Filthy rich spottings: Steve Mnuchin and his honeymoon

From 538 Significant Digits:

$25,000 per hour

Hourly cost of the U.S. Air Force jet that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, independently wealthy from his time at Goldman Sachs, asked the government to use to fly him to his honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy. The request to have the taxpayers fund the vacation was declined. [ABC News]

UPDATE 9/14/2017 at 5:25 pm. Oh boy, even the Times has weighed in.

I’ve been thinking about compiling incidents and quotes from the filthy rich as a way of proving that just because some people make an obscene amount of money, it doesn’t mean they’re smart.

I think it means they place an immense amount of importance, a single-minded drive at getting rich. It is their only goal in life. They have figured out or lucked into that one idea, that one area of commerce, that will get them rich.

Part of the “figuring out” seems to be an evaluation–maybe pre-conscious or instinctive–of their skills and focusing on the skill(s) that’ll get them rich.

And they get rich. Steve Mnuchin got rich. But he is not smart.

What about Marc Zuckerberg?

Picked this up from ProPublica on Twitter:

1 hour ago

 Facebook allowed advertisers to reach people interested in topics like “How to burn jews”

How can Zuckerberg have allowed this to happen? Because he lucked in on one skill–inventing Facebook–before he developed a conscience or, I’d argue, a fully functioning brain. I’ll bet he doesn’t realize how bad this is, how bad it is he took Russian money (in rubles, I’ve just learned) for ads and fake news that deliberately went after our election.

And, as it happens, today’s news also concerns…

 Source: Martin Shkreli Is Jailed for Seeking a Hair From Hillary Clinton – The New York Times

Is there anyone who believes that this guy–who did get very rich–has any moral structure at all?

These rich guys are all, to one extent or another, stupid, if only for saying or doing the things they’ve done that are so breathtakingly amoral, so bad the rest of us are saying WTF.




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The weirdest, wonderfulest unaffordable thing ever

From Hammacher Schlemmer, of course.

It’s on the front of the current catalogue. Just in case you have $139,000 to spend on whimsy.

Yes, those of you who are paying attention, I did get caught in a Hammacher April Fool’s joke once, although I sprung back pretty quickly.

And I don’t want to hear from anti-filthy-rich people, screaming about the vast inequality in this country. Because Hammacher Schlemmer is not for the filthy rich. For the most part, what it sells is imaginative, useful–especially for those of us with various pains and physical problems, i.e., everybody–and affordable.

For years I’ve used their headache relieving wrap, which really does relieve my headaches, and the smart offline password vault.

If you long to be a spy, HS has its Video Recording Cap, now on deep discount for $29.95. In fact, there are tons of sales items in the current catalogue, and some hilarious large Halloween objects for your house, like the 8 Foot Creepy Crawler.

Of course, if I had $5000 to spare, as well as a lawn, I might go for the Inflatable Irish Pub.

And sit it right next to my pool, guarded by…

Usually, though, I page through the catalogue to be reminded of the inventiveness, human concerns and sly good humor residual in our often decried human race.


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The Sue Rule: anyone can sue anyone at any time, but…

It’s a rule. I learned it years ago from a lawyer I worked for.

The “but” is most significant. (Can also be spelled “butt.”)

As Darrell Issa learned when he sued an opponent for defamation. Here’s DailyKos Elections dish about it–which offers some additional info about why politicians (among other public figures) don’t regularly smack lawsuits on people who have actually defamed them. (Anti-SLAPP legislation–some states have it, some don’t–is fascinating. If you’re planning to write critically about a public figure, study up.)

Test: Can you think of any current elected official, say, a president who might lately have actually defamed any other formerly elected official, oh, say, a president, in, say, tweets? No? Nonsense: I know what you’re thinking.


CA-49: Butthurt politicians threaten their opponents with defamation lawsuits from time to time in the U.S., but few are dumb enough to actually follow through—except for the likes of Darrell Issa. The ultra-wealthy Republican congressman barely survived a challenge last year from Marine veteran Doug Applegate, who got under Issa’s skin with a TV ad arguing (quite accurately) that Issa had used his many years in office to make himself even richer.

Issa prepared a legal complaint about the ad during the peak of the 2016 campaign, but bizarrely, he waited to file it until the day before the election. He should have waited forever. Earlier this year, a state court judge dismissed the case, finding that Applegate had said nothing inaccurate, and he further ruled that Issa had violated a California law against lawsuits designed to intimidate the exercise of free speech (known as an “anti-SLAPP” law.)

That latter ruling allowed Applegate to recover his attorneys’ fees from Issa (something not usually awarded in American legal proceedings), and now the judge has ordered Issa to pay Applegate and his campaign $45,000. Given the very high bar that U.S. defamation law poses to plaintiffs—public figures like Issa must demonstrate that defendants acted with “actual malice”—it was absurd for Issa to pursue this claim in the first place. But now he’s also done his 2018 opponents a solid, too, because if they run ads substantially similar to Applegate’s old spot, there’s not a word Issa can say.

And indeed, that opponent could once again be Applegate, a newcomer who surprised the political world last year by pushing the previously invulnerable Issa to the brink. Soon after his narrow half-point loss, Applegate declared he’d seek a rematch, but Issa’s softness has also drawn a couple of other Democrats into the race, environmental attorney Mike Levin and real estate investor Paul Kerr. And not only did Issa show weakness, but the broader Republican brand took a hit in this suburb San Diego district in 2016, as California’s 49th District flipped from supporting Mitt Romney by a 52-46 margin to backing Hillary Clinton 51-43. That means it’ll be in play once again next year, albeit with a slightly poorer but definitely no wiser Issa still on the hot seat.


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