This is Weird: Robert Mercer Makes a Move

Wilson is referring to this news from the NY Times:

Robert Mercer, a billionaire investor who is a big backer of many conservative causes and a patron of the former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon, is stepping down as co-chief executive of Renaissance Technologies, the giant hedge fund.

Mr. Mercer sent a letter to investors and pension advisers on Thursday morning in which he said he would step down. A copy of the letter was reviewed by The New York Times.

The one-paragraph letter to investors did not give a reason for Mr. Mercer’s decision. Mr. Mercer’s involvement in conservative politics became a lightning rod for criticism during and after the presidential election.

But in a letter to the employees of the hedge fund, with the subject line “past, present, and future,” Mr. Mercer acknowledged the public scrutiny he has faced since Mr. Trump’s election.

Here’s the link to Mercer’s letter. And here are three of the more interesting items in the letter that Rick Wilson is responding to.

The press has also intimated that my politics marches in lockstep with Steve Bannon’s. I have great respect for Mr. Bannon, and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However, I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.

Without individuals thinking for themselves, society as a whole will struggle to distinguish the signal of truth from the correlated noise of conformity. I supported Milo Yiannopoulos in the hope and expectation that his expression of views contrary to the social mainstream and his spotlighting of the hypocrisy of those who would close down free speech in the name of political correctness would promote the type of open debate and freedom of thought that is being throttled on many American college campuses today. But in my opinion, actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate. I was mistaken to have supported him, and for several weeks have been in the process of severing all ties with him.

For personal reasons, I have also decided to sell my stake in Breitbart News to my daughters.

What remains to be seen is whether he’s actually making a break with Bannon and Breitbart or this is all for show and he’ll still be involved behind the scenes with his daughter fronting things. As for Milo, provided Mercer actually carries through on pulling his support, he just lost his sugar daddy and now has no source of income or funding. As Buzzfeed recently reported, everything Milo is doing is being paid for by the Mercers.

131 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The slime is drawing too much attention to the pustule.

  2. 2
    GregB says:

    Former General and likely traitor to America, Mike Flynn was a big personal booster of Milo.

    The conspiracy nodes are getting connected one by one.

    I would urge continued efforts to divest from Mercer-nary related funds.

  3. 3
    cthulhu says:

    What a gift to give to one’s children!

  4. 4
    germy says:

    As for Milo, provided Mercer actually carries through on pulling his support, he just lost his sugar daddy and now has no source of income or funding.

    You mean he’ll have to get a . . . job?

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    @cthulhu: Happy Birthday, Sweetie! I love you, here’s a hate site for your gift. At 20% off!

  7. 7
    Chyron HR says:

    “You guys, I just want to own the country, I don’t actually care about white nationalism. :*(“

  8. 8
    Corner Stone says:

    @germy: It will be the same gig, smearing feces on himself for show. Except this time it will be on a street corner for pocket change.

  9. 9
    Jeffro says:

    Something’s about to drop on Bannon, Flynn, etc and Mercer doesn’t want it making an impact on his hedge fund business.

  10. 10
    DCrefugee says:

    @Jeffro: This, or a variation. Something’s about to drop. My money is on something from Mueller…

  11. 11
    germy says:

    @Corner Stone: I think Rebekah still likes him. I don’t think she’ll cut off the gravy supply.

  12. 12
    dr. bloor says:

    @Jeffro: Yep. Somebody has an idea whose names are in those still-sealed indictments w/numbers between Manafort’s and Papa Doc’s on the docket.

  13. 13
    Feathers says:

    One thing about all these wingnut welfare folk who run around riling up college campuses for fun and profit- who is funding them?

    Scientists have to reveal where there money is coming from, why not these guys?

  14. 14
    Chief Oshkosh says:

    His justification for supporting the worst of the worst is just so precious. It really is too bad that our society has devolved to the point that 1) a sociopathic idiot can become rich 2) doing a job that creates no real wealth and certainly no good, and 3) a single rich person can have so much power and influence.

  15. 15

    @Chyron HR: or at least he cares about the former a lot more.

  16. 16
    Mart says:

    How can a well educated billionaire compose a 60 word run on sentence? Hurt my head trying to wade through that.

  17. 17
    Raoul says:

    For personal reasons, I have also decided to sell my stake in Breitbart News to my daughters.

    For personal reasons? WTF does that mean?

    And selling to one’s daughters isn’t exactly creating a ton of distance, is it??

  18. 18
    ruemara says:

    Securing his wealth with his children before being indicted. That’s how I see it. Also, fuck him.

