem is to spend more money.  If he isn’t spending money, he is a “do nothing” congressman.

Fortunately, the election showed that there are still (barely) enough Americans with a grasp on reality to step on the brakes before our nation careens off the financial cliff, taking the civilized world along for the plunge.  Our voices were finally heard.  But the narrow victory last November was just the beginning.  Too many of our leaders either still don’t get it, or will soon forget that they got it.  We may have stopped at the edge of the cliff.  But the cliff is still there.

We can’t eliminate all government spending, and in some strategic areas we will have to invest more than we have in recent years.  But it’s childish and dangerous to think that all of our current expenditures are still necessary and untouchable, and our only option is to spend more.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Some men climb a mountain,
Some men swim the sea,
Some men fly above the sky:
They are what they must be.
But, baby the rain must fall,
Baby, the wind must blow,
Wherever my heart leads me
Baby, I must go. Baby I must go.

Glenn Yarbrough – Baby The Rain Must Fall

The music scene in the early 60s went through a sometimes awkward transition from “folk” music to “rock”.  The Band was Bob Dylan’s backup group when he first put down his acoustic guitar and went electric.  After getting booed off the stage every night for weeks, Robbie Robertson, Levi Helm and the rest of The Band quit and went their own way, but Dylan soldiered on, clearly ahead of his time.  Here’s another example of the folk/rock insurgency: check out the blonde dancer bravely bouncing through folkster Glenn Yarbrough’s smoothie!

 

 

Think Our News Media is Bad? You Should See the UK!

sky-news-trumpI just spent a week in the UK and was anxious to observe the political mood of the Brits.  I expected their focus to be on Brexit, their new prime minister Theresa May, the impact of immigration in the UK, the pound vs. the euro – you know, British stuff.

After a long red-eye flight, and suffering a butt-dragging case of jet lag that first evening, my son and I had an early dinner and retired to our hotel room.  We soon learned that British television is abysmal – mostly old American reruns and effete comedy that’s just not funny.  But that’s okay, we are both news junkies, so I switched to BBC News.

To my surprise, every minute of programming on the Beeb was a non-stop assault on Donald Trump.  There was no balance, no “other side”, no pretense of fairness or even any attempt at honesty.  And no non-Trump news at all.

So I switched to the other news network, SkyNews.  It was worse!  Nothing but unbridled, hair-on-fire, heads-exploding, cobra venom spit in the eyes of Donald Trump and all the Americans who chose him to be their president.  MSNBC is Mister Rogers compared to British television news. And nothing changed for the entire week of our visit.  Both networks ran anti-Trump propaganda full-time, 24/7.   Only passing mention was given to the fact that Parliament was engaged in a pretty significant discussion about whether they would honor the people’s vote for Brexit.  The newspapers (which are free and stacked up on street corners every evening) were also fixated on all things American, with only a smattering of local news.

We were given a warm welcome in the pubs and at the football (soccer) games.  Like us, British guys love beer, football, and politics and are ready to discuss all of the above, especially with a couple of Yanks.  They were very curious about the Trump phenomenon, and were surprisingly up-to-speed on American politics.  But then, why wouldn’t they be?  That’s all they get on their news networks.

I was surprised to find that most of the Brits we met were on the conservative side, despite their hard-left news media.  They understand our “drain the swamp” revolution and see parallels with their own Brexit experience.  But some can’t get past our new president’s persona.

“I agree with everything that Trump is doing,” said one new friend over a couple of pints.  “But I can’t support him because he hates women.”  When I pressed him about what that meant, he said he just can’t tolerate a president who goes around grabbing women by the pussy.   Groan.

Another conservative limey said he agrees with American conservatives right down the line, with one big exception.  “Why do you all think you need guns?  Your crime rate is terrible.”  I had to explain that’s why we need guns.

Like American lefties, British liberals love to protest.  They even feel compelled to protest about an election that took place 3,500 miles across the pond.  There are subtle differences, though.  Left-wing British protesters don’t break windows and start fires, and left-wing American protesters don’t give a rat’s patootie about who is elected on the other side of the planet.

I left my British friends with this advice:  don’t believe what you see and hear on the television!  I guess the same advice would serve us Americans well, too.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

We don’t believe what’s on TV
Because it’s what we want to see
And what we want we know we can’t believe
We have all learned to kill our dreams

We Don’t Believe What’s On TV – Twenty One Pilots

 

This fun young duo is filling venues all over on their US tour and were nominated for three Grammy awards.  Check ’em out!

