We’re cutting off the entire nested dolls industry!

‘[T]he Kremlin threatened retaliation … for the “economic war” it accused the U.S. of waging.

Russia’s Secret Weapon: The Yacht Armada

The Kremlin spent the last 20 years trying to modernize its military. Much of that budget was stolen and spent on mega-yachts in Cyprus.

‘He got rid of two jets and placed his 280-foot superyacht on the market for $106 million. Princeton University, to which Mr. Perelman had pledged $65 million to go toward construction of a new residential college, announced in 2021 that the building would no longer be named in his honor when he failed to meet the original payment schedule.’

Our friends and neighbors in DC sometimes ask us why we don’t subscribe to the Washington Post — why we subscribe instead to the New York Times.

In part it’s about the incomparable Sunday NYT crossword puzzle.

But for both Les UDs, it’s also because there’s only one newspaper where paragraphs like the one in this post’s title – a single paragraph from a long article which sensitively and minutely explores a tragic chapter in the life of a high-profile New Yorker – are routine.

‘The court ordered Abraham to forfeit to the United States: a 2020 Acura NSX, a 2020 Porsche GT4, a 2021 Toyota Supra, a 2020 Chevrolet Corvette, a 2020 Aston Martin, a 2020 Nissan 370Z, a 2020 Chevrolet Camaro, two 2020 Ford Mustangs, $190,496.56 paid toward a 2021 Aston Martin, and $249,598.52 in cash.’

The tragic toll of a life of crime.

Reliably Scummy University of Miami Does it Again.

The med school and sports program have, over many years, been the main source of scumminess at that benighted institution (go here), but now international relations has gotten into the game, with the last chair of the department (he has, uh, retired) just convicted of money laundering. His Venezuelan BFFs steal international funds meant for the poor and hide them in Swiss banks and Professor Bagley got his share of the goodies which having been caught in the act by a government agent Bagley’s way sorry and fuck it hasn’t he suffered enough?

Bagley’s defense attorney, Peter Quijano, said the former professor [shouldn’t get jail time because he] had already suffered “devastating collateral consequences” as a result of his conviction, the end of his UM career and the death of his wife earlier this year.

Dude was in his seventies when he started killing poor people unable to afford medicine because he stole their money, so his career was going to be over anyway, so let’s forget that devastating consequence. The fact that his wife died because of what he did (of embarrassment? heart attack from shock? He might at least have told her he was doing something that might end in jail time.) is totally on him, and if anything he should get more time for collaterally killing her along with all those Venezuelans.

I mean, UD totally understands that he figured this would be an easy way to score some really significant supplemental retirement funds, a fitting valedictory for a career specializing in international crime, but, you know, he took a risk and he lost. It happens.

The judge sentenced him to jail. Another feather in UM’s cap.

‘It was a common arrangement among ultra-rich buyers, who often don’t take physical possession of their works, instead leaving them in customs-exempt freeports while waiting for them to appreciate.’

And the best part is, no one gets to see the paintings that way. Wouldn’t want them on display or anything.

‘Heinel, a USC senior associate athletic director, [indeed the highest-ranking woman in the USC athletics department,] helped dozens of wealthy parents by admitting rising college freshman as recruited athletes. According to [a Netflix] documentary, Heinel would hold biweekly meetings with members from admissions to provide a list of these students with padded credentials on their resume; in exchange, Singer would pay Heinel a monthly fee of $20,000, a bribe that would inevitably spell [the] end of her career.’

UD’s always shocked to find career criminals in high – sometimes the highest! – positions in American universities. Of course Greek universities, for instance, are overrun with administrator/larcenists; but us guys? L’il us?

Donna Heinel will plead guilty; she has put her bribecile in Long Beach on the market, as her real estate agent explains:

Putting the scandal and its legal ramifications aside, this lovely little Long Beach three-story villa is sure to make quite the splash of its own …

‘[W]hy are people who have more money than anyone can truly enjoy so determined to keep every penny?’

Wealth-tax-wise, it’s certainly a question, and Paul Krugman, rather lamely, tries to answer it (They need to keep their competition with other billionaires going; they are petty insecure egomaniacs).

Hoarding of pointless billions, more generally, is a fascinating behavior. Harvard University – closing in on a $55 billion endowment – still asks UD‘s husband every few weeks to leave it all his worldly goods. Unimaginably rich people grasping self-destructively after money they don’t need is fascinating.

Greed on a much smaller scale we know all about; we couldn’t have classic literature without it. (Start at 1:50.) But refusal to shear off the odd billion from, say, $335 billion, for the common good, is truly puzzling. That is, one can sort of perceive a kind of panic in people like Fanny Dashwood (again, see 1:50); the intimate, familial, cruelty of her grasping, and the comical fact that she literally does fall upon every single stray farthing in her vicinity, sketch a human type, a baleful character, recognizable from our observation of, say, certain children who steal other children’s toys, and throw a tantrum if you try to take any of theirs away, even temporarily…

But words like pathological tend to get rolled out when unconscionably vast sums are hoarded, or trivialized, as in Robert Hughes’ comment about the 2004 sale of a Picasso:

When you have the super-rich paying $104m for an immature Rose Period Picasso – close to the GNP of some Caribbean or African states – something is very rotten. Such gestures do no honour to art: they debase it by making the desire for it pathological. As Picasso’s biographer John Richardson said to a reporter on that night of embarrassment at Sotheby’s, no painting is worth a hundred million dollars.

