Saturday, April 5, 2014

The US Plutocrats' Perilous Perch

Keeping the GOP in the Air

Relax. Of course the GOP can't actually fly, but the topic above is offered as a convenient warning to this blog's visitors that ... another over stuffed helping of MeanMesa's famous metaphors are coming your way!

Don't worry.  It is the herald of pretty good news.  At least, it has something of a morbidly "happy ending."

To get started, let's try to think of the modern Republican Party as an airliner.  To keep things simple, we shall consider a quite generic airliner with an engine and propeller, wings and wheels for landing.  

Such an airplane can fly because its engine is strong enough to move it through the air sufficiently fast to allow the wings to create the lift that keeps it airborne.  In modern times various alterations to this design have become possible thanks to both stronger wings and more powerful engines. The general rule is that the more powerful the engine, the faster the airplane will travel, the more air will move over the wings, the more lift [per square foot of wing...] will be created in the process and the smaller and lighter the wings can become.

Threading through our metaphor to the modern Republican Party, we can roughly associate the physics of the same sort of enabling and limiting factors seen in our simple airplane to the political reality facing today's oligarchs' party.

A MeanMesa Metaphorical Mega-Extravaganza

The Flying Clown Car

The Republican Party's "engines" will be the billionaire oligarchs who currently own it.  In this metaphor those "engines" -- the billionaires -- have sufficient power to drive the airplane forward as fast as they please.

The Republican Party's "wings" will be the 45% or so of American voters who are persuaded to continue to cast ballots for the Republican candidates chosen for them by the oligarchs.  While the material nature of "whatever it is" that is providing the lift to the airplane seems unsettlingly gaseous, airplanes designed this way seem to have been flying fairly consistently recently.

Now that our "troubled analogy" is firmly lodged into place, we can effortlessly begin to consider -- through its graciously convenient similarities, of course -- just what the current Republican Party's "flight path" has become.

Extending our already "tautly stretched" metaphor, we can consider the "amount of air" passing over the oligarchs' airplane to be the level of rage, mistrust, hatred and fear which they have managed to more or less permanently install in the low information hill billies and bigots upon whom they depend to populate the tattered minds of the Republican Party base.  In more normal political situations here, this "quantity of air" would be the result of public opinion supporting or disapproving of policies and conditions resulting from governance.

However, in the remarkably synthetic atmosphere of the last few years, this same "quantity of air" passing over the wings -- providing lift -- for the oligarchs' take-over scheme has been the equivalent of "burning dried straw rather than hard coal" to power a steam engine.  The fire might look quite convincing, but the amount of heat -- and hence, steam -- generated will eventually fall far short of that created by the hot coal fire required to keep the engine moving.

This unhappy outcome is not likely to ensue immediately after the "straw burning" idea is introduced.  For a while, all will simply be impressed by what looks like a roaring fire, but, impressed or not, some of those same observers will also begin to notice that the train seems to be steadily slowing.

Jumping painlessly from the "steam engine metaphor" back to the "airliner metaphor," we could say that some of the passengers in the oligarchs' little airliner might be starting to notice that not only are the clouds not whizzing by as rapidly as before, but also that the airplane seems to be steadily descending. Although the wings seemed to be supported by rational public approval of the policies put in place, it is becoming clear that whatever was blowing over the wings actually only seemed to be policy.

The right wing propaganda machine seen as an airliner
The airplane certainly LOOKED quite safe in the boarding area. [image source]
Nothing can match the absolute luxury and security of flying on right wing Oligarch Airways.

Instead of some sort of "material policy," in fact, what was blowing over the wings looked more and more like nothing more than a deceptively thin, widely spread, chaotic wave of hateful opinion incited by carefully orchestrated incendiary propaganda.  There was actually almost no real policy in it at all.

Still, this wasn't particularly a problem -- yet.  FOX was blaring away on four television sets mounted around the passenger compartment.

For much of the beginning of the flight these "passengers" had been very comfortably convinced that their coarsely fabricated proletarian rage and terror, first of all, was based on entirely understandable, spontaneous conclusions originating in their own limited little brains arising only after they had carefully reviewed all the "facts" presented to them by the "free press," and second, that all those hateful phantasms were precisely the same conclusions which a vast majority of their fellow citizens had also very reasonably, quite inevitably, also come to hold after they had carefully reviewed the same compelling "facts" from precisely exactly the same "free press."

