What is sexual harassment?

To be blunt, here we go again. Not to worry, it’ll get worse before it gets better. Hey, baby, are you Sigmund Freud? Because I wouldn’t mind having you pull down my pants, lay me down on a couch, and “analyze” me, if you know what I mean. What, you call that “prostate stimulation,” and it’s sixty extra? Yeah, okay. Whatever.

I’ve actually found people asserting in all seriousness that one dare not refer to the rash of belated accusations against sexually aggressive men in high places as a witch hunt because witches were women unfairly targeted by a vicious patriarchy. Love too find a constituency that literally cannot and will not understand relevant figures of speech. That’s like saying that I can’t incorporate Elizabeth Wettlaufer into my sexy male nurse Lynn Majors memes because she’s a Canuck broad. Just because something is uncalled for doesn’t mean that it hasn’t already been done.

I understand that it’s impolitic to call a woman a broad these days, but I don’t see what’s so sensitive about being a serial murderer, either. We are, but of course, just cullen the herd. Midler’s story of her evening on the riverafront was different than I’d gathered from the original headlines, in that it’s both worse (being shoved into a bathroom and having poppers shoved into her nose) and buried deeper in the sands of time, as a 1991 accusation to the Superior Court of Baba Wawa about some shit from the seventies. Midler found this incident disturbing enough that she called it “unseemly” and accused Rivera of assaulting her because he was a grand narcissist and she hadn’t been sufficiently overawed by his sheer presence.

This isn’t a particularly compelling accusation. It isn’t totally incredible in the strict sense of the term, but good luck getting an impartial jury to take it all serious-like. We have a complainant who did not cry out at the time, said nothing publicly about the incident until, a generation later, a celebrity television journalist directly asked her to confirm or refute her alleged assailant’s book of sexual boasts, and now, another generation-plus later, the video of this accusation has “resurfaced.” The poor thing must have needed to come up for some air.

For an industry that is so consumed by salacious celebrity gossip, it’s bizarre that this story hasn’t been honored with permanent place of observance in the annals of high-profile perv. The very premise of it is irresistibly fucking hilarious: Bette Midler complaining to Barbara Walters about Geraldo Rivera. This is how you do celebrity gossip. It’s the goddamn Platonic Ideal.

You, child, will never have a thing to do with any of these overpaid kvetchers. I sometimes wonder if my more worry-prone bougies aren’t right that I’m wasting my talents, but then I look at the mainstream media self-seriously acting like this shit is relevant to the lives of normal people. It’s shameful to present this story as news. It’s a high Fitzgeraldian tale of socialites behaving badly, and anyone reputable openly looks down on it as exactly that. The diva bitched to the reporter lady with the New English speech impediment about the lace-curtain Spanish blowhard who even the diva admitted was kind of hot back then, as if that was somehow relevant to her claim that he had not seduced but sexually assaulted her. What is this? A game of “Holtzclaw: Hapa or Hot?” Like hell I’m gonna take these craven whiners seriously.

We’re expected to take the most craven whiners imaginable seriously every time one of them shows up with a decades-old sob story about an brief unpleasant encounter with a peer and agree that this horseshit is newsworthy. When SEPTA gets tripped up by its problem with knifepoint subway groping, it’s a brief item in the national headlines. That’s not only the same system but the same two-and-a-half line subway network (muh fuckin Ridge Avenue Spur) that had a fatal midafternoon hammer attack. It ain’t good to allow the town thugs and crazies to hit the rails for one-man Peter Gabriel and Jim Croce musicals, but the victims of these attacks are poors, like, shanty Irish chicks from the Northeast and shit, so who cares? Jim Bageant was only partly right: hologram don’t serve no discount white meat, either.

When I was little, I had a couple of vague intuitions that I’d been an Indonesian peasant or something in a previous life, and that it hadn’t gone too well and I must have been pretty lucky to have landed in Palo Alto this time. *Outgoing Andrew Chan voice* No argument there, mate. Everyone else with one of these experiences was supposedly a fucking princess, so I don’t know what gives. We often seem to be living the curse of the temporarily embarrassed millionaire, since it’s hard to see how else the lived experiences of Bette Midler, who’s more privileged than all but five or ten thousand Americans, are more relevant to normal people than those of women who ride the El. Heehee, I initially wrote that as “all butt.” True story.

The thing is, though, we aren’t the ones producing this bullshit coverage. That’s done by a rather sheltered crew of media professionals, increasingly drawn from the upper-middle and upper classes through pay-to-play scams like unpaid internships. They plainly don’t know how the rest of us live. I’m a downwardly mobile guy from Palo Alto who went to a Main Line-ass four-year college, and I think they’re seriously fucking out of touch. I can only extrapolate what a perceptive high-school dropout from Fremont or Stockton thinks of these over-the-top white girl grievance spectacles.

#TeshTips: while John over there pops some more Adderall and strikes up the Big Band, #BigBandStyle, maybe you should make sure that your victims aren’t in the top millipercentile of international privilege before adding their stories to the collected passions of the saints. Are we really to think that Bette Midler has had a hard-knocks life? *Serene St. Jean de Breboeuf Voice* Why, I can’t very well see how that would be the case, and I doubt I’ll long have the heart to examine it. Doctor, if you please, my eyes.

Misappropriating a Protofrancocanuck missionary to prophetically quote Jackson Browne during his torture and execution is more truthful and accurate than the nonsense we’ve been hearing about this sexual assault epidemic, which somehow seems to affect a whole lot of women who are trying to claw their way into show business and hardly any who have settled for normal jobs under the Colby Cosh Standard, like baristas and housekeepers and shit. Harvey Weinstein is obviously a predatory creep, and Matt Lauer sounds pretty bad on account of that remote-control button to lock his office door, if nothing else, but the gatekeepers publishing these stories refuse to discriminate between accusations of serious criminal conspiracies to facilitate serial sexual assault and Garrison Keillor momentarily being a hapless  dork.

That isn’t the only credibility problem that the #MeToo movement has. An old friend of mine who’s been active in feminist sexual assault callouts once told me that I’d feel more negatively about prostitution if I had “a female perspective.” Prostitution is just about the most overwhelmingly female line of work this side of surrogate pregnancy and wet nursing, so that’s fucking nonsense. I might as well tell a woman who enjoys watching UFC brawls that she’d feel differently if she were a man and that the bruisers she’s watching aren’t in touch with their own masculinity. It isn’t my place to tell another man that, man to man, his prizefighting offends me and he should therefore cut it out. And that’s something that, like football, can really, seriously fuck a person’s brain up, let me TELL you about their trauma. I’m not seeing a bunch of hookers retiring with CTE and pulling a Hernandez at his age, which is also Amy Winehouse’s. #TheMoreYouKnow #Rehab.

I just threw out a used pantyliner that some ditz had left on top of the toilet paper holder. At least she’d wrapped and taped it up, but what does she think I am, a colleague of Nurse Lynn’s? How dirty does she think I’ll get for a ten-cent bottle deposit? As they say in the nursing homes when they don’t have enough staff on duty for patient head calls, it depends. This just happened in a hella nice part of Chicago, up on fancypants Diversey. Come to think of it, there was that Starbucks shooting a few stores away last time I was in town, for what it’s worth. Just because I’m not in the ghetto (in the ghetto) doesn’t mean that the ghetto isn’t in me.

Out west, I’ve been there when they’ve pissed and shit on the floors, so I guess I’m doing all right.

Where the hell am I trying to go with this? That was a dramatically less disgusting expression of feminine power and energy and whatever the fuck than bourgeois sex scolding, for one thing. Lazy motherfuckers are never the real problem. Hell, the SEPTA downtown rail divisions are never that clean. Will I see YOU tonight? Another true story: I still have to make arrangements to get my white ass over to Pittsburgh this week, and I’ll be seeing firsthand whether the real trolleys or the imaginary ones are better. Hello, Neighbor. Beautiful fucking day.

Prostitution not being feminine because some scolds think it’s gross is great politics for the Land of Make-Believe. What’s next? Getting up and throwing out my used rag is gross, so I’ma leave it right here for someone else to toss? This is the borderline Gold Coast Northside, so yeah, probably. But that isn’t the politicization of menstruation any more than the SEPTA subway tracks are the politicization of trash noncollection. As I keep saying, all we have to do about the lazy is sometimes clean up after their bum asses. And I can’t stop thinking about how I came across the bloody rag while I was writing this screed. It’s fucking providence. Take it the last mile over to motherfucking Lake Shore and we’ll REALLY be talking.

Don’t mind me; the only time I’m on the Lake Shore is if it’s Limited. As they say, I’m really going off the rails now. Brandon Bostian be with you if you even think about adding “literally” to that. The fifteen hours of sleep I got last night must not have been enough to get me rested up. I really can’t see the Midler-intersectional spending Saturday night in coach on a redeye out of Las Vegas. I got a full bank of three seats over the wing to myself while a squad of Cornell he-athletes were shoehorned six abreast into the ass end of the ship, but still. Hey, I just said “breast.” Also, “ass.”

Maybe we can ask some of Chicago’s cold homeless about their thoughts on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” being problematic, as opposed to the not so predictable nights when it actually is cold outside and with luck you’ll make it to daybreak. Elvis, for all else that was wrong with him, seemed to recognize that Chicago really does get cold and that the cold wasn’t so damn charming in the Robert Taylor Homes.

There’s no end to the First World Problems, even in cities with large sections straight out of the Third World. I could always write a Tumblr post about how “Put a Ring on It” and “Baby I’m Worth It” are extortionate misandrist agitprop, but I try to have some fucking standards, believe it or not. Today’s bathroom isn’t anywhere near the worst I’ve seen this weekend. (*Most Dowager Duchess Voice* Yes, it is Monday, but what is a “week-end?”) That was the men’s room at the Millennium Park Metra/South Shore Line station. I’d always assumed that the Metra Electric District was pretty classy since they’d gone to the trouble of electrifying it, but I guess not so much. But sure, let’s get rich and complain about how some twee bit of holiday shit on the PA system in a chain of nice coffeehouses is triggering while we again ignore our national tradition of allowing people to shiver to death on our city streets. For the record, I’m the one who’s advocating for well-maintained public housing on demand, in part to help people get away from abusive cohabitants, and I support timely plowing, too, all the cool aldermanic shit, but I’m having trouble seeing how hey, how about you chill here and maybe we do the nasty in front of the fireplace like Nelson Rockefeller instead of walking home through a damn snowbank is super offensive. It’s the kind of Tin Pan Alley crap that they’re liable to play on Radio Deluxe, I get that, but it just looks like an awfully high horse that some of these folks are riding.

No, I don’t suppose all of that was worth as many hundreds of words as I just wasted on it, but this is the internet, and the actually pertinent stuff that I could have written about Nelson Rockefeller, race, and class is all kinds of bleak. IIRC, that motherfucker actually died while boning his mistress on a shag rug in front of the hearth. #Goals.

The panic over sexually aggressive men preying on vulnerable women might be reputable if it came from a position of decorum and quiet moral rectitude, but it comes from nothing of the sort. We’ve got a bunch of useless eaters who revel in the salacious expressing their shock and outrage that some other useless eaters turn out to have behaved salaciously. What, exactly, did we expect of Hollywood? This shit isn’t novel. Geraldo, who previously groveled about how sorry he was to have posted that topless selfie because he thought he looked damn good for an old guy not wearing any clothes, is now groveling about how sorry he is that he published a memoir about all the hot tail he’d pulled. Who the hell do we think he is? Walter Cronkite? The guy never made a point of being a stuffy prude. As Marc Randazza said, Mike Wallace never opened a broadcast with, “Tonight, on 60 Minutes, we watch Ethel Merman fuck.”

There has been wholesome, edifying material available all along as a refuge from the coarse shit polluting the mainstream, but now that there’s a moral panic afoot about handsy guys in high places, a bunch of people who have spent the last ten, twenty, or forty years watching, listening to, and reading a whole lot of garbage are popping out of the woodwork to express their shock and outrage about how the news and entertainment businesses aren’t as scrupulously clean as they’d hoped. We have to hear this high dudgeon from people who moved heaven and earth to hire on at NBC when there were openings at The American Conservative. 

At some point, it’s reasonable to tell them to get the fuck out of here. This shit is of a piece with the handwringy comment that the Insurance Schmuck made to me about how I shouldn’t make comments to women about charging by the hour, and meanwhile he and his girlfriend had invited me over to their hotel room specifically to watch “90-Day Fiancee” and had spent much of the weekend gossiping floridly about how the woman to whom I’d made the offensive comment was about to get blindsided by a train wreck of a first date with our mutual friend, the one who’d penned the ridiculous “Class Note” about Bill Durden and Charles Nisbet.

