Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Republicans are cruel, Democrats are feckless, and Progressives are apprehensive & disorganized. This is the hopelessness of our politics and government.

Above: "Three Old Figures," a linocut by Fay Chong (1912-1973), created while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, 1938. Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Republicans are cruel

Spending most of their lives trying to punish anyone who isn't like them, or those they've judged to be lazy good-for-nothings, Republicans have shown that their cruelty knows no bounds. For example, they'll gladly try to strip away healthcare and food assistance for the poor, and then give tax cuts to billionaires who, in turn, use their extra after-tax income not to increase wages and benefits for workers, but to further enrich themselves (see, e.g., "GOP Tax Law Doing Little For The Economy, Even Less For Workers: Congressional Study." Huffington Post, May 28, 2019). And, far from admitting mistake, we know that Republicans will continue to push for draconian cuts to the safety net, as well as more tax cuts for the rich.

Democrats are feckless

The Democratic Party is less than a shadow of its former self. It's a complete & utter disgrace. Its donors are rich and out of touch, its policymakers are perpetually afraid of offending the Republicans who hate them, and its voters are afraid to vote their values whenever the mainstream media says, "electability" (see, e.g., "Iowa voters flock to Joe Biden, but out of practicality, not passion," The Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2019). Much of the party has retreated into a mouse hole and won't come out. Others are purposefully pushing the party to the right. 

Progressives are apprehensive & disorganized

Progressives know what the problems of the nation and the world are: Extreme income & wealth inequality; too many military adventures; free market fanaticism; pollution; healthcare price gouging; to name just a few. They also know what the solutions are: Higher taxes on the rich; a Green New Deal; Medicare-for-All; etc. But sadly, progressives have let themselves become pathetic hangers-on. They follow the Democratic Party around like dutiful lapdogs, persistently barking for change but always following, always disappointed, no-matter-what.

Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) has resigned herself to following along, saying she would "support whoever the Democratic nominee is." As much as I love AOC, this is EXACTLY the wrong approach. It sends a signal to the Democratic Establishment that progressives are barking wimps. The Democratic Establishment says to itself, "Let them cry and stomp their feet. Yes, let the petulant children get it out of their system. In the end, we know they'll coming running back to us, our rich donors, and our neoliberal policies."

You see, Progressives are apprehensive that if they pull away, refuse to back the Democratic Establishment, and perhaps even form their own party, the vote will be split, and Republicans will win. So, they're constantly waving the white flag of surrender to the Democratic Establishment. But here's the thing: Republicans are winning anyway (the recent Democratic House victory was but a small slowdown in the nation's decades-long, goosestepping to the right). 

And on top of their apprehension, Progressives are amazingly disorganized. The Progressive movement is essentially a disconnected amalgam of activists, op-ed writers, Internet commentators, and politicians grovelling within the Democratic Establishment. Have you ever seen a headline like, "Twitter unleashes fury on GOP congressman after he says [whatever]"? Um... okay... so what? What does that do? Bring a little public shame for a day or two? Until the next Republican outrage? Twitter can throw all the tantrums it wants... but that won't stop climate change, and it won't resurrect the American Dream, and it won't stop Republican cruelty in the aggregate.

The hopelessness of our politics and government

Where does this leave us? If Republicans are cruel, and Democrats are feckless, and Progressives understand the problems of the world--but haven't the guts or organizational skills to divorce themselves from the feckless Democrats, and thus begin to effect change--what hope is there? Can the Green New Deal, for example, succeed on cruelty, fecklessness, apprehension, and disorganization?

Progressives need to untie themselves from the sinking Democratic Party ship; organize themselves; begin to make their case; begin to pull voters away from the Democratic and Independent ranks; and begin to effect change. Will this split the vote? At first, yes. But what is the alternative? Look around you. We have a silver-spooned idiot sociopath in the White House; we have Republicans packing the courts; we have income & wealth inequality getting more out of control (indeed, seeming to feast on our very protests against it); we have racial tensions growing; our children are drinking lead - so that the super-wealthy can have more money to bribe their kids into elite colleges; and, far from a Green New Deal, we've been rolling back environmental regulations in order to increase CO2 levels past their already record-setting levels.

If Progressives cannot find the courage and determination to break away from the Democratic Party--which is leaning more and more to the right--then I see no hope. Many op-ed writers and talking heads claim that the Democratic Party is moving left. It is not. Instead, what we have are several presidential candidates giving lip service to Progressives in order to secure their vote (just as Obama did). These candidates have no intention of fighting for anything too "radical" or too "impractical" (i.e., progressive). Further, the front-runner status of Joe Biden, well ahead of the authentic candidates Sanders and Warren, proves that the Democratic Party is not moving left. Remember: Biden supported tax cuts for the rich, bank deregulation, debt-relief restrictions on the middle-class & poor, bailouts for his banker buddies, and cuts to Social Security & Medicare... and still he is the front runner. Yes, this is proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the Democratic Party has become a center-right party - partly out of fear, party by design. And Progressives keep hanging on, like mice riding a coattail.

In 1932, presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt said to the citizens of Utah, "The tasks that we face in the reordering of economic life are great. They call for courage, for determination and what you have abundantly out here, the hardihood of the pioneer." In electing, and then repeatedly re-electing FDR and his New Deal, our elders and ancestors had the courage and determination to crack down on greed, modernize our public works, and greatly enhance the social safety net. 

Yes, courage, determination, and a pioneering spirit. We have none of that today.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

10 quotes about Joe Biden (a.k.a. "Liar Joe," "Lyin' J' Biden," "Grifter Joe") that the American people should take to heart

Above: The future of the Democratic Party should be what we see on the left - tough, determined, and for the people. What we see on the right--Lyin' J' Biden, Shyster Supreme--should be a thing of the past. It is mind-boggling to me, that so many Democratic voters are rallying around this despicable, duplicitous man - a man responsible for shipping good American jobs overseas (NAFTA), locking people into debt and likely driving up the suicide rate (bankruptcy relief restrictions), bringing about the recession (voting to repeal Glass-Steagall), and bailing out his banker buddies during the recession, and then trying to cut Social Security and Medicare for the middle-class & poor (goddamn!)... and all-the-while casting himself as "Middle-Class Joe" and subsequently claiming to be the most progressive candidate for the 2020 nomination. The truth is, Joe Biden is a major league as$hole and con-man. And the support he's receiving is making me question the basic intelligence, morality, and courage of rank and file Democratic Party voters. Even though I left the party quite a few years ago, I had no idea it was this bad. Photo of AOC by Patrick Semansky, Associated Press, and photo of Biden by Reuters, both used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

10 quotes about Lyin' J' Biden that the American people should take to heart

1. "I will be damned if the same politicians who refused to act then, are going to try to come back today and say we need to find a middle-of-the-road approach to save our lives. That is too much for me."

--U.S. Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, quoted in "Ocasio-Cortez Decries Biden 'Middle-Of-The-Road Approach' On Climate Change," NPR, May 14, 2019.

2. "At a time when the biggest financial institutions in this country were trying to put the squeeze on millions of hardworking families who are in bankruptcy because of medical problems, job losses, divorce and death in the family, there was nobody to stand up for them. I got in that fight because they just didn't have anyone, and Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies."

--U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, quote in, "A decades-old feud looms over Biden and Warren in 2020," CNN, May 2, 2019.

3. "I would argue that Joe Biden's record is worse than Hillary Clinton's... He's more out-of-touch than Hillary Clinton, and I didn't think that was really possible."

