Your Brain On Politics

Is The US Social Fabric Unraveling? – System Update With Glenn Greenwald

System Update / The Intercept (8/28/20) This week on System Update, host Glenn Greenwald examines the crumbling of the US social fabric. Glenn explores the rise in so-called Deaths of Despair, and examines the symptoms of deep unhappiness across in America – from suicide to drug overdoses – and how this long-term trend has acutely intensified with the Covid pandemic. Link To 36-Minute Video  

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To See The Politics Clearly: Think & Talk Vertically, Not Horizontally

Thinking vertically not only has the potential to unite those who are currently divided but also empower those who are presently conquered.” “As old labels indicate, we’ve all been conditioned to think about politics horizontally, from right to left. This way of thinking needlessly divides us by magnifying our differences and glossing over our commonalities. Turn the political spectrum on its head, and think top to bottom instead of left to right, and a magical thing can happen. Picture a man and a woman. He’s white. She’s black, He’s a farmworker, she’s a childcare provider. Both are struggling to make…


Deconstructing Biden’s Ads

  By Ralph Nader Ralph Nader Radio Hour (7/25/20) Amidst a general discussion of this year’s presidential race, political ad guru Bill Hillsman deconstructs four Joe Biden ads and one Trump ad for message and effectiveness. [Editor’s Note: At the end of the episode, Hillsman makes some interesting obeservations about the Lincoln Project ads by never Trumper republicans. Are they effective, um, don’t count on it.] Plus, child advocate Robert Fellmeth rejoins us to continue his crusade against anonymity on Facebook. Link To 1-Hour, 19-Minutes  


Who’s The Bigger American Idiot? The Dunce Or The Fool?

“What everyone from around the world who’s not American that I talk to really means is this. There are two kinds of American Idiot. The dunce, and the fool. The willful one, and the negligent one. There’s the Trumpist — who doesn’t know any better, who’s only known hate, ignorance, fear, and rage: the dunce. But there’s also the fool. The Democrat who votes against healthcare, retirement, education — and should know better. The sophisticated elite — who doesn’t see that America’s an imploding society in every possible way right about now. The New York Times columnist, the CNN anchor, none of…


Arizona GOP Chair Dr. Kelli Ward Calls For Anti-Stay-At-Home Protesters To Fraudulently Dress Like Health Care Workers

  [Editor’s Note: Someone in Arizona should file a complaint against this cynical fraud of a physician with the Arizona state medical licensing board. Check out the second story to learn of a true healer who was lost to the emotional toll the pandemic is taking on health care professionals. — Mark L. Taylor] By Veronica Stracqualursi CNN (4/29/20) Washington (CNN)The chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party is encouraging people planning to protest stay-at-home orders imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic to dress like health care workers. Recently, several health care workers around the country have worn their scrubs and medical gear to counterprotest against people…



In The Midst Of The Trumpandemic: 10 Ways To Spot Online BS & Misinformation

By H. Colleen Sinclair The Conversation (3/27/20) Propagandists are already working to sow disinformation and social discord in the run-up to the November elections. Many of their efforts have focused on social media, where people’s limited attention spans push them to share items before even reading them – in part because people react emotionally, not logically, to information they come across. That’s especially true when the topic confirms what a person already believes. It’s tempting to blame bots and trolls for these problems. But really it’s our own fault for sharing so widely. Research has confirmed that lies spread faster than truth – mainly because lies are not bound to the…


How The Democrats Intentionally Lose Elections, And May Do So Again In 2020

There’s More Of Us Than There Are Of Them (So Why Do The Dems Keep Blowing Their Campaigns?) [Editor’s Note: This is one of the most important interviews you can find, if you are wondering why the dems keep losing. And if Wall Street succeeds in pushing Bernie aside, they will be on track to lose again in 2020. Great information on messaging. The information is right in front of them to help the dems win, so why don’t they listen and are content to keep losing? They are smart people. I think it is intentional to keep their corporate…


Bernie Needs New Strategy & ‘Frame’ For His “Good Friend” Biden

“Right now you are losing to Joe Biden. Think about that.” — Jimmy Dore By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (3/9/20) Last Thursday I watched a livestream of a Bernie Sanders rally in Arizona. There was a great band, lots of sign waving and roars of “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!” When he stepped to the podium the place went wild and the senator from Vermont waved to everybody, made a few introductory remarks, thanked everybody for coming and then did the oddest thing. He went into a spiel about what a “great guy” Joe Biden is and how he is…


If You Understand How Trump Defeated Clinton Four Years Ago, Do You Really Vote ‘Establishment Joe Biden’?

