Tag Archives: plutocracy

Rape, Shmape, the GOP All Up in Your…

GOP Ultrasound

Coerced to accept penetration by any object is called what? Figure it out by the logic of Paul Ryan:

[flashvideo filename=http://squareone-learning.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/PaulRyan31.flv /]

Ladies, get ready to hand over your body to the GOP, as Ann and Mitt prepare for (your) future rubber glove moments.

Mitt & Ann's Rubber Glove

bonus resemblance:

Another well-known 'populist' wife of self-righteous plutocrat.

Another well-known ‘populist’ wife of self-righteous plutocrat.

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The Plutocrat’s Wife – Caption Contest

Ann Anntoinette Romney

Caption Contest. [Marie] Anntoinette Romney, wife of Willard. who famously scraped by with the Mittster in college by clipping coupons, eating macaroni and chesse, and, “living on Mitt’s investments.”

Trickle Down

The Romney strategy is currently surprising basic: rev up the base in the half dozen swing states by deploying the technique of Goebbels, The Big Lie(s), fold in racist dog whistling, and, let the so called issues PACS, and Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers, simply bury Obama’s ground game in televised mendacity. I’m expecting a full-on deployment of the means necessary to wage a battle based in old white rural guy class resentment cast in end-times apocalyptic plotting and radical misinterpretations of Jefferson’s advisory.

(Jefferson, doh, was an anti-oligarch.)

The sudden appearance of a relentless effort to alienate female undecideds is counter-intuitive.

Then, if elected, Romney can move back into the ‘absolutist royalist opaque,’ and pivot back to the tried and true borrow-and-spend, and, to a chewy regional war in a new sandy middle eastern locale. Glorious! Bodies of the Iranian tribes and of the domestic poor will be flyin’ everywhere!

Ha ha. Apparently Willard has a thin skin. The debates will be fun.

Paul Ryan?

Still, the question remains, if the Koch Brothers and Adelson, in effect, purchase a ruling majority–with an assist from determined voter suppression–how do they collaborate with GOP plutocrats to etch in their advantage for the remainder of all time?

Romney Whitehouse

Romney, despite being a Mormon, is evidently a quasi-nihilist too. Odd combo, I know. What is Romney’s central value, ethic, aesthetic?

Answer: Mitt Romney.


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Paul R-Ayn, “I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas presents”

Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan in remarks this weekend, about President Obama. “Whatever the explanations, whatever the excuses, this is a record of failure.”

Linguists could parse Ryan’s phrase, whatever the explanations. I’d be curious to learn more about its construction. Actually, Paul R-Ayn, explanations do matter. Let’s bring our big brackets in to play. On one end is the domestic economy from the mid-nineties going forward into the Bush era, then the inkling of a housing asset bubble, and then cheap money, exotic derivatives and collateralized debt instruments, into that August four years ago, and, soon enough, TARP, and, under the circumstances, a fairly close election.

Obama’s first two years without enough of a congressional majority or mandate to go full-on-Roosevelt, then the Tea Party wave election, and, a spectacular do nothing congress, in which many of the House’s GOP members were, in effect, pledged to the destruction of Obama’s Presidency.

What are the explanations? What does it mean to state whatever the explanations?

Keep the concept explanation in mind for the following thought problem. Here’s a question you can pitch to right leaners, tea partistas, libertarians, and, galtians: if a two trillion dollar stimulus in 2009 & 2010 would have driven unemployment down to 6% by August 2012, would it have been worth it? In other words, assume it would have and decide your answer.

Okay, my iconoclastic view is that if you do not care to accurately explain why a problem came about and happened, then it’s unlikely your solution is going to work. For example, this sense of mine means creationists and advocates of intelligent design disqualify themselves for solving the problem, how is biology to be taught?

It’s likewise with those who advocate supply-side economics; privatizing social security; and democratizing the mid-east. (And, on and on of course, on both sides of the partisan divide.) Paul Ryan is the leading intellect of the GOP and, at the same time, he’s an anti-intellectual, is apparently against explanation.

David Frum: Romney has transformed a campaign about jobs and growth into a campaign about entitlements and Medicare.

Charles S. Peirce; Esquire: This is a guy in love with his own concocted genius.

[Ryan] does not have the raw balls to explain to the country that, no, he does not believe in government — not the federal government, anyway, and not as it was originally conceived, as the fundamental expression of a political commonwealth. He’s grandfathered his plan to chloroform Medicare so that, despite the deficit that he considers such an urgent problem, nobody alive today who might vote against him will be affected by it. For the same reason, he will not specify the cuts that he will make or the tax “loopholes” —coughMortgageInterestDeductioncough — that he will close. In any way that will come to matter to the people whose lives his policies will make harder and more miserable, Paul Ryan is still the high-school kid living off Social Security survivor benefits and reading Ayn Rand by flashlight under the sheets.

