Pony Up, Suckers: While Millions Go Without Basic Health Care, Taxpayers Pick Up The Tab For Trump Family Greed

By Brooke Seipel The Hill (4/14/17) The Secret Service has spent more than $35,000 on golf cart rentals at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort since his inauguration, CBS News reported Friday, as Trump begins another weekend in Florida. CBS News reported that it had reviewed purchase orders showing $35,185 in costs for renting golf carts during Trump’s frequent visits to Palm Beach, Fla. The president has played several rounds of golf at Trump-branded clubs, including in Florida and Virginia. Trump has come under fire for his frequent trips, which current estimates show have cost more than $20 million — nearly the amount President Obama spent on travel in…


Al Gore Breaks With Democratic Party Leadership To Support Single-Payer Healthcare

By Eleanor Sheehan Fusion (7/18/17) A day after the Republican party’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act crumbled, Al Gore spoke at a community college in Manhattan, NY, about his new climate change movie. Completely unrelated to the documentary, however, Gore expressed his support for a single-payer healthcare system. The Huffington Post first reported Gore’s comments during Tuesday’s event. Breaking with ranking Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Gore told the audience that private health insurance has failed to provide accessible coverage for all Americans. “The private sector has not shown any ability to provide…


Oh, No! Pious Pauly Ryan Doesn’t Like It When We Get Angry

  (Editor’s Note: Oh yeah, lessons in manners from the pinhead-hearted Paul Ryan who won’t even accept phone calls or meet with his constituents about their healthcare concerns. Given the circumstances, I want to be as polite about this as I can: Screw you, Pauly. – Mark L. Taylor) By Mara Pellittieri Talk Poverty (7/20/17) In the past six months, this administration has pushed hard to dismantle the health care system. It is rolling back financial and environmental regulations, undercutting public schools, and hacking away at the legal system. It has been actively hostile to immigrants, tried to defund Planned Parenthood,…


Russia Monitor: Pardon Me, Mr. Mueller … Please!

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/25/17) Dear Fellow Readers, I will let Donald Trump conduct his own news roundup to start this edition; here’s one of his tweets from Saturday morning: Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS 6:35 AM – 22 Jul 2017 When Trump tweets or comments on such things he is often foretelling things to come. It’s always an indication of his focus, often described as a distraction from all…


Mobbed Up: Trump’s Dirty Russian Money Laundromat

  By Craig Unger The New Republic (7/13/17) In 1984, a Russian émigré named David Bogatin went shopping for apartments in New York City. The 38-year-old had arrived in America seven years before, with just $3 in his pocket. But for a former pilot in the Soviet Army—his specialty had been shooting down Americans over North Vietnam—he had clearly done quite well for himself. Bogatin wasn’t hunting for a place in Brighton Beach, the Brooklyn enclave known as “Little Odessa” for its large population of immigrants from the Soviet Union. Instead, he was fixated on the glitziest apartment building on…


All Hell Breaks Loose As The Siberian Tundra Thaws, Releasing Deadly Anthrax & Methane

  By Jeremy Plester The Guardian (7/20/17) Strange things have been happening in the frozen tundra of northern Siberia. Last August a boy died of anthrax in the remote Yamal Peninsula, and 20 other infected people were treated and survived. Anthrax hadn’t been seen in the region for 75 years, and it’s thought the recent outbreak followed an intense heatwave in Siberia, temperatures reaching over 30C [That is 86F. – Ed.] that melted the frozen permafrost. Long dormant spores of the highly infectious anthrax bacteria frozen in the carcass of an infected reindeer rejuvenated themselves and infected herds of reindeer and eventually local people….


Corporate Media Largely Silent On US Civilian Death Toll In Iraq

  By Adam Johnson Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (7/19/17) Earlier this week, human rights group Amnesty International issued a lengthy report accusing US-backed forces of “repeated violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes,” in Mosul, Iraq, causing the deaths of at least 3,700 civilians. Neither this report, nor the broader issue of the civilian toll in the US war against ISIS, has come close to penetrating US corporate media. The only major radio or television outlet to report on Amnesty’s claims was NPR (7/12/17). While traditional print outlets, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, did run Reuters (7/11/17) and AP (7/12/17) articles,…


‘Democracy In Chains’ – How One Man’s Mission To Rip Up Democracy Has Become The Republican Party

By George Monbiot The Guardian (7/19/17) It’s the missing chapter: a key to understanding the politics of the past half century. To read Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, is to see what was previously invisible. The history professor’s work on the subject began by accident. In 2013 she stumbled across a deserted clapboard house on the campus of George Mason University in Virginia. It was stuffed with the unsorted archives of a man who had died that year whose name is probably unfamiliar to you: James McGill Buchanan….


