Fascinating to watch President Dreckstuck (German, Der Trumpf’s hereditary language, for “piece of s***”) bob and weave around the Porter scandal and the Florida shooting. One would think that this double-dip endorsement-by-silence of wife-beating and selling assault weapons to teenage nutcases could cause political trouble but apparently not. Of course, Washington is scared dreckless (sic) by the NRA, but wife-beating? Is there an NRA equivalent for spousal abuse? 

Another great find from The Browser: https://granta.com/exquisite-corpse/

My kind of tweeter: https://nypost.com/2018/02/15/florida-massacre-survivor-tells-trump-prayers-wont-fix-this/

I give up! https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-15/bitcoin-mine-causes-harmful-interference-for-t-mobile-users

Trump voter Nikolas Cruz:

Swine Watch: https://www.fastcompany.com/40531901/fcc-chairs-actions-that-benefited-sinclair-under-scrutiny

What amazes me about Dreckstuck is his utter lack of empathy. Utter. We know he’s a liar, a lecher, a deadbeat, a cheat, an ignoramus, an illiterate, small in every aspect from dick to intellect – and yet he shows not an iota of awareness of the human predicament. 

Triple Amen: https://dealbreaker.com/2018/02/steve-schwarzman-should-really-avoid-talking-about-the-real-world/?utm_source=Dealbreaker+Newsletters+Master+List&utm_campaign=cee862bdcb-MAILCHIMP_DB_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7b7b809044-cee862bdcb-410840457   I think Schwarzman’s amazing career shows how little in the way of . character and intellect is required to succeed in finance capitalism. This guy’s real genius is for sucking up. 

Indeed, indeed: http://ritholtz.com/2018/02/hedge-fund-expected-returns-fabricated-sales-tools/

I have subscribed to The New Criterion  since Hilton Kramer founded it 30-odd years ago. I continue to read it despite the front of the book being frequently idiotic because the arts and culture pages are excellent. But this piece by Roger Kimball, who succeeded Hilton as editor, is so stupid that I am considering canceling. https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/02/i-wanted-ted-cruz-to-be-president-but-donald-trump-is-working/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=email&utm_content=170218_Weekly_Highlights_07_SUBS&utm_campaign=Weekly_Highlights

As disgusting as it is dishonest – and that goes double for the people involved.  Is there nothing that can be done about Anna Wintour? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/15/us/politics/trumps-inaugural-committee-paid-26-million-to-first-ladys-friend.html?emc=edit_ne_20180215&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=2476992&te=1


Should have posted this on Valentine’s Day but only now caught up to it: https://theamericanscholar.org/14-novels-of-love-gone-wrong/?utm_source=email#

Rebekah Mercer has published a “What I Believe” in WSJ. I don’t know what to think about the Mercers. They’ve tarred themselves with Breitbart and Herr President Dreckstuck, and that’s pretty tough to overcome, but when I see Sens. McConnell and Schumer, the nadir of politics made flesh, I find it close to impossible to disagree with this: “As a federalist, I believe that power should be decentralized, with those wielding it closely accountable to the people they serve. There is obviously a role for the federal government. But I support a framework within which citizens from smaller political entities—states, counties, cities, towns and so on—can determine the majority of the laws that will govern them. Society’s problems will never be solved by expensive, ineffective and inflexible federal programs.” 

What are friends for? https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/donald-trump-a-playboy-model-and-a-system-for-concealing-infidelity-national-enquirer-karen-mcdougal


Asks vital questions: https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-cant-be-debated-on-campus-1518792717?mod=cx_life&cx_navSource=cx_life&cx_tag=collabctx&cx_artPos=6#cxrecs_s

The way we think now: https://www.cjr.org/special_report/rich-journalism-media.php

It is often said that of all political-economic systems ever promulgated, capitalism is the best overall. “Overall” for whom, I’m tempted to ask? This is important: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/free-market-threat-democracy.html

I am a devoted and unflinching fan of the “44 Scotland Street” novels of the Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith. There are 11 in the series so far. They deal with the intelligent and varied residents of a pleasant Edinburgh Street and its purlieus. I have just finished the latest, A Time of Love and Tartan. It is a lovely, warming book – about so many things that really matter in life, including decency, the character of personas and places, little boys, respect, taking pains, the look of sea and sky, the smell of bacon rolls, curiosity – oh, I could go on and on. Ever so highly recommended!   

NYT had a 2/15 front-pager (posted above) about a ghastly Friend of Dreckstuck named Wolkoff who squeezed millions out of the Inaugural Committee. Here’s the lady’s husband. No further comment needed: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/judge-awards-6-million-5pointz-lawsuit-1222394?utm_content=from_&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Saturday%20newsletter%20for%202%2F17%2F18&utm_term=artnet%20News%20Daily%20Newsletter%20USE

Watching the Winter Olympics, I wonder what kind of of team (figure skating, for opener) the US would put out there if immigrants, LGBT etc weren’t on it. Can this be why Dreckstuck, liar, golf cheat, coward, premature ejaculating adulterer, hasn’t saluted our Olympic athletes, as every other president in my lifetime has? 


I find this both convincing and infuriating. Convincing because of the force and evidential logic of Mishra’s argument. Infuriating because its view of Obama and his presidency is that which my 2016 novel Fixers propounds, that it was from the get-go a gross deception, which only ratchets up my aggravation at Fixers‘ negligible reception by the bookchat world (the exception being rave reviews in WSJ and WashPost). My book evidently offended the delicately elite bon pensant sensibilities of the people who decide what gets reviewed and written about. https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n04/pankaj-mishra/why-do-white-people-like-what-i-write?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=The+Long+Read+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=264470&subid=23770632&CMP=longread_collection

My father came from Ft. Worth. I lived in Dallas and my third son and his family still does.In my finance days, I did a lot of work in the oil business and before that, at 18, I drove a truck for Halliburton in Duncan OK. These are all by way of a disclaimer of any prejudice informing my view that Rex Tillerson was absolutely fantastic on “60 Minutes.” The young woman interviewing him needs to be beaten with a rubber truncheon! 

Dreckstuck tweeting today: “My great friends from NASCAR are having their big race today, The Daytona 500. Brian France and the France family are special people. Enjoy the race!” Unless I’m terribly mistaken, we have a large contngent of fine young American athletes competing in the Olympics. But as the Olympics defies cheating, President Dreckstuck  can’t comment, being a liar, cheater, fast-firing adulterer etc.  


Here’s how clearly-certifiable President Dreckstuck greets President’s Day. Not with a salute to George Washington, but this (from the invaluable Trumptwitterarchive.com): “Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!”  Actually I watched the Oprah segment on “60 Minutes”, on which a number of Trump-lovers faced off against a number of Trump-haters. All the two sides had in common was obesity, with the pro-Trump faction having a slight edge in the “tipping the Toledo” department. Contrary to what Dreckstuck asserts, the dialogue was absolutely balanced, with both sides allowed to speak their piece and no effort by Oprah to get them to change their opinions or to moderate their language. My personal favorite was the fattie who excoriated the elites for advocating an inheritance tax, which he argued robs parents of the right to bestow the fruit of their lifetime labors on their children. It was clear that the offspring for whose inheritance interest this guy was arguing was himself. 

On Wall Street, broadly defined, there seems to be no limit to folly and ignorance: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/wolf-richter-blockchain-stocks-completely-disintegrate.html

As someone who concocts novels that postulate sinister doings behind facts that don’t add up (Fixers, The Ropespinner Conspiracy, Green Monday), I found this convincing and deeply interesting: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-02-19/aliens-bigfoot-illuminati-do-conspiracy-theories-stand-up


Add this to the Wolf Richter post on Bitcoin etc. http://www.businessinsider.com/elliot-management-a-34-billion-hedge-fund-says-a-denouement-is-approaching-and-it-doesnt-bode-well-2018-2?