By Robert Reich robertreich.org (3/4/20) As the Democratic Party’s “moderate” (or shall we say “establishment”) wing coalesces around Joe Biden to stop Bernie, the primary contest is starting to look a lot like 2016, when the same wing rallied around Hillary Clinton. Today, Mike Bloomberg quit the race and endorsed Biden—as has Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. As the New York Times’ David Leonhardt put it, “if you’re a Democrat who doesn’t want Bernie Sanders to be the party’s nominee, your choice is now clear: you should vote for Joe Biden.” But suppose you’re a Democrat who doesn’t want Donald Trump to…


Our Journey From Citizen To Consumer

“Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.” — Noam Chomsky


FLUSH! How Trump’s Toilet Politics Connect With Many Voters

  “Trump’s toilet politics are intimate, tangible, real, immediate and visceral for his cult members. They can flip a light switch and see that their new bulbs are not as bright or pleasing to the eye. Trumpists can look at the waste in their toilets and become frustrated that their excreta do not swirl down the bowl in as pleasing a way as previously. “In a world where they feel disempowered and confused by the complexities of social and political life in the 21st century, their Great Leader is offering them something tangible that they can both understand and control. As political…


Properly Addressing The Australian Bushfire Tragedy Begins With Your Dictionary

  ***** “Recognizing a problem doesn’t always bring a solution, but until we recognize that problem, there can be no solution.” — James Baldwin By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (1/20/20) The weeks long tragedy of uncontrollable wild bushfires racing across Australia leaving thousands of burned out homes and an estimated one billion dead animals in their fiery wake has given what many call a frightening glimpse into our future. While pretty much anyone outside the coal industry and the Republican party recognizes the obvious link between the fires and climate there is a very real problem in the way we refer to the human impact…


FLUSHED! The Bizarre Truth About The Real Power Of Trump’s Odd Toilet Obsession

What sounds buffoonish forges a personal connection with his followers. By Chauncey Devega Salon (1/17/20) For Donald Trump, the personal certainly is the political. He has shown himself to be a malignant narcissist. He is an egomaniac. Trump’s personal obsessions drive most if not all of his behavior. He has no conception, care or concern for most other people. Trump’s personal and political brand is grievance-mongering and a false narrative of white victimhood. This won Donald Trump the White House and remains the bedrock of his political cult and popularity. Trump is obsessed with personal slights. As such, like a king,…


This One Word Tells You Which Dem Candidates Are Parroting Insurance Industry Talking Points On Health Care

By Bob Brigham Raw Story (1/14/19) As Democrats prepare to debate health care reform during the last debate before the first votes, a former top insurance company executive warned about one key talking point that he helped the insurance companies push. Wendell Potter laid out his warning in a new op-ed for The New York Times. “There’s a dangerous talking point being repeated in the Democratic primary for president that could affect the survival of millions of people, and the finances of even more. This is partly my fault,” Potter admitted. “When the candidates discuss health care, you’re bound to hear some of…


A Progressive’s Handy Guide To Deciphering The Doublespeak Of Corporate Democrat ‘Centrists’

“Privatization” — Theft of public resources. By Richard Eskow Independent Media Insitute (1/6/20) “Purity test”? “Pragmatic progressive”? “Free stuff”? What are these politicians talking about? If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Certain words and phrases are routinely used by “centrist” political candidates. By design, these terms are imprecise, emotionally charged, and often self-contradicting. In fact, the word “centrist” is just such a term, since polling shows that the economic viewpoint of these candidates—especially regarding health care, Social Security, education and other social programs—is often well to the right of the general public. Pete Buttigieg’s recent use of the term “purity test”…


