Category Archives: Deep Politics

Memo of the day: Banksters ‘message’ the Dems

From the latest cache of WikiLeaked memos, a summary compiled for Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, of a meeting between representatives of the DCCC and two lobbyists for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, an organization representing Wall Street:

Met with Andy Blocker and Joseph Vaughan from SIFMA

  • Discussed 2016 strategy and map
  • Discussed Trump as a factor
  • Andy mentioned seeing the article about today’s messaging meeting
    • Andy mentioned they see this as a good sign
    • Need to get Blue Dogs, New Dems and Progressives on same page
  • Talked about Financial Services Messaging concerns
    • Lots of would be Democrats in Financial Services area
    • Feel that the party committee needs to be smarter and more thoughtful about this messaging
    • Upset around messaging demonizing Wall Street
      • Understand that Wall Street isn’t popular, but the message won’t win the day
      • Turns off Dems in Financial Services world when they are attacked just for working in the industry
      • Creates a larger problem when people don’t trust banks and financial institutions
    • Chairman talked about Clinton messaging around “bad actors” which is more palatable and crosses industries
    • BRL mentioned the article where Leader Pelosi said that Sen. Warren doesn’t speak for the party
      • Andy and Joseph thought this was an encouraging sign, but hadn’t seen this article before
  • There are areas where we can work together
    • Financial Literacy
      • BRL mentioned the possibility of working w/ SIFMA in districts to do literacy events
    • Saving for colleges
    • Capital for entrepreneurs
  • Concerned with Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule
    • Biggest concern is that if it becomes final, it will take a long time to change
    • BRL mentioned they should keep in touch with Chiefs moving forward through August
  • SIFMA cannot support the DCCC right now, in large part due to messaging
    • Did find the meeting helpful, feel we are moving in the right direction
    • Encouraged by meeting, will keep the door open and make further consideration of support down the road

Marilyn Waring: Economics as if people mattered

Marilyn Waring is one of the world’s most remarkable economists, a former New Zealand legislator — the youngest-ever national lawmaker when elected in 1975 — who brought a government down over her opposition to nuclear weapons, then went on to earn her doctorate in political economy.

She won her degree with a revolutionary thesis on the  a thesis on the United Nations System of National Accounts, the system of valuing a national economy solely on the financial value of tangible goods produced.

That system was devised by British economist John Maynard Keynes to engineer the British Empire’s participation in World War II, and ignored, among other things, all of the household labors of women, labors which, literally “kept the home fires burning.”

Waring’s critique forced the U.N. to revise its accounting system, and as Bloomberg reported three years ago:

Waring gained international prominence with “If Women Counted,” also published as “Counting for Nothing.” Praised by the feminist Gloria Steinem and the economist John Kenneth Galbraith, the book lambasted national accounting systems as sexist for excluding unpaid women’s work. Canada’s National Film Board in 1995 made it into a documentary called “Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics.”

While Waring wasn’t the first to criticize the exclusion, her book drew attention for its thorough and persuasive analysis, said Joann Vanek, a former director of social statistics at the UN.

“She demystified the national accounts,” Vanek said. “Many feminists had taken pot shots at national accounts, but Marilyn went into the body of it and disaggregated the specific assumptions that were made and how that really shaped what ended up being a bias against women.”

Waring’s knowledge and outspokenness made the critique credible, Vanek said. “She was unafraid. These guys, these national accountants, are somewhat oracle-type figures, and she would confront them.”

In 1993, the UN revised the system of national accounts to recommend that all production of goods in households for their own consumption be included in the measurement of economic output, a definition excluding childcare, elder-care, cooking and cleaning.

But Waring’s critique is much broader, and is superbly outlined in a just-re-released 1995 documentary from the National Film Board of Canada:

Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

Program notes:

In this feature-length documentary, Marilyn Waring demystifies the language of economics by defining it as a value system in which all goods and activities are related only to their monetary value. As a result, unpaid work (usually performed by women) is unrecognized while activities that may be environmentally and socially detrimental are deemed productive. Waring maps out an alternative vision based on the idea of time as the new currency.

Headline of the day: The snitch in your in-box

Another gem from the London Daily Mail:

REVEALED: Yahoo ‘secretly scanned the incoming emails of hundreds of millions of customers for the FBI and NSA’ while Edward Snowden urges people to delete their accounts

  • Sources say company complied with classified U.S. government directive
  • They scanned hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI 
  • Intelligence officials wanted Yahoo to search for a set of characters
  • Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer’s decision to obey the directive roiled senior executives, former employers claim
  • It also led to the departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who now holds the top security job at Facebook, in June 2015
  • Not known what data – if any – was handed over
  • Raises questions about whether intelligence officials approached other email providers with the same kind of request
  • Microsoft, Google, Apple and Twitter have all issued statements denying similar activity within their companies

Graphic Representation: It takes a pillage

First came a New York Times story reporting that a certain Donald J. Trump may have played the tax laws to avoid paying any income taxes for “nearly two decades.”