  19. 19
    Chief Oshkosh says:

    @Feathers:

    Scientists have to reveal where there money is coming from, why not these guys?

    That would be news to scientists who work in big pharma or private high tech…

  20. 20
    Chris says:

    @Raoul:

    For personal reasons? WTF does that mean?

    “I don’t want to talk about it.”

    And selling to one’s daughters isn’t exactly creating a ton of distance, is it??

    Nope, it certainly doesn’t. That was the thing that jumped out at me, too.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    FlyingToaster says:

    @dr. bloor: And remember, there are numbers AFTER those two, not merely between. In a Follow-the-Money scenario (which is certainly true with Manafort’s and Pappadopoulos’ charges), you’re going to see the Russians, but you’re also going to see Mercer. You’re going to then see all the other people the Russians and Mercer gave money to, which is going to start eating up people closer and closer to the current administration.

    I see that Jabba the Clovis is going back to Iowa.

  23. 23
    Elizabelle says:

    Last sentence of the Times story:

    Renaissance manages more than $50 billion in assets. Its main funds that are open to outside investors have been doing well this year, with each of them up more than 10 percent through October.

    Bubble. We are in a bubble.

  24. 24
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mart: He’s a quant. It was much shorter and made much more sense when expressed as an alpha numeric string of variables.

  25. 25
    The Moar You Know says:

    For personal reasons, I have also decided to sell my stake in Breitbart News to my daughters.

    All show. But something is surely afoot.

    You mean he’ll have to get a . . . job?

    @germy: Hitler refused to work any sort of job, even when literally starving. Seems to be a thing with the fascists.

  26. 26
    rikyrah says:

    I have said for awhile…

    The investigation into the data…

    ALWAYS leads back to Kushner and The Mercers.

    Come on, Bobby Three Sticks!!

  27. 27
    Chris says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I didn’t know that.

    Frickin’ weirdo, that Hitler.

  28. 28
    MattF says:

    “Oh, well, Mercer’s daughters are obviously entirely innocent and independent agents. No problem there. No problem with anything, ever. Ever.”

  29. 29
    Corner Stone says:

    What value could a stake in Breitbart be worth? Who would be interested in buying it? Are the ad sales that lucrative? I thought it was a money losing operation without his backing.

  30. 30
    Raoul says:

    @germy: He’ll just mooch off his new mystery husband, John.

  31. 31
    JR says:

    @Chief Oshkosh: Wait, what? Scientists who work at pharmaceutical companies 1) rarely publish — for trade secret reasons 2) disclose their affiliations right at the head of their journal articles, just like everyone else.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlyingToaster:

    I see that Jabba the Clovis is going back to Iowa to the Big House.

  34. 34
    Yarrow says:

    Mercer funds Cambridge Analytica. They worked with info stolen by Russian to influence our elections. He’s a traitor, at least in the common usage sense if not the legal sense.

  35. 35
    Raoul says:

    @ruemara: If there are any RICO infractions, I suspect that this ‘sale’ will not stop the investigators/prosecution. It might even increase their interest level.

  36. 36
    Corner Stone says:

    @Chris: I knew there was something a little off about that Hitler guy, but that just caps it for me.

  37. 37
    MattF says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Ah. I get it. After looking at the article.

  38. 38
    Elizabelle says:

    From Mercer’s letter to employees:

    I believe that a collection of individuals making their own decisions within the confines of a clear and concise set of laws that they have determined for themselves

    …. is better than submitting to the government.

    A society founded on the basis of the individual freedom that flourishes under a limited federal government has no place for discrimination. Of the many mischaracterizations made of me by the press, the most repugnant to me have been the intimations that I am a white supremacist or a member of some other noxious group.

    Jesus god, doesn’t he ever look at what shows up to Milo and Cruz and Trump rallies? Milo just spoke on Fullerton, CA campus earlier this week. I will put up a photo of his audience. White people, with a very few non-whites.

  39. 39
    Yarrow says:

    @Raoul: Agreed. Mercer may think he’s going to outsmart Mueller. He’s wrong.

  40. 40
    Feathers says:

    @Chief Oshkosh: I was referring to the campus visits particularly. I’ve worked in academia and there are invariably financial disclosures involved in becoming involved in most anything. Or that your home institution knows these things.

  41. 41
    Mart says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Made me look up “quant”.

  42. 42
    hueyplong says:

    Although this issue could apply to the Mercers, I’ll ask in the context of Trump: If money laundering is found to be particularly ugly, can Trump accounts be frozen and/or assets locked down even in the absence of impeachment?

