Shrinkage: Our Embarrassingly Tiny Attention Span

Have you heard anything lately about the September 11 debacle in Benghazi?  Me either.

In the weeks before the election, Obama and Clinton told us repeatedly that they would have to complete an investigation before they could explain why they lied repeatedly about the attack and the American deaths. benghazi_attack_us_politics_2012_09_12

Did they ever complete the investigation?  Is there an investigation?  Would they reveal what was learned if there actually was an investigation?

Maybe citizens think that Obama won, so there’s no point investigating any further, or even discussing what has been uncovered.  Congressmen Issa and Chaffetz appeared to be very interested in getting to the bottom of the disaster.  What happened?

Certainly the mainstream media will not besmirch their anointed ones.   In the absence of any news, we Americans will either assume the matter has been satisfactorily resolved, or will forget it ever happened, our tiny attention spans distracted by the latest “crisis dujour”.   The story would be buried forever but for reporting by bulldog conservative blogs such as Brietbart.com.

Here is a great synopsis and reminder of the severity and importance of the Benghazi story, and the cold-blooded complicity of our administration:

Let’s not let this important story, or the memory of Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods, fall victim to attention span shrinkage.

Thanks to EG Pettis

Tom Balek – Rockin On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Ba de ya, say do you remember
Ba de ya, dancing in September
Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day

September – Earth Wind and Fire

Life In The Banana Republic

Back in the day we watched action adventure movies about Americans traveling in exotic far-flung countries.  It was so very foreign to our small-town Montana sensibilities – the drugs, the shady intrigue, the beautiful women.  There was poverty and danger around every corner, and it seemed that nothing could be accomplished in these mysterious places without paying off some government official.

We called them “banana republics” – countries where life was tough, the government was corrupt,  and only those with connections, wit, and maybe weapons avoided an unhappy fate.

We were enthralled with tense scenes from places where the government was all about secrets and raw, cold power; where ordinary citizens hid behind gray walls and doors, afraid of making some political “hit” list.  Everyone was poor – except those who worked for the government or had connections.  Personal success was just a distant dream, as winners and losers were chosen by the powerful.

It could never happen here.  We have checks and balances, and a president couldn’t just make laws, seize property and control businesses without the consent of the legislature.  This is America.  There’s no corruption here.  Our government leaders would never lie to us, or hide the truth.  Besides, our news people will always tell us what’s really going on, right?  And we have fair elections, where legal citizens get to choose how the government will affect their lives.

Drugs are illegal here.  Aren’t they?  I mean, I think they used to be.

And we don’t have to worry about people here being dirt poor, relying on scraps and handouts from the government.  Most of our people have jobs, and own their own homes, right?  We still manufacture stuff, and have plenty of our own cheap energy for our cars and houses, and everybody has a bright future here.  We still go to church on Sunday and take care of our neighbors and families.  Don’t we?

I’m sure glad we live in America, and not in one of those banana republics.  We have nothing to worry about here, let’s just party on.  Let’s have another joint.  Wanna dance?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

They’re pickin’ up the prisoners
And puttin em in a pen
And all she wants to do is dance, dance
Rebels been rebels
Since I don’t know when
And all she wants to do is dance

All She Wants To Do Is Dance – Don Henley

The Spinning Wheel of Soft Corruption

Two political television ads for opposing candidates are running concurrently in Montana and they illustrate with startling clarity how our national politics has devolved.

One says Senator Jon Tester can’t be trusted because “he received more money from lobbyists than any other DC politician”:





The opposing ad rips Congressman Denny Rehberg for publicly stating that “lobbying is an honorable profession.”





Both candidates are guilty as charged –  they accept money from lobbyists.  A lot of it.  Because they have to.

It is the spinning wheel of soft corruption, and it spins day after day, election after election, in races large and small all over the country.  It takes a lot of money to get elected, so politicians accept donations from special interest groups who seek to control or influence their votes.  The special interest groups have a lot of money to give them, because of the huge profit opportunities that exist in a “government gone wild.”

Can a candidate avoid the spinning wheel?  Is it possible to raise a competitive war-chest of funds without selling at least a part of one’s soul?

