Dr. Kaczynski at his most Florentine never had such an obnoxious Ted Hour

Closed-circuit video kills the radio star all day every day on Bombers’ Row, harder than the BOP ever killed Lauryn Hill, the nonwhite who was the new black, and certainly harder than he did with his song. Paul Tanaka and Michael Slager are compulsory Coloradans now, too, so there’s no reason not to bring them into Michael Rudkin’s sallyport for a mass Colorado Rocky Mountain Hahaha, I’m allowed to leave whenever I want, bitch. I feel bad about associating Slager with these shitheads, but not too bad; he and the Rod Unspared are neighbors (beautiful day, Rogers!), and they’re both accomplishing more with their silver hair than I am with my brown hair. Never let anyone tell you that the systemwide ban on hair dye means that FCI Englewood isn’t just for men.

That was terrible. So are those three words (TM), which say too much (TM): Robert Philip Hanssen. *Defiant Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab voice* I don’t know what’s wrong with any of you infidel assholes, but I’m only here because I tried to blow up my shorts.

At least Mr. Explodeypants isn’t getting all up in your face to chronicle NPR. I am, though. You should have known by now that this thing wasn’t about to get any less fucked up. I don’t know whether Guy Raz has a great face for radio, and I don’t care to check, but he sure has an awful voice. Even as House Voice goes he’s a stinker. Maybe that’s why he now hosts a weekly show of neoliberal enrichment seminar excerpts. It’s a great way to get lectured by some bumptious dipshit who at least nominally has expertise in whatever field they’re examining and then get T-boned every ten minutes by the discovery that that useless simpering son of a bitch has his own urgent thoughts on the same subjects.

Today’s sic theme was “adaptation.” First they had some dude on to talk about lost Indians in deepest Mexico who were hella good ultramarathoners into their eighties because they never had running shoes, the point being that you, Bruce, Wendy, and I were all born to run. Baby. Then they brought in a blind guy with a story about how his parents let him learn to echolocate like a bat and find his own independent way in the world instead of sitting around and feeling sorry for himself. It sounded like wise parenting, but I got the feeling that the St. Elmo’s Fire shit was really aimed at people whose challenges were a lot more artificial and deliberate than being blind. It did not, for example, explain why Joe Dirtbag never pays anyone for heavy farm labor, which doesn’t exactly consist of lollygagging all day and having a sad. The episode ended with some artsy-fartsy bullshit about how metal can be hung from the ceiling in a sheet instead of like, sitting on the ground in a big solid block. That segment was so obviously fucking retarded that I needed only ten or fifteen seconds to turn the radio off and revert to my usual habitat, On Line.

The most ridiculous and offensive segment was about Rich Benjamin and Whitopia, his book about the American Whitey Rez. The problem wasn’t that they aired his talk; ever since I heard of Whitopia it’s been on my long-term reading list, and the material I’ve come across about it has always been interesting. What I did not care to hear was their sanctimonious, passive-aggressive framing of white people, many of them also White People, being unable and unwilling to adapt to life as minorities in an inexorably darkening land. Great job making me have common cause with every paranoid authoritarian asshole who cashed out the better part of a million dollars in Prop 13 home equity to buy an unduly large woodlot and a toy barn 45 minutes from Sandpoint.

It’s fucking majestic: here’s another starve-the-beast CalPERS shithead with an ax to grind about the Negroes while he watches Fox News all day in his compound, and I have to take his side 100% in this dispute because this time the liberals really are out to get him, not to mention rubbing me the wrong damn way. I’m a shitposter who drives a used Focus. I’m writing this from Sacramento, one of the most racially integrated cities in the United States. I know full well that the California diaspora loudmouths in rural Idaho are as viciously aggrieved as they are privileged. I’m not down here wistfully seeking an unattainable full communion with Whitey. A lack of white folk isn’t the problem on and around Joe Dirtbag’s farm. That property and that part of the country are plenty honkiful. It doesn’t matter, though, because as much as I enjoy the work I can’t stand the grab bag of dipshits who may or may not be risking their lives by living without heat on property that I’m funding, depending on the time of year and their personal interests. My interests don’t include Into the Wild stunts, but who am I to say that total strangers who don’t have any particular interest in or aptitude for farm work shouldn’t wander onto land that I’m funding, perhaps to live another day, perhaps to die?

There’s no shortage of grandstanding back-to-the-land assholes in the Pacific Northwest who are cordially invited to lose me with their insane bullshit. NPR has made me side with a prominent group of them in a stupid culture war because NPR has once again pulled defeat from the jaws of victory and made itself look absolutely disreputable and pathetic in its over-the-top opposition to a community that is pretty much morally bankrupt itself. When I was in Boise and Idaho City for the eclipse and saw “toy barn” crop up repeatedly in the real estate listings, I lost whatever vague, inchoate opposition I had possibly had to taxing the shit out of those motherfuckers. I’m already in California often enough to be paying significant amounts of sales tax towards their pensions, so I don’t fucking mind the idea that they might be hosed for their fair share of the upkeep for marginal, quasihoused people such as myself, take or take. Cry me the Payette over this tragedy. Hey, I just said “Pay!” That’s freshwater right there, but don’t let it stop a cracker from getting salty.

NPR never thinks in such terms. Doing so would mean questioning affluence and the behavior of the affluent, and we all know that NPR does nothing of the sort. It’s there to challenge explicit bigotry, as opposed to its politically correct implicit forms, and if possible to accuse bigots of being poor. It would be ridiculous to accuse golf-fancying property owners living in gated communities where they resettled for lifestyle reasons of being poor, and even NPR’s capacity for self-ownership has its limits, but it’s technically accurate to accuse them of moving to hella white counties where there aren’t any black and brown folk and waaah, that’s, like, all problematic-like. They’ve got sheer geography on their side: Washington County, Utah and Kootenai County, Idaho are–Wow Very Explain–counties. Adams-Morgan is a neighborhood. Does House Voice live in PG? Hell no. That would be too much Community in the community. This crew lives in Arlington and Wicked Northwest, but not being all pick a bale by sundown and mercy I do declare where’s the General Lee with the heavily black and brown help that runs the physical plant inside the Beltway allows them to play woke. That’s enough for them to pretend to socialize with the local color without giving the average casual listener a tangible reason to call bullshit. Realistically, these sermonizing assholes spend as much time on social calls in Anacostia as retirees in St. George spend at cookouts with Polynesian airport rampers in Salt Lake City, but from thirty thousand feet one sees a lower albedo, so they must be super evolved. #KeepClimbing.

This is how we find ourselves with the most annoying possible Angeleno, who moved to Washington as an adult for his own professional advancement in the imperial center, accusing everyone who moved from Simi Valley to Coeur d’Alene of being maladaptive. By the way, I just accidentally beheld that bastard’s cursed image. The morals of this story are to stay off the internet and, yes, that fucker is about as ugly a dork as you’d expect. Mark Fuhrman hasn’t aged too well himself, but he looked way better than Guy Raz ever has and ever will back in the glory days of the McGrilled Chicken Sandwich Deal. *Monty Robinson transmission incoming, on the radio* Sometimes on a Friday I’ll stop by and have a few drinks, then hit Tsawwassen in my Jeep.

Uh huh. This is a shitty Southland food fight that for some reason needs national airtime, a Jew indulging in a beef with a rough squad of retired Shabbos Goyim for not saying enough nice things about the duskies among whom none of them choose to live. Upon information and belief, Stephanie Lazarus is a Jewess, and a credit to Los Angeles Jewry. We know that Monica Lewinsky makes the tribe look solid in the same way that the Kardashians excuse the Armenians for being the Jews of Fresno. *Warren Zevon, coming back in on all three chords* Lawyers, guns, and my God, this fucker hasn’t even heard of me. Sometimes NPR tries to be subtle. This shit about demographic change and adaptation has all the tact of Detective Suchenfuch talking about the black invasion of Westwood with that amateur she-videographer dipshit. They say that everyone in LA wants to be famous. Furhman was a rare one who pulled it off, like, I totally don’t trust that cunt Captain York, but this broad who showed up in town to be a movie star seems all right.

Send me picture postcards, tough guy. Look, parts of my family are, (((YOU KNOW))), so I’m well within my rights to wonder what the hell anyone at NPR was thinking to have a passive-aggressive Jew go on the record to bitch about how career LAPD cops are maladaptive losers for retiring to Northern Idaho. For crying out loud, Furhman was raised in Washington State, and Raz is a shanda in the best of times. Someone thought it was a good idea not just to give that dorky Hebrew two successive national anchor positions and then use one of them to diss the gentiles at length for having the wrong reaction to their discomfort with nonwhites. Do they even teach logic at NPR? Lol no. It’s adaptive for a simpering dweeb to move across the country for career advancement but not for people who are sick of LA to move inland for lifestyle reasons intersecting with their openly retrograde thoughts on race.

This is the exact level of intellectual maturity and honesty that has our elected blowhards calling every inconvenient mass shooter and jihadist suicide bomber a coward. Anything that we disapprove of is weakness, while everything that we approve of is strength. We might as well give Pot-o-Shit Friend national Saturday evening airtime to denounce Kevin Vickers as a filthy weakling, because, yes, you fucking betcha I just said “turd.” I’m honestly baffled that Guy Raz was able to hack it as a war correspondent. In a way, it’s even worse that he’s merely playing an insufferable wuss, that it’s just an act. It’s like they’re calibrating the whole shtick for maximum alienation of the provincial gentiles. What better than to put a grating Semitic pussy on the air to narrate a story about how a community of street-hardened Heinz 57 honkies are a cultural and demographic cul-de-sac for being such losers that they moved somewhere else because they didn’t like the scene where they had been living?

It isn’t my fault that I’m siding with Daryl Gates and Chateau Heartiste here. NPR forced my hand. I can’t find a citation, but I recall hearing that whitopias are always near polo clubs. On the Millington-Robinson spectrum of horsemanship, polo is definitely closer to Sauce Boss falling head over heels into the creek, which is also the drink. If they aren’t careful, they’ll have me defending fancy shitheads who drink mint juleps at Churchill Downs. Northside Juice never did anything so stupid with a horse, and that storytelling buddy made it through Depot, so we know he wasn’t on track to do anything sensible with one. It isn’t my fault that I’m defending the very worst crackers that I haven’t seen with their pants on the ground on the light rail through Rancho Cordova. It’s the fault of NPR, an organization of blindingly White white people who are even worse.

