ALL ARTICLES

RESIST! The White House Wouldn’t Post Trump Staffers’ Financial Disclosures. So ProPublica Did.

  By Ariana Tobin & Derek Kravitz at ProPublica Common Dreams (4/3/17) In a remarkable Friday night news dump, the Trump administration made dozens of White House staffers’ financial disclosure forms available. But they did it with an extra dose of opacity. These are important disclosures from the people who have the president’s ear and shape national policy. They lay out all sorts of details, including information on ownership of stocks, real estate and companies, and make possible conflicts of interest public. But the White House required a separate request for each staffer’s disclosure. And they didn’t give the names of…


Russia Monitor: The Trump Push Back Ramps Up

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (4/5/17) Dear Fellow Readers, The pushback has started in earnest. After a few miss-steps the Trump cabal is honing it’s message that Trump was surveilled. The target is Susan Rice, a familiar GOP target. Susan Rice, Ex-Obama Adviser, Is Back in Political Cross Hairs Over Surveillance. Push Back Playbook One thing about Dems – they are incapable of a unified message and in instances like these I am happy for that. Take a look at the names and the damning comments from the GOP leadership – Graham, Cotton, Rand Paul – shameful; shameful to them…


The Deep State And The Diversionary Puppet Show Of Our Political System

“Washington is the most important node of the Deep State, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary puppet show. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and…


Can Border Agents Search Your Electronic Devices? It’s Complicated

  By Esha Bandari & Nathan Freed Wessler ACLU (3/14/17) We’ve been getting a lot of questions about when border agents can legally conduct searches of travelers’ electronic devices at international airports and other ports of entry. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple. The government has long claimed that Fourth Amendment protections prohibiting warrantless searches don’t apply at the border. The ACLU takes issue with this position generally, especially when it comes to electronic devices like smartphones and laptops. Our smartphones store detailed accounts of our conversations, professional lives, whereabouts, and web-browsing habits. They paint a far more detailed picture of…


An Alternative Obituary For David Rockefeller

  By Erik Wallenberg The Jacobin (3/31/17) As a child growing up in a mansion on 54th Street in Manhattan, David Rockefeller remembered roller-skating with his siblings down Fifth Avenue trailed by a limousine in case they got tired. Rockefeller and his family, which included billionaires and politicians at all levels of government, spent a lifetime ensconced in this kind of luxury. At the time of his death on March 20, Forbes estimated that the 101-year-old Rockefeller’s investments in real estate, share of family trusts, and other holdings stood at $3.3 billion. The obituaries and tributes waxed nostalgic, giving us…


Ron Kind One Of Only 5 Dem Reps Supporting Killing Hibernating Bear Cubs & Wolf Pups In Their Dens On Federal Refuges In Alaska

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (4/3/17) Wisconsin progressives are use to nominally democratic Rep. Ron Kind aligning himself with the most venal and corrupt Wall Street interests. His participation in Wall Street funded groups like the Third Way puts him in the role of butler and pool boy to the powerful. Despite this, the congress critter manages to keep a wholesome, sunny reputation in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, with most voters having no idea Ron is aligned with corporate interests that would like to take a chainsaw to well earned benefits programs like Social Security and Medicare….


Russia Monitor: Time To Follow The Trail Of Dead Russians And One Bumbling Congress Critter

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (4/3/170 Dear Fellow Readers, We have reached a more mature point in the development of the Trump campaign collusion with Russia. There are a lot of pins on the evidence board but it would be nice to develop the broader framework and make sense out of the display. The best way to start might be based on the best quote from the last few days… “Follow The Trail of Dead Russians”: Clinton Watts, a national security expert testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out that several Russians linked to the investigation have died…


Holocaust Survivor Has Message For ICE Head: “History is not on your side!”

  Young Turks (3/29/17) “During an immigration forum in Sacramento, California Tuesday, a holocaust survivor had some strong words for Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan. According to CBS Sacramento, the man explained to Homan and Jones that as a boy in Poland he was “hauled off” for nothing more than simply being Jewish. “For no other reason, I was picked up and separated from my family, who was exterminated in Auschwitz,” he said. “And I am a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau.” He said that he spent five years in concentration…


The New Revolutionaries Are Winning: The Real Radicals Are Not To Be Found Among The Leftists

