Category Archives: Deep Politics

Quote of the day: Neoliberalism in a nutshell

From Dr. Gus Bagakis, a retired philosophy instructor at San Francisco State University, writing for Truthout:

The Reagan administration mobilized and promoted a heartless formulation of capitalism: neoliberalism. This was a model based on replacing the state with the market as a way to coordinate the economy. It stood for a world in which human relationships are forced to conform to an ideal of economic competition. The individual is transformed from a citizen into an independent economic actor. Under the regimes of President Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK, neoliberalism led to massive tax cuts for the rich, the destruction of trade unions, a growing inequality of wealth, deregulation, privatization, unemployment and the decline of public services — with the exception of prisons and the military-industrial complex.

The main principles of neoliberalism are:

  • The rule of the free market around the world from restrictions imposed by government (also known as globalization).
  • The cutback of money spent for social services (also known as austerity).
  • The reduction of government regulations for everything that could hamper profits.
  • The privatization of government ventures leaving wealth in a few private hands.
  • The focus on individual responsibility over that of the public good.
  • Tax reductions for corporations and the wealthy.

Graphic Representation: Despicable vs Deplorable

We begin with two offerings on the general state of Campaign 2016.

First, from the editorial cartoonist of the Kansas City Star:

Lee Judge: Storm conditions alert


And then an offering from the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Walt Handelsman: Other Worldly


From the editorial cartoonist of the Arizona Republic, our lone graphic featuring the Deplorable:

Benson: Clinton can’t patch these WikiLeaks


Indeed, she can’t. But even more damaging were the 100+ pages of documents released by the FBI, including a very ominous report that raises fundamental questions about her fitness to govern.

From CNBC:

A new trove of interview summaries and notes from the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails lays out a series of allegations that could prove fodder for future attacks on the Democratic presidential nominee.

The 100 pages, released Monday morning, include claims that Clinton “blatantly” disregarded protocol. Other claims include that a group of powerful State Department employees attempted to coordinate a document release, and that a department official asked for a “quid pro quo” related to the former secretary of state’s emails.

The documents, part four of four to be released by the FBI, include notes and interview summaries that may illuminate more about the bureau’s decision not to recommend Clinton be prosecuted for her actions.


One revelation in the documents came from an interview with an unidentified person who suggested that Freedom of Information Act requests related to Clinton went through a group sometimes called “the Shadow Government.”

“There was a powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials that some referred to as ‘The 7th Floor Group’ or ‘The Shadow Government.’ This group met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss the FOIA process, Congressional records, and everything CLINTON-related to FOIA/Congressional inquiries,” the FBI’s interview summary said.

Come on, folks. “Shadow Government”? Can this be anything other than a huge red flag about how a Clinton White house would operate?

Indeed, as the BBC reported, Clinton’s office wanted a Benghazi message declassified and buried:

The [FBI] colleague said he had been contacted by [undersecretary of state Patrick] Kennedy asking him to change the email’s classification level in “exchange for a ‘quid pro quo’”.

The State Department, the document says, offered to “reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden”.

The country in question was Iran, and the implication is clear: Politics trumped what the FBI saw as its own legitimate investigative needs.

Scary, ain’t it?

And now back to the cartoons

And all feature the Despicable.

First, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Mike Luckovich:Trumped up


The Washington Post weighs in:

Tom Toles:  Donald Trump delivers his biggest insult yet


From the Chattanooga Times Free Press, no noose is good noose?

Clay Bennett: The Noose


Next, the Los Angeles Times:

David Horsey: Republicans waffle as Trump is captured by the alt right


And from the Columbus Dispatch:

Nate Beeler: Who You Gonna Call?


Finally, back to the Washington Post:

Ann Telnaes: Trump’s the one who should take a drug test


Trump is [partly] right: The game really is rigged

But contrary to what The Donald declares, the game is rigged in his favor, as a Pulitzer-winning journalist explains to fellow Pulitzer-winner Chris Hedges in the latest edition of the latter’s series for RT America:

On Contact: A Tax System Rigged for the Rich with David Cay Johnston

Program notes:

On this week’s episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges sits down with David Cay Johnson, author of “The Making of Donald Trump” to examine how the Republican presidential nominee and the rich are benefiting from a rigged tax system. RT Correspondent Anya Parampil further explores how the U.S. tax code has been rewritten to benefit the wealthy.

Yet more email sleaze emerges about Hillary

From BBC News:

A State Department official offered a “quid pro quo” deal if the FBI would change the classification of a Hillary Clinton email, FBI documents indicate.

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy asked the bureau to unclassify the message so it could be archived, “never to be seen again”.

He made the request in relation to an email about the 2012 attacks on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

But the FBI said it did not change the classification level.

The email in question described reports in November 2012 that Libyan police were arresting suspects in the attack of two months earlier, which left Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans dead.

