GOP/TPers’ Theme Music for Election 2012

May 30, 2011

Huckabee with Ted Nugent on guitar, Huckabee Show, FOX News Channel, May 14, 2011. Source:

Ever since Mike Huckabee announced that he wasn’t running for POTUS in the Election ’12 cycle (after playing chords with Ted Nugent), I’ve been thinking about an appropriately snarky and sarcastic way to understand the GOP/Tea Party candidacy process. It’s been a bit confusing. Between Trump and Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, Pawlenty and Romney, Palin and Bachmann, I’d have a hard time finding a candidate I’d vote for even if I were a true American conservative.

But I do know what would help. Theme music to get our juices flowin’, to rile us up about how excited we should be that among these candidates is a challenger worthy of President Barack Obama. Heck, it’s worked before. Ed Meese and Don Regan used Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” and John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” as theme music in ’84. This despite the fact that these were protests songs of an America anti-common man and pro-war.

GOP/TPers can do the same in ’12. Here’s a list of songs to usurp — oops, I mean use — between now and November 6 of next year.

1. Genesis, “Illegal Alien” (1983), as in, “It’s no fun/being an illegal alien” — especially if the GOP/TPers take over in ’12.

2. James Blunt, “No Bravery” (2005), a truthful description of what it takes to run on the GOP/TP ticket, i.e., no independent thought.

3. ABC, “How To Be A Millionaire” (1985), which should be retitled, “How To Be A Billionaire,” since that’s the ultimate goal of the leaders of the GOP – “a million is not enough” could be the party’s new slogan.

4. U2, “Crumbs From Your Table,” (2004), which, if these folks are elected next year, will be all we’ll have to eat by the ’16 election cycle.

Crumbs on my table, courtesy of Noah's old elephant and a Lipton tea bag wrapped around trunk, May 30, 2011. Donald Earl Collins.

5. Chicago, “Hard Habit To Break,” (1984), especially in the refrain, “I’m addicted to you,” meaning easy money from top 1%, debt and low taxes, and oil, oh, sweet crude oil!

6. The Cranberries, “Zombie,” (1994), the sincerest hope of the GOP/TPers when it comes to what’s left of our voting populace.

Herman Cain, They Think You're Stupid Book Cover (more like We Think You're Stupid), 2009. Source: National Black Republican Association,

7. Al Green, “One Of These Good Old Days,” (1972), a tribute to the way the Party of Corporations wants things to be for rich – it’s their climax song!

8. Prince, “1999,” (1983), except they would definitely change it to “1899,” the height of affluent largesse, corporate greed and monopoly-building (until the ’00s), and acceptable racism.

9. Creed, “My Own Prison,” (1997), one of the ultimate dreams of the GOP/TPers, that we’d build our own prisons and then put ourselves in them so they don’t have to worry about job creation.

10. Grover Washington, Jr., “Summer Chill,” (1992), what the party hopes their paid-off scientists can “prove” in a new study funded by the John M. Olin Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the Scaife Foundations, making “Drill, baby, drill” a reality in ANWR.

11. Public Enemy, “Welcome To The Terrordome,” (1989), most likely would be used by the GOP/TPers to promote gladiator-like games as a way to bring the unemployment rate down for those they can’t get to build their own prisons.

12. Sade, “The Sweetest Taboo,” (1985), a tribute to all of their in the closet and anti-gay party members willing to sacrifice the civil and human rights of LGBT Americans everywhere for a seat in Washington.

13. Maxwell, “…Til The Cops Come Knockin’,” (1996), the general plan for all elected GOP/TPers until they’re caught in illegal activities.

In addition, there’s Alexander O’Neal’s “When The Party’s Over” (1987), another example of what would happen to us, our country and our world if the GOP/TPers reclaimed and remained in charge. They’d suck the bottom ninety-nine percent of us dry until the good times are over, and then blame us for not letting them steal the plumbing, too. Please add to this list. I could’ve created an iPod list of a hundred appropriate songs, but fourteen’s just a start. Eat your heart out, Ted Nugent!