Not surprising, really, since tax laws are largely written by lobbyists in the pay of very rich people, and the congressional committees responsible for writing are tax laws are headed by former lobbyists who worked for those very same wealthy patrons.

Another revelation from the Times: In 1995, self-proclaimed multi-billionaire Trump declared only a shade more than six grand in taxable income.

Reporting on the meager income, McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Kevin G. Hall writes:

The bombshell leak of portions of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns show that he declared a minuscule wage income that year for a man of his wealth and corporate responsibilities.

The New York Times published a report late Saturday based on three leaked pages of Trump’s 1995 state tax returns that showed a $916 million reported loss. It would have allowed him to perhaps avoid paying any federal income tax for up to 18 years. This overshadowed another revelation on the same returns: That he had reported just $6,108 in wage income. In 1995, the highest wages were taxed at 39.6 percent.

“It does look pretty shocking that he is showing that little salary,” said Daniel N. Shaviro, a tax professor at New York University, blogger and former legislative aide to the Joint Committee on Taxation during the 1986 overhaul of the tax code. “Six thousand dollars of compensation does look pretty shocking.”

Without the 1995 full federal tax return, he warned, it’s impossible to know how Trump was able to declare so little wage income for the 1995 calendar year. Numerous tax specialists consulted by McClatchy declined to comment for the record because of the incomplete nature of the leaked returns, but all said there were multiple ways Trump could have been compensated without having it called wage income, which is subject to payroll taxes and higher tax rates. It’s another way that accountants and tax specialists can help wealthy Americans decrease their tax burden.

As folks used to say back when esnl was in high school nearly six decades ago, “No shit, Sherlock.

A London Daily Mail headline hints at one possibility:

‘He’s a beggar, but he’s worth about $900 million more than me’: Did Donald Trump ALREADY confirm his massive tax write-off in his own book?

  • Trump recounted a story of encountering a beggar in his book, ‘Art of the deal’
  • He thought to himself that the man was worth ‘$900 million more than me’
  • Trump told a similar story to the Washington Post in 1992
  • The New York Times reported Saturday that Trump took a $916 million loss on his 1995 tax return
  • The campaign did not dispute the account, but blasted the paper for reporting it 

The reaction to the Times revelations was predictable, as reported by Reuters:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says paying no income tax would make him “smart.” While nearly half of Americans agree with him, more people think it is “selfish,” and “unpatriotic,” according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.

Some 67 percent of Americans said it is “selfish” for a presidential candidate to pay no taxes, while 61 percent said it is “unpatriotic,” according to the poll, which allowed respondents to pick more than one adjective to describe paying no taxes.

At the same time, the results showed some respect for a candidate who can figure out how to reduce their tax bill. Some 46 percent of Americans, including 35 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans, thought a presidential candidate who pays no taxes is “smart.”

And that brings us to today’s Graphic Representations. . .

Our first offering comes from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Clay Bennett: The exception


Next up, the Charlotte Observer:

Kevin Siers: Trump the genius


Followed by the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Walt Handelsman: The Trump Method


From a major syndicated cartoonist comes this:

Jeff Danziger: Trump taxes

And from the Washington Post, this:

Tom Toles: A Trump trick or treat


Still, the revelations kept coming. .

We turn to Old Blighty for the next two items.

First, via the Guardian. while The Donald has been blasting Hillary Clinton over allegations of improprieties with her non-profit foundation, the Donald has been having problems of an even more egregious nature with his own similar venture:

The Trump Foundation was served with a cease-and-desist letter on Friday, in which James Sheehan, the head of the attorney general’s charities bureau, wrote that the New York-based organization “must immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York”.

“Further, the Trump Foundation must notify any third parties engaged in solicitation or fundraising activities in New York on its behalf to immediately case any such activities,” Sheehan added.

The notice stated that the Republican presidential nominee’s eponymous foundation was soliciting donations of more than $25,000 a year without having registered for the proper certification pursuant to article 7-A under New York law. As a result, the Trump Foundation has not undergone the external audits or been subject to the kind of oversight required by the state of charities seeking donations from members of the public.

New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, launched an investigation into the Trump Foundation last month amid several reports that raised questions over its practices. The Washington Post published a series of stories including revelations that Trump had not donated to his foundation since 2008, relying since then entirely on other people’s money in an arrangement deemed as highly unusual for a family charity.

And then there’s this, from the Independent

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been widely criticised for mischaracterising military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as not “strong” and unable to “handle” their experiences of combat.

Mr Trump participated in a Q&A with veterans on Monday in Virginia, where he was asked about PTSD, the high rate of veteran suicides and whether the US Veterans Administration (VA) ought to take a more “holistic” and “spiritual” approach to tackling mental health.

The property mogul responded positively to the suggestion, promising a “very, very robust” approach to veterans’ mental health under a Trump administration.

He also said: “People come back from war and combat and they see maybe what the people in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.”

