Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Oligarchs and Their Republicans: Fractures in the Bulwark of the Base

Show Down at the OK Corral
2014: The Chips Are on the Table.

In the midst of any campaign, no matter how one finds the balance at the moment, it is always a prudent task to consider the possibilities of winning.  Perhaps the first step is to firmly acknowledge that THIS is, in fact, a campaign.  We [most Americans including US visitors to MeanMesa] are clearly on one side, and the now well established oligarchs are on the other.

Still, although we are already deeply engaged in the fight, our score so far is lagging far behind.  Most of the objectives the oligarchs have targeted are now firmly in their hands.  Further, their position remains a relatively strong one.

The US oligarchs are unquestionably the wealthiest people the planetary population of humans has ever produced at any time through history.  They enjoy the "full service" of the massive US military to protect their wealth -- and opportunities.  They can currently boast of almost complete control of the Congress which, by means of controlling the US general fund of tax money, also controls and directs the military.  They also clearly control a reliable majority of the Supreme Court Justices.

There is no surviving structure of the US government which can or will stop them.

Returning to our unavoidable task of speculating how the oligarchs' scheme might still fail, we find it necessary to seek out a "weak link" in their strategy if one exists.  In other words, "How, exactly, could this thing of theirs still fall apart?"

This would be the "OK CORRAL" part.

It may also be an embarrassingly simple part.  The 2014 mid-term elections present the "tipping point" for all the work the oligarch side has so tediously accomplished to date.  Those elections will have one of three possible outcomes.

1. The GOP holds onto its present illegitimate control of the House and gains control of the Senate.  The oligarchs' campaign moves into its final -- and permanent --  phase.  After watching the oligarchs' anti-democratic tactics of the past, there will never be another actual election in the future.  Control and ownership of the nation will fall decisively into the hands of the billionaires.

2. The GOP holds the House and only gains a few seats in the Senate, remaining a minority.  The House austerity policies continue to move more and more wealth to the oligarchs who control it.  In response to the predictable paralysis resulting from such an outcome, popular trust in the government will collapse to a level dangerously lower than even its current nadir.  The country will move even closer to a state of being "fundamentally ungovernable," and the population will move even closer to an explosive, pain induced, confused frenzy with a very uncertain outcome.

3. The GOP loses its illegitimate control of the House and loses seats in the Senate.  Although this would provide almost immediate relief for the exhausted American population, it would also herald the introduction of Democrats able to make only the flimsiest claims of more integrity or passion than the Republicans they replaced. While conditions in the country would be improving, it would not take long before the depth and severity of the decades long US leadership deficit would gradually begin to re-emerge.

Naturally, we have to fight our way to the third outcome, but once we achieve it, we must commence the real fight -- the longer one.

In the end game, somewhere between Wasilla and Miami we must locate American candidates who can actually form a government and run it.  It won't be necessary to retain much of the Congress we currently have.  The current residents have long ago established their own set of standards ranging from outrageous perfidy to spineless, self-serving acquiescence. 

Today, there is shockingly little of the commonly accepted fundamental precepts of either Party surviving, so MeanMesa has to assume that even those historical foundations must be placed on the block at this point.  The politicos have apparently become so enthralled with oligarch dollars as to have neglected to keep even their "home fires" burning.

However, this post is all about the crumbling structure of the coup d'etat.  That collapse must necessarily precede any more "structural renovations" we plan for the future.

 "Game of Thrones"
Parallel parking an oil tanker can be tricky...The GOP's 2014

While me might like to characterize the growing nervous uncertainty in the GOP's base as something refreshingly akin to "coming to their senses," MeanMesa considers such optimism as, generally, unfounded.   Instead, a thoughtful observation of this base's "personal conditions" may be the most positive possibility for the moment.

The GOP propaganda machine has relentlessly demonized the victims of the Republican Great Recession of 2008, and now, at least for the low information masses in its base, the Republicans clearly intend to cast the full blame for the lingering destruction of the national economic disaster they created in 2008 on 1. divine "punishment" for cultural laxity in the control of women and sex, 2. lazy, unemployed Americans who refuse to "join in" for the rush to Chinese wage jobs in US factories or 3. the slightly right of center Presidency of Barack Obama.

In 2013, luxuriating in the clunky roll out of ObamaCare, the GOP was quite pleased with itself and its labyrinthine public opinion management effort.  However, the start of 2014 -- the mid term election year -- has been a self-imposed public opinion catastrophe for them.

It has been a chilling glimpse into the frailty of the propaganda bubble in which the oligarchs, the true "owners" of the Republican Party have invested so heavily.  Let's have a look -- by the numbers.

1.  The implementation of the Affordable Care Act is quietly laying to waste the inflammatory script which has received literally thousands of broadcast hours on their media.  Enrollments are up, premiums are lower and health costs have begun to stabilize.

2.  The GOP's heavily scripted conspiracy "scandals" of IRS audits for wing nut 501C-4's, Benghazi, the ATF "Fast and Furious" Bush II scheme, Solyndra, Libya, Snowden, Manning and others are all now sun drenched wreckage of forlorn ancient life boats permanently sundered on the rocks of a desolate shore.

3.  The heavily endowed personal ad hominems against the President still have some traction among the craziest part of the GOP base, but the "electoral inertia" of GOP voters still willing to cast a ballot based on this stuff is evaporating in the "cauldron of pain" of the now apparently endless recession.

