The college model

You pay for test prep courses to prove you have the work ethic to pay a hundredfold or a thousandfold more to prove you have the work ethic either to pay more yet to prove you have the work ethic to get a job or, if you’re less ambitious, to directly get a job. In some cases, you do this to qualify for a job doing something that actually requires training and actually needs to be done, like engineering or medicine. In many others, it’s for jobs of dubious necessity, like lawyering (Japan maintains a horrific but small prison system using a small national pool of lawyers), or racketeering in a suit (“analyst,” “consultant”), or bullshit for morons, like marketing and, since we’re shameless enough to call it that, communications. You may be just as useless with passing grades from Depot as you will be with a bachelor’s in communications from Ryerson, but the outfit they give you in Regina is better, and you know how to do PT, fuck horses, electrocute Pollacks, this and that. ‘

No, not the red uniform. That one is gay and retarded.

Oh, are we back on that one again, eh? What a shock.

You start the test prep process sometime in adolescence, or maybe in the thick of puberty. You’re hormonal, confused, and unemancipated, trying to figure life out under the auspices of hostile institutions and irresponsible adult authority figures. The pressure is insane. YOU are insane. You have to pad your resume with varsity sports and “service” projects. Student “senators” are a dime a dozen, but maybe, if you wish upon a lucky star and hire Rick Singer, Harvard will care. You’re special. Okay, maybe you aren’t special. Goodness, no, there is not an Olympiad just for you. You don’t have disabilities; you have disability to get deez grades right here. Eyyy, 4.20 GPA, baby. On second thought, maybe you are disabled, just not the kind of disabled that has you all gimpy and shit, not wicked retadded or anything like that, Macky Mack, just real anxious or cis-Rainman artistic or whatever. Ask your doctor if ADHD is right for you.

If you get the thick packet back in the mail, you figure out how to pay for it. If your parents are rich and accommodating, they do the honors. If not, you get to enter into nondischargeable usurious loans with zero collateral, theoretically secured by promises of third-party employment years in the future. The role of the colleges as payees in this scenario is tantamount to a shitty roommate who doesn’t have the money to pay the light bill today but his one buddy totally will a few months ago, and he’s also got this other buddy of his, but hey, ya just gotta keep asking us for the money if we don’t it, but ya gotta be chill about it, just be a bro, man. Anybody involved in a shady roommate arrangement who acted like colleges and student lenders do in the “education” racket would be a pariah. Those they’d already burned would be warning friends and family to run. What the schools and lenders promise is that other, usually unspecified employers will offer graduates a premium on the job market, but definitely not right now, and only if the eager young things bust ass in the meantime. Their “buddies” they’re vouching for in this analogy, America’s celebrated Job Creators, are notorious serial liars, abusers, and deadbeats.

Think about it for a second. Anybody capable of jumping through the hoops of high-stakes scholastic life and not just cheating the whole way is already capable of holding down gainful employment in a way convincing employers that the investment risk of providing on-the-job training is tolerable. There are stoners working part-time in comic bookstores who could make that cut. The years of schooling at student or parent expense are an extended for-profit buck-breaking program.

It’s a fractal ritual. If it feels like hazing, it’s because it’s hazing.

The premise of American higher education is that students have to prove themselves over and over for a chance at future opportunities to keep proving themselves under overwhelmingly artificial stakes that never really do and really never should be lowered to a level that is bearable and reasonable. This is batshit insane. It’s an affront to human dignity. What? You assholes hustled enough money out of my parents to buy a house in a sensible market, and now–forget equity for anybody else in this rotted-out society–now that I’ve officially put up with the full course of this horseshit, you won’t guarantee me a basic fucking job? Word on the street at Dickinson, of course, was that direct job placement cost an extra $50k.

A service that puts its customers something like $90k A YEAR in the hole relative to what they’d make as buck privates in the Army had damn well better turn out to be lucrative somewhere down the line. The claims to this effect are bullshit. Maybe they’re true, or maybe not, but if truth and accuracy were germane, they’d already be on the ledgers in accounts receivable.

College graduation is famously responsible for big boosts in lifetime earnings and overall socioeconomic status. The correlation is obvious; scumbags who can get away with hiring only college graduates for no particular reason will hire only college graduates, on more or less the same rationale that generally bars nongraduates from medical and law schools. Other than guild gatekeeping, what the hell is the actual causation? Nobody fucking knows. The methodology of studies comparing educational, professional, and socioeconomic attainment is trash. There are too many variables at play, the researchers are too ignorant and sloppy to correct for them, and peer-reviewed scholarship in many fields is pervasively corrupt. One shits bricks to imagine this in the esteemed science of economics. It raises questions of ethics and credibility to have universities commissioning their faculty to investigate the value of university degrees. Come the fuck on. The conflicts of interest are glaring, and it’s not like there aren’t literate, thorough laypeople who could figure this shit out without being hired by the subjects of their studies.

The obvious impulse in these studies is to paint higher education as a fruitful business catering to smart, hardworking young people who are going places in life. It doesn’t pay to examine to tease out the effects of each level of education from the effects of other levels or education (shit like medical doctors, who earn lots of money, having to go to college along with communications majors who are possibly aware of insulin) or from the web of privilege and crony favors college graduates so often enjoy, with varying degrees of dependency on their being college graduates. Here it’s worth returning to the falling-down Manayunk drunk I used to know who slept all night on a post office loading dock after jumping a fence to escape the Philadelphia Police (That crew? Loud but lazy?) and another time ate the R6 tracks at a cost of about $3,000 and God knows how much Novocain. Would his drunk-ass father have hired him on in the family tool business for $110,000 a year as a dropout if he hadn’t made it through college? I can only speculate, but I’d wager somewhat less than $7k a week on fewer than six online poker screens at a time on Oh Hell Yes. Nothing about that story sounded like prevailing market forces.

There are many such cases. They skew the statistics, but getting a rough idea of just how powerfully requires ventures into sociology, or maybe just thinking shit over, like what the employment of mid-functioning alcoholics with advanced gambling problems at above-market salaries in businesses their parents own says about America.

Just as importantly, every do-gooder involved in smugly opining about education and earnings in The Economist needs to be banished to the salt mines. The labor movement never got where it did by making sure everybody stayed in school. Richard Florida, a moron, has a whole shtick about how places like the Research Triangle are prosperous because they’re educated. Nah, the Triangle stole most of its wealth from more fertile parts of the Piedmont and Lowcountry. Maybe it isn’t the full story, but it isn’t contradicted by the sightseeing I did the first time I took the train through Rocky Mount.

College is supposedly important as a rite of passage. I wouldn’t trust anybody I’ve heard commenting on this grand purpose to have the philosophical depth or breadth to tell me a thing about how the world works or how it ought to work. If the kids need to leave home, couldn’t they start by getting jobs? They need to learn how to function independently as adults? First of all, the American college model sure as hell ain’t it, but even if it were, it wouldn’t be as useful as finding and maintaining gainful employment. Colleges insist the college experience is a crucial proxy for adult habits and skills their students will need in order to function as employees, but in the meantime they’re generally warned that it’s unwise for them to work when school is in session, unless they’re on scholarships with a work component, a double standard raising its own flagrant ethical red flags. If the kids need to learn workplace skills, why the hell do they have to stay out of the workplace at least nine months of the year in order to pay to be taught these skills in academic and extracurricular environments that resemble workplaces little or not at all? This seems a lot more like a campaign to shake down and emotionally manipulate entire families than to help young people adjust to circumstances they can actually expect to face at work.

The same thing goes for the pissant premise that students don’t have time to cook their own meals. Why not? If the point is for them to learn how to function as adults, why the hell doesn’t it make sense at least to encourage and facilitate their efforts to do some of their own damn cooking on a regular basis? “You mean home ec.” No. “You mean culinary.” No! All I mean is not somehow leaving the development of basic skills in activities of daily living to bipolar arts majors at Skidmore who throw dinner parties. A cumulative deficit of, say, 500 or 2,000 hours that a student otherwise would have spent cooking as an undergraduate on account of admonishments to take meals from institutional food services in the interests of efficiency and productivity will probably have an adverse effect on cooking ability as a graduate presumably responsible for living on some kind of budget. It fucked me up, in any event.

Do we need Malcolm Gladwell to write a goddamn book about this?

Everything about this model comes across as insincere and ulterior. What, exactly, are the good reasons for luring adolescents away from home en masse to be formed into adults in ultrahigh-turnover, ultrahigh-stakes, obscenely expensive institutional settings? Are there any? How much of this shit is NOT traumatic conditioning? Schools that explicitly strive for 25% annual student turnover campaign to increase turnover further with study abroad programs. Why? This is going to fuck a lot of the kids up. This gets people into weird headspaces. It is not good. And why does it seem so consistent with over-the-top extracurricular workloads and fraternities whose initiation rituals make Yorkville Varsity Wrestling look wholesome?

Some dipshit student body president or valedictorian or whatever who was tapped to read a portion of the platitudes at one of Dickinson’s commencement ceremonies–all I remember is that she was a woman, as I suppose we’re still allowed to call her–chose to read a section from “Oh The Places You Will Go.” Stephen Smith, the first non-Bean CEO of LL Bean, told his crowd about a vision he had as a young man of the Allegash backcountry backpack containing the things he carried with him in his life, for the purposes of occasionally packing and unpacking them along the way. What the hell is wrong with these people that they’re invited to make public comments and they choose to fill their speeches with excerpts from children’s books and stories about how they astrally summoned the world’s most unergonomic backpack a whole career before they first learned of it in real life? This country has dire social problems, and they shame crowds into sitting through their horseshit exposed to whatever elements springtime happens to bring in the name of decorum. It’s disgraceful.

Compared to the rest of this shit, the concept of college and maybe graduate school as a holding pattern for young people who would otherwise flood the job market is refreshingly justifiable. The industry is thoroughly disingenuous about this, but it isn’t a particularly bad policy per se. We still need less slack in the job market, not more. Too many bad employers and managers have yet to be adequately humiliated for humiliating employees, applicants, and ultimately the rest of the nation. If this is what we’re doing, though, we need to be honest about it. We need to cut out the song and dance about meritocracy.

Maybe the results include young people being irresponsible. Boohoo. It isn’t ideal, but it’s manageable, and it’s nothing that doesn’t already happen regardless of the incentives and disincentives the authorities try to deploy. Ben’s Ass, of all people, is right about the ill effects of age segregation. He’s obnoxious, and he may be full of shit about other claims of his, but on this part he’s right. Of course, as a university president, he was part of the problem; those who are steadfastly against age segregation will find jobs in age-integrated settings.

Here’s the thing. Everything about this debate is totally beside the point. The whole college system, along with the professional system beyond it, is designed to keep the upper strata ensconced in segregated environments. If these systems weren’t, they wouldn’t exist in recognizable forms. The extended adolescence of college and graduate life, which is often a red herring for circumstances uncomfortably reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s upbringing, is a feature, not a bug. It’s the same with every other form of strategic atomization. Many hangs are wrung about the delay of family formation into parents’ thirties and even forties, and sure, it can be bleak, but anybody who’s involved in a halfway cohesive age-integrated community of any sort is around babies, toddlers, and schoolchildren as a matter of course.

The real problem here isn’t rumspringa for twentagers. It’s entire neighborhoods and parent associations that take Hondurans for such good nannies that surely they’d also make great wet nurses.

There’s no educating an upper class out of this decadent style of thought and argumentation. There’s only hostility.

There’s no buying these lessons, either. They’re the lessons that own you, Yaakov. They’re the lessons that own you.

But what if making Brett Kavanaugh’s private life miserable discouraged him from engaging in public life?

Jen Psaki has always rubbed me the wrong way. There’s something passive-aggressively violent about her whole demeanor. One of the most insightful descriptions I’ve seen is that she cocks her head and stares like a bird of prey. It honestly confuses me that I can’t recall anybody I’ve known in meatspace agreeing with me that she’s alarmingly vicious. People I expected to notice something at least off about her find her gracious and warm. They can’t understand how I take her for her own walking tornado siren.

I react viscerally to Psaki the way so many of my native class peers react to Donald Trump. If they allow themselves to go full ad hominem against the Donald because they’re upset and alarmed by his vibe, I’ll allow myself to indulge in the same gut reaction to that mean stuck-up sorority bitch.

For what it’s worth, the only time I had a good reaction to Psaki was a very brief honeymoon upon Funny Uncle Joe’s inauguration, his synthesis of the rural versus earl, when she stood out from Trump’s succession of moronic coked-up press thots for reliably speaking in coherent, well-organized sentences. Then she reverted to the talking points and the mean girl shtick, violently stripping the bloom off that most fragile rose.

Trump has never provoked in me that existential fear. I horrify Democrats when I say this, but it’s true, and I think it’s reasonable. Trump keeps people around him and in his coalition who scare me away, Proud Boys and shit, and his defenses of bad cops are beyond the pale, but I still find the threats he personally poses highly contingent, in ways that I do not find the threats I face from people like Jen Psaki.

No, it is not because I’m a white man. That’s way too simple and every honest person knows it. Many of Trump’s most furious, most shaken opponents are white, and indeed they are Extremely White. He gets under their skin for reasons much deeper than anything having to do with race. Are we expected to entertain the notion that Roger Schafer was more privileged than Farai Chideya? By Albuquerque Chief of Police I. Juana Juacacraca he was not.

This calls to mind something John Hatfield once told Kirk Siegler: “Just because you’re Latino doesn’t mean you can’t be Hispanic, and just because you’re Hispanic doesn’t mean you can’t drive the black back into the back of the black by being the white on site with the Maglite.” Maybe it’s relevant to police violence statistics that Albuquerque has an unusually large white underclass. Race-reductionist stridency about white privilege and black lives has potentially life-threatening consequences for those who take it too seriously. It has the potential to make truly idiotic white listeners become complacent about their own safety and get themselves murdered at the hands of the police.

Look, I’m only saying this as a white guy who’s come frighteningly close to becoming a victim of violent, potentially homicidal police misconduct.

Yes, I’m aware of Trump’s outrageous campaign to suck bad cops off. It’s ugly and troubling, but it’s barely not beside the point. It was not a factor in 2016, and to this day there are other crucial factors complicating the feelings many reasonable people of goodwill have about Trump as an individual and Trumpism as a movement. The only serious movements for police accountability are coming from the margins. Are we actually out here ruing that Ricky Ray Rector’s killer’s wife didn’t save the nation from viciousness in politics? God, that makes even me, Fat Cracka, feel slow enough on the journey of life to wait for the pie that waits for me.

They won’t listen. I don’t know how to make this any clearer than I already have more times than I can count. The same flock of centrist shitbirds who now shriek hysterical lectures at me and people like me for even thinking about voting for Trump were on the scene back when I was promised the world for staying in school, then abused, traumatized, and dumped into a society where I could not and often still cannot find a fundamentally tolerable socioeconomic position and role. At the times in my adolescence and early adulthood when the dice were cast, Trump was a celebrity gadfly who dabbled in outsider politics, not an obvious political power player like the Clintons, the Bushes, or any of the other scumbags who have been rehabilitated as the “Resistance.” In this crowd, Trump stands out as the one who was conspicuously absent from electoral politics and official policy at a time when the rest of them were thrashing around and trashing it for me and the millions of other American misfits and failures they conspired to ruin. Trump looks and just feels better than them, in spite of evidence that he was supporting their project in private and playing dumb in public all along.

Jen Psaki stands out to me in a very different, much more objectionable way. She’s instantly recognizable as one of the bitches I wanted to hate-fuck in college. It was a coarse, embarrassing desire, but let’s not kid ourselves into dismissing it as senseless. The upper strata of the American academy are crawling with women like her, disingenuously using combinations of feminist rhetoric and sex appeal to manipulate pushovers in sociosexually dysfunctional environments, hurrying around with great looks but no morals and no manners. Psaki’s atrocious character shines through whenever she comments on those she perceives as social subordinates confronting those she perceives as their righteous superiors for doing them disservice. This drove her snark and smarm about student debt relief before it inspired her objections to protesters surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s house. To people of her class and worldview, people like me and probably all five of you aren’t constituents; we’re uppity, deeply ungrateful peasants.

The third-wave feminist horseshit so many of these women now spew makes them more obnoxious, not less. A fair number of their ancestresses had, as a few of their peers still have today, the honesty to declare their intention of rising in the world by marrying some psychopathic future oil executive who was presently off getting elephant-walked into his fraternity. It’s a cycle, kind of like women have. Who done did diddly unto Denny Dundiddly? I’ve never wrestled with that question before, and you can look away from all but the first three words of this wretched sentence. Hillary, the woman infamously scorned who stood by her compulsively promiscuous man for political ambition of the sort Lorena Bobbitt and even noted public speaker Melissa Ann Shepard never had, is emblematic. If She stood too closely by Her man’s name, voters might ask which one they were getting. If she’d ditched him, he might have had prized aides and advisors award themselves to him in the divorce.

God forbid, of course, that these asshats ever suffer the downsides of the sex appeal they leverage, along with the rest of their breeding, for the crudest possible advantage. This is what provokes the lust to hate-fuck. They’re imperious and manipulative, they’re deeply hypocritical, and they’re more easily thrown off balance than the average woman by unwanted expressions of sexual attraction from losers (think Garrison Keillor, not Matt Lauer). The environments where these women operate are not nearly hostile enough. They’d be less troublesome if they faced more humiliation for trying to throw their weight around.

Don’t ask me how I know that humiliation can inspire humility; I don’t currently wish to tell.

I am not describing good women here. I know many good women who are nothing like this. Many good women, I’m sure, despise Jen Psaki and her kind as much as I do. Saying “she’s a fucking bitch” about a bad woman is not misogyny. That, cracka, is what we call judging character by content. As vile and deranged as MRA/PUA types can be, they’re right about the problems with not discouraging women like these from pursuing hypergamous dating and mating strategies. The results are widening socioeconomic chasms on the demands of generations of antisocial dream hoarders.

“Yeah, the ones who aren’t all cat ladies.” *Antoine Yates family bucket voice* Hey now, what’s wrong with cats?

Christopher Lasch was right. Our elites are revolting indeed.

The cynicism necessary to defend either of the Clintons in the name of civil liberty is breathtaking. The civic hagiographies make Bill sound like a synthesis of the best parts of Jimmy Carter and Mario Cuomo, not the stone-cold manipulator who flew home to order the killing of the most retarded guy on death row so he could repeal Glass-Steagall, light the fuse on the Second Great Depression, and nearly privatize Social Security. There was never any actual principle at stake vis-a-vis either of the Clintons in the leadership of the Democratic Party. They blew their credibility pretending that Bill hadn’t been accused on the record not just of forcible groping but of forcible rape. They blew it further with orgasmic outbursts about Hillary as a badass girlboss out to break the glass ceiling when she’d coordinated smears of other women for accusing her husband of sex crimes, the same husband with whom she was furious for being an out-of-control cheater.

The Pied Piper misogynist scumbags of the alt-right are correct in their diagnosis of the PMC’s psychosexual relationship with the Clintons. The double standard they use to excuse Bill’s serial sexual assaults and Hillary’s role as a serial accessory is outrageous. They often strawman Trump and the rest of the Republican Party for supposedly still wanting to keep women out of the workforce (i.e., out of the girlboss jobs that matter, not out of the underpaid scut work that America’s poorest women have always done for a living), a retrograde stance that was more controversial than advertised on the right even when Phyllis Schlafly was at her most active.

The big exception, of course, is abortion. That’s something a critical mass of the right wing has actually, identifiably been organizing to ban for decades. PMC women’s assessment of the GOP on abortion are much more sober than their assessments of GOP attitudes towards women in general, which they quite often misinterpret through extreme caricatures that were already distortions in the eighties.