And that was 2004. We’re up to $450.3 million for a da Vinci. No painting is worth … five hundred million dollars?

*********************

How bout this.

Melanie Klein … saw greed as part of human nature, [and] she traced it back to the death drive. Human beings are unavoidably self-destructive, she argued, and we project that destructiveness onto the outside world in the form of insatiable acquisitiveness, envy, and hate. “At the unconscious level, greed aims primarily at completely scooping out, sucking dry, and devouring the breast,” Klein wrote, describing the primal instincts of infants and psychotics. Though later psychologists have questioned Klein’s all-pervasive belief in the death drive, or Thanatos, many agree with her that there is an existential connection between our mortality and our desperation to acquire good things. Essentially, it’s death that makes people “greedy for life”; we seek to get as much as we can for ourselves before the game is over.

**********************

Some suggested reading. An excerpt from it, taking a position a tad different from Klein’s.

A woman who titled a collection of essays The Virtue of Selfishness, [Ayn] Rand was given to brackish candor. Yet at a time when many people think that the common good is more often imperiled than empowered by unbridled greed, she provides an alternative defense of the acquisitive instinct by appealing to an ethics of gross achievement and a formulation of personal liberty that looks with suspicion and disdain on any talk of civic duty, moral obligation, or even prudential restraint. Her aim was simple: To relieve greed, once and for all, of any moral taint.

“You get charged before you are seen. Not for being seen.”

Emory University’s Decatur Hospital is a “Compassion-Centered Spiritual Health Site” which… great, great. The name’s something of a mouthful, but whoever named it is clearly trying to cram a lot of good stuff in. Could have named it Community Centered Compassion Centered Spiritual Health and Wellness Center or something even longer, so fine.

It’s also a hospital, of course, with an emergency room and all…

But the reality of Emory Decatur’s emergency room is more like the stygian depths than the spiritual heights… By which I mean that, as described in this article, it’s more like hiring a plumber than leaning on the everlasting arms. When you hire a plumber (at least around these parts), you start paying the minute he walks in the door – seventy dollars for the first hour, a little less for after that. Dude could walk around doing nothing and you’d still owe him seventy.

Same thing at compassionate Emory, which explains in the email I quote in this post’s title that hell you could sit in the ER waiting room for seven hours with a head injury and then give up in frustration and you’d STILL get a bill for, let’s see, $688.35.

Rand Central Station

“The last time I was in the Bay Area, I went walking in the marina and saw seven consecutive boats named after characters from Ayn Rand,” [Abigail] Disney said.

Correction of the Day

An earlier version of this article misstated the losses from online card fraud in 2019. It was about $6 billion, not about $6 million.

Can you put an entire university in receivership?

The University of Southern California is colossally corrupt. It’s corrupt almost everywhere: In its athletics program (I’d name names, but there are too many); in its med school (Puliafito; Varma; Tyndall); in its admissions system (Varsity Blues); on its board of trustees (Barrack), and now in its school of social work. (Click on my first link for details on all of these instances.) It has succeeded in attaining Yeshiva University levels of corruption.

You have to pay close attention to understand the massive social work school corruption – here’s a good, detailed description of it – but know that the person allegedly engineering the scheme was the dean of the school, a woman desperately greedy for money after she apparently mismanaged the school to a huge deficit. She and the local politician she bribed in exchange for lucrative contracts are currently under federal indictment.

And here’s the real beauty of it, given USC’s perennial, and, most recently, one billion dollar, problem with sexual harassment: The dean arranged the quick hiring onto her faculty of the politician’s son – even got the entirely unqualified dude a professorship! – although the guy only needed a job because he was about to be charged with sexual harassment at his current job.

The politician is “a graduate of the university, from which he received a doctorate in social ethics,” and yes, you cannot make this shit up.

Update, Czech Election

See this post for background on PM Babis, undone by what came flying out of Pandora’s box. For indeed he has lost an election that was his to win, simply because he seems to be a grasping lying motherfucker.

But God never closes a door without opening a window. Babis’ consolation prize is his $22 million Château Bigdick or Bigaud or something which here’s the entrance and I hear tell it’s got the pool and the palms and everything a bounced Czech might need to make him feel a mite better.

Heartland Values = $360 billion

SOUTH! Dakota! Where the trusts come right behind the gains

Where within the wheat our banks secrete

All your dirty money on the plains!

SOUTH! Dakota! Every night my narco boss and me

Contemplate in awe the way our law

Gives us narco-perpetuity!

We know what we’re doing is banned

Except in this wonderful land!

So when we say… Yeeow! Aye-yip-aye-yo-ee-ay!

We’re only sayin You piece o’ shit South Dakota

South Dakota okay!

UD comments on a couple of the Pandora Papers…

… revelations.

Several members of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including current and former cabinet ministers, “secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth,” the group reported. That could create a political headache for the former cricket star, who campaigned for the South Asian country’s highest office as the head of a reformist party that promised a strong anti-corruption agenda.

By Pakistani standards, this IS anti-corruption.

*************************

Jordan’s monarch, King Abdullah II, used an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands to secretly purchase 14 luxury homes worth $106 million, including a $23 million property in California overlooking a beach, the ICIJ reported, noting the country relies on foreign aid to support its people and house millions of refugees. U.K. attorneys for the king told the ICIJ that he was not required to pay taxes under Jordanian law, has never misused public funds and has “security and privacy reasons to hold property through offshore companies.” 

“If you ever want to see your children alive again, you must purchase fourteen luxury homes worth one hundred million dollars.”

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