Minimal Satire Feed

The World Turned Upside Down

When one people, perhaps better organized, with a better Leader, conquered another, erased the loser's histories, tore down its monuments, killed or enslaved the men, burned its sacred texts, raped and impregnated the women, slew the innocents, profaned the altars, then came new histories, new monuments, new laws, a new king, new coinage, new standards for a promotion, new ribbons for National Heroes, and improved standards of decency. More civilized than the savages rightly put to the sword.

When the truth is unspeakable, guilty, when it is the truth of the marginalized and subordinated, then it is best spoken without being heard, hidden in plain sight. Told in parables, fables, allegory, and jokes; overheard, not heard. Stirred up from the bottom, this is Carnival, or Mardi Gras, madness, licentiousness, the promiscuous intermixing of high and low; riot, drunkenness, abandon, the mad world of Dionysus, the god of Alexander the Great, even now in New Orleans, staged in status contest, and as good business, by the town's elite. Stirred up from the bottom (first Carnival, then Lent), it is the crucifix after the fact, held up as an object of worship - holy, holy, holy. The priest who at midnight fornicated with the mayor's wife on the altar, as the drunken crowd (including the mayor) cheered, gives the Lenten sermon in the same cathedral, and rightly so. Coming and going, both are true, just not all at once, which is why the liturgical calendar endlessly repeats, to accommodate the whole truth.

From the bottom up, the world turned upside down, what do we do with the unthinkable, the unspeakable, at least half our moral truth?  We call it art and hang it on the wall in the rich man's house. We wear britches, at times, and sometimes not. In the confessional, in a whisper, the Mayor's wife confesses her adultery, accepting penance, again on her knees. So, Wealth and The Will of God sprinkles holy water on Wealth Bondage, as priests have long blessed fleets headed off to war. On the priest's performance, no less than the whore's, Wealth Bondage, my generous patron, has built a resilient brand. May God be thanked.

Ah, Master Jack, ye knew this already, did you not? And because you do, you consider yourself Wise, having tasted the tree of knowledge, and become as a god? Such are the double-sided-truths, like the emperor's coin in the fingers of Christ, young Audrey must learn if she is to own, rule, and save, in this fallen world? That is why Tess must keep you on retainer as her most trusted advisor? Her consigliere? Secular Priest? Man of all work? Mentor to Youth? Yet, look! There Audrey is, with Tutor, hopping about like a Well Prepared Hare.  Perhaps, one day, it will be your head on the block in Tutor's dungeon, or on a raised stage as a spectacle, lesson, and entertainment for the rabble.  But, be assured, that as a Professional Courtesy, as one Trusted Advisor to another, in my capacity as the Omniscient Author Function, I will do my best to give your inevitable fall a comic turn. At least, you can be sure I will find it funny. And sometimes laughter is contagious, the best cure for the plague we spread as healers. And if you, too, smile, then all is right with the world. The laughter then passes, the wheel turns, and we can all get back to our serious business.


Dr. Maevis Bryerly - On my Omnisicience - A Mental Health Perspective on a Narrative Convention

Readers have asked how can I, a flawed, mortal man, of questionable and fragile mental health, know from my dumpster what is happening at The Castle by Sea, near Scotland, where my mentor, The Happy Tutor, is now gainfully employed as The Least Trusted Advisor to Tess, the Warrior Queen of Wall Street, and her daughter, Audrey, age 9.6, who will someday own, rule and save our world, as you shall see in due time. In particular, and this is a real conundrum not just with me but with, say, Fielding, Dickens, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Henry James, and Virginia Wolfe, to name a few, how can I as Omniscient Narrator, actually see inside the characters' heads, and know their thoughts, and their most secret feelings? At one level, the answer is obvious: As Omniscient Narrator, I am just doing my job, no more or less bogus than, say, Impact Investing, or Subprime Loans, or Collateralized Debt Obligations, or politicians' promises. For every foolish reader, consumer, investor, or voter, an omniscient narrator stands ready to tell a tale. It is a big circuit of wishful thinking, feeding on itself. At another level, the answer (as to how I can hear the voices inside another person's head) is again obvious: I am insane. That seems more likely.