--Emma Vigeland, "Emma Talks Biden, Bernie and Warren On HILL TV" (YouTube video), Rebel HQ, May 23, 2019.

4. "Behind Biden are all the elite forces who dream of retaining the status quo that preserves their profits. Biden's corporate backers imagine their planetary pillaging and worker oppression can continue into some endless horizon. Biden's war backers imagine some fantasy in which bigger and deadlier weapons can fix problems they have not fixed for decades and that such a trajectory is limitless."

--Sonali Kolhatkar, "Joe Biden Is Not the Pragmatic Choice for 2020," Common Dreams, May 23, 2019.

5. "Let's be blunt: As a supposed friend of American workers, Joe Biden is a phony. And now that he's running for president, Biden's huge task is to hide his phoniness. From the outset, with dim prospects from small donors, the Biden campaign is depending on big checks from the rich and corporate elites who greatly appreciate his services rendered."

--Normon Soloman, "Joe Biden Is a Fraud, Plain and Simple," TruthDig, April 24, 2019.

(List continues below)

Above: Lyin' J' Biden loves to claim that he's the most progressive candidate or that he was the most liberal member of Congress (and it's reminiscent of Donald Trump's foolish boasting), but Politifact found otherwise. Screen capture from Politifact--"Joe Biden claims he was a staunch liberal in the Senate. He wasn’t." (May 6, 2019)--used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

6. "[A]t a time when both the Democratic party and the country are moving left--particularly on economic issues--Biden is a lingering fragment of the triangulating liberalism that was shattered by the 2016 election, and which helped bring us Trump in the first place."

--Branko Marcetic, in "Joe Biden, Neoliberal," The Jacobin, August 7, 2018.

7. "Biden, the senator from Delaware, where many credit card companies and banks are incorporated, has long advocated on behalf of those financial entities. This is one of the ironies of his role as blue-collar Everyman; that guy is regularly screwed by the very companies Biden represents."

--Rebecca Traister, "Joe Biden isn't the answer," The Cut, New York Magazine, March 29, 2019, emphasis in original.

8. "As a loyal toady of the large corporations (especially finance, insurance, and credit cards) that put their headquarters in Delaware because its suborned government allows them to evade regulations in other states, Biden voted for repeated rounds of deregulation in multiple areas and helped roll back anti-trust policy - often siding with Republicans in the process."

--Ryan Cooper, "Joe Biden is about to ruin his reputation," The Week, March 20, 2019.

9. "Ever wonder why our nation has reached record levels of household debt--including $1.5 trillion in student debt--while a vast infrastructure of surveillance and data harvesting now pervades both Washington, DC, and Silicon Valley? Thank politicians like Joe Biden."

--Ron Kim, Democratic New York State Assemblyman, "Say No To Joe," BuzzFeed, April 25, 2019.

10. "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) was passed in April, 2005 by the U.S. Senate in a 74-25 vote, including the 'yea' vote of Joe Biden, and was quickly signed by President Bush... The harm it did to middle-class Americans, especially during the crushing events of the recession four years later, is immeasurable... the bill contained nothing to crack down on abusive practices by predatory lenders, including punitive interest rates and penalties... Put another way, the Bankruptcy Bill was great for Biden and his Delawarean benefactors, but a financial atrocity for millions of families, made worse by the financial crisis and crippling recession that followed [a recession that Biden helped cause, with the repeal of Glass-Steagall - a deregulation gift to his wealthy bank donors]. While thousands of financial institutions received billions of dollars in relief during the recession, ordinary Americans who were hammered by medical and mortgage debt, not to mention record-smashing job losses, were more or less screwed... Frankly, no amount of experience or folksy charm should blind Democrats into forgiving Biden's support for the BAPCPA. It's a deal-breaker."

--Bob Cesca, in "Joe Biden's greatest betrayal: The one Senate vote that makes it hard to support a Biden run: As a Senator in Delaware, Biden shepherded to passage a law that decimated bankruptcy protection for milllions," Salon, October 21, 2015 (during Biden's most recent failed presidential ambition).

Never Biden

Let's be super, super clear here. I will never vote for Joe Biden. I'd vote for Trump before I'd vote for Joe Biden. And I guarantee you I'm not the only one who feels this way. If the Democratic Establishment (DE) and its voters have such contempt for the millions of people harmed by Joe Biden that they're willing to spit in our faces and rub our noses in it by supporting this man, then I'll be more than happy to return the contempt.

Pick someone else DE and DE voters. Preferably Sanders or Warren... but even Harris, Booker, O'Rourke, or somebody else will do. But not Biden. Never Biden! Yes, pick someone else or, in 2021, when Trump is gloating in the White House, you'll be wishing you had.

Is this spiteful? Petulant? Insolent? Obnoxiously pugnacious? Oh yes. Because (channeling AOC), I'll be damned if I'm going to let Corporate America force me, yet again, to vote for the lesser-of-two evils in a Con-Don vs. Lyin' J' Biden match-up.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Suckered by trickle-down economics again! Corporations are paying historically low taxes, wages are still stagnant, and our children are still drinking lead from old pipes.

Above: Trickle-down economics is a circus... and we're the clowns. Image from a WPA poster.

Thanks to right-wingers and milquetoast liberals, we've been turned into clowns and suckers

Thanks to right-wingers, America's corporations are paying their lowest share of federal income tax since the Eisenhower presidency (CBS News, May 21, 2019).

Thanks to right-wingers, this low tax burden on corporations--as well as the historically low federal taxes on super-wealthy individuals--forces the tax burden down on the heads of the middle-class & poor at the state & local level (i.e., state & local taxes, tolls, fees, fines, and utility rates). According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, "The vast majority of state and local tax systems are inequitable and upside-down, taking a much greater share of income from low- and middle-income families than from wealthy families" (Who Pays? 6th Edition, October, 2018).

Thanks to right-wingers, the promise of trickle-down economics has fallen flat. For nearly 40 years they've forced their lies down our throats, telling us "If you give colossal tax cuts to the rich, their magical investments will create a jobs utopia!" Instead, "For most U.S. workers, real wages have barely budged in decades" (Pew Research Center, August 7, 2018). And the latest Real Earnings Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (for April 2019) shows that our inflation-adjusted wages are down from March and up only about 1.2% over the past year. Yep, the super-wealthy got billions and trillions of tax cuts, to buy more yachts, islands, and politicians, and in return they blessed us with a 1.2% wage increase. Are you impressed by that?

In addition to stagnant wages, the super-wealthy have pummeled our retirements and appointed themselves as our healthcare supervisors, putting themselves between us and our doctors, declaring, "I get to choose what medicines and procedures you receive!"

Thanks to right-wingers, our under-funded federal government is less willing and able to modernize our infrastructure. Thus, our children are still drinking lead... several years after the Flint debacle.

Many Democratic politicians and voters are to blame too. Always going the milquetoast, jelly-spine route, they've been perpetually unable to handle the decades-long assault on our quality of life. For example, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren offer bold policies for the people, the corporate media says they're "unelectable," and rank & file Democratic voters hide under their beds, nervously clutching their blankies & binkies. "Okay... okay," they squeak, "then I'll vote for that corporate puppet, Lyin' J' Biden!"

