Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rehabilitating Thom Hartmann

MeanMesa has long had the habit of listening to Thom Hartmann (The Thom Hartmann Radio Show, AM1350 KABQ, Albuquerque, 10AM to 1PM weekdays).  In fact, Thom's blog from his daily Newsletter has long been a part of MeanMesa's daily newletter to a nice group of progressive friends here in New Mexico.

However, Mr. Hartmann's whining seemed to have reached an irritating "fever pitch" of late -- especially in his criticism of our President.  Apparently, Barrack Obama just hasn't crashed solidly enough into a program of vindictiveness and revenge on the neo-cons in Mr. Hartmann's opinion.

The rest of us, striving to be a bit more mature in our national politics, are assuming that the President is not a big fan of starting a civil war with all the troglodytes who are still staggering around in Rush Limbaugh's cloud of perpetual lies and inflammation.

Still, Thom's two latest newsletters may have broken this mold.  Take a look and see what you think.

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Thom's blog
The Hard Reich in the Republican Party Shows their True Stripes
It appears that the Senate Judiciary Committee's Republicans have so far one solo talking point, that being that Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to ever serve on the Supreme Court, was an "activist judge," and because Elena Kagan clerked for him, she must be tainted by her association with him. Marshall, of course, successfully argued before the Supreme Court - when he held the Solicitor General's job that Elena Kagan currently holds - that the 1898 Plessy versus Ferguson "separate but equal" racial doctrine should be overturned, and the Court unanimously agreed in its "Brown versus Board of Education" decision. But these Southern State Senators, particularly Alabama's Jeff Sessions, are apparently still smarting over being forced by the Court to accept integration of workplaces, neighborhoods, and lunch counters. Once again, the hard reich in the Republican party shows their true stripes, and doesn't even have the common sense or moral compass to be embarrassed by it. They mentioned Thurgood Marshall - in a negative context - nearly twice as many times in their opening remarks as they mentioned their other boogeyman, the current President of the United States, an African-American who wouldn't be President if Marshall hadn't successfully argued that case before the court.


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Thom's blog
The Manchurian Candidate happened...
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, "The recession has directly hit more than half of the nation's working adults, pushing them into unemployment, pay cuts, reduced hours at work or part-time jobs." Close to half of the survey's respondents said, "they are in worse financial shape as a result of the downturn, which destroyed 20 percent of Americans' wealth." Meanwhile, Republicans are obstructing any attempts whatsoever to aid Americans in crisis, whether it be mortgage help or unemployment, and both Democrats and Republicans are joined in fearing to take on the multinational monopolies that have paid off politicians for three decades to get huge tax breaks for companies moving jobs from America to China and to destroy all the protectionist tariff and other measures this country has historically had since 1793 to keep manufacturing of everything from jeans to machine tools here in America. As a result, we don't make much here anymore other than weaponry, and since the beginning of Reaganonomics have gone from being the world's largest creditor to the world's largest debtor, the world's largest manufacturer of consumer goods to the world's largest importer of them. Reaganomics, Clintonomics, and Friedman's flat-earth economics have turned America into the world's largest third-world country, while at the same time China continues to protect its markets and has a growing economy and industrial base. It's almost like The Manchurian Candidate happened, his name was Ronald Reagan, and nobody has had the courage since 1988 to turn us away from his insane tax and trade policies.

Putting the Words of the "Christians" Into the Mouth of Christ

MeanMesa usually prefers to add a significant amount of commentary to things which get "re-posted" here at Short Current Essays.  

However, in this particular case, it is necessary to simply let the material being forwarded here to speak for itself.

We have all heard our share of racist, knuckle dragging drawlers invoke "the high and the holy" vindications for their respective, inspired, "throw-back" comments.  The insinuation is that these "men of god" enjoy a certain exceptional liberty to chastise the rest of us and our foibled attempts to follow "jest whut thu' guud book saez."

So, in order to place such comments in a more rational perspective, some ingenious fellow at Huff Post's ALERT COMEDY has carefully crafted a remarkably revealing little sketch.  It is a series of paintings artfully depicting Jesus Christ in a wide variety of Biblical settings.  The words of the modern Christians are added in each case -- offering an opportunity to consider just how true to the teachings of Christ each of this string of utterrances actually is.

The way to "operate" what you will find at the end of this link is to look at each painting then click on it.  The source of the comment will load, enabling you to see just who said such a thing.  You can then hit the "back" arrow to return to the paintings and scroll down to the next one.

Spotting the vomitous hypocrisy is left up to you!


The link:

If, per chance, you believe that Jesus wants you to elect a Republican in your district or state, this may help you out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Part One: Albuquerque's Cultural Wrecking Ball

 Part One of the MeanMesa Series: Albuquerque Youth Corps

The esoteric nature of questions and answers

Homo sapiens are famous for modeling.  We model everything we see right along with everything we can imagine.  We comfortably strive for our "seeing" to be accurate, intellectual and objective.  We happily tolerate our "imagining" to be a bit more emotional.  When the emotions of our imagination succeed in contaminating our possibilities for consuming objective reality, the outcomes become confused -- sometimes, so confused that we are unable to discern whether they are good outcomes or otherwise.

There is an unavoidable, inevitable journey from the challenges we perceive to the solutions we seek.  We model the challenges, the journey and the solutions.  When such obstacles promise grave consequences, we are charged -- like it or not -- with the work of making the best model humanly possible.

At such a juncture the best cleverness, cunning and objectivity we can muster are ruthlessly tested by the reality around us.

The "Elephant in the Living Room"

In Albuquerque in 2010 we face an amazingly neglected challenge indeed.  Not too much "futurist vision" is required as we consider our population to see that our city faces an uncertain fortune.  Yet, by every means at our human disposal, we cling to answer after answer, model after model and a dismal sequence of one failed solution after another with a suffocating equanimity.  In fact, exhausted, we passively await an unlikely and improbable reprieve from some unforeseen  champion for what "comes our way."

