Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hillary's Video - The View From the GOP's "Dirty Tricks" Bunker

The Billionaires Counter Attack [image POLITICUSUSA]
Putting "Flesh on the Bones"
It's time to quit simply imagining.

Any American old enough to handle his own shoe laces has already heard plenty about Citizens United and the billions of US dollars currently flowing into political coffers as a consequence. It's come to the point where "news" of, for example, the Koch Brothers' $889 Bn "war chest" no longer elicits anything even resembling a shocked outrage from citizens still trying to pay next month's rent and eat at the same time.

Slowly -- very slowly -- it is finally emerging as "common knowledge" that the billionaires are firmly in control of US elections and, as a result, of the US government. 

This "common knowledge" idea means that even in the least "savvy" political observer there is now at least a seminal perception -- still one not influenced by too many facts -- of the actual situation. In such a cloudy narrative cash money starts as a tiny, inconsequential part of one of these dynastic fortunes and mysteriously winds its path to an election night victory rally.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the remaining misperception arises from the comparison normal voters make when they compare themselves and their financial situations to the corresponding situations enjoyed by this handful of overly well fed US plutocrats. As these "more or less average income" Americans attempt to scale the magnitude of these fortunes, they too often end up comparing such wealth to that of acquaintances of theirs who are simply "doing better" than they are.

The difference is absolutely not one of simply "doing better." Such comparative "parameters" are so disparate as to have essentially nothing to do with each other, and this "disconnect" sabotages the possibility for any serious comprehension of the degree of illicit political influence made not only possible, but chillingly convenient from a position of such wealth.

For example it's estimated that the Kochs wealth is around $80 Bn -- $80,000,000,000 for the mathematically challenged visitor. A bit of the "latest news" reports that 14 of the wealthiest "hard working" Americans have increased their personal wealth by $127 Bn -- $127,000,000,000 in the last twenty four months. [Read more here - COMMONDREAMS]

These billionaires sit and calmly strategize the details of their immensely profitable and inevitably lucrative plans for "absorbing" everyone else's money [One can, if desired, add a little something about sipping mint juleps during the discussion.]. They make "decisions" about "moving" millions of dollars from their "money bins" into the hands of their "hired guns" who will, in turn, place these dollars in suitable spots at just the right moment to control the next Congressional vote -- or the next election. Traditionally, these "hired guns" have been lobbyists, but with the successful 2010 "colonization" of the Congress, the trend is more and more to utilize actual public servants for this work. [Here is a link to a video of now House Speaker, John Boehner, admitting that he handed out checks on the House floor prior to a tobacco bill's vote. CROOKSANDLIARS]

Here, we arrive at the "fleshing out" part of the post. Although MeanMesa has no "supernatural periscope" through which these dark deeds of anti-democracy might be observed, it is still necessary to do what can be done to somehow peer through the black, frigid depths into the back rooms in a way which can make the players and the process more, well, real.

We need not speculate that this is really happening. It is. Our problem is that the billionaires' carefully devised payola scheme is as opaque as the obsidian dagger the Aztecs used to carve the hearts from the chests of their screaming sacrifices.

Parting the Veil
With a Little MeanMesa Fiction
The mere fact that we can't see the real thing
doesn't mean that we can't still have some fun with it.

When Mrs. Clinton "fired the first shot" with the announcement of her candidacy for President, the dark, grudging right wing think tankers were clearly caught off guard. A good number of their candidates had already strutted out in front of "audiences" to spout their announcements, but she had, instead, gone public with a -- to them -- terrifyingly low key, comfortably folksy, social media style video.

If an actual "shot" had actually been fired, it would have been over the bow of the tediously lumbering adherence to "everything 1950" as the officially adopted political template of the right wing and the billionaires. While the clown car's ideological denizens were blathering out their predictable litany of meaningless, detail free, road weary talking points to slumbering crowds of dull yet obediently dutiful tea partiers, the Clinton campaign was effortlessly conducting the modern equivalent of a "fire side chat" with millions of eager supporters already "chomping at the bit" to be knocking on doors and canvassing their neighbors in her behalf.

Sigourney Weaver - ALIENS [image]
It would be a mistake to presume that this 2 minute video announcement landed in the reactionary back rooms of the think tank bunkers gracefully. The entire theme of Clinton's message was undoubtedly so alien to this crowd that even an appearance by Sigourney Weaver herself would have hardly been noticed had she -- along with one of the alien creatures -- added a cameo walk through to Hillary's script.

Having set the scene, let's indulge ourselves in a short novella depicting what we might have seen that day unfolding in the GOP "dirty tricks" bunker had we been there. [The Clinton video is not a shabby piece of work. If you would like to refresh your recollection of it, here is a link NYTIMES-2m15s]

Ryan's New Job

[MeanMesa strongly suggests that visitors read the quoted material highlighted in the story aloud. Any effort made now to familiarize ourselves with the understandably awkward idiosyncrasies of "Confederate speech" will be rewarded in the future as we attempt to comprehend the Republican "debates."]

Ryan had accrued a notable scholastic record by the time he graduated with his degree in political science last year. Not being the least bit naive about the paucity of career opportunities he would find as he searched for a position somewhere, Ryan had maintained his youthful optimism even longer than he had hoped. Yet, employment choices for this new graduate had turned out to be even more depressing than he had anticipated.

His dreams of boldly participating in some promising candidate's exciting election campaign had gradually evaporated, leaving him selling shoes in a local mall shop. Enough time had passed for the inevitable "first notices" to arrive for his college debt repayments. Things were beginning to look rather bleak. He dutifully spent at least an hour or two every night after work scouring the internet looking for job openings in his field, but there were few notices of anyone hiring.

His job applications and resumes seemed to be simply disappearing into an empty, foreboding void.

Then, suddenly, the dark, gloomy "job skies" opened. Although he had never heard of the Christian Legion of American Whites, the prospect of finally using his degree and education to begin getting experience for his resume was electrifying. His hands were shaking as he carefully wrote down the phone number and address.

He was to call for an interview appointment and appear in person instead of blindly dispatching another email. Nervously, he dialed his cell phone. Although it was already several hours after five, a polite voice answered, identified herself as an answering service.

Gathering up his "interview" clothes, the young man spent the remaining hours of the evening in the local laundromat. As he carefully positioned his still damp "no iron" dress shirt on a hanger, his excitement was reaching an almost unmanageable crescendo. The interview was scheduled for tomorrow afternoon! No matter what the Christian Legion of American Whites turned out to be, he was positive that working there would be much better than selling shoes.

As the appointment time approached Ryan strode in as confidently as possible for his interview. The office was located in the front part of a warehouse in a rather shabby industrial park a few blocks from his apartment. There was a string of identical doors along the front of the massive grey, windowless, concrete structure, and the entrance to "Unit L" was notable only for the small "L" on the glass door and a small, innocuous sign board bearing the word "CLAW" hanging above it.

Staring again at the small sign above the door, it took Ryan a moment to realize that "CLAW" was an acronym for Christian Legion of American Whites.

The inside of the place was a tenuous extension of the outside. The room seemed strangely crowded with all manner of unkempt rubbish and half empty card board boxes. Sitting at a folding table a few steps inside was a strikingly beautiful young woman completely occupied with chewing gum and filing her nails. A carefully machined name plate on the otherwise essentially empty table identified her as "Savannah Magnolia."

Other than the young woman, there appeared to be no one else anywhere in the office.

Ryan noticed an unusually large Confederate flag pinned crookedly in that hallway just beyond Savannah's table. Another sign bearing the word "CLAW" was positioned on the wall just to her right. After a awkwardly strained delay Savannah finally noticed Ryan's presence as she looked up from her nails.