4.  The quadrennial paradox of staffing the Republican "debates" has grown fitfully more tedious for the oligarchs with this year's collapse of the
Call in the next bench. [source]
McDonnell Cuccinelli machine in Virginia, the self-designed "re-framing" of Chris Christie, the Gothically dismal performance of tea bag Governors such as Scott Walker, Rick Snyder, Rick Scott, Tom Corbett and their ilk and the embarrassing emergence of the David Vitter candidacy in Louisiana.  Cruz is wounded by his self-incited government shut down, and Rubio, cordially hated by Hispanics, is haunted by the "tea bag" modifications he made to his personal history.

5.  The highly touted, self-identified "Republican autopsy" following the Romney defeat [which, of course, followed the McCain defeat] has transformed itself from "things to never do or say" back into "things to always do and say."  The desperate hill billies in the GOP's lower Congressional ranks have, predictably, unleashed more growling rounds of pro-war, anti-immigrant, anti-college student, anti-women, anti-poor people, anti-minority, "supply side" incendiaries and Cold War "religious political" international interventionist exceptionalism.

6.  All of this and more has led, finally, to the first "reluctance" among the check writing billionaires who call the shots at the RNC.  When they began their coup attempt, all the hate filled racist miscreants of the tea party and drooling denizens in the back woods of the deep fly-over bogs looked like the best thing since sliced bread, but now too many of these hungry, exhausted, political masochistic 2010 voters are turning into hopelessly derelict, modern Stoics -- even in the gerrymandered House districts.

7. Amid the internecine brutality of separate gangs of jealous Republican looters and the unsteady ensuing confusion, the re-emboldened wing nut religious right has re-entered the GOP political picture, no doubt ambitious to once again install the "old rugged cross" as its electorally stabilizing element. While the brain dead unanimity of the "Huckleberry Santorum" congregation may look manageable compared to the wild eyed ea bag young guns shooting it out for control of Congress, the Republican elite know better.

8.  Just today the RNC announced that it had "re-packaged" the heavily soiled rules for Republican Primaries to punish states daring to "buck the schedule."  The 2012 Primaries gradually collapsed into a frenetic oligarchic street war with glaring sell outs, defections and serious bad blood between the chosen contenders.  The 2016 GOP Primaries will be lightening fast, far more private and a staunch return to classical Republican "influence purchasing."

9.  Ignoring the carefully fabricated "autopsy," things with women and minorities have careened to even greater depths since 2012.  The image of the Party -- aside from the traditional "Soulless Castle of Corporations and Plutocrats" -- has now eagerly enlarged to envelope poverty, rape, birth control, a penchant for war and promises of Draconian retribution against the undocumented.  GOP statements at the Federal level may have become contritely cautious, but the tea bags at state level are lost in the "mouth wide open" fervor of a narcotic circus of jingoistic blather.

10. The vital section of combat within the GOP now resides in the stand off between the elite corporate looters who still exert some control over the Party loyal and the oligarchs who own the media and the trained "mouth junk" pundits.  When MeanMesa refers to a "reluctance to write checks," many of those checks are now slipping past the RNC's "call the printer and get out the vote" war chests into the campaigns of weaker, competing tea bag Republicans primarily endorsed only by the incendiary media.  The Republican Party only fights itself when the oligarchs' money has competing destinations.  Right now, this is the case.

Will the "Blame Game" Work Again?
It was swell in the 2010 and sort of okay in 2012.

Democrats, especially Democrats interested enough to keep track of what's happening, will have no problem voting for Democratic House and Senate candidates.  The brain dead fringe of the Republican base will march in a "zombie-like" procession to vote for tea bag candidates.  However, this leaves two rather fickle mistresses standing at the bus stop.

Fickle mistresses which will "call the song" at the upcoming mid-term "tea dance."

Of course, one of those "fickle mistress" electoral gowns is filled with "independents."  They will make the dependable proclamations about "local issues" before proceeding to the polls to vote just like they belonged to one party or the other.  The catch, at least for the GOP, is that those "local issues" are now sucking swamp water.

Wall Street is not a "local issue" unless you are a banker living in Manhattan, but it might become "more local" even if you are in Duluth while you're watching your 401k fall apart...again.

The other "fickle mistress" is, believe it or not, the quiet crop of dyed in the wool Republicans.  These are the ones who kept electing the classical GOP looters in by gone elections.  However, let's just say that the love affair with the "job creators" has hit a few rocks.  Their appetite for "high octane, wing nut crazy" may be growing "overly force fed," too.

This bunch may either stay home or wallow their ideology and actually vote for a reasonable Democratic candidate just to end the pain.

None of this is news to the GOP think tanks which are now charged with the necessity of cooking up a "dual strategy."  To their rear are the now very fidgety oligarchs who are financing everything in hopes of getting the keys to the US Treasury, but out ahead of them are the GOP's now "dazed and confused" base.

Back to the "Media Bubble"

All these outcomes are now relying more and more heavily on sustaining the "media bubble" which has been so carefully constructed for the last couple of decades.  Unhappily for Republicans, there are now longer many "eager eaters" at the Kenya, socialism, racism buffet.  All that stuff seemed palatably sugary while the economy was being violently crushed or bravely resurrected, but now that economy is entering its sixth year of nearly lifeless malaise, and those "miracles" have become more like a stubborn, lingering toothache.

