Jeffrey Epstein and Guilt by Association

A weird media narrative has formed.

guilty pointing fingers

In the wake of the arrest of the billionaire financier on sex trafficking charges, many are trying implicate famous people who had contact with him.

At the moronic end, we have a Townhall screed headlined “BREAKING: Bill Clinton Denies Knowing Anything About His Pedophile Friend Jeffery Epstein But Flight Logs Show Otherwise.” Well, no. Clinton’s people claimed he “knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffery Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.”

Even Fox News acknowledged that rather major distinction: “Bill Clinton ‘knows nothing’ about financier Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘terrible crimes,’ former president’s spokesman says.” The story itself seems to have no point; it’s just a rehash of the news.

WaPo at least points to an actual lie with its story “Trump called Epstein a ‘terrific guy’ who enjoyed ‘younger’ girls before denying relationship with him.” Still, being socially acquainted with Epstein isn’t complicity in his crimes.

NYT joins in with “Inside Epstein’s $56 Million Mansion: Photos of Bill Clinton, Woody Allen and Saudi Crown Prince.” All of those men have been involved in scandals of their own. But the story provides no evidence—or even direct accusation—that they had anything to do with the crimes Epstein’s charged with.

CNBC gives us “Democratic congresswoman unlikely to return contribution from accused child molester Jeffrey Epstein.” It reports, “Wealthy political financier and accused child molester Jeff Epstein contributed directly to Democratic Rep. Stacey Plaskett’s last two campaigns for Congress. The U.S. Virgin Islands lawmaker has decided she will be keeping the cash, even after Epstein’s arrest in New York, at least for now.” Well, okay. Unless she’s going to use it to molest children, why not?

Now, there are at least some more reflective pieces.

The NYT Editorial Board weighs in with “Who Protected Jeffrey Epstein?

Mr. Epstein is not the only one for whom a reckoning is long overdue.

The allegations in the New York indictment are a depressing echo of those that Mr. Epstein faced in Florida more than a decade ago, when his perversion first came to light. In 2008, federal prosecutors for the Southern District of Florida, at the time led by Alexander Acosta, who is now the nation’s secretary of labor, helped arrange a plea deal for Mr. Epstein that bent justice beyond its breaking point.

[…]

At first glance, the Epstein saga looks like another example of how justice is not, in fact, blind — of how it tilts toward the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable. Mr. Epstein, who has claimed to have made his fortune managing other rich people’s money, was not just wealthy; he was politically and socially wired, hobnobbing with such boldfaced names as Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

He donated tens of millions of dollars to institutions like Harvard University, which he never attended but where he financed construction of a campus building and formed strong connections to faculty members and administrators. He is also known for having amassed a quirky “collection” of scientists, in whom he liberally invested over the years.

Upon closer examination, this case offers an even more warped picture of justice. Mr. Epstein retained a cadre of high-price, high-profile lawyers who went after prosecutors with everything they had — at least according to Mr. Acosta. In 2011, facing criticism over the plea agreement, Mr. Acosta complained about having endured “a yearlong assault” by Mr. Epstein’s legal sharks. During his 2017 confirmation hearings to become labor secretary, Mr. Acosta claimed to have forged the best deal possible under the circumstances.

That is hardly comforting. It betrays a system in which the rich and well-connected can bully public officials into quiescence — or into pursuing a deal so favorable to the accused that it runs afoul of the law.

There’s more but you get the point. It’s hardly a state secret that the rich and well-connected fare better in our legal system than the average Joe, much less those at the bottom. But, again, there’s no evidence that Prince Andrew, Clinton, or Trump had anything to do with the plea deal; indeed, I’d be shocked if they did.

NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg makes a more interesting argument in “Jeffrey Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot.”

In 2003, the journalist Vicky Ward profiled Jeffrey Epstein, the financier indicted Monday on charges of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls, for Vanity Fair. Her piece painted him as an enigmatic Jay Gatsby type, a boy from a middle-class family in Brooklyn who had scaled the rungs of the plutocracy, though no one could quite figure out how he made his money. It detailed dubious business dealings and mentioned that Epstein often had lots of beautiful young women around. But it left out Ward’s most important finding.

Twelve years later, in The Daily Beast, Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record. But shortly before the story went to press, Ward wrote, the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter cut that section, saying, of Epstein, “He’s sensitive about the young women.” (In a statement on Monday, Carter said Ward’s reporting hadn’t been solid enough.)

