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.”

Spies Like Us

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see this coming.

Our system of government has devolved to the point where an incumbent president and his administration actually used our own spies to try to steal an election.

The reason I didn’t see it coming is I never would have believed that so many federal officials would be so brazen and unprincipled that they would perform glaring crimes for their bosses. Until the last few years, I thought only Bolivia and Zimbabwe have these kinds of problems, not the United States. Surely, I believed, if anybody tried something this dastardly, there would be a long line of patriots ready step up and blow the whistle.

Today Maria Bartiromo interviewed George Papadopolous on Sunday Morning Futures and he revealed in precise and personal detail the depths to which our Dept. of Justice and intelligence agencies would plunge to destroy a political opponent, both before and after the election.

If you are reading this, you are already part of the well-informed 10% of Americans who have known for a long time that the Obama/Clinton machine set up an elaborate hoax using the FBI, DOJ, FISA court, State Dept., and even foreign intelligence services to create a fictional “collusion” narrative connecting Donald Trump to a Russian scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election. And you know that Obama’s corrupt insiders who remain in deep state power in these same agencies also refused to investigate former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s real collusion with Russia, her flagrant obstruction of justice, and her corrupt financial dealings.

Papadopolous was a stooge who was set up and taken advantage of by experts in espionage and disinformation. He told Bartiromo how he was seduced into a “job” with the London Center of International Law that was actually a setup by the FBI to put him in contact with Joseph Mifsud (a spy for the Russia, the USA, or both) and feed him disinformation to start the wheels turning on an investigation of the Trump campaign. Like every James Bond movie, the spies even tried to set Papadopolous up with a “honey pot”.

Thanks to some intrepid investigative reporting by Judicial Watch, Fox News, and a few other news gatherers outside of the mainstream media, we have been receiving chunks of this sordid story for years now. But Papadopolous just may be the smoking gun, a person who was at ground zero of the attempted coup (or pre-coup) and is talking – and writing – about it.

The fact that foreign governments were involved in the espionage and setup indicates involvement at the highest levels of our administration – Obama, Clinton, Lynch, Comey, Brennan.

The fate of our system of government is now in the hands of attorney general William Barr, who promises to get to the bottom of the abuses by the previous administration and its deep state hangers-on.

It’s a good thing that spies – despite their “intelligence” label – are usually not too smart. We may finally be seeing the beginning of the end of this political nightmare.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Hey hey what do you say
Someone took your plans away
So what’s all the fuss
There ain’t nobody that spies like us

Spies Like Us – Paul McCartney

The Democrats Wouldn’t Treat A Baby Like A Dog

Dogs have always held a special place in American life. But doesn’t it seem like our attachment to our pets has gone a little over the top lately?


Neighborhood social media overflows with passionate concern over “fur babies” who are ill, or lost, or found, or neglected, or dead. Some of the most watched videos on the web show dogs and cats doing crazy, cute things. Yep, I watch them too. My favorite is Crusoe, the Celebrity Dachshund. His fame and popularity have grown to the point where his owners manage Crusoe’s career full-time (over a billion video views and 3 million followers, books and merchandise).

Our pets command not only our attention, but our pocketbooks too. Spending on our pets is expected to reach $100 billion dollars per year in 2020. Retailers and veterinarians are cashing in on our “puppy love.”

Veterinarians are now able to provide remarkable medical care for four-legged patients, knowing that no cost is too high to save a precious pet for many owners. Even without a major medical incident, most dog owners spend hundreds of dollars a year in vet bills just for basic care like heartworm prevention, rabies shots, and flea and tick protection. Add to that teeth cleaning, spaying/neutering, and the occasional injury, and many dog owners are spending a grand every year per dog.

Full disclosure: I have two dachshunds and they are an important part of our family. My family band played a concert at a dog festival last week and I even wrote a song about one of my dogs just for the event.

Born Alive Act


If only all Americans cared as much about human babies as we do about our dogs.

Last week we also traveled to Washington, DC to support the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act.” You see, hundreds of babies are born alive during failed abortion attempts every year and most are left to die without medical care. These are late-term babies who are viable and are clearly human beings in pain and deserving of comfort and attention. The Born Alive Act would require care providers to give medical care to babies who survive an abortion attempt and would penalize those who refuse. We heard from medical professionals who had witnessed these atrocities and from adult survivors of botched abortions, but Democrat opponents still deny that these grisly events actually occur.

Republican congressmen have asked Speaker Pelosi 30 times to get the Born Alive bill out of committee for a floor vote and have been rebuffed each time. So they now have a discharge petition requiring 218 signatures that would force the bill to the floor. Only three Democrat members of congress signed the discharge petition that would require providers to give care to aborted babies born alive. The inhumanity of that is unfathomable to anyone with a soul. But Nancy Pelosi and her charges place political points above human life, and their Democrat supporters march right in line. The unholy cycle of money circulating between congressmen and Planned Parenthood rolls on.

We tried to convince the Democrats on the hill to sign the petition that would save the lives of born alive aborted babies. Sadly, not one of them was persuaded, and their supporters continue to mock our efforts. The petition is evergreen, however, and if enough public pressure is applied, maybe some of the Democrats will grow a heart.

One thing is for sure – they sure wouldn’t treat a dog like that.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale

How Much Is That Doggie In the Window? Patti Page

Why Can’t We Take Care of Our Own Needy?

My friend Dennis is a good Christian man who goes out of his way to help people in need. He has had an ongoing relationship with a homeless guy, Roy, for a long time. From time to time Dennis finds Roy on the street, gets him a meal or a place to sleep, paying out of his pocket. Some of us men in Dennis’ bible study group try to help a little with expenses.

