Critiques & Commentary

1/15 – 1/21/18….


Let’s start here. I might add a disclosure point. I reviewed Michael Wolff’s 2008 book on Murdoch for The New York Observer. Afterward, Wolff – whom I didn’t know – told me I was the only reviewer who “got” his book. What that said about me or my reviewing is something I’m still pondering a decade later. Anyway:

My darling wife brought this to my attention. Good stuff!

Once more into the breach!

1/16    This resonates oddly with me. You may loathe the person VF reports as making the observation for his politics or ideology, but he’s right in one regard: Der Trump’s “s…hole” usages are the way certain types talk in bars. If you report the locutions accurately you run certain risks, although what happened to me surely won’t happen to Vanity Fair’s writer. Here’s my sad story. Around 1990, I published a “dynastic” novel about Wall Street titled Hanover Place. One of the principal themes of the book was the uneasy, now and then ugly relationship between Christians and Jews, a fraught situation I had observed at first-hand in my years at Lehman Brothers and Burnham & Co. I knew what was said – what expressions were commonplace, what language was used – in certain locker rooms and around certain dining ables by parties to the conflict and I accurately reproduced those locutions in my novel. When the book was reviewed in NYTBR, the reviewer, Judith Martin aka “Miss Manners” of The Washington Post, accused me of harboring the sentiments expressed by the fictional characters I had created in the novel. The book and I were tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism. Martin’s review effectively killed the book, since it scared my team – agent, publisher etc., who were Jewish – into pretending they had nothing to do with it. A glowing review by Stephen Birmingham, author of Our Crowd, in WaPo didn’t help. Nor did an evening a month or so later at the Harmonie Club when I was invited to “defend” Hanover Place. At the end of the session, a number of members came up to tell me that this had been one of the best club evenings ever.  

Speaking of which (last paragraph especially):

Here’s Krugman in today’s NYT: “…this new divergence reflects the growing importance of clusters of highly skilled workers — many of them immigrants — often centered on great universities, that create virtuous circles of growth and innovation. And as it happens, the 2016 election largely pitted these rising regions against those left behind, which is why counties carried by Hillary Clinton, who won only a narrow majority of the popular vote, account for a remarkable 64 percent of U.S. G.D.P., almost twice as much as Trump counties.” I feel the columnist might have pointed out that while Clinton carried counties that accounted for 64% of GDP, a significant portion of that edge must have been generated in NY which is where – ironically – Der Trump, champion of 21st Century Know-Nothingism, made his money! 


This above all: “…H. L. Mencken, … famously described American democracy as ‘the worship of jackals by jackasses’”.



Hope springs eternal.


?Quien sabe?

This sort of piece is why I’ve always been a huge fan of Phil Mushnick:

From my friend Alexander:


Bret Stephens has a very sensible Op-Ed in today’s NYT:    Like it or not, Der Trump can be given credit for the huge stock market rally in this sense. There is probably more concentrated free/investible capital loose on the world than at any time in history. Clearly the sense prevails that the USA, for a number of reasons but certainly including the regime, is the most hospitable place on the globe for Big Money to find love and comfort. I must say that the Trump regime may be coarse, gross, corrupt and chaotic, but the opposition strikes me as just plain stupid.


Every day in every way, someone – the latest being Rep. Meehan – learns the great truth to emege from the Clinton Administration, so repeat after me, children: YOU ARE GOING TTO GET CAUGHT! 











Nothing like a first-thing-in-the-day puke:

Time to hit the fallout shelter:

Can hardly wait: Der Trump posted on Twitter Jan 2, 2018 08:05:10 PM: “I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!

Unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable – or vice versa:


In all the kerfuffle – the keening and moaning – about Der Trump, who seems every day to be playing with several fewer cards than the accustomed 52, a choice piece of political-economic wisdom has gotten lost in the noise. It was promulgated by the late Herbert Stein and states, simply, that if something can’t go on forever, it won’t. I think this applies to Der Trump. The omens are gathering like vultures on a branch: the Wolff book, Der Trump’s split with Bannon (which provides the extra useful insight that the way to go after DT is to go after his children (Donald Jr’s an idiot, can be depended upon to put his foot in it), jump on their every social and business (Ivanka, Eric) move, estrange Melania from her husband  by over-reporting their young son), various leaks.  

Everyone’s talking about this:

And this:


I seldom find myself on the same side of any argument as John Podhoretz but his view here  jibes with my own view of Wolff (disclosure: I reviewed Wolff’s book on Murdoch for The New York Observer, and found it a curate’s egg, convincing in parts but also calculated to cause a stir thanks to its benign (more than most) view of The Digger). I find it hard to believe that Wolff was allowed a virtual free run of the White House, talking to whomever he pleased. I find it impossible to accept that Gary Cohn, who hasn’t gotten to where he is by being e-indiscreet, sent that scurrilous email to Blankfein. Wolff is a writer whose unquenchable thirst for stardom leads him down strange fantasist lanes. I was educated to believe that public figures can’t sue for libel (you should see the stuff that the press said about Grant!) but we shall see. Wolff vs Trump: reminds me of the tigers racing in circles at the foot of L’il Black Sambo’s tree (apologies to all you identity victims out there.)  Throw this into the mix:



Have finished Chernow’s Grant. A commanding work of history that should be read by every American 40 years or older, not only to remind them of what they may have forgotten (or may never have known or learned), but because every other page, especially those dealing with Grant’s presidency, contains thought-provoking resonances of the state in which this Great Republic now finds itself. I’m of the generation raised by learned professors and lists published in NYT  to rate Grant as the worst American president, worse than Buchanan, worse than Harding, a drunk and a dupe. How little they knew. On the basis of Chernow’s openly, admittedly redemptive biography, Grant ranks close to the top! 


Journalistic gutlessness incarnate…and yet…and yet…I have to say that there’s not been a day when I wished Hillary Clinton were president, just as there hasn’t been a day when I haven’t wished Der Trump wasn’t president…so how do I get around that?

In the last month, two friends have died whose lives I looked upon with something approaching envy (odd for me, since I abandoned envy as an existential organizing principle years ago) because it seemed to me that these two got out of life what they wanted, and that “what” jibed with my sense and definition of a life well-lived.  The first was Bob Wilmers, who died three weeks ago. The other was Gene Thaw, who died last week. Gene brought honor, style and intellectual distinction to the vocation of art dealer (a vocation I craved for myself, but was bullied away from by my father – although that’s another story). He was a consummate connoisseur, with a versatile eye that found interest and quality in everything from Old Masters to Native American art. There are art dealers who embody the “art” part of the designation – Bill Acquavella, Paul Kasmin, Cecily Langdale, Mark Brady, Richard Feigen – and art dealers who emphasize “dealer” in the way they go about their business (a jumped-up commodities-promoter like Gagosian comes to mind, or the bucket-shop operators who flog Koons and Wool to purblind hedge-fund types).  Gene was of the first part, in spades:  and a notable collector-philanthropist in the bargain. And so it goes. Ave atque vale. 

So what is one to make of this? “Cultural attractions”?

Read this:   And then read it again. 

Kunstler clearly has:


Yesterday, NYC came as close to urban Gotterdammerung as I dare say it has in a good long time. During the morning commute, no less than 15 subway lines had problems. The LIRR’s main lines broke down for a time. There were a number of water main breaks, including one that affected the UN department where my wife works, shutting down electronic apparatus essential to her job as a translator-editor. In the afternoon, my area’s Spectrum (formerly Time-Warner) internet connection was out for several hours.  And they were still trying to sort out JFK!

I like this:

Interesting but troubling. Seems to imply a way to keep people in “distraction bondage” even as they grow older and should be giving up this stuff:


From the absolutely indispensable website, The Browser. I have given annual subscriptions (only $20 per) to my family. I urge you to subscribe. The Browser  is the best assurance I have that time spent wandering the Internet isn’t the complete waste it usually is. Of course, Galbraith’s Op-Ed goes directly to the Putin-Russia-2016 Campaign business that has the collective knickers of the self-regarding and  self-important in such a twist:


I never believed in Wriston, the 1980s Messiah of all-new American banking (my novel The Ropespinner Conspiracy stems from the premise that a Soviet “financial mole” rises to the top of U.S. banking and sets out to destroy it by doing exactly what Wriston was doing at the time at Citi):


I like this

I agree with Noonan. And with H.G.Salsinger. veteran Detroit sportswriter, who on the retirement of Ty Cobb wrote: “We shall not see his like again. For the game has changed. And not for the better.”

Triple amen! I no longer read “the front of the book” in The New Criterion, to which I’ve subscribed from Day One, thirty-five years ago. 


Curiouser and curiouser:

This explains it:


Really quite satisfying:

Watched the Patriots clobber the Titans in a clear case of the former utterly outcoaching the latter. All the talk-show lead-ins, plus Tony Romo, who was doing the “color” on CBS,  emphasized that the only chance Tennessee had was to rely on its behemoth linemen on both sides of the ball. OK, fair enough, but if that’s your game plan you better have at least a dozen of the aforesaid mastodons, because if they have to run side-to-side (“East and West” in NFL parlance) they wear down quickly and need to be rapidly cycled in and out (for confirmation, check out the Atlanta fatigue factor in the 2017 Super Bowl). Going in, however, I think I heard someone say that the Titans were down to five defensive big boys – and that proved to be that. Brady & Co. went side-to-side and quick stuff on the wings.  By halfway through the second quarter, even on TV you could see the Titans were gasping. Game over






















Took a few days off to read, deal with family, wonder if, as 2018 approaches, I shall see the coming year out. Will do a wrap up, but for the nonce can say that I find Ron Chernow’s Grant quite simply one of the best-written books of my lifetime. Absolutely absorbing; the handling of stupendous research is graceful, the narrative flows, the whole man and his whole life are depicted and, it seems to me, captured. Right up there with Gibbon. I’ve sent 5 copies to friends and family already and more will surely follow. If I had one cavil, it would be that the book needs maps, but to do those in a manner that befits the elegance and comprehensiveness of the rest would surely make the volume impossibly heavy and costly. 