That brings us to out final Graphic Representation, from the Indianapolis Star:

Gary Varvel: Donald Trump campaign boat


And in closing. . .

We leave the last word to Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter:

It can reasonably be argued that the presidency of George W. Bush was an eight-year warm-up act for the final stage of a dumbed-down America: a Trump presidency. You can draw a relatively straight line from the Florida recount of 2000, which took Bush into office, right through to the shambolic Trump campaign. The election of Bush led to the invasion of Iraq, which led to the de-stabilization in the Middle East (Libya, Egypt, Syria), which led to the migrant crisis, which led to European nationalism, Brexit, and, at the tail end of all these disasters, Trump.

He has touched—embraced!—every third rail in American politics. He has offended (and I apologize if I’ve left some group out): African-Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, Jews, Muslims, war heroes—war heroes!—families of war heroes, the disabled, women, and babies. Babies! Through word or action, Trump has promoted gun violence, bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, lying, and just about everything else that can be wrong with a society. And yet he marches on, playing to a constituency that just doesn’t seem to care. The thing is, this ramshackle campaign, following a ramshackle business career, has exposed his flaws and failures to the world and, more importantly, to the people he will brush up against for the rest of his life. To them he is now officially a joke. I suspect he knows this. And if his thin skin on minor matters is any indication, he will be lashing out with even more vitriol. He is a mad jumble of a man, with a slapdash of a campaign and talking points dredged from the dark corners at the bottom of the Internet. I don’t think he will get to the White House, but just the fact that his carny act has gotten so far along the road will leave the path with a permanent orange stain. Trump, more than even the most craven politicians or entertainers, is a bottomless reservoir of need and desire for attention. He lives off crowd approval. And at a certain point that will dim, as it always does to people like him, and the cameras will turn to some other American novelty. When that attention wanes, he will be left with his press clippings, his dyed hair, his fake tan, and those tiny, tiny fingers.

Brazil’s coupsters ramp up privatization push

The key tenet of neoliberalism is really quite simple: All services provided by democratically elected governments should be privatized for the sake of corporate profits, a move enhanced by insidious campaigns to discredit their own governments.

And has been so successfully conducted in other nations, the U.S. included, Brazil’s unelected neoliberal government, put in power by a legislative coup against the elected government, continues to rush forward with measures to sell off the national commons.

teleSUR English covers the latest and most drastic move:

The interim government of Michel Temer in Brazil announced Thursday it will privatize 34 state companies in strategic areas around the country.

“We are opening 34 opportunities for licensing in the areas of ports, airports, roads, railways, energy, oil, gas,” said Temer.

“With this, we are opening and universalizing the Brazilian market, in the belief that to combat unemployment and make the country grow it’s necessary to encourage the industry, services, agricultural businesses, besides restoring confidence, because there was a time when confidence in the country was lost,” said the coup president.

The Investment Partnership Program is in charge of the privatization plan for these industries, run by Wellington Moreira Franco, a politician specialized in privatizations during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

The airports located in Florianopolis, Salvador, Fortaleza and Porto Alegre are also part of the privatization program.

Suspicions confirmed; Brazil’s coup neoliberal

While we’ve noted that the demand for neoliberal reforms rather the urge to purge institutional corruption lay behind the legislative coup that ousted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, we now have conformatuion straight from the horses ass mouth.

From teleSUR English:

Brazilian President Michel Temer told a crowd of business leaders in New York that the parliamentary coup that ousted former President Dilma Rousseff was carried out in response to her opposition to a neoliberal program defended by his political party.

Temer had earlier claimed before the U.N. General Assembly that the coup that brought him to power followed the “constitutional order,” as it complied with the impeachment process outlined in the country’s constitution.

Rousseff was formally impeached over her budgeting practices, which were also widely exercised by previous presidents. Supporters of Rousseff sustained that the issue of budget practices was a smokescreen and that her impeachment was driven by political interests.

However, in his speech on Wednesday Temer did not mention Rousseff’s budget practices but instead talked about her opposition to the neoliberal policies promoted by his party.


Temer’s coup government has pursued a hardline neoliberal program, which includes freezing spending in social areas for 20 years and plans to auction off 32 major resource and infrastructure projects.

The coup regime has been criticized for pursuing a political program rejected by Brazilians in the previous election that saw Rousseff re-elected in 2014. Temer’s cabinet includes many of the Workers’ Party’s political adversaries, including Jose Serra, whom Rousseff defeated in the 2010 election.

Headline of the day: Suspicions finally confirmed

From the London Daily Mail, another revelation from Hillary’s emails:

Israel has ‘200 nukes all pointed at Iran’, former US secretary of state Colin Powell  says in leaked private email that has Washington on edge

  • The detail is the latest revelation to emerge from a cache of leaked communications
  • The former US secretary of state revealed the information in an email he sent to a colleague last year
  • Israel has a policy of nuclear ambiguity and has never talked openly about the type or size of its weapons 
  • The email was being sent to business partner and democratic donor Jeffrey Leeds regarding Israeli PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress