Cliff Asness’ Cliff Notes To Progressive America

Cliff Asness, head of the quant hedge fund AQR, has been known to be a vocal opponent of various failed governmental policies in the past few years. Today, he has shared his “dictionary” (of “humorous” persuasion as he himself notes, with definitions “written sarcastically as a faux left-winger, some just conservative/libertarian interpretations of what the left really means.”) of the key terms dominant in Progressive America right now. In a world in which other people’s money has pretty much run out, and ahead of a rather historic Supreme Court ruling tomorrow, we believe some of these are quite relevant.

Some Useful Definitions to Understand Our Modern Progressive World

Failed Policies of the Past

Definition: Limited government, free markets, personal responsibility, liberty.

We Are All In This Together

Definition: For the love of God who do we tax back to the stone-age to get out of this!?

Social Darwinism

Definition: Essentially a darling concept of the progressive left of the first half of the 20th century (along with eugenics its even more vile cousin). It now is defined as “any attempt by conservatives and libertarians to rein in the unsustainable spending of out of control government.”


Definition: A word used to motivate making sure outcomes do not match abilities or effort. Note, pre-1970 it meant roughly the opposite.

Social Justice

Definition: Redistribution based on group affiliation, regardless of anything the actual individuals in question did, or even their specific ancestors did, but instead based on the actions of other individuals in the past who just kind of looked vaguely like those in the relevant groups being discussed now, both victim and oppressor. Also applies to redistribution of any kind, whether based on actual unfairness, or on simply outcomes liberals do not like.

Alternative definition: Unspecific. Just a meaningless phrase that screams “I am liberal and this phrase sounds liberal and nice with just a hint of revolutionary sexiness.”

Antonym: Justice (which, even if it must be applied broadly to address real group-wide wrongs, is always and everywhere an individual notion)

The Phrase “Deny Access to…”

Used in a sentence: “It is unfair to deny access to healthcare to 26 year olds living off their parents.”

Definition: When a person isn’t given something they want for free, and they have not found a way to steal it yet, they have been “denied access” to it. In general it is the “1%” that “denies access.” See “1%” below.


Definition: Something provided by other men and women’s labor that some claim as their right, sometimes claiming to have paid for it during their lifetime, when all forms of modern mathematics and accounting reject that notion.


Used in a sentence: “I have a right to healthcare.”

Definition: A more extreme form of “entitlement” defined above. Note that modern usage throws out the long tradition of natural rights only of a negative nature, that is, the right not to have something done to you, for rights of a positive nature, that is, the right to certain goods and services, like health care, Apple products, and soy milk. Since, no matter how important these items are, these modern positive rights must still be produced and taken from others, essentially the word “rights” now often stands for a system of slavery and theft.

Main Street

Definition: A place liberals used to ridicule as Mayberry but now pretend to love.

Regular Americans

Definition: People who support me.

Special Interests

Definition: People who support you.

Fat Cat

Definition: Something a politicians calls someone with 3x more money than the median voter who supported the politician in question.

Alternative Definition: Someone the same exact politician hits up for cash.

The 1%

Definition: Those who pay more than 1/3 the total federal income tax and are never thanked for it. More generally, they are responsible for all evil in the world today (unless they work in Hollywood or hi-tech in which case they are “honorary 99%-ers” regardless of income, tax rate, and lifestyle).


Definition: A focus-group tested better word than “the poor” for progressives to use to advance their statist schemes. Some speeches by progressives now consist of just saying it over and over again in different hypnotic musical tones.

Income Inequality

Definition: What occurs when a free and productive economy includes people with different abilities, work habits, and, of course, luck. Also, one of the main reasons anyone actually works at anything.

A Fair Tax System

Definition: One in which the “rich” (i.e., those making more than the speaker of these words, or those voting for the speaker) pay 50% more than they currently pay, and the speaker and his constituents get to pay 50% less than they currently pay. These figures remain unchanged despite any starting tax rates. If this change pushes the “rich” to over 100% or the non-rich to below 0% more the fairer.


Definition: The person living the ideal progressive life where no responsibility is taken, no risk is taken, the government perks are endless, you never see who pays for it, and the tyrannical hand of big-brother never makes it into the cartoon narrative.

Synonym: Sheep Antonym: Men

Citizens United

Definition: The ultimate evil Supreme Court decision (narrowly defeating Dred Scott) which expanded free speech, thus allowing those with money to, uh, speak freely.


Definition: A delicious breakfast treat that goes well with English Breakfast tea and clotted crème. Conservatives prefer theirs in the traditional 9 pack, liberals enjoy up to 15.

Elizabeth Warren

Definition: An “Elizabeth Warren” is any brilliant scholar who both thinks we can fix the U.S. financial system simply by adding another giant bureaucracy with near unlimited power, and who can, by dancing vigorously in a circle, make it rain. Both equally as likely.