Over the last couple of months, Ward told me, she’s started going through transcripts of the interviews about Epstein she did more than 16 years ago. “What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it,” she said of his penchant for adolescents. While praising his charm, brilliance and generous donations to Harvard, those she spoke to, she said, “all mentioned the girls, as an aside.”

These are much more specific, insidious claims. In exchange for access to a minor celebrity, two major publications soft-peddled or flat ignored evidence of the sort of behavior for which Epstein has now been arrested. Again. And, allegedly, “his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it.” If that’s literally true, then perhaps Clinton and Trump are implicated.

Epstein’s arrest was the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.

Both sides are likely right. The Epstein case is first and foremost about the casual victimization of vulnerable girls. But it is also a political scandal, if not a partisan one. It reveals a deep corruption among mostly male elites across parties, and the way the very rich can often purchase impunity for even the most loathsome of crimes. If it were fiction, it would be both too sordid and too on-the-nose to be believable, like a season of “True Detective” penned by a doctrinaire Marxist.

Here, the evidence is thin. But we’ve seen this sort of thing before—including the recent sex trafficking charges against New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft. (With whom Trump has been more closely associated.)

Epstein socialized with Donald Trump, who in 2002 described him to New York Magazine as a “terrific guy” whom he’d known for 15 years. “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side,” said the future president. In 2000, a porter who worked next door to Epstein’s Manhattan home told a British newspaper, admiringly, “I often see Donald Trump and there are loads of models coming and going, mostly at night. It’s amazing.”

That may not be the sort of behavior one would wish from a future President. But it’s not itself evidence of “deep corruption,” much less “the most loathsome of crimes.”

This is even thinner:

Epstein also hung out with Bill Clinton, who rode on his jet several times. Ghislaine Maxwell, a close companion of Epstein who has been accused of working as his procurer, attended Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in 2010, long after Epstein’s exposure. Following his arrest on Saturday, Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, tweeted, “It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may.”

I’m far from a fan of Bill Clinton and believe he has quite likely committed sex crimes. But having ridden on someone’s private jet and had a close associate at his daughter’s wedding is evidence of precisely nothing. Rich guys hang out together. Who knew?

She returns to this, which is indeed troubling:

Among the mysteries of the Epstein case are why powerful prosecutors of both parties treated him with such leniency. Alexander Acosta, now Trump’s labor secretary, was the federal attorney who oversaw the deal Epstein received in 2008. Though facing potential federal charges that could have put him away for life, Epstein was allowed to plead to minor state charges instead, an arrangement that was kept secret from his victims. He served 13 months in a county jail, where he got to spend six days a week in his office on work-release. In February, a judge ruled that Acosta’s team’s handling of the case violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. (Naturally, Acosta still has his job.)

After Epstein served his time, he had to register as a sex offender. Inexplicably, the Manhattan district attorney’s office, under Democrat Cyrus Vance Jr., asked a judge to downgrade Epstein’s sex offender status from Level 3, the most serious, to Level 1, the least. The judge, stunned, refused. “I am a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor’s office do anything like this,” she said.

The problem is that this special treatment is indeed a “mystery.” Was it simply a matter of someone who was otherwise seen as a pillar of the community getting special treatment? Was it more sinister, with his history of big donations getting strings pulled by people in power? Did his army of high-powered lawyers simply scare prosecutors into a sweet plea deal? Or were his victims’ families well-connected and trying to keep their daughters from having to testify and relive their trauma?

Goldberg’s close is strong:

In a detention memo submitted on Monday, federal prosecutors outlined some of the evidence seized from a search of Epstein’s house on Saturday night. It included hundreds — possibly thousands — of sexually suggestive photographs of girls who appear underage, as well as hand-labeled compact discs with titles like “Girl pics nude,” and, with the names redacted, “Young [Name] + [Name].”

It seems, at first, astonishingly reckless for Epstein not just to allegedly keep such material, but to keep it in Manhattan, instead of, say, on his private Caribbean island. Maybe, however, it’s simply a sign of how protected he felt. “In my mind there has always been this huge question mark: What is Jeffrey Epstein’s leverage?” Ward said. If we find out, we’ll know just how rotten our rulers really are.

We deserve to know the answers to these questions. But it’s all conjecture right now.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Society, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I’ve been in the middle of discussions about these issues on social media since last night and again this morning. Specifically, regarding the rumors that have floated around openly that are basically just speculation that some of the famous people who have been linked to Epstein were involved in the same activity he stands credibly accused of, and much of which he has already admitted to.