"Yew must be th' little Yankee we hirin' for thu campaign." Savannah drawled out slowly, her gaze returning to her unfinished nail filing.

"Yes, ma'am," Ryan answered politely, "I have an appointment at 2 o'clock for an interview."

"Wahl, Reveren' Jimmi 'n Mistah Jingo ain't come back from lunch yet, so yew gonna haf to jest sit yore little sef down over theah n' wait fer 'em." Having said this, Savannah once again began to even more violently chew her gum and work on her nails.

"Is my interview going to be with one of them?" Ryan asked. "Do you know if they are planning to hire sometime soon?"

Looking up again, Savannah slowly answered. "Ah figger so. Thu Reveren' and Mistah Jingo's thu ones in charge o' evvythin' 'round heah, so they's probly thu ones alraeht." Returning to her nails, she continued. "Ah know's thet they's plannin' a strateegery meetin' this aftahnoon to figger out 'bout whut tu doo with thet bitch's 'nnouncement video. Thu Reveren' told me ta' git thu confrunce room cleaned up so's theah culd hev' thu meetin'."

Suddenly, the front door of the place opened to reveal two obviously drunk men fumbling their way into the room. Savannah smiled broadly at the them. Ryan noticed that she had quickly adopted a strange combination of matronly disapproval along with the subtle physical demeanor of a bar room tease. The woman's image was further amplified by her violently crimson lipstick. While preparing herself for work, she had clumsily placed an obviously false birth mark just below her left nostril which was now beginning to dangle precipitously.

There was something incongruous about Savannah's unknowing inclination to imitate Marie Antoinette's cosmetics.

Without acknowledging Ryan at all, the two barged down the hall beyond Savannah's table -- apparently to the office's conference room. The Reverend, speaking to his side as he passed her, commanded the receptionist, "Yew git thu staff down t' thu meetin' room. We got work to do." Even though he had passed her table by this time, he spoke again, this time facing ahead in the hall way. "Hold them calls, too, Missy."

Again alone with only Ryan remaining in the room, Savannah giggled, then spoke, "We ain't gittin' enny calls. Ah ain't even got no phone -- th'only one's back theah in the meetin' room. Now, yew'd bettah git in theah."

Puzzled, Ryan asked the receptionist, "Are there other job applicants here for the interview?"

Returning to her nail filing, Savannah answered through the obvious impediment of her continuing gum chewing, "Naw. Yew ain't no applunt. Yew're thu staff. The big boys from K Street wuz heah yesterday, 'n thay tole the Reveren' t' hire a hepper. Yew're it. Yew goin' t' be thu hepper now, boy."

Mister Jingo was waiting impatiently by the open door to admit the young staffer to the conference room. Ryan proceeded down the hall way, casting a curious glance at the sagging Confederate flag as he passed. The Reverend was already seated at the conference table. Spread across the table was an open bottle of raw bourbon, an old desk top telephone, a single dull pencil and a ragged spiral note book.

At the far end was a flat screen television clearly showing the first frame of the Hillary Clinton video announcing her candidacy. Neither of the two men seemed to have any interest in interviewing Ryan or discussing any details about the job. Neither of them even bothered to introduce themselves.

The Reverend began. "This raht heah's thu damned video thet ole' witch sprang on thu country day afor' yestidday." Glaring at Ryan, he continued, "All o' us knows thet ain't no one 'cept a handful o' brain ded Yankees 'n othah librawls whats goin' to listen t' it, but them K Street boys all got theer panties all tied up in a wad on account o' it, so's they's eskin' us to start in tearin' thu thang apart so's we kin git thu countah message off to FOX raht away."

Mister Jingo spoke next, directing his comment at Ryan. "Yew bein' a lil' Yankee 'n all, the Reveren' 'n me figgered yew were goin' to be 'xactly the one who kin figger out whut 'n hell thet bunch's tryin' t' do with sumpin' lahk this. Old Hillarious Hillary done got all them Jews on her campaign team's PR squad t' spit this heah thang out all o' a sudden t' ketch us off guard. It's purty cleah now thet they ain't got no plan fer enny kinna' decent politickin' anywhares down in them dark little Jew hearts o' thearyas."

Jingo thumbed the video remote "play" button. The Southern accents were beginning to tax Ryan's capacity to translate what was being said into a comprehensible form of English. Yet, the young man recalled the wise words of his favorite political tactics professor. It had been a warning that after graduation, he might very well find himself employed by those with a political viewpoint other than his own. "Just stay cool. Get the paycheck, and count your blessings. Be glad that you're working."

Savannah abruptly appeared to serve Ryan an extremely unappetizing styrofoam cup of luke warm instant coffee. Neither of the two men seemed to notice the rather surprising number of flies in the room.

The Reveren' annotated the video. "Now, yew'd 'spect lots of coloreds in sumthin' lahk this, but them wimmen's a problem, tew. They's all smilin' 'n kissin' each othah. We gonna' need to git thu word out thet thet rag\ht theah's goin' 'gainst thu Baubul. Thu trew patrots out theah need t' git warned 'bout thu creepin sin oozing outta' thet damned thang. Hillary's tryin' t' drag 'em all down t' her level!"

Mister Jingo broke in at this point. "Whaet wimmin folk's simpul critters -- at least thu God fearin' ones -- 'n theay's gonna' git confused if'n theay see sumthin' lahk this heah." Turning to Ryan, he added, "Thu Negroes and thu Aayrabs 'nough t' scare the livin' daylahts outta' the men folk, but we need t' git thu message fer thu ladies raht back to sin, sex, rape 'n 'bortion if'n we plan t' keep 'em in thu fold. All thet lady-stuff gits them men folk angry as hell, too."

The Reverend, now becoming even more piously agitated, jumped in again. "But them queers 'n lesbeterians got throw'd in theah jest to wrankul thu folks we workin' fer! God fearin' whaht votahs ain't goin' t' take kindlay to struttin' thet kinda' sinnin' raght out in front o' theyah noses! Thet kinda' trash jest don't cut no mustahd on K Street!" Glaring at Ryan, he continued. "Yew got thet, boy? We's needin' a message heah -- sumthin' thet kin reach all thu way to them trailer parks 'n thu 'Merican Legion halls wheah thu voters are!"

Jingo piped in immediately after a long pull on the bourbon. "THET"S whut we gittin' paid t' delivah, boy! The message!"

The Reverend followed up Jingo's emphatic order. "Yew jest git yore lil' Yankee ass busy cookin' up sum kinda' message thet's gonna' stop thet bitch in her tracks. When yew got thet done, yew just shag raht over t' this heah phone 'n call 't in t' FOX." 

Reaching into his jacket pocket, the Reverend withdraw an inch thick bundle of newly printed hundred dollar bills still bearing the bank wrapper. Licking his finger carefully, he then peeled fifteen of the bills out onto the table. pushing the money in Ryan's direction. "This raht heah's yore walkin' around money, Yankee. Theah's plenty more wheah this come from, so git on with it."

Ryan thought, "This can work." After a moment's pause, Ryan reworded his thought. "Wahl now, this raht heah kin werk." He smiled, picking up the dull pencil and the spiral notebook.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

MeanMesa Has NEW Eyes!

A Short Note From MeanMesa

The blog has been quiet for a while now, and a little explanation may be in order. 

MeanMesa has had a little eye surgery to remove a nasty little clutch of geriatric cataracts from both sides last week. These rotten little devils had managed to reduce these old eyes' capacity to operate the key board on the old LINUX, and the surgery promised a welcome -- and necessary -- remedy. 

