Friday, August 19, 2011

A Standard and Poors Primer

Some Recent History of the Ratings Game

"Back in the day" when MeanMesa was still a starry eyed youth, that is, still an overly optimistic adolescent who watched the stock market with awe filled eyes, the investment security ratings were a.) significantly more trustworthy as useful, objective research sources and b.) significantly more credible to the casual market participant.  Research companies such as Standard and Poors rated various investment security and outlook, and Americans -- along with quite a few foreigners, too -- took them quite seriously.

An important way to look at this was to consider the credibility of the ratings being generated by such firms as a "business asset."  A history, at least in the shorter term, which supported the premise that investment decisions could very reasonably be valued by "looking at the ratings" was literally money in the bank for a ratings agency.

For President Romney, No Price Is Too High (image source)

If you were a ratings firm such as Standard and Poors, this was the nature of your credibility.  Further, good credibility turned out to be a very valuable commodity because your business success depended on "your track record."  If investors considered your ratings to be more or less dependable, that is, if market events generally tended to turn out the way you predicted, you could "sell" your firm's future ratings to potential investors just like "whores in a lumber camp."

Of course, there was always the possibility that, every once and while, someone in your company could "tilt the scales" just a little as a favor to some start up company or new investment offering to "sweeten the pie" and encourage money which might have, otherwise, considered a certain investment as too risky to "jump on the band wagon."  

Although a few of these peccadilloes were actually deemed acceptable gambles, they remained what could be called "high risk ratings" where the odds of the future not turning out the way you predicted were more likely than usual.  For example, if your ratings company issued 1,000 ratings per year and among those ratings were 4 or 5 of these far less substantiated opinions, the investment world remained willing to "take its lumps" because the majority of your firm's stuff was generally good.

Standard and Poors Sells
a Little of Its Past and Future

For this part of the "ratings history," we must jump aboard our "Way Back" machine for a quick trip to, say, 2005.

As we visit the 2005 version of Standard and Poors we see a maturing enterprise with a fairly respectable track record of sorting out good investments from bad ones and rating the results.  To arbitrarily quantify things just a little, let's say that the 2005 version of Standard and Poors enjoyed a healthy 80% credibility factor with its customers and ratings users.

However, the American economy in 2005 was similar to that unique feeling of euphoria one might experience while trying a very, very bad drug for the first time at a party.  What would have been in more responsible thinking a really risky adventure had, somehow, been transformed into an acceptable gamble.  

Hey, other financial firms or all sorts were raking in the bucks like there was no tomorrow.  How could a respectable outfit such as Standard and Poors plunge more deeply into this "tidal wave of inebriating prosperity?"  The answer showed up immediately.


Quite a few of the "most profitable" yet "skankiest" financial gizmos of the day were flying around in the mortgage securities market.  The "favors" Standard and Poors found itself able to offer had everything to do with "special research and computation schemes" which could place a very, very attractive rating on a few of these gizmos although, in a more sober light, most of them were tragically flawed, that is, horrendously likely to ultimately collapse in value in a big, big way.

A management decision was taken.  If Standard and Poors were to rate these gizmos artificially high, they would become even more saleable.  The more of them which were sold, the more, uh, grateful Standard and Poors' rating clients would be for the help.  The company itself concluded that, although the credibility of its ratings would drop once the true value of these gizmos were revealed, the damage to its reputation would, in fact, be "worth the gratitude."

With Standard and Poors very nice rating stamped on their envelopes, these "skanky" mortgage securities went "flying out the door" to Arabia, China, and,  well, to everywhere -- including more than a few of the richest houses here in the US.

Of course a similar "ratings for gratitude" business model extended to all sorts of places in the heady days just before the Great Republican Economic Collapse of 2008.  For example, AIG received a wonderfully encouraging rating a few seconds before the corporate megalith entered the Wall Street equivalent of an ICU.  The "fee" for that great S&P rating is reported to have been in the $250,000 range.

With its corporate coffers stuffed with all this "sudden profit," Standard and Poors began a frenzied stock sale with the hope of permanently moving the bountiful cash infusion into the "pockets" of its corporate hierarchy.

Now, if MeanMesa could issue its own subpoenas and hold hearings under oath to track down the exact details of this "gratitude," that is, how many "grateful dollars" went to express this "gratitude" and even to whom all this "gratitude" was directed, the remainder of this post would be a front page head line.  However, all we know about the rest of the story is what happened next.

In any event, the DOJ is now, finally, "looking into" what S&P did with the securitized mortgage fraud.

Standard and Poors Sells
the Rest of Its Past and Future

Remarkably, after the mortgage securities ratings scheme, Standard and Poors still had a remnant of its old credibility left.  Again, to quite subjectively quantify how much of the old, equally subjective, 80% remained, let's say that the ratings firm now enjoyed a 35% credibility.

However, a 35% credibility for a ratings firm portends a tragic future indeed, a fact not missed by the CEO's in charge of plotting the firm's future course.  From the CEO's point of view, most of Standard and Poors' credibility had already been monetized, that is, converted into whatever all this gratitude turned out to be worth, really leaving only the possibility of further monetizing whatever credibility might remain.

But, who in the world would want to pony up the dough to monetize the skeletal remains of this shambles of a ratings company?  What possible market for that little dab of Standard and Poors' remaining credibility could be found?  Further, what, exactly, could be done with the already miserably devalued, splintered shard of its reputation?

 Used rating agency for sale, Low Mileage, priced for quick sale! (image source)
Standard and Poors after the 2008 AAA Mortgage Securities Rating

At this point, our posting must expand its horizon just a bit.  Yup, it's time to name names.

Target the Tea Bag Fleet, Lash the Wheel, 
Bring the Engines to Flank Speed and Abandon Ship!

