Simon Says

Can we take a break from politics for a minute?

Sometimes I think it’s good to stop and think about what’s really important to us.  I know you care deeply about the direction of our nation, and the upcoming elections, and the battle of beliefs.  And I think I know why you care.

It’s all about the ones we love.

We conservatives are into facts, organization, and logic.  Our liberal friends base their judgments on feelings.  It’s hard for us to understand each other.  Can an artist be a conservative?  Can a progressive be logical?  Do conservatives have a heart?

As a musician and songwriter, and a conservative, it’s an ongoing struggle for me, with one foot grounded in the world of hard numbers and reality, and the other mired in poetry and hope.

I’d like you to listen to a song written by perhaps the most brilliant American songwriter of our generation, Paul Simon.  Whether you are a conservative or a progressive, I’ll bet you connect on a gut level with Simon’s observations about our deepest human emotions – the depth of passion for a partner or spouse, the insecurity and doubt about the choices we have made, and the unspeakable love a parent has for his or her child.

Please enjoy the work of an American master songwriter, Paul Simon.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

How’s This For A Plan? STOP!

I’m tired of hearing Democrats insisting that the Republicans and conservatives “have no plan”.

The liberal solution to every issue, question, and challenge is a new government “program” that will spend more money and will live forever, even after it fails or is obsolete.  Education is failing?  We must not be spending enough.  Our GDP is not growing?  More government spending.  Our favorite socially-engineered industry (green energy) can’t compete in the real world?  Give them more public money.

So when a Republican does not propose a new “program” featuring more government spending (and debt), that is the equivalent of “doing nothing” or “having no plan”.

Hogwash. Here’s a plan for you.

We must immediately STOP the ridiculous, wasteful government programs already in place that accomplish nothing.  The liberals’ insistence that government spending spurs the economy is deceitful – every dollar government gives to one person or company was taken from another person or company, and a big slice is missing by the time it gets to the receiver due to waste, corruption, and inefficiency.  Government spending, while sometimes necessary, is a proven drag on the economy.  Raising taxes makes it worse, and printing and/or borrowing money to spur the economy just delays the pain.

The quid pro quo, pay-to-play, corrupt paybacks to unions, corporate donors, cronies, and special interest groups must be STOPPED now.

Let’s immediately STOP the attacks and roadblocks on our energy industry by the Obama administration via the EPA and other agencies and aligned special-interest groups.   We have the resources and the technology to become the energy supplier to the world, and could do so quickly.  What do they not like about more jobs, a positive balance of trade, and elimination of the dependence on hostile foreign suppliers?

We can and must immediately STOP the flow of illegal aliens across our borders, most of whom end up collecting welfare.  This isn’t even a choice, as our laws and Constitution require it.

We must STOP throwing good money after bad, doing things the same way out of habit.  We have to STOP politicizing and polarizing every issue and shouting at each other across the ideological divide without even listening for kernels of wisdom that might be on the other side.

And because the stakes are so high, and our fiscal crisis is so urgent, we must focus on economics and STOP wasting time on all the distractions and bogus issues – the class warfare, the make-believe “war on women”, the race-baiting.  Unless we straighten out our fiscal mess, nothing else really matters.

One of the corny, childish jokes from the old Hee Haw television program (yes, you ARE old enough to remember) featured Archie Campbell as the country doctor.  A different patient every week would complain,  “Doc, it hurts when I do this.”  The wise doctor would always give him a whack and yell, “Then DON’T DO THAT!”  Not exactly rocket science, is it?

There are a lot more specifics to the plan of Republicans and conservatives.  But the best parts of their plan include the word STOP!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

It’s time we stop,
Hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s goin’ down

For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

Still Bush-Bashing After All These Years

This week as Hurricane Isaac zeroed in on New Orleans, Democrat pundits were quick to remind us of the “George Bush” hurricane, Katrina.

To this day Bush faces the wrath of the Left, who still believe that he intentionally ignored the pleas of stranded, suffering, and dying Delta residents during that horrible part-natural and part-man-made disaster, and insist that his alleged failures were due to racism.

In his autobiography “Decision Points”, Bush explains “the rest of the story” – the part that even his supporters never explained, and which is still ignored by the media.

He admits that he didn’t manage the PR aspects of Katrina well, and he should have landed his helicopter instead of flying over during the first few days. He did not want to hamper the rescue effort with the complications required by his security people.

