We Heard An Inspiring “Make America Great” Speech – by JFK

photo JFK library

Over dinner, my wife and I watched the news about President Trump’s latest “Make America Great Again” rally, delivered to a stadium full of supportive Americans.  It was filled with populist promises and ideas  and peppered with a healthy dose of partisan vitriol.

We wondered who was the last president to barnstorm the country talking directly to the folks.  Simultaneously we both remembered attending John F. Kennedy’s historic speech in Great Falls, Montana in 1963, only two months before he was assassinated.

We were both in fifth grade, living in different towns, and wouldn’t meet until several years later.  But like everyone else in the area we both found our way to the high school football stadium to hear our president talk.  It’s not every day that you get a chance to see a president when you live in Montana.  Our teachers had prepared us for the moment, and we were old enough to understand every word of JFK’s speech.  We both remember being impressed not only by the celebrity of it all, but also the uplifting message.

Over the years we had forgotten exactly what Kennedy talked about, so I looked for his speech on the web, finding it at the American Presidency Project website.

Reading the speech aloud, we felt again some of the same inspiration at Kennedy’s words that we did 53  years ago.  In some ways we were even more inspired, knowing the depths of political depravity to which our nation has sunk in recent years.  Kennedy’s cold war rhetoric now seems naive and archaic, but national security was as vexing to Americans then as the spread of radical Islamic terrorism is today.

Back then the throngs of Montanans who clamored to hear Kennedy didn’t care about his party affiliation.  He was our president.  He belonged to all of us, and spoke to all of us – directly and respectfully.  Rather than dividing us into groups pitted against each other, JFK encouraged Americans to recognize and enjoy the benefits of living in the greatest nation in the world.

He spoke of growing our economy through use and development of our vast natural resources.  Back then Montana was an economic powerhouse with mining, forestry, agriculture and hydroelectric power promising a bright future for generations to come.  And Kennedy advocated for better education and technology.

Kennedy was firm in his resolve to maintain America’s status as the active leader of the free world; a beacon for democracy, peace and economic progress.  He asked for our understanding, our effort, and our trust.  He expected us, as a nation and as individuals, to be responsible.  JFK made mistakes, and had character flaws, but his concern for all of his countrymen, and his understanding of our shared values were never questioned.

Kennedy’s assassination was shocking to a nation of people who had coalesced in support of his agenda.  While the true motivation behind his murder may never be revealed to the public, it is accepted that it was a political act.

In today’s political reality, nearly half of our citizens subscribe to a regimen of hostility, obstruction and resistance to President Trump’s every thought and word.  His personal threat level is off the charts compared to Kennedy’s.

Please read the text (below) of President John Kennedy’s speech and see why it was easy for Americans to be united and be proud of our country in 1963.


 

Remarks at Great Falls High School Memorial Stadium – September 23, 1963

Senator Mansfield, Governor, Secretary Udall, Senator Metcalf, Madam Mayor, Congressman Olsen, ladies and gentlemen:

This journey, which started almost by accident, has been one of the most impressive experiences of my life. We live in the city of Washington, in a rather artificial atmosphere. Washington was deliberately developed as a Government city in order to remove those who were making the laws from all the pressures of everyday life, and so we live far away.

We talk about the United States, about its problems, its powers, its people, its opportunity, its dangers, its hazards, but we are still talking about life in a somewhat removed way. But to fly, as we have flown, in the short space of 48 hours, from Milford, Pennsylvania, to Ashland, Wisconsin, to Duluth, Minnesota, to North Dakota, to Wyoming, to Montana, back to Wyoming, back to Montana, and then to go to the State of Washington and the State of Utah this evening, shows anyone who makes that journey even in a short period of time what a strong, powerful, and resourceful country this is.

Montana is a long way from Washington, and it is a long way from the Soviet Union, and it is 10,000 miles from Laos. But this particular State, because it has, among other reasons, concentrated within its borders some of the most powerful nuclear missile systems in the world, must be conscious of every danger and must be conscious of how close Montana lives to the firing line which divides the Communist world. We are many thousands of miles from the Soviet Union, but this State, in a very real sense, is only 30 minutes away.

The object of our policy, therefore, must be to protect the United States, to make sure that those over 100 Minuteman missiles which ring this city and this State remain where they are, and that is the object of the foreign policy of the United States under this administration, under the previous administration, and under that of President Truman. One central theme has run through the foreign policy of the United States, and that is, in a dangerous and changing world it is essential that the 180 million people of the United States throw their weight into the balance in every struggle, in every country on the side of freedom. And so in the last years we have been intimately involved with affairs of countries of which we never heard 20 years ago, but which now affect the balance of power in the world and, therefore, the security of the United States and, therefore, the chances of war and peace.