To "expand our horizon," it will be necessary to creep very delicately into the dark catacombs of Standard and Poors' corporate ownership cult, taking careful notes of the names on the tombs as we pass by them.  To understand the present, we'll need to look at the names of Standard and Poors' past and current players, most importantly a man named Harold McGraw III.

Standard and Poors' Corporate Nest

We notice that Standard and Poors is nestled comfortably in the list of "McGraw Hill Corporate Structure and Acquisitions."  We also notice that Mr. McGraw III's inherited interests roam somewhat further afield beyond the simple management of this corporate conglomeration to include a few very lucrative seats on some Boards of Directors and a little right wing politics, no doubt included to "add a little spice" to this hard working oligarch's otherwise droll, winter evenings.

We also notice that Mr. McGraw III lent his assistance to the "transition team" charged with the safe installation of the unelected George W. Bush regime into the unsavory Washington, DC, political wreckage in the wake of the faux election of 2000.  MeanMesa now suggests that Mr. McGraw's efforts have been enlisted again, this time to "soften up" the combat arena in preparation for the 2012 Mitt Romney "installation."

The final denouement of the now wrecked and sinking Standard and Poors will be to serve the Romney precisely to this end.  That last, lingering bit of ratings credibility will be sacrificed not to wound Obama, but rather to permanently undercut to legitimacy of Romney's only electoral competitors, the tea bags.

Standard and Poors last gallant -- and perhaps, also least gallant --  final act of selfless loyalty to its corporate captain will be the reckless and unfounded lowering of the country's credit rating.  Deserving or not, this final sacrifice will rest in the minds of 2012 voters as the cause of the self-immolating gyrations of the stock market and the precipitous collapse of value in world markets.

Of course, true to basic GOPCon values, such further damage to the country and the world means nothing to GOPCon traditionalist Romney if it lubricates his ascent into the Oval Office.  Recent history is proof enough that highly successful and profitable Republican looting can be conducted in times of dire economic disaster almost as fruitfully as in better times.

Meanwhile, however, as Americans see the last flickers of life departing their 401K's and underwater mortgages, their ire will fall on the Bachmann's and Perry's, the latest manifestations of the crop of tea bag miscreants who have wrecked the economy.  Again.  

If all this damage makes you anxious to vote for Mitt Romney, he'll be right there for you in November of 2012.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

When the Dark Ages Show Up On Your Front Porch

The Crusades - Firing Up the Base

Around 1100 AD a rather sophisticated contemporary super power, The Ottoman Empire, had, very predictably, taken moves to consolidate the area of its hegemony.  Empires are like that.  The "neighborhood" which captured the eye of the Empire very naturally included Jerusalem and its immediate surrounding.

Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade with an impassioned speech at the Council of Clermont in 1095. (image source)

All of this would have, in almost any other geography, been little more than a foot note in an historical period where "adding territory" was simply the "order of the day."  However, as we know now, this particular patch of medieval real estate had the misfortune of having been mentioned in both of the holy books of the day.

Noting the "AD" at the beginning of this post, we understand that the early form of the "Christian Religion" was roughly 1100 years old at the time, and a quick Google reveals that the early form of the "Islamic Religion" was around 500 years old at the time.

Aside from the obvious "real estate" issues, both religions enjoyed the full "blessing" of having inherited the exact same first few chapters in their respective holy books.  The "real estate" issues arose from this very source -- those same first few chapters suggested to each of the early forms of these religions that owning this particular patch of contested real estate had everything to do with "getting into heaven."

Naturally, the next logical step was, of course, to declare all out war.

The preparation of the illiterate masses who would comprise the combat soldiers for these wars is the precise point of this posting.  Further, since we wish to discuss specifically the lingering impact of these "preparations for war" as they manifests in our contemporary American politics, we shall focus on the "preparations" orchestrated by what are called the European "Christian Kings" with the close cooperation of what we may consider the European "Christian Religious Authorities."

We can begin our investigation of the lingering effects of these "preparations" with a "pregnant question:"  

The "Pregnant Question"

"Why exactly, hundreds of years later in 2011, does a reasonably successful, church going, Texas cattle rancher who has never even studied contemporary geography much less comparative religions, hate Islam?"

Not only has the military "real estate" question been somewhat, at least temporarily,  settled, the European "Christian Kings" long ago vaporized into medieval history and the once fierce  Ottoman Empire conveniently divided into far less threatening, artificial "little pieces," but even the previously "heavy hand" of the "Christian Religious Authorities" has been reduced to essentially a struggling, "self-soiled" tribe of irrelevant hypocrites with serious credibility problems.

Still, just as a modern "trailer park" version of the famous Kundabuffer, the very "talking points" employed to "energize" the masses in those old Crusades seem to have a "life of their own," annually resurrecting themselves as "timeless truths" which must not ever be questioned -- especially in our contemporary American politics.

Old Testament Politics

In the recent weeks the discouraging depth of the phenomenon has been revealed -- in spades.

Further, we see this 2011 "revelation" not so much in the freaky Republican Straw Poll in Iowa but rather in the lead up carefully crafted by the latest, "most exciting," self-aggrandizing addition to the GOPCon herd.  Stepping aside quickly from the unavoidable shade of George W., Texas Governor Rick Perry introduced himself to all of us sinners in his prayer extravaganza.

At this juncture, MeanMesa could dive directly into the hilarious politics of the matter, but this posting is all about "old time religion," and that "old time religion" has some very interesting "old time origins" which must not slip away before the Perry launches his next publicity move.  Let's take a quick look at some of the "stuff" which emerged in the Perry's "Piety Fest." (See the video here. )

1. The Japanese economy was wrecked because the Emperor, who, by the way, already has a lovely Empress, started having sex with the Sun Goddess.
2. The Statue of Liberty is actually a demonic idol created by the Illuminati and French Free Masons.