NPR Drops Obediently Into Place With Pro-War Interview

By Mark L. Taylor Commoner Call (1/6/20) On Friday morning (2/3) in a segment provocatively entitled Expert Warns Iran Likely Will Retaliate For U.S. Killing Of Top General, National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition’ host Steve Innskeep interviewed retired general Jack Keane, who the network website described as “a retired Army general who regularly talks to President Trump, about the U.S. strategy on Iran…”. But there is much, much more to the general than that bland, anodyne descriptor. A quick search found some very important information about Keane. Media Matters notes: “Jack Keane is a retired U.S. Army general and a longtime Fox News military…


DOCUMENTARY — Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky And The Media

  At yet another time of deceit and manipulation toward war, it is essential to understand how the corporate owners of the economy & government manufacture the consent of the population to send their children off to die in yet another useless war. Encore (11/16/17) Manufacturing Consent explores the political life and ideas of world-renowned linguist, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky. Through a collage of biography, archival material and various graphics and illustrations, Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick’s 22-award-winning documentary highlights Chomsky’s probing analysis of mass media and his critique of the forces at work behind the daily news….


Media Manipulation: How The Alt-Right Co-opted The ‘OK’ Hand Sign To Play Journalists

At some point, life begins to imitate their art, and what began as a media hoax takes on dangerously radical connotations. By Poppy Noor The Guardian (10/3/19) Another day, another seemingly harmless symbol you can’t use without appearing to be a purveyor of hate. The alt-right’s latest trophy is the OK hand sign, which was officially recognised as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League over the weekend. And on Tuesday, it was reported that a Universal Orlando Resort employee was fired after concerned parents found a photo of him making the hand sign on their six-year-old’s shoulder (their child is biracial and has autism)….


Facts Are Not Enough: Dems Need To Emotionally Frame The Widespread Corruption Revealed In Trump Impeachment Hearings

“He did the same thing to my taxes, he did it to education, he will do the same thing to health care. Take whatever adjective you want — betrayer, corruptor, thief — bring it back to the issues that matter.” [Editor’s Note: Remember Donald Trump’s campaign brag that he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it? Well, it was one of the few times he was telling the the truth. And despite all the gritty crime and grimy details revealed in the recent impeachment hearings, he can get away with that too, unless the Democrats provide…


Sacha Baron Cohen’s ADL Conference Keynote Address Takes Facebook & Social Media To Task For Propagating Hate

“The greatest propaganda machine in history.” [Editor’s Note: Actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen delivered a brilliant assessment of the threat and role of social media in the propagation of hate and intolerance at an  Anti-Defamation League (ADL) dinner. In particular, he took Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg to task for the role of Facebook in spreading hate worldwide, which he described as “the greatest propaganda machine in history”. Going beyond criticism, Cohen made some very useful suggestions for fixes. — Mark L. Taylor] Anti-Defamation League (11/21/19) Thank you, Jonathan, for your very kind words.  Thank you, ADL, for this recognition and your work…


Corporate Media Bias Against Sanders Campaign Is Structural, Not A Conspiracy

You hear about Russian oligarchs daily but you don’t hear about the American oligarchs controlling US media. The Real News (8/27/19) What the United States needs is a real discussion about the systematic structural bias against politicians and political movements that question corporate control over the news, say RootsAction.org founders Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon. Link to 22-Minute Video  


Goebbels: The Truth About Political Lying (Or Why Trump Lies So Much)

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” — Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Reich Minister of Propaganda.


How Racist Dog Whistles Work: Why Some White Liberals Will Vote For Donald Trump

  By Arthur Delaney HuffPost (8/19/19) Reporters often describe President Donald Trump’s racism as a strategy to excite Republican voters, but it may actually work better on certain self-identified liberals. That’s the conclusion a pair of academic researchers reached after conducting an experiment with hundreds of white Americans earlier this year. A subset of liberals, not conservatives, could be the group “most responsive to the implicit ― and sometimes explicit ― racial appeals of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” Rachel Wetts and Robb Willer wrote in their paper, which appears this month in Socius, a scholarly journal published by the American Sociological…


Bearing Witness. Telling Truth In A Time Of Lies: Why It Is Important To Call Them What They Are — Concentration Camps

