ALL ARTICLES

‘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…


Public Not Buying ‘Bucky Weasel’ Walker Muzzling Of DNR On Climate Change

  Bucky Weasel: Environmental Rodent Model By Steven Verburg The Wisconsin State Journal (3/4/17) Hundreds of phone calls and emails voicing shock, outrage and ridicule flooded state Department of Natural Resources offices in December after top managers deleted language from the DNR website that had described the urgency of addressing human activity that has accelerated climate change. Some DNR employees handling the public reaction expressed frustration as managers waited days before telling them how to respond, and then provided a script that treated the altered web pages as a routine update. Documents released to the Wisconsin State Journal under the state…


WNYC ‘On The Media’ – Trump Is A Huge Challenge To The Media

On The Media WNYC (3/3/17) The latest edition of WNYC’s public radio show “On the Media” provides an excellent overview and summary of the Donald Trump constitutional crisis. In less than an hour the OTM team produced a powerful roundup of the sad state of affairs and the decisions we are facing. The entire broadcast is worth the time, but you can also listen to each segment individually: Paper Trail – In the midst of the news about attorney general Jeff Sessions’ previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador, another set of revelations emerged. This week, the New York Times reported…


Run, Hide & Threaten Citizens: Fragile Republican Snowflakes Paul Ryan & Ron Johnson Bully Constituents

By Capper Crooks & Liars (3/1/17) Like many Republicans around the country, Wisconsin’s Republicans have been doing their best to avoid their constituents and not have to listen to their anger or how they are not representing them. But since this is Wisconsin, our snowflakes tend to be bigger and uglier, even though we are going through an unseasonable warm spell. Even Lyin’ Paul Ryan is no exception. Ryan’s office stopped taking phone calls from his constituents. (Don’t worry, he gave his personal phone number to all of his wealthy friends and benefactors – y’know, the people he truly represents….


Republican (Anti) Family Values: Trump Administration Weighs Separating Mothers From Children At Border

  By Nika Knight Common Dreams (3/4/17) As the Trump administration continues its mass deportations apace, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering ramping up anti-immigration policies even further with a new rule that would separate mothers from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s according to Reuters, which cites three unnamed government officials who had been briefed on the proposal intended “to deter mothers from migrating to the United States with their children.” Reuters reports: The policy shift would allow the government to keep parents in custody while they contest deportation or wait for asylum hearings. Children would…


When The Whole World Is A Nail: Trump’s Vision Of A Hyper-Militarized America

If all the men around President Trump are hammers, the temptation will be to treat everything as if it were a nail.   By William Hartung TomDispatch (2/2/17) At over $600 billion a year and counting, the Pentagon already receives significantly more than its fair share of federal funds.  If President Donald Trump has his way, though, that will prove a sum for pikers and misers.  He and his team are now promising that spending on defense and homeland security will increase dramatically in the years to come, even as domestic programs are slashed and entire civilian agencies shuttered. The…


Jon Stewart Lets You Know Sure Fire Way To Tell When Trump Is Lying To Your Face

TheCommonerCall.org The Commoner Call (3/2/17) Jon Stewart made a surprise appearance on Stephen Colbert’s Late Night show with a couple important messages for citizens and the journalists they depend upon for the information necessary to the functioning of a democratic government. On the first score Stewart did what so few are willing to do in the media: to call out Donald Trump – the Supposed-President – for the blatant liar that he is. What’s a quick tip-off that Trump is about to lie to your face, Stewart asks? Whenever he says “Believe me…”, Stewart notes. Think of all the times…


To Protect & Shove? Watch Big, Tough Cop Push 86 Year-Old Woman To Ground At Trump Protest

Then 65 year-old retired teacher who came to her aid was maced. (Editor’s Note: Wow, tough guys! The state is losing legitimacy fast. – Mark L. Taylor) By Shane Dixon Kavahaugh Vocativ (2/27/17) A police officer in Tucson, Arizona, shoved an 86-year-old woman onto the pavement during a tense confrontation with demonstrators opposed to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, video footage shows. The Tucson Police Department said that it is investigating the incident from earlier this month that also left a retired school teacher with a face full of pepper spray as she tried to help the elderly woman, who…


Angry white men’: The Sociologist Who Studied Trump’s Base Before Trump

Michael Kimmel, one of the world’s foremost experts on masculinity, examines its role in men’s adherence to – and departure from – far-right movements.   By J. Oliver Conroy The Guardian (2/27/17) During the Obama years, various commentators made wild predictions about the death of the white male as a politically relevant demographic. Then came Trump, propelled to power by a wave of angry white men. The sociologist Michael Kimmel is one of the world’s foremost experts on the phenomenon. As the director of Stony Brook University’s Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, he’s a leader in the…


A Commoner Writes: Rural Independent Responds To Trump’s Speech To Congress

Solving the world’s problems requires us to be equal partners, not overlords.   In responding to the President’s remarks about unity, I agree that we work better when we work together. Our exceptional quality as Americans is to solve any problem, fight any enemy, and to provide generous help to those who need it. To be effective, we need to agree on a plan. Aye, but that’s the rub. The direction the President and the Congress wish to take us ignores the needs of the vast majority of Americans and creates more problems than it solves, spawns more enemies, and…