The procedure went well, but it's taking a few days to get back to get the main engines back to full power. Amazingly, the sight now is already better than before -- even without the old trifocals!

This means that Short Current Essays can roar back into action! Things may be a little slow for a few more days, but the world has been teasing this little high desert blog with literally boatloads of deliciously tempting topics and stories -- all calling out for a little touch of that world famous, old fashioned, mild mannered MeanMesa treatment.

Even posting this little note provides that wonderful sensation of being...
[image source]

This sweet little Aerosmith tune will explain everything!

Thanks for visiting and come again soon!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hillary's E-Mails and the Clown Car's Hilarious PR Campaign

Waiting to see the "Whites" of Hillary's Eyes
FOX promised them that there was no reason to worry.
It's just Hillary's advance team looking for office space.

The GOP's "clown car" is already packed to the breaking point with unscrupulous, sold out characters running for President. There is already at least half a billion dollars jammed into cardboard boxes in the trunk, and some of the richest, greediest oligarchs haven't even "contributed," yet.

Relax. It's just her advance team [image]
looking for a spot to rent.
What's "missing" is a single pollster saying that she can still be beaten. Not even the high stakes Las Vegas "non-political" odds makers are "putting any cash" on a political long shot that long

Worse, even the type on the think tank's copy of the Citizens United decision is beginning to wear away because so many think tank fingers have repeatedly scoured through it desperately searching for a previously overlooked loop hole big enough to accommodate the mass of week old dog food waiting in the wings for the Republican debates.

The oligarchs gave the order months ago: "Hillary Clinton must be destroyed before the November, 2016, election."

MeanMesa is certain that a "very tasty, very tempting" reward is on the table for the think tank tactician who finally comes up with some scheme to accomplish this mission. Whatever that solution might turn out to be, it will have to reach considerably more of the electorate than the usual drivel aimed at just the American Legion beer hall and traditional GOP trailer park base.

There simply aren't enough hill billies and bigots in the country to elect a President.

The "B5" Assault
 Bouncing Back From the
 Billionaires' Benghazi Bungles
Not even the mighty Ted Cruz seems able to land a punch.

It's always a good idea to begin with a "big picture," and the "Hillary e-mails" Republican public opinion disaster is no exception. In order to see the thing in "all its beauty," we must set aside our own view of the chaos and imagine what we would see if we were to look at this latest GOP train wreck through the eyes of one of the billionaire owners of the Republican Party. 

To start with, as one of these power crazed billionaires, you are paying for this thing. The whole thing. That means that you are bankrolling everyone and everything. If you want the Republicans to do things for you, there are only two choice: black mail them or pay off their lobbyists. So, what would your world look like if you were one of these billionaires with your check book at the ready, dreaming about how much more you could loot from the country if you were in control of the White House?

To begin you already know that it will be your extremely large bank account that is "signing the pay checks" to the now desperate "psych experts" in your dirty trick bunker. The think tank managers saw you coming. It was clear from the outset that you were consumed with an "addict-like" obsession to rough up Mrs. Clinton even before she announced, and they promised you that -- for the right price -- their team could handle it.

Three Think Tank Attempts to Derail Hillary,
and One Complete Fizzle
Very few things are more entertaining than watching 
hopeless, terrified billionaires grasping at straws.

Because the selected "hit men" have brought such disparate approaches to the task of manufacturing this first scandal, we have to list it twice, individually defining each attempt by the "creative school" responsible for its theme.

First Attempt: Benghazi One -- Issa-esque

Months ago they suckered you into financing the House Benghazi catastrophe. It took some serious "campaign contributions" to weasel even a sold out loser like Darrel Issa to host the hearings extravaganza, but then you watched it fall apart like a mortally wounded chipmunk as the story repeatedly met one ignominious demise after another from lack of interest. Finally, there was that last check to convince Issa to hurl himself on his own sword.

Second Attempt: Benghazi Two -- Gowdy-esque

Not being a "billionaire quitter," you tried again. This time it was necessary to replace Issa's lackluster attempts with another try, this time -- after greasing Boehner's hands with even more of your money -- the House leadership decided that the attempt would be piloted by South Carolina's Trey Gowdy ["Howdy Doody"].

This second try hit the rocks almost immediately. Although the FOX base voters were dutifully interested for a day or two, your big show turned out to be something akin to hiring a band for a baptism in a mausoleum, but behind the scenes, the effort was still gobbling down your money just like there was "no tomorrow." No matter how much cash you injected in the "search for truth," hardly any one beyond the GOP's trailer park base was even bothering to listen.

The Complete Fizzle Attempt -- Clinton Foundation Donor Countries

Whichever one of the ambitious think tankers who placed this one on the table at the "dirty tricks" meeting definitely didn't get the "big prize." Although it was clear right away that "the word had gone out" to the Republican's media mouth junk team to start "talking it up" about the fact that the Saudis had contributed to the philanthropic Clinton Foundation, the scheme had officially hit the rocks within hours.

Within the GOP's base the plan simply had gained no traction. The hill billies couldn't understand why it was a problem, and the billionaires weren't infatuated with criticizing other billionaires shoveling out the dough as they tried to rehabilitate their public image. In the first instance the ball had simply careened out of the park, and in the second case the ball had hit too close to home.

The Third Attempt -- the e-mails

Although initiating the re-branded "Gowdy" version for another repeat of Issa's Benghazi disaster may appear to be an unusual tactical decision for the think tankers, we must realize that by this time the "cabinet where the dirty tricks were stored" had grown disturbingly empty. Not even your offer of the "big reward" seemed to be having any beneficial effect.

In fact after cashing out the final invoices of both of the Benghazi bungles, you were left with only the smoldering cinders of the great bon fire you had dreamed of igniting under the Juggernaut of Mrs. Clinton's political future. The search for the "next attack" was not pretty. The bourbon stained PostIt note bearing only the single, cryptic word, "e-mails," was the solitary suggestion your tactical squad of "dirty tricksters" had left on the conference table before sheepishly exiting your strategy session.

For lack of anything more promising, you resigned yourself to the fact that it was going to have to be the emails. Giving forth a sigh that only a billionaire can know, you once again pulled out your check book.

The New Confederacy
"Yew cain't jest fool them 
folks agin, kin ya?" [image]
We could discuss the possibility of all sorts of "possible nightmares" which might be hidden in the otherwise rather banal content of Mrs. Clinton's extensive e-mail records, but what's the use? There can be little doubt that communications records from the office of a New York Senator or US Secretary of State are "full to the gunwales" with a sensitive and discrete collection of messages both received and sent, but what hidden, embarrassing secret does an American voter expect to be revealed?

The vetting of this massive body of content will, assuredly, leave the "juiciest" tid bits locked away in a secure electronic State Department warehouse somewhere in Virginia, while the massive category of the "rest" will become an unread dead weight on Washington Post hard drives. The aging "trailer park" PC's of the Republican Party base, although routinely taxed with the work of preparing poorly annotated. misspelled FaceBook photos of Obama as a cannibal or pictures of talking cats, will never be burdened by a need to support any exhaustive analysis of Clinton's correspondence.

The Delicious Clinton "Nothing Burger"
Irresistibly mouth watering and totally calorie free!
Or, upgrade to our new, deluxe
 "no there" there fat free, grilled cheese delight! Tomato is extra.

The think tank "fact twisters" immediately launched into a frenzied session of remarkable "multi-tasking." There was clearly an urgent need for the preparation of a credible "nothing burger" to meet the hungry clamor from the Party's base. Once the flaming "e-mail scam" had been officially spewed from the  mouths of hundreds of obedient media reactionaries, it became obvious that if the story were ever going to be embellished sufficiently to gain much traction, it was going to be another right wing "fixer upper."