    Unless a wave midterm puts Democrats into the majority, I’m having trouble conceiving of a fact situation that causes Congressional Republicans to vote articles of impeachment.

    But denying Trump access to even a small portion of his financial assets might cause him to stroke out. I don’t see Melania as the Edith Wilson type.

  43. 43
    Raoul says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Creepy how much the guy in the photo illustration looks like Miller.

  44. 44
    The Moar You Know says:

    I see that Jabba the Clovis is going back to Iowa.

    @FlyingToaster: “Sammy Three Chins” is my favorite so far.

  45. 45
    bystander says:

    Moanin’ Joe keeps saying that twitler has been urging Ivanka and Jared to go back to NY. You have to wonder if Mercer is separating himself from his brand to spare the brand as much as he can, while twitler is trying to excise a big hair-sprouting mole to spare himself.

  46. 46
    WaterGirl says:

    @dr. bloor: Selling, perhaps, before his funds and everything that he owns are frozen?

    edit: And i see that ruemara got there first.

  47. 47

    The rot started with Reagan, he started dismantling the regulations on capital markets put in place during the New Deal. Hedge funds, M & As, vulture capitalists etc. etc. is all an outgrowth of no regulations and no taxes for the rich mentality. Mercer is just a by product of those policies.

  48. 48
    Raoul says:

    @Elizabelle: Yes we are. The DJI chart for the past year looks a bit ominous (I’ve been a small time investor for 30 years). 11 months of a pretty steep incline. And then October it is just bumping along, but with volatility. Hang on to your 401(k)s everyone!

  49. 49

    @rikyrah: Creating plausible deniability in case indictments drop.

  50. 50
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @hueyplong: Civil asset forfeiture. One of AG Sessions favorite things.

  51. 51
    dr. bloor says:

    @Elizabelle: He appears to be running the world’s biggest Index Fund.

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @bystander: He and Renaissance are being sued by one of the former senior level principals who, after calling Mercer out for supporting people that are and/or promote white supremacism, was first suspended and then fired. The former employee is Jewish.
    http://www.philly.com/philly/b.....onway.html

  53. 53
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @Jeffro:

    Intriguing point, but why would Big Daddy Mercer keep Breitbart in the family if he wants to distance the family name from Bannon?

  54. 54
    MattF says:

    @Elizabelle: Well, that. But also, ten percent in a month raises, um, questions. Supposing (as an example) one was a purported hedge fund genius, one would possibly attempt to maximize the cash you can extract from your fund, and then stash it under a local mattress if you see disaster coming down the road. Just supposing.

  55. 55
    hueyplong says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Agree on the existence of the concept, just asking whether the executive would make some kind of argument for Trump to have immunity from those statutes while president.

    If not, I can guaran-fking-tee that we’re talking about his darkest fear.

  56. 56
    Raoul says:

    GOP operative (and Trump hater) Rick Wilson thinks Mercer is setting up to run for prez in 2020. Hmmmm.

    eta: WIlson temporizing after his first reaction. TBD, of course!

  57. 57
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Yarrow:

    Mercer funds Cambridge Analytica. They worked with info stolen by Russian to influence our elections. He’s a traitor, at least in the common usage sense if not the legal sense.

    I agree. I also suspect that whatever Mercer’s up to, it’s because he’s nervous about the fact that Cambridge Analytica has been tied to the Trump/Russia scandal, and wants to minimize any consequences to him, his family, and his money.

  58. 58
    Jeffro says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while): They are the closest quickest people that he can turn it over to

  59. 59
    N says:

    You misspelled his first name, it has 2 B’s

  60. 60
    rikyrah says:

    @West of the Rockies (been a while):

    Intriguing point, but why would Big Daddy Mercer keep Breitbart in the family if he wants to distance the family name from Bannon?

    Cause he believes everything Bannon does, just doesn’t want the publicity about it.

  61. 61
    Bruce K says:

    @Mart: You know how it is with the modern American kleptocracy, right? Rules are for little people and suckers.

  62. 62
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Mart: You can lead a jackass to water, etc.

  63. 63
    MattF says:

    @Raoul: I don’t actually have a big problem with Mr. Wilson. Trump-hating is a good thing. But he does seem to hate an unusually large and diverse group of people.

  64. 64
    Elizabelle says:

    Here’s a paywall-free account of Milo’s appearance at Cal. State U Fullerton on Halloween night. He showed up in a Roman collar, with jokes about Kevin Spacey, and a coffin labeled Hollywood onstage. Called Michelle Obama a transsexual. The usual. All in good fun, according to his audience.

