Monday, March 16, 2015

Daily KOS on Putin's Week

MeanMesa wanted to post this article in its entirety for any of the blog's visitors who might have missed it on the Daily KOS feed. Have a look [estimated 90 seconds "read time"]. It's important for everyone to be well informed about the latest developments unfolding in this "high stakes" game in the Russian Federation.

SAT MAR 14, 2015 AT 07:57 PM PDT
Looks like Obama may have outmaneuvered Putin, forcing him to overreach.

by 8ackgr0und N015e

[Links remain enabled. Read the original article  here - DailyKOS]

Remember a couple weeks ago when McCain, FOX and the GOP were all saying "Obama misread Putin... and now we are paying a heavy price for it"? Well, looks like they were the ones misreading Putin. Won't be the first time Republicans got that wrong, is it Dubya?

McCain's recent attack on Obama's foreign policy was on March 4th. Putin hasn't been seen since March 5th. And now, informed sources are saying a "slow motion coup" is underway in Russia.

Speculation centers around a speech given at Russia's Mercury Club, two months ago. The Mercury Club is important. Its founding members are a Who's Who of Russian power brokers and includes top leadership from the:

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, World Trade Center Moscow, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, The Russian Union of Manufacturers, the "Russian Parliamentarian" Club, the Orthodox Businessmen Club, the Union of Journalists of Russia, the International Press-Club, and a number of other associationsThe Mercury Club was formed to provide a venue that enabled business, political and cultural interactions between lawmakers, business people, officials of the Government and the Administration of the President of Russia. 

In short, the Mercury Club is where heavy hitters in Russia meet.

The president of this association is former Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeny Primakov. When he speaks, people listen. 

Two months ago, at a Mercury Club forum, Primakov spoke about his concerns for Russia’s economic future and "tore Putin's policy to bits."

What did he say, exactly? I'm glad you asked....

On Foreign Policy

- Russia would like to normalize relations with the U.S. and Europe

- Without this [cooperation] we will lose our country’s status as a great power.

On the Economy

- Russia is experiencing a difficult economic situation. There are external reasons: the fall in oil prices and the sanctions against Russia.

- Russia’s economic course cannot be one of self-isolation.

On Ukraine

- Can we still speak of Russia's interest in having the southeast remain a part of Ukraine? My answer is yes; I believe it is necessary. Only on this basis can the Ukrainian crisis be managed.

- If the Minsk Agreements are not followed should Russia in an extreme case send its regular troops to help the militias? My answer: categorically no. If this happened, it would be beneficial for the U.S., which would use the situation to keep Europe under its influence for an entire century.



- We can't continue to function under the current economic sanctions.

- We need to get out of this Ukraine fight.

- We can't send troops into Ukraine.

Now you know why people referred to this a speech that "tore Putin's policies to bits."

So -- what happened since the speech? To Primakov..... nothing. And that is being interpreted as a sign of a power shift. After all, Nemtsov isn't the first Putin critic to wind up dead. Yet, Primakov is still walking around just fine.

But that's not all.

Primakov's starkest comment in this speech was:

"There are no grounds to believe the readiness of the executive government to propose a justified plan based on concretely specified actions to turn the country toward diversification of its economy and its growth on this basis."

The Mercury Club speech then was an "ultimatum" to Putin, which Putin clearly ignored, and now he has to "pay" for this.So what did happen recently, while Putin has not been seen in public?

First, there has been a notable change in the wording used by Russian media to describe events in Ukraine:

- The term "Novorossiya" and "DNR and LNR" disappeared from state television channels and the terms "Lugansk and Donetsk Regions" replace them.

- Separatist units have begun to be called "bandit formations" in Russian media

In addition to the war of words, actual changes have been made in military leadership:

- The "purging" of the "implacable" field commanders among the Russian-backed separatists has begun. On top of that, there was an assassination attempt on Mozgovoy, "Prizrak" ("Ghost") Artillery Brigade.

In addition to other personnel changes that coincided with Putin's dropping out of site,the Russian stock market went up and the ruble strengthened against the dollar when Putin went missing. If Putin represents stability things should have gone the other direction.

There's also the creation of a special group "for the development of Kaliningrad Region" with top figures like Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Notably, the charges of "treason" against Svetlana Davydova, the mother of 7 who informed the Ukrainian Embassy of troops movements have been dropped.

Whether this presages an end to Putin's power remains unclear. But that will become clear in the next day or so. One of the bellwether details is the fate of Viktor Zolotov. He is head of Putin's personal security. Rumors suggest he is dead.

The leader of the coup? Likely a group of generals with Sergey Ivanov as leader.

If this is correct, then we can expect to see Dimitry Medvedev, Putin's compliant Prime Minister replaced by Sergey Ivanov. Whether Putin remains will become secondary as he will be nothing more than a figure head -- until a decent interval when he will retire.

While all this suggests Putin may not be all the GOP thinks he is cracked up to be, it doesn't mean the new leadership is going to be any less hardline. They just might be more pragmatic about which fights they choose to engage in. However, if they decide to put Ukraine on the back burner that will certainly vindicate the policy of ever-tightening sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. In that case, people like Ted Cruz will be eating some crow. After all their blather about Obama playing checkers while Grand Master Putin schooled him in chess, it looks like the table's been turned. That would mean they got it all backwards -- again. But don't expect to hear that from McCain or the rest of the GOP chorus on FOX.

9:05 PM PT: [UPDATE]

If things unfold as anticipated, you can expect the Republican response to be swift, predictable, and .... still wrong.

Here's my list of GOP talking points we can expect to hear:

1) McCain -- This was all the result of internal infighting. It had nothing to do with Obama or his policies. (Sanctions don't ever work. Ask Iran.)

2) Krauthammer -- Nobody but a narcissist would have predicted the sanctions would have an impact, so it can't be due to anything Obama did. (Who cares about oil pricing, right?)