‘Shadow Government’

Other interesting revelations from the newly released FBI documents include:

  • A former diplomatic security agent said Mrs Clinton would often “blatantly” disregard security and diplomatic protocols, including her frequent refusal to attend overseas diplomatic functions with local ambassadors, which left envoys “insulted and embarrassed”
  • While secretary of state she ignored security advice by going to a dangerous part of Jakarta, Indonesia, in a move that “placed Clinton, her staff, the media and her security detail in unnecessary danger in order to conduct a photo opportunity for ‘her election campaign'”
  • A group of top State Department officials that some called “The Shadow Government” met weekly to discuss Freedom of Information requests related to Mrs Clinton. They wanted her emails to be released all at once, instead of on a rolling basis, as would normally be the case, according to the FBI summary. But the group did not get its way.
  • Explaining that security and protocol procedures were regularly breached, the report states that early in Mrs Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, “she and her staff were observed removing lamps and furniture from the State Department”, which were brought to her residence in Washington DC. The unnamed source does not know if the government property was ever returned.

Read the rest, including the email.

Charts of the day II: Monsanto’s lobbying outlay

From Monsanto Lobbying: an attack on us, our planet and democracy, an important new report from Corporate Europe Observatory, two revealing charts, first of Big Agra/GMO giant’s lobbying and election spending in the U.S. [including, in small print, the $8.1 million spent to fight a GMO labeling referendum in California]:


And the corporation’s outlays in the European Union, including company-sponsored front groups:


As CEO reports:

Corporations like Monsanto have limitless resources to buy political power through lobbying. Not only are they represented by numerous lobbying associations at every level from local to global, they also have an army of hired-gun lobbyists, fund scientists to act as their mouthpiece, and participate in ‘greenwashing’ projects.

EU institutions and the US government often actively solicit corporations to lobby them, giving corporations privileged access to decision-making. This perverse symbiosis allows corporations to capture decision-making, but leads to hollowed out democracy, environmental disaster, and grave social injustice.

There are roughly three fields of industry lobbying: directly targeting decision-makers; PR and propaganda; and undermining science. Broadly three types of actors exist: those giving the orders, those following them, and those who are accomplices to these attempts.

Quote of the day: Hillary’s promised payoff

From Jon Schwarz, writing for the Intercept, on one of the secret deals promised by Hillary Clinton in her avid pursuit of corporateer big bucks:

American multinational corporations are currently stashing a staggering $2.4 trillion in profits — about 14 percent of the size of the entire U.S. economy — overseas. Multinationals are required by U.S. law to pay the statutory 35 percent tax on profits they earn anywhere on earth, but the tax is not assessed until the profits are brought back to the U.S.

This has allowed Corporate America to essentially hold U.S. tax revenue hostage, refusing to pay its taxes until Americans become so desperate that they will cut a deal giving multinationals a special new tax rate.

This strategy has already paid off once, in 2004, when multinationals got Congress to let them bring back $312 billion in profits at a one-time rate of about 5 percent. The legislation required that the cash be used to hire Americans or conduct research and development. Corporations ignored these provisions and instead used the money to enrich their executives and stockholders, while cutting U.S. jobs.

Both Hillary and Bill Clinton clearly envision cutting a similar deal during a Hillary Clinton presidency, although presumably they intend for the corporations to keep their part of the bargain this time.

Brazilian regime seeks permanent austerity

It’s the worst possible scenario for millions of the poor in South America’s largest country and a neoliberal’s wet dream, and it seems inevitable.

From teleSUR English:

Unelected Brazilian President Michel Temer is a step closer to cementing his long-term austerity plan for the cash-strapped country as the lower house of Congress approved Monday a constitutional reform that would freeze public spending for the next two decades.

Critics argue that the aggressively neoliberal plan — known as PEC 241, the Portuguese acronym for Proposed Constitutional Amendment — dramatically undermines rights enshrined in the 1988 constitution, written in the early years of Brazil’s transition to democracy following the fall of the military dictatorship in 1985.

Progressive economists often warn that austerity deepens an economic downturn rather than reverses it, by depleting consumers of buying power. Public disinvestment, is, in effect, anti-Keynesian, and is akin to turning off the engine of a plane already in free-fall.

With a population of more than 200 million, Brazil’s income and wealth disparities are among the widest in the world, and the country is currently in the midst of its worst economic contraction since the Great Depression.  The PEC 241’s 20-year freeze on public spending will almost certainly produce an anemic economy because it will starve a demand economy of the very oxygen it needs — consumer demand — to thrive.

The controversial amendment passed with ease in the lower house by a 366 to 111 vote in favor, with two abstentions, after a marathon nine-hour session. The measure still needs a second vote in the lower house, where it is expected to pass the supermajority threshold in a vote scheduled for Oct. 24; if approved, it will be forwarded to the Senate for final approval.