Is there some natural law dictating that all the yuppies and entrepreneurs and wannabes must read Tom Friedman? To posit the existence of such a shitty natural law dictating the reading of such shitty writing is, well, shitty. One should hope that the natural aristocracy or whatever the fuck it is that leads us would read something of some minimal redeeming intellectual and literary value, that it would keep in its hearts the curiosity and the love of beauty necessary to seek out reading material  that doesn’t totally suck ass. Only a certifiable Mark David Chapman would try to read even all the good essay writing that can be found on the internet. There are magazines and books, too, of course, even though the Insurance Schmuck never thought in the library in terms of books. (Sic, and powerfully so.)

At the same time, we can prove conclusively that books are unjustifiably fetishized as a medium, invested with hallucinated powers that they do not inherently possess, whenever some yuppie–say, the Insurance Schmuck over the weekend–openly impresses himself with his own educational self-improvement for reading the latest full-length Friedmanism. When I stumble into such artistically and intellectually wretched horseshit online, I close the damn tab. It isn’t just Anthony Weiner’s junk shots that pollute the ether; I must adult my way around even worse e-boners.

As the Last Psychiatrist always enjoyed putting it, if you’re reading it, it’s for you. That’s a bleak fucking natural law argument right there. The Insurance Schmuck is reading it, so it must be for him. Time and time again, we accidentally disprove the existence of American liberal arts curricula. Remember, these courses of instruction are supposedly ordered to giving their students the tools for life-long autodidactic edification and their liberation from slavery to full-time philistinism. But yeah, about that. We stayed in school, but good God, Starr, what is it good for? What kind of dimwitted Levar Burton-ass second-grade summer book report bollocks is any of this? *Very Vermont faculty vealpen voice* I’m Meat E. Urologist Steve Maleski, with an eye on the butterfly in the sky!

I’m listening to that, so VPR, too, must be for me. Or for my parents. Their car, their discretion (mostly) about CKM or no CKM. At least the North Country doesn’t have its own Devin Yamanaka. Hey there, Ed. What else is going on? Hey there, Devin. We know by now that Vermonters are a bit off, but maybe they aren’t actually all that insane. *Resume less irregular programming* Rob Thomas has more insight into his own condition, to be fair, but at least the Eye on the Sky eccentrics aren’t in it to rule the entire fucking world. That isn’t why one moves to Vermont. Just look at what the coastal elites did the last time one of its senators tried to run for the presidency. There’s some dumbass crunchy bullshit you can stumble into in them-thar Brahmin hills, but all in all it’s pretty modest. It’s probably wise not to rule out the possibility that bougie flatlanders were not feeling the Bern because they disliked the idea of a legit Brooklyner wandering away and starting his career in Vacationland at the age of forty.

Less time reading Moustache-Senpai might mean more time in danger of wandering down internet rabbit holes into comprehensive conspiracy theories about the Jews. The conspiracy theories can sound disturbing with a myopic focus on the strong shanda minority; they become almost cute when one compares two prominent Jews who couldn’t conspire their way into a conspiracy on where to get lunch. (((They))) pretty clearly weren’t looking to boost non-Lawrence parts of the Tribe last year, or they would have made noise during the primaries about voting for the guy from the shtetl family done good and not voting for the crazy shiksa carpetbagger. If a D-Lister like Roissy is a self-loathing Jew, it’s probably because the serious Money Jews are too busy throwing their coethnic class traitors under the bus to have time for antisemitism. A scorned coattail-riding woman like Hillary Clinton certainly doesn’t have any shame about selectively playing up her own elite philosemitism in one breath and having proxies deploy antisemitic talking points of varying virulence against Bernie Sanders in the next, and the serious Jewish social climbers are too busy waging perpetual class warfare to indulge in ethnic solidarity with some Fiddler on the Roof-ass antediluvian street-corner socialist who worked odd jobs through his thirties. Bernie doesn’t have a problem being authentic and consistent, but Abuela must be all things to all peoples in all languages, a profane Apostle Paul, and the rest of us must not notice her baggage. Or, as the Ethiopian bus driver might say if she were so vulgar as to travel like a peasant by common carrier through Martinez, wow, she has a lot of stuffs.