Mulvaney Set to Drain the Swamp

mulvaney-alligatorFor a long time I have suspected that because liberals see everything through the prism of skin color, they assume conservatives do too, and are therefore racists.

Only recently have I realized that the same is true of political corruption.  Liberals think that conservatives who run for office or accept administrative posts must be doing it to enrich themselves unethically because that’s what they, the liberals, do – or would do, given the chance.

For instance, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) excoriated HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) during his hearing for a $300 profit he made on a stock purchase in a company that benefited from a ruling his committee made.  Her condescending rebuke was designed to paint Price as a monster who made shady self-serving deals using his government influence.  How rich.  Warren, a “one-percenter” with assets estimated at $10 million, falsely claimed Native American heritage to land a professorship, and received $350,000 for teaching one  college course.

Democrats point out, with faux concern and anger, that President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks are mostly wealthy individuals.  Like Trump himself, his nominees have accomplished a level of business (not government) success that not only builds wealth, it also indicates competence.

The Democrats can grandstand and delay, race-bait and class-envy ad nauseam, trying to hold up the confirmation process.  But it won’t work.  The swamp will be drained.

Only the shallowest of observers can’t see that these all-stars are not in it for personal profit.  Quite the contrary; they are sacrificing their earning power and precious time as an act of patriotism, service and charity.  And isn’t it just possible that the wealthy Democrats, most of whom have never earned a dollar in the private sector, are panicking at the prospect that their own gravy train may soon fall off the tracks?

The Trump team tapped budget hawk Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to head up the Office of Management and Budget.  Mulvaney was a co-founder of the uber-conservative Freedom Caucus and has a stellar resume in budget, finance, and business – both inside and outside the Beltway.  Mulvaney isn’t rich – during legislative sessions he slept in the closet of his office.  But he is focused and determined.  And he is building his own all-star team, starting with Heritage Action brainiacs Russ Vought and Jessica Anderson.  The Beltway is abuzz today with talk of a plan to reduce the national debt by $10.5 trillion in ten years, based on the Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Reform published last year.

This is what common-sense Americans have been praying for since Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC gave birth to the Tea Party in 2009 – a glimmer of hope that our children will not have to deal with the economic destruction caused by our monolithic $20 trillion federal debt.  In his rant, by the way, Santelli gave kudos to Wilbur Ross, another Trump appointee.

President-elect Trump calls it “draining the swamp”, which encompasses both rooting out corruption and slashing out-of-control spending.  It makes me picture OMB Chief Mulvaney in the role of Amos Moses, that badass Cajun in the Louisiana bayou, knockin’ alligators in the head with a stump!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideNow Amos Moses was a Cajun
He lived by himself in the swamp
He hunted alligator for a living
He’d just knock them in the head with a stump!

Jerry Reed – Amos Moses

 

I love this 1982 video of Jerry Reed and Glen Campbell rockin’ it up with this funky, swampy, bluesy version of Reed’s “Amos Moses.”  You won’t find more guitar pickin’ power in one camera shot.  Reed is most widely known as Burt Reynold’s sidekick in the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies, but he was an outstanding musician and songwriter, and was revered by guitar players world-wide.  Among his innovations was the “claw” style of picking, which he allegedly taught to Chet Atkins.  Campbell had a stellar career until it was derailed by alcoholism and, later, Alzheimer’s disease.  He started as a studio guitarist, was an early member of the Beach Boys, and eventually had his own television show plus many gold records.

 

Liberals Must Hate Children

referee-clipart-as0968Here we go again.  Another example of how liberals hurt our kids.

My daughter and I have played, coached and officiated sports for many years.  We love working with kids and we see the positive effects of organized sports on their growth and development. Coaching is fun and rewarding.  But it’s not easy these days.

A while back I wrote about coaching my grandson’s first baseball season.  Here’s a recap:  First inning of the first game of the season.   The batter hits a ground ball to our pitcher, who makes the catch and easily throws him out at first.  Instead of returning the batter to the dugout, the coach holds him on first base.  “Hey!” several people yelled. “That batter was out!”  But the coach kept him on first base, saying, “We don’t put kids out in this league.  Everybody gets to run the bases.”  There are no umpires for the 5 -year old beginners league, so the coaches are in charge.

