Friday, February 07, 2020

Making the Dems competitive

I am thinking about what will make the Dems more competitive with orange turd, and in the short term, it is obvious to me: better glasses. Both Warren and Sanders are still stylin the 70s,, 80s look. Come on! I think the presidency is worth splurging a little Both of them would look much chic-er Warren might want to look at the St. Laurent cat's eye style, here: 
Warren would totally rock with this look. I remember the green party candidate who ran for the presidency in france, years ago: Eva Joly. Even those who didn't vote for her had to give her the contest on the glasses: outrageous green and red frames that said: i'm on the next level. Well, that is maybe not the message that Warren wants to send. But the St. Laurent's scream, to me: I'm confident not only that I'm going to turn that Trump into a dump, but that I might literally turn him into a toad by doing a bewitched blink.
Sanders, on the other hand, needs I think something heavier. In my opinion, he could really thrill the masses in these Tom Fords. The glasses he has right now, too often he is obviously looking over the lenses. This is not good! It gives him some tad frantic energy, which is fine when you aren't the frontrunner, but now? I'm not talking the Scorcese "these glasses have invaded my face and now I have to pay them a vig" type glasses. But something heavier and slicker, something that anchors the look and says, I want Medicare for all, and I am cruisin' in these ultra frames, my companeros - for the people, united behind really groovy frames, will never be defeated.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

On ACRONYM and the aristocracy of the mediocre

"And we have a situation where as a party if we are the good guys we have to be the good guys — not engaging in this,” Ganapathy told me. “There’s a reason why so many Americans think politics is an elitist plot to make a handful of people wealthier, and it’s kind of true." - see the outline article on ACRONYM and SHADOW - and weep
Ideology is excreted from practice. The practice in the American political establishment, since at least the seventies, is to professionalize it - to make it a source of juicy contracts and positions, with the credentialing done by people who have made those juicy contracts - and not necessarily won an election.
One fights for candidates. Is Sanders better than Warren? Is Biden acceptable? But in the political world, these are just actors in the larger movie, which is not about making the world or the country a better place, but about notches in the CV, leading to tv appearances and quotes in the newspapers, which leads to ever more money. It is a very white world - and a very close knit, insider dealing kind of world. These are people who, themselves, never have fought a campaign as anything so vulgar as a candidate. Rather, they develop "synergies" with candidates, or boast in the press that they are developing state of the art digital platforms to get a progressive - or conservative - message out, which means they have hit the hot spot: "doing well by doing good", as the rich donor class likes to say. Even though they are doing well by undermining good.
Ideology is excreted from practice, The political system in the US, in the 70s, was pathetically easy to buy. And in the next forty years, it was bought at knock down prices and turned a huge profit - with taxes sinking on Capital, the social insurance structure open for scamming healthcare services while being enervated from within, the huge expenditures for the military, and last and least, the campaign industry, where the point is to go to rich donors and canalize a living for yourself, your family and associates while making your services "indispensible" to politicians - who benefit by becoming lobbyists after their defeat or resignation, and whose family members get into the honey from the first. Its an adhoc aristocracy of the mediocre.
The GOP was always an adhoc aristocracy of the mediocre, propped up by the petrochemical industry. The Dems needed their own tycoons to party with, after they had sucked the unions dry. And with finance and tech, they found them.
So it goes on the fall down down down the dark ladder. Americans enter this century as, for the most part, bankrupt pions, fronted by billionaire monsters and celebrity monsters.
I write this as a goof, a mark. I have long thought that somebody like Trump, with his insanely low numbers, would be impossible not to beat. Watching the Dems get fucked up by the D.C. poltical management industry that is among the stupidest group of peeps ever to get an ivy league education and a head start from a trust fund (I omit, here, the Supreme Court - of course, they always win the palm for sheer stupidity), I have the sadness that Charley Brown must feel every time Lucy pulls away the football.

Monday, February 03, 2020

On Free Lunches

I want to cull this from  page 2 of Greg Mankiw’s popular Essentials of Economics – used by hundreds of Econ 101 classes, tucked under the arms of thousands of students, who paid a hefty price for it:

You may have heard the old saying, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. Grammar aside, there is much truth to this adage. To get something we like, we usually have to give up something else that we also like.
I like to think of them, those thousands of scions of upper class households, products all of them of years of free lunches, nodding to this crackerbarrel truism. One of the great principles of education is to blind yourself to the self-evident. It is part of one’s self-fashioning, and it is especially useful as these scions go on to get positions in the upper ranks of management, investment, etc., and can look about them and say: I earned this.
By their truisms you shall catch them – this is the rhetorical ratcatcher’s faith. My faith, really. The crack in the neo-classical economics façade – the underpinning of that big neo-other, Neoliberalism – appears here.  If one looks deeply enough, many of the ideological decisions that go into the neoclassical model congregate around the idea that there is no free lunch – or as Mankiw translates it, there are almost always trade-offs.
The first and most important of those decisions is that the local difference between the person who pays for and offers the lunch and the person who eats it, free, is of no concern to economics. Thus, all sociology is given the bum’s rush at this banquet. The economist’s truth stops at the fact that if there is a free lunch, someone is paying for it, and that in the end, we are all someone. And it is true that if x is paying for y’s lunch, if we just move a level upward we can treat them as variables, so that y paying for x’s lunch is the same thing. But what if that move up the level is missing an essential fact – which is that there is always somebody paying for the lunch, and somebody eating it free? And what if there is a whole class of x’s who offer a whole class of y’s free lunch?

olivier blanchard and the free lunch: a comedy of errors

  The neolib economist Oliver Blanchard tweeted a very funny comedy bit, in which he played the part of “social democrat”. And he wrote: “As...