The Wall Street Journal’s “Dr” Diss; Melania’s Refusal to Have her to Tea…

… “These are heavy misfortunes,” as Elizabeth Bennett says to Lady Catherine de Bourgh; yet we are all pulling for Jill Biden, and hoping she can come out in one piece on the other side.

Hans Christian…

… uh …

Sing it:

Two and two are four
Four and four are eight
Eight and eight are sixteen
Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two

Footworm, Footworm,
Measuring the discostick
You and your excalibur
You’ll probably go far

Footworm, footworm
Rolling out the middle leg
Seems to me you’d stop and see
How elongate you are

UD, a ‘thesdan hayseed, talks New York.

Although UD grew up right down the Amtrak corridor from New York City, she seldom traveled there; even as an adult, she’s visited shockingly few times. UD has spent more time in Ubud, Bali, than in NYC. Yet she notices that she has, over the years, developed a curious sort of home wisdom about one of the most prominent subcultures there.

These rough and ready truths of hers are not, of course, based on nothing; like many literate people, UD has been reading about that city and its inhabitants all her life; and from what she has gleaned, she has derived some modestly explanatory takes on some of its more notorious denizens.

Most broadly, she finds that firmly situating Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Cohen, Charles Kushner, Marc Kasowitz, and many other Trumpish madmen — but especially Donald Trump himself — in New York City helps us understand them. It’s helpful to see them as emerging out of a particular ecosystem in which their behavior is perfectly normal.

On a lower yet still fascinating level, firmly situating two recent high-profile identity-fakers (Jessica Krug and Hilaria Baldwin) in NYC also helps us understand them.

Let me start with the lunatic White House.

New York City, let us say, rears, attracts, and encourages hyperdriven hypercompetitive crazies who just go all the way. Their nature is to charge into everything – money deals, marriages, parenthood, politics – with supermanic frenzy and without a thought – without one thought, I tell you – for the morrow. Bankruptcy? Divorce? Jail? Fuck it. Trump ran headlong into a ridiculous quest for the presidency and look what happened! NYC people simply keep breaking through – that’s the thing. They don’t think of life as a series of steps which will if you’re not careful eventuate in bad outcomes which will pain you and those you love and condemn you to hell or whatever — they don’t think like normal people. The Big Mo on steroids – that’s their thing. Competitive capitalism unbound. Competitive everything unbound. No shame, no fear, no brakes.

Did you see either of the films based on Madoff? In both films, if I recall correctly, someone at some point looks at him and says something like Why did you do it and why didn’t you stop? The why did you do it part has no NYC resonance; the not stopping part – not stopping until THE ENTIRE WORLD ECONOMY TANKED AND HE COULD NO LONGER PAY OUT REDEMPTIONS – is echt Trumpy NYC. If you’re a Trumpy New Yorker, only some form of global collapse will stop you. Recall that up to the moment of his arrest Madoff was a singularly respected, highly placed, and well-connected New Yorker. A pious New Yorker – Yeshiva University’s treasurer!

Hell, Trump’s the president. And in case you haven’t noticed, he’s not planning to stop being president. Susan Glasser writes:

… Trump has remained … obnoxiously unrepentant. … He does not want to let go, to cede the spotlight, to renounce his outsized claim on our collective consciousness….

And you know that at no point in the real Madoff story did anyone ask him why he didn’t stop – that line was edited in for hayseeds outside NYC like UD, cuz otherwise the film would make no sense in any moral world she and her like can imagine. No one around Madoff ever stopped doing anything lucrative or personally advantageous, no matter how sordid, and Madoff would never have stopped either.

Once Trumps and Madoffs are truly a spent force, once they decide it’s safe to slow down and decamp with their winnings (even spitfires get old and lose their fire), they make a purely lateral cultural move – to their house in Florida.


People look at Donald Trump as a singular, ab nihilo dude; they can’t fathom his past behavior and they certainly can’t fathom his present. But he and Giuliani are behaving exactly the way people pickled in their brine always behave: Advance, Advance, Advance and the world can fuck itself.

Central to NYC-style heedless advancement is lying. You misrepresent yourself; you misrepresent your financial worth; you misrepresent the value of anything you have to offer. And of course you lie about other people; you make up obviously jackshit stories about Obama being born in Kenya and George Soros controlling Congress and Joe Biden stealing a presidential election. Advance, advance, advance, lie, lie, lie. In your NYC world everyone’s obscenely on the make and everyone lies. Lie it forward. No lie is too edgy, absurd, out there, shameless. Bigger the better. Keep going. Seems to work fine in DC too.