From a policy standpoint, in the early going he deferred to state and local administrators, standing ready, waiting for their request for help, as is the protocol.

As Katrina escalated into a real disaster, Bush was reminded that he could not mobilize the National Guard without the express request and permission of Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco.  Bush reached out to the governor, and she assured him she did not need or want any help from him, thank you very much.

His early contacts with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin were also rebuffed.   “We have this under control,” said Nagin.  Nothing could have been further from the truth, as buses that could have been used for evacuation were moved to safe storage, and police officers were seen carrying TV sets out of storefronts.  But the mayor and the governor, both Democrats, did not want to appear unprepared and needing help from a Republican president.

President Bush became increasingly alarmed, and forcefully urged the governor to allow him to send in troops.  By then Mayor Nagin was ready for help, but the governor held firm.

“That left me in a tough position,” Bush wrote in his memoir.  “If I invoked the Insurrection Act against her wishes, the world would see a male Republican president usurping the authority of a female Democratic governor by declaring an insurrection in a largely African American city. That would arouse controversy anywhere. To do so in the Deep South, where there had been centuries of states’ rights tensions, could unleash holy hell.”

Realizing that Governor Blanco was paralyzed and incapable of making a responsible decision, he finally did send in troops without her permission.  A massive Federal rescue effort hit the Delta region, but for many Katrina victims, and for President Bush’s reputation, it was too late.

President Bush still agonizes over the loss of life to Katrina, and takes deep offense to the charge of racism.  He should not have to suffer more undeserved criticism from the Monday morning quarterbacks of the Left.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

But I would not be convicted
By a jury of my peers
Still crazy after all these years

Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years

Montana Charity vs. Share The Wealth

There was a time when we Americans watched out for each other.  If someone needed help, his friends, family, and neighbors would jump in to do what was needed.  As a teenager, my small-town dad taught me to always offer help.   Flat tire?  Hey, let me help you with that jack.  Dead battery?  We can give you a jump.   Cows got out of the fence?  Let’s help you get them back in.  House burned down?  The whole town will pitch in to help you get back on your feet.  It’s the Montana way.  And you never know when you might be the one who needs help.

But voluntary charity wasn’t good enough for the “progressives” among us.  They have never trusted their neighbors to help.  Maybe it’s because they never felt compelled to offer help to others.  So the expectation in recent years is to have government answer every need.

There’s a big difference.  An important difference.

You see, the good Lord knew what he was doing when he created the human psyche.  Voluntarily helping somebody else feels good.  You know it’s true – it really is better to give than to receive.

But when someone takes something from you – something you worked for – and gives it to somebody else whether you like it or not –  well . . . it just doesn’t feel so good, does it?

Volunteers load hay for Montana neighbors – photo by Don Danell

There was a big fire near Roundup, Montana a few weeks ago.  Thousands of acres of timber and agricultural land were destroyed, along with dozens of homes.  A small group of nearby ranchers realized that their fellow cattlemen were going to have a problem feeding their stock.  They weren’t asked to help.  And they didn’t wait for the government to do a series of studies about what was needed.  They took action on their own.

In short order, 18 fire-stricken ranchers from the Roundup area received truckloads of hay, courtesy of their concerned neighbors – even the delivery and fuel was donated.

This is how charity used to work.  This is how it SHOULD work.

Can you imagine how much it would have cost and how long it would have taken for our government bureaucracy to get hay to these ranchers in need?

Yes, it does take a village to raise a child and to help those in need.  It takes neighbors, family, and friends.  And it works a lot better without forced charity – and the complication and inefficiency of government.


Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
thanks to Deb Hill

Enjoy this all-time classic by James Taylor

If the sky above you
Should turn dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind should begin to blow
Keep your head together
And call my name out loud
Soon I’ll be knocking upon your door

You’ve Got A Friend – James Taylor (Carole King)

60s and 70s Protest Music – It’s Relevant Today

Country Joe McDonald at Woodstock

Ah, the great music of our youth – all those protest songs extolling the virtues of Freedom, and railing against government corruption.  Songs about how a person shouldn’t be judged or given favors because of the color of his skin.

It was a time when the Leftist youth of our nation took us all by the sleeve and cried out for peace, and justice under the law, and tolerance for others who might have a different point of view.  “Let us run the world!” they sang.  “We’ll make it all better!”

