‘John Boehner, the Republican former House speaker, issues a stinging denunciation in his new book of Donald J. Trump, saying that the former president “incited that bloody insurrection” by his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that the Republican Party has been taken over by “whack jobs.”’

True, and true.

“There was a Vivian Gornick interview in Bookforum recently in which she was asked about some of the mid-century American writers that were considered great. She said she doesn’t ‘know one young person who reads Roth, or Bellow, or Mailer — not one young woman anyway.'”

And Philip Roth’s biographer responds to his interviewer’s quotation from Gornick in exactly the right way:

I think that says more about Vivian Gornick’s social circle than it does about women collectively.

I mean. Jesus. Let’s keep ’em away from Henry Miller, James Joyce, Hemingway, and Don DeLillo too. Wouldn’t want to expose them to great fiction!

And let’s hope Hadley Freeman’s social circle is a lot larger than Gornick’s.

[E]njoying a novel is not dependent on approving of the deliberately flawed characters, or its similarly imperfect author. There are many things that make a book good – elegant writing, emotional truth, narrative voice – besides its morality.

And of course there are plenty of great novels – Lolita, Notes from Underground, Journey to the End of the Night – whose immorality intrigues us.

Everyone Steals.

There’s a popular children’s book called Everyone Poops; UD has one in mind called Everyone Steals. Seriously, do you know anyone (yourself included) who hasn’t stolen? If I didn’t already know that almost everyone steals, sometimes at a high level, the keeping of this blog over many years has certainly drummed it into me.

And my focus hasn’t even been billionaires (“Whenever people say, “Oh he earned his money himself,” I always say the same thing: “No one earns a billion dollars. People earn $10 an hour; people steal a billion dollars.”), but rather universities and university people. Universities, where you might think rates of simple theft – much less systematic looting – might be less impressive than in corporate, for-profit, settings.

And I mean, for all I know they are. But I also know that alongside academic institutions historically laced with larceny (Yeshiva University; the University of Louisville; several others), there are zillions of institutions — especially those blessed with this nation’s biggest sports programs — thick with thieves. To really see the depth of embezzlement, though, look beyond the wowza money corruption of big-time school sports and consider the sweet li’l Varsity Blues scandal, full of people like the crisply outfitted tennis coach at Georgetown University, who in his pre-carceral days taught the Obama girls how to play. Relentlessly, over many years, with the help of various co-conspirators, he shook down parents desperate to get their dim spawn into Georgetown. Gordon Ernst made millions in this way.

Or like the soccer coach at UCLA who, with a years-long, mob-like persistence identical to the Georgetown tennis coach, charged rich desperadoes $100,000 a pop to sleaze their kids in. He explained to the judge that, you know, he bought a house he couldn’t afford.


Cruz news cycle not over yet.




These are only the best memes.

There are thousands of others.

It’s not often that the workings of amoral, self-protective elites are laid wide open for us.

But in the earlier case of Oxford’s amazing, protracted, attempt to protect/retain Tariq Ramadan, and in the current case of France’s Sciences Po so intently protecting/retaining Olivier Duhamel that the head of the school (who knew all about plausible child rape and incest charges against Duhamel) has just resigned over the scandal, we are afforded a remarkable opportunity to see how elites work, and of course to see why ordinary people hate elites.

[Frédéric Mion] said he was alerted to the allegations in 2018 by a former culture minister, Aurélie Filippetti. He said had no taken action because of the lack of tangible evidence and because Mr. Veil told him it was only rumors.

[Yes, because you can’t have a chat with your buddy about maybe he raped his kid unless you get videotape. Plus a crony told him to ignore it.]

But in a phone interview on Tuesday, Ms. Filippetti said Mr. Mion had called her after the accusations were made public last month in the book and said, “We shouldn’t let anyone think that we knew.”

[Elites lie, and expect others to lie with/for them.]

Ms. Filippetti said the call had “chilled” her.

Back in 2018, she said, she trusted Mr. Mion to “at least” remove Mr. Duhamel from his position at Sciences Po.

“You can’t just sweep everything under the carpet when it comes to something that bad,” Ms. Filippetti said.


Sure you can; sure you can. Duhamel is a big-shot full of fine ideas about compassion and justice; you’re going to dump him because of some no-account fourteen year old kid?

A Passage that Could Have Come Right Out of Nabokov’s Lolita.

Ms. Kouchner’s evocation of summer days at the family property on the Côte d’Azur is powerful in its evocation of a false idyll: tennis, meals, Scrabble, wine, laughter — as well as nude bathing in the swimming-pool, touching under the table and mockery of bourgeois sexual constraints.

How often, in Nabokov’s novel, Humbert Humbert evokes the nauseating contrast between a privileged sunlit world and the clandestine rape of a child by her step-father. Camille Kouchner’s memoir recalls the incestuous assaults on her brother by their step-father, the high-profile political pundit Olivier Duhamel.


Human beings do get up to some crazy shit. Kouchner’s mother was a radical lefty (longtime lover of Castro) whose anxiety about being mistaken for sexually conventional apparently exceeded her anxiety about whether her husband was sexually assaulting her son.

One account of the now-national scandal ends with Kouchner quoting one of her father’s (Bernard Kouchner) favorite sayings:

“Between the strong and the weak, it’s liberty that oppresses and the law that liberates.”

