Pittsburgh has a fancy-ass airport express bus, the 28X, to get the fancy highlanders downtown and back in a hurry. The 28X sticks to the busway and the freeway and the mall perimeter and shit (okay, a bit of West Carson, too), in the interest of expediting the good bougie voters with their jobs and all between the islands of good stuff at an adequate altitude above the hardcore flyover country.
Muh fuckin Port Authority 24 Local, tho. What can I say? It came first this afternoon. Hey, that could be a working sociosexual allegory about the riders, too. The poors are certainly said to be less sexually dysfunctional. Giggity. But no kidding, Rogers, there’s some gritty, gritty shit awt there past Mawnt Warshington and the Inclines, dawn in the old mill tawns, and it seems our Buckeye boy Johnny K. didn’t stick arawnd to fix any of it.
When I got into teh dawntawn myself, I double-checked with Google-Fu, and sure enough, that fucker is from McKees Rocks. It’s inconceivable. I’ve seen much, much worse American neighborhoods; McKees Rocks looks poor and seedy but pretty socially functional, maybe even more than average. The bizarre part is that its most famous native son (I have no fucking idea who, if anyone, it’s contributed to our varieties of sportsball) is the Republican presidential candidate who carried Manhattan and only Manhattan. That’s like Sargent Shriver and William F. Buckley running for the presidency and winning only the bad parts of Cincinnati, pretty much just Scott Parlier, Mack the Pipe, and the $20 carside blow-and-go crowd.
I know, I know, that silver-spoon second-generation developer oaf from Queens with the flagship properties in Midtown Manhattan who won all the backwards constituencies in the general election because that crazy bitch smeared the lot of them as comprehensively immoral and implied that they’re all hot-bunking in the same basket.
John Boehner was brought up in even poorer circumstances in an equivalent inner suburb of Cincinnati. The GOP has a real thing about elevating guys who grew up closer to the railroad tracks than they’d have liked and now deplore and look down on their own hometowns. They must bring some bogus air of authenticity to the party’s ongoing campaign to loot the commonweal until it’s flat out of lootables. I’m all too familiar with the self-loathing Staten Islander thing, and I’ve now met that alumni council dipshit with the Hickenlooper-on-steroids Main Liner act and the chip on his shoulder for being from hick-ass Missouri (I’ll shit bricks if it turns out that he’s from Columbia or fucking St. Charles). I’ve basically learned how to deal with the occasional feeling of embarrassment before the normies on account of an early childhood in Palo Alto, and my very aggravating collegiate background has exposed me to plenty of insufferable assholes who use their own proud privilege to shit on anyone and everyone who doesn’t comply with their gross efforts at social control, so I don’t know what the fuck degree of extra latitude I’m expected to accord some toolbox who’s been salty for a decade or five about the petty slights that came from earning consistent six-figure incomes for years on end after an upbringing in a solidly middle-class part of New York City or Joplin, or alternately as Mr. McFeely’s son.
To my knowledge I’m the only party to this bullshit who regularly sleeps in his car. Then again, Palo Alto has to be a much better and likelier place to feel like shit for sleeping in a car as a fully employed and taxpaying member of society than Donner Pass is for doing so as a once again unemployed guy who’s planning to go for a hike after Weekend Edition Saturday. There’s a real failure of perspective here, and it starts to look willful. These shady mofos love them some class restratification and bigotry, with the proviso, of course, that only a bleeding-heart tax-and-spend commie leftist would ever wage class warfare. They don’t want to be on the hook for government services for the losers they or their recent ancestors left behind back home, losers who aren’t necessarily so utterly impoverished or unskilled or dysfunctional and who would tend to converge back on broad middle-class norms with assistance more modest than what the wealthy exurbs routinely demand of their public officials.
An upper middle class and national elite dominated by fifth-generation lawyers who are much because they are Dutch would expose the economic hard right wing to some glaring credibility problems. The hard right will look bad and lose a critical mass of voters if there were obviously no social mobility, and a generationally entrenched, ethnically denominated upper crust would drive home the obvious. (Don’t tell anyone that our current Second Great Depression is making the same point even more grotesquely and horrifically.)
