Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Mexico After the Republican Recession Ends

It seems to be time to take a bit more mature view of what New Mexico's future looks like for the next few years.  Naturally, all of the carefully crafted quips about major changes in the complexion of our state government have us all a little unsettled.  Yet, moments of nervous expectations often prove to also be fertile moments for some serious planning -- hopefully, planning based on some realistic parameters.

MeanMesa's prognosis?

The next five years in this state are going to suck.

Naturally, electing a Republican woman whose greatest claim to fame has been politically lubricated with Texas oil money and a Republican lobbyist who has his own history of, well, acting very much like all the other Republican looters could make things even worse, but regardless of who takes the office in the Round House, we are looking a several years of bleak winter.

It's no secret that New Mexico's state operating budget has been the result of a rather amateurish approach all along.  However, we now find ourselves mired at the "hangover" stage of the national economic collapse.  Already on shaky ground, the state's oil and gas revenues are in chaos.  Bobbing in the well crafted Wall Street maelstrom, our equally amateurish investment program looks more like the last moments of the Lusitania. 

Although popular with New Mexicans, the progressive profile of the Richardson administration was not too cleverly designed to remain durable for these far less prosperous times. Now, not even counting the daily revelations of admittedly pedestrian mismanagement, an amazing capacity for all sorts of horrible contracts and irritating cases of outright corruption, we are facing cuts all through the legions of teachers, firemen, policemen and other essential bureaucrats.

Regardless of which administration will be running the state government, our "weather forecast" is not too sunny -- a series of long winters, each followed by  chilly, reluctant springs, summer droughts  and disappointing autumn harvests. Too many New Mexicans are still trapped in the memory of better days which no form of known economic recovery can possibly resurrect. That torment, frustration and suffering will have to continue unabated until all those complaints and comparisons to the past have finally been purged by the steady, new reality inescapably unfolding for a long number of days and nights ahead of us.

You know, like a toothache. A really bad one.

MeanMesa suspects that the current economic collapse may not be as close to passing as the "unbridled optimists" in the national media fraud might like for us to think.  That "unbridled optimism," by the way, was never actually intended to  transport us toward a more positive outlook on things.  Quite the contrary, the "optimism" we are hearing all about us right now is intended to help us forget.

To gleefully volunteer to try it again.

The prospect of a wide spread memory lapse promises to be the most lucrative IPO (Initial Public Offering) for all those little neo-con minds scuttling around wondering what else they can steal.  If voters can just be persuaded to cooperate with our famous American "marble in a mayonaise jar" memory retention, it won't matter how horrible things got from this last mischief of theirs -- we simply won't remember.

Still, with MeanMesa's traditional, Candide-like, "plucky" inclination to always see the good in things, maybe we can brighten our day with a couple of thoughts for the future.

Granted, conditions both for New Mexico and for the nation as a whole -- viewed even in their best light -- are only going to return to some ghostly similarity  of what we have previously been used to in our pubescent acceptance of being an economic giant and a global super power.  Our plutocrat masters have, at the last possible moment, quietly converted those  past "glory days" of rapacious international military and trade colonialism into Swiss bank accounts and Paraguayan villas.

At this chilling juncture New Mexicans must now insist that our state government take steps to fortify the local economy making it less susceptible to the next collapse.  So, what type of realistic planning can New Mexico consider for those  -- somewhat -- happier days after we struggle back to our feet economically?  MeanMesa has posted these proposals before, but here are a few of them again.

State Health Care

The state's obligations for its part of the largest -- and most expensive -- components of the safety net must be reconfigured.  Yes, the  Senate neo-cons sabotaged  single payer in health care reform, but a refreshing glimmer of light remained.  Buried in the health care reform bill was a serious investment ($10 Billion) in regional health clinics designed to provide a very significant amount of "non-hospital" types of health care and preventative health maintenance facilities.

New Mexico will receive some of these.  What we must do is to make certain that our state is actively participating in this program -- expanding it in every possible way.  More than any other opportunity presently in the mix, this move can "recession proof" many of our obligations -- obligations which, right now, are so large that they are crippling our efforts on all sorts of other fronts -- education, infrastructure and economic development.

A State Bank

Looking over the most common calamities this recession imposed on states, there is a very interesting exception.  Across the nation, the "tip of the spear" had everything to do with a "capital vacuum" which emerged when Wall Street began its latest tantrum.  Risk increased and lending decreased.

So much so that many otherwise viable small businesses (Regular small businesses -- not the Republican version.  They made Bechtel into a small business -- even though that corporation has tens of thousands of employees.) simply began to "die on the vine" because they were unable to borrow operating money.

The exception, North Dakota, didn't experience this economic insult.  Why?  Because North Dakota has a state bank which was able to detach itself from Wall Street's vengeance.  In that state, more or less normal lending continued through the economic collapse.  Businesses continued to function more or less normally.  Unemployment and foreclosures didn't skyrocket.

We can -- and should -- do the same thing here.

Sophisticating State Government

In conversations with people who have recently moved to New Mexico, have you ever heard this?

"The New Mexico state government functions incredibly well compared to where I was before I moved here.  It's just incredible!  I never thought a state government could run this well!  It's efficient and thoughtful. Wow! What a wonderful accomplishment!"

Probably not.

In our past, New Mexicans were comfortable with an unsophisticated state government.  They expected as much.  However, that was then.  This is now.  The sophistication level of the state government has remained too much in its own past tradition.  It is no longer in synch with the sophistication level of New Mexicans.