“Ever since the first ziggurats rose in ancient Babylonia, the so-called forces of order, stability, and tradition have feared a revolt from below. Beginning with Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre after the French Revolution, a whole library of political literature, some classical liberal, some conservative, some reactionary, has emphasized this theme. The title  of Ortega y Gasset’s most famous work, The Revolt of the Masses, tells us something about its mental atmosphere, a Freudian fear of defilement by the great unwashed. “But in our globalized postmodern America, what if this whole vision of order, stability, and who threatens those…


16th Richest Family In America: The Family Making Billions From The Opioid Epidemic

  Brasscheck TV (4/1/17) Deaths by opioid overdose have surpassed AIDS deaths at the peak of that epidemic. There’s one family that’s made billions from this disaster. The US news media has done a good job of keeping their names out of the news. But Brasscheck is not a member of the mainstream news media. Meet the Sackler family… Richard Sackler, 71, moves among elite circles of scientists, researchers, and investors and rarely speaks at public events. Even photographs of him are difficult to find. The Sackler family, in general, has avoided public discussion of OxyContin or the drug’s role…


Watch: Bernie Sanders Talks ‘Dark Money’ With Journalist Jane Mayer, Who Literally Wrote The Book On It

  Common Dreams Staff (3/30/17) Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday sat down with investigative journalist Jane Mayer to discuss the threat that secretive and undisclosed campaign financing—exemplified by the outsized influence of powerful billionaires like Charles and David Koch—continues to have on U.S. democracy and what should be done to push back. Mayer—author of the 2016 best-seller Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right—recently wrote a feature for The New Yorker in which she detailed the significant role the deep pockets, and bizarre far-right politics, of billionaire Robert Mercer played in President…


Now More Than Ever: The Lessons Of George Orwell’s ‘1984’

  Empire Files (2/1/17) Their are very few literary masterpieces that can transcend generations. There are even fewer that serve as a blueprint for the future. One of those books is 1984, one of the most prolific novels of our time. The author was born Eric Arthur Blair, but was probably most know by his pen name, George Orwell. George Orwell was one of the greatest visionaries of the twentieth century who identified himself as a democratic socialist. Under the Soviet Union he was forced to flee under communism suppression of socialist dissidents. War is Peace Slavery is Freedom Ignorance…


Orwell’s Newspeak: Control The Language, Control The Society

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by eactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . The process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. “Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s…


Surveillance State Update: FBI Face Recognition Technology Has ‘No Limits,’ Congressional Hearing Reveals

TheCommonerCall.org   By Nika Knight Common Dreams (3/27/17) If Congress doesn’t take legislative action, the FBI’s vast and growing facial recognition database could someday soon allow the government to track Americans’ “every move” in a breathtaking, nationwide violation of the Fourth Amendment. That was the takeaway of a scathing hearing in the Congressional Oversight Committee on the FBI’s use of facial recognition technology last week. In June, the FBI’s use of such technology was the subject of a damning report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which revealed that the agency’s use of the technology was much more far-reaching than…


The Russia Monitor: Drip … Drip … There Sure Seems To Be More ‘There’ Than Coincidence ‘There’

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (3/30/17) Dear Fellow Readers, While the White House and specifically White House press secretary Sean Spicer contend “there is no there there” to Trump campaign collusion with Russians the big news over the last few days is about who is and who is not to testify. The initiative most in the news is the House Intelligence hearings co-chaired by Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA). Initially there was a pronouncement of bi-partisan cooperation to investigate and protect US democracy but that outlook has since changed. Rep. Schiff Calls on Rep. Nunes to Recuse…


The Science Of ‘Blue Lies’ Helps Explain Trump Supporters’ Orwellian Level Of Loyalty To Lies

  By Jeremy Adam Smith Scientific American (3/24/17) President Donald Trump tells lies. His deceptions and misleading statements are easy to unmask. In the latest example — after hundreds of well-documented lies — FBI director James Comey told Congress this week that there is “no information that supports” Trump’s claim that President Obama tapped his phone. But Trump’s political path presents a paradox. Far from slowing his momentum, his deceit seemed only to strengthen his support through the primary and national election. Now, every time a lie is exposed, his support among Republicans doesn’t seem to waver very much. In…


The Forces Driving Middle-Aged White People’s ‘Deaths Of Despair’

  By Jessica Boddy NPR (3/23/17) In 2015, when researchers Ann Case and Angus Deaton discovered that death rates had been rising dramatically since 1999 among middle-aged white Americans, they weren’t sure why people were dying younger, reversing decades of longer life expectancy. Now the husband-and-wife economists say they have a better understanding of what’s causing these “deaths of despair” by suicide, drugs and alcohol. In a follow-up to their groundbreaking 2015 work, they say that a lack of steady, well-paying jobs for whites without college degrees has caused pain, distress and social dysfunction to build up over time. The…