    Halfway down the story text, you will find a link to 33 photographs. Photos 18, 20, and 30 are closeups of the audience. It’s overwhelmingly white, and male. 800 present; sold-out at $35/pop. A lot of the audience look older than college students.

    Orange County Register: Milo Yiannopoulos’ talk at CSUF lures supporters, protesters, with 8 arrested

    The Cal State Fullerton talk, in which the audience paid $35 apiece, kicks off the new college speaking tour of the former senior editor of the right-wing Breitbart news service. “The Troll Academy” tour next takes him to six stops in Australia.

    Lucky Aussies. On the good side, it’s giving the college community more experience at organizing counter-protests.

  65. 65
    Bobby Thomson says:

    @Raoul: I’m sure that after the sale to Rebecca he will be as uninvolved in Breitbart as Trump is uninvolved in the Trump Group.

    The question is, do MSU and other institutions think this gives them cover?

  66. 66
    Yarrow says:

    @low-tech cyclist: He does, but it’s making him look even more guilty.

    @Raoul:

    GOP operative (and Trump hater) Rick Wilson thinks Mercer is setting up to run for prez in 2020. Hmmmm.

    Of what? Russia? Is there an officially branded Traitor Party he can lead?

  67. 67
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Not to sure how it runs on Wall Street but that does sound like Renaissance Technologies own lawyers found Mercer is a racist and told the Board of Directors Mercer is toxic.

  68. 68
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    @The Moar You Know: Wilmer also refused to get a real job.

  69. 69
    Gelfling 545 says:

    Maybe he’s quitting to run for president in 2020. If Trump can do it, clearly ANYBODY can.

  70. 70
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    I supported Milo Yiannopoulos in the hope and expectation that his expression of views contrary to the social mainstream and his spotlighting of the hypocrisy of those who would close down free speech in the name of political correctness would promote the type of open debate and freedom of thought that is being throttled on many American college campuses today.

    So much wrong here, or to love, depending on your pov.

    Guys like Mercer simply have no idea of how human beings work. As Adam said, they are quants and are best off dealing in 1’s and 0’s. The unfortunate fact is that Mercer managed to spin those 1’s and 0’s into lots of bucks, which convinced him he knows about everything.

    It’s part of the libertarian ethos and what’s wrong with Silicon Valley. The rest of us have to start get louder about making the case for human beings, like that human beings deserve a decent life and are not simply minions of Uber and Lyft and whatever algorithm those guys come up with next. Human beings need shelter, food, and health care. We have to start there rather than the algorithm.

    All that said, seems interesting that Mercer chose today to do this. Would be great if he’s one more rat leaving the sinking ship.

  71. 71
    Raoul says:

    @Jeffro: Also, how do you value a company that is probably cashflow negative and has a toxic, deranged meth-head (or whatever his combo of addictions is) as it’s editor in chief?
    No one would buy it outside his family.

  72. 72

    @Raoul: The Onion is very good at photoshop.

  73. 73
    Raoul says:

    @MattF: Yeah, Wilson seems like someone I would not enjoy at a party. But his nastiness is why he was a well ‘respected’ GOP operative for years. So his insights are, IMO, useful to be considering as part of my twittbox feed.

  74. 74
    eric says:

    fraudulent conveyance made to an insider.

  75. 75
    Kay says:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is once again under scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding his candor about Russia and the Trump campaign amid revelations that he rejected a suggestion to convene a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump last year.
    According to court filings unsealed this week, Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos suggested at a March 2016 meeting that he could use his connections to set up a meeting between Putin and Trump with the then-GOP candidate’s national security team. An Instagram picture on Trump’s account shows Sessions attended the meeting at which Papadopoulos made the suggestion.

    They have to call Sessions back up. This is ridiculous. I don’t know how one crafts the question specifically enough to avoid letting this weasel dodge it, but he’s the attorney general. He can’t do this.

  76. 76
    🌎 🇺🇸 Goku (aka The Hope of the Universe) 🗳 🌷 says:

    @Yarrow:

    Of what? Russia? Is there an officially branded Traitor Party he can lead?

    Of course! The GOP! Except they’re real patriots! Somehow.

  77. 77
    bystander says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I see. Political correctness run amok again.

