Saturday, September 29, 2012

How The Government’s Lies Become Truth

September 29, 2012 |Paul Craig Roberts
In my last column, “A Culture of Delusion,” I wrote that “Americans live in a matrix of lies. Lies dominate every policy discussion, every political decision.” This column will use two top news stories, Iranian nukes and Julian Assange, to illustrate how lies become “truth.”

The western Presstitute media uses every lie to demonize the Iranian government. On September 28 in a fit of unmitigated ignorance, the UK rag, Mail Online, called the president of Iran a “dictator.” The Iranian presidency is an office filled by popular election, and the authority of the office is subordinate to the ayatollahs. Assange is demonized alternatively as a rapist and a spy.

The western media and the US Congress comprise the two largest whore houses in human history. One of their favorite lies is that the Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, wants to kill all the Jews. Watch this 6 minute, 42 second video of Ahmadinejad’s meeting with Jewish religious leaders. Don’t be put off by the title. Washington Blog is making a joke.
Last week the news was dominated by the non-existent but virtually real Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu, blatantly intervened in the US presidential election, demanding that Obama specify the “red line” for attacking Iran. 

Netanyahu believes his maximum leverage over Obama, the president of the “world’s only superpower,” just prior to the election. Israel cannot attack Iran on its own without the risk of Israel’s destruction. But Netanyahu reasons that if he attacks Iran the week before the US election, Obama will have to join in or lose the Jewish vote for not supporting Israel in states such as Florida, which has a large Jewish population and many electoral votes. If the election is close, Netanyahu, a person consumed by arrogance and hubris, might exercise his threat and attack Iran, despite the opposition of former chiefs of Israeli intelligence and military, the opposition party, and a majority of the Israeli people.

In other words, the outcome of the “superpower’s” presidential election might depend upon whether the sitting president of the “superpower” is sufficiently obedient to the crazed Israeli prime minister.

That the outcome of the US presidential election could depend upon the agenda of the prime minister of a tiny country that exists only because of US financial, military, and diplomatic support, especially the UN veto, should disturb those Americans who think that they are the “indispensable people.” How indispensable are you when you have to do what the Israeli prime minister wants?

The US media makes certain that this question never enters american minds. Americans have been told that if Iran doesn’t have nukes, it has a nuke weapons program. This is what the politicians of both parties, the media, and the Israel Lobby tell them. Americans are told this despite the facts that the CIA and the National Intelligence Estimate stick to the conclusion that Iran abandoned its flirtation with a nuclear weapon in 2003 and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors on the ground in Iran report no evidence of a nuclear weapons program and no evidence of any diversion of enriched uranium to a weapons program.

Moreover, what could Iran do with a nuclear weapon, other than use it against an aggressor?

Any offensive use would result in Iran’s destruction.

Why do Americans believe Iran has nukes or is making nukes when the CIA says they are not? The answer is that Netanyahu says so, and the elected members of the US government in the House, Senate, and White House are afraid to contradict the Israeli prime minister, as are the American print and TV media. Some “superpower” we are! The “indispensable people” have to grovel in the dirt before Netanyahu. Americans are not even aware of their shame.

Iran, unlike Israel, signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Signatories to the treaty have the right to nuclear energy. Nuclear energy requires a low level of enrichment, 5% or less. The minute Iran announced a nuclear energy program, the Israeli government and its prostitutes in Washington lied that Iran was building a bomb. For exercising its legal rights under the treaty, Iran has been painted as a rogue criminal state and demonized.

A nuclear weapon requires 95% enrichment. To get to 5% from scratch and then to 95% is a long drawn out process. I think I first started hearing Israeli government claims of an Iranian nuke back in he 1990s of last century.

When Iran announced that, in view of the sanctions imposed by the US, sanctions that affect medical supplies, Iran was going to enrich uranium to 20% in order to supply itself with medical isotopes, the Israeli allegations that this would lead to a bomb resulted in Iran saying that the Iranian government was content for France or some other country to supply their medical isotopes and would not pursue enrichment beyond energy requirements. The US and Russia were also mentioned as suppliers.

According to the NY Times on September 29, 2011, “the Iranian president told the Washington Post and later, in basically the same terms, the New York Times: ‘if you [the United States and Europe] give us uranium grade 20 percent now, we will stop production.’”

On Israel’s orders Washington vetoed the Iranian concession. Solving the problem is not what the Israeli government wants. The problem has to be kept alive so that it can be used to foment an attack on Iran.

The Iranian nuke is one of those grand hoaxes, a lie designed to hide the real agenda.

What is the real agenda?

The real agenda hiding behind the hysterical concern about an Iranian nuke, is the rightwing Israeli government’s design on the water resources of southern Lebanon.

Twice the Israeli government sent the Israeli army into southern Lebanon to occupy and eventually annex the territory. And twice Hizbollah defeated and drove out the vaunted Israeli army.

The few thousand Hizbollah fighters were able to defeat the Israeli army, which is equipped and supplied by US taxpayers’ dollars while Americans are foreclosed out of their homes and left unemployed as Washington applauds the offshoring of their jobs, because Syria and Iran provide Hizbollah with financial support and weapons that destroy Israeli tanks.

Syria, of course, is currently resisting its destruction by Israel and its american puppet state. The overthrow of Syria hasn’t gone well, because the Russians and Chinese didn’t go along with it, like they stupidly did in Libya. But the far rightwing Israeli government has concluded that with american prestige involved in the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria, the deed will be done.

That leaves Iran. The Israeli government knows that it cannot be forthright and say that it wants Americans to go to war with Iran so that Israel can steal southern Lebanon. But if fear over nonexistent nukes can muster the Western populations to support an attack on Iran, Iran can be eliminated as Hizbollah’s supplier, and Israel can steal the water from Lebanon.

There is no discussion whatsoever of the real agenda anywhere in the US print and TV media. I doubt there is any discussion anywhere in Europe, which is a collection of american puppet states.

Will we get World War III for Christmas? Possibly, if the US election is close as it approaches. If the election is too close to call, Netanyahu might throw the dice and rely on Obama following his lead. Iran will be attacked, and the consequences are unknowable.

Let’s turn to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Like Iran, Assange has been demonized, not on the basis of facts but on the basis of lies.

Washington, which poses as a purveyor of human rights, has been mistreating if not torturing Bradley Manning since May 2010 without bringing him to trial in an effort to make Manning say that he and Assange constitute a spy team working against the US.

Assange is a celebrity, because Wikileaks publishes the news leaked to the organization that the Presstitute media suppresses. While in Sweden, Assange was picked up by two celebrity-hungry women who took him home to their beds. The women later bragged of their conquests on social media, but apparently when they found out that they were rivals, they turned on the “two-timer” Assange and made charges. One claimed that he had not used a condom as per her request, and the other claimed that she had offered one helping but he had taken two.

Whatever the accusations, the Swedish prosecutorial office investigated and dismissed the case.

Despite this known fact, the Western Presstitute media reports that Assange is a fugitive evading rape charges by hiding in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. Even RT, an alternative media voice, has fallen for this disinformation.

After Assange was cleared in Sweden, a female prosecutor has tried to reopen the case. There is no evidence for her to bring charges, so she demanded that England arrest Assange and extradite him to Sweden to be questioned.

