The Final Countdown – 9/22/23 – Costly Government Shutdown Looms Amid Split in Congress

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss top news, such as the government shutdown split in Congress. 

Steve Gill – Attorney and CEO of Gill Media 

Mark Sleboda – International Relations and Security Analyst 
Manila Chan – Host of Modus Operandi on RT 
Scott Stantis – Cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune
The show kicks off with Attorney and CEO Steve Gill joining The Final Countdown to discuss what would happen during a shutdown and if it will benefit the Trump campaign. 
Then, International Relations and Security Analyst Mark Sleboda shares his expertise on Ukraine’s investigation of the military’s top brass. 
The second hour begins with former host Manila Chan to discuss the ongoing migration crisis in the U.S. 
The show closes with Chicago Tribune Cartoonist Scott Stantis weighing in on Chicago considering state-run grocery stores due to an influx in crime. 

DMZ America Podcast #117: Should President Biden Be Impeached? What is the Legacy of Rupert Murdoch? and Are the Two Major Political Parties Switching Positions?

Editorial Cartoonists Ted Rall and Scott Stantis discuss and dissect the issues of the day.

First up, the U.S. House of Representatives has begun an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden. The question before the House and the country is; if the facts of the Hunter Biden fiasco be traced back to President Biden, should he be impeached?

Next up, Ted and Scott discuss the legacy of media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The good, the bad and the ugly. (Scott contends that Murdoch is as important a figure as William Randolph Hearst.)

Lastly, Scott asks Ted to expand on his recent syndicated column, documenting the fact that the Republicans and Democrats are realigning themselves in surprising and unexpected ways.

Watch the Video Version of the DMZ America Podcast:

DMZ America Podcast Ep 117 Sec 1: Should President Biden Be Impeached?

DMZ America Podcast Ep 117 Sec 2: What is the Legacy of Rupert Murdoch?

DMZ America Podcast Ep 117 Sec 3: Are the Two Major Political Parties Switching Positions?


The Final Countdown – 9/21/23 – Merrick Garland Grilled by House Committee Over Politicalization of DOJ

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss hot topics, such as AG Merrick Garland being grilled on Capitol Hill.  
Ted Harvey – Former Colorado State Senator  and Chairman of 
Steven Hayes – Chairman & President of FairTax
Dr. George Szamuely – Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute & Author 
Dan Kovalik – Human & Labor Rights Lawyer 
The show begins with Former Colorado State Senator and Chairman of sharing his perspective on Merrick Garland’s hours-long testimony and his relationship with the DOJ investigation into Hunter Biden. 
Then, Chairman & President of FairTax Steven Hayes weighs in on an imminent government shutdown, and divisions within the GOP. 
The second hour kicks off with Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute, Dr. George Szamuely, weighing in on Ukraine’s dispute with Poland over bans on its grain exports, amid the PM announcing he won’t be sending weapons to Ukraine. 
The show closes with Human & Labor Rights Lawyer Dan Kovalik sharing his perspective on a UK MP requesting the demonetization of British comedian Russell Brand. 

Trump, the UAW and the Next Realignment

Bipartisanship is dead. But job-killing trade agreements like NAFTA were promoted by politicians of both major parties alike—until Donald Trump. “Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization, moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas. Globalization has made the financial elite, who donate to politicians, very, very wealthy. I used to be one of them,” he told an audience in Pennsylvania in 2016. “Many of these areas have never recovered and never will unless I become president. Then, they’re going to recover fast.”

They didn’t. The Rust Belt continues to disintegrate.

Trump didn’t deliver. But his message proved to be an effective vote generator. It turned Ohio, the ultimate bellwether swing state, red. Formerly Democratic Pennsylvania now swings. So it’s no surprise that Trump is repeating his message to workers: deindustrialization sucks, no one sees your pain but me, and I’ll make it go away.

This year, Dr. Trump is going even further than any previous Republican president has gone before, reaching out to big labor, long a bête noire for Republicans. September 27th  finds the once-and-possibly-future president skipping the second GOP presidential debate and speaking instead to striking autoworkers.

Symbolically, Trump’s outreach represents a radical contrast for a party with a long and consistent history of antagonism to workers’ right to bargain collectively. Congressional Republicans rammed through the Taft-Hartley Act, Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, Republican-controlled legislators created union-gutting “right to work” states and, as a result, union campaign contributions overwhelmingly flowed to Democratic candidates. This is the first time in memory—possibly ever—that a major Republican presidential contender has thought of campaigning to union members, during a walkout no less.