I’m not sure if there was a straightforward, coherent way to lay out the context, but I don’t doubt that I missed it. Here’s the point: DO NOT criticize my manners or morals if you’ve just gotten me to come over and watch painfully trashy television about Cylvia and the Abyssinian Gentleman minus the common sense. Left to my own devices, there’s no fucking way I’d watch a shitty, bogus documentary about a fat bitch with BPD from Florida (of course) who used Myspace Angles to lure a Moroccan hunk into a long-distance romance followed by another one about a highstrung beta dork from Downstate Illinois or some shit who offended his Filipina girlfriend by balking at the roast whole hog on a spit that her parents had supposedly brought and prepared in his honor at their expense. Don’t act like the crucial act of moral courage in our society is to take some damn Imodium and partake of the hog if you’re a sellout with terrible taste in television and a muddled sense of the line between fiction and journalism. Getting upset because some dipshit with obvious emotional problems on a bottomfeeding television series full of dipshits with obvious emotional problems couldn’t suck it up, save face, and have some diarrhea by just eating a plate of the feast pork is deeply pathetic.

It is not unreasonable of me to hope that someone who has asked me over to watch such garbage-ass fucking gutter television will wait a few hours, and preferably a few days, before casting aspersions on my maturity or tact. This is basic shit, like not receiving the Eucharist right after eating six thousand calories at a Chinese buffet and spending the balance of the afternoon having an orgy with mistresses. Yes, I am better able to integrate multiple conflicting cultures than some of my friends and acquaintances are able to function in a single dysfunctional culture that they never question. Our high-end colleges only pretend to teach the liberal arts. Engage The World my fat white ass.

It’s painful to be modest in our hellscape of a society. What I mean by modesty here is, if you’ll pardon the recursion, pretty modest, like admitting that I don’t have all the fucking answers to absolutely everything right now, so I’m trying to discern the details and the implications of a bunch of heavy shit and bear witness to them as I can, but in the meantime, one moral line that I can draw is against televised bum fights involving people with serious psychological, social, and behavioral problems impulsively jumping into the most inadvisable marriages for no other reason than to comply with some regulations on spousal visas. E.g., if you really wanna watch that shit, maybe refrain from criticizing a borderline off-color comment that I made to a Canuck chick the previous night, a night when I also mentioned to her that I’d researched the Canadian immigration process for purposes of possibly expatriating. It’s ungoddamnbelievable: I look through the fucking official immigration websites of a country neighboring mine where I already speak the dominant language (sorey, mes mecs), and then I get flak for my bad manners from a guy who admitted, unbidden, to having hazed me for five years and whose interest in immigration focuses on a shitty docudrama about monolingual assholes who try to get their lovers to move thousands of miles across an ocean for a life of domestic verbal abuse and acrimony.

Geraldo, who was a real mensch the time he had dinner with my parents, has never gotten me into a pain-in-the-ass situation like that. Nor have I ever had something that cool happen to me at O’Hare, although the Manchu Wok, I believe it is, has some bitchin’ combo plates waiting for those who have the scheduling flexibility and the favorable fares not to have to land at a quarter past five in the morning. The fellow’s been on television for decades, and he’s never chapped my ass with bad content the way the Insurance Schmuck and his latest girlfriend did. Do I sound like I consider it a mitigating factor that that’s one of the programs they watch on their date night? That shit is “Jackass,” but from several circles deeper in hell. No one involved has the basic decency to personally do the stupid, self-destructive shit and leave others out of it.

Criticizing another person’s tact while watching that trash is like Pot-o-Shit Friend walking onto a med-surg unit and lecturing the nurses about how they shouldn’t talk about patient’s bowel movements so much. Nursing will still be super gross (medical nursing, at least), but there’s no need to bring in critics who have the least possible moral credibility.

It’s questionable enough that people who do not strive to shelter themselves from a mainstream culture awash in sexual crudity, and who even revel in it, are now all worked up that some guys in high places were sexually crude. How could we expect Matt Lauer to be upstanding? He worked for goddamn NBC. He was gross in private around a network that airs Chicago PD, SVU, and The Apprentice in public. Let’s be honest: if he was afoul of the prevailing community standards of his workplace, he wasn’t by much. There comes a point at which the only responsible thing to do is to demand some moral coherence, to assert that the neverending broadcast of trash is evidence of trash in the soul. I don’t feel clean for having watched so much NBC, so why should anyone working the bigtime at the Rock feel clean for having produced it, and for that matter, having thought it up in the first place? None of us has any obligation to offer endless moral impunity to people who grew and stayed wealthy and powerful by airing grotesquely bathetic crap that’s half about Burgess (drop the last two letters for a really fun time) screwing the guy who first played the unwittingly incestuous brother on SVU and half about Voight nearly gouging some guy’s eye out with a Bowie knife and then somehow having the time to go down to Millennium Park and stare at the lake again.

This is why I was so encouraged to see a morbidly obese guy waddle off a real fire truck in real Chicago last year and put meat into meatspace. It’s why I’m always encouraged to see friendly, middle-aged townie cops whose careers aren’t going anywhere walk around O’Hare doing absolutely nothing and allowing the homeless to sleep in front of baggage claim, at least for another half hour or so. They’re too normal and decent for television.

We can tell that we’re dealing with a moral panic about sexual harassment because we hear nonsense about our duty to believe victims. Oh? Am I to believe Psychotarp when he blames arson on antisemitism? Am I to believe that there was even a fire? In any other circumstances, one would reasonably expect the standard of credence to be credibility. E.g., a woman passed out in the bushes with her underwear pulled down while a couple of Swedes have Brock Turner under citizen’s arrest are more credible than some story about how the aliens totally downloaded a copy of my soul through my ass. Not that there aren’t plenty of, dare we say, shades of gray.

More Turner diaries? You fuckin’ betcha. We’re supposedly suffering from a rape epidemic wherever white bougie chicks go, but we’re also gushing without embarrassment about a lurid, cheaply written series of novels about a Criminal Minds-grade sadist serially humiliating his dipshit lover. Everyone got all worked up about Turner, even though he served a custodial sentence for a one-off crime of opportunity and now has to register as a sex offender, and even though the community where he committed his crime is exceptionally safe and orderly. It sure seems that we, as a society, are deliberately failing to reasonably assess threats. We’ve got desk-duty NYPD or someone serially murdering escorts on Long Island and dumping their remains on the beach, and that’s left to Newsday to cover while an opportunist from the swim team gets wall-to-wall coverage for a single rape that came nowhere near homicide.

The mob is baying for carceral overkill. Third-party observers got their jollies by raking Brock Turner’s dad over the coals for some tone-deaf remarks about how his boy couldn’t enjoy a nice steak on account of the rape charges. Well, for God’s sake, this was a distraught father whose son had just gotten into very serious legal trouble in an arbitrarily high-profile case. That isn’t evidence of rape culture, and it’s got no business influencing a verdict or a sentence. The deterrent effect of incarcerating rape convicts was served in the Turner case, and the judge got hounded out of office for his trouble, even though he sounded like a decent, modest man who wanted to do his job as fairly as he possibly could and was eager to hear constructive criticism about how he could do it better. He wasn’t in it to let Blondie off the hook; he just fell into the media/vigilante buzzsaw in a case that he was randomly assigned for giving a lenient sentence to a first-time defendant who was affluent enough to afford adequate legal counsel.

We’re obviously going at sentencing disparities from the wrong angle. We’re getting it ass-backwards. Turner’s sentence is closer to a reasonable sentence for a first-time, opportunistic rapist than any statutory maximum. The United States has way the hell too many people in prison for no good reason, mainly because some loudmouths won’t shut up about their raging bloodlust. There’s a relative handful of hardened, dangerous criminals who need to be in prison for a long time, maybe until they’re brought out in pine boxes: Chapo, Silverstein, Shoes Go Boom, Mr. Explodeypants. These four already have their permanent home on the range, conveniently down the tier from Professor Kaczynski in case they’re interested in a Ted Talk. Realistically, it’s the Ted Talk that’s interested in them, but they’re around for it regardless. That said, we can account for these thugs and hundreds of others who are less prominent but equally dangerous and still have well over 99% of our total prison population giving us absolutely nothing by virtue of their incarceration. All we get by throwing the book at the rest is the ruination of men we refuse to rehabilitate.

Yes, this includes forcible rapists, and it damn well includes opportunists who once took advantage of drunks, who occupy a crazier, more dangerous quantum than Anthony Weiner will ever explore. A just society with the rule of law would not throw reformed or even reformable sexual assailants to the wolves just because some busybodies who don’t have anything better to get upset about are preoccupied with the sexual degradation of rich white girls.

I don’t think I’m painting with an awfully broad brush. Precious little of the upset has been on behalf of the communities that are statistically most prone to sexual violence: white trailer parks, the ghetto, the barrio, the Rez. Rape a Stanford woman, though, and God save you from the lynch mob.

Again, I have a really eerie feeling about the abuse that’s been heaped on Brock Turner specifically. It’s much like what Bette Midler explicitly had to say about Geraldo Rivera: what he did was gross, but damned if he isn’t hot. The Turner case really doesn’t say much about current sexual assault jurisprudence, except for his placement on the sex offender registry for a first-time offense that did not result in serious bodily injury or death, but no one in the mob is looking at it from that angle because they’re all too busy with Two Minutes Hate. Turner’s crime was heinous by absolute standards, but relatively speaking, as sex crimes go, it was pretty minor, with a relatively low risk of lasting damage to his victim, the obvious exception being the transmission of venereal diseases. That’s the main thing I’d be worried about if I woke up to be told that a stranger had anally raped me while I was passed out drunk; otherwise, there’d just be a huge yuck factor.

Slightly off topic, yes, I support without reservation a rape exception to restrictions on abortion. We’ve got enough dysgenic horrors on the scene without forcing women to carry to term the products of rape, and we unfortunately do not remotely have the capacity to properly raise and care for unwanted children who likelier than not have been badly damaged by their own genetic backgrounds and circumstances of conception.

The basic problem with all of this shit is that an awful lot of people won’t level with themselves or with anyone else about what they really mean. Fundamentally, harassment or assault has to be unwanted. Dagmar Midcap pinching my nipples because she’s drunk off her rocker wouldn’t be nearly as bad as Lieutenant Tittytorque having an inexplicably homoerotic moment on me for a straight guy with a live-in girlfriend. As I discussed in an earlier screed, he had that bit of fun at my expense, and I’ve gotten over it. I’m not Bette Midler. Bette Midler, who is Bette Midler, is being given the latitude not to get over her ancient Gerry Grab, presumably because she’s Bette Midler and that can’t possibly be privilege enough.

Then we’ve got the weird funhouse experience of Matt Lauer’s quid pro quo mania being a summary firing offense and Garrison Keillor having once been an apologetically touchy-feely sperg is also a summary firing offense. How much of this, we might ask, is a function of preferring the idea of an extended Matt Moment to a brief Prairie Horn Companion? This stuff starts to seem awfully subjective, and awfully unfair. And that’s ignoring questions about why exactly all these scandals are emerging right now. Here comes that deep state feeling again. Maybe. It’s hard to say for sure whether this is actually a belated month of reckoning for powerful workplace perverts or a live-action Archer episode. Having heard what I’ve heard about the military-media-industrial complex, I wouldn’t bet on morality here.

Something disturbing to keep in mind is that our general conceptions of sexual harassment seem to involve rather little actual harassment and rather much of, gee, I can’t imagine why Danny Pino is staring at Mariska Hargitay’s ass so intently. This is a longstanding problem: the infamous VA sexual harassment training video from the early nineties (say, Bette Midler’s confessional moment with Baba Wawa!) certainly had preternaturally good-looking acting talent (okay, not so talented, exactly) for an in-house government PR department production. Judging from that masterpiece, complete with the black VA director in the narrator’s chair next to the fireplace, Alistair Cooke-style, sexual harassment means a handsome sleazeball leering at a hot secretary in a miniskirt while she retrieves some files for him. That is, our hard-earned tax dollars and shit went to the production of a federal pornographic film, or, to be magnanimous, a shitty soap opera that didn’t even attempt a plot.

The common Freudian slip about “sexual harassment training,” which I deliberately used above, is instructive, as was that crappy video. There’s no end to the vicious things that a supervisor can do to a direct report in an office, but for some reason no one in this country likes to look at the majority of these scenarios that aren’t sexually charged. That’s how irresistible it is to watch derivative softcore porn premised on the crucial files being in the lowest drawer in the cabinet. Hmm.

Let’s get our heads out of our asses, and the gutter: that’s an ergonomic problem much more than it is a hostile environment problem, but it’s easily enough solved by also having cabinet at, say, crotch height (hey!) and chest height (hey hey hey!), quite unlike situations in which all the strawberries are growing on the same mound and you’ll ruin your back picking them and then go home to the rundown shack where you’re hotbunking in Watsonville. Great: more First World Problems. Do pair this White Whine with a Manchego Fuck Yourself.

It’s worth asking why this beleaguered sweet thing couldn’t just tell the jerk to knock it off if she catches him sneaking that look. Italian women deal with subway gropers by yelling at them to keep their grubby hands to themselves and then activating the quorum for a purse smackdown until the next stop, which is suddenly the pervert’s destination. In this case, though, we’ve got a woman who has chosen to dress a bit revealingly for an office job, and we’re to feel outraged on her behalf whenever some minor sleaze finds a pretext to enjoy the view.

