“Mother Nature will take care of herself” and other excellent Earth Day observances

Go shorty, it’s your, we’re gonna party, like it’s your, etc. What did I do for Earth Day? Jack shit, mostly. I picked up some bottles that had been littered on the roadside, but only for the deposits, I drove too damn much, I ate a big-ass pile of Safeway Chinese takeout out of an even bigger-ass plastic container, and I cut back some blackberries that were crowding out the good shit in a bit of wildland that I’ve very quietly adopted, really just to have something to do. Make that two activities out of four that were not ecological clusterfucks. I also went to mass in North Affluenza Heights, but that’s only tangentially relevant, as a way of explaining some of the excessive driving.

Even last night I thought a hot take to observe the day commemorating our increasingly hot earth might be in order. Then I woke up in my Focus, parked across the freeway from some still unhealed 140-year-old hydraulic gold mining scars, and got my White ass lucid just in time to tune into the latter half of Beth Ruyak”s interview with this fool, who, along with the Pacific Crest Trail quarterlife crisis lady, is responsible for this mealymouthed piece of faux-empathetic crap about personal responsibility for White People.

I’m originally from Palo Alto, but Steve Almond is from Palo Alto enough to have graduated from Gunn and then from Wesleyan. His entire family is named for California’s most notoriously thirsty nut, and that’s fucking poetic. I didn’t think to look up this dipshit’s background until Ruyak mentioned that he’d be going to an event in his old hometown, but it doesn’t take much research to see how unsurprising it is that this motherfucker grew up under the motherfucking Tree. Simpering, twee, overly earnest, hypocritical twits like Steve Almond are a prime Palo Alto export, and there’s enough coals-to-Newcastle bullshit in America’s SuperZIPs that they’re a leading import from other dynamic, forward-looking parts of the country responsible for two thirds of the American GDP as well.

This is why Almond lives in Allington, I mean, Arlington, now, the one in Massachusetts. These fuckheads never diffuse in a normal geographic pattern, as one would expect of any fluid. One would expect some of them to end up going to Sac State and settling in Visalia, because that’s all, you know, kind of close and Massachusetts is hella far away. They just have to go to good schools, after all. The funny thing is, they never actually go to either of North America’s good schools, specifically, Ryerson or Trinity Western. We have standards for our sheriffs, standards that they’ll never meet as long as they keep throwing furniture at the floor-to-ceiling window in the arrivals hall. Tsawwassen is a great place to take that hog for an evening spin, you know.

These assholes write off all but maybe thirty or fifty counties in a nation of over three thousand as places suitable for an undergraduate education, and then they go around accusing everyone else of being insular. Yeah, great logic there, guys. It’s inconceivable what they possibly do to offend their fellow citizens in the rest of the country.

The NYT Dear Sugars link above is, like its columnists, rich. The premise is that a conflicted member of the White Community is writing in to fish for permission to cut off her (his?) grown daughter, and maybe the other family twentager brat, and Almond and his writing partner Strayed (are these even real people?) of course say, yes, well, I mean, as long as it’s about your children’s maturation and you’re doing it in their interests, not in your own narrow interests as eager empty-nesters, then, sure, it’s cool to make the brats struggle and suffer to learn some empathy, just make sure to calibrate it so it isn’t cruel and unusual, and also make sure that you and your spouse are unanimous about it so the brats can’t leverage you against one another.

These are two professional writers, one of them with an MFA, being paid by a major newspaper and an NPR affiliate to condescendingly lecture upper-middle-class parents about how they have to be cruel to be kind to their children. Cheryl Strayed tells these parents to “give” their grown children “the gift of independence and self-sufficiency” which conveniently means no more gifts that impose any financial costs on the parents, and to let them struggle because they’ll learn shit about personal responsibility and being adults. Strayed’s own idea of young adulthood included getting divorced, through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself, and fucking some random dirtbag she’d just met in his yurt in Ashland. None of this would have been possible had there not been thousands of other people along the way, presumably excluding the derelict asshat with the yurt, holding down the steady jobs needed to keep supply lines and other crucial services available to the general public on demand.

Like so many other through- and section-hikers, this bitch thinks she’s Meriwether Lewis because she didn’t die of starvation on a heavily trafficked, well-maintained public trail, much of it within a day’s hike of civilization. She’s here to yell at us for coddling our grown children and not making them learn about personal responsibility the hard way, never mind that her own brush with hard times in her own twenties was with that no-account Ashland bullshitter on the floor of his yurt. Sure, she wants the conflicted, guilt-ridden parents to give their brats some notice of their impending financial responsibility to the elders, but she publicly bragged about divorcing her husband and walking a thousand miles to fuck some irresponsible hippie loser in a yurt. I haven’t read the book, but I know these fuckers, and if that guy she shagged was a responsible, productive member of society, I’m Herbert Hoover. Of all the people who could give others advice on acting like a grown-up, how the fuck did the Times find her? It’s like having Rob Ford yell at passersby for being crack-smoking drunks.

Steve Almond’s contributions to this body of advice were about how Snowflake and company will never develop empathy if they don’t personally struggle in the fashion of other, lesser people. He wants it to be an educational experience, like the Peace Corps or Teach for America or a semester abroad. I’m not exaggerating:

Remember, convenience is the gateway drug to entitlement. It drains people of their empathy, because it fosters the illusion that they can proceed through life without hardship. This makes it harder for them to imagine others who are facing hardship. This is important to remember, because your kids are almost guaranteed to react with petulance, defiance and/or guilt provocation. They’ll feel betrayed and probably push you away. But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is that they’ll struggle in ways that they haven’t had to previously. As parents, our instinct is to protect our children from this kind of unhappiness. But when we try to shield our kids from the imperfections of the world, they become imprisoned in childhood….Too much of what we call modern parenting has become devoted to the false notion that we can protect our children from every danger posed by the world. We can’t. We can, at best, help them develop the tools (intellectual, emotional, psychological) to contend with these dangers. And by dangers, I don’t mean gun violence or climate change. I mean the dangers that lurk within us — the doubts and anxieties that hold us back.

Maybe this simpering asshole can struggle in ways that he hasn’t previously with the hardship of a squad of Southie shanty micks dunking his soft egghead ass in the Charles River. I’m sure this putz went to Wesleyan for the struggle. Since I’m the homeless one here, it’s germane of me to point out that tuition at Wesleyan costs enough to buy a house instead, and also that the threat of street violence is not just in some overly anxious fool’s head. I’ve personally been a victim of it. Hence Mr. Almond’s calling to a refreshment of vigga in the Challs Riva.

This out-of-touch Palo Altan turned Masshole inevitably has thoughts on other people’s “stories” and how we can react to them, and Cap Radio inevitably has a slot for him to air these thoughts. If his parents had bought him a shitty fixer-upper in Pittsfield we probably wouldn’t be hearing from him, but they sent him to Wesleyan, so here we fucking are. One of his great insights on Insight was about how to talk to hostile MAGA chuds without hurting our own feelings, as discovered in the course of a stupid political argument with his father-in-law about climate change. It was the father-in-law who blurted out, “Mother Nature can take care of herself.” If we feel like having some fucking backbone, we can always call bullshit on climate change denialists by telling them that if we set a pile of leaves on fire in the middle of their living room, the air quality will take care of itself. These disingenuous shit-talkers don’t want to live downwind from a smelter with no pollution controls; they just want someone else to bear all the costs.

The problem is that this is exactly the case for dear-hearts-and-gentle-people woke baes like Steve Almond. They’re just as hypocritical. Climate change activists are basically as hypocritical and profligate as their finances allow. Let’s not pretend that Almond doesn’t fly and drive way more than the American average. He’s an upper-middle-class guy from Palo Alto who lives in a nice suburb of Boston and is out on a book tour. This motherfucker isn’t doing his part to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Good God, how stupid are we? He’s an above-baseline part of the problem himself.

The father-in-law sounds like a combative jerk. I know guys like him, and they’re a pain in the ass. So why the fuck is it our duty to respect the “stories that they’re hearing?” If they’re using stories, i.e., Fox News talking points, that are functionally psychotic, it should be a matter of basic self-respect to declare that they’re full of shit and that these “stories” are every bit as invalid as a Wesley Willis story about kicking Batman’s ass. Now, that’s a Wesleyan education I can support. Take it straight from the guy who got kicked out of Genesis on Western. That much is a true story, though, or could be. The entire biosphere being inherently immune to all human inputs is bogus, but Steve Almond is too chickenshit to tell his father-in-law as much because that might cause family drama and upset some people. Instead, he’d like to commiserate about the feelings of woke liberals who have cherished racists in their lives whom they don’t want to upset. Yeah, that’s who I always turn to when I’ve got questions about race relations in the United States: a rich white guy in Boston. It’s not like he’d ever blame it all on the Irish.

Maybe Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond can do an episode and a companion column about how to deal with college-educated liberals who can’t imagine that their own politics are problematic. Maybe I can go drink some drain cleaner.

I miss Lent already. All the wrong shit wakes up this time of year, and the guilt of breaking the Lenten fast has nothing on the projectile penance of listening to simpering overpaid twits pretend that they’re doing something meaningful for the earth before they board a jet all the way back to Logan. It’s bad enough that these shitheads have no particular principles by which they’re willing to actually live; it’s worse that we have to listen to them ostentatiously pretend that they do, and then be badgered to pay NPR for this excellent programming.

What’s going on, Devin, is that someone else is paying for that shit. Fat Cracka hain’t got the cash for any of that.