    To my mind, openly speculating about these things to the extent that it amounts to accusing people of serious crimes without evidence is utterly irresonsible. For others, it appears to be just another part of the same B.S. partisan games we keep playing in this country. If there’s evidence against these people, let’s see it. Otherwise, accusing them without evidence and without the ability for them to defend themselves is just wrong. And that applies as much to Bill Clinton and Donald Trump as it does anyone else.

    ReplyReply
  2. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yeah, that’s where I stand. Would it absolutely shock me if Clinton and/or Trump were involved in his crimes? Nope. Are they entitled to the presumption of innocence absent credible evidence? Yep.

    ReplyReply
  3. Lit3Bolt says:

    Hey Mr. Epstein,
    How do you make your money?
    Hey Mr. Epstein,
    Just who are all your clients?
    To you it’s easy you go 1-2-3
    Mob B B Mob B Mob Mob BB

    No no MOB BB MOB MOB B MOB MOB MOB

    ReplyReply
  4. Teve says:

    Twelve years later, in The Daily Beast, Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record. But shortly before the story went to press, Ward wrote, the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter cut that section, saying, of Epstein, “He’s sensitive about the young women.” (In a statement on Monday, Carter said Ward’s reporting hadn’t been solid enough.)

    I very much miss Graydon Carter’s Vanity Fair and am not the biggest fan of the new editor Radhika Jones*. But he’s gone and I won’t be cancelling my subscription because of him, though I will be watching to see whether he was aware of the criming.

    *(I can’t really rate the two editors though, because Graydon’s departure coincided with massive budget cuts by the parent company. It’s a pale, thin version of its former self.)

    ReplyReply
  5. Teve says:

    So glad you used a different graphic for this post. If I had three wishes, genie-style, I’d use one of them to require that any time the post is about J. Epstein or M. McConnell, the image attached to the post had to be either 1) kitties 2) puppies or 3) ducklings. The world is grotesque enough without being hit with those faces every day.

    ReplyReply
  6. @James Joyner:

    Your mileage may vary, but I would be shocked if either Trump or Clinton had been involved in Epstein’s proclivities. There’s a difference between someone who is sexually aggressive toward adult women and someone who prey’s on underage girls as young as 13 or 14. Absent some credible evidence, my choice is to not go by rumors and speculation.

    (Of course when I have said this on social media over the past 24 hours I have been accused of being both a Clinton stooge and a Trump supporter. The fact that allegations of child rape are now considered acceptable grounds for partisan speculation is really depressing.)

    ReplyReply
  7. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes, that’s a fair distinction. Trump’s weirdness surrounding Miss Teen USA and his own daughter gives me the heebie-jeebies but it’s not Epstein-level, either.

    ReplyReply
  8. Teve says:

    Vicky Ward
    ‏@VickyPJWard
    One of the young women who spoke to me about Jeffrey Epstein 16 years ago emailed me last night.

    “Shocked and elated,” she said. “Fingers crossed they all finally go down.”

    Amen to that.

    Whoever “they all” are, ditto.

    ReplyReply
  9. Andy says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Weinstein in your piece – there are a lot of parallels. Everyone said they didn’t know what he was up to, while at the same tacitly acknowledging that he had a very aggressive casting couch.

    Still, predators like these dirt-bags are usually very good at compartmentalizing information and encouraging the best possible interpretation for what evidence does come out.

    I knew a guy in the service that I thought I knew well, who was one of the most hard-working and upstanding intelligence analysts I knew – so much so that I sponsored his application for an officer’s commission (which he received). Fast-forward a couple of years and he gets caught by police for following a woman around on the street with his junk out masturbating. He’s arrested for that and his DNA matches two rape kits and he’s linked with many other reports of unsolved perv activity. This guy had a wife and a toddler and none of us knew or really had any inkling of this dark side.

    So, because of this experience, I’m not one who is going to rush to any judgments about what others knew about Epstein. “Successful” long-term degenerates like this tend to know how to compartmentalize and decieve.

    ReplyReply
    10
  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Sure…innocent until proven guilty…by a system that is rigged to protect the wealthy from being proven guilty.
    The POTUS is an associate of FIVE known pedophiles; most of whom were involved in sex trafficking or blackmail schemes.
    Epstein
    Casablancas
    Arif
    Nader
    Cohn
    How many known pedophiles are you guys associated with?
    Yes, rich guys hang out together. So do pedophiles. Then there are rich pedophiles…

    “If Ivanka wasn’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

    For years you two hated on the Clinton’s in spite of investigation after investigation that came up empty. You just know they are scum.
    Now you are willing to give Trump…an admitted sexual predator…a free pass.
    At least your biases aren’t too obvious.