I know that there are many of you who sit here and wonder what it is that causes the United States to go so far away, that causes you to wonder why so many of your sons should be stationed so far away from our own territory, who wonder why it is since 1945 that the United States has assisted so many countries. You must wonder when it is all going to end and when we can come back home. Well, it isn’t going to end, and this generation of Americans has to make up its mind for our security and for our peace, because what happens in Europe or Latin America or Africa or Asia directly affects the security of the people who live in this city, and particularly those who are coming after.

I make no apologies for the effort that we make to assist these other countries to maintain their freedom, because I know full well that every time a country, regardless of how far away it may be from our own borders-every time that country passes behind the Iron Curtain the security of the United States is thereby endangered. So all those who suggest we withdraw, all those who suggest we should no longer ship our surplus food abroad or assist other countries, I could not disagree with them more. This country is stronger now than it has ever been. Our chances for peace are stronger than they have been in years. The nuclear test ban which was strongly led in the Senate of the United States by Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf is, I believe, a step toward peace and a step toward security, and gives us an additional chance that all of the weapons of Montana will never be fired. That is the object of our policy.

So we need your support. These are complicated problems which face a citizenry. Most of us grew up in a relative period of isolation, and neutrality, and unalignment which was our policy from the time of George Washington to the Second World War, and suddenly, in an act almost unknown in the history of the world, we were shoved onto the center of the stage. We are the keystone in the arch of freedom. If the United States were to falter, the whole world, in my opinion, would inevitably begin to move toward the Communist bloc.

It is the United States, this country, your country, which in 15 to 18 years has almost singlehandedly protected the freedom of dozens of countries who, in turn, by being free, protect our freedom. So when you ask why are we in Laos, or Viet-Nam, or the Congo, or why do we support the Alliance for Progress in Latin America, we do so because we believe that our freedom is tied up with theirs, and if we can develop a world in which all the countries are free, then the threat to the security of the United States is lessened. So we have to stay at it. We must not be fatigued.

I do not believe that the test ban treaty means that the competition between the Communist system and ourselves will end. What we hope is that it will not be carried into the sphere of nuclear war. But the competition will go on. Which society is the most productive? Which society educates its children better? Which society maintains a higher rate of economic growth? Which society produces more cultural and intellectual stimulus? Which society, in other words, is the happier?

We believe that ours is, but we should not fool ourselves if the chance of war disappears to some degree.

Other struggles come to the center of the stage. The solution of every problem brings with it other problems. And, therefore, this society of ours is, in a very real sense, in a race, and, therefore, I want to see all of our children as well educated as possible. I want to see us protect our natural resources. I want to see us make our cities better places in which to live. I want this country, as I know you do, to be an ornament to the cause of freedom all around the globe, because as we go, so goes the cause of freedom. This is the obligation, therefore, of this generation of Americans. And I think that in the last 18 years, reviewing what we have done, we have every reason to feel a sense of satisfaction, and I look forward to the next decade when the struggle may be in all these other areas. I look forward to that struggle with confidence and hope. But we must recognize the national obligation upon us all. There are 8 to 9 million children in the United States of America in high school or in elementary school who live in families which have $3,000 a year or less. What chance do they have to finish high school? How many of them will go to college? What kind of an income will they have when they go to work? Will their children then grow up in a family which is, itself, deprived and so pass on from generation to generation a lag, a fifth of the country which lives near the bottom while the rest of the country booms and prospers?

It is the obligation of government, speaking on the will of the people, that we concern ourselves with this phase of our resource development, our children, 9 million children who are growing up without the opportunity available to yours. And then they drop out of school, and then they lose their chance. So we have a lot to do in this country. We have a lot to do. And I am out here to try to get your support in doing it.

One of the things that I think we have to do is worry about this country of ours. I flew over some of the most beautiful parts of the United States this morning from Jackson Hole. I am sure that half of our country, particularly those who live east of the Mississippi River, have no idea what we have in this part of the United States. They are beginning to realize it, and more and more. But all in the east of the Mississippi live too much in crowded areas. They live along the seashore, which is open to only a few. They live in cities which are becoming more sprawling and more concentrated. And we have here in the Western United States a section of the world richer by far almost than any other. I want them to come out here. And I want the United States to take those measures in this decade which will make the Northwest United States a garden to attract people from all over this country and all over the world.