  78. 78
    Czanne says:

    Hm. Wonder if it has anything to do with the $7B tax bill… http://amp.mcclatchydc.com/new.....54324.html

    Though with Mercer, I think it’s relevant to keep in mind how he got his start wanting to destroy government:

    In 2014, Mercer accepted a lifetime-achievement award from the Association for Computational Linguistics. In a speech at the ceremony, Mercer, who grew up in New Mexico, said that he had a “jaundiced view” of government. While in college, he had worked on a military base in Albuquerque, and he had showed his superiors how to run certain computer programs a hundred times faster; instead of saving time and money, the bureaucrats ran a hundred times more equations. He concluded that the goal of government officials was “not so much to get answers as to consume the computer budget.”

    His goal was to minimize his labor and interaction with other people. And he resented the fact that instead of paying him the same to do less work, the lab made use of his improvement in efficiency. That one incident was formative.

  79. 79
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @N: Fixed it. Thanks.

  80. 80
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Mercer has had a hard on for my rep, Peter DeFazio, for years. DeFazio has proposed a per transaction tax on stock trades, which of course would hit Mercer the churner like a ton of bricks. So Mercer’s been financing perpetual nut-job Art Robinson to run (unsuccessfully, obviously) against DeFazio.

    Mercer and his family are parasites. No quarter for them.

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: I’m pretty sure the board knew. From all accounts all they would have had to do is spend five minutes with him.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    Securing his wealth with his children before being indicted.

    That is also my assumption.

  83. 83
    Elizabelle says:

    More on the bubble economy. OT, but I found this fascinating. FTF NY Times, doing a great job here. Explaining that financing fast food and fast casual franchise restaurants is the latest bubble. Wells Fargo and Bank of America saw their opportunity and ran with it. Some franchisees are being pushed to open up 10 units.

    It’s what gets restaurant financing; it’s driving mom and pop restaurants out of competition. It’s why so many places look the same; and actually, there is NOT demand for all those chain restaurants you’re seeing. They’re cannibalizing each other. Since Americans are so overworked and/or don’t cook as much, restaurant purchases account for 44% of Americans’ food budgets. And restaurants account for 1 of every 7 new jobs since 2010. Lot of volatility there, as the downturn comes.

    Thanks to Wall St., There May Be Too Many Restaurants

  84. 84
    Adam L Silverman says:

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Chief Oshkosh:

    That would be news to scientists who work in big pharma or private high tech…

    Scientists who work for Pfizer or Apple don’t know where their funding is coming from? That’s an … odd assertion.

  86. 86
    Kay says:

    It’s because they’re getting the big payoff with the tax cuts. It’s time for them to discover their ethical compasses again and be welcomed back into the mainstream. They’re now very concerned about the tone and tenor of our political debate.

    What’s the word? Sated.

  87. 87
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    They have to call Sessions back up. This is ridiculous. I don’t know how one crafts the question specifically enough to avoid letting this weasel dodge it, but he’s the attorney general. He can’t do this.

    WHY call him back?
    They never put him under oath.

    No. Let him be subpoenaed to a Grand Jury.

    He’s LIED TO THEIR FACES TWICE.

    Anyone else would be facing charges.
    Don’t have time for them dancing around him, pretending like he isn’t committing perjury.

  88. 88
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Kay: Mueller has already taken notice.

  89. 89
    matyroshka says:

    The rest of us have to start get louder about making the case for human beings, like that human beings deserve a decent life and are not simply minions of Uber and Lyft and whatever algorithm those guys come up with next. Human beings need shelter, food, and health care. We have to start there rather than the algorithm.

    Yes! Capitalism divorced from humanity is mechanistic and cruel. I have felt this all my working life (and I went to work when Reagan was king).

  90. 90
    Petorado says:

    Wouldn’t it be crazy if Mercer is getting antsy about Mueller looking into his involvement in the Trump campaign because RenTech has been laundering Russian money and Mercer needed the Magnitsky Act repealed to get his whole payout of Russian funds? At this point I wouldn’t doubt it.

  91. 91
    Elizabelle says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I have been cautiously optimistic that having Trump and the plutocrats in charge would open more eyes to what a danger, and how immoral, is unregulated capitalism. And how excessive executive compensation and a manipulated tax code is growing an oligopoly, like a cancer.

    Some will never learn, but I think more people are getting woke, every day.

  92. 92
    germy says:

    This statement from Poppa Mercer is interesting but isn't one of the daughters the real nut…er…activist in the clan?— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) November 2, 2017

  93. 93
    bluefoot says:

    @JR: Not to mention every time I’ve given a talk, I’ve disclosed all funding and scientific contributors and collaborators. And there’s company earnings reports, quarterly reports, etc. Pretty much anyone can find out where my money comes from.