Almost daily we see major parts of our state government caught up not just in corrupt practices, but worse.  Far too many of the things our state tries to do  -- even while on its best behavior and with its best intentions -- collapse into ridiculous, over priced, under designed and poorly executed conundrums -- embarrassments.

MeanMesa sees this problem as one with deficiencies from the distant past -- at least in the distant past of too many state employees.  State employees, just like most Americans after the Republicans converted public education into a campaign tool, have never studied civics.  They have a profound lack of understanding with respect to the responsibilities of good citizenship.

The results are predictable.  Bad decisions are made.  Confusions about "doing the right thing" emerge, not particularly from some sinister conspiracy, but rather from a lack of a fundamental understanding of the responsibilities of governance, a lack of a working knowledge of the ideas in our state constitution.

Rather than post a litany of complaints, let's go right to a possible solution.

A little something needs to be added to the list of our state's subsidized education efforts.  MeanMesa can only speculate about the exact details of this solution, but a two week class on civic responsibility and state administration, one emphasizing the idea that state employees can reasonably be expected to independently augment their own performance at state jobs, might make a huge, cost effective difference.

Build the "campus" somewhere in a place which needs a little economic stimulation.  Include a dormitory where future state workers can actually get to know each other -- even across major differences in job disciplines.  The total class size needn't exceed a couple dozen at a time.

But make graduation from this little school a pre-requisite to becoming a state employee.

The plan isn't nearly as "catchy" as expensive out-of-state conferences at fancy hotels in Hawaii, but it might start providing the next crop of state employees who are much better prepared to run our government far more successfully and a vital cadre of employees who actually know each other and are prepared to work together.


None of these proposals is even a possibility while we remain paralyzed in the "zero budget" which has been imposed by the economic collapse.  However, issues such as these are, in MeanMesa's opinion, entirely relevant questions to  pose to candidates at town hall meetings.

Whether a state government or an individual, living in an endless psychology of "survival mode" never bodes well for the future.  Planning and organization, coupled with a little optimism, will always work out to much better results.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is that ballot still confusing?

MeanMesa suggests that you simply "follow the arrows" on this little jewel.  After making a few super-easy decisions, the course of your entire ideological future will be revealed!

From Huffington Post Comedy:

OMG! MeanMesa at an Interfaith TOWNHALL?

Through a strange twist of fate -- probably coupled with a paucity of information concerning MeanMesa attitudes and outlooks -- we have been graciously invited to the Albuquerque equivalent of one of the, now infamous, pre-election, town hall meetings with candidates.  Hosting the affair will be Albuquerque Interfaith, a group of local citizens with the progressive stance of valuing "faith" in all of its possible, positive manifestations.

Predictably, Interfaith certainly includes members with strong religious faith, but also invites those with "other styles" of faith -- faith in democracy, equality, justice and culture.  Its idea is to consolidate all the advantages members of such a disparate collection might bring.  The final product is a refreshing sort of zany, out-of-control, credible local voices with a thoughtful and constructive intention.

Of course, as is almost always the case with such opportunities, the devil is in the details.  For starters, MeanMesa must concentrate on being on our very best behavior -- that means no neo-con baiting or inciting riots.  Even a brief glimpse at MeanMesa history suggests that, by now, we should know better ...

The gathering has been described as a "listening session" where candidates will hear the concerns and issues of voters in an extended discussion before answering in a brief response toward the end of the meeting.  This means that MeanMesa is now faced with the task of "cooking up" a question, and, in this case, not one of our usual "rabid dog" bitching rants.  You know, something constructive.

So, what comment can be made?  What question can be asked?  The theme of the gathering is advertised as "Leadership * Faith * Democracy in Action."

MeanMesa's Comment

MeanMesa's Question begins to find direction

It should be no revelation to MeanMesa visitors that we live in a society where every possible complaint targets the failings and foibles of our bureaucracy.  In fact, listening to some of our fellow citizens, one might conclude that none of them will find social satisfaction and happiness until the entire social culture and organizational structure of the country descends to a state of disorganized anarchy, fractured, polarized and privatized into a "post paper" state.

Anyone who has visited an unfortunate place which found itself in this predicament will, of course, not agree.  Still, there is the rather chilling inertia of such a poorly formalized ambition rambling all around us from tea baggers to neo-cons to hill billies devoid of any concept of the alternatives.

Clearly, MeanMesa's question is silently migrating to the topic of bureaucracy.  Since the candidates who will be present in the meeting at all facing state races, the bureaucracy in question will be all about the New Mexico state government.

A Few, Very Brief Ideas about the history of Bureaucracy

From the very first evidence of civil structure in ancient Sumeria, one of the principle developments which made essentially everything else possible was the organization and imposition of a bureaucracy.  For the full energy of a civilization to be directed toward the structure of a successful state, even the ancient rulers of Mesopotamia realized the necessity of this step.

The idea caught on -- for better or for worse, depending upon the rationality of its application.  The Greek city states and the Roman Empire devised immense collections of control and management for themselves.  During the Dark Ages, the Christian Kings of Europe relied on bureaucracies to collect taxes, build roads and feed their armies effectively enough to create all the troublesome details contemporary high school students find in their history books.