“Terrible things are happening outside… poor, helpless people are being dragged out of their homes. Families are torn apart; men, women and children are separated. Children come home from school to find their parents have disappeared. “ — Anne Frank ***** By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (8/12/19) On Saturday I got into a fiery Facebook squabble with a frequent corporate dem critic objecting to something I posted about the growing network of concentration camps popping up along the southern border. I was accused of “extreme exaggeration” because the situation now is nothing like the death camps in Nazi…


Trump’s Crude Words Are Cruel, Hateful – And Infectious. We Must Resist Calculated Hate

Language is a kind of virus, and history has shown many times that this virus can be lethal. By Francine Prose The Guardian (7/30/19) In the lead-up to the 2016 election, after Donald Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as “animals” and his supporters began chanting “Lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, it seemed as if a malevolent genie had been let out of a bottle. Now, almost three years later, it has become painfully clear just how cruel, powerful and destructive that hateful spirit is, and that the survival of our country, our culture – indeed of our humanity – may depend…


The Politics Of Fear: How It Manipulates Us To Tribalism

Tribalism is the biological loophole that many politicians have banked on for a long time: tapping into our fears and tribal instincts. By Arash Javanbakht The Conversation (7/17/19) People have always used fear for intimidation of the subordinates or enemies, and shepherding the tribe by the leaders. Recently, it appears that Pres. Trump has used fear by suggesting in a tweet that four minority congresswomen go back to the places they came from. There is a longstanding history of employing the fear of “the others,” turning humans into illogical ruthless weapons, in service to an ideology. Fear is a very strong tool that…


Murdering The Language: When Assassination Is Called Something Other Than Assassination

“Over the decades, killing a leader or prominent person under the rubric of covert action has been called many things by those who plan and oversee operations but never assassination, because assassination is illegal. Killing a leader or prominent person at the behest of the president is legal under Title 50 of the U.S. Code. “President Dwight Eisenhower’s advisors discussed “eliminating’ foreign leaders, and they set up a Health Alteration Committee to “neutralize” or “disable” certain people. They spoke in riddles to uphold the construct of plausible deniability. Congress later found President John F. Kennedy’s advisors formalized killing and called it…


In Just 3 Minutes Robert Reich Explains What Oligarchy Means & Why It Describes Our Current Political System

The typical American has no influence at all. [Editor’s Note: The following is the script for the wonderful 3-minute video linked to below. Words are powerful and it is an act of power and liberation to use the correct word to describe economic and political realities. Pass this on. — Mark L. Taylor] By Robert Reich Robert Reich’s Blog (5/2/19) “Oligarchy” means government of and by a few at the top, who exercise power for their own benefit. It comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command.” Even a system that calls itself a democracy can become…


Why The Guardian Is Reforming The Language It Uses To Report On The Environmental Crisis

From now on, house style guide recommends terms such as ‘climate crisis’ and ‘global heating’. By Damian Carrington, Environment editor The Guardian (5/17/19) The Guardian has updated its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world. Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned. “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for…


Edward Bernays, Corporate Propaganda & Engineering Consent For Empire With Mark Crispin Miller

The most influential man of the 20th and 21st centuries… ***** [Editor’s Note: While few know his name, Edward Benays was nephew of Sigmund Freud and can arguably be tagged as the most influential person of the 2oth — and on into the 21st — century. His work on how to form, shape and direct public opinion through subtle framing of wants, desires, hates and loves created the field of corporate public relations and government propaganda. If you want to get a deep understanding of it do a YouTube search of the four-part BBC series “Century of the Self”. —…


Suckered: Why Did So Many Americans Fall For Russian Hackers’ Election Lies & Propaganda?

    By Shankar Vedantam Morning Edition / NPR (1/22/19) Investigations of Russian influence on the 2016 election have tended to focus on the role of social media. Researchers are also exploring the psychological vulnerability that hackers exploited. Link to 3-Minute Audio (Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )  


Trump “Blew it Bigly” With “Wet Fart” Of An Awful ‘Offal’ Office Address

“Death twitch of The Wall cult.” “This speech wasn’t about saving his utterly fake wall. The $5.7 billion dollars he’s demanded as his vig for ending the shutdown isn’t even close to being seriously considered, and this speech was an overt admission he’s out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas. The crisis he proudly created will end without a wall, and he knows it. “This speech was supposed to be about forcing the national dialogue to stay on the border wall. No such luck. He reeked of defeat, clearly didn’t want to be there, and it showed. “Trump looked exhausted, squinty,…