    ReplyReply
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    While we wait for the facts to come out…we should be talking about Acosta, and how he is unfit to be a part of our Government.

    ReplyReply
  12. MarkedMan says:

    But it’s not itself evidence of “deep corruption,” much less “the most loathsome of crimes.”

    Clinton, Trump, Prince Andrew, all of these deserve scrutiny for their repeated association with such a man, but I agree that a few cases of social association alone is pretty thin to make sweeping claims. But I want to call you and Doug out on the statement above, where you and he have repeatedly said that Trump’s comments are “no evidence”. They may be weak evidence, but it is still evidence. And given the fact that both you and Doug repeatedly fail to mention that there is much, much more troubling evidence against Trump, I think you are failing your readership here.

    What is that more compelling evidence? Trump was sued by a woman who claimed he and Epstein raped her at Epstein’s house when she was 13. She later dropped the suit, claiming that she had been threatened numerous times and feared for her life. Knowing what we know now about how Michael Cohen threatened and intimidated witnesses on Trump’s behalf, her story of threats has to be taken seriously. Here is what Newsweek said in 2017:

    In 1994, Trump went to a party with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire who was a notorious registered sex offender, and raped a 13-year-old girl that night in what was a “savage sexual attack,” according to a lawsuit filed in June 2016 by “Jane Doe.” The account was corroborated by a witness in the suit, who claimed to have watched as the child performed various sexual acts on Trump and Epstein even after the two were advised she was a minor.

    “Immediately following this rape Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump’s sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I would be physically harmed if not killed,” Jane Doe wrote in the lawsuit, filed in New York.

    The lawsuit was dropped in November 2016, just four days before the election, with Jane Doe’s attorneys citing “numerous threats” against her.

    You may not consider this evidence compelling, but it is certainly evidence nonetheless.

    ReplyReply
    12
    1
  13. SKI says:

    I think we need to differentiate between publications impugning individuals who intersect with Epstein without evidence and individual members of the general public openly speculating that the second “[Name]” in “the names redacted, “Young [Name] + [Name].”isn’t a girl but someone Epstein was holding leverage over…

    Also, while there isn’t any certainty, the rumors of Trump also liking young girls have been around for decades. He is certainly more plausible than others – but, again, there isn’t enough there currently to responsibly draw the links for publication.

    ReplyReply
  14. mattbernius says:

    Ken White’s take at the Atlantic is definitely worth the read — especially in that he brings the perspective of both a Federal Prosecutor and Defender to his analysis of the deal cut with Acosta and how binding it may or may not be (spoiler alert: White doesn’t think it offers any protection):

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/jeffrey-epstein-indictment-hes-out-luck/593512/

    ReplyReply
  15. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: I wonder if the young women who were walked in on by Trump thought of it that way: “there’s a pervy guy who leering at me while I’m undressing and I can’t complain to anyone because he’s the owner, but whew, everything’s fine because he hasn’t raped me…..yet.”

    You need to understand what it’s like being a woman in this society and having to worry about a) getting raped b) having it’s all brushed off or being told “it’s your own fault” c) being told that even if the other side believes you there’s nothing they can do about it because the guy involved is i) rich and ii) well-connected. And even if you do try to do the fight on your own the first thing that happens is you get labeled a slut. Look at what happened to the 14 year olds who accused Epstein and how the final charge against him basically labeled them as prostitutes.

    ReplyReply
    14
  16. Slugger says:

    I disagree with you, Mr. Joyner. Yes, ordinarily the public should sit back and allow our criminal justice system to process crimes knowing that those involved in the case will know far more facts than what the public can glean from accounts in the media. However, we have already done the calm, dispassionate thing in the first Epstein trial, and the result was an extraordinary light sentence that included a nonprosecution agreement that protected an evildoer. We need to make the cops, prosecutors, and judges know that we are watching. We need to make the people with power know that we won’t let them shield this guy. We need to make the powerful take an interest in making the whole truth come out. Bill Clinton and Dershowitz have already distanced themselves, and we are going to check out their excuses. Public pressure, gossip, and chatter are the way we do this. We went the calm hands-off route the first time and got a verdict clearly not in the interests of justice and the public; we’ll stop talking when we know that the cops, prosecutors, etc. are doing their duty.