None of our coaches saw anything like that in the rules we had received before the season, but being new to the league, and not wanting to make a scene in front of the kids, we didn’t put up a fight.  Over the rest of the game, only one of our players actually got put out, and we returned him to the bench, but the nine batters our team put out still ran the bases.  No score was kept.  The game was weird, and our players, who were being taught to play by the rules and are naturally competitive, were confused and upset.  Why are we trying to put players out when they still get to run and score?

We called the league manager to express our concern about trying to teach baseball with no rules.  His reply was, “We just want the kids to feel successful and have fun.  Besides, five-year olds never put anybody out anyway,” which sent my daughter/coach into orbit!  So we had all the parents call the league manager, and they let him know what they thought of his “no winners and losers” version of baseball.  He relented, and for the rest of the season an out was an out, the kids learned how to play by the rules, and everybody had fun.

Fast forward to my grandson’s first basketball game, almost two years later.

Again, our players had been taught the rules and were expected to abide by them.  First game of the season, our team gets the ball, dribbles to their basket, and my boy made the first basket of the season.  Yay!  The other team throws the ball in, and their guard dribbles and stops.  Dribbles and stops.  Again. And again. And again.  After 13 double-dribbles he tucked the ball like a running back, ran all the way across the court, and took his shot.

Our coaches asked the referee why he didn’t call double-dribble or travelling.  “Oh, we don’t have any infractions in this league.  We just want them to have fun.”

Attempts by the coaches to get rules enforced in that game, and the next, were unsuccessful.  It wasn’t long before the players who had been taught how to play by the rules abandoned them.  I was appalled when I saw my grandson start double-dribbling and travelling like the other kids.  Why should he play by the rules when nobody else has to?  He’s not dumb! To make matters worse, it wasn’t long before the kids figured out that fouls weren’t called, and the game became a bloody free-for-all.  My kid has a beauty of a shiner.

liberal   (lib • er • al)

ADJECTIVE

  1. open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values
  2. (especially of an interpretation of a law) broadly construed or understood; not strictly literal or exact

NOUN

  1. a person of liberal views.

I know they mean well, but liberals should be kept away from impressionable children.  Kids need structure.  They want to know the rules.  They grow by experiencing the rewards of hard work, the thrill of fair competition, and the joy of winning.  Building character includes losing with dignity, and learning from one’s mistakes.

One thing I know about children:  nothing hurts them more than being treated unfairly.  And nothing is more unfair than letting some kids break the rules while others abide by them.  The same holds true for adults, but it’s larger than life for children.  What happens if you give one sibling candy, but not the other?

This is not just about sports and kids.  It’s about life, and it’s about the moral decay we see all around us.   Some are expected to work while others don’t.  Some follow the laws while others flaunt them – or political leaders decide to not enforce them.  Some put their shopping carts in the rack at Costco.  Others just leave them in the parking lot, for somebody else to take care of.

And it seems like the people who complain loudest about being treated unfairly are the ones who don’t respect the rules.  The liberals.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ on the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

When I fight authority, authority always wins
When I fight authority, authority always wins!
I been doing it, since I was a young kid and
I’ve come out grinnin’.
I fight authority, authority always wins!

John Cougar Mellencamp – the Authority Song

Take a minute to enjoy a young John Cougar Mellencamp – kid had some moves!

Trump’s First Thirty Minutes in Office

trump-phone

 

[operator]:  Good morning, Mr. President.  I hope you will enjoy your first day in the Oval Office.

[Trump]: Thanks, Rosie.  But just remember, one screw-up and You’re Fired!  You’ll be back cleaning bathrooms at ‘The View’ with those other ugly broads in a New York minute!

[operator]:  Of course, sir.  I have made your first call – President Putin is on the line.

[Trump]:  Hello, Vlad.  Hey, I just wanted to let you know, no hard feelings about hacking the DNC.  I don’t blame you, it’s a hell of a lot of fun tweaking that bunch of whiney snowflakes, isn’t it?  I would have done it myself, but I can barely do Twitter.  Anyway, what do you say we get together next week and make a plan to take out those ISIS bastards once and for all?  Should be fun!  Later, comrade.

[operator]:  Mr. President, President Kim Jong-un of North Korea is ready to speak with you.

[Trump]:  Is that you, King Kong?  I have a message for you on my first day in office, you fat little f***, so listen up.  If you test one more nuclear device, if you launch one more missile – if you so much as pee one drip outside your hole in the floor, my boys will turn your God-forsaken armpit of a country into a flamed-out marshmallow on a stick.  You got that, Ping Pong?  Fagettaboutit!