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Every day is a day of giving for the Dunkin’ Doorman

Gloria in fucking excelsis, Dickinson College will be having some student phone banker cold-call me on Tuesday for its fourth annual “Day of Giving.” Or, in my case, eleventh or so annual year of not giving. I should get a response script ready, something along the lines of fuck you and fuck all y’all for harassing me over the damn phone. Think of it as a life lesson for the young’uns about how scummy jobs SHOULD be unpleasant. These kiddos are obviously involved in some shitty grunt work, and I feel some faint empathy for them as low critters on that gross totem pole, but cold-calling strangers to pester them for donations to a pushy, already overfunded school full of yuppie shitheads should be unpleasant. It’s not like they’re working in an honest field like food service or retail. That’s where it’s wrong for the customer to shit on the grunts if they’re doing a half-decent job. I’m no longer a fucking customer, and cold-calling random people who may or may not have the money or the interest to harden up the Big Dick is never a decent job. #TeshTips: I ain’t got neither no more, cracka.

Fundraising wasn’t always so fucking crass and gross. I’m old enough to remember a time when it was tolerably tactful and considerate. It didn’t always have the feel of a squad of goombahs beating everyone over the head with a shovel.

To this day I’ve never gotten that sense from the fundraising efforts of *MY OTHER OLD SCHOOL*, Lancaster Country Day. The worst thing I can recall to that effect was a rather crass open letter from Mike Mersky enthusing about the great largesse released into our fine institution by the recent death of a major benefactress. This letter was a bit gross, but Country Day got its four and a half mil or whatever, and Mersky mercifully shut his damn mouth.

In the time that I’ve been involved with Dickinson, its fundraising stance has basically been the eternal recitation of that fucking letter, ne’er the foul flame to dim. Even so, the school has ventured into forms of individual and crowd manipulation that are novel even by the worst excesses of the Durden years. The dedicated days of giving, by whatever name some asshole decides to give them, are more numerous and aggressive than they were. The upcoming Day of Giving includes, according to an e-mail I was sent, two separate two-hour challenges to unlock matching gifts and three other day-long challenges to unlock additional matching gifts. Keep in mind that the Dickinson College endowment was worth over $400m last I checked when I tell you that the grand total in matching gifts that we will be able to unlock if we win all these ridiculous races is $80,000. That’s it. $80k. If you’ve got an airsickness bag within reach, consider that the total pot waiting at the end of the rainbow if we band together to win the “Rush Hour Challenge” between 0700 and 0900 EDT, and the “Power Lunch Challenge” between 1200 and 1400, is $20k. $10k a pop if we all keep our eyes on these beautiful prizes, baby.

That’s the kind of money you’d get for burning down your fucking trailer. I mean the entire amount. The average self-respecting Adirondack Po’ Whitey isn’t about to light that match for a mere twenty grand. We’re talking about North English and Canuck losers who never leave town and let their dogs fuck in the front yard by the state highway all day long and still know how to collect more from a strategically insured trailer fire than Baltimore’s leading commercial real estate brokers are willing to front in challenge grants for their prestigious undergraduate alma mater. Cousin Gigolo’s mother, the same hard old bull dyke who called my mother with a sob story about how she’d just moved to Fort Myers to shack up with a lady she’d met online and had but $5.90 in her bank account, never took her own father to the bank for less than ten grand a trip. That was the story, at least: she’d tell him that she was taking him to Florida, he’d defiantly sit down on the lawn in front of his house, she’d berate him until he finally got up and let her drive them to Glens Falls National for a counter withdrawal on their way south, and she’d compromise on the Florida part of the trip by driving him right back home.

We’re talking about a lady whose known prostitute of a son is too bashful to demand a ten spot as his stud fee, I mean, shit, she’s letting me stay in this crappy apartment just for banging her. Nah, for all I know Cousin Gigolo sob-talks walking-around money out of his landlady in a less direct fashion; whatever works, etc. Regardless, his mother, whose cash on hand has been below six dollars as an adult, got as much per bank errand out of her father, a notorious government cheese claimant, as the total at stake in each of four of the five matching-gift challenges that Dickinson is dangling in front of us to motivate us to generosity.

You know what? Fuck that to hell. Get out of my fucking face with that horseshit. I’m not dancing for nickels like one of Cher’s Gypsies for any of these shitheads. I write this having just been out on Foresthill Road scavenging deposit bottles again. The point is that that’s a cash stream that I get to keep. That’s for my own damn self. I’m not getting guilted into “unlocking” a pissant little pot of matching funds equivalent to about two months of Margee Ensign’s salary. Hound someone else for that shit. Either Jennifer Ward Reynolds gives Dickinson the money or she doesn’t. My diploma does me jack shit on a good day, so why the fuck is that my concern?

Geez, even if I were getting something back professionally and socioeconomically from that deal I don’t think I’d care to be bothered with stories about how we need only ten more pledges from all of you to unlock this ten thousand-dollar matching gift. I’ve never given NPR the last thin dime I schnorred off George Benson, and I still turn the fucking radio off when those assholes are hawking their pint glasses with the portraits of Devin Yamanaka and Randall White People.

Well, now, how DOES that line keep showing up here? These development office asshats just have to act like Jack Bauer has only until the bottom of the hour to find the terrorist bagman, including commercial breaks, and something bad will happen if he doesn’t. Yeah, in this case “bad” means that some rich bitch doesn’t give our dear fucking alma mater another lump-sum gift of ten grand right here, right now. Besides, how many of these influence peddlers actually get all like, fuck you, gimme back my fucking stuff, OJ in Las Vegas en route to Winnemucca style, when they can quietly sign over that same kitty to Noble Dickinsonia regardless of the outcome for the same “charitable” deduction on their income taxes, the same recognition, and the same in-kind consideration when they need their skids greased?

I could do without these clown-ass fuckjobs blowing sunshine up my ass, and everyone else’s, about what the pot they’re dangling in front of our faces will be worth to its intended recipients and the actual conditions of its donation. They’re deliberately running a cheap scam on everyone who’s too lazy or gullible to do the arithmetic by throwing numbers at us without context and assuming that we’ll be amazed. I’m not the fucking retard who doesn’t divide by 2,500 and 365 to get an idea of what shit’s actually worth. The entire amount Dickinson raised with this same one-day stunt last year worked out to about a dollar per enrolled student per calendar day for the calendar year. Bump it up quick and dirty to two bucks a day per day for the academic year and, don’tcha fucking know, it’s still jack shit. I’ve studied the humanities deeply enough not to need any more math than that. That’s the kind of money that is regarded as scandalous deep poverty in parts of the world with dramatically lower costs of living than the United States.

The psychology behind this scam is something that should embarrass every college graduate. We’re expected to have a rush of feeling thinking about what we’d do with that pot of money if we had it to ourselves. That’s interesting, since the amounts that we’re “unlocking” are to be divided in some fashion among a student body of over two thousand. We might as well wonder why New York City has a larger municipal budget than Crete, Nebraska, where the California Zephyr rolls by the Dairy Queen at 60 miles an hour at two in the morning. One would hope that a bunch of brain geniuses like us would recognize that Dickinson College has a larger operating budget than the median household and that maybe the eighty grand in matching gifts that we’re being berated to trigger by doing a song and dance on command is the per-capita equivalent of what I gross in half an hour by picking up Modelo tall boy empties off the roadside.

No shit I’d be grateful if someone gave me $10k in a lump sum out of the blue and would be able to do something worthwhile with it. When my parents gave me $15k and Progressive gave me $3,600 to replace my totaled Civic, I got a new car and earned $35 in interest over the next year, and that was without constant extreme frugality. But I’m not a fucking liberal arts college.

Like hell am I about to perform like a fucking circus animal over several trifling amounts of money for a school that doesn’t need any of it. I’d steward any amount up to and beyond the $80k in matching gifts that are supposedly at stake next week better than Dickinson will, and I’d be more grateful for it. An institution with several hundred million in the bank is trying to get its entire donor pool to perform on command for an additional million or less, the crucial portion of that being only $80k. It’s rather like Jeff Bezos rewarding employees who live in tents and unheated trailers with cookies for winning “Power Hour.” Saturday night Rick Astley power hour was all right, but it’s a bright red flag when that sort of language creeps into fundraising or business, especially coming from bigtime organizations. Anyone deploying cheap psych-motivational tricks in that fashion has all the combined good repute of Graham Spanier and Radovan Karadzic. WE ARE!

Uh, genocide, and I’ve never heard of shampoo?

This is why I should be flying a sign at the rest area right now. I reckon I’ve already done more this week to abate invasive weeds and pick up trash off the roadside than Bill Durden has done all year, and I’m not all up in anyone’s face at Dickinson demanding money. I pick pennies up off the sidewalk because they’re worth something, so, yeah, I’d say I know the value of $80,000. So do our North Country firebug friends from above. I wouldn’t put it past all of them to take out six-figure property insurance policies on trailers that any of you would agree ought to be burned to the ground. As they always said in Soviet Russia, insurance fraud is the crime that pays for YOU!

Then again, Dickinson College runs frauds that don’t require it to pay a single month’s premium. So did Melissa Ann Shepard. So, I suppose, does Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes to this day. She isn’t the only one to know that the internet abides and facilitates all possible vices in our wondrous time. Call the Halifax Police into the library if you don’t like that. Dickinson, remember, still has me on its fucking e-mail list. That’s the only reason I was provoked to barf out any of this shit in the first place.

GO DIPLOMATS!

Stirring the Bernays sauce into the /pol pot, volume two: no time for a eulogy

Our civic ruin will be our national disorientation from observable reality. Shit, phrasing that in the future tense was overly charitable and optimistic. We’re already living deeply and abundantly in that land of make-believe, unto our own walking damnation. We already have that inability or unwillingness or timid hesitancy, or whatever the hell it is, since no one dares speak of it, to distinguish reality from fantasy and truth from falsehood. We already can’t or, worse, won’t recognize the deliberately blurred lines on the edges of the real world that we arrogantly presume ourselves to inhabit. We’re already incredulous or even angry when confronted with evidence that we’ve lost our bearings in an onslaught of marketing copy, stage management, scripting, and other manipulations of the genuine into the bogus.