I really like this sort of thing. Gets the reflective juices bubbling.

Incidentally, I found the above at, a site a friend has just gone to work for. David Brooks cites Browser in his column today, and once I figure out how, I shall send a subscription to my family and a few friends. You might consider doing the same.


An excellent interview, full of good ideas, conducted and reported by my admirable friend Tunku Varadarajan:

I must say, I don’t see what’s wrong with the idea of a two-step digital identity card. 

So Chernow’s Grant  has taken me through Appomattox and the end of a monstrous war fought so that, among other things, a free people could someday put a lying, cowardly, ignorant pig in the White House. 

A disturbing observation: it seems today that when journalists confront a serious, newsworthy situation, their first reaction isn’t “How should I report this?” or “What does this really  mean?”  but “What am I going to Tweet about this?” Which makes them intellectually little better than Der Trump. 

This is Sam Clovis, the Trump campaign official who brought Papadopolous on board. How many words is a picture worth?



No comment:


Happy New Year, Bret Stephens:


Today’s NYT Op-Ed offers David Leonhardt’s 7 wishes for 2018. I should like to add an eighth: that in future I be spared the anodyne, insightless piffle that Leonhardt offers as commentary.  

Last week we got a Christmas card from Sen. Michael Bennett (D, CO). Run-of-the-mill-stuff: I gave a bit of money to Bennett’s campaign a few years back, hence my presence on his Christmas card list. But the card got me thinking about Bennett, a smart, attractive, family-oriented candidate who I think could beat Der Trump like a drum. So why haven’t we heard much about or from him? Partly, I suppose, because Colorado politics needs sorting out; most states have zero attractive, ethical Democratic political figures; Colorado has two: Bennett and former Governor John Hickenlooper (who used to be married to my dear Observer  colleague Helen Thorpe). But also because Bennett may be playing the subtlest big-stakes endgame in politics today. He’s keeping his powder dry, and since that powder includes the affections of Michael Bloomberg (in whose house I met Bennett), formidable ammunition should the opportunity arise. Why not leave the impotent palavering to useless nothings like Schumer and Pelosi? See how events play out. The inhabitant of the White House, a delusional narcissist surrounded by yes-people, will cut his own tiny nuts off, given time and the absence of little grey cells (as I recently suggested to a friend: Der Trump has got North Korea exactly where they want him). So here’s my advice: keep your eye on Michael Bennett, a decent man and a proven winner.  

This recently came to my attention. It’s one of those impressive tours d’horizon that I like. That I missed it when it was published in mid-2017 is shaming (actually, I may not have missed it, but I’m too lazy and preoccupied to go back and check). Do read it!    Here’s a sample:    If I am correct, the post–Cold War period has come to a close, and the industrial democracies of North America and Europe have entered a new and turbulent era. The managerial class has destroyed the social settlements that constrained it temporarily in the second half of the twentieth century and created a new kind of politics, largely insulated from popular participation and electoral democracy, based on large donors and shifting coalitions within a highly homogeneous coalition of allied Western elites. Following two decades of increasing consolidation of the power of the managerial class, the populist and nationalist wave on both sides of the Atlantic is a predictable rebellion by working-class outsiders against managerial-class insiders and their domestic allies, who are often recruited from native minorities or immigrant diasporas.


David Brooks has a commendable Op-Ed in today’s NYT .  His subject is tribalism.  Here’s a statement that caught my eye (the Bruckner” to whom Brooks refers is a French intellectual, Pascal Bruckner):  Bruckner states that “…being guided only by the lantern of his own understanding, the individual loses all assurance of a place, an order, a definition. He may have gained freedom, but he has lost securityIn societies like ours, individuals are responsible for their own identity, happiness and success. “Everyone must sell himself as a person in order to be accepted.” We all are constantly comparing ourselves to others and, of course, coming up short. The biggest anxiety is moral. We each have to write our own gospel that defines our own virtue.” It seems to me that if you take the insecurity-out-of-individualism thesis to the next logical step you arrive at the key to the moral and social stranglehold social media has on those who are entangled in its coils. It’s all about “I am/have/am up to” with the implication that you might not be/have/be experiencing. In other words, social media are driven by envy as much as by any other moral, material or psychological force. 



12/18 – 12/24…..


A dear friend called late yesterday with the shocking news that Bob Wilmers has died. All things considered, I don’t hold much esteem for bankers – an antipathy that 2007-2008 and since has only only strengthened – but Bob was the exception. He built M&T into a real force and he was a most interesting man. There’s a special place in my pantheon for people I like personally and admire professionally, in each case without reservation. Bob was a good guy, a friend, a thoughtful cultivated man with a huge range of interests, real citizen of the worlds he moved in – from wine to journalism to finance. Bless him, bless his memory.

I’ve often expressed my admiration for Matt Taibbi’s journalism. It seems that, in younger days, he had an “Animal House” phase. Who didn’t?


I’m a Kunstler fan, but there’s a point when you have to batten the hatches, lash yourself to the foremast and let come what may. Kunstler needs to dial it back.

This seems to support Kunstler’s thesis:


Here are the first three items on “Dealbreaker” today. Considered together, weighed and plumbed for meaning beyond the numbers, these together constitute a pretty fair (and discouraging) picture of what a “financialized” economy amounts to: 

Broken bonds: The role Wall Street played in wiping out Puerto Ricans’ savings (CNBC)
A CNBC investigation found that UBS was not forthcoming about the extent of the risks of those bond funds from both its clients and brokers, even as the values of the funds plummeted. By the end of 2012, more than $10 billion in assets were invested in UBS’ bond funds. That represented about 10 percent of the island’s gross domestic product at the time. Today, those investments have been nearly wiped out.

Hedge Fund Managers Expect a 39% Bonus Bump (BBG)
Hedge funds climbed about 6 percent through the end of November, compared with a 2.8 percent rise for the full year of 2016, according to indexes tracked by Hedge Fund Research. “With assets not substantially increasing and with fees continuing to be under pressure, it may be wishful thinking that the bonus pools would have swelled so considerably,” Anthony Keizner, partner at Odyssey, said in an email.

Money Markets Are Going Haywire, Blame the Government (WSJ)
The sudden swings in the money markets and the spillovers into government debt show that banks aren’t responding in the way the regulators want. Instead of being less complex, better capitalized and smaller all year, banks are being managed to the targets set in the rules for December 31. That isn’t good for the financial system in the run-up to New Year, but it is utterly predictable for anyone who has ever looked at how humans respond to numerical goals.


Double Amen! No – make that a triple!


This is the must must MUST read of the day, the week, the year.


And now – for all decent people everywhere, this lump of stocking coal. I should note that Trump and Trumpism is simply the logical endgame of what I have called the Clinton Theory: that if everyone’s lying, no one is.

Totally agree. Points up what a complete a**h*** Krugman has been on this subject.

No comment needed:

Writing this awash in tears after watching the 1951 Alastair Sim “A Christmas Carol,”  the most perfect transmutation I know of a very great book into a very great film.  Blubbing because of the great story perfectly visualized and enacted; blubbing because it brings memories of my mother reading it to my brother and me in 1944 or 1945 (or did we hear it first read on the radio by Lionel Barrymore?); blubbing with thoughts of how much today’s money-crazed culture needs to read this (and the East Wing bedroom needs a visit from the Three Spirits).


Got to say this for the lump-of-coal guy. He sticks to his last (sorry for the mixed vocational metaphor). “Sharenting, a term to describe parents who actively share their kids’ digital identities online, is rampant in the United States, with 92 percent of toddlers under the age of 2 already having their own unique digital identity. As 2017 comes to a close, it appears to be a phenomenon that shows no sign of slowing down.” 92 f*****g percent! “Sharenting”? Are we nuts? Don’t answer that!

In line with the above, I posted this a while back, but it needs to be reread and reread and reread…..

In a few hours family will start to arrive. What a comparison, our modest celebration, the joy of reunion, with the image of Der Trump, with his fat ass and tiny cock (attested to by a generation of models and flight attendants ca. 1970), tarting it up in the halls of Mar-Al-Lago, extending his boots to be licked by the glitterati of Palm Beach, people who perfectly exemplify my father’s definition of “the upper crust”: a bunch of crumbs held together by dough. 




















Got my wife’s terrible cold. Mucus production worthy of a medical museum. 

Now: we need someone to construct an Excel-type spread sheet laying out the specifics of harassment alleged against various individuals. There’s too much vague speculation on offer. From what we know, the offenses range from rape (Weinstein) to the merely repulsive (Wieseltier, Weinstein again) to upskirt peeking (Matt Lauer) to styles of masturbation (Louis C K, others) but what did Charlie Rose DO? When a young woman states that an e-mail from John Hockenberry “made her uncomfortable,” what exactly does she mean? Did he write, “I’d like you to give me a BJ” or was it “You look cute today”? My money leans toward the latter, which I don’t consider harassment, and if the young lady does, she’s too stupid to hold a job at NPR. At WNYC, Leonard Lopate professes utter puzzlement at allegations about him; I’ll buy that. On the other hand, my antipathy toward Matt Lauer is so pronounced that I’ll jump to put the worst construction on any allegation concerning him. Bottom line: I suspect that a ton of office flirting has been transformed by the combined alchemy of allegation, victimism, identity thinking and rumor into much more dire sexual overtures.  