3. The main pastor of the Harlot of Babylon movement is Oprah.

4. The Catholic Church is the Great Whore. God sent Hitler to move the Jews back to Israel.

5. Hitler had to use homosexual soldiers to do brutal savage things that straight soldiers wouldn't do.  

6. Muslims have no 1st Amendment rights to practice their religion in America.

7. President Obama is not an authentic, true blooded Negro.

8. Clinton's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" resulted in God killing masses of birds in Arkansas.

9. The Affordable Care Act is a Free Masonry weapon to kill off all but 500 million of the people of the Earth.

9. The Republican debt plaguing America must be met with prayer.  There is no other solution.

Now come the questions.

1.  Do Governor Perry's co-complicitors in the Prayer Fest actually believe these things?  

2. Or, are these "ministers" only religionist opportunists who have simply found an audience who believes these things?

3. Is this audience consumed only with an appetite to "appear" to believe these things?  Perhaps, "afraid" not to at least appear to believe them, even if, deep in their thoughts, they still find it impossible?

4. For whose consumption does this an audience want to "appear" to believe them?  God?  Other people?

5. Exactly what do the religious innuendos embedded in these impossible propositions target?

6. What, precisely, is the "end goal" of encouraging large numbers of people to  believe or appear to believe these things?

Now, we have to imagine -- just a little -- that we are standing in a crowd somewhere in Europe in 1085 AD.  The noblemen and the priests are speaking to us, trying to convince us to join up with the 1st Great Crusade to recapture Jerusalem.

We can't read.  We don't even know where Jerusalem is. We have no idea what is in the Christian Bible.  All we know -- essentially about anything -- is what we have been told, primarily by the priests.  Part of what these priests have told us is the nightmarish, terrifying tale of an all powerful, out of control God who has every right to plunge us into eternal torture once we have died.

The other part of what the priests have told us that, should we join the Crusade under the command of the local nobleman, we will avoid the eternal torture -- even if we die on the battlefield.

What do we think the message to our crowd would be?

How important would it have been for us to believe the message or, at least, appear to believe it?

What similarities will that medieval message have to the messages being presented and promoted at Perry's Texas Prayer Fest?

Old Testament Money

Of course, the Texas Prayer Fest is all about money.  For a candidate such as Rick Perry, everything is about money.

Crusading knights charge into battle, in Kingdom of Heaven. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox (image source)

The possibilities of the Texas Prayer Fest are about the possibilities of raising money for the Perry Crusade.  Being fairly well designed -- as far as Presidential Campaign Scams go, at least -- the identity of the targeted "money sources" is not hidden too far below the gaseous fog of the spoken salvation.

Let's look at it by the numbers.

1. Some of the smaller potential campaign donors will be thinking of heaven when they write those checks.  The size of their checks will provide testament to their comparative righteousness, both in the eye of God and in the eyes of their fellow congregants.

With respect to the politics involved, refer to any Biblical Concordance as it describes the "good kings" and "bad kings" of ancient Israel.  One thing the "good kings" all had in common was that they were not black.

2.  At the next tier of donors, we find the "uber rich," and we can anticipate that their "donations" to the campaign will be much larger.  Some of these 6 digit checks will be written while thinking of heaven, but many of them will be written while thinking of influence, that is, the value of the influence with the next President these donations might bring.

3. However, most of the Texas "uber rich" have wealth with pales when compared to the wealth of true modern oligarchs, that is the "ultra rich."  These campaign supporters are not writing checks while thinking about heaven, at least not while thinking of any sort of heaven which is not "heaven on Earth."

The "ultra rich" are also not thinking of "good kings" versus "bad kings."  They are thinking of "stupid kings" similar to the autocrat they elected last time because "stupid kings" who can be manipulated are the ones who hold the heavenly promise of even more "ultra" for the "ultra rich," just like last time.

4. The fourth and final group may have the most confounding description of all.  The denizens of this particular collection of donors represent an unexpected hybrid form combining both the mindlessness of the publicly righteous and the avarice of the thoroughly cynical with a special narcotic infatuation with raw theocratic power.

The "influence appetite" of this fourth group is slightly less bold than those in the third group, although they know that a very vocal President who is espousing their general claims to piety will also accompany an "oh, by the way" sort of "unavoidable prosperity" which will fall onto their churches and off shoot political cults.

Perry's Texas Prayer Fest was well populated with this fourth type -- and, not by coincidence.

MeanMesa and The Religionists

MeanMesa's general estimate of religionists is no mystery to those who routinely visit this little blog.  There is no dreamy, hyper optimistic speculation that any possible calls to consideration or effect of other revelation will materially change the amount of commitment or determination such folks will express every day right up to their death.

This is, after all, the nature of religionists, regardless of the brand.

Further, none of us should anticipate any rational adjustment to their penchant of applying ancient mythologies to current events and issues.  However, "noticing" the nature of what is presently "happening" may hold the promise of some mitigation.

MeanMesa hopes that the arguments here will prove unsettling to more rational participants in our democracy -- unsettling enough to host an energetic role in the 2012 election.  This post is a description of the alternative.

MeanMesa's compliments to the President.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A "Moment of Clarity" After Wisconsin Recalls

Re-Examining Our Own Thoughts

Once MeanMesa's old head gets fired up with something as exciting as the Wisconsin recall elections might have been, everything else -- that is, all otherwise rather more reasonable thoughts -- seemed to be the first victim.

A "Pause" In Sherman's March to Madison? (image source)

To approximately quote Schwarzenegger in an old Conan movie, "What could be better than the wives and children of your enemy fleeing in terror in the dawn?"

