11/13/16…And we go on….

  1. Chris Hedges is a fine writer and a terrific polemicist. Sometimes, however, he goes a bit over the top, as here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/its_worse_than_you_think_20161111

2. I find this interesting and worth thinking about. And very probably accurate: https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class

3. I’ve been trying to understand why I voted for HRC:  it was all negative. Trump himself seemed no worse, although I felt there was a greater likelihood of him being forced out of office – impeached, shot, sentenced in court – and that did matter to me. I felt Trump had asked a number of the right questions, although come up with wrong or dubious answers. Then, this morning, reading the Times, I felt a shiver of Pauline revelation and knew what really had tipped my scales anti-Trump. It was the ascendancy of Giuliani in the Trump campaign/machine. I think Rudy Giuliani is one of the five worst people in the world. Someone who should never ever again be allowed near any levers of power or influence. And here he was, next to Trump. Enough, already, said my Id last Tuesday.


10/12/16…A marvelous letter from Joe Califano…

former Cabinet secretary, published on Facebook by his stepdaughter, a friend of my children. It is in response to letters sent out by his grandchildren’s (presumably) elite schools about how to “deal with” the constitutional democracy they live in:
Dear Claudia,

Please do not accept such emails without realizing that they express the “conventional wisdom” (a phrase Ken Galbraith crafted when I was young) of the elite folks at the big corporations, universities, private schools and national media, living in affluent suburbs and urban enclaves. Their school leaders easily imagine (that’s the “in” feeling) that their kids would be shaken by this troublesome, traumatic exercise in democracy and so offer “counseling.”

These elites just can’t accept the relentless pain of parents who must send their kids to (often lousy) public schools, who work two or three jobs to keep their families together, and who think their kids are locked in a caste system with no upward mobility. These parents are hurting because government in Washington has not been working and has let them down for decades.

As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” To me it’s appalling that schools like your children’s don’t say: “This is democracy. Learn from it. Learn that there are lessons here. Learn that most people don’t live like you do. Work to make the world a better place for all, and when you grow up don’t vote just for your own good (lower taxes, etc.).”

I remember when Harry Truman succeeded Franklin Roosevelt and the elite, including your most conservative grandmother, my mother, said, “Terrible. Awful. He’s part of the criminal Prendergast political machine and a haberdasher.” But he turned out to be a great president.

I remember when John Kennedy was assassinated while I was working in the Pentagon. I went into my boss Army Secretary Cy Vance’s office and said, “I’m going back to New York. Lyndon Johnson’s a southerner from Texas; he’ll be a second rate president,” and Vance said, “Stay around.” Thank God.

I didn’t vote for Trump; I didn’t like him or his ideas, but we are one nation—like an airplane we have only one pilot. So your schools should have quoted Barack Obama’s eloquent statement about our democratic system, instead of writing emails like the ones you sent me.

I love you and the children too much to let this pass. Just as you make up your own mind, teach your children to do the same.

Love, Dad


2. Protests in the street! You’d think the electoral college methodology had been foisted on the public under  cover of darkness on Monday night by the Trump machine. What bothers me most is what a nation of crybabies we’ve become – and are encouraged to be by so many of our “elite” institutions. As the comedian Jonathan Pie says in his brilliant harangue (link below), “Grow the f*** up!”


3. OK troops. While you’re grieving for the insult to your sensitive souls, and lamenting the terrible moral injury that our constitution has visited on you, take a moment to watch this video. It shows an MBA management twerp telling the workers at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis that the plant is being moved to Mexico and taking their jobs, at which some of these 1400 about-to-be-displaced worker can safely be assumed to have worked for a decade or more, with it – because it makes business sense. I doubt they show this sort of thing at Spence or Avenues, but just put yourselves in the shoes of the workers, and then see if you can figure out where Trump came from! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaK-8lcudz4

4. Ha! Today’s NYT, which I had not seen when I posted (3) above puts the Carrier story on A1.

5. This seems to cover it all. Worth the time: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/mark-blyth-and-wendy-schiller-election-2016-what-happened-and-why.html

6. Years ago, writing in the Observer, I expressed the opinion that, despite considering itself the most cosmopolitan city in the world, NYC had become really very provincial.  I think that needs to be taken into account when contemplating the shock and awe that the election has induced in the writhing, keening masses on Park Avenue and in Park Slope.