There were suddenly all sorts of "fact problems" littering the think tanks' marketing scheme. For starters there was no law on the books requiring Mrs. Clinton to do anything besides what she had actually done with her e-mails. Further, there was no precedent. Since there was no law, none of the previous Secretaries of State had done anything particularly different from what she had done.

Worse, the records show that there was not ever so much as even any kind of unspoken "policy" floating around in the State Department concerning the matter. It began to look very much like no one had ever really cared that much about what had been done with the correspondence aside from blotting out the seriously sensitive stuff.

The job of servicing the story's "fixer upper" status quickly expanded to encompass the sometimes tricky extra duty of "re-writing history." The fact that there not really any "history" to re-write only complicated matters further.

The Clinton machine blinked a bit at this point. Someone very reasonably presented the "countering evidence" that all this correspondence had been hosted on a server in Bill's office. Normally, such a revelation would have enjoyed a certain "persuasive inertia," but in this case it only revealed that most of the voters who were "being convinced" by the think tanks' gambit had absolutely no idea what a "server" actually was. The fact that Bill's office -- where this secure server was located -- was under the protection of the Secret Service may as well have been "dried leaves blowing in an autumn wind."

As we casually scan the horizon for the faint scent of any "scandalous revelation" headed this way, we come up bare handed. Sure, there may be one out there, but if we see no evidence, at least presently, of some nefarious deception or other duplicity, why are we so willingly obsessed by such pessimistic certainty? Scandals are not made of the fine drawn white clouds of morning. They come in the company of evidene, motives, mechanisms and effects.

MeanMesa did not "arrive on this morning's turnip truck." Happily, all these years of experience have led to a serious reluctance for using the term or concept: "perfect." There is no glassy eyed, naive expectation that Hillary Clinton is a reincarnate Joan of Arc. A president with those sterile, crippling, imaginary qualities would be even more terrifying than the bumbling George W.

There remains one final clown car "hilarity" as we move on from this discussion. Last week MeanMesa watched a television interview with one of America's famous "men on the street." One of the many softball questions being bandied forth was whether or not the interviewee could "trust" Hillary Clinton as President.

The man being interviewed took up the most curious, affected expression. It seemed as though he were mimicking some maudlin character in an old 1940's black and white film. His eyes rolled back to create the impression of a wise, "knowing" countenance, and after a far too inauthentic dramatic pause, he answered, relying confidently on the viewing audience's ready memory of memorable Ronald Reagan quotes, with "Trust but verify."

Trust but Verify
Mindless paranoia only grows sweeter with age.

The phrase first surfaced as a "public appliance" from some Republican think tank's "political strategy" laboratory during Ronald Reagan's nuclear arms negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the old Soviet Union. The phrase was scripted by a Reagan Administration "Russia expert," and it was intended to buffer the domestic US electorate's distrustful opinion of the USSR.

Reagan, the notably fluid, charming, yet already rather addled Democrat turned Republican, actor turned President was the perfect "mouth piece" to convincingly present the idea to his constituents.

Suzanne Massie, a writer on Russia, met with President Ronald Reagan many times between 1984 and 1987. She taught him the Russian proverb, доверяй, но проверяй ["doveryai no proveryai" -- trust, but verify] advising him that "The Russians like to talk in proverbs. It would be nice of you to know a few. You are an actor – you can learn them very quickly." The proverb was adopted as a signature phrase by Reagan, who subsequently used it frequently when discussing U.S. relations with the Soviet Union. [Content emphasis added, MeanMesa]

After Reagan used the phrase to emphasize "the extensive verification procedures that would enable both sides to monitor compliance with the treaty", at the signing of the INF [Intermediate Range Nuclear Force] Treaty, on 8 December 1987, his counterpart General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev responded: "You repeat that at every meeting," to which Reagan answered "I like it." While Reagan quoted Russian proverbs, Mr. Gorbachev quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Following the 2013 Ghouta [Syrian chemical warfare used on civilians -- read more  here - BBC] attacks, Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in Geneva on September 14, 2013 that the United States and Russia had agreed on a framework to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons. He said "President Reagan's old adage about 'trust but verify' ... is in need of an update. And we have committed here to a standard that says 'verify and verify'."

[Excerpted. Read the entire article here -- WIKI]

Although the precise details of Reagan's "foreign policy gambit" may have faded into the admittedly undependable, foggy recesses of the American cultural memory, the "verify" part of the admittedly suspicious agreement represented the extensive effort the US would expend to be certain that the Kremlin was actually doing what it had promised. The "unspoken proposition" in the talks was that the USSR could not be trusted, and that the agreement's promise was intended as a strategic deception.

So, returning to this case what exactly has Mrs. Clinton promised which must be so closely "verified?" What has she said that must be "trusted?" These questions becomes even more difficult when one realizes that Hillary Clinton isn't even campaigning yet! We can comfortably presume that the"promises" -- if there are any -- will begin only after the campaign begins.

In the meantime, we can glance once again at the denizens inhabiting the Republican Party's clown car, relieved. 2016 promises a great ballot for the 30% to 40% of American voters inclined to actually vote.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Derailing The School to Prison Express

Following Up on the Obama/Simon Interview
MeanMesa would like to add a few points to the conversation.

Although we may be accustomed to seeing the President when he is addressing the latest  manufactured "Congressional crisis," it turns out that Barack Obama is also a thoughtful, insightful and politically innovative "idea guy" when he is simply speaking about his interest in certain social issues. Because there is a very low possibility for "if it bleeds, it leads" television "red meat journalism" with such occasions, this remarkable interview has received relatively low exposure -- less than it deserves.

If you haven't had a chance to watch it, you can see the whole interview here: VIDEO - Barack Obama Interviews The Wire Creator David Simon About Criminal Justice Reform. The video is courtesy of YOUTUBE with a duration of 13 minutes. [MeanMesa has never seen "The Wire" because Short Current Essays Galactic HeadQuarters can't afford cable. Read more about "The Wire" here - The Wire/WIKI]

If, on the other hand, you think Barack Obama is a "Muslim ISIS spy" or a "deep jungle African cannibal," you should probably stop reading here. MeanMesa applauds the work this remarkably intelligent and effective President often, and this post will offer no exception to that trend.

Barack Obama and David Simon [image - iphone logic]
To introduce a background for this post we can examine a few of the things the President said specifically about incarceration rates, sentencing, recidivism and the enduring social and life disruption occurring for people caught convicted under the existing drug laws. 

This post will introduce an alternative educational "investment plan" which might actually begin to bend the "school to prison" track which feeds the constant stream of young people into the judicial system the President is discussing. First, take a quick look at these excerpts of the transcript of the interview.

[Excerpted. Quotations are attributed to this source. Read an entire transcript of the interview here - SALON]

Obama: And we’ve seen reductions in violent crime in most big cities in America, in some cases precipitously, partly because I think there was an awareness we were so invested in street-level drug transactions we were losing focus on what was really important, which is that people wanted to be safe. On the other hand, what we know is that a consequence of that was this massive trend towards incarceration, even of non-violent drug offenders. And I saw this even during the period that you were reporting and then starting to write for television. I saw this from the perspective of a state legislator, this, just, explosion of incarcerations, disproportionately African American and Latino. And the challenge which you depict in your show is, folks going in at great expense to the state, many times trained to become more hardened criminals while in prison, come out and are basically unemployable. And end up looping back in.

