Cliff Asness' Cliff Notes To Progressive America

Tyler Durden's picture

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.

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Trying to Understand's picture

For The Children

Definition: We're going to strip the public of Rights to make their own personal daily decisions.

veyron's picture



Definition: We're going to borrow as much as possible, blow it on unnecessary junk, and leave them with the tab

akak's picture

Boy, the junkmonkeys are really swarming over the comments on this thread!

I wonder what has them in such a huff here in particular?

Mercury's picture

A stubborn and enduring belief in the free lunch.

See also: Rights
and our still very popular president’s support for FDR’s concept of a second Bill of Rights.

Bananamerican's picture

This post is chock full of classic right-wing  Asness...

AldousHuxley's picture

Some Useful Definitions to Understand Our Modern Progressive World

Failed Policies of the Past

laisse faire capitalism failed. Greenspan says American workers get paid too much. Need more immigration to lower wages.

financial deregulation, illegal immigration, etc.

We Are All In This Together

US is a sinking ship unless you have millions in swiss bank accounts and foreign real estate with private jet.

Social Darwinism

cut throat competition for you, top 0.1% rich watches from the private skybox. Must backstab, cheat, and sell your mother and your soul to make it into upper class. only the cunning and ruthless will survive because that's our society's "ideal" as we are just all animals.....except the ultra wealthy who have money to stay class and don't actually compete.


Word used by top 0.01% to ignore flat taxes poor pay and only focuse on taxes they pay becuase lucky = merit to them.

Social Justice

        "Corporations are people" but they pay almost no taxes unlike real workers.



only applies to workers and not capital speculators (ie. AIG traders who got million dollar bonuses)


        things little poor people  think they have in America but they don't. only for high net worth individuals. example: freedom of speech. you say the wrong thing to your boss, you are fired, but rich can pay $30,000 for a fundraiser dinner and say anything to the president. example 2: you protest bailouts you get beat up by cops, but cops have rights to spike up retirement pension for over six figures.

Main Street

place where rich and wall st. steal productivity from because they don't have much to contribute.

Regular Americans

"human capital" "human  resource" ....slaves

Special Interests

Koch brother's out of state money involved in state politics. Foreigners middling in US politics, AIPAC

The 0.01%

Definition: Those who use top 0.1~50% of working americans to justify that the status quo is merited and fair. "see the doctor works hard and earns $200k/year, so I deserve $2,000,000 in capital gains income" Hedge fund scammers (see paulson's colluion with Goldman Sachs on Abacus Fund scandal) can earn $1,000,000,000 /year with tax payer backing.


Definition: working class with education....some think they are better than blue collar so they vote republican but all in all they still work for a living.

Income Inequality

See 0.01%.....far right love to pit upper middle class with rest of workers to justify their income....except their income is from capital gains which is taxed half as much as labor income.

A Fair Tax System

for top 0.01% it is 0% capital gains tax and 50% labor tax (FICA + state + federal), because capital doesn't use anything provided by the state like roads, and educated workforce, etc.

Elizabeth Warren

One of few people who is not afraid of bulling by top 0.01%. She correctly stated that American middle class is disappearing because elites are giving away cheap toys at low cost (artificial food, chinese made junk, low culture entertainment), while more important stuff are far outpacing inflation (good education, healthcare, housing). Opposite of far right's female choice: Sarah Palin

The IMF and/or the World Bank

IMF = European colonial bank headed by leader who says "little people in greece need to pay more taxes" while global government elites like herself doesn't ($467,940  + $83,760 all tax free)

World Bank = American colonial bank

The European Financial Crisis

attack by US banks to defend dollar hegemony and destroy next best competition, Euro. Doesn't want to fix wall st, but have rest of the world pay by forcing them to trade everything in dollars.

Universal Health Care

What every freaking other country has. Even durign times of slavery, slave owners provided healthcare so slaves can get back to work. Something medicare & social security receiving tea party government worker hypocrites hate, because don't understand or lack critical thinking skills to question where the money is coming from.

Single payer Health Care

      actually make lives easier and decrease cost due to less overhead.

Socialized Medicine

half of medicine is already socialized. doctor's residency training comes from medicare funds, tax exemption for most medical related, etc.

Nobel Peace Prize

        Nobel's PC Prize, so blacks don't claim racial discrimination.


More trickle down at the top and see what kind of crumbs workers will get experiment.

World War II

What happens when rich countries loan shark poor countries.

Quantitative Easing

Fed eating their own shit in an attempt to show others how tasty their shit is.