[image source]
Even in the dark world of the low information GOP base voter it has also become clear that those tea bags who entered the Congress amid such high hopes are not interested in doing anything which might help anyone who doesn't have a lobbyist.  The thrill is gone.

The electoral question for 2014 is a tad bit more complex and sophisticated than those to which we've become accustomed.  Oh well, let's just say more nuanced.

How many ballots which were concretely in the realm of the Republican Party two or four years ago have now blinked back into play?

Further, this "blinking" not only has occurred in the rusting steel mills of the central states or in the freeze dried, flooded fields of the agricultural West, but also deep within the gerrymandered boundaries of the GOP's "slave districts."  Also remarkable, the Democrats have not engineered this.  The spineless, limp-wristed inheritors of FDR's legacy have done little but complain quietly far away from the cameras of the controlled media.

If this "ground swell" -- or even "minor tremor" -- is, in fact, approaching, it will not be one driven by partisan ideology.  Instead, its engine will be a throaty mix of pain, perfidy and disgust.

For the first time in recent history the shaky base of the Republican Party may actually be swayed by patriotism rather than just self interest.

Oligarchs and Their Republicans: The Quiet Coup's Troubling Vapors

Oligarchs Everywhere
The long, tedious road to 2014.

Of course, there aren't really oligarchs everywhere -- there are simply too few of them.  That is part of the essential nature of oligarchs.

The dictionary defines oligarchy as "rule by wealth."  In a representative democracy it means that the "constituency" of normal, representational interests is replaced by the direct interests of oligarchs.  Although few, they become the "constituency" served by the "representative" Congress.

On one side there are American oligarchs and corporatists with feverish ambitions to own the remaining 20% of the total national wealth they don't already control.  On the other are the hundred of millions of middle and lower class Americans -- the remnant of what was called the "middle class" before this final assault began.

There is now a clear picture of the future American economic model inhabiting the dreams of these oligarchs -- one quite removed from the somewhat whimsical traditional American model.  In it, economic austerity for most and economic privileged opportunism for the few will be the order of the day, and the traditional expectations for a "life in the United States" will become -- permanently -- a thing of the past.

The scheme of the US oligarchs was to creep up on a largely disinterested population.  Years ago, a spokesman for the Moral Majority, an oligarch front group, mapped out the organization's strategy [actually, the thinly veiled strategy of the oligarch class] which would ultimately maneuver the country away from its traditional cultural posture to where it is now.  The names of the groups, the think tanks, the political action committees have changed through the decades, but the core tactics have unfolded like clock work.

That advice was to quietly elect reactionary "conservatives" into as many places in government as possible, beginning with innocuous positions such as school boards, city councils, country commissioners, utility commissions and even dog catchers.  This move was designed to gradually create a cadre of loyal, accessible, corruptible and "ideologically pure" office holders -- all dependent on the continued financial backing from the oligarch class -- operatives who would then, in turn, be available as candidates for constantly more important positions.

It was precisely from this abundantly financed birthing crib that the creatures -- such as ALEC -- perpetrating our modern political atrocities emerged.  The mischief didn't stop there.  During the Bush autocracy a civil service "four lane highway" ran directly from thinly veiled "think tank colleges" such as Regent University School of Law into low level positions in the Depart of Justice.

Likewise, positions as Federal Regulators for everything from banking, brokerage houses, environmental watch dogs and dozens of other areas were patiently saturated with useless, strangely obedient new employees.  The incompetent, ineffective, corrupt pockets of government employees which had previously been exceptions to the rule became a deeply embedded, disgusting norm. 

The Planetary Campaign's Plan for the US
It was SUPPOSED to herald a new US monarchy...

When viewed as a picture of day-to-day events, the grand scheme has consistently appeared as no more than a series of "coincidental set backs," easily perceived as temporary at the time.  For Americans interested in even watching, the corporate grip on the politics of representation grew at a deceptively slow yet steady pace -- a constantly "calming" one.

The American electorate had been very carefully placed with the frog in the cooking pot.  The increasingly hot water could be very comfortably dismissed until it became so hot that ignoring it was impossible but, by that point, exiting this particular "frog pot" had also gradually become almost impossible.

At least, exiting gracefully had become almost impossible.

Now, with the water boiling all around the remnant of the democracy, the portent of that "graceful exit" now becomes, most likely, more like "the dance of the Furies."  Any retreat from the current situation to anything more similar to, say, the United States of the Eisenhower era in terms of a workably egalitarian distribution of wealth and power has probably become a tale of blood and sacrifice.

Merely controlling the Congress was conducted initially as an unusually genteel interim step.  The really rapacious moves which come next will make the legislative corruption pale in comparison.  The "new American nobility" firmly controls around 80% of the entire wealth of the nation.  While they've scratched and clawed their way to this precarious pinnacle with rather subdued mechanisms of corruption, when they find the remaining ascent to total oligarchy blocked only by a desperately confused, chaotic, suffering population of suddenly reluctant "serfs," their real nature will emerge.

Enemies Foreign and Domestic

Americans had always taken the Constitutional admonition concerning "enemies foreign or domestic" seriously, but all along they had insisted that the "domestic enemies" would behave in the mold of "foreign enemies," that is, as hordes of heavily armed foreigners suddenly streaming into down town Los Angeles from troop ships docked in the harbor.