Simon: Permanently a part of the other America, they can’t be pulled back. Nobody incarcerates their population at this level. And to look at it when I came in as a police reporter, the federal prison population was about 34% violent offenders. When I left as a police reporter 13 years later, it was about 7%. So these were less violent people getting longer sentences, of course there was the elimination of parole and good time, all you had was good time, so people were staying in. And you’re absolutely right, they come out completely tarred, they can’t vote, they can’t participate in their communities, they’ve lost track of families, families have been destroyed, communities have been upended. And if it was this draconian and it worked, then maybe we could have a discussion that said what we’re doing is working –

Obama: ‘The trade offs were working.’

Simon: Yeah: ‘It’s terrible and we’re losing a lot of humanity, but hey, it’s working.’ But it doesn’t work. It’s draconian and it doesn’t work.

Obama: I’ve been looking at, because it’s part of the fallout of what you describe: As the economy’s recovering, unemployment is coming down drastically. But one of the puzzles we have is we still have low participation rates among the population in the aggregate, but when you break down why people are not getting back in the labor force even as jobs are being created, a big chunk of that is the young male population –

Simon: With a felony history.

Obama: With felony histories. So now, where we have the opportunity to give them a pathway towards a responsible life, they’re foreclosed, and that’s counterproductive.

Obama: Well, here’s the good news. There is an increasing realization on the left but also on the right, politically, that what we’re doing is counterproductive, either from a Libertarian perspective, the way we treat nonviolent drug crimes is problematic, and from a fiscal perspective is breaking the bank. You end up spending so much more on prison than you would with these kids being in school or even going to college that it’s counterproductive, and it means everyone’s taxes are going up, or at least services that everybody uses are being squeezed, or we can’t hire cops to deal with violent crime as you talked about. But we’re all responsible for at least finding a solution to this, and the encouraging thing is I think awareness is increasing. In part because violent crime has gone down in a lot of big cities, people are more open to having a discussion about this.

Simon: Yeah, they’re not as frightened.

Obama: And I think we have to seize that opportunity. But part of the challenge is going to be making sure, number one, we humanize what so often on the local news is just a bunch of shadowy characters, and tell their stories. That’s why the work you’ve done is so important. And the second thing is enlisting law enforcement as an ally on this. Now Eric Holder, my Attorney General, we started talking about this a few years ago when I first came in to office, and one of the things we tried to do is change how we talk to us attorneys and their offices about what is a measure of effective prosecution. And when we came into office,I think what was [practices] in a lot of state’s attorneys offices, the measure was how much time do you get –

Simon: Charge the maximum.

Obama: Charge the max. And our point is, effectiveness as a prosecutor involves thinking about justice, and being proportional in how you think about these issues. And that’s something we can do administratively, but ultimately we’re going to need legislation, and that’s where raising awareness is going to be important. And law enforcement and prosecutors have to be able to talk about this, and we have to let them know — and you show this in “The Wire” as well — in the same way you’ve got to be able to humanize those involved in the drug trade, we have to remind ourselves that the police, they’ve got a scary, tough, difficult job. And if the rest of society is saying ‘just go deal with this, we don’t want to hear about it,’ and you’re just on the front lines, and ‘just keep it out of our sight lines and its not our problem’ we’re betraying them as well. And ultimately you’re going to have to address some of the environmental issues. And I know that’s not fashionable because the notion is, ‘oh you don't want to make excuses for criminals,’ but what we understand, and what perhaps one of the most moving sections of “The Wire” was, that whole depiction of the schools in Baltimore and public schools, was if kids are left so far behind that they don’t have recourse, they’re going to see what else is available to survive.

Simon: They’re going to learn.

Obama: They’re going to learn something. And so we’re going to have to think about schools and counselors and mental health and ultimately jobs and re-industrialization and I think we understand all that. But if we can start down this path to a more productive way of thinking about drugs and its intersection with law enforcement, twenty years from now we can say to ourselves: ‘well, maybe we got a little smarter.’ And we didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight, but the fact that we’ve got people talking about it in a smarter way gets me a little encouraged.

Simon: From your mouth to God’s ear.

The President's point was abundantly clear. The American social culture is "carving out" a major part of the population and basically ruining them, obliterating their chances to ever participate in the economy, the leadership of the country, in many cases vote in elections, to have stable families -- the list is endlessly sickening. Perhaps the worst part of this are the unquestionable "motives" driving this colossal, mass ruination.

That list is not only a dark shadow of the twisted culture here decades ago, it is an on-going marker for racism and class divisions which has, thanks to generations of obedient, largely "law and order," Republican Congressmen, been transformed into a "profit center" for every parasitic judicial "hanger on" from trial lawyers, corrupt judges, rapacious bail bondsmen and corporate prisons. To keep the scam going, sentencing guidelines have been as rational as the spinning prize selector on "Wheel of Fortune."

[New Mexico, the poorest state in the union, has a state budget which is "slammed" with prisoner recidivism expenses. MeanMesa has posted on this before: MeanMesa - Fixing New Mexico's Budget and Prisons]

With that posted it's time to lay out MeanMesa's plan to mitigate a small part of this atrocity. Taken as a whole, the entire thing is hideous, and the mitigation of even a small part of this ineffective, destructive, judicial Juggernaut is well worth considering. The particular small part in MeanMesa's "cross hairs" is the "school to prison" track which exists at the core of much of this problem.

Let's Visit Our Third Grader's World
The childhood foundation of a sacrificed life

To map out the problem being addressed in this post, we can visit the theoretical life of a hypothetical third grader attending an "inner city" school in a "bad neighborhood" somewhere in the country. Of course our example doesn't have to be a school in an "inner city," it can be a poorly funded, ineffective public school anywhere -- inner city or not. However, there are more destructive factors in our third grader's life beyond the school he is attending.

Since we are only speculating, let's add a few.

He is the child of an unwed mother who, although she has one or two minimum wage, part time jobs, still receives assistance in the form of home heating subsidies, food stamps and Medicaid health coverage for her son. The apartment where this family lives is in a shabby, low rent complex. Too many of the neighbors are gang members, petty criminals or drug dealers while others live frightened, low income lives isolated behind locked doors.

A good percentage of these neighbors that our hypothetical third grader sees daily have no jobs paying a wage high enough to sustain life and little prospect of ever getting one. The criminal activities are not glaring exceptions, instead, they are a way of life. On the occasions when the police must be called, they are mechanically statutory and unsympathetic if not out rightly frightening.

The possibilities of arrests, courts and prison time are every day companions. The news of some one's son being convicted and sentenced flows around the residents of the complex  -- including our third grader -- daily. Many of the adults in this hypothetical third grader's world have conviction records of the type the President mentioned.

The place also has a constant cloud of sudden violence. The boy knows to keep a close eye on who may be around as he comes home from school. His mother constantly warns him about it.

He watches his mother worry constantly about her family's sorely taxed finances. She worries that some economic catastrophe might show up unexpectedly, wrecking the family's very tight budget for food, school supplies or clothes. She worries that her son might get hurt or get sick, need medicine or some other kind of health intervention. If this were to happen, taking the time for the bus rides required to get him to a doctor would cut into her working hours and possibly even cost her a job.

The Price of Never Glimpsing a Normal Life
The price of alienating children by class and situation

This gets worse.

Our hypothetical third grader knows that not all people live a life similar to the one he lives. He also knows that not everyone lives in the "world" in which he lives. He may see other children in his school who don't seem to have many of the crushing concerns which inhabit his life. He sees people in television shows living in life styles and  houses so lavish that they are almost beyond his imagination.

