Home / General / How’re you going to make your way in the world when you weren’t cut out for working?

How’re you going to make your way in the world when you weren’t cut out for working?


To make a highly unoriginal observation, the Trump administration is an object lesson in just how far the most mediocre affluent white men can ascend. This starts at the top, with the guy who has gotten himself portrayed as a brilliant businessman by parlaying a massive inherited fortune into one that is almost certainly much smaller than it would be had he just put the whole shebang in a mutual fund. There’s his spokesman, who can’t get through an anodyne press conference without doing stuff like babbling about how Hitler never used poison gas with the Notably Rare Exception of his Holocaust Gallerias. And then there’s his useless children and in-laws, who seem to be getting an undue benefit of the doubt because they’re inept kleptocrats rather than fascists:

iuielvylldtkjj32xskwAbove: Vineyard Vines is proud to announce its new spring look, suitable for military cosplay

Clearly, commentary on this picture has to be outsourced to Magary:

Behold idiot son-in-law Jared Kushner—the man now in charge of brokering Middle East peace, Uberizing the federal government, reforming the entire criminal justice system, and keeping Donald Trump’s hands off his wife. This perfect still frame from a David O. Russell film has also been put in charge of beating ISIS. Yes, ISIS!

And what better way to terrify the caliphate than by sauntering around in a bulletproof vest that’s been personalized like a pair of Underoos, and then wearing it OVER a goddamn blazer? It’s a sharp look, one that says, “I’d like to make a war, but I’d also like a mint julep.”

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  • Warren Terra

    I also posted this to the Thursday Links comments, but as the post is about incompetent white men getting sweet jobs it’s highly relevant: Trump has named someone to head the Selective service (aka the draft) who was never in the military, a first. Moreover, he’s nominated for that job because he’s an unemployable asshat who was considered undesirable by Trump’s EPA head, an accomplishment in itself (Pruitt wants the EPA to fail, after all). He has a long history of constantly getting fired and suing his employers or colleagues. Also, he stole from Trump’s 2016 campaign in Washington State, which may be how they bonded.

    ETA I have an edit function again! My cup runneth over!

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      Link in both comment sections redirects to the HuffPo front page, not the article itself.

      • Warren Terra

        I don’t know how that happened. working link (so far)

  • keta

    Ah yes, Jared Kushner. The man Trump has appointed to solve all the problems of the world. The man whose Daddy bought him a place at Harvard:

    …New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school.

    I learned that in 1998, when Jared was attending The Frisch School and starting to look at colleges, his father had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard, to be paid in annual installments of $250,000. Charles Kushner also visited Neil Rudenstine, then Harvard president, and discussed funding a scholarship program for low- and middle-income students.

    …administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.
    “There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”

    Nepotism: the son-in-law also rises.

    • FMguru

      Those other kids did learn an important lesson in how the world really works.

      • los

        Donald is a mentally disabled senior and Jared and Ivanka are committing Elder Abuse (warning signs).

        Melania has ducked out of that part of the Trump clan mess.

    • jamesjhare

      It’s a wonder the Ivies are able to continually grant degrees to the lesser-achieving sons of America’s elite while still managing to be considered elite institutions. At what point does graduating mediocrities like Kushner hurt an elite institution?

      • anapestic

        While I was on leave from college, I did about a year-long stint as support staff in the Harvard-Radcliffe admissions office. As I recall, they were pretty up front about giving a significant preference to someone who could make a very large contribution.

        Also, at that time, the entering class was 1600 people, and they were also giving preferences to alumni children (who were mostly still very well qualified) and elite athletes. That still didn’t amount to anything like a majority of the class, and the applicant pool as a whole was tremendously qualified. So while it’s fair to bemoan someone’s being able to buy their kids a spot at Harvard, Harvard can easily afford a few such people every year without diluting their pool.

        Also, no amount of money would have been enough to buy him a place if he wasn’t at least smart enough to succeed academically. There’s just a long distance between “smart enough to succeed academically” and top student.

        • Barry_D

          “Also, no amount of money would have been enough to buy him a place if he wasn’t at least smart enough to succeed academically. There’s just a long distance between “smart enough to succeed academically” and top student.”