 Basillos II, "The Bulgarian Slayer" 928 - 1025 AD (image source )
 The Medieval Equivalent of New Mexico's State Government

 Asking the Candidates -- State Bureaucracy and Life in New Mexico

The largest, most central elements in our state's bureaucracy can be determined by the amount of public dollars allocated. The quality of  the results of such budget allocations represents the primary basis for voters as they consider the quality of the current government.  Reviewing the value of what all we've bought is actually much more the foundation determining how we will vote than all the "catch phrases" and "talking points" of the billionaires' inflammatory, imported negative campaign ads.

The bureaucracy is a necessity for operating the State of New Mexico.  Being contaminated with the toxic idea that our bureaucracy is a "necessary evil" or an "inescapable catastrophe" is, in MeanMesa's view, quite irrational.  Instead, it should be considered just as a CEO considers the operating budget of his corporation.  Without efficient day-to-day operations, the stock holders will be eating canned corn from Dollar General.

In fact, we can very reasonably take pride in the mechanisms we have created which keep New Mexico functioning as a modern state.  Still, while canvassing, MeanMesa has encountered some very reasonable, common sense questions about this part of living in New Mexico, all representing something of a report card of public opinion about the state government.

The issues of voter concern, consolidated here, seem to be in mainly four areas.  Let's review them.


Education represents a lion's share of the money that our state government spends.  Yet, in surveys of schools and educational results around the country, New Mexico enjoys a positively dismal record.  From the voters:  "Lots of money, really bad results."  Worse, regardless of all the political rhetoric directed at the topic, improvements seem to remain frustratingly illusive.

The accomplishments of successful administrations seem to be limited to repairing roofs, suppressing vandalism and gang crime and a few few teen pregnancies, but the stupendous cost continues just as predictably as 50% graduation rates.  Voters don't know exactly how to solve this, but they are getting tired of paying massive amounts for basically more of the same outcomes.


As a poor state, New Mexico has fewer large public projects than most.  Still, we build public buildings, repair roads and bridges and redesign and reconstruct hazards and other eye sores.  Voters, however, don't see the comparative value in the money we spend this way.  To them it seems that public projects are painfully over priced, extravagantly conceived, poorly designed and VERY inefficiently, non-competitively, bid, awarded and constructed.

Their complaint centers on management, and the targets of their criticism run the full gamut from interstate interchanges, new schools, street improvements on out to new administrative features passed in the State Legislature.  The implementation of new state policies attracts a special frustration.

Voters reasonably think that these project expenditures are designed to "fill the pockets" of special interests first, delivering improvements to living conditions in the state as an afterthought.  As common citizens it seems that "We get what's left."

Examples of this extend to stimulus projects financed under the American Recovery Act, for instance, the terrible seal coat surface on newly paved  Silver between Carlisle and Girard in Albuquerque or the strange disappearance of stimulus dollars targeting weatherization for New Mexico rental residences.

Natural Resource Management and the Environment

The image of what exactly is happening with New Mexico's natural resources -- especially the oil and gas production -- is a source of both mystery and frustration to New Mexican voters.  They think that the state should be getting some serious revenue from these operations -- New Mexico is the fifth largest hydrocarbon producer in the country -- but, again, they don't see "What we're getting for the money."

Frankly, neither does MeanMesa.

Further, voters don't think that the state's management of resources is transparent, directed to the benefit of the citizens or particularly effective.

Pure Bureaucracy -- the State's Administration

Hard strapped voters are legitimately outraged by continuing reports of state officials fraudulently "absorbing" public money.  The scope of the scandals can be both large and small.  The fraud at the court house construction was an outrage, but the hundred thousand dollars "missing" at the rural school board seems to be just as unsettling.

New Mexicans are generally regarded as "too busy" to track through all the details in spending bills, but they do hear about state revenue dollars which are being siphoned off by petty crooks.  However, it is within the "legitimate" bills moving through the state house that the largest misappropriations reside.

The issue is simple.  With our state's large budget, how can all these frauds continue to slip by the management?  Voters are unwilling to accept the idea that there is simply too much to do to catch all this as it is happening.

Beyond the scandals, voters see state administrative management essentially in tatters.  Policies which were ostensibly designed to help citizens are as impossible to navigate as Albuquerque's unsynchronized traffic lights at rush hour.  State web sites which have been created to serve citizens are, far too often, miserly little half efforts designed, at least in the eyes of voters, as "plum contracts" for someone's brother-in-law.

Energy assistance.  Medicaid.  The court system.  School district accountability.  The DMV.

This list is a very, very long one. with every element riddled with infuriating remnants of the old "patron" approach to citizen services.

Finally, to the Question

"What plans to you have to bring New Mexico state government (the bureaucracy) up to modern standards found in other states?"

We've all done just about everything we can to continue to ignore the "elephant in the living room,"  but things have continued to get worse.  The missing ingredient is to discard the old "survival -- oh, we'll muddle through it somehow -- model" and move very energetically toward a new "excellence model."

There is no possible, good reason to explain why our state is so locked in the past that our bureaucracy never improves.

For more, visit a MeanMesa posting from January, 2010,  Ten new Years Wishes for New Mexico

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DADT, Christine O'donnell and the First Amendment

Of course, being intelligent, well educated citizens, MeanMesa visitors know exactly what the First Amendment says about the question of church and state.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The problem is that most of us have been thoroughly drenched with a rather seriously biased version for the entire period of our civic consciousness. Both the US citizens and the government have suspiciously charged the duty of explaining the thing to folks with a definite "dog in the fight."