Successful examples in his apartment complex are typically successful drug dealers and gang commanders, but most of the residents are simply not successful. Workmen and maintenance contractors might come to the apartments to fix something, but they arrive in trucks with hundreds of dollars worth of tools in their belts, well fed and healthy. Then they leave in those trucks. They have jobs and homes somewhere -- somewhere else, and mysterious, stable incomes -- and mysteriously stable lives and mysteriously comfortable families.

This is the "problem," and that "problem" is the world our third grader sees. He very understandably places himself, his mother and his life in this "world." The possibilities which fill the dreams of our third grader are possibilities which exist in this world. His image of a successful future is the image of himself with the "successes" he sees around him. It is an image woven on this loom and woven from this thread.

[image credit]
If he happens to be a minority, the range and scope of this "future possibility" becomes even more limited and darker. The "ticket" for the "school to prison" express is purchased from the ticket counter of defeat, and the fare is hopelessness, collected patiently, year after year, in the worried thoughts preceding sleep -- even for the brief span of years comprising the lifetime of a third grader.

If this picture seems overly dramatic or exaggerated, bear in mind that one in six children in the United States now lives below the poverty line.

Earlier in the post, mentioned was made of a "proposal." Let's get to it.

The "Proposal"
Low cost, effective and it doesn't 
"insult" the "purity" of GOP ideology

Of course, an "idealistic dreamer" might run directly to some fantastical idea such as "Let's fix the economy, stupid," but we know that the billionaire owners of the Congress will never allow such an "expensive" idea to cut any more deeply into their tax cuts. So, what remains "on the table" if we intend to address our third grader's "hopelessness" problem?

This kid desperately needs to see at least a glimpse of a "different world." A real one.

With a little cooperation from the Department of Education [and, possibly the President] here is a plan which goes directly to our third grader's "world view problem." We can divide the narrative into separate parts. We can consider a summary for a start.

Program Summary:

This proposal is to create a good sized collection of interviews of short video interview vignettes -- five to ten minutes each. The people interviewed will be individuals who are successfully living and working at jobs commonly found throughout the economy. They will be living in various places all across the country, and they will be performing jobs from a wide range of employment. 

In each case the interviewees will be willing to share a quick profile of their personal stories -- what life is like for them, a short recap of how they got to where they are, what problems they are facing at this time and bit of a description of their ambitions for the future.

The interviews will be frank, honest and essentially anonymous. Each one is designed to simply present a picture of a somewhat "more normal" American life than what our hypothetical third grader may be assuming given his environment. The individuals interviewed in the videos should range in age as appropriate for the corresponding age of the students viewing. Likewise, all types, genders, race and other variables should be included.

An Example Video Session:

Our hypothetical third grader is sitting in his classroom when his teacher announces that there will be a short video. The video begins with a young man -- perhaps twenty years old or so -- introducing himself by his first name. Next, he introduces his wife or girlfriend who is holding his infant daughter. As the video continues, he "tours" his apartment showing the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen, the furniture and, perhaps, even a quick view of the neighborhood. This is not an elaborate apartment in any way, but instead, quite a common one with respect to size and amenities.

He sits down in the living room to tell a few details about himself and his life. This includes a very frank discussion about the family income, where he works, what he does there and so forth. He explains about how he got his job and how he gets to work. He explains the monthly cost of the apartment and its utilities.

Perhaps he describes his car along with a few details about different repair jobs he's had to do to maintain it, but also including other information such as how much it cost when he bought it, the cost of insuring it, the travel distance to his job or the nearest grocery, the mileage it usually gets and the weekly cost of buying gasoline for it.

His story might include a little about his education, especially emphasizing its important relation to the job that he has. If it is appropriate, he expands this part of his interview a little, explaining how specific classes he studied prepared him for the work he is doing.

The interview might also include an account of what trouble the young man has had -- trouble with the police or with personal matters such as the death of a parent or money problems. This part of the interview might include an account of some of the mistakes the young man has made when he was younger. Was there an unplanned pregnancy? Did he wind up in jail? Was his drivers license suspended?

The interview might end with a few details of the young man's dreams and ambitions for his future. A better job? Going to college or the military?

The interviewees:

MeanMesa is attracted to the idea of soliciting volunteers to "star" in the videos. There are plenty of young men and women in the country who are very interested in doing what they can to assist young students like our hypothetical third grader and, for them, appearing in such an interview might be a good way to accomplish this.

The identity of the interviewee and the city where his home is located are not revealed in the interview.

Of course not everyone who volunteers to be interviewed will necessarily be a "perfect match." However, this proposal is very intentionally seeking a wide ranging variety of "stars," not just a collection of sterile "Brady Bunch" silhouettes. The goal is to videotape the real stories of real people, "warts and all." Anything less will not be convincing enough to relay the message to savvy grade school and high school students.

Plenty of good, solid Americans have been to jail by the time they become young adults. Some have spent time being homeless. Some have lived in violent neighborhoods, been discriminated against and been bullied by their school mates. Some were too fat and others were too skinny. Some had acne, strange bodies and weird faces.

Lots have come from families so toxic that even their abbreviated biographies can be critically useful for inspiring hope. Video stories of individuals surviving these things and ultimately becoming somewhat successful carry an important message to youngsters who are just beginning similar "journeys" in their lives.

The videos:

MeanMesa sees an impressively sized library of these videos. There should be enough in the national repository that any school teacher who has decided to show one every week or two can be supplied with enough "new material" so as to never have to show the same one twice. Videos can be mailed as CD's in postage paid, returnable packing or simply electronically emailed to a school's main frame or a teacher's PC.

The task of performing the interviews and editing the results into a suitable video could easily become an "intern study project" for communications or media classes at state universities. In some cases a sort of rough script for such an interview might be helpful, but this can be left to the "producers."

The administration and operation of a national video repository will require a little labor, but not much. This will include keeping a record of which videos have been sent to which teachers to avoid accidentally sending repeats. The final videos should probably be reviewed for content, but this process should not ever become overly aggressive or "externally judgmental." 

There should not be any flaming evangelicals, motor cycle club members, conspiracy theorists or any other rabid societal ideologues sitting on the "review committee."

Making It Happen

This idea has two important advantages working in its favor from the very start. First, the entire program can be implemented as a remarkably low cost. Second, this plan will do far better with a creative force driving it than with an institutional one. This second advantage even extends to the case when the plan's driving force is a well funded, governmental type of legislative sponsorship.

In MeanMesa's vision for this part of the proposal, perhaps the optimal organization would be Department of Education grants to various university communications departments -- matched by grants from a philanthropic foundation interested in a goal like this one. An established foundation would, very likely, already have the administrative and management team to handle such a project.

Further, once the revenue stream had been worked out, the task of producing the videos could be distributed to a number of recipient university departments. The plan could host a contest with judging and selection based not only on the business plans submitted but also by judging the creativity and effectiveness actual "test/sample" videos also submitted as a part of a contest entry.

This same approach might prove helpful with "re-normalizing" the world view of child soldiers or young people traumatized by military violence around their homes.

For any blog visitors who find this idea interesting, this proposal needs a champion.

Friday, April 3, 2015

ALEC Fights to "Restore Religious Freedom"

What could feel better than the divine sensation of always "being right?" [Alvin Riley -fB]
Another Visit from MeanMesa's Favorite Villain
Are we so busy with the outrage that we've overlooked the perpetrators?

It is no secret that MeanMesa has long ago adopted the "freedom loving" sold out dead enders in the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC] for "special treatment" on this high desert blog. However, in most of these previous cases the "jewels" which have caught ALEC's attention has consistently been one scheme after another to extract absolutely anything "not bolted down" from individual state budgets. One of the group's "all time favorites" has always been scammy "economic development" grants issued in the legislatures of unfortunate states finding themselves firmly in the grip of Republicans.