          Given that the school accepted a student for money, how can you support that thesis? Especially as the money was being paid over 10 years If he flunked out, the college would have lost the last 6 years of payments.

        • Emily68

          My brother-in-law went to Harvard. He said it’s hard to get into, but once admitted, it’s not hard to graduate. Plenty of students there are working hard and getting real smart, but that’s not a requirement for a diploma.

          • NewishLawyer

            I think this is a general standard for most elite universities except a few like CalTech, MIT, Chicago, Swarthmore, Cornell. Even then most admitted students probably graduate. I know one person who left CalTech and that is because said person refused to rat out after a prank gone wrong.

            Are there any elite universities where a good chunk of the students drop out?

            The thing I’ve noted about elites is that they are good at treating bosses and superiors as equals from day one. I have a friend from high school who TAs at Harvard. Her students seem shameless in how they ask for extensions and grade reviews but they have probably been trained since they were five that this is how an elite person acts and treats everyone as an equal or an underling.

            • Tyro

              Are there any elite universities where a good chunk of the students drop out?

              I’ve never heard of one. That would speak to a massive failure of the admissions process.

              MIT notoriously has people taking the “long route” through the school to get their degrees, and even they have a 6-year graduation rate of more than 90%.

              Kushner attended a well-regarded, rigorous private high school and presumably performed well enough that he wasn’t known as a horrendous slacker or academic disaster. He was no doubt more than able to handle the workload at Harvard as long as he stayed out of majoring in neuroscience, chemistry, or philosophy.

              Elite colleges start by discarding the applications of the manifestly “unqualified.” But that still leaves 90% of the applicant pool to sift through.

              I myself was bummed out when I didn’t get admitted to Yale while a guy with a multi-generational legacy who was merely above-average in my high school class got in, but he wasn’t unqualified academically, I just outranked him when it came to quantitative metrics.

              • Cool Bev

                MIT used to be famous for flunking out ~25% of the freshman class. In the ~1960s, they realized that there were a LOT of suicides in that class, and decided to loosen up and save some lives.

      • JMP

        If graduating the dumbest American President ever until three months ago because his daddy and granddaddy were powerful politicians doesn’t destroy Yale and Harvard’s reputations, nothing will.

      • efgoldman

        It’s a wonder the Ivies are able to continually grant degrees to the lesser-achieving sons of America’s elite while still managing to be considered elite institutions.

        When my dad went to Harvard (class of 1938) a C average at Boston Latin school was all you needed for admission.
        I guess things have changed a wee bit.

        • los

          I don’t think state universities accept HS C-average students, in 2014, 2013, etc.

          Do you think (guess?) universities attitude was desperation in 1938, when compared to the universities’ attitude in 1928 and 1933?

          • NewishLawyer

            Not desperation but most people simply did not attend and most universities (especially the elite ones) still had their finishing school for the prep school set veneer set in. Remember most people probably did not even graduate high school in 1938.

            Plus getting a Gentleman’s C at university was still a thing.

    • Warren Terra

      Be fair: that $2.5M got him and his brother into Harvard. Bargain!

      • los

        That $2.5M (even after indexing) is paying back hugily in US Rubles.

    • sigaba

      Why don’t US universities use anonymized high-stakes testing like the rest of the planet again.

      (Says the USC film grad.)

      • Warren Terra

        The UK doesn’t use anonymized standardized tests, or at least not at the Oxbridge level that’s comparable to Hahvahd.

        • sigaba

          I mean I basically know why, the Ivys established in the 20s and 30s that they weren’t going to rely on objective criteria and they wanted to evaluate the “whole man,” mostly as a pretext to, ironically, keep the Jews out, since their previous testing regime was failing to keep them under quota.

          • Warren Terra

            Keeping the Jews out wasn’t so hard; keeping them out without admitting it was harder. But for a long time they were quite happy to admit it, even sending people letters telling them they weren’t admitted because there were too many Jews already.

            • sigaba

              I assume Oxford has comparable reasons.

              • bender

                In the 1960s, Stanford University admitted two men for every woman.


              • Richard Gadsden

                Oxbridge is about keeping 50% of their places to rich people who attend public schools (expensive private schools). Their interview process is designed to favour people who’ve had training for the interview process, and only a few schools have that training – all of them being public schools, top-end independents or grammars.