3) Cruz -- Obama is still playing checkers, they just brought in team of Jedi Masters playing 11-dimensional chess! (Cruz will be surprised to learn Obama is not playing the black pieces.)

4) Graham -- Well I do declare! Fetch me a shawl! The return of the Cold War sends a shiver right up my spine! (Except for the "closer relations with NATO" thing.)

5) Cotton -- What does it mean when we receive "Расскажи это кому-то кто заботится" as a reply to our letter? (It ain't good.) [MeanMesa note: The Russian phrase - Расскажи это кому-то кто заботится - translates fairly accurately to "Tell it to someone who cares"]

6) Ernst -- I don't know what they told Sen. Cotton, but I did hear them say I was "dura" -- which means strong, right? (uh... no, not in Russian)

7) Kristol -- NOW we really need to bomb Iran before they have a coup! (You meant "before they reach an agreement," right?) 

8) Boehner -- Kiss, Kiss, Kiss (I still got nothing.)

9) Limbaugh -- Can anyone hear me? Is this thing on? Hello?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fully Appreciating the GOP's "Wonderful Gift"

In the Dawn's Early Light - 
Thank You, Senator Cotton!
It's been a long struggle, but now -- the sunshine.

A Wonderful Gift
1946: "New Shoes!"
Even though the prevailing response to the Senate Republicans' stunt has been "mortally wounded outrage," MeanMesa would like to seek out the brighter side of the event. Believe it or not, there is a brighter side. In fact the GOP's startling faux pas may mark the first glimpse of a wonderful turning point in the otherwise forlorn swamp of domestic politics so completely controlled and choreographed by the depressive, Dystopian billionaires and their "always eager to please" corporate think tanks.

It is precisely in the center of this carefully created, apparently hopeless field, now overwhelmingly presented as one devoid of alternate possibilities, that Senator Cotton's disastrous letter has opened the clouds to allow a tiny kiss of the sweet rays of the dawn to reach the darkened Earth below. This event truly is this wonderfully stupendous!

It has been far too long since there were even flickering shadows in this dismal cemetery of floundering democracy being suffocated by voters' disinterest and disgust.

The "Dimension" of Change
Cotton's letter landed far afield -- far beyond Iran.

Okay, by now every pundit in the country with a pulse -- and, of any persuasion -- has already beaten this dead dog to bones with every different hammer on his city editor's desk. There is very little reason to stubbornly delve ever more deeply into the cold corpse of the obvious here. However, once the letter's impact on Iran and the Islamic Republic's well tailored response have been set aside, there remains a "wide ranging," fascinating story among the consequences of the scattered debris.

Let's just say "That intriguing stuff strewn along the rails by the train wreck is not a modern work of art." Yet, this is, definitely, a train wreck, so now it's time to examine the pieces. If you haven't seen Cotton's actual letter yet, take a look.

The remainder of this post will be organized into more or less specific "players" representing, uh, individual impact zones, each of which has been rapidly transformed from what it was previously to a "new state" by Cotton's letter. The collection is stunning. Let's begin with the obvious. The first two are, well, rather ugly.

International Politics:

The Iranians:

Tehran will not materially adjust the Iranian negotiating positions in the bilateral nuclear talks because none of the "multiple restraints" already on the table have changed. While the opportunity must have sorely tempted the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, the response was left to Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister, Zarif.  His response to the Cotton letter was, although a little snarky, actually quite measured.

Zarif, unlike 90% of the blustering Senators who signed for us, is very experienced and highly educated with a PhD. in International Law and Policy from University of Denver [One of MeanMesa's "alma maters"] So, contrary to what has been widely insinuated by the domestic media, any sort of "spat" unfolding in a "war of words" never really even began.

On a darker note, however, one of the more penetrating observations offered by the Iranians described the political instability of the US government.

A very similar Congress of Republicans [many of the same faces lined up to sign the letter] opened a highly intentional "leak" during the Bush/Cheney autocracy to announce that the US regime was contemplating a nuclear strike on the Iranian centrifuges. This, when added to the clumsy, colonial invasion of Iraq and the bombastic "US President's" ranting about the "axis of evil," actually explains the Islamic State's almost obsessive interest in owning their own H-Bomb.

Here, we have to imagine ourselves viewing this spectacle from the eyes of the Iranians, and -- interestingly -- also from the eyes of the Russian Federation. Diplomatic protocol normally precludes nations from making such pointed observations without significant provocation, but what these foreign eyes see when they turn to the United States has officially moved beyond protocol. Sharing the planet with an out of control, unmanageable, heavily armed, erratic super power is unavoidably unsettling. 

The "ice" has finally broken. Internationally, there are no remaining incentives to "mince words." Only the  famous, tradition of the Chinese has kept the voice of the Peoples Republic from joining the chorus. The Republican hill billies set out to terrify the world, and they succeeded.

The Russians:

As mentioned already the Russians share this view of dangerous US instability with the Iranians. Unlike the Iranians the Russians may also perceive an opportunity to exploit American paralysis.

Just to keep the record clear without diving into Kremlin political maneuvering, Putin announced that the Federation would start building a fleet of conventional -- not nuclear -- armed IRBMs. Intermediate range ballistic missiles with heavy yield conventional war heads.

Make no mistake. These weapons are designed to alter the "fire power" balance anywhere the Federation is challenged and, ultimately, to attack the United States if necessary.

Putin's gambit is that such an attack -- or the quiet capacity for such an attack -- would fall short of meriting a massive US nuclear retaliatory strike, but, again, given the essentially paralyzing dysfunction of the US state, the leverage has clearly begin to look appealing to the Russian. These weapons would also be able to reach European targets for much the same reasons.

These are the consequences arising from the wild eyed Republican Senators scaring the crap out of the rest of the world. There is nothing currently compelling Putin to negotiate anything with the US. He and his oligarchs can live with the Crimean sanctions for years, and they have already demonstrated both the famous Russian "thick skin" and patience to more or less effortlessly outlast the world's complaints about the remainder of Ukraine.

