… threatens to sue The Lincoln Project.
With Rudolph Giuliani busy “reach[ing] into his legal briefs and whip[ping] out his subpoenas,” Trumps in search of a real tough-guy attorney have returned to the source — Mr. FUCK YOU HOW DARE YOU I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE YOU FUCKING SHIT — Marc Kasowitz to defend their honor. Marc’s late-night threatening demented rant to a stranger who dared to question his ways made all the papers back in 2017; since then, he has maintained his gentle humble disposition.
He brags to friends he makes anywhere from $10 million to $30 million per year. He owns an apartment in a white-glove building on Park Avenue and a mansion in Westchester County. He travels by private jet and, when in New York, is driven around in a black Cadillac SUV. He owns at least two horses, according to a lawsuit Kasowitz once filed against his daughter’s equestrian stable.
From the start, [his firm,] Kasowitz Benson had a hard-drinking culture that its leaders epitomized.
“It’s like a time warp,” said one former employee, citing the firm’s “macho, scotch-drinking, fist-fighting” ethos. Multiple former attorneys said they saw Kasowitz under the influence at the office, an accusation Kasowitz denies.
He’s currently being sued by several ex-colleagues – it looks as though he stiffed them cuz his firm is losing money.
So if, like Ivanka and Jared, you want your honor restored, it’s hard to think of a more honorable guy than our old buddy Marc. Marc follows goodness and mercy all the days of his life, and his righteous indignation on behalf of innocents trampled by the bad boys at The Lincoln Project just sounds so right.
But it might be an uphill legal battle. Recall Lara Trump’s explanation that an angry mob at a Trump rally screaming LOCK HER UP LOCK HER UP about recently imperiled Gretchen Whitmer was simply part of a “fun, light, atmosphere.” Did Jared say No it wasn’t. It was obviously a threatening thing to do, and I hereby disavow it?
Of course he didn’t, because as Lara points out it was clearly all in fun! How could the advertisement in question, which doesn’t even promise to put Jared and his wife in prison, aim to create anything other than a fun, light, atmosphere?
As the president’s current lawyers line up for inspection, UD floods with nostalgia for erstwhile Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz who you have already forgotten existed, damn you, but UD will never forget this man, and she insists you go to this page to recall a time… and what a time…
Amidst the brouhaha surrounding Kasowitz Benson Torres’ representation of Trump, the firm is losing partner Charles Miller, who after 11 years is leaving for the 70-attorney firm Tarter Krinsky & Drogin. Miller, who will be a partner leading Tarter Krinsky’s new securities and financial services litigation group, didn’t address the turmoil at Kasowitz but said he’s looking for “something smaller” with “a little more warmth.”
Kasowitz is out as the president’s lawyer, and has been spotted taking it easy on a Clearwater beach.
… Harvard’s Ben Edelman.
Now that was a man who knew how to handle email exchanges.
Pablo Eisenberg, a hero of this blog (UD has forever shrieked at super-icky moneybags who give their hundreds of millions to Harvard), has died.
(By the way — Harvard’s current endowment woes – it has only just reached 53.2 billion dollars – have energized its alumni network to organize a massive, unprecedented, Save Our School campaign, with outreach via Go Fund Me pages in addition to traditional methods. “Our rainy day fund is down to 10.5 billion,” warns Sam Bankman-Fried, an MIT grad who nonetheless accepted a position as head of Harvard fund-raising because “Harvard is the lifeblood of Cambridge; when it goes, the city itself is imperiled.”)
And as to how to convince people who give their money to Ivy League schools, rather than to the sort of places Eisenberg lists in my headline, to redirect their money… Well, you need to understand the cohort you’re talking about, first of all.
Let’s consider, for example, billionaire investor Marc Wolpow, who gives money to fat cat Wharton. What do we know about Marc?
Here’s our most recent information.
The wealthy head of [a] multi-billion dollar private equity firm is under investigation by Nantucket Police and the state Environmental Police for purposefully untying a 32-foot boat from a slip at Old North Wharf, allowing it to drift out of the Easy Street Basin and into the ferry lane.