    ReplyReply
    5
    1
  17. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t believe Epstein hid his underage girls – Trump specifically referenced them. The named people may not have participated in raping underage girls but I’ll bet you a dollar the girls were paraded around for the enjoyment of guests and people like Clinton, Trump and Dershowitz at very least knew.

    Let me ask you, James, as a father of girls, what would your reaction be had you been lounging beside Epstein’s pool and seen 14 year-olds in bikinis in the pool? Do you have daughters, Jeff? Um. . .granddaughters? No? Then. . . who are the nymphs, Jeff?

    That’s all it has to be for Trump, Clinton, whoever, to be a sick fck. Doesn’t have to be participation, just has to be awareness, and I’ll bet you anything you like that Epstein was quite open in showing off his rapey harem. That’s part of the thrill.

    James, Doug, it’s probably to your credit that neither of you really gets the predatory psychopath’s mind, (and probably worrying that I do) but a guy like Epstein doesn’t conceal what he thinks of as his vices, he flaunts them, because flaunting them is a power rush, and flaunting them in front of powerful people is even more of a rush since you’re morally co-opting them, bringing them down to your level, showing the hollowness of their moral pretensions.

    ReplyReply
    17
  18. CSKs says:

    @James Joyner: @Andy: @grumpy realist:

    Trump wanting to date Ivanka isn’t the most egregious of his offenses in regard to his daughter. There’ a photo of him fondling her hip taken when she was about 12-13, and and least two others of him lolling on a bed with her while she’s waving her legs in the air. And when Wendy Williams asked him what he and Ivanka had in common, he replied: “I’d like to say sex.” He sexualized Tiffany, too, but her mother was smart enough to raise her 3000 miles away.

    NORMAL, HEALTHY FATHERS DO NOT DO THESE THINGS.

    ReplyReply
    17
  19. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m curious about the downvote, as I only presented factual information. Would the down voter like to explain their reason?

    ReplyReply
    2
    1
  20. Teve says:

    @CSKs:

    And when Wendy Williams asked him what he and Ivanka had in common, he replied: “I’d like to say sex.”

    there are not enough vomit emojis in the interweb warehouses for that.

    ReplyReply
  21. Teve says:

    @CSKs: In Russian, -ka is a diminutive, so “Ivanka” means “Little Ivana” which raised an eyebrow when I first noticed it.

    ReplyReply
  22. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’m curious about the downvote, as I only presented factual information.

    Being a Republican today means you must support Mother-Russia, bigotry, and pedophilia.

    ReplyReply
    6
    2
  23. CSK says:

    @Teve: I think Ivanka’s real name is Ivana Marie, if it matters. So “Ivanka” would be like “Ivana, Jr.”

    ReplyReply
  24. James Joyner says:

    @Andy:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Weinstein in your piece – there are a lot of parallels.

    Yes, true. I was just focusing on the reporting here.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    For years you two hated on the Clinton’s in spite of investigation after investigation that came up empty. You just know they are scum. Now you are willing to give Trump…an admitted sexual predator…a free pass.

    Bill Clinton has been credibly accused of several instances of sexual assualt and rape. He’s admitted to having a sexual relationship with a White House intern and paid off Paula Jones. Yes, he’s scum. But I nonetheless give him a pass here because there’s no evidence presented of his abetting Epstein. I think Trump is worse than Clinton in most ways. But ditto. (Although, as others suggest, more reason to be suspicious of Trump.)

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s all it has to be for Trump, Clinton, whoever, to be a sick fck. Doesn’t have to be participation, just has to be awareness, and I’ll bet you anything you like that Epstein was quite open in showing off his rapey harem. That’s part of the thrill.

    Agreed. I don’t know that we know this to be the case but it’s certainly plausible.

    @Slugger:

    We need to make the cops, prosecutors, and judges know that we are watching. We need to make the people with power know that we won’t let them shield this guy. We need to make the powerful take an interest in making the whole truth come out.

    I’m not arguing otherwise. I’m simply cautioning against guilty by association. Epstein knew a lot of famous people. That doesn’t mean that they knew of his crimes or shielded him. (It doesn’t mean that they didn’t, either.)

    @grumpy realist:

    I wonder if the young women who were walked in on by Trump thought of it that way: “there’s a pervy guy who leering at me while I’m undressing and I can’t complain to anyone because he’s the owner, but whew, everything’s fine because he hasn’t raped me…..yet.”