Naturally, MeanMesa's "dream" of the recall was made glorious by a clean sweep where all six of the new Democratic candidates marched victoriously into the State Senate Chambers while the remaining Walkerites quivered in fear along the walls in the shadows.  A few minutes after this grand entrance, the "insurgents" would immediately begin dismantling all the fascist mischief which had caused the ground swell of Wisconsin voters.

Of course, it turns out that $35 million of solid Koch money convinced the voters in the recall differently.  MeanMesa's fantasy seemed to be undercut by a good dose of discouraging reality -- an unpleasant invitation to careen directly into a new state of "down in the mouth."

But wait a minute.

After a few days of Conan-style "wound licking," cooler thoughts emerged. These "cooler thoughts" can be explained a bit by considering three ideas.

1. Republicans Will Rule Everything Forever

This was the "heady brew" which Karl Rove embraced so pungently during the first term of the Bush autocracy.  Things were going along "Roses, Simply Roses" for the GOPCons in those days.  For one thing, even though they were gleefully wrecking the nation's economic fundamentals, they were borrowing and spending money at a rate which masqueraded as prosperity.

Politically, the Republican bosses were also making great headway on their plan to permanently divide the country.  After adding a gloriously botched mismanagement of national security on 9/11, there were wars to be fought, more money to be borrowed and the propaganda floodgates, thanks to folks like the now heavily soiled Murdoch and his FOX "mouth junk gang," were opened wide.

Foolishly, Democrats bought into the "winner take all" nonsense right along side with the GOPCon hill billy and bigot zombies.  Both Republicans and Democrats found themselves connected to the idea that a "good time" amounted to nothing less than "taking over" once and for all, that is, in all future elections until 2088.

This recently "consolidated base" has turned out very badly for the Republicans, and the prospects of a Democratic version of the same thing is now beginning the same unworkable process for the Democrats.  Inebriated with the political possibilities of a massive, lock step majority, compromise became a "dirty word" for both the elephant and the donkey party.

2. Obama as "Everybody's" President

Barack Obama made a point of telling the country that he intended to sustain the life blood of democracy found in the seriously wounded two party system he inherited on Inauguration Day.  Since then, although faced with a disturbingly intense "winner take all" atmosphere on both sides of the aisle, the President has insisted that the parties negotiate, compromise and do their Constitutional job.

Thanks to the as of yet untested permanence of the electoral divisiveness so carefully crafted by the oligarchs and their media, the final outcome of this high ideal remains in question.  The themes of responsibility and cooperation have been a constant drum beat, but the hoped for, gradual migration back to "two party-hood" remains tenuous at best.

The incendiary bombs keep falling, but through the calamity, the President has done a good job of remaining reasonable, although the media version of this is that the President has done a good job of appearing reasonable.  Obama has been steady and stable in his expectations for the political system to actually function instead of continuing to be a fight to the death for perpetual control of the government.

In simpler terms, this means that the President has consistently placed the responsibility of "getting along" and "getting things done" squarely on the heads of both sides.  MeanMesa is certain that Obama is anxiously waiting to see if his "reasonable course" will remind the nation of its Constitutional responsibility for maturity and good citizenship.

His ambition may stretch beyond a Democratic win to a new attraction for a government -- and a country -- which has had a moment of clarity and stepped back from the ideological infatuation of ever increasing dogmatic purity to end the gravely dysfunctional hob gobblin now in charge.

3. The Slightly Brighter Side
of the Wisconsin Recall Results

Now, as mentioned already, MeanMesa's idea of a good time for these recalls would have been a clean sweep.  However, that clearly did not happen.  So, is there anything about the results which might soften the blow?

Yes, actually, there is a brighter side.

That "brighter side" cannot be found lurking anywhere in the stifling, purist dream of "winner take all."  That "brighter side" only begins to emerge when a larger picture of the outcome is considered.  Further, the author of that brighter picture turns out to be a Republican incumbent in the Wisconsin State Senate, one Senator Dale Schultz.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Dale Schultz (image source)

Now, right here MeanMesa could dive deeply into the nuances of Wisconsin Senatorial politics, but that would be missing the point.  Just as easily, MeanMesa could also dive right into the intractable hopelessness of not realizing the full, across the board Democratic sweep so carefully pictured in our dream.

What if the "bright spot" has settled right into the middle between the two?

Maybe it has.

This moment seems to have turned into one of those embarrassing moments when the unexamined fallacy of a previously held "mistaken certainty" is revealed.  It has everything to do with winning.

MeanMesa's old idea of winning had everything to do with "party winning" or "ideological winning."  MeanMesa's new idea of winning has everything to do with what it should have had everything to do with in the first place -- the future of our country.

These now cooler thoughts see a new picture in the Wisconsin Senate, and that picture is not the hopeless collapse which played itself out in the MeanMesa nightmare.  Instead, a fairly rational, fairly moderate Republican Senator, Mr. Schultz, has become the "pivot point" of the future decisions to be reached in that more evenly split State Senate.

The old days of the Madison version of Sherman's March have ended.  The Democrats remain the minority party, but the lock step unanimity which existed in a 19 - 14 minority has effectively been replaced by a more thoughtful 17 - 16 minority.

For example, Republican Senator Schultz broke ranks with the Walkerites by voting against the anti-union legislation which caused so much unrest.  In the then majority mix of the Senate, this vote was not a decisive one, but in the new majority mix of the Senate, this vote would have blocked passage of the legislation.

Sour grapes?  Hardly.  This is the way a partisan Senate should work.  Further, Democrats who have dejectedly embraced the "heartbreak of defeat," should reconsider.  In fact, not just reconsider, but adopt a similar, cooperative ideal for the time when they are in the majority.

A rational, transactional two party system has been restored, and not by a landslide Democratic majority, either.  Rather, by a return to the ideas -- and ideals -- of a more functional, adversary governance.  The representational legitimacy of the Wisconsin State Senate is restored.

