Some people wonder why I dedicate one column a week, sometimes my only column (depending on my “real” life’s demands) to music.  The reason, at least for me, is that music is passion, inspiration, motivation, angst and love.    Songs encompass memories, launch dreams and take us to far away places.  Music, like laughter, is universal and, thus, at times it intersects with a larger debate.   These Musical Mondays have been about the music, certainly, but they have also been framed within the larger context of other conversations.  Some of my readers skip the M.M,’s, preferring to wait for the more “serious” pieces.  Frankly, sometimes, the “serious” pieces do not come as I am consumed with my family, my novels and my running (in that order). 

My Musical Mondays aren’t fluff, well, they aren’t usually fluff.  In these pieces we’ve explored loss, conducted eulogies, examined contractual differences, fought intolerance and bullying, debated home schooling, dreamed of world peace, railed against bigotry and hate.  Not bad for a Monday when all one really wants to do is crawl back into bed and search for Saturday.

On August 11th, 2012 presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney chose a running mate, ultra-conservative, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.  There are a great many things about the Congressman that I like.  He values physical fitness and healthy living, he is a father of three (a daughter, then two sons, as I am a mother of a son and then two daughters), happily married, no evidence to the contrary, he loves his country, and he is an avid outdoorsman, enjoying bow hunting and mountain climbing.  That’s the good news.  I’ll go into the bad in just a tick.  Oh, one last thing we have in common, just a year younger than I am, Paul Ryan loves his music, citing : Led Zepplin, Rage Against the Machine and Beethoven as his favorite musical fare.

Well, I’ll say this for Mr. Ryan, he has an ear for the bombastic.  Really, no Wagner?

Rage Against the Machine are not one of my go to groups, although, I have the deepest respect and admiration for their guitarist, Tom Morello.  This gentleman is all that… and a bag of chips.  I kid you not.  I find it the purest form of irony that Representative Ryan should cite this band of all bands.  Rage’s left-wing slant is blatant.  They speak for the 99%, they are passionate and intelligent.  Above all else, their lyrics are in your face, nakedly honest and devoid of subtlety- in a good way.

For example… check out Take The Power Back

One can certainly understand why, with this musical pedigree, I would be curious to see what the members of Rage Against the Machine themselves would have to say.  This was a question quickly answered.  Please see below on what guitarist Tom Morello of Rage, Audioslave, The Nightwatchman and Street Sweeper Social Club had to say in this Ob-Ed piece for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Not your average headbanger- His father was the first Kenyan Ambassador to the UN, his mother had a Masters and raised her son alone. Tom Morello graduated high school with honors and holds a degree from Harvard. A staffer in the eighties for Democrat Alan Cranston, Morello now is a cofounder of and runs Axis of Justice- an organization dedicated to musicians raising political awareness.

August 16, 2012 6:44 PM ET

Last week, Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan, the Republican architect of Congress’s radical right-wing budget plan, as his running mate. Ryan has previously cited Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands. Rage guitarist Tom Morello responds in this exclusive op-ed.

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.

I hope everyone caught the caption on Mr. Morello’s photo above.  This is one well spoken and smart individual.  I love when people surprise us.  Incidentally, that’s one of the things I loved about my late, great fallen hero, Ronnie James Dio.  No one rocked harder, yet, he spoke thoughtfully and intelligently on a variety of important subjects.  I love it so very much when the book is light years more than the cover.
Again, I digress.
If Mr. Morello is Christmas come early in terms of the Renaissance man personified, then Mr. Ryan is a caricature of right-wing catch phrases.  It is, in polite language, disheartening.
I feel a Blog Series coming on, so I’ll be brief.  Trust me, we’ll be revisiting this… and his little friend Akin, too.  Troll.
Put briefly and in the plainest terms.  Ryan’s America is an anathema to free-thinking, tolerant people of compassion.  The highlight reel is too large, so I’ll hit the greatest hits only and, bear in mind, this is subjective, there’s just so much to get angry about, your picks might be different, yet, I think you’ll end up just as angry, even if you choose different highlights.