John Dickerson; Slate; But for all of the talk of a new emphasis on policy specifics, this is still going to be a campaign deeply connected to American values. When Ryan spoke on Saturday, he talked about the threat Obama poses to the American way of life. Underneath every policy debate will be the argument that when tough choices have to be made about the federal government, you’re going to want candidates who share your values when they’re doing the awful math of scarcity.

GOP Resotration

Let’s contemplate seven phases of the fully realized form of R-Ayn’s utopia perspective. (I read these goals to constitute a furious race to the bottom.)

(1) throw millions of government employees out of work

(2) throw millions of people off their healthcare

(3) throw millions of college students off their Pell Grants

(4) pluck hundreds of millions of dollars from the pockets of the elderly, the salaried and hourly work force, and, give this money to

(5) tens of thousands of high-wealth individuals, including many who never worked a single day in their life for their wealth

(6) just for grins, increase the incidence of the late stage cancers women get

(7) Accelerate tens of millions of sick people visiting emergency rooms

This will be wrapped in Christian ‘ethics’ and Patriotism. Except, obviously, Romney and R-Ayn won’t be running very hard on this platform at all. It’s a loser. They’ll run against Obama the socialist and anti-Capitalist deceiver, and traitor to America, and son of a dirty fucking hippie and African. The GOP side, methinks, are now forced to go completely with the culture war strategy, the politics of resentment, and this seems especially congruent with their patently racist voter suppression strategy.

The point of this would be painting, again, the picture of Obama being something like an African Jihadi Manchurian Anti-colonialist Cosmopolitan Ivy league Affirmative Action Saul Alinsky Communist Organizer who abhors success and loves the culture of handouts. There will be plenty of dog whistles and appeals which suggest Obama is actually trying to buy votes with welfare. This tactic reflects a useful but untrue explanation Romney/Ryan endorse.

As a political and sociological phenomena, I, for one, am interested in how this all works to fit together the social and institutional structure and political economy of the USA. What, come the day after the election, explains the result, and, explains how one might smartly anticipate the new prospects? Just sayin’ . . .explanations matter!

Last item:

(8) [The Hill] The House Republican budget released Tuesday would shield the Pentagon from nearly $500 billion in automatic cuts and roll back some of the $487 billion reduction approved in last year’s Budget Control Act. The plan from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) asks six congressional committees — but not Armed Services — to find $261 billion in savings to help roll back the automatic cuts through sequestration that were triggered by the failure of the supercommittee. The Ryan plan also increases national defense spending to $554 billion in 2013, an increase of $8 billion over the $546 billion that was agreed to under the Budget Control Act.

War. Destruction. Death.

I suspect the scale of our nation and its resources help conceal how unexceptional in many ways is our nation’s recent performance. My provisional explanation about this particular trend, (rooted to an anthropologically-minded analysis of the socio-political economy,) begins with the 1960 election. We can track over fifty years the curve of an appalling amount of death-dealing, the amount hundreds of billions of dollars purchases.

Meanwhile, domestically, why would anyone intentionally amplify, for example, greed and rent seeking and Randian ethics at the same time, for example, most of Asia and Europe and India, has come to eat our lunch and shorts by committing to eventually educating their billions of children better than we educate our own American children?

Who possibly in their right mind believes America’s future global ability to compete will be secured by making the country into Texas?

Romney/Ryan would be unable to convince me that their intense, self-righteous utopian phantasy about saving America is not also yoked to an equivalent Shadow; underside; blindness; and hubris. But I can’t (much) explain why it is they wholeheartedly endorse America transforming itself into an even more vicious, hyper-aristocratic, Galtian triumph-of-the-makers, society.

Especially this is so when I contemplate a future in which several billion 20-40 year old English-speaking Chinese and Indian men and woman have no trouble rattling off, when asked, what is the scientific method.



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Richie Rich Living Differently


What a week Willard has put together! (Essential: Steve Benen’s Romney’s Lies)

Romeny NAACP (h/t Digby for pic.

If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for? Vote for the other guy, that’s what he’s all about, okay? That’s not, that’s not what I’m about. Willard delivering a bold ‘southern strategy’ dog whistle to a group of donors the day after getting booed at the NAACP.

The problem is Romney needs a bit more than the racist vote to tip enough swing states into his column in November. In fact, Willard has got the racists and plutocrat lovin’ tea partistas and the 1% and their minions locked up.

His appeal to the wishy washy middle, the amazing sweep of voters in but a dozen states unable make up their minds–as if there isn’t much with which to differentiate the two candidates–has depended on a counter-intuitive promotion of capacities and acumen forged at Bain to be just what the economy needs. This is a ridiculous appeal on its face! After all, there’s nothing about the mechanics of Bain’s mission that align with the boilerplate Reagonomics and supply-side confidence game Romney touts to be the solution. Reminder: solution to the devastation brought on by titans of finance, like Romney!

