Saturday, August 06, 2016

A Bill and Hillary Clinton Parable

Anna Foster adjusted the photograph of her husband and children and sighed.  As the first woman and first black Chief Counsel for BigCorp, she was used to tricky situations but this was ridiculous.

"So why don't you lay the whole scenario out for me" said, Richard "Rick" Sanchez, her lead outside counsel and Partner with Smith, Jones and Lopez, the white shoe New York firm that handled most of Bigcorp's legal issues.

"Well you remember the Bill Winton case? You know, the guy that was Director of Contracting who was caught sexually harassing and abusing women employees, interns and contractors?"

"Yeah, ugly case. But I though he'd left the company at the end of that year and then was convicted of perjury in connection with one of the civil cases that he got hit with, right?"

"Right. Well this is about his wife, Hillary. She was a Contract Administration Manager underneath him during that time - I don't know why she didn't divorce him, Lord knows I would have."
"Go on", Rick said cautiously.

"Well anyway she was a top performer and the CFO really like her. So when Bill took the package he wanted to elevate her to the top job in contracting. Fortunately we talked him out of it because besides the bad optics, she didn't have the requisite legal training - we've always required the person in that role to be a trained lawyer due to the tricky contract interpretation and negotiations needed."
"Yeah that makes sense, you put that fast track guy Barry wosisname into that role"

Anna nodded "Yeah because Hillary cut a deal with the CFO.  If she would go get her law degree, then when she was done, Barry would go on to some International assignment and she could slide right into the Director slot. Now there was no formal promise but it was understood so long that she did well at school, she'd be top dog.  And crucially it was known publicly."

"So how'd she do?" Rick sighed, absentmindedly flicking imaginary lint off of his knee.
"She did great but it's what she did after school hours that's at issue."
"Whaddya mean 'after school hours'? Did she have a part time job?", Rick leaned forward.

Anna sighed "Well sort of.  You see once she got to Yale some of our largest contracting partners - vendors, customers, distributors started wining and dining her and her husband. And - evidently this was her or Bill's idea - they began inviting one or both of them to their offsite meetings at resorts, providing all expense paid trips for them."
"Hmmm, I don't like where this is going."

"Well it gets worse. They'd go to these events - during the week when Hillary had class, Bill would go - and they would be asked to give a few remarks to the 'troops' of these companies about 'contracting'. And here's the kicker: they were paid between $2,500 and $3,500 dollars "Honorarium" for their talk.
"Wow, five to seven grand an hour? I'm going to have to raise my rates." Sanchez exclaimed. "So of course you didn't rehire her, did you?"

Anna got out of her chair and walked over to the window, she turned and said "we did rehire her. As a matter of fact she's now our new Director of Contracting"
"Where did Barry go?"
"He's doing some make work thing over in the Golf Products division, you know these fast trackers".
"Don't I though.  So you're telling me that the CFO rehired her and put her in the Director's job even after all of the payments and luxury vacations companies gave her?  How much money are we talking about here?"
"At least $400 grand and possibly much more and that doesn't include the freebies".
"Holy cow!!" The woman who took upwards of a million dollars in payments and vacations many companies took her up on this?"
"Well over a hundred - all of them major hundred million dollar and above contracting parties with BigCorp.  Every single company with a billion dollar annual relationship had her speak, some of them two or three times."
"What did she say to them"
Anna's brow wrinkled:  "She won't say, she says they are private meetings and are none of our business". But it gets even worse."
"How could that be possible?"
"You remember Bill, her husband and first Bigcorp executive ever convicted of a felony for things he did while in office?" 
"well she's 'hired' Bill as her co-Director.  We're not paying him of course and we don't want him in the building for obvious reasons but she has him travelling to all the major contracting players - you know the ones that bribed them - doing what she's calling 'partner outreach and relations'."
"You mean shaking them down for more?" Rick questioned with a shocked look.
"No, not likely. That would be illegal rather than just incredibly sleazy, I think what he's doing is gathering requested favors that they owe these companies for the consideration they've already received." "But I can't prove that", she added.
"OH. MY. GOD what a mess" 
"Your'e telling me, I'm thinking of resigning in protest" Anna said quietly.
"What? give up the job you've worked your whole life to achieve?"
"Yeah. But I achieved everything I've got by playing by the rules and if BigCorp is going to be run by people like this I don't want to be a part of it. Because it's inevitable that an organization that would knowingly tolerate this kind of corruption has got to be riddled with many other criminal activities. 
I've gotten wind of some but I don't have the resources or the political position to hold all of these......these...Gangsters accountable. I hope I can count on you as a reference?"
"Sure, although after I tell our managing committee about this, my job may be on the line because there's no way we can afford to do work for such a corrupt institution."
"I understand completely"

After what seemed like an eternity of silence Rick stood up and said brightly: "Well" I think I'm going to go get drunk, care to join me?"