Trump is responsible for the current presumptive Supreme Court majority to overturn Roe v. Wade, but it’s important to reiterate that he is not solely responsible. By his own boasts he has never given a shit about the welfare or lives of the unborn, but he followed through on his transactional promises to shoehorn pro-life justices onto the court in exchange for the votes of the Christian right. The reason he isn’t solely responsible, and consequently is being scapegoated for something he enthusiastically did, is that any handful of the Democrats’ sensible centrist darlings across the aisle could have stopped Trump’s high court nominees dead in their tracks, in painful particular Brett Kavanaugh. The Judiciary Committee advanced Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate by a single vote. Any one of the Republican Judiciary shitheads could have sent Lord Sniffles back to the Circuit Court to be one berobed crook of many, but the consensus around town seems to be that certain unknowable members of the firing squad were issued blanks. The barest dissent from the party line in the full Senate vote looks for all the world like a ruse orchestrated in advance, with assigned roles, and most crucially with the outcome in which the Conscience Conservatives lost to the transactionalists.

This ultimate narrow loss featured an overpoweringly disgusting performance of troubled but sublimated conscience by everybody’s favorite moderate, Susan Collins. At long last that sleazy fucking bitch is getting a little taste of the flinty Yankee Sit Down And Shut Up she has always so richly deserved, or at least feels that way because protesters demanding the safeguarding of Roe recently chalked the sidewalk in front of her house, provoking her to call the police.

The whole sordid episode of the leaked draft opinion has convinced me more than anything before it that only scoundrels give a damn about the law for its own sake. Roe and abortion per se feel somehow collateral to the violently flaming illegitimacy of the American civic religion, showcased in this instance by the living, breathing, thieving focal point of nine semi-arbitrarily chosen high judges, at least two of them grossly compromised (Kavanaugh and his fellow horndog Thomas), all of whom we are badgered to lavish with constant fawning reverence.

It’s a fool’s errand to lend an attentive, respectful ear to a fucking word of it. It should come as the farthest thing from a surprise if a coven of this character fails to publish a coherent moral or philosophical appraisal of abortion stripped of all force of law. Of course, these nine assholes are judges–even I would probably be mercifully ignorant of them if they were professors publishing their dipshit musings in law journals–so it should be just as unsurprising if, in their functionally total unaccountability to their bar associations and to the Congress vested with the constitutional power to impeach and remove any or all of them, they publish disgracefully incoherent or evil rationales for granting every horrific state government in the country carte-blanche authority to have their dirty cops interfere in medical decisions they will never in their lives remotely understand.

This is why abortion feels so tangential to what’s really at stake here. Under the current political circumstances, a repeal of Roe will unleash atrocities worse than abortion and also more preventable. The thought of abortion makes me queasy, and the later-term the queasier, but as necessary evils go, abortion is much more necessary and much less evil than American cops and prosecutors. The cops and prosecutors we’re facing under this scenario are some of the worst. Some cops are humble and disciplined enough to do a decent job; these, by contrast, are exactly the violent busybodies who cannot be trusted to pass judgment on medical procedures of any sort precisely because they insist they’re eminently qualified and fit for the job. What the criminalization of abortion means in practice in the United States is imperious know-it-all retards eagerly letting their moralizing zealotry color their assessments of miscarriages for evidence of crimes.

When the draft opinion leaked, it summoned an indignant chorus of fastidious professionals including noted Zoomjacker Jeffrey Toobin, all fuming about the unprecedented breach of trust. These fuckers always manage to make their reactions worse than their triggers. The Supreme Court got exposed being shady about its plan to drop a bombshell ruling for questionable motives, and their reaction was to shriek that this hallowed institution had been betrayed and needed more privacy for the completion of its public duties, not less.

This outburst of Beltway outrage was one of the most radicalizing things I’d seen in years. Prior to it, I was willing to grant the Supreme Court the courtesy of private conferences and deliberations as a matter of custom. After seeing who swam up to the boat horny and naked, I changed my mind. All I’ll accept now is the compulsory conduct of all conferences and deliberations in full public view, enforceable by summary impeachment at the first sign of ex parte discussion of cases.

There’s no reason to allow these shysters to bar the courthouse door against a weasel flush. Many Americans have a rough intuition that Our Justices are illegitimate because they’re politicians pretending to be impartial jurists. What few grasp is how liberally the justices exaggerate their own work ethics, work hours, and sense of duty to the judiciary and the nation. With the sheer weight of the law the justices claim to bear, none of them should have the time or energy to give talks or have social lives. It turns out, however, that they chuck most of this weight onto their clerks and then bullshit the public about how seriously they take their jobs, when they provably face no consequences or even basic independent oversight for refusing without explanation to hear all but a tiny percentage of the petitions filed in their court. It’s past time Congress told them that if they don’t want to work in a fishbowl they’re as free to resign and take other jobs as Congress is to impeach them.

This righteous indignation about the breach of solemn trust comes from people familiar with Korematsu and Dred Scott. They could rue the Court for issuing rulings they consider atrocious. Instead, they’re on TV in high dudgeon about the justices getting criticized because official writings they had embargoed against publication got leaked and made them look bad. If judges aren’t satisfied to let the public examine and comment on whatever is published on their official duties because they try not to do anything in office that will have reasonable people accusing them of misconduct, they should not be on the fucking Supreme Court of the United States. Scurrilous accusations from political opponents are an inevitable part of the job they stepped on everybody in their way to secure. They’re human. They’ll say things that are brainscrambled. They’ll say things that sound okay in context but terrible out of context. Haters gonna hate. The problem comes when they express offense for being made to work under transparency and scrutiny. That only makes them look ill-tempered and shady.

This is a rare group of officials who in fact should be told that they have nothing to hide and should not be hiding. If they don’t like it, they can go jack it with Jeff.

Really, this shit is all just about privilege and power. Here we have an eminence grise of the law who was always kind of a blowhard, which actually made him extra fun when it came time for him to snicker on air about Anthony Weiner, but now he’s pretending that he got confused by the settings on his computer and didn’t masturbate in view of colleagues on a conference call, and he’s STILL getting interviewed about the impropriety of leaking the inflammatory official writings of judges Congress has always had the constitutional authority to remove from office. As a man of privilege, Toobin of course stands up tall and rock-solid for other men and women of privilege. He disapproves of subordinates publishing internal correspondence of public interest that The Nine ordered shielded from their constituents’ prying eyes. They all think high officials have a right to privacy in their public duties. Justice Alito is upset because he didn’t give anyone permission to air his nutty musings in the agora for general discussion. Chief Justice Roberts is upset because Justice Alito and Jackoffery Tuggin are upset.

Everything about this would improve if these whiny shits could imagine a world in which they, personally, might have difficulty finding another job after getting fired from Burger King for having a quick fuck in the walk-in freezer. That is, they might actually be all right if they could imagine being vulnerable to the rules they have enacted for to govern the rest of us who are stuck out here, more or less living in the real world.

This is what’s wrong with this country. We’re ruled by tyrants who have seceded up their own asses. They’re acting like the leaked draft opinion was a Marvel movie that got screened before its release date. We’re admonished that the leak endangers the court’s collegiality. Oh? The collegiality of what? The collegiality of the Honorable Clarance ejaculating on the Honorable Brett Michael’s cocaine suppositories? Do they realize who’s been hired for this gig?

Again, impeaching and removing these two freaks for sexual misconduct would moot the repeal of Roe pending the confirmation of replacements. All the Democrats would need to do is cull and then stall. It’s nothing that would make Mitch McConnell blanch if he did it himself.

Instead, the Democratic leadership flew to Texas to stump for Henry Cuellar, a notoriously corrupt pro-life member of the US House who fired a pregnant staffer for asking for maternity leave. They also piped up with their latest round of lectures about the necessity of voting, of course, just maybe not for Jessica Cisneros, who’s vocally pro-choice and not known to be under FBI investigation.

Jen Psaki’s boss is the serial hair-sniffer who shepherded Clarence Thomas’s nomination through the Judiciary Committee. Joe Biden has always been infamous as the guy who got Thomas onto the court by smearing Anita Hill.

It’s no mystery why the Democratic Party has spotty credibility as a defender of abortion rights, just as it does on all sorts of other positions its base overwhelmingly supports. Many of their own most committed voters don’t think the party is committed to its own platform or reliable enough to advance it. They’re appalled by the nomination fights that got Merrick Garland sandbagged but Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court. They do not trust the process. Hence the recent protests in front of justices’ homes. Every other bulwark the protesters were promised would hold appears to be failing.

These protests displease Jen Psaki. She thinks they set a bad tone and a bad precedent. Opposing factions, one imagines, might be emboldened by left-wing rallies in front of The Honorable Mr. Justice Brett Michael Kavanaugh’s house to bomb abortion clinics or assassinate OB-GYN’s. These are of course tactics that pro-life extremists have been using ever since Roe. They were not and are not committed pacifists who for some reason decided to switch principles from nonviolence to reciprocal violence because their opponents had launched the first strike.

Psaki is trying to coopt and herd the left into the neutered center to appease the right. It’s the same as it ever was. Liberals love few things more than being cuckolds. If the Democratic establishment cared about its platform, it would go full-throttle LBJ mode on Joe Manchin for pulling his po-faced Uncle Values shtick over the deep-seated respect for life and concern for the unborn that he shares with his constituents. They’d ride straight up on his nuts and bunghole: strip him of his committee assignments, yank his campaign funding and aid, put his pork orders on the line, recruit Paula Jean Swearingen to primary his sleazy ass again, but this time with the full financial and operational backing of the DNC. As Bernie can attest, they know how to ratfuck their enemies.

Nobody in the Democratic electoral coalition wants any of the draconian crackdowns on reproductive autonomy that Republican extremists keep pushing at the state level. Theoretically persuadable voters who are zealous enough to demand fetal heartbeat laws, multiple preoperative ultrasounds for the purpose of emotionally manipulating patients, narrow medical, rape, or incest exceptions, or total bans on abortion are already Republicans. The party’s cherished “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” shitheads, a chronic philosophical and civic scourge on the nation, are as persuadable as ever to vote Democratic in spite of their misgivings (read: not wanting, even in small measure, to contribute to the commonweal in ways enabling social liberties for those poorer than themselves) precisely because the overturn of Roe will trigger every insane Republican law to meddle in the country’s bedrooms and examination rooms. As a rule, I’ll gladly be the first to rebuke these fuckers for being disingenuous, shortsighted, and incoherent, but this is an instance in which reality smashes through the rules like a persistent reporter through the hedges in Rob Ford’s front yard. Many of America’s shitty budget concern trolls will, in fact, show up to defend personal liberty this time. Pro-life extremists, of whatever nominal partisan affiliation, obviously will not.

Do we actually have to talk through the realpolitik of this standoff? There’s strong support, most likely supermajority, for the codification of Roe. A politically viable majority of Americans would be relieved to have the Supreme Court permanently relieved of responsibility and, more pertinently, jurisdiction over abortion law. This includes many Republicans. It includes many Democrats, independents, and third-party voters who are queasy about abortion, generally opposed to it, and wish for it to be used as sparingly as possible. Americans are generally aware, if to variable degrees, of the courts’ proclivity to assert jurisdiction at the same time as they wantonly abandon all ethical responsibility for their rulings and also their failures to act. With frighteningly rare exceptions, American courts are object lessons in rights without responsibilities. Ordinary constituents would love for Congress to override them for good and assert legislative responsibility over the courts to keep the sexually preoccupied creeps and outright perverts who push draconian laws on sex from having their way. The best that can be said for them is that Larry and Denny were too gay to really have to wrestle with the ethics of getting into trouble.

Put me in Coach!

Come on, now. Anyone who’s been around here much at all saw that one coming from a concourse away. Fundamentally, this discourse is only secondarily about reproduction. Hardliners on the right have ulterior motives for forcing women to give birth: paranoia about racial demographics, tangled eugenic preoccupations, a desire to breed adoptees for good Christian families, pure cruelty. They also have bad sexual hangups. They have ugly repressed sexual desires.

To see how unserious they are about pro-life politics as a safeguard of children’s welfare, just look at how derelict they are about supporting overwhelmed parents in their efforts to do a decent job raising their children. Oftentimes they’re openly hostile. These are routinely the same thugs who support school lunch debt, work requirements for welfare, burdensome means tests, and anything else to make parents prove their worthiness for meager charity, their children be damned.

It’s brilliantly easy to outfox Joe Manchin on his horseshit about family values: just confront him, in a spirit of empathy for the constituents he fucks over for a living, with the mountains of evidence that every sector and level of civil society in West Virginia is incapable of safeguarding the state’s children against genuine poverty and the horrors that always come with it. This is true at the national level as well, of course, all the justification anyone should need to push Manchin, a crooked legislator representing a small state that was established as a geopolitical afterthought during the Civil War, the hell out of the way.

A judicial caucus of no more than six is threatening calamity. Its opposing legislative caucus claims to be pursuing a permanent legislative override of this imminent ruling, but it’s allowing one of its most hated and most corrupt members to sandbag this legislation. How does any of this show that the system works? Vote? Okay, for what the fuck, exactly? Joe Manchin and Jen Psaki are members of the party that constantly shrieks about preventing exactly what the Supreme Court is threatening.

How does this not show a need–shit, at least a good use–for direct action against politically disagreeable judges?

The stakes here are very real. This is what makes scolds like Jen Psaki so uncomfortable. The political stakes here are extremely high personal, social, and existential stakes. This is what politics are determining in this case. Political decisions are being made to grant the powerful the right to get the weak killed. It’s always this way; it’s just that in more functional, less corrupt times, the weak successfully fight back and hold the line against their predators.

Moderates were clutching their pearls about exactly the same shit in the runup to the Civil War. Goodness, we mustn’t encourage Mr. Sumner to upset Mr. Brooks! That’s the caliber of political actors they’re always trying to appease: thugs who launch violent attacks to protect their privilege to use violence to get their way. Pretending otherwise just makes moderates foolish, weak, and dependent for their welfare and safety on the patience of whatever relatively tolerant violent factions will protect them from the violence of other, hostile factions.

This explains the gathering “liberal” compulsion to flatter the security services. They’re aware, on some level, that they’re exposing themselves to violent threats by being weak, unprincipled, sniveling little rats. No shit they don’t want anyone disrespecting their mercenaries. It explains Psaki’s reverence for Brett Kavanaugh as the holder of an office so many of her fellow Democrats insist he won illegitimately. If the peasants refuse to revere him as a judge, they may refuse to revere her as an all-purpose political functionary. Neither one has marketable skills. Both depend for their luxury and their very survival on the ongoing cooperation of people who do have marketable skills. Theirs is naturally and inevitably a very pro-clerical stratum.

Both sides of the abortion fight think of themselves as Harriet Tubman. This is self-esteeming, but it is not nearly as crazy as it may sound. Many of the moral and philosophical arguments on the pro-life side are thoughtful and disquieting. The American pro-life movement is dominated by hateful crazies, but there are aspects of their underlying worldview that really do deserve a fair, patient hearing.

This serves to make Jen Psaki look like even more of an out-of-touch piece of shit. It takes cosseting from the very real violence of the real world to imagine, as deeply as she wants to believe, that any dispute as heartfelt and raw as abortion policy will be settled without violence. Realistically, that just is not how the world fucking works. It sure as hell isn’t in a settler-colonial horror show like the United States.

What, after all, is the real purpose of the cops and spooks “liberals” valorize more and more by the year? The spook shops have continuity of staff with the heinous thugs behind the Bush-Cheney torture regime, officials who simply have to be purged from the ranks in full and for good to give the “intelligence community” a fighting chance at regaining the credibility it never should have been granted in the first place. The summer of 2020 blew the fig leaf off the big swinging dick of American policing. The violent attacks rogue cops staged in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Austin, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Portland, Denver, Aurora, Asheville, and, God knows, Minneapolis prove that the rot in American policing is not isolated or idiosyncratic.

Is it reformable? It sure as hell isn’t with the personnel who were on duty two summers ago. The Democratic Party, as America’s elected left, would have more credibility on police oversight if it demanded that everybody who was on riot control duty then get backgrounded again, with a focus on their conduct while on duty, not just potentially troubling incidents in their lives off the job. Let’s assume that the panic over rising crime rates has a genuine basis in reality and isn’t just hysteria. How the hell are the guys who cracked Martin Gugino’s skull open and then left him for dead on the street in front of live television news crews the answer? How are they our saviors? In fairness, those were just two cops who immediately got backed up by the other 55 cops on their squad, who resigned their assignments en masse, and only one in two to perhaps nineteen in twenty police officers in the United States at large subsequently reacted to the video out of Buffalo with something between uneasy complicity and vocal support.

Democrats’ equivocation on police oversight is emblematic of the smug, decadent flippancy with which they approach all sorts of horrors that actively expose their constituents to life-or-death stakes. When something telegenic happens to cops, they jump into bipartisan collegiality and open the treasury overnight. That’s what happened after January 6. When private citizens–peasants, not knights–get killed or ruined or threatened with hell on earth for falling through eligibility gaps in government programs, or when they get ruined by usurious student loans, or shot down on the spot by bad cops, they revert into deliberative mode. Let’s not do anything rash here, like arrest Derek Chauvin or Joey Baloney on the spot the way they would have been for committing exactly the same crimes as civilians. That kind of shit happens, and they act like Adolf Eichmann.

Bernie Sanders infuriates them because he does not. He sees the very real human consequences to dehumanizing constituents and knowingly standing by in the name of institutions and processes while they are killed. The Lyin’ Hawaiian had another of his embarrassing outbursts a month or two ago, recognizing Bernie as a prophet but proclaiming himself a king, the point being that prophets need to get out of the way of their kings. We expounded on Scripture for some folks. The surreal idiocy of this famously brilliant ex-president doing such a masterful job of knowing what the Bible says but getting ass-backwards what it means was predicated on the assertion that one of the most prominent and popular members of the United States Senate was nothing but a pain in the ass for criticizing other high officials for bad policies.

If Barry thinks Bernie is an uppity peasant, that’s all we need to know about what he thinks of the rest of us. Time and time again, they show their true colors (for the most part, White). None of it is about anything but court etiquette.

Court etiquette means not thinking or speaking like a regular visitor to the real world. One expression of this otherworldliness is the refusal to hound vicious freaks like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert out of public life. The proposition that there should be social consequences, in their cases encompassing professional and political consequences as well, for carrying on like they do should be a pretty fucking easy sell. There’s no reciprocal duty to be fulfilled or tactical victory to be achieved by shuffling around and awkwardly exchanging pleasantries with belligerent nutjobs who are constantly shitting on the floor. For the same reasons, there’s nothing to be gained by equivocating about overt police brutality. There’s no halfway decent reason not to say, okay, you get caught on videotape trampling a nonviolent protester with your police horse, you immediately go to jail and get fired. There’s no higher process to uphold. Arrest at gunpoint for attempted murder, indictment, and immediate dismissal from police employment for gross official misconduct *is* the process.

The Democratic Party caters to and expects the support of the vast majority of voters who are actually liberal, e.g., who don’t want deputy sheriffs murdering innocent citizens for initiation into departmental gangs. At the same time, it comes up with excuse after excuse for not implementing policies its base very much wants, along with many nonvoters and affiliates of other parties, such as firing and jailing bad cops. Once anything to do with holding the police accountable to the governments commissioning them comes up on the agenda, the party bosses materialize with their concerns. Using the power of the purse to give police departments less money instead of all the money they demand every time they demand it might upset swing voters who approve of police violence in general, just not the kind in which Thomas Lane shoots Derek Chauvin point-blank in the head.