Naturally, in such an important mission many judicial experts with a deeply founded understanding of the amendment taught the law school classes and argued First Amendment cases before the Supreme Court, and so on.  However, there also appeared another bunch of self-evolved "experts," eager to "assist" in  the education of voters desiring to understand the concept.

Here, we mean the multi-shaded hordes of religionists.  From their pulpits these pastors and priests vindicated their piety with urgent admonitions to congregations not to lynch Jews and Catholics, and more modernly, Muslims.  So much for that.

These "sermons" of theirs usually incorporated a craftily manufactured sense of long-suffering tolerance of victims from other, slightly different, contemporary religionist franchises.  The mythology of the prevailing franchise certainly encouraged a congregation's  general impulse to "convert" the fallen into sin saturated, dues paying members of the choir, but the more traditional idea of performing that "evangelical service" at the point of a sword was usually, quite judiciously, considered to be simply "too yesterday."

Now we come to the DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) question.  The policy fails miserably as a legitimate military command -- it enjoys none of the validating criteria from the usual military considerations of effectivity, readiness and the like.  Instead, the concept is founded on the conceptual debris lingering in the minds of soldiers who, even in many cases unknowingly, have been contaminated with certain aspects of the ancient fairy tale, you know, "Sunday School Graduates."

In the far ranging desire to make homophobia -- and, consequently,  DADT, somewhat more palatable and relevant, literally hordes of coaches, comedians, comatose fathers and other collaborators desiring to painlessly inflate their own undeveloped -- and secretly vacillating -- masculine identities have joined the "dirty shirt preachers" in the effort.

The question is simple. In a more rational world where combining wool and cotton does not invoke a sentence of being stoned, would this grotesque construct of ancient, tribal, vaginal authority still mean anything?  The frank answer is, of course, "No."

So, how did a blurb from an ancient fairy tale become such a widely practiced and fully lawful judicial policy in such an otherwise very successfully pragmatic institution?

OOOOPS!  Could it have come from the Unconstitutional Establishment of Religion by our government in open violation of the First Amendment?  Still quaking?  How exactly does a several thousands of years old tribal tradition from a bunch of Middle Eastern Arabs wind up as a fully enforced statute in the Uniformed Code of Military Justice?

Rolling forward to the matter of "I am not a witch and I want to be a Senator" Christine O'Donnell, in deference to human decency, we must restrain our lower impulse to simply add to the freak show.  Still, her most recent gaff in debate comments concerning the First Amendment (Google: O'Donnell/separation of church and state/First Amendment... or Washington Post), she is clearly unable to follow the peanuts here.

From the Washington Post article

Ugggh!  Finally, this posting has, actually and materially, touched all the elements of its title!

Enough said. 

Comic relief?  Sure -- it's time to watch the ranting and raving of all "them straa-a-a-ht thinkin' Suthun Sentors what's Defendah's of thu Faith!"  

Yup.  Just leave it to the real men and ignore the man (the Senator) behind the curtain in the next stall.  Maybe he can vindicate all those unfair accusations of oblique psycho-sexual mischief, placing the origin of his embrrassing peccadillo at the foot of a wet dream about Miss O'Donnell.  Thankfully, for all the faux-homophobe neo-cons still trying to "fly the flag" on the issue, DADT was never intended to be applied to the Senate.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mortgage Banking Meets Conan the Barbarian

Cancer Stage Capitalism:  
When the Mortgage Securities trade moves from 
Musical Chairs to Mortal Combat.

Don't worry.  
Just relax and watch the dancing monkeys
-- kill each other!

The classical parlor game of musical chairs was simple enough that even sexually repressed, half drunk 19th Century British socialites could navigate their way through it.  It began with, say, five chairs and six players.  The music -- at least in the beginning, provided by a chamber quartet -- began, and the participants commenced a slow circle around the furniture.

At some point, the music would suddenly cease, a sign that all the players should immediately take a seat.  Of course, one unlucky player was left, stranded with no place to sit.  That player was discharged, another chair was removed, and the music began again.

The calamitous global mortgage scheme amounted to little more than a thinly camouflaged version of the that innocent old parlor game.  Instead of music, the affair was to be timed by a strangely durable interludes of rising house prices and lubricated, not by the contagious laughter of the game, but rather by the unremarkable greed of the "chair holders."

The similarity of that term, "chair holder," and the corresponding term from the corporate world, "share holder" is not entirely coincidental.

The tempo of the "music" grew faster and faster as the bubble inflated.  The players moved ever more quickly as they plummeted forward around the circle.  Soon enough, there was little thought of just how accessible one of those chairs might be at any given moment.  The game was infatuating.  Hypnotic.

The mortgage market, inebriated by the carefully crafted rising prices for the homes which once supported the value of the mortgages, careened on beyond even the place of comfort originally devised by the culprits.  They had intended to quit before things got so far out of control.

However, they lost no sleep over the prospect of leaving one or more of the other dancers without a chair.  The psychopathology of the ponzi schemer did not rely on being "lost in the crowd" so much as being safely "gone" when it cratered.  

And, in our present, desperate, and newly encountered economic sobriety, we are enduing that cratering.  We see the tatters of that old "musical chairs" game in the wreckage all around us, except, unlike the cozy parlor of days gone by, there are hundreds of puzzled players who just now are realizing that there are only one or two chairs left in the center.