And now, the Leftists are in power.  They got their wish.  They do rule the world.

Funny thing is, I listen to those lyrics and they still ring true today – only the players have changed.  Our government is more corrupt than ever, picking winners and losers based on contributions and voting blocs.  Our laws are a shambles as our administration chooses which ones to enforce and which to ignore.  Racial and social divides continue to widen as self-serving politicians separate us into groups to pit against each other.

Now it’s the aging Tea Party people who cry out for Freedom from a government that has turned its back on the Constitution.  It’s the grandparents who fear that government corruption will destroy their life savings and the economic futures of their grandkids.

I can’t make the case any better than Pete Townshend did in 1971 (below).

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

There’s nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

We Won’t Get Fooled Again – the Who

Paul Ryan – Honorary “Old Bean Counter”

Today’s selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate is encouraging to me.  Not because I have any great insight as to which candidate gives Romney the best chance of beating Obama this fall – I don’t know anything about the art of politics.

What I do know is that our nation’s greatest problem is the state of our economy – the debt, the sagging GDP, the drop in productivity, the unemployment rate, declining personal wealth and income, and the inability of our government to change its failed fiscal policies.   If we solve our economic problems, most of our other problems will solve themselves.

On this blog you’ve heard me opine about how us “Old Bean Counters” could get things straightened out.  I feel like Ryan is one of us.  Not so much old, but he is definitely a Bean Counter.

He stands alone as the only person in DC able to produce a do-able budget that points to a brighter future (although I would advocate a more aggressive turnaround).  He knows that any successful business – or government – must be run by the numbers.  Not by feelings, or wishes, or diplomacy, or hope.

Ryan has shown that he is practical, realistic, and optimistic.  He is able to cut to the chase and make a decision.  He knows how to hold people and processes accountable through controls.  Our government is no different from a business – Dollars In, Dollars Out.  Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail.

From the somewhat benign position of vice president, Ryan would not be able to make sweeping changes on his own.  But the fact that Romney chose him indicates to me that Mitt “gets it”.  He is a realist, and he knows that straightening out the economy must be top priority.

So in addition to his veep candidacy, I would also like to hereby nominate Paul Ryan for the lofty position of “Chief Bean Counter”.  We need ya, buddy.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

‘Cause he’s oh, so good,
And he’s oh, so fine,
And he’s oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He’s a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

A Well Respected Man – the Kinks


IRS Director Shulman – YOU’RE FIRED!

I loved Mr. Spacely.  He was the kind of boss who could make a decision.  When George Jetson screwed up, Spacely would jump up on his desk and scream, “Jetson . . . YOU’RE FIRED!”

If only our government worked like that.  These days, nobody in government is ever responsible for anything.  And nobody ever gets fired.

Take, for instance, our current IRS Commissioner, Douglas Shulman.  Probably a nice man.  Loves his family and is kind to puppies.  But for God’s sake, according to the US Treasury Inspector General’s recent report, his department failed to prevent 1.5 million fraudulent tax returns last year, costing the taxpayers $5.2 billion!

The level of ineptitude, if not outright treasonous subterfuge, is astonishing:

  • the report says the IRS intentionally did not review applications for individual taxpayer ID numbers, mostly used by illegal aliens
  • they sent 23,560 refunds to ten bank accounts totalling more than $16 million
  • 23,994 tax refunds were sent to ONE ADDRESS in Atlanta totalling $46.3 million
  • the inspector general estimates that the IRS will issue $21 billion in fraudulent tax refunds over the next five years.

In the real world, this kind of lunacy could not happen.  Only in ObamaLand is this possible.

If Mr. Spacely was in charge, he would be screaming “Shulman, YOU’RE FIRED!”

And if I were in charge, I would be going after Shulman’s boss.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Hit the road, Jack –
And don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more!
Hit the road, Jack –
And don’t you come back no more!

Hit the Road, Jack – Ray Charles

Crony Capitalism At Its Ugliest

Eric Clapton with Gibson Les Paul guitar

Is it any wonder American businesses are afraid to open their doors in the reign of King Obama?

Today Gibson Guitar’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz announced that the company has settled with the Dept. of Justice, who ruled last year that Gibson had violated the Lacey Act by importing unfinished rosewood for guitar fingerboards from India and Madagascar.

