Critiques & Commentary

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. 

11/9/16…The Day After…Looking back…

it strikes me that there were straws in the wind the size of telephones that couldn’t penetrate the carapace of blissful self-congratulation in which the media clothes itself. One was the immense number of people who turned up at Trump events. There were reports of ten-twenty-thirty thousand. Clinton never came close to this. The passions she mobilized, such as they were, weren’t about her. 

Another beneficial sidebar: between Brexit and Trump, do I hear the knockout count tolling for Davos Man? God, I hope so!

11/9/16….The Day After…No shit, Sherlock division…

‘CAN THE MEDIA RECOVER FROM THIS ELECTION?’ Discuss! James Poniewozik: “The job of journalism, always, is to describe reality as we honestly find it, regardless of appearances. I hope that’s a permanent change. I fear that the profession will decide Mr. Trump was a one-off, an asteroid, a special circumstance requiring Special Trump Rules.” Jim Rutenberg: “The press needs to explore the frustration of those many Americans who think free trade’s gone too far; that immigration threatens the national fabric; and that insiders from Washington, Wall Street and the media have rigged the system against them.”

11/9/16…The Day After…

Here’s my friend Yves Smith, whose website Naked Capitalism. com is absolutely indispensable, on the election:

I seriously considered shorting the market first thing yesterday morning, and have the e-mail record to prove it. And this wasn’t confirmation bias since I decided not to vote for any Presidential candidate.

It was based on the fact that every single bit of anecdotal information I had from real people ran against what experts and the polls were saying. For instance, the overwhelming majority of Hispanics I ran into, once I gave them latitude to express their views by saying I hated both candidates, made clear they were voting for Trump, including a van driver in Dallas. The upper income, 30s to middle aged guys in my gym, all of whom save one had been Sanders voters, were voting for Trump (I added another one to that tally tonight). A 70 year old college educated friend in Dallas, never married, who’d lived ten years in New York running a major department at Christies and joked that she was the only one of her girlfriends not to carry a gun in her purse, said apologetically that she thought both candidates were terrible but Trump might be a tiny bit less terrible. The 40-ish partner from Apollo who sat next to me on the plane to Dallas (a rare sighting, private equity partners rarely slum by flying commercial) was reading the New York Post and checking Drudge on his iPhone and thus clearly not going to vote for Clinton.

So even though my sample was small (and I have more examples), it said the closeted Trump voter was a real phenomenon and likely bigger than anyone was allowing for.