So, now that the Audrey project is taking off, and is billable, and my job in Wealth Bondage is no longer in peril, I am back in the Wealth Bondage Health Plan and am able to see a Counselor on a regular basis. Her name, I had not told you this in earlier posts, is Dr. Maevis Bryerly. She looks like a retired Lumberjack in tweed business attire, about 220 pounds, with arms like a weight lifter, and fists the size of hams, which triggers in me a lot of bad memories of my early days in Wealth Bondage pitching payday loans to the retail market in Yukon, prior to moving up into Private Banking, as assistant Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage, under the Happy Tutor, with a specialization in Donor Motivation.

Dr. Bryerly asked me, today, how my journaling was going. She had assigned it to me, without realizing that I was posting it all over the internet. She considers that both a sign of my poor mental health, and cause of it not getting better. Now I am shunned not only in person but also by millions of passersby who read and mock my posts. I long for even one "like," "follower," or "friend," but years into this, I have nothing to show in response to my posts but stony silence, vitriol and scorn. I asked Dr. Bryerly about my Omniscience and she said it is nothing; I should not worry about it. It goes with megalomania, psychosis, and other traits associated with greatness. But, I said, "The voice I hear dictating the voices and inner lives of Audrey and Tess and Tutor, is your voice, Doctor. I merely take dictation. You are my muse! I love you so much Dr! I dream your words in my sleep!"

She said this is worse than she thought and would adjust my medication. More lithium. She said she is not my muse; and I don't really love her. It is just a transference, which is just as well, because if I loved a woman who looks like a Lumberjack, I would have to get my head examined. She said she would work through the transference with me, but I should probably not be drinking so much when on lithium, particularly after my lobotomy. The voices could just be delirium tremens.

I know that for you, as Gentle Reader, this may be Too Much Information (TMI), but I have always believed that Full Disclosure leads to trust. Without your believing in me as the Omniscient Narrator, I can't tell you what is going on inside Audrey, and have you accept it as true. I don't know how you would trust me if you thought that I thought that I am really Omniscient. I know it is really the Muse, speaking through Dr. Bryerly into me. As a Doctor of Human Psychology, she can see and hear what is going on inside people's heads. That is her job. She is trained to do it.  That gives me the confidence to post here verbatim, without any editing, what I hear her saying inside my head.  I know I will some day be cured, which is why I want to write everything down on line now, so that when my head goes dark, I can read it here and remember what it once was to be inspired.


Horace's Immortal Muse

I ran into my Muse today (I think of her as that, though she considers herself my therapist), not at her office where I go for help with the voices in my head, but at a hotel bar, where I had gone to network and cage a drink. She had already had a few too many, so I escorted her to a cab, and sent her home. On the way out the hotel's door, leaning on my arm, she said, "Fuck being a Muse.... other people's poetry and projections.... all I ever wanted was a little farm in Licenza at the foot of the mountains, where I could keep a flock and grow olives.... and that bastard Caesar gave it to fucking Horace....."


King Lear and The King's Men - Lessons on the Slippery Art of Family Governance

King Lear: The History Revealed by Fintan O'Toole, reviewed in The New York Review of Books.

Family Governance for Governing Families. The role of the artist, under a patron. The role of the King's Man. Support, absorb, refactor, and subvert, for the greater good. More power than a Wise Counselor in the traditional Courtier mode. More power than Parliament. Only an all licensed Fool could do more. Were I a wise man I would join Wise Counsel, giving sage advice to families as powerful as our former Monarchs, before we broke from English rule. 

The Wise make good use of literature, as of everything else. If they were wiser yet, they would be Fools. And perhaps The Happy Tutor could show them how. He is a Secular Priest, or actually a real priest, educated at Oxford as a cleric, since under Primogeniture (how our august predecessors beat the proverb, ashes to ashes, and rags to rags), he had to go into the army, become a judge, or be a priest and scholar, with a parish, or a school, or if lazy, as Tutor is, and a drunkard, and carouser, he could set up as a Morals Tutor to his noble neighbor's brats. Mentoring the Heirs, as we now say. The Happy Tutor is also the Lord of Misrule. So are our Wise Counsel, today, if by Misrule we mean the rule of the richest forever. Fool is one thing, Coxcomb, or Villain is another.