For every honest-to-God Quaker or Mennonite who might object to the citizen militia of one that I just proposed as unduly rash or tragic, dozens of Blue No Matter Who shitheads are standing by in this country to insist that the process ultimately worked in every bit as justifiable a fashion for George Floyd as it did for Ricky Ray Rector. The arc of justice is long, but it bends towards eventually not flying home from the campaign trail to appease the mob by having a retard who has no concept of death whacked for once having killed a cop, years before he tried to kill himself but spared enough of his brain to still know about times of feasting, times of fasting, and how to pass the test with much more at stake than just a marshmallow.

The concern trolls who show up with these objections are incredible worms. Their position is that the perfect is the enemy of the good, it isn’t politically realistic to save everybody the government could conceivably save with prompt, straightforward action, and some people unfortunately have to be sacrificed, but God help you if you determine that they or their cronies have heads that will fit on the chopping block. They raise holy hell if they’re so much as asked to sacrifice (“sacrifice”) a perfectly survivable portion of their home equity or portfolio values for the public good. What they actually believe, when push comes to shove, is that other, more vulnerable people should be sacrificed as necessary: convicts, addicts, the unemployed, the homeless.

Say, those last two have rather often included #MeToo! Again, I’m not crazy to revile the people who run the Democratic Party and the factions they work the hardest to cultivate. I am far from convinced that they’re fundamentally looking out for me any more than they were for Ricky Ray. Their crude zero-sum attacks on “dead white males” don’t help, either. Yeah, no shit they’re disingenuous, and no shit they’ve also deliberately killed African-Americans by millions. Do they really think it helps their case to come across not just as spiteful and predatory, but also as incoherent and erratic? It’s mostly just bluster, but they’re the ones who have me parsing their Kill Whitey rhetoric. I do not care for this, and I’ll be damned to take the blame.

If they don’t want elements of the grubby masses taking them for unstable homicidal zealots, they can always start by shutting up about the race bait distancing themselves from those who won’t. Is the white working class problematic? Given who’s always talking about that, and I certainly notice, I don’t care. It’s a red herring coming from the sorts of people who justify denying lifesaving government services to poor black Southerners as a way to punish uppity poor white Southerners.

Why wouldn’t they be more or less okay with the Rector execution? The Democratic Party enthusiastically embraces voters who show anything from callous disregard for human life to positive glee in its taking as a way to settle political scores. This is exactly how the functionaries who run the party think. The sentence for upsetting the right-thinking smart set doesn’t necessarily have to be death, but there’s no reason it can’t be.

The party’s leadership is now predictably applying the same political ethics to abortion policy. Are women facing childbearing and parenting decisions verging on the Solomonic if Roe is in fact overturned? Sure. Are they facing preventable threats to their health, bodily wholeness, and lives? Sure. Does the new “pro-life” dispensation waiting in the wings for the repeal of Roe promise to do a damned thing to make life more bearable for the additional children who will presumably be born and raised upon repeal? Of course it doesn’t.

Mind you, Roe didn’t increase abortions, just safe abortions. A key indicator of the ties between political debate and discernible facts is the historical American birthrate, which bottomed out in 1973. This nation is retarded.

In any event, what’s the Democratic Party gonna do about any of this? Uh, maybe some things, as long as we turn out and vote straight-ticket, and as long as Joe Manchin, who really should be allowed to enjoy his yacht in peace–

LBJ didn’t carry on like this. He didn’t lecture constituents to petition their Congressmen. He recognized politics as an exercise in power, and he exercised it. It’s all the new-school assholes who first showed up in Washington in real numbers with the Clintons who act like it’s all about being civil and ineptly flattering one’s sworn enemies. These worms can’t be smoked out soon enough. They’re marginally employable scolds who react to the preventable killing of innocent private citizens as statistics that ought not be aired and to the heckling of government officials as treasonous violence. They’re the last people whose feelings about appropriate venues for protest should be validated.

Don’t let them tell you to restrict your protests to the same courthouse steps they’ve fenced off for the convenience of the police. Don’t let Jen Psaki play ally. Friends don’t make friends feel bad for taking the protests all the way home, straight into More Than Friendship Heights.

It’s never about education, you dumbass

Whenever Honiara’s aggrieved local kine throw a pogrom and burn Chinatown to the ground, I have the same reaction: Stop AAPI Hate. Ya don’t need to do dat, yeah? Dat wasn’t aloha, yeah? Or talofa or whatever and all dat kine. Russians and Ukrainians insist that they speak different languages, too. It wasn’t very aloha of the local color in South Central to beat Reginald Denny to the brink of death and try to murder sundry Korean corner grocers, either. A Pinkberry manager told our interview group in Marina Del Ray about the reverence Koreans show their customers as a matter of deep Korean culture when they pass ice cream orders over the counter using both hands to bludgeon beggars with tire irons for panhandling downtown.

Thomas Sowell, report to a White People Courtesy Telephone at once for an urgent message. The Roaring Forties isn’t the safest part of town for the Korean merchant caste when the cops lose it with a dust fiend on TV. It’s because merchants aren’t cops, and truckers aren’t, either. Christopher Dorner showed what happens to those who react to systemic police misconduct by targeting cops. Few are so disciplined or so bold. Nobody who’s paid to comment about or on behalf of the police has a word to say about him. It was Two Minutes Hate when they firebombed his cabin, some pro forma fuming about how he was an evil coward and then, for the years since, nothing.

It’s obvious why. They don’t want anybody scanning his manifesto for coherence and independently investigating the Tingirides Brain Trust. Phil and Emada live in Irvine, where the local cop shop doesn’t deal with crime spikes by rotating brutes in from out of town to run jumpout patrols on neighborhood teens. They basically bragged on TV about committing the collective punishment of their constituents for gang reprisals by flooding the 77th Street Division with bad cops from other divisions. Hey, boys, here’s the deal: Keep it in your waistbands and we’ll be good; outwit the LAPD’s moronic intelligence squads long enough for a cycle or two of gang reprisals and the stationhouse pickup hoops and community cookouts and all the rest of the community policing song and dance will vanish under an onslaught of Punisher decal shitheads on loan from across town who don’t know anybody in the neighborhood. Ask local Rampart heads whether this is good or bad.

It’s no coincidence that this same city elected Eric Garcetti mayor in time to close Covid-19 testing sites as reprisals for protests against police brutality. *Randy Newman Enjoying Coke Voice* We *LOVE* it!

That’s enough lore of the Tingirideses for the moment. Try to keep a reputably straight face for this next part of the story, from up north, where London Breed, formerly in support of Faauuga Moliga, is now against Faauuga Moliga. According to the newspapers, these are real people, both currently serving in elected office in San Francisco. She appointed him to the school board and now wants voters to recall him.

It’s awfully Friendship Ended With fuh, uh, uh–but her name tho. London Breed. She’s the African-American mayor of a New World city named for St. Francis of Assisi, and her legal name is London Breed. Now Imperialism Is Our Best Friend, too, Salman. The world learned about Salman, Mudasir, and Mutual in the original English. If it’s good enough for a massacre at the Lekki Tollgate, it’s good enough for me.

SARS: Don’t let it kill you, too.

Other Africans had to wait to learn of their own blackness until they could take the lessons in French. This isn’t shitposting, by the way. It’s basic history. Empire gives its subjects the tools of its own subversion, or at least critique. “Negritude” first gained currency in Paris, around the time Pol Pot was in town to study radio. Woodrow Wilson had a different Asian kid up in his face with diplomacy about self-determination and shit. Many are familiar with his later work as /Paul Harvey AM Storytime Voice/ Ho Chi Minh.

What, then, is AAPI Hate? Wilson was one we can be pretty sure was never of a mind to stop it. Indeed, by the end, he was of no mind at all. That’s why Hillary Clinton will never be the first lady president. Smears of Irish roustabouts for being the wellspring of anti-Chinese bigotry because they were uneducated have always been misdirection. Master-class scumbags like William Randolph Hearst loved to gin that style of barstool bigotry up using his hardbitten reporter proxies, but the Victorian upper crust as a class tended towards shocking coarseness about race. Theodore Roosevelt, one of the more magnanimous of them, seethed in his own diary about the righteousness of massacring dagos. He approved of the mass lynching of Italians in New Orleans. Wilson was the President of Princeton before he resegregated the District of Columbia as POTUS (and turned the State of the Union, an annual memorandum under his predecessors, into a Toastmasters evening).

The prevailing life of the mind in the American upper crust from Appomattox to Pearl Harbor was aggressively bumptious midwit. Their grandchildren today believe equally embarrassing nonsense because it was on Freakonomics Radio, but that’s the whole point. Mass-highbrow media like NPR and The Economist put on fastidiously bloodless airs. In the telegraph age, it was common for college graduates with over a decade of intensive schooling in the humanities to earnestly regard every Chinaman as a mental defective and every Malay as Fu Manchu. They’d call me scurrilous for describing them like that, but their understandings of race really were crude and stupid.

The reason they were relatively sharp for roughly half a century starting in the Great Depression was that they faced existential threats from the mob and damn well knew it. That’s why they pulled their heads out of their asses for a periodic look around. It was OODA Loop work. Then the Gipper got elected and went off on the overt unionbusting component of the yuppie project. At that point they retreated in earnest back into fantasyland. It’s arguably even dumber and more delusional this time around. The old parlance made it somewhat easier to visualize Henry Ford hiring Pinkertons to brain strikers at the factory gate than the unmitigated obfuscatory mewling that pulses these days through NPR. The old-timers were horrible bullshitters, but they had a more developed sense of direct agency in civics.

Maybe. God knows the scene isn’t any more refined in management than it was in the thirties, or in the police, most elegantly classified as the managers of Outside. There are always details about the details within the details, and I’m not here to publish footenotes, Shelby.

Some trends, however, stand out. It feels like a whole lot of Gilded Age shysters whose own prose was Dale Carnegie via G. K. Chesterton–the bombast stripped of the brilliance–have equally scummy descendants whose writing is the McGuffey Readers edited for Lamb Chop’s Play-Along. A CIA psyop makes as much sense as anything else to explain the proliferation of Wacko Jacko-level childish memes about “adulting.” If Michelle “Life School” Tandler isn’t CIA, Mocha Haole is. What the company used to do in San Francisco back before that whiny bitch was born was use whorehouses to chemically Shanghai the unwitting and vulnerable into psychological experiments. This not-so-distant history makes Tandler’s crying fits about plywood boarding in Union Square storefronts feel downright tame, just like any longitudinal study that examines what the Tenderloin was really like in the eighties. (Shitty, mostly.)

Same as today’s boohoo cracker moral panics about “crime” in San Francisco, where “crime” is burglars calmly carrying fully insured deluxe merchandise out of department stores in neighborhoods long seasoned by the al fresco mental health crises of cold homeless who are too far gone to properly dress themselves, the moralistic carryings-on of the Gilded Age were ordered to the externalization and suppression social problems arising directly from the bad policies demanded by the very same elite moralists. In ye olden steamtime days, the problems arose from industrial capitalism. In San Francisco and other hip cities today, the problems arise from land speculation.

The Bay Area would be sociologically unrecognizable if its real estate prices passed for normal. Anybody with real estate equity anywhere from Mountain View north to the Marina District literally has millions of dollars at stake. A modest market correction–the housing market becoming slightly less insane–would wipe out six figures’ worth of current or anticipated home equity per household. Jenny Luke made it sound like one half of Over-the-Rhine was constantly murdering the other half for a piece of crack rock. “It’s classic.” One might describe the neighborhood as “Over the Germans.” There’s an exchange rate to take into account between the very Anglo but very non-Saxon James “Mack the Pipe” Mack and white people who are Bay Area homeowners because they’re White People, but the spread isn’t a million to one. Everybody who’s anybody on the Peninsula owns a motive for murder.

This is why so many Californians today overtly dehumanize the homeless. Pets are people; the homeless are a threat to property values. This is how they end up living around abusive, chronically trucker-tweaked techbros and becoming only more entrenched as the years go by in their conviction that the homeless suffer from alcohol, hard drug, and consequent behavioral problems unique to the homeless. There’s little to admire or emulate in the lifestyles of low-functioning destitute addicts, but in many times and places they have mostly had stable housing. When they’re living on the streets, one of their obvious major problems, fully separable from any addictions afflicting them (in incidences grossly exaggerated by their propertied neighbors), is that they’re homeless. What the fuck is the problem with addressing this first–getting them into proper apartments–and then dealing with their being lushes or junkies or whatever else they supposedly all are?

Well no shit, the problem is that this approach, a robust housing-first campaign, would depress sale prices and rents, and we can’t have that.

That isn’t the full extent of it, either. Flooding the market with affordable housing would deprive the servant class of that salutary hunger. Most gig app customers must realize on some level that the hustlers driving their entitled asses all over hell and dropping all the shit they order at their doorsteps are of lower strata than themselves. That is, they are not delivering for DoorDash or driving around in their own cars for well less than the cost of a ride in a licensed cab because they’re looking to make a little walking-around money. They realize, if only subconsciously and uncomfortably, that these servants are full-time members of a permanent servant underclass, and that the company line about “side hustles” for people with outside sources of income (From what? How much?) is a crock of shit.

They consider this exploitation indispensable to the elegance of the California lifestyle (get your whiny ass on Muni, bitch; I’ll see you on the bus), but they hate to admit that California is a class-based, classist society. Wanna hear a secret? California is practically Brazil. Maybe it’s India, too. We have more Indians than Brazilians, but we also have more of a residual foundation of broad prosperity and stability to erode than either India or Brazil has ever had. Since this is much more than just a Californian problem, we’re surely integrating our heavily Brahmin Indians into American society in ways that harm the lower strata of the native stock. Look around any shitty part of the Bay Area waterfront if you don’t believe me.

Faauga Moliga is a high-profile representative of the low-rent Asians who keep the Bay Area’s physical plant running while the high-rent Asians do whatever the hell they do for a much better living. If anybody’s a low-rent Asian, it’s a Pacific Islander. The Philippines are islands in the Pacific. So is Japan. Nah, we all know the Japs had their minute of hardship back when they blackened the Western Addition, because they also had the gumption to get over it, except for the ones deputized to ceremoniously celebrate it on NPR, unlike the local color. He isn’t black; he’s OJ! Lance Allan Ito was named for two white guys. We love LA!

The ironic thing about Moliga is that he’s so fucking conservative. He promotes the premise that education is the key to upward mobility. The core of his complaint about the current state of public education in San Francisco is that it disparately advantages affluent children north of Duboce Avenue–little Chinamen, if I may, and if I may not I will regardless–to the detrimental exclusion of poor kids in the deep south, heavily Pacific Islander like himself. He’s dissatisfied that the children of needy Samoan and Tongan families in the Ingleside and the Excelsior are forced to compete on a field slanted in favor of Chinese kids who put the rich into the Richmond. It’s the well-to-do, cutthroat parents of these latter kids who are up in arms with Moliga for trying to keep their precious, precocious, eminently meritorious brats out of Lowell High by weakening the admissions criteria to admit more of the lower sorts of AAPI, whom they hate.

They’re so bent out of shape about this, and they’re so loud, that nobody of any clout is pointing out Moliga’s assumption that his own fellow Pacific Islanders should strive to rise above their parents’ lowly stations in life through educational attainment. His agenda is to help them stay in school and get into “better” schools than they otherwise would (as if this means anything) by leveling the playing field to make them competitive with the chronically hazed, mentally sickened children of high-caste Chinese diaspora nutjobs out in the Avenues.

He’s playing their game. He’s promoting upward mobility for the children of low-caste Pacific Islanders, Filipinos, and the likes, in ways that clash with the same ambitions on the part of low-caste Chinese strivers, in contrast to the ambitions of high-caste Chinese parents for their own besieged children to hold the line and not crash into poverty and disgrace, but they’re all jockeying for position at the head of the class.

A radical critique would call foul on the entire project. It would propose wildcat strikes every week until the stranglehold of the dream hoarders is broken and formal education is moot as channel of socioeconomic advancement. Moliga won’t even encourage his own constituents to use the powerful leverage they have as blue- and pink-collar workers with the sheer numbers in critical positions to shut San Francisco down, along with the northern end of San Mateo County. Instead he wants them to exert their weak leverage as disadvantaged students with low GPA’s against ruthless classmates across town whose parents pull out all the stops to get them into the Ivy League.

Moliga objects to Pacific Islander students being denied the unfair advantages Chinese parents give their own children by getting them into selective high schools and private tutoring services like Mathnasium. What I want to know, as an overeducated, underemployed classmate of dream hoarders who sometimes catches the bus in front of the Mathnasium on Lombard, is when somebody will run for the school board on the platform that Mathnasium is bullshit. You know, the hell’s math got to do with any of this shit? Fuck Mathnasium. Classical Romans had Greek slave tutors teach their children math, among other subjects, in curricula approximating the genuine liberal arts, although not so liberal for the tutors.

The math a prosperous workforce needs is arithmetic sufficient to recognize the price point that makes management cry uncle during a strike. Coding doesn’t pay well because old-line Americans are retarded about math where Asians are brilliant at it. It’s a supply-and-demand thing, pure and simple. Hectoring schoolchildren to study STEM plays directly into management’s campaign to flood the job market with surplus technical whizzes.

The point isn’t to build up a workforce large and skilled enough to keep society running; it’s to depress wages. I would never have heard about that shit on the NBC local news out of Albany if the campaign to improve STEM education and make good minds GRRREAT! were coherently oriented in an understanding of what it takes to run a civilization. You still won’t know much about a science book if you try to keep up with Carisi.

Television: #TheMoreYouKnow about it, the less you trust it.

Radio, too.

We’re heightening the inherent contradictions of capitalism again. Whatever Alison Collins said about uppity Ching-Chong a decade ago is a sideshow. I had reasons for alluding to Thomas Sowell’s work on middleman minorities above. Grafting ethnic grievances onto class tensions thick enough to cut with a knife is never good, but it’s not like the Chinese would be in deep and abiding harmony among their own people back home in the middle of the kingdom. Dawg I’ve been on the 30-Stockton. That ridership base is nothing like the Chinese in the Richmond. All Asians look alike? Bullshit. We’re talking about prosperous homeowners in the early trolley suburbs versus indigent peasants living in SRO’s and spending the rest of their ablebodied lives working for restaurateurs whose families moved out to Fremont in 1975. They’re a breed apart, London.

I assume I’d have an even more cynical assessment of this mess if I could understand more than ten words of spoken Mandarin or read more than ten characters. Or maybe twenty. With numbers like those, there’s no reason to learn the math.

The horny-for-rules process-oriented institutionalism of this whole shit show is kind of sad. I have a fairly spotty familiarity with Chinese history, but I can tell that the party line is nonsense when bullying entire generations of children into cramming for years of exam hell is presented as fundamentally Chinese but Maoism is not. It’s past time to confront the worst sorts of Chinese parents for driving their own children to suicide. Palo Alto, now a very Chinese city, keeps losing its own teenagers to Caltrain pedestrian strikes. It’s hard to say how different the college rat race would be in the absence of China’s best and brightest from the American college application pool, but it’s clear that their cultural influence and sheer numbers have some bad effects on the whole country. Why the hell should other Americans have to compete against these unbalanced freaks?

I’m referring to other Chinese-Americans, too. In case sensitivity to Chinese culture is an actual goal here, I’ll note the perky interest I take when I read about the classical Chinese civil service exam apparatus inspiring rampant cheating and cultivating generations of failsons. If we’re looking to learn from the Chinese, that’s some shit worth studying.