For God’s sake, we take “reality TV” seriously as a form of reality. It’s absurdly, nay, frighteningly easy to rile up people who should know better by pointing out that “The Biggest Loser” is a crude product-placement psyop or that “90 Day Fiancé” had someone behind the scenes instructing the tightly wound Yankee dork and his Filipina sweetheart fight over his nauseated refusal to eat of the whole hog that her father had barbecued in his honor, and for that matter that maybe, hopefully, the producers paid for the hog as they would for any other prop if they were reputable. We’ve got more than a few people in our midst who are so sick that they get sore when they’re told that maybe the schadenfreude is all a big show. Hint: that’s what we commonly call television programs. *Defiantly wound-up John McLaughlin voice* WRONG! It’s “Show, Show, SHOW, heah we GO!”

This week’s show is about a recently dead famous lady who never would have been particularly famous in a civically healthy society in the first place. If Barbara Bush were forgettable, we might instead have forgotten about her, as I had over the course of her retirement. I knew who she was, of course, but I didn’t give her much thought, compared, say, to her sex pest of a husband when he was belatedly revealed as an incorrigible first-strike rump-patter. But we are not allowed to forget. We are forced to remember.

Does this mean that we’re encouraged to remember her honestly. Lol. Hell no, bitch. We’re conditioned to remember her fondly. That is, falsely. This is why we turn off CNN. Ten minutes of Don Lemon moderating a roundtable discussion of what a great auxiliary stateswoman she was while I killed time waiting to walk to the light rail station was more than I could have stood if I’d given it more than half of my attention. That bumptious rich bitch had no abiding principles. Her career testifies to her ethical vacuity. She was brought up in a wealthy Connecticut Yankee family and married into a wealthier one. By all accounts, she never rebuked her husband for his bad acts as president or her sons for their even worse acts, respectively, as POTUS and governor of Florida turned presidential candidate. Please, clap.

If Barbara Bush had wanted the benefits of discretion and privacy accorded to a private citizen, she could have remained a fucking private citizen. She didn’t. She made a show of having “causes,” notably including reading to children, with the full expectation of receiving full praise for having a social bone in her Social body. Yeah, well guess what, white girl? Opening oneself up to public praise by deliberately entering into and remaining in public life means opening oneself to criticism, too. There’s a legitimate argument to be made against savaging genuinely private people for not doing enough to rebuke the bad acts of their public loved ones, but that was never what Barbara Bush was. She was deliberately public as first lady. Her husband and her entire scummy family used her calculatingly to humanize their looting operation. Message I Care needed a pleasant helpmeet, and he had one. This was a fucking PR operation.

But isn’t it worthy to encourage literacy and to read to children? Good God, how fucking gullible are we? Any engaged and functionally literate parent who isn’t in a constant, unrelenting state of exhaustion reads to the little ones. On the Sacramento light rail system, this is an example of niggas who have something to DO with their kids. #TeshTips: a fat cracka can be a nigga, too, although this fat cracka is a childless bachelor. We never fucking needed some Social Register grandstander with a spy of a husband to encourage us to do something that a supermajority of us with children in our lives were already doing whenever we had the time, energy, and basic ability.

Besides, homegirl was in it for the praise. That much is bleeding obvious to anyone who gives a bit of thought to how this shit all works. Just yesterday I talked at some length to a batshit crazy guy on the light rail who was carrying on, inter alia, about “how many dead people do you think we left behind in Rancho Cordova.” It ain’t me did that, lawd, it ain’t me; by God’s grace, I wasn’t even in Rancho, and I told my boy as much. Did I do that in the expectation that the entire mainstream media apparatus would praise me for my great virtue? Of course not. I don’t even know when I’d have taken the time to mention it in here had I not wanted to show what a disingenuous, attention-whoring dipshit operation this whole thing is, not to mention how manipulative it is. Every politician scheming to defund the schools and the preschools and enrichment programs deploys some basically useless family member to make a show of truly, deeply giving a shit. As above, Message: I care.

Hell, this aw look at me I read to children in front of television cameras thing set the precedent for Melania Trump’s disgustingly insincere campaign against bullying. If she actually cared about that, she’d go into a cloister and take a vow of silence. Of course that campaign came from the one first lady who totally looks like she goes on Snapchat to encourage teen girls to commit suicide. But that’s what we get for praising women for “devoting” themselves to “causes” just because their husbands are high elected officials.

The one good thing we might have gotten out of a Clinton V 2.1 presidency would have been Bill Clinton’s “causes” as first first gentleman or whatever the fuck we’d have called him. He’s so shameless, so nasty and naughty, as Larry Craig said in a spirit not having anything to do with jealousy, that his “cause” would obviously have been nothing but getting his own willie slick.

We were expected to worship that blue blood bitch while she was alive. Now that she’s dead, we’re supposed to feel great sympathy with her schmuck of a husband and the psychopath and the hapless dork she has as sons, an entire nation united in grief and respect. Dissing this useless story-talking broad in death is officially uncouth and untoward. We all face the grim reaper in due course of time. Would we want those who survive us to speak ill of us in our fresh absence and upset our relatives in their time of mourning?

Note that this is all about the Bush family, an obscenely wealthy and powerful clan, and entirely not about any of the rest of us, almost all of us poor, powerless, and vulnerable by comparison. It’s germane of us to ask when, exactly, we’ll get some fucking consideration. We’ve got claims against this scumbag family as an entire nation. No matter the moral justifications for invading Iraq, we fucked that up. I’m not here to dispute that Saddam Hussein was a classic erstwhile CIA-allied unsavory, but that thug held shit together where our boys and girls did not. Heck of a job, Bremmie. W then got Americans needlessly killed stateside with his shitty emergency planning. His mother, who might have shown some fucking tact or decency or modesty or deference towards the thousands of hurricane refugees that her vicious idiot cokehead dry-drunk son failed to protect, instead crowed from her position of lifelong privilege that living indefinitely in a stadium was good enough for them because they were poors.

If any of the rest of us are worried about what those we leave behind will say about us, we’d do well to consider the possibility that we haven’t been involved in anything like that. I did some volunteer reconstruction work on the Mississippi Coast after Katrina, and I didn’t invite news cameras along to glorify me. The average politician gets thousands of times the recognition for a thousandth the work, and I only spent about a month on the Gulf Coast all told. I feel a bit gross for tooting my own horn even to this modest extent, but it’s germane. I wasn’t a glory whore, and no one I worked with in Mississippi was a glory whore.

As that old standard from the Canadian songbook encourages us, we’d be wise to consider what we’d do if today was our last day. Don’t look at me like that; explain BTO. I’m planning to go out and weed some blackberries after I get done with this screed, just me, a pair of pruning shears, and an unidentified plot of public land. The point is that most of us will have people saying decent things about us after our deaths because most of us lead decent lives. We don’t need the entire media apparatus to preach our great virtue every time one of our relatives dies.

Not recognizing that the reverence for the Bush family is an operant conditioning campaign by abject mercenaries is an alarming example of national decline. We got rid of the nobles and royalty in 1776 to prevent exactly this sort of court sycophancy. The framers of the US Constitution rightly recognized the ugly servility and civic rot emanating from the compulsory worship and privileging of hereditary grandees. It doesn’t matter how religious or secular it is, at least from a purely civic perspective (the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches were notoriously corrupted by European hereditary rule in medieval and Renaissance times); it’s some bad, bad shit.

This is a family that is able, willing, and eager to buy its own praise wholesale. All this fawning over the dear departed matriarch Barbara is the equivalent of an ad campaign implying that the purchase of some truck will make a man sexy or a trip to some Indian casino will be a glamorous adventure in the presence of the preternaturally sexy. None of this stuff is aboveboard. We’re reckless fools to ignore the furtive hand movements behind the curtain.

It’s been said that the Devil’s most dangerous and effective wile is to convince people that he doesn’t exist. All the creeps and servile mercenaries behind this Bush worship want us to assume that they don’t exist. They want us to assume that the outpouring of nostalgic emotion is genuine, spontaneous, and heartfelt, that there’s nothing stage-managed about it. I’m normally one to find the St. Michael’s Prayer a bit uncouth, but all I need is a quick, horrified look at these people and the realization of how many gullible marks they’ve deceived to have no doubt that it’s for them.

They can fuck off with any solemn demand that we respect the dead. They don’t respect the dead themselves. The Bushes executed convicts for political advantage and then gloated over their deaths. No one writing their hagiographies has the self-respect to confront any of this. The only fucking reason Barbara Bush is being praised so effusively in memoriam is that she’s a Bush. That’s it. Her family organization bought all the good press.

Spare us the fucking calls for solemn decorum in a solemn time. They’d be exhorting us to sing a different tune indeed if she’d been Barbara al-Assad or Barbara Al-Awlaki. We’re still too Protestant as a nation to publicly pray for mercy upon the dead, and God forbid we call for God’s mercy upon some departed member of our pantheon of demons. It would be impossible to publicly say a Rosary for Adolf Hitler in utmost sincerity and magnanimity without being excoriated as a hideous troll. It would be considered gross even to discuss Hitler in universalist tones of aw, man, don’t sweat it, he’s gotta be with Jesus by now.

Come back with the demands that we solemnly respect the dead when the American elites stops conditioning its subjects to demand God’s damnation upon long-dead enemies and every passing violent criminal. Come back with this happy horseshit when we’ve stopped being a constitutionally diabolical nation up to our highest levels of power. Come back when we’re credibly a nation of mercy, not vengeful projectile justice with all the precision of scattershot from a shotgun wielded by a common drunk.

No, I’m not here to get into the weeds of Barbara Bush’s spiritual fate. Barb’s gone. She’s no longer our problem, or wouldn’t be if all these paid shills would shut the fuck up and stop talking the story of her great virtue. Her entire family is our national problem, in rather the same way that the Bourbons and the Romanovs were national problems in France and Russia. The conspiracy theory that the Bushes gave Mark Hinckley the idea to assassinate Ronald Reagan may not be accurate, but it’s fun, and it’s a matter of overwhelming public record that that family has done worse with absolutely no remorse.