The Land of Second Chances – For Who?

October 21, 2010

Purple Mountain Majesty, October 21, 2010. Source:

I’m so tired of hearing commentators talk about how this is a country that gives people second chances. “What? Really? Are you insane?,” I think when I hear such drivel from people like Tony Kornheiser and Joe Scarborough. Do these talking heads even think about who they’re talking about or what they mean when they say the words “second chances?”

Seriously, true second chances in this country are reserved for folks who are among the elite — rich, famous, public officials, entertainers, athletes (sometimes), usually (but not always) White, almost always male and heterosexual. For these folk, America is a land of second chances. For most of us, this isn’t even a land of first chances, much less second ones. As Bruce Springsteen would say, “born down in a dead man’s town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground” is an apt description for a majority of Americans.

The working-poor and living-from-paycheck-to-paycheck sub-middle class, while doing all they can to improve the life chances of their kids, ultimately are dependent on breaks provided within our society for their kids to have a chance. It comes down to a decent, if not happy family life, with no major financial or job disruptions. And living in a decent neighborhood, along with being able to attend an above-average public school or having parents willing to scrape together the money for private or parochial school. Not to mention finding opportunities for outside opportunities for their kids to explore themselves, like through art classes, soccer teams, travel, and so many other things that make growing up more than just a biological process that occurs in chaos.

Little Pink Houses, Carole Spandau, Uploaded October 21, 2010. Source:

Little Pink Houses, Carole Spandau, Uploaded October 21, 2010. Source:

If anything goes wrong, if a kid makes even a relatively minor mistake, that first chance will go away. Homelessness, bankruptcy, poor grades, even minor criminal activity or rebellion against authority figures will short-circuit chance number one. For kids of color, especially males, a robbery, playing around with marijuana, a fight at school or repeating a grade puts them in jeopardy long before they may realize that life doesn’t grant them a whole lot of first chances to begin with.

If these kids are lucky or disciplined enough to make it to adulthood with a high-school education, that may open a door, but it still won’t grant even the first chance. As comedian Chris Rock would say, many of these kids have to “make miracles happen” — force open doors — for that first real chance for their lives.

Not so for the likes of Eliot Spitzer, Ben Roethlisberger, even (to a lesser extent) Michael Vick. These folks aren’t struggling to find themselves while living in obscurity, and have more opportunities to work with in any given day than the average American person will likely have in their lifetime. But for White males with money and/or the public spotlight, second chances are almost automatic. Spitzer has his own show on CNN. Roethlisberger would’ve only lost his job if he’d been convicted of rape. Former Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle is still a respected journalist in many circles, even though he’s a proven a plagiarist and fiction writer. Vick, meanwhile, only got a second chance after he served two years hard time for dogfighting.

Even for the famous and financially fortunate — yet of color — the second chance remains elusive. Tiger Woods didn’t break any laws, didn’t commit a crime, but has spent the past year as a pariah (no need to go into the psychosis that comes with race and males of color, Black ones in particular). Jayson Blair will probably never have another shot at hardcore journalism. Maybe Blair shouldn’t have a second chance, but then, neither should Barnicle.

1%'s Playing Field cartoon (applicable to who gets second chances, too), December 28, 2013. (Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

1%’s Playing Field cartoon (applicable to who gets second chances, too), December 28, 2013. (Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

To be sure, John Edwards, Larry Craig and Jim McGreevey won’t be running for office again. But they are exceptions to the rule. Edwards could’ve jeopardized the Democratic Party’s ’08 election with his scandal, while Craig and McGreevey were outed as closeted gays involved in down-low activities. We don’t give politicians like these second chances.

So, we are a land of second chances. At least for those with the keys to the kingdom of the public arena. You just have to be straight, White, male, affluent, committed a crime before the age of twenty-one — and one that didn’t involve murder or Black-on-White crime — to have them.

