Ackman on Bloomberg, a comment by Almost Marx

The professional Economic Buccaneer needs to be very careful about his public advocacy for friends and allies that he might hold in high esteem: J. Ezra Merkin? For the checkered career of Mr. Ackman Wikipedia provides valuable information to evaluate his credentials:

Mr. Ackman manages to produce not a pastiche of a campaign press release, but to simply produce one that enunciates the cliches of the genre, with a telling fidelity to the imperatives that  Bernays laid out in 1928.

The opening paragraphs rely on the oft used metaphor of a country as a business. Is a country like a business, subject to the laws of supply and demand, not to speak of the ever present profit motive? What is the definition of success that is common to a country and a business? Or is this labored metaphor a device to give us the assurance that a hard headed  business man is what is needed, to bring America out of the eighth year of economic stagnation, following the catastrophic collapse of the Free Market Delusion? In rides Mr. Bloomberg on a white stallion awash in the shimmer of false hope. Perfect as an antidote to the rebellion against the elites, the current Part Line of the bourgeois  respectable pundits at The Financial Times.

See my comment on the Bloomberg record here:

Nothing quite compares to this unalloyed hysteria mongering, even in the pages of this publication:

‘Today America is burning. Our government is wasteful and dysfunctional. Our national debt exceeds our gross domestic product. Our bridges, roads, airports and tunnels are crumbling. Our school system fails to educate our children. Our middle class is shrinking. Our tax code drives our most profitable businesses to relocate to foreign jurisdictions. Our immigration laws force talented young scientists and entrepreneurs to competitor nations. Our incomprehensible regulations fail to protect us from fraud, crime, pollution and abuse of power, while stunting growth and impairing our global competitiveness. Our international standing has deteriorated. Our enemies no longer take our pronouncements seriously and our military supremacy is threatened. The American dream is fading.’

This coda is in keeping with Bloomberg as the only, inevitable choice of the thinking oligarch:

‘It is time to put the fires out and restore the United States to greatness. Mr Bloomberg is the right choice.’

One needs to exercise patience, not to speak forbearance  with Mr. Ackman’s political advocacy.

Almost Marx




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On the Bloomberg candidacy, a comment by Political Observer

One can almost welcome Mr. Bloomberg into the presidential race of 2016. The Republicans are a collection of Neo-Cons, Dixicrat Feudalists, Free Market Fundamentalists, that expresses a collective political nihilism. And the exhausted, indeed near desperate campaign of Mrs. Clinton. Her allies rehabilitation of the propaganda line of Obama Bros of of 2008, into Bernie Bros of the present. And her political exhumation of Albright and Steinam to shame young women for their lack of loyalty to a Sclerotic Feminism.

Consider Bloomberg’s authoritarianism:

Stop and Frisk, broken windows policing as conceived at the Mahattan Institute.The removal of Judge Shira Scheindlin from 5 year litigation that Bloomberg looked to be losing: patently obvious political manipulation of judicial system. Just one marker of his authoritarian character. Two sources:

Nearly 90 percent of the 4.4 million people the police stopped for questioning between 2004 and 2012 had done nothing wrong, according to evidence presented at a nonjury trial Scheindlin conducted last spring.’

A portion of the statement made by the court that removed Judge Shira Scheindlin:

‘A federal appeals panel in Manhattan that had abruptly removed Judge Shira A. Scheindlin from New York City’s high-profile stop-and-frisk litigation and questioned her conduct in the case issued a lengthy explanation on Wednesday, saying it had made “no findings of misconduct, actual bias or actual partiality” by the judge.

The three-judge panel’s Oct. 31 order has been the subject of pointed debate among judges, lawyers and others, and the statement on Wednesday appeared to be an effort to soften the tone of the original ruling, if not its import. The new opinion was another turn in the stop-and-frisk litigation, in which Judge Scheindlin issued a landmark decision in August imposing sweeping changes on the Police Department, including the appointment of a monitor.’

Appointment of John Micklethwait as Bloomberg’s chief executive and co-author of Right Nation, excerpted on Front LIne:

and The Fourth Revolution, see this YouTube video for an interview with its authors: (See this witty,scathing review of The Fourth Revolution, in The New York Times by

Might we see where Mr. Bloomberg will be taking his ‘campaign’ for president from his appointment of his chief executive?