Normally, people are not subject to extradition for questioning. Only people who have been formally charged are extradited. But this detail wasn’t of interest to the Presstitute media or to the British courts which ruled as Washington desired.

Opinions vary as to whether the female prosecutor who wants Assange for questioning is an ideological feminist who believes no heterosexual sex is legitimate or whether she is in the pay of Washington. But experts agree that once Assange is in Sweden he is certain to be turned over to Washington, which will demand his extradition on trumped up charges. Extradition on trumped up charges is difficult in England but easy in Sweden.

Assange offered to be questioned in London, but the female prosecutor refused. Now the Ecuadoran Embassy is offering to send Assange to the Ecuadoran Embassy in Sweden to be questioned, but Washington, London, and the Swedish prosecutor have refused. They want Assange without the protection of the asylum that Ecuador has granted him.

Washington has how made this obvious. John Glaser writing in, September 26, 2012, reports: “Newly declassified documents have revealed that the US military designated WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange an enemy of the state, who can be killed or detained without trial.”
See also 

Assange is Washington’s enemy, because he let the truth get out. WikiLeaks is a journalistic enterprise, not a spy enterprise. It publishes information, some of which is leaked to it by whistleblowers, just as the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times. The information leaked to WikiLeaks has embarrassed Washington, because it shows Washington to be two-faced, a manipulator of other countries’ governments and medias, and overflowing with mendacity.

In other words, Washington is not the light upon the hill, but the gates of Hell or Mordor.

Assange had best be careful. If he again speaks to supportive crowds from a balcony of the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, he is likely to be shot down by a CIA sniper.

Approved by Obama, of course. Or his successor.

The Real Unemployment Numbers Are Worse Than You Are Being Told

The Economic Collapse

According to the Obama administration, the unemployment rate in the United States has been slowly coming down over the past couple of years.  But is that actually true?  When you take a closer look at the data you quickly realize that the real unemployment numbers are much worse than we are being told.  For example, if the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would be a whopping 11.2 percent.  But every month the Obama administration has been able to show "progress" because of the fiction that hundreds of thousands of Americans are "disappearing" from the labor force each month.  Frankly, the way that they come up with these numbers is an insult to our intelligence.

Personally, I much prefer the employment-population ratio.  It is a measure of the percentage of working age Americans that actually have jobs.  I like to call it "the employment rate".  So what happened to the "employment rate" in August?  It fell slightly to 58.3 percent.  It is lower than it was when the last recession supposedly ended, and it is almost as low as it has been at any point since the very beginning of this crisis.  A few times during this economic downturn it has actually hit 58.2 percent.  Needless to say, things are not getting any better.  So why aren't the American people being told the truth?

After every other recession in the post-World War II era, the employment rate has always rebounded.

But not this time.

Does this look like a recovery to you?....

So how in the world can Barack Obama claim that we are better off now?

In August 2010, 58.5 percent of working age Americans had jobs.

In August 2012, 58.3 percent of working age Americans had jobs.

So where is the recovery?

It is two years later and a smaller percentage of Americans are employed.

It is very frustrating to me that we are not being told the truth about the unemployment numbers.

The following are some more indications that the real unemployment numbers are much worse than we are being told....

  • In July, 142,220,000 Americans were working.  In August, only 142,101,000 Americans were working.  So the number of Americans working fell by 119,000 and yet the government would have us believe that the unemployment rate actually declined from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent.
  • According to the federal government, 96,000 jobs were added to the economy in August and the U.S. labor force shrank by 368,000 even though our population is continually growing. If the size of the U.S. labor force had stayed the same, the official unemployment rate would have actually gone up to 8.4 percent.
  • Almost all of the new jobs added in August were the result of the "birth-death" model used by the Labor Department to estimate jobs added by new businesses.  That model has been heavily criticized for being inaccurate.  If you take the 87,000 jobs added by that model out of the equation, then the U.S. economy only added 9,000 jobs in August.  But it takes somewhere around 125,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with the growth of the population.
  • If the labor participation rate was sitting where it was when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.2 percent.
  • If the labor participation rate was sitting at the 30 year average of 65.8 percent, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.7 percent.
  • John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics would put the "real" rate of unemployment up around 23 percent after adding in all workers that have given up looking for work and all underemployed workers.
  • The labor participation rate for men has fallen to 69.9 percent.  This is the lowest level that it has been since the U.S. government began tracking this statistic back in 1948.
  • There was more bad news for manufacturing in this latest report.  During the month of August the U.S. manufacturing sector lost approximately 15,000 jobs.
  • The employment numbers for both June and July were revised downward significantly.  For June, it turns out that only 45,000 jobs were added to the economy as opposed to the 64,000 that were originally reported.  For July, it turns out that only 141,000 jobs were added to the economy as opposed to the 163,000 that were originally reported.
  • Incredibly, 58 percent of the jobs created since the end of the last recession have been low income jobs.
  • The U.S. economy currently has 4.7 million less jobs than it did when the last recession started.

So what is the solution to these problems?

The media is breathlessly proclaiming that more quantitative easing is on the way and that the Federal Reserve will save the economy and send the stock market soaring to new heights.

A headline on CNBC on Friday boldly declared the following: "Market Sees 'Helicopter Ben' Coming to the Rescue".

You can almost hear the chopper blades whirling now.

Apparently Bernanke has had a love of showering the economy with money for a very long time.  For example, you can see a picture of a young Ben Bernanke in action right here.

Of course that is a joke, but you get the point.

In recent years Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the rest of his cohorts have printed money like there is no tomorrow.

So have the previous rounds of quantitative easing solved our problems?

Of course not.

The employment rate is even lower today than it was two years ago.

But all of that money printing has sent the stock market soaring and it has enabled the big Wall Street banks to make an obscene amount of money.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve, the Obama administration and the big Wall Street banks don't really care about you.

They don't really care that the middle class is rapidly shrinking and that the number of Americans on food stamps has risen by more than 14 million since Barack Obama became president.

What they care about is what is good for them.

As I have written about previously, if we continue on the same path that we have been on for the past several decades, there will never be enough jobs in America ever again.

On our current trajectory, we will end up just like Greece where the unemployment rate is now up to 24.4 percent.

Once upon a time the economy of Greece was thriving.

But today, many formerly middle class Greek citizens are leaving Greece and are picking up whatever work they can find....
As a pharmaceutical salesman in Greece for 17 years, Tilemachos Karachalios wore a suit, drove a company car and had an expense account. He now mops schools in Sweden, forced from his home by Greece’s economic crisis.
“It was a very good job,” said Karachalios, 40, of his former life. “Now I clean Swedish s---.”
Karachalios, who left behind his 6-year-old daughter to be raised by his parents, is one of thousands fleeing Greece’s record 24 percent unemployment and austerity measures that threaten to undermine growth.
Would you be willing to do that?

Don't laugh.

Someday when the unemployment rate in the United States gets that high we will see large numbers of desperate Americans leaving this country in search of work somewhere else.

Already, an increasing number of Americans are buying expired food at auctions.

Times are hard and people are trying to get by any way that they can.