The suspect is Marc Wolpow, the co-CEO and co-founder of the The Audax Group, who allegedly found an unknown boat in the slip he uses on Old North Wharf on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 16…
After Wolpow untied it, the boat drifted dangerously past Steamboat Wharf, got pushed northward in the wash of the car ferry the M/V Woods Hole, then collided with the $5 million, 70-foot Viking sportfishing boat “El Jefe” causing damage to that vessel. It eventually ran aground near 22 Easton Street.
Reached by phone this week, Wolpow declined to comment.
Here’s what’s shocking about this story:
1 Just anyone reached Wolpow by phone.
2 Wolpow declined to comment.
Why allow just anyone to get past your protection squad and reach you by phone? That’s nuts.
Even more bizarre is Wolpow’s refusal to say the obvious about his behavior.
Heard of property rights, asshole? [“Asshole” here refers to the person who got through to Wolpow’s phone.] It’s my fucking slip, I own it, and I don’t have to look at some cheap shitty boat some person decided to put in it. Do you think I want Nantucket boat owners to think I have a cheap shitty boat? It’s my right to do whatever I like to cheap shitty boats and I think the fucker who put it in my slip will think twice before he does it again. Oh, and fuck you for calling me.
Getting a person of this sort (Marc Kasowitz, Howard Marks, Vinod Khosla, Noam Gottesman, the Heliport Guys, stop me when you’ve had enough) to give money to what he inevitably is going to consider cheap shitty recipients will be very difficult indeed.
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.
Sarah and Charles Warren said Puliafito wrote them prescriptions for asthma inhalers to soothe lungs raw from smoking marijuana and methamphetamine.
That’s Dr./Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, until recently the much-lauded head of the Keck School of Medicine, and a man whose compassion for his favorite fellow druggies extended to writing them prescriptions for some of the less attractive symptoms of chemical excess.
Carmen Puliafito’s career tells you all you need to know about why there’s a Black Lives Matter movement. Single-handedly Puliafito proves true everything anyone ever said about the breathtaking immunity white criminals may enjoy over long lucrative prestigious careers. I mean, Puliafito continues to represent the University of Southern California to the public.
And why not? I mean, sure, he had to, er, resign his deanship with full honors when one of his mad meth-filled nights turned sour and got anonymously reported to USC’s president (the police knew about it too, but didn’t even write a report); but he remains on the faculty. And the same president who knew all about Puliafito’s criminal mischief a few weeks later enthusiastically hosted his elegant goodbye party:
“Today, we have one of the, not just the area’s, but the nation’s preeminent medical schools and medical enterprises — and, in many ways, thanks to the leadership of Carmen,” [the president] told the crowd.
Carmen himself, in his farewell remarks, really nailed it: “[T]he primary job of dean of a medical school is to bring leaders that will really set the tone of the organization.” And tone-setting starts at the top!
Who cares if Carmen’s penchant for hanging out with crooks for long nights of drug overdoses – sometimes in his offices on campus – was the reason for the goodbye party? Rich white people using illegal drugs in front of hotel cameras isn’t, it turns out, illegal in Pasadena.
White Lives Matter, in other words; and in fact Puliafito came to USC trailing all kinds of other shit no one bothered acting on:
His time at Miami was not trouble-free. Marc Brockman, an optometrist at the [university], filed a lawsuit against Puliafito in 2006 for assault and battery and accused the university of negligence in hiring him.
Brockman alleged in sworn testimony that Puliafito, in a profane “tantrum” over an inoperable piece of medical equipment, grabbed him by the collar of his lab coat and choked him.
Puliafito denied wrongdoing.
During the case, it emerged that the university had investigated separate complaints of sexual harassment against Puliafito, according to sworn testimony and court filings in the lawsuit. The records do not reveal the outcome of the investigation, and a university spokeswoman said in response to questions about the probe: “We don’t have anything to provide.”
Puliafito and the university reached a confidential settlement with Brockman in June 2007.
Two months later, USC hired Puliafito.
And what a hire!
In a court battle that is still playing out, the University of California filed [a $1.85 million] suit in July 2015 against USC over its poaching of a leading Alzheimer’s disease researcher.
Puliafito was the self-described “quarterback” of efforts to land UC San Diego professor Paul Aisen, a star in the state university system.
… The suit accused USC of civil conspiracy, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and other misconduct.
And he’s still a highly respected, high-profile faculty member at the University of Southern California!