We go to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone and we are impressed, as all of us are. But what we should remember is that that was due to the work of others, not to us, but to those who made the great fight in the last 50 years. Now in the 1960’s we have to decide what we are going to do, and I believe that there is a good deal that we can do. We have started on a project, a concentrated project of resource development. More watershed projects have been completed in recent years than ever before in our history. Negotiations are underway which should lead, and must lead, to the final ratification of the Columbia River treaty with Canada. It has moved into its last stages, and it is my hope that work will soon be commenced on the Libby Dam project in northwest Montana, which will make this a richer State in which to live. And what you have done here in this section of the United States, I want us to do along our coastline. Only 2 percent of our extraordinary coastline, the Atlantic, the Gulfstream, and the Pacific, only 2 percent is devoted to public use. We have the same fight along our coastlines that we had here in this section of the Northwest 30 and 40 years ago for forests and parks and all the rest–2 percent.

The fact of the matter is, we passed in one year in 1961 three parks along our seashores which is more than had been done in 1 year in any Congress in history. We have let our seashores go to waste.

So I urge this generation of Americans, who are the fathers and mothers of 350 million Americans who will live in this country in the year 2000, and I want those Americans who live here in 2000 to feel that those of us who had positions of responsibility in the sixties did our part, and those of us who inherited it from Franklin Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt will have something to pass on to those who come, and our children, many years from now.

So I hope that we will harness our rivers. I hope we will reclaim our land. I hope we will irrigate it. I hope we can provide, through cooperative effort of the farmers and the Government, the kind of program which will give them a hope for security. I hope, in other words, that we will take this rich country of ours, given to us by God and by nature, and improve it through science and find new uses for our natural resources, to make it possible for us to sustain in this country a steadily increasing standard of living, the highest in the world, and, based on that powerful fortress, to move out around the world in the defense of freedom, as we have done for 18 years and as we must do in the years to come.

This is the responsibility which this generation of Americans has been given. I do not share with those who feel that this responsibility should be passed on to others. The fact of the matter is that there are no others who can combine our geographic position, our natural wealth, and the determination of our people. And, therefore, until such a people someday arrives, I think the United States should stand guard at the gate. The fact is, we have done it for 18 years. The fact is, the chances for peace may be better now than before. The fact is that our wealth has increased. The fact is, there are over 100 countries which are now independent, many of them who owe their independence to the United States.

This is the record which this country has written since 1945, and it is upon this great record that I believe we now must build. This sun and this sky which shines over Montana can be, I believe, the kind of inspiration to us all to recognize what a great single country we have, 50 separate States, but one people, living here in the United States, building this country and maintaining the watch around the globe.

This is the opportunity before us as well as the responsibility.
Thank you.


Tom Balek – Rockin’ on the Right Side

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.

 

Will Companies Like Dell Help Make America Great Again?

dell_headquarters_wide

 

If there is one slogan that really resonated with Americans in the election, it was this:

“Let’s make America great again.”

Donald Trump was elected because voters don’t feel the pride and confidence in our nation that we once did.  Our economy is stagnant at best, our middle class is dwindling, and real wages haven’t improved in decades.  Our political leaders in recent years seem to care more about the well-being of people in other nations than our own. We know we can do better, because we’ve done it before.  But we can’t expect the President to wave a magic wand and restore our greatness on his own.

A couple of months ago my computer assumed room temperature – dead as a doornail, without so much as a blink or a beep.  I am highly dependent on my computer, so I immediately got on Dell’s website, found the system I wanted on sale, and clicked on “add to cart”.  The order errored out, igniting an ordeal that consumed the rest of the day on Dell chat screens and phones with a series of Indian customer service people who kept saying “It” won’t let them do this or that.

Finally, an Indian supervisor got my order placed and confirmed by email, to be shipped in seven to ten days.

I will spare you the sordid intermediate details, but after six weeks I got a phone call from another Indian Dell representative who spoke with such a heavy accent that I could barely understand him.  He told me “It” says my order had been cancelled and I will have to reorder.  “It” can’t tell him what happened.  “It” doesn’t know when or whether a new order would be filled.  No apology.  No alternative.  Just start over and hope for better results than last time.

I gave up and ordered a Lenovo with the same specifications.  My computer arrived in two days in perfect order and cost about a hundred bucks less.

Because I had tried to buy a Dell computer, I have been receiving a dozen targeted Dell ads every day.  Today I commented on a Facebook ad that readers should avoid buying a Dell computer for Christmas, citing the horrible experience I had been through.  My post received an immediate response from an Indian Dell employee who wrote in broken English that Dell is so sorry, but they just can’t keep up with the crushing demand for their wonderful products.  A flurry of back and forth posts followed.  Dell didn’t give a rip about me when I was trying to get my order, but they sure were concerned about me when I posted my bad experience on social media.