Domestic US Politics:

1. The Domestic Corporate Media

Anyone foolhardy enough to have remained "tuned into" the television alphabet networks seeking "news" of reactions to the letter would feel somewhat pressured to dismiss the Senate's faux pas as "just more of the same," at least that is, "pressured" with respect to the "pressure" one might experience standing too close to a large vacuum. The obedient networks annotated every story concerning the Senate Republicans with carefully engineered "de-pressurizing" phrases such as: "The Democrats are up in arms about this."

The obedient pundits on NEWSCORP's FOX, of course, predictably broadcast episode after episode of banal interviews lauding these 47 "sudden heroes."

It's good to remember that all the elements of this "industrial strength fear peddling" monstrosity have been commanded to constantly reinforce the verbal think tank widgets in an effort to keep the world as hopeless and suffocatingly beige as possible for their comatose audiences.

"Both sides are the same."
"Don't trust anyone."
"Both parties do it."
"There are two super interesting sides to absolutely everything."
"We'll have to leave it there."
"This is really scary."
and, of course,
"All the other people think this is a scandal."

The print media, however, broke ranks. 40 or 50 of the nation's largest newspapers presented the story in a shockingly harsh light, issuing remarkably pointed criticism at the 47 Senators. MeanMesa suspects that while this was a ratings strategy, it was one executed with unusual confidence and ferocity.

The print editors correctly measured the letter story as the equivalent of "wet media dynamite" and purposely deployed their "editorial inertia" to capitalize on the public's aggravated response and the corresponding readership statistics.

Well, the print editors called it right on this one -- all except Murdoch's trained poodles at Wall Street Journal, of course. At that journalistic corpse, those poor, abused editorial puppies have been thoroughly "educated" about exactly what "happens" to disobedient canines.

For the rest of the nation an incredible "thing" took place. Quite contradictory to the television network "meme" that "no one reads the newspaper anymore," in this case it seems like just about everyone was reading the newspaper!

By the following sunrise the public opinion numbers were astronomical. The network television boys kept spewing out comfortably damp corn flakes, but it didn't help. This thing had grown "legs of its own."

2.  The Oligarchs' Long Term Take Over Scheme

If you work in a think tank, probably the very worst day you can imagine is when the billionaire who is paying all the salaries in the place shows up at the front door looking like "death warmed over." The think tanks were under orders to keep everything about public opinion dismally hopeless and frustrating. There were, in fact, giant storage tanks filled with lies, cynicism and fear right out in back just beyond the assigned parking places so there would be no danger for any of the drawling, pointless narrative ever surfacing into the light of day.

Let's just say that March 9 -- and especially March 10 -- were exceptionally bad days at the oligarchs' think tanks.

American voters who had ceased being "upset" about anything as far back as the 1990's were suddenly "on fire." Worse, unlike the "good, fear driven fire" the think tankers prided themselves on spreading, this "fire" was "pissed off fire." The nightmare got worse. Some of this "pissed off fire" had penetrated the trailer parks and American Legion beer halls inhabited by the GOP's base.

Yes, there were actually hill billies and bigots, usually marching lockstep in zombie battalions to the hypnotic hate voices of FOX News pundits, who were now, well, "pissed" themselves by Cotton's treasonous letter. The very same arrogant billionaires who had so gleefully invested billions in the "hate radio" fear campaigns had now begun to be . . . afraid . . . themselves.

The imminent danger was that the expensively crafted, spider web propaganda "spell" might be breaking apart, and the billionaires knew this!

Naturally, they "doubled down," but aside from the Wall Street Journal, the only place left for all that frantic "doubling down" was a tattered gang of lonely, isolated, exhausted, neck-tie, prime time pundits on the television networks watching their relevancy -- along with their talk shows' viewer "trust" statistics -- plummeting into the cess pool. Predictably, the network credibility, following the  mind numbing "non-reporting" on this one, was "headed down the toilet."

The think tankers and the network managers usually countered the occasional murmurs of "headed down the toilet" with "Well, that's just his opinion." But by March 13th every street in the entire nation seemed to be filled with "pitchfork and torch bearing villagers." All these recently awakened souls were not particularly angry with the networks. They were simply dropping out of the "viewer base" like over fed house flies in a bug zapper.

Meanwhile, in the streets of the "real America," the "pissed off" phenomenon was setting up like freshly poured concrete. Previously brain dead, loyal Party grandmothers were phoning Washington and asking if their Senator or Congressman was a traitor.

3. The "Independent" Voters

No, this isn't going to be enough to turn these fickle, indecisive ballot casters into stark raving Democrats, but it very likely will be enough to throw Congressional district elections around like two rat terriers with one pork chop by November, 2016.

The bruised, bashed and scarred middle class voters who had only a week ago been the sleeping "election tipping" voter block had, previously, represented a quite dependable margin when added to the unwashed "true believers" in the GOP's base. These voters never actually liked Republicans all that much, but their lives were hell, and this made them "ready volunteers" to be outraged by the think tanks' carefully manufactured, incendiary narrative.

The "hidden asset" being groomed and guarded so carefully by the propaganda masters attempting to control these voters was not some kind of structural concept, it was malaise, frustration and exhaustion. These votes would remain in the oligarchs' "sphere of influence" so long as this bitter depression could be continued. Further, the billionaires had invested untold fortunes into making certain that conditions would never improve, and that the understandable malaise would become permanent.

Any kind of unquestionable "turn for the better" for these voters would have plunged the think tank bunkers into DEFCON3. However, the Cotton letter wasn't any sort of "turn for the better," at all. Instead, well . . . we're back to the "pissed off" villagers with pitchforks and torches.

The think tankers didn't see this one coming.

Folks like Cotton and his 46 friends had become precariously "lost" in the propaganda [Remember Romney still assuming that he had won the election even as the Obama landslide was being counted?] as they were dreaming up the fantasy of just what a delightful addition to the already years long President bashing this letter would offer.