Nah, we didn’t learn shit from the initial Japanese edition of the hikikomori, either. The normie twerps who run this show kept assuming we had to take cultural learnings of Inscrutable Oriental about the work ethic or some shit like that. They refused to consider the implications of a generation of Type A white-collar alcoholics begetting a generation of adrift, marginally employable dropouts with no career prospects in a major trading partner with extensive commercial and social ties to the United States.

Captain Ho Lee Fuk are we retarded.

What happens if the Samoans start studying, too? Maybe they can drive for Uber or work dead-end retail jobs with college degrees just like various races of White People. This is most likely not a question that has occurred to Faauga Moliga, just as it has not too much of anybody else in American government. Our man reveres institutions and processes. So do his Chinese haters, who so revere institutions and processes that they need a new school board right now.

An interesting thing I learned about AAPI culture on NPR recently is that Jollibee, which has a restaurant in Daly City, uses wheat noodles, not rice. The Philippines is the most American country on earth. The CIA does what it can to keep it that way, so our hospitals and nursing homes don’t have to figure out how to make payroll for American aides. Tonga is even more American, depending on one’s feelings about Mormons. By Doctrines and Covenants it would be a goshdarned shame if Utah’s honkies were all too busy working the ramp for Delta to run MLM scams on one another.

As I said, this country is retarded. Why would we study useful parts of Chinese history? I’ve read enough about American labor history to know we don’t even study our own.

Totally fictional fiction: Anniversary Coffee Date

By the end of the afternoon he was about ready to strangle the barista. She would not shut up. “HI! WELCOME IN!” “THANK YOU!” “HI EVERYONE! WELCOME IN!” Sometimes it was bearable. Other times, it was piercing. He’d finally tune out the background noise, itself an awful atonal asynchronous jumble of blenders being turned on and off, chair legs scraping on the floor, cash registers and ovens beeping, abrupt shifts in conversational tones from across the lobby, order announcements, scoops being plunged into the ice chest, and the horrible mix of punk, scat jazz, and emo crossover country they’d somehow patched together from the instantly identifiable playlists corporate approves for the stores companywide, and there it was again. “HI! WELCOME IN!”

He kept banging his head on the chandelier above his table when he stood up to stretch his legs. This lady’s greetings and farewells were worse.

He started consciously noticing and listening for subtleties of accent and cadence after he moved back to California, sounds to reassure him in his dysfunction and neediness that he was finally home. The way this chick spoke seemed off, for a white girl in NorCal. At first he took her accent for Midwestern. After an hour or two of her unpredictable but reliable onslaughts, he reclassified it as Lower Brahmin Northeastern. NPR. He had no idea where she’d been raised, of course, and he knew plenty of lifelong Californians who sounded like they’d picked up their accents out of state, even overseas. This barista had obviously not learned her hello-and-goodbye shtick in the community. It came from corporate. “WELCOME IN” was one of the tics he could date not to a vague time range but to the aftermath of a specific, jarring episode. It had appeared out of nowhere in the days after a different barista, also a white woman, also speaking with a cadence and intonation that belonged on NPR and only on NPR, had the Philadelphia Police arrest a group of black men for asking to use the restroom in her store. Her reasoning was that they should have bought something first.

She called the managers of outside, as some describe the police. She was already the manager of inside. Calling up the chain of command was her duty, as she saw it.

The Philadelphian was why this other chick, in wine country, was now, years later, bellowing welcomes and farewells over the muzak every minute or two. The Philadelphian was why the new protocol was to specify the directionality of a word that had been understood since before the days of what anyone would be pedantic enough to call English as a reference to movement into a space, not out.

Surely the company psychologists are aware of this, he thought. We see you entering our space. We are on guard for invaders.

Why have we been doing this for twenty years, he wondered. He wasn’t even forty. More than the second half of his life to date had passed under this surreal post-traumatic national culture, this regime of paranoia and fnords. Even after the horrific ongoing reaction to the marginally less horrific, long-finished attacks had calmed into something that felt comfortingly survivable, the country remained by any reasonable standard insane. Civilians were still walking around thanking random soldiers they’d never met for their service. He occasionally had veterans ask him if he’d been in the service, to his surprise and honor, or spontaneously open up with stories about their own deployments along canals full of shit in Vietnam. In a bad week it might be a naval deployment. How on earth he displayed a military bearing sufficient to make veterans think he was a comrade in arms was beyond him. It helped that he’d never thanked a soul for taking up arms.

“You’d be stinky for the next week!” “We all thought our gunny sarge was ancient!” The guy who told him this was sitting across from him on a bus, easily ninety by that point, miraculously still fit enough to hop on and off the bus without assistance and present enough to tell the old war stories from the European theater. “How old do you think he was?” “Oh, he was probably 35!” They’d somehow both made it to 21st-Century Reno.

Service, everybody was again careful to call it, something more often praised than performed. The ones who made it home alive were grateful. Nobody talked about the ones who weren’t. To be aware of them, one had to talk to soldiers, or talk to people who talked to soldiers. Quite a few guys made it home with little to say about Bataan. Whoever “we” were, white or yellow or brown or dead in Port Chicago, we were fighting an alliance of arrogant nuts that time, two grasping, arrogant, overextended empires in the habit of alienating the locals in their colonies with racist diatribes and massacres, plus a thundering drama queen who in a better governed Italy might have been prime minister for an August. This time, “we” were the ones who thought Afghanistan worth conquering. We were the ones who took up with torture-prone Uzbek satraps against a nation of the fiercest, most skilled guerrilla fighters on earth, on their own home territory. Then “we” toppled our old Sunni Arab buddy in Iraq, sending him to the gallows at the hands of “our” new “allies” at a time when “we” were increasingly tempted to launch first strikes on Persia.

Fuck, he thought, this is sure a society that likes to play away games.

He forgot why he was in there in the first place. “We” were “reopening” after “quarantine,” in this instance meaning that it was finally legal to dine in again. Not being able to sit down in a coffeeshop and just dwell had been horrible. More unprocessed trauma, he thought. More repressed pain in a country that couldn’t recognize itself as a whole if it tried. Everything here was a synecdoche for everything else. “We” were not “quarantining” on the kill floors to feed well-to-do hypochondriac shut-ins whenever they summoned a delivery serf to fetch them a package of factory-dressed meat. Everybody was not in fact staying home. He could never cope with the feeling of national dissociation he got from listening to trendsetters construe America to be California to be America and neither to include Manteca.

There’s everybody, and then there’s the help. Was he crazy to be alarmed by the appearance of bullies trying to operate a complicated, dangerous machine while denying the very existence of its most crucial components? Over half a million had died before their time in the midst of this national delusion about “quarantine,” with hundreds more joining them every day, the news kept saying. His parents trusted the news more than he wished, in ways he found made them more paranoid about ordinary Americans and more trusting of predatory officials. The previous fall, he’d bought a ticket back east to visit his parents the week New York State exempted California from its interstate quarantine order, painfully conscious of the half year they’d spent upsetting him over the phone with politics they’d picked up from homicidal liars on TV, mostly New Yorkers. He felt a wave of relief every time he managed to puncture their cocoon. This was harder to accomplish virtually. As much as he hated being so aware of this, on top of everything else, he was thankful to remain so oriented in the real world, and no less proud to have made it nearly a year and a half without going on Zoom.

This coffeeshop was closerr to the real world than his own apartment or, God forbid what He always allowed, his own head. America, too, was corporate. Its energy, too, was off. By God’s grace, he could at least observe it firsthand in the flesh, not just hear about it on television from hysterics whose understading of the world came from television. At long last Americans living in all but the most neurotic corners had been given back their dispensation to live their lives in public. He spent the afternoon seizing it.

The noise seized him back. He gave up on his halfhearted reading agenda and tried to do some journaling in real time. He knew there was meaning to tease out of the barista’s deafening greetings. He bogged down trying. Staff outbusts punctuating background noise were all he could hear or think. He was stuck in the tunnel of welcoming.

He looked at airfares back east. He scrolled his feeds on alt, trying to break through ennui and confusion. Nobody was posting anything that captured his interest, just as he expected for an Indian Summer Saturday afternoon. He left for church. He was mentally and spiritually dulled to the liturgies from start to finish, but at least some moral and aesthetic thought had gone into them, and he appreciated it. There were worse things to repeat all afternoon.

Four mornings later he landed in Buffalo. He spent the balance of the week eating goat curry takeout by the falls and riding an incomprehensible bus system past Love Canal and Polish cemeteries in black ghettos and the square where riot cops cracked an old man’s skull open in front of a live TV crew, at a volume that came through for the folks back home. He was happy to be back in the water for a week or two, ultimately closer to three, away from the boasts of serial Gavin Newsom voters about how little time they were spending in the shower.

Manhattan, strangled to death by public health regulations according to refugees freshly arrived in Florida, was more chaotic than he remembered it from the eve of the plague, suffering from degraded public accommodations but not to an extent that hadn’t been looming on the horizon for decades. The subway worked better than he expected when he went to the Battery on an Amtrak layover. The ferry terminals at the Battery and St. George were both close to immaculate. The grime on the ferries was unremarkable for New York. That was the perverse wisdom of the toxic putzes who kept worming their way into high office in New York City. They insisted on misgoverning the one city in their state that could not be killed. It never occurred to them to try to ruin Buffalo.

The American derangement washed back over him when he got a coffee for his joyride on the ferry. The franchisees were ethnic, Indian or Pakistani, as far as he could guess. They spoke with a half-Mideastern, half-Outer Borough diction as authentically New York as badly-dressed Jews rushing through Penn Station. One of the younger guys manning the Dunkin shoved an order at a customer with a shout of “Stay safe.”

From what, he wondered. He knew, but he wondered. The same guy exchanged safety wishes over the counter with two other employees before he got his coffee and headed into the terminal. He escaped the pleasantries. These fuckers know it’s a fool’s errand talking like that to reserved out-of-towners, he thought, and just as well. He’d read a bit about the Spuyten Duyvil derailment and the crash of the Andrew Barberi. Two at the throttle and at least one of them awake, seemed to be the moral of those stories. When he recalled the LIRR shooting months later, he assumed he’d forgotten about it because taking the train was still safer than driving and he didn’t usually perceive threats to life or limb from weird loners walking around all pissed off about shit.

There were eyes everywhere in both terminals. A black private security guard ran a bomb-sniffing dog over his suitcase on his way into the Battery terminal; in St. George, it was two Italian cops in khakis, probably Port Authority but not worth trying to tell. Two security guards all but rushe him into the elevator on the Battery when he tried to take the escalator. Baggage. Nobody was going to get injured by it.


His trip went fine in spite of them, off without any additional hitches. He made it downtown and back to midtown on the train without incident, barely even delays. Might he see somebody tonight? It was a month after the floods, two before the government gas exercises, and another few until the attacks. The goddamn government.

He’d come in a good season.

The Barberi pushed out, past the single looming needle that replaced the pair of looming towers, making one out of two, past Ellis Island, past the dock cranes of Bayonne, past the Statue of Liberty. A city might be overrun with the worst Irishmen and Italians, the worst Pollacks, even the worst Jews, and despite it all it might still be home to a big French broad who’s always got a light. As the mayor said that garish bright fall, we harbor all kinds. His police agreed.

Few understood them.

Dammit, he thought. Understanding. Jesus came to understand things at Gethsemane, and look what that got him. An entire generation had now been born, the oldest and most precocious of them fully raised, under the guidance of hopelessly idiotic paranoiacs. In a parallel timeline, he might have become a paranoid idiot, not a paranoid visionary, silently trying to understand.

It’s a horrible country, he realized, but it ain’t bad. From this expanse of the Bay, the Brooklyn side, midway between the hipsters, the yuppies, and the cops, a fellow might mistake her for a Jersey girl.

Welcome the hell in.

You Cut The Customer. We’ll Cut The Costs. That’s The Countdown Commitment (TM).

The good arrogant people of Auckland got to enjoy some real SEPTA-grade knife work this past week. One in the local beards in residence whole-ass 61-Ridge cut a baker’s half-dozen bitches in the supermarket, in this case at the LynnMall, and that sounds like majors fun. The average Kiwi can only guess where the country is in its latest countdown to the next stochastic mass-casualty attack, although, in all fairness,given the official overreach in plaguetime and the disclosure that this random angry ex-con was shot dead on a minute’s notice by his own 24/7 surveillance detail, a casual observer might be forgiven for detemining that the average New Zealander is a cop.

It’s always fun when a grossly overpoliced country with a troublingly high incarceration rate and a habit of addressing its simmering racial tensions with performances of right sentiment proclaims its own national exceptionalism vis-a-vis its biggest, strongest eye of five. Washington may be the world leader and Wellington one of the stragglers, but Gough Whitlam tho. At least Australia has the common consideration to take that stance as a federation.

Love that rude old Anglo tradition of self-government.

The story holds that the real attitude problem starts beyond the Bombay Hills. But there seems to be a gap in the pines, letting the aggression through. I mention this because my parents and I drove within two blocks of the Central Dunedin Countdown, the site of this year’s first mass stabbing, and by all evidence we’ve been in the Auckland Airport more recently than the Current Individual. An old bald prick with immigration demanded my driver’s license and then told me I should shave next time because I didn’t match my passport photo before he let me leave the country. Meanwhile this dude was a Gary Glitter-grade cop attractant and they couldn’t bundle his ass across town and onto a one-way flight abroad. Dun nuh nuh nuh nuh. Huh. How bow dah.

We also spent a night in Riccarton, three or four blocks up Deans Avenue from the Masjid al-Noor. For some reason I didn’t look up the locations of the massacre and had no idea at the time. I went for a walk downtown through the park when I was there, and I mean, I’ve suffered from my share of postmodern ennui, so I don’t entirely know what gives. Guess I’m no individual. Is there no way to hire adrift local kine yoof to pick mangoes instead of jailing charter widebodies full of Vanuatuans in Howard Springs for a fortnight? I’m absolutely in earnest about this. I’ve been picking tomatoes commercially this summer long enough to get sprung from the Springs. It’s good for the food supply, and it’s damn well good for me.

Then again, Australia gave Mark Wahlberg priority for quarantine over its own citizens stranded abroad. I’m waiting to hear about some shifty billionaire sneaking, or getting snuck, into Queenstown without offcial dispensation. New Zealand is expensive enough that its border officers and police are guaranteed for sale, maybe not all of them, but it only takes one.

Or, in the case of our man in New Lynn, thirty. What’s going on there? What’s going on HERE? The FedEx Hoosier brony had been interviewed by the FBI. Nova Scotia isn’t exactly here, even in Maine, but Gabriel Wortman was known to the RCMP. Sick Willie, too, of course: woman after woman desperately begging the cops to investigate him, one Vancouver sergeant hitting a brick wall and getting ridiculed around the office for taking them seriously, and then, supposedly out of nowhere, a rookie Mountie burning the guy on a gun warrant. The trolley time hothead in San Jose had been found with a diary containing a screed about how much he hated the VTA when he was pulled aside for secondary inspection on his way back from the Philippines.

The Individual, briefly of Christchurch, now of Auckland (but not one of the nice parts), had to have been known to NZ Immigration and the police. I have trouble believing they were too incompetent to know where he’d been on his trips abroad. They had to have had an idea. They’re in touch with their counterparts all the time. They”re constantly snooping on all sorts of people, mostly good, for all sorts of reasons, mostly bad. New Zealand’s population is barely larger than the combined populations of Brooklyn and Queens. It famously has rural folkways resembling Vermont’s, although it’s a deceptively urbanized country, but still, somebody needs to run the farms and ports and warehouses, drive the trucks, and run the butcher shop at Countdown. #TooSoon. When a country of only five million fields its own national intelligence servces to liaise with the three-letter agencies in the Potomac Swamp in addition to lavishing its police, prisons, and courts with money and personnel, it’s surely by design a country of professional busybodies and snitches. Sure enough, New Zealand does a terrible job regulating the shit that matters, like rent, mold in expensive low-end rentals, and utility rates. It celebrates Maori liveries, though!

It probably shouldn’t come as a shock that Jacinda Ardern is in charge of the Society for the Prevention of Monty Robinson for Police Commissioner. We might say the Countdown detail put the lead into leadership the other day. Again, #TooSoon. They think it makes them look good, just like they think when they scrub the old imperial liveries off the Air New Zealand planes, but these are the same cops who insisted on not following our dude closely enough to stop him BEFORE he cut up the Countdown. They didn’t want him to think he was under surveillance, you see.

Bullshit. How did they imagine a normal person would react to having the same rotating cast of suspicious characters popping up out of the woodwork in the middle distance every day or two while he went about his own business? They turned him into a paranoiac. He’d already been in prison, a known breeding ground for mental illness. If he’d told, say, a therapist he was being followed, he would have been correct.

“Goodness, that sounds farfetched.” Yeah, that’s the point. These suspicions are implausibly bizarre by design. Why would some foreigner have his own snoops following him around at all times? The police would never do that! Please. They’re out solving crimes. They don’t have the time to waste on that kind of nonsense. Buddy’s seeing things.

Indeed. He’s seeing things that are there, always lurking in the background of his life. He fell for a gaslighting campaign. Who wouldn’t? The police drove him literally crazy. When, still under their eerily watchful eyes–more like sixty, am I right fellas–he snapped, they were there to shoot him down on a big box floor, but not before he slashed several other shoppers.

Every one of them should be sued into a moldy downmarket flat for being close enough to send that poor guy over the edge but too far away to actually stop him from committing a violent attack on the general public. Their whole story is that he was a threat to public safety. No kidding. I know nothing in particular about what New Zealand has in the way of sovereign immunity, but they should sue everyone involved for not doing their jobs.

Of course, for that matter, it’s tricky to say what exactly was their job. The dirty thirty trailing this dipshit around Auckland officially report internally to Andrew Coster and externally to Jacinda Ardern, as Liz reigns but does not rule. Gough gough something something Pine Gap something something gough gough. Alexander Acosta mentioned characters lurking in the shadows BEHIND Jeffrey Epstein. Wood does dat godda do wid pussy? Probably a lot. Now I’m not here to assert that he killed himself, or that he’s dead, only that he belongs to intelligence.

On New Zealand’s per capita basis, the Tri-State could field four national intelligence services, perhaps even five (!). Every one of them might be an improvement, as long as [locate your nearest airsickness bags] the district lines didn’t gerrymander the “up-and-coming” parts of Brooklyn and the Connecticut Shore into Manhattan. Park Slope and Williamsburg won’t be the only things “coming back” up your throat and “revitalizing” your mouth by the time you’re done thinking about that and definitely done with lunch.

God knows how many smug nationalistic sermons are still in the pipeline vis-a-vis Kiwi moral superiority and this most recent Countdown caper. The ones I bought at Safeway a while back weren’t bad, but I’m all for comparison shopping. New Zealand is the cone tray with the beast vellues, the beast pull lease, the beast six, the beast loires, the beast all the reast of et.

Give it a rest, mate. That whole society dealt with Brenton Tarrant as a cultural institution by denying him object permanence. To reverse effect and cause, everybody on earth who finds his message resonant and has an internet connection knows his name. The same idiot impulse is why the NZ government thinks dually rechristening their land as Aotearoa is a reasonable substitute for the currently absent regulations that would make it possible for ordinary Maoris to afford their electric bills.

Forgive me for being in no mood to listen to any of these self-righteous phonies. Their prison service has seized the moral low ground from any of the local color who would get fed up with The Individual and dispatch him with a shank to the neck. For a time the waiting list for returning citizens and permanent residents to get hotel quarantine slots stretched to a full year. Think about this for a second. These poor saps signed up to wait a year for the privilege to spend two weeks locked in a hotel room under paramilitary guard.