Good grief, Ghomeshi, there’s no reason to choke only Canadians.

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Adventures in bourgeois feminism

How do I put this delicately? You guys are gonna get Donald Trump reelected. Excuse me, you girls and/or gals and/or strong independent women and/or buddies and friends. I guess those last two are inclusive, but mainly of Canadians, not that I can ever resolve to avoid the near occasions of canucksploitation when Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes herself got a government grant to go on a speaking tour about how to be a battered wife, since the husband she’d run over with her car had a prior scheduling conflict. I’m not here to say that he definitely didn’t rape her, but she definitely did poison that other husband’s coffee on their honeymoon in Newfoundland, and I’m not the only one you’ll find Online.

If I weren’t recapitulating the usual story about how the Lady is my Shepard, I’d be going straight into repulsive commentary that one can’t avoid by refraining from dating online or joining the Halifax Police Service, specifically, NPR. From one perspective, I should have left the radio off when I turned it off on account of the hourly news segment about whiners who got butthurt over #GrammysSoMale. From another perspective, I would have missed a worthwhile roundtable of Ira Flato, Zeynep Tufekci, and some techie Mick Gavin something-or-other about proliferating surveillance technologies. I’d have equally missed it had I merely expected Ira Flato to neurotically chap my ass like usual, so there’s that, too. Look it up for yourselves if it sounds that interesting; I don’t mind readers thinking that I’m not a feminist, but I do mind y’all expecting me to be your ever-loyal link bitch.

Other perspectives include bright-and-early plural ones, with Lionel Osborne. Everybody’s welcome and his son is dead. That’s certainly better than the “female perspective” that a feminist friend insisted would make me feel less kindly about prostitution. This woman isn’t a dummy at all, but that comment was part of a massive, catastrophic failure of American thought. This failure affects a hell of a lot more than just high feminism. This is a society whose mainstream earnestly reads Tom Friedman without asking whether that fool is on speed, or on coke. There’s something pretty wrong when random women who wouldn’t personally feel comfortable engaging in sex work do feel comfortable unilaterally erasing the individual decisions of other women with, you know, other individual perspectives. The blatantly crazy thing to anyone who looks at this mess holistically is that prostitution is the most overwhelmingly female line of work this side of surrogate pregnancy and wet nursing. I’ve never gone around claiming that Cousin Gigolo is statistically representative of the business; I assume there are more women than men turning tricks with their landlords (and ladies!) for a rent discount or waiver, and that most of them aren’t exactly my cousins, either. It’s like Kato Kaelin but with sexual privileges, and also usually with lady parts instead of gentleman parts.

By the way, what’s really wrong with these arrangements is the slumlording, but we don’t do class consciousness around here. That’s how #GrammysSoMale even became, as they say, a thing. We’re all socialized to identify with the most unattainable heights of success and get sore because what theoretically stopped us from becoming movie stars is Harvey Weinstein, not the statistical fact that most SAG members don’t get enough work or earn enough royalties from prior work to make rent. There are, what, five billion people of working age on earth and a few thousand bigshot slots in entertainment, plus a few tens of thousands of less prominent but still comfortable positions? Do the math. #STEM: Making good minds GREAT!

We’re all temporarily embarrassed millionaires. We all just wanna be big rock stars. Thanks for erasing my recurring aspiration to get legal status to pick fruit in BC, eh. It wasn’t enough to leave me to my own devices to run into walls on the HRSDC website. Seriously, I’ve felt about harvest job listings in Abbotsford the way some Mexicans feel about jobs cutting lettuce in El Centro, except that, but for the grace of God and whatever other luck went into it, I’m not desperate enough to climb sacred perimeter fences. But there’s a broader point here. It’s nigh impossible to find Americans, or at least mainstream bourgeois Americans, who admit to aspiring to do an honorable job well and earn honest wages for honest labor. Everyone insists on being excellent, which in practice means going into management and degrading subordinates for profit. It’s easier to make a living under this model by unsheathing the long knives than by developing and applying productive skills. Betsy DeVos swears that she’s all about hard work, but if you’ll excuse my indulgence in radical labor theory, collecting commissions on one’s downline is not work.

Complaining that too few women were honored in the one of the most prestigious music awards shows on earth and that anyone who feels that the honorees were chosen for merit is a raging misogynist is batshit insane. The syntax of that sentence wasn’t much more lucid, but whatever; I’ve shaken off worse than complaints about that, including relationships with leading citizens of Wyomissing. For the vast majority of Americans, including ones from affluent families who are arrogant enough to presume themselves fully exempt from economic downturns, identifying with Taylor Swift is nuts. Using gender non-parity in an awards show to infer a misogynistic conspiracy to marginalize female vocal artists is flamingly fucking nuts. Like, do you cunts EVER listen to the radio? Don’t stop, ’till there’s nothing but the, but the, nah, that was kind of gross. The Krush: 92.5: Still not the Central Coast’s favorite listen-in-prison station. Or maybe, for all I know, it is. I do know that that bullshit station has never hooked my white ass up with a job in the wine industry that it so ostentatiously celebrates.

Our catastrophic failure of thought includes, not surprisingly, a catastrophic failure of empathy. In plain terms, why the fuck would I give a shit about gender parity in the Grammys when I’m regularly sleeping in my car? Normal people with normal concerns quite frankly do not give a shit, and anyone secure and privileged enough to spare the concern for successful female entertainers who got snubbed in an awards show should realize that this is a hobbyhorse with which people of more modest means and more pressing concerns will have limited patience.

Then again, it’s stunning how sheltered some people have been raised to be. They wallow indefinitely in their comfortable ignorance because no one around them has the nerve to tell them that they’re fucking idiots. If anyone stopped by to tell them off for erasing their social inferiors, they’d just angrily erase the bearer of rude news. On Facebook, this can be done in a single majestic click.

Some of them are barely more like Taylor Swift than some waitress; they’re just secure enough. The Insurance Schmuck’s ex-fiancée is one. Like Taylor Swift, she selectively uses feminism to assert herself as a strong independent woman, but she also has an uncanny ability to find affluent boyfriends, and she all but openly cares more about the welfare of dogs than the welfare of the poor. I was warned in the past not to share this story, but fuck off if it chaps your ass, because a few years ago this chick managed to get her father to drive drunk in the middle of the night from Erie to Rochester while the Rochester Police were doing a lengthy welfare check on her and the Insurance Schmuck at her mother’s request because she hadn’t responded to the most recent text messages that her mother had sent in the aftermath of a domestic dispute that these two fine young lovers had had in their hotel room. She was in her twenties by the time this shitshow went down. If I recall correctly, she had already graduated from college.

Here’s what bothers me about this. I’ve had my parents stage similar interventions later in my life, if nothing quite that ridiculous, but I’ve always recognized that these interventions indicated some inability on my part to function independently. This chick is duplicitous enough to want to have it both ways, and from what I can tell everyone around her has spent her entire life tacitly encouraging her to do exactly that. These dipshits think her shtick is cute. In reality, it is objectively antisocial and dyscivic. Scaled up, it destroys societies.

This woman never struck me as particularly talented. In a healthy society, that would be fine because she’d still be able to make a decent living doing something requiring mediocre talent. Unfortunately, she lives in a particularly licentious corner of an extremely unhealthy society. This is why I’m convinced that she specifically is a fount of fascism, under one partisan label or another. And I’m picking on her because she’s frighteningly representative of the failspawn of our generation, in particular the downwardly mobile young women. We have a huge number of children of affluence who are inevitably reverting to the mean in a period of extreme socioeconomic dysfunction and cutthroat immorality. They’ve been indoctrinated since early childhood with a toxic combination of self-esteem drivel, devious horseshit about their own meritocratic worth, and exhortations to greatness.

Do tell that this may not end well when it coincides with a Fourth-Turning secular collapse of the international economy. I’ve been in the schools. I’ve seen it. I’ve met the results of this campaign. Some of them have turned out better than could reasonably be expected of them. Others are fucking nightmarish.

This mishmash of braindead talking points is most effective on the least talented. These are the ones who need to get in on whatever identity politics scam they can to get ahead since whatever talents they do have will leave them in poverty under our current socioeconomic dispensation. Bourgeois feminism works for up to half of them, give or take. Mostly take, because lower-class women know damn well that this song and dance isn’t being performed for them. All this Lean In shit is part of the grand Dunning-Kruger operation to convince children of privilege that they’re as special as their own upbringings and to shield them from the disheartening evidence that their own desultory skills would wash them down into the beleaguered underclass without outside intervention.

Sheryl Sandberg is shrewd enough to tell that there’s a market for this garbage. Oprah is definitely more functional and thoughtful than the women she targets; Sandberg probably is. I mentioned Zeynep Tufekci above, and I don’t recall hearing her bitch about ridiculous petty grievances of the sisterhood. Nor do I often hear women who are competent and accomplished at much of anything, from running a farm to practicing nursing or medicine to just being really fucking well-read and well-spoken, gripe promiscuously about shit like how hurtful it is that so few women were honored at the Grammys and some male chauvinist pig had the balls to justify it on the basis that most of the worthy honorees the committee found were men. I do sometimes hear them complain about the sort of women who do complain about this shit, if you can stand the meta world discord (don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn you about that sort of thing), and I do know that if I saw prominent, privileged men carrying on like on a regular basis and getting platformed by major news organizations I’d be furious.

This still doesn’t answer why I keep listening to NPR. I can’t account for myself, except to say that it’s pretty impossible to catch any of the good stuff without at least risking exposure to something absolutely fucking retarded and disgraceful. #SPORTS are mixed up with shameful talking points about Russian meddling that Scott Simon has been instructed to disseminate, but I end up sleeping straight through #SPORTS, half-waking for five seconds of commentary about the President’s foul mouth, and remembering nothing at all after I’ve finally awoken for good for the afternoon but Chicago Senpai saying “shithole” on air. I’m actually doing all right today, since I caught most of a mostly good episode of Science Friday, which I always expect to suck ass. I don’t suppose I have a good voice for radio, but with talent like that, and the Radio Lab and TED Radio Hour assholes, I can’t say that I’m uncompetitive. As they say about sex in Maine, it’s all relative.

My problem is that I keep listening to a network that revolves around people who at least pretend to be doing something with their college degrees. Before I came in to write this I was scavenging deposit bottles from parking lots in Reno. Grievances about butthurt divas getting other women butthurt because they think they’ll be Taylor Swift someday if only men stopped being so mean obviously resonate with me. I’m in a nice part of Reno, as Reno goes; I’m not a fucking mascochist, now; but I’m not out here pretending that a fancy college education in the liberal arts and also some sciences enable me to function in American office cultures that are Dilbert hell minefields, is why I recognize which cans the State of *OPSEC* Whore Gone will pay me to turn in when I’m next in *THIS PLACE DOESN’T EXIST, EITHER* Slammeth Balls, or produced the literary skill to traffic “lyrics” of “Benny and the Jolts” and “Gerry and the Hearstoppers” “tunes.” Did I mention that modern American society devalues the shit out of independent and informal education, along with independent thought? I don’t expect all of my own material to be original when I’m shitposting about Mounties again, nor do I expect payment for recycling my shiznit. What, me Durden?

As Lenin said, the intellectuals are not society’s brains, but its shit. He wasn’t entirely wrong, and Soviet state radio wasn’t entirely worse than NPR. I’m just some asshole with a blog. They’re just some assholes with a federally funded, Congressionally chartered national radio network. Mark my words: any fund drive that I undertake won’t be THAT bad.

Deplorable Third World shithole discourse

It’s curious that what really set off the mainstream news media about Donald Trump, what caused them to grow a backbone, stand the hell up, and utter the unutterable on air, was a contemptuous, modestly foulmouthed tirade about a number of dysfunctional foreign countries and the denigration of their citizens by association with them. I don’t know what all to read into this fight. It’s certainly being fought by people who are neither principled nor thoughtful, on both sides (many sides!), but it’s in the nature of chronic exposure to offensive, oppressive, or just unpleasant behavior that the last straw isn’t necessarily the most egregious incident in the pattern. This thing is a standoff, and standoffs do not unfold rationally or predictably. They’re dynamic. They hit unexpected flashpoints out of the blue.

Did the outraged journalists who are so upset by Trump’s crude language about foreigners get into their particular extreme outrage over his rude comments about foreigners and their home countries because they value foreign countries and the interests of their citizens above the United States and the interests of Americans? That’s probably part of it on some vague level, but they’ve also gotten worked into a special lather about Donald Trump’s nativist sentiments specifically. They were much more circumspect when Barack Obama mercilessly deported millions of illegal aliens and aerially immolated foreigners and Americans alike in gross military violations of other nations’ sovereignty, on the basis that the targets of these assassinations were outlaws. Explicit nativism has been coded as downmarket for decades, long before Trump became its poster boy, and now that he’s in high office, over the strenuous sworn wishes of a bipartisan incumbent political establishment, he makes an excellent scapegoat for anyone who wants to smear all nativism, nationalism, and parochial concern for the welfare of America or Americans as the most unspeakable vulgarity.

Trump’s shithole comments, although not really egregious by his own prevailing standards, were gross and vapid, evidence of a very real meanness of spirit and crudity of mind. The loudest parties calling him out for speaking so crudely have awfully little moral credibility themselves, but as I’ve discussed before, he ultimately serves at the pleasure of Congress, because Congress ultimately determines what is and is not impeachable. They may be shitty assholes in their own right, but if the sense of their meeting is that he is terminally out of line to speak in that fashion in his official capacity, they can put his impertinent ass out on the curb with last week’s trash. The Constitution does not dictate that the President has the inalienable right to offend and alarm members of Congress with absolute impunity by indulging in gratuitously vicious insults at will in a manner that calls into question his moral and mental fitness for office. The 25th Amendment is ultimately a redundancy. A critical mass of the legislature can decide that even if the president isn’t blatantly senile, his language sounds close enough to senile disinhibition and is enough of a national embarrassment and obstruction to good governance to justify his removal from office.

For similar reasons Congress has the prerogative to remove Trump from office for being a Nazi sympathizer. There is ample, although mostly circumstantial, evidence that he sides with Nazis and fellow-traveling white supremacist thugs when they engage in violent domestic insurrections resulting in injury and death. Congress does not have a duty to tolerate a president who sympathizes with perpetrators of organized communal violence. This is an example of the political and civic dysfunction that has enabled Donald Trump and his allies in their worst behavior and allowed them, surreally, to claim the moral high ground. There’s no credible principle under which it’s completely beyond the pale to denigrate other countries and encourage restrictions on the immigration of their citizens to the United States but basically acceptable, if one can withstand a weekend tongue-lashing, to use the bully pulpit to cover for violent domestic insurrectionists who are trying to start a race war. This kind of shit is hits the international wire services as a pretty big scandal when it happens in India because it is, in fact, a big deal. Our legislators have no duty to allow colleagues or executives whose removal they are constitutionally allowed to seek to flippantly court similar bloodshed in the United States. They don’t need to tolerate Klan revanchism.

They do tolerate it because they secretly, or not so secretly, sympathize with it. There are a whole lot of neo-eugenicist Randian creeps slithering around in Congress and our statehouses, mainly in the GOP, who support violent white supremacy and the top-down class warfare that traditionally goes with it. They dare not say so because it would be scandalous and they’d soon lose their offices one way or another, but implicit support for heinous, bigoted policies rarely costs them anything. On the bright side, it did help Gadsden Lovin’ barely lose his bid for the US Senate, but that was at a time when he’d just been exposed as a mall-cruising sex pest.

We could do to be hesitant in our campaigns to fix other countries when our own is such a fucking disaster. The rot goes much deeper and wider than projectile sexual repression, even if we have a special national tradition of sexual hypocrisy corrupting the law. It’s popular on the woke left to complain that the term “Third World” has a seedy history as a construct of the intelligence services and is an insult to beleaguered poor countries in the Global South. It’s certainly used as a slur in some quarters, but so are many other terms, many of them much nastier. “Third World” and “First World” are odd artifacts of the Cold War, especially in the absence of “Second World” from the popular lexicon. That was the classification of Commieworld: Red China, Red Russia, superficially red Poland, etc., but nobody today seems to have a clue what it means or that it even exists. In popular usage, First and Third World have been adopted as shorthand terms for socioeconomic and human development levels at the extremes.

This is awfully Wow Very Explain, but it’s pertinent. The idea is that we, the First World, have our shit together and they, the Third World, are the shitholes. It’s a crude classification that paints over a lot of nuances, but unlike so many political terms, the meanings are universally understood. These terms are not at all like “conservative” or “liberal,” whose meanings have been bastardized to impenetrable hell. Everyone knows what they mean.

The moral posturing over this shit is as inevitable as it is insufferable, but it’s worth climbing above the fray and thinking about what it takes for a society to move from the Third World into the First or, tragically, from the First into the Third. It’s perfectly manageable to recognize that Nigeria is a third-world country with serious enduring problems of governance and human development while also recognizing that it’s been the scene of chronic colonial pillaging followed by decades of post-colonial official corruption at the hands of its native elites. This is a shitty situation for any country to face and a tall order for civil society organizations and political newcomers to reform, and Nigerian reformers complain bitterly about it.

It’s sensible, then, to cut a society some extra slack on moral judgment if its recent history revolves around some combination of civil war, foreign military invasion, coups d’état, colonial expropriation, genocide, pervasive official corruption, and collapse of national sovereignty into a failed state. These are terrible conditions, and the responsible parties absolutely should be held to account for them, but they’re mostly beyond the capacity of private citizens to prevent, and the recovery afterwards can be slow and difficult. Ordinary Somali fishermen weren’t pleased with their government for deteriorating to the point that it stopped deploying a coast guard. They weren’t thinking, oh, cool, this means that we can go launch high-risk pirate raids on Western ships whose crews will try either to kill us or have us extradited for trial in countries we’ve never visited instead of fishing for a living. Sure, Somalia has become prime territory for gang thugs and religiously preoccupied tyrants, some real bad dudes, but it’s funny that the piracy got going in earnest after the government collapsed, sovereignty over Somalia fractured into an incoherent mess of warring military commands, and Western trawlers strip-mined the entire offshore water column in the midst of the chaos on shore.

It says something else entirely when a prosperous, well-governed beacon of the First World descends into gathering third-world squalor and misgovernment because its politics have fallen into the vise grip of decadent narcissists. That’s what we have in the United States. We haven’t failed to climb out of national poverty and dysfunction; we’ve deliberately squandered an inherited regime of exceptional prosperity, good government, and equity in pursuit of the most vicious, destructive forms of unfair personal and factional advantage over others. This is one of the most damning things any society has ever done to itself.

For two generations or so, we achieved a series of belated, incremental reforms: Social Security, Medicare, the Depression-era employment programs, Eisenhower’s genuinely conservative stewardship of what his predecessors had won at such great effort and under such harrowing circumstances, the Civil Rights Act, the Great Society, the Church Commission. Then, after the well-meaning ineptitude of the Carter Administration, greatly exaggerated by a shrill opposition, we elected a reactionary TV blowhard to spend eight years throwing it all into the dumpster while we pretended that he wasn’t sundowning on live TV. But Goodnight Simi Valley was just one of the more prominent public faces of the problem. Reaganism enjoyed significant popular support from what was increasingly turning into a nation of sellouts. Not seeing any threats from this irresponsibility on the horizon, we spent most of the subsequent three decades, up to the present day, slouching into a progressive dereliction of responsibility. At one point, Social Security was saved by Monica Lewinsky, the Forrest Gump of starfucking sluts. The angel with the blue dress, blue dress on did not, unfortunately, save Glass-Steagall, and we still haven’t entirely recovered from the delayed-action destruction that her boy Slick Willie’s deal with the banks caused not just the national but the international economy starting in 2007-08.

We now have, not for the first time, a comprehensively corrupt national leadership. Bernie Sanders, one of the few more or less clean politicians to run for the presidency, got ratfucked in his own party primary at the direction of the Clinton machine, which was as insatiable as ever at the prospect of foreign bribes to its “charitable” foundations. The Trump organization strives for even less plausible deniability about why federal agencies and various parties with business before the federal government pay so much rent to its chain of very expensive hotels, resorts, and apartment towers. Bizarrely, from some angles Trump seems to anger the incumbent government grafter set precisely because he is NOT as corruptible as themselves, i.e., by possibly following through on the blustery campaign promises he made to dispossessed blue-collar constituencies.