I find this sociologically interesting on several fronts. 1) the episode itself is pretty amazing; 2) Given the racial tensions the country seems caught up in, not sure “Ace of Spades” is the right name for an extravagantly-priced, rapper-owned champagne marque; 3) tip works out to 14%, really very cheesy by rapper-NBA star -Hollywood standards:  https://pagesix.com/2018/02/19/jay-z-racked-up-an-epic-bar-tab/

The fine economist Herbert Stein notably postulated that “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t.” I feel this way about Dreckstuck. Let him continue. Raise hell only if really – and I mean really  – supported by unarguable facts. Fight him the way Grant fought Vicksburg: lay siege to the main target,  but go hard on the margins and salients, starting with Murdoch (aka “the Dirty Digger” in Private Eye). Leave Fox News alone. The Murdoch family, personally and institutionally, must be the target for tonight, starting with Patriarch Wrinkledick. In one lifetime, Jerry Hall has married Mick Jagger and Rupe-e-doop. She must have a thing for facial excess. And $$$$, of course. Let Lachlan and James answer to their families for supporting President Excrement (for the linguistically impaired, a useful translation of Dreckstuck.)


On his excellent blog, Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen adduces some interesting small-business statistics. http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/02/five-smallest-industries-firm-size.html

This is by way of endorsing a new book by Atkinson and Lind, Big Is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business (MIT). Here’s AMZ’s summary of the book:  “Why small business is not the basis of American prosperity, not the foundation of American democracy, and not the champion of job creation. In this provocative book, Robert Atkinson and Michael Lind argue that small business is not, as is widely claimed, the basis of American prosperity. Small business is not responsible for most of the country’s job creation and innovation. American democracy does not depend on the existence of brave bands of self-employed citizens. Small businesses are not systematically discriminated against by government policy makers. Rather, Atkinson and Lind argue, small businesses are not the font of jobs, because most small businesses fail. The only kind of small firm that contributes to technological innovation is the technological start-up, and its success depends on scaling up. The idea that self-employed citizens are the foundation of democracy is a relic of Jeffersonian dreams of an agrarian society. And governments, motivated by a confused mix of populist and free market ideology, in fact go out of their way to promote small business. Every modern president has sung the praises of small business, and every modern president, according to Atkinson and Lind, has been wrong. Pointing to the advantages of scale for job creation, productivity, innovation, and virtually all other economic benefits, Atkinson and Lind argue for a “size neutral” policy approach in both the United States and around the world that would encourage growth rather than enshrine an anachronism. If we overthrow the “small is beautiful” ideology, we will be able to recognize large firms as the engines of progress and prosperity that they are.”

This strikes me as technocratic propaganda, since it posits a view of enterprise solely in terms of “scalable” technological advances, “success” (which I guess means profitability) and other (what these sorts of people call) “economic metrics.” One of the most vital aspects of small business, as I see it, is the very real possibility of failure – and yet people in garages, tinkerers, folks who just plain don’t want to work for someone else and others keep going back to the well. If you’re going to go after the principle of small business – again as as I see it – how about the arguable proposition that one of Cowen’s categories – finance – has all but wrecked the moral basis of the American project? Somehow I don’t think this is what Atkinson and Lind have in mind. And what about the Internet, which gives any artisan with a better mousetrap access to a supply-demand-dissemination chain of a size and variety that only a few decades ago would have been open to only the biggest corporations. 

I’m starting to think that we may need “social media control” in this country every bit as much as we need “gun control.” Hard to say which represents a greater threat to the values if not the survival of this great republic.  