How Democrats Threw Away Union Voters

TheCommonerCall.org   By Chuck Jones Huffington Post (3/17/17) A few weeks back, I spoke to the Democratic National Committee Forum in Detroit about how the party lost a lot of Midwest blue collar voters – and with them, the presidency. My union – United Steelworkers Local 1999 ― represents the Indianapolis Carrier plant that loomed large in the presidential showdown. Our role grew even more prominent after Trump attacked me on Twitter for having called him out for lying about the Carrier jobs. But it wasn’t just Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Carrier that got the Democratic Party in a…


The Multibillion-Dollar US Spy Agency You’ve Never Heard Of

  By James Bamford Foreign Policy (3/20/17) n a heavily protected military base some 15 miles south of Washington, D.C., sits the massive headquarters of a spy agency few know exists. Even Barack Obama, five months into his presidency, seemed not to have recognized its name. While shaking hands at a Five Guys hamburger restaurant in Washington in May 2009, he asked a customer seated at a table about his job. “What do you [do]?” the president inquired. “I work at NGA, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency,” the man answered. Obama appeared dumbfounded. “So, explain to me exactly what this National Geospatial…”…


The Russia Monitor: Bipartisan Congressional Investigation DOA & What’s Up With Mike Flynn And FBI?

  TheCommonerCall.org “If you believe in coincidence you are not paying attention.” – Folk wisdom By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (3/27/17) Dear Fellow Readers, If you are reading I imagine you fit somewhere between the spectrum of ‘curious’ and ‘ this is serious stuff’. I lean to the serious stuff end of the spectrum. I feel compelled to point out that facts are a bit thin to date – we know enough to be concerned but in no way can we connect all the dots. And if you want to jump to the most damning news, feel free to…


Brothers & Sisters, We Live In Glorious Times! A Gathering Of Friends In A Time Of Challenge

By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (3/27/17) Given the steady flow of sludge from the Trump White House and usual flow of delusion and deceit from deep inside Scotty “Bucky Weasel” Walker’s fur-lined burrow a fella’ needs to spend some time with friends when he can and this past Saturday somewhere north of 200-plus progressive friends journeyed to Mazomanie for the 9th Annual Wisconsin Grass Roots Festival. The annual event is put on by Wisconsin Grassroots Network. WGN Nate Tim and a small army of local volunteers always put on a hell of a gathering. Folks from all across…


Hedges: Our Last Chance For Resistance – One By One The Candles Are Extinguished

  By Chris Hedges TruthDig (3/19/17) The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power. Those inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed…


What Is Happening & Where We Are Going: Two Essential Videos Of Journalist Chris Hedges

TheCommonerCall.org By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call  (3/23/17) The whirlwind of our time has a lot of metaphorical dust blinding many to what is happening. From the rapid-fire assaults of late-night Trumpian tweets to callously cruel executive orders to one news cycle after another filled with a spiraling collection of unbelievable-but-unfortunately-true stories one can feel caught in some kind of crazy cosmic pinball arcade. Given his long background on reporting from the crispy edges of American empire – from Central America to Bosnia to Iraq – few have the depth of understanding of the well-oiled chaos leaving so many…


A Warning To America: How Hitler Came To Power Has Many Disturbing Similarities To What Trump’s Movement Is Pulling Together

  Reich Wing Watch (11/1/16) The audio in this video is from “On Point with Tom Ashbrook”. Being interviewed is historian Eric Weitz. Discussed is how Hitler rose to power and the “comeback” right-wing populism is making in Europe and in the United States in the form of Donald Trump. What economic and social conditions helped the Nazis come to power? [Editor’s Note: Author Eric Weitz is way too dismissive of the parallels and echoes between Weimar Republic Germany and today’s America. He does an excellent job of laying out the commonalities but then steps back, assuring us that things…


‘The Russia Monitor’ – New Commoner Call Feature Will Keep Track Of The Emerging Crime Scene

“If you think something is coincidence, you are not paying attention.” By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (3/23/17) Dear Fellow Readers, I read the Commoner Call every day and I have appreciated the new approach of bringing focus to an issue, it offers both a wider perspective and more depth to a topic. I’m sure you’ve noticed the recurring focus on Russia.  Commoner Call editor Mark Taylor and I have shared thoughts on this for a number of months.  I had this idea, “The Russia Monitor” as a category of the Commoner Call to bring ongoing focus and order given…