In Lear, do we pity the pauper at the base of Fortune's wheel as it turns, or the King at the top who must inevitably fall? When the highest and lowest trade places, 'handy dandy' who goes in ermine, and who in rags? Change places, and who is the thief, and who is the justice? Who is the sighted one? Who is blind?  Who is sane and who mad? Riddle me that, Wise Counsel. But more importantly, can we like Shakespeare, speak truth in riddles to power, and still be awarded our four yards of red cloth to wear the King's livery at court? So far Tutor, buck naked in a Dumpster, must await future delivery. Advantage Wise Counsel.

If I were to write my own Book on Wealth and the Will of God, I would add the epigraph: "Wiser are the Children of Darkness." And believe me, I have learned that to my own cost. Let it be a lesson to us all.


In Wealth Bondage by the Grace of God - A Further Explantion

A learned reader, in the Dynastic Wealth business, following the conversation with Matt Wesley about the meaning of Gifthub, and, for that matter, of Wealth Bondage, writes me to ask, if to understand WB would require a "soteriology of grace." I take the question in good spirit as a sincere desire to plumb the depths of my ouvre. I am reminded of a remark Swift once made, "that a hole may appear wondrous deep, when it is only wondrous dark." Probably, we are all going too deep. But I will try to answer the question. 

To redeem Wealth Bondage and those within it would require a sotieriology of grace, yes, a miracle, an awakening.  I had to look it up on Wikipedia, to know what soteriology is. I misread it as being derived from sortilege. Such is my relationship to grace, more like a man blowing on a prayer wheel, bought in an arcade, or casting cards to read a fortune. Wealth Bondage, as a wise reader once noted, is The Garden of Earthly Delights, or Edmund’s  Spenser’s Garden where Circe keeps the sailors, including Ulysses, enchanted. When the magic is lifted, one sailor, Grylle says he wants to remain a pig. “Let Grylle be Grylle and have his hoggish mind” says the narrator. In other words, Wealth Bondage is life seen by moderns as a Free Market where all is for sale, and the most apt language is always financial (social investment, social return, four human capitals including wisdom, love, spirituality, whatever is a pearl beyond price). Wealth Bondage is vulgarity in all its forms. It is the alpha and the omega, the source and end of all being. There is no 'outside' of it, because it represents the limits of our moral imagination.

Paradise, as some Wealth Advisors call it, where the wealthy go, and try to stay, unless deported back to the harsh realities that govern lesser lives, seems to me to be a form of Wealth Bondage. (It is also a brilliant book, Strangers in Paradise, perhaps the best book in the field in many years, on how to maintain dynastic wealth over generations, a goal unworthy of its author, it seems to me, and one from which he may some day awaken, by the grace of God, or by falling on his head, if he trips, but a common goal in the field we call "Family Governance.") That vision of an isolated Paradise  reminds me of Circe’s Garden. It also reminds me of the Floating Islands of Lagodo in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, or the blue light across the bay for which Gatsby yearns. Petronius’s Satyricon, apparently, was among the sources for Fitzgerald. “They said you was high class” sang Elvis, “But that was just a lie. You ain’t nothin’ but a hounddog.” In other words, if not grace, then laughter. When it works right, laughter is not laughter at another (a form of boundary maintenance, a way of casting others out), but inclusive, a recognition of a shared humanity, fallible, and physical, and temporal. (If Dr. Grubman's view of paradise for the rich, apart from the rest of humankind, is healed not by grace, may it be laughter, not at anyone, but among us all, in a great wave of civic friendship, binding us all, high and low, as we all exchange roles, handy dandy, Lord to Beggar and back.)