Well, these particular "domestic enemies" knew better than to take the "troop ships in the harbor" approach. Their think tank strategists -- perhaps correctly -- promised them that the troop ships wouldn't be necessary.  Clearly, control of the Congress could be accomplished far more cheaply.

Additionally, although historically the oligarchs have consistently shown an almost genetic, tactical "short sightedness," they were sternly admonished at the start to be extraordinarily patient in this campaign.  The strategy was to be a slow and steady affair stretching over decades before finally yielding the "the frog in the boiling pot."

That is to say, "cooked frog" was to be the main dish served at their "victory over America" celebration feast.

Just relax. []

Big Trouble in Little Hooterville
Even oligarchs shudder when the best laid plans falter

Take heart.

MeanMesa has noticed some of the foundation stones for this scheme beginning to crack.  After wasting hundreds of millions while financing the Romney Campaign, the oligarchs had high hopes for more tactical anti-democracy  "progress" during the 2014 mid term election.  Yet, we may be seeing the first signs of this "conspiracy of wealth" starting the almost inevitable phase of "eating its own."

Keep an eye on this blog.  MeanMesa will be taking a closer look at the evidence of structural failure.

Oligarchs and Their Republicans: The GOP's Precarious Support

Raising the "Home Army"
They seem even more willing to fight when they're hungry.

Drat.  If you intend to have a coup, you'll be needing an army. The oligarchs did not overlook this necessity when they were putting the "finishing touches" on their plan to own the United States.

Even before the Reagan Era finally ended with the loss by Bush I, the necessary resources for the scheme were already in place.  The country's carefully divided population had already been invisibly prepared to provide the mechanism which would usher in the take over of the democracy and its final conversion to oligarchy.  

We can call it a coup d'etat, but we must be careful not to imagine it as anything particularly similar to that of an opportunistic Colonel with a handful of tanks in a sun drenched Central American capital.

No, the oligarchs' dream was to manipulate the American process until, finally, their oligarchy would, in a sense, simply be "elected" in a cheap sham roughly resembling a democratic "representational choice" by the people of the US.  Of course, the actual substance of the matter would be quite estranged from its outward appearance, but the results -- for them -- would still turn out in the end to be "roses, simply roses."

The "resources" mentioned above were to be an unexpectedly large demographic within the American population with a couple of very useful features.  Naturally, the campaign's detailed tactics would involve the managed influence of corporate religion, an obediently participating media, racism and a painful, artificially induced economic collapse.  However, a willing cadre of sacrificial "foot soldiers" had to already be present in the electorate to vote their scheme into positions of official political power.

They were.

By this time that same patient effort had also gradually created an expansive political force, all doggedly obsessed with similarly vacuous ambitions and values, which was spread all across the foundation of the political structure. The "governance competence" of this crowd would have already been highly questionable back when there were only one or two of them, but when hundreds or thousands of low level government seats were gradually packed with this type of office holder, the "image" of the politics of government became conveniently distorted.

This band of semi-literate hooligans became the norm, that is, shallow, dog whistle, reactionary "conservatives" became so common as to attain the political status of "normal."  The 2012 election firmly established that this crowd was now able, eager and willing to say and do anything without so much as raising an eyebrow among the exhausted electorate.

In the multi-decade strategy of the oligarchs, the long range "wet dream" was come true.  The super PACs, bulging with oligarch money, directed by corporate law firms and think tanks and luxuriating under the new impunity of the Supreme Court's legal cover, had free reign in the political arena thanks to this patiently developed advantage.

The nation's electorate had to become firmly -- and apparently, permanently -- divided if the economic take over scheme were to be accomplished.  When the federal elections became close to the 50-50 state of indecision, the influence of the oligarchs' great wealth was even further magnified.  When a race began as a 50-50 "toss up," the prospect of engineering the necessary corruption not only became much easier, it became even cheaper.

With a useless, obedient corporate media eagerly prepared to "groom the combat theatre" with relentless propaganda for months or years before campaigns, it turns out that voters were, as a consequence, predictably willing to make ballot decisions based on hear say, incendiary media entertainers, frenzied epithets from sold out televangelists,  puerile adolescent talking points, name recognition, race fears and the like.

Please ignore the puppet strings.

The use of the term "reactionary" may, at first, seem like mere overly dramatic grumbling, but when the facts are examined, its validity is shocking.  By definition reactionaries are defined by reaction, and reaction is what we see.

The reactionary government and reactionary politicians so favored by oligarchs propose no new policy, solve no present problems and have only a barely perceptible, highly fluid evidence of volatile, changeable, pragmatic ideology -- an ideology very conveniently ill defined to "perfectly embrace" the next tactical goal in the latest moment of public opinion.

The general electorate of the US, already famous for tolerating a "wing nut" here and there among an otherwise fairly rational collection of elected officials, were clearly not paying enough attention.  The media induced a growing -- although largely unexamined -- pessimistic distrust of government.