More than 100 million Americans are already on welfare and things have not even gotten that bad yet.

This is nothing compared to what is coming.

As you can see from the chart posted near the top of this article, the last economic downturn appears to have permanently weakened the U.S. economy.

Now the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching.

How much worse will things get when it finally hits us?

That is something to think about.

Why Does Our Society Look Down On Unemployed Men So Much?

 September 28th, 2012/

If you are unemployed for an extended period of time, people are going to look at you differently.  Unfortunately, this is especially true if you are a man.  In our society, men are primarily defined by "what they do".  If you have been unemployed for a long period of time, that can make social interactions even more awkward than normal.  Most people will instantly become more uncomfortable around you when they find out that you are unemployed.  Many will look at you with pity, and others will actually look at you with disdain.  Women will not want to date you, and if you are in a relationship unemployment will put a tremendous amount of strain on it.  Once you "don't have a job", you will not get the same level of respect from former co-workers, friends, members of your own family and possibly even your own wife. 

So why does our society look down on unemployed men so much?  Well, it is generally expected that men are supposed to be the "breadwinners" for their families.  If a woman stays home with the kids nobody has any problems with that, but if men do the same thing it tends to raise eyebrows.  But there is a big problem.  Our economy is not producing enough jobs for everyone.  In fact, there are millions upon millions more workers than there are jobs.  It would be great if this was just a temporary situation, but as I have written about previously, there will never be enough jobs in America ever again.  So there will continually be millions upon millions of men that are looked down upon by society because they can't get jobs, and as a result we are going to have millions upon millions of men that are constantly battling against soul-crushing despair.

It can be really hard to "feel like a man" when you aren't making any money.

And most women simply are not interested in becoming romantically involved with an unemployed man.  Just check out what one recent survey found....
Of the 925 single women surveyed, 75 percent said they'd have a problem with dating someone without a job. Only 4 percent of respondents asked whether they would go out with an unemployed man answered "of course."
"Not having a job will definitely make it harder for men to date someone they don't already know," Irene LaCota, a spokesperson for It's Just Lunch, said in a press release. "This is the rare area, compared to other topics we've done surveys on, where women's old-fashioned beliefs about sex roles seem to apply."

Those are some pretty overwhelming numbers.

So is it the same way when the roles are reversed?

Not even close.

When men were asked the same question, the difference was absolutely shocking....
On the other hand, the prospect of dating an unemployed woman was not a problem for nearly two-thirds of men. In fact, 19 percent of men said they had no reservations and 46 percent of men said they were positive they would date an unemployed woman.
Admittedly, men are often thinking about other things when they are evaluating whether they want to date a women or not.  Yes, there are some men these days that are concerned about how much money a woman makes, but the truth is that men tend to be much less concerned about income levels than women are.

In fact, a UK study that was released last year discovered that British women are even more concerned about the education and income of a potential mate than they were back in the 1940s.

So if you are unemployed you are probably not going to find much success in the romance department either.

If you are married, being unemployed is likely to put a huge strain on your marriage.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent Business Insider article entitled "TRUE CONFESSION: I'm Sick Of My Unemployed Husband"....
I can’t even remember when my husband stopped working.
And frankly, I don’t have time to think about it, between my full-time job and my fledgling business, volunteering at an after-school program to help teenagers prepare for the professional world and mothering two children.
But when I do think about it–when I think about all the times I come home to see evidence of his entire day’s activities cluttering the coffee table, or when I have to take our shared car to work and strand him at home because he doesn’t feel like getting up to drive me–I’m angry.
If a husband is unemployed for an extended period of time, there is a very good chance that the wife is going to start feeling very resentful.

If things get bad enough, many women will pull the plug on their marriages and will get rid of their "unproductive" husbands.

Last year, Time Magazine reported on a study that indicated that unemployed men were significantly more likely to get divorced than employed men were.

My goal in writing this is not to "bash women".  I am just pointing out how hard things are for unemployed men in our society.  Many wives (and their extended families) simply do not understand that our economy has fundamentally changed.  In the old days just about any hard working man that wanted a job could go out and get one.  That is most definitely NOT the case today.

Hopefully we can get more women to understand this.  I know that it can be hard to be patient when your husband is unemployed for month after month after month.

But at a time when husbands need their support the most, many wives withdraw emotionally and become very angry.

For example, how many women have you ever heard declare how proud they are of their unemployed husbands?

Of course there are definitely situations where these roles are reversed and employed husbands are badgering their unemployed wives about getting a job, but in general our society tends to have a greater degree of tolerance for unemployed women than it does for unemployed men.

Sadly, most people simply do not understand how dramatically things have changed in our economy.

The following chart shows the stunning decline in the percentage of working age men with a job over the past 60 years....

Back in the 1950s, there were times when nearly 85 percent of all working age men had jobs.

We will never get back to anything close to that ever again.

Prior to the last recession, about 70 percent of all working age men were employed.

Since the end of the recession, that number has not gotten back to 65 percent at any point.

That means somewhere around 5 percent of all working age American men have been displaced from the workforce permanently.

The mainstream media would have us believe that we are experiencing an "economic recovery" but that is a massive lie.  The real unemployment numbers are much worse than we have been told.

If you take a look at all working age Americans (men and women), there are actually more than 100 million of them that do not have jobs right now.

I know that statistic can be hard to believe.  I had a hard time believing it at first.  But it is actually true.

Meanwhile, the incomes of those who are working continue to fall.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has fallen for four years in a row.

But this is not a trend that just started recently.  According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

We are in the midst of a long-term economic decline and it is time for all of us to admit how bad things have really gotten.

So what are all of the men who are not working doing these days?

Well, there are some that have chosen to stay at home with the kids.  In a previous article, I discussed how the number of "stay at home dads" has doubled over the past decade.

But the overall percentage of "Mr. Moms" is still very, very low according to Fox News....
There were only about 81,000 Mr. Moms in 2001, or about 1.6 percent of all stay-at-home parents. By last year, the number had climbed to 176,000, or 3.4 percent of stay-at-home parents, according to U.S. Census data.
The vast majority of working age men still want to work outside of the home and earn a living for their families.

Unfortunately, most families need more than one income to make it these days.  In fact, in many cases both parents are working multiple jobs in an attempt to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, the number of good jobs continues to decline and the middle class in America continues to shrink.

This is hitting our young people that are just starting out particularly hard.  For example, during 2011 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor's degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.

And as I have written about previously, this is resulting in huge numbers of our young people moving back home with Mom and Dad.

This is particularly true when it comes to young men.  According to CNN, American men in the 25 to 34 age bracket are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as women the same age are....
The number of adult children who live with their parents, especially young males, has soared since the economy started heading south. Among males age 25 to 34, 19% live with their parents today, a 5 percentage point increase from 2005, according to Census data released Thursday. Meanwhile, 10% of women in that age group live at home, up from 8% six years ago.
How are our young men going to be able to get married and start families if they can't find jobs and they are living in our basements?

Sadly, things are really hard for everyone right now.  Since June 2009, we have supposedly been in "the Obama recovery", but median household income in America has fallen during that time period by $3040.