7. For skeptical common sense on my issues, I recommend Wall Street on Parade  http://wallstreetonparade.com/

8. Gosh, this sounds like FIXERS.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/business/how-letting-bankers-off-the-hook-may-have-tipped-the-election.html

9. At least one friend has posted on FB about moving on to the next stage of (post-election) grief. I won’t comment editorially about what I think of this kind of public posturing (see La Derelitta by Botticelli) but it did impel me to recall Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The whine-and-weep set seems about halfway along the curve, although based on what I’m obliged to listen to so far, bargaining and depression need to change places in the AT (After Trump) sequence.

11/11/16…Day Three of the Singularity…

1.The idiots are in charge. Check this out:


Presumably this is to protect these children from the shock of undeserved tax cuts, higher interest returns on their trust funds…..

And just heard on WNYC that Brooklyn Museum has set aside “a safe space” for sensitive souls traumatized or otherwise afflicted by the election. Museums are supposed to be above politics.

2. Now here’s an interesting if controversial take…


3. I should add that the capable and decent bankers I know (I’m aware that this characterization may sound oxymoronic) agree to a person that Dodd-Frank as it has evolved is counterproductive, adds to banking costs and needs to be severely pared. We needs to get Uncle Sam out of the loan guarantee/bailout business while keeping the depositors’  money safe.

4. It’s interesting to compare the way the GOP and its adherents handled Obama’s 2008 election with the way HRC voters are behaving following DJT’s win last Tuesday. Both, let us remember, involved real outsiders not only winning big, but heading to Washington with their party holding majorities in both houses of Congress. Today, the HRC forces are whining and weeping all over Facebook, taking to the streets in Portland and New York, and putting their ever-so-sensitive grieving souls on display for all to sympathize with. In 2008, the GOP hardnoses stayed off the streets, got together and dealt with a situation. It hasn’t been pretty, and I think it may prove ultimately damaging to the country, and of course the luck of the census allowed for a gerrymandering orgy – but it got done and it worked.

5. NYT grimly reports insults, violence etc. against minorities on college campuses. College campuses are breeding grounds for offenders and the offended both. What most bothers me are reports of the educational process being disrupted by political action. Read this:  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/30/the-new-activism-of-liberal-arts-colleges

6. A rare grain of retrospective common sense:  https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-11/revenge-of-the-deplorables

7. TODAY’S MUST READ: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/president-trump-how-america-got-it-so-wrong-w449783

8. This is what concerns me about Trump and why I voted for HRC:  namely, that he could be tied up in lawsuits relating to his actions as a private citizen. I asked Google for enlightenment and got the following from a presumably reliable legal website: “A private citizen may sue the President over alleged actions undertaken before or independently of the Presidential office. When the President acts on the authority of his office in any way, he is shielded by the doctrines of immunity.”

9. I pray daily for that which the poet Burns himself prayed: the gift to see ourselves as others see us. My friend Tunku Varadarajan has written what seems to me a very sensible analysis of the election. Link is below. As far as I’m concerned, here’s the whole story:

SO HOW DID Trump win? In the most basic terms of electoral arithmetic, he won because Hillary got many fewer votes—6.6 million to be precise—than Obama did in his re-election in November 2012. That isn’t a mere fall, it’s a bungee jump (without reliable elastic). Yes, Trump, too, got fewer votes this year than the Republican Mitt Romney did in 2012, but only by 1.8 million.

Here’s the link to Tunku’s essay.






11/10/16…Will there be life after Trump?

One interesting story that’s gotten buried by the election was John Oliver’s evisceration of Herbalife specifically, along with other period schemes (the MBA term is “multilevel marketing”). Bill Ackman couldn’t have written the script better himself.