                Roughly speaking 50% of British students at Oxbridge are non-stupid rich people and 50% are very bright people from the middle class. Almost no-one from the lower classes gets in. Obviously, there are lots of overseas students as well – they pay higher fees than Brits.

                [British high schools for the non-British:
                Public Schools: Expensive fee-paying schools founded before c.1800
                Independent schools: Other fee-paying schools. Top end ones can be as expensive as the publics
                Grammar schools: state-funded no-fee highly-selective schools; tend to be full of upper-middle-class kids whose parents paid for tutors so they could score highly in the selective exams.
                Comprehensive schools: normal state-funded schools with no academic selection on entry; vary from very good to very poor. Ones near a grammar school tend to be poorer than ones in an area where there aren’t any grammars.
                Church schools: state-funded schools run by a church – overwhelmingly either the Church of England or the Roman Catholics; there are a handful that are run by other churches or that are Jewish or Muslim. Almost all are comprehensives (ie not academically selective), and tend to be slightly better than the normal state-funded comps in the area. Lots of people pretend to be religious to get their children into a better school
                Many comps stop at (the equivalent of) 10th grade; students wanting to continue with an academic education go to (the equivalent of) community college for two years. Getting into Oxbridge from a college is very rare indeed, going to university in general is normal, and indeed is the point.]

      • Victor Matheson

        I think you can make a pretty strong case that simply admitting the 1800 or 2000 students with the highest SAT scores is also not the right solution.

      • NewishLawyer

        Most countries that do this tend to be very homogeneous and/or quasi-authoritarian.

        I don’t think it would work well with our complicated racial and economic history.

        There is a huge industry in foreign countries dedicated to studying for these tests via cram schools. Look at how many issues we have because not everyone can afford to send their kids to SAT and SAT II tutoring classes. We certainly aren’t going to subsidize cram schools and we aren’t going to be able to make them illegal.

      • Lurker

        We have this kind of high-stakes testing: the university admission exams. The last year of high school ends in mid-February, and the final exams are in March. Then, the entrance exams for the universities are in late May and early June. You are supposed to spend the spring preparing for entrance exams.

        While it is quite possible to gain entrance without preparatory courses, there exists a small industry of cramming students for these exams. There are very serious attempts to force the universities to use the national high school final exam instead as the basis for admission.

        None of these is anonymous, though. The typical answer format is a short essay on a given topic, and the grader sees the name of the student and, in national exams, the school. However, there has never arisen the slightest suspicion that these would affect grading. Nonetheless, it is clear that an answer format that requires masterful command of the Finnish language restricts immigrants’ opportunities.(Except in mathematics and science, where the “essay” is simply a calculation with a couple of invocations like “Newton’s II law” or “N II” and a diagram with appropriate forces or fileds show)

        As a whole, the system favours the middle class heavily. A poor student is unlikely to get the necessary economic, social and physical support for the independent study required to succeed in entrance exams and the final exams. However, it also provides for ample opportunity to drop out of upper middle class. If you are unable to get a place in a university, you need to go to a polytechnic (aka university of applied science) or vocational school, which severely restrict your future employment opportunities.

        Ans not even a place in a university guarantees graduation. In my Alma Mater, the dropout rate was roughly 30%.

    • postmodulator

      “Harvard could use an international airport, Mr. Kushner.”

    • Dennis Orphen

      Been said here many times before, but must be repeated to set up my latest far out drug addled concept:

      Harvard in a huge endowment fund with a University attached.

      And now the real comment:

      Donald Trump isn’t a sentient hairless being with a prosthetic wig perched atop his body. He is a sentient hairpiece with a prosthetic humanoid dangling below.

      • pillsy

        Donald Trump walks into a bar. The bartender looks at his hair and says, “My god, where did you find that thing?”

        Trump’s hair replied, “Oh, they’re everywhere in Queens.”

        Try the veal!

        • los

          Try the veal!

          “Trump tower serves the best ketchup”

    • Bill Murray

      Did Charles Kushner pay the full amount? He went to jail in 2005 for illegal campaign contributions and had to pay a fine of more than half a a million dollars and his $250K per year for 10 years would have gone until 2008

  • Denverite

    Kushner is a good argument for why we should never led grads from non-elite schools like NYU Law anywhere near the Supreme Court.