However, their estimate of scale was catastrophically inept. The reactionary Senate thugs had anticipated that the public opinion impact of their stunt would incite no more than the usual, quite modest, grumbling, "more of the same, yawn," reaction among a well managed, Stoic electorate.

This wasn't the case. Even the oligarchs' media control structure began to falter. It turns out that there was simply not enough "network beige" to cover up the "scarlet letter" this one had laid down all across the land. There was, happily, also scant prospect that these now adrenaline soaked, middle class "moments of enlightenment" were going to dim by election time.

The "scarlet letter?" It was a "T," and that "T" stood for treason. Americans weren't searching out the nuances for evidence of sedition under the Logan Act, they were looking for a noose.

4. Announcing The "Outrage Contest'sAll Time Winner

Urban legend contains accounts of Portuguese ship captains ordering the introduction of small amounts of saltpeter into the rations to suppress the crew's otherwise problematic male ardor during long voyages. A similar strategy has guided the think tank propaganda efforts.

The battered electorate was to be fed a steady diet of one spirit crushing outrage after another. These artfully manufactured irritants would be provided to the pundits each morning to be obediently parroted back relentlessly until they were replaced with the next day's supply. What had begun as Limbaugh and a few other grotesque cranks had blossomed into a literal horde of "bad news experts" all lamenting the "outrage of the day" from dawn until late into the night.

The long term effect of this effort was shockingly soporific. The oligarchs, through their think tanks and obedient, corporate media, had patiently reduced vast numbers of voters to the status of easily managed, desperate refugees by daily saturating them with the dreadful weight of every imaginable kind of provoked fear and hopeless ennui.

The usefulness of this now mindless, cowering electoral block had reached its apogee during the Bush/Cheney autocracy, but six years later, the tread on these tires was beginning to wear. Progressives such as MeanMesa had been waiting for the trend to shatter, repeatedly asking "When will the Americans wake up, realize what had happened to them and, once again, take command of the democracy?"

However, these progressives -- including MeanMesa -- had miscalculated where that change would ultimately originate. We had all though that this would be something that we would have to do! We were becoming somewhat disenchanted because the things we were doing didn't seem to be working.

Cotton's letter changed all of that in a wonderful, unexpected way. So, if you happen to be a Republican, yes:

"The monster you have created is too large to fit under your bed. It has big teeth and lots of legs. And, it appears to be quite hungry."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

2015 - Pandora as a Dark "Thoroughly Modern Millie?"

Pandora's Chest: 2015 Version

"Hope Springing Eternal" or "Romantic Myth?" [painting]
A note from MeanMesa: We find it a short search indeed when we seek out some overly tedious listing of the troubles in the world. One presumes that dwelling on such negative impulses is merely an indulgence, a means to pass the time while doing no real harm and inflicting no sustained injury on one's otherwise more optimistic psyche. But even this flirtation with the contents of the Lady's chest becomes somewhat more grim and even dire when the facts and figures accompany less willingly flippant.

A few of those "first demons to take flight" may merit a more sober review. History seems to plod its way toward another "pivot." Matters which are not mysteries begin to appear as matters which must be obscured for comfort. Welcome to the humanities' "garden of good and evil." Here are five short matters which seem to have "returned to her chest."

1. Humans Are Showing No Signs Of Altering Unsustainable Population Growth.

A "Patchy" History of "Reproducing" Responsibly
Blind bumbling is okay if there a little luck available.
Responding to observation and information should be the last option.

Human primates have done "quite well" for themselves when it comes to populating their way to the top of the planetary food chain. Around 72,000 BCE the human population hit one of its most severe nadirs. In southeastern Africa where most human primates had lived for centuries, the climate gradually entered a remarkably long period of drought. The availability of water, traditional food crops and game became worse and worse until the total population of humans on the planet descended to around 2,000. [Read more  here - TELEGRAPH/UK]

Since those dark days so long ago in Africa the humans have, indeed, "stepped up to the plate." Perhaps everyone simply decided that making babies wasn't such an unfairly arduous, thankless task after all.

The date scale is logarithmic. [image source]
All this good work begun in 72,000 BCE seemed to be working splendidly. By the time Thomas Jefferson had been elected the planet could boast of a human population of one billion.

However, when we look at the time scale along the bottom of the chart [below] we see that performing this task, that is, "increasing the planetary population by another billion," was showing an astonishing development of both speed, reliability and efficiency.

The "population prognosticators" furnishing the estimates for future population growth have quietly slowed the rate of the arrival of additional billions of humans after the shortest span of 12 years in 1999. No need to worry. If the additions slow to 16 years -- or even 20, 30 or 50 -- the point of this post remains uncomfortably solid. The geopolitical, economic and cultural changes required to move this "rate of addition" from where it is currently to even 50 years would require a, frankly, unimaginable level of cooperation and resources.
Population growth by the billion. [source - WIKI]

While this post could continue for pages and pages about the relentlessly increasing planetary over population, we must depart from this "facts and figures" here to make room for a few "other issues." It was important to get this part completed right away, so we might concentrate our attention on these other, associated parts of this post's topic.

2. The Global Population's Consumption Cannot Afford 
The Demand Requiring Full Productivity.

What Are All These Humans Supposed To Be Doing?
For a few hundred centuries it all looked fairly balanced.

For most of the earlier period of human development there has been no shortage of work to be done by the planet's inhabitants at any particular moment. The nature of this work has always been a mixture of tasks based on the various needs of the day. Although abbreviated histories paint a picture of "food" and "fighting" as the primary occupations of our ancestors, we can be certain that a vast array of other tasks produced necessary "consumables" all along the way.

However, generally speaking, prior to the industrial revolution the quantity of "consumables" being produced remained curiously equivalent to the corresponding quantity being "consumed." History, for example, yields few references to ancient civilizations which had produced such a surplus of food, baskets, chariots, ships or anything else that the contemporary economy began suffering from such products experiencing catastrophic price collapses.

