Good Day To Be A Conservative

sunshineToday it feels good to be a conservative.  Heck I might even claim the Republicans again for the first time in a long while.

Last week John Boehner finally listened to the people and decided to stand his ground against the intransigent, ideologue Democrats.  Many weak-kneed squishy Republicans spent the last few weeks hiding under their desks, afraid to be “blamed” for fighting a program that they know is harmful to the nation – and even they have now sheepishly joined the fray.

Then Ted Cruz jumped to the front of the battle, his brave filibuster inspiring everyone on the right side to finally stand up.  Well, almost everybody – John McCain showed us why it’s probably a good thing he was defeated in his presidential run.  Cruz was still making perfect sense and a compelling argument against the Train Wreck after a physically grueling 21 hours on his feet at the microphone.

How refreshing to finally see some leadership in the GOP.  It’s about damn time!  Where were the Ted Cruz’s during the last two presidential elections?  Will we ever learn the futility of running milk-toast candidates?

Today the federal government is shut down.  Oh, we know that it’s a charade.  We aren’t really going to stop, or even slow federal spending.  In a few weeks the federal employees who are now furloughed will receive full back-pay – it’s just another paid vacation to them.   The grants will still flow, the cronies will line up at the trough, and we conservatives will still be branded as hard-hearted meanies and racists for even questioning the insanity.

But today there is big-time symbolic significance.   Finally somebody has gathered the fortitude to Just Say No.

It’s a good day to be a conservative in America.  There may be hope after all.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Good day sunshine!
Good day sunshine!
I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about!

Good Day Sunshine – the Beatles

Rep. Pittenger (R-NC) Throws In the ObamaCare Towel

pittengerTo his credit, US House Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is facing his constituents at a half-dozen town hall meetings this month while most of his counterparts in Congress are on vacation, stoking barbecues and fishing.  I attended one of his meetings at the Mathews Town Hall this evening, and understood why most legislators are spending the month out of the public eye.

Pittenger was braced for confrontation even before the event began.  He had prepared a brief two-part introduction: 1) he demanded that the audience be “civil”, and 2) he only wanted to spend a minute or so on any given topic.   Pittenger knew there was one question burning in the minds of most attendees, and he knew his position was not popular with the group, which I would characterize as two-thirds Tea Party and Conservatives, and one-third Democrats and moderate Republicans.

The first volley was predictable, in light of earlier criticism leveled at the Congressman:  “Will you vote for a House bill that funds the entire requested appropriation only if ObamaCare is defunded?”  As the crowd roared its approval, Pittenger dismissed the issue with a wave of his hand.  “No,” was the answer.  “The political reality is that such a bill can’t be passed.”

“I voted against funding ObamaCare 15 times,” he repeated several times during the discourse.  Critics noted that it is easy to vote for no-risk bills that clearly will not pass the Senate or be signed by the President, but much harder to take a principled stand that could result in shutting down the government.

He repeatedly called out critics with the line, “Do you really want to stop the paychecks of our soldiers in Afghanistan?”  He did not ask if the group would mind emptying some desks in the nation’s capital, or cutting back on any of the numerous corrupt, obsolete, frivolous and costly federal programs.

Pittenger insisted that there is no chance to get such a bill through the Senate and the President, despite protests from the audience that it would be the Democrats who be risking public condemnation for “shutting down the government.”  Several conservatives in the audience chided Pittenger for lack of courage.  “We weren’t expected to win the Revolutionary War either,” said one. “But we kept fighting.”

Pittenger urged the group to support Republican candidates, instead of “standing around and beating your chests”. He exhorted them to express their frustrations to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, rather than to him.  And he defended his conservative voting record, citing a 100% rating from the Heritage Action Scorecard so far this year.

Congressman Pittenger is opposed to Common Core and insists on securing the borders before considering any amnesty for illegal immigrants.  He smacked all of the conservative fastballs thrown his way out of the park.  Except one.  And that one left conservatives filing out of the Mathews Town Hall shaking their heads.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

So let’s leave it alone,
‘Cause we can’t see eye to eye.
There ain’t no good guys,
There ain’t no bad guys.
There’s only you and me and we just disagree.