Personally, I prefer to pray for the deserving. I have fairly low standards, but the Bushes are a lower sort of low, and I don’t mind leaving them to the collective wits of those they’ve bought. I’m too proudly American for any of this God Save the Queen horseshit. Karen Garcia aptly describes this whole spectacle as an elevation of Emily Post above free speech. I say, tie Emily to the post, make sure that James Traficant is satisfied with the width of his bottoms, and hand him the flogging whip.

Then again, neither am I here to shitpost pictures of the smiling hot dog dancing on Barbara Bush’s grave. That’s still a popular custom vis-à-vis Lady Thatcher on the British and Commonwealth left, and it’s a fun one, but I’m saving it for Henry Kissinger. Given all the disgusting, shameful things that the paid hagiographers will say about that remorseless war criminal when he finally kicks the bucket, I’ll have to be there with Franks for Hank.

This ain’t debate club

Let’s talk about NPR again, why don’t we. Why not is because it’s fucking hideous, but I still feel this painful calling to chronicle the horror show as I unfortunately witness it. Tonight’s misfortune was on my way to a 5:00 pm mass. Get me to the church on time next time, Bowie. Missing half of a much better than average homily was bad enough (I’m Catholic, so it’s hit and miss; some would say mostly miss), but there was no call for the penance into which I blundered for having fucked up a day’s worth of planning and scrambled to do emergency laundry at four o’clock: to wit, Michel Martin playing devil’s advocate with a talking head from the Kaiser Family Foundation about how maybe it’s morally formative to force Medicaid recipients to work, since a work requirement would, I believe it was, “bring the program into line with private-sector health insurance, in which you lose your insurance if you lose your job.”

Where do they fucking find these ghoulish counterpoints? Who in the hell, and I do mean hell, are they turning to for political thought? Is this really what they consider balance? NPR forced me to side with some random policy shop nobody who holds a sinecure to talk the story of the great effectiveness of our new Rube Goldberg health insurance exchanges. That’s how grotesquely vile their counterpoint for the sake of argument was. Kaiser is bullshit, but bullshit is better than eternal slavedriving.

How do these stupid motherfuckers not notice that we have a serious national problem, dating back to barely after the first Anglo settlement of the American colonies, with forcing people to work? There are certainly those who would racially inflame this discussion by pointing out that Michel Martin is black, and even so I don’t think it’s wrongheaded or off-base to wonder how she, of all people, as an African-American who doesn’t seem like a total ignoramus about American history, managed to miss the glaring slavery background inherent in her question, but really, this is something that every fucking one of us should immediately recognize as an American and absolutely refuse to dignify. No one who was raised as an American, US citizen or not, should grant that line of argument the least bit of moral or intellectual legitimacy. We’ve spent our entire national history screwing that dog raw. Regimes in other countries have gone beyond the moral pale in their own efforts to make compulsory the dignity of work (Arbeit macht frei much?), but our national history is, shall we say, especially special, and the recentness of it all particularly unpleasant.

It doesn’t even take a very deep reading of the history to recognize that it’s peculiar to our white-black relations only when African-Americans are the only poor available for immediate exploitation; the master class will enthusiastically force atrocious, even dangerous, even deadly, working conditions on white indentured servants, white sharecroppers, Chinese coolies, braceros, unaffiliated Mexican peasant immigrants, or Somali refugees the moment any of these become available.

This should be basic shit. If our schools and mainstream media were any good, it would be. The principle needed here isn’t very complicated: DO NOT FORCE OTHERS TO WORK. Some creepy shithead fondling a little whip in his pocket will show up with a story about how there’s work to be done and there are still lazy or greedy people loafing about without the enthusiasm to do it on capital and management’s conditions. What can we say in reply? DO NOT FORCE OTHERS TO WORK. This has to be nonnegotiable. We’re perennially damned as a nation because it is not.

As a sidebar, but not much of one, this same evil slavedriving impulse is totally why capital and management are so taken with immigrant workers and so hostile towards old-stock African-Americans. It’s accurate enough to say that none of them give a shit about the welfare of any of the poor, let alone their dignity; the exceptions are pathetically weak and contingent upon mealymouthed provisos about how these great bleeding-heart conservatives respect immigrants because they’re so hardworking, i.e., not a bunch of lazy white trash and niggers. The Community, or at least a large part of it, knows its own history and understands in its soul and its bones exactly how and why it’s evil in the American context to force another person to work, and more than a few members of Po’ Whitey get it, too. I’ll be damned, then, if I’ll go along with the solemn pieties about immigrant virtue mouthed by landowning shitheads who are predictably gushing about “our wetbacks” the moment they think the mike has gone cold. To hell with them.

Yes, that includes Jeff Flake. Pleasant conversational skills aren’t enough to make up for the permanent gentry campaign to import desperate scab labor without oversight, without regulation, and without consequence.

When intersectional bourgeois-aristocratic mouthpieces like Michel Martin talk about bringing other people’s circumstances “in line with” one another, they always mean to degrade the less unfortunate ones to the level of the most unfortunate. Funny thing, they never try to do this with their own circumstances. Gee, I wonder fucking why. It couldn’t be that behind all their principled talk about efficiency and competition they’re always looking out for number one. Nah. Reading recklessly devious talking points on air in the form of quasi-rhetorical devil’s advocate questions in a sanitized Brahmin New English accent, give or take some half-assed ethnic or regional residue, can’t be a rare skill. Don’t tell me that if that bullshit were opened up to a competitive international market of workmanlike English speakers with adequate enunciation there’d be fewer applicants per opening at five dollars an hour than their are to do what I do for a living (sic, but much healthier) over the summer for three dollars an hour or so, four and change in a really solid hour. With 75 or 80% of those dipshits, if they went no-call-no-show and had to be replaced on an hour’s notice, it would be just about impossible to tell. If these shysters actually believed in meritocracy, they’d open Tom Friedman’s job up to competitive bids from all Anglophone writers capable of penning fourth-rate stories about the inane comments of some cabbie or airplane seatmate they supposedly chatted up the other day.

The precarity and pain are for other, lesser people, people like you and me. We go to the City Part of Town; they go to Michele Kelemen’s beloved tri-city area of Wa-Shing-Ton. By the way, that bitch is totally a spy. Themselves they level up; us they level down, and hard.

This is why the qualifications for Medicaid, a social insurance program established for the needy by political leaders who had no use for neoliberal nudge theory horseshit or any other psychopathic Rube Goldberg scams to allow the talented tenth to interfere with medical care for the most vulnerable, have to be “brought into line with” the most horrific operant conditioning campaigns used against a beleaguered, anxious, distressed middle class, in this case the worst aspects of employer-based health insurance. The assumption is that the middle class will resent, despise, and chomp at the bit to destroy the lower class for benefiting from a possibly superior insurance program, rather than demand that it be allowed to opt into the same government program or that the program be extended to everyone. This is not a problem that Medicare has: it covers all elderly Americans, regardless of income, and it is immensely popular. For the same reason, Medicare for All is a very popular proposal. More on this shortly, but not from NP Fucking R.

Only a stupid, vicious asshole who hasn’t studied jack shit about modern American healthcare history insists that employer-based health insurance is the gold standard and a time-honored, sacrosanct civic tradition. The entire fucking model, of course, was started by industrialists to outmaneuver wartime wage controls and attract workers in a tight labor market. If the United States had gone into the Second World War with universal government-provided health insurance, the fringe benefit might have been a free bowling alley or amusement park or whorehouse or gourmet cafeteria instead. As bad as it is losing the income and structure and purpose of a regular job, or the income of a terrible regular job, it’s worse to lose the fringe benefits and have to scramble to replace them at a higher cost on the open market. The Affordable Care Act, in many respects a shitty, useless, overhyped bill, pretty much fixed the access problem for insurance applicants who, prior to its enactment, had routinely been denied coverage on any available pretext by the insurance industry suits and their pet doctors. This much Obamacare has gotten right: no more rescission, and no more cherrypicking the risk pool at will. It’s actually an insurance system now, not a pure racket.

Lucky us, though, NPR is great for stupid, vicious assholes. That’s why I had to side with an omg wow muh marketplace industry talking head and against a nationally broadcast journalist interviewing her. Kaiser is pretty horseshit, as I can attest as its policyholder, and I normally have no patience for any of the loudmouthed useless eaters who stroke off to the thought of siloing their fellow citizens into barely navigable and comprehensible “markets,” but in this case she was right: the ACA allows people who have been laid off or fired from benefited jobs to replace their lost coverage much more easily than they previously could have done.

This was, as insurance companies and their policy shops go, honest. What it doesn’t do is explain why in all hell anyone at NPR thought it was appropriate to ask whether Medicaid eligibility should be leveled down to the precarity and hoop-jumping of employer-based health insurance. It doesn’t explain why NPR is that devious and evil. This is NPR’s idea of bipartisan balance and objectivity: a debate between neoliberal market fetishists and latter-day slavers. That’s what forcing other people to work is. It’s slavery. It has never been anything else in the American cultural context. Medicaid used to be about, you know, making sure that the poor could afford fucking medical care. Now, we’re told, it has to be a mechanism of operant conditioning to force the poor, commonly including the sick, to work. It’s an incentive now.

Tell me why we don’t “nudge” some moralizing useless eaters into the deep end of the Potomac as an “incentive” not to speak down to us in this fashion. Dear God. These creeps who carry on about the dignity of work don’t believe a damn bit of it. If they did, they’d be doing honest work and not jealously guarding whatever Capitol Hill or K Street tit they’ve spent their careers sucking for all it will yield. I have never had a job that required so little skill or tangible productivity, and I’ve never had a job that paid so well. This hot take is closer to news than Michele Martin’s interview with the Kaiser Family Foundation lady. No, I don’t care to look up her name, but that doesn’t make me less of a reporter than Martin is for devoting an entire segment to a zero-standards conversation with some random talking head. I don’t post chats with vulgar bigots who know nothing about the political and labor history of their own country on YouTube.