The IMF and/or the World Bank

Definition: Nobody knows. See SMERSH and CHAOS for similar definitions.

The European Financial Crisis

Definition: A complex multi-year dance whose sole purpose is to see how much money can be shaken out of the German middle-class.

Universal Health Care

Definition: The system formerly known as single payer.

Single payer Health Care

Definition: The system formerly known as socialized medicine.

Socialized Medicine

Definition: Something Democrats claim they don’t want, as they simply want Universal Health Care.

Nobel Peace Prize

Definition: A prize awarded to the left’s favorite person that year.

Antonym: Any prize having anything to do with actual Peace, or frankly accomplishment of any kind.


Definition: Taking money from current and future Americans to undertake projects that didn’t make sense before, don’t make sense now, will net cost jobs as the stimulus must be paid for privately, but since the job losses will be hidden, and the direct hires put on the evening news, might let those in charge keep their cushy jobs a bit longer.

World War II

Definition: Mainly important as proof that Keynesian stimulus works (side note: also led to defeat of Nazis and Imperial Japan). Since it is the only such “proof” ever, and we all have nuclear weapons now, different options are being considered for future stimuli. Actually, since World War II ending did not crash the economy as Keynesians predicted at the time, frankly we’re rethinking the whole thing.

Cash for Clunkers

Definition: What we came up to replace World War II as stimulus. Many perfectly good cars destroyed, no Nazis defeated.

Quantitative Easing

Definition: The act of printing pieces of paper to purchase other pieces of paper and thinking it matters at all for anything. See “dogs chasing cars” for related examples.


Definition: Spending much more than ever before but slightly less than you had once thought you might spend which itself was a completely insane amount to spend.

Synonym: Profligacy

Paul Ryan

Definition: A “Paul Ryan” is a Hollywood monster which kills and devours old people simply by showing them a preliminary reasonable plan to grow spending slower than we currently are, while keeping any obligations already made to the elderly.

Grand Bargain

Definition: An agreement to raise taxes now while tacitly agreeing to waive the corresponding spending cuts later. Usually done in at least a 10:1 ratio as waiving 10x the future cuts is a particularly effective amount of waiving.


Definition: To make something (e.g., government) bigger, more intrusive, less efficient, and more dictatorial.


Definition: We found one old sap from the other party dying for one last shot at relevance who will add his name to our highly partisan effort.


Definition: A verb, to “Dodd-Frank” something is to use the perpetrators of a major crime to fix things for next time. Like taking ex-computer hackers and putting them in charge of your security (this example is not perfect as this might actually work). Used in a sentence: “We really Dodd-Franked that financial reform.”

See also “Searching for the real killers.”

Right Wing Extremist

Definition: Someone objecting in any way to left wing extremism.


Definition: Moron


Definition: A word that when applied to yourself conveys an instant halo of goodness that does not have to be justified with actions, logic, or even the slightest examination of what the policies you support have wrought. Works particularly well for rich hypocrites (Wall Street) and rich morons (Hollywood).


Definition: A rebranding of “liberal” post-Dukakis, going back to an older word, that means essentially the same thing, but contains the very positive word “progress” within it, and the always welcome “ive” ending.


Definition: A philosophy held by annoying bastards who happen to be right about nearly everything. Fortunately, due to the frustration that comes with being right about nearly everything, in a world wrong about those same things, there are only 19 of them, and we’re going to find the bastards soon.

The Party of No

Definition: Legislators who are rightly demonized by the press and progressives for being elected to bring down the size of government and then actually trying to do so. Sons of bitches.

Synonyms: Obstructionists, Do-nothing Congress

The Buck Stops There

Definition: Something Barack Obama says about George W. Bush.

Foreign Policy

Definition: A process where the USA makes amends to the rest of the world for being more successful than them, footing many of their bills, and shedding our blood to keep them safer and freer.

Due Process

Definition: Something progressives get misty over when Henry Fonda is being denied it on the silver screen and when in power they deliver at the end of an explosive drone after Judge David Axelrod pronounces the target guilty.


Definition: A non-linear chaotic system that is a near-perfect example of something that is very very difficult, even using modern methods, to explain or forecast. This in no way takes away from the possible reasonableness of man-made climate change described below. Though, one might note, we get frustrated by weathermen as they can’t forecast the climate today.

Global Warming

Definition: What we now call “climate change”. Global warming was phased out as it also leads to things being too cold, and sometimes being just right. Mama Bear has been replaced with a highly volatile mix of all three bears.

Climate Change

Definition: The fact that over time the climate, uh, changes.

Man-Made Climate Change

Definition: The entirely reasonable idea that seven billion industrialized humans may be affecting the climate.

Krypton Seven Seconds Before Kal-El Was Launched Into Space

Definition: The stage liberals are certain the Earth is at.