        Make young poor generations pay for mistaken policies set by older entitled generation "I got mine so screw you"


        Attempt to fix their legacy as the "good guys" when they are the cause of the problem. Frank--banking, Dodd--insurance.

Right Wing Extremist



        Conserve the status quo  no matter how broke because it is working so well for them


       government welfare to the poor masses so they don't riot


only hope for middle class, but conservatives hate them because things will change.


I got my money, so let others die party. 


Bill Clinton

hillary clinton for Obama (the guy running things behind the, rubinites in power, etc.)



excuse to invade foreign countries with your tax money.


Robot Traders Mom's picture

"Libertarian: I got my money, so let others die party."


I would personally change it to "We're sick and fucking tired of not being able to lead our God-given lives as we see fit"

TWSceptic's picture



When we take money from them against their will to give to people we like, they act all selfish and refer to some old piece of paper they call 'the constitution'.



divide_by_zero's picture



Soros' only hope for his elite NWO takeover, the rank and file Progressives themselves are either in on the con or hopelessly brainswashed, hopey changey type utopian pipe dreamers.

Bananamerican's picture

GREAT a Demokracy loving Amerikan, i admit I got a little choked up when I read this one...:

"Citizens United

Definition: The ultimate evil Supreme Court decision which expanded free speech, thus allowing those with money to, uh, speak freely."

Right ON!

Keep stickin' it to the huMAN i say!!


TwelfthVulture's picture

Funny fucking story.

Been in the business about 20 years.

About four years ago, I forwarded to my group list one of Asness's rants.  I think it was the "Goodbye, good luck" one.  Went out to about 50-100 people.

A year or so later, during a regular, scheduled, regulatory (i.e. F---A) exams, I get a call from compliance.  Who and why did I send this email to.  Was it approved?  Is it on file?  Etc...  Real song & dance for about a weeki.

Clif is one of the 0.01%, now shitting on the the 1%.  I'll take his definitions over yours any day asshole.

TwelfthVulture's picture

Here's one of your shiboleth's I'll gladly skewer.


A national conversation on race

How is it that since we've integrated the Armed Forces, we haven't won one fucking war?

How is it that a group that comprises 13% of the nation's population, accounts for over 40% of the nation's violent crime?

TwelfthVulture's picture

Here's a question for you.


When I watch modern movies about WWII, (Schindler's List, The Debt, etc..) how is it that I never see black Nazis?

Don't tell me that it's because there weren't any.  Unacceptable!

There weren't any blacks sitting at King Arthur's court either, yet, there they are.  Hollywood style.

Why?  Just asking.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Don't get sucked into the left vs right battle.  Its a 'false dilemma'.  Its the old 'divide and conquer' strategy.

Both sides have been coopted for some time now.  Smaller gov't is needed simply because gov't has gotten way too big, and centralized too much power, which makes it easier for 'special interests' (aka Big Money, aka Corporations) to tighten their grip.  Big gov't is just a tool, a way to centralize power, to the benefit of the few, over the many. 

Lednbrass's picture

Republican vs. Democrat is a false battle, they are two parties who say one thing and generally do another.  When you cut to the core of most serious issues, they are often eerily similar.

Right vs. Left is philosophical and most certainly not a false dilemma, it is a legitimate ideological battle about the proper role and scope of government in human existence.

akak's picture


Right vs. Left is philosophical and most certainly not a false dilemma, it is a legitimate ideological battle

No, it is a contived and hopelessly narrow and limited representation of all possible (and actual) political positions. 

For example, I, as a libertarian anarchist, have no place whatsoever within the so-called left-right "spectrum".  It is merely a line of which each point represents differing interpretations of what are all equally statist positions on any and every political issue.

Lednbrass's picture

Agreed, but that doesnt change the fact that left vs. right are still clearly different philosophies. At no point did I say that this comprises all possible political beliefs- that isnt any more possible than graphing an algebraic equation with only an x axis. However, because there are more poitical beliefs out there does not by any stretch mean that there is not a difference between left and right, it only means its not an all encompassing description.

I think the political compass type setup with both x and y axes is more accurate, but nothing you said invalidates the basic premise that left and right are legitimate differences.

stiler's picture

there's a difference between BIG Govt/smaller govt and limited govt.

Rusticus's picture

Need you ask? Cliff Assness former Director at GS.


homersimpson's picture

There are Europeans on this site, y'know.