"No I'll stay here. Happy drunking."

Anna sat back down in her chair and toyed with her family's pictures again. She had given her life to Bigcorp and now it was all turning into a corrupt lie. She brushed away tears and taking a deep breath called out to her EA to come in to review her resignation letter.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Ode to Karen on the day of her birth.

Oh Karen! Mighty Twin!
It is your birthday once again!
Your age advances as does the regard
of those who fell for you so hard.

Oh Karen! It is thee we beseech
because you are a helluva peach.
We lift our glasses to toast you on high,
it is your praises that we do cry.

Oh Karen! Sister of noble Kathleen,
who looks so much like you it must be seen!
So it can be said that God has made
two perfect creatures in one short day.

Oh Karen! One of a kind!
We look and say 'what a find'!
We are honored to sing your praise
and to wish you a happy birthday.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Note to EU-Philes: We told you so, you fucking idiots.

I like Nick Cohen.  Particularly this piece where he quoted Robert Conquest. And I think if I were to write a piece about the EU today I'd use the same title:  "We told you so, you fucking idiots". As a matter of fact, I thnk I will.

But I'm afraid he's lost it on Brexit (he's a little more rational here but he plays the Norway card stupidly).  But I love his moxie. Nick argues that Brexiting is in fact a moral crime.  He does so by insulting as many people as he can think of as if he were shit faced drunk. So, rather than fisking an hysterical drunk, I'm going to take the high road and evaluate this EU thingy that 'everyone who's anyone agrees is just the best thing ever and if we leave our economy will collapse or at least the euros will be mean to us at Gstaad and Cannes and we can't bear the thought of that.  After all we've spent our whole lives trying to be the cool kids and not be dorky English and we're not going to give up being invited to French parties just because some assholes voted the wrong way"  but I really shouldn't paraphrase Twisted Nicky like that.

So let's just lay out a scorecard on the EU's basics, shall we?:

Free Trade: Pretty much everybody that's anybody on any side (including Trumpikins no matter what sewer gas he's belching today) agrees two thumbs up, way up. Particularly within Europe because of its fragmentation and the good Ricardian comparative advantage matchup. Particularly the 'make shit, do shit' divide whereby people in gloomy northern places make everything and then go south to cope with the stress of making all that stuff and let the laid back southerners rob them blind to buy more shit. Oh, and lest anyone get confused: the Swiss, Norwegians and other non EU bits of Europe have this deal and so will a Brexited UK, unless the Euros decide to go for actual depression rather than just their standard Euro quality stagnation - and no, the UK is not Norway).

Monetary Union: 'Oh my fucking God what a disaster'. Even Paul Krugman says so (of course this is post hoc Paulie so who knows what his un ergoed propter hoc was).  I note that there were (pace Cohen) 'thousands' of experts saying the UK was making a 'terrible' mistake and that the Euro was going to 'conquer' or 'eat' or at least do something nasty to the dollar.  Those thousands of experts are such scamps!

Immigration: "The German race is the master race they go oom papa oom papa", wait, that's Spike Jones and that was old 'n nasty Der Fuehrer Germans not today's Der Frauhaus Germans. But it's as if EU immigration policy has become a way for Germany to get back at the rest of Europe for being so beastly to it for shifting the Jewish Question back to Palestine where it belongs. And the cool thing about it if you listen to the UN it's die Juden that are driving all these Muslims into Europe (and crazy, don't forget crazy). Only the smart ones don't want to be in "Europe" they want to be in "London" and tens of thousands of them cluster around the Chunnel desperate to escape beautiful France for wildly expensive and plodding London. The upshot is that England has experienced the highest rate of immigration of any European nation since the Visigoths told the Romans "we dig this place so we be hanging wit you" back in the 400s. And judging from the 1400 documented rapes of underage girls covered up by the police in the single town Rotherham (ignoring the other 'immigrant' grooming rings in all the other towns) the benefits have gone to the City boys and the downsides to the cloth capped, forelock tugging provincials that everyone is cursing. This isn't all the EU's fault but who's going to blame voters for what they see with their lying eyes?