The 2000 Census placed Albuquerque's population at roughly 500,000 with 28% under the age of 19.  (Source)  In 2000, 7% of Albuquerque's population was under the age of 5, killing time on their tricycles as the waited for Kindergarten.  By age group, the next 28% were, at least theoretically, attending school.

It is with this last demographic that Albuquerque's future dilemma emerges.

A Good, Solid, 18th Century Education for "Wage Slaves"

In the ten years since the last census, Albuquerque's public schools have been routinely graduated around one half of the students who should have been graduating.  The figure has varied a little both as increase and decrease, but 50% defines the unmistakable trend.

Further, this alarming rate of High School drop outs is  not the only problem in this neglected cluster of factors which colors our local reality.  Many of those who do graduate are educated far too poorly to pursue any higher objective.  Those who are accepted to CMI or UNM have a depressing need for remedial studies.

By the metric of the social culture, they are illiterate, uninteresting and unemployable.  Forget "economy driving" innovation, most could list the full collection of books they have read on a single matchbook cover.  Of course, public education has been shredded by the religionists and ideologues such as the medievalists on the Texas Board of Education where modern wretched text books originate.  The smelly but chic "anti-science" crowd of creationists and other social misfits have further validated stupidity as a social norm.

Albuquerque math scores, science scores, civics scores -- you name it -- have descended below those of Slovenia.  This sordid disaster might have passed as sufficient a century ago, but now it only produces a chilling blanket of hopelessness both for the young victims of this meat grinder and for the observant few who have not yet succumbed to the mind numbing proposition that such grave failures need not be considered.

Those students, although they may not know much else, know all about what their futures will hold, a conclusion which hardly offers the promise of good citizens in the future.

All the Careful Features of the Dark Ages -- Very Dark Ages

These teen age "promises of the future" use drugs openly, drink far too much and accumulate prison records and DWI's as if they were Scouting badges.  Their prevailing poverty does not inspire them to a determined effort to improve their situation so much as it impels them to steal everything that is not bolted down firmly and to spray graffiti on what remains.

They have babies, grow desolately obese and accumulate every bad habit they can afford.  A week ago, a heroin distribution ring was uncovered at Cibola High School.  Meth routinely converts every teen age boy who dabbles with its false promise into a father and a "mechanic" and every teen age girl caught in the dizzying swirl into a gum chewing whore.

Plenty of Parents and Theories, Just No Results

MeanMesa views the role of parenting as a simple one, that is, sincerely doing everything possible and necessary to assist a child in reaching the Age of Responsibility.

Albuquerque is ankle deep in reasons why all this continues to fuel our inevitable downward spiral.  Intermittently, blame issues forth as a great tide at flood.  The parents have failed.  The schools have failed.  Law enforcement has failed.  Liberals are ruining what the Founding Fathers worked so hard to create for us.

All horse shit.

Some of those reasons are quite contemporary compared to the old reasons which served to explain this nightmare a year or a decade ago.  However, the outcome of a failed culture rages ahead just as depressingly today as it did then.  The statistics, numbers, demographics and outcomes of the past have "come home to roost."  The individuals who were caught up in this destruction a decade ago are now the "parents" who have found a way to watch the same horrible thing continue today.

Except -- the parents aren't watching.

They aren't doing anything!

What parent could simply watch what was happening to a child and remain uninterested?  Apparently, the mind numbing acceptance of this intolerable situation has become far too comfortable as a daily fare of insipid parenthetics.  No problem.  Just keep repeating the following:

"It's always been like this."

"It was like this when I was a kid."

"It all seems to work out in the end.  These young ones grow up, come to their senses, get jobs, make families, you know, we all went through this.  Right?"

Wrong.  There is a 50% drop out rate before high school graduation.  There is a heroin dealer loose in Cibola High School.  Your daughter is obese and illiterate -- she's never read a single book -- a single book about anything! Your son only makes it to school three days a week.  He wants to join a criminal gang -- not one capable of turning a profit from a criminal enterprise, that would be too complicated.  Neither of them can join to military to straighten out their lives, either.

The army doesn't want them any more than you do.  Why would they?

A Note to Parents

Your children are wreckage. These conditions were not the conditions when you were young.  The dismal outcomes of this disaster will not be at all similar to  your own mediocre life, they will be far worse.

"Oh, there will be a job of some kind for him."  Right.  Have you heard of "shipping jobs to other countries?"  Egad.  Shades of Ross Perot!  Sure the wages are less over there, but even more important, all those foreign workers can read and write!

What are you thinking?  What is so important to your life that you simply let this nightmare rumble forward, year after dreary year.  There's nothing wrong with your kids.  There is something tragically wrong with you.  What you are doing -- and not doing -- amounts to a high crime against your own offspring!

Can you hate them that much?  Are you, for some reason, so barbarically cruel?  Are you psychotically self-destructive, terminally selfish or just stupid?

Now, let's try to imagine what it feels like to be one of these fractured teens.

Here it will always be inviting to rush back to some of the "expert theories" for refuge.  Even a glimpse of objective self-observation after a lifetime of neglectful largesse and self-indulgence can prove troubling, but those theories hold little  comfort for you in your "golden days" when you will be compelled to watch your alcoholic, obese, drug addicted, illiterate, useless kids relentlessly zip in and out of prison.

The surprise is that your kids know this.  The likely outcome of this nightmare is no mystery to them.  They are hopeless and helpless, desolate with their own prospects.  They don't have a clue about what to do to save themselves from the damage your selfishness has wreaked upon them.

There have been many "expert theories" about why, for instance, kids start taking drugs.  Naturally, the lazy approach to such a problem is more police and more prisons -- and, of course, for those few with either a little concern or a lot of insurance, treatment.  But why, exactly, was your little Johnnie so determined to "do business" with the heroin dealer at Cibola High School?

He didn't want the rest of his hopeless life.  He didn't even want to wait to see how today might turn out!  He had no interest at all.