Roy is in his early 60s, has a bum knee that prevents him from working, can barely read let alone advocate for himself, and is unemployable. He gets $700 a month in disability payments.

For a while, Roy stayed with a bunch of other indigents in a private (for profit) home that took half of his disability check (sometimes they would demand more) in exchange for a worn-out recliner to sleep in. They never shared food or anything else with him and the situation was abusive at best. I was surprised to learn that flop-houses like this are home to many people who don’t have any other alternative. While it did provide a roof over his head, it was a terrible way to live.

I called the county welfare office to find out what services might be available to Roy and was told there were many programs in place and it should not be any problem getting him some permanent subsidized housing. I gathered this information and shared it with Dennis, who took Roy to the county office only to find out that their information was outdated and in fact there were no available services. My gut instinct is that there probably are plenty of amply-funded assistance programs. The money just never seems to get out of the government offices. The local Salvation Army also sent Dennis and Roy away, saying they were already over capacity.

So Roy is back sleeping on the street, and even in the South, it gets pretty cold at night this time of year.

Meanwhile, our southern border crisis continues. Government officials and media talking heads chatter about whether there should be 42,000 or 49,000 beds for illegal migrants at the care stations our government provides on the border. There seem to be all kinds of support services available to people who illegally invade our country, and anyone who suggests we should build a barrier to close the border is branded a heartless racist.

But apparently nobody in this richest nation on earth cares about Roy, and the other millions of American citizens who don’t have anyplace to sleep tonight. What the hell is wrong with us?

If you don’t want me
Why don’t you tell me
Instead of tellin’ lies
And makin’ me cry
Don’t you care? Don’t you care?

Don’t You Care – the Buckinghams

Identity Politics for Dummies

It’s tough being a leftist these days, or even understanding them. Identity Politics is so hard! To help you navigate this trending leftist revolution (also known as the ‘CNN Spring’), here are some tips and techniques.

First there is the daunting challenge of identifying all of the different victim groups and subgroups, which grows daily. Then there is the difficulty of ranking them in terms of which is the most abused and deserving of compassion, protection, and other stuff. And a code of behavior must be enforced in the brave new world of Identity Politics.

IDENTIFYING VICTIM GROUPS The easiest way is to figure out who is not a victim, and then categorize everybody else. Non-victims are basically American-born Caucasian males. Everybody else fits into one or more victim groups.

Non-males comprise the largest victim group even though they outnumber males. Sometimes we forget that women are victims because they keep telling us how much stronger, smarter, and tougher they are than males. But for some reason they still need to be protected. Men are to be perpetually ashamed of their toxic masculinity, and are subject to severe persecution if a non-male remembers or even creates the memory that a male so much as brushed a hand against her/its breast, whether accidentally or not, and there is no statute of limitations. Non-males are not to be questioned, or accused of any sexual aggression or intentions.

The non-male victim group has recently expanded to include dozens of new gender categories that did not previously exist, and a given victim can change her/its status daily or hourly.

Non-Caucasian victims are entitled to special treatment and care because all Caucasians are born with, and will always have “white privilege”. Even the poorest, sickest, down-on-his-luck skid-row Caucasian bum is considered to have “white privilege” and must be despised, even by other Caucasians if they are leftists. A complication arises; if a person has one Caucasian parent and one non-Caucasian parent, does he/she/it have “half-white-privilege?” And if only Black Lives matter, does his/her/its life only half matter? Oh, by the way, there are special exceptions to race-based victim-hood. For some reason, East Asians (China, Korea, Japan, etc.) are apparently honorary Caucasians. They don’t have white privilege, but they are not afforded any victim status for race.

Caucasian men can only be victims if they were not born in the United States or if they have significant college loan debt.

RANKING VICTIMS – This is the most difficult aspect of identity politics. Does a female African-American migrant have more advanced victim-hood than a Caucasian trans-gendered student with huge student loans? Does “white privilege” completely neutralize other victim-hood status? One must assume that the more victim-hood categories one claims, the higher up the leftist ladder one advances.

BEHAVIOR – The world of Identity Politics can be difficult to navigate even for victims, given that certain behaviors are fine, while others are strictly forbidden, and the absence of any requirement for honesty makes it nearly impossible to determine which is which. For example, it is acceptable for a Caucasian woman to lie about her race to get a government job and even run for president, but a Caucasian governor faces forced resignation for wearing a black-face costume.

And of course since the entire Identity Politics system exists for political purpose, one’s political leanings and values enter into the equation: even victims can be docked for not agreeing in lock-step with every leftist political position. Being a female African-American Trump supporter can result in a below-Caucasian-male ranking.

As difficult as Identity Politics is to manage, there is a simple solution. If we had a system that assigns a point value to each category of victim-hood, it would be easy to add up a total for every individual and determine his/her/its rank. American-born Caucasian males would set the base level of zero points. Add 5 points for female, and add another 10 points for any other gender. Add 5 points for non-American and 10 more for illegal immigrant. Having big student loans might be worth 5 points. Race is much more complicated, since it is unclear whether only Black Lives Matter and how pigmentation works into the algorithm.

Of course there must be a negative index as well. Want to Make America Great Again? Minus 25 points. Climate Change denier? Minus 10. Believe in capitalism? Minus another 15. Are you a Christian? Minus 20. Even victims could go quickly negative, based on their politics and values.

This exercise has caused me to ponder my own Identity Politics score. I think I am somewhere around -175.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Don’t you know that she’s just my style,
Everything about her drives me wild,
Don’t you know that she’s fine, so fine.

Just My Style – Gary Lewis and the Playboys