We Just Disagree – Dave Mason

Max Baucus Was Right – ObamaCare CrazyTrain Wreck Will Be Brutal

train wreckA few months ago Montana senator Max Baucus committed political suicide by telling the truth.  The finance committee chairman pulled back the ObamaCare curtain when he told Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “I just see a huge train wreck coming down.”  He was immediately thrown under the Obama/Democrat bus and announced his retirement, relieved of the burden of living lie after lie for the benefit of his party.

The ObamaCare train is barreling down the tracks full speed even as we speak, and in a few months the inevitable, explosive wreck will occur when millions of Americans find that their employers have dropped their coverage, leaving them at the mercy of a government bureaucracy that doesn’t know what it’s doing, and the rest take a huge hit to the pocketbook, jolting the already-fragile economy.

Employers have been weighing whether to pay higher benefit costs or take the cheaper route of paying the penalties for dropping health care coverage.  Neither is good for business, employees, or the economy.  Workers who still have employer-provided health care will find their premium cost share much higher.  Those who don’t will begin paying their own premiums to the government exchanges, which are years from being functional (if any government program can actually be functional).   And employees who refuse to sign up will face stiff tax penalties at the end of the year.

Sebelius said, “I don’t know what he [Baucus] is looking at . . . we are on track to fully implement marketplaces in Jan. 2014, and to be open for open enrollment.”  Yeah, right.

Enrollment is supposed to start October 1 – ninety days from now.  Do you see any evidence that the Dept. of Hope and Change is ready to provide health care to millions and millions of new dependents?  Is the health care exchange ready to go in your state?  Have you been informed of your options?

The Obama administration soldiers on in the face of adversity, doing what it has always done when faced with a difficult problem – more campaigning.  Sebelius is trying to enlist the NBA, NFL, and other celebrities to launch a propaganda campaign promoting ObamaCare.  Response has been tepid, at best – not surprising, considering Kobe Bryant’s taxes will go up by a quarter million dollars because of ObamaCare.

Oh yeah, this is going to be ugly.

Conservatives in the House have voted to repeal parts or all of the train wreck, but it’s like putting pennies on the track – not going to even slow the behemoth down.

Of course we will all be watching – you can’t help but look at a train wreck, even though the carnage is gut-wrenching.  Let’s just hope somebody steps forward in the upcoming elections who can clean up the mess from this crazy train.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I’ve listened to preachers,
I’ve listened to fools,
I’ve watched all the dropouts,
Who make their own rules,
One person conditioned to rule and control,
The media sells it and you live the role.
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train!

Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne


Here’s some fun for all you Headbangers on the Right Side!


Livin’ In a Land Down Under

kangaroosI spent a day with some friends from Australia last weekend.  It’s sad to say, but they were more engaged in and knowledgeable about American politics and economics than most fellow Yankees I meet.

We had riveting discussions comparing the political and economic situations of our two countries.  One thing became obvious right away – wage rates “down under” far exceed ours.  While the Aussie dollar and the American dollar are near parity, Australian laborers earn $25 or more per hour, while the norm in my American city seems to be about $12 per hour.  Australian professionals appear to earn considerably more than Americans do as well, but taxes take a pretty healthy bite, and prices are high on some items.

Our three guests were all government employees, yet they were very fiscally conservative.  One was a nurse who works for a government-owned and operated health care system.  She explained that citizens who purchase private health insurance can choose their own (presumably superior) doctors and care facilities.  No one is refused care at the public hospitals.

I was surprised to learn that the unions and government are combatants in Australia.  And my friends were shocked to hear about the circle of corruption in the US, where government employees’ unions get politicians elected in exchange for favors and more government jobs.  They wondered why they had not heard about some of the issues I presented, and I explained that for many years our news media have been bedfellows with the democrats, and their reporting is rigidly slanted in that direction (with the exception of Fox News, for whom my guests had no respect).  The Aussies are not impressed with the dearth of real news here, lamenting that they never hear their nation even mentioned in the media.

When we expressed our concerns about vote fraud in recent elections, especially in Montana, they described how their election system requires each citizen to vote – and failure to do so results in a hefty fine.  “We don’t use voting machines, it’s all done manually under great scrutiny,” we were told.

They weren’t pleased that their current prime minister, Julia Gillard of the Labor Party, was not elected by the people.  She assumed office in 2010 when her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, was ousted as the Labor Party leader.  “And she won’t be elected this September, either!”  they announced with firm resolve.  It bothered me greatly that until our visit I didn’t even know who the leader of Australia is.

