I’m Taking Names and Keeping Score

scoreboard

Would you watch a basketball game if nobody kept score?  Of course not.  If nobody keeps score, nobody wins.  If nobody wins, the contestants will lose interest and probably not put in much effort.

Besides, if nobody keeps score, how do you know which team or player is the best?

Okay, I’ll get to the point.  When we elect a congressman or a senator, we assume he or she is doing what we want them to do.  But are they?  Unless you have the time to look up their votes on every issue, you can’t possibly know.  And even if you did, you would have to know which votes are important and which are just “show votes”, intended to make a legislator look good even though they don’t really accomplish anything.

Congress has an 11% approval rating, but incumbents are re-elected 96% of the time.  If we don’t like what they are doing, why do we keep re-electing them?  The answer:  they get away with lousy performance because voters aren’t keeping the score.

Fortunately, there is a great way to measure your congressman’s performance.  It’s the Heritage Action Scorecard.  Heritage Action is the activist wing of the acclaimed Heritage Foundation, and their aim is to hold members of congress accountable.  The Scorecard is the perfect tool.  Heritage Action identifies “key” votes – issues which have a direct and important impact on quality of life in America.  The scorecard shows how each member voted on every key issue, and accumulates an aggregate score.

My South Carolina congressman, Ralph Norman, has a 95% rating in the current session, which compares to 68% for the average house Republican.  That puts him near the top of the pack.

Norman score card

Digging deeper, I can see that only one of his votes did not agree with Heritage Action’s recommendation.  The Scorecard makes it easy for me to thank my congressman when I like his vote on an issue, or to ask for justification when we aren’t on the same page.   And it sure makes the check-writing decision easier at election time.

As a Montana native I still follow the politics there.  I can’t help but notice Senator Jon Tester’s 0% rating.  I hope my Big Sky friends are noticing too.

Too many citizens think they have no control over what happens in the nation’s capital.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.   With a tool like the Heritage Action Scorecard and a telephone, every voter can hold his members of Congress accountable, and can make an informed decision at primary and general election time.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I’m winning
I’m winning
I’m winning
And I don’t intend on losing again

Winning – Santana

Protect Jobs in China or in the U.S.? Take a Stand!

Why does our economy continue to decline as more Americans are reduced to government-dependency every day?  Please take two minutes to watch our vice-president Joe Biden try to defend the US free-trade policies of recent years (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership which is currently being fast-tracked through Congress) and see Pat Buchanan destroy them:

Biden, his boss President Obama, and Harry Reid claim to be motivated by the dream of a “New World Order”, a “level playing field”, and “the success of those with whom we compete”.  Sadly, many Republicans including house speaker John Boehner are rolling over as well.

Could it be that these Washington, DC elites are owned by the incredibly wealthy business tycoons and their lobbyists who have profited greatly by shipping 55% of our manufacturing jobs overseas?

In his upcoming state of the union speech President Obama is expected to decry income inequality, while out of the other side of his mouth he promotes free trade.  The two are incompatible.  Free trade clearly creates income inequality by creating enormous corporate profits without domestic employment.

Isn’t it about time our leaders take a stand for American jobs and families?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Now stand in the place where you work.
Now face west.    [toward China!]
Think about the place where you live,
Wonder why you haven’t before!

STAND – R.E.M.

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Side note for Montanans:  Rep. Steve Daines (R) and Sen. Max Baucus (D) have supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership; Sen. Jon Tester (D) appears to support the treaty, but has demanded protections for the US timber industry.

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Brian Schweitzer, Say It Isn’t So!

photo by Alex Wong

photo by Alex Wong

It’s so sad to see former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer limping unceremoniously off the national stage, when everyone expected him to fill Max Baucus’ seat in the Senate.

Schweitzer was so good for Montana as governor – vetoing all those bills.  There was no doubt, Brian Schweitzer knew what was best for Montana, regardless of what the citizens or the legislature wanted.  His judgment was obviously superior to everybody else’s.

House Speaker Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, said they sent Schweitzer jobs-creating bills and believe the vetoes went against Montanans’ will.  “We’re hoping that he’s doing this not for political purposes or not for entertainment purposes, that it’s something that he truly believes in,” Milburn said. “But the show, whatever it was, we were figuring it was more for entertainment value.”

And you know, it’s just heartbreaking to know that the Commission of Political Practices was actually doing corrupt and despicable things while Schweitzer was in office.  Surely Brian Schweitzer would not have tolerated any hanky-panky if he had known about it, right?

According to IRS records, Council for a Sustainable America, or CSA, was formed in 2008 in Helena as a 527 political action committee to “educate voters about elected officials and candidates.” Gallik, the former commissioner of political practices, was listed as the group’s treasurer. Gallik, a Helena attorney, declined to comment on the organization, its purpose or its activities. Citing attorney-client privilege, Gallik said, “Even if I knew — and I’m not saying I do or I don’t — I can’t go there.”

We know what a loyal Democrat Brian Schweitzer was.  And obviously, all of his fellow Democrats just loved him.

The source said Tester was “sticking knives” in Schweitzer’s potential run. In the days before Schweitzer decided to drop his potential bid, a number of stories emerged about Schweitzer’s ties to “dark” and “secret money” groups.  Three sources close to Schweitzer’s campaign fingered Tester’s camp as the source of two unflattering stories that popped up in the past week — one in Politico and one in the local Great Falls Tribune. These sources singled out Tester and Tom Lopach, his chief of staff.

Brian Schweitzer was for the common man.  He was opposed to dark money in politics – umm, I mean, well, for . . . other people.