PETITION: Stand With Survivors Of Sexual Assault & Against Trump Appointee Betsy De Voss

TheCommonerCall.org   By Nicole Regalado, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets (7/22/17) Under Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education (DOE), campus sexual assault survivors are on their own. DeVos recently met with misogynistic “men’s rights groups” and rape deniers about weakening Title IX protections for campus sexual assault survivors.1 And that’s not all. DeVos has also appointed Candice Jackson – an anti-feminist activist who publicly doubts women who report sexual assault – as acting head of the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights. This is beyond appalling.2 We cannot remain silent while DeVos undermines policies that protect students from discrimination and violence, empowers…


Worker Wages Flat, But Since 1978 CEO Pay Has Soared By ‘Outrageous’ 937%

  By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (7/20/17) Wages for most American workers have remained basically stagnant for decades, but a new report published on Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that the CEOs of America’s largest firms have seen their pay soar at a consistent and “outrageous” clip. Between 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose by 937 percent, EPI’s Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder found. By contrast, the typical worker saw “painfully slow” compensation growth—11.2 percent over the same period. “We could curtail the explosive growth in CEO pay without doing any harm to the economy.” Mishel and Schieder also note…


Thoreau’s Call For Radical Empathy For All Other Beings Rings True Now More Than Ever

“If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth–certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849. ***** 200 Years After His Birth,…


No More Namby-Pamby! Progressive Groups Push Democrats To Back #PeoplesPlatform

  By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (7/18/17) Following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s concession on Monday night that Trumpcare is likely dead, progressive groups that played an integral role in rallying opposition to the legislation are now looking to go on the offensive. On Tuesday, dozens of organizations—including Our Revolution, National Nurses United, and Fight for 15—announced the launch of a new initiative titled “The Summer for Progress,” during which activists across the country will pressure Democratic lawmakers to embrace “a bold, progressive agenda.” This agenda, called the People’s Platform, includes legislation that would make public colleges tuition free, establish automatic voter registration,…


The Trump Administration Turns Away From Concerns About Human Rights

    Tom Ashcroft On Point / WBUR 97/17/17) With the death of China’s Nobel Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo, we look at human rights under the Trump administration. China’s only Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, died in state custody last week. He was China’s highest-profile political dissident. He died silenced. Then he was cremated and his ashes dropped at sea, leaving no place for admirers to rally. The White House said President Trump was “deeply saddened,” but the same day Trump called Xi Jinping a “great leader” devoted to doing what’s right for China. This hour On Point: Human…


When Religion Rules A Government: Diary Of A Pakistani Atheist

  By Mobeen Azhar BBC (7/14/17) In March 2017, a High Court Judge in Pakistan made the dramatic declaration that “blasphemers are terrorists.” The declaration is just one part of a growing national campaign to make disbelief socially, publicly and morally not just unacceptable, but one that allows Pakistani people the right to attack those who doubt the importance of Islam. Websites offer a satirical take on Islam and challenge the notion that Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, but the government replied with adverts in national newspapers and text messages to all Pakistanis, urging them to report those who express their online…


Duopoly: The Greatest Story Too Rarely Told – America Is Now A Corrupt Oligarchy

  By John Atcheson Common Dreams (7/13/17) Enough.  It’s time to quit being “balanced” or “non-partisan” or whatever other euphemism the elite establishment media uses to justify ignoring the two biggest elephants in our national living room. After Trump was elected there was a lot of concern about allowing his idiocy to become the “new normal.” But in truth, we’ve been accepting an unacceptable level of insanity in our national body politic for decades now. Elephant Number One—and it’s a huge honking beast squatting squarely on our ottoman—is the fact that the Republican Party has come unhinged and it’s dragging…


Russia Monitor: Turns Out What Was Fake Wasn’t The News But All The Trump Denials

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/20/17) Dear Fellow Readers, Adam Schiff (D-CA) and senior Dem member of the House Intelligence committee summarizes the Trump-Russia history this way: Evolution of a Defense: No meetings w/ Russians Yes, meetings No collusion We tried to It’s not illegal Everybody does it I didn’t know. And that’s where we are. Trump and Donald Jr. denials no longer sell so well. I will offer a bit of breaking news then let the headlines tell the story and paint the picture of where we now stand with Trump-Russia. F.B.I. Nominee Answers Questions on Donald…


