Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Election 2012: Are We Too Dumb for a Free Press?

MeanMesa's 2012 Apologia

Now that the election is behind us -- at least, apparently behind some of us -- MeanMesa must now make an admission of sorts.  During more normal campaigns, MeanMesa loves to campaign, loves to pass out campaign message cards throughout the neighborhood, loves to argue with folks from the opposing sides of things.  

MeanMesa was and is a proud voter registrar, licensed in New Mexico to undertake that important task.  This season that resulted in registering 41 voters, often voters who required re-registration because they had recently moved since the last election in 2010.  That 41 registrations included 6 for Republicans and 11 for Independents, and accounted with some satisfaction, even those encounters were accomplished without the wild partisan rancor which was clearly the first impulse.

However, this time around, MeanMesa was thoroughly filled with an infuriating torment not experienced recently.  The anger level this time was so high that no candidate could have reasonably expected to benefit from MeanMesa's usual eagerness to, shall we say, "mix it up."  The best, that is, the most constructive decision was to simply stay home.

Of course, there are always moments in any campaign.  This time?  Not moments.  MeanMesa's ensuing state of mind watching this election could only be described as a state of "standing rage and horror."

Two issues were the instigators of this unhelpful state.  First, the public media's conduct during this latest election was a disgusting display of monumental cynicism and arrogance.  Second, there actually were matters which fully deserved the complete attention of the American electorate, urgent decisions, which were never addressed.

The result?  The Republic was "flying blind."

Let's take a look.

The 2012 Election Was a "Free Press" Failure

One of Six Lies Constantly Aired in Romney Campaign (image source: Veracity Stew)

This may seem like a rather bitter comment, but let's review just what went on during the campaigns.

The "free press" is designed to function in roughly the same pattern at the "free market."  In that market, goods and services are offered, purchased and consumed.  If those paying for and consuming the goods and services are satisfied, they return for more.

If, however, these market or media consumers are not satisfied, what follows is the almost mythical neo-con creature called the "market correction."  The "free market" gets to be "free" -- in this case, without regulation -- because when the value of something falls below the price of that thing, the "free market" simply and automatically "corrects" itself, and the consumers buy something else.

This is exactly the logic -- granted, ideological logic which is usually perhaps too pure to always be entirely functional -- which theoretically justifies our country's great reluctance for any legislative preemptive interference in the production of such products.  The vaguely defined acceptable exceptions to such a ban on interference arises with products which are intentionally fraudulent by design, products which threaten peoples' lives and health or products which threaten the Republic.

Colgate Palmolive is not allowed to produce and market botulism flavored tooth paste, snake oil carcinogenic baldness cures or brief case sized h-bombs.

The "free press" has definitely been just this outrageous before, so what was different this last time?  After all, unlike the consequences of the Hearst Yellow Press of the past, we didn't start a war with Spain or Nicaragua even between our own North and South halves this time.  We did, however, probably come fairly close to starting one with Iran.

That would be, "starting a war with Iran" not because we needed to fight Iran, but because the prospect carried a certain momentum of political advantage -- not to mention the associated profits from military procurement..

In MeanMesa's view, 2012 was, actually, a far more dangerous dalliance in the art of media driven incendiary flamboyance, deception and danger than the reportage which incited the Spanish American War.  The "infuriating part" mentioned above has everything to do with what happens when there was no "market correction" to campaign media products even when there clearly and desperately needed to be one.

During the Romney/Ryan campaign, there were no dissatisfied consumers among the GOP population who symbolically "voted with their pocket books"  and demanded something more realistic and productive.  In other words, there was no compensating "market correction" for a campaign media product which should have been quite unacceptable to its target audience.

All those Republicans, 47% of the nation's population, listened to the statements and proposals of the Romney campaign and had no trouble voting for the man and the party.  If the "market correction" for the "free press" idea had been performing as it was traditionally intended to function, the media consumers who ultimately voted Republican would have insisted on something of better quality -- far better quality -- to have come out of the GOP's wildly financed campaign.

Worse, with a billion dollars worth of Citizens United "walking around money" in their pockets, the Republicans effectively stifled any possible constructive campaigning which might have come from the Democrats' side, too.  Democrats in the 2012 campaign had some questions to answer themselves, but with the crazy people on the other side throwing balloons full of blood every minute in a relentless twenty four hour saturation campaign, those questions never saw the light of day.

All through this, the media simply kept "playing ball."  Why was that?

Taking Media Ownership "Down the Rabbit Hole"

Here's one clue.

At the rather impressive site for Injustice Facts  we find this note about media ownership in the United States: [http://factcheckinginjusticefacts.wordpress.com/about/]

"There are 1500 newspapers, 1100 magazines, 9000 radio stations, 1500 TV stations and 2400 publishers owned by only 3 corporations."