That would be the life he has spent in your house, in your family.  That would be the assistance he has received from you -- not excuses, mind you, assistance -- as he undertook the task of reaching the age of responsibility.  Instead of assistance, he seems to have received every possible incentive for simply surrendering, submitting to the hopeless situation in which he finds himself.

Hmmm.  Maybe, given the alternative, the heroin doesn't look so bad, after all.

Sorry, parents.  This doesn't work.  The citizens you are raising, the students Albuquerque's public schools are educating and the future parents you are creating won't work.  Their lives won't work out.  They will be unable to operate the society we presently inhabit.  They will be easy prey to the unscrupulous oligarchs who already intend to own everything and everybody.

They are the hopeless, tragic orphans of a generation of human breeding pairs -- not parents with a sincere intention of actually caring for their unfortunate, confused off spring.  The young ones are miserable.  The corporatists find them willing consumers of every wretched gizmo which might momentarily distract  their tormented young minds from the desolate futures awaiting them.

Those who produce and sell these distractions consider ADD a profit asset waiting to be harvested.  Does your son have six of the most modern versions of Game Boy?  Does he know anything about the Constitution or Alexander the Great?

High borne idealism proposes no response to this situation.  A constant, nagging reference to imaginary parenting skills and commitment, the present narcotic always employed to mollify this failure, will turn out to be just as fraudulent as the anticipated solution which will arise from a generation of selfish, uninterested people changing their stripes in one glorious night.

This thing is roaring down the road toward us.  We can already smell the stench and see the blood of young lives caught in this descending whirlwind, the uneducated, the unemployable, the criminal, the frustrated, the stoned and the hopeless.


In Part 2 of this series, MeanMesa will propose a radical response to this dilemma.  If you are one of these parents, don't worry.  No one, including MeanMesa believes that there is any factor which will lead to your accepting any troubling responsibility.  On the other hand, MeanMesa has to assume that  the alternative will amount to simply abandoning this city around the year 2020, locking the door, turning out the lights and moving somewhere else isn't really a solution either.

Join us for the rest of this series!

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Introduction - Albuquerque's "Not So Bright" Future

An Introduction to the MeanMesa Series: Albuquerque Youth Corps
 (There are three more posts on this topic)

Now, the remnants of history which survive to this current day are rife with the  repeating lament:

"Today's spoiled, petulant children will be the ruin of us!  Why can't they be like we were -- you know, in the good old days when we were young?"

The young followers of Alcibiades, one of MeanMesa's favorite historic role models, set ancient Athens on its incredibly traditional "nose."  Those old Senators had no taste for vibrant, independent and fluid new Athenians.  Likewise, when the young, up and coming Scipio was dispatched to defeat Carthage in the Punic Wars, leading the scant legions left in the city's arsenal after Hannibaal had wreaked havoc for a decade, he was no favorite of the already moribund Roman military leadership.

Interestingly, both harangues seemed to center, at least a little, on shoes.  The focus of the old Athenian critics was a derisive conclusion that Alcibiade's bad influence on the youth of the day arose from what they called "Alcibiades sandals."  Young Scipio endured a similar complaint from the old Roman Senate because, in their words, he wore "silver slippers."

Both stories ended well for the newly cast youth.  Alcibiades returned after "defecting" twice (once to the Spartans and later to the Persians) to save the day at the great naval battle in the Bay of Salamis, dispatching the Persian hordes once and for all and probably ushering in centuries of Hellenic Greatness.  Scipio, contradicting the nay sayers in the Roman leadership, "tore asunder every block held with mortar" in the Baal worshipping, Phoenician stronghold in North Africa.

What could these pungent tales have to do with the future of Albuquerque?  Their relevance to this posting is derived from the similarity of the complaints.

It simply would not serve to substantiate MeanMesa's claim of "impending doom" if a door were left ajar for those among us to simply say "Oh well, there have always been complaints about the young people, and this is no more or less than yet another case of the same old thing."

Unhappily, it is not simply a contemporary version of the dire predictions of those old Athenians or those old Romans.  In both of those historic cases, the diatribe had been unfounded. History unfolded in a fairly propitious vein for both those old Greeks and the old Romans in spite of the dramatic insistence that it wouldn't.

Albuquerque may not be so blessed.  For starters, we find ourselves and our critique rudely dispatched from the matter of "shoes," and coarsely foisted instead into other, more gravely serious issues of these discouraging developments which are only now beginning to descend upon us.

MeanMesa intends to present our own vision of these dismal and disturbing  civic abnormalities in three nutritious, easily digested segments following this high class, historically based introduction.  Of course, as is our habit here at MeanMesa's Galactic Headquarters, we will also propose a solution.

The general organization will be as follows:

Part One: The Problem
Part Two:  A "Concept" of the Solution
Part Three: Some Specifics

Please pay Short Current Essays with a commitment for continuing visits as we ramble through a cold and chilling assessment of the problem and propose a rather radical idea of a social response.  Dismal eschatologies have never been "daily specials" on our menu of new ideas, but, in this case, some serious "fact finding" and "fact facing" may be just what the doctor ordered.

In any event, our series will offer a soothing, narcotic relief from the pundits' endless drivel about the Gulf oil disaster.

Join MeanMesa for the "whole hog plus the postage!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grayson on McChrystal

General Stanley McChrystal, the ranking US officer in the Afghan theatre, is on his way to Washington to meet with President Obama.  The topic of the discussion will be recent comments that McChrystal made to a Rolling Stones reporter some time ago.

The General spoke very disrespectfully about the President, the Vice President and a number of other civilians such as the US Ambassador to Afghanistan.  The email (below) from Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Florida) lays out the details very well.

MeanMesa predicts that:

1. General McChrystal would very much like to be the Republican candidate for Vice President or President in the 2012 national election.

2,  The now "dusty" tale of what happened with (ex-NFL star) Army Ranger Pat Tillman  who was killed in Afghanistan.  See WIKI story about Pat Tillman here

 The email:

Dear MeanMesa,

"Are you asking me about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal asks the [Rolling Stone] reporter at one point, laughing. "Who's that?"