People keep waiting for things to "get better", but it just isn't happening.  This was beautifully illustrated the other night during a Saturday Night Live skit that had "Barack Obama" speaking in front of a rally of unemployed and underemployed workers.  You can find video of that skit right here.

There are millions upon millions of men (and women) all over America that are ready and willing to go back to work.

Sadly, there will never be enough jobs for all of them ever again, and that is not going to change no matter who wins the election.

In fact, when the next wave of the economic collapse hits the United States it is likely that unemployment is going to get a whole lot worse.

What will our society look like when that happens?

Who you side with by issue...

So, I took this quiz about issues and which candidate I matched closest with. Turned out that I matched Jill Stein 89%, Rocky Anderson 80% and Gary Johnson 74%. I knew I agreed with Johnson, but I'll be honest: until I took the quiz, I had no idea who Jill Stein was and had never heard of her. So, my friends, educate yourselves on ALL the candidates who are running. You will probably find you identify more closely with a candidate other than Obama or Romney.--jef

Here is the breakdown per grouping of issues:

Most important to Least Important to me (top to bottom)
I side the most with Rocky Anderson on healthcare issues.

the Economy
I side the most with Rocky Anderson on economic issues.
the Environment
I side the most with Jill Stein on environmental issues.

I side the most with Barack Obama on science issues.

Foreign Policy
I side the most with Gary Johnson on foreign policy issues.

Domestic policy
I side the most with Gary Johnson on domestic policy issues.

I side the most with Barack Obama and Rocky Anderson on social issues.
I side the most with Jill Stein on immigration issues.

So, the scorecard is:

Gary Johnson on Domestic and Foreign Policy. (2.0)
Jill Stein on Environment and Immigration. (2.0)

Rocky Anderson on Economic, Healthcare, and Social issues. (2.5)
Barack Obama on Science and Social issues. (1.5)
Mitt Romney on Nothing.(0)
Virgil Goode on Nothing (0)

Jill Stein Green Party
89% on foreign policy, environmental, domestic policy, economic, science, healthcare, social, and immigration issues 

Rocky Anderson Justice Party
80% on foreign policy, economic, domestic policy, environmental, healthcare, social, and immigration issues 

Gary Johnson Libertarian Party
74% on foreign policy, domestic policy, science, social, and immigration issues 
Barack Obama Democrat Party*
68%* on environmental, science, social, and immigration issues 

Virgil Goode Constitution Party
27% on no major issues 

Mitt Romney Republican Party*
7%* on no major issues

* doesn't matter how much or little I agree with these two parties, I won't ever vote for their candidates because they are corporate commodities, unable to choose the interests of the people ahead of those of their corporate masters.

Of all the people who took the quiz in my state:

Texas sides with Gary Johnson on most issues of the 2012 Presidential Election.

Johnson 49%
Obama 48%
Romney 43%
and me 50%, as far as the answers I chose. Maybe I should run for president--just in Texas. ;-)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Reflections on a Medical Career

The Impending Collapse of American Medicine
by Robert S. Dotson, M.D.

Just as is every issue in the US, Obamacare and the wider question of the state of American health care are obscured by propaganda and disinformation. In the article below, Dr. Robert S. Dobson looks back on a lifetime of medical practice and provides facts and insights that might help us to understand our situation.

The US medical system is the most expensive on earth without being the best and without providing full coverage. One-sixth of the American population has no medical coverage.

There are two main reasons that US medicine is so expensive. One is that profits are piled upon profits. In addition to wages and salaries for doctors, nurses, and medical personnel, the American health care system has to provide profits for private hospitals, diagnostic centers, insurance companies, and for the accountants, attorneys and management consultants made necessary by the enormous litigation and regulatory compliance cost. American medicine is the most regulated in the world and the most criminalized.

What “Obamacare” does is to divert Medicare and Medicaid monies to the profits of private insurance companies. Instead of providing medical care to those in need, the taxpayers’ money will provide bonuses for insurance executives and profits for their shareholders. It is the height of folly for Obama worshipers to defend a law written by the private insurance companies that uses public revenues to provide insurers with 50 million more customers and to add yet another layer of profits to the cost of American medicine. ~ Paul Craig Roberts

Reflections on a Medical Career
Robert S. Dotson, M.D.

All lovely things will have an ending, All lovely things will fade and die; And youth, that’s now so bravely spending, Will beg a penny by and by.
~Conrad Aiken (“Disenchantment IV”- 1916)

Thirty years have passed since a much younger physician opened his ophthalmology practice in East Tennessee. A lifetime of hopes and expectations, intermingled with the usual collection of fears and uncertainties, has sped past at blinding speed. Children came, grew up, and moved on to their own lives. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, many friends and colleagues have returned to dust in advance of their fading photos.

Patients and their parents and children and grandchildren have moved in and out of this world, too, inextricably woven into the fabric of my life. Sadly, a few may have been hurt by lapses in judgment or the arrogance of youthful physician pride and overconfidence. But, at the end of the day, most were helped. I was fortunate to be recognized as a “doctor’s doctor” early on and, though there was no attendant reward other than the respect of peers, that was a sufficiently gratifying laurel to carry.

As in any human story, joy and pain, love and sorrow, have marked these same years. The Millstone of Time has also worn away foolish aspirations and vainglorious pretensions. There is no one left to impress, no accolades to seek, no rank to which to aspire. Consequently, I feel freed to offer some end-of-life reflections on my profession and career.

Any thinking American knows that there is something terribly wrong with the health care system in this country. Throughout my career, the political ruling elite has been enacting piecemeal a version of “universal” healthcare coverage to satisfy the demands of an increasingly vocal, but also increasingly disenfranchised citizenry. Our overlords, of course, have been more motivated by enhancing corporate bottom lines and enriching themselves, than in genuinely helping the peasantry.

Every U.S. President since Kennedy in 1962 has dealt with the issue in one way or another – by policy statement or passage of legislation. LBJ oversaw the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Nixon oversaw the passage of the HMO Act (Health Maintenance Organization) in 1973 and ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) in 1974. Amazingly, he also introduced CHIA (Comprehensive Health Insurance Act) in 1974. Even more incredible was the spectacle of Ted Kennedy working to ensure its defeat. Doubtless, Kennedy regretted that in future years. Following the untimely departure of the 37th President, Gerald Ford signed ERISA into law in 1974 on his behalf, thereby introducing some minimal regulations to ensure that separated employees could maintain benefits, such as health insurance, for a limited time.

Carter campaigned in favor of National Health Insurance, but failed to pass anything similar during his time in office. He cited Kennedy’s opposition to CHIA and to his own proposals as the main reason for failure. Reagan’s era witnessed the passage of EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) and COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) in 1986 that, among other things, provided for emergency medical treatment coverage for anyone who could drag themselves into an emergency room (of course, such a visit might bankrupt them unless they were lucky enough to be an illegal alien). Medical labs and imaging centers (and, the providers staffing them) were given “special attention” under CLIA (1988).

The first President Bush had little time for national health care issues, as he was primarily focused on launching the NWO. Poppy’s “Thousand Points of Light” degenerated into in-coming tracers from the illuminated Angel of Death – simply more “peace, freedom and liberty” being delivered to millions of innocents across Battlefield Earth. It seems so trivial now, but Bush was unseated after reneging on his pledge of “no new taxes,” not for offshoring the US economy or taking the first step toward turning US foreign policy into the pursuit of world hegemony.