That’s why the GOP enjoys regularly pipelining fresh ethnic talent up from the ranks of Expanding Whitey. What, do you still think we’re all swooping in here from the WASP nest? Why, here’s a wetback’s kid who worked at the family taco stand into his twenties, and here are some other NPR-ready members of Pueblo’s Hispanic Latino community who don’t look too closely at how they closed the mill down and also the bus system is fucking useless, and here’s a shanty kraut with a baker’s dozen of brothers and sisters, and from another few hundred miles up the river, czech it out, here’s a guy who climbed his way out of Hunky Hollow, the point being that every one of these enterprising ethnics believes in our private-sector job creators, and there’s no way that any of them enjoyed a stable home and neighborhood life growing up because dad was a union postal worker.
The great uncrackable nut in this bowl, of course, is America’s established local color, the ones insufficiently blessed by the rains back home. Or, as the drill instructors ask of the new arrivals at the Atlanta Police Academy, do they listen in the Motherland? The Republican Party keeps thinking up and then abandoning schemes to win over African-Americans, but with rare exceptions, the Community doesn’t bite. That’s what happens when partisan hacks use patently insincere and cheap talking points about self-reliance on the one constituency that has most reliably gotten a rough ride in their rodeo; it’s also the last constituency to turn down stable public-sector union jobs, because it knows from painful experience that the alternatives are straight out of hell.
All God’s other colorful people, not to mention everyone who automatically gets the Whitey Sign these days, are useful fodder the GOP’s classic #TCOT argument by anecdote. This includes African immigrants, who presumably become African-Americans while our ethnic rhetoric definitely slouches toward gibberish. No, I don’t mind accusations that I’m more bork than bite. Congress has never refused me the opportunity to rule. Ooh, we’d better airlift the judge to Lehigh Valley, because he just got BURNED.
I can’t blame John Kasich for wanting to move somewhere more prosperous than McKees Rocks or get away from neighbors who live vicariously through the Steelers instead of trying to actualize their own lives. It’s easy to see how an environment like that could get depressing, stifling, and limiting. This is a free country. There’s nothing inherently objectionable about moving somewhere else domestically, or expatriating, for those who feel driven to leave it because they love it. (Muh HRSDC shiznit, eh. *Headdesk* *St. Jean de Brebeuf voice* Oh, you think YOUR eyes hurt after reading all that? Ha!) The dispiriting fourth-turning truth of the matter is that the broad prosperity of postwar Pittsburgh, won at such cost by the unions, was what allowed so many people in the postwar generations to move out into the suburbs and turn into reactionary starve-the-beast nutjobs.
But what’s the problem with reminding Kasich of his own roots? He’d certainly remind me that I was a bougie Palo Alto boy if he caught me saying nice things about socialism and shit. Free market extremism wasn’t what gave Pittsburgh a middle class. Anyone who acts like that was the case is either a lying sack of shit or flaming nuts. Andrew Carnegie was a hideous thug who belatedly made concessions to the employees he deliberately kept in poverty only after they took on his subaltern Frick and their Pinkerton goon squads. A dear friend from Allison Park gave me a blunt assessment of Carnegie’s charitable motivations: late in his life he realized that he was going to hell and wanted to belatedly atone for his depredations in an effort to secure his own salvation. Getting his name plastered on a whole bunch of shit probably didn’t hurt; there are apparently those who get their jollies from such enterprises–say, the current Oaf of Office.
A sensible person has to wonder about someone who was raised on the Allegheny County waterfront in a household headed by a mailman and came away thinking that government and labor unions were the problem. Kasich’s complaints aren’t, like, geez, the city never filled the potholes on our street and that son of a bitch Hoffa was such a racketeering disgrace to the rank and file that I hope they buried him somewhere deep and far away. Having been raised in the stable prosperity nurtured under robust government and high union membership, he’s here to burn some shit down. It’s almost less disturbing if he’s just a garden-variety crook; imagine how sad it would be for a man raised in such an environment to actually believe that smallminded, ungrateful nonsense in the depths of his heart.
True story: I’ve seen Randian RWNJ Republicans brag about their “Pittsburgh Values.” This raises questions, including where in all hell they came up with such an idea. Pittsburgh and quite a few of the nearby older towns are solidly Democratic, anywhere from about 60-75%. There’s an outback of hardcore Republican strongholds surrounding the urban riverfront core and the other Democratic-leaning suburbs (including Castle Shannon, I recall); this outback extends hundreds of miles into the wooded void, practically to the edge of the Main Line and the outskirts of Scranton. But none of this exurban and rural swath is fucking Pittsburgh. “Hey, I’m in Chicago. Okay, I’m actually in Gary. But didn’t that sound nice?”
This is where we get into the realm of Republicans flat-out making shit up. John Boehner is proof of the great opportunity that is America. Look at him, raised by humble kraut barkeepers in a beyond-full house, and he made Speaker. That proves that anyone, with enough hard work and determination, can become the Speaker of the House.
Uh, no it fucking doesn’t. How many speakers does the House have at a time? Hint: the office is called “The Speaker of the House.” (I know, the whole lot of them can’t be induced to stop speaking.) What the hell does Boehner’s success mean even for his own siblings? That’s one position at the top of a national legislative body of only 435, plus some hanger-on delegates from the colonial territories. Not a whole lot of room for contenders there, Brando. Every individual Congressman represents a district of something like 680,000 (look it up for your fucking selves if the precision is that important to you; that’s why we have the internet until next Thursday). That still isn’t awfully many slots for America’s enterprising.
Pathetically, the same people who act like Boehner is a success story for having been so successful in politics, and Kasich too, I guess, if he’s extreme enough for their taste, also get up on their high horses about how the only appropriate venue for job creation is the private sector. They fucking venerate the “job creators” in so many words. What I have to wonder is, if the private sector is so majestic, why don’t they go look for some damn work in it? None of these assholes waxing obnoxious about job creator bullshit in Congress has worked exclusively in the private sector. I have, though. Their fellow travelers in the Randian think tanks and on the opinion pages aren’t a hell of a lot more free-marketed. What in the bloody hell would Megan McArdle have to offer in a competitive free market? Wingnut welfare has many such cases. What self-respecting person who has ever held down a proper summer job would take these useless, bumptious assholes seriously?
If these toolboxes think government is so awful, why do they keep competing for additional terms of paid government employment every two to six years? I’m not over here demanding the abolition of the private sector, and frankly neither is anyone else who isn’t absolutely ridiculous. The fucking Norks barely managed to destroy private enterprise for a few decades, and once the disappearance of their Soviet subsidies along with the dissolution of the USSR blew the shit into their fan, they mostly stopped trying. That’s what the world’s most belligerent and deranged extant totalitarian regime has achieved against the private sector. The infamous Slow Ghomeshi on the American private sector is fictional. To the very small extent that it exists in some greatly attenuated form, much of it is actually the doing of landlord rent extraction. What we hear about, though, is the chronic saltiness of pissant entrepreneurs who think they shouldn’t have to do basic bookkeeping and compliance work instead of getting however shady they damn well fancy come payday and tax time.
Could government be less burdensome and more helpful to small businesses and sole propietorships? Sure. The flip side is that assholes like Joe Dirtbag could start paying their damn sales taxes and stop making up crappy post hoc stories about why they didn’t pay up and shouldn’t have to do their part because reasons. That creep alone blew a good chunk of my goodwill towards the noisy beleaguered entrepreneur with his series of little tax-dodging stunts. I don’t try to buy shit off the books to dodge sales tax, so I don’t appreciate a deadbeat who also doesn’t pay me or anyone else who helps him run the farm cheating the city because reasons.
Let’s not stay so parochial, though. Here’s the Galaxy Brain take: robust government services like the Port Authority and a paid professional fire department can facilitate more private enterprise, not less, by maintaining a functional, reliable public infrastructure that anyone can use without a second thought. That seems to work for the Pittsburgh urban core. The Pittsburgh firefighters’ pension may still be underfunded, but at least the PFD doesn’t have its head up its ass about bringing new hires on board to cut back on the overtime, unlike, say, BART. Then again, BART vs. the Port Authority may well be a case of getting back what we pay in, for what it’s worth. Trolley time isn’t quite make-believe around here, but it’s pretty fucking unintuitive, and its delivery none too speedy.
I’m sure I could find plenty of #TCOT dipshits out in the North Hills and Butler County and shit who assume that the City of Pittsburgh has a private sector every bit as vigorous as Moscow had in the forties, but that’s because our national politics are insane. Our recent habits of stratification and sorting don’t fucking help. Hell, just look at our known Yinzer boy John moving up to Columbus and digging in. He’s got a case of the accent, but it’s too bad he doesn’t have a case of something other than the projectile ignorance of his own hometown’s history to go with it.
At least he won New York, New York. Not Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx, and God no, not Staten Island, but our boy from McKees Rocks cracked the cultural barrier of Radio Deluxe Country. That earnest socially climbing dork couldn’t even get a plurality in Allegheny County, and now that I’ve taken the bus through his old neighborhood with a dozen or so neighbors (Hello!), I can’t begin to convey what a glorious thing it is that he carried Manhattan and choked everywhere else. John Kasich is special just the way he is, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful fucking day.