Warping Reality: Computer Scientists Demonstrate The Potential For Whole New Level Of Fake News Video

By Aarti Shahani NPR (7/14/17) An update from the Wild Wild West of fake news technologies: A team of computer scientists have figured out how to make words come out of the mouth of former President Barack Obama — on video — by using artificial intelligence. If you’ve been on the internet at any point in the last year, there’s a good chance you’ve come across fake news articles. Well, soon enough we may see a wellspring of fake news videos. As a team out of the University of Washington explains in a new paper entitled “Synthesizing Obama: Learning Lip Sync from…


A Million Plastic Bottles Per Minute Enter Planet’s Waste Stream

  Dr. Mercola Mercola.com (7/18/17) The immense waste that comes along with one-time-use plastic products is clearly evident, yet despite the growing amount of plastic waste filling up our oceans, coastlines and landfills, their usage continues. The number of plastic bottles alone is staggering, with data obtained by The Guardian suggesting 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide. Worse still, this is expected to increase by 20 percent by 2021 and reach more than half a trillion sold every year by 2020.1 Most of this waste comes from the seemingly insatiable thirst for bottled water, which exists even in…


Hillary Clinton’s Hawkishness May Have Cost Her The Election

TheCommonerCall.org By Branko Marcetic In These Times (7/12/17) The Democratic Party remains embroiled in a tug-of-war over its future direction. Critics on the left point to the party’s recent losses at all levels of government as evidence that Democrats must embrace a commitment to economic populism in order to regain political power. But there might be more to it than that. A new study published by researchers from Boston University and the University of Minnesota Law School suggests it’s not just economic policies Democrats need to start reconsidering—their foreign policy also needs an overhaul. The takeaway is clear: Adopting a more robust…


What Went Wrong With The F-35, Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter?

Problem plagued F-35 boondoggle. (Defense Dept. photo.) By Michael P. Hughes The Conversation (6/13/17) The F-35 was billed as a fighter jet that could do almost everything the U.S. military desired, serving the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy – and even Britain’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy – all in one aircraft design. It’s supposed to replace and improve upon several current – and aging – aircraft types with widely different missions. It’s marketed as a cost-effective, powerful multi-role fighter airplane significantly better than anything potential adversaries could build in the next two decades. But it’s turned out to be none of those…


A Commoner Writes: Stop Monetary Illiteracy!!

  Oligarchy works by means of the system called money that is run by banks.  It is a fools errand to challenge the system if one does not challenge the very notion that bank debt can function as money or that government can function for The People when it has already handed its money creation authority to banks. (See Can You Say ‘Oligarchy’? 75 Percent Of Americans Are Wise To The Con & Know The Govt. Only Serves The Wealthy. 7/17) “Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as…


Naomi Klein: The Most Dangerous Thing Democrats Can Do Right Now Is Moderate

Say No To Centrism: Time To Go Bold, Dems! By Isaac Chotiner Slate (7/12/17) In her new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, the author and activist Naomi Klein identifies the election of our current president as the result of a number of trends in American society. Klein has long written about what she perceives to be the devastating effects of globalization and American militarism; here she presents Trump as part of a culture obsessed with branding, where honesty is irrelevant and winning is what counts. She partially blames neoliberal economics and the glorification…


Can You Say ‘Oligarchy’? 75 Percent Of Americans Are Wise To The Con & Know The Govt. Only Serves The Wealthy

  By Jon Queally Common Dreams (7/13/17) Giving new credence to a provocative 2014 study showing the United States is controlled by powerful elite interests, as opposed to the desire of its citizens, a new poll released Thursday shows that three-quarters of Americans feel voiceless and largely powerless in the nation that heralds itself as the world’s preeminent democracy. [Actually, the term ‘elite’ should not be used. Elite is something special, something good. We need to begin using more accurate terms, like ‘parasite class’. – Commoner Call Ed.] The results of the new survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that 75…


Russia Monitor: Rip Tides & Hidden Currents Challenge Corporate America’s Role In Russia

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/17/17) Dear Readers, With all the news, rumors and jack-in-the-box surprises regarding the multiple Russian roles and characters popping up in the Trump White House one can’t help but wonder about the role and relationships of American corporations moving into the growing Russian market. It’s an issue Forbes Magazine recently explored in a provocatively titled story American Companies Thriving In Russia: Is There Something To Be Ashamed About? “Ever since the Democratic National Committee decided to turn their disdain for Bernie Sanders into disdain for Russians and Donald Trump, the New York billionaire…


