It’s a TOOMAH!



On June 9, my 46th wedding anniversary, I was launched out of bed at 1:00 am by what I was convinced was a heart attack. My father had heart disease and I was expecting the same. I perched on the side of the bed, lurching rapidly and violently, unable to breathe, talk, or stand. No pain or pressure, just the worst case of hiccups EVER. A major seizure.

We drove to Steele Creek emergency where I reported my heart attack. The doctors did a “triponin test” which would reveal the presence of an enzyme if I actually did have a heart attack. It was negative. Thank God the doctors did not just send me back home, but rather forwarded me to Atrium Hopital in Pineville for an MRI.

After my MRI, “Doctor Doom’ entered my room with a long face and said, “I have very bad news. You have a 9 centimeter brain tumor on your frontal lobe.” Despite his dramatic pronouncement, I was actually relieved – this explained some symptoms I had been experiencing over the last few months. I had been having trouble controlling emotions.  On stage with my family band “Caution! Blind Driver,” I was often singing with a lump in my throat which I had attributed to worsening “stage fright.” I also was finding that my lead guitar work was slipping – I would drift out of a lead riff into never-never land with no bread crumbs to guide me back.

I also had been playing basketball twice a week and could no longer hit a moving shot for the life of me. Plus I found the floor tilting forward and left.

These symptoms and others should have been a tip-off that something was going wrong with me.

Several friends recommended that I get in touch with Dr. Alan Friedman at Duke University, a world-class brain surgeon. We gathered up our MRI scans and headed for Durham.

Dr. Friedman entered the exam room, yanked my cap off my head, and began planning his surgery on the spot. “Hmmm . . . I will cut here, here and here, peel this back, take out the tumor, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.” I felt like I had the best hot rod mechanic in town. Friedman said that based on the size of the tumor, it may have been growing for as long as ten years.

Two weeks later, I am back at home, pretty much completely healed and rehabilitated.  After surgery I had brain swelling and weakness on my right side, but my brain re-mapped and is now back in control of my body.  My musicianship has returned and I am mobile, although I won’t be driving any time soon due to the risk of seizures.

This has been an educational and humbling life experience.  It causes one to stop and smell the roses, appreciating how fragile we are and how miraculous is God’s handiwork.  I have a new appreciation for artists, athletes and warriors who overcome adversity.

Lesson learned:  

PLAY EVERY GIG LIKE IT MIGHT BE YOUR LAST!

I hope to see you at a show this summer.



Ken Miller Found Innocent in Political Witch Hunt

See the source image

After seven years of injustice, the politically charged campaign finance allegations against Ken Miller from his 2012 run for Montana Governor have been fully dismissed with prejudice.  No wrongdoing was found.  On May 24th the dismissal was filed by Judge Seeley.

Miller states,  “Republicans filed the original false charges in the Montana Governor’s race in 2012 just days before primary voting began.”  Miller continues, “Despite our presentation of proof that the COPP charges were false and politically motivated, the media was quick to report the COPP accusations as if they were fact and true, resulting in my not winning the primary election.” Miller continues, “I hope the media can now give this matter the same attention that they did when these false charges were made.”

Miller and his campaign team along with his legal counsel James Brown, provided full documentation based on the COPP’s own data that wrongdoing did not exist, and instead of the Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP) John Motl dismissing the charges quickly, he created new fake allegations that took Miller years of  time and effort to disprove.  Then COPP changed the charges yet again.  After the election was over, the Democrat-controlled COPP office refused to admit their wrongdoing and drop the disproven charges.  They continued to hold the cloud of guilt over Miller for years, even filing a district court case three years ago as a “place holder.”

“It is obvious that the Democrat office wanted to continue this charade to make it more difficult for me to run for public office over the last seven years,” Miller says.

Miller now plans to get commitments from Montana policymakers to agree to do everything they can to change or eliminate the COPP office.  Miller believes political opponents and the COPP should not be able to continue to use the office to sway elections based on false accusations.

Miller wants policymakers to commit to the elimination of the COPP office and to require the Secretary of State to oversee the financial reporting requirements for political candidates.  If a legal dispute exists, then it should go through the court system as other legal disputes do.  Under the current system the COPP is judge, jury and executioner and the lack of due process is patently unconstitutional.

Alternatively, the Montana Attorney General should require political campaign violation cases to be processed by the local County Attorney’s office.  If the County Attorney decides not to press charges, then the complaint is dismissed with prejudice.

Miller says, “Democrats and Republicans should support this effort on a non-partisan basis because while Democrats are currently in control of the COPP, they will inevitably  find themselves on the other side of the fence some day.  This kind of injustice should never be allowed.”

‘Til “Glacier” Freezes Over

A few years ago, before we left our home state of Montana to move to the sunny South, we decided to make one last visit to Glacier National Park.