Drawing on Greek thought, Martha Nussbaum reminds us that Goodness is as Fragile as an earthly garden; it fails unless tended, and may fail even if tended. Beyond our reason or frail powers, is fate, destiny, providence, chance, and moral luck.  I play up the Christian on Gifthub more than I have any right to do. But the Gospels are familiar, and Spenser, Nussbaum, Petronius, Shakespeare, Swift,  Fitzgerald, not so much. I believe all things pass, and that dynasty, the dream of it, is at conspicuous variance with every wisdom tradition. It is like trying to stop Fortune’s wheel from turning, or to halt time at mid-summer. “Remember man that thou are dust and into dust thou shalt return.” “Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.” “All things are sliding under the moon.” “Nothing gold can stay.” The vanitas tradition. "Vanity, saith the Preacher, all is Vanity." The lesson of Carnival, or Vanity Fair. The lessons of Lent and Mardi Gras. The lesson as common as graves, and as hard to accept.

We are all brothers and sisters under the costumes. The king will become a pauper and the pauper a king as the wheel of fortune turns, as the seasons turn, as the generations pass, as we all like chimney sweepers come to dust, in Shakespeare’s lyric.  What makes me better? What makes me so special? Who am I to point fingers? Who am I to give instruction? Whatever Wise Counselors to Flourishing Dynastic Families have done, I have done worse and for less money. I am a fool, a failure, a man who once had shirtsleeves and now has none. That is the persona here, or alternative identity, or me under my own name, pretending to be me. Grace may come, but “Phil,” the speaker on Gifthub, the Hack, has no ability to pray. The nearest priest, Father Brennan, has been defrocked, for reasons  the Church has never made public, under the terms of the settlement. Brennan, now a secular priest, is no help whatsoever. He channels neither grace nor wisdom. He is a toxic healer, carrying the plague, or pox, from house to house, or scene room to screen room, in the darker satire of WB, where it draws on Genet’s scabrous “The Balcony,” where the Bishop is the Whore’s horsey, and the theme is the abuse of power, under the Nazi occupation in Paris,  and its erotic delights, considered as a parable of the deranged body politic.  Brennan has promise. I tell him if he enjoyed it more, sinned bigger and more boisterously, it could count as satire, and he might not go to jail, even if he is ultimately caught with his pants down, yet again.

You can see I find it painful to be so literal, so humorless. Brennan may be a sinner, but he deserves his privacy. Who am I to out him? And it is an insult to the Ideal Reader to whom my words are always addressed, as if the Ideal Reader required a cribsheet, like a schoolboy who has barely read the Text. As Dr. Amrit Chadwallah, Senior Adjunct in Charge of Hidden Meaning, here in Wealth Bondage, said to me in the bar last night, after work, “Did you really have to do that? Make up all that stuff about your sources? It is your whole intellectual history, plus a lot of books you never read, the ones I lent you and you never gave back, the ones Tutor reposes on in the Dumpster. Are these people really unable to read Gifthub without being told what it means? I thought you said they were the world class  super-smarties. What were their Board Scores? Where did they prep? Their parents should ask for a refund. This blog is hardly AP English Material.”

Explaining a joke is not funny. Explaining the explanation, risks starting all over again with a new joke. Satire works best, I believe, when sublimated. Naming names, or coming too close to real people, as with Fr. Brennan a moment ago, or explaining all the allusions, symbolism, conceits, subplots, and subtext, and the inter-textuality of it all, strips from her the disguises in which naked truth most decorously appears, and brings it back to the ancient dance of the priest and the goat, with the priest wearing the flayed skin of the sacrificial goat that the priest will become, if the laugh goes against him.  The only person I can heal is me, and I am sick unto death like all the others. If I feel I am any better, then I am the Pharisee who kneels to thank God that God has not made him like other men.

I have no paying clients. ( That may surprise some of you.) If I required steady patronage, as opposed to foraging in garbage bins and sleeping rough, I could not write like this. “The bow is bent, make from the shaft,” as Lear says to the Fool who crosses him by speaking truth, even in jests and pantomime, which is the Fool’s job.  This upside down, inside out, style is only learned in brokenness and surrender, writing under surveillance, as one vulnerable to reprisal, by my immediate superior or the higher-ups. 