The illusion had been so deep and robust that no possible counter argument could have shaken the remarkable aura of certainty prevailing in these minds of the passengers.  The credibility of the story in the "free press" which they had always bolted down "hook, line and sinker" -- just as eagerly as a hungry dog discovering a pork chop -- was unshakable.

At least, "unshakable" by just about everything any less formidably persuasive than the unsettling, unavoidable, highly credible evidence that their airplane was rapidly falling out of the sky.

Seeing his dilemma, the pilot of the falling airliner immediately grabbed the microphone of his on-board PA system to get these passengers of his "back in line."  They had to be, in a sense, "re-ignited" by another emergency dose of the same hateful, incendiary propaganda which had served to support the plane's flight so far. He quickly checked the list of incendiary, pre-approved, emergency "re-ignition" scandals supplied in the oligarchs' passenger "crowd control" think tank guidelines.  

Suggested items number one and two -- the "road weary" Benghazi and IRS scandals -- long ago had already become useless from relentless, mind numbing repetition over the oligarchs' airwaves, but number three remained at the ready. It was the "tried and true," well tested, always successful ObamaCare "death spiral" which had so always dependably worked in the past.  The "crowd control" emergency pamphlet included a script in which the term "death spiral" was, again, to be repeated, rather awkwardly, over and over again.

The Emperors' Airplane Has No Wheels

Now, right here it would be "truly fulfilling" if MeanMesa could possibly include an imaginary part of the story where the doomed airliner's  heretofore nit wit right wing passengers experienced a miraculous change of heart, suddenly setting aside their blind hatred, festering racism and soul rending, hopeless fear in favor of, well, something more stable.

Unfortunately, while this post may well already be tastelessly "overly metaphorical," its theme is neither science fiction nor biblical.

No, rather than such a hopeful "fantastic psychic displacement," the faltering airliner's hateful passengers did not particularly alter their toxic political-ideological outlook on anything.  Instead, they simply began "getting tired."

Predictably, trapped in such a grave "hate vacuum," the "already almost too heavy to actually fly," grotesquely armored airliner continued its troubling descent.

Further, by "getting tired" MeanMesa means something like the mental ennui one might encounter during the fifth boring day of excruciating pain accompanying a horrible toothache. Of course these stalwart little tea bags were quite accustomed to the fear and pain which had been broadcast day in and day out for years on their "favorite media," yet, strangely, nothing in that constant flow of threats and outrages seemed to rise to the very real terror of being in an airplane now plummeting downward faster and faster.

Still, no matter how passionately the little airplane's pilot repeated the "ObamaCare death spiral" script, the passengers grew even more immobilized and lethargic with respect to their "hate and outrage production duties."  The were simply no longer generating enough hate to provide the necessary "metaphorical" lift to keep the monstrosity airborne.

Suddenly, the very worst possible shift occurred in the psychology of the air liner's passengers. Rather than continuing to be entirely preoccupied with the relentless think tank "desperation" bullet points, some of them began to quietly ask each other agitated questions about the plane's landing gear.

What about the wheels??!!
If the wings depended on hatred and fear to keep the air plane aloft, and the billionaires' cash kept it hurtling forward, what was going to be required to get the landing gear to function properly?  After all, the thing was now travelling at several hundred miles per hour.

According to spectators on the ground, the thing still looked quite impressive -- aside from its dangerously low altitude and the violently increasing speed, of course.

The last recording in the recovered black box was the pilot:  "Maybe we should all just think about the toothache for right now."

All that remains of the airliner story is, of course, the "happy ending." [omitted for brevity...]

That ends the metaphor section.  All that's left is room for a few MeanMesa conclusions.

Even Tea Bags Get Tired -- sooner or later
After all, so far they've been "dancing" as fast as they can...
for an awfully long time.

At some past shadowy date a handful of decades back, American billionaires, fully inebriated with the prospect of installing themselves as permanent US oligarchs, "crossed paths" with the now infamous Australian fascist, then "media mogul wanna-be," Rupert Murdoch.  They noticed the very useful -- for them, at least -- incendiary propaganda work being created by Murdoch.  

The billionaires' "think tank psychologists" had informed them of a strangely promising potential among American demographics which could be employed as a sort of "public opinion lubricant" which would ease the resistance and friction which, otherwise -- that is, "left unattended" -- would very reasonably be anticipated as a likely, negative public response to their scheme. That "strangely promising potential" was a fertile combination of a background psychological presence of racism, a modern form of Xenophobia, a crushing sense of inferiority and a few other extremely ancient, extremely useful primitive fears.