Putin Has Mastered An Asymmetrical Warfare That Is Turning The West Against Itself

TheCommonerCall.org By James Kirchik Politico (3/17/17) When Angela Merkel meets with Donald Trump on Friday [3/17], she won’t just be representing Germany. She’ll be bringing all the hopes and anxieties of an anxious continent—one whose fears have been stoked by the fervor sweeping from Amsterdam to Rome, Paris to Berlin. It’s no exaggeration to say that this meeting between Trump and Merkel could set the tone for the very future of the Western Alliance. For a specter is haunting Europe—the specter of populist nationalism. Ideologically indeterminate, it manifests across the Continent in the form of France’s right-wing National Front, the…


Gas Lighting America: How To Resist By Keeping Your Sanity In Trump’s Crazy Making America

“One of the most insidious things about gaslighting is the denial of reality. Being denied what you have seen. Being denied what you have experienced and know to be true. It can make you feel like you are crazy. But you are not crazy.”   By Ariel Leve The Guardian (3/16/17) Right now, many Americans listening to their president are experiencing what I experienced frequently a child. Nothing means anything, and reality is being canceled. There is confusion, there is chaos, everything is upside down and inside out. When facts and truth are being discredited, how is it possible to…


Here’s How Gas Lighting Works In Every Day America: Twisting The Meaning Of A Single Word

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (3/20/17) Every victim of a crazy, abusive relationship or childhood suffered at the hands of an abusive parent knows what it means to be the target of “gas lighting”, even if they have never heard the term. It is taken from “Gaslight”, a 1944 Oscar-winning mystery-thriller movie starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten about a woman whose husband slowly manipulates her into questioning her reality and making her believe she is going insane. Gaslighting is when someone in some position of relationship or power lies with a boldness then denies…


What American ‘Deep State’ Politics Is Really All About

“While today’s politicians engage in sonorous generalities about jobs, faith, family, and so forth, once the issues move from the ethereal realm of sloganeering into specific policies, they do not seek to identify with the desires of the majority, except insofar as those desires happen to overlap with the preferences of those who are footing the bill. “Single-payer health care, tax breaks for hedge fund managers, minimum wage policy – on these and a host of other issues, the American public lines up on one side and the wealthy elites on the other. And every time, the position favored by…


Commoner Call Reader Shares Three Good Reads On The Deep State/Wall Street Nexus

By Tom Crofton The Commoner Call (3/20/17) Is the Deep State a multi-millennias old Conspiracy, or just the latest version of short-term greed and stupidity? Are the main players Reptilian shape–shifters fighting an intergalactic struggle, or a bunch of narcissistic white men and female wannabes using obscene amounts of wealth as a way to keep score? Do simple Business 101 principles about efficiency and letting the market pick winners apply in a rigged system that separates nasty side effects from profit/loss calculations by labeling them external costs; or are they mantras to keep the rest of us from discovering that…


Skewed: Media Find Lots Of Room For Right Wing ‘Trumpcare Too Progressive’ Whining But Not For Single-Payer Advocates

By Michael Corcoran Fairness & Accuracy in Media (3/15/17) In May 2009, at the infancy of the healthcare reform battle that led to the Affordable Care Act, a group of nurses and single-payer activists were arrested for disrupting a Senate Finance Committee meeting chaired by Sen. Max Baucus (D.–Mont.) (Democracy Now, 5/13/09). These activists had been ignored by politicians and corporate media for years (FAIR.org, 3/6/09), and hoped an arrest, or eight,  would bring attention to their cause. Despite the efforts of the “Baucus 8,” the New York Times did not report on the event. Nor did much of the…


Fascism Will Be On Our Doorstep In One Year If We Don’t Act Immediately!

  By Steven Rosenfeld AlterNet (3/7/17) How close is President Donald Trump to following the path blazed by last century’s tyrants? Could American democracy be replaced with totalitarian rule? There’s enough resemblance that Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who studies fascist and communist regime change and totalitarian rule, has written a book warning about the threat and offering lessons for resistance and survival. The author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century talked to AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld. Steven Rosenfeld: Three weeks ago, you said that the country has perhaps a year ‘to defend American democracy.’ You said what happens in the…


‘A Fascist’s Dream’ – Artificial Intelligence Is Ripe For Abuse, Tech Executive Warns