    Being a weirdo Peeping Tom is bad. I’d have punched him in the face if I’d caught him doing it. But it doesn’t make him a rapist. (It doesn’t make him not a rapist, either.)

    ReplyReply
  25. Teve says:

    @CSK: It raised an eyebrow, it didn’t convict him. I don’t speak russian and I don’t know anything about the family history but it was one of those ambiguous things that you reexamine later and wonder if it meant anything.

    ReplyReply
  26. CSK says:

    @Teve: I think they just wanted to name the girl after her mother, but differentiate her a bit by nickname.

    I recall Ivana’s story about how Trump was resistant to naming his first son “Donald J. Trump, Jr,” because, as Trump said: “What if he’s a loser?”

    Swell dad.

    ReplyReply
  27. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    Or were his victims’ families well-connected and trying to keep their daughters from having to testify and relive their trauma?

    I’m more inclined to go toward the adage that a person’s rank in hell is determined by the entourage he brings with him. But that may be because in circles in which I have traveled well-connected victim families have other ways to solve problems than by expecting the justice system to convict other well-connected people.

    ReplyReply
  28. Jay L Gischer says:

    So, this quote gave me a hunch:

    Her piece painted him as an enigmatic Jay Gatsby type, a boy from a middle-class family in Brooklyn who had scaled the rungs of the plutocracy, though no one could quite figure out how he made his money.

    “No one could figure out how he made his money”. Wait, I thought, isn’t he a hedge fund guy? Lots of middle class types don’t understand how hedge funds work, not to mention most writers for Vanity Fair.

    I looked him up on Wikipedia and sure enough, he started out teaching calculus and physics in the 70’s but became an options trader. And his career spanned the time when Black-Scholes was developed. Black-Scholes is a complex piece of math that describes the mathematical relationships between options and stocks and interest rates, and which enables people who understand it to make derivative products which are effectively large-scale arbitrage. A bunch of people got insanely rich because they could understand some difficult math. This is why I know about it.

    But “no one could understand how he got so rich” is an insinuation of something much different. Which keeps to James’ theme.

    Epstein’s behavior with young girls is horrifying. It is made no less horrifying by fact I’ve known a young girl of age 13 or so that might willingly participate in some of the shenanigans, because they are so ignorant of life and the consequences. That’s precisely why we have “age of consent” laws.

    The plea agreement that Acosta signed on to stinks. This might well lead to other people, and that should be investigated thoroughly.

    But “no one understands how he got rich” is a sentence that turns ignorance into character assassination. It’s a sentence that could be written about me. I’m not a hedge fundie or ‘rocket scientist’ as they are called on Wall Street, but I know some. But I do stuff in computing that few people understand, and if I were to try to explain it to them, their eyes would probably glaze over.

    ReplyReply
  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: As you note, mileage varies among drivers, my take is that Clinton warrants a benefit of the doubt that I wouldn’t be willing to give to Trump. I can imagine him at an Epstein “party” just fine.
    @James Joyner: I’m sorry, but yes, it is Epstein-level.

    ReplyReply
  30. michael reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Epstein taught calculus? That’s high school – where there are large numbers of teen-aged girls. I wonder if anyone has looked at his time there?

    ReplyReply
  31. Modulo Myself says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The ‘no one’ may have been people who do run hedge funds. Someone on twitter was pointing out how crazy the early press on Epstein’s funds was, where the make it sound actual billionaires are just handing over 1 billion in cash to his firm and he’s not taking people merely worth 500 million. There are many many parallels here with Trump–a parasite at the edges of the financial world who had a certain thing he provided or did. But not smart, not that rich, and not at all what he pretended to be.

    ReplyReply
  32. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds: Epstein was hired to teach at the Dalton School by Bill Barr’s father. All girl.

    ReplyReply
  33. SKI says:

    @CSK:

    Epstein was hired to teach at the Dalton School by Bill Barr’s father. All girl.

    That would be quite a surprise for the men I know who went there.

    Dalton is co-ed.

    ReplyReply
  34. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I don’t think the “no one could figure out how he made his money” line referred to journalists’ inability to solve PDEs like Black-Scholes. Nobody says that line about James Simons of Renaissance, and even most people who can do PDEs can’t follow that guy’s math. It’s more that he doesn’t have the kind of backstory and credentials that typically support a hedge fund story. There’s an absence of the kind of additional information you’d expect.

    ReplyReply
  35. CSK says:

    @SKI: It started all-female; I think it still was in the 1970s.