"Biden?" an unnamed aide is quoted as saying. "Did you say 'Bite Me'?"

And this is what General McChrystal has to say about Richard Holbrooke, the President's senior envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan: "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke. I don't even want to read it." McChystal described Holbrooke as "a wounded animal."

McChrystal on U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry: "Here's one [who] covers his flank."

McChrystal's aide on National Security Advisor James Jones: "a clown."

McChrystal is supposed to be working with these people. Instead, he's stabbing them in the back.

Fire him.

That's what I wished for last year on MSNBC, when McChrystal publicly demanded more troops in Afghanistan before the President had made that decision. This is what I said then:

"McChrystal is way out of line. He should remember what happened between Truman and MacArthur, another 'Big Mac.' He's pushing his luck here, because Obama needs to be the Commander in Chief. That's what the Constitution says - Article II, Section 2, that's what it says. He's the boss, not McChrystal. McChrystal should have known better. He saw what happened [to MacArthur], and I think history may repeat itself."

Let's face it. McChrystal has destroyed his working relationship with everyone who is not actually under his command. (And maybe those under his command, too; the Post quotes one as plaintively informing McChrystal, "sir, some of the guys, sir, think we're losing, sir.") For that alone, he should be fired.

But the problem goes deeper than that. The Constitution says that Congress has the power to declare war and fund (or de-fund) war, and that the President is Commander-in-Chief. Not Stanley A. McChrystal. No one elected him.

It is fundamentally wrong to set policy on war by asking the generals, "do you want more troops?" That's like asking Wall Street, "do you want more money?" That's like asking my five-year-old twins, "do you want more candy?"

McChrystal has to go. But after that, we have to make our decisions on war and peace based on what's right for America, not what's right for the generals, or Halliburton, or Blackwater. Not what's right for the military-industrial complex. 

But rather, what's right for us.

Alan Grayson

For the CBS report on this matter:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Some Garden Pictures and a Few Words About the Future

Of course, MeanMesa -- just like Voltaire's Candid -- keeps a small vegetable garden during the wonderfully hot New Mexico summers.  The apartment which hosts MeanMesa Galactic Command provides only a very small area between the sidewalk and the building where garden vegetables can be grown.  However, this year, a close friend has rented a house a few miles away -- close enough to bicycle there every cool morning -- and very generously offered the use of his yard for a fine, large, New Mexico vegetable garden.

We thought that maybe some of MeanMesa's visitors would like a quick, photographic tour of the effort.  So join us for a few pictures!

Here we are with the roto-tiller.  It turns out that most of the vacant land in New Mexico is composed of what we call caliche -- it is a type of silty clay which is as hard as a concrete sidewalk.  We had to count on our young, weight lifting friend,and roommate, Greg, to fight his way through this crusty barrier.  After that, a few dozen bags of steer manure and the compost we had been saving all winter went into the mix.  You can see some of the caliche just outside the box.

By the way, the decal on the side of the rented roto-tiller was also fun.  It reminded us of a line in one of our favorite Neil Young songs " pass out sign set me thinkin'..."

We dug some serious trenches for the seeds -- on hot New Mexico days, it's best to have a little water pooled up for thirsty young vegetables to sip in the heat of the afternoon!

And, we planted a few nice sweet onion sets -- the first residents of our garden!

With the compost and the steer manure tilled into the caliche, our garden dirt started looking better and better -- that is, more capable of actually sustaining  plant life!

We had enough room to make two nice sized planting beds. all positioned in a great spot to get the morning sun from the east!

Well, all these pictures show what things were like in early May.  Naturally, everything got muddy and messy, but a careful visitor could feel the throaty engine of Great Nature just below the surface of the ground coming up to full power!  We were sure that we would have a great vegetable garden which would put all sorts of  appetizing garden fresh produce on our dinner table.

The following photos were taken in June.

Yup.  A great crop of squash, carrots, kale, onions, tomatoes, radishes with lots of lettuce (three varieties) and spinach.  Yum!  Two busy cantelope patches are already home for some yummy little baby cantelopes the size of tennis balls!

We even planted some nasturtiums and marigolds to discourage the bugs a little.  We got the idea from Michelle Obama's garden plan at the WhiteHouse.

These are some squash flowers and the beginnings of a couple of delicious, garden grown Danish squash.

Here's MeanMesa resting in the shade next to this years compost pile!  We've learned a lot about gardening in the dry, high desert -- compost is worth its weight in gold!  The "watermelon patch" is just under the sign.

Thirsty New Mexico birds always come along right after the garden is watered.  They stop for a quick, cool bath, eat a couple of bugs and keep the whole business cheerful with their excited chirps.

The side garden is filled with volunteer tomato plants, lots of carrots and a great crop of okra!  Both garden patches have a promising crop of broccoli, beets and turnips.

Scoffing at turnips?  Try a turnip sandwich with sliced fresh turnips on some well buttered home made bread for a light afternoon summer snack!

Of course, there had to be some of New Mexico's famous giant sunflowers!  These will be making shade for our friend's front porch when the sun moves even further above as the summer progresses. 

This fall, when the sunflower seeds are good and ripe, they will be lightly oiled and salted then roasted into a super-tender winter time treats!  Done properly, the hulls of sunflower seeds prepared from fresh garden sunflowers are easily edible!  No more "splitting and spitting!" 

Now, a few words about the future.

The adults who were around during MeanMesa's youth had all experienced the great Republican Depression of the 1930's.  This meant that there seemed to always be a vegetable garden somewhere nearby.  In the fall, extra vegetables were bottled and canned for the winter.  A pit was dug and filled with straw -- ready to store fresh carrots, parsnip, potatoes, turnips, horseradish roots and the like.  It kept them dry and cold.  When a few were needed for a winter dinner menu, they were simply removed, washed and cooked -- often a job for the youngest family member.