At heart, this is not a decently governed country. At least its spook cops had the decency and good sense to let our Sri Lankan friend go out and about in the neighborhood and ice him on the spot when he snapped, albeit with a made-for-TV delay. None of these antics prove anything good. Victoria imposed a similar public health lockdown for three and a half months and still very nearly let Covid-19 go endemic. It went fully endemic in swathes of Continental Europe that imposed equally draconian lockdowns. New Zealand has a population close to Victoria’s and overseas shipping ties that would take years to sever without causing catastrophic failures of domestic supply chains. During the first lockdown, its truckers were grateful to businesses in Ashburton for allowing them to use public restrooms.

This applies mainly to the United States, but I do not accept chastisement on behalf of societies that refuse to provide their own people with toileting and bathing facilities. That’s an intolerable regression of human development levels. It’s the stuff of failed states. It doesn’t matter why they crack down. Plague is no excuse. Indoor plumbing saves lives. Everything about the shutdown of public services is an attack on the vulnerable poor to assuage the hysterical fears of the coddled affluent. The affluent vote, and they lose their minds at the possibility of exposure to the diseases of the poor. They’re scared to death of equity, as some of them lately like to call it.

New Zealand’s virtues here are damningly weak. Kiwi normies have the decency to grant foreign countries a degree of object permanence they deliberately deny their own politically inflammatory criminal undesirables, but it’s mainly on account of national narcissism. Where Brahmin Americans assert their own ritual purity to elevate themselves above the ritually impure servant castes, whom they casually dehumanize (“just pay everybody to stay home”), New Zealand proclaims itself the supreme Brahmin country, a national caste apart and above. Yeah, how much bulk grain are yinz importing from unhealthy second-world states like the Dakotas?

Again, in fairness, it’s somewhat less insufferable and toxic than the corresponding stance in California. I always enjoy listening to voters who seem to grossly outnumber their sensible neighbors preen about how Tinder and Uber use less water per capita and per unit GDP than the almond groves of Lost Hills. It’s also cool and normal that they maintain much higher almond content in their feed than I do in mine.

On the defecit side of the ledger, New Zealand has no viable political opposition to the biosecurity fortress state its government rolled out overnight last year. We have the Sierra Foothills, whose local rich get their own groceries. Hell, even Victoria has crazy Facebook moms.

Why does everything in New Zealand have to be all Cares Emoji? The Ardern government can’t even govern their own police.

I knew I had a reason for stickng with New World.

Gavin none of it

Nob Hill Dreamboat is on course to go down on his own ship. Don’t think about that sentence too deeply. He said it himself: “The 69 individuals who went down.” In that case, it was a very nice medical adventure to Imperial County, during one of the early provincial outbreaks proving, to anybody thinking critcally about the reported infection rates, that Covid-19 was already endemic in North America. The Governor in this space, the State of California, has made it a point of pride to establish proof points showing that much is being done and what’s being done is doing something besides having a discreet evening out at the French Laundry.

I like Gavin, and I always love a Gabbin. I’ll still probably vote to recall him. By this point, I’m not motivated by any particular thing he’s been doing or not doing, but by the recognition that the threat of recall has apparently been the only force holding him accountable over the past year and a half when his instinct was to make an unrecognizable mess of the state’s economy for others to clean up afterwards, when “we” were out of “lockdown” and “quarantine.”

I don’t give a fuck if Larry Elder gets elected. I’ll probably vote for somebody else, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t even have a particular interest in who Larry Elder is. He yells on the radio for a living, it seems. I think I’d rather listen to a Gavin Gabbin, but this isn’t a snap election to decide who covers Michael State’s shifts this week. I’d probably rather have Kevin Faulconer clashing with the Democratic legislative supermajorities in Sacramento on day one, since he’s a rare case who’s both powerful and sensible, but again, it doesn’t matter. There’s no first-mover advantage to voting for or against any of these characters. Statewide elections in California are aggregations of tens of millions of votes. They aren’t a movie starring you, the brave individual elector who casts straight Democratic tickets every year because MSNBC and your dipshit rich liberal peers all said so.

Liberals never get this. It’s like they’re constitutionally incapable. I did not throw my vote away by voting for Jill Stein. Come on. My voyage on the overly spacious decks of the Stein Steamer did nothing, in practical terms, to erase Her three million vote margin over Him in California, or to swing any of the famous Midwestern swing states where the Democratic Party ceded elder outreach to cubicle drones in St. Petersburg. Most of us know more about Hill’s family life than we do about Dr. Jill’s. For very embarrassing reasons, this is officially proclaimed as an endorsement, not an indictment, of Her. Some additional light housekeeping I must do, As A Man, is to clean up my filthy bachelor pad and stop hoarding paper trash for a sense of control over my own life, but in the current instance to note that we’re using “Dr. Jill” to refer to the medicine woman, not to the educatrix.

Liberals will never get this, either. Their passive-aggressive hypocrisy over this kind of honorific bullshit to pull rank on their enemies pisses ordinary voters the hell off. They repeatedly lose voters who would otherwise be sympathetic to their messages. Voters don’t need to know the specifics, like who the hell Jill Stein is, to get an overpowering taste of the flavor. Dat’s da kine they’re passing: smarmalade. Dat’s always da kine, yeah?

For all its braying about civic duty and protecting your right to vote, the Democratic Party can’t conceive of anybody who votes based on an independent critical assessment of personal interests or values, not as a form of worship. Values voters are like Bigfoot, of course: everybody has stories but nobody has pictures. All the same, let’s stipulate as a guiding value a desire for robust, reliable scientific evidence to guide public health. We’ve all been lectured that Democrats believe in Science. *Randy Newman Enjoying Coke Voice* We fucking LOVE it! We’ve been lectured, too, about how dangerous it is to listen to claims about the state of the art of the science–Do you have other sources that make more sense?–from random people a guy we know who knows another guy found on Facebook or whatever.

No, we must listen to Dr. Fauci. Excuse me? Who the fuck does he think he is? Who does ANYBODY think he is? That motherfucker told us diarrhea ships were safe in plaguetime and masks don’t work. He’s a spook. That’s right. Fuck the “intelligence community.” The stupidity community isn’t that dumb. We like to be cautious around the slippery, to take things slow, if we may.

We’re beating the dead horse again. We’re reheating yesterday’s dinner for Nigel St. Nigel. The loose, malleable, chameleonic, arbitrary nature of who the hell is “us,” a group I’ve been presenting as everybody from myself to the Democratic Party to the whole country, is as relevant as ever. The Democratic habit of using what Mencius Moldbug clamed Bertrand Russell would have called “nostrisms” is endangering the career of yet another of its prominent elected officials. They just can’t help themselves. Constantly presuming to speak on behalf of a whole country after decades of complaints over this obnoxious habit is no way to dispel a reputation of elitism, smugness, and arrogance.

Like, could you actually shut the fuck up and listen for once? Maybe ordinary Americans have good reasons to want to keep going to Applebee’s, and in any event, it might be a good idea not to smear them as homicidal maniacs for enjoying one of America’s most popular chain restaurants. Yeah, it’s a bit overpriced and salty, but fucken A, no politician with any damn sense thinks it’s a good idea to make fun of voters for eating there and then act like the French Laundry scandal was exaggerated for partisan advantage.

It isn’t even just that Applebee’s is a cultural totem, although Brahmin snark artists have done their best to demonize it into one. Much of it is just workaday voters enjoying a night out at Applebee’s, or at any other restaurant where people with a bit of disposible income can afford a decent meal out, and resent the party of America’s gourmands suddenly declaring that the restaurants are closed, then sneaking a governor who’d trashed the restaurant scene for everybody else into a private party at a fancy-pants Napa resort restaurant where the bill for one could cover a dozen or more at Applebee’s. The thinking doesn’t have to be conspiratorial. It can just be, oh, come the fuck on, man, things were hard enough for us already, and now you want us to suffer the consequences of your failure to control a viral disease outbreak.

The inescapable question of who’s “us” may be best answered as something political types should make sure they’ve confirmed before they speak about it in public. The poor prevailing quality of mainstream political thought in the United States today exacerbates this arrogance and idiocy. The Republicans’ huge advantage here is their appeal to balls-to-the-wall jocks, hustlers, and religious nutjobs. The postmodern Democratic Party’s appeal is to pissant nerds who whine for the mods every time they get called out for playing dirty. If they were more in touch with the country, they’d be consciously aware that America hates a loser.

What has me back up on this bullshit about “us” is a recent viral tweet tritely relitigating the tired point that the government could have just “paid everybody to stay home for eight weeks.” “We” could just pay for “everybody in Thailand” to have an elephant, too. The original line was about every Thai having a servant. The premise here is a generous one: I’m free to be me and you are too.

This discredits the hell out of the Democratic Party, and by extension the broad left as it’s generally understood. Who, exactly, is included in “everybody” for our fun springtime cottagecore minute? Do some of us keep home grocery stores? Home medical offices catering exclusively to those living in our own homes? Home Home Depots?

It’s absurd. “Essential workers,” who have (quite fully) earned extensive attention for not being able to stay home, famously had to go to work while everybody stayed home. There’s people, and then there’s workers.

But enough about the Democratic Party.

This style of argumentation has a powerful discrediting effect on the broad Western left, from the hard center to the hard fringes. It springs forth from a stunning casual, thoughtless ignorance. It’s muddled to shit. “We” could be anybody from the whole wide world down to the Independent Republic of Oneself. It can change from minute to minute.

The thot leaders propagating these memes barely know what they’re including and excluding from minute to minute. The menacing but loose talk about “lockdown” and “quarantine” may be the worst of it.

The penal implications of “lockdown” have spread to the schools as the institutional cultures and operatons of American schools have become more penal, and into various other workplaces in tandem with the proliferation of mass shooters, seemingly more often than not known to the FBI at the time of their rampages. Need anything from the Philippines? Just heading over for a minute to pen a journal about how much I hate the VTA; be right back.

Similarly but more so, “quarantine” always had a very specific, narrow meaning prior to all this bullshit. It was a hard, official, externally enforced physical segregation from others for a set period to limit the spread of contagious illnesses. It was NOT a year-plus of mostly sitting around the house, doing some work, hanging out, doing awl dissandat, ordering some UberEats.

This kind of sloppy thinking and loose talk drives everybody nuts. It’s truly hard to stay sane in the midst of it. I spent way the hell too much time reading about it and listening to it, taking it seriously as a fnord for me to heed, when really, for the most part, it was a bunch of hall monitor twerps barking at everybody else and carrying limp little sticks.

Democrats keep getting themselves into trouble because they associate themselves with this bizarre, crazymaking bullshit. The wise move is to disavow all of it, to decisively, credibly split from the entire puritan caste system that has been hardening in supposedly liberal communities for the past few decades and markedly intensified under their Covid regimes. Every time they associate themselves with this garbage or advocate for it or try to enforce it, they open the door for Republicans to demonstrate that they, unlike the #resistance, #resist the urge to treat the servant poor as ritually unclean, if that’s even how they naturally think. It’s surprisingly important to realize that most of the opposition to this Brahmin Safety Bear hysteria comes from people who do their grocery shopping in person. They know, on some level, that Democratic governments do jack shit to get the poor out of flophouse crowding and squalor, just like their own Republican local governments. Project Roomkey, for example, is a belated half-measure, its facilities run in a rather patronizing, meddlesome manner, marginally aleviating the poverty and squalor that good liberals do their damnedest to sweep away and ignore while their home equity rockets up to the same unimaginable heights that drive rents out of their own servants’ reach.

Gavin Newsom infuriates conservatives, as they proudly think of themselves, by ridng around in front off them on his hgh horse. Again, the terminology is baffling; conservatism, as they practice it, has turned into a mashup of provincial elite political reaction, battles to defend outrageous privileges (think, groping subminimum-wage waitresses and withholding tips if they won’t pull down their masks for a full facial), and frank liberalism. It’s conservatism that drives officials to order the closure of multiple whole classes of public congregate facilities in the interest of public health; it’s liberal to allow the continued normal brick-and-mortar operation of, as Fr. Jonah Lynch had the sloppiness to publish without a fucking Oxford Comma, “the theatre, the church and the brothel.” He’s no Cardinal Dolan in substance, but I keep trying to look up “Fr. Jonah Lunch.” By any name, he’ll agree: the internet is majestic, hear,, On Line.

It’s always the ones who belong in public ministry that they yank over some harmless trifle. I know, I should stop talking about politics, for my own mental health and the community’s. That’s what’s good about California’s recall provision, though. If Andrew Cuomo were the governor here, he’d no longer be our governor. He’d have been out on the curb with last week’s trash months ago.

In my estimation, Gavin is a mediocre governor. John Cox would have been wildly worse because he’s insane. I’m not voting for a freak with a talk radio cadence who brings a grown grizzly bear out of a trailer on a chain to spout dangerous nonsense about water policy during a severe drought. One of the things I trust Newsom to do right is steward the Russian River about as well as any official could in a period of extreme overallocation.

The problem is how he’s handled the Rona. He’s too far out there with the nanny state restrictions on public life. He decreed a social curfew for a while, which mercifully went unenforced, as far as I know. The same schoolmarm mindset behind San Francisco’s regressive sin tax on sweetened prepared drinks is behnd the idea that the state should order its subjects not to visit their friends or lovers at night. Like, what the fuck, bruh.

That isn’t all of it. The problem with Newsom’s mindset is deeper and more complicated than his being a rich kid with almost Trumpian domestic style. He’s still getting shit on over the French Laundry scandal, but I’ve been disinterested in that from the start; it provoked a healthy backlash against the public health restrictions in the backwards interior, holding him accountable to my satisfaction and helping force officials to level up the public health regime to allow more ordinary people to lead more normal day-to-day lives.

What troubles me is his involvement in recovery culture. He’s apparently a sincere devotee, grateful for helping him confront his demons of alcoholism and anger. I don’t begrudge him these blessings one bit. I’m happy for anybody who’s able to get out of a hellish rut through the discipline and fellowship of recovery groups. But recovery cuture is a horrible model for public policy. The internal cultures of some recovery programs are unhealthy. Many of them have boundary problems towards their own members, sometimes to the point of effectively holding members hostage. This is especially true of programs that treat court referrals; these usually veer into outright cult abuse under color of penal authority.

This is not a culture that should be tolerated when it gets pushy with nonmembers. No. YOU do not boss Me around about what I eat or drink or watch or how much I exercise. Come up with a coherent argument for why I should follow your advice for my own improvement or leave me alone. I’m not a fucking alcoholic just because I /Most Southernly Lubricated Congressional Voice/ have a little libations with lunch. James Clyburn himself sounds like a mere lush. Remember: You aren’t an alcoholic; you don’t go to meetings. These are the #TeshTips to draw a federal salary and top-tier benefits #BigBandStyle. I’ve always figured that cat gets too much poon to need porn. Fellas. Is it gay to advise against long-term manbuns on account of traction alopecia and then spin a One Direction record? Fellas. Am I gay?

There’s no need to care about everything. There’s no need to answer every question. There’s no need even to ask. By God’s grace we’ll find a way to get bi.

My ex says Gavin blows up her gaydar. Gay af, she told me. Whatever. Sexuality isn’t fully malleable, but it’s malleable. That’s why the CIA funds the porn tubes. It’s government qat all up in Djibouti, updated for the electronic age. It’s at once sedative and refreshing to hear about a client state that still knows how to send one group of semiemployable surplus young men out in trucks to distribute a mild sedative chaw to its remaining shabaab, as a chill pill, as a quiet afternoon delight, As A Treat. Water is a limiting factor for the series of tubes, too. Electricity? As they say in parts better unknown but all too close for those who engage over the ether, it depends on the load. Are we dooing it inside or outside?

In a word, this is postmodernism. It’s a liability for the Democrats. Many constituents wisely prefer to keep their lives merely modern, to take advantage of advanced conveniences but continue to have real social calls, to have real sex with real people. They’re wise to refuse to move their entire lives online on government command.

The failure of American authorities to publish consistent, coherent guidance on mask use is inextricable from the sorry state of sex education in the United States. They aren’t diapers for the face; they’re condoms for the face. The analogy isn’t exact, but it’s close enough. It works.

Their repeated fuckups on masks are enough to permanently destroy their credibility about all health measures among a significant minority of Americans. Why are they making us live our lives online? What’s really in the vaccines? Frankly, these are reasonable questions, and our officials have not satisfactorily answered them. These are the same officials led by “the country’s top infectious disease expert,” Anthony Fauci, the same guy who bullshitted the country about this disease and then bragged in a New York Times interview about his campaign of medical bullshit. It’s completely unreasonable to trust Fauci or anyone appealing to his authority. My own reason for being so adamantly pro-mask and consistently wearing masks in crowded areas is commonsense medical wisdom dating back into Medieval Times. It’s a culture, and it’s a costume. I mean, I don’t want people coughing and sneezing all over each other, especially now. It has nothing to do with whatever the hell that New York serial liar is honking at us on the boob tube today.

The Republican Party is a horror show in most regards, but it’s often been more reasonable about public health restrictions than the Democratic Party over the past year and a half. That’s worth a lot. It’s worth more than it should be. Maybe they’re just different flavors of dogshit. It may suck, but I’m voting for one of the flavors regardless.

I take no pleasure in saying this, but Gavin needs to go.

Fauci and the fuzz

The Rotterdam curfew riots were good. There’s no need to pussyfoot around the ethical nuances of when, how, and why one is allowed to protest during a global pandemic or the associated “lockdown” and “quarantine”–moron this language in a bit–when the cops are seizing their latest official excuse to get out of line. It’s quite straightforward. The government issued an outrageous order, and the public angrily, forcefully, proudly resisted its execution, out in the street. Out in the street, indeed. They reacted proportionally and appropriately. When the Dutch government declares bedtime and orders its citizens back to quarters, the proper response is to go Electric Avenue on Europe’s strappingest ethnic street gang.

The left makes a significant mistake when it reacts squeamishly to such assertions by the aggrieved governed against an abusive government. The police are hopeless to deescalate disputes over outrageous diktats that they are personally doing their violent best to enforce at the moment. The Arab Street might not have gone home if the cops had stood down and let them hold the street, but they most likely would have dispersed into manageable, peaceable groups. All they wanted to do was hang out at night in peace. People who are allowed to do so pretty quickly stop marching into intersections and throwing projectiles at cops. They think, huh, it could be me on that tram, trying to go clubbing downtown, while some other asshole throws rotten eggs at the windshield.

The cops know this. This is why they escalate.

The ethnic nature of the Rotterdam riots makes some uncomfortable. Restive darkies call the social project of Postwar Europe into question. This is especially true for dutiful bourgeois liberals who think in terms of ethnic and partisan stereotypes. They hate not to think of the savages as noble. Stipulating the occasional violence of nonwhites might play into the hands of the alt-right or something. It couldn’t just be, even in a particular instance, a group of constituents hitting back because they’re sick of being mistreated by their shitty government.

What’s that? It’s bedtime? New phone who dis.

Certainly the question of what brown can do for you–You’re up? Still? At this late hour?–is by now a hoary one, one dating houelle becq into the pest. Are there problems with the politics of De Joof? Okay, maybe, but why the hell do we care? Their objection in Rotterdam was to a mercifully somewhat inept attempt by their government to apply a version of the same lockdowns that had already mass-traumatized the populations of Spain, France, and Italy, some of the same countries that had also achieved world-leading reported fatality rates from The Dread Ailment. This shoudn’t be objectionable. Maybe some of the rioters had Islamic establishmentarian politics or excessive lust for the local wenches. So? That wasn’t why they were out. They were out because they were sick of the fucking cops.

