12/25/16…God rest us merry….

Last evening a lovely family time. Good food, good talk – everything possible to bring comfort and joy to this elderly gentleman. The grandkids have reached an age when I know what they most want for Christmas: small rectangular pieces of paper with my signature in the lower right-hand corner. My grandson Cooper, the Dartmouth-educated cartographer and world traveler and ever a delight to be with, has discovered Patrick O’Brien, so off he went having plucked from the shelves the five-volume boxed set of the Aubrey-Maturin novels. And yet….

So much to ponder in this money-bloated world, where so few have so much and so many so little, where Mammon has been allowed to run wild, trampling underfoot old, once solid-seeming friendships and values and the searing flame of greed has (as Marx put) melted all that was solid into air: poiluted air, need I add, stinking of carbon and exhaust fumes…hard – even on Christmas Day – not feel disgusted at what man has made of this world…

And was ever something invented to do worse by Christmas than Facebook, encourager of boastfulness, exhibitionism, possession- and advantage-strutting – bah!

1.http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/12/michael-lewis-on-trumps-personality-versus-obamas.html?mid=twitter_nymag

 

12/24/16….Minus 1, forget Trump, think Santa…

Tonight we’ll welcome family, including two ex-wives and one about-to-be ex-husband, to our annual Christmas Eve party. T has handcrafted her holiday lasagna, the making of which has been daunting simply to observe. In our small way, we’re continuing the tradition imported in 1949, when my father married Poppi and she brought with her from the Engadine the European habit of celebrating Noel on Christmas Eve, which continued through 2000, her last Christmas Eve on this mortal coil. We’ll be thinking of her, and my father, and my brother, and of all those family celebrations – some of which got pretty weird, let me tell you, such as the one when Joe Thomas showed up in a hard hat and workmen’s coveralls on which was stitched “Impeach Mayor Lindsay.” The tree was decorated with real, live candles, with Nick, our superintendent, and I standing by with fire extinguishers. They were occasions that in some years were approached with exhilaration and expectation, others with deepest foreboding, feelings that would enhance the enrichment that my parental and step-parental relationships would bring to at least two generations of Manhattan psychiatrists (if I ever write the memoir my children are pressing me to do, the chapter on a generic haut-WASP childhood will be called “Orphans with Parents”). Like the US Postal Service not rain nor snow nor tropical weather (I’m not counting the odd Christmas Eve in Jamaica: the traditional ackee brought to table made for an interesting spin on Dickens’s plum puddings) deterred us from making the trip out to Old Brookville, and nothing will replace in memory the look on the faces of wives #2 and #3 when their stepmother-in-law bestowed on them the gifts they had given her just the year before. She was the Leonardo da Vinci of regifting. Poppi believed in a regimen of, shall we say, Swiss conservatism when it came to expenditure; she was ever alert to a bargain, which led to such Yuletide joys as when all females present received “pashminas” that had clearly been bought on the street.  Still and all, none of us would exchange those memories for anything. And so, everyone, God bless us all – and God help us. I have a hunch we’re going to need Him.

 

1.Just one post today: a footnote/gloss on yesterday’s bit on what’s taking away the jobs that Trump is vainly (and in my view cynically) claiming to restore: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/21/upshot/the-long-term-jobs-killer-is-not-china-its-automation.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fupshot&action=click&contentCollection=upshot&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

2/Well, just one more: ESSENTIAL INFORMATION! http://www.grubstreet.com/bestofnewyork/best-french-fries-nyc.html?mid=twitter_nymag

3.NYT Book Review has a big “books I liked” section that disgraces itself by including that pompous self-regarding asshole F. Zakaria, whose testimony is mostly about himself with a fleeting sidelong glance at Dostoyevski.

4. The great American art form: Usury. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/24/business/dealbook/private-equity-water.html?emc=edit_ta_20161224&nlid=2476992&ref=cta

 

 

 

 

 

 

12/23/16…Forget Christmas, forget New Year’s…it’s Trump minus 29 days…..

Last night the second of several family dinners, this time at a DELICIOUS Chinese restaurant,  Jan Lue Club on 20th just off 6th Ave, http://juelanclub.com/ There were twelve us at table. This installment of holiday heaven is organized by my ex-wife Wendell Giard and her husband George. In our family, divorce is only the beginning!

1. Good question to start the day: https://medium.com/mtracey/why-are-you-still-talking-about-hillary-clinton-c69d44ceea41#.yihf7pidr I might add that the liberal elites, including our current president, whose eight years of yadayada self-congratulatory posturing have produced little, are also absconding with great amounts of our aural energy with dire predictions of the dystopian future yet to come and the villainous character of his Cabinet appointments. I have known one of these for thirty years, and while he’s not someone I’d rush to go on a cruise with, he’s done a hell of a lot more for the economic health of the country, speaking both nationally and regionally, than the entire editorial staff of The Nation. Obama opened the door for McConnell and his obstructionist friends when, just two weeks after the 2008 election,  his transition team, headed by that idiot Podesta,  leaked that he would be appointing  Summers and Geithner to lead his economic team. The stock market responded with a 1000-point two-day spike, showing its belief as to whose side Obama was really  on. You can read all about it in FIXERS,  as you can about how it wasn’t just chronological coincidence that in the immediate wake of his wishy-washy inaugural address – you were hoping for FDR? I was! – the GOP got together and pledged to oppose the new president’s every initiative. We can take this guy, they realized; he’s just a hot-air balloon, an exponentiated campus politician. And so, in largest measure, has it proved.

As for Trump, I discuss him with our housekeeper, a person of color and an immigrant. As she puts it, “You never can tell, just wait and see.” All this pre-inaugural bellyaching, all these pronouncements for evil days to come that reek with Krugmanesque punditical certitude, are simply pitiful examples of what my late friend Liquor Jack was wont to describe as “leaving one’s fight in the locker room.”

2.This post from Politico’s “Morning Money” caught my eye:

“In the lessons learned category, MM regrets not focusing more on the difficulty of an incumbent party hanging onto the White House for a third consecutive term, even with an economy at nearly full employment and trending in the right direction. Clinton’s weakness at connecting with younger voters and working class whites also could have used more examination. And never again will we believe that [insert outrageous gaffe here] will finish a political candidate. Trump blew that all away. Not that anyone not named Trump could pull it off. But still …

In the spirit of the season, we here at MM are hoping for the best for an incoming administration that will face enormous challenges in actually delivering on the promise of a manufacturing renaissance in the industrial Midwest and more broadly shared growth. Best of luck also in reducing the trade deficit in the face of a surging dollar. But those are stories for next year.”

It caught my eye because it speaks for the elitist viewpoint, which means that it’s deeply stupid. “Full employment” treats human beings as a statistic. But shouldn’t we be concerned as whether our workforce, both on the job or looking for work, is fully employed – which begs the question of whether the work is useful, or productive. Is that a word we can attach to a roomful of MIT or CalTech computer science PhDs squinting at monitors as they try to come up with an app that will engage the fantasies of 8-year-olds? Isn’t the economic yardstick that matters a comparison of what people earn with what they owe, with what it costs to house oneself? There will be no “manufacturing renaissance.” Why? Because when once we feared Yeats’s “rough beast…slouching toward Bethlehem to be reborn” now we need to fear our own “shining robot…clanking toward (fill in place name) to take over.” Read about the robots that are being installed in Amazon’s fulfillment centers. The jobs they’re replacing are as likely to be in Monterrey as Milwaukee.  This has got me thinking about stupidity (the act of doing or saying something stupid), which – like victory – has many fathers. One, of course, is simple ignorance. But another, to which we may not pay as much attention as we should, is intellectual arrogance.

3, I’ve been searching for years for an antidote to the poetry of Jorie Graham. Sound like this might be it: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2016/12/hammer_is_the_prayer_by_christian_wiman_reviewed.html

 

 

 

12/22/16…Minus Four…

Three grandsons’ birthdays are now dealt with. How do you go broke? With three grandsons born within 24 hours of each other, slowly, then all at once!

2.FT interview with Nobel prize winner https://www.ft.com/content/bbf54b3e-c5f3-11e6-9043-7e34c07b46ef Of Obama, Deaton says, “The man has a lot of class. He may not have been a very effective president. But that’s beside the point now I guess.” That’s sort of my view, although mine is darker: I think O has squandered the greatest opportunity to set the country to rights that was ever vouchsafed a president-elect. And now we’ve ended up beached on the littoral of his conceit.

Speaking of which: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/obamas-failure-to-mitigate-americas-foreclosure-crisis/510485/

3. Interesting perspectives from smart people. https://www.ineteconomics.org/perspectives/blog/chanos-is-a-big-change-in-global-capitalism-underway  AND: http://ritholtz.com/2016/12/amazon-the-disruptor/

 

 

 

12/21/16…Minus Five…

Skipped yesterday without prejudice. Dentist, bank, lunch with kids, visit with an art-dealing friend: in this cold, my old bones get stiff, and my breath short, and by the time I straggled back across the East River, I was beat and in need of soothing comfort, which in this household hath but one meaning: “Midsomer Murders.”

So here we go. Back to the old sounding board:

1.James Kwak’s contributions to his and Simon Johnson’s “Baseline Scenario” are always worth reading. Personally, I won’t make up my own mind about the virtues of free markets until someone shows me one. In the 55 years since I first ventured onto Wall Street, every “free” market I’ve observed has been fixed, fiddled, faked, manipulated, distorted, you name it. Nor is it consoling to hear Phil Gramm praised. He was a lying piece of shit. https://baselinescenario.com/2016/12/20/jeb-hensarling-and-the-allure-of-economism/#more-15322

2.Patrick Coburn seems pretty reliable: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/19/more-propaganda-than-news-coming-out-of-aleppo/

3.Ghastlier and ghastlier: http://pagesix.com/2016/12/20/lena-dunham-i-never-had-an-abortion-but-wish-i-had/ But then: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lena-dunham-apologizes-for-distasteful-abortion-remark_us_585a6eeee4b0eb5864849756 Even a stopped clock….

4. So far, my friend Graydon Carter is pitching a shutout in the versus-Trump contest. Here’s an example: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/12/graydon-carter-donald-trump-editors-letter  But Graydon does raise one intriguing thought. He describes the recent election as sending “the most ill-equipped president in history to the White House.” Certainly this seems true. But what are we to make of the fact that the election of 1856 sent perhaps the best-equipped president in history to the White House, and yet in 1861, with onshore ordinance sighting in on Fort Sumter, James Buchanan completed a single term in office that historians now rate as the worst in presidential history.  For better or worse, the White House can have a transformative effect.

5.http://www.themillions.com/2013/02/collision-courses-and-castration-anxiety-rereading-john-irving.html I feel the same way about John le Carre. Been reading books I bought, tried and hurled from me with impatience. Our Game, Absolute Friends etc. Still the best at what he does well, but MUST NOT be allowed to write about ideology.

6. Why I am glad to see the backs of this couple. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/21/bill-clinton-who-may-have-cost-hillary-the-election-passes-the-buck-to-james-comey.html?via=desktop&source=twitter The corollary to the Clinton conviction that the rules don’t apply to them is their other life-governing tenet: If everyone’s lying, no one is.