Wisconsin Dem Rep. Ron Kind Helps House Pass Pork-Laden Military Bill Sure To Make ‘War Profiteers Rejoice’

  “While war profiteers rejoice, voters wonder why the government cannot provide for education, job creation, healthcare, and needs in their community.”   By Jake Johnson Common Dreams (7/14/17) The U.S. House on Friday [7/14] overwhelmingly approved a $696 billion defense policy bill—the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—that critics were quick to denounce as yet another vote for “endless wars” and “Pentagon boondoggles.” “Every year, Congress authorizes billions of dollars of Pentagon pork at the expense of other security needs and other taxpayer priorities,” Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement. “While war profiteers…


Dunk Shot: How Progressives Can Simply & Properly Frame The Issue Of Paying Taxes

“Taxation is paying your dues, paying your membership fee in America. If you join a country club or a community center, you pay fees. Why? You did not build the swimming pool. You have to maintain it. You did not build the basketball court. Someone has to clean it. You may not use the squash court, but you still have to pay your dues. Otherwise it won’t be maintained and will fall apart. “People who avoid taxes, like corporations what move to Bermuda, are not paying their dues to their country. It is patriotic to be a taxpayer. It is…


The American Tradition Of Citizens Standing Up To The Bullying Of Workers

“The fruits of toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes – tramps and millionaires.” – From the People’s Party platform first convention in Omaha, Nebraska in 1892. The party won almost 9% of the presidential vote that year. They elected over 1,500 candidates, including three governors, five senators and ten congressmen. In 1884 they doubled their vote, electing seven congressmen…


Podcast: Republican Dirty Trickster Roger Stone Defends Trumplandia

  The Center for Investigative Reporting (7/13/17) President Donald Trump has been in office for six months. On this week’s podcast special, Reveal host Al Letson speaks with someone who helped get him there – Roger Stone. Stone is a former campaign adviser to Trump and helped set the tone of the 2016 election. For decades, he’s played hardball politics as a Republican strategist and now is the subject of a documentary. He and Letson discuss political dirty tricks, white supremacy and Russian meddling in the November election. Link to 27-Minute Audio


Trump Is Rapidly Tipping Traditional American Conservatism Into Fascism

By Timothy Snyder The Guardian (7/15/17) In his committed mendacity, his nostalgia for the 1930s, and his acceptance of support from a foreign enemy of the United States, a Republican president has closed the door on conservatism and opened the way to a darker form of politics: a new right to replace an old one. Conservatives were skeptical guardians of truth. The conservatism of the 18th century was a thoughtful response to revolutionaries who believed that human nature was a scientific problem. Edmund Burke answered that life is not only a matter of adaptations to the environment, but also of…


Bloody Price Of Capitalism: Record Numbers Of Environmental Defenders Being Killed Globally

TheCommonerCall.org   By Jonathan Watts & John Vidal The Guardian (7/13/17) Last year was the most perilous ever for people defending their community’s land, natural resources or wildlife, with new research showing that environmental defenders are being killed at the rate of almost four a week across the world. Two hundred environmental activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders trying to protect their land were killed in 2016, according to the watchdog group Global Witness – more than double the number killed five years ago. And the frequency of killings is only increasing as 2017 ticks by, according to data provided exclusively to the Guardian, with 98…


The Toughest & Most Important Story You Can Read This Month: The Uninhabitable Earth

(Editor’s Note: Ok, yes, this is a hard story to read, but it really is the most important one you can read this month. There is a concept in Buddhist psychology called ‘radical acceptance’. It is not acceptance that a situation is okay and should just be tolerated, but instead that, yes, things are as bad as they appear and that is the starting point to needed change. This article is an essential dose of radical acceptance for us all. – Mark L. Taylor) By Davide Wallace Wells New York Magazine (7/9/17) I. ‘Doomsday’ Peering beyond scientific reticence. It is, I…


Facing Down Big Oil In Richmond, California: A Small City’s Big Lessons About Progressive Organizing

  Saavy Progressive Alliance Organizes Year Around. By AaronMate’ Real News (7/5/17) Richmond, California, is home to one of the largest oil refineries on the West Coast and also a working-class community that has seen many struggles. Chevron, the city’s largest employer, has been responsible for hundreds of industrial accidents in the area, including major fires, spills, explosions, and air contamination. At the same time, for decades, it’s maintained a controlling influence over the city’s electoral politics. However, in recent years, the community at Richmond has fought back, organizing to raise the local minimum wage and demand fair taxation from…