Add to this Mr. Bloomberg’s support for Charter Schools:

See Sharon Higgins’ blog  titled Charter School Scandals:

Or this:

‘On that day, Duncan rattled the education policy world with news of a controversial grant of $249 million ($157 the first year) to the charter school industry. This announcement was controversial because, as The Washington Post reports, an audit by his department’s own inspector general found “that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools.”

Post reporter Lynsey Layton notes, “The agency’s inspector general issued a scathing report in 2012 that found deficiencies in how the department handled federal grants to charter schools between 2008 and 2011” – in other words, during Duncan’s watch.’

Political Observer

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Hillary Clinton, Simon Schama & the question of Progressive Music

Mrs. Clinton is going to need more than ‘Progressive Music’ as advocated in Mr. Schama’s essay, awash in purple so as to mask its demonstrable shallowness? In opposition to ‘Sanderian magical thinking’: the observations of a hardheaded political realist, or the acceptance of the political inevitability of Mrs. Clinton, as the only rational choice?

Or will those speeches, that she  gave to Wall Street bankers, to follow the musical thread, become her political swan song? Like Mr. Romney’s notorious 47% speech, surreptitiously recorded by a bartender at a private fund raiser. Here is a link to a Washington Post report on the speech question:

‘Hillary Clinton’s campaign was noncommittal Friday about if, or when, it would release transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street banks and other groups.

Instead, a day after she said during a debate that she would look into making them public, advisers sought to downplay the importance of the issue.

“I don’t think voters are interested in the transcripts of her speeches,” Clinton’s pollster, Joel Benenson, said during a Friday breakfast with reporters hosted by the Wall Street Journal.’

When both Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow of a major network ask pointed question of a candidate, it can’t be laughed at like Mrs. Clinton did to reporter Lee Fang:





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Radek Sikorski on British Indispensablity, a comment by Political Observer

Mr. Sikorski has a penchant for declaring nations indispensable:

‘At the depth of the European sovereign debt crisis in November 2011 Sikorski went to Berlin to “beg for German action”, in commentator Barry Wood’s later words. Europe, Wood paraphrased, stood at a precipice. “The greatest threat to Poland,” Sikorski said per Wood, came not from Russia, but from “a collapse of the euro zone,” of which Poland was not then yet a member. Sikorski labelled Germany as Europe’s “indispensable nation” and said it must lead in saving the euro.’

Mr. Sikorski offers this example of his argument: of his advocacy of Britain as having that status of indispensability:

Fortunately, there is an area where the UK could shine, where the EU clearly needs British leadership and Britain is uniquely qualified to provide it — namely, foreign policy. Not so long ago a Briton, Catherine Ashton, the former EU foreign policy chief, created Europe’s diplomatic service, ordered a military strike on Somali pirates, initiated talks with Iran and mediated between Serbia and Kosovo.

But then in the very next sentence comes this compellingyet contradictory argument about political chaos in neighboring states :

‘Since then, neighbouring countries have collapsed into chaos — Libya and Syria in the south, Ukraine in the east.’

British indispensability works only in the countries which are direct beneficiaries of British leadership? Stabilizing the neighborhood was not accomplished in Libya,Syria or Ukraine.  The next sentence asserts that British leadership will be vital to stabilizing the EU’s neighborhood.

The EU needs the professionalism of British diplomats and the global outlook of its elites. The kind of EU worth belonging to needs to be able to secure its external borders and stabilise its neighbourhood.

One wonders at Mr. Sikorski’s muddled argument, as perhaps a clumsy attempt to curry  favor with the British, but the why of it is confusing- but if one thinks strategically, as a politician pondering his return to power; then the British indispensability gambit is wholly understandable, even admirable in a Machiavellian sense, of the Prince not of The Discourses.

