More News From the Real World

Yesterday a big truck pulled into our driveway to deliver a refrigerator.  The delivery men were both young, athletic, hard working African-American dads.  One has month-old twins and the other has a couple of young daughters.

After finishing the work, they took some time to visit with us, and I accepted their admiration for my awesome man room.  They were impressed by our new home on the lake, and I could see them wondering, how does a guy get one of these?

My “dad” buzzer went off.  I just can’t resist an opportunity to coach enterprising young people.  I am an unapologetic card-carrying disciple of free enterprise and American capitalism, and nothing makes me happier than seeing a young person who wants to move up and achieve a better life for his or her family.  At risk of embarrassment, here is our conversation, condensed.

Worker 1: “That is a big, beautiful house.  How did you guys get here?”

Me:  “You know, my wife and I started out dirt poor.  We had absolutely nothing.  But we worked hard, and saved, and kept working and saving, and here we are.  It’s America!  We are living proof that the American dream is real and success is out there for anybody who is willing to work for it.”

Worker 1: “I’m thinking about starting my own business, I have a couple of ideas.”

Me: “Owning your own business is great.  If I had known how fun and profitable it is to have your own business, I would have done it long ago.”

Wife: “And it’s a great time to start a business. The economy is booming!  There are all kinds of opportunities right now.  Companies are starting up and growing and hiring people because of the tax reform.”

Worker 2: “Yeah, business has really picked up.  Our company can’t find enough people to hire.”

Wife:  “I’m a Trump supporter and he has really turned things around after Obama.”

Workers 1 and 2 simultaneously:  “That’s for sure, Obama didn’t do us any favors!”

Me:  “Maybe the best thing Trump has done is get rid of all the crazy regulations.  We moved here from Montana, and the oil and coal and mining and agriculture industries have taken off again there because Trump got the EPA and other agencies to back off.”

Worker 2: “I’m going back to school to finish my classes in underwater welding.”

Me:  “Wow!  That sounds like a great career with a lot of demand.  Are you a welder now?”

Worker 2: “Yes.”

Me: “Well if you want to make some big money in a hurry, go to the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and eastern Montana.  Welders there can make six figures because there is so much demand.  Even drivers make big money, and the employers pay for CDLs, help with housing, and have good benefits.  It’s not a great place for the family, but a lot of young guys buck it up for a year or two, make some big money, and then they are set.”

Wife: “There are always great opportunities somewhere.  You may have to move, or do some kind of work you don’t want to do.  We have all done work we didn’t want to, but that’s part of building wealth.”

Me: “I’ve always said I can do anything for a while.  You don’t have to bust your rear end and save your money forever, just for a while.  Then things get a lot easier.”

Worker 2:  “Well, maybe I’ll have a place like yours some day!”

As I said in my last post, don’t believe the silliness you see and hear on the evening news.  They would have you believe that young people, especially minorities, are angry and oppressed.  The leftist politicians and talking heads predict a “blue wave” led by socialists who will save us all from the greedy corporations.

It just isn’t true.  These young African-American dads are typical of the guys on the street that I enjoy meeting and with whom I am proud to share our great American heritage and values.  They understand responsibility, work and reward, they respect employers and capitalism, they know when somebody is trying to blow smoke, and they are optimistic about the direction our country is headed.  And – surprise!  They love Trump!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Stand in the place where you live (now face north)
Think about direction, wonder why you haven’t before
Stand in the place where you work (now face west)
Think about the place where you live
Wonder why you haven’t before

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

Refugees Knockin’ At the Door – Don’t Let ‘Em In

(AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

(AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

Someone’s knockin’ at the door! Somebody’s ringing the bell!

President Obama sings, “Open the door, and let ’em in.”

Never mind that public opinion weighs heavily against allowing Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States. Or that one of the ISIS thugs who brutally murdered Parisians this week is thought to have used a fake Syrian passport, throwing question on whether refugees can be vetted. Or that thirty-one governors (at last count) are opposed to to importing Syrian refugees.

Other governors, like Republican Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Democrat Steve Bullock of Montana are doing the Kabuki dance on the refugee issue. They were for it before they were against it, and then for it again, kinda, but maybe against it. That kind of Charlie Brown leadership does not enhance political resumes.

Republican presidential candidates? Lock the door. Democrats? Let ’em in.

Refugee resettlement advocates would have us believe that this is not such a big deal – it’s only about a relatively small number of Syrians, most of whom are abused Christians, who are seeking refuge in the United States. If only that were true – any of it.

In the first six weeks of this year 98% of all Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. were Sunni Muslim. At least 75% of the immigrants flooding into Europe every day through doors specifically swung open for Syrians are not Syrian, and are not refugees. They are opportunists from third-world countries all over Africa and the Middle East, seeking economic benefits. Why shouldn’t we expect the same in the U.S., especially since nearly all refugees here are on food stamps, cash welfare, and other government benefits, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement?

