I’m About To Give You All My Money, Give Me Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Government_spending2What does government do?  What CAN government do?

In a nutshell, the only thing government can do is spend our money.  Period.  That’s all, folks.

Our governments – city, county, state, federal – pass bills that spend our money.  Whatever they do, it involves spending our money.  If they are doing more, that means they are spending more money.  The more they do, the more they spend.  If we criticize them for not doing enough, that means we think they are not spending enough of our money.

Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Greenie Meanie Weenie, it doesn’t matter.  The only reason any politician exists is to spend our money.

The longer a politician is in office, the more money he/she has spent.  In fact, those elected officials who rise to the top of the food chain find themselves in position to spend even more money than everybody else. They get re-elected by promising to spend more of our money.  Two of the most powerful people in Congress are the heads of the Appropriations Committees.  In the Senate, that would be Thad Cochran (R-MS) – whose last election is legendary in the annals of dirty and criminal political maneuvers.  In the House, it would be Hal Rogers (R-KY), known as the “Prince of Pork”.

Thinking Americans have come to realize that more government, bigger government, more spending has not solved our problems as a nation.  Big government has only funneled money from some of us to others of us, but has not improved the standard of living for all of us.  Those with government connections continue to thrive while the middle class has all but disappeared and the growing underclass has become hopelessly dependent on government programs.

It took a few hundred years, but today’s politicians have figured it out – election and re-election can be easily won by buying votes with somebody else’s money.

If this sounds cynical, I’m sorry.  Tell me where I’m wrong.

But there is good news.  We can get out of this mess, and it’s an easy fix.  All we have to do is ask every candidate for public office one simple question:  Will you reduce the size and cost of government?

If the answer is yes, give that person money and vote for him or her.  If the answer is no, run like hell.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I’m about to give you all of my money
And all I’m askin’ is for a little respect
When I come home.
Hey, hey, hey!

Respect – Otis Redding


You thought I was giving you a song by ARETHA didn’t ya!  Otis Redding wrote and recorded Respect in 1965.  Aretha Franklin covered it two years later, and it became a classic – one of the rare instances where the cover beats the original.  I do this song every weekend with my family band Caution! Blind Driver, and our audiences are always surprised when I sing it instead of our female vocalist, my daughter Jenny.  Here is a video of Otis singing this R&B standard on Dec. 9, 1967.  Sadly, he was killed the next day in a plane crash.

John Lennon – Liberal? Or Conservative?

beatlesI’m a Beatle baby.  I grew up with the Beatles.  In my pre-pube years I watched their movies, listened to their hit songs on the radio, saw them on Ed Sullivan, and tried to figure out why all the girls were screaming.  Like every other music-aware and girl-aware boy, I wanted to be a Beatle.   I just couldn’t decide which one.

At first I thought being a British Invasion drummer would be the pinnacle of success. Here’s my story, a song I wrote and recorded a couple of years ago:

To this day I revere the Beatles (living and dead) – their magical songwriting skills, their charisma, their larger-than-life grip on pop culture, and their legendary worldview that grew beyond anything that could have been scripted.   John, Paul, George and Ringo set the tempo of the universe, both musically and socially.  They had the world by the ass.

Many of you who Rock with me On The Right Side might think that the long-haired, dope-smoking, guru-worshipping Beatles of the sixties were on the wrong side of political history.  How on Earth could conservative Tom still get such a big buzz when he hears “Baby, You Can Drive My Car”, or “Lady Madonna” ?

Well, to tell you the truth, I never really tried to extract any deep message.  Nor did you.  Much of their lyrical message was nonsense.

I am the Egg Man! They are the Egg Men! I am the Walrus! Goo Goo, Goo Joob!

Lennon and McCartney occasionally tried to convey an overtly political message.   Usually it was something basic, like “Give Peace A Chance.”  But let’s face it: they weren’t world leaders, they were relatively uneducated twenty-something kids who were getting a lot of attention. They had no clue what message would have positive results for their world and that of the future.

But they did have the world by the ass, and still do.  I still love to play and sing Beatle songs.  I plead guilty to the crime of passionately singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” to audiences of all persuasions, including Montana cowboys:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Could there be a more liberal, “one world order” message than that?  I kind of hope that nobody really pays attention to those lyrics when I sing them.  Just enjoy the beautiful song.

But then I revel in Lennon’s totally conservative anthem “Revolution”, in which he proclaims:

You say you’ll change the constitution, well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution, well, you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?

Was John Lennon a liberal, or a conservative?  I don’t think he really cared.  He was just searching for reality.  For truth.  Hell, maybe he was so stoned most of the time he couldn’t tell the difference.  I suppose he stumbled onto wisdom and dreams from both sides, like many of us who try to make sense of the news today.

Anyway, thinking about Lennon, and the Beatles, and the huge philosophical and political differences between the left and the right today, it reminds me to . . . just keep an open mind.  Listen.  Think.  Teach.  Stay level.  And do your best to help make the world a better place for our kids and grandkids.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?

RIP John Lennon

I Didn’t Serve

photo by Henry Huet - AP

photo by Henry Huet – AP

I didn’t serve in the military.