The Socio-economic Triumph of the Administrative/Intellectual class: 60 percent of UK law is now made in the European Union. Not by elected parliament but by apparatchiks in the European Council or is it the Council of Europe - or maybe the European Commission - so many C's so little accountability. Much of this is just annoyingly pedantic - like saying that not only must you accommodate metric weights and measures (as the US has for decades) but  you must ban all other forms of measuring and counting - but also lots of 'anti discrimination'  legislation, social standards (some of which the UK has wriggled out of), the shape and size of bananas (a bigger deal than you would think, particularly to Germans), banning GMOs, invasive commercial regulation and other 'progressive' obsessions that intermittently sweep down from Scandinavia like blue northers. This is what is called the "Triumph of Progressivism".

Foreign Policy: One would think that the creation of the European Superstate would translate all of Europe's economic power into immense geopolitical power and that the world would quake in their wake. But the opposite has happened: a Europe that pretended that the EEC kept the peace when it was really American boots on the ground now has graduated to pretending that they're studmuffins of power just like 'merica. So they go into places like Bosnia or the Ukraine and go 'pew pew' with their fingers and the locals, not understanding that they're just playing, actually shoot back.  So they scurry home loudly demanding that Americans do something.  They've semi dissolved all of these nation states to the extent that they are almost completely disarmed without creating a loyalty to the dear old (pedantic, oppressive, self righteous, undemocratic) EU. As Gomer Pyle would say "surprise, surprise".

So now we have a "Europe" where the Eastern Europeans and the Finns are quaking at the thought of a wounded and dying Russia deciding to take them 'with' while the Southern Tier are just expanding their game of 'loot the stressed out northerners' to see how much more they can get until the scam ends, while the French pout, the Irish max out their "Hey America we're the only part of the EU that's rational, speaks English and won't tax your ass off so put all of  your assets here" - which works for such a tiny place and then there are the Scans - Norway clipping coupons, the others living semi detached except for the terrified Finns. And there's Germany who seems to be doing swell, finally getting the sock puppet Europe they've always wanted.

And outside of England, Germany and the Scans, the thing is an economic and demographic black hole.  The Euro area hasn't grown in forever and faith in the future is so low that native populations are cratering to be replaced by Shariah-ites. By contrast the offshore Anglo Saxon world is much richer and actually growing. The common English hear about it from their friends and relations there, can see so on the telly and when they vacation in Orlando or NYC. And these chaps haven't a single EU membership to their names....nothing but free trade and your bog standard global agreements. Hmm. But the experts, the thousands upon tens of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of experts who expert for the EU or its component elites say that 'the EU is swell as hell' and anybody who's anybody agrees - upon pain of losing their friends, their status, their job, their kids' admission to Oxbridge.

Indeed the only high status people who could possibly support Leave were people who had already made their break with the establishment and had nothing to lose. Which is why Nick's charming semi-ad hominem (list your enemy's sins but not your own in the hopes that people who don't know much about English politics will swallow it hook line and sinker) works so well:  "But everyone who's anyone knows that Boris and Michael are such cads and bounders and just not the right sort, don't you know. To the sound of modern upper class English twits what-whatting accompanied by sitars amid a miasma of patchouli and roasting beef shawarma.

"Bloody lower orders don't know their place."

Author's Note:
Indeed, it's only when you remember that the formation and life of the "Union" has been during the most prosperous and peaceful time in the history of the world - that it's only 24 years old and it's already in intensive care - do you realize that this bizarre pseudo-heffalump imagined and created by chaps who by and large have never done a damned thing in their lives has no chance of surviving a real, honest to gosh existential crisis.  This is the League of Nations re-imagined as an apparatchik racket that is going to continue to go phhhht because it is the most fragile thing that's ever existed and no one will fight for it. Ever. So the UK is just getting out before the panicked rush.

PS: I attended school with some of these guys and worked with many of them as Partners and staff.  Nice guys, but like all of us, their judgement is impaired by their appetites and their regnant snobbery which is concentrated in a small parochial environment like London.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

On Holland, England, Declarations of Independence and Crazy Ass Admirals

I've been watching Admiral on Netflix. Admiral is a Dutch film about the great Admiral de Ruyter who kicked the British Navy's ass in the 1600s (Brits make the best villains, it's the accent). The movie's great and it reminded me of three things. First of all, English and Dutch are very similar languages - Admiral has a lot of Dutch with English subtitles in it and with both there at once it's surprising to this monoglot English speaker how much I understand - I almost feel like I could be multilingual but......naaaah, who'm I kidding?

Second, American freedom is based upon a Dutch/English Joint Venture. The Dutch had the first modern Republic in the world so when the English finally got sick of their jackass Scottish kings they had a "Glorious Revolution" and turfed them out (The Brits were always good at PR - even back then they were thinking about the tourist trade) . But that meant they needed a new king for the tourists so they imported a slick Dutch model called William (which is a bit ironic because after all, another Willie had invaded England in 1066 and made them kowtow to him in French which no doubt frosted their ale mugs pretty badly). The key selling feature of this guy - aside from him being married to an English Princess - was that he was house trained, specifically House of Commons trained to be a Constitutional Monarch. It's this "Glorious Revolution and King Adoption" that the American revolutionaries based our Declaration of Independence as "Free Englishmen" on. If the Dutch hadn't bred house trained princes then we might have been in trouble.

The third thing that I noticed in this film was that everything comes full circle: the Dutch gave us the Republic thing, whacked a prince with a rolled up parchment until he was trained enough to not wee on Parliament so the English could give us the Glorious Revo idea. And what did we give them in return? The Errol Flynn maneuver whereby movie stars who are supposed to be playing sober captains and admirals instead behave like......well, jackass Scottish kings - forgetting their duty completely and running amuck like baboons with swords and capes. Which is precisely what this de Ruyter hepcat did in the movie.

So thanks Dutch dudes for the constitutional republicanism and capitalism and trade and all that and here's your ridiculous movie cliche in return. Let us know if you need anything else. We've got a really cool large breasted ingenue cliche we call Marilyn Monroe-ism that we can let go for cheap. Or if you're into mid century ass wiggling rock star cliches we can let Elvis' Pelvis go for a song.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Trans Bathrooms and Lenin's Who? Whom?

One night a dear friend of mine was accosted by a mugger trying to steal her purse.  Unfortunately she fell on it and the mugger caved her face in with his boot.  It took multiple reconstructive surgeries to restore her.  For many years after she had a fear of encountering men alone that she didn't know, particularly in places where she didn't expect them. Like in the women's toilet or shower. The general name for this condition is 'Androphobia'. It afflicts both crime victims and individuals susceptible to it. Women with this condition (every bit as tragic as gender dysphoria) live constrained, limited lives - to avoid panic they avoid any situation where they might encounter strange men. Up until recently women's toilets, shower facilities and dorms were considered safe places.

I have lived in both Islamic (Abu Dhabi) and heavily Orthodox Jewish (University City, MO) communities.  There are roughly 200,000 Haredi Orthodox Jewish women and another 600,000 devout Muslim women in this country.  For both groups sustaining their faith tradition, indeed sustaining their identity requires that they avoid displaying their beauty to males not part of their families.  Their hair, their forearms and legs and feet are included in these restrictions. Historically they had no concern utilizing a public toilet or locker room.  No more. And to the objection 'but this is just religion'. To these women their faith is their identity. Every bit as much as someone with gender dysphoria.

When he was conquering Russia, VI Lenin formulated a slogan that describes the current situation well:  Who? Whom?  His point was that the important question in a revolution - whether political or social - was who would win?  Who would oppress whom? Who was on top and who was on bottom.  And because Lenin was above all a lawyer focused on law, this was a zero sum concept:  the winners take directly from the losers. Historically in America and the west  we've avoided making explicit law on gender access to facilities, instead we've had a rough community consensus. Communities have chosen to segregate 'intimate' public facilities by male/female and society has gone along.  Some places probably don't even have laws - it's simply understood and people generally enforce it informally.  This works out well because it accommodates the truly trans who have been using women's facilities since the toilet and shower were invented. They had to take care lest they be outed as men but since their goal was to be women it worked.  And it allowed the Androphobic and devout women to play along with something that was in fact, a bit of a fiction.