Meanwhile “Union Joe” Biden, who likes to emphasize his working-class Scranton background and has collected numerous union endorsements, has been publicly silent about the UAW strike—a stance made starker when he jammed a contract down the throats of freight train workers when they threatened to walk off the job. The President hasn’t expressed any desire to meet with striking workers, whether at one of the big three automakers, the SAG-AFTRA writers in Hollywood, or Amazon warehouses. Biden’s support for unions has been performative and rhetorical.

What about Trump’s?

At this date, Trump is the better talker. Nothing new here, when compared to Biden. The question is, might the Republican Party assume policy positions that credibly allow it to argue that it has become an ally of workers, after decades of being their enemy in service of their corporate masters?

If anyone can and will spearhead such a pivot, it will be Trump, the man who pulled off the neat trick of running against the Iraq War in the den of bloodthirsty militarism that is a Republican primary, and winning, and going on to become the first president in two decades to seriously negotiate with the Taliban, signing a deal to withdraw from Afghanistan, yet remaining a hero of the right.

Should Trump construct a pro-labor Republicanism, we may be at the dawn of the biggest political realignment election since 1932. Roosevelt’s victory at the depth of the Great Depression and the subsequent enactment of his New Deal reversed the basic duopolistic structure in place since 1860. For three-quarters of a century the Party of Lincoln had represented progressivism and the struggle for equal rights while Democrats had embraced reactionary and racist policies with the occasional interruption of white-aligned populists like William Jennings Bryan; in rough terms, the parties switched places as Democrats embraced liberalism as we know it and Republicans took on conservatism.

We are currently experiencing a realignment-in-waiting, a 1932-scale ideological reversal that is taking hold in some arenas, tentative in others and will live or die depending on what party leaders do about two or three key issue categories.

On foreign policy, realignment is nearly complete. America’s current project in interventionism, the proxy war in Ukraine, enjoys full-throated support from Biden and Congressional Democrats while the antiwar voices are found not in the supposedly democratic-socialist “Squad” but the far-right Freedom Caucus. Culturally, the Democratic Party has become the home of well-educated coastal elites while the GOP increasingly draws in voters with high school educations and lower incomes in flyover country.

Realignment remains stillborn without an analogous reversal in domestic affairs, however. This is where Republicans have yet to demonstrate an appetite to reverse course.

A 180° switcheroo would see a genuine attempt by Republicans to address long-standing economic problems that traditionally have been Democratic Party projects if and when they have been discussed at all: soaring healthcare costs, high college tuition, poverty, homelessness, unaffordable housing, low real wages. In Alcoholics Anonymous the first step is admitting you have a problem; in politics the first step is talking about a problem in a way that shows that you acknowledge its existence. Some Republicans are finally starting to address some of these issues. But that’s a far cry from proposing meaningful solutions, much less legislation.

Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party put him on a collision course with the neoconservatives who started two forever wars. He prevailed in that fight. Should Trump choose to chart a path for Republicans that includes an appeal to ordinary workers, he will have to defeat the traditional Republicans who created the status quo like rival presidential candidate Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who suggests that the appropriate response to striking auto workers is to replicate the way Reagan handled PATCO: “He said, you strike, you’re fired. Simple concept to me to the extent that we can use that once again.” Similarly, Governor Brian Kemp dismisses the UAW as a blue-state nuisance: “We just haven’t been dealing with it in Georgia, because we’re a right-to-work state.”

Trump’s outreach to labor could, and most likely will prove to be, nothing more than an empty gesture designed to extract votes ahead of an election, no follow up forthcoming, no actual leaning on management to cough up higher wages and better conditions for workers. Or it might be the beginning of something big, like his America First foreign policy, which overturns the balance of power inside his party and changes the way we think about what both major parties stand for.

 (Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


The Final Countdown – 9/13/23 – Poor Coverage of Biden Impeachment Inquiry Raises Questions Regarding Trump’s Treatment

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss hot topics, including the Biden impeachment inquiry. 

Chris Widener – Motivational Speaker & Writer

Armen Kurdian – Retired Navy Captain, Former City Council Candidate & Political strategist 
Dan Kovalik – Human rights lawyer, peace activist 
Elijah Magnier – Veteran War Correspondent 
The show kicks off with motivational speaker and writer Chris Widener joining to discuss the impeachment inquiry into Biden and how it will affect the President’s 2024 candidacy.
Then, Retired Navy Captain and politician Armen Kurdian shares his perspective on Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s pardoning of a father who was arrested in a school board meeting. 
The second hour begins with human rights lawyer Dan Kovalik sharing his insights on the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin and what this alliance means for the West. 
The show closes with Veteran War Correspondent Elijah Magnier, who breaks down the purpose of a prisoner deal between the U.S. and  Iran. 