This is smart:

For  a truly revelatory insight into the dim-wittedness of 90% of the Internet:

Why I admire Bret Stephens:

The Mystery For The Ages: Bitcoin!

Yesterday I posted a solid piece of analysis of last year’s election from The Atlantic: here are some numbers I really find interesting (and in their way disheartening): “Trump defeated Clinton among white voters in every income category, winning by a margin of 57 to 34 among whites making less than $30,000; 56 to 37 among those making between $30,000 and $50,000; 61 to 33 for those making $50,000 to $100,000; 56 to 39 among those making $100,000 to $200,000; 50 to 45 among those making $200,000 to $250,000; and 48 to 43 among those making more than $250,000. In other words, Trump won white voters at every level of class and income. He won workers, he won managers, he won owners, he won robber barons. This is not a working-class coalition; it is a nationalist one.”

Dickhead’s tweets today are all about Pearl Harbor. It never ceases to amuse me how much pleasure liars and cowards get from tooting the militarist trumpet. Who do they think they’re fooling? 


This is so great! It is to declasse what Hamlet  is to theater.

And now – turning from the utterly classless to the utterly classy – I am very much looking forward to the HBO documentary on Gianni Agnelli. I knew him the tiniest bit but used to observe him fairly frequently in St.Moritz. Don’t let the name of the fancy resort in the Engadine imply airs on my part. My Swiss stepmother of 50 years, Poppi Thomas (nee Ruppaner), came from there. Her father, Ernst R., was the top doctor in the Engadine (still, incidentally, as beautiful a place as I know), and her ties to the valley were deep. She even spoke Romansch, the ancient language of the region (perhaps 30,000 in the world speak it, perhaps less). After my father died in 1977, and Poppi grew older, the call of her birthplace intensified and she bought a little house on the hillside overlooking the Suvretta House. I and my family would visit her there. Because I was a member of White’s, the self-regarding London club, I could get a guest card to the Corviglia Club, the plebians-need-not-apply gathering place at the summit of the cog railway. The Corviglia was the natural habitat of l’Avvocato (“the Lawyer”); there he could be observed at the top of his game. Ah, those, those were the days – and what a man he was: elegance personified.   



Lost the weekend thanks to this merciless cold. 

Now this responds to another of those Internet-generated “stories” that I think are absolute balderdash:      We got an Alexa and like it a lot. It plays music and radio for us, period. If it’s eavesdropping on conversations in this apartment, so be it. I think that most security/surveillance concerns are expressed by persons who wish they were important enough to merit attention. That’s the thing about the Internet: it may be many things, but as a medium for self-puffery it’s unsurpassed. I might add it also gives voice to the truly insane, like this “alt-right” fellow Cernovich, who we heard on a memorable NPR segment. That’s a side blessing of the Internet I never thought about until now: in ordinary life, most of us never encounter people who really are nuts, so we have no idea what they sound like up close and personal. Now, thanks to the ‘Net in all its forms, we do – starting with the White House. 

Department of “No shit, Sherlock!”:–34kZZLs1qWZktYmy-q-_gHHc4TkXw8oJL3GBSSo22IH-i25mk41uHJw5LtrG3uwKa2oSIF_Jlr_eUvoGkQtYWK369LQ&_hsmi=59275192



I admire Stiglitz more for his clarity of presentation than his originality – althoughin this time of “alt-right” and Trumpspeak, who’s to say that clear and creative aren’t virtually synonymous:–stiglitz-2017-12?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=392dbac202-sunday_newsletter_10_12_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-392dbac202-93490385 


This is an interesting report about the efforts of Breitbart etc. to character-assassinate Matt Taibbi, a journalist I admire without reservation. It concludes with an important question: “…What are we to do with old humor that time strips of context?” Trump and the vermin who congregate in his shadow clearly represent the (sad to say) inevitable apotheosis of the Clinton Doctrine that if everyone’s lying, no one is. The Clintons left a trail through the public life of this country that strikes this observer as the equivalent, in moral terms, of the slimy track left by garden slugs on a lawn. 

In the world of money, there’s no one I respect more than Stanley Druckenmiller. He’s a friend I admire both for his private values and his professional attainments.

A rare occasion when the Internet actually serves the public weal:


I have written of my hope that Michael Bloomberg will seize on the current disorder emanating from the White House and organize a national initiative – let’s call it “The Unity Initiative” or “Unity Coalition”-  built from the ground up – mayors, state legislators and the like – to oppose the New Autocracy. Let’s pray this is a first step.

Here’s an interesting quote: “Yet Trump is making the same mistake that Barack Obama made in his first two years in office — believing that his party’s congressional majority gives him license to govern without the other side.” Obama’s “mistake”? I’m not so sure. Read my novel of last year, Fixers. 

Since Larry Summers was knocked off his horse on the Damascus Road, so to speak, he’s become positively agnostic. And worth listening to. Since nothing Trump, McConnell or Paul Ryan has ever advocated has been less than crooked, this is worth reading:–summers-2017-12?utm_source=Project%20Syndicate%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=9104a12024-op_newsletter_2017_12_15&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-9104a12024-93490385&barrier=accesspaylog 

I’m not sure what I think – or what to think – about Adam Gopnik. After reading this, I remain puzzled.


Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher book, Midnight Line, has gotten rave reviews. I found it utterly disappointing: tiresome, full of pointless topographical detail (more than once you’re crying out for a road map) – including one sequence that consumes a lot of paper in which Reacher sneaks up on an enemy position only to find it unmanned – and in general weary, flat, stale and unprofitable. I have written some of this stuff, and I appreciate the difficulties of writing a “one big idea” thriller: in this instance the “big idea” is Reacher investigating how a West Point ring (“The corps, and the corps, and the corps”) came to end up in a pawnshop window. The issue is: how does one build on the idea. The easy answer is to bring one’s pet memes marching onstage like the parade f the wooden soldiers.  There are two kinds of page-turner, defined by the rate at which the reader turns the pages: steadily, one at a time, savoring twists of plot and characterization, or rapidly, in increasing gobs, as boredom and impatience set in. Moreover, Child has bred his own stable of cliches (Reacher taking on a bunch of local toughs all at once etc etc). In Midnight Line he deploys them all. 

Roubini’s an irritating sort – but perceptive:

This is great! this  is my idea of how to make an important point:” It’s worth making the blindingly obvious hypothetical comparison to a notional nominee under the last president. Let’s say Barack Obama had put forward an utterly unqualified person for a lifetime judge’s job – someone so useless that they hadn’t even boned up on basic legal terms any judge would need to know. And let’s say that nominee was a person of color. What do you think the public reaction would be?”

Extremely worthwhile. Yves as usual on the ball.     “In other words, while blacks turning out at high levels for a special election was important, there was no way Jones could win without significant support from whites. And as Brunig shows, the swing in the white vote was what was responsible for Jones’ win, contrary to that the Might Wurlitzer of orthodox opinion has been pumping out.”

A useful tour d’horizon: 

Very very very interesting:

















I like to start a new week in the right spirit.

Somehow missed this:

No comment needed:

From Politico’s NY Real Estate Report:  “Trump Tower among buildings that continue to bar the public from public spaces on site,” by PIX’s James Ford: “Nearly every inspected building that’s supposed to give full access to public space on its premises has failed to do so. That’s what a new audit by New York City’s top investigator concludes. Among the buildings on the list of non-compliance is Trump Tower. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer made that declaration on Tuesday, half a year after his office first found that a large percentage of private developers had fallen short of agreements they’d made with the city which allowed them to build higher and more dense buildings than applicable zone regulations allow. In exchange for that privilege, developers were required to include privately owned public space, or POPS, on the developed property. …

“Stringer did not blame the buildings or their developers — including President Trump — for their non-compliance. Instead, he said that the agency tasked with enforcing POPS standards was responsible. ‘The Buildings Department is totally asleep at the switch,’ the comptroller told PIX11 News. ‘They’re not enforcing the agreement. They’re not enforcing the law. Shame on them.’ For its part, the Department of Buildings issued a statement on Tuesday: ‘We agree with many of the audit’s recommendations and will be conducting regular inspections of all POPS in the city.'” Read the story here . Read the report here.” “Asleep at the switch”? Perhaps – but wide awake by the little tin box? I suspect so.