The assortative intellectual intercourse here is uncanny. Hey, I just said “intercourse.” Giggity. Watch out for the resulting bastard mindspawn. To this day the Hillary campaign is a lodestone for the same endlessly grasping yuppie horseshit as the Tom Friedman library. The most obvious difference is that Friedman superficially has better manners, so his promoters don’t have to maintain an elaborate, painstaking conceit that he’s fit for polite society. Instead, they maintain a more tacit conceit that he’s almost apolitical. His supposed bailiwick isn’t political argument (his actual line of work (fairly sic)) but the rational presentation of stone-cold economic truths. If Fukuyama was fit to play Taps for history, he might as well be commissioned to dust off the bugle and play it again for the unorthodox alternatives to the neoliberal globalist order. This is one of the reasons why Donald Trump was almost far enough to the left to win my vote: we had a bunch of bumptious assholes running around in a raging snit because they hadn’t given him permission to rain on their parade with his ADHD comments promising renewed protectionism. To riff on the end of history again, all industrial policy other than the abolition of all tariffs in response to mass-casualty garment district fires in Bangladesh is communism now. #TheMoreYouKnow.

Friedman isn’t retained to write honest commentary in good faith. He’s retained to write Bildungsromans, with an emphasis on the fictional aspects of his work. Why the fuck is it problematic for you or me to argue by anecdote when that shifty, overcaffeinated fucker always has some tendentious story about how his one cabbie in Bangalore listens to Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear or some shit, QED the earth is flat? My bad: more like Britney Spears. Why is that dimwitted bastard given bottomless mulligans to misconstrue at book length offhand comments he squeezed out of some CEO by cornering him for six hours straight on a flight to Hong Kong? If that’s valid, my high-volume ridicule of Sauce Boss and the Night Shift Shock Jocks, aka Northside Juice and the Shady Blues, construed also to include Raw Ginger and Fish Man, is beyond reproach. White Lives Matter, too, friends. The real source of my fifteen minutes of fame, Dubai Porta Potty, is unbelievably disgusting, but its source materials are attributed credibly enough for a Friedman column.

Can you see now why there are people who distrust the news media?

Tom Friedman is actually one of the less self-discrediting eminences accreted to the yuppie project. Sure, he was put on this earth to comfort the comfortable, but he does so in a way that aggrandizes salesmen, and Amway is as much the American Way as any other way. Mustache-Senpai is barely too political, depending on the store manager, to be sold at FedEx Office. Most sales cultures are fucking gross, but they have staying power. The Democrats inevitably dropped this ball by being ambivalent about the Glengarry Glen Ross #WINNING in the face of soi-disant dealmaker Donald Trump, but Friedman potentially still gives them some cover by being such an anodyne, unprincipled piece of shit who basically sucks corporate cock for a living.

The really bad optics come from just about everything else about the yuppies, especially the establishment Democrats among them. Hillary Clinton on her own was sufficiently over the top to bring the censoriousness and the preening superiority of every yuppie shithead orbiting her into stark relief. She was the vehicle by which the globalists and the yuppies working for them, or hoping to work for them, planned to maintain their vise grip on international politics. That’s enough to cast some harsh illumination on Friedman’s bogus rationality and transcendence of day-to-day politics. The Clintons really do tarnish everything that they touch. Friedman is fairly tangential to them, but he’s close enough to look worse by association.

The same crowd that laps up America’s worst syndicated newspaper columns seems to think that the TED Radio Hour will actually win over the hearts and minds of normal people. This is insane, and it’s another reason to turn off the damn radio. Anyone whose local NPR affiliate rebroadcasts even a third hour of Weekend Edition Saturday should cherish that above rubies, no matter how often I struggle to get my own ass up before noon. Here’s this nigh humorless, utterly joyless lecture series with just about the most atrocious aesthetics on public radio (I’m aware of the in-house competition, and yes, it’s that bad), hosted by an excruciatingly bloodless dork, and devoted to the aggrandizement of an audience that’s smug as all hell and lately quite upset that it has been denied its right, as the possessors of its degrees and its supreme rationality, to rule the whole wide world, a world that it instead must share with trade protectionists, the devoutly religious, antivaxxers, Alex Jones followers, Americans who aren’t up in arms with the Kremlin, and similar trash. Listening to a bunch of smug pricks intone through a haze of terrible auditorium acoustics about how rational they are and how fucking irrational and backwards their political enemies are, it’s hard not to imagine the audience becoming increasingly irritated, even furious, at the extension of the franchise to uneducated, ignorant losers who won’t get with their program.