It was clearly another case of “picking winners and losers”, the Obama administration’s favorite political tool – used to bludgeon opponents and reward cronies and contributors.

You see, most guitar fretboards are made with imported rosewood.  Guitar manufacturers often buy fretboards which have been manufactured in India, and the Indian government is grateful for the business (memo to Obama – most nations appreciate the chance to employ their citizens).  In fact Martin Guitars imports the very same rosewood for its guitars, from the same suppliers that Gibson does.  If this is a crime (which it has not been proven to be), it certainly is a victimless one.

Gibson plants were raided by armed federal agents, who confiscated $1 million worth of rosewood inventory.  They were shut down for a time, and now the company has been extorted for a $300,000 fine and a $50,000 “contribution” to the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Martin’s use of the same rosewood has never been questioned.

Oh, did I mention that Gibson’s CEO Juszkiewicz is a Republican supporter, while Martin’s CEO, Chris Martin, is a long-time donor to the Democrat party?

We have always been taught that there was a presumption of innocence in this country, and an opportunity for defense and redress if we have been wrongfully charged.  Unfortunately in today’s world where government agencies and czars rule with impunity, that’s no longer the case.  A bureaucrat can be judge, jury and executioner.

“We’re in this really incredible situation. We have been implicated in wrongdoing and we haven’t been charged with anything,” Juszkiewicz said. “Our business has been injured to millions of dollars. And we don’t even have a court we can go to and say, ‘Look, here’s our position.”

Due process be damned, this is politics.

The “picking winners and losers” tactic has worked so well on the national level that our Montana Democrat administration has taken the page from the Obama playbook.  Stay tuned as that story develops.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – George Harrison
(guitar solo by Eric Clapton on a GIBSON LES PAUL )

How Stupid Do They Think We Are?

Last night I got an amusing “push poll” telephone call from the Democrats about the Montana governor’s race.

From Wikipedia: A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. Little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll.

The use of push polls as a political tactic has grown tremendously in recent years, as campaigns have realized that direct marketing calls on behalf of their candidates just don’t work.  Depending on the political orientation of the receiver, honest political messages either “preach to the choir” or are summarily rejected.  So the campaigns must rely on deceit to win votes.

I rather enjoy receiving a push poll call, especially from “the other side”, because it gives me insight into how stupid the political organizations think we are.

Would you say this call makes you annoyed, disgusted, or homicidal?

I always ask the telemarketer (usually a young, oh-so-polite female) if she can identify who commissioned the poll, knowing that the answer will be:  “I’m sorry, but I am not allowed to know who is requesting this information – I just work for the XYZ Research Company.”

This call started out with the usual classification queries: do I consider myself a Democrat, Republican, or Independent?  If I had to vote today, would I vote for Hill (the Republican) or Bullock (the Democrat)?   Then came the obligatory effort to feign neutrality by asking a few mildly provocative questions about each party’s candidate.

And then the fun began.  “Please state the level of your concern when you hear the following question:  It has been reported that Rick Hill has supported euthanizing all senior citizens and wants to cut education budgets by eliminating cafeterias and making children eat insects for lunch in the school restrooms.  Would you say you are very concerned, somewhat concerned, concerned, not very concerned, or not at all concerned?”

It’s tempting to “mess with” the caller.  “Well, it depends on how much we have to spend on those insects . . .”   But the girl on the other end of the phone is just a kid making minimum wage, totally oblivious to what she is doing, or why.  I usually try to gently educate, but I can’t claim much success.

The “poll” questions are always multiple-choice.  Just once I wish I could answer fill-in-the-blank.  My answer would be:  “How stupid do you think we are?”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

What kind of fool
(What kind of fool do you think I am)
Do you think I am now
(What kind of fool do you think I am)

What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am) – the Tams

You May Be a Racist . . .

Because I frequently disagree with some political adversaries, I have frequently been called a Racist.  There seems to be a direct connection: disagree with me?  You must be a racist.

That causes me to think about what qualifies someone as a racist.  With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, here goes:

You may be a racist IF:

Racism is ugly and intolerable.  So is race-baiting.  When someone from one political persuasion instantly assumes that anyone who disagrees is a Racist, maybe it is the “pot” calling the kettle “black.”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

The color of your skin don’t matter to me
As long as we can live in harmony

Why Can’t We Be Friends – War