Look at Harold Brodkey’s take on this slice of NYC culture. His perspective is that of an artist, not a crazed capitalist, but he evokes the same Trumpian world, one part mania, one part lying:

I was always crazy about New York, dependent on it, scared of it – well, it is dangerous – but beyond that there was the pressure of being young and of not yet having done work you really liked, trademark work, breakthrough work. The trouble with the city’s invitation was that you were aware you might not be able to manage: you might drown, you might fall off the train, whatever metaphor you preferred, before you did anything interesting. You would have wasted your life. One worked hard or not at all, and tried to withstand the constant demolishing judgement. One watched people scavenge for phrases in other people’s talk – that hunt for ideas which is, sometimes, like picking up dead birds. One witnessed the reverse of glamour – that everyone is jealous.

It is not a joke, the great clang of New York. It is the sound of brassy people at the party, at all the parties, pimping and doing favors and threatening and making gassy public statements and being modest and blackmailing and having dinner and going on later. (Renata Adler used to say you could get anyone to be disliked in New York merely by praising that person to someone nervous and competitive.) Literary talk in New York often announced itself as the best talk in America. People would say, “Harold, you are hearing the best in America tonight.” It would be a cut-throat monologue, disposable wit in passing, practiced with a certain carelessness in regard to honesty. But then truth was not the issue, as it almost never is in New York.

New York City is also where we find the highest-profile imposters – people who, like fictive Manhattanite Jay Gatsby, lie all the way down to their corpuscles. Jessica Krug: White, Jewish, affluent; Gatsbyized black, hispanic, poor. Hilaria Baldwin: Offspring of people whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower; Gatsbyized a Spaniard with a strong accent and a shaky grasp of the English language.

Plenty of distinctions to be made amid all of this, I know. Hilaria (real name Hillary) ain’t much of a story. One… theatricalizes, mythologizes, oneself to be more interesting in the big city crowd. To stand out in hypercompetitive NYC. Baldwin is a strange woman, given to exhibitionism and self-praise, but who cares? Kim Kardashian for the west coast, and, for the sophisticated east, NYU-educated Hilaria Baldwin (though Kim comes by her exotic Armenianness honestly).

Krug’s far more insidious NYC tale carries ugly social implications having to do with the ideological corruption of universities and other institutions.

But both women share with the mad Trumpian lads that NYC thing: fake it til you fake it. Fake it more. Nothing exceeds like excess.

Sensible, Thoughtful Take on the Joseph Epstein Shitstorm from…

Graeme Wood. Excerpts:

‘Do people with doctoral degrees have the right to call themselves “Dr.”? If they have the right, does exercising that right make sense, in all situations? If Epstein had wanted to investigate these questions, he could have done so without sprouting new feet like a centipede, finding ways to step in rhetorical dog turds in every paragraph…

What mystifies me is Epstein’s desire to police the use of the title, when he could instead just use it as requested, like a normal person, and contain his disrespect…

In a university environment, insisting on it might be pompous; in an environment where such titles are rare—such as before the name of the soon-to-be first lady of the United States—they make more sense…

If Jill Biden wants to flaunt her Ed.D., who is Joseph Epstein to object? Those letters mean only what they mean. They certainly aren’t more embarrassing than other titles that people use in perpetuity. Ambassadors, I find, tend to call themselves “Ambassador” forever, even if they bought their sole ambassadorship by bundling political donations in Long Island…’


Wood actually tries to go there, to the arcane competitive arena of title-tossing… I’ve covered the European mania for dottore on this blog…

I’ve never thought much about – or blogged about – my own titlephobia, but for what’s it’s worth:

Les UDs share a refusal to call themselves anything other than first name last name. On our syllabi we are first name last name. On academic correspondence the same. On everything the same. We have available to us, and have certainly seen lots of other people use, Dr. and PhD. For ourselves the idea of using these is embarrassing. We wouldn’t think of doing it. Except in one context.

When we are sending each other, or sending friends, particularly immature and hilarious emails, we sign ourselves with … I don’t know – MA, PhD (Mr UD has two MAs), Doctor Margaret Soltan, MA, PhD, and maybe I’ll add something extra like OBE…

But see we can afford to joke and, as Wood notes, find these things pompous, because we move in an environment where such things are common and we’re a little cynical about them because as with all titles (see Graeme on “ambassador”) some are powerfully earned and meaningful and some are not and the better part of valor is just to avoid them. Plus we were both raised in families full of advanced degrees so we fail to see the shimmer and the glimmer of them. Is this reverse snobbery? I dunno. As I say, this is pretty much the first time I’ve thought about this.


Actually, to be really really unwisely disclosing, I think for me it’s about as far from reverse or any other kind of snobbery as one can imagine. Like you, I live in my head, and in my head I’m a jerk. In my head I barely made it out of high school and am, au fond, an absurdity. When I read Humbert Humbert’s description of his first wife – “that figure of fun, Mme Humbert” – I pause at figure of fun and feel powerful identification. I just never made it into the adult world, where you take yourself seriously and where there’s a correspondence between the interior of your head and things like titles designating mature accomplishments. My problem, not yours, Dr Biden.