Now, look at it this way: there are almost certainly TED speakers and audience members alike who would find it unconscionable for Donald Trump to make fun of them, who would think that there either is or absolutely should be some political price for an oaf like him to pay for ridiculing their dork squad. This is how powerfully idiotic the Democratic Party has become. It’s run by people who have sheltered themselves from the mainstream popular culture of their own country that they don’t realize how marginal NPR is to the general population or how hideously patronizing the TED Radio Hour is, even for NPR. This shit makes Marco Werman seem like a fairly self-aware nerd, and far be it from me to deny that he’s a grating, simpering little twit. That fucker sounds like he worked his way up from a ham radio license and public-access television, so it’s a bad sign when his own colleagues start making him sound like he has force of personality. But that’s the kind of thing that happens when a network doesn’t exile an annoying mediocrity like Guy Raz to El Centro.

These idiots think they’re gonna out-lecture Donald Trump. They’re that full of themselves. Every time they fall flat on their faces, they blame other people for being too backwards and uneducated to get it. Just yesterday I heard part of a TED segment in which some dipshit was talking about how the Russians use some kind of advanced mind-control technique to plant foreign ideas in their enemies’ minds. It was blatant projection: of course the Hillbots are doing basically the same thing. Putin hires offices full of trolls and sock puppets, but so does the Pentagon, and so did David Brock with his “virgin nerd army.” Not much of this shit is subtle enough to go over readers’ heads, especially when a prominent strategist explicitly compares the organization of his corporatized political campaign to a beehive. Yeah, sure, it’s the damn Russkies who sank Clinton, not voters who didn’t want to live in a Lorde song. Maybe we can blame the Kremlin for the “Our Thoughts Go Out To The Ceausescu Family, Sad Day For Nicolae” pop-up clickbait articles. That would be embarrassing.

Maybe the Democrats are so worked up about propaganda because their affluent members have already submitted to propaganda and censored themselves for purposes of career advancement. Bill Clinton, traditionally not one to abase himself, was somehow buffaloed into delivering a hideously sappy convention speech about how he and Hillary “are still having that conversation.” Initially I wondered if he hadn’t been extorted or blackmailed, but these days I tend to think that he just stopped giving a shit. The Big Dog knows how to game chicks, but Hillz wasn’t one of the bimbos he was looking to dick, and that wasn’t the first time (Gennifer Flowers much?). It was probably easier for him to be steamrolled by his crazy bitch of a wife and her staff into delivering that wretched, smarmy, platitudinous speech and then fly off on the Lolita Express or whatever than to try to pass the old lady’s shit tests.

I suspect that that cringeworthy incident spoke less to Bill’s fall from charm than to the Democrats’ collective descent into an ever shittier zeitgeist. That’s the kind of crap that they presumably think will actually appeal to the base and win elections, if we’re idealistic enough to assume that the whole operation isn’t just a big grift for consultant-class shysters. The talented tenth, to the extent that it’s a numerical tenth and has legitimate talents, seems to get some bizarre, sublimated psychosexual edification from this increasingly elaborate cult of court etiquette, and meanwhile I’m not sleeping my car this week. Substitute other experiences not suitable for discussion in neoliberal circles to taste. This faction is apparently sheltered and arrogant enough to actually think that it will somehow be able to brightside dissidents into silence and political impotence.

Hence all the rage at Trump, the worst Republican from the 2016 field who could have challenged them. Most of the others respected their precious court etiquette. Trump had the nerve to throw memberberries at the poor. Sure, South Park is fun, but it isn’t just entertainment to push a man down, kick him repeatedly, and then make fun of him for his nostalgia for the old days when he wasn’t being pushed down and kicked. The yuppies alienate their victims just by blowing off steam. Really fucking smart.

In this context, Trump isn’t really that far out of line. The reason he angers yuppies by being insensitive is that he makes fun of various cherished institutions and the incumbents running them. He talked over Hillary. He brags about his fin-dom plans for corporations that offshore American jobs. He brags about fin-dom plans for NATO that have no bearing on how NATO members’ defense obligations are actually structured, but he looks good doing it because it allows him to highlight yet another instance of his opponents caring more about the welfare of foreigners than that of Americans. He shits on the court etiquette. The shrillest complaints about his ugly comments about minorities (e.g., Muslims) come from blatant hypocrites who didn’t lift a finger to Barack Obama for droning wedding parties and encouraging ICE and CBP to go rogue.

Trump also enrages the yuppie swarm by having fun at work. He butts heads with joyless, self-censoring careerist scolds who watch what they say and pester those around them to watch their own language not because it might be bad but because it might sound bad. Joy Ann Reid is a public intellectual in a country that used to have William F. Buckley. Now Bill, that old boy relished being a posh cunt. He may have been eccentric as hell to the poors, but he was authentic. We still have relatively marginal characters in the public discourse who have some kind of sincere fun with their intellectual pursuits. P. J. O’Rourke ought to lay off the whiskey and lay on the seltzer, but he gets his kicks yukking it up with hostile copanelists and audiences. Fred Reed is able to defend the Confederacy, an institution I’ve always been too much of a damn Yankee to admire, in ways that are exceptionally thoughtful and reasonable, if still fundamentally flawed. Thomas Sowell may be on the Spectrum, and he sometimes utters some rather noxious thoughts on how we’re too squeamish to just execute our prisoners, but he comes up with some exceptional histories of things that no one else seems able to research.