Trump Has Secretive Teams To Dismantle & Roll Back Public Protections, Led By Hires With Deep Industry Ties

  By Robert Faturechi, ProPublica & Danielle Ivory, The New York Times, ProPublica (7/11/17) President Trump entered office pledging to cut red tape, and within weeks, he ordered his administration to assemble teams to aggressively scale back government regulations. But the effort — a signature theme in Trump’s populist campaign for the White House — is being conducted in large part out of public view and often by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts. Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams. But ProPublica and The New York Times identified 71 appointees, including 28…


Fighting The Wrong Enemy: How Americans Are Being Manipulated To Hate Their Muslim Neighbors

By Ramzy Baroud Middle East Monitor (7/11/17) Two officers sought me from within a crowd at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. They seemed to know who I was. They asked me to follow them, and I obliged. Being of Arab background, often renders one’s citizenship almost irrelevant. In a back room, where other foreigners, mainly Muslims, were holed for ‘added security’, I was asked numerous questions about my politics, ideas, writing, children, friends and my late Palestinian parents. Meanwhile, an officer took my bag and all of my papers, including receipts, business cards, and more. I did not protest. I am…


Can You Even Imagine The US Govt. Putting Out A Message Like This 1947 War Office Film Today?

“A nation of suckers.” By Mark L. Taylor The Commoner Call (7/13/17) I stumbled across a poignant little film put out by the United States War Office in 1947 called Don’t Be A Sucker” that was a warning against domestic fascism. Fresh off the devastating tragedy of World War II there was a worry that the ever present currents of American fascism could replicate and metastasize into what had recently occurred in Europe. Don’t Be A Sucker does a quaint but excellent job of briefly explaining the dangers of fascism and how fascists had been able to drive wedges between the…


Rights Groups Prepare For Fight Against Arkansas’ Man-Dictated Rapist Rights Abortion Law

By Julia Conely Common Dreams (7/11/17) A hearing is scheduled for Thursday [today, 7/12] in the American Civil Liberties Union’s suit to block several new anti-reproductive rights laws that have passed in Arkansas, which would impose severe restrictions on women’s abortion access in the state. The group has joined with the Center for Reproductive Rights to keep the laws from going into effect, starting at the end of July. Law would require any woman seeking an abortion to get permission from the man who impregnated her. “Instead of protecting women’s health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just…


Russia Monitor: The End Of The Beginning

  By Dan Peak The Commoner Call (7/13/17) Dear Fellow Readers, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” – Winston Churchill  The week’s very big news, starting on Saturday and continuing through Monday, was a series of articles released by the New York Times that can be summarized by this headline: Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said The dialog of Trump-Russia has changed from ‘no meetings with Russians’ to ‘nothing illegal’ and per White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “There…


Recruit Reports: Venezuela Protesters Get Drugs, Money For Violent Acts

  teleSur (7/6/17) A man who was recruited by Venezuela’s right-wing opposition told teleSUR in a recent interview that anti-government lawmakers provided illicit drugs and money for them to continue violent protests that began almost three months ago, which have since claimed at least 95 lives. His voice and his name were undisclosed to protect his integrity. “Well, the majority of those who went to fight consumed drugs, all of them used drugs, they destroyed anything in their path, lots of ugly things. Like when at one point they cut some guy’s throat because he was a Chavista I think,” the…


George Lakoff: If Democrats Want To Win They Need To Understand How To Speak To Americans

  (Editor’s Note: If you are an activist who has heard some of the chatter about messaging and “framing” political messages, this article and the links provided will give you a quick and useful introduction to the work of George Lakoff – the dean of messaging. – Mark L. Taylor) By Daphne White Berkeleyside.com (6/2/17) George Lakoff, retired UC Berkeley professor and author of Don’t Think of an Elephant, is one of a very few people in Berkeley who does not underestimate Donald Trump. “Trump is not stupid,” he tells anyone who will listen. “He is a super salesman, and he knows…


Podcast: From Bush To Obama To Trump’s Tweets: The Delegitimizing Of The Press Poses National Threat

  By Katherine Brewer Freak Out & Carry On / WBUR  (7/6/17) This week on Freak Out And Carry On, Ron Suskind and Heather Cox Richardson speak with Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. They respond to President Trump’s CNN and Mika Brzezinski tweets, discuss the media’s role in the first 100 days of the Trump administration and look at historical parallels, from the John Peter Zenger trial to Richard Nixon. Excerpts Nicco Mele: So we’ve done five studies — all of 2015, 2016, and the first 100 days of Trump — looking…