Ask Sharron Angle, who challenged the Godzilla of the Democrat party, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for his seat in 2010.  Her brilliant new book “Right Angle” peels back the curtain to reveal how ugly the political process has become.  Sharron tells the story of a fellow assemblywoman in the Nevada legislature who admitted she couldn’t support Angle’s bill because she had accepted a contribution from the casino lobby, as did nearly every legislator in Nevada – except Sharron Angle.  Sharron confronted her (former) friend:

“You can say you hate the bill.  You can say that it is unconstitutional for government to interfere with regulations on private business.  You can say that it is not Republican and would send the wrong message about its support of less government regulation.  But do not ever tell me you’ve been bought!”

I said it so coldly that I shocked even myself.  She was stunned, too.

“I have not been bought!”  She was emphatic.

“Really?” I said.  “Let’s review our conversation.”

Sharron Angle could not be bought, and was still able to win a seat in the Nevada legislature.  She narrowly lost in the big race against the incorrigibly corrupt Reid, whose special-interest contributors included, against all reason,  the National Rifle Association.  She says,

“It takes courage to resist.  It takes insight to recognize the trap.  Some do, many more do not.  Easy money is the lobbyists’ deadly Kool-Aid.  It is the same corruption that John Adams recognized and said would destroy our Republic.”

Last year in a brief personal visit with Denny Rehberg, we were bemoaning this very issue – the spinning wheel of money and soft corruption that makes the political world go ’round.  Rehberg said, “I don’t need to run for the Senate.  My spot in Congress is probably secure for as long as I want it.  The only reason I decided to put myself and my family through this is we can’t afford to leave the Democrats in control of the Senate and this seat is important.”

That makes me feel a little better.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Another timeless classic featuring
David Clayton Thomas

What goes up, must come down
Spinnin’ wheel, got ta go round
Talkin’ ’bout your troubles it’s a cryin’ sin
Ride a painted pony,
Let the spinnin’ wheel spin

Spinning Wheel – Blood, Sweat and Tears

Why Do Liberals Hate Romney?

Ask any liberal why he or she doesn’t like Mitt Romney.

You likely won’t get any reason based on policy – most liberals don’t do the homework required to articulate any policy position.  The main complaint I hear is, “He’s just another rich white guy, who got his money by taking advantage of poor people.”

A few will say they just can’t support him because he’s a Mormon.  And now, after the debate, some say Romney is a liar, although anybody who looks closely sees a straight-laced family man, and the accusations are based on what his opponents claim about him, rather than anything he has said himself.

Throughout history there have always been rich people.  Always will be.  Admittedly, some people became wealthy by taking advantage of others – including many public officials.

Harry Reid, for instance, came from very humble beginnings.  He never held a private job, choosing instead a career in politics.  He is now one of the wealthiest members of Congress, on the modest salary of a public servant, leaving a slime trail of corruption behind him .

Ask any liberal why he or she likes Harry Reid.  Again, you likely won’t get any reason based on policy.  They just like him.

Barack Obama is also wealthy.  Liberals love him.  He’s a rich, black guy.  He was briefly employed in the private sector, but his legal work mainly centered on government-related issues.  He made some money writing and selling two autobiographies which were successful because of his involvement in government.

So, liberals.  Do you dislike Romney because he is rich?  No, Obama is rich and you like him.  Do you dislike Romney because he is white?  No, Harry Reid is white and you like him.  Do you dislike Romney because he is a Mormon?  No, Reid is a Mormon, too.  And rich.

Maybe liberals dislike Romney because they now think he is a liar.  Well, no, that can’t be right – they love Bill Clinton, and he was impeached by Congress for lying.  Oh, and he is rich.  And white.

Some say liberals vote for the candidate who promises them the most stuff.  I pray for the future of our kids if it’s true.  That’s just immoral.

I have no problem with a person becoming wealthy.  In fact, deep inside, I think even most liberals believe in the American Dream.  What is important, though, is how a person becomes wealthy.

I rather like the idea of having a leader who has built wealth with his own skill, judgment, and hard work, and especially if he helped others achieve wealth and success.  We need leaders who possess economic skills and don’t need to enrich themselves via government.

Why does that bug liberals so much?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I had the privilege of meeting
David Clayton-Thomas a few years ago –

a great musician and a very, very nice man

Yes, the strong get more,
While the weak ones fade.
Empty pockets don’t ever make the grade.
Mama may have, Papa may have,
But God bless the child that’s got his own!
That’s got his own.

God Bless the Child – Blood Sweat and Tears

Corruption in Small Town Montana

We tend to think corruption happens somewhere else.  Chicago maybe.  Surely not in rural Montana.