I very often disagree with these guys, but they’re ultimately quite respectable. My main problem isn’t with Opposing Viewpoints; it’s with, for example, the closest leftist equivalents to these conservative thinkers being no-platformed in favor of intellectual embarrassments like Tom Friedman. The Democratic Party and its organs keep marginalizing Thomas Frank because he causes them scandal by pointing out what a shambling wreck they’ve made of themselves.

At the snarky margins, there’s stuff like this. Read the essay and the accompanying thread, if you can stomach any of it. That combination of angry sheepdogging, hippie-punching, general shaming of the marginalized, and possible sock-puppeteering makes me wonder whether the registered Democrat, youth, and leftist votes for Trump weren’t underreported. Trump, of all people, was the one with the self-discipline not to lash out at voters whose support he sought.

The essay and comment thread in that link offer a revealing glimpse into why so many young people today in particular don’t trust institutions, including ones that Trump criticizes, and regard those who do trust the same institutions as sellouts. Gin and Tacos is something of a lodestone for educated Democrats who are resentful of Republicans, Greens, Berniecrats, and nonvoters who, in this particular case, got in the way of their woke slay Queen Abuela. A few dissenting voices were bold enough to butt in and basically ask why we wouldn’t vote for someone who gave us a positive reason to turn out instead of holding our noses and voting for someone we despise and distrust because her partisans are lecturing us again. I could identify three presidential candidates in 2016 who seemed sympathetic to the plights of a large swath of the marginalized: Sanders, Trump, and Stein. I’ve discussed why at great length before. Abuela didn’t make the list because bitch didn’t pass my gut check. It’s worth mentioning how much better Trump looked just for running on a message that was overwhelmingly positive towards the native working and lower middle classes instead of brightsiding everyone in one breath and then smearing reluctant voters as petulant children in the next.

The flame war in that Gin and Tacos link is the yuppie liberal Id that the likes of Tom Friedman and Bill Clinton are used to obscure with their happy horseshit. It’s a good example of why I was convinced for a few months that we were in the midst of a political pole reversal and still am not convinced that we aren’t. Most prominent Democrats have careened into raging illiberalism in response to Trump. If I don’t like that, I have no obligation to vote for it, just as I have no obligation to vote for anything else that I don’t like. It’s disgusting to watch people who are spewing verbal abuse at my kind demand that we vote for someone we can’t stand just to show them, who openly despise us, that we aren’t uneducated, ignorant bigots.

Only a dumbass would imagine that this is a winning stance. Besides, many of us have gotten sick of being expected to respect and defend institutions that keep screwing us over. In my case (and I know I’m not alone), voting against Hillary was a nice break from the Stockholm Syndrome. It wasn’t about to force her to deliver the goods, but it was a great way to punish her for not giving a shit about delivering the goods. It was also a great way to punish scolds who falsely construed “Make America Great Again” as nothing but a racist and sexist dogwhistle. The size and enthusiasm of Trump’s female, black, and Latino bases would embarrass the Clinton crew if they could get definitive numbers and think them over, so they would say that.

What else is there to say about this clusterfuck? Probably a lot, but I have the energy to reiterate only two things in closing: MAGA, and GO DIPLOMATS!


One thought on “Institutionalization

  1. When I was younger, I heard adults mentioning “Tom Friedman” and “Paul Krugman,” and looking back on it now, I can remember a period there for about 4-5 years where I blended their names up in the background noise of the world, and assumed that, whoever they were talking about, it was one person. One Blurb-given-named, man-ending-surnamed person, who may or may not have sometimes disagreed with himself. It clearly could only be one person, because when they talked about whatever that person said, they used the same tones of voice, same body language, and gave off the same aura.

    What a beautiful dream to think that there would only be one of them. At the time, I assumed, “Oh, that’s just the man who talks in the newspaper.” I didn’t even appreciate how wonderful it would be if there was just him inside all the televisions and newspapers of the world. Pom Kredman, singular commentator…god, the more I think about it, the more wonderful it seems. NPR would make so much sense if all they ever talked about or interviewed was Taul Krudman. What insanity of the past could’ve caused mankind to decide it needed two of them? Let alone more?

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