The Clinton administration tried to force through “Hillarycare” in 1993, but met with stiff opposition from their Republican opponents (of course, the opposition was due to perceived threats to corporate profit margins). Nonetheless, Team Clinton was able to push through HIPAA (1996) (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and SCHIP (1997) (State Children’s Health Insurance Program) which, contrary to the titles of the acts, neither improved health insurance portability or accountability nor improved the health of children.

The Clinton White House had more important fish to fry: war in the Balkans; the liberal distribution of depleted uranium and cruise missiles across the globe; test wars on Americans at places like Ruby Ridge, Waco, and Oklahoma City (OKC); the appearance of numerous “Arkan-cide” victims whose mortal remains seemed to be discovered at the most inconvenient times; and, a semen-stained blue dress. The first versions of the Patriot Act were trotted out in response to the false flag event of OKC, but Congress and even the Imperial Senate balked at moving so precipitously toward the New Amerikan Security State.

The ascension of son Bush and his neoconservative cabal turned the government to the drive toward world hegemony. The serendipitous events of 9/11 opened the door for passage of the neocon’s PATRIOT Act and for the still on-going implementation of their Project for the New American Century (PNAC). New alphabet agencies like DHS and TSA were created to augment existing departments and agencies (FDA, DHHS, IRS, FTC, FCC, EPA, FEMA, DEA, BATF, FBI, NSA, CIA, and DOD) charged with dominating the nation and the planet beyond. Orwell’s dystopia, 1984, became reality: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.” President Bush modeled Big Brother’s third slogan for an admiring populace more concerned with Harry Potter and Janet Jackson’s nipple than with the deadly machinations of the psychopath in charge.

It seems likely that steps toward the Third World War were taken during Bush II’s reign with “war, war, WAR” being unconstitutionally declared against the nebulous (some might say, non-existent) terrorists lurking under every bed and in every closet, cave, and country on the planet. In spite of a premature proclamation of “Mission Accomplished” from a flag-festooned carrier in 2003 by the Decider-In-Chief, the killings have continued with little pause up to this day. The Great Decider used the opportunity of “victory” abroad, however, to turn his attention to the healthcare needs of his subjects.

What could be a better bone to throw to the peasants than the expansion of pharmaceutical coverage for those under Medicare? And, what could be a better pay-off for corporate buddies than massive new government wealth transfers of taxpayers’ dollars to Big Pharma via such a plan? It was a perfect “win-win” for the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid and a “lose-lose” for the peons at the bottom. To the great joy of Big Pharma, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (Medicare, Part D) was launched in 2003 to insure unimaginable profits for its corporate members and more expense for the common people it was alleged to help. As in any casino, our healthcare croupiers are well trained to leave no dollar on the table.

President Obama, a corporate stooge par excellence, was able to ram through “universal healthcare” with the help of a Howdy Doody smile, his corporate sponsors, and the slavish devotion of an ever-delusional, pseudo-Left. It mattered not that the legislation was written by the insurance companies who had been profiting from the misery of patients for decades.

It is no accident – and would be comical, if it were not so serious – that there will be no true, equitable national health care system under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka, “Romneycare II” or “Obamacare” or, lately, “Robertscare” in homage to a Supreme Court judge) and its accompanying legislation, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. No Single Payer. No mutual insurance system that provides a basic level of healthcare for the proles of this collapsing Security State. Instead, we are witnessing the imposition of a system that will further enslave and impoverish the peasants here in Gulag Amerika. How poetic that a self-identifying “black man” is the front for resurrecting a 21st century version of chattel slavery in the twilight years of Empire.

Obama was positively beaming in his many photo-ops with the sponsoring corporatist representatives of Corporate Medicine, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Big Government who enabled the Prince of Change to achieve this milestone deception of America. The very fact that this “wonderful” new system – lauded by supporters as “revolutionary” – is to be enforced by a projected army of 16,500 new IRS agents should give us pause.

Notwithstanding passage of the legislation, decades of bad healthcare policy and corporatist plunder are finally taking their toll. The collapse of the ill-conceived US health care system might be near.

Ever more intrusive regulations are driving up the cost of medical care, and the practice of medicine is being criminalized. Even with all of their flaws, Medicare and Medicaid have provided a safety net for the elderly and disadvantaged since their inception. Those systems’ days are numbered, however, as they are being gutted to turn health care into profits not for doctors and hospitals but for insurance companies and Big Pharma. For starters, large sums have been ear-marked to be taken from Medicare and Medicaid to help fund PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Is looting Social Security and Medicare “change one can believe in”?

If this system is bad for patients, what does it mean for doctors? It means falling reimbursement rates and rising overhead costs for providers, onerous government mandates and regulations, and institutionalized, legalized larceny by Big Pharma, Big Insurance and Corporate Medicine. As an example of how time and circumstance have affected my own profession of ophthalmology, one need only look at Medicare approved reimbursement rates for cataract surgery.

In reflecting back over my many years in the field of ophthalmology (as of this writing, I am 63 years old and feeling pretty shop-worn), I am staggered by the changes that have occurred. When I opened my practice in 1982, Medicare approved surgical fees for cataract and implant surgery were near $1200. By 2012, that approved charge had dropped to about $570 in Tennessee. (There is some variance within states based on rural versus metro areas and between states where some are declared to have higher costs of doing business.)

Additionally, the US dollar has declined in value an average of almost 2.5% per year over the past 30 year period. Needless to say, overhead operating costs – salary, rent, insurance, personnel costs, taxes, and normal business expenses – have exploded during this same 30 year period. My office rent was raised 20% in the Fall of 2011, for instance.

To further illustrate the absurdity of the situation, it is worth recounting an anecdote. Several years ago, a patient excitedly told me of the vision restoring cataract surgery that her poodle had received at the local veterinary college. It “only cost $2600 for both eyes!” At the time, Medicare was paying about $1400 for two eyes in a human – including work up, surgical fee, post-op care for 90 days, and the very real liability associated with being a physician in a litigious society.

I do not begrudge my animal doctor friends their success, but surely the worth of human care should at least approximate that for a poodle. Although I know veterinarians who are struggling in their own practices due to the economic recession, at least they do not have to deal with government fee-setting and the liability and costs associated with treating humans. They are able to price their services sufficiently to keep their practices open and to provide for their own health care and retirement.

In my own practice, the amount of “write off” on charges for legitimate services rendered began to climb as we entered the 21st Century. For years, the “disallowed” charges by Medicare and private insurers resulted in “discounts” of 20-25%. As the economic upheaval of 2008 rolled around, those fee adjustments (actually theft of labor from providers) began to climb – 30%, 32%, 35%, and in my last year of practice over 60%! For years, I had been able to subsidize my Medicare (cataract) side of the practice by offering elective refractive surgery procedures (LASIK, PRK, etc.) to my patients. As these were private pay cases, they offset the draconian cuts in Medicare and insurance fee “adjustments.” The economic collapse of 2008, however, reduced that income stream for many ophthalmologists and, subsequently, led to the closing of many practices throughout the country.