Note that the Opposing Viewpoint (TM) so crucially needed to balance whatever conservatism, liberalism, or raging reaction NPR is giving some guest a platform to air is never socialism. Maybe not never-never, but it’s pretty bloody close for a country whose most popular politician is a self-declared socialist who nearly won the Democratic Party presidential nomination and would have won the general election had  he done so. Bernie Sanders isn’t a reasonable counterpoint to a lukewarm, vaguely true story about how the Obamacare exchanges work great, but the talking points of slavedriving Republican creeps lurking in the shadows are.

The dirty little wide-open secret here is that the news media will never, ever be objective. The only people who take that shit seriously are journalists and publishers who don’t want the peasants catching on to their trade secrets. Spoiler: we’ve caught on. We know that drill. It isn’t some deep, shocking insight among workaday Americans that the media have biases and are partial to one side or another. Of course, holier-than-thou newsies get wicked salty at the gnawing realization that the little people think they aren’t on their side. In NPR’s current parlance, this means that we don’t stand with the facts.

Oh? Gee, the “dignity of work” as interpreted by career Beltway desk jockeys who consistently don’t seek honest, tangibly productive jobs isn’t a fucking fact. Republican talking points about making public assistance beneficiaries feel the same pain as harried salarymen who are too craven and chickenshit to demand their own no-questions-asked access to socialist benefits aren’t facts. Values and principles are not facts. Where the fuck did these idiots go to school? Nah, don’t try to answer that; it’ll be hella depressing.

And what are the values that these shysters do have? The worst ones possible, of course. These are the values holding that the liberty of Fremontian smallholders on the frontier has to be “brought into line with” the bondage of recalcitrant slaves having their backs extrajudicially lashed and brined by the overseer under the direct orders and supervision of Robert E. Lee. Somebody is being shown mercy and charity, and that has to be stopped. We can’t give anyone the idea that the government has a legitimate role providing for the needs of its constituents. They’d grow insolent. They’d grow civic.

No, this does not mean that no one works. Let’s get our heads out of our asses. The only people who believe shit like that are slavers. For God’s sake we could get another ten or twenty percent of our population back into the actual workforce, in the sense of actually working, by decommissioning our bloated, grotesque managerial apparatus, much of which can be traced directly back to the social control demands of antebellum chattel slavery. Everything about this is disingenuous and duplicitous. Everyone who scurries around sucking the cocks of “job creators” wants the “job creators” to be given carte blanche to hire the most desperate peasants on earth as scabs. The loudest proponents of the “dignity of work” all want work to be a space of belligerent indignity, starting with their endless list of reasons to deny applicants the opportunity to work. If it has dignity for a sober Mexican, it has dignity for an American junkie, too. Oh, don’t tell me: I’m proceeding from the assumption that this is all about getting done what one can get done when one isn’t jonesing for the goddamn dope right this minute, not about finding reasons to punish and degrade the vulnerable.

There is a LOT of S&M shit in these corners. I don’t have much hard evidence, but I know it when I see it, and ew, I’m getting a raging clue! These ghouls have dominatrices for the same reason that Dennis Rader had a selfie collection. Never has there been a thing sexier than a male code enforcement officer named Lynn, other than, you fucking guessed it, a sexy male nurse named Lynn. That’s majorsly fucked up, but it has John Dennis Diddly on Washington. Excuse me, I said put me in, Coach, not put me in Coach. The bondage script-flipping that these ghouls need isn’t one that they can purchase by the hour. What they need is to travel back to Kansas in 1890, walk into a grange hall, open their mouths, and have William Jennings Bryan literally beat the shit out of them with a riding crop.

Or we could be led by healthy, decent people, but that’s asking an awful lot.

Shite privilege

Burn the white flag. I will go down with this garbage barge. Mike Pennington crossed the damn Rubicon and I can testify to it. I wasn’t, as they say in Wyomissing, as swift as I could have been in naming the weasel, but yes, this qualifies as bad blood.

WOOP!

The sleaze didn’t suddenly start last month, or at Homecoming last fall. It’s been going on for years, and generally getting worse, not better. Pennington was the ultimate source of my advance notice that the Dickinson College Board of Trustees was preparing to fire Nancy Roseman and that college staff had filed internal harassment complaints against her wife, Lori Van Handel. The college covered up the complaints against Van Handel at the institutional level, and Pennington was complicit in the cover-up. He had no specific personal duty to blow the whistle on the harassment allegations, but that would have been the ethical response: he had specific inside knowledge that a college where he was an active alumni representative was deliberately harboring a known serial harasser on its campus, apparently for the balance of the academic year, because her spouse was the sitting president. I’d seen a Law & Order prequel of that same movie in 2004-05, when Bill Durden and his henchmen retained Richard Sexton as the campus police chief for a semester and a half despite suspecting him in official misconduct that would be charged as kidnapping if committed by a civilian, all because they didn’t want to be embarrassed by firing a third member of the brass in a single semester. That’s why I promptly blew the whistle about the Van Handel bullshit. I was done standing by like a wet noodle in such circumstances.

The career of Joe Fazio, the veteran Dickinson DPS lieutenant turned Messiah College beat cop turned interim Dickinson DPS director, is a classic example of the abuse that career college staff will tolerate in the interests of service, loyalty, and discretion. Fazio singlehandedly earned Bill Durden several million dollars and eight and a half years of free accommodations in a mansion by looking forward, not backward. Outside the middling to high parts of the administrative apparatus, it’s hard to find college staff lifers who are not there to spend twenty to forty years quietly doing the yeoman’s work of keeping the lights on for a yeoman’s pay. They don’t formally complain just because rich pricks and eggheaded snobs are vaguely hostile or rude to them.

It’s all but impossible that Van Handel didn’t egregiously mistreat the facilities staffers who lodged harassment complaints against her. By the time that kind of abuse is documented in a formal internal complaint by a trade, janitorial, or food service employee on a college campus, it’s safe to say that the institution is already civilly liable for a payout in the millions per complainant.

The loyalty and discretion that career college staff routinely show the most corrupt host institutions in these circumstances goes far beyond what anyone could reasonably expect. Time and time again they defer to moral parasites because they want to do what they can to help keep things running smoothly.

It’s not even that their employers feel any duty to reciprocate their loyalty. Dickinson runs peons off campus over trifles. A friend of mine freshman year was suspended and then, if I recall correctly, expelled, basically because she had a bad drinking problem. When she came back to campus without permission to visit friends, an RA who ran into her chatting with me and some other buddies in front of a dorm barked at her that she was to leave immediately and would be reported to DPS for trespassing. This chick was drinking herself to an early old age and death, but she was basically harmless to everyone else. The worst she did was stumble around and accidentally knock over beer cans, then apologize as profusely as her enunciation permitted. Lori Van Handel was allowed to remain on campus because she was Nancy Roseman’s wife. Any other explanation might as well involve alien abduction and a forcible anal data download.

From what I’ve been told, Mike Pennington has gone from being sore that I may embarrass him in front of his collegiate boardroom cronies by inadvertently exposing him as my source of the leaks of the trustees’ deliberations about Roseman and Van Handel to being sore that I shitpost about schools he thinks I should worship alongside him, our voices as one, to being sore that I blabbed about his salary and called him overpaid and maybe unfit for his job in the course of a feud that he started in an effort to humiliate me for asserting that state schools are a better value and all-around better institutional socially than Dickinson, our dear fucking tried and true alma mater. I extended him the courtesy of press shield protections in the Roseman-Van Handel clusterfuck, going so far as try to obscure his gender, although I inadvertently mentioned it at one point due to nothing but my own sloppiness. I wanted to demonstrate that I would do what I could to shield sources of information whose disclosure I believed to be in the public interest, not rat them out to anyone for ratting weasels out to me.

The problem now is that he’s repeatedly sent the Insurance Schmuck after me as a two-bit armchair mob thug. That’s all I can conclude from the Insurance Schmuck’s pattern of getting up in my face about how I’m scandalizing everyone and will fuck up other people’s careers or work environments or some such bullshit every time Pennington uses him as a private whine-one-one line to bitch about how I’m killing his vibe and exposing cherished institutions of higher education to public scandal. This is vile, noxious, potentially dangerous behavior. It has to be nipped in the bud.

The bitchfest over my publishing Pennington’s salary was the last straw. That is not a fucking state secret. I didn’t telegram the German high command a stolen copy of the D-Day invasion plans. Give me a fucking break. This puffed-up little twerp, an incorrigible gossip himself, blabbed about his own salary to a close mutual friend who, in turn, is a regular gossip himself. I asked the Insurance Schmuck about Pennington’s salary in the course of a conversation we were already having about how Pennington is too high-maintenance to make ends meet on a university administrator’s salary. Later, when I got sick of Pennington’s bullshit about how I’m not allowed to contradict his ed-sector PR campaigns, I dropped this bit of personal financial information, whose confidentiality he had breached by indiscriminately sharing it with a known gossip. He’d done everything he could to make me look like shit when I’d gone to the trouble to come back to campus for homecoming, so I decided to remotely countermark that territory and make him look bad. The idea there was to show him, and the Insurance Schmuck for running interference on his behalf since he’s too much of a chickenshit to place his own enforcement cold calls, that the consequences of running a shitty script on me include my flipping it on bad actors at will.

I didn’t even mention him by name in any of my posts, but it worked. I assume Pennington took the bait, because the Insurance Schmuck got between me and that diner Reuben to tell me that I was out of line to post Pennington’s salary information on Facebook. Even if the Insurance Schmuck lashed out at me solely on his own behalf as someone who felt that his sacred confidentiality with other people’s salary information had been breached, it didn’t fucking matter: he was still running interference on behalf of a shithead who he recognized had deliberately treated me like shit in the same dispute that he had just entered.