In case anyone missed it, our country came within a camel's whisker of having another depression -- probably worse than its historical comparison -- at the end of the Unelected Bush Autocracy.  The treasury had been looted, the national debt had been exploded -- with no tangible results in the lives of the tax paying folks, ridiculous wars had been started for the autocrat's special war profiteering friends and cynical political ambitions.

Our country went bankrupt.  Schools were (and are) closing, roads are in ruins, bridges are collapsing.  Although things are improving a little under an elected President, the hard times are still slamming the middle class all across the country. Slamming them HARD. Houses are being foreclosed.  Unemployment is sky high.

What's the point?

Well, it might be a good time to become familiar with the idea of a vegetable garden! 

We don't know how far down we must slide before we can begin to emerge from the damage.  Our national culture turns out to be far more vulnerable to disruption than most of us ever thought before!

MeanMesa visitors need to realize that they can feed themselves!  Oh sure, you may not know much about it right now, but a couple of seasons experience will make an expert out of you!  Gardening is one of the oldest and most important technologies which moved our human race ahead.  Before beginning even the simplest agriculture, we were looking for dinner by finding carcasses of dead animals, eating all we could then running away.

The small garden shown in these photos can feed a medium sized family all summer and help out a lot all through the subsequent winter.  Learn how -- and what -- to plant, how to care for the garden, how to can the surplus and turn yourself into a mini-farmer!  All that's required more than that is a good healthy appetite for your own fresh food!

Over dramatic?  Think about what has happened in the last three years.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Separating WW2 from Iraq and Afghanistan

Ech-h-h!  Abounding and abiding anachronisms and abnormalities.

After all, ALL ANALYSIS of military matters is the same, right? 
Why bother with anything new for our contemporary wars?

Parts of the daily "news" we can really do without
-- quite well, in fact, thank you very much.

Now, MeanMesa would absolutely love to post that all this media mischief is a BRAND NEW THING, unprecedented in the history of the American free press.  However, no matter how appealing such a dramatic lamentation might seem at first, it would be just that, a vacuous addition to the nauseatingly long list of "oh, woe is me" imaginary tenants of "those Good Old Days."

The "free press" was, it turns out, just as "yellow" then as it is now.  The times have changed, the headlines all deal with new countries and the outrages have experienced the same mind numbing contemporary exaggeration as their equally shallow -- and dangerous -- brethren since the Spanish American War.  (Who actually sank that war ship in Cuba?  Oh, it's far too late today to worry about such nonsense.  That was then.  This is now.)

In his youth, MeanMesa was told that the fascist, maniacal Japanese ate babies, that innocent little Soviet children turned in their parents for believing in God and that all those nationalistic North Vietnamese, aside from being insanely rabid Marxists, were actually only puppets in a giant game of "falling dominoes."  During all of this sketchy reporting, the media was, historically, always the first prostitute on the corner to hold up her hand and smile -- eagerly.

Can anyone recall a day when Spiro Agnew had any trouble finding a microphone?

The precise forces which had carefully positioned themselves to benefit the most from exploiting all these fairy tales seemed to also have positioned themselves in perfect postures to be the voices which were almost always most reported on the daily ration of "the burning news of the day."

That hasn't changed much.

So, let's take a cooler look at some of the more modern mechanisms of social manipulation.  The more aware we become of these subtle little semantic engineering miracles, perhaps the less we will fall prey to them.  Further, a list of every one of these little demons would create the longest blog in world records, so we will just pick out a few "starters."

Body Counts

Let's begin with what's missing.

Since we already mentioned the Vietnam War, we may as well compare it with what is unfolding in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.  If one were to pay more attention to the "news" than it deserves, one would note that all the casualties being reported in these three conflict theatres are

a. American troops
b. innocent civilians (often termed collateral damage)
c. maniac commanders of the insane Taliban jihadists

During the Vietnam War, monumental "body counts" of enemy soldiers destroyed appeared daily in the "news."  Of course, these "body counts" were only estimates -- the North Vietnamese always gathered most of their dead and secreted them away.  After ten years or so of that endless war, a total of eleven information challenged Americans still believed what they were hearing, two were blind and the rest were deaf.

The credibility of the "news" fell faster than a 500 pound bomb hurtling out of a B-52.  As MeanMesa remembers it, no one ever told the truth until Walter Cronkite finally "spilled the beans."  And, when we say "no one," we have to include a string of two or three Presidents.

Now, after the bad taste of that escapade had long passed, the yucky taste remained.  As a consequence, reports from Afghanistan, to this day, never include any count of Taliban insurgents killed by US or NATO combat operations.

Is this just a case of pandering to the well developed "growing public distaste for the war," or would the actual enemy combat fatalities be so small that whatever shard of credible explanation remained for the war would be shredded by the facts?

With respect to "how the war is going," we are stranded with official  statements from authorities such as General Petraeus or General McChrystal, bombast from the botox saturated Senator "Rat Face" or any of the dozens of suspiciously well-paid pundits, all singing in a chorus of repetition and reinforcement.  

We Americans are paying for this killing field with both blood and treasure.  We can probably handle enemy casualty counts.  We probably couldn't handle what would come next if we were to just come home -- even after that bloody picture was buffered into smush by the media and their masters.

The mischief of the failed autocrat, the W, just keeps on giving -- like a nasty case of drippy, untreated gonorrhea.

War Making "Experts"

Now, we have all seen the highly questionable "military analysis" of the well paid "military experts" on the networks as they mumble and bumble forth subtly promoting the idea that all really "good" generals are naturally, also thinly disguised war-mongering fascists.  On slow "news" days, retired Colonels and Majors appear, but when the going gets sticky (PR-wise), the media moguls trot out some dinosaur from their "lounging corral" of aging "rough and tumble" war fighters.

Thankfully, perhaps, no paid enough attention to these "experts" to jot down much of their military histories.