This feels awfully like a situation in which we want women to be strong enough to function somewhat normally in office settings but not strong enough to stand up for themselves and stop being submissively sexy. Cui bono here? The Hillary Clinton campaign, for one. The elements that benefit from having women feel beleaguered in normal professional situations are consistently rotten and self-serving. There’s a real air of learned helplessness, in fact, programmed helplessness, to this arrangement. It’s hard to see how all these PSA’s and training materials stop sexually aggressive men from being gross around the office, since these were never ones to be scrupulous before the rules in the first place, but it’s quite easy to see how all this concern is just another way to bathe an entire society in sexually provocative content.

It’s exhausting to even think about why this campaign has been undertaken. Is it to implicitly distinguish the alpha men from the beta bitch boys? Is it just to satisfy the lawyers? Is it to give underemployed writers, screen actors, and PR dipshits something to do for a living? Is it a deep-cover entertainment project masquerading as HR compliance? The whole project seems to have a very limited number of ways to go right and limitless ways to go wrong. #TheMoreYouKnow, asshole.

We do enjoy good-looking men and above-average children, but strong women not so much. Women who stand up for themselves just aren’t as much psychosexual fun, and they leave the otherwise useless parts of the administrative apparatus with nothing to do. This is one of the unfortunate situations in which my Boy Scout training comes in handsy–I mean, handy: Chesterfield my leg, so I slapped him! Yelling works, too.

Mind you, no one in charge of this joint is about to condition the help to be comprehensively assertive before management. That would really fuck up some rice bowls, and this crew knows that the white-n-fluffy comes first. Operant conditioning that trains those receiving it to refuse and resist operant conditioning is self-defeating, and in spite of all the harebrained, redundant, pointless, inherently contradictory campaigns of nonsense that HR and PR think up and deploy, they’ve got enough Bernaysian master manipulators on board not to corrupt the language of the core operating system.

Great. Another piece about sexy fun time ended up being about some kind of pie-in-the-sky Benedict Option Jeffersonian resistance campaign waged through samizdat and backchannel peer-to-peer networking and all that kind of shit. If you came by for Dubai Porta Potty, and most of you still do, you’re most welcome.

But this is where it must end. Go in piss. I have train and bus reservations yet to make, through Cleveland. No, I will not be traveling by steamer. I have no idea why one would think to do such a thing when there has been direct train service for well over a century and, pride of th’American side or otherwise, it’s a long trip past Sault Ste. Marie. Ring a church bell in Detroit if you get worried, since you might as well ring it for the fucking locals, too, the way they’ve been running that place.

All the same, I see no need to fly and look down on anyone. American and Boeing fucked up my ears and sinuses badly enough when I was finally starting to get some sleep last night that I don’t mind literally taking the low road. Yes, the Water Level Route. Yes, to Cleveland, with a connection to Fred’s Trolley Town. No, not on a steamer. I can’t help you. You’ll have to go steam your own.

Edmund Fitzgerald, pray for us all.

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I, for one, would rather have Geraldo Rivera grab my ass than permanently wreck my own body cutting cauliflower for bourgeois ingrates

That’s a much more coherent and pertinent statement than it should be. I’m skeptical about the syntax, but like Geraldito before the society ladies, it shall stand.

Since Wow Much travels None homeland Very disorient has me on the road to the LAX Flyaway garage for a bus to Las Vegas and a redeye to Chicago (OJ took his straight from LAX on a walkup ticket), we’ll have to make this one a quickie. Forget it, Fogerty, I can’t spend all night stuck in Lodi again.

NPR ran a piece this evening about how farm workers are getting all old and sickly and worn out from repetitive stress. This supposedly has something to do with Donald Trump having put a scare into the wetbacks, cutting off the supply of fresh blood in the fields. Funny thing, though, I recall exactly the same bellyaching about the allegedly intransigent and obstructive anti-immigration forces under Obama and Bush II, so it’s a bit hard to believe that the Donald is causing the planter class to have an unprecedented sad. It’s always the same old fucking song: we don’t have enough Mexican peasants to do the dirty grunt work that our ever-softening native stock refuses to perform, and the only way to resolve this tragedy is to import more Mexican peasants in some fashion or other, legal, illegal, or whatever. If we don’t expedite another incoming batch of Michoacanos, the crops will rot in the fields and we will cause the baby Jesus to cry at the sight.

Agency has an eerie way of coming and going without notice at NPR. In this case, extreme, debilitating repetitive stress is something that just kind of happens, like an early fall rain or some shit. It is assumed that farm work will inevitably ruin the bodies of those doing it, bodies that will no less inevitably be Mexican. I, Jonqui, have done commercial farm work in every one of the past five growing seasons, so I want to reach out and choke these motherfuckers in a proper Hot Ghomeshi, provided that it isn’t too rough on my wrists. These blame idiots can’t imagine that there are bad public policies or managerial decisions that directly make farm work ruinous to the health and safety of those undertaking it.

The growers for whom I’ve done most of my commercial work care deeply and sincerely about the occupational safety of their employees, but somehow NPR never manages to find anyone in the industry who steps up to the fucking plate and makes sure that the help get enough rest, rotation between tasks, and time off for medical appointments to keep themselves in decent health. I’m sure there’s no shortage of millionaire growers with excuses involving competitive markets and low commodity prices for why their employees are in physical ruins by fifty, because the industry is definitely crawling with owners and upper managers who blame everything that goes wrong on their properties, from wage theft to sexual extortion to Joel Salazar-grade drinking water shortages to failures to provide adequate portapotties and the resulting combination of skipped lunches and turds in the weeds, on low-level managers and third-party contractors who, conveniently enough, are Mexicans or foreign-passible Chicanos. One of the most reliable things about the more troubled parts of the industry, along with the endless bitching about how Americans are too soft for the work and there aren’t enough Mexicans to take up the slack, is that whenever some scandal takes root–whenever some crew boss demands sexual favors from the women under his authority and beer offerings from the men, say, or disappears to Fresno with a week’s worth of pay for two dozen employees still payable and no one having the foggiest clue of where or how to track him down–there’s never a clear chain of command or working grievance process. There’s never anyone in a position of power who is identifiable, accountable, and available for service of legal process. The people who actually run the show are somehow never responsible when people working in supervisory positions under their authority and direction turn out to be rapists, extortionists, deadbeats, derelicts, or fly-by-night cheats. All they have to do to avoid liability for their failure to exercise due diligence is to insist that they were in no position to exercise due diligence.

It’s great work if you can get it.

From the perspective of the peasant reserve army that grows our food, not to mention that of Americans who have an unreasonable amount of trouble finding or landing farm jobs for which they’re perfectly qualified (hey there), sob stories about Bette Midler getting groped by Geraldo Rivera become tiresome. It gets hard to believe that it’s newsworthy when Jennifer Lawrence gets up on her high horse again about nosy perverts violating her sacrosanct Christian womanhood. Athletes who take a knee during the National Anthem are making a broader, more principled point than their own positions, sometimes (e.g., Colin Kaepernick) at significant professional and financial expense. The gripes coming out of the studios seem rather more selfish and narrow. We’re talking about people whose very existences smack of immense privilege admitting that they didn’t have the guts to tell off bigshots for being sex pests or blow the whistle at the time but, now that there’s a bandwagon to catch, oh, gosh, it was totally problematic all along.

It’s ridiculous and over-the-top to think that Bette Midler’s one-time entrapment in a Gerry Grab decades ago is a high priority for public discussion and redress. For the love of God, she’s Bette fucking Midler. A Guyland blowhard grabbed her ass: not commendable for the Guylander, but not a particularly noteworthy trauma, either. When I was in college (merely freshman; aaand I won’t be held responsibllllle), I ran with some senior drinking buddies that included the rudest, coarsest imaginable anthracite country motherfuckers. One of these guys sometimes got roaring drunk, yelled at me to take shots of Jim Beam, and pinched my nipples. I find it hard to believe that Geraldo at his worst doesn’t have more class than that vulgar bastard at his best, and I notice that I still haven’t gotten any lucrative screen roles as a result of putting up with Lieutenant Tittytorque.

Accuse me, if you will, of writing a Story Whore submission about my PTSD, of demanding that you let me TELL you about my trauma. I’m really just trying to keep this shit in some perspective. I don’t get the feeling that Bette Midler would think for a hot second about trading places with some lady who’s been cutting cauliflower sixty hours a week for two decades, can’t find a place at the ranch to refrigerate her insulin, and more often than not has stigmata in her wrists.

Maybe we can give platforms to people who have actually suffered physically doing crucial manual labor for a change? That NPR story should be the one that’s part of an intensive ongoing series. The heavy airtime shouldn’t be going to an A List actress who’s suddenly sore about how she once caught Geraldo’s hands on her rump that one time back in the nineties. Forgive me for thinking that this story makes Seinfeld look deep and is the Whitest White Whine since the dumbass who complained that a family vacation to Europe conflicted with some MyPanera points that were about to expire.

This is what a society gets when it takes every sign of its own class consciousness out into the back forty with a twelve gauge and a shovel. It ends up ignoring recurring Daniel Holtzclaw situations because none of the parties are sexy enough and progressively recalibrating its threshold of titillation from Fifty Shades of Gray to Brock Turner to two rueful seconds of Hands-On Geraldo. That is, from the degradation of easily bored bougie chicks to college girls in distress to starlets in what should frankly be mere annoyance. If Geraldo Rivera as the perp is a mitigating factor, Bette Midler as the victim certainly is. This, not homelessness or grinding full-time employment at poverty wages, is our idea of adversity: a famous movie star getting her ass squeezed without permission exactly once.

This is why I prefer to pigsploit that other Gerald and, as I like to say, rundel in the jungle. Jethro Tull may not be all right with that, but Colby Cosh will certainly agree that farming fish is a real trade in a world that could use more people working in real trades, and that I did not, I repeat, did not, just sing a crappy comedy-folk song about anybody. Be thankful as I hit the road and sleep in a rest area again tonight.

Travels with G. K. Chestrubber

Geez, Ole, it sounds like the Keillor boy, the one who went down to the Twin Cities to seek his fame and fortune, let the power go to his head and got himself involved in a little ja, don’tcha know. Now, I’ll always remember what Lina said when you came downstairs from your deathbed and snuck yourself a taste of the lutefisk, how she slapped you and said, “Ole! It’s fur de funeral!”, but geez, he looks like he could use one himself.

Be well, bitch.

Watching Matt Lecher and Lord Ewbegone get the ax on the same day was of some interest to me as a new Safeway knockoff Rogaine user. Lauer has always been an exceptionally handsome man. He was able to come to the studio with late-onset male-pattern baldness, a crappy buzz cut, and the shabbiest beard this side of Al Roker and still leave no doubt that he was handsomer than he looked. Keillor has the opposite problem, an enviably full head of hair that doesn’t keep him from looking like a bulldog with an untreated neurological condition affecting the face. CBS, for its part, managed to play a less glaringly bad hand even worse by seating its morning hosts on dumbass bar stools that made Harry Smith look like he was about to wipe his ass with a handkerchief. I don’t want to beclown myself by saying that there are lessons we can learn from these sorry spectacles, but we can always look on and snicker. After all, NBC wasn’t paying Matthew Todd Wankin’ $25 mil a year for us not to watch.

That said, I didn’t come by just to indulge in gross imagery about overpaid and overrated broadcast celebrities. Most of my traffic is still (of course) for Dubai Porta Potty, so it’s the rest of you who should apologize for your taste, not me for mine, but still, what interests me about the latest gents to get sprayed by this artesian well of sexual grievance isn’t just who’s the better-looking bald guy or who can’t stop wasting his shabbily coiffed hair on his own face. These pages are effortposts, and that alone, good dirty fun though it is, doesn’t justify the time or energy to hammer out a screed. What actually brings me over tonight, rather, is the sick ways in which Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor interact with and inform the atrocious American class system.

Lauer is a middlebrow reporter who won a crapshoot in the big leagues and became filthy rich doing the yeoman’s work of broadcast news presentation on the main stage. He’s exceptionally gifted, to be sure, but there are countless dozens or hundreds of equally well put-together on-air reporters and anchors biding their time at two-bit affiliates out in the bumfuck middle of nowhere for a hundredth of his pay, or less, and the vast majority of them aren’t going anywhere better or more prestigious because there just aren’t enough openings. If Mark Finan or Joe Calhoun, say, were kicked up to the Rock, it’s unlikely that they’d choke under the pressure. The business still has its tendentious dipshits, like Ed Weinstock, the white Art Fennell, and Art Fennell, the black Ed Weinstock, and they’re hardly the worst to be found, but there’s still a huge oversupply of impressive on-air talent languishing in the provinces compared to the tiny number of front-of-the-house openings at headquarters.

Explain for yourself why in the everloving hell Hoda Kotb isn’t working in Mobile or Omaha. I don’t have an answer for everything; sometimes #TheMoreYouKnow, the less you understand, and some of these decisions are beyond forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if. Of course that was awful, but keep in mind that I’m trying to avoid spending an entire screed writing about downers like NBC.

If I were writing this stuff for financial gain, I suppose Don Henley could sue me for copyright infringement. I have to say that I’m disappointed to see that that ditty wasn’t by Bryan Adams, because that would have made for a smoother segue into our latest recapitulation of Kwesi Millington’s reputation management lawfare against the CBC. I hope you weren’t too shocked to hear about him again. Matt’s able to sue NBC for firing him just for being a handsy fucker with a secret button under his desk to remotely lock his office door because he’s Matt Motherfucking Lauer, bitch.

