Paul Ryan’s Blues

November 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

It must be hard to be in a band. You write a song and hope it’s a hit. Then, you discover that people, people you don’t like, are using your song for their own purposes. No, no, not advertising – that’s easy and the law covers that. I mean when someone you don’t like, likes your song and wants to use it for something you don’t like.
Pity Bryan Adams when David Duke used “Everything I do I do for You” at his campaign rallies. Or when Bruce Springsteen found “Born in the USA” co-opted by the Reaganites. The other year Johnny Marr of the smiths asked British PM David Cameron to stop saying he liked the Smiths.
So along comes Paul Ryan, devotee of a rather unforgiving brand of Catholicism andalso a devotee of  Ayn Rand’s turgid prose  (although in fairness to Ms. Rand, she loathed religion and lived a rather un-Catholic lifestyle), and who claims one of his favourite bands is Rage Against the Machine. WTF?
Now Mr. Ryan says he likes the music, not the lyric. Hard to beleive given his politics. I like punk, but I don’t own any Skrewdriver records – OK poor example as Skrewdriver were never great, but you get the point. The argument could be made, why is it OK for Barack Obama to like, say, Jay-Z or the Rolling Stones, but Paul Ryan can’t like Rage? I suppose if Obama said he liked Rage it might be pretty odd too, given what both of them represent.
 I really liked the first Rage album.It was angry, political and the hip-hop metal sound hadn’t been copied by everyone yet. I saw them open for Cypress Hill (alnog with Funkdoobiest and Seven Year Bitch) at some venue down near the stables at the CNE in 1993. Great show, but not irony free: At the end of “Killing in the Name of” Zack began his chant of “Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!” clenched fist in air.  What made it comical was when most of the audience joined in. So imagine thousands of people chanting fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me…in unison.  It reminded me of that old Gary Larsen cartton where a speaker addresseds a corwd of thousands and tells them, “You are all individuals.” from that back comes a voice, “I’m not!”
But I digress. Great show, great band. Great first album .  Back in August Tom Morello of RATM penned this piece in Rollling Stone:


Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn’t understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn’t understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.

Ryan claims that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don’t care for Paul Ryan’s sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.

I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of “Fuck the Police”? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!

Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions.

You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that “Those people are undeserving. They’re . . . lesser.” Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff. This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket.

But Rage’s music affects people in different ways. Some tune out what the band stands for and concentrate on the moshing and throwing elbows in the pit. For others, Rage has changed their minds and their lives. Many activists around the world, including organizers of the global occupy movement, were radicalized by Rage Against the Machine and work tirelessly for a more humane and just planet. Perhaps Paul Ryan was moshing when he should have been listening.

My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he’ll pardon Leonard Peltier.  Maybe he’ll throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas. Maybe he’ll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign – and then torture them with Rage music 24/7. That’s one possibility. But I’m not betting on it.


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September Cold and Grumpy

August 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

With September just a few day in sight, it seems fair to ask why to people seem to get in that protest mood this time of year? Is it that summer’s over and we’re beginning that long stretch to Thanksgiving  (or more substantially Christmas) or maybe, it’s just the days getting shorter and the weather cooler.

In any event, the season starts in Ontario on Tuesday when three of the province’s education unions (CUPE, OSSTF and ETFO) have called a protest rally to, well, protest some rather odious legislation about to be passed by the provincial Liberal government.

Essentially, the Liberals have recently made the discovery that it is overly generous social programmes that are responsible for the deficit and that it is social programmes that will have to pay for it. The liberals proposed to the unions they take a two-year wage freeze (to which the unions agreed) as well as further cutbacks (to which they did not). The position of the government has been then, take this deal or we’ll pass a law imposing it. Hmm. Oh and no strikes either. We’re putting that in the law as well.

I’m quietly expecting the unions somehow find a way to make this wholly unpleasant act palatable to their members. But maybe I’m a cynic.

In any event, the rally is at Queen’s Park in Toronto at noon on August 29.



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