We shared common concerns about the leftward (and downward) drift in education, and the over-reaching environmental movement.  They understood our worries about illegal immigration: “You mean your immigrants don’t have national identification cards?” they asked.  Of course their border is protected by a rather large ocean.

The big eye-opener for the Aussies was our commitment to the second amendment.  At age 30, one of our guests had never seen or touched a gun.  I showed her mine, and it was as if all the oxygen was sucked out of the room.  My wife and I explained concealed carry permits, and our belief in the fundamental right to protect ourselves, our families, and our property.  They insisted that the bad guys in Australia don’t have guns, so the good guys don’t need them either.  I hope they are right about that.  In our case, unilateral disarmament would be suicidal.

Our friends are well aware of the United States’ tenuous economic condition and our stifling $16 trillion dollar debt.  We pondered where is the “best place” to be, economically and politically, in a world where trouble lurks in every corner.

“We think we have it pretty straight,” they said.  I couldn’t disagree.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Livin’ in a land down under,
Where women glow and men plunder,
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover!

Land Down Under – Men at Work

How Do You Do It, Max Baucus?

baucusMax Baucus has represented Montana in the U.S. Senate since 1978, and has been re-elected six times.  He plans to run again next year.

Baucus has overcome a slew of criticisms to maintain his grip on the biggest pot of money on planet Earth.  Critics say Baucus has lost touch with Montana, doesn’t live there, and rarely visits the state he represents.   I believe voters cut him some slack on that one.  His work is in the nation’s capital, and it makes sense that he should have a home there.  Still, many Montanans are concerned that 91% of his previous campaign funds came from out-of-state sources.

Max’s personal morals have also been called into question, including lurid stories in the national press of divorces and infidelity, jobs for girlfriends, and crony capitalism.  The video of Baucus’ apparently-inebriated speech on the Senate floor has 2 million YouTube hits.  Defenders say he was just “tired” – watch the video and judge for yourself.  But Bill Clinton lowered the threshold of voter pain on skanky behavior, and Barack Obama has established crony paybacks as an acceptable primary fundraising strategy in the expensive world of national politics.  The “Foster Brooks” impersonation was avoided by the mainstream media.  Montanans might believe lapses in personal ethics can be overlooked if their congressman votes right.

Montanans should be alarmed, however, when Baucus’ votes and considerable influence run counter to their principles.  Responses from the last five years of Montana Chamber of Commerce surveys indicate:

    • 64% (5-yr. avg.) of Montana voters say our national economy is on the ‘wrong track’, versus 23% ‘right track’, with chronic unemployment, anemic GDP growth, and irreparable debt and deficits.  All that time Senator Baucus has been at the helm of Senate committees including Finance, Taxation, IRS Oversight, Long-term Growth,  Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth, and Deficit Reduction.  The Senate has not passed a budget for four years, and looks as if they never will.

    • While Montanans’ top financial concern continues to be health care costs,  Senator Baucus led the charge for ObamaCare, despite knowing it would raise taxes on Americans, damage Medicare, and add to the national debt and deficits.  He has always been tight with “Big-Pharma” lobbyists, and remains one of the leading recipients of political contributions from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

    • A solid majority of Montanans have unfavorable opinions of environmental groups, labor unions, and trial lawyers.  Baucus supported unpopular global warming legislation, the unions salivate over the millions of new members they will gain thanks to his health care reform plans, and trial lawyers shovel endless money to Baucus campaigns in exchange for avoiding tort reform in Max’s health care bills.

With all of this baggage, and Baucus’ apparent disdain for Montana voters, how does he keep getting re-elected?

Is it the huge sums of money required for an opponent to even consider going toe-to-toe with the well-connected incumbent Senator? (He has already amassed a $3 million war chest for the the next go-around.)

Is it the decades of pork he has funneled to his state? (Montana receives $1.47 back from the federal government for every dollar it pays in taxes.)

Is it his personal charm and boyish good looks? (Women do tend to vote for Democrats.)

It’s time for good conservatives (some of whom are Republicans) to start a serious search for a Senate contender who does not have personal baggage, who can win the hearts and minds of those with financial means, and who is serious about a calling higher than re-election.