MeanMesa's compliments to Senator Dale Schultz.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Freedom Werks "Runaway Slave" Project

Tea Bags Not Really Racists After All

Please take a few moments to enjoy this great email MeanMesa received from Reverend C.L. Bryant, FreedomWorks Foundation Fellow and Runaway Slave.  If you have ever had any incorrect thoughts about the progressive side of Dick Armey's corporate "grass roots,"  maybe the good reverend's letter will help settle the matter once and for good.

There can be no doubt that the film will result in a flood tide of new voters rushing to the Republican side of the 2012 ballots.

The email:
(All links from the original email are left enabled.)
Please Contribute Now To Help Us Complete This Film

Dear MeanMesa,

My name is C.L. Bryant—former Democrat and NAACP Chapter President—current Tea Party leader and freedom fighter.

As a minister and a Black conservative, I believe in an America defined by courage, liberty and faith. A country where, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, people are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. In fact, if the liberal media would take a minute to stop calling Tea Partiers "racists" they'd find out that's what we are all about. You've probably heard me speak about these convictions if you attended FreedomWorks' Taxpayer March on Washington in 2009 or 2010.

Still, I wanted to do more. I wanted to open the eyes of Black America to see what I have come to see: that big government policies have enslaved the Black community to a cycle of poverty and dependence. So I partnered with FreedomWorks Foundation and filmed a documentary where I expose how supposed Black "leaders" like Al Sharpton have deceived the Black community into voting for the very same liberal government policies that hurt them. I crisscrossed the country interviewing other Black conservatives, Tea Party members and journalists who were willing to speak truth to power. I titled the documentary "Runaway Slave" because that's how I feel; I've run away from the slavery of government oppression and toward the blessings of individual liberty.

But we aren't done yet. FreedomWorks Foundation and I need your help to complete the editing, production and distribution of this film. Your help will show that patriotic Americans are united, not by race, but by a love of freedom. Please make a tax-deductible donation to FreedomWorks Foundation right now to help us finish this film.

You can watch our latest trailer of the film below or by clicking here.

Whether you can give $20 or $2,000, please make your tax-deductible donation to FreedomWorks Foundation immediately. Your gift will go right into the final stage of creating this film and bringing the message of courage, liberty and faith to America. Your gift will:
  • Pay for video editors to assemble the stories and rent the editing equipment.
  • Purchase historical stock footage from video libraries.
  • Hire producers to dig through the hours of interviews and footage to find the right, persuasive stories.
  • Allow us to bypass liberal Hollywood and get this life-changing film into theaters near you.
  • Help us reach millions through email and other internet resources.
My team tells me we need to raise $45,000 get us across the finish line. That's why I'm asking you to give $25, $50, or more to FreedomWorks Foundation to help us get there. The film crew, my family and I have all sacrificed personally and financially because we believe in this film. I hope you will find it in your heart to sacrifice whatever you can to make that belief a reality. Please donate now.

Thank you and God Bless,

Reverend C.L. Bryant
FreedomWorks Foundation Fellow and Runaway Slave

P.S. -- To learn more about the Runaway Slave movie project please visit us online here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

WISGOP WIN! Wisconsin Recalls Decided One Day Before Election

In Wisconsin Timing is Everything

In case no one has noticed, the reactionary forces which took control of Wisconsin in a sled run lubricated by Koch Brothers' money have acted very, very, very, very quickly to fortify their tenuous hold on the state's government.  No doubt expecting a recall election for control of the Senate at the earliest possible moment, the GOPCons have successfully moved a startling body of voter suppression bills through the train wreck in Madison.

In a manner similar to their savage union busting gambit, these voter suppression laws have moved through the legislative process very, very, very fast, too.  Everything had to be put in place in time to successfully resist the recall election.

If the counter attack could have been stifled or even just delayed, additional time for more looting could be gained.

Dusting Off Walker's Election Rigging Tool Kit

Naturally, among other things, Waukesha County's trusty old county clerk, Kathy Nicholaus, had to be sobered up, showered and prepped for the big day.

Wait a minute.  Who's Kathy Nicholaus again?

To answer this question, we will have to try something that is very difficult for American voters.  We will have to remember last time.

In this case, "last time" was the "election" of a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice in April of this year.  Here's a little reminder from "way back" in April, 2011.


Wisconsin high court election

turned on its head 

The challenger to conservative Supreme Court Justice David Prosser had already declared victory in a vote that drew national attention because of the state's union battle. Then Waukesha County's clerk announced she had neglected to count 14,000 votes.

April 08, 2011|By Nicholas Riccardi | Los Angeles Times
In a shocking twist, a clerk in a conservative Wisconsin county announced Thursday that she had discovered a net gain of 7,582 votes for an embattled conservative Supreme Court justice, a total that would make him the winner of an election in which his challenger declared victory Wednesday.

The election drew national attention because it was seen as a referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, which sparked huge protests and has been put on hold by a judge.
Unofficial tallies Wednesday had put Assistant Atty. Gen. JoAnne Kloppenburg 204 votes ahead of Justice David Prosser. But as county canvassing boards began double-checking totals Thursday, those margins shifted.

Then Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced at a 5:45 p.m. news conference that she had left out the 14,315 votes cast in the city of Brookfield in the totals she released Tuesday night. Prosser won 10,859 votes there to Kloppenburg's 3,456. Coupled with small increases elsewhere in the county, Prosser gained a total of 7,582 votes on his challenger, giving him a 0.5% margin — enough to avoid a state-financed recount.

"This is human error, which I apologize for," said Nickolaus, a Republican.
Nickolaus has drawn controversy for keeping election data on private office computers that are not part of the county network. She said the error had nothing to do with that. The mistake was discovered during an open meeting of the county canvassing board, which was attended by at least one Democrat, Ramona Kitzinger.