Reasonably, the electorate had focused their attention on the behavior of candidates much higher up the power structure, but these hordes of "installed conservatives," over time, became like a tide at flood.  They -- along with their political accomplishments -- also became not only embarrassingly durable but duplicated in other political economies such as the EU and even in subjugated victim states such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, these same radicalized -- and, it turns out, highly manageable -- ideological politicos have cemented themselves into an artificial profile of "commonality" with the result that popular perception of their grotesque, out of step, unilateral political position is understandably -- but incorrectly -- presumed to be that of a majority by the low information electorate.  The current crop of demagogic Republican US House members and Senators emerged from these humble beginnings.

The mischief, however, didn't stop there.

Driven by an essentially endless supply of billionaire money, a class of "elected" Congressional officers "sans conscriptions" [without constituencies] became the obedient hand maids to the oligarchic interests which placed and maintained them in power.

During the time that the "conservative" school board members and dog catchers were winning small town elections, the oligarch class began purchasing most of the commercial media corporations in the country.  At first the inevitable influence on programming content and blatant "editorializing" were somewhat subdued, cautiously mild and unobtrusive, but when the scheme had caught enough wind in its sails to exert a blanket control over nation-wide network policy, all restraint faded, and the US media became the useless, radical "play toy" it is now.

American oligarchs have now managed to insinuate their immense wealth into the domestic political process to an alarming extent, that is, to an alarming depth.  The 2012 Presidential election saw a handful of billionaires financing the major portion of Mitt Romney's campaign costs while Republican state legislatures effectively obliterated the voting rights of literally millions of Americans with state level voter suppression laws and other anti-democracy election gimmicks. This resulted in the current crop of total crack pots being permanently installed in their gerrymandered House districts.

The US House of Representatives wound up under an illegitimate Republican "majority" after that Party's candidates received around 2 million fewer votes than their competing Democratic candidates.  The US Senate became permanently paralysed under an onslaught of brazen rules tactics which would have been political suicide had they been so openly pursued as recently as the Reagan Administration.

The "Bubble" of Public Perception
Happily, "bubbles" break from their own weight...

The alarming mechanism of this damage is that its fabricated image of  a political division between populations with conflicting "deeply held" beliefs in the electorate is a deception.

Thanks to a decades long campaign conducted by the entirely controlled corporate media, the exhausted electorate of the country is now buckling under a dangerous and deviously groomed misperception.

At first blush it may appear to be a kind of ideological contrast between the more modern, realistic population of coastal and urban Americans as opposed to the regressive plantation nihilism of the pre-Civil War Confederacy, but it is actually a conveniently useful conflict based on very little beyond the craven manipulation of unexamined public opinion and founded entirely upon the public psychology of the electorate.

The "political reality" of the 30-40% block of "conservative" voters in the US electorate were defined by right wing think tank psychologists. Rather than emerging from sincere convictions, they comprise nothing more than a "manufactured demographic."

Every human fear and desire have been woven into a "catch all" fishing net to inflame, entrap and infatuate hordes of low information voters conveniently susceptible to propagandised horror stories, old racial tensions and religionist mythology while still remaining curiously responsive to the tatters left over from the old anti-Soviet rantings of the 1950's.

Although we might, at first, simply dismiss this phenomenon as nothing more than an unusual aspect of the always fickle American public opinion, we must now conceive a new understanding of it.  

It is precisely this public opinion construct which represents the "main engine" of the ambitious oligarchic scheme.  There are literally tens of  millions of American voters "filled to the gunwales" with this actively produced propaganda.  They hear no other voices, and, worse, nothing they hear is contradicted by anything they might have normally learned in the normal course of what had long been considered a normal public education.

These voters have almost no background understanding of the function or mechanism of American government.  They exist is a world devoid of actual facts about the history or philosophy of the American democracy.  The majority of this "voting block" has never experienced an accessible study of their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

These all would have normally been the foundation of what our country's founders referred to as "an informed electorate."

All this may seem like little more than a maudlin, overly dramatic lament about the precarious state of the democracy, but it must also be considered from a different view -- the view of oligarchs arranging the tactical resources for their take over bid.  All these fully indoctrinated, tragically propagandized, malleable. low information voters are the precious "ground troops" which are -- in the oligarchs' dreams -- destined to "vote in" the US oligarchy.

On a brighter side, however, if this propaganda wave were to falter before the final descent into political oligarchy were accomplished, all hell could easily break loose in a few minutes or hours.

Citizens of Kiev: Fully Awake [Image - RT]

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.
"You always count on the Americans to do the right thing -- after they've tried everything else."    
Winston Churchill

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

We may be approaching this moment. It's important for all of us to do what we can to bring this to its material fruition. Keep your eye on this blog.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Trial Tips For a Utah Same Sex Lawyer

 It's In the Bible

When irony arrives as a full scale tsunami, what can a little blog do but dive in for a dip?

The Utah AG has officially asked the nation's reactionary Supreme Court to protect his State's "right" to subscribe to strict Old Testament law -- regardless of what nonsense the Constitution might say about it or any pesky previous Court precedent rulings.

If you are the lawyer headed to the marble columns in defense of the same sex marriage legalization, here is a single thread you might find useful as you weave together your case.

First, locate an injured party.

What kind of "injury" you ask?

Your plaintiff must testify that, prior to the legal marriage, he or she was a virgin.  After the potentially illicit Utah same sex wedding, the "Biblical wedding night" transpired as usual, and at dawn the next day, that virginity had been ended.  In fact, your plaintiff had reserved that virgin state so it could be made as a conjugal "gift" on the wedding night.