That, and because our fine continent’s news trusts have deep pockets. What the hell did Northside Juice have to offer a plaintiff’s attorney? Horsemanship lessons for his daughter and the neighbor kids? Actually, Lauer must be in a pretty strong position just for knowing where all the bodies are buried around the Rock. All Meatless Muscle and his legal muscle were doing was shaking the old council oak to see if anything good would fall out. However Matt Lauer and his lawyers are shading their case, what they’re doing by demanding a payout is blackmailing NBC, which, conveniently enough, is the most scandalous, blackmail-prone of the big three networks. One cannot imagine how the network that rehabilitated Donald Trump would have anything to hide.

Matt Lauer was an interchangeable part on a middlebrow morning news program whose host network surely has talent scouts who could call any number of reliable reporters up to the major league from the farm teams to replace him. He’s a talented but not all that exceptional guy who lucked into a rare spot as a headliner and spent the next two decades milking it for all it was worth. This is where the incentives and the behavior turn perverse. It’s precisely because he squeezed so much money out of NBC for so long that he’s now able to squeeze it for even more money because it fired him for cause. Any normal person working in any normal job wouldn’t be able to do anything of the sort. With luck, a nobody who just got fired for sexual harassment on company time might be able to threaten to blow the whistle on illegal or unethical practices involving others and get paid to shut up. More likely, the outcome would be walking away in disgrace, scarlet letter duly affixed, and on the precipice of financial ruin.

Of all the people who need the money after an adverse employment termination, Matt Lauer has to be the damn near the last. Unless he’s been a Michael Jackson-grade spendthrift for twenty years straight, he’s loaded. I’ve seen estimates of his contract being worth up to $25 million a year. At that rate, he could maintain a very solidly upper-middle-class income just on the investment proceeds of one year’s worth of net income from his NBC gig.

In a sane and equitable society, that would mean something, as would the sheer gratitude for having gotten away with sexually predatory behavior under company auspices for years and made good money the whole time. Matt doesn’t live in any such society. He is shaking NBC down for the same reason that a dog licks its own balls: because he can.

Garrison Keillor operated at a lower level of show business for a smaller, more marginal audience, and for quite a bit less direct payment, but he has had a much more notable and, I dare say, pernicious effect on a key demographic of American society. He made a living by poisoning the minds of liberal yuppies in a way that no one else could quite figure out how to do.

Matt Lauer neither reified nor attenuated the fresh hell that is NBC. That mercenary piece of shit could be paid to read goddamn anything on air with a subtly pained but straight face. He could be paid to ask any brain-dead question of any equally brain-dead celebrity that the producers and marketers thought would sell. He never gave a rat’s ass about whether or why some vainglorious asshole was banging some other bumptious fuckjob or about some fashion model moron’s thoughts on geopolitics and how her new clothing line could help.

Again, this is one of the things we can say in Jerry Springer’s defense: though a Londoner by birth and a New Yorker by upbringing, by vocation and avocation both he is a true Cincinnatian. It would be gross to call his feelings about his calling to national broadcasting love, but he makes a solid living doing what he quite enjoys. Whenever Lauer was interviewing some moronic asshole or doing Phineas Gage-grade call-and-response water cooler talk with his fellow overpaid mercenaries in a fake living room, he had a silent internal script running, which kept telling him, what the fuck, man, you’re a tragedy for dignifying this fucking garbage.

I can say the same thing in my own defense that I can say in Jerry’s, only more so. Sleeping in my car two or three nights a week doesn’t force me to debase myself like that, and neither do farm work or the deposit bottle hustle. Chaka Can. Chaka Can. Chaka Fattah’s making less money than that these days, Chaka Can. Make of it what you will that the Dunkin’ Doorman is a civic improvement over Matt Lauer for not having to pretend to be interested in anything other than coffee money.

Keillor’s problem is that his shtick comes from the heart, and his heart is deeply troubled. He tapped into a guiltily, unmentionably avaricious yuppie liberal zeitgeist and focused and reinforced it in perniciously unhealthy ways. We’ll all be dealing with the fallout for a decade or two to come.

Being the alumnus of a fancy-ass school crawling with Main Liner shitheads and wannabes drives this point home. No, I’m not referring to Lancaster Country Day School; that’s a bit of an eccentric outfit, and a plenty wealthy and privileged one, but it’s all right. I refer, of course, to the Big Dick. GO DIPLOMATS!

When I was back for Homecoming over the fall, this alumni council hotshot whom I supposedly shocked by saying that I’d go to a state school in California if I had to do it over again got all defensive on our asses about how he had done pretty well for a hick from Missouri. First of all, I know damn fucking well what Humboldt State is like for a non-matriculant, and I’m not pig-ignorant about Chico, either, town or gown, so I didn’t pull any of that out of my ass. Second, I took our Show Me dude to be just another puffed-up dipshit from the Main Line. It never would have occurred to me that he was from Missouri; the other Missourians I’ve known are mostly chill as fuck, not defensive, disingenuously self-deprecating dorks. If I want to make fun of a Missourian, I have plenty of material on the Highway Patrol; maybe this fool was jealous of Flexineck and the Bone Crusher for hogging my attention. I’m not the one who had a problem with him for being from hick-ass Missouri; that was his problem, and his alone. My dad was raised by a mother who had gone to business school and a K-State grad who had been the first in his family to go to college, both of them from rural Kansas, and none of their kids turned out stupid. The University of Nebraska has fallen victim to some pretty disgusting political interference, but I never figured that it became a powerhouse in climate science by collecting a bunch of retards.

If we’re in the business of making regional judgments, Pot-o-Shit Friend doesn’t say anything good about people from Providence by way of Baltimore who move to Oregon, or whatever the fuck he did, other than be a hipster who, in spite of his trash can, didn’t look like he got enough to eat. I heard bits and pieces, but I never cared enough to investigate. Joe Dirtbag was all like, oh, you’ll hit it off with him, he’s from Baltimore; obviously an erstwhile Philadelphian wants nothing more than to yuk it up with an Old Bay-ass weenie in Coke bottle glasses who has all the force of personality and muscle tone of a wet noodle. So, no, I don’t go touring the Midwest in search of my shit-in-a-bucket constituencies; Midwesterners are sensible enough to appreciate indoor plumbing, and the ones who aren’t I expect to find me in Oregon.

What’s relevant about this particular Missourian is that he’s yet another dipshit who’s got a chip on his shoulder about his backwards hometown. Garrison Keillor’s shiznit appeals to every social climber who thinks everyone else from back home was a hopeless smallminded dolt. He got every fucking valedictorian in the country listening to the same twee, condescending horseshit spoken-word stories about local-yokel simpletons in the Great White North. He got many of them to buy his series of companion novels and read his sermons in the Washington Post. 

Look, I’ve dealt with some fucked up country bumpkins in Pennsylvania, so I don’t assume that life in rural Minnesota is all sunshine and lollipops. I can imagine that it sucks, that it can be awfully stifling and if nothing else bloody fucking cold. Moving to the Twin Cities or, hell, to Santa Barbara might make some sense. The thing about the Lake Wobegon stuff, though, is that it’s so sappy and sentimental. Like, are there really entire towns in Minnesota populated by these stuffy, simpering, tendentious dorks? Listening to these crappy vignettes, I couldn’t help but think that they didn’t square with what I’d been able to pick up about the rural Midwest, specifically, that they were markedly worse. Garrison Keillor routinely ran stuff whose production value was only marginally better than the “Up the Snitz Creek” columns in the Lebanon Daily News. I shit ye not: that was a real column, and it’s a real creek that I’ve never since been comfortable crossing. It’s understandable that such items would be run by the shittiest possible newspaper of record, but Keillor got his crap syndicated on NPR.

There’s no charitable explanation. Here we’ve got this wheezing, sighing, bulldog-looking cunt up on stage telling longwinded, gratingly sanctimonious stories about the retarded minutiae of small-town gossip interspersed with bluegrass jingles about an imaginary brand of fucking biscuits, the kind of childish, nonsensical horseshit you might have to sit through at your second-grader’s school play, and he’s putting it on for an audience of neurotic overachievers who are force-feeding their own teenage children AP coursework and extracurricular activities until they drop.

Again, this toolbox was producing this elaborately twee shit for an audience of highly educated, affluent adults. Mr. Rogers must not have been too emotionally even-keeled and modest for their tastes. That’s what happens when there’s an actual adult in the room who has the decency to act like one: hey, let’s put on our zip-up sweaters and go tour this pencil factory, then we’re gonna talk about some heavy psychological shit, like, death and bullying and stuff, but I’ll try not to upset you, and then, for the fun part, I’m sending you on a special Honey I Shrunk the Kids trolley through a wormhole into a funhouse land ruled by a freaky-ass genderfluid king whose neighborhood mailman is legit bipolar, but don’t worry, you should never feel embarrassed to talk to a grown-up if any of this starts feeling weird.

I’ll actually be on the real Pittsburgh subway-surface trolley system next week, which I assume is also run by and for adults. Yeah, Wow Much travels None homeland Omg mr mcfeely Very disorient. Our old boy Keillor, though. Holy shit. That twit was always ever-so-gently ribbing the yuppies, as if a pleasantly warm slow roast was praxis because, my gosh, dear hearts and gentle people, we all have our foibles. Actual independent thought about the yuppies would be more like the old-school Comiskey Park shit, but nobody ever had the stones to bring a “Go Home Yuppie Scum” sign to the Fitzgerald Theater. Nobody was about to get uppity in there and encourage anyone else to pack that fancy-pants shit up and take it back up to Addison. That would require taking a firm stance, you see. That would require principles.

‘Twould harsh the mellow, and one can’t have that. We’re all just here for an evening of forced levity and shitty spoken-word bildungsroman stories about how we’re all just plain and simple country folks, that we might momentarily forget, and yet be subliminally reminded, that little Taylor here won’t amount to a damn thing in life if she doesn’t get into Haverford. We certainly wouldn’t want her to take a job at some gas station in Anoka County, surrounded by this evocatively narrated town full of hopeless losers.

Garrison Keillor lived his way into some kind of spiritual picture of Dorian Gray situation. I’ve been reading that he wasn’t such a bitter yuppie blowhard and smug, precious dork back in the eighties, when he first became a big deal. It seems that over the years his shtick became both softer and more vicious, that it mutated from jaded, occasionally abrasive truthtelling into its current format of cheap easy-listening hate radio. Like all too many other liberal yuppies, he’s gotten salty about Trump and Trump’s voters for all the wrong reasons, blowing whatever moral high ground and credibility he might have had on self-righteous pot shots. He’s pissed off at all the losers back home who made fun of him in high school and now have trouble getting by on their gutted pensions from the cement factory or whatever, his premise being that they have no reason to be sore about their lot but he has ample reason to be sore about them for being sore. He’s got teenage grudges against people who spent decades barely scraping by in honorable and productive but tenuous lines of work while he jawboned his way to fortune and fame, but reliving high school at his age is less embarrassing than putting on variety show items that would annoy a precocious fourth-grader.

So here he is now, laid low by accusations that are impressively PG-rated. He touched some woman on her bare back when she was upset. He lustfully tried to console a bitch. I’ve been hearing through back channels about stage shows where he got visibly horny with the women performing alongside him, to their discomfort, e.g., some half-assed Al Franken shit. Don’tcha fucking know, Ole. Sven, ya catchin’ any o’ this? Some great Minnesota ethnic diversity we got right here; too bad I’m not awake or culturally aware enough to make fun of the Finns, too. These guys sound pretty rude and obnoxious, but the Keillor stuff especially sounds like it could be handled by telling him, hey, maybe don’t do that again, and I’ve gotten my nipples pinched–not mime-groped, straight-up pinched while I was fully awake–by way the hell worse than Franken. The guy who did it would have been a hardcore douchebag even if he’d kept his hands off my tits. It was some kind of anthracite country problem drinking thing, or maybe this guy and his buddies were just fucking assholes. I dunno.

Geraldo, though? If Geraldo sexually harassed me, I’d have no choice but to consider it a high privilege and honor. I’d want John Tesh to perform a big band number about the incident. I can’t help it; it’s some kind of Long Island deep cultural immersion thing. If sexual aggression is about power, the power might as well come from a true son of the Guyland (Joey Buttafuoco works, too), not from some simpering Minnesota dipshit who’s all bashful that he was caught not being nice. I’m still straight, now, you hear? Okay, the John Tesh comments didn’t do much to confirm that.

But holy hell, are we actually having a conniption because Garrison Keillor put a hand on some crying lady’s back? Is this for real, dawg? I get that we want to discourage sexually forward behavior on the part of those who are too arrogant or socially stunted to respond normally to social cues, but fuckin’ A, we seem to be raising the bar pretty high here and then kvetching that a notorious dork didn’t clear it. And now Minnesota Public Radio is talking about renaming A Prairie Home Companion. They’ve got a different, more Southern-fried earnest mofo at the helm now, and they’re still worried that we’ll associate the show with this tainted dirty old man who once touched a woman’s back and maybe leered at some other chicks.

Here’s an idea: A Prairie Ho Companion. I doubt it’ll be the best work of art about Chicago hookers, but it’ll be better than Sister Carrie. 