We got here because our national character went to hell. That much was our doing. We put crooks into Congress and the White House for decades. A critical mass of the public, including more than its share of reliable voters, sold out to be yuppies, social consequences be damned. Christopher Lasch sounded a bit shrill and catastrophic at the time, but he was right about the elites going into a state of revolt against their host society. It is absolutely true that they, as a group, moved to rob and dispossess everyone more vulnerable than themselves, and to justify these depredations.

One of the scary things I’ve noticed is that the upper middle class and above have been able to so shelter themselves that they are able to secede from the national reality that the rest of their society is forced to live on a daily basis. All they have to do is listen to mainstream, politically correct sources that happen to be crooked and full of shit and shut out any dissenting voices that show up in their social media feeds. This helps explain a number of people who have defriended me on Facebook. There are certain cases in which I know full well that I got shut out for being an ass for no good reason, but in a number of others it’s uncanny that I got blocked by people whose precious personal brands of earnest striving and self-censorship were inherently incompatible with my insistence on not polishing turds for free on a platform that is mine and mine alone to control.

The implications of this ability to selectively silence dissenting voices on a platform that is expressly designed to maintain indiscriminately broad social ties are fucking scary. I try not to dwell on this situation, but it’s potentially dire. It’s already drawing people with some of the highest formal educational attainment in the country into a state of mind that is functionally psychotic. I’m not kidding or being figurative. Hanging out at a bus stop in Inglewood all afternoon and speculating that the planes overhead may be headed for a different universe than LAX is much, much more deranged and dangerous than erroneously believing that one’s country does not have problems with unemployment or poverty. Nobody gets hurt when another A340 plunges into the wormhole of some al fresco nutjob’s febrile mind; that joystick-controlled Eurotrash ship still lands, and homeboy goes down separately, without it. If drug addiction is assumed to be the only reason why anyone in the United States has trouble finding housing or work, that’s a serious fucking failure of engagement with reality that will almost certainly have degrading social effects. When that sort of scurrilous horseshit is believed by voters who can’t imagine that anyone at their investment bank has a problem with alcohol or cocaine, the very worldview that drives these winners is a dangerous full frontal attack on equity and the rule of law.

The problem isn’t that we have crazy people on the loose; it’s that we’re governed by people who are batshit insane and protected by overpowering social conventions under the auspices of powerful siloing technology from all criticism. The Insurance Schmuck’s ex-fiancée, for example, has clearly gone off the deep end in bougie crazytown since she moved to San Diego. I wasn’t nearly so naïve to fly out there in a madcap effort to join the police force. It’s inconceivable that this chick has any fucking idea how socioeconomically mainstream people five miles away from her neighborhood live, let alone the teeming horde of godforsaken homeless downtown. She’s too busy posting Instagram photos of her waterfront yoga routines in Pacific Beach (shit, Brando, you’re losing the girth war) and New Year’s Eve poolside with her current boyfriend in Cabo.

I’m braced for this chick to go full fash. That she hasn’t overtly done so is probably a function of cues she’s picked up that MAGA agitation is downscale. She obviously assumes that she’s safe from whatever horrors the bad parts of our government are scheming to inflict on their constituents because she’s a cute, peppy blonde from a nice family in CB East and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. Put Robinson in a shabbier red top and a Jeep, and see if he survives a watch on beach patrol. Seriously, this chick is headed for overt hardcore reaction with a side of Paltrowan gobbledygook, but hey, Hitler, her fellow dog fancier, was into the health foods, too. #MeatlessMuscle.

Homeskillet could have been formed into a political worldview magnanimous enough not to make me wonder who will be up to launch the foreign military invasion once we go into irreversible authoritarian overdrive, but the Insurance Schmuck’s politics were only marginally less dangerous than her own, and even though he liked to be a domineering alpha asshole in his relationships, especially back then, this forcefulness rarely extended to checking a peppy rich girl’s privilege. He thought that kind of thing was cute and arousing. As I said, these people are goddamn dangerous.

Actually, on second thought, she probably didn’t vote for Trump because she has a Facebook cover photo of that fucking little girl statue in front of the Wall Street bull. She’s into feminist fascism, you see. I’m sure she could lead me into an unfathomable world of hypocritical incoherence, a new frontier of Lean In girl power, fainting submission to the nearest preppy hunk with enough cash or credit to wine and dine m’lady in proper Baja style, and structural Betty Shelby.

This chick’s worldview somehow bothers me more than Melissa Ann Shepard. Now that’s some toxic femininity. But Sweet Melissa of the Maritimes never killed a man without courting him first. All a fellow has to do to survive her is to dump out the fucking coffee and/or flag down a Halifax policewoman because she’s back on her internet bullshit again. Yeah, there’s the serial fraud thing, but there are insurance policies against some QEII-looking creepy bitch draining one’s bank account dry. Not the only thing she drained dry, AM I RIGHT, GENTLEMEN. There aren’t insurance policies against the engagement of Fifty Shades-vulnerable dipshit daddy’s girls showing up to vote their fellow citizens into abject penury or indulge in paranoid delusions about the local color on Nextdoor. That much takes a degree of civic vigilance whose energy requirements far exceed anything I’ve expended on canucksploitative shitposting. God help us, but Monty the Mountie’s Motorcar is the least of our worries. Saucin’ in Tsawwassen was never why I ended up sleeping in my car on a regular basis. I can’t say that about some of the people I knew in school.

Siraj and Me

When I saw lefty Twitter elements telling Siraj Hashmi to get fucked for dissing Chelsea Manning, I thought, gee, I think I may know that guy, and then, holy shit, I think I went to school with him. I didn’t recognize his picture, but the name is awfully unusual, and sure enough, it’s the same dude.

My first reaction upon confirming this was to hate Dickinson College even more than usual. Of course our dear Dickerson Collitch was sending meritocratic hotshots to the imperial center to enforce Democratic Party orthodoxy on Ben Cardin’s behalf for a living. *MY OLD SCHOOL* really is a hidden Ivy.

I didn’t exactly know Siraj, but I knew who he was, and by Facebook’s count alone, we have dozens of friends (“friends”) in common. But knowing most of these people is absolutely fucking useless. Learning that yet another social climber I often saw around campus gets a byline to drag primary challengers who threaten the incumbencies of elected officials who feel entitled to their jobs didn’t make me wonder why the hell I’m scavenging deposit bottles for the pocket change (duh: the money), but why in God’s name I can’t get payroll employment and decent housing on demand. No one pays tuition to a bumptious school like Dickinson on the suspicion that the completion of its coursework and receipt of its diploma won’t be a safeguard against unemployment and homelessness. It really is that simple; shove the talk of individual meritocratic pluck back up your ass if you disagree.

It isn’t just the amount of money that that school’s graceless, ungrateful administration hoovers up from all possible directions: I also knew far too many people with overt psychiatric or substance abuse problems that were serious enough to call into question their employability, and as far as I can tell the vast majority of them are gainfully employed, usually in prestigious positions. There’s something other than meritocracy at play when dozens of people who consistently acted like they were on course to end up drifting between rehab programs, psych wards, and SRO’s on the Bowery instead end up living in nice apartments in nice parts of our most expensive cities and holding down well-paid, stable, professional (sic, ish) jobs. So help me, I am not the only dysfunctional graduate among the people I knew there, or the most dysfunctional, and I’m sure in retrospect that there in fact was a great deal of coke drifting around campus, even though I only recall hearing about other drugs (mostly pot, hash, and shrooms). I say this because Dickinson enrolls and duly barfs back out exactly the class of entitled, belligerently grandiose prep-ass shitheads who drive cocaine demand worldwide.

Okay, not so much in interior BC; that disgraced Mountie sarge from the public information office at the Kamloops detachment wasn’t all about selling that base to investment bankers. That market figures, why buy crack already baked when you can bake your own at home, like Papa Murphy’s? *Sloppy second opinion from Rob Ford incoming* Because by the time you’re ready to smoke some crack, you’re too fucking blacked-out drunk to cook shit. I mean, I don’t see why else I’d smoke crack. Do you guys smoke that shit when you’re sober? Jesus Christ, Lillooet must be a shithole.

Cool, the one word that I was awake enough to hear Scott Simon utter on air over the weekend and still remember after I properly woke up. #StayWoke. Monty Robinson doesn’t need crack to commit perjury and DUI vehicular manslaughter. Here we go again; what a shock. I know most of you didn’t come here to rundel in the jungle; y’all are still here for that crap I wrote about Gulf Arab gents shitting on Western rent girls, and that’s gross. Not that I can dictate another man’s taste, of course. As my second-degree acquaintance Taylor Swift always says, haters gonna haidt; sheikh it off.

Surely you’ll be asking the Lord to have Mersey upon me if I force another Gerry and the Heartstoppers meme into this discourse. On this side of the 49th Parallel, it’s traditional for a man to take up fishing for his midlife crisis, so as much as I, SDPD reject and all, admire those who somehow get onto the force hella late in life (Chuck Quackenbush, too), I can’t help but question Fishy Horse’s judgment for going to Depot. No, that’s not true; it’s the recreational fishermen who are disturbed. None of this is to say that the RCMP isn’t a shitshow; it was having salacious sexual harassment scandals years ago, before that was cool, to the point of routinely sidelining disgruntled female constables on long-term disability at 100% pay because their corporals were assholes that the brass didn’t feel like disciplining. The RCM Buddy/Guy RC is a great agency for those who want to get paid to look dead sexy on a horse, then get paid to drink all day in their apartments and/or quietly wish that they were back on the island in chest waders, tugging on a big-ass net.

Dickinson graduates get paid for dumber, more useless shit than any of that. Hell, my parents live near Saratoga Springs, and Sauce Boss never did anything that ridiculous with a horse. That right there is the kind of thing that seems to happen to those who are blessed with discretionary income more than they are with sense. They dress up like Pride and Prejudice extras to go watch runts batter thoroughbreds with riding crops until they break their legs. It’s an elaborate mating ritual, and the eugenics aren’t just for the horses. It’s that feeling when one must court exclusively with those who are suitably white, or at least suitably White, so that those who marry into the family can afford their gambling problems. If you come across a bunch of inbred-looking mediocrities at the track, that’s probably why.

The asshats whose stranglehold on Maryland politics Chelsea Manning is trying to break have more of that hybrid vigor, but this doesn’t mean that they’re defensible. I’m guessing that the Pimlico crowd is Republican, which is just as well, since they’re just about the last constituency that the reputable parts of the Democratic base would want dictating the agenda.

The clarifying thing about shooing the Main Line trash off to the Republican Party was that it maintained a reasonably coherent adversarial relationship between a highbrow reactionary party and a lowbrow leftist party. It forced the affluent to admit that they were looking out for their own class interests, in case anyone was gullible enough to think that they were doing anything else. It limited the cognitive dissonance to have William F. Buckley squaring off against Cesar Chavez or what have you.

What we have today is a clusterfuck. The Democrats still swear that they’re looking out for the workingman, but Katie bar the fucking door against anyone who gets in the way of total yuppie aggrandizement. Then they wonder why the poor vote “against their interests,” since the Democratic Party is obviously defending the interests of laid-off miners and assembly line workers by catering obsequiously to MBA’s, corporate lawyers, and fellow-traveling SuperZIP desk jockeys. The poors must just be a bunch of ignorant,  uneducated religious zealots, certainly not attentive observers fed up with a party that insists on brownnosing every asshole who has ever tried to lay them off and then condescendingly blame them for being out of work.

The Democratic Party’s base in Maryland is said to be even worse: specifically, dominated by government workers. If these were just schoolteachers, yeomen running the region’s public works, and the like, it’d be fine, but what it really means is that the Democratic Party sucks up to every self-serious piece of shit who works for the NSA, along with every equally mentally disordered social climber who is attached in some capacity to Capitol Hill or the White House.

These are the worst government employees in the country. Only Virginia rivals Maryland for the low moral character of the residents it has working in and around government. This is why the Old Dominion has gone light purplish-blue: enough hangers-on in the functionally reactionary arms of the federal government have been convinced that the Democratic Party is the protector of their livelihoods and that their own welfare rises and falls with that of the alphabet soup of three-letter national security agencies to swing NoVa 60-40 or better in favor of Democratic candidates. That, and the Republicans have their thumbs up their asses on the regional traffic problem. Their increasing cultural affinity for the Democratic Party, though, is premised on the party being tacitly but fundamentally reactionary. They’re the imperial enforcer class. They aren’t about to get stoked for anyone who explicitly condemns the imperial order and implies that their jobs make them personally complicit in war crimes.

Hence all the dipshits this region sends to high office: Tim Kaine, Steny Hoyer, Ben Cardin. This list alone includes the weirdo who did jack shit for Hillary Clinton’s campaign except make her look bad by association with him, the gutless wonder who (along with Nancy Pelosi, because of course) forced Barack Obama to scuttle his plan to tax 529 college savings plans, as one does when one represents Affluenza Acres in Congress, and the tyrannically censorious shit ticket who wants to criminalize the BDS movement. That alone is reason enough to run Cardin out of Congress. He’s so eager to curry favor with the worst Jews on earth that he’s proposing to abrogate the US Constitution in fealty to a regional imperial power that, incidentally, once bombed a US naval ship, causing multiple casualties. I’m not exactly Jewish, but I’m Jewish enough to assert that this whole sick spectacle makes American Jewry look bad and that I will blame Ben Cardin if I ever catch blowback for it.

The way everyone involved in this movement for compulsory Zionism and fealty to whatever governments besides Israel’s are sloshing around in the garbage bag of official US allies is batshit fucking insane. Releasing video evidence of war crimes by US military personnel is treasonous, but moving to subvert the US Constitution on behalf of a foreign power is not. In what parallel civic universe is it acceptable to shitcan the First Amendment because a foreign government is butthurt about activists calling it out for human rights abuses? It would really be worthwhile to reinvigorate a Yiddish tradition of shanda smackdowns in this country, just so that troublemakers from AIPAC think twice before starting shit that makes other Jews and Semi-Semites look bad. No joke, I’d rather be ethnically associated with Harvey Weinstein; at least that way, I could point to Our Lord’s Servant Gerald and J. Denny Dundiddly as gentile concelebrants in the fellowship of the grope and the perv.

Siraj Hashmi trots out barely sourced anecdotes about how “some think” that Manning is a traitor who belongs in prison for the rest of his original term and shouldn’t have gotten hormone treatments for the purpose of sex reassignment behind bars. It’s no great accomplishment to find Beltway loudmouths who indulge in such gross fantasies of uninterrupted revenge, but why should the Democratic base tolerate, let alone cater to, this trash sack of bullies and hired thugs? This is extremely illiberal argumentation. A reasonable political alignment might include one major party with a bloodlust for carceral overdrive, but we already have the GOP for that, and that’s as good a place as any to shoo off anyone who tries to corrupt the decency of the Democratic Party with shitty bureaucratic revenge fantasies. I’d be quite happy for the Democrats not to contest the Republicans’ claim on depraved authoritarians and their heinous fantasies of incarcerating political prisoners for decades on end and punitively denying them medical care. That’s hateful, toxic garbage that no decent party should welcome.

“Some” “think” all sorts of crazy shit. This doesn’t mean that they deserve a platform for the normalization of their vicious lunatic notions. The guy on the LA subway the other week whom I had the beat cop go check in on thought that his daughter might be on the train and looked like he might lunge at any of our throats in his quest to find her. I’ve encountered other disturbed people who were muttering stories of blunt-force trauma to the knees or thought we all might be surrounded by portals to other dimensions. There’s no reason to give them a platform just because they have a story to tell. If a nutjob shows up with violent hallucinations and delusions of persecution, there’s no reason not to let him find his own audience, or to have patrol turf him out to the Hollywood Division if he won’t maintain an indoor voice and gait on the train.

We all ought to be as sensible about no-platforming equally disturbed political movements. A college education might be worth something if it taught the discernment between the decent and the indecent, the sane and the insane, and instilled the moral courage to call out disordered argumentation without fear or favor, but it wasn’t in college that I learned how to call out authority figures. As the half-cocked excuse for political science in the link shows, college didn’t do that for Siraj Hashmi, either. That’s a great example of what’s wrong with the selective objectivity of American journalism. We end up with the equivalent of soundbites from Kevin Vickers and Melissa Ann Shepard about whether or not it’s wrong to kill people for money and amusement. There’s no discernment of the bad from the good, and, so long as there’s a faction advancing it, no refusal to give a position a platform because it’s blatantly heinous.

The horserace concern-trolling has Hashmi all worked up about how omg Manning primarying Cardin might make deep-blue Maryland elect, if you’ll get this, a Republican. What, like Larry Hogan? LOL. Love too learn that a novice primary challenger is the reason why the Democratic Party may not have a stranglehold on statewide elected office in Maryland, as opposed to Maryland’s sitting Republican governor.

And if Manning spoils the election for some theoretical Republican? Boo fucking hoo. Cardin hasn’t alienated me to the extent that Hillary Clinton has, probably because ignorance is bliss, but he’s one US Senator out of 100, representing a state that has been exceptionally corrupted by some of the worst possible federal largesse. If that AIPAC-rimming dipshit is indispensable to the Democratic Congressional Caucus, the Democratic Party is screwed.

Besides, Cardin and the voters whose support he most cherishes are exactly the constituency that needs to be humiliated for the national good. We aren’t talking about an incrementalist moderate like Doug Jones running against the execrable Gadsden Lovin’, or Claire McCaskill, a Blue Dog embarrassment under normal circumstances, holding the line against a sexually superstitious religious zealot like Rep. Legitimate Rape. Don’t tell my heart, my akin breakin’ heart. We’re talking about a constitutionally transgressive blowhard running interference on behalf of a foreign government and representing a state where, in spite of the commanding lead that his party usually holds in statewide elections, his partisans are up in arms about how the party will be wrecked by a primary challenge, and he therefore deserves to proceed into the general election unopposed.

Already I like the idea of a Republican junior senator more than that of another six years of Ben Cardin. As a rule of thumb I prefer Democrats to Republicans, but I won’t mind losing one seat out of a hundred to punish these assholes for their boundless sense of entitlement. This is for the same reason that I enjoyed Trump as punishment, and still sometimes do. The people who get saltiest about these upsets are exactly those I want to see humiliated with a dose of their own medicine. If they throw a shit fit over the loss of “their” Senate seat in Maryland, I’ll just point and laugh.

It’s the same thing I would have done had Trump won Oregon or Vermont. The 2016 election was so dynamic, and the underlying sociology so unspeakably weird and unstable, that I thought he had a perceptible chance of carrying California. I didn’t consider twenty- or thirty-point swings in his favor from the professional polls to the electoral returns to be out of the question. In both Oregon and Vermont, I thought that the proud independence of the electorates might sink Hillary’s chances, with traditionally Democratic voters bristling violently at the dictatorial campaign to compel them to be #WithHer. Losing either Oregon or Vermont would have made the Democratic establishment shit bricks. That’s their territory, after all, and they weren’t ones to consider the possibility that it’s bad political strategy to demand the unbroken loyalty of a state whose very popular US Senator they just ratfucked out of a presidential nomination that he would have taken straight to a general election victory. Hell, even a one-state Bernie win in the general or a victorious cruise of the Stein Steamer down Lake Champlain would have been glorious, not just as a positive win but also as a way to pump up the beautiful Hillbot salt works.

Say what you will about my political judgment, but I think we came pretty close to something of the sort. Bernie didn’t win office in Vermont by barking, okay, listen up, you hayseed ingrates, I’m from Brooklyn and this is how we’re gonna do things. He got there and stayed there by having the humility to listen to people. Donald Trump got into office by sounding like he halfway understood the concerns of workaday Americans and maybe gave a damn, while Hillz lost the Rust Belt, Appalachia, and the entire election with her air of superiority. I was intellectually prepared to see her lose a number of solidly blue states by provoking a stealth male backlash against her feminazi grandstanding, along with Oregon and Vermont for being a carpetbagging city slicker who won’t stop telling her inferiors what to do.