Amazingly, even the more or less objective "news" sources rush to the knees of John McCain to get the "conservative" side of emerging military matters.  The Senator  set fire to an air craft carrier, wrecked four jet fighters while he was learning, graduated 898th in his class at Anapolis, was in combat for 28 minutes, received 30 Navy citations for bravery and spent years in the agony of the Hanoi Hilton, a place where most of the guards remembered the bombs he dropped on their families.  Maybe the "news" folks think he possesses some sort of genetic insight -- his father and grandfather were Admirals.

McCain wanted 6,000 troops for Arizona's border instead of the 1,200 authorized by the President. Yup.

Don't get MeanMesa started on the neo-con bleach blond bitches who want to throw troops everywhere on the map where they can say the name.

Are all the "war experts" war mongering fascists?  No, but don't expect to hear so much as a peep from honorable -- and successful -- generals such as Wesley Clark.

"Two Sides of Everything"

Civilians have a difficult time understanding that it becomes increasingly harder to "shoot straight" the "busier" one gets.  Of course, it would be "roses, simply roses" if the combat in these oil wars were to actually flow along like the movies we watch, but they don't.

However, literal months and years of well funded efforts have reduced the US  "news" consuming electorate to a dizzying state where "being informed" means always having "two sides" to consider.  It may be yet some time before Americans can actually countenance the fact that sometimes there really is only one side to things.

No war can unfold without a full harvest of days bringing bad news.  Perhaps the real story is watching neo-cons, our fellow citizens, relentlessly "blame and inflame," exploiting every inevitable set back into an opportunity for a thinly disguised political attack.

The only question left unaddressed is whether these cranky old neo-cons are full time bigots or if they have "day jobs."

A "License to Lie"

Finally, do we really have to watch Rupert Murdoch's "media machine" interview neo-con politicians and other drawling Southerners without ever challenging any of the "facts" or carefully crafted "insightful innuendoes" spewing out of their mouths?

The "news consuming" population, although dwindling from lack of interest, can now only believe interviews when the pundits perform in a raucous argument, presented as a thoughtful discussion.  No one says anything which won't incite some equally specious response.

When this verbal chaos is not the "order of the day," no one feels particularly interested in believing anything that is said.

Yup.  Thanks to the media fraud and mischief, we're flyin' blind.

MeanMesa urges all of our visitors to pay attention to what you find yourself believing.  If you notice some of this garbage starting up on your television screen, rush to the kitchen for a grain of salt.

In fact, bring the whole salt shaker.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More Hilarious Emails from "Freedom Works"

Does anyone believe a snake can speak? 
Although the last time a famous snake actually spoke, it was talking to Eve in the Garden of Eden.  However, MeanMesa, a blog committed to presenting features which reflect contemporary reality, from time to time will publish the emails we receive from the suspicious fascist  Dick Armey -- a, so-to-speak New Testament snake -- and his law firm's cash cow "Freedom Works."

Of course, "Freedom Works" masquerades as some sort of honest, grass roots affair providing a voice for the otherwise rather dully mute Tea Bags.  In actual fact the organization is a carefully crafted "mouthpiece" for some of the wealthiest -- and most reactionary -- players in our electorate.

By relentlessly trotting out freshly stagnated "talking points" from the Great Factory of the Republican National Committee, "Freedom Works" diligently strives to maintain a state of perpetual panic among the hill billies, bigots and other "information challenged" citizens willing to vote on demand for every loser the party of Palin-Beck-and-Limbaugh can herd into candidacy.

These profoundly cynical "patriots" are certain that their campaign checks and pricey law firms such as the one sponsoring "Freedom Works" can sway any election they wish.  As citizens concerned with the future and honor of our own country, it falls to us to keep track of the latest clouds of lies these miscreants are vomiting forth.

It also falls to us to make sure that no one -- absolutely no one -- forgets what this bunch did to each and every one of us the last time they held power.  We are still paying the price for the damage the autocracy of Junior Bush and his criminal friends inflicted on our country.

So, take a quick look at the latest from, uh, "Freedom Works."

Watch the Take America Back Video Blueprint

Dear MeanMesa,

FreedomWorks' campaign to "Take America Back" is fully underway, and already claiming major victories for freedom and the Tea Party movement.

The momentum is undeniable -- from champion of freedom Rand Paul running away with the Kentucky GOP Senate primary to Tea Party favorite Mike Lee ousting Big Government RINO Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah -- all over America voters are already casting ballots to reclaim our fading liberties.

As Election Day approaches, FreedomWorks' Take America Back campaign will continue to support conservative values in primary races so voters will have clear pro-freedom choices in the general election in November.

But the Left realizes how much is at stake this November. They are ramping up their fundraising machine and emptying out their campaign war chests -- it's been reported that liberal special interests are already committing over $100 million to quash the Tea Party movement's influence in the midterm elections.

That's why it's so important we do everything we can to counter their efforts.

To learn more about our "Take America Back" campaign and how you can help, please watch the video below. I hope it will inspire you to get involved in this historic movement for lasting political change in America.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do in defense of freedom. With your involvement and support, we WILL Take America Back in November!


Dick Armey
Chairman, FreedomWorks

P.S. Please be sure to watch this inspirational Take America Back video blueprint. If you'd like to support this critical campaign financially, please click here

And, if that were not enough for a good belly laugh, there's more ...

FreedomWorks Membership Update - June 7th

Dear MeanMesa,

This has been a busy year at FreedomWorks. We have a lot going on, including major legislative battles, big elections, fundraising for campaigns and other major projects, so we wanted to take a few minutes to make sure FreedomWorks Members like you are up to speed.

New book: ‘Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto'

FreedomWorks is proud to announce that we have signed a contract with Harper Collins to set the record straight on the tea party movement with our new book "Give us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto" by Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe. You can pre-order the book on or other online retailers now. Be sure to look for opportunities to meet the authors as they travel the country in the weeks ahead to do book signing events, town hall meetings and campaign rallies in dozens of cities across the country.

Take America Back in 2010!