All is revealed in the last paragraph, as Mr. Sikorski takes his cue from the most canny of emigre courtiers Isaiah Berlin:

Preventing the continent of Europe from uniting to the exclusion of Britain was a principle of British foreign policy for half a millennium. Wars were fought over it. The world would gasp in disbelief if the British now voluntarily excluded themselves, and this over social benefits for people who do not want them. Having lost an empire, the British have been at a loss for a new role. There is another nascent empire, just across the water, yearning to be led. If only the British would realise it.

Political Observer


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Patrick J. Buchanan on Rubio, on the Clintons, Sanders, Warren and the erasure of New Deal: a comment by Almost Marx

I can’t resist the temptation to comment on portions of  Mr.  Buchanan’s essay, which demonstrates his political myopia. This is quite a telling,almost witty, comment on the Clintons in Mr. Patrick J. Buchanan’s ‘Rubio the Remainderman’:

‘In the Democratic race, it is Sanders who has been getting the Trump-sized crowds, while Hillary and Bill Clinton have been playing to what look like audiences at art films in the 1950s.’

But what Mr. Buchanan utterly misses is the New Deal tradition in the following paragraph. Warren being the prime example of that wing of the Party, while Clinton is the apostate to that tradition i.e. a New Democrat.

‘Democrats would break apart along the lines of the Clinton-Sanders divide, with the neo-socialists becoming a raucous and robust anti-big bank, anti-Wall Street, soak-the-rich and share-the-wealth party.’

Mr. Buchanan’s ideological blinders are on full display: he is unable to perceive that New Deal tradition, as not just a part, but a discard of politically ambitious New Democrats, who became idiosyncratic Reaganites.

Almost Marx, with a thank you @DanielLarison

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Janan Ganesh, neutral scribe: a comment by Political Observer

Does the use of the idea of ‘neutral scribes’ function as a self-description in Mr. Ganesh’s essay? If so it is not just wide of the mark but fictional. His essay sounds like a scolding memo from the head of Human Resources to a recalcitrant staff.

If the protagonists are as cynical as we believe, Britain is in trouble. Ambition can end up distorting the business of government, as rivals start to view policy choices as moves in a card game. The state becomes a venue for their frivolity. If they are not — and the stereotype of politics as a blade-strewn pit of intrigue is as exaggerated as I, Claudius — it says something that we would excuse them if they were.

What can one think of the above,  garnished with a clever, not speak of telling literary reference to Robert Garves’ novel of Roman imperial machinations, when in his introductory paragraph, he uses the name and career of Winston Churchill: the very embodiment of unalloyed political ambition, not to mention naked self-promotion, that embraced not just the political but the literary, as part of his project?  The ‘project’ that is of central concern of Mr. Ganesh, acting as ‘neutral scribe’, is the dismantling of the Welfare State and the construction of the institutions of Neo-Liberalism e.g. The Academies, and the auctioning off of state owned assets. As the in order to of a permanent dismantling of the institutions of Socialism, even in the face of the near total collapse of the Free Market Mythology, Austerity and the dismal economy of the present.

The ‘rolling farce’ of Labour, as characterized by Mr. Ganesh, refers to the untidy character of democracy, that offends his Tory sense of order, or the political lock step of both the Tories and New Labour.

Political Observer

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Martin Wolf’s second attempt at a ‘Defense of the Elites’, a comment by Almost Marx

In a Democracy there are NO outsiders! There are only political actors biding their time, awaiting political opportunity and or making one. The Elites Mr. Wolf seems so attached to is in reality an exercise in the self-exculpatory. The ascendancy of Neo-Liberalism and its crash in 2008 are the fault of the advocates /apologists for the predations of the ideas and practices of that Free Market Mythology. Mr. Wolf and The Financial Times were in that vanguard. The rise of the Populists, both Left and Right, are the issue of that collapse, no matter how vehement the denial, it has the character of the axiomatic!

This is Mr. Wolf’s second try at a ‘Defense of the Elites’ followed by an attempt to describe a series of remedies to address the excesses of Robber Capital. An act of political desperation? A maladroitly exercised mea culpa? One has long since lost patience with Mr. Wolf’s explanations, for the current crisis of ‘The Elites’, who have fallen into disrepute by the record of their actions toward their fellow citizens. Its elementary civics!

Almost Marx

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