Kitzinger told reporters at the news conference that Nickolaus was telling the truth. "We went over everything and made sure that all the numbers jived up, and they did," Kitzinger said.

Other Democrats were skeptical of the announcement.

Rep. Peter Barca, the Assembly minority leader, in a statement noted that Nickolaus had worked for Republicans in the Legislature when Prosser was a leader there. "Her approach raises questions about the integrity of the election to the highest court in our state."

We have to assume that dozens of crooked little county clerks have been ordered to "maximum alert" status for the recall election.  There are already probably thousands of anti-recall ballots already positioned to "be found" late Tuesday night.  You know, like the "election" described in the article above.

Likewise, the state's useless Supreme Court, now controlled by the same sort of throwbacks inhabiting the rest of Walker's weird government, is also "on alert" to do everything imaginable to thwart the will of Wisconsin voters where ever possible.

 Also, the "voter suppression" effort is not just another toothless gizmo, either.  The Wisconsin state legislature has thrown everything except the kitchen sink into the long, tortured road a Wisconsin voter must endure to throw the lever on one of Wisconsin's extremely suspicious voting machines.

Wisconsin used to be a state where a voter could register and vote on the same day.  Hysterically publicizing the seven voter fraud cases in the 100's of millions of Wisconsin votes cast in the last decade as compelling evidence of the necessity of "tightening" voter registration laws, the busy little fascists in the Wisconsin legislature have, once again, over reached, arrogantly rushing beyond any possible legitimacy.

Republicans everywhere know that nothing good can come from elections which take place without "thinning the herd."

Proof through the night that our flag is still there

The flag which flew over Ft. McHenry (image source)

Now, this post is from Monday, August 8, 2011.  The recall elections begin tomorrow morning.  Heh, heh, what will pass for the vote counting will be well underway by this time tomorrow.

MeanMesa predicts that, although there will almost certainly be massive election fraud, the flood tide of Wisconsin voters saying "No" to the likes of Governor Scott Walker and his stinky little clutch of tea bags will carry the day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Minority Report?

Keeping an Ear on Rove's "Mouth Junk" Circus

MeanMesa, during those breathless moments between Short Current Essay's quiet and overly tolerant treatment of unfolding events, takes a break with a free solitaire site.  After a few games -- won or lost -- energy is restored, the mind is, once again, calm, and MeanMesa is "tanned, rested and ready" for a few more posts.

Of course, all sorts of ads appear on the pop-ups there on the solitaire page, battery powered soup mixers, amazing weight loss inventions and the like.  However, the latest offering caught our eye.  It is a little something from Karl Rove's CrossRoads GPS.  Normally this little smudge would have been notably forgettable, but the "talking points" were so shockingly identical to the "mouth junk" of the House tea bags during their now famous "interviews" it caught MeanMesa's attention.

So, here it is.

1. "High Unemployment"
3. "Failed $830 Billion Stimulus"
4. "Tax Increases"

The background graphics of the little jewel, although also quite easily overlooked, are also interesting.  From them, perhaps, we can approximate a few of Carl's other ambitious points.

At the top, we see a crane unloading containers at a harbor.  In the mid-section, we see the national emblem of the PRC (China) painted on one of the containers.  At the base, we see a photo shopped black and white crowd, standing in line.

The only thing missing is a nice shot of a kitty being splayed by a sledge hammer.

Blinking Gimmic on MeanMesa's Favorite Solitaire Page
Also, we have to note the graphic presentation strategy of using a nice, highly casual, cartoon comic font for everything except the compressed Helvetica of the "BLANK CHECKS" line.  Karl knows that, when appealing to hill billies and bigots, a nicely measured folksy nihilism should be communicated by one's font selection.

How homey.

Of course, removing the "fenders" from the CrossRoads GPS pitch is simple enough.  Each "point" of the talking points' "points" is, actually, entirely contradictory to the facts -- and not just contradictory to some difficult to unearth facts which might require some serious research, but contradictory to very public facts which can only be successfully avoided by tuning in exclusively to FOX NEWS and absolutely nothing else, ever.  Not even for a few seconds.

What's the Point?

The point is that there are millions of Americans who can look at this little stinker and simply nod their heads in agreement.

"Yup.  Thet therez perzactly raht."

So, where do these FOXites land in the next election?  Is there any possible point to arguing with them?  Are they out there somewhere waiting to be persuaded?

Normally, MeanMesa would say "Don't bother."

However, this time around, millions of these normally out-of-reach voters will still be reeling from what's gone on in the last two weeks.  Millions of them will have been wringing their hands for hours before a sleepless night wondering if they were going to get their Social Security checks.

And, it doesn't stop there, either.

Millions more of them have been wringing their hands about just what can be done with Mom if she doesn't get her Social Security check.  Millions more of them have been wringing their hands about what can be done if Medicaid quits paying for Mom to stay in the extended care home.

Although Americans have a world renown reputation for short memories, this hand wringing business may actually be something of an exception.  In fact, the memories of these long, hand wringing nights are, most likely, plenty strong enough to last the 15 months until the 2012 election.

FOX News has done every thing possible, sparing no expense, to stupify these members of the Republican base in hopes of permanently inoculating them from ever being open to any other political ideas, but in this case the Republicans themselves have cracked their own, hyper expensive, barricade.

There is "over reaching" and then there is this kind of "over reaching."

When all these "hand wringing types" are added to another interesting bloc in the Republican base, the election results get even more dicey.

Wait.  "Another interesting bloc?"