These matters were balanced, and they were not intentionally balanced by policy or any particular ambition to balance them, but instead, they were balanced by the "organic" level of need for them and the corresponding capacity for  the production of them. Still, the industrial revolution was, just as much, also a natural human development, even though it greatly changed this traditional balance -- more or less permanently.

Masked Plague Doctors [image]
At a number of times during the "civilized" period of human habitation certain conditions interrupted this "organic" balance between production and consumption, and, as a consequence, also the "normal" measure of value associated with labor and commodities. For example, after the Black Plague had decimated the European labor force, wages increased. Higher wages were necessary to compete in the depleted labor market, but in time those higher wages became discretionary income and catapulted the European economy from its musty feudal past into the beginning stages of a middle class phenomenon.

But now, in the 21st Century, this balance seems to be a concept rapidly fading into historical irrelevancy. In the seventy millennia since the "difficulties" in Africa there has always been "enough work" to continuously consume the full efforts of the entire labor force of the planet. Everyone needed "something," and all those "somethings" required a worker to "produce" them. If there were some state similar to "unemployment" in 20,000 BCE, the consequences would have been fairly immediate extinction.

The possibility for this sensible arrangement to continue faded rather quickly after the industrial revolution's extreme advances in productivity hit the old equation. The fundamentals shifted, and they shifted in a troubling, "willy nilly" fashion. While productivity increased, the consumption markets decreased. Vast market populations probably wanted what was being produced but could not afford to purchase it. At first this was not such a problem, but that was then. This is now.

Although the "consumption power" of global markets has increased, it has not increased sufficiently to consume what is being produced. More importantly, that "consumption power" is no longer great enough to drive markets to produce what can be afforded by those vast populations. As a consequence, there are huge numbers of humans existing in economies without a "consumption pressure" which can offer them an opportunity to work and produce.

We can go ahead and call this the economic "Third World" so long as we are not too picky with our definitions.

The crowd which so habitually uses the "global market place" term to justify all sorts of horribly exploitative plans would like for us to consider these populations as potential markets "in development." They aren't. At least, they won't be any time soon. Further, these "in development" markets are not all located in distant "Third World" economies, either. They are springing up in Western industrialized nations, too.

3. A Functional Global Economy Relies On Increased "Consumption Pressure" - More Opportunities To Work.

Is It Really "Unemployment
When There's Nothing To Do?
Is It "Economic Development" When Mostly Nothing Develops?

The newly industrialized world created by the industrial revolution blew it.

While a small percentage of the increases in productivity went to establish a middle class, most went into the founding of dynastic family fortunes. The "missing ingredient" is revealed by the fact that practically none of the "return" of this increased productivity was directed at developing consumption markets with economies capable of purchasing the increased production.

Don't start feeling guilty. We have no reason to consider this as some sort of unactualized, discretionary, liberal "altruism." Instead, if it were ever to be undertaken, history would regard it as an imminently realistic, frantic response to avoid the economic cataclysm approaching in an otherwise inevitable future. The global economy will never work with participation stringently limited to an economically active class amounting to 20% or 30% of the global population.

Almost all of the creation of this modern result had been very nicely "finished" centuries ago. Of course the geopolitical, economic wreckage -- along with the destructive impact of the crippling, dynastic family fortunes -- remains for those of us in this century to clean up and patch back together. At least this will be our task if we don't fancy having the whole thing crash into the rocks.

By "crash" we are describing something significantly more destructive, more global and more terrifying than a mere "market correction." Even this dismal forecast has not yet added the additional "economic aggravation" of the now unavoidable economic impact of massive climate change approaching.

The rest of this world has to go back to work. The efforts to "coax" this economic resurgence into existence during the last century have failed -- in a very, very big way. Today's world has a huge unemployment problem causing a huge shortage of the discretionary income which might potentially become a future "consumption market"-- along with, for various reasons, an incredible deficit of resources available to remedy this situation. We -- in the industrialized world -- also seem to be demonstrating a shocking lack of creativity -- not to mention such an obviously flimsy grip on the reality around us. If that were not enough to "rattle our cages," we can add to this list a shocking lack of foresight and an eerie absence of any particular impulse for our own planetary economic self-preservation.

This would be the reality we unthinkingly created for ourselves. Given its history of development, this was inevitable.

4. The Modern Model For A Functional World Economy 
Is Wrong.

No Wonder This Thing Isn't Improving
Trying even harder isn't going to help.

The mere suggestion that ISIL could be undercut by promoting jobs for the young Muslims who might, otherwise, become recruits was met -- at least met in the Republican media -- with "non-negotiable" derision. However, this partisan political maneuvering really only presents half of the story.

The idea's "unmentioned" corollary is not particularly obscured. The media scheme had "traction" because a majority of Americans are quite skeptical about the possibility that the US, with or without the country's "anti-ISIL" European allies, could successfully undertake job creation in the dismal wreckage of wither Syria or Iraq. "Nation building" was an idea which never quite recovered its shine after the thinly veiled failure and painfully visible largess of the Bush W. scams in Afghanistan and Iraq thrashed through tens -- or hundreds -- of billions without noticeable results.

MeanMesa has to join the ranks of the skeptics on this one. This country might be able to accomplish "nation building" at some future date, but for now our first priority must target "nation restoration" on the domestic front. No reasonably informed "Third World" citizen could be expected to welcome the arrival of U.S. "nation builders" after considering the perilous condition of the nation sending them.

Yet, considering this proposal in a larger picture, "nation building" probably represents the most effective strategy to which we might direct the national resources we are going to inevitably assign to solving the ISIL -- and other regional -- problems in the long run. [For example, Ukraine's problem could use a little "economy building" assistance. Instead, we will probably wind up "over arming" the parties to the conflict.]

"Nation building." If only we were a little better at it! Unhappily, "free market capitalism" creates profoundly inept idealists and patently unconvincing altruists. On the other hand, that same economic model does create feckless hedge fund managers, acting in complicity through their subservient Congressional "employees," anxious to extend Wall Street's global financial hegemony to anywhere at any cost.