It’s just such a shame.  Brian Schweitzer was as clean as the driven snow.  He was a star on David Letterman and Bill Maher.  He had no ego at all.  Everybody loved him!  So much so, in fact, that he was being groomed to run for President some day!  And those rumors about corruption, well . . . how could they be true?

Blixseth and Flynn have repeatedly charged that Kirscher’s bankruptcy decision was fraudulently influenced in a 2009 meeting with Montana’s governor at the time, Schweitzer. The meeting resulted in a decision to allow Blixseth’s ex-wife and Sam Byrne, a Boston real estate investor with ties to the Democratic Party, to buy the Yellowstone Club at a price substantially below market value after the bankruptcy had been declared.  Flynn further alleged in a letter shared with WND, addressed to the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, that Burkle, Byrne and Schweitzer funneled more than $1.2 million through the Democratic Governor’s Association in 2008 to the Montana Democratic Party for the benefit of Schwitzer’s re-election campaign.

Well, I am just heartbroken that former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer  is being accused of all of these terrible things when we all know they could not possibly be true!  Say it isn’t so, Brian!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side
Say it isn’t so painful
To tell me that you’re dissatisfied.
Last time I asked you
I really got a lame excuse.
I know that you lied.

Say It Isn’t So – Hall and Oates

You Paid $3,652 For My Short Flight. Thanks!

Silver Airlines*update 6/13/2013 – common sense prevails as Essential Air Service subsidies for Lewistown and Miles City are finally cancelled

 

Thank you, taxpayers!

I just booked a flight from Lewistown to Billings.   I fly frequently out of Billings, and usually I just drive to the airport – it’s only a two-hour trip.  I often stay overnight at a Billings hotel so I can leave my vehicle there until my return, because long-term parking at the airport is pretty expensive.  But last week I read in our local paper that we are only averaging one passenger per day through our Lewistown airport.  That’s one passenger for two flights in and two flights out.  Per day.  Kind of embarrassing.

So I thought I would check it out.  My airfare was only $71!  Heck, I would spend that on gas taking my truck to Billings and back, plus I would have to pay for a hotel or parking.  Why not?

How, you may ask, can air transportation from a little town like Lewistown be such a bargain?  It’s called Essential Air Service.   You wonderful taxpayers subsidize our tiny airline to make sure we don’t have to buy gas from a greedy privately-owned gas station and spend money at some evil, profit-hungry privately-owned hotel.  It’s one of those programs that our federal government says we just can’t live without.   In fact, they absolutely must raise our taxes because programs like this are . . . well, essential.

I am just overwhelmed at your generosity.  I looked up the Essential Air Service subsidy for Lewistown to see how much you are paying for my trip.   Let’s see, the most recent annual contract provides a $1,325,733 subsidy to Silver Airlines for serving Lewistown.  One passenger per day for 365 days, that’s about 365 passengers per year . . .  hmm, according to my simple math, you taxpayers are paying about $3,632 for my short trip to Billings.

Denny Rehberg and Jon Tester and Max Baucus are all big supporters of Essential Air Service.   Some other stingy Congressmen tried to shut down the program, but your Montana buddies don’t have any problem with you guys paying $3,632 for me to fly to Billings.   Oh, plus $3,632 when I return.  I mean after all, heh heh heh . . . it’s not their money!

So thanks again, I’ll be thinking of you as I glide over the Rimrocks into Billings-Logan airport to make my connecting flight.  You know, the Rimrocks sure are pretty, you can look right over the fiscal cliff . . .

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideGimme a ticket for an aeroplane
I ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby just wrote me a letter!
I don’t care how much money I gotta spend
Got to get back to my baby again
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby just wrote me a letter!

The Letter – by the Box Tops

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

Juneau: Montana Kids Are Abused

Montana Children Waiting To Be Fed By Their Teachers

On behalf of the state of Montana, I apologize to America.  Our state superintendent of schools, Denise Juneau, spoke to the DNC and the entire nation yesterday, and I am embarrassed to have everyone see how low our once-great state has sunk.

Juneau revealed to the world that “Sometimes school is the only place where our kids can get a hot meal and a warm hug”.  She admitted that Montana parents do not care enough about their children to even feed them, or show affection.

She confessed that without President Obama, our kids have no chance for success.  But if Obama is re-elected, the opportunities are limitless – our children, she said, can emerge “from a home with a struggling single mom to the White House”.

Montana parents offer no future to our kids, especially single moms and our Native American families.  “Teachers are the only ones who tell kids they can go from the Indian reservation to the Ivy League,” she said.   I’m sorry you have to see how horrible our Montana parents are, based on the damning report by Denise Juneau.  So bad that teachers have to raise our kids for us, and even they can’t succeed unless Barack Obama is re-elected.

Juneau’s opponent for the office of superintendent of Montana schools, Sandy Welch, says if we can stop the Obama administration, senators Baucus and Tester, the EPA, and the radical environmental groups from blocking the development of our abundant energy resources, our economy will improve dramatically, along with family incomes, the tax base, and funds for education.

But Denise Juneau, in her speech, pointed out that it’s better to beg for scraps from a federal government sinking in debt, and rely on more hope and more change from a failed President rather than support Montana parents and local school boards and administrators, even if it holds down teacher salaries.

America, I’m sorry for what has happened to our Montana kids.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Hungry for those good things, baby
Hungry through and through
I’m hungry for that sweet life, baby
With a real fine girl like you

Hungry – Paul Revere and the Raiders