My alma mater gets curiouser and curiouserNot sure what any of this signifies: https://news.yale.edu/2018/02/15/joyce-mercer-appointed-bushnell-professor-christian-nurture?utm_source=YNemail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ynalumni-02-19-18


Some years ago I read one (can’t recall which) of James Lee Burke’s Louisiana mysteries featuring a flawed, thoughtful cop named Dave Robicheaux. I thought it was OK. Pressed by friends to read Burke’s latest, simply titled Robicheaux, I dutifully did so, and if Burke isn’t one of the best novelists writing today, I don’t know who is. The title character remains complex – recovering (AA) alcoholic, poetic – and reflective. A main character isn’t based on our current president, but the sources of his appeal to his “base” are, and the nature of that “base” is affectingly described, analyzed and pondered. Five stars. 

Anyone who reads the following and still doubts the social and intellectual degradation of NYT needs work. These are the sort of people who use the word “exclusive” a lot. In a short essay in another context, I quoted a passage that seems to me to constitute the last word on the subject.  “Here is the Anglo-Australian man of letters Clive James on the subject (in his immortal 1980 review of Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz): ‘Mrs Krantz, having dined at Mark’s Club, insists that it is exclusive. There would not have been much point to her dining there if she did not think that. A bigger snob than she might point out that the best reason for not dining at Mark’s Club is the chance of finding Mrs Krantz there.’” Here’s the NYT link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/style/la-goulue-restaurant-upper-east-side.html

Further to my mild suggestion that this country may be in as dire need of “social media control” as “gun control,” I find myself wondering what the correlation might be between social media and gun violence. I’m not suggesting it’s causal, but it does strike me that so many of these episodes – especially those involving young shooters – have a social media riff or hook that some connection might be made. 

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20180221/FEATURES/180219923  This is bullshit and this comment says it all: Claiming that the congestion in the Central Business District is due to Uber/Lyft etc, doesn’t add up, from the article’s own data. The article says that there has been a major 5% reduction in cars entering the CBD in the past bunch of years, so the car services can hardly be the cause of congestion if the total quantity has gone down. My guess would be that the massive reduction (perhaps 30-40%) of traffic lanes throughout the city are the cause of the congestion. So, blame Bloomberg and DiBlasio who “designed” this reduction, not the car services.

No comment needed: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/02/trumps-bogus-infrastructure-plan-takes-u-s-road-rentier-capitalism.html

Am I nuts! Or isn’t Jared Kushner or his family still connected to the Observer? http://observer.com/2018/02/kremlin-officials-began-planning-donald-trump-us-presidency-in-2014/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_content=2018-22-02-12317843&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily-Plus-Active-Engaged-Other-Lists

“The Science of Well Being”? Is there no end to this kind of thing? “The most popular class in the history of Yale will be available online in March, joining 20 other Coursera classes taught by Yale faculty. The class, Psyc 157, “Psychology and the Good Life,” is taught by psychology professor Laurie Santos. Nearly a quarter of all Yale undergraduates have enrolled in the class in its inaugural year — a fact that attracted media attention around the globe. The online course, titled “The Science of Well Being,” will feature lectures by Santos on things people think will make them happy but don’t — and, more importantly, things that do bring lasting life satisfaction. The course will be offered in March, and registration is now open.”

This makes a lot of sense to me. I think all pre-Crisis theories of this and that no longer apply, including the causes of inflation: https://dealbreaker.com/2018/02/despite-not-knowing-how-inflation-works-the-fed-soldiers-on/?utm_source=Dealbreaker+Newsletters+Master+List&utm_campaign=32acf76df4-MAILCHIMP_DB_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7b7b809044-32acf76df4-410840457 

Calling all tumbrels! https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/style/la-goulue-restaurant-upper-east-side.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Ffashion&action=click&contentCollection=fashion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront

No problem here. Dreckstuck  will give this guy a job since in his (Dreckstuck’s) world of cowardice and bluster, simply to pack heat is the point of the exercise: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/us/nikolas-cruz-florida-shooting.html?emc=edit_na_20180222&nl=breaking-news&nlid=2476992&ref=headline