In the end, the Donald didn’t win any states that no one was expecting him to win. He did just well enough at the margins in a bunch of swing states to carry the election without stealing any of the hardcore Democratic strongholds for the majestic offering of salt. That is, Democratic voters who were disgruntled with Hillary and her campaign turned out for her anyway. I bloody well didn’t, but quite a few did. She won decisively in many of the counties where Jill Stein did well. Conversely, Trump overcame serious spoiler challenges from Gary Johnson and Evan McMullin, although to judge from DNC talking points they don’t count as spoilers because, hush, let’s not talk about that.

The shitty ingrates who run the Democratic Party have gotten more loyalty from their disaffected base than they’ll ever admit, so I don’t see why they shouldn’t continue to do without mine. Their conversion of an erstwhile labor party to a rallying cry for overeducated douchebags I used to see around campus doesn’t fucking help.

Joe Biden stealing your wife, stealing your valor, stealing every cent you have deposited in the financial system, stealing your crab

If the Democratic Party actually runs that crooked, gaslighting, falsely modest son of a bitch in 2020, either it’s screwed or we, its constituents, are screwed. Donald Trump’s popularity has retreated into a small hard core of the belligerently authoritarian affluent plus some truly pathetic disturbed cult followers, so a Biden candidacy wouldn’t necessarily be an immediate losing proposition. The general electorate might pine for the hallucinated prosperity and good manners of the Obama years. Trump’s swing voters might well figure, look, asshole, we gave you your chance and you fucking blew it by throwing tantrums every day. One figure I’ve seen for the size of the hardline white nationalist right in the United States is 22 million, a fringe that’s rather large for comfort but nowhere near large enough to dictate the 2016 outcome. Plenty of others, including former Obama/Biden voters, were hoping against hope that Trump might actually govern on their behalf. I barely didn’t vote for Trump, so I was one of these. It’s perfectly conceivable that a disgusted electorate might basically decide every four years that it’s punishment day.

What Biden will reliably do if he wins the Democratic nomination is infuriate the party’s base and provoke an internecine war against the kingmakers. It may end up looking like Chicago 1968, which yielded an electoral defeat for the Democrats, and it may even destroy the party entirely. It’s something of a disanalogy to call student debt the Vietnam War of the Millennials and the post-postmodern generation on its heels, whatever the fuck we’re being told to call it, but there’s some aptness to the comparison. Our current foreign wars affect fewer Americans because they’re being fought by a relatively small, all-volunteer force drawn largely from marginalized poor parts of the country, the classic model being frontline personnel from the hinterlands and the rear echelons from the ghettos and barrios. It’s immoral to ignore the sacrifices being demanded of these service members and their families, especially when the sacrifices are of life, limb, or mind, but as a practical matter, they come from constituencies that are used to being disenfranchised. What Joe Biden’s bankruptcy “reform” has done to dispossess the educated former middle class during the student debt bubble has come as more of a shock to its victims. This is a constituency that has been instilled its whole life with affirmations of its worth as electors and its rights to demand constituent services from its governments. This is exactly the aggrieved constituency that starts and leads revolutions: not the New New Deal/Eisenhower Republican reform agenda that Bernie Sanders figuratively calls revolution, but legit head-in-the-basket, tea-in-the-harbor, Lenin-on-the-eastbound-train revolution.

The Democratic Party elite won’t give a damn if they destroy their own organization by elevating Biden. They never do. He’s one of their loyalists, and they’re all about punishing everyone they perceive as disloyal, i.e., Bernie, who would have won, and the historic base whose turnout would have won Hillary Clinton the presidency in 2016 had they not belligerently alienated it.

Biden’s comments about Millennials being whiners showed just how far that fucker has his head up his own ass. He’s got his fine plugs plugged even deeper into the hole than I assumed, and it’s been a long time since I figured he’d pulled out for air. Again, this asswipe is a prime vector of student debt peonage, and Millennials are the largest pool of victims of the student debt scam, so he’s either too arrogant a fool to recognize that he’s the problem or a stone-cold manipulator. Maybe he’s a dose of both. His shtick about how you need to stand up and advocate for yourselves follows a classic but little rebuked neoliberal intellectual tic: victimizing the subordinate and vulnerable, then smarmily encouraging them to advocate for themselves, offering them “advocates,” or even offering to personally act as their advocates. For a crew that includes so many lawyers, they’re awfully retarded about the existence of conflicts of interest. Like, dipshit, you can’t represent Wells Fargo at the same time that you’re representing disgruntled customers who are suing Wells Fargo; if you’re the assistant office manager for an unscrupulous landlord, you fucking cannot adequately or sincerely represent the interests of a former tenant who is considering taking adverse action against your employer. The pervasiveness of this brain-dead thought process in American business and politics should give us an idea of how the incumbent organizations we have today elevate the stupidest, most disingenuous, most immoral, most amoral people to positions of power and drive out anyone who showed up with any capacity for logic or moral thought, and therefore the burning need to either purge or replace these institutions.

Here’s an idea: You want us to advocate for ourselves? Okay. I’m advocating for you to step into this Eastern Shore shithouse, painted on all sides with larger-than-life portraits of William Donald Schaefer, take your superglued seat, and enjoy your cool change as the weighted bottom sinks your fine vessel inexorably into the mighty Chesapeake. Delaware is close enough, yes? Said you like the way, said you like the way, said you like the way, I sail your ship now. Why, yes, I WILL weigh you down!

In Soviet Mid-Atlantic, Christopher Cross YOU!

That’s the thing. Joe Biden and people like him will never admit that they’re the fucking problem and just stop beggaring their constituents for a spell. They won’t, and maybe can’t, imagine that they could do more good by just being still and retiring from public life to allow decent successors to implement reforms that will, among other benefits, greatly reduce their own exposure as hated racketeers to vigilante or mob violence. They have to be the solution, too. More pertinently, they have to remain in a position to cash in when it comes time to make a show of fixing things.

Goofy old Uncle Joe complaining that the young’uns don’t have the fight in them is awfully rich. The civil rights that Americans today need to reclaim include the civil rights to be free of crushing, often unrepayable, debt, and the infringements of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that result from such debt. Why should we forget that this asshole was and remains a huge part of the problem? And why should anyone not be angry with him for appearing to regard the whole thing as some kind of game? He’s up there acting like a washed-up old NFL bruiser bitching about how the young guys in the game today are a bunch of crybabies and pussies. It’s bad enough when resentful shitheads try to drag athletes wiser and more prudent than themselves down with that line of horseshit. Joe Biden is carrying on in this petulant, self-centered fashion about a political and socioeconomic disaster that he did much to precipitate, by way of trying to goad innocent people who were never part of the problem into cleaning up his mess because they’ll be proud of themselves if they do.

It gets even more ridiculous than this. Biden bragged about how “we” did the heroic work of the civil rights and women’s rights movements. Really? Who the hell are “we?” I believe it was Mencius Moldbug (I know, kind of a paranoid kook) who described this expansive third-person plural as a “nostrism,” or a version of it. It had something to do with Bertrand Russell, like that Russell conflated his own politics with all of Great Britain’s, but no, I am not in the mood to look it up. This cat is a regular Brian Williams, retrospectively showing up where he wasn’t. Biden is (who’da fuckin thunk it?) a Baby Boomer. MLK was not a high school senior when he delivered “I Have a Dream.” If Rosa Parks had been a Boomer, she would have been all of nine or ten years old at the start of the Montgomery bus boycott. LBJ, a man whose feelings on race took some time to evolve towards magnanimity, wasn’t born in fucking 1946. These were some of the most instrumental civic and political leaders in the civil rights movement. I’m not mentioning this because it’s a novel insight; it reads like an ad in American Way for the best plastic surgeons and steakhouses in America; but because these three, and they weren’t the only ones, were a hell of a lot older and more seasoned than Joe Biden circa 1960.

“We” did the civil rights thing in the same way that “we” killed Jimmy Hoffa. Independent activist organizations brought pressure to bear on both major parties to implement civil rights safeguards, and in the end the Democratic Party had a larger role in the legal reforms, allowing the GOP to get overrun by erstwhile Dixiecrats over the next couple of decades. Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Etc. This does not mean that Third Way, triangulating centrist shitheads from the DNC and the DLCC, the Clintons, Biden, or anyone else in that swamp had a fucking thing to do with the marches across Alabama, the voter drives, the Civil Rights Act, or any of the rest of it. We need to rectify some damn names and be clear about who exactly did what.

Besides, Joe Biden is one of the nastiest catfish in the whole cesspool. That fucker is constantly presented as, God help us, a regular Joe, who, like, takes Amtrak (yeah, the most expensive line in the entire network) and doesn’t have as much money as one would expect of a proper legislative mercenary. Come on, this guy whored himself out to the banks and we’re expected to think that he isn’t part of the national overclass because he has cultivated a slightly downmarket accent and shabby mannerisms? Bullshit. It takes a limited imagination to assume that his personal holdings are the full extent of his compensation. There’s no reason he can’t be the Kato Kaelin of the Delaware trusts. Why wouldn’t they let him chill out at the beach house, on the yacht, on the Gulfstream, tool around in the white Bronco, whatever, as long as he keeps giving them alibis? That crook isn’t exactly doing badly just because he stays in the guesthouse.

The crab theft accusation came from Tumblr, where a woman accused Joe Biden of having stolen crab meat off her plate when she was a little girl and they were in line at a picnic. I believe it because I have an easier time imagining someone witnessing that and accurately describing it than totally making it up. Joe Biden is the kind of guy who’d steal crab off a little girl’s plate, but that’s still an awfully surreal concept to think up independently as libel or satire. I don’t believe all accusers, but I believe some. After all, he did this to the Defense Secretary’s wife:

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This clown only pretends to be less of a dipshit than Gary Johnson.

Great crimes and great fortunes

There are no good billionaires. Let’s get out heads out of our asses. Living in a ranch house in Omaha does not make Warren Buffett authentic. I’ve been to Omaha three times. Two of these trips were limited to a fresh air break on the depot platform, but I was awake and attentive to the landscape as I rolled through Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska. On the second trip I was able to catch sight of the Nebraska capitol tower, which is not illuminated, on the way through Lincoln. I keep meaning to make a dedicated trip through that part of the country, on both sides of the Missouri, best when the daytime highs are somewhere above twenty degrees. I’m cold-hardy, but I’m also a Californian and not a toolbox. But I do not for one fucking second imagine that that miserly Tom Brokaw-acting cunt gains a shred of virtue or wisdom for living in Omaha. What’s next? Asserting that sexy male nurse Lynn Majors is authentically murderous for being a small-town Hoosier? I was born in a small town, my grandparents lived in that same small town until, you know.