“Glacier” as Big Sky natives lovingly call it, is the best Montana has to offer. Yellowstone is nice, but touristy and crowded – I look for Yogi and Boo Boo behind every tree, and it seems the feds have something annoyingly “governmental” pounded into every rock. While Glacier has become more commercialized and politically correct than it was in the good old days, it still is somewhat pristine and remains one of the most beautiful spots in the Rocky Mountains.

We visited Glacier in late June, before all the snow was gone for the summer, but after the Going to the Sun Road was opened up, which was early that year (as of today, 6/20/19, half of the road is still not plowed out). We did not want to miss that spectacular drive from West Glacier to St. Mary on what might be our last visit to Glacier.

We arrived at the St. Mary Lodge and did the tour through the grand old main lodge building, enjoying the history of the place and the high mountain ambience.

George Bird Grinnell, a New Yorker, naturalist and western conservationist, pushed for a national park designation which was signed by President Taft in 1910. Glacier National Park was first “civilized” as part of the westward push of the Great Northern Railway across the northern United States and much of the infrastructure was funded, engineered and built by the railroad under James Hill, who saw a tourism profit opportunity . Most of that privately built infrastructure, including hotels and lodges, trails, tracks, tunnels and roads remains in use today and has held up remarkably well.

And this is key. It was not government influence and “protection” of natural resources that made Glacier National Park and other treasures of the American West great; rather, it was private entrepreneurial drive and inspiration.

Salamander Glacier reflects into the blue water of Swiftcurrent Lake.
photo courtesy MyItchyTravelFeet.com

After hanging out at the lodge for a while, we decided to hike the Grinnell Glacier Trail that goes past Swiftcurrent Lake and provides a good view of Salamander Glacier. We could not help but notice the grizzly bear warning signs, and having grown up in bear country south of Glacier, I took them seriously. With so many tourists around it was more likely we would see black bear rather than big grizzers. And we actually did see several black bear.

At the trailhead near the lodge there was a big sign explaining how, because of man-caused Global Warming, the glaciers, including Grinnell, were melting fast and would likely be gone by the year 2020. I admit, as native Montanans, we were temporarily taken aback by this “official” government proclamation, until my conservative skepticism kicked back in. This same propaganda was all over the lodge in brochure racks and informational displays. In 2012 National Geographic produced this work of fiction, (note the obligatory slow, sad PBS victim-style piano music):

Last week it was revealed that the National Park Service was quietly removing all the Global Warming propaganda at Glacier National Park because it has become evident that the glaciers have been growing for some time. Oops. Another embarrassing example of leftists abusing science for political leverage.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

See people rocking — Hear people chanting — Feeling hot hot hot
Keep up this spirit — Come on let’s do it
— Feeling hot hot hot

Hot Hot Hot – Buster Poindexter

Spies Like Us

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see this coming.

Our system of government has devolved to the point where an incumbent president and his administration actually used our own spies to try to steal an election.

The reason I didn’t see it coming is I never would have believed that so many federal officials would be so brazen and unprincipled that they would perform glaring crimes for their bosses. Until the last few years, I thought only Bolivia and Zimbabwe have these kinds of problems, not the United States. Surely, I believed, if anybody tried something this dastardly, there would be a long line of patriots ready step up and blow the whistle.

Today Maria Bartiromo interviewed George Papadopolous on Sunday Morning Futures and he revealed in precise and personal detail the depths to which our Dept. of Justice and intelligence agencies would plunge to destroy a political opponent, both before and after the election.

If you are reading this, you are already part of the well-informed 10% of Americans who have known for a long time that the Obama/Clinton machine set up an elaborate hoax using the FBI, DOJ, FISA court, State Dept., and even foreign intelligence services to create a fictional “collusion” narrative connecting Donald Trump to a Russian scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election. And you know that Obama’s corrupt insiders who remain in deep state power in these same agencies also refused to investigate former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s real collusion with Russia, her flagrant obstruction of justice, and her corrupt financial dealings.

Papadopolous was a stooge who was set up and taken advantage of by experts in espionage and disinformation. He told Bartiromo how he was seduced into a “job” with the London Center of International Law that was actually a setup by the FBI to put him in contact with Joseph Mifsud (a spy for the Russia, the USA, or both) and feed him disinformation to start the wheels turning on an investigation of the Trump campaign. Like every James Bond movie, the spies even tried to set Papadopolous up with a “honey pot”.

Thanks to some intrepid investigative reporting by Judicial Watch, Fox News, and a few other news gatherers outside of the mainstream media, we have been receiving chunks of this sordid story for years now. But Papadopolous just may be the smoking gun, a person who was at ground zero of the attempted coup (or pre-coup) and is talking – and writing – about it.

The fact that foreign governments were involved in the espionage and setup indicates involvement at the highest levels of our administration – Obama, Clinton, Lynch, Comey, Brennan.