Most general ophthalmologists are, by definition, primarily cataract surgeons. Many people – including Medicare recipients – do not realize that the fees paid to their physician are fixed by the U.S. Government after consultation with its many corporate sponsors within Big Insurance, Big Pharma, and Corporate Medicine. Patients also do not realize that those reimbursement levels are set by central planners at below-cost levels.

Medicare issues cut across all specialties, and ophthalmology has not been alone in experiencing cutbacks. Primary care physicians have increasingly become “piece good workers” – managed by corporate pencil pushers to see a patient every 6-8 minutes while being forced to carry all the liability and manage all the data and coding previously done by insurers.  

Who can diagnose, much less treat a patient in 6-8 minutes?

My own solo cardiologist was forced to close his practice last Fall and seek employment with an area hospital, due to declining reimbursement levels. More than 51% of cardiologists in the U.S. are now hospital employees. One of my medical school classmates, a successful internal medicine specialist, has recently given up the fight and has plans to enter some other line of work. Several friends in Radiology have seen their incomes decline as more and more work is “outsourced” to tele-docs in Asia. Still other long-time friends who are general surgeons are struggling to survive (a surgical fee for incisional cholecystectomy, for instance, is now under $400). Several have retired prematurely and others are looking for other work to do. As a final example, another of my friends is one of five physicians in a busy urology practice (2 offices and 26 employees) and they are now borrowing from the bank to make payroll. A recent article from CNN, “Doctors Going Broke,” confirms the growing problem.

As income reductions are being imposed on private practice, costs are being driven up by exploding regulations. In addition, the plethora of new mandates and laws have increasingly criminalized every aspect of the practice of medicine and created vast new armies of armed bureaucrats whose sole aim is to impose civil and criminal penalties on any provider unlucky enough to be singled out for attention. The old Soviet dictum attributed to Lavrenti Beria (Stalin’s NKVD chief), “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime,” is in full force in Amerika.

The present puppet in the White House has completed the work begun by his predecessors in moving the nation into a police state. The NDAA passed in the Fall of 2011 was the final nail in the coffin of personal freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution. By suspending habeas corpus and even trial by judge or jury, the Act has made certain that no person is safe from being violated by a power-mad Security State. At the mere movement of the Unitary Executive’s pen, it is now permissible to “disappear” or even execute anyone on the planet – all on the whim of the unaccountable psychopath in charge. Judge Andrew P. Napolitano has reported that our present Unitary Exec spends every Tuesday morning reviewing and signing off on a kill list supplied by his loyal minions. Nobel Peace Prize worthy stuff, indeed!

One is presumed guilty now in Amerika until proven otherwise and nowhere has this been more demonstrated than in the policing of medicine. Heaven help the poor provider who is targeted by the Medicare Police – or now, one supposes, by the new IRS Medical Special Branch. If targeted, his or her practice will be shut down without due process. His or her assets will be seized without due process (assuring the inability to even defend oneself). Finally, the unlucky guilty-until-proved-innocent physician will be permanently discredited (libeled) in his or her community with the ready help of the Government’s countless propaganda organs – press, radio, and TV – all before any day in court is seen.

New restrictions, rules, and regulations on healthcare – on providers and patients alike – have imposed legal constraints with which full compliance is impossible. Medicare rules and regs alone fill tens of thousands of pages, and ignorance of any of them is no defense for the unlucky. The original HIPAA legislation has been amplified with many additions since its inception in 1996: FERPA, HITECH, ARRA (2009). Each additional act or regulation has further criminalized the practice of medicine.

Finally, the entire health care system is being forced to switch to electronic health records (EHRs) and, soon, to a completely new coding system (from ICD-9 to ICD-10). Failure to comply with these mandates will result in further reductions in provider payments with every year that they remain unimplemented. For a solo physician practice, it is estimated that each mandate will cost as much as $80,000 to implement initially and, then, $10-15,000 annually to maintain. For multi-physician practices, costs run as high as three times (or more) that of a single provider practice. Of course, the purpose behind all of this is to make each person’s most private and personal information available to government bureaucrats and regulators while also ensuring its accessibility to the Security State’s many law enforcement tentacles and to all the corporate members of the Medical-Industrial complex.

Unfettered access to this information will ensure that the Corporate State can maximize its profits, largely avoid all risk and liability, and eliminate any potential competition (such as, often cheaper and more effective alternative medicine providers and therapies, non-GMO whole foods, and nutritional supplements). It will also ensure that medicine is practiced/delivered within strict cookbook guidelines that are carefully written by non-physician bureaucrats to maintain corporate profits and government power. All of this is well along in implementation.

A recent article, “Efforts to implement Obamacare law raise concerns of massive government expansion” from Fox News, 5 July 2012, ( informs us that lawyers have already “drafted more than 13,000 pages of Obamacare regulations and that this number will increase further over coming months. In addition, we are told that DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) has been given more than one billion dollars to date in order to begin oversight of this mess and that more than 180 “commissions, boards, and bureaus” within the Agency are already hard at work implementing the final destruction of American medicine.

Widespread vaccination of the population with untested “stabs” will be mandated and enforced. As long predicted by Tin Hatters around the planet, this will permit biometric “nano-chipping” of the citizenry without the unpleasant need to ask their permission.

Vast sums will be committed to “preventive” medicine which will prevent nothing and will only expand the reach of the Medical-Industrial complex into every nook and cranny of a person’s life – and, into every wallet. Certain corporate profit-driven diets and treatment regimens will be mandated and enforced; access to nutritional supplements and alternative medicine practices will be limited or banned altogether; behavior patterns of all types will be monitored and carefully scripted and controlled (what we see, hear, read, do, eat, drink, and breathe – where and how we work, play, and live) under the guise of State Security concerns and its new companion, Public Health or Public Good; and, finally, the Corporate State will deploy “death panels” to decide when a person has outlived his or her economic usefulness to the State. In spite of Obama’s denials that such bodies exist and Palin’s diversionary, hysterical rantings at Tea Party rallies, there is clear provision in the Act for bureaucratic decision-making bodies which will make end-of-life decisions for us all. These entities are already being formed and deployed across the land. Our Anglo cousins in the UK are showing us the way by withholding food and fluids from as many as 29% of their hospital patients now who are judged to be living beyond their government-dictated “use-by” dates (pragmatically justified “to free up beds” – oh, those Brits and their refined sense of humor).

What can be done about the failing American health care system and the wider collapse of the economy and civil liberty? Frankly, very little. The system is rigged against the people as it has always been, only now one can be “black-bagged” and disappeared at any time. Protest too loudly and one is liable to literally see a grim Reaper overhead with one’s personal biometrics programmed into its fire control system. Like every other institution within the United States, the medical system is totally and completely broken. It can no longer be fixed by “voting” for the lesser of evils, by printing bales of fiat currency, or even by deploying fleets of obsolete aircraft carriers across the planet.

If as it seems we are arriving at the end of an age, if we can survive the end, something better might arise from the ashes. The prospect of collapse turns one’s thoughts to escape and survival. Can you do either? Volumes have been written about preparedness in a time of chaos, so I will spare readers a rehash. But, a few comments about healthcare, in particular, might be in order.