At least I don’t take this shit seriously. At least I know that it’s just Memetime in America. If sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader commits his next mail violation by sending out tendentious stock tips, will that make him the Oracle of Wichita? *Glen Campbell, back on the line* I didn’t say anything so rude about a Kansan, now.

Warren Buffett has basically the same values as any other billionaire, values that are absolute garbage. His public brand drives him to make a show of being a cheap piece of shit, but if he were comfortable being modest or downwardly mobile he’d have done something else with his career. Hell, if he weren’t rapacious he’d cut the stockmongering and retire into something less Rich Uncle Moneybags: RVing, gardening, hunting, poker, high-volume golf, I dunno, but definitely not what he’s made a name for himself doing.

The specific cultural problem extrinsic to Buffett is that every dipshit journalist who hasn’t spent any time in the Midwest figures that instead of traveling there sometime and taking a look around it would make more sense to repeat shopworn talking points from the PR machine of the same bumptious fuckjob who happens to be famous for famously being from Omaha. Like, if we listen to him, we’ll pick up all these great heartland values. Again, how does this not apply to our old boy Dennis Lynn Rader, who also enjoys regular correspondence from the nation’s midsection? What the hell do these motherfuckers represent? If I somehow became buddies with the Omaha country club set to the point of making them schnorrable for meals, I reckon they’d take me out for steak, not to fucking Dairy Queen. There’s no way the Nebraska business elite mumble half-coherent breakfast orders in the McDonald’s drive-through as a high folkway. That just ain’t so, cracka. They may be plainer in their dress and manners than the fanciest New Yorkers, but they cherish primer cuts than that. Besides, in case we’re trying to live in the real world here, most of them don’t actually give off a tell-tale vibe that they aren’t possibly from Alpharetta or Narberth or Torrey Pines.

The categorical error that craven assholes in the mainstream media keep making is their insistence that there are normal billionaires and billionaire wannabes. (Think Trump; surely the hallmark of solvency is the failure to pay FAA registration fees on one’s private jet fleet.) Here we have an overclass that is wealthy and powerful enough to live like gods incarnate, and we’re told that they’re actually like you and me. Yeah, and I’m Kevin Vickers. Go high enough and everyone’s warped. I’m close to a number of financial millionaires and near millionaires. The superrich I read about in the news do not share their values. They do not have a worldview or set of cultural practices in common. Too many merely bourgeois social climbers haphazardly try to ape the mogul overclass, mainly on weekend evenings, but most of them revert on short order to more or less normative bourgeois behaviors. Most of them revert to a decent measure of thrift, industry, sobriety, and modesty, knowing, for one thing, that those who don’t are ruined.

Beyond some murky threshold, well into the tens, if not hundreds, of millions for the obscure and probably in the low tens for the famous, attitudes and behaviors go through a funhouse mirror. Betsy Devos plucked elementary school mentees effectively at random, parachuting them into exclusive private schools. In exchange, she paid their parents and older siblings to clean her mansions. Aside from the perennial question of why our public schools are such intractable dystopias, this raises questions about why the fuck the DeVoses need so much housecleaning. What is wrong with them that they can’t get by with just one mansion in Southwestern Michigan? This is nuts.

Again and again the very wealthy demonstrate that they have too much money to spend well. The lakeside compound that Bill Gates built with his fortune is batshit insane. The Google boys bought a used Qantas 767, on the cheap, actually (the finest styles of ride tend to depreciate, too), and proceeded to bicker about its interior decoration. The scandal here, of course, was that they weren’t doing their aviation on the equivalent of their famous Priuses. This innocently, foolishly, presumes far too much principle on their part. Why would they claw and slash their way to the top just to fly coach? Al Gore has the same problem, but more so, with his infamous Tennessee horse country mansion and its air conditioning bill, not to mention all his profligate international travel for the purpose of admonishing others to travel less profligately. Likewise the rotating cast of entertainment celebrities who have hypocritically made climate change their cause: they have enough money and connections to live like gods, too.

This isn’t the only gross political manifestation of extreme wealth. We’ve got the Koch brothers, a well weird duo, buying pet Congressmen and governors, lately including the sitting Vice President, and the Mercers hiring and then punishing Steve Bannon in the fashion of their wayward house slave. They’re decadent imperial Roman grandees, and he’s their reprobate Greek. All gall is divided however it must be to enable these shits to shove around an accomplished millionaire, of all people. Imagine how they must treat their gardeners and maids. These are people for whom American politics is a fucking board game. It’s for the little people, the rest of us, their host society, to suffer the consequences of their grandiosity and greed. To them, an autodidact with a background in investment banking and high-profile internet news is just another servant, maybe not quite as disposable as a day laborer picked up in the Home Depot parking lot to rake up the leaves but not much more valuable than that.

What the hell are the rest of us supposed to make of a regime in which a handful of scions of unfathomable wealth have, conservatively, a budget of thirty million dollars apiece at a time to lavish on pet political operatives and propagandists? What does this do to the national sense of truth and justice? The Clintons are grotesquely aggrandized in their own right, but what are we to make of a society whose waters Richard Mellon Scaife has enough personal wealth to muddy at will with fever-swamp tales of their immorality?

I sit down and write this stuff on my own. All I need is the time, which I usually have, and the energy, which, uh, well, uh. The point is that I don’t have a fucking staff for this shit. I don’t have a fucking think tank. I’ve got friends, relatives, acquaintances, passersby, and the like who inform my screeds or act as sounding boards, but I’m not in a position to hire, say, Megan McArdle. Not that I would if I could, because yuck. Michael O. Church is right that the socioeconomic elite is in no way an intellectual elite. The fact that McMegan has found people with a think tank budget who didn’t take one look at her and think, damn, this bitch is dumb, is evidence enough.

Then again, living in truth gets in the way of living in wealth. This helps explain why at the top, much as at the hard bottom, everyone acts like a fucking animal. I have no idea whether the story about Donald Trump’s private White House gorilla channel is at all accurate, but it’s a fun story, and ultimately it’s true. It’s definitely true that the shitheads up top get salty when the apes don’t fight enough for their taste. #GorillaMindset

Affluence can alienate people from mainstream society, but there’s a huge difference between being able to afford to eat out somewhere nice and being able to basically force Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson to have a shovel fight in the yard to determine which one gets the only think tank job. Money is power, but there’s a difference between having enough power to incent a few restaurant employees to make one coffee and dinner once or twice a day and having enough power to deploy a dedicated household staff of professional libelers against one’s enemies. Besides, normal people routinely have to make tradeoffs, going without some nice things in order to afford others. I, for one, eat better by sleeping in my car every two or three nights than I would by getting a room every night, so I don’t fucking care to have some planter-class asshole paying Tyler Cowen to lecture me about how I don’t often enough eat beans out of a tin. Fuck him.

That motherfucker has actually run his mouth about how times are getting tight and we, okay, not him, but the rest of us, will have to economize and make do with beans. At what point does our food insecurity stop deriving from there not being enough to eat in a nation with some of the most productive farms on earth and start deriving from the nation’s wealth being concentrated enough for those who possess it to afford to hire Tyler Cowen? If student debt is forcing graduates to eat Top Ramen, that’s fundamentally a debt peonage problem, not a food security problem. At some point, and we’re far past it, it becomes reasonable to tell the managerial class that we’ll throw them into the ship channel if they move our cheese again. Hell, in a functional, productive society, we’d all cut our own.

I’ve picked several tons of fruit commercially, so don’t look at me. If Travis Kalanick and Jeff Bezos are salty that any of us are privileged or stubborn enough not to be impressed into their servant precariat, that’s their wound to lick. The rest of us might as well stand back and snicker, accusing them of licking themselves. Remember, they exploit their inferiors for the same reason that a dog licks its own balls: because they can.

Rooms into which Lucretia walks: a disgusting tale of violence and extreme prejudice

From time to time my Facebook feed burps up a reposting of an old saw by Mark Twain about how travel is fatal to prejudice and shit. I believe “fatal to prejudice” is a verbatim excerpt, but I really don’t feel like looking any of that shit up for accuracy. It’s a twee, insipid, foolish sentiment, one of the great Victorian self-owns. Living in the bizarre hellworld of our current gilded age is excruciating, but at least we don’t have Mark Twain, a wildly successful novelist, directly lecturing an audience made up overwhelmingly of his socioeconomic inferiors about its duty to travel–basically, yo, get out and broaden your horizons, doggy–instead of considering the possibility that intractable circumstances having to do with their limited means prevented them from leaving town, meaning that one can’t necessarily afford to travel, nigga. At least I must hear of this happy horseshit only secondhand, a century and change after the fact.

No, I will not be looking up the date, either. I can place Twain’s gross, meretricious utterance in the correct part of the American socioeconomic cycle and opposite the correct suite of transportation technologies, and that’s enough. It was a time when one might have traveled to Cleveland by steamboat, or by train, also a steamer. You could have a water-level speed train, if you’d just lay down the tracks. *Peter Gabriel, one hand on the wireless, other hand caressing the emergency brake* Good God, this guy makes me sound normal. It was also a time when Cornelius Vanderbilt had his wife committed to an asylum for refusing to leave Staten Island. She must have preread Momma Leone’s Note.

This was not a healthy, balanced society. Mark Twain condescended to the homebody poor about the virtues of travel in the midst of a quite full human lifespan of intensifying vice and social dysfunction in his country. It’s my country, too, but it doesn’t always feel like it. Love it or leave it? I was looking into the Canadian immigration process under Harper and Obama, friend. By some measures, it took the Great Depression and the Second World War to put a stop to an orgy or elite rapacity and meddlesomeness that started around the time that the Erie Canal was completed. The precise dates are only vaguely important. Historians, such as I theoretically am at the bachelor’s level, get too fucking intellectually invested in idiotic trivia, basically chiding their peers and the noncredentialed about how the madman’s subway screed started at 17:35 on the Uptown 6 train, not at half past five on the 2 Train, while missing the part about how he wasn’t just muttering rudely about all the bitches he’d bang but was also explicitly threatening to gut his enemies with a bowie knife.