While it's still early, things are looking good for the FreedomWorks PAC ‘Take America Back' campaign to get rid of big government politicians and replace them with limited government conservatives in Congress. Our movement has already removed Utah Senator Bob Bennett, elevated Rand Paul to the leading contender in Kentucky and ended the political careers of Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Parker Griffith in Alabama. But we still need to raise a lot of money to compete with leftist groups like the SEIU, Emily's List, AFSCME, and Organizing for America, which plan to spend $150 to 200 million on the 2010 elections. Please consider supporting our efforts to Take America Back by making a generous contribution today.

Stop the EPA Energy Takeover!

Over the past several months FreedomWorks members around the country have been working hard to support the Murkowski Resolution, a bipartisan effort that would stop the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) plan to enact massive energy regulations under the Clean Air Act. This backdoor cap and trade scheme would regulate carbon emissions like CO2 and be administered by unelected bureaucrats. That means sky-high energy costs and lost American jobs as industry moves overseas. The Murkowski Resolution, backed by 41 other senators, would stop this EPA power grab and it needs our support. A vote will be held on Thursday, June 10th and our senators need to hear from us. Please visit our campaign action center for talking points, instructions, and important action items.

This is an important vote that could save jobs and set the stage for the big 'cap and tax' showdown this summer. Help us cross the finish line and ask your senators to support the Murkowski Resolution today!

September 12th, 2010 and August 28th, 2010

Finally, we are looking forward to hosting a major rally only weeks before the elections in November. Many of you joined us on September 12th, 2009 as we marched on Washington with hundreds of thousands of people to send a message to Congress and President Obama. This year we are going to join together again in Washington to remind the politicians that we have not, and will not go away. Our focus this year will be to Take America Back in 2010. Please join us on September 12th, 2010 for another Taxpayer March on Washington! RSVP TODAY!

Also, we are excited to announce our new strategic partnership with Glenn Beck, who is organizing a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on August 28th. Glenn has told us that his event is not a political event, nor a tea party, but rather a gathering of like-minded people from around the country who will come together to raise money for the troops. We will be supporting Glenn's event, and he will continue to work with us and tell his listeners and viewers that FreedomWorks is THE organization that has the capability and know-how to Take America Back in 2010.

We are excited about everything that is happening this year, and we are thrilled that you are an essential part of this organization. Together we will continue to work together to build a powerful coalition of limited government groups to make a long-lasting impact on our culture and politics in America.

Please be sure to stay in touch with us via email, and follow us on twitter and facebook, as we provide updates on all of these big projects for 2010. If we stick to our principles, and keep working hard, we will surely be victorious in the end.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Neo-Con "Sausage Works" Reinvents Ayn Rand

MeanMesa realizes that not all of our contemporary visitors have ever enjoyed the great, though provoking literature from this founder of modern Objectivism, but the point of this posting is that the sleazy neo-cons who have rushed forth to re-invent Miss Rand into one of their own voices apparently haven't either.

Let's begin with a little history.

The story isn't actually all that remarkable.  Decades ago, while stranded in the cultural wasteland of an alleged Junior High School harshly embedded in the Great Plains -- yes, we're talking Major Bible Belt Territory -- the typical mass production education system was rumbling along at full throttle.  After all, it was the middle of the Cold War and an under educated population was essential as a source of cannon fodder.

Lost in this dismal, wind swept place, a remarkable and exceptional teacher emerged in our seventh grade English class.  She was -- in our sexually repressed teen age eyes, at least -- a buxom, vibrant beauty who seemed to have been sent by the gods to break the soul crushing ennui of an otherwise endless high school tyranny of stale corn flakes disguised as classes in psychology, biology and the like.

She never dared offer the work of Ayn Rand openly in the classroom, of course.  But, seeing the obvious exceptional quality of the pubescent MeanMesa and a couple of other tormented young students, she quietly -- and bravely, given the almost total religious franchise gripping that unfortunate place -- introduced us to a few of her "favorite books."

Naturally, we "gobbled up" Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead with the same frenzied desperation which might be shown by a starving prospector who had been "lost for a lifetime" in some wasteland of broken hopes and dreams.

Although, as seventh graders, we were still several years before our first formal "sex education" classes (Just don't do it!), we were immediately enthralled by the characters we encountered there.  Those of us who were destined to a bland mid-western heterosexuality in our later years, began to obsess on the beautiful, strong and mysterious Dagny Taggart.  Others, still imprisoned in the "closets of Kansas" had an equally exciting infatuation with the exquisite South American copper mining magnate, Francisco D'Anconia.

There were informal "coffee meetings" in our teacher's apartment.  There were endless, energized discussions of Objectivism and its implications in late night "wine slugging" sessions populated with adolescents more interested in the possible future of the world than the latest case of lingering acne.

It was a good thing.

It had much more to do with intellectually developed and philosophically engaged young students than the creation of shock troops for a modern neo-Nazi oligarchic shell game.  That nonsense only emerged decades later.  When the neo-cons finished exhausted the savagery of re-inventing the Old Testament into "proof" that Jesus really only wanted them to be rich, they began with Ayn Rand.  There was to be no limit to yet another irritating re-invention as they staggered forward to validate their claims to a "divine right" to the unregulated, illicit extraction of wealth wherever they might find it.

The predictable result was what we see now.  This stinky little scheme, as shallow and shabby as a bad paint job in the back room of a used car dealer, was supposed to legitimize this recently allowed avarice.  To qualify as a perpetrator -- or benefactor -- of this callous misrepresentation of Miss Rand's philosophy, one needed only to be an illiterate "plutocrat wanna be" who experienced no angst whatsoever with a quickly fabricated media repetition of the famous Orwellian 1984 bifurcated paradoxes.

"Good is bad."  "Happy is sad."  "Up is down."

The well known modern genius, Ron Paul, even named his son, Rand Paul, after Miss Ayn Rand.  For those unfamiliar with Rand Paul, he is the Senate candidate from Kentucky sponsored by Tea Baggers and Fox News who espouses doorways impenetrable to wheel chairs and "tolerating" the Civil Rights Act, that is, he is another "deregulation monkey of the first water."