Not mentioned by the refugee advocates are all the others who are arriving here – the unvetted non-Syrian refugees, the fake asylum seekers, or the illegals who overstayed visas or walked across our porous borders. The recent election of a refugee-happy prime minister to our north doesn’t brighten the situation.

Don’t fall for the crocodile tears. This is not a question of charity – those who clamor for more immigration and refugee resettlement are taking food from the mouths of our own hungry, jobs from our own unemployed, and the hope for a safe nation with traditional American values from our own children. There is no comparing today’s immigration and refugee situation with Ellis Island. This is nothing short of an invasion of our home by people who want to replace us, not join us.

If altruism demands that we help those truly in need, let’s help them in their home countries.  Let’s help them defeat their oppressors, if that’s the cause of their misery.  But if they won’t defend their own homes and families, and come knocking at our door demanding our food, shelter, and safety, we have no choice.

Close the door. Don’t let ’em in.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Someone’s knockin’ at the door,
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell,
Someone’s knockin’ at the door,
Somebody’s ringin’ the bell,
Do me a favor, open the door
And let ’em in!

Let ‘Em In – Paul McCartney

Earth Day in Montana – Day of the Wolves

wolf

My wife stepped out of the front door of our central Montana mountain home, and something moving to her right caught her eye.  She froze in her tracks.

It was a large Canadian gray wolf, ambling across our driveway, on its way to its next meal – probably one of the many whitetail deer that bedded down on our property every night.  Or maybe one of the neighbor’s new calves.

“That is one scary animal,” she said.  “I couldn’t believe how big he was.”  We had been worried about letting our small and admittedly wimpy dachshund, Stretch, out of the house without watching him.  With so many eagles and mountain lions in the area he could easily end up as somebody’s evening snack.  Now we had wolves to worry about, too.

In 1995 the Clinton administration, under cover of the Endangered Species Act, set out to “reintroduce” wolves to the Yellowstone Basin of Montana.  It was not a true reintroduction, because the wolves that were relocated to the Yellowstone were Mackenzie Valley wolves, also known as the Canadian gray wolf.   These wolves had never populated the Yellowstone.   The only wolves indigenous to the area were Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, a smaller and less aggressive species.  Northerns were eradicated from this part of Montana back in the 1920s by cattle ranchers protecting their herds, but are thriving in other areas.

Neither species is endangered.   Far from it, in fact.   They exist in great abundance throughout the northern US and Canada.  Wolves are prolific hunters and reproduce rapidly, causing many to question why this expensive and destructive program was ever even considered.

Government planners claim to have originally intended a population of 300 wolves in the Yellowstone area.  Within a few years the population exploded by the thousands and their hunting ranges had expanded to include the entire Rocky Mountain front, with migration as far as the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Wasatch range in Utah.   Southwestern Montana’s world-class elk herd was decimated, along with a significant portion of the moose population.  Hunting in southern Montana died, taking many hunting-dependent towns and small businesses with it.

Meanwhile, environmentalists embraced and encouraged the pro-wolf agenda.   After all, the wolves were not on their property, dining on their livestock and hamstringing defenseless newborn elk and moose calves in their back yards.  Taxpayer-funded programs were implemented to compensate ranchers for the loss of livestock to wolves, but in most cases it was totally insufficient.

Wolves don’t kill for food only.  Mass killings of animals, especially during birthing season, have been observed, as reported by LewistownLivestock.com:

“We raise both cattle and sheep.  During the past year we have witnessed more “joy” killing by wolves – animals that were alive with their guts hanging out or torn up so badly in the hind quarters they had to be euthanized. We’ve lost two yearling steers weighing over 600 pounds. We’ve lost several ewes and over 25 lambs. These brutal attacks have brought lots of tears. I had to look at my ewes that had their guts torn out and lying on the ground still alive and tell them there was nothing I could do. We live only 100 yards off Highway 1.  These attacks occurred within 1/4 mile of our house. We have elk on our property, and the wolves passed right through them to come down and kill our livestock; so NO, wolves don’t just prey on wild game.” – Leslie Boomer, Boomer Ranch, Drummond

In the absence of any justifiable reason for the reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone Basin, critics of the program suspect ulterior motives, ranging from gun control and the elimination of the hunting pastime and industry to the unambiguous Agenda 21 objective of returning the Mountain West to its aboriginal state, unscathed by human influence.

The Endangered Species Act is one of many government initiatives that started with pure motives, but was co-opted for unrelated purposes and resulted in horrific unintended consequences.   Is it right to sacrifice thousands of elk, moose, and other wild game – not to mention privately owned livestock, the very livelihood of ranchers – in exchange for packs of predators that are not endangered in any way?