It hurts to admit that our beautiful state is just as vulnerable to government corruption and election fraud as anywhere else.  Maybe more so, because rural people are often trusting souls.

The recent release of Lynn Rosenberg from prison resurrects the story of the “Wheatland 6” and the ugly corruption scandal that enveloped the community of Harlowton a few years ago.

The story got more national attention than local.  If you are one of the many who missed it, here’s a Cliffs Notes version of the sordid tale.

In January of 2008, Lynn Rosenberg was sentenced to 54 months in prison for the theft of over $194,000 in taxpayer funds (the actual amount embezzled was probably greater) and aggravated identity theft.  Mrs. Rosenberg ran the Office of Public Assistance in Wheatland County, a one-person department in the small town of Harlowton.

The drama began when authorities learned that for years she had been creating fake welfare client accounts, mostly using identities of former Wheatland County residents who had moved away long ago.  She set up bank accounts and post office boxes to receive welfare checks, food stamps, and EBT cards (electronic benefit cards), forging endorsements on the checks and draining the cards at Wal-Mart.  The scheme finally blew up when an anti-theft federal computer program cross-matched one of her welfare “clients” as a truck driver in Oregon who had been earning $80k per year since 2003, and hadn’t received benefits since he lived in Wheatland County in 1991.

For years, Mrs. Rosenberg was on a taxpayer-funded spending spree, aided by many people who had to have known, or at least suspected, that something was amiss.  So why didn’t anybody “blow the whistle” sooner?

One possible reason: her husband, Jim Rosenberg, was – and still is – the county sheriff, a powerful local figure clearly able to ruin your day if you are a local resident.

In November of 2010 a group of concerned Wheatland County citizens, who came to be known as “the Wheatland 6”, were incredulous that Sheriff Rosenberg was running for re-election as if nothing had happened.  His wife had admitted serious embezzlement from the taxpayers.  “If he knew about it, he is corrupt.  And if he didn’t know, he is incompetent.  Either way, we want him out,” the Wheatland 6 said.

The group met with the Montana Dept. of Justice to determine if the DOJ had investigated whether the Sheriff was complicit in the embezzlement scheme.  The response from the DOJ was to refer them to federal authorities, who had requested jurisdiction in the case, calling prosecution at the federal level a “cakewalk”.

The Wheatland 6 mounted a primary campaign to battle Sheriff Rosenberg’s re-election.  To their amazement, the Sheriff had some local support, but their relentless efforts to educate local voters began to get traction, and in the days approaching the primary they were confident the voters would reject a sheriff whose wife is a convicted felon serving time.

Two citizens who were later aligned with the Wheatland 6 were election judges, working in the voter area at the polling station on election day.  They watched and noted many inappropriate and disallowed practices, such as vote counters (who should be sequestered) wandering around the voting area and conversing with election judges and voters, discussing the counts, and making and receiving phone calls during the process.  They witnessed “chaotic” conditions in the counting room, as officials allowed lists and ballots to be strewn around the room, with little or no oversight of the reading and counting of votes.

Feeling insecure as novice election judges, they did not question other, more experienced election officials about these improprieties during the polling.  But they were so alarmed at what they saw, they sought out the County Clerk immediately after the polls closed.  Based on their observations, the County Clerk agreed that there should be a recount, and said she would look into it.  When she failed to follow through on her promise, the citizens began the process of seeking an official recount, escalating their request to the Commissioner of Political Practices and the Secretary of State.

After initially encouraging the Wheatland 6 to pursue a recount, support from the Secretary of State’s office soon waned, leaving their fate in the hands of the county commissioners.  At the next commission meeting, the commissioners refused to hear any testimony, approved the canvass, sealed Rosenberg’s primary win, and summarily ruled against recount.  Their response to the upset citizens was, “If you don’t like our decision, sue us.”

Life goes on in Wheatland County.  Jim Rosenberg won the general election and is still the sheriff.  His wife again lives in Harlowton, having completed her prison sentence.

And the Wheatland 6 still wonder who they can trust.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Nobody rocks it like Steve Miller –

You know he know just exactly,
What the facts is.
He ain’t gonna let those two escape justice,
He makes his livin’ off of the people’s taxes.
Go on, take the money and run!
Go on, take the money and run!