It Is More Than Mere Ignorance That Takes Down Democracies. The Problem Goes Far Deeper

Authoritarian leaders have rarely abolished liberal democracy overnight. Rather, they slowly but steadily chip away at its liberal foundations first, and its electoral foundations later. By Cas Mudde The Guardian (12/15/18) Democracy is in crisis and, for some, ignorance is to blame. Take the slogan of one major American newspaper: “Democracy dies in darkness.” It represents a simplistic answer to the rise of authoritarian and populist forces around the globe. The reason for its popularity is, undoubtedly, its appeal to an Enlightenment logic, in which knowledge means power and progress. Hence, the argument goes, if people would only know how…


Suckered: Operation InfeKtion — How Russia Has Perfected The Art Of Disinformation & Social Media Cyber War

  The New York Times (11/25/18) Russia’s meddling in the United States’ elections is not a hoax. It’s the culmination of Moscow’s decades-long campaign to tear the West apart. “Operation InfeKtion” reveals the ways in which one of the Soviets’ central tactics — the promulgation of lies about America — continues today, from Pizzagate to George Soros conspiracies. Meet the KGB spies who conceived this virus and the American truth squads who tried — and are still trying — to fight it. Countries from Pakistan to Brazil are now debating reality, and in Vladimir Putin’s greatest triumph, Americans are using…


I Grew Up In The Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s Why I Left & How Social Media Helped Me Do So

  TED Talk (3/6/17) What’s it like to grow up within a group of people who exult in demonizing … everyone else? Megan Phelps-Roper shares details of life inside America’s most controversial church and describes how conversations on Twitter were key to her decision to leave it. In this extraordinary talk, she shares her personal experience of extreme polarization, along with some sharp ways we can learn to successfully engage across ideological lines. Link to 5-Minute Video


Emergency! In Our Time Of Bullying Authoritarians It’s Time For The Press To Evolve

By George Lakoff George Lakoff’s Facebook Page (12/18/18) Attacks on the free press, and constant lying by political leaders, aren’t just happening here in the United States. These tactics are also being used by authoritarian leaders in other countries who are taking power using the same tactics as Trump. These leaders understand how the press works, and they use its own tendencies against it in their efforts to erode democracy and freedom. They lie, knowing the press will repeat the lies. They create distractions because they know the press will chase the distractions. They release bad news when they think…


Understanding The Brain & How To Create Effective Progressive Messaging

Frame4Future.com Spirit In Action (12/1/18) Scott Wittkopf helps organizations & people learn to do effective progressive messaging through his firm, Frame for the Future. It’s a bit ironic that the scientific research proves that people do not make their decisions based on scientific research, but on frames, and progressives have been doing an inferior job of harnessing this knowledge to support their goals. Based on the work of George Lakoff and others, there is great untapped potential for progressive causes. Scott presented on the topic at the Eau Claire Grassroots Festival, sponsored by Wisconsin Grassroots Network. Link to 55-Minute Audio  


Rethuglicans Follow An Old Model: Fear, Anger & Simple (Minded) Slogans

“All propaganda should be popular and should adapt it intellectual level to the receptive ability of the least intellectual of those whom it is desired to address. Thus it must sink its mental elevation deeper in proportion to the numbers of the mass who i has to grip. …The receptivity ability of the masses is very limited, and their understanding small; on the other hand, they have a great power of forgetting. This being so, all effective propaganda must be confined to very few points which must be brought out in the form of slogans.” — Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf…


Dictionary.com’s Word Of The Year Is … ‘Misinformation’

Dictionary.com (11/26/18) The rampant spread of misinformation poses new challenges for navigating life in 2018. As a dictionary, we believe understanding the concept is vital to identifying misinformation in the wild, and ultimately curbing its impact. But what does misinformation mean? Dictionary.com defines it as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.” The recent explosion of misinformation and the growing vocabulary we use to understand it have come up again and again in the work of our lexicographers. Over the last couple of years, Dictionary.com has been defining words and updating terms related to the evolving…