This article is available in its entirety at Watchdog Arena.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

In touch with the ground,
I’m on the hunt down I’m after you,
Smell like I sound, I’m lost in a crowd.
And I’m hungry like the wolf.
Straddle the line, in discord and rhyme
I’m on the hunt down I’m after you.
Mouth is alive with juices like wine,
And I’m hungry like the wolf!

Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran Duran

Montana Employees ‘Most Engaged’ In the Nation

Gallup US Map Employee EngagementA Gallup poll was released this week with the headline:  Montana Ranks Highest in Employee Engagement in 2013 and 2014.

That Montana appears in a national news headline is, in itself, newsworthy.  The nation’s fourth-largest state geographically ranks only 44th in population, having just broken the 1 million mark.   With only seven people per square mile, this beautiful “fly over country” is generally pretty inconsequential to the national news media.

So when my beloved Big Sky State is granted a few inches of bold type, it gets my attention.  And as a retired business owner and manager – and an unabashed free-market capitalist – any discussion related to getting, keeping, and motivating employees is compelling to me.

Gallup’s poll asks employers to what extent their people are engaged and enthused about their work and workplace.  Are they passionate about their jobs?  Do they feel a “profound connection” to their company?

In Montana, apparently they do.  In New York, not so much.  What accounts for the difference?

The Gallup article concludes that employees in smaller businesses are more engaged than those lost in a sea of cubicles or a huge factory full of machines.  There are very few large businesses in Montana, so most employees work directly with the owners and managers of their companies.  They see and feel the connection between their own performance and the success of the business.  They rely more closely on each other and know that the success of the individual employee and the company are interwoven.

Another factor is geographic isolation.   Cattle outnumber people almost three to one in the Big Sky State.  My hometown, Lewistown, is the 16th largest city in Montana, with a population of almost 6,000.  Most Montanans live in or near very small communities, and the distance to most services that the rest of the country takes for granted is considerable.  It creates an uncommon level of self-sufficiency.  Montanans learn to weld so they can repair their own equipment.  They plow their own snow or else they would be stranded.  They voluntarily man the fire trucks and ambulances.   Waiting for government services is often just not an option.

And that just might be the difference between Montana and New York.

A few months ago when two feet of snow was predicted in New York, the government told residents to stay home.  And they did.  Two feet of snow in Montana just makes for better elk hunting.  Try telling Montana hunters to stay home after a fresh snow!  And a little snow certainly doesn’t keep those engaged Montana employees from going to work.

History teaches that dependence on government throttles personal ambition and motivation.   And excessive regulation and government control restricts economic growth and standards of living.  Montanans are currently waging what they consider to be an existential battle against federal encroachment, defending their water rights, their natural resources, and their land from a variety of federal programs that threaten seizure, severe regulation, or endless environmental litigation.   30% of Montana land is already “owned” by the federal government.

Montanans are engaged in preserving the sovereignty of their state and the ownership rights of their own property.  They are engaged in the safety, well-being and economic success of their families and communities.   Rather than wait for the federal government to determine their needs and provide for them, Montanans would just as soon the feds butt out.

It’s not hard to see why Montanans are more engaged in their employment than most other Americans.

see this article in its entirety at Watchdog Arena

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Together we’ll stand, divided we’ll fall
Come on now, people let’s get on the ball
And work together.
Come on, come on let’s work together
Because together we will stand
Every boy, every girl and man

MT Senate Candidate Confuses Tea Party with Taliban

Tea-Party-TalibanJohn Bohlinger was once lieutenant governor of Montana – a Republican who shared quarters with Democrat governor Brian Schweitzer.  Strange bedfellows?

Maybe not so much.

Bohlinger is running for Montana’s US Senate seat – as a Democrat.  And his first official act as a member of the progressive party is to bash the Tea Party.   Despicable, but true to form.

My knuckles were white as I wrote our response:

On Tuesday, former Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger announced his candidacy for the Montana US Senate seat in next year’s election.  Today Bohlinger told Chuck Johnson, Lee Newspaper Capital Bureau Chief, that his decision to run was driven by last month’s federal government shutdown, which he blamed on the “Tea Party Taliban”.  He said the Tea Party thought the shutdown was “clever” and “cute”.

It appears that Mr. Bohlinger’s campaign will consist of the same kind of inflamed rhetoric that currently paralyzes our capital.  His alarming lack of understanding of both the Taliban and the Tea Party does little to qualify him as a candidate for such an important office, and insults Montanans who actually fought the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Taliban is a violent terrorist organization of religious extremists who routinely torture and murder innocent men, women and children.  Women, gays, and anyone who opposes their oppressive Sharia laws have no rights under Taliban rule.