7. Final question: has M.Dowd left NYT? Never appears and the legend “Maureen Dowd is off today” no longer appears.

8. The confusions and conflicts inherent in Obamacare overwhelm its virtues. So it seems to be in foreign policy: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-12-21/the-u-s-is-now-a-country-that-can-be-ignored

9. So what’s new, pussycat? Forty ears ago, I sat in on a meeting when exactly this kind of pay-to-let-play transaction was discussed by two men, one a city official, the other a money manager, both of whom went on to scale the heights of wealth and respectability. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/21/did-prostitutes-a-17k-watch-and-somebody-else-s-cocaine-mess-with-your-pension.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon

 

 

 

 

12/19/16…Counting Down: Minus 6….

1.I started my day with this, and you might get a kick out of it too. My admiration for Michael Lewis grows apace, writer for writer, person for person  – the latter not least because, although he’s one of the best-paid writers in the country, he sends his daughter to a big urban high school where she will encounter all kinds of different people. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/12/donald-trump-michael-lewis-the-new-american-board-game?mbid=nl_TH_58547e16972218dd20575627&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=10073203&spUserID=MTQzOTExNDk1OTIxS0&spJobID=1061579202&spReportId=MTA2MTU3OTIwMgS2

2.http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/12/is-technological-progress-behind-growing-income-inequality.html Very interesting. Here’s the money quote:

Instead, the explanation may be related to public policies and the formal protection of certain occupations. In the United States, a rather small fraction of the top one per cent of earners comes from high-tech industries such as ICT and manufacturing. The bulk of top earners are lawyers, doctors, dentists and financial sector professionals. Some of these industries enjoy a relatively high level of protection, while the impact of technological change may still be comparatively modest. Europe tells a different story. In many European countries, a much higher share of the top one percent of earners than in the United States is in the manufacturing sector.

I don’t agree about the nominal impact of technological change on finance. As one old boy in Fixers observes, “With computers, it’s become possible to profitably trade obscenely small fractions of money!”

3. An interesting experiment that may yield insights on the pros and cons of “helicopter money.” In my view, the most efficacious method would be to pay down their installment debt. http://www.businessinsider.com/sam-altman-how-american-basic-income-could-fail-2016-12?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_content=10ThingsSAI&pt=385758&ct=Sailthru_BI_Newsletters&mt=8&utm_campaign=Post%20Blast%20%28sai%29:%2010%20things%20in%20tech%20you%20need%20to%20know%20today&utm_term=10%20Things%20In%20Tech%20You%20Need%20To%20Know%20-%20Engaged%2C%20Active%2C%20Passive%2C%20Disengaged&r=UK&IR=T

4.Going back almost 40 years, to the infamous “Powell Memorandum”, the GOP “relocalized” politics from the ground up. You begin by corrupting the smallest influential political units – by, say, gerrymandering voting districts – and move up the chain link by link through state legislatures and statehouses all the way to Washington.  You end up with Nixon, then Reagan, then Clinton (GOP in Dem clothing), finally Trump. I’m wondering now why progressives can’t do the same thing, by localizing social media: creating geographically compact cells – FB users in, say, Buffalo – of like-minded individuals, institutions and media to stop whining about national issues and instead to concentrate their power to investigate, harry, harass and otherwise torture and drive from power the local bad guys. Just a thought.

5.This is the sort of thing that in my opinion (and on my personal list) will earn Obama – Mr. “Hope & Change” – a place on the list of the country’s worst presidents. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-12-19/the-u-s-government-is-collecting-student-loans-it-promised-to-forgive

6.Pretty good stuff: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/12/18/the-striking-audacity-of-the-coup-in-process-paul-craig-roberts/

7.Politico’s “Morning Money” making uncommon good sense:

MM REAL TALK – There are two equally maddening political positions popular in the land right now. On the left: Trump’s win shouldn’t count and the Electoral College should reject him. On the Trump-right: The president-elect’s thin electoral margin and popular vote loss don’t matter and he should do whatever he wants. Both are completely bogus. Trump won. Did the Russians help? Probably. Does that kind of suck? Sure. But who knows if it was decisive.