Vice-Presidential hopeful, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

1.)  Ryan would like to privatize Medicare for everyone under 55.  Mind you, the Stock Market being oh so reliable since the days of deregulation left everyday investors at the mercy of unscrupulous gamblers.  Wait, who voted to rescind those protections? Right, that would be Paul Ryan.
2.) Ryan voted against the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hates Crimes Prevention Act, saying it was an area that government should not be involved in,it’s a “states’ issue.”  Right, because a teenager beaten for being gay and then left to die of exposure and a man beaten for being black and then dragged behind a truck is someone else’s problem.  I know, people close to me would argue I’m not being fair, I’m letting my emotions get the best of me.  They’d be right.  Our emotions make us human.  They are justified and true… voting against this bill was crap.
3.) The organization National Right to Life gave him a 100% rating.  Um, guys, I’m not citing this statistic because it fills me with rainbows and butterflies.  This is NOT a good thing. Again, a blog series may be in order.
4.)  The Human Rights Campaign, a GLBT organization gave Ryan a 0/100.  Again, this is NOT good.
5.)  Ryan supports the jailing of women who have had abortions.
6.)  He would criminalize not only abortion, but also in-vitro fertilization and certain forms of birth control, particularly those forms given to women after a rape.
7.)  He claims to be a “Deficit Cutter”, but voted for some of the biggest spending bills since (and including) The New Deal:  TARP, the two Bush tax cuts, the 2003 Medicare Medical Prescription Part D Plan, and the 700 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) bank bailout. As well as what critics have characterized as two un-funded wars.
8.)  Ryan voted against: The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the Credit Card Holders Bill of  Rights Act of 2009, and the Dodd-FRank Consumer Protection act.  This last Ryan characterized as “class warfare”.  To be accurate, on this final topic he was right.  The 99% were declaring war on the un-Godly rich 1%.  You got a problem with that Mr. Would-Be-Representing-the-Entire-100%, buddy?
There’s more, but I need to take a breath, do some research and remember that Paul Ryan is a person, just like me.  He doesn’t get up each day asking himself how he can best screw up the world.  He approaches each day as we all do, trying to do the best he can.
To see why Paul Ryan doesn’t like Rage’s lyrics, I have included the words to Take the Power Back.  And people… for the love of our rights… take the power back.

The album “Rage Against the Machine” released November 10th, 1992.

Bring that shit in!
Uggh!
Yeah, the movement’s in motion with mass militant poetry
Now check this out…uggh!In the right light, study becomes insight
But the system that dissed us
Teaches us to read and right So called facts are fraud
They want us to allege and pledge
And bow down to their God
Lost the culture, the culture lost
Spun our minds and through time
Ignorance has taken over
Yo, we gotta take the power back!
Bam! Here’s the plan
Motherfuck Uncle Sam
Step back, I know who I am
Raise up your ear, I’ll drop the style and clear
It’s the beats and the lyrics they fear
The rage is relentless
We need a movement with a quickness
You are the witness of change
And to counteract
We gotta take the power backYeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power backThe present curriculum
I put my fist in ‘em
Eurocentric every last one of ‘em
See right through the red, white and blue disguise
With lecture I puncture the structure of lies
Installed in our minds and attempting
To hold us back
We’ve got to take it back
Holes in our spirit causin’ tears and fears
One-sided stories for years and years and years
I’m inferior? Who’s inferior?
Yeah, we need to check the interior
Of the system that cares about only one culture
And that is why
We gotta take the power backYeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power backHey yo check, we’re gonna have to break it, break it,
break it down
Awww shit!Uggh!And like this…uggh!Come on, yeah! Bring it back the other way!The teacher stands in front of the class
But the lesson plan he can’t recall
The student’s eyes don’t perceive the lies
Bouning off every fucking wall
His composure is well kept
I guess he fears playing the fool
The complacent students sit and listen to some of that
Bullshit that he learned in schoolEurope ain’t my rope to swing on
Can’t learn a thing from it
Yet we hang from it
Gotta get it, gotta get it together then
Like the motherfuckin’ weathermen
To expose and close the doors on those who try
To strangle and mangle the truth
‘Cause the circle of hatred continues unless we react
We gotta take the power backYeah, we gotta take the power back
Come on, come on!
We gotta take the power backNo more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more lies
No more liesUggh!Yeah!Take it back y’all
Take it back, a-take it back
A-take it back y’all, come on!
Take it back y’all
Take it back, a-take it back
A-take it back y’all, come on!Uggh!Yeah!
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