Happily, the market will still correct itself, not, however, in the staid, productive flow taught in economics class.

How are these desolate players regaining the prospect of one of those severely limited number of "chairs?"  An interesting proposition, indeed.

At Lehman, there were no chairs left.  At AIG a chair was provided for all the default insurance parties so brazenly protected by the autocracy.  Urban mortgage holders who had watched their home values halved, then halved again, simply stopped paying their mortgage payments while defiantly remaining in the houses.

Bank of America is "forced" to buy back all the billions in mortgages they had so quickly and conveniently written off under the cover of TARP.  Restless middle class folks are organizing outright militias to forcibly prevent foreclosures from being executed.

Here, we must make a conceptual choice.  Will we see this as a "market correction" or an economic and ideological, market insurgency.

The position of the bankers, bundled mortgage security holds and billionaire investors is starkly transparent.  None of them intends to be left without a "chair."  That unpleasantness was to be reserved for smaller people.

The monkeys are turning vicious.

These positions of power and wealth enjoy the remedy of foreclosure when payments are no longer being made, but the sword has two edges.  The more houses they foreclose, the more bloated the market becomes and the further home values descend.  Yet, even in this dire situation, their thoughts turn exclusively to orbit around their own fortunes.  If their previous colleagues and collegial competitors slide into ruin it will be no problem so long as there remains an existential path forward to finally recoup their own investments.

This is the "Mortal Combat" stage of the game.  Anyone with so much as a momentary weakness will be killed and eaten to keep the crazed survivors fed -- even if it for only another day.  A few of those with just a bit of discretionary cash left for play will spend it with corporate opinion makers -- each one equipped with a specially crafted title:  Freedom Works, Americans for Prosperity, American CrossRoads and the like.

After all, there can be no rational reason to let democratic politics insert itself in some complicating manner.  Thoughts of the country and of fellow man were among the very first casualties of this train wreck.  The opinion of the hill billies and bigots can be bent at will.  The prospect of a responsible government intervening in this meat festival will be swept aside, at least, swept aside for as long as possible, for as long as it is not too costly.

Capitalism-wise, this is the cancer stage.  No wealth is being produced by the creation of material things, manufacturing, invention, efficiency or innovation.  All that is left is for the great "Masters of the Universe" to savagely commence to feed on the bones of each other, weakest first.

Heh, heh.  Just like the Captain's Lizards of Aceh Bandhi.  All teeth, no manners -- just hungry.  NOW!

Now plump with Federal money, the banks have chosen to "wait it out," stopping all lending until what had previously been American small businesses become "low hanging fruit" with purchase prices to match.  Shopping time, piranha style.  Over stuffed corporations plump with TARP funds sit as if on a gigantic toilet, grunting, waiting for labor costs to collapse to a point where American workers will take any job at any price and never complain.  "Health Insurance" corporations are boosting prices 40% just to show "that punk black man in the White House who is boss."   

All this is not a simple coincidence.  Go ahead.  Think conspiracy, and spell it Bush Jr.

MeanMesa only wishes that some constructive idea might emerge at this point.  Perhaps the best advice is, for the time being, to get as far away from this economy as possible while remaining able to survive.

This isn't a sudden revelation, either.  Here, MeanMesa offers a posting from January, 2009, when all this was just getting started.

Savoring This Moment in Our Main Street Economy

We have been deeply acculturated not to be violently revolutionary for generations.  As far as MeanMesa is concerned, it's slipping...

Stay cool.
Stay informed.
Stay active.

Follow that vacuous, worn out tea party slogan:  "Take the country back."

How to Keep Smiling If They Win

Have all the carefully crafted comments about a Democratic Party bloodbath in the November elections finally penetrated MeanMesa's perpetual optimism?  These days, not a single "microphone moment" passes without another quietly implied forecast that our country will be, once again, cast into the regressive hands of the reactionaries from the Republican Party.

Now, as MeanMesa canvasses here in the neighborhood of our Galactic Headquarters, you know, talking to folks, there doesn't seem to be much interest in resurrecting these throw backs and subjecting ourselves to another bout of Neo-Con looting.  However, perhaps we should consider just what might happen if the hill billies and bigots are actually elected.

Normally, a blog post beginning with this sort of content is directed at creating even more dread among progressives and spurring them into political action.  After all, it is an election.

However, this posting is graciously declining that opportunity to further enhance the gloom already floating around this immense, uninformed and uninterested electorate.  Instead, just now we should reconsider the "public opinion asset" which the reactionaries value so highly and which has served them so well.

Only after a matter of mere months since the last "gang rape" was completed, by the Bush Crime Family it seems that millions of American voters (at least the ones answering those "special" onion polls...) have forgotten all about it!  After a refreshing cup of GOP Kool Aide, they may be moving "zombie-like" back to another dose of "small government," "balanced budget," "take our freedom back" Republican catastrophe.

Egad!  We haven't even yet finished totalling up the trillions of dollars that are missing from the Treasury!

Oh well.  Now to something positive.

First, a quick "fact check" with respect to our own political consciousness.

Do we think that Mr. Obama, clearly a formidable political strategist, has been caught "off guard" by recent events? 

Can we remember when blow-hards such a Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove gleefully pronounced that Republicans would hold a majority for decades to come?  Can we remember that clutches of greedy billionaires and corporations took the bait this time around to see if they could buy an election?  Those folks have parted with literally millions of their "hard earned" dollars in the last few months.