Hillary Clinton had many problems. She lost states she needed to win. Trump’s presidency will be perfectly legitimate. But losing the popular vote matters in terms of approach to governance and conciliation with political opponents. More people dislike Trump’s policies on immigration than embrace them. There is no mandate for rounding up the undocumented en masse and evicting them from the country. Trump so far seems to get this even if some of his ardent supporters do not.

BUT, as I keep pointing out, and no one seems to want hear, of HRC’s 3 million plurality in the popular vote, 5.0 million was racked up in NY and CA. How will that affect “governance”? On verra. 

8.People wailing, keening and rending garments over whatever influence Russia (considered broadly) may have had on the recent election will have some embryonic idea of what Iranians must have felt in 1953 when the CIA engineered the downfall of a popularly-elected prime minister (Iran was then a parliamentary monarchy) and strengthened the hand of the Shit – sorry, the Shah – of Iran.

 

 

12/18/16….The Day Minus Seven…

The big question of the day, raised by my beloved stepson Mickey is: should I do a paperback of FIXERS?  I don’t know.

1.At this season, shopping’s always an interesting place to start. This makes sense. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-12-16/macbook-and-iphone-upgrades-just-aren-t-what-they-used-to-be

2.I tend to agree with this. Circumstances (not my own) expose me to the views and choices of money managers, people who service the top of the pyramid of wealth both individual and institutional. Never in the 55 years since I first wandered onto Wall Street have I seen such confusion and uncertainty, a feeling that the “right way” has been lost or indeed may no longer exist. We live in a “too much, too many” world – too much money, too many people, too many ideas and belief systems, too much stuff – in which insufficiency seems a matter not of failure to produce or distribute but of inability to control or direct. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/populism-driven-by-geopolitical-change-by-danny-quah-and-kishore-mahbubani-2016-12?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8657b30e54-quah_geopolitics_of_populism+_18_12_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-8657b30e54-93490385

3.Can’t help wondering if, sometime in 2017, Rex Tillerson will pick up his bedside phone and hear a heavily-accented voice suggesting he play a game of cards. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-cabinet-pro-russia-by-nina-l–khrushcheva-2016-12?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8657b30e54-quah_geopolitics_of_populism+_18_12_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-8657b30e54-93490385

4.Having been there, done that, here are my Jets thoughts. Since it seems unlikely that owner Woody Johnson will fire himself – which may be where any realistic solution must begin – he needs to fire Coach Bowles, all his staff and the three top layers of off-field football management. This team simply doesn’t look ready to play. I’ve seen many teams with more mediocre talent (hard to believe) play their hearts out for their coach. Not this one. Even on TV Bowles comes across as unsympathetic. Dead fish would spurn being wrapped in transcripts of his postgame press conferences. The famous poet-critic Eugene Field (“The little toy soldier is covered in dust…”) once began a review of a performance of King Lear by one of the Booths with “Mr.Booth played the King as if someone else was about to play the ace.” That’s the Jets. Somewhere out there has to be the NFL equivalent of Theo Epstein, the Red Sox-Cubs wonder worker. Woody Johnson needs to pick up his lantern and like Diogenes scour the earth until he finds him.

5.What Imp Within prompts me to recall, at this most Christian of seasons, the highest journalistic honor I have ever received: the designation by NYT Magazine, long years ago, of “To avoid being trashed in the Observer by Michael Thomas” as one of the ten best reasons for leaving NYC.

6. This “fake news” uproar seems to me a symptom of a larger sociocultural malfunction: the complete inability, inbred over at least three postwar (that’s WW2, kids!) generations, to distinguish between the genuine and the spurious. Take this city. It was evident to many of us from the outset that, as between the candidates in the Democratic mayoral primary years ago, that Bill Thompson was the real thing and De Blasio a complete phony.  And yet look who ended up with the key to Gracie Mansion. Sometimes of course, as in the recent presidential election, the distinction is between degrees of spuriousness.

