Fact: Richie Rich's nose has always weirded us out. His freakish little feet, too.


Robert Mercer, the gazillionaire model train enthusiast, hedge fund manager, and early funder of the career of Steve Bannon, announced in a letter to employees Thursday that he'd be stepping down as co-CEO of the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund as of January 1. He'll also be giving up his ownership stake in Dead Breitbart's Home for Nervous White People, selling his portion of the rightwing media site to his daughters. In an apparent departure from the traditional text for this sort of thing, he didn't distribute the portions of Breitbart ownership based on how effusively each daughter said she loved him, because he's a rich libertarian SOB and has no use for either love or Shakespeare.

Mercer helped make Renaissance one of the most productive financial-trading machines using mad computer coding skillz he attained at IBM, long before anyone would even have called him "Leet." (Mercer's whiz-bang story makes for one of the most engaging chapters in last summer's Bannon-Trump bio, Devil's Bargain, which we may finally review for you this weekend because it's timely again). He's leaving the company as his financial patronage of Bannon, Breitbart.com, and alt-reich trollboy Milo Yiannopoulos have sparked a movement by free-speech hating liberals to encourage large institutions to divest from Renaissance. Last week, for example, the pension fund for Baltimore's cops and firefighters moved to take its $33 million investment with Renaissance elsewhere, although the New York Times notes the withdrawal was little more than "a rounding error for Renaissance, which has more than $50 billion in assets." But with liberal site Think Progress publishing a list of institutional investors in Renaissance a couple weeks back, Mercer apparently decided it couldn't hurt the hedge fund for him to distance his name, if not his money, from it.

By the way, he's really, really hurt that so many people think he's some kind of white supremacist just because he's funded a website that pushed white supremacy, and helped along the careers of Bannon and Yiannopoulos, as he explains in that letter to employees, as published by Bloomberg Business Week, in which he explains he's merely a selfish, amoral libertarian asshole, not a racist selfish amoral libertarian asshole. Because racism would keep Galt's Gulch from fairly enabling liberty, you see:

As for the former beneficiaries of his generous patronage, Steve and Milo, Mercer wanted to make it clear he is not those guys either; he just gave them oodles of money and political clout, so don't make the mistake of thinking he agrees with them on everything. He goes pretty easy on Bannon:

Milo, on the other hand, requires a bit more careful dancing around:

I did it for you, Free Speech! I DID IT FOR YOU!

Mercer is only stepping aside from the management side of Renaissance -- he'll keep a hand in the math-and-computer technical side of thing, which he loves even more than his model train layout (which, yes, features tiny cameras in the front windows of the locomotives so you can see the engineer's view of the track on a monitor). The New York Times notes this is far from a retirement for Robert Mercer:

Mr. Mercer is likely to accelerate his political giving in the future, according to people with knowledge of Mr. Mercer’s thinking who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Without a day-to-day role in Renaissance management, these people said, Mr. Mercer would have more freedom and time to devote to his philanthropy and other activities, including an effort to recruit and support conservative candidates who want to replace the current Republican leadership in Congress.

It remains to be seen whether the reclusive billionaire has any plans to wander the moors in a thunderstorm while raging about cruel fate, but the odds aren't bad, given his fondness for elaborate costume parties. There's also no word on whether Mercer's middle daughter, Rebekah, who's as excited by rightwing politics as her dad is -- perhaps moreso -- will take up the cause of throwing money at Milo in her father's stead, or will have him thrown into the moat for tarnishing the Mercer brand. Just don't mistake the little weasel for a Wise Fool, OK?

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[NYT / WaPo / Bloomberg Business Week / ThinkProgress]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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