The Way We Live Now. The solipsistic mindlessness on offer/display here really does argue for a confiscatory wealth tax. What a cast, including what I suppose you’d call “a vaginista.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/style/la-goulue-restaurant-upper-east-side.html

I found this David Brooks Op-Ed interesting and I agree with his conclusion, reached after heaping conditional praise on Stephen Pinker: the modern attitude is that everything is a market, and markets by their nature, clear. But they don’t, because like it or not there are no moral algorithms. http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/02/value-studying-foreign-language-high-school.html    And then on that essential website, The Browser,  I found this: https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2018/02/unenlightened-thinking-steven-pinker-s-embarrassing-new-book-feeble-sermon

I should add that, unlike King Duncan in the early-going of Macbeth, I do believe there is an art to find the mind’s construction in the face,” and that people generally look like what they are. Look at Pinker (photos in both the Brooks and Gray pieces): the snotty mouth, the bullshit Wieseltier coif,  the obvious camera-aware pose  of it all, and you know that here’s a guy who thinks (and has been told) he’s the smartest guy in the universe. 

We need more stories like this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5418077/Peace-dog-slept-masters-grave.html


Dreckstucktweeted eulogy for Billy Graham. Note the priorities implicit in his praise of the great preacher: “We will never forget the historic crowds, the voice, the energy, and the profound faith of Billy Graham!” It occurs to me that only someone who has no friends would put such emphasis on crowd size. With one exception, and excluding those who are paid to like and praise him, I can’t think of anyone who qualifies as this guy’s friend. He really is a man without a soul. 

The Atlantic asks the question of the day: “Is Corruption the New Normal?” Seems so to me. 


Amen. Interesting how this game works. Lee Child’s recent books have really stunk up the joint, but praise has been heaped on them. Could this have anything to do with the fact that every mystery-thriller type newbie carries a blurb from Child? And from Gillian Flynn, whose Gone Girl  was not only lousy, but the biggest plot cheat since Presumed Innocent.  https://thebaffler.com/alienated/in-praise-of-negative-reviews

Great stuff from a great website: https://lithub.com/14-great-books-that-would-make-terrible-movies/

TV Notes from all over. If you have Netflix, watch David Chang’s “Ugly Delicious,” a food show that’s not only eye- and palate-opening, but reminds the viewer of the cultural variety and vitality that immigrants bring to wherever they settle.  A double-barreled  rebuke to that cheeseburger-chomping Dreckstuck  in the White House. And tomorrow night, on AMC, “McMafia” begins. It’s based on my brother-in-law Misha Glenny’s riveting bestseller of the same name and is chockablock with all kinds of globalized villainy and hugger-mugger. 

“What makes private equity dangerous is the use of debt—and the use of phony accounting to conceal the riskiness of these leveraged bets. The average PE deal is 65 percent debt financed, and whereas the valuations of public equities are determined by transparent, liquid public markets, PE firms determine the valuations of their own portfolio companies. Unsurprisingly, they report far lower volatility than public markets.” This, which has been my complaint all along,  is from https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/02/private-equity-overvalued-overrated/

WaPo does fine job of showing difference between pearls and swine: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mueller-and-trump-born-to-wealth-raised-to-lead-then-sharply-different-choices/2018/02/22/ad50b7bc-0a99-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.7fe9fddf4016

I find this amusing. The way the story is presented is utterly misleading: it suggests that Uber, Lyft etc are making city traffic worse because of the increased number of ride-hailing vehicles. The number has increased, but if you read the story closely, you can’t avoid the conclusion that the growing popularity of these services, and the increased vehicle count, can reasonably be attributed to the lousy service supplied by public transportation/mass transit, which as increased demand for alternatives. https://nypost.com/2018/02/25/uber-lyft-drivers-are-making-city-traffic-worse-studies-find/