Maybe this is actually the Obama plan.   A plan to put the Democratic Party in control for a few decades.  May the President has taken a long hard, cold look at us and decided that we won't have the steel it will take to save the country because we are not all disgusted enough with the alternative yet to stick to it  long enough to carry it through.

Introduce some difficult sacrifices in policies which might get the country back together a bit.  Information challenged voters would, predictably, buck at being bitten by even a whisp of austerity.  The freaks would emerge from the Tea Party (remember Caligula's horse Incitatus -- the emperor appointed the beast to the Roman Senate...), get elected and further paralyze the government.

Consider this to be a sort of Memory Therapy.

If Americans cannot be expected to use their memories of the autocracy's outrages long enough to tough our way through reconstruction, maybe they need another "opportunity" to explore a little longer time line.  A bit more durable perspective -- caused by another dose of suffering through the next cycle of looting -- might prepare them psychologically for the long road to recovery which faces us.

After a few more sessions of "gang rape," perhaps these voters will be able to remember long enough not to just repeatedly re-elect these losers.  Maybe that is what it will take.

Stupid has a price.
Spoiled has a price.
The idea that we will return to the false prosperity of the days of the autocracy has a price.

Oooops.  MeanMesa would prefer to continue working on repairing the damage they caused last time they were at the wheel.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homosexuals Attack! Yikes! Is Babylon Thrashing Leviticus?

Wow!  Is this MeanMesa post two weeks before the election about something other than more politics?  Well, yes and no.

MeanMesa understands how exhausted and breathless the geriatric crowd gets relentlessly "chasing the garlic" to keep up the social assault on the homosexuals.  The tottering, mindless command to "Charge!" seems to be a permanent fixture of every Bingo game and Ice Cream Social, not to mention the "public opinion polls" conducted at midnight in the American Legion bar's parking lot.

"Ain't them damned kids afraid of burnin' in hell?  What's wrong with 'em, anyways?  Why, when I was a youngster, us Christians just run that type out'a town!"

"Why, everybody knows -- 'It's 'Gainst the Bahbul!' "

Well, an unsettling bit of actual data has now emerged.  It seems that the religionist franchise's ambition for a perpetual enemy is beginning to fall apart.  In fact, considering the results of the study which is quoted (following), the fenders fell off at the last exit.

Take a look.  (MeanMesa's compliments to Dave, our IT Guy, for forwarding this little jewel.)


( original article here

Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex

October 12th, 2010 by Christian Rudder

Gay issues have been in the news a lot lately, from the debate over same-sex marriage in Congress to a sickening rash of gay-bashing here in New York City. We see a lot of emotion out there, instead of information, and we wanted to provide some data-based context on sexuality so that people might make better choices about what they say, think, and do.

We run a massive dating site and therefore have unparalleled insight into sex and relationships. Here's what we've found, in numbers and charts.

First of all, gay sexuality is not a threat.

Gay people are not sexually interested in straights.

The subtext to a lot of homophobic thinking is the idea that gays will try to get straight people into bed at the first opportunity, or that gays are looking to "convert" straights. Freud called this concept schwanzangst; the U.S. Army calls it Don't Ask Don't Tell

We combed through over 4 million match searches, and found virtually no evidence of it: 

Match Search Returns
  • only 0.6% of gay men have ever searched for straight matches.
  • only 0.1% of lesbians have ever searched for straight matches.
  • only 0.13% of straight people's profile visitors are gay.
In our dataset, there was not a single gay user, male or female, who primarily searched for straight people.

Gay people aren't promiscuous. 


Another common myth about gay people is that they sleep around, but the statistical reality is that gay people as a group aren't any more slutty than straights. 

Median Reported Sex Partners
  • straight men: 6
  • gay men: 6
  • straight women: 6
  • gay women: 6
Here's how the distribution curves compare: 

  • 45% of gay people have had 5 or fewer partners (vs. 44% for straights)
  • 98% of gay people have had 20 or fewer partners (vs. 99% for straights)

It turns out that a tiny fraction of gays have single-handedly - ooops - two-handedly created the public image of gay sexual recklessness—in fact we found that just 2% of gay people have had 23% of the total reported gay sex, which is pretty crazy.

Straight people have gay sex, too.


Another inquiry that had unexpected results: we asked 252,900 straight people have you ever had a sexual encounter with someone of the same sex?
Almost a quarter answered 'yes'. 

Click the airport-bathroom style icons to toggle the sex(es) displayed. Not unexpectedly, more women than men have had same-sex desires:

    straight women's same-sex desires:
  • 1 in 3 straight women has hooked up with another woman.
  • and of those who haven't, over 1 in 4 would like to.
As for straight men, a surprisingly high 13% have had a same-sex experience, and another 5% haven't yet but would like to.

Using the incredible power of computers, we were able to break down this question geographically. Here are straight people who either have had or would like to have a same-sex experience in the continental U.S. and lower Canada. You can see some sharp geographic divides.


Awesomely, the mountain West lives up to its Brokeback reputation, and Canada is orange nearly coast-to-coast. Even in the yellow and blue areas, you can see pockets of gay curiosity in interesting places: Austin, Madison, Asheville. Anywhere soy milk is served, basically.