Yes, these would be the base Republicans who can remember that Boehner, only a few months ago, was saying that "creating jobs" was the reason that the American people sent the whole freak show to Washington in the 2010 election.  Perhaps this same bunch was also able to hear -- of all places, on FOX News -- Boehner now saying that the reason the freak show was sent to Washington was to "cut spending."

If you are a Republican base type "wringing your hands" about Social Security and Medicaid, you probably have a son who has been "wringing his hands" about jobs -- especially if he needs one.  Suddenly, another few million Republican base voters have been added to the "inadequately inoculated list."

When Presidential elections have a habit of being decided (when the votes are actually counted...) on a few hundred thousand or a million vote margins, this population of staggering, confused and dis-satisfied Republican base voters could be rather important.  Worse, for the Republicans, this "hand wringing" business may prove to be a strong enough influence to motivate these confused GOPCons to stagger from their mobile homes down to the polls.

Where they might vote for a Democrat -- you know, just to "send a message."  You know, just like they "sent a message" in 2010.


And, since we're gathering all the "low hanging fruit" for our 2012 GOPCon "fruit cake," we still have to add one last, normally never even considered, complicating clutch of dis-satisfied GOPCons to the mix.

The oligarchs.

These poor folks will have channelled literally millions of their "yacht and jewelry dollars" into the Citizens United media blitz to throw the 2012, not to mention all the day to day millions they have soaked into FOX News and the rest of the corporate media.

These billionaires will suddenly turn on Murdoch and the other fascist "service providers" when their very expensive prize is not delivered, very dramatically  assuming the sack cloth mantle of victimhood, you know, as in having been "deceived" by the radio crowd who promised them spectacularly better results for their investment in attacking democracy.

See?  Everybody wins.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Licking Our Wounds? Try Not To Giggle

While most Americans are still reeling from the "extortion negotiations" which have been unfolding in Washington, the FOXites have been literally ejaculating as they declare victory and supremacy over the White House.  However, when we examine the facts a little more carefully, we see a significantly different picture emerging.

Of course, this could be another posting which amounted to nothing more than MeanMesa's opinion on the subject.  The remainder of this post is a transcript of President Obama's speech on the economy from January 8, 2009.

So, all you grave robbers, derelicts and thugs there in the victory parade, read it and weep.  You have been out classed on such a scale that it will be several months before you realize that you have been had by a pro.


Rupert Murdoch has convinced 50 million Americans that this man is President (image source)


Obama's Speech on the Economy

Published: January 8, 2009
The following is a transcript of President-Elect Barack Obamas speech on the economy, as prepared by Federal News Service.

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Everybody be seated. Thank you very much. (Applause continues.) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause continues.) Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Please be seated. Thank you so much.

Let me begin by thanking George Mason University for their extraordinary hospitality and to thank all the great friends, the governors, the mayors, who are in attendance here today.

Throughout America's history, there have been some years that simply rolled into the next without much notice or fanfare, and then there are the years that come along once in a generation, the kind that mark a clean break from a troubled past and set a new course for our nation. This is one of those years.

We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime, a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks. Nearly 2 million jobs have been now lost, and on Friday we're likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. Manufacturing has hit a 28-year low. Many businesses cannot borrow or make payroll. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage. Many workers are watching their life savings disappear. And many, many Americans are both anxious and uncertain of what the future will hold.

Now, I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and our standing in the world.

In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.

This crisis did not happen solely by some accident of history or normal turn of the business cycle, and we won't get out of it by simply waiting for a better day to come or relying on the worn-out dogmas of the past. We arrived at this point due to an era of profound irresponsibility that stretched from corporate boardrooms to the halls of power in Washington, D.C.

For years, too many Wall Street executives made imprudent and dangerous decisions, seeking profits with too little regard for risk, too little regulatory scrutiny, and too little accountability. Banks made loans without concern for whether borrowers could repay them, and some borrowers took advantage of cheap credit to take on debt they couldn't afford. Politicians spent taxpayer money without wisdom or discipline and too often focused on scoring political points instead of problems they were sent here to solve. The result has been a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets and our government.

Now, the very fact that this crisis is largely of our own making means that it's not beyond our ability to solve. Our problems are rooted in past mistakes, not our capacity for future greatness. It will take time, perhaps many years, but we can rebuild that lost trust and confidence. We can restore opportunity and prosperity.
We should never forget that our workers are still more productive than any on Earth. Our universities are still the envy of the world. We are still home to the most brilliant minds, the most creative entrepreneurs and the most advanced technology and innovation that history has ever known. And we are still the nation that has overcome great fears and improbable odds.

If we act with the urgency and seriousness that this moment requires, I know that we can do it again. That is why I have moved quickly to work with my economic team and leaders of both parties on an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that will immediately jump- start job creation and long-term growth. It's a plan that represents not just new policy, but a whole new approach to meeting our most urgent challenges. For if we hope to end this crisis, we must end the culture of "anything goes" that helped create it. And this change must begin in Washington. It's time to trade old habits for a new spirit of responsibility. It is time to finally change the ways of Washington so that we can set a new and better course for America.

There is no doubt that the cost of this plan will be considerable. It will certainly add to the budget deficit in the short term. But equally certain are the consequences of doing too little or nothing at all, for that will lead to an even greater deficit of jobs, incomes and confidence in our economy.

It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or long-term growth, but at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe.

Only government can break the cycle that are crippling our economy -- where a lack of spending leads to lost jobs which leads to even less spending; where an inability to lend and borrow stops growth and leads to even less credit.

That's why we need to act boldly and act now to reverse these cycles. That's why we need to put money in the pockets of the American people, create new jobs, and invest in our future. That's why we need to restart the flow of credit and restore the rules of the road that will ensure a crisis like this never happens again.