    [That was a joke but I’ve forgotten how to do the sarcasm font]

    • Bill Murray

      [That was a joke but I’ve forgotten how to do the sarcasm font] use the code tag

  • CrunchyFrog

    All those troops are laughing at him as soon as he turns his back.

    But at the same time they are telling each other that despite his obvious idiocy he’s actually really smart and the right guy to be in charge. See? ’cause he’s not like the *last* guy, who was from the dark side if you know what I mean, or that (spit) *woman!!!*

  • It’s the flak vest over the suit jacket that really does it.


    • It hurts to look at. It just does.

    • los

      flak jacket

      Putin paid a lot for that suit.

    • Lurker

      I think that the choice of attire here is not laughable at all. Kushner is a civilian, and has, to my knowledge, never served. It would be inappropriate for him to wear camouflage uniform. On the other hand, he needs to wear that bulletproof vest, because if he gets killed without one, his military handlers are in deep shit. Thus, a civilian clothing and a vest is a must.

      He might have opted for something more casual, like a brown fleece jacket that would not look quite as ridiculous, but on the other hand, the jacket he is wearing underlines the civilian authority over the military. Wearing something more appropriate to the surroundings would make them look like mercenary-cosplayers.

      In Finland, when senior politicians are visiting military exercises, you may see them wearing a combat helmet if the safety regulations demand it, but otherwise, they always wear a suit and tie, even if they hold officer rank.

      So, in my opinion, it is the duty of a civilian policymaker to look slightly ridiculous when visiting deployed troops.

  • ScottRS

    Full Metal Jackass.

    • Todd

      YSLaurent of Arabia
      Cross of Irony
      From Here to Inanity
      Grand Illusion
      Apocalypse Now

      • TopsyJane

        This one dates from the days of Dan Quayle: “Full Dinner Jacket.”

      • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

        “Band of (Brooks) Brothers” was a good one someone posted elsewhere

      • Fats Durston

        YSLaurent of Arabia

        Wow, that’s good.

        (better than) Finance of Arabia
        Thirty Seconds over Portfolio
        The Things They Carried. Which Was Interest.
        War Is a Racket

    • Ahhhhhhh…hahahahaha! +1000.

  • jamesjhare

    I, for one, am glad that Jared Kushner exists. Every time I look at him I can tell myself that no matter how uninformed and generally myopic my worldview is, it’s not anywhere near as bad as his. That and no matter how much I am convinced I look like a dipshit, I don’t look like anywhere near as much of a dipshit as Kushner.

  • keta

    Laws and shit, those are for other people:

    A handful of House Democrats are calling on federal authorities to suspend Jared Kushner’s security clearance amid a wide-ranging probe into Trump associates’ contacts with Russian officials.
    President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser failed to disclose numerous foreign contacts when he applied for top secret clearance, including at least two meetings with high-profile Russians during Trump’s transition to the White House, according to a New York Times report cited by the lawmakers. It is, they noted, a felony to intentionally conceal such meetings on a national security form.

    It’s almost like all the laws and regulations surrounding presidential appointees, presidential aides, presidential family members, presidential profits on the official office, etc., etc., it’s almost as if the whole kit and caboodle has been unilaterally ruled “does-not-apply.”

    I mean, I’m really starting to see a pattern here.

    • PunditusMaximus

      Good grief, man, Kushner is far too wealthy for laws to apply to him. He’s a jawb creeaater

  • Davis X. Machina

    Maybe Jared’s keen to be the US viceroy in post-invasion Syria.

    Eli Lake at Bloomberg says McMaster’s circle is making noises about 50,000 troops….

    Son of Surge.

    • Warren Terra

      Especially because of a larger number attributed to “blogger and conspiracy theorist” Mike Cernovich and rumored to be Bannon’s gambit against the “centrists” in Trump’s orbit, it’s hard to know whether this is real – can McMaster, widely reported to be sane, be such a nutball as to back invading Syria with more than a handful of special forces? – or just gamesmanship.

      Eli Lake complicates it of course, since he’s spent the last decade and a half fantasizing about the US bombing and invading every Arab or Muslim country. So he’d be an odd outlet for stories about how this is a terrible idea (unless it interferes with his plans for the bombing of Iran).

      • pillsy

        Lake is also just a fucking rube, who got rolled badly by Devin Nunes, who’s hardly Blofeld.

        I’m only slightly less skeptical of a story that had to be shopped to Lake than I am of a story that had to be shopped to Cernovich.

    • tsam

      Fighting Assad means fighting Russia

      Fighting FSA means helping Russia and Assad.

      Fighting ISIS puts civilians in the crossfire and US personnel in the Assad vs FSA crossfire, and in the Assad vs ISIS crossfire.

      This is going to get UGLY FAST.

    • efgoldman

      Eli Lake at Bloomberg says McMaster’s circle is making noises about 50,000 troops….

      Read elsewhere, by someone who ought to know, that we don’t have 50k troops to use. The Army is short a number of combat-ready brigades.

      This is going to get UGLY FAST.

      Going to get?

      Thank you, edit button gawds

  • bexley

    It almost looks like he has a walking cane in his right hand, hidden out of view.

    • John Revolta

      Yes! Although I was thinking perhaps a neatly rolled umbrella.

      • jim, some guy in iowa

        Ivanka makes a slightly more plausible Mrs Peel than Kushner does Steed

        • Dennis Orphen

          Definitely more Rigg than Honor Blackman, if you catch my drift.

          We split our internets for today 50/50?

        • Colin Day

          I was thinking more Neville Chamberlain than John Steed.

  • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

    And what better way to terrify the caliphate than by sauntering around in a bulletproof vest that’s been personalized like a pair of Underoos, and then wearing it OVER a goddamn blazer?

    Doesn’t hack me off as much as W in his GD flight suit with the “Mission Accomplished” banner in the backgound.

    • John Revolta

      Although W at least could actually fly a jet, although he didn’t fly that one.

  • ThresherK

    J-Kush knows what’s up at Vineyard Vines.

    He’s seen things, man. And the top photo proves he’s ready for the next blowup.

  • Tybalt


  • Karen24

    Hey! Lay off Vineyard Vines! I am a big fan of their men’s khakis, which come in an array of totally-not-gay-at-all* pastels, all 100% cotton, and which can be altered easily to fit my aging figure.

    See, for example

    • dsidhe

      I’ve spent the better part of the day just amazingly depressed, like my useless antidepressants had dropped a baby grand piano on me emotionally, mired in that phase where I’m kind of not that bothered if Trump wants to start a war with NK because, why not, and pissed because if anyone’s gonna kill me it should be me, and then I *click that link*.

      I dunno what I was expecting. It was not that. I haven’t laughed this hard in days. Between the fact that the model appears to be a bipedal ant and the notion that someone would put that print on anything that wasn’t furniture, I’m just done. So thank you.

      • Karen24

        I’m glad I could help, and I hope things get better.

        • dsidhe

          They always do. Thanks. :-)

  • osceola

    New strategery: More tasseled loafers on the ground.

    • Warren Terra

      Once upon a time, “tasseled loafers on the ground” meant State Department staffers with some expertise and perspective, derided as weenies by the military he-men and excluded from Iraq by Cheney/Rumsfeld/Dubya. It was a good thing!

    • efgoldman

      More tasseled loafers on the ground.

      You don’t think for a minute that Ivanka would allow him to wear off-the-shelf footwear that any schlub with the money can buy?

  • DrDick

    The one upside of this whole clusterfuck is that it may finally destroy the pernicious myth that the rich are in any way intelligent and/or competent people who should be admired.

    • Dennis Orphen

      Unfortunately, amongst the cart before horse putting temporarily embarrassed millionaires, it will only reinforce their mistaken beliefs.

    • margin of error

      Bring back Upper Class Twit of the Year


  • Docrailgun

    Let’s be realistic – Trump didn’t put Kushner in any of these jobs because Trump thought he was necessarily better at it than anyone else – trump did it so that Kushner can run for President someday.

    • osceola

      No, not so he can be president. Trump just wants someone who’s going to tell him what he wants to hear.

    • keta

      Nah. It’ll be Ivanka Daddy will really promote. She’s blood, and the apple of his eye.

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