Now the State of Utah has determined to retroactively "erase" the value of that special conjugal "gift," making it impossible for that tender "gift" to be given ever again to a married spouse, even if a legal wedding should be held in the future.

There is plenty to say about church and state and about Biblical law "trumping" judicial law, but since adherence to Biblical law is presumably the validating justification of Utah's nullification effort, shouldn't application of the same "law" extend its legitimacy in this case to be strong enough to protect this plaintiff's "Biblical property?"

If the Catholics running the Supreme Court won't buy into it, immediately start to establish the equally "Biblical" cash value of the damages to establish a "reasonable" punitive remedy.   After all, virginity is an important -- and valuable -- commodity when a couple is navigating and negotiating their way to their marriage vows.

MeanMesa is thinking at least 6 or 7 digits.

Utah's ambitious actions toward nullification of the ruling have led to the total devaluation of one of this plaintiff's marital assets.  Can there be a clearer case of damage and standing?

Utah has deep pockets of readily available restitution for its premeditated, callous, craven, deceptive actions resulting in the destruction of your plaintiff's "Biblical property" and the subsequent violent devaluation of a highly intimate, personal property reserved to be a "one time only" token of marital loyalty and affection.

Your plaintiff will have been judicially and legislatively denied the possibility of ever making this "gift" again.

Just trying to help.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How to Make a Million Dollars and Be a Big Cable Corporation

One More Time
Exactly What Do I Get For My $75?

MeanMesa just finished with an on-line chat with an agent for the abusive cable television service here at Galactic HeadQuarters for Short Current Essays.  Probably the important task to be accomplished was changing the bank account accepting the automatic monthly billing.  However, while waiting for the "chat" to begin, it was impossible to notice the quick little pop-up sent by the DISH web site.

"You are number 1 in the queue for on-line chat with DISH customer service."

This innocuous little message communicated a number of things, but perhaps most importantly, it heralded the open prospect for a nice, lengthy "chat" with the cable representative.

She introduced herself and texted "How can I help you today?"

MeanMesa responded politely "Just a couple of things.  First, we need to change the account number for the automatic payment."

The account number business was handled quickly and efficiently, and once that was out of the way, the "chat" conversation moved ahead to the "other" thing.  That "other" thing requires a short background which will introduce the topic of this post.

My DISH bill, after months of being $61 dollars, had returned to the old rate of $75.  It had been $75 before, but after complaining in a phone conversation a few months ago, DISH had issued a $15/month credit which had effectively lowered it to the $61 amount.

The specific complaint in that phone call was that DISH programming sucked -- which it did, and which it still does.  Of course, this product criticism was accompanied with a robust and detailed discussion.

The $15/month credit had only lasted for a few months, but the horrible programming seemed to be quite permanent.  So naturally, MeanMesa began to "chat" away, hoping to express precisely this case of "buyer beware" disgust so persuasively that DISH would, once again, re-issue the $15/month discount.

The same comments had worked in the phone call so MeanMesa's old fingers began to hammer away, and the geezer's complaints began their "text journey" to the DISH on-line "chat" operator.

"The cable service sends 75 channels of dirty shirt preachers along with another 50 or 60 channels of consumer marketing videos selling everything from wrinkle cream to vacuum cleaners to discounted Brazilian Power Crystals.  The 1990's [or even older] movies are re-broadcast for two weeks before the next 'collection' of [Grade B] 1990's movies finally replaces them for its own dreary, repetitive 'two weeks in the spotlight.' 

The thing provides hundred's of channels, but they are simply repeated copies of the crappy ones in the first few hundred.  Why is this costing $75 -- or even $61 -- every month?"

Needless to say, all these passionate efforts came to nothing.  The "chat" operator, after suggesting that MeanMesa's service should be expanded to an even more costly alternative which "had hundreds of more channels," attempted to console this unsatisfied customer with "Well, our DISH packages are designed to meet the programming content desired by a variety of customers."

DISH customers "desire" 75 channels of sweaty preachers praying for money?

DISH customers "desire" 50 channels of pre-recorded Brazilian Power Crystal salesmen?

DISH customers "desire" to watch the same movies they watched in high school -- over and over -- for a few weeks.

DISH customers "desire" all this so much that they are happy to pay $75 a month to get it?

A New Kind of Cable Service
MeanMesa's business plan suggestion

Of course it just wouldn't be fair to post all this complaining without moving right into a possible solution.  What could be done differently?  MeanMesa's plan doesn't involve massive investment in new technology, huge increases in cost for the latest "top notch" content or even serious reductions to the profit margins of the cable providers.

MeanMesa has to consider the actual cost to a cable provider for rights to broadcast one of these channels. Presumably, that price -- for literally hundreds of them -- would be next to nothing.  This leaves purchasing rights to broadcast the channels with actual programming content [no matter how out of date] as the primary "business expense."

Likewise, we must also consider the "income potential" from the same channels.  The "wasteland five hundred," that is, the vast panopoly of paid advertisements for mop salesmen and illiterate Southerners trying to convince the world that Barack Obama is anti-Christ, must all pay something for their little spot in the sun, but the point here is -- not very much.