  94. 94
    Aleta says:

    @FlyingToaster: Iowas is not far enough to save him I hope.

    Wonder how much Mercer is sinking into the Do Something! legal fund. (Know something? Take something!)

  95. 95
    Immanentize says:

    @Mnemosyne: I agree. the discussion of Milo in his retirement letter is the tell. If it was business related, that shit would not be in there.

  96. 96
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Guys like Mercer simply have no idea of how human beings work. As Adam said, they are quants and are best off dealing in 1’s and 0’s. The unfortunate fact is that Mercer managed to spin those 1’s and 0’s into lots of bucks, which convinced him he knows about everything.

    As semi-noted above (wikipedia has links), he got his start in computational linguistics (statistical machine translation iirc) (and CA does computational propaganda) and is a rather bright man. (i.e. do not underestimate him.) The philly.com article Adam linked is pretty ugly even if only 50% true, but I have to say, even reading that, I’m seeing from his letter to employees a man who is willing to make (modest) changes to his world view given new evidence/thought. Also some reputation covering, justification, and maybe legal cover, but still: (Note my default is to not trust billionaires and he’s not an exception.)

    “Without individuals thinking for themselves, society as a whole will struggle to distinguish the signal of truth from the correlated noise of conformity. I supported Milo Yiannopoulos in the hope and expectation that his expression of views contrary to the social mainstream and his spotlighting of the hypocrisy of those who would close down free speech in the name of political correctness would promote the type of open debate and freedom of thought that is being throttled on many American college campuses today. But in my opinion, actions of and statements by Mr. Yiannopoulos have caused pain and divisiveness undermining the open and productive discourse that I had hoped to facilitate. I was mistaken to have supported him,

    Haven’t worked out a plausible (collection of) backstory(ies) yet though. (An … intuition (not writing it down), but no substance.)

  97. 97
    TenguPhule says:

    @Kay:

    He can’t do this.

    Who’s supposed to stop him?

  98. 98
    artem1s says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Renaissance manages more than $50 billion in assets. Its main funds that are open to outside investors have been doing well this year, with each of them up more than 10 percent through October.

    sounds like Lehman Brothers Renaissance is about to go under. If ZEGS doesn’t get his full wish list of tax breaks for the .0001% will the market go belly up before xmas? Happy Holidays!

  99. 99
    Yellowdog says:

    @Elizabelle: Their investors would have done better in an index mutual fund. The S + P is up about 12 percent so far this year.

  100. 100
    TenguPhule says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I have been cautiously optimistic that having Trump and the plutocrats in charge would open more eyes to what a danger, and how immoral, is unregulated capitalism.

    Sorry, but 2006-2008 is already a distant memory blamed on Democrats for forcing banks to make bad loans to “those people” among the Republican faithful and the mostly ignorant.

    There will always be an excuse as to why unrestrained capitalism didn’t give them ice cream pooping unicorns.

  101. 101
    West of the Rockies (been a while) says:

    @rikyrah:

    The whole lot of them are grotesque humans.

  102. 102
    The Moar You Know says:

    This statement from Poppa Mercer is interesting but isn’t one of the daughters the real nut…er…activist in the clan?— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) November 2, 2017

    @germy: As usual, Pierce is half right. Rebekah is an insane true RWNJ is every sense of the term. But daddy is as well. Not one whit less toxic than his hellspawn.

  103. 103
    Yellowdog says:

    @germy: Yeah, I’ve always thought that Rebekah was the most evil of all of them. Although there is a lot of competition in that family. Worse than the Kochs.

  104. 104
    The Moar You Know says:

    Wilmer also refused to get a real job.

    @Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: That did not escape my notice and was a HUGE reason I never supported the guy.

    It’s very rare to find that in a non-rich person and a huge red flag for me under any circumstances.

  105. 105
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Yellowdog:

    Worse than the Kochs.

    And that takes some doing.

  106. 106
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Adam L Silverman: They always know it, like with harassment, it’s the lawyers saying the otherside can document it so Mercer is toast in court that would make them fire Mercer.

  107. 107
    theturtlemoves says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: So those assholes are the reason I have to see Art Robinson signs plastered all over the place every 2 years? That makes me hate them even more.

  108. 108
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    @Elizabelle: Sit by me. I too am cautiously optimistic.

  109. 109
    Yutsano says:

    @Raoul: WTF IS HE WEARING???

  110. 110

    So, if God loves us, this will be the prelude to indictments of the Mercers.