It’s the same thing with the Yellow Vests. Many in the bourgeois center-left are uncomfortable with the rude mass mobilization of center-right car culture normies over gas taxes. Personally, I dislike the premise of their stance, but let’s be real. Their grievances are legitimate. The French government really has been hosing them for living outside the big cities. They aren’t out objecting to proposals for improved bus or train service; one of their bitter complaints is that the only decent transit service is in Paris and a few other cities where they couldn’t afford to live. Their complaint is that instead of services, they get fees. The complaints of the Not Exactly Much who are Not Exactly Dutch were based in decades-old grievances about the government taking advantage of them and sending cops after them to keep them in line. Either or both of these factions could easily find common cause with any number of garden-variety elements of the European hard left.

Huh. The G-7 or G-20 or G-6 or whatever they’re calling it these days surely isn’t directing any of its security services to diffuse any such social synergies at the first sign. They would never do that. Even Mr. Grayling, the smart one, has but three eyes. This, strategia della tensione, do you call it? It’s delicious. The closest thing we have to it on Mars is probably a clam linguine of some sort, but you do realize, we must import our ingredients.

The Democratic base doesn’t care for any such alliances anyway. Their beloved Intelligence Community never sanctons anything of the sort. It’s too Trumpian, poaching a fraction of the hardhats because the rest of the field has absolutely no industrial policy, not just a half-cocked one with no details beyond Reopen Our Beautiful Mines. Protests getting out of hand might alienate swing voters, causing the retention of an incumbent whose idea of policing is maybe, or maybe not, somewhat worse than that of the hand-picked dirty cops forced through the nomination process to oppose him. I’ve personally heard this kind of thing. Protesting too raucously just because the thugs on the Buffalo riot squad audibly cracked Martin Gugino’s skull open in a live-televised pavement check might cost Biden the support of swing voters who, uh, must think that’s an acceptable thing for the police to do and also consider not voting for Republicans, this in a country whose national consensus for a time was that the Third Precinct Stationhouse was no angel.

This idea that we can and should just vote our way out of whatever the government is doing to us is a funny one. It’s come to be closely associated with the Blue No Matter Who freakshow. There’s no need to convince me that there are Republicans who are better than Lori Lightfoot and Eric Garcetti. These bars are low. The Republicans who carry on about this high civic Boy Scout Handbook piety are mostly #NeverTrump rear-guard losers. John Bolton proudly enjoys waiting in line at his polling place to cast his ballot. He says it like a guy who never has to wait in line for anything else.

There are officials who understand languages other than raw power. The problem is with those who don’t, for example, in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Portland, Seattle, Denver, Aurora, Ferguson, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Chicago, Austin, Louisvlle, Atlanta, Washington, and Philadelphia. One of these cities after another is governed by Democrats. To fix this mess with Democrats, we’d have to find different Democrats. But that would upset swing voters or moderates or developers or something.

When the prissy booj object to unauthorized protests or riots, they do so on account of at least two obvious blind spots. One is an intense discomfort, even humiliation, before unmistakable proof of the rottenness of their governments and officials. “Joe Biden is a decent guy at heart.” This should be a deeply embarrassing thing to say. Ironically, the other obvious reason for their prissiness is much less embarrassing and cringe precisely because it’s so nakedly, crassly self-interested. They’re big on Marquess of Queensberry Schoolhouse Rock bullshit, and so furious with the Donald for shitting on the floor at their neverending party of politics, because it works for them. For them, it delivers the goods. It’s no coincidence that Rachel Maddow is so popular with people who own their primary residences free and clear.

Why wouldn’t electoral politics work? We own a house. We have home equity. Yeah, champ, that’s the problem. It’s a Ponzi scheme, a gigantic pump-and-dump racket. It’s the most blatantly zero-sum rentier shakedown. Go ask “liberals” in Redwood City or Novato how they feel about Project Roomkey motel contracts.

It hits different when the system doesn’t give you shit. I’m relatively fortunate, as the dispossessed go, but it isn’t the least bit lost on me that I’m fortunate largely by proxy, through my parents. This is just how Obama and Congress wanted it. The adult dependent provision of the ACA was no goof. They knew what they were doing.

On some level, that is. Some of them are stone-cold naturals and also blithering fucking idiots. There’s an alarming amount of reptilian quasi-thinking inside the Beltway, on the part of people who know exactly what works to keep the whole ship listing along just seaworthily enough to keep them employed but unable to articulate a coherent political theory for why the hell that is. Yeah, you’re all making work for yourselves and your marginally employable cronies designing and administering a system that would start actually working if the lot of you were banished to the cane fields. No, to public assistance; I respect people who cut sugarcane too much to inflict useless eaters on them.

These are people who will do nothing good until they are made to feel pain. Mind you, their pain thresholds are hilariously low, e.g., not being reelected, or being told off at restaurants for their atrocious “public service.” They rarely get the pain they deserve. Bolton the Baltimore Walrus is probably less miserable than he looks. Remember, he’s a psychopath, not a normal person. People like him spend their time whining about, say, how total strangers are spoiling their Voting Experience by demanding and returning absentee ballots because that’s the closest thing they face to hardship. Trump is yelling again? Hey, pal, nobody’s making you watch that or professional wrestling or whatever other trashy programming would upset you.

In the context of the extreme hardship, pain, and early death the ghouls in charge of our governments inflict on their constituents, shutting down a freeway or an airport or a railyard with a protest occupation would be downright genteel. Considering the alternatives, which so many already suffer, there’s nothing wrong with some light rioting now and then.

This may sound like armchair edgelord agitation, and I guess it is. I’m too cowardly to take part in any of these festivities in person. Is a virtual riot a thing? A socially distanced riot?

That isn’t any more pathetic than the language and tactics our officials actually use in their desperate efforts to co-opt protest movements. The displays of this deranged, arguably psychotic thought process were on embarrassing display last summer, during the Black Lives Matter protests, with officials giving express dispensation to protesters but only protesters to gather in large groups. But they weren’t mouthing their platitudes about peaceful, responsible protest because they supported the protests. They pulled that shit because they were afraid of the movement. The last thing they want is the rabble they represent compelling their representation.

They wanted everybody milling about on the square downtown, during daylight and only daylight hours, kneeling with the chief and the brass. They wanted the protesters to feel emotionally invested with the cops who would beat and gas their comrades later that night. They wanted the protesters to think of their obvious adversaries–you know, the ones whose brother in arms provoked that round of protests in the first place by choking George Floyd to death with his knee–as allies.

The psychology behind the kneeling ceremonies is troubling. It’s baffling to honor a martyr to police murder by joining cops in a ceremonial reenactment of his murderer’s physical stance. I’m not sure that’s what the cops or the elected officials theoretcally (at times even de facto) commanding them were thinking, though. I hesitate to assume that they WERE thinking. I’m sure they remembered kneeling for the National Anthem as the Kaepernick Thing. Every police department is always downstream of every other police department’s worst cultural touchstones, so once one agency got the idea, others had to follow. An agency can’t just ignore the cool new cop thing.

The Floyd protests caught officials off-guard. They were a holy shit moment. What, we can’t just let a cop choke a guy to death anymore? Chauvin can’t get away with it just because Pantaleo did? Oh. The public reaction was a consequence of too little work and too much TV, some said. We were supposed to Netflix and Chill through “lockdown,” not CNN and Heat Up. Officials came up with the protest safety protocols and the civic justifications for them on the fly. I don’t think they were trying to subjugate the family by sanctioning protests but not funerals, or the religious by sanctioning protests but not services. They were cobbling their shit together on the fly. In many cases, it took their cops a single night to prove their own contempt for the public health protocols they’d been commissioned to enforce, when they gassed whole neighborhoods or even pulled protesters’ masks down to blast them in the face with pepper spray from a foot away. Was it a good idea, from a public health perspective, to further overload the jails with protesters there was little or no ground to arrest in the first place? Of course not. That’s why the cops did it.


There were protests against “lockdown,” too, but no good Brahmin dared support them. Besides, many of them were the work of antisocial extremists. Wine moms barging into Trader Joe’s to yell at the nearest cart jockeys about their right to shop unmolested and undressed had as much to do with civil liberties as shitting on the floor at Tim Hortons. That’s a style of protest, too. Like any protest, it loses its magic when they mayor issues a permit and guidelines.

Few jurisdictions in the United States had genuine lockdowns. Most Americans were never ordered or even advised to go into real quarantine. Otherwise, “quarantine” and “lockdown” were misleading synonyms for a raft of very poorly drafted and explained shelter-in-place orders, i.e., the usual horny-for-rules nerds, hypochondriacs, avoidants, paranoiacs, and other poorly adjusted characters cowering behind closed doors in obedience of the fnords. We were allowed out of the house, mostly. It was just that we weren’t sure we were. The way we (“we”) were using publc health language was shockingly hyperbolic. Describing a work-from-home lifestyle revolving around ordering in from restaurants and fleeing to the Hamptons on impulse as “lockdown” or “quarantine” was a bit like referring to incoherent assault threats from a schizophrenic across the street as Manzanar.

A huge number of Americans bobbed through these extreme but exaggerated disruptions of public life in a state of chronic psychological trauma. This was the case in a number of European countries, too. The pot-banging and clapping ceremonies at shift change by the hospitals, the balcony singalongs, all the talk about “cottagecore” and what “we” were doing to get through “lockdown” and “quarantine,” and the rest of the cult shit drove a whole lot of people truly mad. In ways, it would have been better if it had made more people go openly crazy, instead of the chronic, low-grade zombie reactions that were most common and obvious. The combination of gross linguistic exaggerations and muted, avoidant behavioral patterns was bizarre and unsettling. Then there was all the deranged make-believe shit: “virtual happy hour,” “Zoom reunion,” Sober Scotch Hour with Rob Ford, etc.

The distortions of language seem deliberate. It’s easy for trendsetters–influencers–to propagate linguistic tics by example and repetition. Some of the antics to emerge during the pandemic were just fucking suspect. No way in hell would nurses working with hypercontagious ICU patients during a respiratory pandemic have the time, energy, or, ideally, the bad judgment to stage linedancing routines in the hallways.

We were being gaslit. This wasn’t a case of I’m myself and you are too. This shit really was used to attack all of us. What really happened to Tiffany Dover? Beats me, but I know I don’t have as much trust in the caliber of management that runs hospital nursing pools as I did before these weird-ass fainting and dancing spells, and I had little trust in the first place.

What the fuck are we supposed to think of Anthony Fauci, if we really think about him? Eyy, I make-a da spikey protein! Well? That wasn’t as cringe as the poem Scott Simon read about him, and it wasn’t dishonest. Fauci was the guy who fucked up the response to AIDS for Ronald Reagan. There’s something really off about his combative turned amicable relationship with Larry Kramer. He’s a sworn liar. Let’s play around with the herd immunity threshold. Let’s focus-group that shit to see what it takes to get everybody to take the new mRNA vaccines, which are going to save everybody’s life because oops there’s a new variant they don’t seem to cover.

No shit ordinary people will react to this bullshit and dissembling and lying and manipulation by veering into woo-woo.

I don’t believe a word of Fauci’s internal e-mail admitting that masks don’t work. It’s common sense not to want random strangers breathing and coughing and sneezing whatever the hell they’ve got in their lungs all over me. It’s common courtesy of me not to pass it forward if they wheeze their skanky shit on me. #Values #PassDaKine.

For others, it’s common sense that masks cause extreme carbon dioxide buildups, don’t work, traumatize children, ad nauseam. I just try to set the example that they’re a viable, perfectly bearable way to maybe keep myself and those around me healthier than we’d otherwise be. For Tony, Joe, Rachel, and the gang, they’re some kind of marshmallow test hazing ritual or something. Covid-19 is not the only virulent pathogen whose transmission masks can inhibit. Setting aside all the weirdness surrounding the vaccines and assuming they all work as advertised, Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent the contraction of transmission of influenzas.

This shit isn’t about public health. It’s about ritual purity versus impurity. It’s about piety versus impiety, obedience versus disobedience. What were my sources for hesitating to get the vaccine? Not that honking Italian son of a bitch. I’ll say that much. Crowning a serial liar with a long history of bad research decisions, notably including gain-of-function projects that alarmed many of his colleagues, as the world king of infectious disease makes many highly reasonable people want to do their own fucking research before doing anything he advises. That asshole reacted to the cruise ship disasters in Yokohama and Sydney by berating Americans not to cancel their cruise reservations.

Maybe he’s wrong about masks after all. If he isn’t, he was.

You read that right. I can’t believe I had to write it. I can’t believe it makes sense.


Anybody from the nominally educated centrist to center-left top quartile or so of American society faces intense pressure not to question this narrative. They have jobs on the line, or places to stay, or assistance from wealthier relatives. This does much to explain why there has been so little pushback on the public health narrative from the left and so much from the right. We face the same pressures for saying anything neutral or positive or nuanced about Trump, here in Bougiekistan.

I reacted differently. The moment I heard official lies and discrepancies, I took them as existential threats. I wouldn’t trust anybody I witnessed behaving so dishonestly and recklessly in a bad part of Rancho Cordova, either. Nobody gets between me and my survival mechanisms. I don’t allow it. I’m not taking medical orders from homicidal serial liars.

My hypervigilance immediately cued me in to the big drivers of infection. I took the initiative to stop going to Mass a week before the last one indoors. For months after outdoor Masses resumed, I not only wore a mask (as strictly mandated and universally followed) but also stayed silent during the communal prayers. I remembered the horror stories from that Lutheran choir in the North Sound.

But churches were obviously only a middling vector. The American authorities put their thumbs up their asses and basically did nothng while infections spread like wildfire through prisons, nursing homes, farmworker shacks, slaughterhouses, and every other 100% predictably ultra-high-risk congregate setting that had been in dire need of regulatory enforcement for decades over extreme threats to human health and life. Like, come on, you can’t seriously be telling me the bus downtown is too dangerous for me to take just for the hell of it but San Quentin is safe for occupancy. That’s insane.

The same state government that presided over a catastrophic outbreak in San Quentin couldn’t guarantee a seat on the next bus to Santa Rosa because Golden Gate Transit was enforcing a strict 20% capacity limit. Yeah, that’s something they’ve always cared about at CDCR, percent of capacity.

The anecdotes to similar effects are endless. Our lives were upended for over a year, for reasons that have yet to be credibly explained, with mediocre public health outcomes.

This is the case in Europe, too, as we’ve discussed above. Mark Rutte had riots on his hands because he insisted on imposing the same heavyhanded, statistically ineffective measures that had fucked up life in several other esteemed members of the European Union. It was odder for him to make the decision than the heads of government he copied. Rutte is reasonably down-to-earth for a politician. He lacks the theatrics of Italy’s rotating cast of premiers (which frankly should have kept rotating over the past year), the grand narcissism of Emmanuel Macron, the seedy corruption of Spain’s elected officials and minor royalty, or the raucous buffoonery of BoJo and his cabinet.

He still decided that he had to deploy cops at bedtime, in the interest of stopping Covid. The way these fuckers think, I swear, is that they won’t be able to spot the virus on patrol at night because it’s too dark. They’re morons and busybodies. Will people slip into one another’s houses without government permission because they want to smoke dope or have sex? Sure. They’ll also need to leave for work during curfew hours.

Cops are too fucking dull to tell the difference. I’m serious. Ordering them to enforce curfews only makes them dumber.

Riots, by contrast, sharpen their intellects a tiny bit. Riots send a message: you aren’t in control just because you say you are; you’re our public servants, not our babysitters; we set our own bedtimes.

One of the neat things about the Rotterdam curfew riots is that they were explicitly about the curfew. American liberals and leftists felt compelled to sublimate their disaffection with the business closures and constant warnings and lectures and channel it into anger over police murders of black constituents. They had to pretend that they were exercising the one specific dispensation they had as good kids and good liberals to leave the house and freely associate with their neighbors.

They had to pretend that Anthony Fauci isn’t a cop.

He’s a fucking cop. He isn’t even the kind of cop who’ll defuse a street fight or talk down the disturbed or give a stranded motorist a roadside jump. He’s an asshole who lectures and threatens and lies to the general public for a living. He gets paid to goad us to act as scolds and stool pigeons while the government employing him stands back in the face of millions of preventable deaths. Yeah, I know, we don’t care about deaths that aren’t from Covid. He’s what would happen if Joseph DeAngelo kept the anthrax next to the roast.

We could have had Sacco and Vanzetti integrate the police instead.

Mona, a girl who shoulda gotten an A, at C

Chinua Achebe declined to write stories based on his decades in the West. Westerners already had enough storytellers, he said. He insisted on focusing not just on what he knew, but on what he knew had gone untold.

“Mona At Sea” is one of the stories Achebe had in mind. Another rich college girl is having her quarter-life crisis, and we get to read about it. Cool.

But why wouldn’t we? Who reads? Who writes? Why must the corpus of torrid, gutwrenchingly dysfunctional sexual affairs always chronicle the troubles of tweedy nerds strolling the ivied halls for intellectually curious mentees living in their sexual prime? Are humanities dorks leering across the veal pen at the young things the only ones seeking and achieving such rejuvenation? Do petroleum engineers and bus drivers and public benefits claimants who mostly hang out in the neighborhood playing video games and doing some light babysitting also have affairs? Of course. What they don’t do is write. When they do write, they probably have more interesting stories to commit to paper anyway.

That’s how we get Franzen. “Ugh, he’s the person everyone wishes had died instead of David Foster Wallace.” I haven’t fictionalized the Cousin Gigolo story. “Romans-a-clef are lazy and dishonorable. They’re cheap shortcuts.” Who gives a shit? I’m too busy with nonfiction; that’s all. I don’t give a shit about the high ethics of this craft, and neither did the ancients, they of the classics. This is modernist nerd shit, the stuff of bored Victorian scolds. Vicky didn’t bang after Al died of shitwater, but the rest of them sure did. Oh, Archbishop. Fancy seeing you in the hallway this evening. Yes, I suppose I should give the Earl’s wife a rest, perhaps have a gin and tonic while she recovers.

No, I’m not planning to do the reading. It’s okay. The reviewer don’t always do the reading, either. “Mona at Sea” is of a canon many of us already know. Why else would it get dedicated segments on NPR? There is, to the best of my knowledge, no rude ditty by the title of “Bang, bang, Lourdes.” She’s forsaking her Christian name on a national news broadcast, hon. What’s going on here, hon. Sure, a girl might not have had legs for days in decades if you hire her in Lexington Market, but at least she won’t try NLP bullshit on you, hon.

Ah, an overachiever wannabe girlboss who acts like she knows what she wants in a career suddenly can’t have one because there’s no economy and we’re all idiotic enough to imagine Mocha Haole will fix it, and now she’s Online and frustrated. Gotcha. There’s a swollen population of unemployed young people with college degrees and mood disorders, and this style of literature is proliferating. Tell me something I don’t know, or don’t. We get the literature we buy. We get the literature we deserve. Something like that. Hell if I know. The parents want to know why their adult kids are so fucked up, too.

I described Mona as a rich girl, but I should specify. She isn’t hang out around the family compound doing this and that and go WASP diffident on anyone who disses her for it rich. She’s rich enough to have a reserved spot in her childhood bedroom. As Charles Carreon carried on, you don’t mess with the man from Tucson. Apparently you do mess with the woman from Tucson, if she isn’t the one suing the Ashland city government for booting her personal blog full of photoshopped pictures of Kathleen Parker sucking George W. Bush’s cock from the fiber network. We might say Mona is the real deepfake here. She’s the one who considers it her due to be living independently in New York and slaying in finance. That’s why it’s so humiliating for her to have her cheese moved on arrival in Manhattan and have to move back home to the provinces. Nothing happens in Tucson.