The Tea Party is made up of concerned American citizens who support the US Constitution, including its carefully designed citizens’ rights and limits on the scope of government.  We are opposed to government fraud, corruption and waste, and seek fiscal accountability.  We are concerned about profligate government spending, our unsustainable $17 trillion debt, and the mismanagement of our national economy, recently epitomized by the disastrous Affordable Health Care Act.  We want our children and grandchildren to enjoy a standard of living at least somewhat commensurate with our own.

If asked, Mr. Bohlinger would say he supports the Constitution.  He would most likely claim to oppose government waste and fraud.  And he may have good intentions for his children and grandchildren.

The Montana Tea Party Coalition asks Mr. Bohlinger if that makes him a member of the Taliban, too.

Yeah, kinda makes me so mad I want to just go out and behead some women and kids.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Now it cuts like a knife
But it feels so right
It cuts like a knife
But it feels so right

Cuts Like A Knife – Bryan Adams

 

Montanans Used To Tell “North Dakota Jokes”

In the 1970s we Montanans thought we had it going on, and we snickered about our poor sister state to the east.  The “North Dakota Joke” was all the rage back then, and we regaled each other with the latest North Dakota Jokes every morning over coffee. (Did you hear about the power outage at the University of North Dakota library?  Thirty students were stuck on the escalator for three hours!)

north-dakota-joke-bookA Great Falls radio jock made the North Dakota joke a staple of his programming and the focal point of his entertainment career.  He even published books of North Dakota jokes.  I still have one buried somewhere in my stuff.  They were the same old jokes that have mocked every sub-group (Polish, Hillbilly, Ole and Lena, etc.) for generations, except now recycled with “North Dakotan” as the subject of derision.

Times have changed.  North Dakota now occupies the top rung of the economic ladder, and Montana lags in the bottom quartile.  How did that happen?  Montana is richer in natural resources, with abundant coal, agricultural land, timber forests, mining, and tourist attractions.

All North Dakota has is some fertile black soil here and there, lots of snow, and the Bakken shale oil and natural gas reserve.  But the Bakken extends into eastern Montana, too.  And Montana has other proven reserves of shale oil and natural gas.  So one still must ask, why is North Dakota doing so well while Montana looks wistfully over the fence?

I have a friend from my adopted Montana hometown who is not well-educated, but is good with his hands and industrious.  He is a good mechanic, can weld, and is strong as an ox.  But even these attributes are not enough to make a good living for his young family, so like many of his fellow Montanans, he is headed east for work.  He said:

“I can make $12,000 a month in North Dakota, with no expenses.  Room and board are provided in a man-camp,  I work 28 days on and then get 14 days off.  Pretty long days, but I get paid weekly and get a bonus just for showing up.”

The difference between the two states?  Many would say it comes down to conservative values, work ethic, and plain-old common sense.

Montana changed dramatically over the 23 years from when I left the state for a corporate career to when I came back home to recharge in the beauty and character of the Big Sky.  It was a place where miners, loggers, and ranchers worked hard and played hard.  They loved the land and put it to good use.  An honest, fiercely independent bunch, they had little use for government interference, preferring to solve problems and seize opportunities on their own.

When I returned, some of those people were still here.  But I was astonished at the numbers and political reach of environmentalists, government bureaucrats, and zealous newcomers who wanted to recreate our state in the socially-conscious image of California or Washington.  “Diversity” and “sustainability” were now the order of the day.  As the federal government took a firmer grip on the administration of the state, as outside influence without benefit of Montana history and values grew, and as priorities shifted from creation of wealth to redistribution of it, Montana’s economy slid downhill like springtime snow in the high peaks.

Meanwhile, North Dakota just kept chugging along, taking care of its own and eschewing federal influence and controls.  When opportunity arose, North Dakotans seized the day.  “We’re very old-school pro-business here,” said Vicky Steiner, a Republican state representative who serves as executive director of the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties. “In some states, people say ‘not in my back yard.’ Here, we believe that our resources should be developed.”

The political conflict in Montana continues, and the Big Sky state will take center stage in the 2014 federal elections.  The Obama administration is adamantly opposed to fossil fuel development, and virtually all Democrat officials – state and federal – tend to fall in lock-step.  Drilling, fracking, and pipelines are under assault.  The leftward lurch in Montana has been not economically favorable over the last few decades, and it remains to be seen if Montanans will stop or reverse the trend.

If not, we may soon be hearing “Montana Jokes” on a Bismarck radio station.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Don’t think I’m being funny when I say
You got just what you deserve
I can’t help feeling you found out today
You thought you were too good you had a lot of nerve

Laugh, Laugh – the Beau Brummels

Here’s a very short video of a very solid Bay-Area band from the mid-sixties.  Enjoy!