Yes, although ALEC is "genetically addicted" to pocketing every untended dollar languishing anywhere in a red state's budget, the gang's second most favorite "local prize" has consistently been the deregulation of absolutely anything which might amount to a "profit freeing" gift to one of the Council's quiet corporate sponsors.

However, simply focusing on these "state legislative pillaging and plundering" schemes in an attempt to fully describe ALEC's operational ambitions would leave the picture woefully -- and dangerously --incomplete. These little state level bands of well financed miscreants are always eager to lend their hand to manipulating the Republican Party's tragically under informed base to deliver the political equivalent of the cravenly "cash based" dividends mentioned already. ALEC and other sub rosa right wing influence channels have shown an enduring willingness to perform political dirty work when ordered to do so by the oligarchs in command.

MeanMesa suspects that this is precisely what has "happened" with the tumultuously miscalculated gizmo just signed by Mike Pence, the Republican Governor of the entirely Republican, remarkably sensitive and grotesquely religious State of Indiana.

While it is always great fun to just "crank out" the latest utterly flippant installment of a fantastic, horrific conspiracy theory about ALEC and the already humiliating antics emerging from the tatters of the GOP, MeanMesa is far too genteel to indulge in simply "tilting at the nearest windmill" at the drop of a hat. If the blog intends to post such a damning hypothesis, there had better, by golly, be at least a "little something" to back up the headlines heralding such brazen claims.

After all, there is Short Current Essay's formidable "reputation" for fairness and equanimity which must be considered. [This is, of course, a "joke."]

Of course, there is no possible way for MeanMesa to know -- for a fact -- exactly what creepy discussions might have prompted ALEC to embrace such a bizarrely hazardous public relations extravaganza, so we seem to be left with only what more competent prosecutors would call "circumstantial evidence." Happily, in this case that "circumstantial evidence" is actually rather compelling, and -- at least for democracy loving Americans -- gravely unsettling in its own hilarious way.

So, let's do what we can to "rip the fenders off this thing."

The Circumstantial Evidence
Of ALEC's Involvement
Penetrating the Most Opaque "Anti-Democracy Club" in the Country
Bibles are optional.


At this moment all across the vast netherworld of the internet every possible "thing" has already been breathlessly written nine dozen times about what a hideous, hateful, little bit of Medieval Biblical chicanery this thing actually is, so MeanMesa needs not add another single word to the "terabytes of outrage" already available.

Gosh. "Medieval Biblical Chicanery?"  Really?  Medieval? Hee Hee. [image - ALETEIA]
There's not ever going to be another election, right?
Unfortunately, because of the "local costumes" borne by many in this crowd of suspiciously righteous, ebullient spectators, we have no way of knowing if any ALEC representatives are actually hidden somewhere among these faces. This is a common difficulty encountered when speculating about the dark, faceless, ALEC crime family -- one has only rarely ever seen any of them identified in person much less publicly claiming any knowledge of or association with ALEC whatsoever.

[Have a look at MeanMesa's answer to this situation in New Mexico -- the graphic is posted with the others below.]

So, as usual we find ourselves sifting through the visible details of the action in question, in this case the Indiana Medieval religion bill, as we search out the tell tale similarities with the now well known tactics of state level ALEC gangs. If we can identify a sufficient number of these "similarities," we will have done as much as possible to at least begin to connect the ALEC involvement.

Seven Easily Recognizable Traits 
Seen in Typical ALEC Anti-Democracy Strategies
and in the Indiana Political Catastrophe

Although similar tactics are repeated for a wide variety of ALEC state level, legislative "missions," we will consider the examples of the pattern as it is seen in the strangely curious Indiana case.

1. ALEC "legislative" ideas emerge in numerous Republican controlled states at the same time.

The idea is simple. When a number of red state legislatures all "suddenly" propose a specific type of legislation, we can be assured that ALEC's multi-state strategy is in play. With regard to each of these states national right wing pundits are then able to parrot think tank talking points as they emphasize the idea that "This legislation is being proposed everywhere across the country." By adding this expansive quantifier to their narrative, they are quietly insinuating a few unspoken additional dimensions to their propaganda story.

a. The proposed "idea" is so natural [and spontaneous, organic] that it is completely reasonable that many different red state legislatures are proposing the same thing at the same time.

b.  The reason for this is a clamorous demand -- a "public opinion groundswell" -- for such legislation among each state's constituents.

c.  There may be an implied message that the legislation will be good for the state's economy, that it will protect state businesses from regulation or that it will "create new jobs" in the state.

d.  Although any mention of it will probably not appear in the narrative, the legislation may be promoted as a means to limit or prohibit any behavior which is seen as a "deviation from the traditional values" [or a reaffirmation of presumed values or strengths] which are somehow touted as the cultural foundation of the state's "uniform social model."

Although there are plenty of examples of this strategy, consider the sudden, multi-state adoption of the "stand your ground" bills or the equally sudden, multi-state penchant for using voter identification requirements to suppress voting. The "Restoration of Religious Freedom" bills did not surface solely in Indiana. They appeared almost simultaneously in red states across the Confederacy and the mid-west.

The Indiana bill's intent was fairly clear on the face of the bill's content. A Federal law under a similar title has been cited for "cover," but the Indiana bill contains specific provisions for legalizing discrimination not found in the Federal version. The red states eagerly adopting the Indiana form know that no Federal Congress could get away with attempting to pass such legislation.

Still, supporters of red states presently considering adoption clearly like to describe the red state bills as "somewhat akin" to the Federal law. The Indiana case may well introduce for the first time the case where an ALEC authored propaganda bill is either retracted out rightly or "defanged" with content changes in hopes of making it more palatable to reasonable voters.

2. The Governor later claims that he was unaware of what he was signing.

Naturally, such an awkward disclaimer only occurs when ALEC sponsored legislation incites a public opinion back lash.

When a Governor is elected, his signature gains an immediate and massive importance. That signature can commute or stay a convict's execution, it can transform a proposed bill from the state's legislature into law, it can declare a state of emergency and so on. A sitting Governor is obliged to read a bill before he signs it. He should also be savvy enough to determine whether or not the new law will have sufficient political support in his state to be accepted by voters.

In this case the Governor of Indiana had surrounded himself with vocal proponents of the "Restoration" bill, but he had also concluded that a majority of the state's electorate was also either in favor of the new law or, at least, were willing to passively assent to it. How much influence was required to persuade or coerce this sitting Governor to such a state of confidence that he simply signed the bill without thoroughly understanding its ramifications?

Where did that influence originate? With the strange crowd standing behind him the photograph? Hardly.

Indiana's "Restoration" bill enjoyed a compelling argument in its favor. That argument almost certainly came from the state ALEC. The political intention of ALEC pressure to sign it was part of an ALEC political strategy to further inflame the Republican base voters by indirectly affirming that the Republican government was actively committed to the same, vaguely present, subconscious, un-examined social and religious priorities that they were.

3. Indiana ALEC legislators also claim to have not known what was in the bill.
4. Apparently no GOP State legislator authored the bill in the first place.

It is not a secret that state legislators consult with plenty of both supporters, potential benefactors and political analysts when they are preparing a legislative proposal. Further, it is not at all unusual for them to have their legislative staff write the official version of such things in appropriate "legalese." State legislatures routinely propose bills which are copies of legislation from other states or Federal law, adjusting details to groom a bill's specific intent to the needs or conditions of their own state.