All those subconscious mind sets were, in the think tanks' analysis, not only viscerally present but literally "ripe for the picking."  Right away, of course, the "picking" began.

The early vestige of FOX, born with a significant loss in the profit column, was financed almost without limit by these behind the scenes ambitious benefactors.  The broadcast equipment slid into action spewing carefully engineered propaganda messages to a target demographic, robustly "living up" to just what the think tanks had predicted.  In no time the hate and distrust business had mushroomed into the political and business equivalent of "selling whores in a lumber camp."

Once these early successes were analyzed, the oligarchs' original plan to employ only the FOX network for this job was expanded.  If FOX were working so well, they thought, why not purchase control of the rest of the "alphabet networks," control the broadcast policies of all of them and gradually twist and tweedle every word being broadcast to the same propaganda goal?

In no time at all six corporations owned 90% of domestic broadcasts all across the country.

As promised, the percentage of the population willing to embrace these hateful, frightening messages increased every day. That percentage probably reached the top tip of its bell curve around the 2010 mid-terms.  Even then, the propaganda continued to gush at a constantly increasing quantity and along a constantly more petulant theme.  Political predictions were made -- predictions that the bell curve would grow to a zealous, indomitable, permanent political majority.

However, even amid all these propaganda victories, the Republican Party's voter base had been split into two, more or less, opposing sections.  On one hand were the more or less "traditional Republicans" holding more or less "orthodox Republican values," and on the other hand were unruly hordes of the now fitfully propagandized "take our country back," tea party Republicans holding, of course, barely legible, horribly misspelled protest signs.

For a few years all the "moving parts" in this strategy were spinning along just like a well oiled transmission in a brand new Buick, that is, everything seemed like a really intoxicating case of "roses, simply roses" for the oligarchs who were eagerly footing the bills.  Amazingly, the hypnotized tea party Republicans continued to find a remarkable, constantly replenished, inner energy sufficient to keep them convincingly "hitched to the plow" regardless of how things were unfolding in the real world.

This brings us to the precise point expressed in this post.

Now, years later, all these highly propagandized foot soldiers have not altered their implanted ideology even so much as a single iota.  They remain just as racist, bitter and frightened as ever. However, just as was the case in our metaphorical tale of the airliner, they are finally beginning to lose that "apparently endless," cascading wave of eager energy we saw during the movement's infancy.

Worse, at least for the oligarchs, there is now nothing left to replace that blind zeal. There are no noticeable accomplishments.  Politically, the nation has stumbled forward in roughly almost the same cadence and direction as it would have even in the total absence of all their fervor.  During this time at every instance when the nation has actually moved forward, the same vocal detractors, consistently cast precisely as their role models and "leaders," have bellowed catastrophic warnings of impending doom.

Aggravating this even a little further, the threatening foreboding issued forth from these "leaders" of theirs has -- also consistently, and also very visibly -- been the wrong advice, the incorrect analysis or, in many cases, outright lies which collapsed into "a pile of soiled rags" only one or two news cycles later.

It would be very encouraging if we were to hear these same tea baggers addressing such ideological failures, but it looks like we have to settle for a lesser victory.  While they are still not acknowledging the vacuous, hollow rhetoric which has so emboldened them to make fools of themselves, they seem to be tiring of it.

They are growing tired of struggling to be outraged by the rhetoric.

They are growing tired of looking foolish, of being the laughing stock.

They are growing tired of being utterly ineffective with nothing to show for their efforts.

This may be little more than the faint light of a distant flickering candle, but it is light.

There is NO landing gear on this airplane.  It cannot land without completely demolishing itself. When the allure of the rhetoric fades, there is nothing left to keep it in the air. Facing the dismal void of any reinvigorating political accomplishments or even promising policy proposals this is not going to be a happy landing.

Yes, the billionaires can flood those engines with even more millions of dollars worth of additional fuel, and, most likely, they will -- as they try to bring the desperate thing back to some sort of imaginary relevance, but this airliner is finally, inescapably preparing to "plow the field."

MeanMesa doesn't even expect much wreckage.

We can end with a quick joke:

After an unusually bumpy arrival, a shaken passenger asked the pilot if he considered it to be a "good landing."

He responded, smiling, "Any landing you can walk away from is a 'good landing.'"

He continued, "If you can use the airplane again, it was a 'great landing.'"

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