Definition: Both a character once played by Marlon Brando and coincidentally the fictional character Al Gore pictures himself as. Nobody listened to Jor-El and look what happened! A fascinating additional coincidence is that when Brando was alive, Marlon and Al alone actually omitted ¼ of the USA’s greenhouse gases.


Definition: The amount progressives will spend to combat man-made climate change without any assessment of the costs and benefits of these actions.

The Green Agenda

Definition: The additional use of man-made climate change, even if it’s fully true and it makes economic sense to sacrifice to fight it, to have government and its anointed priests take over much more of our lives. Any questioning of it is absolute proof of evil. Children must be indoctrinated in it in grade school before reading or writing or arithmetic. They must then be sent to spy on and lecture their parents.

Resistance is futile.

Ronald Reagan Definition: Right wing extremist President who kicked people off welfare which progressives said would be a holocaust, radically broadened free trade which progressives say has since killed American manufacturing, and whose administration perpetuated the horrible banking deregulation progressives say brought on the financial crisis.

Bill Clinton

Definition: The guy who actually did those things right above (though Reagan did some other cool
things). Oddly today’s Democrats insist that it’s Republicans who’ve changed and gotten “way more extreme” since the 1990s.

Trickle Down Economics

Definition: A brilliant marketing phrase for denigrating the truth: that a freer economy helps everyone. Not to be confused with “trickle up poverty” a perfect definition of socialism.


Definition: An excellent form of government where if you can cobble together 51% of the people, by promising them other people’s stuff, or scaring them that you’ll take away their stuff, you can rule as a dictator. It is decidedly not the form of government originally chosen by the United States of America, which is a constitutional republic with limited government. Thankfully we’ve mostly done away with that nonsense.


Definition: A word that is a hate crime if used about an American politician who wants us to be more like Europe. Or, alternatively, a word used by many European politicians to define themselves.


Bill Buckler On Keynesian Religion As World War… And The One “Good” Thing About It

If It Doesn’t Work – Keep Trying It Until It Does: Those running the big investment banks and trading floors today bear an uncanny resemblance to the generals on both sides of the conflict in WWI. There is an old military saying about the folly of fighting the “next” war by the methods of the…

Former ‘God’s Banker’ could blitz Vatican with cache of secret documents

The former head of the Vatican Bank has become the Papacy’s Enemy Number One, after police discovered a trove of documents exposing financial misdeeds in the Holy See. The banker now reportedly fears for his life. ­Earlier this week police conducted a dawn raid on the house and office of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. Investigators say…

The “American Exceptionalism” Paradigm Is Broken

There Is Little “Value” Under Untenable Circumstances Even now, in the third year of the recovery without a recovery, there is still a good deal of mystery as to why and how US investors should be wary of Europe.  The intentional opacity of the global banking/financial system contributes to this effect, but all that is…

The Politics Of “Consensus” Is The Politics Of Failure

The Politics of “Consensus” Is the Politics of Failure Persuading those in power to limit their power via “consensus” doesn’t work. Both the legal system and the horse-trading politics of “consensus” have failed. How do you get “consensus” in politics? You horse-trade. You give everybody something they want. You cut everyone into the deal. That…

Missile or UFO? Thousands of people in Jordan and Israel witness spinning ‘Catherine Wheel’ in the sky

Thousands of people in Israel, Turkey and Jordan got the shock of their lives yesterday, as they watched a spinning ‘UFO’ performing cartwheels in the sky. Police in these countries – as well as in Cyprus and Lebanon – were flooded with phonecalls by panicked residents, as the white, gleaming light danced high up in…

The Turin Shroud is a fake… and it’s one of 40: Historian claims linen cloths were produced 1,300 years after crucifixion

Not only is the Turin Shroud probably a medieval fake but it is just one of an astonishing 40 so-called burial cloths of Jesus, according to an eminent church historian. Antonio Lombatti said the false shrouds circulated in the Middle Ages, but most of them were later destroyed. He said the Turin Shroud itself –…

The “Solution” Is Collapse

The “Solution” Is Collapse So the root problem is the system, human nature, blah blah blah. There are no “solutions” that can fix those defaults. Thus the “solution” is collapse. Policies create incentives and disincentives. Some are intended, some fall into the category of unintended consequences. Regardless of their intention, policies that create windfalls (“easy…

Defiance, A Lost Virtue?

It was August 19th, 1920.  A military detachment of Red Army soldiers led by Bolshevik authorities steamrolled into the Russian town of Khitrovo to implement a policy known as “Prodrazvyorstka”; resource allocation in the name of national security which led to the confiscation of vital grain supplies and the starvation of millions of peasants.  To…

“Expect To Be Disappointed” At These Crucial Dates For Europe

The next few weeks consist of some crucial events – perhaps most notably the EU summit of 28-29 June – which create scope for governments to offer fundamental responses to the Euro crisis. Goldman Sachs, like us, expects to be disappointed and are not optimistic that resolution will be achieved in the near-term. Until the…