    (Disclaimer: I’m actually agnostic.)

  111. 111
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    It could have something to do with the IRS’s claim of $7 billion in back taxes against Mercer’s fund, although I don’t immediately see how that works.

  112. 112
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Raoul: Nicely put. A market that is going nowhere while volatility climbs can be a bad sign. After a run up like this, the old canard about “digesting the gains” makes sense but I am suspicious that it could be more of a teetering while Wall Street decides if this trump/Russia stuff has any traction that could upset economic stability. The fact that his administration is a bull in a china shop about, well, anything, has to perhaps tickle the thought that hmm, maybe the punch bowl is looking suspiciously empty? It also caught my attention that the majority of public company’s annual earning statements included (well buried) statements that they expect business to be negatively impacted by trump’s policies. Wall Street always plays their fiddles as long as possible, even when the fires around them are getting pretty damned close.

  113. 113
    beef says:

    I want to correct some misconceptions I spotted above. (I work in a nearby area of finance, so know a little more about the subject than average.)

    Mercer isn’t running for President. He’s notoriously taciturn. You have to talk 16 hours a day to run for President.

    Rentec’s open funds are up ~10% for the year, through October. Not up 10% in the month of October.

    Mercer may be many things, but he’s not an idiot and he hasn’t contributed nothing to humanity. He & Peter Brown figured out how to make computers learn languages. (Though rumor has it some guy in Princeton figured it out a generation earlier.) Their work launched the computational linguistics revolution that led to Siri, google translate, autocorrect, voice to text, and all those amazing cell phone tricks.

    Mercer is not RenTec. He’s an important figure there, and probably owns about 15% of the company. The majority owner is Jim Simons, who’s a major supporter of Democratic causes.

    RenTec is not its hedge funds. RenTec is a company which manages several hedge funds. One of these funds — the Medallion fund — is open to employees only, wildly profitable, but limited in capacity. The others have much larger capacity, but aren’t as profitable. The money in the employee fund belongs to the employees and owners of RenTec. The money in the other funds mostly belongs to pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and other aggregate entities.

    RenTec isn’t laundering Russian money through their Medallion fund. This is hard to prove, obviously, but it’s incredibly unlikely. First, the fund’s profits are very impressive, but not a red flag. There are other funds which have similar returns, such as TGS Management, Trout Trading Co, Capital Fund Management, PDT advisors, and DE Shaw. Second, Medallion is owned by RenTec employees. The employees mainly are people who’d done first rate science, and then decided on a second career in finance. You need to believe that roughly 90 genuinely brilliant scientists — Putnam exam winners, people who’ve quit tenured Ivy League professorships because they want to test their brains against the markets, the guy who co-invented both quarks and wavelets — are instead running a money laundering scam. Personally, I don’t think it figures. Finally, RenTec charges the Medallion investors extraordinary fees. 5% of assets ands 45% of profits, every year. Among employees, this amount to a redistribution scheme, from investors to employees, but to outside entities it is phenomenally expensive. I’m no expert on money-laundering, but I do not believe that the money laundering industry gets to take a ~50% cut. (And indeed google search results suggests the cut is 10-20%.)

    I think Mercer’s politics are repulsive, but I don’t believe he’s an evil mastermind. I think he’s more likely a dog whose car-chasing hobby ended when he caught the car. He’s clearly stepping down to distance the firm from his reputation. Maybe his politics was interfering with their hiring, maybe he’s about to be indicted, I don’t know.

  114. 114
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Czanne:

    While in college, he had worked on a military base in Albuquerque, and he had showed his superiors how to run certain computer programs a hundred times faster; instead of saving time and money, the bureaucrats ran a hundred times more equations. He concluded that the goal of government officials was “not so much to get answers as to consume the computer budget.”

    Those “bureaucrats” were probably scientists or engineers, and they don’t make their models bigger to consume more computer budget, they do it to solve bigger problems or solve them more accurately. You’d think that someone winning awards for computational linguistics would understand that.

  115. 115
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Scamp Dog: Exactly, Before I went to grad school in the early 1980’s the problem with trying to model groundwater flow was that the computers we had access to just couldn’t handle large complicated models. One model was so complex it ran slower than real time; the joke was that it was useful for predicting the past. Anyone who has done any modeling knows that you always want more computer power. Mercer’s resentment is what you’d expect though from a libertoonian.

  116. 116
    Egorelick says:

    Perhaps someone whose opinion he actually cares about pointed out to him that he was evil. Maybe it got through his decades thick armor of BS and rationalization. (I mean Darth Vader repented, why not Mercer?)