Earlier today, I sent the following to a friend whose grasp of postmodern finance I trust:  “Perhaps when we meet in January, you can explain Bitcoin – which will then be changing hands at either $200,000 or zero – to us. What sets it apart other than its attraction as a vehicle for speculation? I’ve traveled up one side of Google and down the other and can find no easily comprehended explanation for the surge other than the perception that Bitcoin is perhaps a purer speculation – that is, less tied to externalities like central banks – than whatever else is on offer right now. Still, at the end of the day, for Bitcoin to have any economic utility, it has to be cashed in, presumably into some recognized medium of exchange (currency, gold or other commodity, whatever) that can be used to pay for stuff. There’s something about this that vaguely reminds me of the Eurodollar boom of the ’70s; deals and transactions could be denominated in Eurodollars, without the Fed’s by-your-leave, to the extent that by 1980, no one had any clear idea how many Eurodollars were in circulation. It was then that my friend Martin Mayer observed that a country that can’t control the amount of its money in circulation will soon not be able to control much else about itself.  Blockchain I can grasp, barely, because it seems to have a certain operational utility. Indeed I believe that is how it was originally promoted by Blythe Masters and others. ”  Then I subsequently read this:


As early as 1993, in an unpublished but paid for book The Overclass (thanks, Random House, Jason Epstein and Harry Evans), I predicted that this was the direction in which the country was now headed. No graphs or Big Data, just common sense and the powers of observation: Response to the above, here’s what I submitted on Dr. Sachs’s web page: In 1993, at the modest height of my reclame as a columnist for The New York Observer (1987-2009), I was commissioned by Random House to write a book about what I thought was going on in the country. The book I wrote, paid for by RH but unexplainedly never published, The Overclass, grew out of a (also paid for but also unpublished) short book, The Invisible Infrastructure, that contended that even as we were neglecting our visible infrastructure – highways, bridges, power grid, mass transit etc – we had better pay attention to the constellation of ideals, statements of purpose, jurisprudential outcomes etc. that constituted a kind of “invisible” infrastructure as essential to the country as its bridges etc. The RH book picked up this theme, focusing most closely on the cadres working to take over the country and suggested a number of remedies. I knew whereof I was speaking because I had been born into and educated by the elite, and by 1980, at the age of 44, when I began to write, I had been a corporate finance partner of two substantial Wall Street firms, had sat on the boards of important corporations and public and private institutions, owned a (small ) piece of a major professional sports franchise and otherwise enjoyed (if you will) life at the top. Your thinkpiece in the Boston Globe struck a responsive chord, although I fear it is too late really to do anything substantive short of a violent upheaval. The only answer lies at the polls. The moral indolence of the majority has submitted the nation to a not-so-virtual tyranny of the minority, while gerrymandering and other forms of voter exclusion, not to mention court decisions, have consolidated these distortions. The problem is worsened, at least in my perception, by the fact that those most physically and emotionally capable of wielding pitchforks and torches and operating guillotines (and AK-15s) voted for Mr. Trump. Best regards – Michael M. Thomas

This really says all you need to know about the moral gravity of the corporate types slavering for a tax cut. Alaweed must saying to himself “With friends like these…”

Pretty good audio-visual and verbal representation of a pig with small trotters:


It now seems clear that the person in the Oval Office is like a psychotic frog jumping from one Twitter lily pad to another, the distance between pads growing longer with each leap. Twitter was always going to be his undoing. Retweeting the loony anti-Muslim stuff was  bad; pointing a finger at Andrew Lack crosses the line!

This makes sense to me:–nXh6o4EtTfS5IB4JGVM2cRFJ1irhWCbOUTgQN0UpZt1uxINHVFUmZcW1bvhidPbTtBau4HtlTxIeSodyJH6BdsgRpDw&_hsmi=58893838


All right, I yield. The guy in the White House really is as bad as – worse than – the most ardent Trump-haters prophesied. A tax on tuition grants! Tweeting “terrorist” videos originally posted by a UK nutjob. You watch: he’ll now disclaim any responsibility for the most odious parts of the tax bill. He is his base: brimming with grudges fueled by an inferiority complex – and I don’t know how it can be reversed, since red-statism in its many aspects has been made secure by gerrymandering and a Congress of bought men and women. Just read this stuff (I don’t use or read Twitter or FB, but link to a useful site called “Trump Twitter Archive): 

  1. Nov 30, 2017 08:05:21 AM – Stock Market hits new Record High. Confidence and enthusiasm abound. More great numbers coming out!
  2. Nov 30, 2017 07:25:00 AM – The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man. Hard to believe his people, and the military, put up with living in such horrible conditions. Russia and China condemned the launch.
  3. Nov 30, 2017 07:15:08 AM – The Failing @nytimes has totally gone against the Social Media Guidelines that they installed to preserve some credibility after many of their biased reporters went Rogue! @foxandfriends
  4. Nov 30, 2017 07:01:25 AM – The Failing @nytimes, the pipe organ for the Democrat Party, has become a virtual lobbyist for them with regard to our massive Tax Cut Bill. They are wrong so often that now I know we have a winner!
  5. Nov 29, 2017 09:23:14 PM – Funny to hear the Democrats talking about the National Debt when President Obama doubled it in only 8 years!
  6. Nov 29, 2017 09:00:23 PM – “Had the information (Crooked Hillary’s emails) been released there would have been harm to National Security….” Charles McCullough Fmr Intel Comm Inspector General
  7. Nov 29, 2017 08:09:42 PM – The only people who don’t like the Tax Cut Bill are the people that don’t understand it or the Obstructionist Democrats that know how really good it is and do not want the credit and success to go to the Republicans!
  8. Nov 29, 2017 08:03:30 PM – The House of Representatives seeks contempt citations(?) against the JusticeDepartment and the FBI for withholding key documents and an FBI witness which could shed light on surveillance of associates of Donald Trump. Big stuff. Deep State. Give this information NOW! @FoxNews
  9. Nov 29, 2017 08:02:06 PM – [email protected]_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!

The dumbest attitude we of decent faith can assume is what I see all around me. To be Trump-phobic while turning a blind eye and deaf ear to what he actually spews.   

Today’s NYT carries the sad news that Jane Stebbins Greenleaf has died, age 81. She was perhaps the best friend of my prep-school and early college days (1952-55), that brief but oh-so-halcyon time. In writing her brother Ted, the distinguished historian of American painting and sculpture, I observed “…so many memories came flooding back: of an era, a milieu and a time in our lives that for ever so many reasons truly does seem golden. Jane really was the dearest friend of my boyhood. We had such good times together – and so many laughs! Somewhere among my albums is a photo of Jane being escorted by yours truly at the Debutante Cotillion in 1954, both of us in full fig. My God, how young we were, how full of joy and optimism.”  It was a time when, as Thomas Bergin, who taught me Dante at Yale, wrote in an obituary note on the death of Charles Garside, friend, mentor and the greatest teacher I ever had, “,,in the middle-1950s, time seemed to stand still…” Why that was bears some thinking about, but on reflection I recall young people thinking that the grown-ups were in charge, and rightly so. We are no longer vouchsafed that luxurious way of thinking in this country – and that is a tragedy. xxxxxx

News that Teenydick intends to give Tillerson the boot is glad tidings for Trump-haters. Tillerson is a highly-respected CEO with a worldwide acquaintance. The administration will doubtless try to negotiate a zipped-lip deal, but my guess is that Tillerson’s beyond their grasp. Besides, why keep your word to a c**ksu**er who’s never kept his! 

The vulgarity of this passeth all understanding:

You have to admire Teenydick’s strategy with this tax bill. When it passes, and the 1% and their C-Suite cronies gobble up the incremental cash flow, Td will assert that he got a tax bill passed; not his fault if greedy CEOs and swamp-fillers took away the fruits. Take it out on your Senator or Congressperson, but don’t blame me!


This is by/about a friend, Susan MulcahySays it all:

Amen!   A sample: “So powerful is the impetus towards the collective fake that it is now an effective requirement of finalists for the Turner Prize in Britain to produce something that nobody would think was art unless they were told it was.” 

Listening to economist-propagandist Stephen Moore on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC show, I found myself reflecting on lying. Always a constituent of the art of politics, lying was elevated to an ironclad principle by the Clintons’ philosophy of prevarication: If everyone’s lying, no one is. Of course, lying is a two-faced business: lying about intention, which is an intensified type of hypocrisy, and lying about facts, which is…well…lying!   In both cases, you’re looking at fraud, at motivated untruth. Trump, of course, is the greatest all-rounder in the history of lying. 


RIP Vincent Scully. An amazing, inspiring teacher, and in his prime, an ass-man of the very first water!

Read and weep!


I think of taxation as a form of dredging, cutting channels in harbor bottoms. For instance, take this theory that corporations will somehow use the cash flow cut free by the tax “reform” to invest, pay better wages and otherwise do stuff that will benefit the general good – but that anyone with practical, first-hand experience of the corporate mind will recognize as anathema absolute to C-suite thinking. So how about a tax on retained earnings net of new investment? And a surtax on stock grants to executives?  

I tend to agree. I haven’t bought into the “overvalued” view. With so much liquidity loose in the world, with the spectrum of acceptable-risk investment possibilities narrowing, and with many companies seeing expanding margins thanks to globalization and technology,  we could be looking at an upward revision of multiples with real longer-term staying power.


Totally agree:


One or two important Christmas parties that were bright lights on the holiday social calendars of many people (disclosure point: I wasn’t an invitee) have been canceled. I think this reflects that apprehension present at the end of 2016, following the election, have been realized with interest. The tax-bill seals the deal, aimed as it clearly is at New York, California, New Jersey and other states perceived to be native habitats for despised “elites” and their colluders in the media. The country is clearly in the hands of the angry mob, with a mindless, manipulative thug at its head.  I wish I saw a way out of this, short of an assassin’s bullet, but I’m not sure that even this might get things turned around. xxxx   


I think the current situation of the Democrat party offers a singular opportunity for Michael Bloomberg to step in, not as a Democrat but as an Independent, and pull together the various anti-Trump or otherwise disaffected elements of the electorate, like the strands of a cable, into a single force capable of reshaping the 2018 election picture. Bloomberg is a great manager, and that’s what’s needed now. He can orchestrate and conduct a policy program that has everyone playing from the sheet music that sounds best in their section of the country. He won’t have to campaign. I think the current disorder perfectly suits Bloomberg’s temperament, intelligence and political and governance instincts. He could create what I think of as “The Unity Coalition”.  (Feel free to forward this to him; I’ve lost his email address).