When I graduated from high school in 1971 the war in Vietnam was the ugliest wart on a butt-ugly year.  Cambodia and Laos were dragged into the mess.  American soldiers increasingly turned to drugs to numb the effects of the seemingly endless war.  Anti-war protests turned violent.  The US economy was in the tank, suffering ever-higher inflation, unemployment, and taxes.  American cars were so bad the Chevy Vega was named “car of the year.”  President Richard Nixon initiated wage and price controls – not exactly a free-market solution to our economic problems.  The nightly news in 1971 was grim, to say the least.

As a high school senior I had been recruited by all the military branches, especially the Marines.  I considered joining, because I wanted to go to college and didn’t have any way to afford it.  But I knew I wasn’t tough enough to be a Marine, and nobody wanted to go to Vietnam.

August of 1971 was the last military draft lottery and my number was 228 – I was not going to be drafted.  So my family scraped together a few dollars, I took a couple of part-time jobs, and off I went to college.

No, I didn’t serve in the military.  And I have always regretted it.

I envy my friends who served.  They have fond memories of the comradery, the travel, the hyper-organized “get-it-done” military attitude and lifestyle.  They worked hard but served with pride and they smile as they look back on their military years.  They seem to have a maturity that is absent in many of their peers.

I have a fascination with military technology and history, and can lose whole days of vacation time rattling around on a decommissioned aircraft carrier or studying the mechanical intricacy of WWII bombers.  I watch war movies and get caught up in the patriotism and adventure.  I admire the polish and confidence of the young men and women who return from service in the Middle East.

But I also know that war is hell, and I wasn’t ready for hell in 1971.  I have profound respect and admiration for the guys who kept crawling up the hill on Tarawa, over the dead bodies of comrades and enemies.  For the bomber crews who kept strapping in, knowing that the odds were against completing their required 25 missions over Germany.  For the GIs who manned up for another breathless patrol into the steaming jungles of Vietnam – and another, and another.

I didn’t serve.  But I mourn the loss and injury of every serviceman and woman who did.  And I am infuriated when our government sometimes treats our warriors and their families so badly, while too-frequently coddling our enemies.

I didn’t serve.  God bless all of you who do, and who did.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Paul Revere and the Raiders have been among our strongest supporters of Vietnam veterans.  For many years Paul Revere led the “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle rally to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.  He and the band donated the proceeds from their “Ride to the Wall” CD and tour events to veterans organizations, and still honor our veterans at every performance.  If this super group of patriots is playing near you, don’t miss their top-notch show – they are just as hot as they were in 1966.  Here’s a clip from one of their events, a shout-out to the Vietnam Vets.

Even Liberal Musicians Rock On the Right Side Sometimes

mcartneySometimes it’s hard to reconcile my conservative viewpoints with my claim to be a classic rock guitar-slinger. Yes, I must sheepishly admit that I have sung John Lennon’s “Imagine” in public – to Montana cowboys, no less. And yes, my fellow rock songwriters came up with such mindless liberal claptrap as “Love the One You’re With” and “We Are the World, We Are the Children”.

Still, it’s surprising how often musicians and songwriters, who normally lurch leftward in lockstep, are caught “Rockin’ On the Right Side”.

Here are a few golden nuggets of conservative logic unexpectedly gleaned from the bottom of the old prospector’s pan:

• “I’m in trouble deep, but I’ve made up my mind – I’m keeping my baby!” – Madonna, ‘Papa Don’t Preach’
• “Tax the rich, feed the poor – until there ain’t no rich no more.” – Alvin Lee, ‘I’d Love to Save the World’
• “Let me tell you how it will be, there’s one for you, nineteen for me. ‘Cause I’m the taxman.” – George Harrison, ‘Taxman’
• “You say you’ll change the constitution. Well, you know – we all want to change your head.” – John Lennon, ‘Revolution’.
• “If ya can’t feed the baby, then don’t have a baby!” – Michael Jackson, ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’
• “I pay my money to the welfare line – I see you standing in it every time!” – War, ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’
• “You can’t always get what you want.” – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
• “All the things that made us great got left so far behind.” – John Fogerty, ‘Gunslinger”

I love my rock and roll, in spite of the preponderance of underinformed knuckleheads in our fraternity. They mean well, they just don’t know any better.  When one of them slips up and starts “Rockin’ On the Right Side”, I have to give a little cheer!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

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

Simon Says

Can we take a break from politics for a minute?

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

It’s all about the ones we love.

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

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

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

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

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Ugly Racism – Randy Newman Votes By Color

A few weeks ago I posed the question: Do You Vote By Color?

Today I learned, sadly, that Randy Newman does.  It’s a bitter pill – Newman is a great songwriter, a thoughtful man, and a champion of the little guy.  I have always loved his musical craftsmanship, and he seems to get better with age.

But now it turns out that Newman chooses his political leaders by skin color.  Purely based on race, nothing else.  No consideration of experience, knowledge, leadership abilities, economic dexterity, or understanding of the nation and its citizens.

Just pigmentation.

Newman’s new song “I’m Dreaming of a White President” is an attempt to skewer people who may have voted for someone only because he (all past presidents, inferred) is white – which is reprehensible.  But in doing so, he advocates voting for someone only because he (Obama, inferred) is black.  Just as reprehensible.

Mr. Newman, Obama got elected.  The race card is no longer valid.  Please burn yours and start thinking about the future of the nation and your grandchildren instead of the harm done to blacks many generations ago.  You do no one any favors by fanning the flames of racism, or revealing your own.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

And now a child can understand
That this is the law of all the land
All the land!

Black and White – Three Dog Night