[operator]: President Trump, the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto has been holding for you.

[Trump]:  Hello?  Hello?  Now, Enrique, please stop crying.  It’s . . . there, there, Enrique, it’s . . . now please . . . Look, I know it was Vicente Fox that said he wouldn’t pay for my f***ing wall, not you.  Enrique?  You need to get yourself together amigo, call me back when you can talk.  Okay, Adios.

[operator]: Mr. President, I have reached Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada.

[Trump]:  Well hello, there, neighbor!  I called to invite you to join me later this week, eh?  We need to work on our plan to make North America the energy powerhouse of the world.  I am so ready to get everybody back to work and our economy flying, eh?  Our low energy cost will attract the best manufacturers from all over the world.  What a one-two punch, eh?  Heck, if Mexico cleans up their act, maybe Enrique will want to join the party, too.  He’s got a lot of good workers down there, eh?  All right, my friend, let’s start Monday.  Oh, and by the way – let’s talk about that “Liberal Party” of yours, eh?  Okay, bye.

[operator]:  Mr. President, our conference call with the leaders of Germany, France, Great Britain and Japan is ready for you.

[Trump]:  Fellows, thanks for joining me on this call.  Oh, and you too, Frau Merkel, sorry.  I just wanted to let you know that I bought the UN building in New York City this morning.  Yes, and I am evicting all of those whiney little despots so I can turn it into a first-class resort hotel.  Right.  Last I heard they are going to meet up in Kinshasa.  I don’t know, it’s somewhere over there in Africa.  But hey, I thought we could start our own little club, you know?  We could watch each other’s backs and get some of these messes cleaned up, instead of paying for all those other little piss ants to cause trouble all the time.  Then if some of these other countries want to stand up for democracy, and human rights, and free trade and forget about getting rich by global warming hoaxes and identity politics, maybe they can join the club later on.  Right.  I’ll see you guys at Mar Largo next month.

[Trump]: Rosie, hold my calls for a while, I have to straighten out the tax code, fix our immigration problem, and get a new health care system running.  But I should be done in time for my 4:00 pm tee time!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideListen kid, you paid for the call.
You ain’t bad but I’ve heard it all before.
Don’t call us, we’ll call you!
Don’t call us, we’ll call you !

Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You – Sugarloaf

 

Jerry Corbetta, founder and leader of the Denver band Sugarloaf, passed away a few months ago.  Sugarloaf had some monster hits in the seventies and they are as crisp today as they were then.  I feel a tiny connection to this band – I played in a band with a guy who played in a band with a guy who played for Sugarloaf.  Probably every musician in the world has played with every other musician in the world, twice removed!  Anyway, enjoy this classic – sorry, no live video of this song.

The ObamaCare Zone

obamacare-zoneWhat made the United States an economic powerhouse with the highest standard of living in the world?  Without a doubt, it is our belief in free market economics.  Why then would we even consider nationalizing one of the largest segments of our economy?  After six years of ObamaCare we have been to the edge of the abyss, looked in, and recoiled at what we saw.  Government takeover of private industries is always a disaster.

We are at a watershed moment in history, with an opportunity to hit the reset button and get it right.  It’s time to set aside the political posturing and get to work on repairing our health care financial system – not as an entitlement, but as a BUSINESS.  Because that’s what it is.

Problem:  When an industry like health care is removed from the free market and taken over by the government (nationalized), it always results in higher costs, reduced access and choices, and poorer products (outcomes).

Solution:  Repeal ObamaCare immediately, remove as much government interference as possible and restore free market for health care and insurance.  Implement reasonable regulations to protect consumers and maintain fair competition.

Problem: Health care costs and health insurance premiums continue to increase much faster than normal inflation.

Solution:  Require consumers to have “skin in the game” by paying directly for minor medical care – health insurance should be geared toward major medical coverage. Make medical expenses and premiums tax deductible for individuals, just like they are for corporations.  Require all medical providers to show costs to consumer before treatment.  Require insurers to offer large pool pricing and ERISA protection for individual plans at rates comparable to corporate group plans.  Establish reasonable restrictions on malpractice payouts.  These reforms will put purchase decisions in the hands of consumers where normal free market forces will result in price competition and improved product.

Problem:  Even though health care is not an entitlement, most Americans want to help fellow citizens who are legitimately unable to purchase their own care and/or insurance.