Headline of the Day

Hungarian Lawmaker Resigns after Caught Fleeing a ‘Sex Party’ by Climbing Down a Drainpipe

There’ll Always Be A ‘Bama.

“Our government wasn’t set up for one group to have all three branches of government — wasn’t set up that way,” [Senator-Elect Tommy] Tuberville said. “You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive.”

“[A] guy can run for president of the United States and have an opportunity to win when he leans more to a Socialist type of government, you know, one-payer system in health care, raise taxes 20%, when the other half the country is basically voting for freedom, let us control our own lives, stay out of our life. And that’s concerning to me that we’re to the point now where we’ve got almost half the country voting for something that this country wasn’t built on. Very concerning and, you know, as I tell people, my dad fought 76 years ago in Europe to free Europe of Socialism. Today, you look at this election, we have half this country that made some kind of movement, now they might not believe in it 100 percent, but they made some kind of movement toward socialism. So we’re fighting it right here on our own soil.”

“I remember in 2000 Al Gore was president, United States, president elect, for 30 days – 30 days – and after 30 days, it got to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court says, no, George Bush is going to be the president.”


Tommy Boy: Start here.

The Sausage King, in the Sauna, With a Crossbow

Russian Clue.

Driving While Idahoan

Take a gander. And she’s the lieutenant governor.

Now what worries me about Janice is not that she’s ’bout as close to a card-carrying fascist as I reckon you can get. You get to be what you want to be in this country. Go for it, babe.

UD‘s concerned about driver safety out there. What is the lieutenant governor modeling in this picture? She’s got a huge
American flag obscuring one of her van windows. Looks like she’s doing hands-free driving, what with her right hand holding a gun and her left holding a Bible.

Is she wearing a seat belt? I’m gonna bet Janice considers seat belts, like masks during a pandemic, or the concept of protected federal land, an abomination straight outta hell. So YEEHAH here’s Janice bombin down I 86 to Pocatello juggling guns, Bibles, and flags and lord knows what else (Confederate flag, blood drop cross, apple pie…), and I’m thinking she’s just askin’ for a taskin’.

“I’ve got four.” – Pence

Sing the beloved children’s song with UD:

Pence has four aides

Sickly, sickly four aides

Pence has four aides

With covid in their life

“I’ve got two aides – who cares?

Plus two aides – they’re spares

And maybe I’ll give it to my wife

Poor wife

No cares have I to grieve me

No naughty little Fauci to deceive me

I’m happy as a lark believe me

As we go trolling trolling votes

Trolling votes

Trolling votes

Without quarantining at all

All all all!

Happy as the day when

Pandemics go away

As we go trolling trolling votes.”

Giuliani issues an updated statement:



The Best Is Yet to COME!

The Kimberly Guilfoyle Sexual Harassment Allegations Get Even Darker

Hold onto your hat.

How to be a Hacker

Just hours before the president tested positive for Covid-19, he was shaking hands and posing for photos with wealthy supporters at his New Jersey golf club. Fifty thousand got you in the door; $250,000 bought you a seat at a private roundtable and, now, a likely two-week quarantine after direct exposure to a virus that has so far killed more than 200,000 people in this country.

Dershcam: The Latest

UD‘s developing a crush on Elizabeth Dye, a writer for Above the Law. You should read her full piece on Dersh’s latest lawsuit; here are some highlights.

Alan Dershowitz is suing CNN for $300 million because the network defamatorily failed to quote a full paragraph of his arglebargling about Donald Trump’s impeachment, giving viewers the entirely false impression that the famed lawyer has lost his damn mind…

Were you under the impression that Dersh might have ruined his own reputation by going on Laura Ingraham’s show to shout about his “perfect, perfect sex life” …?

Or maybe your esteem started flagging at the quixotic attempt to quiet doubters by proving that he never not ever had sex with underage girls when he was hanging out with Jeffrey Epstein, an effort Dersh has bolstered by protracted litigation and public efforts to Zapruder the flight logs to show that he only went to Epstein’s sex island in the company of his wife.

… Might Americans have decided the famed constitutional scholar had lost a step when he took to the airways to assure Americans that he only got one massage at Jeffrey Epstein’s house, from an “old Russian woman,” and he kept his underwear on the whole time? Or when he threatened to sue CBS because a fictional character made a joke about it?


Und so so so so so so weiter. Put DERSHOWITZ in my search engine for much more madness.

UD‘s explanation for the 82 year old Dershowitz’s behavior? It is part of his personal longevity routine. Not Blue Zone, but Sue Zone: As long as he’s bitterly embroiled in litigation with everyone in the world, his heart pumps lustily; he lives to sue another day. It’s the Jarndyce v. Jarndyce anti-jaundice treatment. And you gotta admit: It’s working.

The Paranoid Style in American…



Source material.

And I Am Telling You I’m …

Not Going.


Ha. Cost you ten mill plus to get me hence.

And I’ve left behind the gift that keeps on giving: Your reputation is in tatters.

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