7.With Trump slouching toward 1600 Pennsylvania, might be wise to stock up on “coup d’etat” novels. One I particularly remember as causing a stir in my younger days was the 1962 thriller Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey, about a Joint Chiefs revolt against the President. It was later made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas; always thought the part played by the former was the prototype for Sterling Hayden’s Gen. “Buck” Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove. PS: A stroll on AMZ reminds that the Knebel factory also authored Night of Camp David, which may be even closer to our present situation.

Further to this post: Curious, I’m streaming the film of “Seven Days in May.” Frighteningly apposite and on point. Top-notch film-making (John Frankenheimer dir., script by Rod Serling) for intelligent adults. Highly recommended. And Happy Birthday to co-star Kirk Douglas, about to turn 100!

 

 

 

12/17/15…Tree-Trimming Day…

I’m not an advocate of putting up the Christmas tree more than a week before the great day (for us, it’s Christmas Eve, toute la famille, including a couple of ex-wives and their spouses) but today it appeared. Our rescue cats, adopted three months ago exactly, seem unsure what to make of it. Anyway, my stepfamily will come by later for stringing up lights, hanging ornaments and the rest. And nearby shine the bright miniature lights of a tiny glass-bead tree in a gilt pot, a present given by mother-in-law #1 to my parents at Christmas 1956. Brings out the festive in me, and diverts from thinking about…..

1.Putin and the election. As in: https://www.buzzfeed.com/blakemontgomery/trump-supporters-love-russia-and-think-cnn-and-the-new-york?utm_term=.guKzy9EXv#.rjq0jAKn2 What I find sadly ironic is that whatever can legitimately be said about Russian meddling, it would be the Trump (and swing) voters who would have been most influenced by it – and these are people who, if asked, would boast of being the most avid patriots, the most devoted Commie-hating lovers of this country. Here’s my friend Melik Kaylan on FB: Read my stuff comparing the Georgia 2012 elections with ours. In both PoliticoEU and Forbes. And I even left stuff out. Let me ask you this: remember that the GOP was hacked too. Who did that?… What about Trump’s finances? What about his links with Moscow? He denied having any at all. I posted a list of over 200 Trump branded companies some time ago. Easily found via Google. And here are his links:http://www.politico.eu/…/vladimir-putin-replicates-his…/ and in forbes http://www.forbes.com/…/why-comey-did-it-and-who…/…

2.Why can’t I shake off the feeling that some rough beast may be slouching toward Washington, sniper rifle oiled and armed?

3. Always good stuff: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-vampire-squid-occupies-trumps-white-house-w456225

 

 

12/16/16…Friday, mercifully….

I don’t know why make a big deal out of Friday. It’s not as if I’m involved in the world’s great action – not any longer. I’m out there on the margin.  People ask me to help them (find a job, raise money, whatever) and there’s no one I can call. Everyone who at earlier points in my life might have been helpful is either dead or gone to Palm Beach (same thing). As for the “getting and spending” bit, for me – now – it’s pretty much strictly the latter. People are after me to write a memoir – I suppose I’ve had an interesting life, done a bit, seen more – and I’m fooling with a book I think of as “a memoir posing as a novel.” The opening scene would be set at my funeral and its aftermath. The book would be narrated by a friend of the deceased (that’s moi) who accepts the request of the decedent’s children to do an episodic life of their father based on his books and papers and interviews with people who knew him and have perspectives on his life, his personality, his relationships. I have some amusing (I think) chapter titles: “Orphans with Parents” (classic Upper East Side, Buckley-Exeter-Yale, distant-parents WASP upbringing); “Prince Hal on Wall Street” (me and my own personal Falstaff). There are problems to be solved and solving them keeps me intrigued. Should the narrator be a man or a woman (could be one of my old flames)? Call people by their real names, or pseudonyms, or a combination?  Stay tuned.