The worst part about all this--the most nightmarish quality of this trickle-down scandal--is that you know, you just know, that in a few short years, Republicans will gift yet another round of gigantic tax cuts to the rich, and the people will scratch their heads, twiddle their lips, and mumble incoherently. They'll put on their red hats and scream in delight... or dance around with signs saying "Make America Great Again" or "I'm With Her." And the rich will watch our clown show, look at each other in astonishment, and then giggle as the bags of cash are delivered to their private compounds, one after the other after the other.

Yep, suckered again!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Student loan debt, the billionaire rapture, and those of us left behind

"I've even had people confess to me that they have contemplated suicide because of their student loans."

--Adam Minsky, student loan expert and lawyer, "Student Loans and Mental Health," Law Office of Adam S. Minsky, September 9, 2016.

Above: "San Miguel Archangel," a painted wood plaque by Juan Amadeo Sanchez (1901-1969), created while he was in the WPA, 1942. In the Christian faith, the Archangel Michael plays a prominent role in the End Times, helping to save Christians from the forces of evil. Image courtesy of the General Services Administration and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The 2019 graduates of Morehouse College (Atlanta, Georgia) have been blessed by a billionaire, who has promised to wipe away their student loan debt. One graduate cried and said, "I was struggling for four straight years. Now look at it. God has smiled on me." ("One Morehouse College student's $100,000 in debt, vanished. 'God has smiled on me,' he says after billionaire Robert F. Smith's speech," USA Today, May 20, 2019.)

Oprah Winfrey, another billionaire, has also blessed many college students. For example, she set up a scholarship fund at Morehouse College, so that some of the students there won't have to take on as much (or any) debt. And when someone criticized her philanthropy as not being enough, Internet commentators jumped to her defense, for example, "Love Oprah, she has not forgotten her roots. She is a shining example of giving back. Other wealthy people should follow her examples"; "Don't dis the O!"; "Don't mess with Oprah"; and "Oprah is not obligated to give away any of her fortune."

And like God, Oprah Winfrey has her own army of angels--(her nonprofit "Oprah's Angel Network")--that delivers Oprah's miracles and blessings all around the world.

We also know that Oprah does not like paying taxes to fund the common good, once saying, "I think it's so irritating that once I die, 55 percent of my money goes to the United States government" ("Oprah 2020 mania proves the American presidency is badly broken," The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 9, 2018). This is a common feeling among the super-rich. Rather than pay into the common good through taxes, they prefer to be our gods, sending down their whimsical favors upon us when the mood strikes them. Billionaire Michael Dell expressed the same sentiment at the 2019 World Economic Circus in Davos, Switzerland: "I feel much more comfortable with our ability as a private foundation to allocate those funds than I do giving them to the government." But is autocratic philanthropy really and truly more effective than policies funded through taxation and proper democratic deliberation, for example, Medicare, Social Security, public roads, and the U.S. Navy? 

Of course, for the recipients of billionaire philanthropy, it's quite understandable why they're doing cartwheels in the streets. They have been taken up & away from the economic End Times, delivered from evil by the billionaire rapture. But what happens if you're not visited by a billionaire? What happens to those of us who are left behind?

Well, total student loan debt is over $1.6 trillion and growing. And, thanks to the Democratic Party's presidential front-runner, Joe Biden, most of that debt is inescapable, even if your job and financial prospects are hopeless ("Joe Biden Backed Bills To Make It Harder For Americans To Reduce Their Student Debt," International Business Times, September 15, 2015). Maybe this is why some people kill themselves over student loan debt. No billionaire savior has visited them, and bankruptcy relief has been taken away.

In any event, we know that one set of super-wealthy Americans profits off student loan misery, let's call them "Satan's Army," while another, much smaller set of super-wealthy Americans tries to reduce the debt, let's call them, "God and his angels" (however, both sets of super-wealthy Americans benefit from student loan debt via a lower tax burden; and many philanthropists also profit from student debt thanks to their stock market investments). In between these two warring factions are college graduates, some of them saved but most of them drowning in a financial Lake of Fire.

Instead of a higher education system where the armies of greed and philanthropy compete for America's soul, wouldn't it be better to tax the rich more, get rid of student loan debt, and fund free public college? After all, the billionaire rapture will only save a few of us. Millions of the unlucky will be left behind.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

If Lyin' Joe Biden makes it to the Oval Office, will he serve the people or his wealthy Republican donors?

Above: Joe Biden, televangelist of the neoliberal movement. Original photo source unknown, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

Lyin' Joe Biden says that if he makes it to Oval Office he wants to work with Republicans, in an apparent return to the losing, delusional, "adult-in-the-room" strategy of Barack Obama. Of course, it could also be the case, that politicians like Joe Biden and Barack Obama want to work with Republicans because they actually agree with many Republican policies, especially the policies that coddle the rich, punish the poor, and keep the middle-class in their place (always remember that Joe Biden voted for Reagan's tax-cuts-for-the-rich, as well as the job-exporting NAFTA, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, harsh debt-relief restrictions for the middle-class & poor, generous bailouts for big bankers; and he also worked with Obama to try to cut Social Security and Medicare).

While pondering his presidential bid, Biden said: "An awful lot of people have offered to help... the people who are usually the biggest donors in the Democratic Party and I might add some major Republican folks" ("Obama donors prepare to power Biden’s campaign," Politico, March 22, 2019, emphasis added).

The Intercept recently reported that "Joe biden launches presidential bid with fundraiser filled with corporate lobbyists and GOP donors" (April 25, 2019). The conservative news outlet Washington Examiner also noticed: "Executives from Independence Blue Cross and powerhouse law firms as well as some GOP donors were among the 150 or so people who attended the event. Attendees were asked to contribute up to $2,800 each, the legal maximum for individual campaign contributions" ("‘Average Joe’ Biden pays first respects to high-dollar donors before everyday supporters," April 26, 2019).

We also know that Joe Biden has received large amounts of cash from securities & investment firms, lobbyists, finance & credit card companies, and commercial banks... and now we read this too: "Obama-tied operatives and Biden supporters launch $60 million 'dark money' group," (Open Secrets, Center for Responsive Politics, May 1, 2019).

Currently, deceptive polling (see, e.g., "Biden’s Support Among Democrats May Be Exaggerated," Rasmussen Reports, May 16, 2019) is showing Biden way ahead of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and the rest of the Democratic primary field. But even if you subtract the deception from the polling, it's still obvious that Biden has the lead. The question is "why?" Well, it's recently dawned on me, with oh so painful clarity, that Democratic Party voters are just as misinformed, scared, and duped as Trump supporters. Or, in the alternative, they're very right-leaning - in other words, they're essentially Republicans, but without the overt hatred of "the other."

So, considering Joe Biden's gleeful acceptance of Republican money, and considering the duped, scared, or center-right nature of modern Democratic Party voters, I think one of the most important questions is: If Lyin' Joe Biden makes it to the Oval Office, will he serve the people or his wealthy Republican donors?

Considering both his distant and not-so-distant policy work, I think it's safe to say that Biden will be primarily serving his wealthy Republican donors, and perhaps throwing some peanuts to the middle-class & poor. Rank and file Democratic Party voters will love this, but Republican and Independent voters will not. And as they're lives deteriorate under Biden's neoliberal agenda, just as they're lives have deteriorated under the supervision of the Clinton and Obama political machines, they'll be looking for yet another authoritarian to "Make America Great Again." "Donald Trump wasn't strong enough," they'll say, "We need someone tougher, someone who can disrupt things even more."