The fate of our system of government is now in the hands of attorney general William Barr, who promises to get to the bottom of the abuses by the previous administration and its deep state hangers-on.

It’s a good thing that spies – despite their “intelligence” label – are usually not too smart. We may finally be seeing the beginning of the end of this political nightmare.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Hey hey what do you say
Someone took your plans away
So what’s all the fuss
There ain’t nobody that spies like us

Spies Like Us – Paul McCartney

The Democrats Wouldn’t Treat A Baby Like A Dog

Dogs have always held a special place in American life. But doesn’t it seem like our attachment to our pets has gone a little over the top lately?


Neighborhood social media overflows with passionate concern over “fur babies” who are ill, or lost, or found, or neglected, or dead. Some of the most watched videos on the web show dogs and cats doing crazy, cute things. Yep, I watch them too. My favorite is Crusoe, the Celebrity Dachshund. His fame and popularity have grown to the point where his owners manage Crusoe’s career full-time (over a billion video views and 3 million followers, books and merchandise).

Our pets command not only our attention, but our pocketbooks too. Spending on our pets is expected to reach $100 billion dollars per year in 2020. Retailers and veterinarians are cashing in on our “puppy love.”

Veterinarians are now able to provide remarkable medical care for four-legged patients, knowing that no cost is too high to save a precious pet for many owners. Even without a major medical incident, most dog owners spend hundreds of dollars a year in vet bills just for basic care like heartworm prevention, rabies shots, and flea and tick protection. Add to that teeth cleaning, spaying/neutering, and the occasional injury, and many dog owners are spending a grand every year per dog.

Full disclosure: I have two dachshunds and they are an important part of our family. My family band played a concert at a dog festival last week and I even wrote a song about one of my dogs just for the event.

Born Alive Act


If only all Americans cared as much about human babies as we do about our dogs.

Last week we also traveled to Washington, DC to support the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act.” You see, hundreds of babies are born alive during failed abortion attempts every year and most are left to die without medical care. These are late-term babies who are viable and are clearly human beings in pain and deserving of comfort and attention. The Born Alive Act would require care providers to give medical care to babies who survive an abortion attempt and would penalize those who refuse. We heard from medical professionals who had witnessed these atrocities and from adult survivors of botched abortions, but Democrat opponents still deny that these grisly events actually occur.

Republican congressmen have asked Speaker Pelosi 30 times to get the Born Alive bill out of committee for a floor vote and have been rebuffed each time. So they now have a discharge petition requiring 218 signatures that would force the bill to the floor. Only three Democrat members of congress signed the discharge petition that would require providers to give care to aborted babies born alive. The inhumanity of that is unfathomable to anyone with a soul. But Nancy Pelosi and her charges place political points above human life, and their Democrat supporters march right in line. The unholy cycle of money circulating between congressmen and Planned Parenthood rolls on.

We tried to convince the Democrats on the hill to sign the petition that would save the lives of born alive aborted babies. Sadly, not one of them was persuaded, and their supporters continue to mock our efforts. The petition is evergreen, however, and if enough public pressure is applied, maybe some of the Democrats will grow a heart.

One thing is for sure – they sure wouldn’t treat a dog like that.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale

How Much Is That Doggie In the Window? Patti Page

I Agree With AOC – Stop Bribing Corporations With Our Tax Money

A few weeks ago Amazon decided against putting a new corporate headquarters facility in Queens, New York. Media mega-star freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), an outspoken critic of the $2.5 billion tax break being offered, was blamed for the loss of new jobs Amazon promised. Her motivation for opposing the tax incentive was pretty fuzzy.

“If we were willing to give away $3 billion for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves, if we wanted to. We could hire out more teachers. We can fix our subways. We can put a lot of people to work for that money, if we wanted to,” Ocasio-Cortez said. – FoxNews 2/20/19

AOC, who claims to have a degree in economics, could not grasp the difference between spending existing tax funds and foregoing future tax income.

But I agree with her ultimate aim. I think it’s crazy for cities all over the country to prostitute themselves to the ‘next big thing’ with tax abatement bribes.

It’s not that I believe corporations should pay more taxes, or that reducing taxes is a bad thing. But giving big local tax exemptions to companies who relocate or build new operations just doesn’t make economic sense. Here’s why.

• Local taxes always go up, they never go down. Most of the tax abatements offered to these corporations are reductions in property tax and reduced or free infrastructure cost assessments – streets, utilities, fire stations, etc. All of the costs that were there before the newcomer arrived are still there, plus more. And those costs will be borne by the same local taxpayers who have been footing the bill all along while the new corporation skates.

• Favoring one company over others always screws up the free market. Proponents of tax abatements always justify tax incentives by saying, “If we don’t do it, somebody else will”. So what? Does it harm your city if another city gets a new employer? And are these really new jobs? Isn’t the new company just cherry-picking the good employees already in the local market, leaving their previous employers to find and train new ones? And employees who move to the area for the new jobs will no longer be paying taxes back home, leaving a dent in that economy.