Can anybody displace Max Baucus?  It just doesn’t seem like it should be that hard.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

How do you do what you do to me?
I’m feeling blue.
Wish I knew how you do it to me,
But I haven’t a clue.

How Do You Do It? – Gerry and the Pacemakers
(also recorded by the Beatles)
Here’s a great video of one of the most under-rated musicians (Gerry Marsden) and bands (the Pacemakers) of the sixties and the British Invasion. Enjoy!

If Obama Wins – Then What, Montana?

courtesy ConsumerBoomer.com

  • No fracking, drilling, or pipelines – guess what that does to our Montana and US economies – and our future?
  • No coal plants in the US – if we are allowed to mine coal at all, we will probably not be allowed to ship it to the coast by train to meet the huge demand for Asian coal.  Coal dust blows off the train cars, you see.
  • Energy prices will double within a year – (see above).  We will continue to subsidize wind and solar energy companies, electric car manufacturers, and other chosen “winners”, many of whom will not survive economically.
  • $8 per gallon gasoline within two years.  Remember, Energy Secretary Stephen Chu said he wants our gas price to be the same as Europe.
  • At least two more far-left Supreme Court Justices take the bench.
  • Severe restrictions on gun ownership and use (see above – Sotomayor says “the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right.”)  Hunting on government land is forbidden, and is severely restricted on private land.
  • Health care will be expensive and rare.
  • Government employee unions will rule with impugnity.
  • Inflation will skyrocket as national debt soars and the Fed continues to print funny money.
  • Conservative talk radio, free speech, free internet, and Fox News are toast.  The first amendment fades in our memories, like most Constitutional freedoms.
  • Our government will never again write a budget – as Harry Reid said, “There’s no need to have a Democratic budget in my opinion.”  Budget, schmudget.  They can always print more money and spend it however they want.
  • Obama and his administration will make life hell for everyone who opposed them.  Listen to Valerie Jarrett:

    …Valerie Jarrett is letting it be known that if Barack Obama secures election victory next week, there may be, quite literally, hell to pay for those who opposed him…

    …Jarrett told (staff members) ‘After we win this election, it’s our turn. Payback time.

    Everyone not with us is against us and they better be ready because we don’t forget. The ones who helped us will be rewarded, the ones who opposed us will get what they deserve.

    There is going to be hell to pay. Congress won’t be a problem for us this time. No election to worry about after this is over and we have two judges ready to go.’

    She was talking directly to about three of them. Sr. staff. And she wasn’t trying to be quiet about it at all. And they were all listening and shaking their heads and smiling while she said it…

Obama has promised revenge too. If you ever spoke out against the left, watch your back.

I could go on, but it’s more than I can bear on the night before the most important, and the closest, political race of the modern political era. There is so much at stake. We can only pray for God’s mercy at this point. It may be our last chance before prayer is outlawed.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

So let’s bow our heads and pray –
with the unbelievable ZZ TOP

Have Mercy – and – Jesus Has Left Chicago

Dental Work: $8k in US, $500 in Jordan

On a visit to North Carolina last week, I took my wife’s car to our favorite local shop for some work.  It is owned and operated by two brothers from Amman, Jordan.  They emigrated to the US in the turbulent 1980s when the Jordanian government confiscated their successful business under martial law.  At the shop I always enjoy animated conversation with the brothers about families, world politics, current events, and automotive stuff.

While Jordan is still not exactly paradise, life there has improved dramatically in recent years under King Abdullah.  But that’s not the subject of my post this morning.

I asked Sam, the older brother, why he was out of the country the last time I had visited his shop – did he have a medical problem?  No, he said, he just needed some dental work.  That piqued my curiosity.

Sam said he went to two local dentists, and each one quoted him about $8000 for the job.  They prescribed somewhat different procedures, including removing some teeth that were actually healthy.  Uncomfortable with their approaches, and the cost, Sam had the x-rays sent to his family’s dentist in Jordan for a “third” opinion.  “They’re crazy,” was the opinion of the Jordanian dentist.

So Sam flew to Jordan (the trip cost $1500) and had four crowns, two fillings, two root canals, and deep cleaning done there.  For $500.  And they left his good teeth alone.  When he returned, he had the work checked out by one of his local dentists.  “Nice job,” the dentist reported.  Sam had saved six grand.