Gringo Viejo's picture

"I kill a communist for fun, but for a green card, i gonna carve him up real nice."     Tony Montana

The Gooch's picture

It's an army of Thom Hartmann(s) clones.


divide_by_zero's picture

huff is the key word as in HuffPoo, all the progressives came over

scaleindependent's picture

"From Chicago, Cliff Asness moved to Goldman Sachs to be managing director and director of quantitative research for Goldman Sachs Asset Management. In that capacity he founded the Goldman Sachs Global Alpha Fund, a systematic trading hedge fund run for Goldman Sachs employees and clients."

His Assness is a Goldman Sachs Bankster, you wankers!!

Shame on you Tyler.

Typical of the pig bankster class to Shout "Austerity!! Austerity!!!" from the mountain tops AFTER they have gotten their fill.


Not that I disagree that austerity is not needed. Yes, it is needed. But it should only come after the pig bankster class has been prosecuted and their illegal gains clawed back.

It is irrational to demand austerity only for others.

Lednbrass's picture

He may be that, but his assessment of the progressive left in the US is dead on, I only wish he had included a skewering of the progressive right that thinks it is the proper task of the US government to make the world fair regardless of the cost or consequence to the US population. The global military welfare bunch arent particularly helpful either.

Too many people get caught up in personalities, what matters is not so much who says what but the validity and accuracy of what is said. I have a deep dislike of left wing political philosophy and thought, and as much as I loathe the man Alan Grayson was dead on in his critique of the Federal Reserve and thought he had some value for that. Its a shame we lost a solid critic of that agency because he was such a frothing left wing moonbat.

WhiteNight123129's picture

Scaleindependent you would be surprised by the amount of people who actually work in hedge funds and are sick and tired of this government manipulation and having to make money by speculating on how much the Government will screw things up. I don´t defend this guy because large banks are different they rely on gov money, hedge funds they rely on their own and yes ability to leverage to a level which comfortable. If the Government was out of the economy, banks would go back to finance the productive economy, we would go back to invest instead of permanently speculate on the next blunder the politicians would make, worry about counterparties all the time and wonder what will blow up next. If money was neutral like bi-metallism or Hong-Kong like paper money we would move back to make money by maximizing the use of resources instead of maximazing on the idiocy of policy-makers.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

If I'm not mistaken, you can lay the blame for this one at the feet of the Religious Right during the Reagan years. Memory failure is so convenient when needed to back your agenda.

homersimpson's picture

Blaming others in the past for the mistakes that one made today - sounds like a true Barackian.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

Barak is just being a scumbag politician, just like all the Bushittes who blamed 911 on Clinton. It seems to be part of the terrain when dealing with ideologues and assholes.

oddjob's picture

Bush/Clinton was the same administration, still is.

Cathartes Aura's picture

as was Reagan/BushDaddy/Obama. . . seamless, whether acknowledged or not.

GeorgeHayduke's picture

You gotta love the negative votes as I regularly drive by the offices of Focus on The Family. This country would collapse instantly if cognitive dissonance suddenly stopped working.

jonan's picture

the resultant offspring brought about by drunken orgies of funny money who foot the bill for their post-party hippy/socialist poverty stricken parents

FOC 1183's picture

THIS is a guy I want to have drinks with

Rusticus's picture

... preferably thru a straw after I've picked his teeth from my forehead.

flattrader's picture

Yes. Agreed.

This says it all  >>>Cliff Asness, head of the quant hedge fund AQR<<<

My notes to Cliff:  Fuck You!  Get a job and stop fucking with the market.  You're part of the problem.

Cathartes Aura's picture

heh, plus many for the correct use of Glasgow Handshake.

kralizec's picture


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.


GeneMarchbanks's picture

Don't get excited you mouthbreather cause you'll get the Rand Paul version that somehow always ends up sucking Koch.

LowProfile's picture

Fuck you you rancid fucking cunt, Rand is a conservative Republican, he isn't a Libertarian, and he has said as much.

Take your fucking straw man and shove it back up your ass next to your tiny rotten stinking syphilitic brain.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

That was unnecessary. I'm getting more and more paranoid that you can just wake up one day a total fascist. Libertarian... libertarian... libertarian... fascist... libertarian. Sneaky stuff man. Who knows maybe the meme was necessary, I love me some quickmeme.

Ricky Bobby's picture

I am paranoid too. That you could wake up a socialist democrat.. socialist ...communist .. communist .. khemer .. bolshevik tyrant murderer murderers. 

CommunityStandard's picture

Socialist democrats crack me up, because they not only have failed policies, but they fail at implementing their failed policies.  Not that much to be afraid of.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

Except mine actually made sense. Oh well.