• These deals are often “too good to be true”. It’s not unusual when the new company doesn’t hold up its end of the deal. Promises of thousands of new jobs fall woefully short (FoxConn). Long-term agreements get cut short(Chiquita). And the federal government is no better at corporate welfare than local governments (Solyndra).

My South Carolina county is abuzz this week with word that the Carolina Panthers are considering moving their corporate office and practice facility across the state line to the ‘burbs. Hmm, you don’t suppose they want something in return? And how should Charlotte residents feel after pumping millions of tax dollars into the Panthers’ stadium?

Back in the 80s I was CFO for a locally-owned chain of lumber yards and home centers. My company employed hundreds of good, hard-working taxpaying employees, paid tons of local taxes, and contributed to countless local charities. Then one day the first of the big-box home centers announced it was opening in our city, thanks to a boatload of local tax incentives and up-front benefits. We lost a number of good employees, whom we had trained and nurtured, for a buck or two an hour pay increase. Turns out the new store hired three times as many employees as they intended to keep so they could pick the best of them and dump the rest. They low-balled prices for a few months to entice new customers and then jacked them back up later when nobody was looking. Oh, and yes, the new company was out of business a year and a half into their five-year commitment to the city.

So Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is actually right. We should not subsidize corporations with public money. When our government picks winners and losers, the taxpayers always seem to be the losers.

Soy un perdedor
I’m a loser baby so why don’t you kill me?
(Get crazy with the Cheeze Whiz)

Loser – Beck (cover by the Cleverlys)

Sorry, Dan Rather. Dionne Warwick is Not A Victim.

You might remember Dan Rather, the veteran CBS News anchor and 60 Minutes reporter who was fired in disgrace in 2015 in the first big “fake news” scandal. A devoted Democrat, Rather was caught reporting a fabricated story about President GW Bush’s military service.

Rather went into hiding for a while, but reappeared some years later, doing low-budget work for cable news and entertainment channel AXS, which later dropped out of the news business and now focuses exclusively on music shows. He still works for AXS as the host of “The Big Interview With Dan Rather”, a series of face-to-face talks with popular musicians and entertainers. Rather is not stupid; he knows that nobody will tune in to see him, but if he brings Keith Urban along, he can still score a paycheck.

Like all devout Democrats, Dan Rather is a soft-racist who believes that anyone whose skin is darker than his must be a victim of incessant American injustice, deserving of pity. This makes many of his interviews almost painful to watch. His subjects are individuals who have, through talent and hard work, built extraordinary success. But Rather thinks his main responsibility is assessing the depth of their victimhood status.

“American Idol” milks the same Democrat format. On this show, two contests run concurrently: who is the best singer, and who is the most pitiful? So far this season, contestants include a homeless guy, a kid with cystic fibrosis, a blind girl, an immigrant, and a poor kid from the rural South. Last season a drag queen transgendered contestant made the finals. The cool thing is these people have extraordinary talent and worked hard to develop their skills. The icky thing is the way the network overplays their “victimhood”.

A while back Dan Rather interviewed Dionne Warwick, the beloved and award-winning diva, and it wasn’t long before he turned to his stock-in-trade line of questioning. “You, as an African-American and a woman, had to struggle through those tough categories over your career. What about that?”

Warwick didn’t bat an eye. “I didn’t see any of that,” she replied. She explained that she was never a victim of discrimination on either count. “I don’t believe in negatives,” she continued. “I never felt any of that pressure. If I did, I guess I ignored it.”

Dionne Warwick credits God and songwriters Hal David and Burt Bacharach for her success. Over her career Warwick had 80 singles on the Billboard charts.

Dan Rather pressed on, struggling to make her story one of overcoming racism and sexism and this-ism and that-ism. You know, the Democrat way.

He wanted to know how she coped with all the death in her life. Her brother died in a crash while racing the car she had bought him when she was 26. “At first I felt guilty,” she said. “But then I decided he was an adult and he knew right from wrong.” Her parents had both died within the last ten years or so – Warwick didn’t accept any victimhood on those grounds, either. She was, after all, 75 years old at the time of the interview.

Unrelenting, Rather demanded to know how devastated she was when her superstar cousin, Whitney Houston, died young under grim circumstances including drug use. “Was Whitney Houston a victim of fame?” Rather prodded.

“No,” said the adult in the room, Dionne Warwick. “She was a victim of bad choices.”

Rather wanted so badly to make Dionne Warwick into a victim of some kind. “Don’t make me over,” was her unstated, but clear response.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Accept me for what I am
Accept me for the things I do
Accept me for what I am
Accept me for the things I do

Don't Make Me Over - Dionne Warwick