Sunday, March 6, 2011

Racketeer Rabbit Republicans

All of human existence may divide equally into only two distinct and important times: those times when reality reminds you slightly of something you once saw in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and those times when reality reminds you a lot of something you saw once in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

In the 1946 Looney Tune "Racketeer Rabbit," Bugs interrupts an Edward G. Robinson character dividing up loot with a Peter Lorre character. As ever, the rabbit knows how to get all the dough.

Bugs (in nightcap): What's up, Doc?

Rocky: One for you (hands him a bill, denomination unknown)

Bugs (in derby): How 'bout me, Boss?

Rocky: Oh yeah. One for you (hands him more cash)

Bugs (in top hat): And me, Boss?

Rocky: One for you (hands him still more cash)

Bugs (in straw hat): And me, Boss.

Rocky: One for you (hands him more cash)

Bugs (in soft hat rolled back): And me, Boss?

Rocky: And one for you (hands him more cash)

Bugs (in blue cap): And me, Boss.

Rocky: One for you (hands him more cash)

Bugs (in Native Headdress and Robe): And me, Boss?

Rocky: One for you (hands him his last dollar)

Bugs (walking off): Gee, Rocky. Youse is certainly kind-hearted.

When the country has rejected, one-by-one, the antiquated principles of the Republican party; when two cops at the ballgame in Clearwater today come up to me and say "we're Conservatives but this crap with our unions here and in Wisconsin has gotta stop"; when enough Republicans have already rejected Scott Walker that if another election were held today he'd be voted out of office two months after he assumed it – how does the Right Wing/Media/Industrial Complex continue to throw around so much weight?

They do what Bugs did to Rocky. Every five or six rabid Conservatives we hear on talk radio, or see at protests, or read online, may not actually exist. They are just Bugs Bunnies, wearing different hats.

The latest evidence to support a brilliant but heinous effort to forcibly swing public opinion via the use of phony advocates? A remarkable piece by a website on Jewish faith called The Tablet nonchalantly reveals that the same company that syndicates the shows of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity has also employed actors to call in to those shows and pretend to be real people with real opinions and real problems.

To be fair, there isn't a word of documentation in the post that confirms that Premiere Radio Networks' "Premiere On Call" actually has stooges supplying the outrage and umbrage that seemingly instantly inspires the flights of outrage and certitude which propagandists like Beck and Limbaugh take. The one documented breaking of the confidentiality agreement all the phony callers evidently signed, reveals how one of the actors permitted the host of a personal help call-in show resolve a bizarre and unlikely scenario about a groom inviting his bride to the bachelor party.

However, nowhere in the confirmation of these abject misrepresentations do you see Premiere denying that its personnel have made such calls to political hosts:

Rachel Nelson, a Premiere Radio Networks spokesperson, defended the Premiere on Call service and said that responsibility for how it is employed falls ultimately to those who use it. "Premiere provides a wide variety of audio services for radio stations across the country, one of which is connecting local stations in major markets with great voice talent to supplement their programming needs," Nelson wrote in an email. "Voice actors know this service as Premiere On Call. Premiere, like many other content providers, facilitates casting—while character and script development, and how the talent's contribution is integrated into programs, are handled by the varied stations."

We might not make the leap to the "Racketeer Rabbit" Bugs Bunny conclusion – that Rush Limbaugh's ditto heads are literally, not just figuratively, reading from a script – had it not been for a recent rash of mind-numbing revelations that much of the Far Right's most public activism is utterly fabricated, and the rest of us are, as Richard Schiff as Toby said on The West Wing, being played "like a two-dollar banjo":

Need a plan to overwhelm a liberal or just a news site with outraged computer-generated Conservative personas to make up for the ones who don't actually exist? "How 'bout me, Boss?"

Or to stir up a perception of violence at a non-violent protest in Wisconsin (or anywhere else, perhaps), without even using palm tree video? "And me, Boss."

Or to literally buy smiling supporters for Newt Gingrich's idiotic presidential exploration campaign site when there aren't any (and even convert old Ted Kennedy supporters in the process)? "And me, Boss!"

Or to make it seem like there is no liberal point of dissent on a given issue by simply knocking protest sites off the air. "And me, Boss?"

Or to create a web sock-puppet to deliberately abuse in order to gain the trust of a Liberal site? "And me, Boss?"


All I can tell you is that when I was 17 years old and got stuck hosting our sports call-in show to which nobody ever called in, I made sure I had a friend back in the dorm ready to phone with some random topic that could keep the damn show limping along until the top of the hour.

Extrapolated by desperate and uncaring men, the logical conclusion is simple: If you can't beat 'em, simply create imaginary support. An old cynical view of mob mentality is to populate an undecided crowd of almost any size listening to a guy trying to sell them rat poison as the elixir of life, with as few as a half a dozen supporters. Have each of the six scream his or her support at different intervals and as loudly as possible ("Howard Johnson is right!") and soon you'll be getting harrumphs of support from people who don't even know they are agreeing with plants and shills – and that they're about to willingly hand over their money to Bugs, wearing six different hats.

"She's television generation," William Holden says of his lover Faye Dunaway in the film of prophesy Network. "She learned life from Bugs Bunny."

Sometimes remembering the lessons of Bugs Bunny can be a very valuable thing indeed.