1.This is great. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/12/the-story-that-russia-does-not-want-you-to-see-the-rosneft-share-sale-as-a-sham-transaction.html

2.And so is this: https://thebolditalic.com/this-is-your-life-in-silicon-valley-933091235095#.7q5wbym0u Here’s the first installment: https://thebolditalic.com/this-is-your-life-in-social-media-1b3f0c726532#.z4ivrwt3o

3.Now if you’re looking for a postmodern Rogues’ Gallery, this might do: David Koch, Michael Milken (check out the tie, a cravatologist’s dream!) and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “Cravatology” is, of course, the study of neckties – including what necktie choices say about their wearers.

4.http://pagesix.com/2016/12/15/phil-simms-doesnt-care-what-you-think-about-his-car/?_ga=1.141398965.649613920.1455118452 Amen. Until recently, I drove a 2002 Mazda MPV. By “until recently,” I mean I’m giving the car to my perpetually underfunded nephew, who needs a car, and will henceforth rely on my poor wife and surface transportation to get me where I need or want to go.

5. A classic, long-running feud: a) http://nypost.com/2016/12/15/inside-the-long-running-feud-between-donald-trump-and-graydon-carter/  b) http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/12/trump-grill-review c)http://nypost.com/2016/12/15/trump-rekindles-feud-with-graydon-carter-after-bad-restaurant-review/

Incidentally, I’m 100% with Graydon. He and I are friends of long standing. The best kind: a writer and an influential editor with no professional hopes and dreams to complicate matters. Oh sure I would have liked Vanity Fair to have reviewed FIXERS, but my publisher (sic) got the book to the magazine too late.  

6. A good slogan for the next political combatant to emerge would be: Simplify! Complexity is the first refuge of scoundrels, corrupters and the corrupted, Wall Street and so on.

 

12/14/16…Interesting times…

1. My brilliant grandson Cooper, a DC cartographer, posted this link. Pretty graphic illustration of what kind of country we’ve turned out to be: http://storymaps.esri.com/stories/2016/wealth-divides/index.html

2.This (http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-nfls-sequel-in-l-a-flops-early-1481649775) makes me sad. Back in the late ’60s-early ’70s, I owned a teeny-tiny (2% tops) piece of the LA Rams. We had a fine team then. Coached by George Allen, featuring the “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line of Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen, Roosevelt Grier and Deacon Jones, we had winning season after winning season. We never made the Super Bowl. Closest we came was in 1969, when we lost in the NFL playoff to Joe Kapp and the Vikings. The turning point in the game was in the second half: we had a drive going, but its back was broken when our Hall of Fame offensive tackle Bob Brown was caught holding on a key third down. That’s the sort of stuff you remember; there’s no pain like the pain that goes with team ownership – fan pain exponentiated – especially because back then it wasn’t about the money but about win-lose. The team got sold in 1974 or 1975 to Carroll Rosenbloom (via a complicated transaction that involved a swap for the (then) Baltimore Colts) for $13 million, or about what a top-20 wide receiver or cornerback makes today.

3.Trump postpones the press conference at which he had promised to explain his business divestiture plan. It really does seem as if the election presented us with “no choice” in one key area: neither Trump nor the Clintons believe the rules apply to them. And not really the rules – just simple standards of moral courtesy.

4.Presumably no truth to the rumor that House Speaker Paul Ryan is trolling Craigslist for a low-bid contractor to carry out a high-level double assassination.

5. A chop job on the 1% by a writer who’s every bit as name-dropping snooty as they are but would have us believe he isn’t. http://observer.com/2016/12/how-the-1-tip-for-the-holidays/

6. Naked Capitalism gets it right. I read Lethem’s LRB piece. Barf-worthy. Diary LRB. Pearl-clutching: Jonathan Lethem needs to get out a bit more, to see what lurks beyond Brooklyn.