There was a time when Dell was a proud, strong American innovator, manufacturer, employer, and retailer.  Now it is an international company, manufacturing and selling its products all over the world.  But most of its computers are still bought by American companies and consumers.

I’m not so naïve as to think that we can or should suppress global trade.  I just hate to see what has happened to our American companies.  American consumers are too often reduced to dealing with poorly-trained and inarticulate foreign employees who either work in offshore call-centers or were imported to the USA with H1B visas, whose authority is restricted to what “It” displays on their screens.  Meanwhile our own American-born skilled customer service people work two part-time convenience store jobs for $8 an hour.  Dell may be bigger than it was, but it is not better.  It’s not a better corporate citizen, and it’s not a better sales organization.  Dell was once a smart and proud group of high-achieving Americans.  Now Dell is an “It”.

Not all American companies have sunk to this level of cold, multi-national mediocrity.  In addition to Lenovo, I have received over-the-top customer service recently from the Carolina Panthers, Chamberlain Garage Door group, State Farm Insurance, and many others.  But it seems for every Chick-Fil-A there is a Wells Fargo.

Our president-elect promises to protect domestic jobs by welcoming American companies back to our shores with lower corporate tax rates and free repatriation of profits from foreign operations.  And he wants to take a fresh look at trade policies that have pushed investment and employment out of our country.

If we are going to “Make America Great Again” we can’t expect our president to do it alone.  We citizens will have to step up our games. And our American companies need to get on board.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

So take these words and sing out loud
‘Cause everyone is forgiven now
‘Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again

Better Days – Goo Goo Dolls

 

Hey America, Here Comes the Sun!

buh-byeBUH-BYE Sanctuary Cities.
BUH-BYE Political Correctness.
BUH-BYE Corrupt DOJ and Loretta Lynch.
BUH-BYE ObamaCare.
BUH-BYE Gay takeover of the military.
BUH-BYE Radical Muslim immigrants.
BUH-BYE Planned Parenthood money from taxpayers.
BUH-BYE Iran nuclear program.
BUH-BYE Jay Z and Miley Cyrus.
BUH-BYE Trans-Pacific Partnership and NAFTA.
BUH-BYE Black Lives Matter.
BUH-BYE Global Warming Scams.
BUH-BYE Export-Import Bank.
BUH-BYE Bushes.
BUH-BYE Clintons.
BUH-BYE Obamas.
BUH-BYE Huma, Podesta, Brazile, Warren, Jarrett, Wasserman-Schultz.
BUH-BYE Steve Deace, Erick Erickson, Glenn Beck, Michael Medved.
BUH-BYE Fake endangered species scams.
BUH-BYE College Safe Rooms.
BUH-BYE Wall Street Cronies.
BUH-BYE Koskinen and IRS Abuse.
BUH-BYE Late-term abortions.
BUH-BYE Lying mainstream media.
BUH-BYE Ridiculous government spending and debt.
BUH-BYE Identity politics and race-baiting.
BUH-BYE United Nations stomping on our sovereignty.
BUH-BYE Welfare and food stamp abuse.
BUH-BYE Pampered athletes and entertainers who abuse our flag.
BUH-BYE Liberal judges.

HELLO Merry Christmas.
HELLO Regular Budget Process.
HELLO New small businesses.
HELLO Energy independence and industry.
HELLO GDP growth.
HELLO Border security.
HELLO Safe and appreciated Police.
HELLO Real business men and women who will straighten out the mess in DC.
HELLO Separate boys and girls bathrooms and locker rooms.
HELLO Jobs.
HELLO Inner cities that won’t look like a permanent war zone.
HELLO Constitution.
HELLO Soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen and women who can wear the uniform proudly again.
HELLO Educators who have been hiding in fear of politically-correct peers.
HELLO Respect from other nations and their leaders.

THANK YOU Original Tea Party founders and members who started the fire.
THANK YOU Union guys who finally said enough is enough.
THANK YOU Black and Hispanic voters who had the courage to break out.
THANK YOU Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
THANK YOU James O’Keefe.
THANK YOU Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Mike Pence, Gen. Flynn, Newt Gingrich, Dr. Ben Carson.
THANK YOU Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher, Laura Ingraham, Larry Elder, Lou Dobbs.
THANK YOU Heritage Action, AFP, Tea Party Patriots, Freedom Works, and conservative groups.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

LiRockin' On the Right Sidettle darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right!
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right!