The part of this process that infuriates its international victims around the world is the blase', phlegmatic nature of the "gentrified market parasites" whose think tanks and lobbyists propose one scheme after another with consistently hideous consequences. That "fury" becomes the precise cultural foundation of the problems we find ourselves unable to address. The irony would be classic if it weren't covered with so much blood, fear, hatred and suffering. Unhappily, there is every prospect for more of the same in the foreseeable future.

5. The Obsolete Existing Social Culture Is Patiently Slaughtering The Planet

Could 3,000 Years of Ambitious,
 Ancient Patriarchs Possibly Be Wrong?
This might be survivable if it were just the Taliban and ISIL.

3,000 Years, Tennis Shoes, Sawz-All and Fairy Tale[IRNA]

All around the world in 2,000 or 3,000 BCE tribal patriarchs were scaring the crap out of all the illiterates in their villages with mythological tales. Each fable had a very convenient "social reaffirmation" of the unquestioned authority of the old men repeating the nonsense.

Control was everything. These old chiefs, big men, warlords, prophets and priests knew that women were, well, "more useful" and "less trouble" if they were property. Controlling sex was handy because the teenage "cannon fodder" of the next decade's tribal wars had to come from somewhere.

Naturally, the authenticity of the mythology had to be maintained at all costs. Relating it to infants still suckling their mothers' teats was fairly effective -- even when the "story line" had long ago become whimsical and impossible.

The "durability" of these uniformly destructive fantasies, their perpetual reinterpretation and their annual embellishment to conveniently demonize the patriarchs' latest competitor is a modern anomaly. The grisly aftermath might be somewhat more comprehensible if the outrages were being conducted by well fed, successful, educated sorts who had simply been indoctrinated by the latest generation of "holy men," but evidence of the "prosperity" prophesied by the ancient promises has never materialized.

The modern result is almost always no more than another string of rotting corpses. It is this in Nigeria and Congo, in the ruined Yazidi villages, in wild regions of Western Pakistan, around the Chinese Uyghurs, in the wreckage of Somalia, between the battle lines of the Sunnis and Shiites, among the crowded populations of Palestinians, Jews and Persians and elsewhere. In the quieter world in the west birth control is attacked by the Catholics and the rich Dominionists -- even in the midst of a world which already has nearly twice as many souls as it can feed.

Okay. There really may be some sort of "narrative" that can be offered up to buffer the outrages of each of these disasters and the dozens of others, but those worn out, ancient "stories" had already grown far too expensive and destructive a century ago. The planet and the human species may have continued the mechanical march into oblivion, but the human minds -- all creativity and bravery addled by these fairy tales and priests -- have become lethally ossified.

The plan was that we would continue to develop.

Each time a glimmer of hope emerged from some bunch "moving on" beyond the ancient poison, the all consuming narcotic of modern ideology lurched into the breech to guarantee that no one anywhere would start thinking straight in the momentary interregnum.

This world can no longer survive this murderous, fairy tale driven mayhem, and it's high time that the excuses stopped. There is now -- officially -- no more time to fight these ancient, theoretical battles.

Yet, looking quickly around this bleeding globe, there is no champion is sight. As of yet no one has stood up boldly to offer an alternative to this so compelling that it will free the humans from this deadlocked self-immolation.

If any of us are pondering the qualities of our next "leader," perhaps we should consider the mandates implied by these few catastrophes which seem to be unavoidably awaiting us.

MeanMesa will be posting about leadership next. Watch this space, and thanks for visiting.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Desperate MSNBC Frantically Grabs Corporate "Keep Away" Policy

MSNBC Suicide Attempt:
Maddow Survives, Unhurt

We all understand how desolately "embarrassing" things have become for the MSNBC network. However, these are the easily predictable developments when disparate "clutches" of widely varied television characters and their correspondingly widely varied network shows are shoe horned together, utterly willy nilly, into a "thing" which is then marketed as a fledgling network of some sort.

It became fairly clear -- in hindsight -- that the the MSNBC "line up" had become primarily just the coincidental" conglomeration of incoherent broadcast "assets" -- mainly what we might call "bargains" -- which could be purchased while staying within some sort of poorly planned, inadequate fragment of a corporate budget. Now that the poor creature has undertaken what Michael Valentine Smith famously referred to as "voluntary self-dissolution," there remain an unsurprisingly large number of open seats available on the mourning pew at the corporate wake.
NBC Headquarters [image]

The revelation of the "public secret" that 80% of the network's viewers cordially hated "wing-nut lite," Joe Scarborough, was only the beginning. Moments later even the most mentally superficial pundits had locked onto the network's strangely mature "identity crisis." Not even geriatric MeanMesa can remember a violent "market correction" this brutally rapid in recent history.

The ironic side of this was that apparently almost everyone except the MSNBC executives had already made this "market correction" before the top floor guys even had a clue.

Perhaps the MSNBC executives never ventured forth beyond the confines of their management suite "echo chambers" to actually ask anyone what network shows they were watching -- or not watching. Now that these three piece suit types are sweeping the bolts and fenders of the thing into dust pans, what began as an impressively reserved, Stoic corporate grief rapidly has become a particularly pathetic corporate panic.

They stopped briefly at the "scheduling desk" on their way to their 10th floor window ledges to attempt to juggle what was left into some sort of TV Guide presence, but by this time the morbidly pungent aroma -- an odor reminiscent of a rotting Air America -- was wafting through the hall ways at 30 Rockefeller Center, NBC UNIVERSAL head quarters.

The "Jewels" -- and the Lessons
Hidden in the Corporate Wreckage
Another "thing" they didn't notice?

A month ago MSNBC was broadcasting a awkward collection of absolute detritus interspersed with a "sprinkling" of fairly watchable offerings. Once the "wood chips" of the network's day time line up had completed their tedious daily journey to the television ash can, prime time viewers could tune into a week day sequence of much more palatable content: Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell.

