(P.S. - I think it's nice that MSNBC has come out with the penultimate reason to never pay any attention to them again.)
Anyone who's survived without felony conviction a few terms as a senator, governor or congressperson, has an expensive enough haircut, and has never once said anything interesting will likely be judged a potentially "serious" candidate.
If you're wondering why no Mozarts or Einsteins ever end up running for president in America, but an endless succession of blockheads like Rick Perry are sold to us on the cover of Time magazine as contenders, it's because of this absurd prerequisite.
Ultimately, what we're looking for is someone who's enough of a morally flexible gasbag to get over with the money people, and then also charming enough on some politically irrelevant level to attract voters. ("I'm a war hero, and Sharon Stone's cousin" was Chris Rock's take on acceptable presidential self-salesmanship).
Bernie Sanders bluntly fails the Rick Perry test. In fact he pretty much defines what it means to fail that test. It isn't just that he doesn't kiss babies or comb his hair or "deftly evade answers." He's also unapologetically described himself as a socialist, which makes him a giant bespectacled block of Kryptonite for Beltway donors and mainstream journalists alike.
Have you seen the studies about how many white people in the lower classes are choosing suicide lately? And how this is written off as the reactions of stoopid poor people who just won't take care of themselves and get insurance and proper health care?
Our woman Sardonicky sticks it to them.
Another economist, from Harvard, is quoted as sniffing that he'd always just assumed that these drug deaths were just "blips on the radar," and that "everyone's" health is improving, just as the "economy" is supposedly improving. Actually, the new study shows that by "everyone," the experts mean those of a higher educational and socioeconomic status, who can afford to see a doctor because they have actual jobs paying a living wage. The premature death effect was largely confined to people with a high school education or less. In that group, death rates rose by 22 percent, while they actually fell for those with a college education.
It's the class war, stupid. It's the wealth inequality, geniuses. It's the corporate media propaganda telling us that new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is a "moderate" who will join with Democrats to soberly, responsibly and wonkishly cut what remains of the social safety net out from under millions of struggling, suffering Americans. It's Social Darwinism newly illustrated on a spreadsheet. It's the continued, deliberate culling of the American herd.
This silent epidemic of sadism within the political class has been going on for decades now. That the new findings of premature death are about white people probably accounts for much of the elite shock, since the death rates among blacks and Latinos are still higher than those of even the poorest whites. They simply have reached something of a plateau of pain, while whites are rapidly playing catch-up in their trek to the misery mountaintop.
It's telling that the Deaton-Case study didn't delve into the correlation between the higher death rates of poor whites with residence in states opting out of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Liberal pundits are very fond of blaming higher mortality and morbidity among whites in red states on Republican governors and legislatures refusing to join in the expansion, even though it is initially being paid for by federal funds.
Therefore, a Harvard study last year showing that as many as 17,000 people will needlessly die every year in states opting out of Medicaid expansion was met by a group shrug by liberal experts, who pointed to GOP nihilism rather than the despair and hardship of the individuals affected by the lousy economy as the cause. If only more people could access the rare doctor willing to accept those paltry Medicaid fees, the conventional wisdom went, people would be alive and well and happy.
The new study turns that supposition right on its head. Poor people are dying way too young in all 50 states, Medicaid or no Medicaid, Obamacare or no Obamacare. While official Census Bureau figures show that in one in six people exist below the official poverty threshhold, the reality is much worse when you consider that more than half of us don't have enough savings to cover a $1,000 medical co-pay or a $500 car repair.
And we are all supposed to be surprised that a person would rather self-medicate with cheap heroin or a six-pack than log on to the Healthcare.gov website and be faced with rate hikes as high as 40 percent a year. Pay up, or else the IRS will charge you a penalty. Your pain is their gain.
It is obvious is that more and more people have been forced to treat their pain with opioids and booze because they can't afford a surgeon or a dentist. The authors of the study are still unsure what came first: the pain, or the substance abuse. And they do not purport to find a link between the death rate and the financial crisis.
But an earlier study on the increasing fatal use of painkillers by white women squarely blames the plutocracy-spawned financial meltdown for premature deaths of poor and working class females . . . .
Between 2007 and 2013, median wealth dropped a shocking 40 percent, leaving the poorest half with negative wealth (because of debt), and about 100 plutocratic families owning as much wealth as the bottom 60 percent of Americans combined. The wealth gap is now the highest ever recorded.
And the experts still have the chutzpah to call themselves "startled" that half a million desperate white people (a probably too-low figure, in my opinion) are killing themselves at rates comparable to those during the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s. Methinks they had better rethink their definitions of the American Empire, and American Exceptionalism.
We'd also be wise to define Chronic Despair as a public health emergency. The pathology of the plutocrats is trickling down like a ton of Ebola and killing people right in their tracks.
Read the entire essay here.
And also read her below:
It's not surprising that in its obituary of Sheldon Wolin, who died last week, the "New York Times" studiously avoided any mention of the term for which this political philosopher is most famous: inverted totalitarianism. Instead, the obit's headline misleadingly and somewhat crankily blared that Wolin was an expert on "the limits of popular democracy."
So it was all the more eerily prescient that in an interview with Chris Hedges last year, Wolin observed that it is essentially verboten for the media-political complex to openly declare that American democracy has been kicked upside the head, resulting in the creation of the Total Capitalistic State. Speaking such a truth might give the plutocratic ruling class a bad case of agita, even if it's mentioned in the obituary of the man who made educating the public about this inconvenient truth his life's work.