CARTOON KNOWLEDGE: What’s A ‘Snollygoster’? We Have Three Prime Examples In Wisconsin

By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (2/27/17) Commoner Call reader Richard Smith sent in a note the other day alerting me to probably the best word I have ever seen to describe a politician. It is one of those words that sounds exactly like what it means: snollygoster. It’s perfectly suited to a particular brand of politician citizens on both sides of the American political chasm have come to loathe. Truly, snollygoster is a tag with bipartisan applications. While all politicians have to occasionally stretch the truth or compromise on some campaign promise or utter some meaningless BS to…


A Deep Look At What Ails Us: Healing Our Collective Sickness

  (Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )   *****   We always know that a civilization is breaking down when it excludes recognition of and social response to its own degenerate trends.   (Editor’s Note: The political, economic and environmental collapse are about more than bad actors, political action groups and elections. There are deeper psychological and spiritual dimensions creating a feedback loop of sleepwalking into destruction and denial. Author Paul Levy provides a deeper assessment of what is really happening to our world, and each of…


Do These 10 Things, And Trump Will Be Toast

The Commoner Call.org   By Michael Moore MichaelMoore.com (2/17/17) Friends, I welcome you to “The Michael Moore Easy-to-Follow 10-Point Plan to Stop Trump.” First, let’s acknowledge what we all know to be true: Trump is in deep, deep trouble — in the pocket of Russians, surrounded by alt.right idiots, alone in his bathrobe in a mostly-empty White House — and caught inside a disgusting “shit-sandwich”, so said his supporter who turned down the NSA job. Only one month into his So-Called Presidency — and yet there is good news, as this is what the American landscape looks like: • Tens…


A Commoner Makes A Common Sense Observation

TheCommonerCall.org Leslie Stahl posed the question in a Sixty Minutes segment that aired in May of 1996: were the deaths of over half-million children under age five an acceptable price to pay for a dubious policy? Madeleine Albright, who was the U.S. Secretary of State at the time, replied:  “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.” I am aware of the potential for terrible things to happen with Donald, but this type of thing was happening with the DNC and Third Way types. The resistance we see may not be enough, but…






Tell On Trump

One thing we know about Donald Trump is that there are a lot of things Donald Trump doesn’t want people to know about. If you’ve reached this page, you might have information about the conduct of Donald Trump or his administration that you’d like people to know about. Here’s how you can tell us. Who are we? The SPECIAL PROJECTS DESK OF GIZMODO MEDIA GROUP. We are an investigative team that reports stories about political, cultural, financial, and technological power for GIZMODO, FUSION, DEADSPIN, JEZEBEL, JALOPNIK, KOTAKU, and the other Gizmodo Media Group web sites. SecureDrop You may send us…


Mr. President: ‘Just who the hell do you think you are?’

By Leonard Pitts Miami Herald (2/14/17) Dear Mr. So-Called President: So let me explain to you how this works. You were elected as chief executive of the United States. I won’t belabor the fact that you won with a minority of the popular vote and a little help from your friends, FBI Director James Comey and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The bottom line is, you were elected. And this does entitle you to certain things. You get your own airplane. You get free public housing. You get greeted with snappy salutes. And a band plays when you walk into the…


Redacted: Your Right To Vote In America

Comedian and “Redacted” host Lee Camp begins this episode with a take-down of Trump Joseph Goebbels clone Stephen Miller but then goes on to give one of the best full spectrum assessments of the attack on voting rights across the country. The very concept of democracy has become a cynical myth through a bipartisan attack on the rights of all Americans to vote. Link to 10-Minute Video      


The Clock Is Ticking: At Best, We Have One Year To Save Our Nation & Ourselves

(Editor’s Note: If you do nothing else today, listen to the opening interview with Yale historian Timothy Snyder about the actual degree of risk we are at. When we tell ourselves that a totalitarian regime can never happen here we are, Snyder warns, ignoring history. We are not as exceptional to the reality of history as we like to think. Please, listen to this fascinating interview and then take action. – Mark L. Taylor) Once you concede on abuse of the first group you have lost everything.   Open Source WBUR (2/16/17) Should Donald Trump have spelled it out that…


Let’s Hold On The Cheers For Surveillance Leaks: Power Of The Deep State, Flynn Leaks And the End Of Democracy

  By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (2/20/17) It’s hard not to feel some measure of hope at all the news about the deep state surveillance and intelligence agencies leaking news nuggets about Trumpster ties to Russian oligarchs and Putin’s pals in the Kremlin. I mean, hell, it’s Trump. Right? During an interview last week with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, New York Sen. Chuck Shumer stated an ugly truth about Trump’s ranting and raving about the intel community, saying the so-called president was “being really dumb” for taking on the intelligence mafia: “Let me tell you, you take on…


The Forces Behind The Internet’s Growing Authoritarian Anti-Democracy Movement

By Rosie Gray The Atlantic (2/10/17) White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called “neoreaction.” The main thrust of Yarvin’s thinking is that democracy is a bust; rule by the people doesn’t work, and doesn’t lead to good governance. He has described it as an “ineffective and destructive” form of government, which he associates with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.” Yarvin’s ideas, along with those…