    ReplyReply
  36. SKI says:

    @CSK: I know it was co-ed in the 1950s (Chip Delany the sci-fi author went there) and I’m pretty sure it was co-ed from the beginning.

    ReplyReply
  37. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Teve: It might be that they went to the hedge fund world to find out how Epstein made his money, but the sentence I quoted references the people he grew up with. And perhaps the reporter and colleagues. If they wanted to follow this up, they could quote other hedge fund guys.

    The fact is, what Epstein did, early on, was via an investment bank, so it was probably hedge-fund-like, but not actually a hedge fund. He was also probably very secretive about what he did. So he didn’t “run” a hedge fund like Simons, which is something people can understand, even if they can’t explain what hedge funds do.

    “Nobody knows how he made is money” is a calumny. I’m quite certain that there are people who know how he made his money. But maybe the reporter didn’t find them. Maybe they aren’t willing to talk about it. Maybe they are under NDA. So what work lies beneath “nobody knows how he made his money?” We don’t know. Was this the result of a discussion at lunch with another reporter, or the result of a 4 weeks of calling potential sources? We don’t know.

    He has behaved terribly, for sure. I hope he rots in jail. Does that make him deserving of calumny, especially if it’s meant to smear everyone he’s ever associated with? Some would say yes, that this is a fine time to just tee off on the guy: Just let him have it with everything and anything. And that’s the sort of escalation that erodes rule of law and civic order. It’s fairly normal for human beings, it must be said.

    And it’s a line of attack that works on anyone who does math? I want no part of that.

    ReplyReply
  38. Jay L Gischer says:

    @michael reynolds: I have spent a lot of time in math classes over the year, and, much to my regret on multiple levels, I would not really describe them as a good place to meet girls.

    I’m not being glib, I wanted there to be more women in my math classes on both feminist grounds and on a personal level of “wouldn’t it be nice if I could meet a woman I could talk about my work and interests with”.

    Also, he seems more interested in girls younger than high-school age. 13 year olds aren’t yet in high school normally. I don’t know the pathology of issues like Epstein’s very well, but it might be that it developed later, right?

    ReplyReply
  39. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer: You seem offended by that line to a great degree that I don’t understand. And nobody’s attacking “anyone who does math”. You don’t have to derive B-S to use it, just plug in the 5 variables and chug. I think the point of the line that so upset you is that people find his financial history kinda weird and opaque.

    http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/07/how-did-jeffrey-epstein-make-his-fortune.html

    ReplyReply
  40. CSK says:

    @SKI: Thanks; I stand corrected. But it does appear to be true that Barr’s father hired Epstein.

    ReplyReply
  41. SKI says:

    @CSK: Yes he did.

    And they merged in an all-girls school in ’39 so that could explain some confusion.

    ReplyReply
  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: It’s also possible that the inclination started early and only came to prominence as he acquired the power and money to act on it.

    ReplyReply
  43. Teve says:

    The World’s Worst Political Cartoonist, Ben Garrison, has a new one up about Epstein.

    https://grrrgraphics.com/the-roundup-begins

    ReplyReply
  44. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Teve: What “nobody knows how he made his money” insinuates is that he was engaged in something illicit. It’s the kind of thing you say about a mobster, or a drug dealer. That’s the foundation for what I’m saying. Do you agree?

    I’m bothered by insinuations of wrongdoing, regardless of the target. This is not wholly altruistic, since I’m bothered even more when it appears that high-level math (solving PDEs indeed) is involved. Because that sort of insinuation could be used on the likes of me. Because, in fact, nobody, statistically speaking, understands what I do, even though I’m not all that interested in keeping it a secret. Mostly they want me to shut up. This is so common about math people that it seems grossly unfair to state “nobody knows what he does” when they are constantly telling us to shut up about what it is we does, because we are so boring. And now you are telling me to shut up. I will, after this posting.

    I’ve lived with this for 50 years, so it’s had a lot of time to build up.

    ReplyReply
    2
    2
  45. CSK says:

    @Teve: F*cking pathetic.

    ReplyReply
  46. Gustopher says:

    When a man who makes countless creepy comments about young girls, including his daughter, and who walks in on beauty contestants changing, and brags about grabbing women by the housecat, and has been accused of sexual assault by over two dozen women… when that man turns out to be friends with a pedophile who is into 13 year old girls, and they’re both wealthy enough to make problems go away…

    Yeah, I don’t think they’re friends because they both like to play board games.