Democratic Party voters--well-intentioned or not--are a bigger threat to America than Donald Trump and his supporters. Because it's the former that creates the latter. In their perpetual capitulation to the-lesser-of-two-evils, and in their failure to challenge America's power structure (the American caste system), and in their betrayal (or complete ignorance) of the New Deal and the common good, they're creating the rich, highly-fertile ground that foul-minded demagogues need to thrive and succeed.

You see, Joe Biden is the problem, not the solution... just as Barack Obama, and Bill & Hillary Clinton were the problems and not the solutions.

"Obama's lack of courage to confront Wall Street criminals and his lapse of character in ordering drone strikes unintentionally led to right-wing populist revolts at home and ugly Islamic fascist rebellions in the Middle East. And as deporter-in-chief – nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch – Obama policies prefigure Trump’s barbaric plans."

--Dr. Cornel West, "Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama," The Guardian, January 9, 2017

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Drinking orthophosphate for the rich. We're so submissive to the super-wealthy, that we're willing to experiment on our children for them. Shameful, shameful, shameful.

Above: New water mains for Takoma, Washington, courtesy of the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA), ca. 1935-1940. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Several years after the Flint, Michigan drinking water debacle, we're still drinking leaded water. For example, it was reported yesterday that the New Jersey town of Pequannock has high levels of lead in its water, perhaps caused by a treatment plant "pumping corrosive water through old lead pipes" (hmmm, yes, that sounds a lot like Flint).

We could, of course, replace all leaded water mains, connection lines, and plumbing with safer material, but that would cost a lot of money; which, in turn, might force us to raise taxes on the rich (who are bathing & giggling in their record-breaking fortunes and, in some cases, working on "important" space colony missions - see, e.g., "Jeff Bezos foresees a trillion people living in millions of space colonies. Here's what he's doing to get the ball rolling." NBC News, May 15, 2019).

The American people, increasingly dull-eyed, slack-jawed, and mesmerized by the free market fairy dust that's sprinkled over them everyday, don't want to tax the rich more (polls sometimes show that they do, but they never vote that way). To them, the rich are gods, to be worshiped and obeyed. We work for the rich and pray that they'll grant us a raise someday. We elect the rich and hope they'll Make America Great Again. We vote in ways to ensure giant tax cuts for the rich, and then wait in perpetual anticipation for their merciful philanthropy and magical investments to kick-in (waiting for 35+ years now...). We gravitate towards rich con-men, like Joe Biden--after he's smashed the American Dream with a neoliberal wrecking ball--and then... slowly but surely... stupid grins form on our shrunken heads containing shriveled-up gray matter, "Yes... yes, I think this guy can save us!"

And it is with this half-witted, subservient attitude that we collectively say, "Let's not replace our water systems too fast... let's pump orthophosphate into them instead."

Orthophosphate is a chemical that is being put into old, unsafe pipes in some areas of the United States (see, e.g., "Newark begins corrosion control to reduce lead in drinking water," NJTV News, May 7, 2019). It's a sort of magic elixir for water lines, and (apparently) creates a protective barrier that keeps lead from mixing with the water running through those lines.

Sounds awesome, right??

Oh wait, not so fast. It's not clear how safe orthophosphate is for long-term human consumption and it may worsen algae blooms in bodies of water (see, e.g., "10 things you need to know about orthophosphate, coming soon to Pittsburgh drinking water," The Incline, September 27, 2018). Also, a March 2016 EPA report noted that there could be many problems associated with lead service lines treated with orthophosphates, if monitoring and testing is less-than-diligent. Hmmm, considering that we're in this mess due to a lack of diligence, do we really want to put our faith in diligence?

In The Incline article hyperlinked above, a researcher from the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering asks, "Would it be great if all lead lines were replaced and we never had to worry about lead again? Yes, that would be fantastic. But using orthophosphate is a practical solution and it's better to do something to protect the public than do nothing."

(There's that word again, "practical." We can't elect Bernie or Elizabeth, even though we prefer their policies, because it's not "practical." We can't replace dangerous water lines, even though our children are drinking lead, because it's not "practical." We can't save our planet, from ever-rising CO2 levels, because it's not "practical.")

And so now we're at the root of the matter, aren't we? There's no national sense of urgency to replace old, unsafe water systems. Instead, we're just trying out different band-aids. "Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't," we collectively sigh. Yes, instead of calling for a new New Deal--which installed tens of thousands of miles of new water lines, and built or modernized water treatment systems across the United States--we offer up our children as guinea pigs to the rich. "Yes sir, yes mam," we say to our super-wealthy overlords, "don't worry, we won't tax your obscene and useless record-breaking fortunes more... we'll just let our children drink a lot of orthophosphate--with a little pinch of lead dropping in from time to time, for flavor enhancement--and let's see what happens." (Also see, "Zapping Lead Pipes with Electricity Could Make Them Safer for Drinking Water," Scientific American, April 4, 2019).

Isn't that shameful? I mean, how apathetic and submissive is that? And what do we tell our children, if they ask, "Why can't I have pure water coming through new lines?" Do we say, "Well Susie, here's the deal: I like the rich more than I like you. So, you're just going to have to slurp down that orthophosphate sh*t and shut the hell up, okay?? But if we're lucky, maybe some rich guy will donate a billion dollars to fix our pipes. Or perhaps we'll be able to move to one of Jeff Bezos's intergalactic space colonies and get some clean water there."

Yes... this is what we've been reduced to.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

"As we did to FDR, we will do to Bernie!" The political, media, and wealthy elite--scared that their taxes will be raised--are purposefully misleading the public about the "electability" of Bernie Sanders.

Above: President Franklin Roosevelt in Chicago, ca. 1935-1940. In a message to Congress, on June 1, 1937, FDR recalled, "Mr. Justice Holmes said: 'Taxes are what we pay for civilized society'; and then FDR declared, "Too many individuals, however, want the civilization at a discount. Methods of escape or intended escape from tax liability are many" ("Message to Congress on Tax Evasion Prevention"). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

"Bernie Sanders is not electable!" the wealthy elite shriek, in complete & utter terror that their taxes will go up during a Bernie Sanders presidency

Republican pollster Frank Luntz recently predicted that Bernie Sanders will be the Democratic nominee for president--good news for Bernie supporters!--but then he threw in the obligatory "he's-just-not-electable" comment: "Republicans should want [a Sanders nomination]. Sanders cannot appeal to the overall mainstream of the American people."

For the last several years, the political, media, and wealthy elite--i.e., the mainstream media, think tank "researchers," political party leaders, radio show hosts, talking heads, and the super-wealthy Americans who fund & manipulate them with cash--have tried to convince us that Bernie Sanders is simply not electable. And it comes from the Democratic side more often that the Republican side.

These people are purposefully deceiving us, because they want Joe Biden to be the Democratic Party's nominee for president. They know that if Grifter Joe makes it to the White House, he will preserve and enhance their wealth. They know he's a neoliberal fascist--with a soothing smile and a deceptive "Good Ol' Uncle Joe" persona to hide his fascism--who has a strong record of supporting tax cuts for the rich, exporting American jobs to maximize shareholder profits, financial deregulation, and restricting debt-relief for the middle-class & poor. In short, they know he's an economic sociopath (Biden even admitted that he has "no empathy" for struggling millennials - that is the very definition of a sociopath), who is willing to "prostitute" himself (Biden's own words) to the financial elite in order to maintain his cushy, secure employment in Washington.