Why we could be in deep doodoo (clue: it isn’t DJT himself): 


Nothing is a bigger turnoff than the prospect of Giuliani, one of the certifiably worst people of all time, having any meaningful job anywhere!


11/10/16…Day Two of the End of the World (III)…


A dollar short and a day late….

(from Joe Pompeo – Politico Media):

Dean Baquet: “I think we need to do a better job going forward of explaining the divides that exist in America. I think we could do better writing about the people who voted for Donald Trump, understanding what drove them, their anxiety. … One of the biggest stories we all have to take on in the coming years is to understand that world better — the working class voters who feel like the forces of globalization and the rise of technology have left them behind. We need to understand that world better before there’s another election.”

Marty Baron: “I think we should have detected the depth of grievance and anxiety in America’s working class well before Trump became a candidate. It’s obviously our job to get out in the country and listen to people and to take the measure of the american public, and I don’t think we did as well as we should have, and we need to make sure we learn that lesson and make it a regular responsibility to really understand America’s working class.”

Jill Abramson: “I count myself as one who thought Hillary Clinton should win. I’ve been writing about this all year in opinion columns for The Guardian, and as someone who’s covered election nights since 1976, I thought she would win. So shame on me too. But I wouldn’t take a word of what I wrote back. … I think there has to be more attention paid to the immense gulf between elites and the rest of the country, and that’s going to be hard to report on because these [mainstream news] institutions are obviously seen as pillars of what some people see as the elite.”

Phil Boas (editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic): “The media’s failure was not understanding the popular support behind donald trump. We didn’t see it coming and we don’t understand it now. I think it will take years of reporting and academic research before we understand this phenomenon. … One of the accusations against the media in general this cycle has been that they made Trump, gave him all this free advertising. I don’t believe that. The great failure of the media this time was to not see this coming, to not do the spadework ahead of time to understand what was building up in the country, and in the world.”

Apparently this was the news that was unfit to print. It does beg the question: what are these bigtime editors getting paid for?

Here’s something pretty good:


Boola-boola – down the toilet…

Yale Professor Makes Midterm Optional For Special Snowflakes Upset By Trump Victory


11/10/16…Day Two of the End of the World (II)…

I said this on FB exactly a year ago. The reference was to an article by Noah Smith on Bloomberg (not exactly a hotbed of socialist thinking):

This comes close to my sense of things. When I was growing up, “middle class” and “working class” were thought of separately, although with equal respect. The former knew what they were doing at a desk, the latter on a factory floor. Both made pretty good money because they had equally valuable kinds of know-how. The difference was mainly in education: the former usually had college, the latter only high school. Then the politicians and the media got busy subsuming “working class” into “middle class” in terms of consumption, and the corporate world, thanks to globalization, pulled the rug out from under the working class, leaving intact the urge to consume but no longer supplying the means other than by borrowing – and we’ve seen where that has led. What do you fall back on when there’s no job and the bailiffs are at the door? Religion? Education – a form of worship? My father always told my brother and me, “The point of reading is so that if we no longer have any money, we won’t want to kill ourselves.”

Links were published to three articles still very much on point:





The more I think about DJT winning the election, the greater similarities I sense between it and lotteries like MegaMillions. The Aaron Sorkins of the world demean the latter, saying the odds against winning are so great, it’s simply another way to scam/skim the poor. And indeed the odds against are astronomical. But at least there is some chance of winning, no matter how infinitesimal. Now: say you’re a poor person, working paycheck-to-paycheck at a marginal job: how would you reckon the odds of substantially improving your lot given the way American society has evolved? How about ZERO? Any idiot knows that some chance is better than none.

And there’s one vote for DJT.

Incidentally, one of the smartest moves the president-elect (aaaagh!) might make would be to reach out to Michael Bloomberg and see if he can induce him to connect to the new administration. As all seasoned winners do,  collect the trophy, enjoy the victory parade – and then start thinking about next season.