This is what I get for not doing my assigned reading in school. I’m out of work again and banging this stuff out at one in the morning for an audience of maybe a dozen. What can I say? Dreiser sucks major ass. And it figures that Lake Wobegon doesn’t have a town whore; it doesn’t have anyone with remotely normal emotional patterns. Hey baby, your chatterbox isn’t working so great on my powdermilk biscuit, if you know what I mean. Hey, Noir, I know you’re watching us, so can you tell me what’s wrong with this chick’s mouth that she can’t get my dick up?

That’s some fucked up fan fiction from a guy (hey, now!) who isn’t even a fan, but it’s normal human dialog informed by normal human interaction. More or less. That’s a low bar to clear because I’m trying to beat a thrice-married dork who acts like the old maid running the village schoolhouse in one segment and an autistic seven-year-old in the next. I’m nowhere close to going fully native.

It’s really funny, as in hilarious and odd both, that this sickly, wheezing, bulldog-looking dork who’s suddenly in trouble for touching a woman on her back while she was wearing a low-cut dress or some shit had a recurring segment that he ended with a line about how all the women are strong and all the men are good-looking. Can you imagine anyone from this crowd raising children who aren’t neurotic fuckups? Garrison Keillor having a regularly scheduled segment in which he talks explicitly about a community full of handsome men is like Matt Lauer going out on the street to look for ugly guys: “Hey there, Savannah, we’re out here in Crown Heights to look for the ugliest motherfucking Jews, and we’ve already found some butt-ugly kikes. Take a look.”

Admit it: that would be an awesome thing to watch Matt Lauer sunnily deadpan. I don’t care how offensive some overly sensitive twit may find it. Normally I’d be hesitant to write anything quite that coarse, but in this case it’s relevant, pretty far out there by any normal standard but not gratuitous. The blunt truth of it is that we are not dealing with normal standards here. We’ve got these self-serious dipshits on our broadcast media studiously pretending that there’s no such thing as the Id while the Id rears its ugly head all around us, more flagrantly than usual. Garrison Keillor is in trouble for barely touching a woman in a manner that few people would find edgy, and Al Franken for posing for a photo in which he pretends to grope a fellow performer’s breasts while she’s asleep. Meanwhile the sitting President of the United States faces no consequences for habitually blurting out fantasies about how he’d like to assault his enemies, sexually and otherwise, for being the target of dozens of specific accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and forcible rape, and for having bragged about his incestuous attraction to his own biological daughter.

When the rape culture critics insist that Trump has to face consequences as an example to other sexual assailants, they’re absolutely right. That fucker makes Bob Packwood look like St. Anthony. We can’t be serious about deterring sexual assault, especially from positions of power, when we’re knowingly tolerating a sitting president who won’t stop openly acting like a Borgia Pope. A consistent standard of intolerance for sexual exploitation from positions of power would require the removal of Donald Trump from office for being a ragingly scandalous lecher.

The same thing goes for all his other abuses of power. This guy’s deal isn’t that he likes to get laid. That may actually be what’s up (heh) with Franken and Keillor, and even to some extent with Lauer. (That remote-control lock button, though.) Trump is a grand sadist, rather like Hillary Clinton, but with different focuses. The cultural rot goes deep enough that people are now saying in all seriousness that Matt asked Hillary tough questions at the debate just because he’s a misogynistic sexual harasser. I’ll say it again: I don’t hate Hillary Clinton because I’m a misogynist; I hate her because she’s a grandiose, gratuitously misandrist cunt. Among other reasons, of course. I’m not conceding the moral high ground to anyone who cackled about the assassination of Muammar Qaddafi, not one inch. What’s next: smearing Matt for calling Aileen Wuornos a creep? There must be a special place in hell for women who oppose her, too.

Me? I’m just going hypergraphic and Extremely Online again. My insolence doesn’t translate into power. Besides, come summer, I notice that the above-average aren’t picking a hell of a lot of fruit. That would get in the way of investment banking and shit.

Be Well, Do Good Work, and, ooh giggity giggity, Keep in “Touch.”

That time Little Charlie rose to the occasion wasn’t the worst of it

Lordy, here I go again up to Old New England, where they also don’t so much pronounce their ahze, on a mission to get Charlie off. CHAHLEE!

Sure, Charlie Rose sounds pretty gross in private, but television is overflowing with talent (sic, often unto death) that’s shockingly gross by any decent standard in public and on purpose. Just the certainty that Rose’s hotel room and mansion appearances, toweled and otherwise, were not Bernaysian mass mind control works strongly in the droning geezer’s favor. A full hour of Charlie Rose making noticeably erect pelvic thrusts through his sweatpants on the LA Metro Gold Line would be less painful than the average minute of DeGeneres, E.

That name. They aren’t even trying to be subtle anymore. I was able to specify the agency, route, and clothing above because I once had the misfortune of witnessing exactly that on the part of a fellow much crazier, less handsome, and more disheveled than Charlie Rose on the way into Pasadena. I suppose I could have called 911 or some shit, but what would have been the point? There were already too many deputies and rentacops on the trains, mostly for over-the-top fare enforcement; as a fellow inbound Blue Line passenger complained to me upon receipt of her citation and not five hours before she was booked into jail for the night, “Sheriffs think they the motherfucking po lease!” On the letter of the law, she was all kinds of wrong, but civically she wasn’t too far off the mark.

Will I see YOU tonight? Amtrak runs the only train through Reno, so no. Instead I have television to keep me company in our common time of thanks. I’ve already managed to catch bits of Live PD and Chrisley Knows Best, and I didn’t come across anything so brain-deadening at Donner Pass last night, so I’m not off to the best start. I also tuned halfway in to Jeopardy, more because why not than why, and didn’t actively enough tune out the utterly meretricious human interest story of the day on the local news, about a homeless veteran in Philadelphia who got $160,000 in contributions a viral GoFundMe page set up by the stranded couple he bought gas with his last $20. Methodically and reliably giving a larger number of the down and out more manageable sums of money must not be heartwarming enough for this Satanic nation. I keep feeling bad that I dogged on the Dunkin’ Doorman for pestering me for a mere 20% cut of my lost and immediately found money. I got curt with a guy who may have the most middle-class set of values in Atlantic City, just because he was a whiny pain in my ass.

The couple that set up the GoFundMe page are distributing extra money to other homeless, but it’s still striking that they didn’t gross $160k in a week or whatever by setting up an general-purpose page to fund relief for the homeless. We are ever so fucked up to get our heartstrings arbitrarily tugged by this cloyingly sappy shit. The corporate powers that greenlight cherry-picked feel-good stories about do-gooders in a time of pervasive, unmet need that they deliberately fail to cover are plainly evil. As a people, we absolutely should not feel good about ourselves because we are objectively bad to one another. That’s the painful truth, and I don’t give a shit how offensive anyone finds it. It SHOULD be scandalous.

In this context, I can deal with some fucking Charlie Rose. The guy can be rather tendentious and self-serious, but he has a nice underrepresented regional accent, not another case of the House Voice. I don’t have the damnedest clue of what he finds so compelling about plain black studio backgrounds, but I’ve seen worse. Actually, on second thought, he’s probably just subtly communicating that we’re all groping our way haphazardly through life, gazing as we go into the featureless void.

Hey, I just said “grope!”

Correction: Hey hey hey! Do we not all want it? Do we not all want to hug, or at least to rhyme?

Charlie Rose will never be as bad as Nightly Business Report. Other than World News Tonight and the local weather report, that’s what I really watched this evening. To return to our topic from the other day about reasons why PBS doesn’t actually need or deserve our viewer support, that shit is produced by CNBC. Maybe it can also be funded by CNBC, then. They’re up to their eyeballs in corporate money; why the fuck do they need our money to air that shit, too?

When I was thinking about not writing this screed, it occurred to me that NBR must have terrible ratings and therefore be an inconsequential curiosity. On second thought, I realized that however bad its ratings are, its audience turns out to vote and probably does more than its expected share of bitching to elected officials until it gets its way, so I guess it’s worth a look.

Aesthetically, NBR is a small group of boring af bougies who are totally on Xanax, but small, carefully calibrated, old money doses, not holy Mother of God I’ll flip my shit and get fired and end up out on the street if I don’t get my ass medicated new money doses. Charlie don’t care how much Xanax he’s popping, and he dun’t care if you care, either. NBR’s target audience tends towards Group 2, intersectional problem drinkers who will never quite feel socioeconomically secure. That, by the way, is the group I’m most smug about exposing for its substance abuse problems; it’s always lecturing someone conveniently other than itself for not being disciplined and sober enough to function properly in our ever-changing economy.

The social attitudes on display here are functions of socioeconomic upbringing, but not in any straightforward way. I know for a fact that anxious, backstabbing new money includes the children of financial millionaires with terminal degrees. That’s the Insurance Shmuck, for one thing. He’s the one who was all like, oh, no, I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until my senior year, all I had was an entire bottle of Nyquil at bedtime every weeknight until my rowdy drunk-ass rebound girlfriend told me she was worried about my health and got me to binge-drink hard liquor at least four nights a week. (I paraphrase, of course; it’s useful sometimes to edit for clarity.)

When I was little, I used to pick up bits of Louis Rukeyser’s shows when my dad was watching them in the kitchen. I remember Rukeyser having a combination of unabashed but reputable personality and natural poise that’s missing from television today, much as Fred Rogers bequeathed his children’s television tradition to the assholes who came up with Barney the Dinosaur and Dora the Explorer. What I remember from the old Rukeyser shows and Nightly Business Report episodes in the eighties and nineties was a surprisingly charming host would yuk it up with some pleasant and functional enough dork who’d just researched a class of hella obscure stocks that might be worth buying. It was never a do-or-die horror show in which the entire audience had to put aside at least ten percent of its inexorably stagnating wages in the face of unpayable student debt or never be able to retire. The wicked returns meant being able to buy a nice car or fund the kids’ college accounts early, not possibly avoiding medical bankruptcy with some good planning and better luck.

Obviously, this sort of programming is directed at a well-to-do, educated audience, and when I first started seeing segments of it I was too young to fully appreciate it, but certain ugly aspects of other television were clearly absent. There was no forced, contrived abundance mentality; it was understood that the audience was in a position to build personal wealth from a foundation of genuine stability and prosperity. For the same reasons, there was no air of investor coercion; that is, the stock market wasn’t being pitched as the only way for a yuppie to stay afloat in an increasingly unstable, unpredictable, and dysfunctional economy. That ramped up under Clinton and Bush II and went entirely off the rails around the Bush-Obama transition, which was of course also when the international economy crashed violently into the shitter. Meanwhile, overtly commercial investment broadcasting, always a somewhat cruder art, went completely fucking bonkers, taking on raging nutcases like Jim Cramer, who was fit to be shot with a wildlife tranquilizing dart.

Barring a few grossly overhyped wildcard situations, the dice have been cast for the last time for the Baby Boomers. They’ve got what’s coming their way, or, more commonly, not got what’s not coming their way. Gen X is a boring segment for the marketeers, but that still leaves me and my (mostly younger) people, the eternally shit-upon Millennials, not to mention whatever metapostmodern gobbledygook we’ll be told to call the crop of rising young adults as they continue to mature into twentagers.

This really is some fucking Francis Fukuyama shit, a horizon beyond which there’s nothing. Millennials are infamously workshy, but it might be worth considering that we’ve become detached from the workforce because there aren’t any damn jobs. Five million-some jobs in the United States alone vanished into a fourth-turning secular economic catastrophe between 2008 and 2009. The workforce participation rate dropped by five points year over year and has stagnated ever since. A measurable percentage of the population doesn’t suddenly up and say take this job, bundle it with all other possible jobs, and shove it. If a job that doesn’t require advanced formal education isn’t illegally reserved for immigrants (often illegal), it’s reliably some shady 1099 bullshit like Uber. The social ties that might lead the unemployed out of this nightmare have disintegrated across huge swathes of the native stock.

Nightly Business Report’s coverage of this burgeoning dystopian precarity is understated on strictly artistic terms, but it’s a fucking shitshow. NBR takes several clashing premises that can’t possibly fit together and pretends that they somehow cohere into a navigable whole. First there’s the chronic assumption that the working affluent deserve magical returns on their financial investments because they already have lucrative jobs. This is ridiculously inequitable, but in times of more or less broad prosperity it might not be a disaster. Since we’re going through times of uncontrollably growing precarity with no real sign of relief, though, we get to add the premises that:

–individual workers need to goose the shit out of their retirement accounts if they want to have any hope of retiring, and they’d be fools not to make maximum employer-matched contributions if their employers offer them;

–lol jk, individual workers can’t afford to fund their 401(k) accounts because what would have been discretionary income twenty or forty years ago is now devoted to student debt that they can barely afford to service;

–but it really doesn’t matter in the end, because this fitness class in Palm Springs and this other geezer who we found in Burbank taking classes to be a background actor prove that the elderly have no plans to retire.