However, not all of these prime time "anchors" were "created equal." While they may all be interesting and informative, MSNBC has been curiously reluctant to acknowledge the potential ratings' "power driver" embedded in this prime time crowd.


Dr. Rachel Maddow, PhD, [image -POLITICUSUSA]
It doesn't take long to "notice" an unavoidably obvious "quality" difference between Maddow and the high schoolers in the FOX gang or, in fact, between Maddow and the corporate, alphabet networks' thousand dollar suit "talking heads" gang, either. 

MeanMesa is a BIG Rachel Maddow Show fan and used to be a daily viewer. That "used to be" part presents the topic which is the point of this posting. We'll deal with that part of the story shortly.

Maddow has credentials -- the caliber of credentials one might consider extremely well suited for someone intending to seriously host a talk show dealing with politics and policies.

Stanford University, Public Policy, 1994
John Gardner Fellowship
Rhodes Scholarship
Lincoln College, Oxford, PhD, Politics, 2001

The "Used To Be A Daily Viewer" Part
As promised...

What strange corporate behavior has precipitated such an abnormal "series of events" which have  served to "inspire" a tiny, high desert blog to "pick up this story?"

Let's begin this sordid tale a year ago, but, relax, the account of that first year will be rather "brief."

A year ago MeanMesa was a DISH subscriber and had contracted to use DISH cable services primarily because the DISH offering included MSNBC, and consequently, The Rachel Maddow Show. Every week day at 7:00 P.M. the fourteen year old Toshiba television in the living room at Short Current Essays Galactic Headquarters was tuned to MSNBC and Rachel.

Crystal Skull Protection Kit [image]
However, through the time that MeanMesa had relied on DISH cable for this service, the monthly bill had "crept up" to more than double what it was when the contract was signed, over $80 per month. Of course the DISH contract provided all sorts of other "television possibilities," in fact, a veritable "home entertainment extravaganza" of hundreds of channels.

Among this vast offering of "valuable DISH channels" was the typical collection of 30 or so channels of endlessly repeating FOX fear and terror "expose' shows," 50 or more "dirty shirt preachers" asking for donations, dozens of vacuum cleaner salesman, a handful of essentially useless, traditional alphabet networks and, of course, the Brazilian Power Crystal channel.

Needless to say, MeanMesa's very definitely "limited income" was having more and more of a problem with the continually increasing $80 per month DISH bill. The painful decision was taken that DISH -- and daily access to The Rachel Maddow Show -- had to go.

Oh sure, there was a little "getting used to it" involved, but one of MeanMesa's students found a one-day-delay podcast site which would very dependably provide yesterday's Maddow show on the old LINUX in the upstairs Galactic Headquarters office. [This site, CASTROLLER, still provides the first part of the show daily -- usually 15 minutes or so -- on a one day delay, of course.]

MSNBC's "Trip to the
High Altitude NBC Woodshed"
Try to just gaze down at the clouds and remain calm...

Unhappily, still quite shaken by the "network's suicide attempt," the MSNBC executives were hauled in to see the NBC "big boys" in their palatial offices on the fiftieth floor. It would be quite unrealistic to presume that the content of this atmospheric meeting was intended to reassure and comfort the MSNBC crew in their hour of need.

No, instead it seems that the NBC heavies had just then, finally, noticed that the corporation's little, experimental spawn from downstairs had not only not been producing ratings, but -- horreur soudaine -- had also not been producing profits!

Something HAD to be done!

Predictably, that "something" began with expelling all the MSNBC line up that wasn't "pulling its ratings weight." Happily, this part of the NBC tantrum began with Joe Scarborough. But it continued, and when most of the blood had dripped off the lavish NBC executive conference room table, and the smoke and feathers had been unceremoniously sucked down the sky scraper's powerful exhaust ventilation duct, only MSNBC's vulnerable, "picked clean" skeleton of prime time shows remained as viable ratings assets on the corporate chopping block.

Those prime time "survivors" -- Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell -- had to begin doing the "yoeman's work" of turning a profit for the whole company amid the wreckage. The remainder of MSNBC's motley staff of confused and frightened employees were left staggering around in the production studios with a suddenly shocking, corporately "expendable" feeling.

Exactly Who Owns Tomorrow's News?
How About Yesterday's Analysis?
NBC monetizes the "one day delay."
They may decide to monetize more days than that.

On the very day that all this occurred millions of Americans with the same sorts of "fixed incomes" that MeanMesa enjoys were watching yesterday's episode of The Rachel Maddow Show on after market podcast sites such as CASTROLLER. Further, literally millions of these "fixed income" Maddow fans had made a decision similar to the one made by MeanMesa and cancelled their cable contracts.

With the month in and month out expenditure for cable services eliminated from these "fixed income" budgets, the corresponding "dinner menus" in all these "fixed income" homes had gradually moved beyond tuna casseroles depressing "disguised weenie recipes" into delicious dishes containing "meat with a name." The only price demanded for this remarkable improvement in the standard of living amounted to simply being satisfied with watching Rachel on the day after all the high rollers who could afford cable had seen her.

Once one became accustomed to the delay, the whole matter had begun to exude a quite congenial aura of "class separation."

After all, once MSNBC had broadcast Rachel through the cable channels, there was the idea that the episode had, in some sense, become the "public domain." The podcast sites didn't even leave the prime time show's commercials in their "one day delay" content. Although MeanMesa had not been particularly bothered by these commercials during the time Rachel was being delivered by the cable provider ["The rocks come with the farm..."], their absence in the "one day delay" pod casts amounted to an "added bonus."

The "fixed income" crowd couldn't afford to buy most of the products being advertised, anyway.

Well, the frenzied NBC "profit hounds" picked up the scent of a "not particularly plump" chicken right away. The "profit recovery" scheme they hatched is, well, stunning.

The "one day delay" pod casts were to be crushed.

Forget the "once broadcast becoming public domain" idea immediately. Anyone without a cable contract was to be excluded from Rachel's viewing audience, and this was to not only include watching Rachel's show when it was being broadcast, it would also include watching what had been broadcast even a day or a week earlier.