Now, the title of this posting mentions  the "Neo-Con Sausage Works."  What precisely does such a term actually imply?

Well, Ayn Rand, during her very productive literary life, wrote a wonderful collection of both novels and what might be considered long essays.  Her recurring theme -- at least, as interpreted by MeanMesa, an admitted fan who has been deeply influenced by her work during the formative years of his now ancient youth -- consistently dealt with the degrading effects of all forms of suffocating collectivism as it gradually and inevitably handicapped more honorable human endeavors.

In Atlas Shrugged, the mindless "regulators" of a parasitic government were able to sap the life energy from the protagonists' rail roads, metallurgy inventions and copper mines.  In Fountainhead, the "regulators" were intent on contaminating the genius of an architect by imposing all sorts of reactionary "social norms."  In We the Living, Miss Rand painted a dismal picture set in the life she had experienced as Russia descended into Bolshevism and Communism.  Her Anthem was another chilling excursion into a disastrous, fictional world where her heroes and heroines were confronted with the tyranny of an authority system which abhorred individuality and productivity.

In each fictional case, Ayn Rand used her impressive story-telling abilities to warn all of us not to gently drift into the laziness, fear and sleep of passively accepting what might have, at the moment, appeared to be a "safer course" where risk, confidence, innovation were no longer to be rewarded and "compliance" was perceived as an unavoidable refuge from the "terror" of optimizing ourselves.

Of course, the tales in these great novels were a little over dramatic.  How could they have infatuated a bunch of Kansas teenagers in the early 1950's if they had been otherwise?  However, the carefully crafted themes presented were valuable indeed!  Presenting a palatable and compelling alternative to the mind-numbing uniformity of life in those years and places, Miss Rand's stories represented a breath of fresh air and sun light in an otherwise rather oppressive world.

But wait!  Into what obscure ideological advantage have the neo-cons attempted to transform this body of literature?

Let's consider some of Ayn Rand's terms to help us explore this heavily soiled attempt to transform her ideas into something sleazy enough to serve the Fox News crowd.  The predictable contradictions reveal themselves.

Ayn Rand spoke of the human necessity of brave individuality.  Her implied message was straight forward.  The old adage of "Be True To Thine Own Self" might be a good point of departure.  However, Miss Rand went even further.  Her Objectivism emphasized that if one were determined to be "true to one's self," one would, in fact, need to actually have a "self," first.

One might assume that the neo-cons who were so intent at "licking Miss Rand's knees" would present themselves as sincere, thoughtful individuals.  MeanMesa's understanding of that premise is that such "individuals" would be directed by, well, individual forms of thought, individual ideas and well crafted individual ideas of philosophy and practice.

Is this, however, what we have seen as we watched the entire neo-con Republican Party -- along with a few well paid Democrats -- unanimously vote against every  article of legislation designed to remedy the looting of the Greenspan-Bush autocracy?  Where was the "individuality" in that?

That smelly outfit made great "profit" by encouraging fear driven uniformity at every turn, considering the uninformed "illiteracy" of the American electorate as a legitimate "business asset" to be exploited ruthlessly at every turn.

A further interesting point might rest with the term "looting" itself.  In her stories, Miss Rand used the term often as she described the crushing effect of authorities who would "stoop to any level" to extract even more energy from those with higher ideals of productivity and honesty.  Yet, an almost exactly the opposite turned out to be the case as those pretending to be Objectivists "looted" the hell out of every tiny equity left undefended in the American economy.

It was a monumental case of what Miss Rand characterised in the phrase, "From each according to his ability to each according to his need" with the possible correction of "...each according to his need" to a more frank form, "...each according to his greed."

Without "producing" anything but a flurry of campaign contribution checks, these "individualist looters" managed to steal everything that wasn't securely bolted down under the political cover of the Head Looter, George W. Bush.  The richest 400 Americans saw their new wealth increase by $650 Billion Dollars during the eight years of the Bush autocracy.

Do we think this was "innovation" and "production" or simply "looting" poorly cleansed and disguised as some valid form of Ayn Rand's Objectivism?  Of course, the likelihood that the bumbling autocrat ever read one of Ayn Rand's books is remote, indeed, however, the oily cronies who surrounded him had, at least, looked at the titles and fly sheets while they were pursuing their ruthless schemes.  They thought that perhaps whatever it was which had been written inside those covers might make their crimes a little more noble -- at least in appearance.

Since we have now mentioned "production," we see another of Miss Rand's favorite themes.  Her heroes and heroines were productive.  In her novels, this was precisely the reason that they were targeted by the collectivist looters.  But wait.  Does this claim of Objectivist Purity amount to any more than the rest of the neo-con "looter" nonsense clad in the same cheap cloth?

Ooops!  What "productive" evidence can be found among the ruins of the neo-con rampage?  Surely, these miscreants must have produced something if their whining complaints about the collectivist being after them were somehow founded in reality.

Well, they managed to start a couple of wars which they immediately began losing, but that was of no concern if their "brother-in-law" war profiteers  continued to be able to exchange American blood for ready cash..  They managed to strip whatever honor they could find in our American traditions by torturing helpless prisoners to utter insanity to  ease their pathetic sexual repression while enhancing their idiotic appetites for masturbation. 

Encouraging a disgusting stupidity wherever they found it, their "talking points" and insipid insistence that "thought was unnecessary" may have mortally divided the country.  They managed to destroy the idea that a worker should be paid for his labors in favor of a new plan where workers were no more than cannon fodder for the gated cess pools of the new "country club" set, a place with a suspicious collection of residents who never actually produced anything!

Ayn Rand was turning over in her grave.

A post posting post script:  Perhaps MeanMesa's favorite of Ayn Rand's work was a small book title The Romantic Manifesto.  If you have unilaterally discharged all of her novels to the dust bin, take one more chance!  The Romantic Manifesto is a well written, thought provoking work which may rehabilitate your impression of this great authoress.