And this plan begins with -- this plan must begin today, a plan I am confident will save or create at least 3 million jobs over the next few years. It is not just another public-works program; it's a plan that recognizes both the paradox and the promise of this moment -- the fact that there are millions of Americans trying to find work even as, all around the country, there's so much work to be done. And that's why we'll invest in priorities like energy and education; health care and a new infrastructure that are necessary to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st century. That's why the overwhelming majority of the jobs created will be in the private sector, while our plan will save the public sector jobs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and others who provide vital services.

To finally spark the creation of a clean-energy economy, we will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills. In the process, we will put Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced -- jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings, and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to even more jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain.

To improve the quality of our health care while lowering its cost, we will make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years all of America's medical records are computerized. This will cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests. But it just won't save billions of dollars and thousands of jobs, it will save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health care system.

To give our children the chance to live out their dreams in a world that's never been more competitive, we will equip tens of thousands of schools, community colleges and public universities with 21st-century classrooms, labs and libraries. We'll provide new computers, new technology, and new training for teachers so that students in Chicago and Boston can compete with kids in Beijing for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.

To build an economy that can lead this future, we will begin to rebuild America. Yes, we'll put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools by eliminating the backlog of well-planned, worthy and needed infrastructure projects, but we'll also do more to retrofit America for a global economy. That means updating the way we get our electricity by starting to build a new smart grid that will save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation. It means expanding broadband lines across America so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world. And it means investing in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries.

And finally, this recovery and reinvestment plan will provide immediate relief to states, workers and families who are bearing the brunt of this recession. To get people spending again, 95 percent of working families will receive a thousand-dollar tax cut, the first stage of a middle-class tax cut that I promised during the campaign and will include in our next budget. To help Americans who have lost their jobs and can't find new ones, we'll continue the bipartisan extension of unemployment insurance and health-care coverage to help them through this crisis. Government at every level will have to tighten its belt, but we'll help struggling states avoid harmful budget cuts, as long as they take responsibility and use the money to maintain essential services like police, fire, education and health care.

Now, I understand that some might be skeptical of this plan. Our government has already spent a good deal of money, but we haven't yet seen that translate into more jobs or higher incomes or renewed confidence in our economy. And that's why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan won't just throw money at our problems; we'll invest in what works. The true test of the policies we'll pursue won't be whether they're Democratic or Republican ideas, whether they're conservative or liberal ideas, but whether they create jobs, grow our economy, and put the American Dream within reach of the American people.

Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made transparently, and informed by independent experts wherever possible. Every American will be able to hold Washington accountable for these decisions by going online to see how and where their taxpayer dollars are being spent. And as I announced yesterday, we will launch an unprecedented effort to eliminate unwise and unnecessary spending that has never been more unaffordable for our nation and our children's future than it is right now.

We have to make tough choices and smart investments today so that as the economy recovers, the deficits start coming down. We cannot have a solid recovery if our people and our businesses don't have confidence that we're getting our fiscal house in order. And that's why our goal is not to create a slew of new government programs, but a foundation for long-term economic growth.

That also means an economic recovery plan that is free from earmarks and pet projects. I understand that every member of Congress has ideas about how to spend money, and many of these projects are worthy. They benefit local communities. But this emergency legislation must not be the vehicle for those aspirations. This must be a time when leaders in both parties put the urgent needs of our nation above our own narrow interests.

Now, this recovery plan alone will not solve all the problems that led us into this crisis. We must also work with the same sense of urgency to stabilize and repair the financial system we all depend on. That means using our full arsenal of tools to get credit flowing again to families and business, while restoring confidence in our markets. It means launching a sweeping effort to address the foreclosure crisis so that we can keep responsible families in their homes. It means preventing the catastrophic failure of financial institutions whose collapse could endanger the entire economy, but only with maximum protections for taxpayers and a clear understanding that government support for any company is an extraordinary action that must come with significant restrictions on the firms that receive support. And it means reforming a weak and outdated regulatory system so that we can better withstand financial shocks and better protect consumers, investors and businesses from the reckless greed and risk- taking that must never endanger our prosperity again.

No longer can we allow Wall Street wrongdoers to slip through regulatory cracks. No longer can we allow special interests to put their thumbs on the economic scales. No longer can we allow the unscrupulous lending and borrowing that leads only to destructive cycles of bubble and bust.
It is time to set a new course for this economy, and that change must begin now. We should have an open and honest discussion about this recovery plan in the days ahead, but I urge Congress to move as quickly as possible on behalf of the American people. For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs; more families will lose their savings; more dreams will be deferred and denied; and our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

That is not the country I know. It is not a future I accept as president of the United States. A world that depends on the strength of our economy is now watching and waiting for America to lead once more, and that is what we will do.
It will not come easy or happen overnight, and it is altogether likely that things may get worse before they get better. But that is all the more reason for Congress to act without delay. I know the scale of this plan is unprecedented, but so is the severity of our situation. We have already tried the wait-and-see approach to our problems, and it is the same approach that helped lead us to this day of reckoning.

And that is why the time has come to build a 21st-century economy in which hard work and responsibility are once again rewarded. That's why I'm asking Congress to work with me and my team day and night, on weekends if necessary, to get the plan passed in the next few weeks. That's why I'm calling on all Americans -- Democrats and Republicans and independents -- to put -- to put good ideas ahead of the old ideological battles, a sense of common purpose above the same narrow partisanship, and insist that the first question each of us asks isn't "What's good for me?" but "What's good for the country my children will inherit?"

More than any program or policy, it is this spirit that will enable us to confront these challenges with the same spirit that has led previous generations to face down war and depression and fear itself. And if we do -- if we are able to summon that spirit again; if are able to look out for one another and listen to one another, and do our part for our nation and for posterity -- then I have no doubt that, years from now, we will look back on 2009 as one of those years that marked another new and hopeful beginning for the United States of America.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.)