Here Comes the Sun – George Harrison (with Paul Simon)

 

 

Bull Riders Call Charlotte Arena’s Political Correctness ‘BS’

bull-riderThe bull riders were ready to pack up their saddles and head off toward the sunset.  Even the world’s toughest athletes can only take so much bull***t.

For some reason Charlotte, NC is seeking the title of “Most Politically Correct City in the USA,”  and just can’t seem to stop poking itself in the eye.  This summer Charlotte found its first brush with worldwide fame – not for any positive accomplishment, but for passing a city law that allows men to use women’s rest rooms, locker rooms, or any other private facilities.  And vice versa, although I don’t understand why women would prefer the nastiness of some of the men’s rooms I have encountered.  Anyway, the city law was so stupid that the governor had to step in and overrule it with a state law before things got really crazy, like men choosing to compete in women’s sports, and lechers hanging out in the girls’ locker room at the YMCA.  As a result, the city and state are being blacklisted by politically correct entertainers, athletic event organizers, etc.  But I digress.

Last weekend the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) came to town for the Charlotte Invitational.  If you have ever watched a PBR event, you know that these are the roughest, toughest hombres in the world of sports.  Their idea of Friday night fun is climbing on top of a 2,000 pound animal named Perfect Poison that was specifically bred to be mean as a rattlesnake and tough as a . . . well, a bull – and try to stay on for 8 seconds.  And then not get stomped to death.

These are not the kind of guys who are politically correct.  In fact it would be fair to say they are pretty strong-willed, especially when it comes to love of God and country.

border-patrol-at-charlotte-pbrSo when the manager of the Spectrum Center told PBR head honcho Sean Gleason that he could not have the U.S. Customs and Border Agents present the flag before his event because they carry guns, Gleason threatened to shut down the show.

Gleason wrote on his Facebook page:

“As Federal Agents working in an official capacity, they are not allowed to ‘surrender’ their firearms to anyone, especially a security guard working at an arena in Charlotte, NC!! That included the color guard who were presenting the American flag to our fans for the anthem.  What should have been a two-minute conversation with the GM of the building turned into a 1½ hour runaround involving lawyers and the most insane arguments and reasoning I have ever heard.”

One minute before the event was to begin, the arena manager relented, allowing the Border Agents to enter the arena, albeit with a police escort.

At least half (I think a lot more) of Americans see this kind of lunacy (allowing men in womens’ rest rooms, and not allowing professional law enforcement officers to enter a building with their weapons) and wonder if the other half is drunk, crazy, evil, or all the above.  Thank God there are still some no-nonsense guys like the PBR cowboys who are willing to take a stand against this politically-correct BS.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Well the one hand hold is all you got
It’s you and the bull against the clock and a cross crowd
And once upon a spinnin’ ton
Nothin’ else you’ve ever done can pull this way

Bull Rider – Johnny Cash

 

Let’s Take Another Look at Military Draft of Young Women

female American soldier

photo by S. Olson, courtesy LA Times

I became draft-eligible in 1973.  It was during the last, ugly days of the Vietnam War.  The war was winding down, the fighting was still intense, combat casualties were high, and Americans, including many guys my age who were serving “in country”, wondered what the hell we were doing there.  We clearly weren’t fighting to win.

At that time the military draft operated on a lottery of birthdates.  As the draft date approached, I resigned myself to the possibility that I might soon be headed for ‘Nam.  But then Selective Service ended actual conscription just before my age group became eligible.

It was a big relief.  I was a patriotic young guy, but nobody wanted to be drafted during the waning years of the Vietnam War.  According to street legend, the “FNGs” (f’***ing new guys)  were immediately sent to the front line and were the most likely soldiers to come home in a bag.  Nobody wanted to be the last one to die in the jungle.

So as it turned out I never served in the military.  But I have always had a fascination with all things military.  I can’t resist combat air museums, decommissioned ships, and war documentaries on the History Channel.  Friends my age take on a wistful look and a wry smile reminiscing about their military days.  I have a hole in my soul where military service might have been.

This week our Senate passed the 2016 NDAA (National Defense Appropriations Act), a bill which funds military operations.  It included a rider that would make women eligible for Selective Service. The House had earlier passed their version of the appropriations bill which did not include a provision for drafting women.  Now the two legislative bodies will meet in conference to hash out the differences in their bills.

I sincerely hope the House wisdom will prevail, and we will not submit our young women to Selective Service.

I know that our young women are as patriotic and generally, if not physically, as capable as our young men.  But I also know that the draft will only be reinstated if there is a real calamity – a serious conflict that involves deadly, boots-on-the-ground, man-to-man combat.