As for Ray Rice, because many assume that his one act of domestic violence toward his now wife Janay Palmer Rice is the only one he’s committed, and because of all his charitable contributions, the NFL will grant him a second chance. The question isn’t whether Rice deserves a second chance. The question is why Janay Palmer Rice never had a first chance at a violence-free relationship. The answer is patriarchy, misogyny, racial animus, and increasing class inequality. What second chances, and for whom indeed!

Born In The U.S.A.

October 8, 2009

What does it say about a nation or society when a quarter century can go by and the same issues that were front and center then are ones that vex us now? What does it say about us when our standard operating procedure is to avert our eyes to problems that we know must be fixed yesterday? How should we see ourselves if the arguments of our grandparents and parents become our own, especially as we tidy them up for our children and our eventual grandchildren?

If I were Bruce Springsteen (and the E Street Band, for that matter), I might be a bit pessimistic right now. It’s been twenty five years since his groundbreaking single and album made him a household — and not just a New York tri-state area — name. All of his work prior to the summer and fall of ’84 contained threads of social commentary on America’s malaise. But Born In the U.S.A. and “Born In The U.S.A.” raised his level of folksy commentary to a new level, at least for those of us who weren’t listening to Nebraska or who hadn’t heard of the band or Springsteen before.

It was such a simple song. And yet it expressed all of the disappointment, disillusionment and disgust of a generation of folks who grew up seeing America one way. Only to find out that the promise of America the Beautiful and free that they were fed growing up was really somewhere between porridge and gruel. “Born down in a dead man’s town, the first kick I took was when I hit the ground” is such a bitter, yet appropriate way to start a song about a Vietnam veteran whose life never worked out the way it was supposed to. Work hard, do the patriotic thing, and expect to have a job and a comfortable life, if not a happy and prosperous one was the expectation of most Americans. Not poverty, debt, welfare, homelessness, drug addiction, undereducation, unemployment and incarceration.

I became a closet Bruce Springsteen fan because of “Born In The U.S.A.” With my mother out of work and on welfare, my father in the middle of his third decade of alcohol abuse, a stepfather with the familial skills of Charles Manson, I could relate to all of the rage and confusion in the song. It was a refreshing change from the coke-induced pop, R&B and rap of the period. The mid-80s were so weird. Between Springsteen and the E Street Band, John Mellencamp and U2, you had Thompson Twins, Doug E. Fresh, Madonna’s “Like A Virgin,” New Edition’s “Mr. Telephone Man,” Prince’s “Purple Rain” and “I Would Die 4 U,” and battles over who was the real Roxanne. At least some artists were awake and aware enough to write something for those of us whose lives weren’t exactly a Benetton commercial.

Here we are, a quarter-century later, and nothing really has changed. The highly educated have at least something to fall back on, while those of us with a high school diploma or less face a permanently uncertain future. The rich, while not getting as rich as they were just two years ago, remain far richer than those of us working hard but not getting anywhere. We are still fighting wars with little long-term purpose and without sufficient benefits to those who are fighting on our government’s behalf. Our government continues to drag its feet on anything that would benefit anyone with an income under $200,000 a year.

It’s no wonder that somewhere between two and three million Americans are in jail or prison, that three out of ten of us never graduate from high school, and that the richest one percent of Americans have a net worth greater than the bottom 80 percent of us. It’s such a shame that it could render all of us helpless. I, for one, may need to consider refugee status in a nation with even a modicum of universal health care and moderately less hypocrisy in its government.

But Bruce Springsteen hasn’t given up, at least in his music. His work continues to speak truth to power, to say things that most in the music world don’t have the courage or the innate wisdom to say. It’s unfortunate that what sells today is the bling of booty and booty, and not the thought-provoking lyrics and feelings of folks like Springsteen, of artists like Chuck D and Tupac, of those who dare to use music as a weapon of social change (although Pink, John Mayer and James Blunt are occasional exceptions).

With the end of a disappointing first decade of the twenty-first century looming though, maybe we can still hold out hope for a more permanent nexus between our wild world of pop culture and our need for a stimulated social consciousness. That kind of hope is what keeps me going.


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