For decades – assuming the charges against him are true – Olivier Duhamel enjoyed the particular freedom of the French elite, protected by powerful friends who knew about the incest and didn’t care. But he also benefited from a larger, stylish, subversive, liberty – often, in actuality, a cruel personal license – long associated with debased versions of revolutionary ideologies. Duhamel’s “liberties” oppressed a helpless child; now, decades later, that child goes to the courts, to liberate himself.


Deep structure of all this? Start with Michel Houellebecq.

‘“If anybody starts threatening the lives of members of Congress on the Democratic side, we’d be the first to eliminate them from committees,” Ms. Pelosi said.’

The House of Representatives has successfully ousted would-be assassin, The QAnon Lady (no one seems to want to lower him or herself to utter her name, so I’ll go along with that), from both of the committees to which this mental and moral defective had been assigned.

The … uh … people in Georgia who elected her to Congress are free, of course, to do that again and again, although without any committee assignments her function in that body will be largely symbolic. She will symbolize the very worst of America.

Or – I mean – I know it gets even worse than The QAnon Lady, but she’s in Congress and all.


Can’t help wondering what this gun-toting madwoman will encounter in terms of, you know, daily social interaction at the Capitol. Republican members will be fine with her – they seem to love her, or at least pity her or something – but Democrats might be hard-pressed to be pleasant. I’m thinking social distancing will be the key, long after covid.

We all know what it’s like, in work settings, to avoid Mr or Ms Mount Vesuvius, the person liable to erupt at any moment from out of the depths of their obscure rage. I think it will be like that – people will be giving The QAnon Lady a very, very wide berth. When she feels in need of human contact, there’s always Mar-A-Lago.

Look on the bright side, QAnon Lady:

Without all that burdensome, time-consuming committee work, you’ll be free to work out in detail how to get close enough to Nancy Pelosi to put a bullet through her brain!

Rep. Tiffany’s Gives Senator Private Plane a Hard Time.

John Kerry deserves all the contempt and ridicule he’s getting for taking a private plane to Iceland to receive an environmental award.

Tone-deaf as ever, he made things much worse by explaining that “people like me” need to fly private planes.

Could my fellow Democrats, just as Biden’s getting started, have stepped in a deeper pile of shit? What a gift to the other side.

But I laughed even harder when Newt Gingrich, who not long ago carried a debt of $500,000 at Tiffany’s, tweeted about his and the missus and their folksy economical ways compared to “Prince” Kerry.

And know what? He defended himself on the Tiffany’s thing by saying he was a private citizen who had done well financially and could spend his money as he liked– exactly what owners of private jets say all the time.

Newt needs to decide whether capitalism, and the personal luxuries it allows, is okay, or whether he’s suddenly a fire-breathing commie.

‘Cancer.’ ‘Trash.’ From left and right, the reviews are …

beginning to come in!

The Perry Expedition

The Pride of Pennsylvania – Rep. Scott Perry – worked his ass off to make Trump King; and if the effort ultimately failed, he gets an A for Effort. I mean, Scott Perry almost made his Federalist Society (tremble when you say that) crony Attorney General! And once he, his crony, and Trump did that, it would have been an easy matter to send a threatening letter from the Justice Dept. to Georgia election officials: We’re gonna investigate your dirty results so you better go ahead and invalidate them.

The plan almost worked; the one thing the plotters overlooked was a Justice Dept. crawling with people who actually believed in the rule of law! The leadership threatened to quit en masse, which would have been a very bad look, even for Trump, who clearly could give a shit about bad looks.


Anyhoo. As the AG of Pennsylvania puts it:

Representative Perry ought to familiarize himself with Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of our Constitution. There must be consequences for this conduct.

UD will admit that this daily flushing out of traitors is quite the show.

The University of Georgia Needs to Disown its Most Notorious Living Graduate.

Rescind her degree; denounce her; make it clear you will have nothing to do with her. The University of Georgia – long designated on this blog The Worst University in America (not all posts at this link are about the University of Georgia; scroll around a bit) – has drawn attention to its worstness again by having spawned this vile nut. Without at least a statement expressing its embarrassment that it allowed itself to be sullied by her, the school will forever be known as the place that awarded a degree to one of the most squalid minds America has ever thrown up.

We have a very dangerously insane president.

Pressure is building from many directions – government, industry – to finally invoke the 25th Amendment. Too bad you can’t use it to bring down every disgusting country-killer in Congress who colluded in the madness. They also bear responsibility for one of the most hideous days in American history.

Joseph Epstein and Palinolatory

I can’t believe Doctorate Discourse has lasted a week. Here’s the deal: WSJ op ed & subsequent attacks are motivated by hatred of Joe Biden, with Jill Biden being used as a surrogate target. They should be dismissed as nasty & sexist, without arguments dignified as serious.

Jeet Heer’s tweet goes to why my Joseph Epstein commentary began with his unabashed praise of Sarah Palin [scroll down] during that election cycle. A hyper-scrupulous aesthete/critic who above all admires the writing of Henry James, Epstein claimed to find Sarah Palin more than intellectually and morally astute enough to assume the presidency.

Heet is correct that Epstein is best seen as a political hack, doing what hacks do — in his praise of Palin, a woman who embodies everything for which he actually has contempt, and in his attack on Jill Biden.

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