My resume went for a time straight up, then straight down. All the way up to Gothic Quadrangles with high windows, and a Porter at the Gates, with a Master's Garden, where once I sat with with my own Morals Tutor, discussing Wittgenstein, and all the way down to teaching insurance sales in Birmingham, AL, in a yellow-tinted training room with no windows, and, it seemed, no way of escaping. I have had years, decades, without a voice, or an educated thought partner, other than the many figments of my addled imagination, like Dr. Chadwallah, The Happy Tutor,  and Richard (Dick) Minim, of the East Coast Minims,  the heir to the Hyena Dog Chow Fortune, and now Senator (D) from MA. I said Brennan is real,  and he is. But that is not his real name. And he was not a priest, but some kind of veterinarian. He just pretended to be a priest to seduce women.

I appreciate readers trying to understand me, like the Doctors did at the Asylum for Lunatic Counselors to Dynastic Wealth, before the insurance lapsed, and I was turned back out on the street. I hope I have not hurt or offended any real advisors to serious wealth, particularly any wise and virtuous ones. They are rare and worth their weight in gold. (In fact, that is how they determine their annual retainer, at least in the Emirates, by sitting in one pan of a scale, like the scales of justice, while the client heaps gold in the other pan, or so I heard, maybe in my alcoholic dreams.) This is about wisdom traditions, not us. The traditions speak, when conjured, but the spirits who come are not always gracious. Mine I fear, or know, are from below.

I hope we are now good with my most educated, best placed, readers, with no offense taken. You are honorable people. Wealth Bondage, The Den of Iniquity, would never hire you. I checked your websites. You are on the up and up. I would like to be cordially included in the best circles, your circles, or tolerated on the margins, or if cast out with the trash, gently, so as not to awaken The Happy Tutor, who is sleeping it off with Dr. Rabelais in the Dumpster, after sneaking into the Costume Ball  in Paradise Hall last night, having gone as Doctors, in hooded robes, resplendent Scholar’s garb, from the Dark Ages.  Judging from their noonday stupor, I guess it must have been quite a party. I hope some day to be invited. Then I will see for myself. At this point I am just making it up, as you can probably tell.  


Understanding Satire

Satire in ancient times was surgery without anesthetic, for the pleasure of the surgeon and the benefit of the patient. Today, it is more like painless dentistry. Under laughing gas, the patient feels no pain.

This is not to say that a satirist is always a butcher. It is just that a satirist must first reform himself. And if you think sawing into your own skull is easy, in a mirror, you will never master our noble trade. Satirists, like psychologists, are often the sickest of them all. We go into it to cure ourselves, at least we should start there.

The last thing you need, if you are already healthy, wealthy and wise, is Wise Counsel, so it seems to me, since you have it all already. A healthy person is more likely to get sick in a hospital than at home. And why would you pay for what you already have in abundance? By the same token who would want a Fool or Knave as a client? I would, but I am desperate for any paying customers at all. I can't even give it away pro bono publico. It doesn't take a genius to see why.


In a Castle by The Sea - The Backstory on Tutor

Times change. In olden days, under primogeniture, it was easier than now for a noble family to flourish for many generations, since assets (land, knights, ladies in waiting, livestock, servants, tapestries, treasure, peasants, hunting dogs, armor, fine plate) were not disbursed through many lineages, but kept as one. Tutor in that era was a kind of dual passport serving-professional. He was both of noble birth himself (the second son of a country squire), and also a morals tutor to a noble family. (He had gone to Oxford, and gotten a degree in Divinity.) 

Last night, in an old National Geographic, Tutor, as we bedded down for the night, came across a photo of his old castle, or more correctly that of his Lord and Master, whose name is now but a footnote in history, though Tutor lives on, through this Blog, immortal. The Great Hall, the Master Bedroom, the Kitchen, the Dungeons, the Chapel, are all empty. The moat is full of water, but the drawbridge has collapsed. Once, Tutor told me, long ago, when the young lady of the castle was ill, Dr. Rabelais himself came when sent for. "Whether he made her better or worse," says Tutor, "she was never again the same, but  seemed much happier.  Apparently she was better, but she was always asking her mother to send for him again, so whatever she had, it must have been chronic." Apparently, no one lives there now but ghosts. It may be sold, the article says, to a hedge fund manager or a Silicon Valley entrepreneur for some large fraction of a billion, pounds, euros or dollars, I don't know which. Since the article was from two years ago, it probably already was sold.