Once again, Dorothy Parker in a timeless subject: “If you want to see what God thinks of money, look at who He gives it to.” Salvador Mundi: an odd choice for a Wahhabist.   

I’m not a big fan of Friedman, but this makes sense:


Nowadays, really good news is hard to come by. Too bad Sean Hannity wasn’t sacked out in the guest room.


And here’s why the media stink (quoting from the above): “There’s very little evidence of Trump being openly racist or sexist,” Colvin insisted. “It wasn’t until he started running for president that all these stories started coming out. I don’t believe it. I’ve done the research.”  “Research,” my ass! At this point, the reporter/story should ask: “What research?” I had a great English teacher at Exeter, the immortal H. Darcy Curwen, who – when I or anyone would venture a bold generalization – would demand “Name two.” We seldom could. 

The Paris Review has dismissed Lorin Stein as Editor for “Inappropriate Behavior.” This is so stupid it defies belief! No one is going to cancel their PR subscription or refuse an interview because of anything Lorin – a brilliant editor – may have said to an intern. Speaking of which, I’ve Googled through the complainants in one situation after another, and to put it politely, 90% are women you wouldn’t f**k with someone else’s d**k. Of course, when I saw that the PR board is chaired by Terry Mcdonnell, I knew to expect the worse. 
























Thanksgiving Week. Last night an interesting coincidence. My wife and I, side-by-side in bed, reading. She: Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992; me: Chips: The Diaries of Sir Henry Channon (1934-1958). Two diaries by people of some consequence in the spheres they coveted; two accounts of what ambition looks and sounds like, stripped naked and given its head, written by skilled and successful practitioners of the art. Of course, the types of ambition are different: hers professional, his social, but they express themselves in oddly similar way: he fixated on who will come to his parties and in whose company he’s to be seen; she in what big names she can “get” for an issue and hangs out with. Both are strong books, however, remarkably clear-eyed. They invite the reader to correlate what he thinks of the diarist and what the diarist apparently thinks of her(him)self. Or, as Anthony Powell notably put it: “It is not what happens to people that is significant, but what they think happens to them.” I wonder if there are book groups out there devoted to reading and discussing diaries, starting with Pepys (or perhaps St.Augustine). They might take Powell’s observation as their motto.
Speaking of the former, this past Friday – can’t recall off hand whether I mentioned – we saw a rather odd little diversion based on Pepys called “17c” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. A real curate’s egg – “good in parts”: mainly off point, except for one monologue (and what is a diary except a monologue?). 

In his entry of June 11, 1936 (I was just short of two months old then, in my cradle on the other side of the Atlantic), Chips Channon gives a dinner party which the newly-crowned King Edward VIII, who will abdicate and turn into the Duke of Windsor six months later, graces with his royal presence. Channon writes, breathlessly: “…It was the very peak, the summit, I suppose. The King of England dining with me!” I like that “I suppose.” Lets slip a self-awareness essential to a great diary. But Channon’s social ecstasy also brought forth an amusing memory. It would have been around 1954. My father and stepmother were giving a cocktail party in their Long Island house, and one of the invitees had brought her houseguests, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Just after the house was graced with royal presence, my father’s butler, John Hare, a resolute Scot of the kind that wins wars, came to him and said, “Mr.Thomas, I canna serve that man. He did not do his duty!” He was speaking of the Duke. Joe Thomas understood perfectly, and immediately dragooned me (or my brother) to bring HRH his whisky. Sic semper tyrannis!   

So – with a week behind us to reflect – what do we think about the $450 million Salvador Mundi by Leonardo? First of all, my own sense is that the original was by Leonardo and that his matchless skills are still evident in the blessing hand, the lower passages of Christ’s hair, the orb and the hand that holds it. With respect to the latter, arguments have been put forward that since the reflections in the orb aren’t flipped, it can’t be by an artist whose passion for scientific accuracy and tricks of the eye is a matter of (his own) record. This is idiotic. There’s a Salvador Mundi in the Metropolitan Museum (Friedsam Bequest) of roughly the same date (1500-05) painted by Albrecht Durer, an artist of punctilious observation, that commits the same optical “errors” as the Leonardo. All this said, the Leonardo isn’t a picture I’d want to own; there’s something about Christ’s face and expression that I find off-putting. Purely artistic issues aside, two final thoughts. Bendor Grosvenor, who writes what I consider the best art blog ( considers that Christie’s did the greatest marketing job in auction-house history, and I wholly agree. And perhaps more important: the price of anything can only be evaluated in terms of what the money paid means to him or her who paid it.




OK – Time Out! Charlie Rose has now been put in the stocks reserved for those purported to have harassed. The last such alleged incident was six years ago! This is now getting ridiculous. I have a feeling that, back then, alcohol may have been part of the equation. It is no longer. And on and on drone the media about some woman’s memory of having been rubbed up against, while in Washington the proven liar, swindler and butt-pincher in the White House, along with his cronies, conspires the steal the country out from under us! CBS and PBS have put Charlie on ice. They ought to be given a good swift kick for not standing up for a man who’s a good guy and saying they will take no action pending an investigation. And Charlie should get ready to sue their asses if they don’t! 

Moved, seconded and passed by acclamation:–UKOAzVyJuW0CmvsM7eY2zi7RnM0FCXEapj8zkSa8TQuSAr_WCYuAFSubFczxmUeTvEnDKLD7cypZCNGNUNrJisRjR2Q&_hsmi=58629372

This is what I’m waiting for, source to be decided: “And then she told me that if I’d go down on her, she’d see I got the VP job I’m in the running for.”


OK: read this carefully. If what’s in here is what Charlie Rose has been decreed guilty of, then we truly are in the Golden Age of Whine in which perceived “disrespect” (a word and notion I hold in contempt: is equivalent to sexual harassment or (as the squib captions it) “creepy” behavior. There’s not a whiff of matters erotic in this protracted howl from a young woman who obviously didn’t know how to behave in the presence of an older man (and superior) who did.


There’s a mighty brouhaha on Instagram about Tom Campbell’s purported “criticism” of Diane Modestini’s restoration of the $450 million Salvador Mundi by Leonardo.  I’m with Campbell. Below are the images of the painting pre-restoration (top) and as restored and sold. There is just something about the face in the earlier state – call it”sharpness,” or “masculinity” or “directness” – that is lacking in the later condition, where a kind of emotional intensity has been lost, especially around the mouth and in the gaze. This isn’t to deprecate Diane Modestini’s work. She is a fine, skillful restorer. But great restorers aren’t necessarily great artists, and there’s a unified physical and emotional presence – a strong focus -at work in the unrestored version that could only come from inside a great creative talent. Hand and face, gesture and expression, have a strength and cohesion – a power – that simply isn’t there in the restoration. Or I don’t see it. Funny. I once took Diane’s late husband  Mario Modestini through the Yale Art Gallery to see the Jarves paintings fresh from an absolutely catastrophic restoration, and I thought that if he could have, Mario would have then and there strangled the “restorer” who all but wrecked some of the greatest Italian primitives in this country. Diane Modestini has probably done as well as any restorer could – but she isn’t Leonardo. Who is? 



Image result for salvator mundi

From the sublime to the…give me a f***ing break!

Why we live the way we live now. Happy Thanksgiving. There may not be many more:


THANKSGIVING DAY. In NYC, bright and clear, the way Thanksgiving ought to be. For whatever reason, my mind goes back to similar Thanksgiving Days long, long ago – in Southampton, where my second wife Wendell and I were raising a young family. We’d all join in a big touch football game, five, six, seven families, each with three or more children, forty or fifty bodies all on the field at the same time. It was so different then. Money – and the sort of people who consider wealth the ultimate empowerment – hadn’t taken over life. Southampton was a quiet kind of place. We were a real community. All scattered and dispersed now. I took a self-timed photograph one Thanksgiving Day – fifty of us, I guess, tall and small, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, the odd in-law. A few of us have stayed close, but the rest have scattered, there have been deaths, divorces, remarriages and most of the young children in that photograph are fifty now (give or take a few years) and have children of their own. Southampton has changed beyond recognition, physically and in spirit.  “Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit,” as Virgil puts it in The Aeneid: “Maybe someday you will rejoice to recall even this.” I do.  And here – from Michael in Texas (fifth from left, seated – just turned 56) – is the photo.

Madam returns from downstairs bearing a box in that unmistakeable Tiffany blue with an envelope addressed to me. “You have a secret admirer,” she announces with mock suspicion. We have no idea what it could be. Well, I swan! It’s from American Express – two handsome champagne glasses – thanking me for having been a cardmember for fifty years. My God, how time has flown! 

We turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I miss it as it was when just balloons. Now most screen time seems to be devoted to Disneyfied singing groups and it seems cheesy to me but the crowds on-camera seem to love it. Another Miniver Cheevy moment for yours truly. 


We’ve been the only Trump-loathers at a Trump table:

Food for thought: origin of “Dilbert.” Who knew?

Help! Someone’s spilled horses**t on my Op-Ed page:  I can see them sitting around Riyadh asking each other “Who’s a major Western media burnoose-kisser who’ll take dictation from us and present it as his carefully considered opinion?’