Wolin was talking about the capture of private media and public institutions by unfettered capital long before Bernie Sanders started running for president, of course. And given that such plain-speaking from within the political establishment is as rare as a snowball in hell, whether Bernie does in fact have a chance in hell of winning the Democratic nomination has been rendered moot. He is changing the dialogue. He is mentioning the S word, (socialism) and the world has not come to an end. That is quite a revolutionary breakthrough in the historic scheme of things.
The recent rise of Bernie Sanders is comparable to the rise of Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party in the early 20th century. TR failed to win the presidency under that populist banner, but the rhetoric still became part of the conversation. Wall Street was put on notice. And by the time the market crashed in 1929, the populist stage was set for Cousin Franklin's New Deal.
. . . Unlike Nazism, Stalinism and fascism, inverted totalitarianism in the United States is "a system driven not by an individual ruler, but by abstract totalizing powers, one that succeeds by encouraging political disengagement rather than mass mobilization, that relies more on 'private' media than on public agencies to disseminate propaganda reinforcing the official version of events."
Here's looking at you, "New York Times," from your boosting corporate political candidates, to your boosting preemptive wars of aggression, to bowdlerizing the message of one (of) your harshest, most accurate critics in the obituary that you just deigned to write about him.
"Managed democracy" is the definition of inverted totalitarianism. American democracy is largely contained within the now-permanent electoral process. We are invited to give our opinions on candidates and wedge issues rather than upon substantive issues. We're invited to rail against Ben Carson's snake oil and Marco Rubio's sordid finances instead of the things, like medical care and paychecks, that affect us personally. We're invited to equate voting for a pre-selected candidate with legitimating that candidate.
Not another pretty story.
Not even a good story.
Allowing the government to loot everything in sight is one sign of a Third World nation. Another is letting the Ruling Elite assassinate the President. There are others: Deteriorating infrastructure, poor schools, rampant violations of civil liberties, police brutality and declining wages come to mind.
Elizabeth Warren before she was a Senator was a law school professor. She did a series of lectures on how Americans declined in wealth since 1970. She has no idea how Wall Street accomplished this.She is vaguely aware that Wall Street is robbing us blind. Catherine Austin Fitts, a former Housing Commissioner, told Greg Hunter that they stole $40 trillion from us and that they will steal tens of trillions more.
. . . Putin has revealed the truth to the world. The US is backing Al Qaeda and ISIS. The US has been seen many times dropping supplies to ISIS in Syria and Iraq. We have been bombing the troops in Iraq fighting ISIS. The next step towards accepting the truth is that 911 was not done by Al Qaeda.
Read the entire essay at the link above for one answer as to what has been going on since the Revolting Reaganistas.
It can't be true, of course. It's too cruel (and almost too obviously pointed to be believed).
But it makes a powerful argument for what we've been viewing as mayhem at a great distance.
And concerning the coming mayhem considerably close up . . .
October 31st, 2015
by Stephen Lendman
Ryan awakened Thursday morning one step away from succeeding John Boehner as House speaker - ousted by a palace coup. He wasn’t conservative enough for hardline Republicans.
As expected, House members elected Ryan as his successor, receiving 236 votes, a comfortable margin of victory - winning in the Republican dominated body after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his candidacy and Ryan bested Rep. Daniel Webster (unrelated to the 19th century statesman/politician by the same name) decisively - by a 200 - 43 margin among Republican members alone.
The position is second in line to the presidency if its incumbent dies, is incapacitated, resigns or gets removed by impeachment.
Ryan’s ascendency lurches Washington further to the right. His neocon credentials are scary. He wants more spending for wars and militarism, less for social programs. More on the latter below.
He rants about ‘keeping America strong,” supports its heavy intervention hand anywhere it wishes, serving US interests at the expense of all others.
In 2012, he was Mitt Romney’s running mate. His “Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal” at the time prioritized gutting vital social programs millions of Americans rely on.
He wants Medicare and Social Security privatized en route to ending them altogether - Medicaid, food stamps, and other social programs gutted.
He supports Americans having anything they want as long as they pay for it, mindless of unaffordability issues for half of US households, living in poverty or bordering it.
Social Security and Medicare are bedrock social programs - funded by worker/employer payroll tax deductions, federal insurance programs, not entitlements, contractually obligating Washington to pay benefits to eligible recipients.
Ryan and likeminded Republican and Democrat neocons infesting Congress want these vital programs ended - to assure unrestricted military spending as well as sustained handouts to Wall Street and other corporate favorites.
In 2011, he proposed eliminating Medicare altogether. It passed the House but not the Senate. He wants America’s wealth handed exclusively to monied interests already with too much - ordinary people left on their own out of luck, accelerating the "thirdworldization" process, a deplorable race to the bottom.
His ideal society is no fit place to live in, his “Path to Prosperity” returning America to 19th century harshness if implemented.
He believes everything government does, business does better, so let it operate unrestrained by regulatory controls. He represents America’s 1% at the expense of its great majority.
He’s one of them, his estimated net worth at between $4.5 and $7.4 million. He supports socialism for the rich, law of the jungle for ordinary folks.
As House speaker, he has enormous power, especially with strong neocon support. Expect him to take full advantage at the expense of millions of disadvantaged households deserving better, no matter who succeeds Obama in 2017.
America is a fascist police state, a belligerent nation waging endless wars of aggression. Every Republican and Democrat presidential aspirant supports an ideologically over-the-top agenda - risking global war for power and profit. Don’t let their rhetoric on the stump fool you.
(Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.)
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III".
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com._ _ _ _ _ _ _