By the way, our aspiring background actor lost a logistics business to the Second Great Depression, and NBR mentioned in passing that the percentage of employees whose employers offer pensions has dropped from something like 90% to 30% in thirty years. Yeah, I’m sure that just happened. I’m not convinced that the pension figures weren’t somehow garbled by sloppy research, but it’s indeed true that defined-benefit pensions have mysteriously vanished from the private sector, and that labor unions have mysteriously vanished over the same timeframe. This must have just been some inscrutable act of God having nothing whatsoever to do with leverage buyout thugs breaking the meatpackers’ union in Albert Lea and then doing the same thing thousands of times over in dozens of industries in practically every state of the Union.

Medical expenses got a brief mention on NBR tonight, too. You may not have a union in your shop or anywhere on the horizon, but did you know that doctors are still unionized, even in avowedly open shops? It’s called the American Medical Association. The worst rentiers in medicine, however, either get MBA’s or sell out to the MBA’s and go into hospital administration. But again, none of this has anything to do with the uncontrollably rising costs of medical care and health insurance.

Like hell we’re going to strategically invest and reskill our way out of this dystopia. PBS, which is actually CNBC, has some nerve to imply that we will. It never ceases to amaze me how modest and civic the Dunkin’ Doorman is in his whiny calls for alms, but that’s the difference between funding a coffee habit on Sunday morning and funding five nights of neoliberal atigprop a week.

We’ll need more than a stiff cup to stay woke for this fight.

“And we should mention that Google is an NPR sponsor”

Gee, should we, Ari? You don’t say!

NPR and PBS have this unbelievable pathological compulsion to avail themselves of all problematic funding streams. Direct federal funding–you know, because they’re federally chartered corporations and maybe the feds ought to put their money where their loud mouths are–is chronically obstructed by grandstanding shitheels in Congress who would rather nurse their pet moral panics for a living than take up a line of actual work or, hell, tend to the public business. Audience funding is an operational clusterfuck for the stations and an aesthetic and personal affront for the audience. Several times a year, we have to listen to whiny, passive-aggressive, neurotic, sanctimonious, and utterly uncalled-for lectures about how the vast majority of us are no-account free riders. Oh yeah? Fuck all y’all in that case; I can always scroll over to WCKM, which is the only station my mom’s car can reliably pick up most of the time, doesn’t explicitly insult its own listeners, and sometimes plays some bitchin’ tunes. Sure, it doesn’t offer the unintended fun of Meat E. Urologist Steve Maleski, but at least that part of the damn sky doesn’t have such an obnoxious, leering eye on me.

Ideally, the ultra-wealthy of this country might fill the gap because public broadcasting seems worthy and they have the capacity to fund it, but the sick, inescapable truth is that they’re stingy as all hell with their patronage because they can exercise more leverage over their host society that way. Warren Buffett (a Congressman’s son, let’s be clear, not actually the child of a meatpacker or a railroad brakeman or what have you, the way he’d like us to assume) doesn’t hoard his billions so that he might be magnanimous or discreet or public-spirited in his disbursement of them. It isn’t his place to be the change he wants to see in the world, unless that change is making his own grandchildren grovel for their periodic Dairy Queen treats; his place, rather, is to lecture society at large for being moral failures that oddly fail to constrain him and his kind. Say, that couldn’t have anything to do with billionaires having enough money to bribe officials dozens of times over, could it? Nah.

No, I’m not just quickie-ballparking the figures or pulling them out of my ass. For the hell of it (because it’s my own damn decision to directly research this shit, or not), I checked with NPR (coy about the bottom line) and Wikipedia (spergtastically specific), and sure enough, NPR has an endowment of about $258 million, much less than the $400-something million currently held by *MY OLD SCHOOL*. That works out to something like a year and a quarter worth of operational expenses. Billionaires consort with one another all the time and have staffs dedicated to organizing their charity (sic), so there’s no way they couldn’t find a way to split the bill and spare the rest of us the fucking quarterly radio lectures.

If that sounds expensive and wasteful, realize that Dickinson College uses its cool four hundred mil to miseducate Main Liner asshats who should be posted on corners right on the dividing line between Black Kensington and White Kensington, so that they might take full verbal abuse from both communities, including the Community and the drugs community. NPR, House Voice and neoliberal agitprop notwithstanding, is a huge national news broadcasting operation that does quite a bit of original reporting on a daily basis, some of it on the ground in rather unstable parts of the country and the world. From this perspective, it gets some real shit done on a shoestring. Sure, it could provide better coverage and be less corrupt, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a bunch of overseas news bureaus cost more than the township annual budget, some butthurt #TCOT asshole’s net worth, or whatever other bogus comparisons the starve-the-beast culture war shitheels in the GOP would like to use when they aren’t dumping another trillion here and trillion there into fruitless and deadly imperial military adventurism.

NPR and PBS can’t meet its budgeting needs just from federal funding reluctantly disbursed by an arbitrarily hostile Congress or by passing the hat to their newly reannoyed audiences, so they turn to multinational corporations to fill the gap. They never fucking listened to any of the perfectly sensible people who warned that they would sell off their own journalistic credibility by selling out to these thieving leviathans; their critics were all just catastrophizing Chicken Littles who refused to catch up with the times, which now, for reasons never properly explained, now required trusting the motives and ethics of shady corporate trusts that maintained full-time staffs of shamelessly mercenary “public relations” “professionals.” That is, in-house propagandists. On top of this, they had the gall to ever more needily guilt-trip the audience for alms, instead of considering the possibility that private citizens might be more enthusiastic about giving their discretionary income to organizations that didn’t sell out to ADM to produce the NewsHour.

The executives are foolish or arrogant enough (probably both) to assume that their customers wouldn’t possibly see through this admitted triple-dipping racket. It’s like a bum shaking a cup of loose change in front of the train station and then admitting that, yeah, I change into my begging clothes every evening after I get off work at my PR job for ExxonMobil, and by the way I’m on welfare, too, but you see, my boss and the clerks at the welfare office are mean to me, and all I’ve got to my name is a house that I own free and clear and a quarter million in savings. Nobody would give a fucking dime to such a schnorrer. Listeners and viewers do give to our esteemed public broadcasters, largely for shameful psychosocial reasons, but far from all of us do, as we’re berated several times a year in the free rider lecture series. Do I sound like I’m spending money that I might but don’t necessarily have on these triply freeloading shitbirds? Hell no.

As anyone with a lick of sense knows, the corporate money comes with enough strings attached to knit a damn sweater collection. The very fucking point of public broadcasting was that the public (that word again; hmm) would have the option to get its news and entertainment from outlets that were freed of the corrupting influences of corporate money. Yeah, that’s going just swell. For once we have an audience that is withholding its financial support on principle, not just because memberships are expensive, and the executives and almscriers and bagmen cannot imagine that the free riders are motivated by anything but crass stinginess.

If we’re feeling conspiratorial and psychoanalytic (hey, I just said “anal!”), we might conclude that they project their own vice onto the rest of us. The priests at one of the parishes that I regularly attend (homelessness, remember) take five seconds during the announcements at the end of mass to encourage us to contribute to the charity boxes at the exits. That always seems like a gracious reminder to do something worthwhile; we aren’t the most organized of the churchgoing, and God knows we aren’t the most punctual. With a stroke of seasonal bad luck, I might roll out and turn on the car radio just in time for an interminable group guilt screed about how important it is that we all give at least $60 a year or some shit.

Yeah, how about fuck the lot of you. Going to mass to get AWAY from the guilt is always a red flag, and not one about the one holy catholic and apostolic church. Leave it to NPR and PBS to pick out the most graceless, annoying, and dysfunctional traditions of the Judeo-Christian religions and blend them into a syncretism of earthly hell.

Are you paying for that? I’m not. Someone has to pay for it, but you don’t have to be that someone, either. As Ari Shapiro admitted, they’re already Google’s sugar baby. This brings us to the provocation for our current screed, yesterday’s All Tech Considered story from Toronto, a tentatively smart city. One might think that not promptly calling the police, an attorney, or the CBC’s HR department after being choked by Jian Ghomeshi wasn’t exactly smart, but that’s way too expanding galaxy brain for the likes of NPR. Google is building some shit on the waterfront, and listen to this, Brando, it’s gonna include some automated underground do-hickey to cart away the rubbish so that the beautiful people don’t have to look at the garbage.

Or the garbagemen, to wax conspiratorial again. These fuckers would never voluntarily go without a servant if they can order one up on demand (Uber), but they’re visibly uncomfortable with the continuing existence of servants (Uber again). This is why Techytown will be swarming with robotic buses, too. That trash train, though. One of the world’s premier internet technology companies is trying to build the city of the future, and one of its two or three proudest features will be a literal garbage subway. Imagine asking one of the guys who built the New York City subway system about that. Sure, we could do that, but why the fuck would we?

An old-school New Yorker can always kill two birds with one stone by throwing inconvenient items of trash into the tracks or leaving them on the train. We can be stationary or dynamic about these decisions, but someone else, almost certainly a union employee, is paid to clean that shit up now and then. They may be sore about how everyone’s always throwing a bunch of gawbage down heah, but they’re on the clock, and the MTA more or less comes through for them.

That isn’t the sort of New Yorker that Tory-era Toronto gets. Cool T’rana gets some asshole from the New York City mayor’s office to talk about how gross it is to have to look at properly bagged and canned trash on the street for a few hours once or twice a week and how that stuff should be out of sight and out of mind on a bespoke subway system parallel to the fiberoptic network. New York has always produced more than its share of trashies, neurotics, loudmouths, and others of dubious sociability, with dubious enough results, but the technocrats who have made careers trying to socially engineer the forced cleanup of their city are way worse. It’s like, man, I’m in the hospital with this awful cough and, oh my God, Cullen and Majors just showed up on the floor, no way is my heart up for anything that sexy. Yeah, you’d better get out, or you, too, might end up on the night shift (on the night shift).

Of course New York is rather dirty; what else is new; but can we at least not be meddlesome, sniveling dipshits about it? And why are we acting like a fucking trash tunnel is tech? Using a special hand-carved rock to pound acorns into flour is technology, too, but that isn’t why Google was founded. Did anyone on Sand Hill Road think they were funding a civil engineering firm? If Toronto wants a trash subway, why doesn’t it hire, like, CH2M Hill instead and cut out these assholes who inevitably end up fighting over the interior decoration of the private 767 that they garage at Moffett Field?

In a city as cold, snowy, and dark as Toronto, it makes sense to underground some shit. Canada has had underground malls for decades, so no one needs to convince the average Canuck. The retarded thing about Google is that it’s showing up with plans to mothball the garbage truck fleet and start running driverless buses around all day. This seems like a great opportunity to replicate the new Denver Airport’s custom automated baggage shredding system (which was quickly replaced with old-fashioned cart trains) and to spend millions of dollars finding novel ways to fuck up winter road maintenance.

Smart Toronto’s local critics are probably right that Google is actually scheming to use them as test subjects without their consent. That’s the industry standard, although, oddly enough, we hear little about the tech industry’s ethical problems on NPR. I can’t imagine why that is. But think about how fucked up NPR’s audience is to not have any interest in what might be worthwhile civil engineering projects until some dipshit ridiculously declares that they’re actually all about whizz-bang computer stuff. That’s just pathetic. Using the tenth generation of computerized pocket telephony to remotely oversee illegal jitney cabbies who have been lured into debt bondage worthy of sharecroppers under Jim Crow is the coolest thing ever, but making sure that the roads are plowed and repaved as needed or that there are working sewer and railroad systems is totally boring.

Colby Cosh was absolutely right: not nearly enough of us work with our hands for a living.

Don’t fence me out

Funny thing: telling voters that their hometowns, the places where their families have lived for generations beyond living memory in some cases, have arbitrarily been slated for depopulation and that it is their sacrosanct civic duty to shut the fuck up, cut the nostalgia, get with the program, retrain at their own expense for jobs of the future that may not still be available when they get out of school, and relocate, also at their own expense, to some costly part of the country where they have no friends or family is a losing political proposition. It raises hackles in the heartland. Angry voters who very sensibly believe that their communities and their very survival are under imminent threat vote against it.

Sheltered centrist idiots who have spent a generation or two shitting on these same voters and communities can’t for the life of them imagine what provoked these sore losers to vote for Donald Trump. The lack of empathy here is hard to believe. Intellectually I’m perfectly well aware of how arrogant the yuppie swarm gets when challenged, but I’m still blown away to hear it or hear about it. It’s apparently a total, absolute inability to understand how or why the same voters and communities that they’ve been shitting on for two generations, ever more violently by the year, would want to put a stop to the depredation and would rationally vote for the candidate who explicitly promised to restore their communities to health and prosperity. They can’t imagine that these voters didn’t fully trust the good faith of Hillary Clinton, the her of #WithHer, a woman who had been directly involved in yuppie depredations going back to the seventies, was hesitant to engage with blue-collar voters, and couldn’t hide her contempt when she did comment on their plight. Now that this constituency has cost them their prized election, they can’t refrain from trying to shame these same voters into belated compliance by accusing them of voting against Hillary due to their rank racial and sexual bigotry, since it’s obviously impossible that their woke slay queen alienated them with blatant, open personal insults in the course of bitterly complaining about their lack of enthusiasm for her campaign.