This points out what is wrong with our American medical system – fee for service.  The more services that are provided, the more money the doctor makes.  And since most of us don’t pay for medical procedures out of our pockets, we don’t check – or care – how much our medical care costs. The other side of the dilemma – cost shifting.  Doctors provide free or under-compensated services via government programs or charity, financed by overcharging those who do pay.

Is ObamaCare the answer?  Oh, hell no!  Government takeover of the medical industry will result in gross inefficiency, incompetence, and rationing – the normal standard of performance for any government work.

But those who say our current health care system is the best in the world are naive.  Our nation has the wealth to do some things medically that other nations can’t.  But the cost is out of control and the quality is not what it should be.

Our next president will have to address the health care issue – it can’t be kicked down the road any longer, or soon many of us will be “medical tourists”.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Here’s an alternate health care plan:
(bet you haven’t heard this one in a while!)

Put the lime in the coconut,
And call me in the morning!

Coconut Song – Harry Nilsson

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

Isn’t It Ironic?

Today’s little list of ironies:

  • Union leaders claim to represent the best interests of their workers – which would be “get us more jobs”.  So why do the unions oppose energy development and infrastructure in our country that would spur the economy, enhance our security by providing energy independence, rebuild our manufacturing base, and create thousands (maybe millions) of jobs?
  • Conservatives love the NRA (National Rifle Association) because of its defense of the second amendment.  But the NRA helped Harry Reid win a very narrow re-election over a true conservative opponent.  Reid, the Democrat Senate leader, is the single biggest obstacle to everything the conservatives believe in and has caused untold damage to the nation in recent years!
  • President Obama promised the most transparent administration in history.  Yet his own social security number does not pass E-Verify (which US businesses are required by federal regulation to file for every new hire), his college records are sealed, and he won’t instruct his Dept. of Justice to release records about the Fast and Furious scandal after years of direct demands by Congressional investigators!

Isn’t it ironic?  Or, as the social media set says: “WTF?”

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Enjoy a classic tune by one of America’s
finest songwriters, Alanis Morissette

And isn’t it ironic
Don’t you think?
A little too ironic
Yeah, I really do think

Ironic – Alanis Morissette

Good Times in Canada, Eh?

We just returned from a fantastic football weekend in Canada.

Yes, they do play football in Canada, and for football junkies like my son and I, it’s a great excuse for a summer road trip.  The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the BC Lions 23 – 20, and the big play was a missed field goal attempt that was run back 129 yards for a touchdown!  Now that’s something you don’t see in the NFL!

Aside from getting our summer football fix, the thing we enjoy most on our northern excursions is our Canuck friends.  They always make us feel welcome, show us a good time, and are as curious about our everyday lives as we are about theirs.

I was delighted to learn that the economy is great in Saskatchewan.  The mean family income is now $73,000, second among the provinces to Alberta.   New shops and restaurants are popping up all over, and business is brisk.  New football stadiums are planned around the country, including Regina. The streets are filled with shiny new cars and trucks, and pockets jingle with loonies and toonies (one- and two-dollar coins).

On the other hand, my Canadian friends worry about public services.  The health care system is a mess.  The average wait time to even see a specialist is now ten weeks, and the six-month wait time after that for routine surgical procedures forces many patients to spend their hard-earned Canadian money at hospitals south of the border.  They view their health care as “free” but when pressed, they admit that they don’t always get the best value for their tax dollars.  It is a sneak preview of ObamaCare.

For all Saskatchewan’s apparent wealth, we couldn’t help but notice the shabby condition of their highways and other infrastructure.  They definitely have some “shovel-ready” jobs.  It seems that Canada has the same problem we have in the US – things left up to the free enterprise system seem to work out just fine, but anything filtered through the mud-bog of government slows to a crawl.

One of my Canadian friends was fascinated to learn that I own guns, and usually keep one close by for personal and family protection, thanks to our second amendment and my Montana concealed carry permit.  “We can’t even buy a bullet, eh?” he lamented.  “Only the bad guys have guns here.”

I didn’t run into any bad guys.  Just a bunch of good guys who love their country, Riders Football, and Canadian beer.  (PS –  no US flags anywhere – no Star Spangled Banner at the game either!  See my blog about that)

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Green is the Colour.
Football is the Game.
We’re all together
and Winning is our aim!

Green Is The Colour – Saskatchewan Roughriders