Times change, but not human nature. Today's highest level families, like those in the olden days, need Moral Mentors. "Even today, a degree in Divinity," says Tutor, "is the gold standard. Charles Collier, Matt Wesley, Paul Schervish, Keith Whitaker. They are following in my footsteps, as best they can, not being themselves of noble birth." Tutor, long since past his prime, naked and regal on his garbage-sacks of old books, snug in our Dumpster at the Corner of Wealth and Bondage, as drunk as a lord, dreams of making a come back.

"I know that Castle, every back stair, every secret passage, every dungeon, each stall in the stables, the altar in the chapel, the confessional. I knew the mason who hewed the first foundation stone. I know the peasant who died laying it, and whose skeleton may still lie there, for all I know. The Bible has not changed a bit, though I hear it has lately been translated into the vulgate. And I can still dance a jig. Yes, My Lord. No, My Lord. Why not mentor the new heirs as we did the old? In those days we did have families that flourished for a lot more than 100 years. Some  I mentored ruled the yeomanry and basically owned the peasants for a thousand years. The knights swore fealty on their knees touched by their Master sword." He started to tell me how he mentored the heirs, but I can't repeat on a blog devoted to passing on Family Values, under current conditions, except in the more traditional Christian Families, where the old ways are still accepted as the best way, and most of those families are not rich enough to keep a private Parson on retainer.

I told Tutor he has a lot reading to do if he is to qualify or stand out against the burgeoning competition. "Rabelais?" He asked, or "Mother Goose? Aesop? La Fontaine? La Bruyere?"  "No," I said, "maybe Virgil, but nothing funny, obscene, or silly, except maybe Chaucer, and nothing too cryptic. Today's ultra high net worth clients are not so good with hidden meanings." With that he assumed the most scholarly face imaginable, and rose up as if to preach a sermon, or give a scholarly lecture, buck naked, tipsy, pompous as could be. A quite convincing priest or scholar, except for the high-flown nonsense that came out of his mouth. And of course it made me laugh. I can't imagine how even in the Dark Ages a guy like that passed for credible. "The title of my sermon," he intoned is, "The Proper Use of Riches, and my subtitle is Human Flourishing, or Paradise on Earth, How to Obtain and Retain it, Best Practices of the Wise, Virtuous and Wealthy in all Eras from Ancient Times to the Present."  Maybe a thousand years ago, in the Dark Ages, he got away with it as the younger son of  noble family, but today our clients expect us to wear clothes.


Red or blue pill, Sire?

Generally, in pitching the world's wealthiest families on my (as yet unsuccessful) Moral Tutoring shtick, I don't get past the butler, the trusted advisors, and the most trusted advisor, let alone the man of all work, or even the chambermaid, the chauffeur, or the teller of fortunes; and when I chase the limousines, naked and barefoot, to make the pitch, they generally just speed off, before I can outline my Value Proposition. But in imagination, so I can be ready when given an opening, if ever I get one, I have honed the my Elevator Speech to one poignant question:

Sir (or Madame or Sir and Madame), would your prefer blue pill or red pill ethics? For you? Your children? The general populace?

As you probably know, blue pill ethics are the ethics of sheep touted by Shepherds who have a vested interest in fresh lamb and fleece. Red pill ethics, as you probably know, are rooted in the Dark Triad of Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy associated with thinkers as diverse as Castiglione, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Aynn Rand, or Leo Strauss. It is the philosophy of the Superman or Superwoman, the Master or Mistress of the Universe. Not the lamb, but the wolf.

My thought is that whichever pill the Dynastic Family prefers - and who am I to judge as Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families,  I am here to serve -- I conduct values exercises, and create a family mission statement that will work within their preferred modality. As high sounding, hypocritical, self serving, BS, in the red pill genre, while I work behind the scenes to tutor the young prince or princess in the wised up real values; or, in the unlikely event the family had swallowed the blue pill, and never wised up, I could just use the family values verbatim as cornpone for the consumption of heirs under the age of reason, until they were prepared for a more esoteric lesson.

I would have liked to think that my specializing in red pill Mentoring would set me apart from the claque of Trusted Advisors, and Most Trusted Advisors, doing Family Values work, since all I ever see out there for family values statements are pretty much cornpone, but I have come to see that this could be the work of red pill families properly coached. I, too, if I had a client, and sincerely wished to serve them well, would want a corny mission statement to face the world, while behind the scenes the children were taught the skills (Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy) correlated with success at the level of Statecraft, or the preservation of a family's net worth far exceeding that of the Padua, Venice, or Florence.  

I fear that at times Gifthub has often been hopelessly idealistic, citing the Gospels and other blue pill philosophies, and this might seem to disqualify me from teaching Ethics to The World's Finest Families, but I would like to state for the record that I am flexible when it comes to ethics as a practical matter. There is no better disguise for guile than a little scripture here and there, or a bit of philanthropy. My responsibility as Wise & Virtuous Fiduciary to UHNI's is to elicit Family Values, paper them up, paper them over, and get things done. For those who are put off by my show of ethics, please be assured that my only colleagues and friends, here in Wealth Bondage, are among the dregs of humanity, whose ethics are demonstrably worse than even than those of our best clients. How bad are my ethics? My friends say that even in our Bordello, in our most debauched moments, I am considered louche, or would be if I were allowed to play a role larger than handing out towels in return for tips, as I do now. If my ethics are not bad enough to be a morals coach, I can do worse. If only I had the money, Sir, or Madame, or Sir and Madame, as the case my be.


Secular Priest, Adoptive Son, and Consigliere in a Great Family

You remember Fr. Francis (Frank) Brennan, the defrocked priest who disappeared from Wealth Bondage (proud sponsor of  Gifthub) along with a case of communion wine, and an altar boy, from the Wealth with Wisdom Scene Room? He called me on a stolen cellphone to catch up. Apparently, he has landed on his feet as Consigliere to a Great Family from South America. I asked Father Frank what his duties entail. He said as "the most trusted advisor," he is responsible for the family mission statement, and maintaining family values, wisdom, and hence wealth across generations. I knew all that; it is just the textbook stuff that all Consiglieres do. In The Godfather, Tom is an attorney but almost an adoptive son. Father Brennan said he is drawing up the adoption papers for signature once he "makes his bones." As with Tom, Fr. Brennan may have to, as he puts it, "execute against plan," by making certain recalcitrant types "an offer they can't refuse." (Remember the movie producer waking up next to the severed head of his prized thoroughbred horse?) I was confused about this, and how it reconciles with Family Values, Family Mission Statement, the Gospel of Wealth, and the Will of God on Earth, to which Great Families are devoted and from which they ultimately derive their legitimacy in the eyes of the Almighty and the General Public. Then I recalled in The Godfather series that not only the family but the Church, as well as the police and the judiciary, and Senators, are corrupt to the core. Family Values, religiosity, family capitals, come down in the end (in the film, not in real life) to patronage. Favors traded, rings kissed, large bodies of cash, rule outside the rule of law by oligarchs and their friends. For this to be credible we need a Secular Priest and in this role Fr. Brennan is second only to the very best in this field. I do not want to name any names because the list of those calling themselves Consigliere to a Great Family runs several pages long, and includes some of the most respected figures in the field, known for sagacity and virtue. I do not want to make invidious distinctions as to their relative merits. The Monk Rasputin was the best historically, and it took many bullets, a hatchet, and an unknown number of bayonets, to bring him down, before the Tsar his client fell, and his family too, into the pit under a hail of bullets, some bouncing off the children's vests sewn with diamonds, but many getting through. Brennan has enough sense to take the last helicopter out of the compound before it falls, if his escape from Wealth Bondage, one step ahead of the law, and several of his wives, is any indication. It was good to hear from Brennan. I am glad all is going well.