Wisconsin may have been off the schedule, but these good Democrats are always up for a vacation back to their favorite part of Ohio: Whinesburg. Ooh, call Engine 51; you just got burned! As cheap as that was, I can pretty well guarantee that anything the centrists would think up in response would be completely fucking lame. Trump’s “Little Rocket Man” is fun. “Nothingburger” bores the sweet everloving shit out of anyone normal.

Right there we have a critical weakness in Clintonworld. If voters assume that they’re about to get ripped a new one regardless, why shouldn’t they go for the class clown who will distract them with crude jokes instead of the tattletale valedictorian and class president who’s always salty that she isn’t more popular with the misfits? Of course, there’s always the smart kid in the back of the classroom who didn’t have a lot to say but stood up for the loner scapegoats when bullies picked on them and seemed to get along well enough with most of the class. Surely this is one of the reasons why voters admire and trust Bernie Sanders: even if politics are still a glorified high school popularity contest, they’ve got someone stepping up to the plate who seems to transcend the bullshit, a basically normal person who focuses on serious issues like an adult instead of taking a side and stoking the communal unrest while the jocks and the nerds scheme to murder one another.

The Democrats couldn’t tolerate anyone so principled. They couldn’t even countenance him as the running mate on a ticket that he would have singlehandedly won for its divisive principal. They just had to take on that weird dork Tim Kaine and keep trying to humiliate Bernie while he barnstormed for them and their obscenely wealthy, widely hated ex-first lady kept plotting her revenge-of-the-nerds fantasies. They had to ineptly fume at their clownish opponent and, worse, his voters about how consummately meritocratic they were when they couldn’t even come up with serviceable retorts to his playground insults, let alone ignore them and get the debate back on topic. You know, like normal adults.

It’s the damnedest thing, but certain key constituencies didn’t take kindly to their constant belittlement by a sheltered clique of bitter try-hards. They didn’t enjoy being lectured about their bigotry and backwardness by neurotic, hypocritical, goody-two-shoes grifters who would never be sated no matter how much wealth and power they seized. They find it ridiculous, at best, to watch affluent centrist dipshits get triggered when Trump makes fun of Mika Brzezinski for looking like shit after a bad facelift. How in hell would they be able to afford facelifts? They can’t afford dental checkups.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find the decency and the self-control not to make fun of constituencies whose votes one hopes to win. Feeling genuine empathy for them should do the trick. Bernie sympathizes with industrial workers, current ones for doing honest labor well, laid-off and disabled ones for having run into bad luck while trying to make an honest living, and it comes through. He instinctively knows how to talk to and listen to hard hats. He gets their kitchen table concerns and the tricky nuances involved. He doesn’t blurt out that “we” are gonna put a bunch of coal miners out of work, even though he knows that the industry is on the skids and that mass layoffs come with the territory. He recognizes that good leadership requires working around company town busts, and that that’s always complicated and difficult. Plenty of people who’ve lived their whole lives in Appalachian coal towns very much want to diversify their economies so that they stop being dependent on the whims and uncontrollable commodity cycles of the coal industry. They trust Sanders for meeting them well more than halfway.

The Donald comes at industrial policy from a cruder, simpler, and frankly more ridiculous stance. He’s the guy who’s gonna fuck up everyone who took your job and make someone put you back to work. Most people in and around the coal industry know that this isn’t too damn likely, since they’re a lot savvier than coastal reporters and editors tend to gather on their occasional prole-whispering tours, but they also know that the thing about a Hail Mary pass is that it might, against the odds, be completed. Besides, there’s probably something to be gained by having a rough guy go rattle the cages of globalist elites and see what he can shake out of them.

It is not, then, irrational or self-destructive to vote for a man one considers a vulgar clown with no attention span because he seems to have his heart more or less in the right place and against a famously detail-oriented social climber because she seems to have her heart firmly in the wrong place. Frankly, Hillary Clinton did better with young people and minorities than I expected. That is, she established more popular credibility than I expected, far more credibility than I was willing to grant her at my most sympathetic. I expected more of Hillary’s supposed base to defect to Trump in an effort to protect their own economic self-interest. Hillary’s lack of gratitude to this base for turning out really rubs me the wrong way, and I can’t imagine that it hasn’t been damaged the Democratic Party’s overall reputation.

The Democratic strategists, the numbers nerds, knew where the disaffected voters were: specifically, in hella swing states. They knew that a bunch of Midwestern states that are always up for grabs were once again up for grabs. Knowing this, Hillary could have stumped in Wisconsin. Instead, she went to three performances of Hamilton. She didn’t have the time to tell Midwesterners living and voting today what she was planning to do for them, but she had plenty of time for encores of a trendy Broadway rap opera about what certain politically correct elements like to call dead white males. Engaged, independent-minded voters in the Midwest must be looking on like, what the fuck, man.

It’s perfectly reasonable, prudent, in fact, to wonder what the talented tenth wants to do with, or to, the teeming masses of provincial losers. I have a bachelor’s degree and no debt, and I just barely feel safe from their direct depredations. I have marketable craft and trade skills, too, and these seem pretty close to worthless in socioeconomic terms. It’s inevitable that the neoliberals will move the goalposts again, probably after they’ve successfully marketed their way into a STEM trainee glut.

Those of us left behind have been described as the “Unnecessariat.” The idea is that we’re surplus and irrelevant and therefore should be left to our own devices, to flounder. A darker, but no less credible, assessment is that our betters want us to go to hell and die. The link above includes some alarming maps of suicide and drug overdose epidemics. These are obviously true crises devastating large regions of the country. It should come as no surprise that voters in many of the affected counties supported Donald Trump. That’s the least they could do to rebuke the neoliberal order and the Wellesley-Yale yuppie trying to brightside them into continuing to support it.

The things that national and transnational elites have done to many of these communities are the stuff of civil wars. We’re all lucky that the devastation of these places hasn’t provoked systemic insurrection or guerrilla violence, but it would be hard to blame people for taking up arms when their hometowns are in the grip of deliberately engineered social collapses verging on genocide. The language and intellectual framework of international human rights policy really are apt and useful here. The neoliberal masters of the universe would rather not have to send in tanks stateside, but they most certainly are scheming to force the removal and internal displacement of vulnerable minorities from their hometowns. It’s no defense that these minorities happen to be majority-white and distinguished mainly by class, not indelible ethnic or racial markers. It’s still absolutely inexcusable.

Liberalism, as it has come to be construed over the past thirty or so years, doesn’t offer a fucking thing to the victims of this patchwork Trail of Tears. (Sick sidenote: more than a few of the white victims of the current dispossession campaign have significant Cherokee blood. #RaceTogether.) It offers sexual liberation on condition of chronic exposure to homelessness and starvation; fuck whom you like as you like, but go to hell if you expect to somehow get three hots and a cot out of this deal without enlisting in the armed forces. Don’t expect the universe to hand you enough money to afford car repairs, medical care, or food just because you work yourself to the bone every week, you whining ingrate.

This is a flagrantly illiberal regime. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: great, looks like we’re three for three in the foreclosure of human development in a country that was founded on that very proposition and continues to overflow with grievously misallocated wealth. This is a grotesque scandal.

And sexual liberation? Lol jk, you have to ask for explicit consent every fucking step of the way, all the way up to the actual fucking, or risk being accused of rape for making clumsy, artless moves on some club skank. Unless you’re a sexy scumbag, that is; in that case, you’ve got your license to grope a bitch. A decent person is hopeless to navigate this minefield of disorder, dysfunction, and burgeoning dysgenic horror, but an indecent person is in great shape.

Alcohol inevitably fits into this equation most uncomfortably. Americans have had a plainly insane relationship with alcohol for over a century and a half, in addition to our recurrently weird sexual hangups. If we were just privately dysfunctional that would be our unfortunate private problem, but we make public policy on the basis of this dysfunction. Alcohol has been used to catalyze sexual trysts for as long as there has been alcohol, but we’re really fucking touchy about both, so hoo boy, we’ve got trouble. We have an exceptionally louche celebrity culture and more than our share of alcoholics, many of them trying to ape that culture, but we also have a huge cottage industry of rape panic, very little of it focused on actual threats of actual rape. Brock Turner committed a true rape, but he can’t hold a candle to the sexual predation of Daniel Holtzclaw, and rather few of those who got swept up in the Turner thing seem to know the first thing about the Holtzclaw scandal, or to care.

I can’t shake the feeling that much of the outrage over Turner came from women who secretly wanted him to not exactly rape them but at least give them a good hard dominant fucking. Don’t get me wrong; I never thought the guy looked particularly handsome or charming, but I can see how he might, so I can definitely see some room for sexually repressed dipshits to project onto him and use him as their scapegoat for sins of the flesh. He may have had that almost sickly pale white look and been straying dangerously close to that classically sexy Lynn Majors hairstyle, but he was on an elite university swim team, and that’s almost as fuckable as the lax boys who captivated the Hall and Oates Effect bitch what’s-her-name who roomed with Charlotte Simmons. Nah, on second thought, Brock didn’t do that shabby, half-assed high-and-tight thing on top while letting it all hang out in the back, so I guess he had that going for him, but still.

Sexy male nurse Lynn Majors memes are still an improvement to the American sexual discourse. It’s that deadly. All these irresistible liberties are dangled in front of us, just beyond our reach. We’re allowed to indulge in theory, but in practice we lack either the time, the money, or the social skills to take advantage of them, and we’re liable to be punished arbitrarily for some trifling misstep or bit of forwardness while some total asshole gets off Scot free for everything shy of indecent exposure and public lewdness in the same trashy nightclub. Meanwhile women, especially, but maybe also men are supposedly unable to give any consent whatsoever to sex acts when they’re so much as mildly drunk, as if the average clubber goes out to stay sober or gets drunk to stay chaste.

There’s no coherence or principle to this regime. The cultural mainstream of sexual liberation in the United States is still decisively on the side of public loucheness under conditions of moderately diminished capacity; sober, thoughtful consent is for prostitutes, and so is not getting the damn clap every few weeks. No car salesman or military recruiter worth a damn would execute a contract with someone who showed up drunk, but the nightlife scene is deliberately set up to blur the lines between sobriety and intoxication, between reality and fantasy. Hey hey hey!

If we all assumed normal adult competency and ethics, adjusted for intoxication levels, this might be a manageable arrangement, but we’re beset with busybodies who insist that, especially where the fairer sex is concerned, there is no middle ground of competency between stone cold sobriety and Rob Ford muttering himself to sleep in an increasingly slurred and incoherent screed about the Jamaicans while the cocaine inevitably wears off and by the way Mark Saunders is second-in-command of the police force.

There’s always a middle class somewhere not that far off in the background, trying to make the center somehow hold. Or, in the US case, maybe there isn’t one. Let’s maybe not count on things that aren’t fully present and accounted for, how about that.

Cultural liberalism isn’t a slam-dunk in a country as traditionally religiously preoccupied as the United States, but paired with an economic platform that doesn’t beggar workaday people so that the already obscenely successful and wealthy may continue to gorge themselves, it’s somewhat within reach. For one thing, the working class in flyover country bristles at religiously tinged meddling in its sex and domestic lives by intrusive landlords, bosses, social workers, and the like.

So what does NPR do? Why, it flies a crew out to Muncie to brownnose factory owners while they complain about how the applicant pool is nothing but lowdown druggies. Everywhere it fucking goes, House Voice sniffs out the local yuppies and sucks up to them. This is what we get for allowing people who’ve known nothing but success and acclaim to run everything for us.

These assholes can’t imagine that struggling communities in forgotten, out-of-the-way places and the people trying to get by in them deserve some space to find their way and also some help when they ask for it: that is, the opposite of letting the company close the factory down and fire everyone without consequence and then telling the locals to pack up and abandon the lives they’ve struggled to build. They’re fine with “redevelopment” scams for the center-right and “revitalization” scams for the half-assed center-left, but they can’t brook any arrangement that doesn’t have some Boss Hogg or Elmer Gantry or yuppie asswipe wielding the whip hand over the most vulnerable and helpless.

How can I, a Palo Alto native and proud Californian, insist that these forgotten, godforsaken places in the hard interior deserve to exist and endure? Because it’s wrong to arbitrarily tell another person where to live. Because it’s wrong to destroy communities. Affluent people from the coasts and the big cities are free to buy getaways in the interior fairly; they have no right to have the natives run out like so many besieged Indians so that they can later snap up their abandoned property at fire-sale prices. That’s completely fucking wrong. Quiet resentment of losers in flyover country for actually having intact communities instead of loose, unreliable networks scattered across a multinational yuppie archipelago is no excuse. Cowboy the hell up and admit that the losers are clinging for dear life to something worth cherishing.

This is all easier said than done. Look at what the neoliberal ratfuckers did to New Orleans after Katrina, scattering the poor to Baton Rouge and Atlanta and Houston to more smoothly turn the husk of their city, the only place many of them had ever known, into a Cajun-Creole-ass tourist theme park. Look at what’s being done to Detroit, with all the whiteys rolling in from the suburbs while still registering their cars at Mom and Dad’s place back in Grosse Pointe to save on the insurance while amazingly not noticing the existence of black people in a city that’s ninety percent black and Kwesi Millington for Sheriff. Well, I’ll be shocked! Ray Nagin’s Chocolate City grandstanding was obnoxious, but conceiving of Detroit, of all places, as a Whitey Rez is batshit fucking insane and rather pernicious, even at a myopic neighborhood level. Like, do you motherfuckers have any idea of who has been living there? Any idea at all? For fuck’s sake, one of the black Detroit homicide detectives on The First 48 was raised in Hamtramck, which actually was Honkytown for a long time and still has more of a community than a Community.