Yes, I said it.  “Man-to-man” combat.  In a winner-take-all battle, our enemies will not be sending 18-year old women to the front lines.  Our soldiers in combat will face the enemy’s most hostile, physical, violent young men:  jacked-up warriors who don’t give a rip about gender equality.

Female former marine Jude Eden said, “Combat is not an equal opportunity for women because they don’t have an equal opportunity to survive.”  And study after study has proved that combat units which include women consistently underperform.  By drafting women, we risk sending them to the front lines.  And by sending them to the front lines, we risk endangering not only our brave but overmatched women; we are handicapping our brave men.

Our patriotic American women will always play a vital role in our military, and they are free and welcome to join the service branch of their choice voluntarily.  But our congressmen should know that setting young women up to be the next conscripted “FNGs” headed for the front line in desperate times is something we just can’t live with.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideI had a brother at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there, he’s all gone

Born In the USA – Bruce Springsteen

 

 

 

 

Pro Athletes, Show Some Respect!

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

I’m a big sports fan.  And a big patriot.

I know not everybody thinks it is necessary, or even appropriate, to ask thousands of fans to stand and honor the flag and our nation before a sporting event.  I have mixed emotions about it myself.   A while back I asked why US sports venues so frequently play the Canadian national anthem before an event in our country, yet you will never hear the Star Spangled Banner before a CFL (Canadian Football League) game even though many of the players (all of the best ones) are from the United States.

This week the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA championship series.  Before each game – like every professional sports event in the United States –  there was the singing of our national anthem.  I really enjoyed this year’s NBA Finals anthem presentations.  Carlos Santana played a beautiful rendition on his PRS guitar, albeit patiently condoning his wife’s pathetic attempt to accompany him on drums. The two Metallica guitarists shredded a heavy-metal version of the SSB and it was surprisingly authentic, rich, patriotic and satisfying. Marlana VanHoose, a blind and palsied 19-year old singer captivated the audience with her powerful rendition of the national anthem.

Still, I am disappointed every time I attend or watch an NBA game when most of the players look down at their shoes, showing either indifference, disrespect, or perhaps contempt for the flag, our anthem, and the nation that made each of them fabulously wealthy.  Who knows what the motivation is – they may be making a political statement, or they may just be getting focused on the game ahead.  Regardless, would it be so hard to at least look up at the flag?

The photo above is a typical NBA pre-game presentation.  My review of a different photograph taken before game 5 showed two of the twelve Golden State Warriors, David Lee and Draymond Green, standing at attention during the national anthem.  A third, James Michael McAdoo, who was brought up from the D-league and did not even get on the floor during the finals, actually placed his hand over his heart.  The other nine players stared at the floor and shuffled.

Here are the guaranteed contracts of these nine players:

  • Klay Thompson – $72 million
  • Andrew Bogut – $36 million
  • Andre Igoudala – $35 million
  • Stephen Curry – $34 million
  • Shaun Livingston – $14 million
  • Harrison Barnes – $7 million
  • Mareese Speights – $4 million
  • Festus Ezeli – $3 million
  • Leandro Barbosa – $1.5 million

Yes, I have mixed emotions about the coerced patriotism at every major league sporting event.  I question whether it is sincere patriotism or pandering.  Especially after learning that NFL teams, despite the outrageous money players and owners make, actually charged taxpayers millions of dollars for the “privilege” of having our service branches perform flag ceremonies before games.

The decision whether to present a patriotic moment before a game is, to my thinking, up to the home team and the league.  If they wish to do so, based on honest intentions, I’m good with that.  If not, I have no complaint.

The NBA has chosen to have a patriotic ceremony before each game.  And it seems to me that the nine employees listed above, and the hundreds or thousands of other professional athletes who earn millions of dollars playing a game they love in front of people who pay their salaries and pay for their arenas with tax dollars, could at least show a little respect to the country to whom they owe their success.

James Michael McAdoo, you didn’t even get to touch the game ball in the finals.  But I salute you, above and beyond all the other NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.  By showing respect to our country, you are more than just a Warrior – you are a Patriot.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me!
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB!

Respect – Aretha Franklin

A young and slender Aretha belts it out!

And here is my very own cover!

They’re Coming to America

photo courtesy 21stCenturySchools.com

photo courtesy 21stCenturySchools.com

Standing in the checkout line at Costco, I watched and listened to the family in front of me chattering in a language that I couldn’t identify.  Was it Flemish?  Behind me a mother and her daughter spoke what I think was Hindi.  Another group of Indians near us was speaking English in their distinctive clipped dialect, and then a passel of giggling little Chinese kids ran by, with Mom and Dad sternly attempting discipline in their home language.  Then the pretty young Caribbean woman began checking out our groceries as two young Hispanic men worked the merchandise and carts and shared a joke in Spanish.