The Final Countdown – 9/12/23 – Putin Reveals Why Global South is Supporting Russia

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss top news, including Russia’s alliance with Global South countries. 
Tyler Nixon – Army Infantry Veteran
Mark Frost – Economist
Fiorella Isabel – Journalist 
Ted Harvey – Former State Senator in Colorado, Founder of
The show begins with Army Infantry Veteran Tyler Nixon who joins The Final Countdown to break down the latest of Trump’s legal troubles in New York, Florida, and Georgia.
Then, Economist Mark Frost shares his perspective on the imminent United Auto Workers strike and the Google antitrust trial. 
The second hour kicks off with journalist Fiorella Isabel joining to discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s appearance at the Eastern Economic Forum, and Russia’s Grain Deal with China. 
The show closes with Former State Senator in Colorado Ted Harvey sharing his perspective on Kevin McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry into the Biden family. 

Deep Fake A.I. Ads Might Kill Us All

            Seeing is believing. In the age of AI, it shouldn’t be.

            In June, for example, Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign issued a YouTube ad that used generative artificial-intelligence technology to produce a deep-fake image of former President Donald Trump hugging appearing to hug  Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former COVID-19 czar despised by anti-vax and anti-lockdown Republican voters. Video of Elizabeth Warren has been manipulated to make her look as though she was calling for Republicans to be banned from voting. She wasn’t. As early as 2019, a Malaysian cabinet minister was targeted by a AI-generated video clip that falsely but convincingly portrayed him as confessing to having appeared in a gay sex video.

Ramping up in earnest with the 2024 presidential campaign, this kind of chicanery is going to start happening a lot. And away we go: “The Republican National Committee in April released an entirely AI-generated ad meant to show the future of the United States if President Joe Biden is re-elected. It employed fake but realistic, photos showing boarded up storefronts, armored military patrols in the streets, and waves of immigrants creating panic,” PBS reported.

            “Boy, will this be dangerous in elections going forward,” former Obama staffer Tommy Vietor told Vanity Fair.

            Like the American Association of Political Consultants, I’ve seen this coming. My 2022 graphic novel The Stringer depicts how deep-fake videos and other falsified online content of political leaders might even cause World War III. Think that’s an overblown fear? Think again. Remember how residents of Hawaii jumped out of their cars and jumped down manholes after state authorities mistakenly issued a phone alert of an impending missile strike? Imagine how foreign officials might respond to a high-quality deep-fake video of, for example, President Joe Biden declaring war on North Korea or of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeming to announce an attack against Iran. What would you do if you were a top official in the DPRK or Iranian governments? How would you determine whether the threat were real?

            Here in the U.S., generative-AI-created political content could will stoke racial, religious and partisan hatred that could lead to violence, not to mention interfering with elections.

            Private industry and government regulators understand the danger. So far, however, proposed safeguards fall way short of what would be needed to ensure that the vast majority of political content is what it seems to be.

            The Federal Election Committee has barely begun to consider the issue. The real action so far, such as it is, has been on the Silicon Valley front. “Starting in November, Google will mandate all political advertisements label the use of artificial intelligence tools and synthetic content in their videos, images and audio,” Politico reports. “Google’s latest rule update—which also applies to YouTube video ads—requires all verified advertisers to prominently disclose whether their ads contain ‘synthetic content that inauthentically depicts real or realistic-looking people or events.’ The company mandates the disclosure be clear and conspicuous’ on the video, image or audio content. Such disclosure language could be ‘this video content was synthetically generated,’ or ‘this audio was computer generated,’ the company said.”

Labeling will be useless and ineffective. Synthetic content that deep-fakes the appearance of a politician or a group of people doing, or saying something that they actually never did or said sticks in people’s minds even after they’ve been informed that it’s wrong—especially when the material confirms or fits with viewers’ pre-existing assumptions and world views.

The only solution is to make sure they are never seen at all. AI-generated deep fakes of political content should be banned online, whether with or without a warning label.

The culprit is the “illusory truth effect” of basic human psychology: once you have seen something, you can’t unsee it—especially if it’s repeated. Even after you are told that something you’ve seen was fake and to disregard it, it continues to influence you as if you still took it at face value. Trial lawyers are well aware of this phenomenon, which is why they knowingly make arguments and allegations that are bound to be ordered stricken by a judge from the court record; jurors have heard it, they assume there’s at least some truth to it, and it affects their deliberations.

We’ve seen how pernicious misinformation like the Russiagate hoax and Bush’s lie that Saddam was aligned with Al Qaeda can be—over a million people dead—and how such falsehoods retain currency long after they’ve been debunked. Typical efforts to correct the record, like “fact-checking” news sites, are ineffective and sometimes even serve to reinforce the falsehood they’re attempting to correct or undermine. And those examples are ideas expressed through mere words.