It’s about time that I did some capitalization. Hell, the cracker contingent in Camden doesn’t erase anyone who doesn’t mind being around some damn drugs. Wasn’t no white people up in that motherfucker before the dope started shipping, or so goes the word on the street, but drugs were what integrated the West End of Sacramento before Brown v. Board of Education, too. #TeshTips: Alcohol is a drug. Why do we have more racial comity and goodwill from nihilistic dipshits who are chasing bad dope sets into the ghetto than from sober, stably employed bougies? Probably because they, unlike the gentrifiers, so cherish their drugs that they don’t mind living in the ghetto (in the ghetto) to get them. Elvis was against drugs when he wasn’t holed up in Graceland taking drugs, but at least the old boy ate well, and if you’re gonna die young, that’s the way to do it.

Drugs, amazingly enough, are a positive reason to move somewhere new. Best chicken in Camden, as the cops say when they figure that it’s futile to keep chasing junkies around the hood and they might as well just drive around until end of watch. Hey, it works for the California Highway Patrol when the lieutenant hasn’t approved an hour and a half straight on the clock at the Truckee Starbucks. I must grudgingly admit that gentrification scams are also a positive reason to move somewhere new. The arts district may be a gaping existential void, and it’d be a horror show to see who all they drove out of the neighborhood and where they drove them, but I generally avoid considering it my problem unless the yuppies are seriously fucking up Sacramento. (Spoiler: they are.)

What’s not a positive reason to leave town is that hostile outside forces shut down the mill and it’s just about impossible to make a living. That’s coercive, and coercion is inimical to liberty. Good luck explaining this to right-libertarians, but it’s true.

How crazy or pie-in-the-sky am I to assert that any legitimate liberal project would strive to eliminate this sort of economic coercion from citizens’ lives? Am I nuts to claim that this is the only way for liberalism to be electorally viable? FDR might not have carried on so about bottle rats at nightclubs when he had secretaries to bang, but this much he would have seconded wholeheartedly.

Let’s flip the script. How many bricks would be shit if the hip urban elements of the yuppie swarm were arbitrarily dispossessed and told that the Economy had moved to South Bend and Lincoln, which by the way had just seen the cost of housing multiply by a factor of five? Those are both cities that I’ve ridden through on the train and mean to visit before long, and Lincoln apparently has a labor market that isn’t in the toilet. The yuppie swarm would still be up in arms, and rightly so. It would be wrong to tell a bunch of people, okay, we just wrecked Brooklyn for shits and giggles, so you have to move to Nebraska at your own expense if you want to stay above water, and tough shit if you’re broke.

It’s just as wrong to tell people who’ve spent their whole lives in Crete or Friend or Youngstown or Flint that they have to pack up and move to one of a handful of overpriced hot markets on the coasts if they want to have a chance of not being completely ruined by hostile forces that are deliberately wrecking their local economies and public infrastructure for the easy profit. If the Democratic Party were actually liberal, there’d be no need to spell any of this out, and likewise if the Republican Party were actually conservative, but thievery isn’t an ideology.

Russian to judgment

Uh, shit, that was uncalled for, but so is the endless Democratic Russia hysteria.

Look, I’ve been to Russia. I spent a full month staying with host families there, first in Moscow and then in St. Petersburg, in the summer of 2002. My personal feelings about Russia are complicated and ambivalent, but they’re personal. They have to do with stuff that has no bearing on Russia’s foreign policy and only accidentally anything to do with its domestic policy. I don’t feel like ruminating over the details, but my worst experience was a run-in with some bad cops, so I have no trouble believing that Russia has serious civil liberties shortcomings. I also walked by at a distance of ten or twenty yards while a guy was getting kicked repeatedly in the guts by two other men on a side street off the Nevsky Prospekt, in a part of St. Petersburg that I otherwise took to be exceptionally prosperous and orderly, and quite a few of the Russians I’ve met over the years, both in country and back in the US, back in the USSA, have had an unnerving nihilistic bearing. I also know full well that I came nowhere close to seeing the worst that Russia has to offer.

The point is that no one has to convince me that Russia can be fucked up. Mine own lying eyes have seen it. Truth be told, few things have made me prouder or more grateful to be an American than personally discovering and then reading further about what a social and political clusterfuck Russia is. In many crucial ways it is a deeply troubled and unhealthy society. I doubt any significant part of it has fully turned the corner in the past fifteen years, and by some measures it regressed greatly after I made it back home (notably, on racist and xenophobic violence). So I’m not averse to legitimate criticism of the old bear den.

Nothing about the moral panic over Russian interference in the 2016 US elections is legitimate or sane. It’s the batshit fucking insane raving of pig-ignorant political extremists. It’s rabies. These deranged shitbirds have poisoned the well so badly that I can hardly trust a bad word about the Kremlin from the BBC, an organization that would hopefully be in a position to hold the Kremlin to some account. NPR is a hopelessly lost cause. I thought things were getting sketchy after they fired Bob Edwards and ramped up the House Voice, but I couldn’t see anything this surreally crazy coming down the pike.

Every time Russia engages in some modest bit of statecraft or spycraft, it magically becomes the world’s premier force of fifth-column subversion and international mind control. It’s unbelievable that we’re hearing about this absolutely insane shit on NPR and not on Coast to Coast AM. The Kremlin hired a few hundred undercover PR flacks to propagandize and troll American voters on social media. It spent a couple hundred grand on Facebook ads. Big fucking deal. We just had an election season that cost multiple billions of dollars and produced a big drop in turnout from 2012, along with a huge undervote in the presidential race, which is usually the main attraction when it’s on the ballot. The Kremlin was an irrelevancy. It was spitting into the wind.

Besides, everything the Kremlin has been accused of doing is done on a much wider and more sustained basis by Western spooks, lobbyists, and fellow-traveling shady pieces of shit. We never hear the hysterical Russia horseshit broadened to criticize AIPAC, the Pentagon bot army, or the multinational corporate leviathans. These outfits are the ones responsible for the serious propaganda. It’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a start. The Kremlin hiring underemployed twentagers to engage Americans with their our hearts go out to the Ceausescu family, sad day for Nicolae English can’t hold a candle to this fog machine.

If we’re worried about their ads corrupting our citizens’ minds, uh, Citizens United, fuckwits. Pervasive, unrelenting advertisement campaigns orchestrated by Bernaysian master manipulators are fine as long as they’re being run out of the usual WASP nests (Madison Avenue, K Street, Langley, Silicon Valley) (and, yes, they’re cooler than they once were with the Irish and the Jews and so forth), but Katie bar the fucking door if someone shows up at a Moscow ad agency with a hundred grand to spend on English-language copy. When our old boys do it on a colossal scale, it’s mere advertising; when the damn Red Octobers do it on an almost bashfully modest scale, it’s high treason.

Now we’re hearing feverish calls for Russia Today to be registered and surveilled as a foreign lobbying organization. Gee, with a name like that, you don’t say that it has possible cultural or political ties to Russia. What’s so rich a Yank could barf about this is that RT is open about its presumable ties to the Kremlin (not much of a Union of Right Forces organ, to judge from its coverage), while CNN, the WaPo, and so forth fraudulently pretend not to be crawling with Anglo-American spies, junta-ready generals, ruling politicians, seedy party hacks, and similar trash.

This doesn’t even begin to touch the endless corporate interference, even in NPR and PBS, our federally chartered and funded public broadcasting syndicates. Julie Rovner reports for Kaiser Health News now; no way that’s run by a major for-profit health insurance company and hospital operator that might have a political or policy ax to grind. And no way are my insurance premiums somehow being pooled to fund this highbrow Intelligence for Your Life crap. The mainstream media in the US are little more than payola, product placement, and Pravda-grade regime bulletins these days. NPR and PBS manage to simultaneously suck up every bit of compromising corporate funding they can sniff out, tangle with bumptious, grandstanding Congressmen in annual government funding disputes, AND bother their viewers with grating, guilt-trippy calls for alms several times a year. The PBS NewsHour is brought to you by Tote Bag Nation, some passive-aggressive assholes in Congress, and BNSF: The Little Engine That Could Get Out of the Southwest Chief’s Way But Totally Won’t.

Then we’ve got the cool stories about blackmail, the famous Piss-Trump kompromat. Yeah, nothing reminiscent of the Hastert thing there, or possibly similar to Roy Moore’s political relationship to Alabama’s business elite. The same assholes who got blindsided, or so they say, by J. Denny Dundiddly and Gadsden Lovin’ are sure that the most unabashedly louche president anyone can remember is vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail because he was videotaped getting off while a couple of hookers peed on a hotel bed.

A couple of questions come to mind here. First, who the fuck is Christopher Steele? He sounds like the pen name of a third-rate potboiler spy novelist with a first-rate drinking problem. Does he exist? Did the guy playing him ever work for the clandestine services? Is he a mercenary crisis actor, or is he a glory-whoring fabulist? Nobody has produced the fucking pee tape. Nobody has even produced a forgery purporting to show King Bigly and the Honeypot Rent Harem defiling the sacred one-time marriage bed of his predecessor. Plenty of people have fabricated ridiculous stories to position themselves under the glow of much lesser glories. Maybe the bastard is who he says he is and did what he says he did, but we can’t exactly believe him or anyone associated with him. His supposed employers, Her Majesty’s Spying Limeys, are some of the most incorrigible liars and dissemblers on earth. They’re a bit on the ridiculous side, but the idea that they’d keep some washed-up Oxbridge decoder ring wannabe with an unsubstantiated story about a video showing some whores wetting a bed on their international A Team is strictly for public consumption. One way or another, they’re punking us with this fool.

The Democrats used to lose elections honorably. Nobody really had great hopes for Mondale or Dukakis. Gore was reluctant to challenge the results of a blatantly corrupt election in Florida, by some accounts because he’d been advised that being a sore loser who brought the Brooks Brothers Rioters into the disrepute that they deserved was not the way to secure a feeding spot at the retirement trough. My man Long Face acted like, well, I tried, but shucks. He failed me and a whole lot of other hopeful Democratic voters, but he didn’t dishonor us.

2016 was the first time that the Democrats dredged up a ridiculous foreign scapegoat for their failures. It figures that they did this after trying and failing to force the pack to eat a sickening helping of their dog food on behalf of their raging bitch of a candidate. It figures that they did this after their scandal-plagued disaster of a queen failed to follow up her party coronation with campaign stops in the Midwestern swing states everyone with a lick of sense knew she needed to win, managing to lose the Electoral College in spite of a national popular vote lead in the millions. The Clintons have always had a loose relationship with the truth, but under Bill this relationship was cordial enough. Under Hillary it’s frostier than a February dawn in Vladivostok. He was the irresistibly charming Arkie son of a bitch; she is the repulsively charmless ice queen who’s bitter towards her husband for being a chronic adulterer, bitter towards Mocha Haole for beating her the first time around (“that man,” as Bill is said to refer to him), bitter towards Bernie for nearly beating her even though her operatives tipped the scales, and bitter towards the Donald for having the unexpected amateur’s horse sense to actually pull off a victory as a first-time candidate for public office.

If anyone would blame Kremlin mind control for a political loss, it would be this grotesque hag and her sycophants. The disreputable response is a function of a disreputable candidate and campaign. These losers lose sorely because they’re sore losers. Their form is too disordered to permit normal functioning.

It can’t be that they fucked up an already weak and shitty campaign; it must have been long-distance Russian brainwashing. The voters who got Trump over the top can’t have had rational or coherent reasons for voting for him and against Clinton; they must have been feebleminded enough to fall for a mind control campaign run by junior political operatives engaged in nothing worse than rude internet chatter. America was already great; there’s no way a sensible American could have thought otherwise, no way that a savvy political outsider could have tapped into the formerly unexpressed grievances of an aggrieved public by hammering on a catchy four-word campaign slogan. Russians must have convinced them that the United States had some kind of unresolved class problem, just as the damn pink Soviets were the only reason why anyone thought the midcentury United States had a race or civil rights problem.

Surely it was the Russians who fabricated the sexual assault allegations against George Takei to interfere with his meme warfare, not anyone who was still personally upset with George Takei for having sexually assaulted him. If that horseshit can be proof positive that the victor didn’t legitimately win the presidential election, surely it can be reasonable doubt for a sexual assault case in the court of public opinion.

Joe McCarthy sincerely regarded the Soviet Union as a menace to his country, not to his party or his career. That’s the difference between honest paranoia and the sorest losers ever endlessly grinding a political ax. These shitheads don’t care who or what they destroy as long as they either come out on top or, barring that, find a way to take cheap revenge on their proliferating enemies.

Fuck the Democratic Party. It has to either be reclaimed by decent people or allowed to convulse its way to its belated death. I can’t stand popcorn, but if I can’t vote it back from its current eighth circle of hell land of make-believe, I’ll be glad to grab a cup of coffee and maybe some hash browns and pull up a chair.