  117. 117

    @Egorelick: Well, if we want to extend the analogy, Vader’s heel-face turn occurred mostly because the Emperor threatened his son. Mercer and his daughter may be in danger of indictment. So that’s not entirely impossible. An impending prison sentence may prove to be clarifying for many of these people.

  118. 118
    Barney says:

    @germy: It may mean Milo has to leave the USA.

    Yiannopolous has said that he holds O-1B status, which specifically applies to artists — who can include journalists. To qualify for that particular immigration status, the individual must be sponsored by an employer, or through an “agent.” The agent can be any U.S. business or individual.

    When an individual is terminated or leaves the employer for any reason, he or she must generally have a new petition filed by a new employer, or be prepared to leave the country as soon as possible.

    https://www.thewrap.com/could-milo-be-deported-an-immigration-attorney-explains/

    Good for America, shitty for Britain. Can we lose him in transit over the Atlantic?

  119. 119

    @Barney: O-1 is a temporary visa for extraordinary ability, what extraordinary ability does he possess, one wonders.

  120. 120
    TenguPhule says:

    @Scamp Dog:

    Those “bureaucrats” were probably scientists or engineers, and they don’t make their models bigger to consume more computer budget, they do it to solve bigger problems or solve them more accurately. You’d think that someone winning awards for computational linguistics would understand that

    And you’d be wrong. That’s precisely why he doesn’t understand it.

  121. 121
    Egorelick says:

    He had the same extraordinary ability that Melania had when she was granted her visa.

  122. 122

    @Elizabelle: Actually Cal State University is a four-year college, with master’s degrees in some departments. (My Dad was a professor there and I’m sure he’d be horrified by the little cretin.)

    There is a separate two-year Fullerton Community College a few miles away.

  123. 123
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Egorelick:

    Perhaps someone whose opinion he actually cares about pointed out to him that he was evil.

    I’ve been wondering about this possibility as well. Note that this includes the sub-possibility that he worked it (or some lesser variant) out on his own; introspective rationality can be be brutal to oneself if you’re a thinker. Wish (wistfully) that he would give a tell-all interview.

  124. 124
    bemused says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    No, he doesn’t understand how people work or anything much beyond numbers. I read that he believes people are paid what they are worth.Therefore, if people get paid a crappy wage, that’s is all they are worth.

  125. 125
    Shalimar says:

    @Raoul: So Milo calls himself a whore and married a john. Until I see evidence that any reporter anywhere has seen the marriage certificate and can confirm “John” exists, my bet is still on the guy in the picture being a model and the marriage being a publicity stunt.

  126. 126
    Anne Laurie says:

    Looks like I have an even filthier mind than most jackals here, because when I saw Milo’s name mentioned so prominently, my first thought was “Bob just found something on one of Milo’s ‘fun recreational links’ that made him very VERY nervous.”

    I suspect Mr. Mercer knows more about good online hygiene than his ex-Boy Wonder… and with all those billions and his ambitious daughter’s career at stake, if Milo’s browser history includes certain categories of Nastiness in which the prudish authorities take an undue interest…

  127. 127
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    if Milo’s browser history includes certain categories of Nastiness in which the prudish authorities take an undue interest…

    Hadn’t thought of that possibility. Should not go there without evidence, though, IMO. Analogues of this[prudish authority bait] have been used throughout history to destroy innocent people.

  128. 128
    J R in WV says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    So you’re alleging that Milo is, what? Innocent? Really!?

  129. 129
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Bill Arnold: Yeah, that’s why I tried to word that carefully. I agree that Tha Authoritees have a bad history of using OMG DIRTY SMUT PEDDLERS as an excuse / distraction. On the other hand, it has been established that Milo has not been particularly careful with his “I are a bold sex-positive outlaw” performance art — saying the wrong thing, back before he was ‘discovered’ by the Mercers, has already gotten him in trouble. And Bob Mercer is a very odd dude. It just seemed possible that Milo might’ve been linked onto some dark-web ‘shock the squares’ list, which Mercer might’ve accidentally run across and panicked. Maybe just “Happy Nazis No-Pants Party”, y’know?

  130. 130
    Duane says:

    It’s a market bubble based on Trumpism? Good Lord people, run for the hills!

  131. 131
    AnonPhenom says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thanks for the link Adam. I can’t believe Mercer has the balls to whine about anti-Free Speech PC behavior on colleges in his letter after reading what he’s done to Magerman. Mercer is truly a very special snowflake.

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