She isn’t exactly rich, then. She’s merely affluent. She’s mere upper-middle, not upper. A rich girl in her spot would be living in a nice apartment in a nice–maybe even up-and-coming!–neighborhood in New York on her parents’ dime and working, perhaps, in a job her parents bought for her. Or she’d be in the guest house, or hanging around the family camp up north, something of that nature. If she were old money–real money–she wouldn’t be distraught about any of that shit. She’d be like, eh, job market looks shitty and I’m bored, wanna go sailing?

Fuckups from truly rich families aren’t the ones who get hot and bothered about being failures. They have to have serious psychological difficulties or come from truly toxic families to end up like Mona. That shit’s for their subalterns, the strivers always serving them and so rarely managing to join their ranks, neurotics who are never satisfied that they’ve arrived even when they have. And yeah, some of it is just a #mindset; I’ve known people who prove it; but the hard cases skew upper middle, and they skew hard. They start showing up in families that are barely too poor to have anyone living comfortably off the portfolio yields. Just as importantly, though, they quickly vanish as the graph moves left into the fat middle, past the threshold where the only way to get a stockbroker is through one’s parents, as a legacy client. Whaddup homies.

Characters like Mona aren’t necessarily stereotypes, but they are inevitably archetypes. They have to fit into a narrow mold.

This may be TMI, and not just salaciously, but it’s worth sketching out the archetype in graphic detail. These are very specific characters. They’re specific because they’re crafted to appeal to a very specific audience with specific neuroses and terrors and NPR affiliate memberships.

They are not ones to imagine no more reading, especially after they semivoluntarily go hikikomori and have the time to read. All the fucking time in the world; grab your glasses, Bemis. We might say that our old boy Chapman “hit the mark,” in the University of Hawaii Library and again in Manhattan. We whacked da limey, yeah? We just couldn’t figure out how to do the reading aloha-like. Dat’s da problematic kine, da kine ya write down, da kine da haole teach to teach da bible to da local kine.

What girls like Mona never expect to be able to do is the fun reading. They have the glasses–eh, the contacts–but they don’t have the time. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl indeed.

But she can’t be dull. She needs to be sharp. She’ll fall through the cracks if she loses her edge. She’ll be ruined. At all times she needs to be on point. I’m Tom Assbrush.

That’s something else. It do not be nearly enough like that, as they say online, problematically. For these cases as much as any, college is not libertine. It is not Rabelaisian or Bohemian or in any other way relaxed. It could be a place of sexual fluidity and discovery, chaotic and messy but stabilized by a highly functioning community. For some students it is. For students like Mona, it’s nothing of the sort. It isn’t even a catalytic environment of any sort. Cast aside all sexual and matchmaking functions, and it’s still a spiritual and intellectual wasteland. Striver kids like Mona aren’t there to make friends, as television teaches us to be our reality, or to learn to think. They’re there to learn how to make money. Mona’s attempt to break straight into high finance in a center of the global financial system is the key point here. I knew enough business majors to know this. Marketing and communications majors are just as shallow, and also dumber.

We can easily pigeonhole Mona’s psychological type. She’s a Type A who bottles her feelings up until the dam bursts and they spill where they will. In her case, they flood out in dramatically, in full public view. A review on GoodReads mentions a drinking problem. Color me shocked, Kwesi. If you’ve been around elite college kids, you’ll recognize the unacknowledged, unconfronted dysregulation. You’ll recognize the unmentionable, haphazardly treated mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse problems. This shit’s classic.

We’re dealing with people whose attitudes towards the human body and mind are truly deranged. They verge, quite crassly, on gnosticism, the body being filthy and in need of subjugation, and since we’re on the subject the mind as well. lt’s a fascist mindset, albeit one focused on mental rather than physical athletics. These are intensely intimidated young people, adult dependents whose parents pay for them to be hazed for four years in the hope that the kids will graduate into a career track where they get paid to complete additional hazing rituals until their pledgmasters are satisfied or just bored. One of the precipitating events turning Mona’s life into a crisis after graduation is her suddenly being denied her due opportunity to prove herself in a paid hazing program.

It’s Parris Island for con artists. The job she was offered and then denied because the employer offering it abruptly closed was of the sort that never has professional qualifications. It isn’t dentistry or the law. She’d need more professional training to be a CNA or a hairdresser.

The big firms could hire whizzes straight off the street to work their portfolios if they wanted. They choose to hire hungry kids fresh out of college. It’s about class perpetuation as much as business. I could figure out market analysis pretty quickly. I know quite a bit about commodities and some types of stocks. I know a lot about the operations and markets of a variety of companies.

What I’m not about to do is live like a goddamn crackhead. That’s the problem. I’d leave for lunch and keep walking. They hire kids who’d sooner commit suicide or defenestrate in an amphetamine fugue. I’d answer my cell and tell them the report’s their problem now. The hustlers they hire will never let go of their sense of duty. Duty to what? They don’t care. They’ll never care. It doesn’t occur to them that maybe the analysis of brain-fried 25-year-olds shouldn’t be a critical factor in a $10m short of the Brazilian corn market or whatever the hell they think makes sense as an economy.

These kids have to conform to a very specific, very narrow type. If they deviate they won’t get hired. Maybe if they’re honest-to-God whizzes they would, or if they know people, or if they’re charming enough to compensate, but it’s striking how many of them are slender, often to the point of looking like they have eating disorders. They’re all on drugs, of course. They’re obsequious neurotics who miscalibrate their speedballs and fly off the handle. After hours they’re absolute wrecks.

They’re trained for this shit starting in high school, if not preschool. They need perfect GPA’s. They need extracurriculars. They need compelling personal narratives. There’s no time to slack off, to be children, to be adolescents. They’ll be ruined if they try.

This is why they converge on the same eerily sick physical and psychological profile. The ladies have to be slim. The gents have the latitude to be buff, but not generally husky. The bosses would rather not have anyone, of either or any sex, looking like a roustabout who pulls crab pots all day and eats like a longshoreman. The idea is that these eager young things can find the money for dentists, dermatologists, gym memberships, dietary supplements, and whatever else they need to look great when they eat and live for shit.

The college girl who’s going places needs to be daintily pushy. She doesn’t have to smell clean as an escort, but she needs to smell good, and under no circumstances ethnic or poor. Liquor breath or a postgame sheen are fine. Smelling like months of Top Ramen, cigarettes, and hidden corners of weekly motel rooms is not. She needs just enough time to go to the bathroom, but not a minute more, unless it’s to break down in tears over shit a reasonable, assertive person wouldn’t tolerate in the first place. Her stools can look as awful as her gut feels, but she can’t have gas that won’t wait for a toilet.

She should sexualize herself for the gratification of her bosses, but not do anything coarsely womanly like mention her period or accidentally show it. It’s probably no accident that there’s been so much overwrought discourse about menstruation in middle-highbrow circles recently. Like any other bodily fluid or gas, menstrual blood is more noticeable on a white-collar clean freak than on a woman who’s been mucking livestock stalls. Oh, did I bleed through my pants? I’ll keep that in mind when I hose off the pigshit. Fewer and fewer affluent Americans under thirty have ever changed a baby’s diaper.

There’s a very real, very bad trend back towards companies asserting ownership of their employees’ bodies. Amazon basically won’t allow its employees bathroom breaks. Jim Beam asked its employees to report their periods to help it monitor time theft in the bathrooms. It’s been harder and harder to find public restrooms over the past few decades, a situation that suddenly got much worse with the Covid-19 shutdowns. Thankfully, this much is finally starting to reverse in earnest. On the other hand, public schools have been forcing this extreme bodily discipline on their students for centuries. This applies in Britain, too. *Under the Eton Privy voice* There may not be a bottom below, chap, but there’s always a bottom above!

Despite their obnoxiousness and intermittent misandry, feminist loudmouths have a point about the objecification and possession of women’s bodies. The Dallas Cowboys got into trouble for bullying and demeaning their cheerleaders–who are obscenely underpaid, by the way–with lectures about things like portion control at meals and how often they should change their tampons. These assholes hired women to be crack performative athletes, and they act like they’ve made it into their twenties unable to properly attend to their own personal hygiene. The problems here go beyond bad bosses. We shouldn’t have people who think like that in positions of power, period.

Heh. Look on the bright side, though. *Yogi Berra Patriotism Voice* Only in America can a fat Jewish truck stop hooker from Salt Lake City sing the National Anthem in a Major League ballpark.

It’s extremely neoliberal idpol to focus on menstruation as a burden in a society with pervasive, extreme fatigue and mental illness. How much of the problem is premenstrual or menstrual pain, and how much of it is delirious fatigue and Ford Stomach in inexcusably harsh academic and corporate environments?

On second thot, tho, that’s more a faildaughter vealpen thing than a girlboss thing. The Business Success Girls (and Guys!) are too busy climbing the greasy pole to give much mind to any of that. For the failspawn, it’s a transference of serious failures of neoliberal Western society onto sexualized grievances conferring extra idpol points. On the serious career track, it’s an unacceptable admission of weakness. A woman can’t admit to being tired for any other reason, either.

This shit might be excusable if it were ordered towards motherhood. Raising children is exhausting, and childrearing duties usually get dumped on women. If my ex is reading this, I’m eager to do my part to change this again, but for real, raising kids is no joke, especially for anyone trying to equal her as a mother. The thing is, if aggro college girls were trying to train for motherhood, they’d have kids already. They wouldn’t be waiting until their mid-thirties to fob one or two brats onto a Guatemalan nanny so they can go back to Goldman Sachs two months postpartum to express breast milk in a special stall.

We’re just about back to wet nurses in this country. You and me, baby, unfortunately, ain’t nothing but mammals.

This whole system is obviously broken. The writing about the corporate agenda for the white-collar workforce was on the wall by the time Clinton was elected; for the blue-collar workforce, Reagan wrote it in boldface starting on day one. The bosses kept throwing enough scraps into the pit to keep the office drones mostly in line until the 2008 crash. They spent the next decade and change fucking around and kinda sorta finding out. Then the Rona hit. They inside-traded the shit out of the pandemic and the restrictions it triggered, and they’ve pretty successfully turned public opinion against laid-off service workers who want to stay on unemployment benefits, but they’ve blown it with their cube monkeys. No one wants to come back to the office. Employers are facing mass resignations for forcing employees to return to the office full-time.


This is the arrangement Elizabeth Gonzalez James has Mona begging to join. It’s garbage, but college trained us to chase garbage. Those of us who refuse suffer for our refusal. Those who comply suffer in different ways. Most of this suffering is needless. It’s destructive and parasitic. Everybody’s just trying to justify taking a bigger slice of a possibly growing but also possibly shrinking pie. That’s all high finance is.

Occupy Wall Street comes in for criticism, rightly enough, for being the sour grapes of young people who would have demanded their own jobs on Wall Street if they’d discerned a chance in hell of being chosen from the midst of the scrum. From the perspective of figuring out who the hell is actually trying to run this joint instead of looting it, critics like Partial Objects were right. From the perspective of what the graduating classes of, say, 2007 onward were promised and not delivered, desperate strivers like Mona are entirely in the right. What kind of whipped little bitch would allow moneyed authority figures to promise and then revoke opportunities to make a killing busting ass for the machine, instead plunging the educated young into unemployment, underemployment, even precarity, even poverty? Surely that demands loud, explicit pushback.

That’s no time to let Larry Summers off the hook. His ilk should reap what they sowed. They sowed mass dispossession of the educated. Historically, the harvest that yields is revolution.

Contra the scurrilous implications of America’s legion Dignity of Work scolds, a great many Americans would do productive work if they got the chance or have the chance and do exactly that. We often don’t see counterfactual happen in the wild, because America runs not on Dunkin, but on coercion. If extended unemployment isn’t axed, who will be willing to work at Applebee’s? We’re trying to run a business here! We’re trying to run an economy! I dunno. Maybe try not groping $2.13-an-hour teenyboppers in the walk-in freezer for a while. See what happens then. Notice, too, that we’re running low on the local kids who historically staff the restaurant industry because of exactly the set of incentives that allowed the restaurant industry to become so bloated in the first place, i.e., ordering the national economy to the proliferation of one-child-policy yuppies.

This is the future conservatives want, too, especially Never Trump conservatives. Sic, mostly. The same people who get up and yell about soft whiners and their avocado toast take every opportunity to deputize volunteer programs as arms of the state, on the theory that forcing the unemployed to work or volunteer (hey, asshole, could you give me the dignity of saying that I work?) will forcibly build character in the otherwise restive poor. One thing this definitely accomplishes is turning volunteer programs into strange attractors for the worst sorts of beancounters and busybodies, repelling good people who mind their own business enough to actually get shit done.

The way this country is structured and run, it’s impossible to piece together a national labor budget. It’s impossible to figure out how many billions of hours of work a day or year it actually takes to run this fucking joint. It can be impossible to come up with a county-level labor budget. This is before we even try to figure out how much extra work we’d have to do if we made our own shit instead of importing it all from China and Bangladesh. Maybe that’d inspire us to buy less shit.

For the same reasons, it’s impossible to come up with a budget for how much of the work, or “work,” we do as a nation is bullshit. How can we fault Mona for wanting to milk this beast dry? It’s hard to get by these days without pulling that titty, and it’s a hard titty to pull. You won’t have the energy to crank it and yank it if you think about how the hell there’s a drop left in the udder. That’s for Mexicans and Chinamen.


There’s some darkly amusing meta to the literary enterprise that produces works like “Mona at Sea.” We discussed the rich versus the truly rich earlier. Too much leisure can be toxic. This is something American voters and officials might want to consider before setting the same dogshit employment policy as ever. In any event, the true upper class is much more comfortable with leisure than the upper middle class, and it shows. Actual abundance is the best way to develop a mindset of abundance, not that Stephen Covey would know this as the grandson of charter members of the LDS Church and all that. Decent scions of families like his are no-names, not A-List self-help authors who grift the VA with their training seminar materials.

Upper-middles are scared to death that they’ll collapse into ruin if they ever stop running. That’s one of the things that horrifies and scandalizes them about their unemployed Millennial children and peers. We show them show them some of their alternatiive life paths, paths they might have taken if they weren’t balls-to-the-wall hustlers who punch down at every opportunity, paths they even still might take to make room for decent people who just can’t compete with them. I don’t know what our hikikomori are getting out of their anime habits. Maybe it includes an understanding of why so many salarymen raised hikikomori back in the bukkake motherland.

One of the cultural effects of upper middle class striver neurosis is discomfort with storylines that don’t involve some kind of apocalyptic quest. Their literature can’t be one of comfortable stasis in life, or merely entertaining stasis. The postmodern canon has no room for authors like Faulkner. Americans today can’t cope with fiction mostly bereft of sex, grand adventures, grand quests, and rites of passage. We can’t process characters who are drawn as object lessons, not role models. We’ve been raised not to understand any of this shit.

Conservatives like to critique sexualized literature as coarsening. It’s reasonable enough to read “I Am Charlotte Simmons” as a lengthy anti-sex bildungsroman, full as it is of shambolic characters who are sexually active and miserable. Tom Wolfe, another great of the Southern Canon, was too hypomanic to keep it in a fellow’s pants himself. There we have it. Sex–which, as the discography of Soulja Boy and Robin Thicke shows, we aren’t particularly having–gives a quick and dirty dopamine hit, not the kind of maintenance dose Faulkner administers with his collection of schizoids and paranoiacs and so forth. That Swedish beefcake in “Snow Falling On Cedars” gets to nut in his white wife in the shower after work while her Japanese ex-boyfriend goes on trial for murder, in a story surprisingly free of suicide for the maritime side of Washington State. Real smart collection of ethnics they propagated up there, huh. The author went on to win a bad sex writing award in absentia for a retelling of Oedipus Rex, conferred upon him in the name of “David Guterous.”

Is sex what’s wrong with bad literature, then? I wish that were it. It isn’t what’s wrong with Harry Potter. The Potterverse doesn’t have any, if I understand it correctly. For a generation and a class so focused on status and purged of sensuality, that sounds about right, flying around on broom adventures for clout while the Cockneys dutifully run the physical plant. The UK doesn’t account for its actual economy, either. As financial hubs go, London is arguably even worse than New York. The Potterverse is Downton Abbey for twerps with an excessive interest in ersatz paranormal phenomena. The biggest problem with these cases is that they’re given white-collar jobs.

I’d rather bust in some dude’s Swedish wife like I’m Chad Kroeger than grant that horseshit children’s series the validity its fans demand. Maybe I’ll skim “Mona At Sea” after all, for possible sex. The reviews mention something along the lines of blackmail material from social media. That’s the kind of dirt fraternity and sorority archivists used to keep on graduates. It was enough for Turkish intelligence to get Dennis Hastert to sandbag resolutions condemning the Armenian genocide. It is good and normal that an entire generation of digital natives has been lectured about the reputational threat of posting nudes or drinking pictures, and meanwhile the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House was being blackmailed for sexually initiating high school wrestlers under his authority. Put me in Coach!

More people actually working for a living would reduce this crap. The problem is, it’s hard to make a living working, and that’s exactly as capital wants it. Uber is out of drivers? Well shucks. Can’t see how that happened! Let’s see how it does with inside-sales subprime auto loans as a recruitment tool.

Meanwhile a girl in Tucson is out of college and out of work. It’s good to hear about a novel whose moral is that hustling ain’t worth shit. It won’t become worth anything again until we do less of it.

At the corner of suck my cock and fuck you too pal

Being the disorganized anxious-avoidant dipshit I am who knows as much about psychiatry as a keen observer would expect, I ran out of lamotrigine on a trip back east and had to get my prescription transferred from California to New York. There’s no Safeway here, which, oops, but there is Walgreens, so I got to spend $68 for would have cost me about $20.

They couldn’t even make it nice.

That was after all the discounts. I had to pay $20 to get it for $47.99. They’re probably trying to shave another penny or two off their rewards rebates, but they’re definitely trying to bamboozle customers who aren’t in the habit of rounding up to the nearest dollar in the presence of sleazy retailers. The $20 was to join the prescription discount club. You have to pay for prescription coupons at Walgreens. Membership is good for a year, so I can now get all the lamotrigine I want for a 150% markup until next June, unless they raise the discounted subtotal again.

The online coupons I was finding for Walgreens were horrifying. The cheapest was something like $150. I asked the pharmacist about the rack rate. $389. Bitch the fuck? It wasn’t her fault, of course, but dear fucking God. It has to be awful to complete pharmacy school and then discover how many of the job openings are with the same sleazy passive-aggressive shakedown behemoth. It has to be annoying, to say the least, to be professionally trained to spot and intercept drugs with potentially fatal interactions and be forced to tell customers that because they don’t have the proper coupon and their insurance is out-of-network they’ll be paying $400 for a bottle the size of a shot glass half full of universally available generic antidepressant tablets the size of Grape Nuts. Is it under $20 at Price Chopper, with that other coupon? Yes. Is it $389 here at the MSRP? Yes. Why? Fuck me, man; I only work here.

In a country with the rule of law, it would be possible for any customer getting Shanghaied like that to have government auditors collect and return $369 in change the next business day, along with the change due every other customer for every other gross overcharge. Real Heads of Depression recognized it as the 25, and everybody recognizes lamotrigine as definitely not an artisanal antidepressant ground, mixed, measured, and packaged by hand by Ye Olde Village Compounding Apothecary. This shit isn’t Charlie Smithgall walking into the garden with a mortar, a pestle, and a pair of scissors to custom-cut an order of St. John’s Wort. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t charge $389 for that, either.

None of this has shit to do with the free market or supply and demand or economies of scale. It’s extortion. The real retail break-even point for lamotrigine 25 mg 240 count is probably under $10. That should be enough to cover what it costs to manufacture, ship, stock, and dispense the pills. If it isn’t, Walgreens would do fine running the pharmacy as a loss leader for the rest of the store, to get the goobers in for the markups. The cost of getting that shit from the factory floor to the patient’s hands is not $1.62 a fucking tablet. Break me off a piece of something weaker, Stossel; I’m already hallucinating.