Given all this, one would still expect a legislator to be quite "hands on" when a bill he intended to propose or sponsor was being written. After all, creating proposed bills is a state legislator's main job. This is why we refer to legislators as "law makers."

How could a "Restoration" bill have made it all way through the "conventional" legislative process without the sponsoring "law maker" not becoming intimately aware of what was written in it? 


 Yes. At least "intimately" enough to 1. have a comprehensive understanding of its content and 2. having made an understandably thorough evaluation of its strong and weak points. Presumably, the success or failure of a legislative career would be "riding" on such matters. Did Indiana's GOP state legislators become so inebriated with the arrogant hubris instilled by their ALEC "handlers" that they began to presume that they could confidently legislate anything they pleased?

Here, MeanMesa will recycle a "second hand use" of a couple of graphics prepared for a post some time ago. [Read the MeanMesa post  here - MeanMesa: ALEC New Mexico - Anti-Democracy in the High Desert] Although the post was about New Mexico and the influence of the NM ALEC on our state's legislature, there is an easy, yet eerie, similarity to what we're describing for the Indiana "Restoration" bill's case.

From the note [above]: Here is MeanMesa's graphic of ALEC NM's "go to guys" in the state legislature. The old blog post -- linked above -- offers a description of how ALEC functions in New Mexico.
They're like cockroaches. They don't like it when the lights are turned on.
[All graphics: MeanMesa
Hopefully, all this goes a long way toward explaining why the Indiana GOP legislators weren't entirely up to speed when reporters began asking questions about the legislation they had proposed only a week or so earlier. The Indiana GOP legislators didn't actually "author" the "Restoration" bill because that's not the way ALEC works. The bill was, instead, carefully composed in a right wing think tank propaganda "boiler room" somewhere. A copy of it was handed to an Indiana "law maker" -- no doubt along with a very nice campaign contribution check -- at a lavish ALEC "legislative conference" after a few rounds of ALEC sponsored lukewarm bourbon from the ALEC sponsored "free bar."

In fact, MeanMesa is quite certain that all these Indiana GOP-ALEC "law makers" were very pleased with themselves until the boat started sinking. Why would they spend a single minute worrying about something they didn't write and probably never read, either?

5. The "Restoration" bill was another ALEC "solution" without a problem.

The "Restoration" bill was designed to appeal to state GOP base voters as a brave, Biblical bulwark to protect state Christians from the onslaught of the "wild, sinful, unwashed" social heathens. The Dominionist concept was central. The righteous GOP majority in control of the state government was acting to "correct" the non-Biblical behavior of sinners among the state's population.

Supporters of the legislation repeatedly spoke of "protecting" their "constituents" from the "oppression" of the pious, even though the "pious" represented an electoral majority of state residents and, theoretically, controlled the state's representative government. There is no mention that before this  "Restoration" bill ever reached the state house, that this "pious" majority had suffered any particular material injustices or other damages at the hands of the sinful. There is also no mention of this "pious" majority desperately petitioning the state government for legislative protection. 

If this all sounds suspiciously like a series of non sequitur causes and effects, you are probably over educated.

6. The Indiana GOP Strategists Are Really Terrible at "Rounding up an injured party."

Once the wheels had come off Governor Pence's "big day in the spot light" religious clown car, it became urgently necessary for the "Restoration" bill's protectors to present an "injured party" who might enjoy the far reaching relief the bill offered. To clarify that just a bit, this would be an "injured party" who hadn't actually been "injured" yet, but whom could possibly, hypothetically, be "injured" should a long list of conditions which might, at least possibly, result in a future situation in which those "injury" requirements might come to be realized.

Hilariously, one of those hypothetical conditions which would undoubtedly "usher in" such an "injury" to this "potentially injured" party would be if a same sex couple were to order pizza from the future "injured party's" pizza shop for a GAY WEDDING! [If any visitors to this blog have ever happened to attend a "GAY WEDDING," they would realize how remote the likelihood of "carry out" pizza in boxes being served to guests at such an affair would be.]

"Hypothetical, future injuries" are one of ALEC's favorite justifications for legislation which would not ever be even considered otherwise. Think of the now blood soaked "stand your ground" laws and the preposterous defense at trial for the self-esteem starved gunslinger defendant. What was produced by the search for an "injured party" in the SCOTUS case for ACA health insurance subsidies was even more awkward if that were even possible.

7. Political Denizens of the GOP "Clown Car" Are Ordered to Rush In to Mechanically Defend the "Restoration" Bill and the Beleaguered Governor.

Even without any background information on this tale, one would still reasonably expect every Republican Presidential "hopeful" to automatically rush to the aid of Governor Pence. The reason one might have such an expectation is that politically "closing the breach" and "showing a united front" is part and parcel of the public opinion manipulating propaganda strategy play book of ALEC and [it's cruel step brothers] the retired GOP Congressmen who have now been "recycled" into the K Street "think tank thugs."

However, there was an interesting time lag between the moment that Governor Pence first realized that "he'd stepped in it" and the advent of the "spontaneously" synchronized chorus of support from his fellow troopers who all happened to be running for President. This time lag amounted to the time it took for the think tank strategists to check with the owners of the Republican Party, fabricate the official "billionaires' response" to the crisis and then communicate the orders to both the media and the field commanders running the campaigns.

Within minutes video cameras of the obedient media appeared, ready to film, record and broadcast every "exciting" word of "heartfelt, ideological" support issuing forth from the likes of Cruz, Jindal, Christie and Rubio.

Ayn Rand would have been proud if she could have seen this nationwide net work re-run of the "John Galt" show. [MeanMesa suspects that the whole "Ayn Rand idea" which was "worn bald" in the last GOP election campaigns probably also originated in some ALEC think tank bunker. The GOP candidates who espoused it the most vehemently are hardly what one might consider ardent "readers."]

What to Think When Something
 Looks Like Something Else
You may be on the wagon back to the cabbage patch, or
your sincere political discourse may be "getting managed."

Just before sitting down to polish off a few last points on this post, MeanMesa turned on an "unknown" radio talk show while finishing lunch. This broadcast can legitimately be classified as "unknown" because MeanMesa had no knowledge of its name or the identity of the host.

However, beyond those mysterious elements the broadcast discussion content was suffocatingly predictable. Each caller -- along with the "host" -- was proclaiming one or another mythological "truth" and validating the proclamation with an accompanying religious "authority," all the while dutifully "debating" whether or not the events in Indiana were "consistent with," "contradictory to" or "hypocritical to" this or that "religious tenet" as conveniently interpreted for the sake of the argument.

Without being overly dismissive, let's just say that the conversation was, well, "rotating rapidly."

Unhappily, those involved in such a discussion had already been quite successfully "duped" by precisely the same think tanks where the "Restoration" bill had been so carefully fabricated. While the endless conversation wallowed forward without any hesitation on the part of its breathlessly eager participants, what was missing turned out to be far more revealing.

For example, while Governor Pence is repeating the GOP litany about smaller government and lower taxes, Indiana is a state receiving $1.80 in state revenue for every dollar paid in federal taxes. The federal component accounts for around 33% of its state GDP. Recent economic growth in the state has been consistently lower than national rates. [Read more here - WALLET HUBThese are the things Governor Pence doesn't need to be discussing with Hoosiers as long as he can keep them focused on the "Restoration" bill.

Don't think for a moment that ALEC Indiana isn't acutely aware of this. This was planned to unfold in exactly this way. It is a tiny fragment of the ALEC national strategy. "Cookie cutter" copies of the same game plan are in play -- covering state government "performance problems" -- in almost every economic "basket case" red state in the country.

Now, where were we...