The problem is that the left and the Obama administration have gone Leninist.  The Federal government is mandating that law and regulation be established giving Trans legal access to intimate facilities set aside for the members of the opposite biological sex if they claim gender dysphoria.  So now the polite ambiguity and informal social consensus are collapsing into the awful majesty of the law.  And that means bright lines must be drawn and for someone to win the other side has to lose.

So it's now a battle to death between two tribes only one who can win.  Once the law is inserted it's impossible to go back to more informal relations. As has happened in so many other parts of our society the entry of law has created immense chasms between us, increasing hatred and contempt on both sides. So the Trans may win this one but let's stop pretending this is will cost more than a million American women a part of their autonomy and peace of mind while angering at least a hundred million of their families, friends and neighbors.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention:  Orthodox Jews and Muslims - not to mention conservative Christians have almost 4 children for each couple.  Secular Americans: less than 1.5.  I don't know what GLBT childbirths look like per couple, do you? So this isn't anywhere near a permanent 'victory'. Because it's the children of the fecund humiliated that will have political power.....and long memories.

The thing that the lawyers among us keep forgetting is that life is meant to be a love story, not a rule book.  The more rules you make, the crueler and more atomized the society becomes. After all, we all have our 'rights'.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Milo's Mind

Milo Yiannanopolis is best known for mocking politically correct Social Justice  Warrior opinion. As he puts it: "I was born conservative and chose to be homosexual".

"Believing that a person’s sex, race and orientation defines the acceptable limits of the opinions they may hold is called 'identity politics.' It’s a bizarre but flourishing cult in America today that makes fools of its supporters by presenting an insultingly reductionist view of human nature."

You will hear a lot more about Milo. And will be told that to be a 'Good Person' who cares about 'social justice' you must hate him. But he's obviously right.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yes, Transgender rights, but what about the vulnerable ones?

About 20 years ago I was walking out of my downtown office for lunch and I spied two young black boys breaking into a newspaper machine for the quarters.  It was downtown at lunch and the sidewalks were filled with people. No one - including me - tried to stop them and hold them accountable. You see to do so in inner city St. Louis might get you called a 'racist' and who wants that trouble.  If they'd been white in the suburbs, sure we would have stopped them.  But these kids were clearly damaged by our indifference - no doubt they interpreted the impunity that they had and attempted more and more audacious and serious crimes until they ended up in jail or worse.  It is quite possible that middle class, white society, through its self righteous indifference, hated those boys to death.

We now have the great "Transgender Liberation".  Up until now if I had seen a person that looked like a man going into a women' bathroom or locker I would have personally gone up to them and told them to get the hell out and if they resisted found enough other men to throw them out.  I have no doubt any number of seriously Trans men went in unbeknownst to me and did no harm but if I had seen someone questionable there's no doubt what I would have done.  No more.  For to do so in today's rights environment would get me punished. Now the Transgender bathroom issue isn't really a big deal for my daughter or her friends - they're upper middle class and live in communities where there are lots of responsible and vigilant civic minded people who will keep the craziness to a minimum.  But I keep thinking about those doomed boys.  And their sisters in inner city schools where misogyny and sexual violence are already endemic.  The doomed boys no doubt will interpret the new regime as giving them another form of 'fun'. And the schools will struggle to fight against it, fearing - as we did - to be brought up on civil rights charges.

So once again we may end up with a situation where middle class, progressive, white society - through its self centered, self righteousness - finds a new way to hate poor boys and girls to death.

Sexual Predators are like wolves: they adapt.

I have friends who live in Jackson Hole.  The National Parks were being overrun by an elk herd that had grown to 20,000 animals.  So the Feds introduced a timber wolf pack from Canada. In a period of years the timber wolves reduced the Yellowstone and Grand Teton elk herd to 1,000 animals.  Then the timber wolves turned their attention to private Elk ranches.  The ranches, having barbed wire and electrified fences had thought their animals were safe.  But the wolves adapted to take advantage of the new situation.  Their tastes have also become more esoteric - they found it easy to kill the somewhat domesticated elk.  My friend posted a photo of 18 dead elk - only two had been eaten on at all - they had had the fetal elks ripped from their wombs.  It turns out that the modern timber wolf has adapted to the point where it likes baby meat....and kills for fun. My question is this:  if wild predators adapt to take advantage of the opportunities that changes in their environment offer, how much more will human sexual predators take advantage of the new rules on "Transgender" to do much more of that thing that they find so fun? And when they do, who will take responsibility for the decision to make their predation so much easier and more frequent?