Well, that – 18 holes at Mar-al-Dickhead – does it for me with Tiger Woods. Will never root for him again. Johnson was always a peckerwood, so no loss there.  


Schadenfreude Dept: Alabama loses to Auburn! Deeply satisfying. Wonder how Coach Saban’s black players feel about representing a racist state that may well deny them of their voting rights when they graduate (if they do)? Wonder if they actually know they’re representing such a state?


Last night a friend came for dinner; she;s now representing The Browser.Com in the USA. I had forgotten what a really terrific all-rounder Browser is, the perfect place for the curious, cultivated mind (which I fancy mine is) to turn to once email and the quotidian horrors of TWAT (The World According to Trump) have been scanned on Bloomberg and WSJ. This Christmas, I intend to give Browser to my children and certain close friends. It’s only $34 a year. I can think of no better gift. I’m going to recommend that certain business acquaintances do the same, rather than send clients art books of a generic kind. Now I know what you’re going to say: we all already have too much ‘Net stuff in our lives. But one can never have enough really good, mind-opening stuff. Every week I hit the “unsubscribe” button at least two or three times. 

Speaking of which, here’s  a sample from today’s Browser

Project Syndicate is another fertile, reflection-provoking website. Here, Lord Skidelsky reminds us of an essential truth: economic and social policies that stem from a calculus whose base unit is thousands need to be thoroughly rethought when that base unit rises into the millions:

Globalization takes a lot of hits for this nation’s woes, and I think most of them are deserved. One deeply-felt, long-lasting source of economic and political disruption, seldom commented on,  is that globalization severs the bond between business owners and executives and the people who work for them, an essential component of that sense of community that many of us think has been trampled under in the West by greed and rent-extracting. 

I think this guy is always worth listening to:–roach-2017-11?utm_source=Project+Syndicate+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3cb5da1806-sunday_newsletter_26_11_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_73bad5b7d8-3cb5da1806-93490385    If you link Roach’s commentary to my reflection on the most pernicious social effect of globalization, the breaking of the bond between corner office and factory floor, you could argue that the corporatization of pending tax reform deepens that slicing to a point where it’s beyond repair. 


And now this son-of-a-bitch – of whom I’ve been suspicious since first he hove into prominence. He makes Friedman look like Gibbon:   Here’s an example: We have an apocalyptic politics in part because Halperin helped promote an apocalyptic approach to political coverage. It made him and his little scoops seem hugely important: that conversation he overheard between McConnell and Schumer meant everything. The title of his career-making book, 2008’s Game Change — which sold over 350,000 copies and netted him and his coauthor John Heilemann a $5 million advance for a follow-up — says everything. Politics is a game and its rules are constantly being transformed. Its intentionally hyperbolic, breathless text presented details like the fact that Obama “woke up late … and went for a haircut with his pal Marty Nesbitt” the way an ancient monarch’s courtiers used to examine his every sigh for divine omens.” Or as in ancient times, the ruler’s turds were  examined for auguries. But what if the ruler himself is a turd?

And now, to close, this is what a traitor to his class looks like:   On the other hand, this may well be what his class truly is. 













No one loves parades and multi-gun salutes more than cowards and draft-dodgers.

Every day, in many ways, the ongoing war for economic inequality and against the poor gains important new recruits:

An interesting view of what’s going on in our frenemy Saudi Arabia:

Good God in heaven! Money quote: “Hangzhou-based Alibaba is using the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery and payments units — businesses that could benefit from roping in traditional retailers as customers.
To that end, Alibaba teams fanned out across the nation ahead of Nov. 11 to help outlets — some 600,000 mom-and-pop convenient stores and some 1,000 brands — upgrade their computer systems. Those retailers, many in prime city locations, will become delivery and storage centers.” This confirms  variant on  on Everett Dirksen’s immortal pronunciamento: To wit:  “All everything is local.” Alibaba apparently doesn’t go apeshit over “scale.”  


I find this interesting – and completely in accordance with what shocked me when I first saw the world of access-based journalism up close in personal beginning in 1987, when I began my column for The New York Observer, a “project” that would go on for 22 years. Someone once asked me what the book-publishing industry was all about, and I answered “Lunch.” I would say the same about journalism.



TODAY is my son Willie’s 60th birthday! Now I have two sons age 60. Ouch! But two fabulous guys. And think how much longer I’ve had the pleasure of my sons’ company than most dads have! So – hip hip hooray, and a trillion happy returns. If only the Federal Reserve franked birthday wishes.

I just got a call purporting to be from Apple Security. They instructed me to call 800 200 0015. As the call came in on my landline I did so, and found myself talking to something call www.fastcompanysupport, and they instructed me to bring up a web page. I did so and found myself invited to click on a link that made no mention of Apple anywhere and powered by an outfit I never heard of. I was looking at an obvious digital honeytrap, so I hung up. 

Somehow love doesn’t always find a way.

No comment needed:

Watching hapless Giants being creamed by winless 49ers. They’v obviously given up (even the TV guys are saying so).

Liz Smith has died. She and I were close – and then we weren’t. What brought us apart was a differing approach to the rich and famous. She got where she got – a hell of a lot higher and farther than I ever did – by heaping praise. I thought they deserved to be shat on – and did. She criticized me for my approach and I fired back. From being asshole buddies it went to “no speak” overnight.  I’m not saying either of us was right. She was a good Ft.Worth girl, lively and fun, and I tip my hat to her. 

I once asked my father, who spent four years on carriers in the South Pacific, what he thought was the singular virtue of the U.S. fighting man. “Common sense,” he replied. Wonder what he’d answer today:

In case you were wondering:



If ever confirmation were needed of my dictum that the problem with the Internet/Social Media is that millions of people with nothing to say now have a place to say it, here it is:



Stupidity Finds Its Apotheosis:

Sounds like a must-read: Quote: It diagnoses that neoliberalism was not just a right-wing Thatcherite-Reaganite prospectus. The centre-left, as embodied by Mitterrand’s socialists in France, Blair’s New Labour and the Democratic Party in the US, was complicit in its imposition. This consensus culminated in the decimation of manufacturing, decline of union membership, the expansion of financial services, wage flattening, falling living standards and the privatisation of public services. At the heart of neoliberalism was the assertion that the free market is the supreme arbiter with the economy managed by technocratic expertise. The flip side of this depoliticisation resulted in ordinary people becoming alienated and disillusioned with the social democratic parties that formerly represented them. Instead they turned to anti-establishment (usually hard right) parties.” And who are the true “Deplorables” now?  AND add this to the mix:

No comment needed, just the sound of two hands clapping:

Apparently there really is an asshole born every minute:

Why alcohol is necessary to get through life:

Today’s “must look at’:

Pleased to see that my alma mater now offers a graduate program in mindlessness:


The NYT’s account yesterday of the Giants’ “quit” loss to the 49ers on Sunday was bylined “AP.” Does this mean my hometown “paper of record” no longer has a reporter assigned to cover the team that once ruled the city?

One footnote about Liz SmithAll the post-mortems characterize her as a “gossip columnist.” But gossip largely includes stuff people doing like being known about them, or talked about. It emphatically doesn’t include stuff dished up by publicists and PR types (unless, of course, they’re putting a knock on some other publicist’s client.) But the way Liz practiced her bright and cheery art was to make nice. To be fair about it, Liz used the money and connections her methodology produced for good works like Literacy Partners, said to have helped some 800,000 NYC kids to learn to read.

Now it begins:

A quiet enriching afternoon. Conrad’s a writer I haven’t thought about in years, or looked into even longer ago, but there’s a terrific piece about him in the latest New Yorker, so I put Nigger of the Narcissus (not a title found on many syllabi in today’s “snowflake” curricula) on the Kindle and I confess to being blown away! As I have been by the music I’ve had on: Chopin (and variations and evocations) played by the comet of the moment, Danil Trifonov, and he is terrific! Technique to burn and refinement to match. But then I put on Artur Rubinstein playing the Nocturnes and that is something else. It’s a generational thing, I guess, but in Rubinstein’s playing I feel a kind of cultural wholeness: every great book the man ever read,  every great picture he ever looked at, every great meal or wine he ever consumed, every beautiful woman he ever seduced. There’s a spaciousness there: murmurs of an age when one crossed the Atlantic on a great steamer in seven days as opposed to the middle seat of a 767 in seven hours. There aren’t a lot of compensations in being my age, but one of them is that I caught at least the tail end of that glorious era.  


From the sublime to the interesting. Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries arrived and I must say they’re very entertaining and worthwhile, not least for what they reveal about the author. I know Tina, but just a bit. I met her when she came to this country to take up the reins at VF;  we had lunch at the Algonquin. I suppose I was still writing for Manhattan Inc. I never did much for her: a piece about Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money, and two long pieces, never published: about Heywood Hill’s bookshop in London for The New Yorker, and about the Chanel-Metropolitan Museum dustup for Talk. Do I recommend her diaries? I certainly do! Tina has her blind spots: the higher arts don’t interest her much; she’s more interested in writers than writing, but all in all she says what’s on her mind, is confessional when honesty and occasion demand, is a concerned, loving, loyal and supportive wife and mother. All good. And she was lucky to have had one Wayne Lawson on staff, an editor so good and influential that I once asked, meanly, in The New York Observer, why when Wayne Lawson published articles and novels, he unaccountably used the pseudonym “Dominick Dunne.” 