And it hit me like a brick.  The United States I had known all my life is no more.

I know, it sounds cliched, but I (conservative, Tea Party, mature white male) am not a racist.  I have no ill will or condescension toward any kind of people.  I have said I am an “economic bigot” – I expect capable people to work, and don’t particularly care for those who won’t, regardless of ethnicity.  But I enjoy the uniqueness of people from different places and cultures, especially the flavors of family interactions that are so universal – devoted parents raising their fun-loving kids.

No, I’m not a racist, but I couldn’t help but notice that American-born, English-speaking whites and blacks were outnumbered on that Saturday afternoon in that Costco store in a relatively affluent Charlotte neighborhood.

I was flooded with questions and emotions.  Do these foreigners also speak English?  Where do they work?  They seem to have plenty of money – were they wealthy in their native countries?  Are there here legally?  How did they get drivers licenses?  Do they vote?  Are their kids in the neighborhood schools, and how the heck do the schools deal with so many languages and customs?

Of course, no broad-brush answers apply.  Some speak English, some don’t.  Some have jobs, others are on government benefits.  Some are legal.  Some have drivers licenses.  Some vote.  One thing is for sure, suddenly there are a lot of them, as both legal and illegal immigration rates are exploding, compared to our earlier history.  Many states are importing more people than are being born to natives.

The United States will never again look and sound like it did during our lifetimes.  It is a done deal.

But we, as a nation, are still at a tipping point:  Will the values, social structure, and laws that made this country the most prosperous and powerful in the world survive?  Will our new immigrants become Americans who share the love of Mom, baseball, apple pie and Chevrolets, like earlier generations of immigrants?  Or will our great nation be split into hundreds of tribes, each clinging to their native habits, and suspicious of all the others?

It is a time in our history when leadership is critical.   Now, more than ever, we need leaders who care about the well-being of the nation, not just their own or their party’s political success.  We need honest men and women with an understanding of the importance of time-tested rules and practices.  America was built on laws that we could all agree upon, and that were proven to work.  And America was once a “melting pot”, where newcomers assimilated into our culture while preserving their own heritages.  Now is not the time to get fuzzy about our American laws, Constitution, or values.  Our immigrants need order and stability, too – in fact that’s what many seek by moving here.

My wife often complained that our home state of Montana changed radically as more and more people moved there from the west coast.  “They move to Montana because it’s better than California, and then they try to change it into California!”

In addition to accelerating legal immigration rates, our government has decided to erase our southern border and pretty much accept all comers.  They claim their motivations are humanitarian; some of us believe they are political.  But even if the border could be sealed like a Tupperware bowl tomorrow, the United States will never be the same as it was.  So now what?

Many of the newcomers don’t really know what made America great.  They and their families weren’t here.  It’s up to us remaining native Americans (by that I mean those of us born here) to stand up for American traditions. values, and laws.  We must make sure that our history is accurately and broadly taught, and expect our leaders to proudly defend our national identity and solidarity.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

On the boats and on the planes
They’re coming to America
Never looking back again
They’re coming to America

Neil Diamond – Coming to America

 

 

 

The Wizard of IM – Immigration, That Is


wizard-of-OzTin Man:  “If I only had a heart – I would see poor immigrant families risking their lives to follow the yellow brick road to prosperity in the United States.  They borrow money from their families in Mexico and Central America to pay a “coyote” or some other shyster to get them over the border, and  If they survive the trip, many end up working for slave wages and living in the shadows.  Some fathers leave their wives and children behind, sending their pay back home to feed the family and pay off debt.  Those who bring their families with them dodge immigration officials and hostile neighbors who don’t want them in their neighborhoods and schools.”

Scarecrow:  “If I only had a brain, I would know that the US economy can’t afford the loss of millions more jobs.  The huge influx of low-skilled immigrants only pushes down wage rates, and the cost of social services for them is unsustainable.   And our open border allows more than just immigrants to enter the country – do we need more drugs, crime, and terrorism?”

Cowardly Lion:  “If I only had the nerve, I would stop worrying about getting elected.  I should be doing the right thing for the future of our citizens, their kids, and even our neighbors who want to live the American dream.  I would come up with a plan that protects the security and prosperity of legal Americans, creates a sensible way for productive foreigners to share and contribute, and allows families to improve their lives through effort and ingenuity.”

Dorothy:  “I think I’m still in Kansas.  Why is everybody speaking Spanish?”