I wasn’t a parish priest telling the congregation, so, the Lord’s servant Michael was in the confessional with me, and he confessed that he’d referred to a bartender as a whore out of spite on his way to Divine Liturgy, hee hee. Good God, no. I’m already approaching all of this with a degree of nuance and ethical mooring that neither of these guys is making the least effort to achieve. The point here isn’t about the solemn confidentiality of confessors who have sworn to take their penitents’ secrets to the grave. It’s that the way to ensure that one is not ridiculed for spending Sunday morning smearing a random bartender as a low-class whore all the way into the church parking lot is not to do that. It’s that the way not to be rebuked online as an overpaid, underqualified blowhard who starts feuds with people he insists treat him as a friend is not to start feuds with people who would rather deescalate and then disclose one’s salary to people who are already parties to the same fucking feuds as on-call telephone enforcement muscle.

If that’s the quality of your tradecraft as an office beefmonger, you’re an absolute fucking retard and it is not my duty to save you from your own arrogance and recklessness. We’re expected to admire everyone in Mike Pennington’s position as a meritorious grandee, since they’d never achieve such professional success if they didn’t deserve it. Then they act like this. Why the hell is it my duty to protect Pennington’s reputation? He’s habitually disreputable in his dealings with me, and he acts like the missing third Hardly Boy when it’s time to manage his own reputation.

This is obviously not a fucking meritocracy. We’re dealing with an escalating asshat who says provocative, hateful things that might well get him fired (e.g., saying that Nancy Roseman was hired because she was “a sweet lezzy”)  if they were exposed because he just has to chase that thrill. On top of that, he and those around him insist that he has a right to compartmentalize his life into the strictly professional part, where he’s expected to behave professionally (duh) and have the judgment and temperament to effectively serve undergraduate students from a variety of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and the rest of his life, in which he is to be released from the adherence to all social norms and allowed to be a completely out-of-control, aggressive jerk in public, even under formal auspices at campus events. This means that it’s incumbent upon the rest of us to help him climb ever higher on the totem pole and be there to prop him up when he goes stupid and fucking greases it.

No way in hell is this shithead ever admitting me, or for that matter the lower 90 or 95% or American society, into the equality of the vineyard. Not the way he’s been acting will that ever happen in our time. This is why I’ve lost all cause not to invite him into the equality of the junkyard. I have a bad feeling that Pennington is a low-key psychopath; I’ve lost all doubt that he’s a gross sadist, a shameless bigot, a subversive aristocrat, and a fascist. He’s almost certainly advising students who are facing debt loads that he’s too sheltered and arrogant to even try to contemplate, and one of his main cronies, the same one he always seems to send after me, tried to impose an ex post facto publication embargo on me because my publication of his salary was scandalizing some thin-skinned, pants-shitting yuppies. He’s a rising university administrator with some apparent influence over curricula, and he’s involved in an elite conspiracy to suppress free speech. It won’t fucking work, but it’s still vile.

It’s not even as if Pennington will ever end up in circumstances like mine. That I most certainly do not see happening. If he gets fired–for whatever reason, because he’s an affirmative liability or disgrace or because people higher in the hierarchy are just sick of his shit–and even if he gets his administrative meal ticket yanked for good, daddy will give him a job. I’m all but certain of this. I know his father, and he’s enough of a gladhanding, nepotistic influence-peddler and business grandee to set the boy up on short order with a sinecure, doing God knows what of any use to society but certainly pretending to do God’s work. Right back to $78k, give or take, and mostly give. My guess is that Mike Pennington’s salary floor as a sinecure failson would be somewhere around $50k, which is more than I’ve ever earned on an annualized basis, or ever.

The pathetic truth is that these dipshits are upset that they can’t corrupt me for a song and dance. They aren’t used to offending or humiliating anyone with the nerve to stand up to them. They aren’t used to having their bluffs called and provoking hundredfold public increases in exactly the scandalous, impertinent language that they tried to privately silence through shame, guilt, and intimidation. They live in a land of make-believe that does not include the Streisand Effect.

What’s dangerous about them is that they expect to dictate professional norms with this same lawless elite aggression, and American corporate cultures are sick enough that such campaigns often succeed. But I’m not part of any of that, and they’re too hapless, and ultimately timid, to force me into compliance. I’m not enough of a chickenshit to comply with a takedown request from a yuppie whose willing to debase our friendship and bother me with a string of disingenuous, uncalled-for apologies to appease a different friend of his who he knows I consider an unethical, hostile twit. This is their idea of mob intimidation. It’s sad that it works on so many people, but it doesn’t work on me. If they ever cross the line into actual criminal intimidation, and, realistically, they’re probably too sniveling, I’ll call the fucking police. If I’m disgusted enough with the stunts, I’ll have a civil attorney look through the defendant pool for attachable assets. Again, though, I don’t think it will ever come to that.

Roughly this process is what was at play in the Van Handel mess. This same class of sniveling chickenshit infests college boards of trustees, especially highbrow ones, it seems. They aren’t nearly as subtle as they act. They’re actually quite crude. They consistently grant the wishes of whichever party is most credibly ready to dogpile them with attorneys. When Lori Van Handel was going around campus being an out-of-control crazy bitch, she and Nancy Roseman were that party. As I said above, the harassment complaints against Van Handel were worth up to millions per victim. That’s some serious liability. Plaintiffs with good employment records at an employers that holds hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of endowment assets and has over a hundred million in additional annual revenue are in a very strong position to demand seven- or even eight-figure payouts if they have evidence that their employer knowingly harbored an incorrigible bad actor who was harassing them because they didn’t want the bad press of firing her high-profile spouse.

Now imagine how long the trustees would have tolerated Van Handel had Roseman been an effective fundraiser. It’s a counterfactual, obviously, but I’d expect that rotten lot to have allowed Roseman to finish out her contract and Van Handel to remain on campus alongside her absent a balls-to-the-wall lawsuit.

This isn’t actually a litigious society. It’s more like some Wheel of Fortune roulette bullshit. Probably eight or nine times out of ten a powerful party can get away with the most egregious criminal abuse of the vulnerable, the subordinate, the powerless, or the otherwise inferior. DPS would have escorted Lori Van Handel off campus the same day and threatened her with arrest for trespass immediately upon her return the day a civil suit was filed against the college over her harassment. The college’s patience with her would have dropped from the rest of the academic year to zero if the news had broken on Cumberlink.

I’m just a shitposter with a WordPress account. The Chronicle of Higher Education might have fun with these stories.

Spiritual warfare

An avowedly socialist old college buddy described my campaign against Mike Pennington and the Insurance Schmuck as class warfare. I hesitate to use this gloss, but he’s basically right, and in this case class warfare is necessary. These are two exceptionally successful and secure men who shit on anyone lower on the totem pole who dares to stand up to them, usually for the crudest, crassest, most undue advantage.

We ought to lose the foolish idea that the successful never resent anyone or nurse ridiculous grievances. Many of them are consumed by delusions of persecution. All I have to do to get Pennington on the warpath against me is insult his precious schools. Does this sound like normal, healthy behavior, let alone reputable behavior, coming from a man with bachelor’s and master’s degrees who is paid a salary of well above the national median wage for an exceptionally cushy and secure career-track job? Say what you will about me for getting wound up about this bullshit when I’m basically an unemployed single vagrant. This motherfucker has a cushy job, a nice apartment, and a girlfriend. His girlfriend apparently gets about as much money from her parents as I get from mine, and Pennington is still handouts from his parents. I shouldn’t be any more offensive to him than Wesley Willis yelling about how he kicked Batman’s ass. Instead, I can reliably hit a nerve by dissing his sacrosanct bougie schools.

No one has any duty to cater to the easily bruised feelings of such an intractably whiny loser. And he isn’t just a whiner. He’s a censorious, manipulative chickenhawk who tries to use our closest mutual friend as his enforcer whenever I publish something to a general audience that offends him. I’ve never posted this shit on his Facebook wall or e-mailed it to him. Every fucking thing that he finds so offensive and scandalous has been either something that I’ve posted in my own feed or that he’s directly and aggressively solicited from me to stoke his own outrage. I didn’t act like that when I was grossing about half what he’s grossing right now at an environmental consulting job that, from everything I’ve gathered, was significantly more stressful and toxic than his job at Villanova. I hardly even act like that when I’m unemployed today. I’ll put up electronic honeypots to piss people like him off by insulting their idols, but I wouldn’t get upset if I found someone in my Facebook feed dissing state schools and community colleges that I think are doing a good job.

These guys are worth a standoff. They’re out to subjugate anyone who violates their sacred, arbitrary norms of reverence for whatever they declare needs constant worship. Class warfare is inevitably part of any response to their aggression. When push comes to shove they’re both toxic bourgeois supremacist bigots, and Pennington can be pushed over the edge with a feather duster. He’ll chase after any bit of trash bait I dangle within his field of view. He’ll get all lathered up about how I scandalized him, but because he’s an utter chickenshit, unless I’m physically present at the very moment and ready to confront him about his bullshit, he’ll inevitably call a yuppie conclave with the Insurance Schmuck to get the latter to go after me.

I’ve had this or a very close version of it happen at least three times. One of these was after Pennington privately shared confidential information about Nancy Roseman’s impending termination by the Board of Trustees and I decided to go ahead and publish it, doing everything I could to give him the benefit of press shield protections even though I was sharing gossip as a private citizen and hence under no formal ethical obligation to do so, and even though I was pretty sure that the worst thing that would happen to him would be that some other shithead currying favor with all the Dickinson bigshots would give him flak for running his loose mouth. The other two episodes that I can recall offhand were in response to my dissing Dickinson and then Dickinson and Villanova on Facebook.