Direction notwithstanding, will I see YOU tonight? Just yesterday afternoon I saw a guy on the LA subway who was so violently insane, yelling at the top of his lungs on board the train about how there is no God and no Devil and he couldn’t find his daughter, that I flagged down a passing cop after we both got off, me for some extra space and him God only knows why. The cop thought that what I described sounded utterly routine (“We always have that”), but he came back a few minutes later to tell me that he’d shown the fellow the way out of the station. It was a fair enough point for the cop to think that I must not have been used to the neighborhood, but the guy on the train had been 1% of the 1% batshit insane, a blatant threat to the safety of anyone within lunging distance. He wasn’t just sitting on a bench muttering, “Smashed in his knees with a two-by-four; smashed in his knees with a sledge HAMMA!” In that case, I’d have found another bench, for some love away from my brother. I was, for better and worse, not his keeper, and the LAPD didn’t know what to do about our old boy yesterday other than to usher him upstairs, to be the Hollywood Division’s street beats’ problem. The subway was historically the LASD’s turf, but I guess, to paraphrase a lady on the Blue Line who was booked into jail not six hours after she showed me her citation for jumping fare, po lease think they the motherfucking sheriffs.

To be clear, I didn’t witness anything that looked remotely like police misconduct in the midst of this mess, and the cop I flagged down comported himself excellently. I wouldn’t have been as eager to alert him if he hadn’t looked so levelheaded. At the same time, I don’t think the department dealt with this guy as effectively as it should have. Casting him out of the darkness and bouncing him upstairs got him out of the confined spaces, and since it’s an especially bad idea to physically corner people who are so agitated, that was a big help, but there’s still an unaddressed public safety problem when someone who is so acutely agitated in public is turned into a departmental hot potato and bounced around from division to division and watch to watch until some cop who doesn’t mind the extra paperwork (and, let’s be honest, the overtime for filling it out) dumps him on Men’s Central Jail, turning him into the Sheriff’s Department’s custodial problem. Realistically, that’s where dude was headed and still is headed every time he’s out on the streets. It just isn’t likely that anyone, sworn or not, will reach out to offer him the psychiatric care he so urgently needs and divert him from the revolving door at Men’s Central.

Come to think of it, I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of Dion Joseph or someone else with equivalent experience on Skid Row about whether or not this guy was in fact way above the baseline for street crazy, as I thought. I know there’s some really gritty shit out on the streets, and I don’t assume that I have a comprehensive sense of how bad it gets. Maybe our friend from the subway isn’t out of the ordinary on Skid Row. In that case, it’s a damn scandal, because there are peaceable, decent people who are trying to get by there, and they don’t deserve to be menaced by the most violently insane people in the county any more than peaceable, decent people living in Westwood or Burbank or the Hollywood Hills.

Let’s not forget that this chaos, squalor, and privation isn’t festering in Lagos or Manila or Tegucigalpa, but in developed parts of Los Angeles. This is the situation in the second largest city in the United States. We have no fucking idea of how to address our national poverty problem. And it is a national problem. LA doesn’t have a homelessness problem just because it’s a wicked city that fails to take care of its own or tolerates vices that other places don’t. It’s a prime dumping ground for people from across the country who have been abandoned by their local governments and communities. It’s the Law of the Westbound Bus: that bus is headed west, and you, a bum, are getting on it. Wesley Willis, pray for us. You can bet the oil patch that the Kern County authorities send their undesirables over the hill when they can. (The Bay Area works, too.) In Capitalist Inland California, Grapevine hears it through YOU!

Those who can afford to travel out of town and overseas can afford a shitty crosstown bus transect. You’re interested in exploring the cultures of, like, Bali and Phuket and maybe Puerto Vallarta? How about Silver Lake, bitch? I have a number of first- and second-degree contacts who are into something that they like to call “Deep Travel.” Oddly, or not, it does go as deep as Florence and Normandie. I drove my parents across Normandie the day before Christmas Eve. The GPS suggested it. As a guy from Huntington Beach by way of Aliso Viejo said at Christmas dinner, wow, that’s deep LA. He’s right about that. Maybe the 405 is so backed up for a reason. Every asshole who wants to defund Metro has a cool story about how the automobile democratized Los Angeles, in contrast to rich New Yorkers in their cabs and limousines. LA not having mass transit or cabs must be why I took a cab ride and traveled another one or two hundred miles by Metro this calendar month.

Not knowing John Dennis Diddly about squat and cough about the most famous cities in our own country, we’re totally gonna learn lots of interesting shit about other countries if only we spend a week or two at a time visiting their luxury resorts. This is what the upper crusts and those catering to their travel interests mean by travel and cultural immersion. We can tell that they’re full of shit about cultural immersion, even if they aren’t deliberately bullshitting anyone, just by looking at the Indonesian prison system. That has to be one of the most genuine cultural immersion programs on the face of the earth. The Bali Nine weren’t planning to travel that deep, but, hey, two of them got to visit Nusakambangan as well. You wouldn’t believe how degraded the experience of air travel has gotten. Myuran Sukumaran was initially known to the police as “the negro,” but they shot four Nigerians alongside him, in addition to others in other midnight mass executions, plausibly enough because they were black.

The Southern Cross thing rattled quite a few Australians, and for good reason, but Americans (okay, not Frank Amado) are distant and sheltered enough from this particular violence to continue not giving a shit. Who is Frank Amado? Let’s put it this way: from a parochial American perspective, “Who is Frank Amado?” is worse than “What is Aleppo?” Indonesia, which has condemned an expatriate US citizen to death for drug trafficking, isn’t even our worst ally. It’s in the second or third tier for human rights violations among US foreign military aid recipients.

This is why Fat Leonard should be president. Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the United States: name the country, and he has a better human rights record than the incumbent.

Those who don’t and won’t learn about other cultures in their hometowns won’t learn jack shit about foreign cultures by swooping in, hanging out for a few days, and then launching back out, but we don’t often hear about how fucking ignorant the jet set is because it’s a set that’s basically never told point blank that it’s full of shit. No one has the nerve to tell these people, uh, no, you’re wrong about that. Who’s around them when they travel abroad? The local intelligentsia (Lenin: “The intellectuals are not society’s brains, but its shit”), other Westernized elites (Lenin again), merchants, and servants. This is not a representative cross-section; it’s a fucking Tom Friedman column. Friedman isn’t surrounded by people who tell him that he’s full of shit, either. #TeshTips: Hotel staff are recruited and paid to put up with bullshit from ugly Americans. Construe to apply to other nationalities as needed; we aren’t the only ones.

God is it a surreal elite conceit to believe that servants are honest about touchy subjects with those they serve and that they aren’t actually servants anyhow. Sure, your Uber driver is your social equal, and I’m Junipero Serra.

Travel doesn’t inherently broaden horizons. That’s as insane as thinking that one’s daughter may be on the train, so maybe one should open the door and lunge into the next car while that fine-ass rolling socialism is swaying around at 70 miles an hour. For most bourgeois travelers, let alone the hardcore elites, it narrows perspectives and confirms prejudices. Like, Van Nuys and Compton are gross, ew, so let’s go somewhere overseas where the poors aren’t so uppity. Why can’t America’s lower classes be more like our waitstaff at the Sandals Resort? People actually think like this, maybe not explicitly but definitely to an extent that warps their perceptions of reality, and then they turn out at elections.

The greatest sin here, the greatest affront to truth, is that most of them won’t admit that that they’re trying to get away from unpleasantness, and in some cases won’t even admit that there is anything unpleasant that they might possibly want to flee. I’ll admit that I’ve been holed up in Starbucks for a couple of hours because Starbucks isn’t all fucked up like 7-Eleven or the average bodega. I try to do business with companies that aren’t all fucked up. That’s a little itty-bitty something to make the world an imperceptibly better place. One reason why I so appreciate this joint is that I got coffee the other day at a 7-Eleven in Twentynine Palms and I do not feel like doing that again.

Is it too much to ask my fellow Americans to pay some fucking attention to our own godforsaken society? Is it too much to ask people who are mentally capable of paying attention to get their heads out of their asses and do so from time to time? Instead of engaging the world, maybe we should engage our own fucking society. That was unfortunate but inevitable; I can’t forget the sorts of internationally meddlesome dipshits who studied alongside me at *MY OLD SCHOOL.* Great, another fool who goes on service trips to the Caribbean but never takes SEPTA at home. There’s no end to this crap. Can’t we at least, though, admit when we’re fleeing something unpleasant? I suppose I’d rather go hiking in upcountry Mexico than watch the mentally ill wander around Silver Lake in a state of chronic disorientation and collide with street thugs who never deal with their own severe behavioral problems. That’s why I take the subway when I’m in town. I know, that went just great yesterday.

Could we have some humility, though? Ivan Illich was openly working through some profound psychological and existential problems in his writing, but he was onto something when he got all, like, hey, feel free to come down here for a hike, but for the love of God don’t come here to lecture us. He would have loved the deal where Busboy’s girlfriend had to pay rent to live in a school bus under a slumlord’s authority in order to save up money to go volunteer at the women’s collective in Nicaragua or wherever the fuck she meant to do that. That’s why she had to live half a stone’s throw down the hill from Pot-o-Shit Friend’s all too humble abode. I’m the one who complained to code enforcement about that clusterfuck. In English. In the same county. Near where I often drive for a lengthy coffee break from shit that I don’t have the energy to fix.

I suppose Illich would have needed another handle of tequila for the story about my cousins who flew from San Francisco to London to Accra and then drove north for hours to show the Mohammedans the “Jesus film,” instead of maybe staying home in Humboldt County to try to socially orient the tweaker problem in a way that they might possibly do something positive about it. We never care to bless our own damn rains. This was the same crew that boldly decided not to cancel its travel plans after its local contact, from the Christian South, was beaten nearly to death over a fatal road accident. If that’s Christianity, lose me with that thumper shit. Oh, and this is fun: most of the congregation and even most of the mission group described the heavily English-speaking country where they had gone to minister to non-Anglophone Muslims in the rather near aftermath of sectarian violence “Africa.” I don’t need to bless anyone’s rains when I can instead bless the efforts of any interested Ghanaian to describe Reno as part of California. That’s beyond fair.

I’m on the road yet again, so I’m in no position to lecture other Americans to learn to be still, but learn to be still, bitch.