Doing the research for this post, I came across many awful things our elected officials have said about gay people; here's a relatively calm example:


For starters, I found that a fun game to play with stuff like this is to replace the words "homosexual" and "gay" with "politician"—then you have something that's actually true.

I also spent a lot of time looking up match questions to debunk this particular claim. Down in the database I discovered one question with a surprising disparity, not between orientations, but between genders. Like Frodo to the Balrog, I wished I'd never unearthed it.


Come on, people.

Beyond Sex: Gay & Straight Personalities


More than just asking about specific desires and behaviors, our match questions are designed to tease out our users' underlying personalities. We've collected over 669 million answers from users so far. Below is a straight/gay comparison on 23 personality categories. You can mouse-over the ?s for each category to pop-up some examples of the many questions that affect it. 

Two things: (1) The idea of the typical straight man as a kind bullying jock seems to be broadly true, though there is also a strong dork streak there, as well.
(2) Looking closely at the chart for females, we can improve upon Marx's famous dictum.

Religion is the opiate of the masses, so long as the masses are straight. However, amass a bunch of lesbians and you're going to need actual drugs.

In any event, a lot of these measured traits are reflected by the users' own words. Like we did before with race, we looked at the interests and tastes statistically unique to the different orientations, according to their personal profiles. We crunched millions of words of essay text and found the phrases most correlated to a particular sexual preference; again, these are the users' own words.

The Stuff Gay People Like

the devil wears prada britney spears mean girls kelly clarkson the color purple project runway drop dead gorgeous running with scissorsm.i.a.imogen heapa boyfriendlily allenlady gagathe theaterkaty perrybuffy the vampire slayertori amosjoni mitchellowl citythe right guydavid sedarisamerican idolharry potterangels in americamodern familythe perks of being a wallflowercame outmaroon 5mr. rightgossip girlmoulin rougex mensix feet underthe theatrejustin timberlakenina simoneblack eyed peasmichael bubleella fitzgeraldsufjan stevensall american rejectsthe xxfinal fantasythe clubrocky horror picture showcuddlingpanic at the discojason mrazfiona applekill bill

For both sexes, a lot of this stuff is way stereotypical. The size of the phrases indicate their relative popularity to the norm, and I actually had to shrink "The L Word" down to fit in our template. Meanwhile gay men's interests speak for themselves, evidently with an exaggerated lisp.

Compare those lists to their equally typical straight counterparts, below. It's like two zen koans, one by Meg Ryan, one by a viking: 

The Stuff Straight People Like


band of brothers poker cars my boat saving private ryan hunting fishing my buddiesgolfsportsthe right womanping ponga few beersengineeringrockworking outplaying poolburn noticea country boylaw enforcementcan fix anythingbreaking badtom clancycomputersbuilding thingstall dark and handsomeapocalypse nowcoen brothersqueens of the stone agefull metal jacketguitarvan halenmy bandtaxi driverufc

As you can see, sexual orientation makes a huge difference in the words you choose to describe yourself. The small but enormous difference between lesbians' a girlfriend and straight women's my girlfriends says it all.

We extended this gay vs. straight analysis and for each orientation measured the frequencies of all one-, two-, and three-word phrases against the site-wide rates. Here's the breakdown: 


There's no question that according to this analysis gay people are "different;" as you can see, gay interests and self-descriptions have little to do with the mainstream's. In fact what these numbers are saying is that the average gay person has only about 30% in common with the average American. But, ironically enough, when it comes to identity, it's hardly rare to be an outlier here. Adding an ethnic group to the plot helps put it in perspective: 


Of course, as far as I know, no one's saying that Indians shouldn't get married or shouldn't be allowed to adopt children. The people of Louisiana even elected Bobby Jindal, an openly Indian man, as their governor! 

We hope gay people can expect the same treatment very soon.
Max Shron and Aditya Mukerjee contributed additional research to this article.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Latest MeanMesa Contest: MORE FUN THAN PORN!

The following email was received at MeanMesa Galactic Headquarters a few days ago.  The billionaires are actually spending their money to spread this stuff around the country just before the election.

The "address" on this email was "<."

Rather than simply allowing this stinky thing to vaporize into the spam department, MeanMesa has "cooked up" a scheme to extract a little fun from the thing.  Go ahead.  Enjoy yourself for a minute or two, then trash it.

The MeanMesa Contest Rules
Can you find eight outright lies in this text?

Below is a fax that you can send to your 2 U.S. Senators and House Representative, by merely pressing the button below.

Please DO NOT forward or share this link with others. Doing so will give them access to your NumbersUSA account.

Urge Congress to Enforce All Immigration Deportation Laws

The Obama Administration refuses to take action against the 8 million non-violent illegal aliens who continue to work in U.S. based jobs. Their status as illegal residents is a crime itself, as they continue to hold jobs that should go to legal residents and U.S. citizens. With high unemployment numbers around the country, this is a serious situation that deserves better attention from the President and his staff.

Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (R-TX) recently stated that, "...under President Obama, work site enforcement administrative arrests are down 77%, criminal arrests are down 60%, indictments are down 64% and convictions are down 68%." This shows the growing unwillingness of his Administration to solve one of the biggest domestic policy issues currently facing the nation.

Please don't delay. Send this critical message to your three representatives in Congress today, and ask them to put more emphasis on enforcing our immigration laws and preventing future illegal immigration.
Dear (Your 3 Members of Congress Will Appear Here),

Currently, 8 million illegal aliens have jobs while 22 million Americans are unable to find a job. I hope you agree that something needs to be done about the current situation.