It’s easy to criticize Romney’s mendacity, vagueness about his future policies, and, the intense positioning and handling going on in the background. I would add to those considerations Romney’s twitchy hyper-active Joycean rambles, the increasing evidence of his thin skin, and, his overall ability to slip into fatuousness and inanity. His latter qualities are, to me, usually amusing, and, probably Romney’s narcissism insulates him from comprehending that he is a laughable/laughingstock figure.

For example, his racist dog whistle is not about all the free stuff the financial industry has received, and, we won’t be seeing Romney square tens of billions of dollars of welfare monies with trillions of dollars of bailout monies.

The controversy over when he left active duty at Bain is much more telling because he’s goes into it knowing he’s lying, anf knowing that the paper trail demonstrating his actions as CEO will grow quickly into a damning pile. Yet, Willard will plow ahead anyway, believing maybe as only a Mormon can believe, that the baloney he’s peddling for the lower orders does not infect the righteousness of his higher order sacred calling.

As his wife put it, “It’s Mitt’s turn.” Her observation should cover all sins, yes?

As for the tax returns, it’s lose/lose. Presumably, in their total sweep, five, ten, twenty, years of tax returns provide a comprehensive manual on how to financially front in the 1%. However, no matter how toxic this tale turns out to be–and I for one doubt Romney will be releasing anything–it is ironic to say the story the tax returns tell will damage Romney’s credibility as an economic white night and warrior for the populist cause.

If you think Romney cares anything about the middle class beyond caring that low-information and cognitively suspect voters give him their votes, I have a bridge to sell. Cheap.


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Diamonds Are Forever

Richer and richer

But several media outlets — including the Times, CNN, and the British newspaper The Telegraph have reported that Mitt Romney will in fact take time from the campaign to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics with his wife on July 27 (the Romney horse’s event begins Aug. 2). He was, after all, head of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games. And an appearance at the opening, filled with extravagant special effects, music and patriotic flag-waving for the U.S. team, is safer than showing up at an event where your wife’s horse is worth several times the mean yearly per capita income for individuals in the United States.

So family loyalty is trumped by political expedience, but while in London, Romney will find time to attend — you guessed it — a private fundraising dinner. According to The Telegraph, “The price of invitations dwarfs the amounts paid for such fundraisers in British politics. Each guest must pay between $25,000 (£17,000) and $75,000 (£50,000) for a seat at the dinner, which will be hosted by Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays.”

Bob Diamond? Why is that name familiar? Oh right, it was announced this week that Barclays would pay American and British authorities $453 million in fines as a settlement over allegations that the financial giant manipulated international interest rates, causing millions of borrowers to pay the wrong amount on their loans. The New York Times reports, “At the height of the financial crisis, regulators say, the big British bank reported bogus figures that in some cases had influenced a benchmark for student loans, credit cards and mortgages.”

An ongoing Justice Department investigation of Barclays — as well as of other banks, including Citigroup — could lead to criminal charges. Calls have come for Diamond’s resignation. He responded by announcing that he would forego his annual bonus for the year — in 2011, Diamond received $4.2 million.

In a speech, British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said, “This cannot be about a slap on the wrist, a fine and the forgoing of bonuses… When ordinary people break the law, they face charges, prosecution and punishment.”

But of course, ordinary people don’t host $75,000-a-plate dinners for the man who may be the next president of the United States. via Salon

After a certain point and after enough ‘inovative’ rent seeking, moral hazard fades to zero and the worst thing that could happen to you when your thuggery is exposed is you bravely give up your annual bonus, or become governor of Florida, or spend more time in St. Barts, etc..

citizens plutocracy

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Object Lesson in Public Lunacy

One of the interesting features of our contemporary media culture is that groups of (what may be called) very serious people are convened to publicize their willful and shameless individual effort to pretend absolutely no one in the audience can figure out when something amazingly ignorant; or misinformed; archly absurd; or divorced from reality, wanders from his or her brain to all the way out of their mouths.

Paul Krugman is clearly the academic and social scientist and person with a good connection to reality in this unintentionally ridiculous and horrifying confab from Sunday. Here is his post today:

We’re Doomed

Update: So you see what I mean. We have a terrible failure of demand — and Carly Fiorina thinks the key problem is excessive taxes on corporations (our effective rate is actually fairly low). Hey, if only we had low rates like Ireland, we could have 14.7 percent unemployment … oh well, never mind.