TheCommonerCall.org   By Olivia Solon The Guardian (3/13/17) AUSTIN, TX – As artificial intelligence becomes more powerful, people need to make sure it’s not used by authoritarian regimes to centralize power and target certain populations, Microsoft Research’s Kate Crawford warned on Sunday. In her SXSW session, titled Dark Days: AI and the Rise of Fascism, Crawford, who studies the social impact of machine learning and large-scale data systems, explained ways that automated systems and their encoded biases can be misused, particularly when they fall into the wrong hands. “Just as we are seeing a step function increase in the spread…


Finally, Some Justice! Texas Bill Would Fine Men $100 Each Time They Masturbate For “Act Against An Unborn Child”

By Isabelle Chapman CNN (3/13/17) A Texas lawmaker has proposed a bill that would fine a man $100 each time he masturbates. The bill also imposes a 24-hour waiting period if a guy wants a colonoscopy or a vasectomy, or if he’s in the market for some Viagra. Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Democrat, knows her bill isn’t going to get very far. But she proposed it last week to make a point and give male lawmakers a taste of their own medicine. Farrar has long been an advocate of women’s health in a state that has made it extremely difficult…


Your Brain On Politics: Why Piling On Facts Is Not Enough In The Battle Against Fake News

By Shankar Vedantam NPR (3/14/17) As the country has become increasingly polarized, we increasingly seem to disagree not just on policy but on the facts themselves. So how do you get people who believe false things to change those beliefs? The usual tactic is to offer information or evidence. But new social science research explains why this approach is often counterproductive. To explain all this, we’re joined by NPR’s social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam. Shankar, good morning. SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel. MARTIN: How can more information be counterproductive? VEDANTAM: There have actually been a number of experiments over the…


Gee, Thanks! Insurance Companies Just Made The Case For Medicare For All!

By Daniel Marans The Huffington Post (3/9/17) America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade group for commercial health insurance companies, published an infographic this month breaking down how the industry spends every dollar it receives in premiums. The group apparently crafted the visual aid to defend rising premiums its member companies are charging customers. But the chart also inadvertently helps explain why commercial health insurance is a bad deal. The graphic shows that about 80 percent of every premium dollar goes toward medical expenses ― prescription drugs, doctor visits, hospitalization and other services. Approximately 18 percent goes to administrative costs, and some 3…


Oblivious: George Bush Paints The Veterans Whose Lives He Needlessly Shattered

  By Abbey Zimet Common Dreams (3/7/17) In what feels like a surreal stab at redemption, George Bush is back and being feted for his newest, guileless, bloodstained and evidently entirely unironic painting project: A book and exhibit of his Forrest-Gumpish portraits of 98 men and women blown apart, broken down, rendered limbless and otherwise shattered by his immoral, inept wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The newly released Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors  consists of 66 single images  and a group mural of physically and/or mentally wounded veterans from all the Armed Forces. Each…


Bernie Sanders On Resisting Trump: ‘Despair is not an option’

  By Ed Pilkington The Guardian (3/10/17) When Donald Trump delivered his first address to Congress 10 days ago, sticking dutifully, for once, to the teleprompter, the media praised him for sounding statesmanlike and presidential. But one person, sitting in a front-row seat just a few feet away, thought differently. Bernie Sanders was growing more aghast with every sentence. Then, when Trump began to talk about the environment, the 75-year-old independent senator from Vermont nearly laughed out loud. Earlier that day, the president signed an executive order that gutted federal controls against the pollution of rivers and waterways. Now he…


Your Brain On Trump’s Lies: Guess Who Wins

It doesn’t matter how implausible the statements are; throw out enough of them, and people will inevitably absorb some. Eventually, without quite realizing it, our brains just give up trying to figure out what is true.   By Maria Konnikova Politico (Jan/Feb 2017) All presidents lie. Richard Nixon said he was not a crook, yet he orchestrated the most shamelessly crooked act in the modern presidency. Ronald Reagan said he wasn’t aware of the Iran-Contra deal; there’s evidence he was. Bill Clinton said he did not have sex with that woman; he did, or close enough. Lying in politics transcends…


Commoner Reader Writes: Common Sense Understanding Of Military Build-up

TheCommonerCall.org All the whining about military spending is not going to change things because we have the wrong system of money [When The Whole World Is A Nail: Trump’s Vision Of A Hyper-Militarized America].  David Graeber in his book “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” tells us that when the authoritarian issues the currency and demands that back as taxes then it is really easy to get The People roped into war mongering by simply issuing the lion’s share of the currency for the military.  The People must then ‘do business’ with the military in order to get the currency needed…