I have to say that Fate seems pretty mischievous to have arranged the publication of Vanity Fair Diaries to coincide with the passing of Liz Smith, another towering figure in the landscape of New York dish. Tina is all of a piece, take it or leave it. Liz Smith was a lovely person, and I liked her as a friend for as long as it went and as far as it went, but the demarcation between her personal qualities and what she did professionally and how she went about it (what Joseph Epstein, in his marvelous Weekly Standard evisceration of Leon Wieseltier – who fooled Tina, but only once, it seems – calls tuchus-leching) ultimately came between us. All in all Tina’s diaries confirm the truth of my father’s description of “the upper crust”: a bunch of crumbs held together by dough. 

I’ve always foundDuncan’s re mark early in Macbeth – “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face-to be somewhat ambiguous. Now this:


So the Leonardo sold for $450 million. What we’re seeing is what might be called “the attitudinal value” of money: amounts unthinkable even ten years ago are expended to buy stuff. $450 million is huge to those of us who aren’t wealthy or who are old enough to remember when the entire market capitalization of IBM may have been less than that. But if you’re a Saudi prince, or a Nigerian minister, or own a business with a billion or more online (and thus monetizable) customers, what’s $450 million to you?  

Like liquid spilling out of a cup, greed suddenly seems out of control, whether it’s Jerry Jones vs. the NFL, Wilbur Ross vs truth, the distentions on the tax bill, $450 big ones for the Leonardo (sic). Basic elements of common sense and (sometimes morality) are supposed to act like gimbals to keep even the piggiest sensibilities in some kind of balance. These appear to have failed.  

Interesting. If you reckon this picture will draw a million incremental visitors a year minimum, which is should, a smart buy:


I eschew social media, generally speaking. I quit Twitter and Social Media a year ago: too stupid and distracting. But I continue to look at Instagram for family pictures and images posted by art world eminences I respect. One of these, ex-Met Director Thomas Campbell, who in my opinion got a raw deal, at least way his departure was handled, noted that $450 million paid for the Leonardo made Diane Modestini, who restored the painting, the most expensive living artist. That made me chuckle: I said exactly the same thing in an email I sent a week ago to a leading dealer.   

Speaking of the Leonardo, let’s do some numbers, as they say on NPR. The picture will now be known primarily for the staggering amount paid for it at auction. I predict that it will join the Mona Lisa on every selfie-taking idiot’s bucket list. Assume then that, as current gossip has it, the picture was bought by Chicago hedge-funder Ken Griffin (who earlier paid David Geffen $300 million for a de Kooning and a Pollock) and will hang in the Art Institute of Chicago. It should bring in – I’m guessing – up to 2 million incremental visitors to Chicago (an exhibition of Kusama, a living artist with a touristic “Ooh, Ah – Must See!” shtick, doubled the attendance at the Hirshhorn in Washington) and that should do the Art Institute very nicely. When the Mona Lisa came to the Met in 1963 – 1963!!!! – over one million people thronged the museum specifically to see the painting. Extrapolate that figure forward 54 years, and consider that NYC draws 60 million tourists a year, and that the Met does 7 million visitors, and what hates to think what Fifth Avenue might look like if La Joconde showed up today. Here’s an amusing account of the 1963 pandemonium:


Having bemoaned the share of GDP that represents the manufacture/production/dissemination of distraction, I was interested to read this:

This way to the vomitorium, ladies and gentlemen (check the prices):

This is just so good, it’s required Reading:

This strikes me as a good, quick and accurate way to describe a kind of mindset that’s running free nowadays: “…abstract,fact-free, globalist leftism…” from a letter to London Review of Books (10/19/2017).  


Ross Douthat has another good column in NYT today about whether Clinton should have resigned after Lewinsky or, failing that, been impeached. He comes out where I did when the Lewinsky business surface. I wrote in “The Midas Watch” in NYO that I assumed Clinton would do the right and proper thing and resign and that Gore would take over and the Great Republic would be steered back on course. I was horribly wrong in assuming that “the right thing,” as either phrase or concept, is to be found in the Clinton moral lexicon. 

























Tonight we’re going to see “Junk,” a new play about the 1980s junk-bond-fueled takeover game. I’ve written an essay about that for a special Lincoln Center handout. Hope the play works better onstage than it does on paper.

Nobody does this sort of thing better than Michael Lewis:


“Junk” at Lincoln Center is one of those theatrical offerings in which a flashy set, actors constantly in motion while declaiming bromides at the top of their voices, stock characters (some a clef) and general busyness are supposed to distract today’s audiences from a lack of substance or insight. “Claptrap to catch the groundlings” as ’twas said in Shakespeare’s time. Of course, today’s groundlings trade derivatives and wear $5000 suits. Still…don’t waste your money or your time. One nice note: at the conclusion of a rather tepid review of “Junk,” The Daily Beast’s critic remarks: One bright side: What Junk does inspire is a thorough treat of an edition of the Lincoln Center Theater Review, whose Fall 2017 issue, edited by Alexis Gargagliano, features an excellent selection of features themed around elements of the play by Michael Thomas, Malcolm Gladwell, Dana Gioia, and a brilliant interview, by John Guare, of an anonymous billionaire who worked with Milken.”

Here are some numbers that recently caught my eye: AMZN for the last nine months: Revenues of $43.7 billion, operating profit $347 million. Now – for the last full year – the results for Alibaba, China’s equivalent to Amazon: Revenues: $23 billion, operating profit: $6 billion! What creates those gasp-inducing differences in margins, with Alibaba bringing down 4 times the profits on 1/2 the volume? Labor costs? Markups? Other efficiencies unique to China? 

And now for people who really know how to sell out: “I write this as a still-registered Democrat myself — though I consider myself their enemy now, yet hardly a Trump partisan. Are there any like me out there who would like to see both parties tossed onto the garbage barge of history? Of course, to say that also means throwing out a cargo of terrible ideas and beliefs, not just two clown cars of personalities. Identity politics, zero interest rate policy, American Exceptionalism, endless debt, nation-building in foreign lands, FASB-157, sanctuary cities, Title IX coercion, racketeering in health care and higher ed, market interventions, ambiguous borders… is just some of the cargo that needs to be dumped overboard with both parties.”

Sooner of later, real, true idiots trip over their feet, even if they’re in their mouths:

I am a lifetime sports fan. I’ve rooted hard, even owned pieces of teams (LA Rams) and athletes (boxers Frank Narvaez and Pedro Agosto). I love the knowledge stuff, going back to the 1946 Baseball Guide with Cubs’ pitcher Claude Passeau on the cover. When I had a few extra nickels, they went into machines in candy and stationery stores that dispensed sepia-colored postcards of the stars of the day (like Yankees’ first basemen Nick Etten, who in 1947 signed a contract for $15,015, whereupon the immortal sportswriter Red Smith observed “The fifteen bucks is for fielding.” ) I loved this World Series, love the great characterful young players, love stories like that of Astros’ MVP George Springer (a product of Avon Old Farms prep school, which has also provided the NHL, if memory serves, with one of its top goal-tenders.) But I am sick at heart about what’s happening in football with all the injuries: these guys are simply too big, too fast, too overtrained and too “overgymed” (too much strength-training), and – ironically – almost too athleticto play this kind of a game. According to Spectator, the same thing is happening in first-class rugby. Some better answer must be found. Perhaps eliminate that day when draft prospects are subjected to higher, faster, stronger. And crazier. Back when I owned a minute fraction of the Rams, we had the best defense in the NFL – “the Fearsome Foursome”: Lamar Lundy, Roosevelt Grier, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones – and I doubt those guys spent 10 minutes aggregate in the weight room – and they seldom missed a down.  All this weight-training compresses and tightens muscles; eliminates “give” and flexibility. The players get bigger and faster, but their musculatire gets tighter. Fewer weights, more Pilates, more dance class. That may be the answer. 

As you ponder today’s market, ponder this:


I’m including this for no other reason than that I found it fascinating and entertaining:

It strikes me that Robert E. Lee was, so to speak, the Confederacy’s Rommel: a noble warrior in a detestable cause. 

Good stuff here (via LitHub):

Nicely mixed feelings about this:

No comment needed.


And on and on it goes. Blister the poor! (this from Politico Real Estate): 

TAX TALKS — Republican tax plan would decimate affordable housing in New York, advocates and city officials warn, by POLITICO New York’s Sally Goldenberg: A Republican-backed proposal to repeal tax-exempt bonds would decimate affordable housing in New York, according to a group of advocates who are mobilizing to block the plan. The GOP tax reform plan, released Thursday, would cost New York $4.5 billion in financing to provide housing for low- and moderate-income tenants, the New York Housing Conference said in a release Friday afternoon. The loss totals 17,128 homes, the advocacy group said. … “The reality is that housing, not taxes, is the number one expense for American families and that is true whether you are in New York City or Des Moines, Iowa,” Eric Enderlin, president of the city’s Housing Development Corporation, said in an email. “The proposal to eliminate private activity bonds would mean the loss of funding to build thousands of affordable homes for low and middle income New Yorkers. We are confident our partners across the country, and across partisan lines, will fight tooth and nail to protect this critical resource.” 

— “With GOP Tax Proposal, Real Estate Big Shots Have Much to Examine,” by Commercial Observer’s Matt Grossman: “In a clear-cut boon to the real estate industry, the Republican plan proposes a special 25 percent tax rate on pass-through businesses, which include partnerships, S-corps and limited-liability corporations. Today, proceeds from these entities are treated as regular income on their owners’ personal taxes, potentially taxed up to the highest bracket’s rate of nearly 40 percent. Closely held real estate development companies—like President Donald Trump’s own family entities—make up one of the sectors that take advantage of these structures most prolifically.”

