These are strange political days

For Your Consideration

Peter CavanaughMarch 29, 2012 

As the Republican presidential primary season bumbles along without clear conclusion and we witness a Romney uncrowned, a Gingrich unbowed, a Santorum unhinged and a Paul -- the strangest of all -- it is tempting to prematurely rejoice at an internecine slugfest which would, under normal circumstances, eventually churn up a winning loser. But these are strange days.

Perhaps we should expect no more in November than an honest roll of the dice.

It seems convincingly clear that a majority of eligible American voters remain functionally uninformed and politically illiterate. Two out of five don't vote at all.

Bill O' Reilly on Fox is a solid No. 1 in weekly cable news ratings, even as MSNBC is now a consistent No. 2 with Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O'Donnell combining for an impressive win over No. 3 CNN.

With this in mind, let's reflect on the fact that O'Reilly's comparatively "vast daily audience" represents only a slender 1% of our nation's population. MSNBC scores but half of that with CNN significantly less.

Combined nightly news ratings of "the big networks" -- NBC (6.2% of households), ABC (5.4%) and CBS (4.5%) -- equal but 16.1% of the electorate. Just 30% of Americans say they read a print version of their local newspaper nearly every day, but under the age of 40, only half as many (15%) report the same.

Millions of aging "Ditto Heads" still rely on Rush Limbaugh as their exclusive analyst of contemporary thought, such as on Tuesday, Nov.1, 2011, when Rush pontificated with these words on Fresno's 50,000 watt KMJ:

"The whole subprime mortgage thing can and has been without doubt traced to government policy, which was rooted in the theory that the financial institutions were discriminating against minorities by not giving them loans. So the lending institutions created these loans that nobody could ever pay back."

Talk radio continues to bleat similarly contrived conservative commentary to a faithful flock around the clock, supported and funded by banks now enjoying their highest profits in history -- financial institutions far too big to fail -- like General Electric Capital Corporation ... recipients of a $126 billion credit line bail out from TARP in 2008. That helped cover a loan which had been made to Peak Broadcasting in 2007 when Peak paid $90 million purchasing KMJ and other Fresno holdings from CBS Radio, a transaction in which GE Capital was a primary senior lender.

So, look at what just slid under local radar virtually unnoticed. Peak filed a prepackaged plan of reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on Tuesday, Jan. 10 of this year under Chapter Eleven, an agreement which was approved, signed, sealed and delivered on Friday, Feb. 24, barely six short weeks later. Talk about "Super Train Fast Track Refinancing." The "New Peak," owing $93 million going into the exercise, was able to shave more than $50 million tax payer guaranteed dollars from this amount with General Electric Capital even receiving a equity position in the new entity. Slick.

Todd Lawley, chief executive officer of Peak and primary architect of the $90 million Fresno buy/ $50 million dollar loss, told the Fresno Bee, "I am confident that Peak will emerge from the restructuring with a stronger financial foundation which complements our market-leading radio positions." And he kept his job. Sweet. And he's still carrying Rush moaning about dead beat minorities. Neat.

Mega money is boss bully with big wheels scoring backroom deals.

And so it is the dark significance of "Citizens United" becomes more evident with every passing day as corporations are now "persons" and unrestricted campaign contributions, clandestinely donated, must be functionally regarded and unconditionally honored as "free speech."

And in messaging, protected by federal law, these new personages can say whatever they want, any way they want, as often as they wish with guaranteed anonymity.

Secret has become sacred.

There is a certain measure of irony bemusedly evident when we have seen "Citizens United" -- created by the most conservative U.S. Supreme Court in living memory, first impacting with devastating consequence on "righties" Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as Romney-supporting millions dramatically reversed initial polling in state after state with sinister efficiency and terminal effect.

Yet, echoing through my mind and rumbling like thunder, come the immortal words of John "Bluto" Blutarsky in "Animal House" (1978). Blutarski spoke as any "average American" might.

"What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no."

If there ever was a moment for inspired, intrepid, even blessedly insane commitment to a critical cause -- here we are.

Jack Uppal, congressional candidate for California's new 4th District, can use all the help you might offer, as can Marc Boyd, running for State Assembly.

The horrid consequences of Election 2010 can be completely reversed in a powerful backlash come this November with ensuing Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, a second term for President Obama and a long overdue return to the evolution of a truly progressive nation.

Anything less is unworthy of our efforts and unthinkable in our times.

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