Against this background of deceitful behavior by the political, media, and wealthy elite, we know that Bernie Sanders consistently polls as America's most liked politician; that polls have consistently indicated he can beat Trump (see a 2016 CNN poll here--showing Bernie polling better than Hillary against Trump--and then see several 2019 polls here); and that he has appeal in at least some red states, for example, winning every single West Virginia county during the 2016 Democratic primaries (but Hillary still won a good-sized, unfair percentage of the West Virginia delegates because of the rigged nature of the Democratic primaries).

The political, media, and wealthy elite did the EXACT same thing to FDR, telling us: "Oh, he just can't win! You need to pick someone who won't challenge wealth & power! Oooops... did I just say that? I meant to say, you need to pick someone who's more 'electable'!"

If you look through newspaper archives, you will see that it's full of people saying that FDR couldn't possibly win - and these predictions occurred during each of his victorious presidential runs. For example, consider the warnings of Frank Hague, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, June 24,1932:

"I deem it my duty... to call to the attention of the delegates and the leaders of the democracy in the different states and counties... that Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, if nominated, has no chance of winning at the election in November. I have felt out public sentiment... and I am brought to the conclusion that we cannot carry a single state east of the Mississippi and very few in the far West... It has been demonstrated... that the people in the populous centers do not regard him as the right man to lead... Now is the time for the leaders representing the various delegations supporting Roosevelt to analyze what I say and see for themselves that their candidate cannot be victorious... For the party to select the weakest man before the people, cannot bring success nor alleviate the conditions from which our people are suffering" ("Roosevelt Can't Win Says Jersey Leader," The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, June 24, 1932, from United Press reporting, pp. 1 & 4).

Several months later, Roosevelt won 42 states, beat Hoover with 472 electoral votes to 59, and won 57.4 percent of the popular vote to Hoover's 39.7.

The political, media, and wealthy elite detest paying for the common good (i.e., taxes). They are primarily interested in personal wealth... the health of the country be damned.

Frank Hague seems to have been a particularly loathsome character, very deceptive and greed-driven (see his Wikipedia page here), just like his Democratic Establishment offspring today.

And so here we are, nearly 90 years later, still being suckers for the Democratic Establishment, still believing their outrageous lies that Bernie Sanders cannot possibly beat Trump. It's a loop of deception and delusion, where the political, media, and wealthy elite repeatedly tell us that Bernie is not electable--even ignoring their own polling to the contrary (as Cenk Uygar of The Young Turks has highlighted many times), and then we internalize the baseless negativity and begin to tell our friends and family, "gee whiz, I'd like to support Sanders, but he just can't win." The political, media, and wealthy elite see that their fraud is working and double-down, "See! The public thinks he can't win!"

What we are witnessing today, in the Bernie-bashing by the political, media, and wealthy elite, is a gross and monstrous scam on the American people - a scam designed to suppress and destroy the American Dream, as well as the last remnants of the New Deal, so that the elite can continue adding to their record-breaking fortunes, all-the-while telling us that a slew of crappy new jobs and mediocre economic growth (that almost entirely goes to them), is a "wonderful economy."

Our ancestors did not fall for this bullshit in 1932. They essentially told the political, media, and wealthy elite, "F*ck you, we're voting for our values."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently said, "don't let any politician, no matter the party, lecture you about what is 'possible' or 'electable'... The same folks who said Trump was impossible in 2016 are the same ones lecturing on what's 'electable' in 2020. Don't buy it. Vote your values."

The biggest questions of the 2019-2020 Democratic Primaries, and the 2020 presidential race, are: Will we listen to AOC? Will we learn from FDR's (supposedly impossible) successes? Or, will we let ourselves--out of fear and ignorance--be deceived by the political, media, and wealthy elite?... and thus kneel before the friendly fascist, Joe Biden.

"Not since Franklin Delano Roosevelt welcomed the hatred of 'organized money' have we had a serious presidential candidate who openly exposed class conflict in America, and stuck up for ordinary citizens against the overwhelming power of the wealthy. It's thrilling. It's dangerous. And scariest of all to some mainstream Democrats, it could actually work."

--Ruth Conniff, editor, The Progressive, in "Operation Take Down Bernie," Common Dreams, April 28, 2019 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

No more cures. The Healthcare-Pharma Industrial Complex wants us permanently ill, so executives and shareholders can get rich.

"The current era of medicine is all about profit generation."

--Dr. Robert Pearl, "The Immorality Of Prescription Drug Pricing In America," Forbes, September 24, 2018

Above: On this WPA project in Louisville, Kentucky, ca. 1935-1943, a doctor demonstrates (to State Board of Health workers) how to give inoculations for typhoid fever and diphtheria. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

An increase in greed, a decrease in cures

When was the last time you heard of a disease being completely cured, or of a newly-developed, groundbreaking vaccine? It doesn't seem to happen very often in the modern era, does it? 

Consider some of these amazing medical developments in the not-too-distant past:

1923: First vaccine developed for diphtheria
1926: First vaccine developed for whooping cough
1927: First vaccine developed for tuberculosis
1927: First vaccine developed for tetanus
1935: First vaccine developed for yellow fever
1937: First vaccine developed for typhus
1945: First vaccine developed for influenza
1955: Jonas Salk develops the first polio vaccine
1964: First vaccine developed for measles
1967: First vaccine developed for mumps
1970: First vaccine developed for rubella
1974: First vaccine developed for chicken pox
1977: First vaccine developed for pneumonia
1978: First vaccine developed for meningitis
1980: Smallpox is eradicated
1981: First vaccine developed for hepatitis B

(From: U.S. National Institutes of Health, citing Rachel Hajar, M.D., "History of Medicine Timeline," Heart Views, 2015 Jan-Mar; 16(1): 43–45.)

Things have slowed down a lot since the beginning of Reaganism in 1981. Yes, it seems that the "Greed is Good" era, and the advent of idioplutocracy (plutocracy supported by the idiocy of the electorate), hasn't been good for the development of cures.

In modern America, symptom treatment is far more profitable than cures. Of course, some will say, "Diseases are more complicated today, you're being too conspiratorial" (see, for example, "What's Holding Back Cures? Our Collective Ignorance (And No, Not A Pharma Conspiracy)," Forbes, May 10, 2013). But a Goldman Sachs analyst recently asked "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" The analyst admitted that cures provide "tremendous value for patients and society" but seemed concerned about the effect cures might have on "sustained cash flow to investors," writing:

"GILD is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients. In the case of infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, curing existing patients also decreases the number of carriers able to transmit the virus to new patients, thus the incident pool also declines..."

Are you getting it? Corporate America needs a constant pool of treatable patients. For Corporate America, cures are the problem, not the solution. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind, that if a miracle medicine were developed that cured every illness on Earth, the Healthcare-Pharma Industrial Complex would destroy it? Their wealth depends on our sickness. More directly: They want us to be sick. Not individual researchers of course, but the Healthcare-Pharma Industrial Complex as a whole, the odious amalgam of wealthy executives and investors.

Above: This photograph, taken in Charleston, South Carolina, May 1938, shows a WPA nurse registering patients for typhoid inoculations (note: typhus and typhoid fever are similar, but different diseases). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Feasting on sickness... but calling it "innovation"

Just about every week, we see or hear how our private healthcare system, and our political "leaders," are intentionally failing us. There was the infamous Martin Shkreli price gouging incident, of course (a type of incident that happens all the time), but consider more recent events too:

1. On September 18, 2018, Bloomberg reported that a "California’s insurance regulator is suing AbbVie Inc., alleging that the pharmaceutical giant gave illegal kickbacks to health-care providers in order to keep patients on its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira."