In a perfect world, it is my opinion that we should have some form of single payer healthcare system and divorce ourselves from corporate medicine. In my opinion, this will not happen without the complete collapse of the present system. Since that is unlikely to occur before more seasons of national election fraud are imposed on us, a few “in-the-meantime” suggestions follow:

Avoid contact with the existing health care system as far as possible. Yes, emergencies arise that require the help of physicians, but by and large one can learn to care for one’s own minor issues. Though it is flawed, the internet has been an information leveler for the masses and permits each person to be his or her own physician to a large degree. Take advantage of it! Educate yourself about your own body and learn to fuel and maintain it as you would an expensive auto or a pet poodle. One does not need a medical degree to:

  1. avoid excessive use of tobacco or alcohol or, for that matter, caffeine;
  2. avoid poisons like fluoride, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and addictive drugs (legal or illicit);
  3. avoid unnecessary and potentially lethal imaging studies (TSA’s radiation pornbooths, excessive mammography, repetitive CT scans – exposure to all significantly increases cancer risk);
  4. avoid excessive cell phone use and exposure to other forms of EMR pollution where possible (the NSA is recording everything you say and text anyway);
  5. avoid daily fast food use and abuse (remember: pink slime and silicone) ;
  6. avoid untested GMO foods (do you really want to become “Roundup Ready?”);
  7. avoid most vaccinations and pharmaceutical agents promoted by the establishment;
  8. avoid risky behaviors (and, we do not need a bunch of Nanny State bureaucrats to define and police these);
  9. exercise moderately;
  10. get plenty of sleep;
  11. drink plenty of good quality water (buy a decent water filter to remove fluoride, chloride, and heavy metals);
  12. wear protective gear at work and play where appropriate (helmets, eye-shields, knee and elbow pads, etc.);
  13. seek out locally-grown, whole, organic foods and support your local food producers;
  14. take appropriate nutritional supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3);
  15. switch off the TV and the mainstream media it represents;
  16. educate yourself while you can;

And, lastly…


Doing these simple, common-sense things will add healthy years to a person’s life and help one avoid most medical encounters during his or her allotted time on earth.

Finally, we have a responsibility to our neighbors and our families. We need to reach out to those around us – talk to them, listen to them – sympathize and empathize. Take time especially to listen to those who are in pain and are suffering and to help them by being humane. If you do this, you will discover that we have more in common with each other than the ruling elite wants us to believe. Governments obtain power and control by taking advantage of divisions along religious, ethnic, class, economic, ideological, and nationalistic lines. We must awaken to this fact if the 99% are to prevail against the 1%.

As for me, I was finally forced to close my practice earlier this year. Nearly two years of consulting with multiple attorneys, accountants, practice management consultants, and bankers, and expending most of my resources in a vain effort to keep operating, were simply not enough. It seemed only poetic that April Fool’s Day 2012 should be chosen for turning out the lights and ringing down the curtain. Patients and employees and suppliers were notified of the end. Many had been with me for my entire career and leaving them was and remains painful. More than nine thousand active charts were transferred to the care of a younger ophthalmologist still trying to stay afloat.

I share the heartache of many physicians forced out of medicine by the high cost of practicing it. As the health system is stripped of medical care in behalf of corporate profits, its exploitative character will become clear to all. In the meantime, don’t give in or give up. Plan for something better on the other side of chaos.

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end.
~ Gilda Radner

Glossary of Terms:

ARRA American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
CHIA Comprehensive Health Insurance Act
CIA Central Intelligence Agency
CLIA Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 – administered by CMS
CMS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
COBRA Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
DHHS Department of Health and Human Services
DHS Department of Homeland Security
DOD Department of Defense
EMR Electromagnetic radiation
EMTALA Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act – part of COBRA1986
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
ERISA Employee Retirement Income Security Act
FEMA Federal Emergency Management Agency
FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation
FDA Food and Drug Administration
FERPA Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (1974 original legislation)
GMO Genetically Modified Organisms
HCERA Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 – supplement to PPACA
HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
HITECH Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (2009)
HMO Health Maintenance Organization
ICD-10 International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision
IRS Internal Revenue Service
NDAA National Defense Authorization Act
NSA National Security Agency
NWO New World Order
PPACA Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
SCHIP State Children’s Health Insurance Program
TSA Transportation Security Administration
USAPA Unifying and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism – aka, The Patriot Act


Whether you agree or disagree with his points, you have to agree that it was a compelling read.--jef

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How Apple Rules America

This Modern World

This Presidential Race Should Never Have Been This Close

by Matt Taibbi
The press everywhere is buzzing this week with premature obituaries of the Romney campaign.

New polls are out suggesting that Mitt Romney's electoral path to the presidency is all but blocked. Unless someone snags an iPhone video of Obama taking a leak on Ohio State mascot Brutus Buckeye, or stealing pain meds from a Tampa retiree and sharing them with a bunch of Japanese carmakers, the game looks pretty much up – Obama's widening leads in three battleground states, Virginia, Ohio and Florida, seem to have sealed the deal. 

That's left the media to speculate, with a palpable air of sadness, over where the system went wrong. Whatever you believe, many of these articles say, wherever you rest on the ideological spectrum, you should be disappointed that Obama ultimately had to run against such an incompetent challenger. Weirdly, there seems to be an expectation that presidential races should be closer, and that if one doesn't come down to the wire in an exciting photo finish, we've all missed out somehow.

Frank Bruni of The New York Times wrote a thoughtful, insightful editorial today that blames the painful, repetitive and vacuous campaign process for thinning the electoral herd and leaving us with only automatons and demented narcissists willing to climb the mountain:
Romney's bleeding has plenty to do with his intrinsic shortcomings and his shortsightedness: how does a man who has harbored presidential ambitions almost since he was a zygote create a paper trail of offshore accounts and tax returns like his?
But I wonder if we're not seeing the worst possible version of him, and if it isn't the ugly flower of the process itself. I wonder, too, what the politicians mulling 2016 make of it, and whether, God help us, we'll be looking at an even worse crop of candidates then.
The Times, meanwhile, ran a house editorial blaming Romney's general obliqueness, his willingness to stretch the truth and his inability to connect with ordinary people for his fall. David Brooks ran a column suggesting that Romney's overreliance on a message of strict market conservatism, ignoring the values message of "traditional" conservatism, was what killed him in the end.

All of these points of view have merit, I guess, but to me they're mostly irrelevant. The mere fact that Mitt Romney is even within striking distance of winning this election is an incredible testament to two things: a) the rank incompetence of the Democratic Party, which would have this and every other election for the next half century sewn up if they were a little less money-hungry and tried just a little harder to represent their ostensible constituents, and b) the power of our propaganda machine, which has conditioned all of us to accept the idea that the American population, ideologically speaking, is naturally split down the middle, whereas the real fault lines are a lot closer to the 99-1 ratio the Occupy movement has been talking about since last year.

Think about it. Four years ago, we had an economic crash that wiped out somewhere between a quarter to 40% of the world's wealth, depending on whom you believe. The crash was caused by an utterly disgusting and irresponsible class of Wall Street paper-pushers who loaded the world up with deadly leverage in pursuit of their own bonuses, then ran screaming to the government for a handout (and got it) the instant it all went south.