Anyone who tries to silence an obscure shitposter for hurting his feelings needs to be confronted so that he thinks twice about trying to intimidate anyone when the stakes are high. In the Roseman/Van Handel case, the stakes in fact were high, and just as in the Darlington/Sexton/Surita/Fazio clusterfuck, the people running Dickinson College breached their fiduciary responsibilities to vulnerable parties for marketing purposes. Their precious PR took precedence over the welfare of people who, in the former case, were the victims of criminal police misconduct and civilian mismanagement and, in the latter, were being grievously harassed by the sitting president’s spouse out of pure spite. I had never put myself under any formal, let alone binding, agreement of confidentiality in the Roseman/Van Handel matter. I was not of counsel to any party to it and I was not anyone’s fucking priest. (As I’ve said before, if I must choose between a calling to the priesthood and having Sven tell Ole that Garrison Keillor looks like he could use a funeral himself, I’m siding with Sven.)

This isn’t North Korea, and I’m not Otto Warmbier. I’m not even some whipped little bitch trying to curry professional favor with Jian Ghomeshi no matter the cost to my throat. No authoritarian stuffed shirt with a lecture about discretion and decorum gets to put a fucking press embargo on me. That’s bullshit and I, Charlotte Simmons Gellin and so forth, don’t hold with any of that. These shysters act like I’m Daniel Ellsberg and they’re harried Pentagon press attachés every time I publish credible information about an ongoing harassment campaign that they didn’t want to disclose quite yet, or one of their salaries. The Insurance Schmuck shows up as their emissary with a grievance about how they’re retroactively denying me permission to publish something whose publication they never had a fucking prayer of enjoining in the first place. He shows up with some story about how I’m scandalizing some flock of craven shitbirds and making their periprofessional lives harder. Basically, I’m not considering their high norms of discretion and confidentiality and deference to the chair of the board.

Haidt-fuck my commissioned French Canadian brains out, but I never signed up for any of that royal horseshit. Those are not legitimate moral senses. Good God. This is why I insist that Democrats can be fascists, too. All it takes is a belief in fascist principles, such as the subordination of individual liberty and conscience to the authoritarian corporate will.

This is why I was on duty for pretty much an extended swing shift last night to do electronic battle with these shitheads. I didn’t have prospects for anything that would improve my circumstances in that short period, so I had time for some fucking shock and awe. I know, 101st Chairborne and all, but still, I figure that maybe these people will stop being disingenuous, manipulative creeps trying to intimidate me into silence if they discover that I’m the one who stays up for that war of attrition and that if they don’t walk away from it, they’ll spend a day or two waking up, going to work, going to lunch, and coming home to torrents of uninhibited, perhaps even disinhibited, commentary about how I will never stand for what they’re doing, and get it beaten into their thick skulls that they’re the ones who provoked it. All I hoped was that I had a higher pain threshold than they had for this campaign, and I suspect that I did. Remember, they’re the ones with jobs, apartments, and girlfriends.

Maybe I’ll convince them that that’s what they get for bringing Pot-o-Shit Friend’s wrists to an artillery fight. They’ll look great if they bring his Coke bottle glasses, too. I’m willing to belatedly lay down my arms looking like an absolute crank if I can put a righteous hurt on them. To loosely paraphrase Marx, I have a lot less to lose than they have. I’m the one who called code enforcement because a twink had been shitting in a goddamn trash can. I was funding the maintenance of that property, and a functionally mute little faggot had been squatting over a piece of stolen winery equipment, pinching loaf into the hole until the hole was no more. Pennington and his cronies are the ones trying to get back at me for publishing his salary in the course of a beef that he started by baiting me into fruitless bad-faith arguments about higher education with other bumptious preps at Homecoming.

This is not a pleasant spiritual space, but it’s better to get publicly upset and combative than no less privately upset about the same bad behavior. I don’t see myself magically getting over this shit by changing my mindset, all self-help-like, and I doubt any of these pompous, censorious twits would be indulging such pretenses after a week in the circumstances I’ve been navigating for most of the past six years. If the way they reacted to my shitposting isn’t demonic, it’s awfully close. The Insurance Schmuck was willing to debase apology by preemptively apologizing to me for a bunch of shit I’d forgiven and pretty much forgotten, all as a cheap NLP move to guilt-trip me into deleting the one real piece of leverage I had on the shithead friend of his whose vile behavior he hadn’t been policing.

I never expected him to get into the middle of this mess on my behalf, but when he got into it on Pennington’s behalf and disingenuously pleaded with me to delete the salary post “as a friend,” he crossed the fucking Rubicon. That’s why I brought Amtrak Engine 78,  Philadelphia Fire Department Engine 78, and the NYPD 78th Precinct to the electronic front. That force is as powerful as an overly sensitive asshole lets it be, and I’m guessing it’s in a position to make at least two holes weak. But like hell am I playing nice with two who move the goalposts on me whenever they’re losing the game. As Stephanie Lazarus always said, all is fair in love and war. The detective’s pension information dating back five or six years is available on California public employee databases, and I dare her to come after me for my DeviantArt theft of that train picture.

Hey, it isn’t all pain on my end. I’m not the sniveling loser if the head end of that fine-ass rolling socialism is what it takes to rile up the yuppies.

The additional further education of Heywood Jablomie: above my payoff grade

Let’s dox a piece of shit. The legal identity of the guy I’ve been calling Heywood Jablomie is Michael Pennington. In the interest of discretion, I’ve been anonymizing or pseudonymizing him in these pages, and I’d still be doing so if he hadn’t gone entirely the fuck over the top just overnight, AFTER the Insurance Schmuck had reached out to me late yesterday evening and seemingly resolved the whole mess, much more fully than I’d dared hope. I’d come to believe that I’d been the only significantly upset party to the dispute and then, having been convinced that the other parties were interested in peace and goodwill, had calmed down.

Then, this evening, the shit hit the fan again, and hard. The Insurance Schmuck called me with a “kind of big ask,” which he preluded with a lengthy, unbidden mea culpa, mostly about things I’d forgiven too long ago to remember exactly when and could hardly think to hold against him. The preemptive apology sounded like a red flag (what my syntax sounds like is your question to answer; I try not to edit these commentaries), but I restrained myself from cutting him off, just in case it wasn’t disingenuous.

To my ill ease, I was right. After a minute or two of this uncalled-for apology, he brought up my having mentioned on Facebook that Mike Pennington earns $78k a year at Villanova, and asked me to take the post down.

The offending post, verbatim and in full, was this:

I’ve never made $78k a year, period. I’ve been recurrently homeless or nearly so for over six years. I’ve picked thousands of pounds of fruit for less than minimum wage. If you have an administrative job at a university and I’m upsetting you by dissing your favorite colleges, you’re a fucking loser.

It takes a true pissant mindset to find that upsetting. After initially publishing this screed, I decided to look up what had caused the uproar, and it was that. One or both of these guys is arrogant enough to think that reading that on Facebook is worse than being homeless.

As what he ridiculously regarded as an olive branch, the Insurance Schmuck told me that he wouldn’t have a problem with my posting information about his earnings on Facebook but felt really uncomfortable with my disclosing Mike’s salary information because he’d been the source.

I refused. I adamantly cut him off when he pushed the matter, told him that I had no fiduciary responsibility not to disclose salary information that I had lawfully obtained about a nonprofit employee whose behavior I found scandalous, and, when he didn’t drop the subject, hung up the phone. This was the appropriate response.

The Insurance Schmuck reacted to my comment about fiduciary responsibility by whining that he was asking “as a friend.” What I’ll probably never get about his entire crowd is the extent to which they expect friends, or “friends,” to do one another’s reputation management without compensation, in exchange for vague, implicit, unenforceable, completely retractable offers of future consideration. Spiro Agnew was ridiculed as the first politician who could be bribed with a bag of groceries. That’s more than I’ve ever been offered to do the bidding of current and future millionaires. In case any of these people are really that foolish, I SLEPT IN MY CAR AGAIN LAST NIGHT. It was at Gold Run, and this afternoon I drove up to the near end of the snow line above Foresthill, which is the good shit, but these people who outearn the shit out of me expect me to do their Facebook marketing for free as a personal consideration when I don’t have a regular place to stay. Ain’t happening, cracka. Something isn’t right with that math. Yup: it’s the divisible by zero part.

None of these fools is doing me jack shit. Did somebody forget to tell them that pay-for-play includes an accounts payable operation? Given what passes for “literature” in their business, probably. It didn’t do me shit to schmooze with the Insurance Schmuck’s multimillionaire colleague with the yachts, plural if I recall correctly, who pays his office managers $55k a year apiece. It’s done me shit to remain on cordial terms with Mike Pennington, who earns $78k a year for a bullshit-sounding job at Villanova, no matter how often he tries to bait me into standoffs with people I’ve just met the day after I’ve spent seven hours on the road, an hour of that stuck in traffic in Allentown, driving to campus from damn near Ticonderoga. It does me shit to schmooze the Insurance Schmuck’s boss, a Mercedes-driving bigshot cokehead whose wife is definitely a cokehead and who pays his office manager $39k a year.

At this point it’s worth spelling out that I consider the salary details relevant when high rollers who could easily afford to pay industry-leading salaries chisel their secretarial pools, but that I don’t see any public interest in disclosing the Insurance Schmuck’s earnings. ISB is a bigshot who’s paying a kind of crummy salary to his back-of-the-house lead for crucial work that a less attentive, responsible, and competent employee could throw into terminal chaos. The Insurance Schmuck works for him, has no employees of his own, and from everything I’ve been able to gather is perfectly ethical as a businessman. If his boss is a cheapskate with the noncommissioned staff (a dubious way to phrase it, but whatevs), he’s in no position to tell him to stop being so cheap. That would be futile, unless he’s looking to be out of a job himself.