Real or fake, a picture speaks more loudly than a thousand words. False visuals are even more powerful than falsehoods expressed through prose. Even though there is no contemporaneous evidence that any Vietnam War veteran was ever accosted by antiwar protesters who spit on them, many Vietnam vets began to say it had happened to them—after they viewed Sylvester Stallone’s monologue in the movie “Rambo: First Blood,” which was likely intended as a metaphor. Yet, throughout the late 1970s, no vet ever made such a claim, even in personal correspondence. They probably even believe it; they “remember” what never occurred.

Warning labels can’t reverse the powerful illusory truth effect. Moreover, there is nothing to stop someone from reproducing and distributing a properly-warning-labeled deep-fake AI-generated campaign attack ad, stripped of any indication that the content isn’t what it seems.

AI is here to stay. So are bad actors and scammers. Particularly in the political space, First Amendment-guaranteed free speech must be protected. But thoughtful government regulation of AI, with strong enforcement mechanisms including meaningful penalties, will be essential if we want to avoid chaos and worse.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

The Final Countdown – 9/11/23 – Georgia Grand Jury Recommends Charges Against Trump, Graham, and Dozens More

On this episode of The Final Countdown, hosts Angie Wong and Ted Rall discuss top news, including the latest developments in the Trump Georgia case. 
Alan Grayson – Former U.S. Representative 
Scott Stantis – Cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune 
KJ Noh – Journalist and Political Analyst 
Thabiso Lehoko – Sputnik Correspondent in South Africa 
The show starts with former U.S. representative Alan Grayson sharing his perspective on the Fulton County grand jury recommending charges against 39 people. 
Then, Cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune, Scott Stantis, talks about how a recent ruling against Biden could impact government interference in social media companies.
The second hour begins with journalist and political analyst KJ Noh joining The Final Countdown to share his perspective on takeaways from the G20 summit, and how global South nations are standing up to Western nations. 
The show closes with Sputnik Correspondent in South Africa Thabiso Lehoko shares his perspective on the situation in the Sahel, including Niger accusing France of intervention, and terrorist attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso. 

DMZ America Podcast #116: Bidexit, UAW Strike Deadline, Autonomous Assassination Drones

Editorial Cartoonists Ted Rall (from the political Left) and Scott Stantis (from the political Right) discuss breaking news and politics.

This week, Democrats are finally focusing on and starting to become alarmed by President Biden’s stubbornly-low poll numbers. 67% of Democrats say they don’t want him to be their candidate next year. Democratic senators say that even voters who think he has done a good job think he is simply too old to run again. Now mainstream media outlets are starting to float the possibility that he may decide to step aside, and either open up the Democratic primary process or anoint a successor. Scott and Ted handicap the various scenarios for Bidexit.

Four days away from their strike deadline against the big three Detroit auto makers, the United Auto Workers union is still far away from the latest offers on the table. In agreement that a strike currently looks likely, Scott and Ted discuss the state of negotiations, the future of the auto industry and the economic impact of a walkout.

Reuters has published a shocking expose of the advanced state of autonomous AI weapons currently in development and available for sale on the international arms marketplace. From drones to trucks to submarines to fighter jets, the dark vision of the Terminator movies is upon us. Will the world act to ban these dystopian killer robots?

Watch the Video Version of the DMZ America Podcast:

DMZ America Podcast Ep 116 Sec 1: Bidexit

DMZ America Podcast Ep 116 Sec 2: UAW Strike Deadline

DMZ America Podcast Ep 116 Sec 3: Autonomous Assassination Drones

The Final Countdown – 9/7/23 – U.S. Sends Ukraine Depleted Uranium

Robert Patillo – Attorney and Executive Director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition 
Rory Riley Topping – Legal Analyst at SpectrumNews 1 and Opinion Contributor at The Hill 
Mark Sleboda – International Relations and Military Analyst 
David Henry – Company Driver and Crazy Canuck Truckin Podcast 
The show kicks off with Georgia attorney Robert Patillo untangling Trump’s legal woes across several states, including a Fulton County judge ruling that two of Trump’s co-defendants will go on trial together on October 23. 
Then, Legal analyst Rory Riley Topping shares her perspective on the potential indictment against Hunter Biden and whether it is a conflict of interest. She also discusses how this will affect the upcoming presidential campaign. 
The second hour begins with International Relations and Security Analyst Mark Sleboda providing his insights on the controversial weapons package of depleted uranium to Ukraine, and the rift between the Biden administration and Zelensky. 
The show closes with David Henry, Company Driver, and Crazy Canuck Truckin Podcast who joins to discuss the Freedom Convoy trial in Ottawa.