Humira is also a popular drug to treat the symptoms of psoriasis - a disease in which very little progress has been made towards a cure, but plenty of "innovative" television commercials are being produced to lure people towards this expensive and, just coincidentally of course, lifelong treatment.

2. This morning, the Associated Press and the Huffington Post reported that "Attorneys general from more than 40 states are alleging the nation's largest generic drug manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate prices for more than 100 different generic drugs, including treatments for diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other medical conditions... 'We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multibillion dollar fraud on the American people,' [the Connecticut Attorney General] said. 'We have emails, text messages, telephone records and former company insiders that we believe will prove a multi-year conspiracy to fix prices and divide market share for huge numbers of generic drugs.'"

3. Yesterday, Lee Fang of The Intercept reported that senior congressional staffers--both Democrat and Republican--were luxuriating at a spa, hosted by private sector healthcare lobbyists who are seeking to undermine the Medicare-for-All movement  - a movement that most Americans seem to support.

4. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and her health care policy adviser Wendell Primus, have been actively working to preserve America's greed-driven, for-profit healthcare system (see, e.g., "Top Nancy Pelosi Aide Privately Tells Insurance Executives Not To Worry About Democrats Pushing 'Medicare For All'," The Intercept, February 5, 2019).

Why would a Democrat do something like this? Because many Democrats are funded by the private healthcare industry and/or by wealthy Republicans (see, e.g., "Billionaire Republican Donors Helped Elect Rising Centrist Democrats" The Intercept, November 29, 2018). This is part of a larger phenomenon, where a disgust of Donald Trump, or simply a desire to control the Democratic Party's agenda, is causing some Republican politicians and donors to leave the Republican party and/or give more influence money to Democrats (see, "Joe Biden Launches Presidential Bid With Fundraiser Filled With Corporate Lobbyists And GOP Donors," The Intercept, April 25, 2019). Democrat politicians, in turn, are crafting more conservative agendas (while giving lip-service to progressives) to please their conservative donors. It is the ultimate betrayal of the party's New Deal roots. Rank and file Democratic Party voters, for their part, are mostly too apathetic, too clueless, or too scared of Trump, to give a damn.

5. Bernie Sanders recently said, "One out of five Americans cannot afford the cost of prescription drugs." PolitiFact rated the statement as "Mostly True." (And we've also heard plenty of stories about patients skipping treatment doses because of cost, for example, diabetic patients skipping needed insulin shots.) Meanwhile, super-wealthy Americans are wallowing in their record-breaking fortunes... but right-wingers tell us--every minute of every day, somewhere on the TV, radio, or Internet--that this is all A-Okay, American capitalism at its finest. "Don't you dare tax the wealthy!... Don't you dare confiscate their wealth, you envious libtard!" I swear to God, the madness of it all is just too much to bear. The idioplutocracy is like a 2-ton wrecking ball smashing into your brain; trying to crush to dust your basic sense of decency.

6. Barack Obama and Joe Biden tried to cut Medicare. Donald Trump, despite campaign promises to the contrary, has tried to cut Medicare and Medicaid (and the idioplutocracy shrieked with delight). Seema Verma, Trump's administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services--and our very own Angel of Death--has attacked virtually all forms of public health services, especially those for the poor (a class of people she particularly despises), while spending millions of taxpayer dollars on Republican consulting firms to improve her image ("Exclusive: Key Trump health official spends millions on GOP-connected consultants," Politico, May 12, 2019).

Above: A WPA poster, promoting vaccinations for smallpox. Smallpox was a very debilitating, disfiguring, and deadly disease, eradicated in 1980 (the first vaccine for it--the first vaccine of any type--was developed in 1796). The WPA not only promoted vaccinations, but also administered them. For example, on January 18, 1939, the Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) reported: "Twenty-seven of the 30 children enrolled at the WPA Nursery School received immunization against smallpox and diphtheria yesterday. They were also given complete physical examinations" ("Nursery Children Vaccinated Here," p. 4). Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: A WPA poster promoting immunizations against diphtheria, a disease that killed over 15,000 children in 1921 alone. The diphtheria vaccine was developed in 1923. It's a good thing diphtheria did not start in the 21st century. Wall Street and the Healthcare-Pharma Industrial Complex would probably be less interested in a cure, and more interested in maintaining a lucrative "incident pool" of sick and slowly suffocating children. After all, why cure the disease when you can offer all sorts of expensive treatments to ease the strained breathing a bit? Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The solution to profit-driven sickness is Medicare-for-All, public vigilance (i.e., strict regulation and oversight) over private health industries, and a return to the concept of the common good. Unfortunately, our idioplutocracy will not allow it.

After Jonas Salk created the polio vaccine in 1955, he was asked, "Who owns the patent on this vaccine?" His response was, "The people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" ("Wall Street Wants the Best Patents, Not the Best Drugs: Curing diseases like Hepatitis C just doesn’t pay," Bloomberg, November 27, 2018).

Compare Salk's common good response to the ghoulish philosophies and activities of our modern Healthcare-Pharma Industrial Complex. For example, one healthcare executive defended Martin Shkreli's price gouging, as well as his own, by saying, "I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can, to sell the product for the highest price"; and then he compared such actions to selling "a painting for half a billion dollars" ("Report: Pharma exec says he had 'moral requirement' to raise drug price 400%," CNN, September 12, 2018). 

People who are immersed in the political right, or are mesmerized by the fictitious, holy free market, might say, "The profit motive fuels innovation!" But is our cultural transformation, away from cures and towards more lucrative symptom controls, really innovative? If someone said to you, "I have a cure for you, yes, but wouldn't you prefer my innovative symptom controls?" which would you prefer?

Mariana Mazzucato, professor of economics at the University College of London, writes: "It is clear that the pharmaceutical business model is one that pursues profits rather than public health objectives... Profit-making has become so entrenched in the drug industry that it requires a fundamental transformation - one that compels it to deliver public value and spark genuine market-invigorating innovation. We can do this only if we begin to focus on what really matters: putting patients over profits" ("Big Pharma is hurting drug innovation," Washington Post, October 17, 2018, emphasis added).

Unfortunately, idioplutocracy will prevent needed progress, needed enlightenment. American government is, by and large, a plutocracy--it is of, by, and for the rich--and the rich are getting wealthier and wealthier, preying on our illness: "How can we keep them sicker?" they collectively ask, "and hooked on the medicines that we invest in?" And the other key component of American government--the idiocy of the electorate--ensures that we'll keep electing the political puppets of the rich, like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, or the rich themselves, like Donald Trump.

No matter how much they let us down, we keep worshiping the rich. We've been told all our lives that the rich are better than us, and we just can't shake that belief, even it makes us permanently ill cash-cows, forever-sick ATMs. We bow down, painfully, with arthritic knees, coughing, bleeding, vomiting, "yes master, whatever you say master... just please, please give me my next $30,000 pill master. Oh thank you master! Yes, yes, we don't need cures, just your merciful, benevolent, and innovative pills and injections!"

Even as we're ripped off, time and time again, by rich executives and shareholders, we continue to buy into their Socialism Bogeyman arguments. "I want to be defrauded!" we seem to say, "I want to be price gouged! Dear Master, save me from socialism by ripping me off!" Oh sure, polls show that the majority of Americans like the idea of Medicare-for-All. But let's be frank: We're either insincere about it, or we're too stupid to vote that way. We say we support Medicare-for-All, but then we elect the Nancy Pelosis, Joe Bidens, Barack Obamas, Paul Ryans, and Mitch McConnells of the world. Excuse me, but that's not supporting Medicare-for-All... our hollow polling responses notwithstanding. We look at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, "Wow, I REALLY like their policies," and then quickly hide under our beds, "They're not electable - my neighbor told me so; it's too socialist; I'd rather be supervised by my billionaire overlords than take responsibility for myself with government (i.e., We The People) action."