These people represent everything that ordinarily repels the American voter. They mostly come from privileged backgrounds. Few of them have ever worked with their hands, or done anything like hard work. They not only don't oppose the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs, they enthusiastically support it, financing the construction of new factories in places like China and India.

They've relentlessly lobbied the government to give themselves tax holidays and shelters, and have succeeded at turning the graduated income tax idea on its head by getting the IRS to accept a sprawling buffet of absurd semantic precepts, like the notions that "capital gains" and "carried interest" are somehow not the same as "income."

The people in this group inevitably support every war that America has even the slimmest chance of involving itself in, but neither they nor their children ever fight in these conflicts. They are largely irreligious and incidentally they do massive amounts of drugs, from cocaine on down, but almost never suffer any kind of criminal penalty for their behavior.

If this race had even one guy running in it who didn't take money from all the usual quarters and actually represented the economic interests of ordinary people, it wouldn't be close. It shouldn't be close.

That last thing I would say is probably appropriate, except for the fact that hundreds of thousands of poor (and mostly black and Hispanic) kids get tossed by cops every year (would you believe 684,000 street stops in New York alone in 2011?) in the same city where Wall Street's finest work, and those kids do real time for possession of anything from a marijuana stem to an empty vial. How many Wall Street guys would you think would fill the jails if the police spent even one day doing aggressive, no-leniency stop-and-frisk checks outside the bars in lower Manhattan? How many Lortabs and Adderalls and little foil-wraps of coke or E would pop out of those briefcases?

For all this, when it came time to nominate a candidate for the presidency four years after the crash, the Republicans chose a man who in almost every respect perfectly represents this class of people. Mitt Romney is a rich-from-birth Ivy League product who not only has never done a hard day of work in his life – he never even saw a bad neighborhood in America until 1996, when he was 49 years old, when he went into some seedy sections of New York in search of a colleague's missing daughter ("It was a shocker," Mitt said. "The number of lost souls was astounding").

He has a $250 million fortune, but he appears to pay well under half the maximum tax rate, thanks to those absurd semantic distinctions that even Ronald Reagan dismissed as meaningless and counterproductive. He has used offshore tax havens for himself and his wife, and his company, Bain Capital, has both eliminated jobs in the name of efficiency (often using these cuts to pay for payments to his own company) and moved American jobs overseas.

The point is, Mitt Romney's natural constituency should be about 1% of the population. If you restrict that pool to "likely voters," he might naturally appeal to 2%. Maybe 3%.  

If the clichés are true and the presidential race always comes down to which candidate the American people "wants to have a beer with," how many Americans will choose to sit at the bar with the coiffed Wall Street multimillionaire who fires your sister, unapologetically pays half your tax rate, keeps his money stashed in Cayman Islands partnerships or Swiss accounts in his wife's name, cheerfully encourages finance-industry bailouts while bashing "entitlements" like Medicare, waves a pom-pom while your kids go fight and die in hell-holes like Afghanistan and Iraq and generally speaking has never even visited the country that most of the rest of us call the United States, except to make sure that it's paying its bills to him on time?

Romney is an almost perfect amalgam of all the great out-of-touch douchebags of our national cinema: he's Gregg Marmalaard from Animal House mixed with Billy Zane's sneering, tux-wearing Cal character in Titanic to pussy-ass Prince Humperdinck to Roy Stalin to Gordon Gekko (he's literally Gordon Gekko). He's everything we've been trained to despise, the guy who had everything handed to him, doesn't fight his own battles and insists there's only room in the lifeboat for himself – and yet the Democrats, for some reason, have had terrible trouble beating him in a popularity contest.

The fact that Barack Obama needed a Himalayan mountain range of cash and some rather extreme last-minute incompetence on Romney's part to pull safely ahead in this race is what really speaks to the brokenness of this system. Bruni of the Times is right that the process scares away qualified candidates who could have given Obama a better run for all that money. But what he misses is that the brutal campaign process, with its two years of nearly constant media abuse and "gotcha" watch-dogging, serves mainly to select out any candidate who is considered anything like a threat to the corrupt political establishment – and that selection process is the only thing that has kept this race close.

Barack Obama is hardly a complete Wall Street stooge. The country's most powerful bankers seem genuinely to hate his guts, mainly because they're delusional and are sincerely offended by anyone who dares to even generally criticize them for being greedy or ethically suspect, as Obama has with his occasional broadsides against "fat cat bankers" and so on.

On the other hand, Obama's policy choices in the last four years have made it impossible for him to run aggressively against the corruption and greed and generally self-obsessed, almost cinematic douchiness that Romney represents.

With 300 million possible entrants in the race, how did we end up with two guys who would both refuse to bring a single case against a Wall Street bank during a period of epic corruption? How did we end up with two guys who refuse to repeal the carried-interest tax break? How did we end with two guys who supported a vast program of bailouts with virtually no conditions attached to them? Citigroup has had so many people running policy in the Obama White House, they should open a branch in the Roosevelt Room. It's not as bad as it would be in a Romney presidency, but it comes close.

If this race had even one guy running in it who didn't take money from all the usual quarters and actually represented the economic interests of ordinary people, it wouldn't be close. It shouldn't be close. If one percent of the country controls forty percent of the country's wealth – and that trend is moving rapidly in the direction of more inequality with each successive year – what kind of split should we have, given that at least one of the candidates enthusiastically and unapologetically represents the interests of that one percent?

To me the biggest reason the split isn't bigger is the news media, which wants a close race mainly for selfish commercial reasons – it's better theater and sells more ads. Most people in the news business have been conditioned to believe that national elections should be close.

This conditioning leads to all sorts of problems and journalistic mischief, like a tendency of pundits to give equal weight to opposing views in situations where one of those views is actually completely moronic and illegitimate, a similar tendency to overlook or downplay glaring flaws in a candidate just because one of the two major parties has blessed him or her with its support (Sarah Palin is a classic example), and the more subtly dangerous tendency to describe races as "hotly contested" or "neck and neck" in nearly all situations regardless of reality, which not only has the effect of legitimizing both candidates but leaves people with the mistaken impression that the candidates are fierce ideological opposites, when in fact they aren't, or at least aren't always. This last media habit is the biggest reason that we don't hear about the areas where candidates like Romney and Obama agree, which come mostly in the hardcore economic issues.

It's obviously simplistic to say that in a country where the wealth divide is as big as it is in America, elections should always be landslide victories for the candidate who represents the broke-and-struggling sector of the population. All sorts of non-economic factors, from social issues to the personal magnetism of the candidates, can tighten the races. And just because someone happens to represent the very rich, well, that doesn't automatically disqualify him or her from higher office; he or she might have a vision for the whole country that is captivating (such a candidacy, however, would be more feasible during a time when the very rich were less completely besotted with corruption).

But when one of the candidates is Mitt Romney, the race shouldn't be close. You'll hear differently in the coming weeks from the news media, which will spend a lot of time scratching its figurative beard while it argues that a 54-46 split, or however this thing ends up (and they'll call anything above 53% for Obama a rout, I would guess), is evidence that the system is broken. But what we probably should be wondering is why it was ever close at all.