Solution: There are many ways to provide a safety net for the truly needy, such as subsidies and/or tax relief for private health insurance, taxpayer funded or subsidized health clinics, etc.  Regulations should prevent health insurance companies from cancelling coverage due to claims experience.  On the other hand, insurance companies can not be expected to cover consumers with pre-existing conditions, so state assigned-risk pools are necessary.  In all cases rigid vetting is absolutely necessary.  Our system can not support unlimited care for non-citizens and false claims of disability and indigence.

Problem: Many Americans fear that if the government is not between them and their health care, and they are left to their own devices to purchase health care, the powerful health care industry will abuse them for profit.

Solution:  The strongest motive to provide a good product is profit.  Consumers make good purchasing decisions every day.  The cost of products goes down as the quality improves, because consumers will always, always, ALWAYS select the best value when they are spending their own money.

Repeal ObamaCare now.  Release the health care and insurance industry to seek honest profits in the free market by competing for customers.  Implement common sense regulations that are fair for providers and consumers alike.  Stop pretending that health care is free and everybody is entitled to it.  Let the magic of the American free market work again.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 The Twilight Zone – the Ventures

 

 

 

 

No More “Fake News” – Repeal ObamaCare Now!

coverbatboyThis just in: the mainstream news industry has confirmed the existence of “fake news”.

It’s not yet clear exactly what qualifies as “fake news”.  Some online political trouble-makers have learned that there is nothing to prevent them from writing stories that are flat-out untrue.  Worse, they have learned that lazy mainstream journalists and pundits will often repeat their fabrications without an ounce of verification.

The label “fake news” can apparently be used by a reporter to discount any news that doesn’t support his ideology.  It is also acceptable for one to use fake news to plant his own ideology in the minds of the low-information masses.

And there has been, especially in the recent election silly season, a serious epidemic of Facebook and Twitter users (of all political persuasions) sharing and re-posting titillating but bogus information without testing its veracity – or even reading anything more than the title.

Now, I can cut Average Joe and Jane some slack for not knowing journalistic “best practices”.  But it’s pretty hard to excuse paid media professionals who engage in fake news.  Facebook and Google claim they are going to crack down on fake news.  Who can take them seriously after they were caught manipulating search results and “trending” lists to drive viewers toward their left-wing point-of-view?

After all the hand-wringing and accusations about fake news, it is astonishing how left-wing media pundits still have no shame about making their own false or misleading public statements.  On last weekend’s Sunday news shows, the “media professionals” strapped on their Pinocchio noses and went to work.

Karine Jean-Pierre dropped this little stool on ABC’s This Week : “Donald Trump does have a vote in Congress to repeal, to take away, health care from many Americans.”

There was no mention of how many people lost their private coverage due to the ACA.  In fact, she didn’t mention ObamaCare at all.  No elaboration on how Congress’ proposed replacement plans are designed to cover more people rather than fewer.  Certainly no reporting on the need to beat back the crushing cost increases taxpayers currently bear (my forced ObamaCare premium is 400% higher than my private insurance was, and is now mostly subsidized by the taxpayers.)

Jean-Pierre just laid out her fake news “fact” that President Trump wants to take your health insurance away.  Job done, let’s go get a Starbucks.

During that same show, there was an advertisement paid for by the taxpayers, encouraging viewers to sign up for ObamaCare.  The ad’s appeal is that “most people who are enrolled receive ‘financial help’ with their premiums” – specifically, your individual premium might be as high as $650 per month, but you might only pay $50 per month.  Fake advertising news alert:  it’s not “financial help,”, it’s a taxpayer-funded subsidy.

If ObamaCare is such a good deal for everyone, why do we have to pay for TV advertisements to drum up business?

The left-wing media has become so adept at “fake news” that half of the Democrat party’s sobbing supporters believe Vladimir Putin actually hacked into the voting machines and threw the election for his buddy Donald Trump.

Here’s hoping the incoming administration will discard the corrupt mainstream media like a Hillary Clinton disk drive and take its messages straight to the people by whatever alternative means are available.  Because chances are, if it came from the mainstream media, it’s fake!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

You’re a fake, baby
You can’t conceal it
Know how I know?
‘Cause I can feel it!
You’re a fake, baby
No rhyme or reason
‘Cause in your mind it’s lyin’ season.

FAKE – Alexander O’Neal

Now here’s a funky one!  O’Neal on Soul Train, mid 80s.