Caddell: Media “Threat To Future of Country”

We have known for a long time that the media is biased toward the President and the Democrats.  We watch with incredulity as news services and networks toil around the clock to protect and promote their party.  But have we really considered how serious the demise of the fourth estate is to the future of our nation?

Pat Caddell, in an impassioned speech to the AIM (Accuracy in Media) conference, blistered the media on a number of fronts:

“I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy.”

He is furious that the truth about the circumstances of an American ambassador’s death was hidden by the media, to protect the administration, for nine days.

“We’ve had nine days of lies over what happened because they can’t dare say it’s a terrorist attack, and the press won’t push this,” said Caddell. “Yesterday there was not a single piece in The New York Times over the question of Libya. Twenty American embassies, yesterday, are under attack. None of that is on the national news. None of it is being pressed in the papers.”

Caddell said he is more frightened now than has ever been.

“When they decide that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people.  And it is a threat to the very future of this country if…we allow this stuff to go on.”

Caddell reveals truths about the corruption in our media as only an insider could.  “You get what you ask for,” was his final blast of frustration.  Here is the main part of his chilling presentation.


Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Get your blues on for some hot Jonny Lang guitar –

Lie to me, it doesn’t matter anymore
It could never be, the way it was before

Lie To Me – Jonny Lang

Supply and Demand – Another Law No Longer Enforced

Supply and demand.

Please close your eyes, stop your busy brain for a second, and say those three words.  Give me a quick one-sentence explanation of what it means to you.

Okay, ready?

Supply and demand.  Did that phrase register with you?  Was it a simple concept, an obvious and common thing like salt and pepper?  Or did it kind of bounce off, a hazy theory, something you have heard of, but never really thought about?

Even if you can’t give a pretty definition, you probably do understand the concept.  While economists can discuss nuances of the law of  supply and demand for years, the basic concept is simple and intuitive:  the less there is of something, the more valuable it is.  A pound of gold is worth more than a pound of rocks, because there are a lot of rocks in the world, and only a little bit of gold.

Supply and demand is why we get up in the morning and go to work.  We have needs and wants, we want our families to live better.  Every single waking moment of our lives we are active on both sides of the law of supply and demand.  We want to improve ourselves so that the demand for what we do is higher (competition), so we can make more money.  Others want to get our money, so they try to provide something we demand (competition).  The price of everything in the world is controlled by supply and demand.

I can think of no concept more critical to the success of every human being than a gut-level understanding of the law of supply and demand.  It is as undeniable and righteous as the law of gravity.  It should be the basis of our education system.  Sadly, it isn’t.  In fact the law of supply and demand is increasingly ignored, denied and dismissed in our schools, in the media, and certainly by our government.

To keep this sermon to a manageable length, here is an illustration:  if you had a choice between two identical loaves of bread – one cost a dollar and the other cost two dollars – which one would you buy with your own money?  Duh.

Now, if you had a choice between two employees doing the same work – one cost $50,000 and the other cost $100,000 – which one would you buy with your own money?  Double Duh!  So why do federal employees receive more than DOUBLE the compensation of the private-sector employees who pay their salaries?

How can that happen?  The law of supply and demand has been broken.  There is no scarcity of federal employees (over a half million of them make more than $100,000 per year).  They are no more valuable than their private-sector counterparts.  What’s going on here?

The answer is:  Corruption.  Pay to play.  Quid pro quo.  We have allowed government employees to unionize.  The unions promise money, logistical support, and votes to elected officials in exchange for more union jobs and higher pay and benefits.  Get me elected, I’ll pay you back, with somebody else’s money. Pay me back, I’ll get you elected.  The taxpayer has no input or control over this.  It is a done deal.  The law of supply and demand has been broken, and until we eliminate government employee unions, this corruption will escalate until our economy and nation is destroyed.

There are many more examples of government breaking the law of supply and demand – crooked contracts, cronyism, manipulating interest rates, all the things that make elected officials stinking rich.  But this one – government employee unions – is the big kahuna, because of the vast number of people involved.  ObamaCare promises another 21 million government union employees.  It’s the perfect crime.

I can’t help but wonder if more Americans understood and recognized and respected and enforced the law of supply and demand, would they hold their government accountable?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

These days the buck stops nowhere
No one takes the blame
But evil is still evil
In anybody’s name
If dirt were dollars
If dirt were dollars
If dirt were dollars
We’d all be in the black

If Dirt Were Dollars – Don Henley

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

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 )