Wizard:  “Don’t look behind the curtain!  Nothing to see here!   I uh, I’m the Wizard, and everything will be, umm, all right . . . oh blast it, I don’t know what I’m doing!”


Well, there’s the script.  You can choose your own favorite actors to play the parts (I have a favorite for the Wicked Witch, too).

Unfortunately, there is no resolution to the plot.   Everybody is looking at the symptoms instead of the cause of the problem.

It’s understandable that people want to move here – we have a rich history of opportunity and economic success due to our free market economy, honest government and commonly-held values.  Even though these staples of our American heritage are at risk, enough of our founding fathers’ wisdom still remains to make the United States a leading attraction to the world’s strivers.

There is only one way this story can have a happy ending.  We have to deal with the reason why Latin Americans want to leave their homes and move to the United States:  their own governments are corrupt and dysfunctional.

What prevents our political leaders from devising a plan to help our North American neighbors improve their own nations?  Cost can’t be the problem – we are apparently willing to risk all of our wealth – and that of our children and grandchildren – to allow them to move and stay here.  It’s not that the people of other nations don’t want to be like us.  If that were true, they wouldn’t be risking all to be here.  And it can’t be that we don’t want to exert undue influence on how neighboring countries manage their affairs.  We don’t seem to have a problem meddling in other parts of the world.

If we are going to spend a bazillion dollars accommodating people who leave their own countries to come here, why not try spending a half a bazillion to make their home countries livable?   We might even find out that our neighbors can help US with some things if we treat them like friends instead of poor cousins.  Obviously, some regime changes would be in order in some of these countries.  Maybe even in ours.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man
That he didn’t, didn’t already have

Tin Man – America

Here’s a great clip from an amazing but somewhat overlooked duo – America.  Enjoy.

Boehner Splits The Sheets

AP Photo - J Scott ApplewhiteLast week the big-government agenda of the liberal Democrats was on the ropes.  The American public had finally come to realize that they had been lied to, used, abused and kicked to the curb by the arrogant ruling class.  The ObamaCare power grab was exposed as an impossible and unworkable idea, poorly planned and executed, one which can only result in an epic fiscal disaster and do serious harm to American citizens.  Conservatives who warned for years of the perils of big government were finally vindicated in the public eye.  After all the hard work, the snarky ridicule at the hands of brainless media mouthpieces, and the worry that the American public might never hear or understand the truth, we conservatives were able to catch our collective breath.  For a brief moment.

Now, just one week later, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the liberal news media, and our fearless leader himself are dancing a jig, clinking their champagne glasses, and singing with glee “the wicked witch (Tea Party) is dead”.

What happened?

In a cynical leftward lurch, Congressman Paul Ryan, at the direction of House Speaker John Boehner and Republican leadership, caved in to a Democrat budget plan that increases spending and debt and pushes any potential reductions in spending increases (no spending cuts) into the far distant future.

Boehner showed his true colors – he and his circle of entrenched insiders are more concerned about re-election than they are about the well-being of the nation and its citizens.  By relinquishing ground already won – the budget sequestration of 2011 – they not only gave aid and comfort to the enemy, they waved the white flag to the big-spenders.  They endorsed the Democrat fairy tale that our $17 trillion and growing debt is not a threat to our economy or the future of our kids (we can always print and borrow more money!).  They crossed over to the dark side to join those who believe big government trumps private enterprise and personal freedom.  Boehner has already set his liberal friends up for gun control and amnesty, coming soon to a theater near you.

They showed that they would rather maintain their personally-lucrative positions of minor influence than stand on principle against the destruction of our economy.

Boehner said of us conservatives, “they’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals.” 

The response by the Tea Party Patriots was powerful and succinct:  The last time we checked, we are the American people. The Tea Party Patriots all across this country are the last hope for reining in this out-of-control government and protecting our Constitution.”

OUR members?  THEIR goals?  The single-minded goal of the Tea Party is to make our nation stronger, safer, and more prosperous for the benefit of all.

Mr. Boehner, if any of YOUR members are opposed to OUR goal, you can all go to hell.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Mr. Boehner may have finally sealed the fate of the Republican party once and for all.  While conservatives have almost universally supported Republicans with votes, campaign work, and financial resources, it appears that the GOP prefers to go on without us.

At your peril, Mr. Speaker.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side Feeling better now that we’re through
Feeling better ’cause I’m over you
I learned my lesson, it left a scar
Now I see how you really are!
You’re no good, you’re no good
You’re no good, baby you’re no good.

You’re No Good – Linda Ronstadt