It would be painless enough to simply shrug the shoulders and consider the above to be nothing more important than an interesting anecdote, an innocent and more or less predictable development of "the natural course of events" in a lassaiz faire economy.  That may well be an acceptable explanation, but there is a seriously dark, seriously sinister side to this "innocent" development when its effect is to fundamentally undercut the democracy.

However, right here let's divide this business into two parts, one for each of the players.  "Players?"

Who has the nation's wealth? (image source)
Yes.  One of the parties involved here is clearly the oligarch class with their corporate infatuation with finally accomplishing total ownership of the nation.  As of this posting these "fun loving, risk taking" corporate oligarchs have managed to consolidate the lion's share of the entire wealth of the country under their control.  This situation has grown worse since the chart (above) was made in 2007.  [It's present here because it is so extremely straightforward.]

A similar situation -- also quite predictable -- follows this same pattern as we examine the income of Americans.  Those with the largest incomes see those income rates rise while the incomes of the "lesser classes" are actually declining.

The $27 Mn income rates for those in the little orange box is AVERAGE. (image source)
Now, we've all seen charts of this sort before, but there is remains just a tiny tidbit of "fact facing" to do with this post.  This post is not merely an invitation for visitors to simply join in for more complaining.

The "blue" folks in the first diagram and the "orange" folks in the second diagram intend to own everything before they are finished with us.  They've already made an impressive start.

However, in 2012 these oligarchs are not yet bold enough to make a country-wide attempt at something akin to an outright coup.  Lacking the bravado to move to simply quash the electoral democracy, we find these interests in 2012 meddling with the election and voters at state levels.

Don't be confused.  Every act of voter suppression and disenfranchisement we saw in the 2012 election originated with the "blue" and "orange" crowd.  There may have been some soothing confusion from the feathers and fog around the details, but facts are facts.  The oligarchs have an obvious ambition to finally eliminate the democracy.

And, since the elimination of the democracy turns out to be just a little too frightening for them at the moment, the next, safest, thing for their attention is the manipulation of the electorate.  That scheme needed media ownership to get off the ground.

At this point, it's already well off the ground.

During the conduct of the Romney campaign, the commercial media rolled over like a "lumber camp whore."  Not once did a single commercial network issue an order to its star pundits to ask a "follow up" question from Romney.  It wouldn't have mattered if such an order had been given, Romney would not have answered.

Normally, we would assume that this arrogance would have resulted in a massive "market correction" by media news consumers, but we saw that this didn't happen.  The agonizing tableau just continued, day after day, oozing its way through the most awkward of moments of candidate silence without missing a beat.

Barack Obama made a mistake as he entered the first Presidential debate.  He assumed that it would be a debate, but it was not.  The "hired guns" among the commercial media pundits rushed to proclaim his performance a loss.

At that precise moment the cash flowing from the "blues and the oranges" from the charts above had already reached the billions.  Interestingly, that massive flow of money, we now see, included plenty of Saudi royal money and Chinese "foreign corrupt practices" bribes and gambling money gleefully shielded by Citizens United, a ruling from a Supreme Court just as much in the "blue and orange" pockets as the media.

All this "free press" sell out would never have been possible without another set of "players."

The "Other" Players

We could have expected the media consuming public, religiously turning on the tube in an effort to educate themselves before casting their ballots, to fairly quickly reveal their intolerance with the prospect of being so cheaply manipulated, but we didn't see this.  When MeanMesa says "we didn't see this," we are addressing the extremely unexpected complacency of the 47% of voters who so tacitly just accepted this treatment.

MeanMesa, prior to this election, would have naively presumed that no more than 5% or 10% of the electorate would have ever gone along with treatment so amateurish, cynical and brutish, that is, would not have been at all interested in having anything to do with a candidate or campaign so insulting.

It would be a mistake, a grave miscalculation, to look at this anomaly in the wrong time frame.  What occurred in 2012 required a voter demographic which had been cultivated and groomed for years prior to the oligarchs' "big move."  They didn't begin this fight with this election or with the Citizens United ruling or with the coup d'etat by their Supremes in 2001.  This fight was already road weary when the "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards were going up in the illiteracy zone.

You can't come up with voters like these in a matter of just a few months or years.  It took decades.

And, those who have ambitions of destroying the democracy have been at this for decades, working hard.  The stakes were -- and are still -- astronomically high.

Poverty. illiteracy, malnutrition, stagnation in public education, Jim Crow Laws, racism, intimidation, voter disenfranchisement, misinformation and outright corruption -- not to mention the dedicated "leadership" of the dirty shirt preachers and half-witted coaches -- have all served to "soften up" and "prepare the field" in the oligarchic anti-democracy campaign.  When American civics could only be taught with textbooks from the Texas School board library, the dies was cast.

The quality of citizenship continually descended.

An exaggeration?  More ranting and raving from MeanMesa?

Explain why millions of Americans listened to what Mitt Romney said and then voted for him.

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