The latest thing is that someone got hold of a series of emails Puliafito wrote to the Los Angeles Times reporters who broke the story about him…
I’m on you now.
You are fucking with me now.
Watch your back.
You are such a piece of shit.
Call me. Don’t be afraid you piece of shit.
Oh wait. Those are President Trump’s lawyer’s emails. I get mixed up.
UD thanks John.
Outraged Twitter feeds abound.
You don’t get these outcomes – you don’t get a whole culture like this – without the character-formation that happens for many in the frats and the clubs.
As I said in an earlier post, these places are structural to our country’s economic success because they help make these people:
At Peter’s memorial service in 2015 — held in a place he loved, with sweeping views of the Pacific — a young associate from his firm stood up to speak of their friendship and of the bands they sometimes went to see together, only to break down in tears. Quite a few of the lawyers attending the service were bent over their phones, reading and tapping out emails.
Their friend and colleague was dead, and yet they couldn’t stop working long enough to listen to what was being said about him.
And these people:
Wall Street CEOs like to think they are the adults, the big men in the room, the ones who know how the world works. Well, you know what? They screwed up their own banks, the financial system, and the economy like a bunch of two-year-olds. Every single major bank would have failed in late 2008 without massive government intervention — because of wounds that were entirely self-inflicted. (Citigroup: holding onto hundreds of billions of dollars of its own toxic waste. Bank of America: paying $50 billion for an investment bank that would have failed within three days. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs: levering up without a stable source of funding. Etc.) The financial crisis should have put to rest for a generation the idea that the big boys on Wall Street know what they’re doing and the politicians in Washington are a bunch of amateurs. Yet somehow the bankers came out of it with the same unshakable belief in their own perfection that they had in 2005. The only plausible explanation is some kind of powerful personality disorder.
They’re making another, similar, version of these people at Penn State. They’re making them at most of our universities. You couldn’t have Wall Street without them. You couldn’t have Marc Kasowitz without them. You couldn’t have (had) Lehman Brothers without them. You couldn’t have contemporary America without them.
So Niall Ferguson doesn’t have to huff and puff. The clubs are where you learn high-level substance abuse and arrant indifference – the heart of our red-hot economy. They’re not going anywhere.
UD thanks Jack.
… it’s Ground Zero (well, Ground 37.6 Billion), and the multitude of comments after the article – about the possibility that Harvard will gradually phase out all fraternities and other private clubs – expresses better than almost anything else the deep structure of – one social type shaped by – institutions like Harvard (for similar observations about Princeton, go here).
(Hm. Someone seems to have removed the Crimson article’s comment thread. Why?)
Given the crucial importance of secretive sadistic clubs in the formation of super-predators like the man of the hour, Marc Kasowitz (he “brags to friends he makes anywhere from $10 million to $30 million per year. He owns an apartment in a white-glove building on Park Avenue and a mansion in Westchester County. He travels by private jet and, when in New York, is driven around in a black Cadillac SUV. He owns at least two horses, according to a lawsuit Kasowitz once filed against his daughter’s equestrian stable.”) and super-predators generally, UD assures you that America’s master-of-the-universe-nurseries are not really in danger. You couldn’t have Lehman Brothers/Dick Fuld et al without them. So relax.
But the comment section of the Crimson article is rife with anxiety. Nervously eyeing Harvard’s endowment of close to forty billion dollars (for a 22,000-student school), the commenters express fear that this palty sum will be further reduced by angry alumni withholding gifts. The article quotes a Harvard report on the matter calling Bowdoin and Williams (both have gotten rid of frats and similar clubs) “peer institutions,” which sets off another round of worry and sarcasm in the comments (“Williams and… Bowdoin – … 1.3 and 2.26 billion dollar endowments respectively… are PERFECT comparisons to Harvard… Thanks for enlightening us.”)
People are scared because they think Harvard might actually do it. And since everyone imitates Harvard, everyone might do it. But Harvard won’t do it, because without the clubs we couldn’t have hypercapitalism. Shutting them down would be the moral equivalent of war.
Donald Trump, To His Followers
When, in disgrace with Fortune and the Times
I, with my staff, beweep my outcast state,
And trouble Kasówitz with my bootless cries,
And look upon my press and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one less apt to grope,
Chaste like him, like him with will possessed,
Desiring this man’s heart and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented best;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love at rallies such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.