    Whether Trump partook in the children, I don’t know, but I have little doubt that he knew and didn’t care. He clearly doesn’t care about women over the age of consent, so why would it be different before then?

    ReplyReply
  47. Barry says:

    @Andy: Andy, ordinarily I’d agree with you (I’ve known a far, far less serious creep who was extremely good at fooling the men he hung out with).

    However, Epstein’s behavior was just him; he was flying a lot of people out to his island.

    ReplyReply
  48. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    I recall Ivana’s story about how Trump was resistant to naming his first son “Donald J. Trump, Jr,” because, as Trump said: “What if he’s a loser?”

    Swell dad.

    Was he wrong?

    I don’t like to defend Donald Trump, but I think he called this one pretty early on, and his gut instinct was on the ball.

    ReplyReply
  49. CSK says:

    @Gustopher: Sure. But most fathers don’t ascribe loserhood to a day-old son.

    ReplyReply
  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Yeah, but that’s just a Harry Chapin song:

    …he’d grown up just like me; my boy was just like me.

    ReplyReply
  51. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Good Gawd.

    ReplyReply
  52. Teve says:

    @CSK: @gVOR08: He’s so bad he’s good. 😛 Honestly I was surprised that the cartoon Clinton wasn’t explicitly labeled BILL CLINTON because his cartoons always overexplain.

    ReplyReply
  53. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Good luck dealing with whatever’s going on.

    ReplyReply
  54. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    Sure. But most fathers don’t ascribe loserhood to a day-old son.

    He knew who the father was, and how this kid was going to be raised.

    Donald J. Trump is roughly the only person in America who could somehow win the Presidency, and still be a loser. And I’m not referring to losing the popular vote, but the aggrieved incompetence and the anger that it’s all so hard.

    He wants a military parade, and he gets two tanks parked behind fences. His inaugural is smaller than the historic first black president’s inaugural, and he doesn’t say “hey, we did pretty good for white guy #44”, he insists that his inaugural was bigger and makes people lie about it.

    He’s low class. Which would be fine if he wasn’t desperately trying not to be. Bill Clinton was low class, but he wasn’t so obviously self-conscious about it.

    If you have a clogged toilet filled with shit, maybe unclog it before jumping straight to putting a gold toilet seat on it and calling it luxury.

    ReplyReply
  55. Barry says:

    @Barry: “However, Epstein’s behavior was just him; he was flying a lot of people out to his island.”

    Should be ‘…not just him…’

    ReplyReply
  56. Barry says:

    “He’s low class. Which would be fine if he wasn’t desperately trying not to be. Bill Clinton was low class, but he wasn’t so obviously self-conscious about it.”

    Clinton was born in a trailer park, and rose to the Presidency. Trump was born to hundreds of million in wealth, and was a reality-TV star.

    ReplyReply
  57. Grumpy realist says:

    @Jay L Gischer: except that you probably don’t go around with nymphlets and provide opportunities for other rich men to fly out to his fantasy island, no?

    Black-Schoales is a possible explanation for Epstein’s riches, but extortion is also quite possible….it certainly looks like a whole lot of rich friends we’re keeping him out of trouble….

    ReplyReply
  58. Teve says:

    @Barry: some men are born to trashiness, some men achieve trashiness, and some men have trashiness thrust upon them.

    ReplyReply
  59. Gustopher says:

    Years and years of Republican bullshit on Clinton have gotten me to the point where I don’t really believe anything bad said about him.

    Did he fly on Epstien’s rape planes over international waters to violate underaged girls? Maybe, but short of someone providing video footage, I’ll never believe it any more than I believe in his rural Arkansas drug deliveries or the murder of Vince Foster. Even with video evidence, I’d question whether it is real, or digitally altered.

    That’s the legacy of years of bullshit accusations.

    I ponder whether the same thing is happening with Trumpeters, but I’m having trouble finding an accusation that doesn’t have a basis in truth.

    Maybe sexual assault accuser #15 was lying. And #6. If 90% of claims are accurate, and he has two dozen claims against him, then yes, 2-3 are made up.

    ReplyReply
  60. Kit says:

    @Teve:

    I don’t speak russian and I don’t know anything about the family history but it was one of those ambiguous things that you reexamine later and wonder if it meant anything.

    The diminutive is very natural in Russian, especially when kids are involved. Think of it as the “y” in English when we call someone Mikey, and dogs become doggy, expect that Russian has many more possibilities. There’s nothing creepy about it. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*