This bullshit has yielded Canada much tourism. Drug prices, eh. It’s like how my parents had to drive an hour and a half to Plattsburgh instead of 45 minutes to Queensbury for their Rona shots, and had to go to the old SAC base four times, because their Honorable Governor’s high orations about public health and how much he cared, did not extend to making it feasible to get the damn vaccine. I’m a low-grade paranoiac who keeps up with fellow travelers, and yes, there have been irregularities with these vaccines, and by God do the overwrought incentives raise questions, but when I got over my paranoia last month, I’d waited long enough to walk in for the J&J one-and-done at the Aviation Mall and walk out less than an hour later. They have brined me now alhamdulillah; alhumdulillah I am brined in full. Plattsburgh was so popular nobody went there anymore. That’s why the putz is noisily offering a SUNY/CUNY tuition lottery in a desperate effort to shoot all the kids. Business is down.

Greetings from the Hellstate. Montreal is always worth a visit, and many wouldn’t go unless they had to run errands, but that’s the problem. Who the fuck wants to take a bus to Montreal just to go to some random pharmacy? It’s no accident that our Canadian vice president graduated from Westmount. Neither of our dogshit major parties, if we even conceive of any others, have space under the big tent for a Francopopulist who figures ya hon hon hon have to represent Trois-Rivieres but sure, we can fund a friend’s Metro trip, too, but why the fuck wouldn’t you base the whole system on pneumatic tires, are you a goddamn Toronto limey bastard.

It’s so different now anyway. It’s so much worse. Canada is currently indisposed, to us a(ll), at least. It wishes not to catch sick, and we’d be inconsiderate not to show full trust, confidence, and deference before the demands of a couple of greasy nepotists like Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford when they insist that they’re just trying to keep their constituents healthy and alive. It’s a disappointingly American story, one reminiscent of Cuomo and any number of shitbags in and around the White House. Thank God Canada hasn’t vomited its own Anthony Fauci into a position of supreme epidemiological authority. Of course, Canadians can always borrow Tony, same as they can listen to NPR, watch NBC over the air if they’re close enough, and go shopping in New Hampshire lol jk sucka.

NAFTA Schengen is even farther away than it was. The only way to come close to enjoying it now is to know where to shimmy up against the cliff to evade the sensors and know you shit in dumpsters a few times, just not exactly how many. That’s what happens when you’ve done all the drugs, just like Keith Richards, except you always took the generic versions.

I repot, you de shite. What’s especially shitty about this for me is that, absent the still-indefinite closure of the land border and my parents’ screwiness about driving places when they live in a municipality with absolutely no public transit, we’d pretty reliably be able to drive to Montreal in under three hours and get hella drugs hella cheap. In October 2015 I got an ENT PA to scoop some special fall colors out of my ears. After he spent under ten minutes examining and rotorootering my ear canals, he got one of The Doctors to write me prescriptions for oral ciprofloxacin and Ciprodex ear drops. The Ciprodex came in the same style of itty-bitty bottle used for food coloring. It isn’t particularly complicated shit: same antibiotic as the tablets, cipro, plus dexamethasone, a common steroid, in normal saline. Yeah, it has to be medical-grade, not a thimble out of the Dead Sea, but it doesn’t fucking take CERN to produce that shit.

It cost $231. I’m not kidding. It was definitely well over $200. My dad was, quite reasonably, taken aback. I went online and found a forum where a Canadian pharmacist reported having it in stock for a retail price of about $30.

The loony is more or less worth something, but never by that much. We’re getting scammed. We’re all getting shaken down.

The germane question here isn’t anything about how enterprising and innovative America’s pharmaceutical companies are, leading the world in the development of new drugs; they either get the government to pay for that shit, throw a bit of their own money here and there at Boomer Dick Pills, or don’t do R&D at all. No, the germane question is the cost of toothpaste. Toothpaste, like prescription pharmaceuticals, is manufactured under strict quality control. Industrial chemists make sure it’s to spec. If we feel like being way too fucking generous and assuming that the suspension of a long proven, widely used antibiotic and steroid require quality control costs a hundredfold greater per cc than toothpaste, Cirprodex would cost, like, $5 a bottle. AIM sells for a buck a tube at Fred Meyer.

We don’t need to be exact here; leave that for the chemists. All the math we need for this STEM project, for making good minds GRRRREAT!, is this problem, using examples from the community: Compare and contrast Mr. Charles with Ming. In this problem, Mr. Charles is a normal-size housecat I met in a B&B in the Shenandoah, while Ming is the adult tiger Antoine Yates kept in the ghetto (in the ghetto), with family buckets of KFC and also an alligator.

Cat people. Many such cases!

I was probably too generous with the $5 estimate. I don’t give a shit. I took statistics in college becuase everybody would have made me even more self-loathing than usual if I’d dropped out. Whatever. The problem with this country, and others, too, but definitely the God-blessed US of A, is that our ability to work with orders of magnitude is fucked. It doesn’t work. In a vague conceptual way, Americans understand that Bill Gates has a higher net worth than a dentist. What they don’t get is, okay, look: Assuming Bill Gates is worth an even million, your dentist is worth a plate of spaghett at Denny’s. Depending on circumstances, that might include an iced tea, dessert (why?), or even the tip, as a special treat. Your dentist isn’t going out for dinner at Cattlemens in this scenario without a HELOC.

America’s Dumber Is Always Open. For real, using the same ratios, Bill Gates the bare millionaire would make it impossible for a successful dentist to take the wife (or husband!) and kids out to lunch without getting in hock to Donald Trump’s lenders. (Ronald Reagan went for free.)

Raise the fucking marginal rates, of course. The same people who don’t grok the dire significance of not dispossessing thugs like Gates, Musk, Bezos, and Buffett into mere multimillionaires–yes, Sir Warren gets the haircut, too–often don’t understand just how astoundingly widely the possibly nonfictional R&D costs borne by pharmaceutical companies are distributed once a drug is in production. Lamotrigine isn’t artisanally hand-pressed by Keebler Elves. It pours off the production lines like wheat down a combine harvester’s spout into a hopper. Yeah, they pay a lot of people a lot of money to keep the operation running smoothly, with fewer recalls for fatal side effects in theory than in practice, but that’s because they churn out absolute shitloads of drugs. Yeah, a 757 costs more than my Civic. It’s because I’m not clown-carring a manifest of 200 from O’Hare to LAX in four hours.

What if United loses money flying my fat ass across the country? Good. Century Boulevard! We LOVE it! Actually, some of us don’t so much. Beyond the incomprehension of scale, there’s a deeper principle of trying not to get cucked and suck cock for The Brands when they sustain operating losses on some transactions. They’re what we call too big to fail, and they’re called that for a reason. They do not just kind of oopsy-doopsy lose money and not get it back. That only happens when they’re looted down to the nuts and bolts. But that’s okay, too. That’s why we have a government. They need their constituent services. The grand or so I lost on United and American stock after 9/11 so they could float new offerings and then charge me thirty a bag at check-in wasn’t enough.

Drug prices make airfares look comprehensible. The system is based on the assumption that nobody actually pays the full price because everybody has insurance or a coupon or something. Okay, so why the fuck is that the list price? I’m prudent to demand to know exactly what the pills will cost me if I cut the bullshit and just pay upfront. For one thing, Kaiser was out of network, just as I expected. For $20 or $36 or whatever at Safeway, I don’t mind. It’s different at a pharmacy that offers what amounts to a $321 convenience fee. That’s the difference I would have had to pay just to pay for it and leave. To get it for *only* $68 I had to wait nervously while the pharmacist and a tech punched God and they alone knew what into a computer terminal.

Only a tiny number of unlucky customers, chosen arbitrarily, get to pay full freight while everybody else gets a steep discount. Cool, Walgreens is the Menands Police Department. Real normal, honest, ethical way to run a business here, chief.

What’s so insane about this shit, not just evil, is that the more the customer pays, the less work the other parties to the transaction have to do. The discounts go only to those who put up with transaction delays for gratuitous bookkeeping or somehow joined one of the specific health insurance programs contractually permitted to enter into billing disputes with the specific pharmacy filling the prescription.

Nobody who doesn’t get paid to deal with that shit should have to deal with it. Entire workforces are trained to consider it normal and appropriate to dump pointless administrative burdens onto their customers on behalf of their employers and then act like they’re doing their customers favors by typing some hocus pocus into a computer for a discount code. Any grocery store doing this would go out of business. Price Chopper doesn’t offer five-pound sacks of potatoes for a hundred dollars but let customers wait around nervously at the register for a discount of 30-95%.

It rules that so many Americans resent the poor for getting free medical care or prescriptions in the Obamaphone tradition instead of just demanding free shit for themselves, too. They already scheme for free shit; fuck around with the mortgage interest deduction and find out. What they don’t like is being forced to admit that they get free shit–they work hard to live in a neighborhood with good schools and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff, you see–or sharing social services wth the poor. Medicaid you get for being a lazy freeloader, but Medicare, now that you earn.

Fuck off. If Medcaid sounds good, demand it as a public option. Demand admission. Demand it for everybody, right here, right now. Bang on the door at HHS: I lives here; can I come in? If enough people join the chorus, the answer becomes yes. The drug benefit needs to stop being this copay and that deductible and start just being drugs. Like, time out, boss, this shit’s been on the formulary forever, five spot and a receipt if I pay cash, but I have my number, so I’m getting it for free. You assholes can talk to the government about it; I’ve already paid.

Dat R&D tho. We can’t be disincentivizing innovation. Otherwise our pharmacorps will stop hiring research scientists and turn into stock buyback operations. What on earth would happen if Amerca stopped believing in hard work?

Buddy that ship’s been sailing for decades, centuries if there’s a free slip in Charleston. A mighty ocean is our national self-esteem. It isn’t seaworthy, but it’s out there.

That fucking putz

Andrew Cuomo is in the news again, for the first time in an hour, grandstanding about how you should get out and see people, do things, recall the governor. Oh. Maybe not that last part, if we muster the impertinence to ask him.

Cuomo is #NotMyGovernor. I live in California. It disgusts me that he is my parents’ governor. We’ve been over this before, and I’ve been more than over him. His current exhortations to get out and stop being reclusive and avoidant is basically gaslighting. It’s hard to be sure he’s forward-thinking enough to deliberately gaslight, given all the awful shit he impulsively blurts out in the moment. He’s manipulative as all hell, but he’s a creature of chaos.

His chaos evokes Donald Trump’s, but as usual, I’m pretty sure it’s worse, and he is, too. The Donald shows little interest in bossing the little people around. It always bears repeating that Trump upsets the Brahmin chattering classes and their PMC subalterns because he openly, plainly beefs with revered political scumbags who are, by sacred tradition, accustomed to the due deference of their seniority and station. Trump had the nerve to directly insubordinate himself to them in full public view. He had the nerve to openly relish it. Jen Psaki is obviously a catty, manipulative asshole in private–she all but openly is in public–but she gets a pass for observing Beltway etiquette.

Cuomo is a man of terrible manners. He enjoys permanent dispensation to act like that because he’s to the governorship born. He has the good savvy to grease all the right wheels, of course. A gruff but relatively decent governor’s son like Jerry Brown wouldn’t get far by openly telling bad actors to get fucked and airing their /John Fogerty B Side I’m definitely not being blackmailed voice/ dirty laundry. New York politics have an unwashed crass transactionality worthy of Chicago. This is true of the city and the state. Upstate New York is swamped by Downstate and New York City, and Downstate would be have trouble holding its own against the city if the state line were drawn at the far edges of Ulster and Dutchess. But really, the whole state is like that. Rochester and Green Island pull the same shit. Menands uses Interstate 787 as a tax-farming platform to extort fines out of motorists for bogus moving violations, just like Steilacoom and Roy. (Ferguson’s entire government is a gang of highway robbers.) One end of the town has one dipshit with a plow crew responsible for clearing driveways after storms; the other end has a different crew of dipshits.

It goes back to Hamilton. Cuomo got ahead and stayed ahead by giving the hustlers their daily greasing. Rivers Casino is Schenectady’s economy now because it generates GDP, which is a useless made-up proxy but we don’t care about that. It “creates” “jobs.” There’s better work to be done that would actually make Schenectady a better place to live, but again, we aren’t here to care about backwards shit like that. We’re here to lure tourists in from downstate or crossstate or Connecticut or, on the Justin Time schedule, Canada. The communities sending Schenectady its tourists will in turn squeeze some share of the Capital District’s traveling Schenctards. It’s the same three-card monte the good old boys (and girls!) run at the local scale through gentrification projects. Churn the circular canal and skim off the top.

As usual, the brunt of the workload gets dumped onto untermenschen: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, J-1 Slavs, prisoners, deplorables. That’s what happens when nine-to-fives refuse to work. I can’t blame them. The incentives suck. I can barely afford to do farm work myself. It’s the same case for many Mexicans, just worse. I’m backstopped against debt. For people without kids, the classes of debt the poor take on are worse than living in a car or couchsurfing. I say this having slept in my car more times than I can count. Once the poor get into debt, it immediately becomes viable as a Why Not Both. America’s nine-to-fives are painfully aware of this. It’s buried pain, but they feel it. It chills their bones.

That’s why Applebee’s is “hiring.” Whom? The last thing our aggrieved shortstaffed employers will do is admit that they’re trying to pay and treat their people better instead of worse. NPR keeps airing Both Sides segments for employers to complain that they can’t compete with the government’s welfare compensation packages. If the producers need to drop one of the sides for some more tranny talk (not Chartock, and not Car Talk), they’ll gladly drop the voice of labor. Marketplace, bizarrely, is one of the shows that doesn’t. *Smoothly greasy Kai Ryssdal voice* This–is Mao Hour.

This bullshit about economic incentives and disincentives and nudge your slimy Beltway ass into the Tidal Basin, or rather nudges, is a great example of what these assholes try to do for a living instead of anything a reasonable person would classify as work.

They’re the ones who shitted up the stimmy. Trump came to them with a straightforward proposal to give a whole bunch of people a big check, but their marginally employable loser relatives and cronies needed policy analyst jobs instead of the allowances and childhood bedrooms they’d otherwise get from their parents, so they fine-tuned it into a means-tested kludge. The Oaf of Office instinctively recognizes that ordinary Americans fucking hate that shit, all of it. Every dysfunctional system that makes Americans suicidal is run like that: the IRS as a consequence of the tax schemes it’s mandated to enforce, the welfare bureaucracy, education, health insurance, grants for everything under the sun.

Trump knows it’s popular to just have the government give everybody some money. His opponents don’t care. Straightforward government checks any dumbass can understand don’t make the West Wing crowd feel important. They don’t make them feel needed and valued for their expertise. Busybody nerds can’t stand universal free programs.

Cuomo suffers from a tragically monumental ego. It’s insatiable. He’s governor, following in his father’s footsteps but forever in his shadow. Nepotism is not the root of Cuomo’s problem, as Jerry Brown has shown throughout his career. He needs to be in charge. That’s his idea of leadership. Many politicians approach their love of power with a measure of subtlety. They love power, but they also take pride in being of service. Cuomo’s thing is histrionic heroics. He needs to save the day. He saves the day by bossing the lesser orders around. Stay home. Okay, now go out. Go home. Okay, now go out again. Give your quarantine form to the National Guard at the airport for permission to enter the state. Guardsmen may meet your train at Penn Station, but only if it’s Amtrak, and probably only if it’s long-distance. Don’t think about the inconsistency of not intercepting almost any other incoming traffic or the civil liberties implications or the disturbing questions of what the hell happened at the nursing homes.

The Governor cares. The rest of the state would be better off if he didn’t.

Cuomo’s goal isn’t to be a steadying hand. It’s to be a grand hand. He leads and his people listen. He’s Qaddafi minus the fun comstumes. He presided over one of the most horrific Covid-19 death tolls in the world, then got the networks to cover his grandiose news conferences (he has a brother at one, after all) and threw the state’s weight around with intrusive, manipulative public health theater shows like the Excelsior Pass.

He isn’t there to safeguard his constituents. He’s there to pretend. If he’s too high on his own supply to tell the difference, does it even matter?

Cuomo’s constituents won’t take the state back from him, or can’t. Maybe they enjoy the leash. Surely a few do–New York City has become even more of a reservoir of unfortunate perversions than it was prior to Giuliani–but most probably either benefit from the crookedness or feel powerless to bring it to a halt. Many of those who might try have fled to Florida or the Poconos. Replacing them with gentrifiers and immigrants or porque no los dos has mediocre civic effects, as any project would if most of its members couldn’t vote and the ones who could have shit for economic politics. The Chapo left-liberal types seem to punch above their demographic and political weight. Not every cultural phenomenon is a political or demographic phenomenon.

Mind you, I’m spitballing this part wetter than most of the rest of it; take it with salt to distaste. For whatever it’s worth, I don’t think the role of property ownership in voting patterns and turnout is adequately appreciated in American politics in general, and more voters in New York City own property than the average American imagines. The rest of the state is much closer to the national average.

Cuomo is a more naked scold than most about his prerogative to treat his office as a control room full of dials he can turn at will to dictate public opinion and behavior. It’s Hamilton by way of Bernays by way of Giuliani and his worst cops, as interpreted by the guy who tried to honor his father’s legacy by saying “nigger wops” in front of Alan Chartock. The old Hamiltonian model was awful, but to its credit, its main purpose was to tell the grunts what to do and how miserably little they’d be paid to do it. Over the years, more and more busybodies and scolds folded their shit into the mix. It’s probably no coincidence that New York is one of the great centers of global advertising. The skim keeps many in country houses, too comfortable and sheltered to repudiate Cornelius Vanderbilt and his legacy–why, hello, Mr. Cooper–for being abusive and privileged enough to get his wife committed to an asylum for refusing to leave Staten Island. More than a few of the rich are manipulative enough to consider bogus commitment proceedings in family disputes a good thing.

The putz wants us to go traveling again. Excuse me, who the fuck asked you for an opinion, pops? That right there is the piece of shit who scared me out of visiting my parents for months after the case counts dropped to my satisfaction with that abusive interstate quarantine order and the Guard deployments. I don’t hate or resent him as much for now pumping up a wave of rebound travel, but he still fucking disgusts me for doing that. Travel this summer is going to be awful. My experience flying east the other week sure was. Burbank and National were fine, and Santa Rosa was manageable, but Charlotte was slammed and LAX was just fucking awful. Our masters are ginning up extra rebound travel on top of what we’re naturally (or unnaturally?) facing so we can spend fifteen minutes in line at Hudson News to drop eight bucks on a barely edible sandwich from the poor man’s Pret-a-Manger.

They knew something like that would happen. Every supply line and workforce needed to run the tourist hospitality sector got rekt for a year, and now they want to just turn everything back on, like water heated precisely to 120 F out of a waterfall shower in one of their lofts. Ain’t happening, pal.

What they’re really doing is playing mind games with the proles, as ever, and insider-trading both sides of a market crash and rebound. They know when to place their positions. They know when to get in, when to get out, and where to spent the loot. If a crowded hub terminal in one of the busiest airports in the country has a single overwhelmed newsstand with garbage for food as its sole concession during the redeye rush, they’ll do what they always do: fly private. If the traveling public suffers for trying to reunite with loved ones in the thick of a substantially engineered travel rush, we’ll still be excellent profit centers.

I, for one, can’t wait to hear the next good news out of Rivers Casino once we’re done hearing the current good news out of Amazon’s new warehouse in Schodack.

Fulfillment center. Christ.