It is these "content channels" that DISH, for instance, advertises as the main reason to sign a cable contract with them. At least profit-wise, the tediously road weary "content channels" can host some commercials -- irritating little profit centers -- even if these have only been blindly purchased for broadcast as a "quantity commodity."

The MeanMesa Solution

The cable providers can already control what parts of their broadcast are available to specific customers based on which "package" is defined in the contract.  The problem is that by using this "packaging model" cable customers really don't have a choice, at least a reasonable choice which reflects a customer's actual interest.

No choice

There may be a "choice" about which "package" is purchased, but that "choice" rapidly begins to vaporize with respect to what content is purchased.  You are required to "get all 500 channels of everything," no matter what you actually want.

And yet, you are required to pay for itAll of it.

Why not sell cable service by the channel?

MeanMesa watches basically six or eight channels out of the hundreds on the contract.  Dividing the monthly bill, now $75, by eight channels provides a "per channel monthly cost" of around $9 each.

You might ask, what difference would this new approach make?

Well, a company such as DISH could start off by offering specific channels for $9 a month, but, right away, the second part of what's wrong with it now would be revealed.

No competition.

Just Watch and Pay. [image source]
These cable "packages" of hundreds of worthless channels interspersed with a handful of desirable ones cannot be compared by a customer making a decision by a normal "competitive" analysis.  The competitive "choice" is similar to having to make a blanket purchase of the unseen contents one of two massive garbage trucks.  You know that both trucks are full of garbage, each one containing a few items you might actually want to own.

Wouldn't it be a better purchase if you were able to simply pick out the stuff that you wanted and not have to hire someone to haul the rest back to the landfill?

Further, if there were several vendors, each offering the stuff you wanted, you could actually compare the prices each vendor was asking.  This is where the $8 per month part enters the picture.  Once a specific channel you wanted "appeared on more than just one of the sales tables," you would be able to shop for the best price.

Very predictably, there would be more and more "sales tables" in practically no time, and on the offerings on those "sales tables" would have price tags which could be compared.  Competitive price tagsFor channels you actually wanted, that is, based on your choices.

After the market "stabilized," MeanMesa could have just the eight channels for a competitive price.

How could a cable company like DISH make money from this change?

Begin with, how does a cable company like DISH make money from the way it is now?

If you happened to be the cable provider who adopted this new business plan, DISH cable's current approach would be gradually turning into an abandoned buggy whip factory.  DISH, along with the other cable providers, would find themselves in that famous old American Free enterprise "moment of terror."

Compete or die.  Give your customers a product they want.

MeanMesa is TOTALLY ready for something sensible.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome to the Republican "Hypocrisy Chapel"

 Ain't No Disclaimer Around Here
 Let's have a little fun.
MeanMesa is usually reluctant to simply post long quoted material, but in this case, an exception to the rule is necessary.  This little jewel spells out all sorts of ideas many of us have been quietly holding inside since the days of Spiro Agnew and the Moral Majority -- so, it's high time for a good belly laugh.

The well engineered integration of ancient evangelical patriarchy with a convenient collection of modern faux "conservative" positions has left the predictable gathering of "strange bedfellows" deeply embedded in modern GOP mythology.  The resulting hybrid religion which seems to have been birthed almost spontaneously from these disparate interests is a cynical, grotesque, political monstrosity with only essentially carefully obscured ties to the ambitions of the oligarchs the thing was designed to serve.

But, "serve them" it does.

By pinning these poorly disguised, shadowy fabrications of Ayn Rand's Objectivism to the Old Rugged Cross, the right wing think tanks were able to effortlessly [i.e. at very little cost to their plutocratic sponsors] engage millions of "true believing" Americans, persuading them, in a biblical sense, that "up is down."

MeanMesa has created a term which offers a blanket definition of these types.  That word is: "religionist."  It designates a modern person embracing any named or unnamed religious tradition and insisting upon applying either accurate or inaccurate interpretations of ancient mythological precepts to decisions about contemporary problems.

All of this would amount to little more than an arcane "souvenir," perhaps a cock tail party "conversation starter," if the unruly phenomenon didn't dependably drag millions of voters to the ballot boxes.  That is the manipulative potential which interests the oligarchs so much.

The massive adjacent enterprise of highly profitable dirty shirt preachers, filching millions from these same "followers" can be the topic of another MeanMesa post.  Let's just say that whatever is left in these check books after the weekly patriotic "gift" to Freedom Works is easy prey for the "ministers'" love offerings.

Tea Party and the Right 
Right-Wing is Filled with Biblical Illiterates:
They'd Be Shocked by Jesus' Teachings
If They Ever Picked Up a Bible

Jesus wouldn't have supported food stamps?
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly defended the Republican Party’s spending cuts for SNAP by effectively declaring Jesus would not support food stamps for the poor because most them are drug addicts. If his insensitive remark is inconsistent with Scripture, which it is, then the question becomes why do talking heads on the right get away with proclaiming what Jesus would or wouldn’t support? 
The answer is simple: Conservatives have not read the Bible. 

The Right has successfully rebranded the brown-skinned liberal Jew, who gave away free healthcare and was pro-redistributing wealth, into a white-skinned, trickle down, union-busting conservative, for the very fact that an overwhelming number of Americans are astonishingly illiterate when it comes to understanding the Bible. On hot-button social issues, from same-sex marriage to abortion, biblical passages are invoked without any real understanding of the context or true meaning. It’s surprising how little Christians know of what is still the most popular book to ever grace the American continent. 

More than 95 percent of U.S. households own at least one copy of the Bible. So how much do Americans know of the book that one-third of the country believes to be literally true? Apparently, very little, according to data from the Barna Research group. Surveys show that 60 percent can’t name more than five of the Ten Commandments; 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife; and nearly 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple. A Gallup poll shows 50 percent of Americans can’t name the first book of the Bible, while roughly 82 percent believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a biblical verse. 

So, if Americans get an F in the basic fundamentals of the Bible, what hope do they have in knowing what Jesus would say about labor unions, taxes on the rich, universal healthcare, and food stamps? It becomes easy to spread a lie when no one knows what the truth is.

The truth, whether Republicans like it or not, is not only that Jesus a meek and mild liberal Jew who spoke softly in parables and metaphors, but conservatives were the ones who had him killed. American conservatives, however, have morphed Jesus into a muscular masculine warrior, in much the same way the Nazis did, as a means of combating what they see as the modernization of society. 

Author Thom Hartmann writes, “A significant impetus behind the assault on women and modernity was the feeling that women had encroached upon traditional male spheres like the workplace and colleges. Furthermore, women’s leadership in the churches had harmed Christianity by creating an effeminate clergy and a weak sense of self. All of this was associated with liberalism, feminism, women, and modernity.” 

It’s almost absurd to speculate what Jesus’ positions would be on any single issue, given we know so little about who Jesus was. Knowing the New Testament is not simply a matter of reading the Bible cover to cover, or memorizing a handful of verses. Knowing the Bible requires a scholarly contextual understanding of authorship, history and interpretation. 

For instance, when Republicans were justifying their cuts to the food stamp program, they quoted 2 Thessalonians: “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” One poll showed that more than 90 percent of Christians believe this New Testament quote is attributed to Jesus. It’s not. This was taken from a letter written by Paul to his church in Thessalonica. Paul wrote to this specific congregation to remind them that if they didn't help build the church in Thessalonica, they wouldn’t be paid. The letter also happens to be a fraud. 

Surprise! Biblical scholars agree it’s a forgery written by someone pretending to be Paul.

What often comes as a surprise to your average Sunday wine-and-cracker Christian is the New Testament did not fall from the sky the day Jesus’ ghost is said to have ascended to Heaven. The New Testament is a collection of writings, 27 in total, of which 12 are credited to the authorship of Paul, five to the Gospels (whoever wrote Luke also wrote Acts), and the balance remain open for debate i.e. authorship unknown. Jesus himself wrote not a single word of the New Testament. Not a single poem, much less an op-ed article on why, upon reflection, killing your daughter for back chat is probably not sound parenting. 

The best argument against a historical Jesus is the fact that none of his disciples left us with a single record or document regarding Jesus or his teachings. So, who were the gospel writers? The short answer is we don’t know. What we do know is that not only had none of them met Jesus, but also they never met the people who had allegedly met Jesus. All we have is a bunch of campfire stories from people who were born generations after Jesus’ supposed crucifixion. In other words, numerous unidentified authors, each with his own theological and ideological motives for writing what they wrote. Thus we have not a single independently verifiable eyewitness account of Jesus—but this doesn’t stop Republicans from speaking on his behalf. 

What we do know about Jesus, at least according to the respective gospels, is that Jesus’ sentiments closely echoed the social and economic policies of the political left. The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount read like the mission statement of the ACLU: “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is kingdom of heaven,” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Jesus also said, “Judge not he who shall not be judged,” and “Sell what you have and give it to the poor.” 

So, when Republicans accuse Obama of being a brown-skinned socialist who wants to redistribute the wealth, they’re thinking of Jesus. Stephen Colbert joked, “Jesus was always flapping his gums about the poor but never once did he call for a tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Romans.” 

Biblical illiteracy is what has allowed the Republican Party to get away with shaping Jesus into their image. That's why politicians on the right can get away with saying the Lord commands that our healthcare, prisons, schools, retirement, transport, and all the rest should be run by corporations for profit. 

Ironically, the Republican Jesus was actually a devout atheist—Ayn Rand—who called the Christian religion “monstrous.” Rand advocated selfishness over charity, and she divided the world into makers versus takers. She also stated that followers of her philosophy had to chose between Jesus and her teachings.

When the Christian Right believes it’s channelling Jesus when they say it’s immoral for government to tax billionaires to help pay for healthcare, education and the poor, they’re actually channelling Ayn Rand. When Bill O’Reilly claims the poor are immoral and lazy, that’s not Jesus, it’s Ayn Rand. 

The price this country has paid for biblical illiteracy is measured by how far we’ve moved toward Ayn Rand’s utopia. In the past three decades, we’ve slashed taxes on corporations and the wealthy, destroyed labor unions, deregulated financial markets, eroded public safety nets, and committed to one globalist corporate free-trade agreement after another. Rand would be smiling down from the heaven she didn’t believe in. 

With the far-right, Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Koch brothers' Citizens United, the flow of billions of dollars from anonymous donors to the most reliable voting bloc of the Republican Party—the Christian Right—will continue to perpetuate the biblically incompatible, anti-government, pro-deregulation-of-business, anti-healthcare-for-all, Tea Party American version of Christianity.