It is truly disappointing that the Obama Administration is only targeting "violent" illegal aliens and ignoring so-called "innocent" illegal aliens. Given that 8 million illegal aliens hold U.S. jobs, most illegal aliens in the United States are guilty of stealing jobs from the 22 million Americans unable to find a job.

I hope you will support legislation forcing the government to enforce our nation's just and fair immigration laws and oppose any attempt to amnesty the 11-18 million illegal aliens living and working in the United States so that Americans and legal immigrants have a decent chance of finding a job. 

(Your Name Will Appear Here)

(When you Click above, you'll be taken to a web page
where you will be able to take INSTANT ACTION if you wish.)

NumbersUSA, America's largest-member immigration-reduction organization.

We are non-profit and non-partisan.

Citizens United Cash Hits New Mexico

MeanMesa hasn't been reluctant to pipe up concerning the democracy crushing impact of all the cheap cash the Citizens United ruling has unleashed on the democratic process.  All across the country, previously sleepy little Chamber of Commerce groups have been overwhelmed -- violently prostituted -- by the Washington professionals such as Karl Rove and a few other losers of similar ilk.

The result of this "money bomb takeover" has been a sickening hybrid between the traditional "cash cow" and "media whore," a new product from the rapacious plutocrats who are willing to sacrifice the entire country for even the slightest political advantage.  The reactionary forces within the Supreme Court knew exactly what they were doing when they issued forth the Citizens United decision.  Their masters had long held the "drunken wet dream" of being legally able to influence elections with unlimited and unreported "campaign assistance contributions."

It is almost a certainty that the corporatists and billionaires paid something for the Citizen United ruling, but we will never know what or how much.  MeanMesa can't even so much as speculate what might entice the  ossified throw backs of the Roberts court to act with so much arrogance and hubris.

The outrage of such an anti-democratic and un-Constitutional insult to the American "rule of law" by amounts to little more than a dark cloud of treason. The act was made even more horrendous by its execution in the broad light of day by gleeful "justices" brazen enough to impetuously scold at our President during his State of the Union speech.

Now the fall out from the scheme is everywhere.  The benefactors are exclusively Republicans save the lingering horde of hill billies and other bigots emerging under the deeply soiled, tragic banner of the "tea bagger" zombies who have joined the insurrection.  Desperation runs deep in the GOP these days.  The party is a rolling train wreck stranded politically with only the sparse comic relief of the whackos and freaks who masquerade as candidates in the next election.

The coal for this GOP train wreck's out of control locomotive is the tragically fleeting hope that amnesia has set in, somehow obscuring the disaster of the  recent Republican record.

Before the letter from New Mexico Congressman, Martin Heinrich, MeanMesa will undertake just one more bit of clarification.

There are two forms of money which can be spent by a candidate in an election.  The first form is the more straightforward of the two.  It is candidate money.
Candidate money has been contributed to a candidate's campaign.  It is used to purchase media coverage which says, in some fashion, "vote for this candidate."  This type of money must be reported to the Federal Election Commission along with its source -- that is, along with the name of the party which has contributed it.

When a candidate advertises in this fashion, whether the ad is positive about him or negative about his opponent, he must claim responsibility for its message.  This is the reason we hear the "I am so and so, and I authorized this message" at the very end of the message.  That little quip is required by law.

Campaign assistance money is the second of the two forms.  Unlike the first category of campaign spending, this type of money cannot directly campaign for the election of a specific candidate.  Theoretically, it is money which has never even "passed through" a campaign's coffers, but, instead, has arisen from other sources seeking to "educate" the voters about some contemporary issue.

Originally, this assistance money was intended for advertising about such questions as special projects, changes in laws or the like.  Examples would be bond issues, changes in marijuana laws or local projects which would ultimately require legislative approval.  For a long time, campaign assistance dollars served to educate and persuade voters about just such questions.

In those "good old days" before the Citizens United ruling, commercials paid for with campaign assistance money always had to say who had signed the check.  However, the dismal slide into raw, inflammatory hog wash began -- rather boldly -- with ABC's 2 hour "movie" explaining exactly how Bill Clinton "caused" 9/11.

From there the "campaign assistance" path careened into a cheezy, dimestore Vaudeville with no holds barred.  Citizens United amounted to the judicial, electoral equivalent of a meth dealer showing up at a drunken bon fire party with a gallon of gasoline.

Representative Heinrich's letter to MeanMesa     
So, with roughly two weeks remaining before the election, New Mexico voters will be "treated" to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of "name recognition" media, all paid for by very suspiciously unnamed and unknown "donors."  The planks on reactionary "campaign platforms" presented in this media glacier will amount to the sickeningly familiar talking points, all remarkably sterile and generic and utterly devoid of specifics.

Also messages with a surgically sterile absence of identified sponsors.
MeanMesa intends to incorporate this message in our next pass out, canvassing card.  The suggestion is simple.

"Stock up on a good collection of your favorite movies.  Load up a health bunch of your favorite music.  Cast a Democratic ballot in early voting (starting October 16 in New Mexico).  Then turn off your radio and television and leave it turned off until November 3 to avoid the endless GOP blither which will, otherwise, arrive in endless 15 minute commercial blocks between every gasp of what you might be listening to or viewing."