As it often happens, practiced ideologues re-version the ‘little boy with the hammer’ by suggesting their favorite clever trick would have just the right positive effect. Such august people do this with a straight face. I am not smarter than Carly Fiorina, yet, I would be smarter than she was on Sunday in my refusal to spout my most ludicrous hunches on a coast-to-coast television show.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Something anyone may do if they choose to do so, would be to investigate a subject matter of our current events. If you possess a modest set of researcher’s chops, it is possible to investigate a subject without either encumbering or over-determining findings by dumbly using an ideological lens, or, otherwise employing the means for doing solely ideologically-flavored investigation.

I did this when I realized it was necessary to do so if I wanted to understand how the real estate and derivatives crisis came about. My investigation required me to sort through numerous ideologically inflected accounts and to offset these eventually with actual academic research; the kind that eventually followed on the heals of the crisis. My understanding ended up being both superficial and weakened by my lack of mastery of technical subjects, yet, it also ends being more secured to the facts of the events than 99% of the pseudo-analysis the public was subject to at the surface of the media’s informational onslaught.

To do this act of investigation is to intelligently inform yourself about a subject matter. The payoff is you might find that you end knowing more about this subject of research than all but the actual experts and the small number of people who have taken the same trouble.

One could do the same were one to want to know more about why we’re subjected to so much public, pseudo-intellectual blather and idiocy, and, let’s face it, also subjected to very very smart and upper echelon elite successful people saying incredibly stupid things.

One of the research vectors could be: why does this happen when, in the equivalent of the emperor having no clothes, there would be any number of persons in the audience who see right through the ‘presentations.’

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Rich Risks

Occupy the Entitled Rich

In 1997, the last year for which there was solid research done on the subject, 42 percent of the Forbes 400 richest Americans made the list through probate.


This lies at the heart of our plutonomy thesis: that the rich are the dominant source of income, wealth and demand in plutonomy countries such as the UK, US, Canada and Australia, countries that have an economically liberal approach to wealth creation. We believe that the actions of the rich and the proportion of rich people in an economy helps explain many of the nasty conundrums and fears that have vexed our equity clients recently, such as global imbalances or why high oil prices haven’t destroyed consumer demand. Plutonomy, we think explains these problems away, and tells us not to worry about them. If we shouldn’t worry, the risk premia on equity markets may be too high.

Secondly, we believe that the rich are going to keep getting richer in coming years, as capitalists (the rich) get an even bigger share of GDP as a result, principally, of globalization. We expect the global pool of labor in developing economies to keep wage inflation in check, and profit margins rising – good for the wealth of capitalists, relatively bad for developed market unskilled/outsource-able labor. This bodes well for companies selling to or servicing the rich. We expect our Plutonomy basket of stocks – which has performed well relative to the S&P 500 index over the last 20 years – to continue performing well in future. From this basket, we would highlight in particular, at the moment, LVMH and Richemont.

Our whole plutonomy thesis is based on the idea that the rich will keep getting richer. This thesis is not without its risks. For example, a policy error leading to asset deflation, would likely damage plutonomy. Furthermore, the rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash. Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfranchisement remains as was – one person, one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be a political backlash against the rising wealth of the rich. This could be felt through higher taxation (on the rich or indirectly though higher corporate taxes/regulation) or through trying to protect indigenous laborers, in a push-back on globalization – either anti-immigration, or protectionism. We don’t see this happening yet, though there are signs of rising political tensions. However we are keeping a close eye on developments. (Equity Strategy Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer; Citigroup, Kapur et al, 2006)


(mouse over for controls) Taryn Hart, The Plutocracy Files interview William K. Black.

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Fossils of Fuel

Ghosts in the Hollow from Jim Lo Scalzo on Vimeo.

Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked; “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.

Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.

Eugene V. Debs | src

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Courtesy of Crooks and Liars. (post: Bill Moyers on the “Single Payer” plan for health care on PBS
By John Amato Sunday Jun 07, 2009.)

Arlen Specter (R-D- PA- $4,026,933)
Max Baucus (DLC- MT- $2,833,731)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $2,758,468)
Ben Nelson (DLC-NE- $1,196,799)
Max Baucus (DLC- MT- $1,184,113)
Joe Lieberman (DLC- CT- $1,036,302)
Arlen Specter (R-D- PA- $1,035,530)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY- $981,400)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $929,207)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA- $884,724)

The dollars are contributions from the medical-insurance complex to Senators charged with serving their constituents. Kind of begs some questions.

Although Explorations is not focused on politics and the political economy, in this case I can’t help myself. In truth I’m preparing a long riff on the Republican implosion. It’s not ready.

Still, in our interesting times, the US has a President elected in part due to a grassroots money-raising dynamo, and, against this is the normal spoils system. It helps that only 50-ish percent vote in National elections, and, by the way, that rate of participation is–at least–halved in most local elections. It’s a weird system that mixes a mass of citizenry with plutocrats and the corporate elite.

Many years ago a mentor told me that one often is compelled to uncover what he termed “the agenda behind the agenda” and then to discover who is holding the gold that funds this agenda behind the agenda.

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