The Healthcare-Pharma Industrial Complex is relying on our continued ignorance, our fear, and our lack of critical thinking skills for their continued profits.

They have nothing to worry about.

50 years from now, polling firms will still be asking ,"Do you support a change to Medicare-for-All?" And the electorate, even more brain-dead than now, will respond (while injecting Humira, popping opioids, and seeking a medical bankruptcy), "Sure, heck yeah, hee hee hee, sounds good! I'm going to support Kylie Jenner for president and make it happen!"

We better pray that bubonic plague never evolves into a more deadly, more easily-spread strain, thereby creating another Black Death. Because if it does, there will be little-to-no search for a cure. Instead, on the one side of our death bed, the Healthcare-Pharma Industrial Complex will gently run its hands through our hair, whispering, "There, there, my sweet one, let me put some of this new $60,000-per-dose ointment on those skin lesions." And on the other side of our death bed will be the right-wingers, scowling at us, "You better not tax the job creators!"

Yes... a 2-ton wrecking ball of idioplutocracy smashing into our brains. That's where we're at today.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Democratic Establishment and their voters overwhelmingly support Biden... and the #MeToo movement is quietly shelved

Above: Joe Biden nuzzles up to a woman in Ohio, 2012. The biker on the left seems somewhat amused, and the biker on the right doesn't seem to know what to make of the situation. Well, at least this extra-marital flirtation seems consensual. Photo from the Politico / Associated Press article, "Biden and the bikers," September 9, 2012, used here for educational, non-commercial purposes.

The bold, in-your-face hypocrisy of the Democratic Party

When it was revealed that there were sexual harassment instances in the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign (among campaign staffers and/or volunteers), the Democratic Establishment and its voters pulled out the knives. And when Bernie said he didn't know about it, the Democratic Establishment and its voters became angrier and sharpened those knives. "See," they collectively said, "He can't possibly be president of the United States with an attitude like that!"

But with Joe Biden, the story is quite different. Despite his history of wandering hands and lips, much of it unwelcome; and despite his truly terrible treatment of Anita Hill, which included keeping witnesses from testifying (hmmm, sounds similar to the Kavanaugh hearings, huh?); and despite his mockery of the #MeToo movement; the Democratic Establishment and its voters are cool with it. As long as they feel he can beat Trump, yes, they're fine with it.

Actress Alyssa Milano, an advocate of the #MeToo movement, said: "I believe that Joe Biden's intent has never been to make anyone uncomfortable, and that his kind, empathetic leadership is what our country needs. Especially now" ("Actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano defends Joe Biden," Washington Post, April 2, 2019). 

Isn't that amazing? The woman we saw so prominently at the Kavanaugh hearings, so concerned, is now willing to excuse Biden's behavior, both in the distant and not-too-distant past. Milano claims that Biden never intended to make anyone uncomfortable. But couldn't the same argument be made about Trump? Karen McDougal, the Playboy Playmate who had an affair with Trump said he was "very sweet, very respectful, very loving, very kind and caring." Even with the infamous "grab them by the [you-know-what]" tape, Trump had earlier said, "when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything." Maybe Trump's logic was, "hey, they have no problem with me doing this." (Obviously though, Trump is much more crude about things than Biden.)

Also, as an aside, Milano's proclamation that Biden has empathetic leadership flies in the face of the facts. As I've pointed out over my past few blog posts, Biden was a strong proponent of limiting debt-relief for lower-income Americans. That's not empathy, that's cruelty. Of course, debt-relief is of no consequence to Milano, a millionaire many times over. Even if Milano ever had to file for bankruptcy, she could afford the legal representation to make it happen and still come out wealthy, Biden's restrictions notwithstanding. It was only those of modest means who were impacted (see, "Study: Law creates many too broke to file for bankruptcy," Nasdaq, February 24, 2015)

The rest of Hollywood is equally unconcerned about Biden's wandering hands and treatment of Anita Hill. They just threw 700,000 dollars at him, confident that he can beat Trump and, even more importantly, will not raise their taxes by any more than 1 or 2 percent (if at all). You see, celebrities need their millions to send their kids to college debt-free (unlike us troglodytes) - and through legacy or bribery, if need be. The caste system must be maintained, #MeToo be damned.

Certainly, there are people in the #MeToo movement who will stick to their convictions and not support Biden; but for others, #MeToo is not applicable to their favored Democratic Party candidate. #MeToo is no longer a useful tool. "Trump must be beaten," they think to themselves, "and my wealth must be protected. If some hair is smelled, or an unsolicited big slow kiss is received, or perhaps even if some breasts are grabbed, aw shucks... hey, golly gee... it's just good ol' Uncle Joe... no biggie!" And if apologies are half-hearted, "Well, c'mon, we MUST support 'Middle-Class' Joe!"

Hypocrisy... laughable, preposterous hypocrisy. Congratulations Democratic Establishment... congratulations rank & file Democratic Party voters. You've hit it out of the ballpark with this one.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The shocking correlation between Joe Biden's signature policy achievement and America's rising suicide rates

Above: "The Sad Ones," a lithograph by Arthur Lidov (1917-1990) created while he was in the WPA, ca. 1935-1943. Image courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Joe Biden: Engineer of debt slavery

Ever since the 1970s, Joe Biden has worked very hard to restrict debt-relief for middle and low-income Americans. Indeed, in the 1970s he made it clear that "I was ready to prostitute myself" to those with big money. And so he did. The banking industry was his big donor, and he has spent his entire adult life serving their greed & selfishness at the expense of the working class.

In 2005, Biden reached the pinnacle of his banking prostitution career, and aggressively pushed through the grossly misnamed "Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act." Among other things, the law made it much harder for lower-income groups to file for bankruptcy, and made student loan debt almost impossible to discharge.

In sum, Biden took away from many struggling Americans a chance for a fresh start. After the law, millions would be forever saddled with unmanageable debt, no matter their employment or financial situation ("Study: Law creates many too broke to file for bankruptcy," Nasdaq, February 24, 2015). It was a cruel and ruthless act. Daniel Austin, Professor of Law at Northeastern University, said of the student loan provisions, "It is perverse and obscene. We are creating a generation of indentured people. It is mind-boggling that we would do this to a whole generation of young people. I can’t understand any other modern society doing this" ("Joe Biden Backed Bills To Make It Harder For Americans To Reduce Their Student Debt," International Business Times, September 15, 2015).

Economic misery and suicide

Why do people kill themselves? Experts tell us that a variety of factors can play a role, not the least of which are economic factors, such as recessions and unemployment. But what most suicides have in common, I think, is a lack of hope. For example, a lack of hope that a marriage is salvageable, or that chronic and debilitating pain will ever stop, or that an illness is anything but terminal, or that love will ever be found. So too with economic and financial pain. If someone thinks that his/her bad financial situation is unchangeable, they'll be more likely to consider suicide as an option. (See, e.g., "The Ones We’ve Lost: The Student Loan Debt Suicides," Huffington Post, September 1, 2012).

With this in mind, let's look at how the suicide rate changed at precisely the same point that Joe Biden's bankruptcy restrictions were enacted, 2005. I would argue causation, but at the very least it is an amazing correlation.

For the 10-year period prior to the 2005 bankruptcy restrictions, 1995-2004, the suicide rate was fairly stable, ranging from 10.4 to 11.8 per 100,000 people.

1995: 11.8
1996: 11.5
1997: 11.2
1998: 11.1
1999: 10.5
2000: 10.4
2001: 10.8
2002: 11.0
2003: 10.9
2004: 11.1

After Joe Biden's bankruptcy restrictions were enacted, on April 20, 2005, the suicide rate has consistently increased, from 11.0 to 14.5. There was not a single year where it did not increase.

2005: 11.0
2006: 11.2
2007: 11.5
2008: 11.9
2009: 12.0
2010: 12.4
2011: 12.7
2012: 12.9
2013: 13.0
2014: 13.4
2015: 13.8
2016: 13.9
2017: 14.5

(Statistics from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Fatal Injury Reports, National, Regional and State, 1981-2017," accessed May 8, 2019.)

It's important to remember that bankruptcy restrictions were not the only bad economic policy that Joe Biden supported. He voted for tax cuts for the rich under Reagan; he voted for the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which drove the recession of 2008 (a recession that was made worse, on an individual level, by Joe Biden's earlier debt-relief restrictions); he voted for NAFTA, which sent many good-paying jobs overseas; and then, after the recession had taken hold, Biden voted to bail out super-wealthy bankers, and then later tried to impose austerity on the middle-class and poor (for example, working with Obama to try to cut Social Security and Medicare).

Are you getting it? Biden helped cause the recession by voting to repeal Glass-Steagall. Then, because of his bankruptcy restrictions, many people couldn't escape their debt during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Then, to pour salt in the wound, Biden essentially said, "I don't care about the people being pummeled by my bankruptcy restrictions. Instead, I'm going to vote to bail out my banker buddies." And, all during this time frame (and continuing to the present), America's suicide rate, and other deaths of despair, kept increasing.

It is also quite likely that the financial misery that Biden has facilitated is responsible, at least partially, for the increasing rates of suicide for children and teens. Younger people know that America can be an economically ruthless place, and many of them are probably worried about the world they're going to graduate into. Recently, Dr. Gene Beresin, psychiatrist at Harvard University highlighted that "Kids are feeling more pressure to achieve, more pressure in school, and are more worried about making a living than in previous years" ("More young people, especially girls, are attempting suicide by poisoning, study says," CNN, May 1, 2019). And in testimony before Congress, a tribal leader of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation noted--with respect to unemployment and poverty--that "children carry the outlook that things may not get better for them" ("Native Leaders Tell Senators How To Help Stop Youth Suicide," Huffington Post, June 25, 2015).

Are rank and file Democratic Party voters much different than Trump supporters?

What's most telling about all of this, is that (to the best of my knowledge) Biden has never expressed an ounce of remorse about his bankruptcy restrictions. Even as both economic inequality and the national suicide rates have soared, he has said nothing about the role of his debt-relief restrictions. Equally amazing, as evidenced by his lead in most polls, it that millions of Democratic Party voters are giving him a pass on it, either because they don't know, don't care, or are so scared of Trump that Joe Biden's role in economic misery and suicide isn't a big deal. They just want someone, anyone, who they think can beat Trump (i.e., voting out of fear, instead of policy).

In Biden and his supporters, I think we're beginning to see that many Democratic Party voters have a lot in common with Trump supporters: Misinformed, scared, duped, and lacking empathy for those who struggle.

Shame on you Democratic Party voters. By supporting Biden--a man who has sacrificed millions of struggling Americans on the altar of his rich donors--you have turned the New Deal on its head.

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

--President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address, January 20, 1937

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Watch Grifter Joe Biden (speaking to Elizabeth Warren) obfuscate--to Kafkaesque levels--to secure passage of his bankruptcy restrictions, thus pleasing his corporate donors and crushing lower-income Americans

Above: In the 11-minute video above (available here), watch and listen to the amazing philosophical obfuscation--filled with "uhs" and "ums"--that Joe Biden employs in a 2005 hearing to justify cutting off debt relief for millions of struggling Americans. This was a pivotal moment in American history, where millions became too broke to file for bankruptcy, and thus permanently insolvent... locked into unmanageable debt. Shame on Joe Biden and the Democratic Party voters who are supporting his run for presidency. From a longer video provided by Mother Jones, here:

Joe Biden gaslighted the nation on bankruptcy reform

"Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality." --Stephanie A. Sarkis, Ph.D., Psychology Today

In the video above, Grifter Joe Biden wonders why creditors (his donors) should be forced to take a loss in bankruptcy proceedings when someone faces financial hardship and can no longer afford to pay back the money that was lent to them. Biden wonders if it's up to government, instead, to solve problems that Americans face (for example, healthcare costs) rather than expect creditors to lose money. And he offers up several bizarre, convoluted, ridiculously philosophical scenarios of automobile companies, pharmacies, utility companies, and lawn-cutting handymen perhaps bearing some social responsibility for people who end up in economic hard times. In other words, according to Joe Biden, why place sole responsibility on creditors; why not demand, instead, that the lawn guy cut grass for less money for struggling Americans.

Biden's philosophical word salad is so batsh&t ridiculous, random, and far-fetched, that it would not surprise me if he had been drinking a little whiskey or rum before the hearings. And the brutally sad truth of the matter is that bankruptcy reform was completely unnecessary. Do you really think credit card companies were not making untold millions and billions of dollars? Of course they were... they just wanted more. And they knew that cutting off bankruptcy would make a class of permanently insolvent Americans, i.e., debt slaves, cash cows, and people they could hound to the grave (and even after) with sociopath debt collectors.

To accomplish his goal of more power & money, for his donors and himself (i.e., more corporate profits, more political campaign contributions, and more re-election victories), Biden had to make us question the reality surrounding bankruptcy; you can see his efforts to gaslight us, oh-so-clearly, in his debate with Elizabeth Warren above (and unfortunately, Warren didn't do a good enough job of calling him out on it - probably out of a misguided desire to be civil). 

Joe Biden: Pushing us into debt problems... and then snatching away debt-relief 

Yes, Elizabeth Warren's responses to Grifter Joe are very weak, until the end, when she tells Biden that he shouldn't take away the last resort of bankruptcy UNTIL he solves larger societal problems, like usury. Biden, knowing he's been caught red-handed, says sarcastically, "I got it (mumbles something)... you're very good professor."

But Biden didn't "get it," and never intended to "get it." Ultimately, he voted for bankruptcy restrictions (after helping craft them), and did precious little (if anything) to solve the problems that had pushed Americans towards bankruptcy. In fact, he is one of the main architects of modern financial misery, supporting, for example, tax cuts for the rich, the job-exporting NAFTA legislation, and the recession-causing repeal of Glass-Steagall. He also tried, unsuccessfully--and with Obama--to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Grifter Joe

Joe Biden is a con-man, masquerading as "Middle-Class Joe" while simultaneously supporting policy after policy after policy that pounds us into the ground. He has caused incalculable pain & suffering and cares not a whit about it (in fact, he's made a nice living off it). Need proof? When has Biden ever seriously reflected on the issue of his bankruptcy "reform" and the financial devastation it has caused? If he did--and had any compassion whatsoever--he would work tirelessly to repeal it.

Again I say, shame on the Democratic Party voters who support this Confidence Man, this economic psychopath.