Instead, there would be "cherry picked" teasers, incoherently selected show segments, presented on an inoperative MSNBC corporate web site. It became clear immediately that these "segments" were being "selected" by the profit searching NBC heavies from "upstairs." MeanMesa has no way of knowing if the exceptionally shoddy corporate web site is the progeny of mere technical incompetence or intentionally prepared to further dissuade "non-cable contract" viewers from ever catching so much as a passing glance of Rachel. [You can visit this site for yourself: MSNBC/The Rachel Maddow Show]

One suspects the latter.

Unfortunately, unless you have cable,
the key is useless.
Now, you may notice a spot on this screen labeled as "watch entire episode." This sounds like a good idea, right? It will sound especially good if you have already tried to load, manage and navigate the "teaser segments" shown on the "menu." Let's just say that the thing was "not built for speed" -- or  any sort of convenience.

If, however, you decide to foolishly select "watch entire episode," you will soon be staring at these screens. The "key" thing is telling you that you will have to "unlock" access to yesterday's -- or last week's -- show by providing MSNBC with the name of your cable provider. Class warfare-wise, this process will begin with you proving to MSNBC  that you have a cable provider -- the site will then "check" to make certain that you are not illegally trying to access a "very valuable something" that MSNBC  broadcast yesterday.

Those atmospheric NBC types know that "you just can't be too careful with those unwashed masses of little people."

Trying to "Harvest the Free Loaders"
What is the MSNBC Strategy?
How did they decide to do the opposite?

It turns out that it becomes rather awkward to play "keep away" with a cable television show after it has been repeatedly broadcast on a national cable network. Yes, the arrangements made to electronically accommodate the content feed to the "one day delay" pod casters' sites can be curtailed, but this country -- and this television audience -- is brim full of remarkably clever hackers.

If all else fails, how about a video camera on a tripod standing in front of your high resolution flat screen?

The shows ratings are an "embarrassment of riches." The Rachel Maddow Show now trumps every competitor except Hannity, and one part of the reason explaining this is that the Maddow show is "accessible" to curious samplers with the prospect of becoming regular viewers.

WIKI summarizes the show's success at drawing audience. [Excerpted. Read the entire article  here - WIKI]

The Rachel Maddow Show debuted on September 8, 2008, with 1,543,000 viewers (483,000 of whom were in the 25–54 demographic). Early reviews for her show were mostly positive. Los Angeles Times writer, Matea Gold stated that Maddow, "finds the right formula on MSNBC", while The Guardian writes Maddow has become the "star of America's cable news". Associated Press columnist, David Bauder called her Keith Olbermann's "political soul mate" and referred to the Olbermann/Maddow shows as a two-hour "liberal ... block." The New York Times writer Alessandra Stanley opined: "Her program adds a good-humored female face to a cable news channel whose prime time is dominated by unruly, often squabbling schoolboys; Ms. Maddow's deep, modulated voice is reassuringly calm after so much shrill emotionalism and catfights among the channel's aging, white male divas".

On September 16, 2008, the show drew 1,801,000 viewers (with 534,000 in the 25–54 demographic), beating Larry King Live and becoming the highest-rated MSNBC show of the night. Maddow's ratings success on September 16, 2008 prompted many of her MSNBC colleagues on Morning Joe to congratulate her on the air, including Joe Scarborough, who said it was "just one of those times where good people do well." In the month of March 2009 the average number of viewers dropped to 1.1 million, part of a general trend in the ratings decline for cable news programs. During the third quarter of 2009, the show was ranked in third place behind Fox News's Hannity and CNN's Larry King Live. The average total number of viewers for the show's airtimes during this period was 992,000.

During the first quarter of 2010, Maddow's show pulled well ahead of Larry King Live, regularly beating the show in overall and prime time ratings, becoming the second highest-rated program in its time slot, behind only Fox News's Hannity. The show continued its lead during the second quarter of 2010, staying well ahead of CNN's Larry King Live for the third consecutive quarter, and topping the show in both prime time and overall ratings.


In November 2013, during the off-year election coverage, Maddow was "up significantly, averaging second place in both measures with 1.267 million viewers and 313,000 adults 25-54." This placed the Maddow Show second, running behind Fox News' Megyn Kelly, but ahead of CNN's Piers Morgan Live.

MSNBC is almost certainly drawing revenue from all of the cable providers "popping up" on the network's web site menu, but those revenues are from charges for the network providing "same day" content. Finding a means to include the "one day delay" crowds in those audience ratings would boost Maddow well above most of the FOX reactionaries now offering competition for audience standing.

Ratings-wise, the "one day delay" crowd represents a significant potential resource for MSNBC if it were managed properly. The NBC stockholders are being quite reasonable when they expect this quality of management. Further, MSNBC's management "mechanism" for accomplishing this is hardly rocket science!

Shutting them out with these corporate road blocks doesn't seem to be the "best use" of this available resource. Apparently, lurking just beyond the mental "business frontiers" of the NBC corporate puppet masters is the unavoidable conclusion that the "one day delay" crowd wouldn't bat an eye at the prospect of watching a few commercials.

Public opinion has demonstrated a resurgence in its "motility." One need look no further than what has transpired with opinion about same sex marriage to see an example of the moribund "inertial myopia" of those whose business relies on staying aligned with public sentiments about all sorts of things.

At the moment the corporate media's directors are clearly still suffering under the false flag which emerged with the success of throw backs such as Limbaugh. After the oligarchs had bought control of thousands of broadcasters across the country, installing an essentially unmarketable monstrosity such as Limbaugh, they proceeded to make the claim that the show's popularity -- and the reactionary message of the man's narrative -- were firmly established merely by the fact that it was appearing on so many stations.

Limbaugh's "shine" is now headed for the public ratings ditch. The message is clear. Progressives constitute the audience of tomorrow.

Get with the program, MSNBC.