For the same reasons, among others, I’m not here to dox the Insurance Schmuck. I’ve said some critical things about him in here, and I’ve given him a disparaging (but not particularly original) pseudonymous epithet, but he is a friend. Mike Pennington? In your fucking dreams is he one. He’s crossed me again and again, and always over the pettiest shit. In the course of talking to the Insurance Schmuck last night, I got over the shit Pennington pulled with me at Homecoming over where I’d go to college if I had to do it over again. IS had two friends who were clashing with each other, and I’d been one of them; I felt bad for him being stuck in the middle of that.

The problem this afternoon was that this bullshit, which I’d forgiven and transcended, from which I’d progressed into a more immediate state of peace than I’d hoped to reach, suddenly flared up out of the blue. If I’m eating a late lunch at an almost deserted restaurant and get a call for the purpose of retroactively silencing me about highly pertinent information that I was never under any duty not to disseminate, yeah, that’s a fucking problem. There’s no way to catalogue all the crises I’d be willing to interrupt my lunch to address, but that is not something with any business getting between me and a Reuben. Or between me and the deposit bottles out on the shoulders of Foresthill Road, which, half an hour earlier, it would have done.

Mike Pennington volunteered information on his salary to a mutual friend who then volunteered it to me. I published this information only after Pennington had repeatedly treated me like dogshit in pursuit of his own jollies at college homecoming events that I’d just driven several hundred miles to attend. If he didn’t want me to use leverage against him, he should have kept his fucking mouth shut. It was his choice to talk about his salary to someone he knew was close to me and then treat me like his little clown bitch. No exaggeration, the second thing he said to me at homecoming, after saying hello and shaking my hand, was to ask me to tell the Parkland South “hick from Missouri” dipshit if I’d go to Dickinson if I had to do it again. An hour or two later, he did the same thing, again quite promptly, with the shitty Jersey Italians at our table.

It’s one thing for an asshole to pursue a campaign of humiliation against me and maybe get counseled by mutual friends about not doing that after something triggers me to get upset about it. With the amount of weird chaos that comes and goes in my life, intrinsic and extrinsic to my own doings (e.g., hella homeless in Sactown), I get that I may blindside outside observers when I get upset months after the fact, that they can’t follow everything (hell, I hardly can). I’m seeing things that they aren’t: there but for the grace of God, etc.

It’s another thing entirely to call me up and tell me that I’m not allowed to publish lawfully obtained information about someone who has deliberately mistreated me on numerous occasions, that it’s okay for me to share anything else but not that. Fuck off. The whole premise is disingenuous; the Insurance Schmuck rattled off a laundry list of sensitive things he wouldn’t want me publicizing in any other circumstance as bogus concessions to try to convince me not to disclose the most scandalous and effective piece of information I’d voluntarily been given. No, dude, I get to decide what’s appropriate for disclosure once I’ve got the information. No backs, dipshit. I hadn’t even gone on a fishing expedition for Pennington’s salary. We’d been talking about how he was having trouble making ends meet, and I asked IS how much Pennington grossed to get a sense of just how profligate his spending was.

Am I doxing him because he’s a spendthrift? Of course not. The Insurance Schmuck once called me up to try to stop me from posting information on salary deliberations for the pastor at his family’s church on Facebook. I was offended by his attempt at prior restraint, but I’d never been tempted to speculate about how much his pastor was earning, let alone to write about it. The personal finances of random clergy don’t interest me. I’m not on here speculating what any of my dentists earns; it’s probably a lot, and the profession has been corrupted by its looters and social climbers, but they’re good guys. My favorite comment was from the one I saw for a five-minute sealant patch, who told me, “This is the best kind of dentistry, other than no dentistry.”

It’s different if a nonprofit school that charges its students hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece is paying you $78k a year for a job that you don’t seem qualified to perform and you’ve devoted the bulk of your interactions with me to my public humiliation for being a class traitor and some kind of dimwitted bum. If you go thrillseeking in semiprofessional settings in my presence and at my direct expense, that’s my fucking problem, and you’re my fucking problem. At that point, anything I know about you that I learned without personally breaking the law is fair game.And I obviously hit a nerve. A mutual friend whom I’ve never identified publicly, as my source or otherwise, is upset that I disclosed information he tried to retroactively classify as privileged. I’m not a priest, I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t work in a hospital or clinic, so guess what? It ain’t privileged. I’ve gotten even worse flak for this kind of thing, though: a lunch buddy once tried to convince me that it was creepy of me to audiorecord Bill Durden frothing at the mouth about the “Go Hard Big Dick” T-shirts at a student senate (sic) meeting that was open to the entire student body. #GODIPLOMATS! This kind of authoritarian weaseling can’t be allowed to stand. I don’t have to Mirandize anyone to disclose any of this shit. If you’ve got a friend who’s repeatedly beefed with me for reasons that can only be explained psychologically and you tell me his salary, yeah, I may end up using that against him. It all depends on how much of an asshole he decides to be.

What Mike Pennington decided to do was to bait me, twice in an afternoon, into a combative discussion about higher education where I was the only party arguing in good faith; months later, try to get the Insurance Schmuck to do his dirty work when I wrote “Fuck Dickinson College” on Facebook; and another month or so later, get his chain yanked, just as I’d gleefully hoped, when I dissed Villanova and Dickinson at length on Facebook, again sending the Insurance Schmuck after me to do his dirty work because he’s a cowardly little putz. This dipshit earns a steady, reliable $78,000 a year in a career-track university job, and he’s spending his free time ineffectually trying to stop an unemployed homeless guy he knew in college from shitposting from Starbucks. That right there is a great job making my point for me.

This bumptious motherfucker thinks I’m not allowed to speak ill of his precious institutions of higher education because he says so. He thinks it’s his place to have a third party reach out and silence me. This shit is so fucking antisocial and dyscivic that I was just about ready to expose myself to a libel suit from him last night, before the Insurance Schmuck called me. I was seriously thinking about daring his lawyers and his parents’ lawyers to come at me for personally informing his bosses at Villanova about what a piece of shit he’s been to me. Lawsuits aren’t as much fun in real courts and conference rooms as they are on TV, but the optics would have been great: the overpaid scion of one of Altoona’s leading families suing an estranged former schoolmate who sleeps at rest areas and scavenges deposit bottles for extra change for disclosing in detail what an unprofessional shithead he is and how little interest he has in higher education as anything but a status symbol that he can use as a cudgel against dissidents.

The Insurance Schmuck is probably right that Pennington can turn his flippancy on and off for interviews, but there’s no fucking way that he’s the best Villanova, or any other school, can find for the kind of “work” he does. Academia is crawling with professors who are hands down more intellectually curious and engaged than him and don’t go about in public acting like hostile jackasses for fun. If I can pull into any Starbucks and rile up this tightly-wound little twerp by dissing his sacrosanct schools, that’s on him. If I came across someone excoriating College of the Redwoods on Facebook, I’d probably wonder whether Jeff Marsee was back on his bullshit; I wouldn’t be hurt that someone else didn’t revere a school that I respect for doing a good job providing decent people with solid basic educations.

Does this pettiness inhibit Pennington’s ability to adequately advise students? Probably. Does his intractable haut bourgeois supremacy cloud his judgment about institutions of higher education, their curricula, their job placement capabilities, and the like? Without a fucking doubt. I’ve spent enough time with him and his parents to know that he has a hereditary case of head-in-ass. He doesn’t seem to know much about what’s actually happening in academia, as opposed to what other stuck-up bullshitters say is happening in their PR copy, and he obviously can’t be bothered to care. It’s hard to believe that he suddenly gives a shit about, say, what Chico State is doing in botany or the University of Nebraska in climate science at 8:30 on Monday morning when he tries to make me out to be a wackjob for talking about this stuff at noon on Saturday.

It’s possible to be raised in a fucked up environment like Altoona’s upper crust and turn out all right. I’ve known others who pulled it off. But that’s because they make an effort to keep their heads on straight. Mike Pennington came out of it with intensifying gentry snobbery aggravated by unclassifiable social deficits routinely manifesting as bad manners that are belligerent even for stuck-up rich people. I’ve been told that his family drives Beemers, the Sheetzes drive Ferraris, and the Wards Porsches, or some shit. A healthy person would flee from that bullshit; Pennington relishes that sort of one-upsmanship and exclusivity. But did I mention that he’s an administrator, not a professor? Of course he fucking is. It’s the same deal as in the hospitals. The most vapid orthopod gets barfed up into the corner office to loot what would otherwise be the nurses’ and orderlies’ salaries, then gets fired as HHS Secretary for his love of chartered jets.

Of course our universities shouldn’t be paying for this shit. Of course I’m disgusted that they do. Like hell will I go along with the conceit that any bumptious, anti-intellectual twerp who currently has a job in university administration deserves to keep that job or a better one for the next twenty to forty years. Where’s my TIAA-CREF, bitch? If Pennington wants me to think he’s professional, he needs to act fucking professionally. That means not cackling and smirking because he just baited two parties who’d just met at a picnic lunch into a feud over which colleges are good and which are shit. If he insists on making me look bad whenever we cross paths, I see no reason not to do what I can to make him look bad. Cry me the Springsteen River and get Mary pregnant if I give a shit that he might end up as his parents’ own Kato Kaelin if the American academy gets sick of his shit and decides that he makes their enterprise look bad by being involved in it. I’m not the one making him act like the missing pissant Trump brother around people he wants as his professional contacts. I’m not the one who wrote that horseshit run-on paragraph about Charles Nisbet and Neil Weissman in the alumni magazine.

A firing would be morally formative for a fuckhead like him, and I’d be floored if he ever ends up with my current lifestyle, let alone catching up with my commercial output of fresh fruit. Or, to quote Mike Pennington verbatim, “What will you tell your child? ‘Oh, Mommy was a whore who worked at Great American’…. I’ll call you later. I have to go into the Orthodox Church.”

Kyrie eleison on all highways all the time until the end of time. If these craven dipshits actually had the power they’d like me to think they have, I’d be praying for it. Instead, they won’t even pay enough to rent me by the hour.