11/10/16…Day Two of the End of the World (I) …

A friend, whom I respect, has approvingly posted a “letter my my daughter” by Aaron Sorkin on FB. I have commented as follows:

This is BS. I would consider Sorkin’s blahblahblah a badge of honor. When Sorkin writes something that reflects how the people on the bottom of the pile try to get through the day, he can be listened to. I am sure Trump attracted extremists, but the spectrum tilts left as well as right, and personally I find the disrupters on college campuses as threatening as any on the other end. May I suggest two bookend videos. The first is the young technocrat-executive at Carrier (sub of United Technologies) telling 1400 workers in Indianapolis that their jobs are going to Mexico. The second is the young black woman at Yale haranguing the then “master” (sic) of Silliman College. Watch these and tell me which speaks worse for us as a society and a culture. 

Had Sorkin’s epistle been available two days ago, its sanctimonious, ever-so-superior tone might well have prompted me to mark my ballot differently.

11/9/16…The Day After…Random Musings….

Are there, I wonder, enough eggs in the world to meet the facial demands of pollsters, pundits and other experts?

And then there’s this. Rumor has it that not a single big U.S. bank will lend Trump money. Yet I’ve seen it reliably reported that his business complex includes a borrowing vehicle, with collateral in the form of a pool of his various real-estate and other partnership interests, to which the big banks have happily made loans. And while we’re on the subject of earlier Trump debt, some of which he defaulted on and most of which he renegotiated, the way the media has presented it, you’d think he somehow borrowed money that nobody loaned him – which leaves open the possibility that had some kind of Aladdin lamp of finance. And yet my own experience – forty years working in and writing about corporate finance – suggests that for every reckless borrower there’s a foolish lender. Strange indeed the workings of the money gods.

The whole Trump-IRS tangle is also a puzzlement.  Take this swap of partnership equity for stock interests in bankrupt or defaulting ventures that his accountants raised a giant red flag about, which he ignored. How come the IRS never flagged it? Surely this couldn’t have been the first time someone slithered through this sliver of a tax-code open door. Possibly someone known to the Clintons (this was 1995, remember) or with a due bill out on them?

As I write this, I’m listening to Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC, and am about to puke. The whining, the wonkish lamentations, the inverted inside-out racism and sexism, the bullshit about the “legacy” of Obama. What legacy? Obamacare? Take a look at my wife’s health insurance premiums.  I gave up on Obama (for whom I voted with a full heart in 2008, and wept with optimism at his Grant Park speech) six weeks after his election with the Summers-Geithner appointments (see my novel FIXERS) and for good and all following his wishy-washy inaugural address (which confirmed the unspeakable Mitch McConnell’s  perception that was a mirror-fixated guy who could be had.) I think a good case can be made that Obama has turned out to be the same kind of Potemkin TV character as Trump is accused of being.

I urge those who are keening and rending garments over the election to read Joseph Lelyveld’s brilliant His Final Battle: The last months of FDR simply for information how ill-prepared to be president was Truman, and how scorned he was by the “smart” set.

I had a feeling that for students of American assholism FaceBook today would be paradise enow. And so it has proved. The pious, the pompous, the blatherskite, varieties of Heep and Pecksniff that even Dickens couldn’t conjure, all parading their sanctimonious wares, vying with one another to display how brave, correct and yet sensitive are their political sensibilities. You people don’t seem to realize: you’re the ones who got this guy elected.

People seem confused and upset by the number of women – white women mostly, I gather – who voted for DJT. I wonder how many of those are working at Wal-Mart, or doing otherwise menial, low-paid work, because the man in the family’s job went to Mexico or into an algorithm?

11/9/16…The Day After…here’s what I wrote one of my children…

As for the election, let the hysteria die down, let the leaks start about who’ll be doing what in the new administration, and only then start to make up your mind about what this might really mean. While I really do have serious doubts about Trump’s personality and qualifications, there’s a part of me that so hates the plutocracy that has taken over this country and the world – in a word, “Davos man” – that I can’t help just a wee smile at their hysterical chagrin.