— Tax plan would cut affordable housing supply by 60 percent, by POLITICO’s Lorraine Woellert: “Builders, local governments and other housing advocates are rallying against a provision of the House Republican tax plan that would eliminate a key funding source for affordable rentals. The tax proposal would do away with private activity bonds, a growing source of financing for low-cost housing. The cuts would reduce the supply of new affordable rentals by more than 85,000 units a year, or more than 60 percent, according to an analysis from Novogradac and Co. Private activity bonds are issued by local or state governments and are designed to attract private capital to fund large projects. They have evolved into a common financing mechanism for housing as the supply of low-income housing tax credits — the primary source of financing — has been outpaced by the need for low-cost rentals.”

Lede from Politico Morning Media: “EVEN THE NATION’S MEDIA CAPITAL HAS A LOCAL NEWS PROBLEM”, Did anyone notice that last Friday’s NYT account of the Jets’ victory over the Bills was from The Associated Press. When the newspaper of record doesn’t assign a beat reporter to one of the two local NFL teams….

This is why knee-jerk anti-Trumpism is as pointless as knee-jerk pro-Trumpism:


Ah – my man!

Although I’ve always found him genial enough – at least until he popped up in Trump’s pocket – I always wondered how Wilbur Ross, whom I met forty years ago when he was working at Rothschild with Sidney Gruson, could have made the amount of money attributed to him. Well, it now appears, he didn’t. Take this choice nugget from a new Forbes article and go from there: So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities. And based on our interviews with ten former employees at Ross’ private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line, his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits. Additionally, according to six U.S. senators, Ross failed to initially mention 19 suits in response to a questionnaire during his confirmation process.” Sounds to me like bye-bye Wilbur, because I doubt the Liar-in-Chief in the White House can tolerate a colleague whose prevarications add up to a sum in a league with Dickhead’s own. Here’s the link:

No comment needed:

In a NYT Op-Ed today, Michelle Goldberg incorporates an observation by Hannah Arendt that deserved to be printed in boldface. It’s about – as Goldberg puts it – “the role played in undermining liberalism in pre-totalitarian societies.” Here’s Arendt: “The temporary alliance between the elite and the mob rested largely on this genuine delight with which the former watched the latter destroy respectability.”   Just think about that in the context of Dickhead’s White House antics. 

I should add that David Brooks today has what strikes me as a brilliant column on the social visions underpinning the power politics of tax reform. Here’s how he puts it: “…Republicans think the whole country would be better off if we take money away from the Democrats’ rich people and give it to their own…rich people.”  The Dems naturally want it to be the other way round.

Another arrow in the quiver of my pet subject:

Nothing more satisfying than when someone else completes a difficult and unpleasant task I’ve contemplated doing myself in the interest of research:     Here’s the Money quote: “The network flatters its viewers’ sense of moral superiority while validating all of their latent resentments, cultivating in them a constant state of righteous rage that can be easily exploited by wealthy demagogues.”

No comment needed


Everyone should see this, but if some haven’t:      These statistics should be shoved up Dickhead’s ass, assuming that the shover can differentiate between POTUS’s mouth and his butthole.

Here’s the problem. Reverse Greedheadism. People with all the wealth, advantages and influence hungrier for “More” than Oliver Twist. Now obviously I don’t think the HRHs sit around with maps of the Caribbean trying to figure out where they can get the better punch for the pound (like that, do you?), but even if it’s an HRH tuppence ha’penny that’s being parked or laundered it’s too much.


Interesting. Dickhead tweeted right through the day yesterday. Today: nothing so far on that invaluable site: Maybe losing, as in VA and NJ, and seeing the carapace of pathological self-regard in which he dwells pierced by reality, is all that will shut this lying idiot up. 

Time to revisit this         Here’s the money quote: “However, it should be granted one unqualified plaudit at the outset: Miranda’s play is one of the most brilliant propaganda pieces in theatrical history.” 

Plays itself:

“‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” – Henry VI, Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73. I have a feeling that were Shakespeare rewriting his play today, the line would read, “The first thing we do, let’s kill everyone in real estate!”

I can’t die soon enough!

Here’s Dickhead’s sole TOR (Tweet of Record) for today: Nov 8, 2017 01:17:41 PM – Congratulations to all of the ”DEPLORABLES” and the millions of people who gave us a MASSIVE (304-227) Electoral College landslide victory!”   Losing it, are we?


I must say, nothing surprises me. But isn’t TR an example of a sitting President doing some trust-busting of his own? I don’t like the AT&T-Time Warner deal myself – simply because I think there’s too much concentration in American business as it is.

We ought to start teaching this in high schools: like issuing high-priced convertible debt to buy back stock.

Good stuff:  Makes the point that Dickhead, like all cowards and draft-dodgers, worships the military.

This REALLY bears thinking about. From the outset, I’ve regarded the efforts of Cuomo and De Blasio to bring AMZN HQ2 to Brooklyn as basically setting the table for the real-estate developers who’ve grossly overbuilt this borough: 

Taibbi: simply the best!





























Been wondering when this harassment penny was going to drop (from Politico):

Makes sense to me, but not a chance in hell of being implemented:

I find this an amazing story. Is nothing free from corruption?

Catching up on “60 Minutes this past Sunday, I watched their report (joint with The Washington Post) about the opioid epidemic and the successful lobbying by Big Pharma Etc to get legislation that blocked an effort to put stronger DEA enforcement in place. I found it pretty convincing. Today The Wall Street Journal  offers an editorial rebuttal that is also pretty convincing, exonerating the Congresspersons that “60 Minutes” painted as tools of Big Pharma Etc.  Of course, one has to take into account which side of the aisle WSJ speaks from, who its owner is, and the ideological predispositions of its editor. Still…anyway here’s an excerpt from WSJ that gives the essence of its  case (WSJ operates behind a paywall, so this is cut-and-paste): 

The media narrative now is that the pharmaceuticals lobby spent big to hoodwink Congress to pass a bill Members didn’t understand. The reality is that the trade group the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, took no position on the bill. That’s no surprise given that enforcement actions tend to hit distributors, not manufacturers.

To understand what’s going on here, zero in on former DEA official Joe Rannazzisi, the star source for “60 Minutes” and the Washington Post. Mr. Rannazzisi, the story notes, now consults for lawyers suing the opioid industry. Where there is pain and suffering, there are trial lawyers looking to make a buck. And the plaintiffs bar is using state lawsuits to turn opioids into the next tobacco. “Opioids: The Next Tobacco?” ran a trial lawyer seminar in Washington last month, as the American Tort Reform Association has noted.

All of this matters because Congress may soon try to whoop through a repeal bill, and Democrats fresh off scuttling Mr. Marino will now indict every GOP Member of Congress as a drug dealer. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who is running for the Senate, co-sponsored a version of the bill and has since walked back her support, which is unfortunate. If anything, Congress ought to do more to restrict DEA actions that can blow up the supply chain and interfere with medical decision-making outside its jurisdiction.

More broadly, note the cynicism of accusing one Republican of deepening a social crisis that had claimed tens of thousands of lives before Congress thought up this bill. The horrors of opioid addiction come from many dysfunctions, including too many prescriptions; a decline in work; heroin and fentanyl; easy access from Medicaid; and others. The story that a Member of Congress led a bipartisan conspiracy to worsen drug addiction is as false as it is implausible.

This figures. Like many another second-rate son of a well-regarded father, Treas. Sec. Mnuchin learned in the cradle that the best way to get recognized is to kiss the ass of the big guy in the room. Add this to the mix:

Caveat emptor!

Mike Pence for President When-or-If:

Where’s the guy with the funny little mustache?



Skipped a couple of days. Playing a bit of catchup while waiting for Yale-Columbia to start on SNY.

Good stuff here. When Bull Clinton was elected, I noted in NYO  for people to be alert – as Little Rock was the US equivalent to Palermo.

Hard to do in a place (like NYC) where the mayor is the lying tool of developers. It may not in the end amount to much of a difference, but at least Michael Bloomberg made clear his intentions, and wasn’t in the pocket of the realty lobby:



From my pal Alexander.

Hard to disagree

Sounds like a “must read”:



Start here and give a listen:


Over the past couple of days, I’ve been pondering what to me seems the great political-economic story of the last half of my lifethe unrelenting merciless war on the poor: it’s been conducted without cease by the people with power and wealth, people like the Kochs, the Mercers, the Silicon Valley gang of four, and their minions in government, media and theory-peddling, against the penniless and powerless. It disgraces this country and must ultimately be the end of us – and yet the media steadfastly refuse to call it what it is: open warfare. 

Lots of Luck. Stiglitz, of course (and as usual) is right on the money, but considering the way the well has been poisoned, ain’t gonna happen. And to think that when I was at Exeter, we read Yankee From Olympus,  Catherine Drinker Bowen’s life of Justice Holmes, in which the great jurist’s antitrust opinions were pointed to as being of the essence of American democracy.

OK: here’s my question. The properties were bought with money from overseas accounts. Then mortgaged, so: dirty money in, laundered money out. But how did all that dirty money enter the US financial system in the first place? Offsetting deposits?

Everything pales beside this dreadful tragic business on West St.!



A view of Tina Brown it’s hard to disagree with:

In case this was missed the first time around:

And now – this: