Totally fictional fiction: Anniversary Coffee Date

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eyes.

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

He’d come in a good season.

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

Few understood them.

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

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

Welcome the hell in.

Gavin none of it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But enough about the Democratic Party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fauci and the fuzz

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

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

The cops know this. This is why they escalate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They couldn’t even make it nice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cat people. Many such cases!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That fucking putz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fulfillment center. Christ.

Up the Hershey Highway again

If Jimmy Carter had nominated Rachel Levine for a cabinet office, Joe Biden would have spent the month fuming, verbatim, about “the trannies.” I don’t see why he isn’t talking like that in private this month, assuming he’s verbal (and that’s assuming a lot!) That’s exactly the crudity of thought that got Levine nominated in the first place.”C’mon, man, I’ve got a Negress, a bunch a’ other broads, a faggot, and a transvestite! Gimme a break, Jack!”

There’s no political strategy to Levine’s nomination. There’s a narrow technical argument to be made that it shores up the support or enthusiasm of cultural liberals, but that’s a risky strategy. Trans rights are politically fraught, to say the least, in case anyone was puzzled by the spate of mishaps at “gender reveal” parties (#TeshTips: The noun, possibly mentioned in the Bible, is “revelation”), and voters who find ladyboy idpol inspiring are all Blue No Matter Who cult freaks. “How can we alienate the most swing voters by pandering to the narrowest, most marginal, most controversial part of our coalition?” It’s certainly a question Democrats ask, and yes, I wish I meant that sarcastically.

Biden, or Harris, nominated Levine for even coarser, seedier reasons. It’s an inept, offensive gambit to keep the coalition’s unruly leftists in line. Geez Louise, Jack, we gotcha your he-she, Mack! Voting against the presidency responsible for this nightmare would be bigotry. Huh. Am I allowed to be bigoted against a person because I’ve personally met shit and had a bad personal experience with shit? What I’m saying is, I refused to darken that freak’s exam room a second time back when she was still Richard. I have higher priorities than what the nomination to high federal office of the worst physician who has ever examined me means for trans rights or representation in government. That’s a case of whoa, she should NOT be in medicine, and she needs to be banished down out of medicine, not up into a position of official authority over it.

We hear a great deal these days about “qualifications,” always in a bogus credentialist sense meant to subvert the plain, expressly narrow constitutional qualifications for office. Rachel Levine is old enough and American enough for an assistant cabinet post. So am I, and I’m more fit. I’d consider the office a burden requiring me to live up to great, solemn duties of public trust. Levine is trying to get herself Peter Principled, and I know she never meant to have one, up out of an equivalent state-level position in which she got hundreds of medically fragile constituents killed just last calendar year. What assholes who bitch about the “qualified” versus the “unqualified” mean by the former is 1) having jumped through professional hoops, in a manner prioritizing outcome over process if there’s any conflict between the two, and 2) being politically agreeable. The honorable thing for them to do would be to focus on political agreeability, which is their actual aim, and shut up about “qualifications” as a synonum for fitness for office, since they’d never tolerate a callous freak like Levine if they actually cared about fitness. I don’t expect them to do anything of the sort, of course. They’re thoroughly dishonorable.

What I don’t entirely understand is why Tom Wolf, who seems overly idealistic but sensible, ever elevated that freakish dipshit to appointed statewide office. For all I know it may have been blackmail. Damned if I can say blackmail of whom, but hot diggity, Denny, we can take the plausibility of this one straight to the mat, way down low. Is #FOOTBALL also heterosexual, like wrestling? I ran cross country in high school, back when I still lived in Pennsylvania. The first mile was always easier.

#WeAre! #TooSoon! Wolf was probably just being a bleeding heart. It’s also all too plausible that he was prevailed upon to remove Levine from full-time clinical duties at Hershey. There’s always a benefit to removing a case of that extremity from medical practice. Elevation to a directorship of public health is a terrible way to do it, but it doesn’t eliminate what Mainers call the relative benefits. Instead of practicing medicine all the time, she was practicing medicine some of the time, or maybe just instructing unfortunate medical students, and spending the rest of the time either fucking off for a living or telling other doctors what to do.

In a more functional society, public office would have served Levine, and crucially the public, as a veal pen. Fatten up, moo a little bit, just don’t wander out here and bother us while we’re trying to work. Instead she meddled catastrophically in the Covid response and got constituent’s her mother’s age killed en masse in nursing homes. Did she leave her mother in the home? Hell no. She got Mom the hell out of that dump to save her life.

But that’s just one bad officer holding one office in one state out of fifty and one commonwealth out of four. Between the states and the territories, there were dozens of people the Biden Administration could have chosen over Levine from exactly the equivalent offices. There were hundreds upon hundreds of state cabinet officers they could have chosen.

Levine was Wolf’s problem. She’s not a problem I’d want to have, but I haven’t voted in Pennsylvania in over a decade. Now she’s up for confirmation to a federal cabinet office. Goddammit she is my problem after all. Son of a bitch. Why in all hell did they have to No Peter Priciple her into HHS?

Oh yeah. Shit. They have to keep the voters they’re ratfucking in line to reward them for committing serial abuse. Don’t dwell on how we’re betraying you every bit as badly as you feared when you voted for us; think about the diversity of our cabinet, trannies and all.

I don’t think it’ll work. It’s a perfect setup for a whopping Bradley Effect in 2022 and 2024. Levine is arguably the most fucked up person they could have elevated out of an organization that has also recently harbored Our Lord Joseph, His Servants Gerald and Graham, a child psychiatrist who was caught with child pornography on his office computer as part of his unapproved “study,” and another psychiatrist who got his card yanked by the medical board for marrying his patient. Don’t worry; the only one who summarily fired was the Boer spook, and he promptly washed up on the shores of the Beltway.

Seriously, nobody’s gonna fucking vote for that shit if they keep refusing to deliver. Levine will be either irrelevant or notorious. They expect to bully and shame us all into keeping both Democratic caucuses in the majority and Kamala Harris in the White House. Let’s face it: Biden isn’t even the president now lmao. He’s the titular president, and he pipes up with suggestions from time to time. Harris can obviously run circles around that skull full of cream of wheat. Of course, they’re gonna all be like, hey, look! A faggot! A tranny! A colored gal! I paraphrase. Ordinary voters will be disgusted that they all had to be dragged out of the uncanny valley. NPR caters to the hardly overpowering faction of well-to-do voters who can stand to listen to woke idpol shit. It catches some downwardly mobile ascribed bougies and some social climbers, too, but if the economy doesn’t turn around come the midterms–and I mean the whole real economy, including everything involving money, like healthcare and schooling–they’ll lose the last of their patience and help hose the Democratic Party off the Hill.

Joe Biden is a bigoted asshole who decided to start bringing freaks and phonies into his orbit for use as tokens, in the disgraceful hope of distracting the public from his rotten misgovernment. He’d still be fuming about forced bussing if that were still where he saw the clout. It’s considered unfit for polite company these days, so he doesn’t. It’s off-brand for a man of “empathy” and “decency,” i.e., still what he believes as a reactive thug who challenges other men to fistfights for asking him policy questions and feels up their wives. He still says the same kind of shit on hot mics that he was saying on the Senate Floor before I was born, just sometimes with less coherence.

He isn’t plainspoken; he’s a foultempered bigot, always on the lookout for a chance to punch down. He’s still racist as hell. That’s how he got to spend eight years as the lieutenant for a fellow white supremacist, the man whose office he now holds, if he’s able to hold anything for ten seconds. Joe Biden is Richard Nixon, but less gracious, less liberal, and less intelligent.

That’s the fucking thing. All a politician has to do to convince our retarded Washington press corps that he’s “working-class” is use some shit-tier folksy syntax. Those are supposed to be some of the keenest political minds in a country of over three hundred million, and all it takes to hoodwink them is to very crudely play against type. Tricky Dick, who was painfully aware of his own modest blue-collar upbringing, made a point of speaking in full, coherent, grammatically correct sentences. LBJ, the Texas-bred graduate of a normal school, took the same approach. Sonny Bush, a legacy Yalie and legacy president from the summering set, headfaked a nation of goobers with strings of downhome gibberish: food on your family, power to power the power of the generating plants, other shit the scrambled likes of which he definitively did not say in private. Trump, too, was less lucid in public than in private, although it takes true oratorical skill, including mental organization, to say some of the outrageous things he said and loop back onto topic from ridiculous streams of consciousness. Our presidents have been good Toastmasters, crummy Toastmasters, great Toastmasters, horrible Toastmasters. Woodrow Wilson’s PhD was neither from MIT nor from a crummy college. Yes, Virginia, there were racists in New Jersey back then, too.

Biden is granted “working-class” and “blue-collar” street cred for making utterances ranging from the rude to the abusive to the belligerent in a moderately rough Mid-Atlantic accent. It works because he does it for other worse-than-useless mandarins. It isn’t for the working class; it’s for affluent and rich twerps who have never socialized with anyone from the working class. Some of the most urbane people I’ve ever known come from genuinely working-class upbringings. One of them is the son of a Pittsburgh steelworker. Inweaved in the Extensive, whose parents owned “a goddamn steel mill” (a different one, I’d hope), had the son of a shop steward for the mail carrier’s local in Scranton editing his term papers. This wasn’t the smart leading the dumb so much as the exasperated brilliant trying to teach the intelligent to write English as well as they spoke it.

Any of them are enough to convince me that Funny Uncle Joe’s shtick is lame. He’s a salesman’s son who’s spent his career trying to convince idiots that he’s somehow not a lawyer by using obnoxiously meaningless sales talk sprinkled with half-coherent legalese. He was never blue-collar, and his father was never blue-collar. It’s some bullshit his handlers helped him make up, same as the “decency” and “empathy” of a dotard too senile to reliably walk in the right direction for twenty yards who was going to “hit the ground running” upon his inauguration.

None of this horseshit points to anything he’s ever actually done, other than being buddies with some Amtrak conductors. He’s a total phony.

We’re entirely right to resent First State Skull Pudding and everyone around him with a passion. They’re fully qualified for public office. So is the morbidly obese Plymouth-Whitemarsh community trust retard I once met, the one who told me about how he’d chat up the teenyboppers guarding the pool at his apartment complex: “So I go up to them, and I say, hey, sweetheart. What’s your name? Where do you live?” We’re absolutely right to resent anyone who confuses qualification for office with fitness as a way to buffalo ideological opponents out of the way. That retard wasn’t fit to be undersecretary of health, either. To his credit, though, he never tried to practice medicine.

Yes, Rachel Levine is qualified for cabinet appointment. She’s a US citizen of constitutionally sufficient age who has not been adjudicated liable to ask the lifeguard where she lives. Actually, that’s exactly how clumsy Levine was when he examined me. By the way, she looked worse as a man. You /sagest Dril voice/ do not gotta hand it to Kenneth Fitzhugh for murdering his wife, or for being normal, but you do for looking all right. Charles Cullen was never sexy enough for an Indiana license, either.

Again, that does not mean Levine has any business anywhere near public office. Do they even fucking vet these assholes? Gee, let’s check with her last employer and, well, shucks, that isn’t what we were hoping to find. Instead, Jen Psaki is up there smugly noting that Janet Yellen is a woman, not a crook. For God’s sake Stephanie Lazarus is a Jewess, too, but I don’t think many of us would be complaining about her conflicts of interest if she were appointed director of the National Endowment for the Arts. Also she’s killed fewer people.

That’s the quality of leadership that gets coughed up in our meritocracy. No, not Steph; it’s a miracle she didn’t make RHD in time to investigate herself. And not the creepy silver foxes or the fat retard, either. I mean the rest of them. They’re awful. Meritocracy that slow guy’s ass, and mine, too. They do not merit our respect. They merit our scorn and fury.

Messing with Texas

Yankee shitlibs refuse to confront the ugly truth that the gross misgovernment of the South mainly harms Southerners, most especially poor Southerners. It’s probablly because they’re racists. This evil country has been building common cause between Confederate brutes and Union appeasers since Appomattox. Charles Sumner got his insolent white ass caned on the Senate floor for refusing to accommodate his fellow cuntrymen, a misspelling he would wholeheartedly agree is not one. Some of speak more deeply in the Vulgate than others, some of the time. The good old classists–goodness, classicists–of the Good Old South were, as Sumner provocatively pointed out, Daniel Holtzclaw, just prissier. That was enough for Preston Brooks, Southern Gentleman, to forcibly get Charlie off his political bullshit. #CHAHLEE!

True Song of the South: I had the pleasure and honor, in my troubled youth, of briefly getting to know Mr. Charles and his owners. Mr. Charles was a nice pussy. They lived in a bed and breakfast outside Luray. Good folks, of all breeds. Mr. Charles was far from the worst Southern Ginger. Any of you fools read about the characters who founded this nation? My parents were taking me to a summer camp between Harrisonburg and New Market. Mr. Charles had his shit way more together than my modal peer or chaperone at camp. That outfit put the loco into the parentis indeed.

These days I’m much less troubled on my trips to Virginny, new, old, and dead. I’m talking about trips where I do shit like break down in tears in an easily bent-out-of-shape Marylander’s arms when we see each other for the first time in fifteen years and she asks me how I’m doing. “I keep thinking I see her.” All alma sane, y’all, is, some of us are less fucked up than we used to be. Take courage! Take comfort! In a world when so many things regress, some nerds advance!

Huh. We’re recycling our #content again. But ask: How much is there that is new under the harsh Texas sun? The ugliest members of the gentry are still grievously torturing their socioeconomic, and hence racial, inferiors. It remains the official policy. The scions of old-line Jeffersonian families do it because it’s what their families have always done. Canadian immigrants and other arrivistes in the Jacksonian mold do it because it’s what the Jeffersonian master class has done since time immemorial. We’re examining here the examples the American Adams of their diseased culture set in their own lives, not the ideals they proclaimed. That’s some perverse phrasing I used, but it’s not like we just started deploying seedy political accusations of treason and incest.

To plunge into the truly odd, our recently departed Oaf of Office, a man of publicly avowed incestuous interest in his own daughter, is consistently accused only of treason, which there is absolutely no evidence he ever committed. Did he get entanged in foreign rivalries, against the sage advice of our wiser framers and in the immediately recognizable fashion of every predecessor holding his office in his lifetime, as well as that of multiple framers of the United States Constitution? You betcha. Was whatever he thought he was trying to accomplish in the Russia and the Ukraine treasonous? Good God, y’all. “Woody Allen adopted that girl? Okay, but he’s Julius Rosenberg.” Come again? Dafuq?

The Russia obsession is the psychotic political equivalent of Ella Emhoff’s style of dress. That bird of prey goth bullshit is itself an updated version of the extant tradition of dressing up in starched shirts and neckties as a sign of one’s transcendence of physical labor. We’re encouraged to believe she does that to shock the bourgeoisie. Huh uh; homegirl is doing that to BE the bourgeoisie. The smartly dressed black bum on the San Diego Trolley who told his Goodwill muumuu-class white girlfriend “I can’t afford to go to the bank no more” dressed respectably because he couldn’t afford to go to the social capital bank no more neither.

John Regan would probably argue this is why we maintain monarchies. I take a different stance. This is why we mock monarchies. This is why we mercilessly mock all who butt in with aristocratic or monarchical pretensions. Go back to Canada and take that fancy-pants imperial condescension with you. “Oh. Which Canadian?” Yeah, that’s the fucking problem. We’ve got one in the fucking White House and still have one in the Senate. I’m afraid we can identify Regan as one of the good ones because he fled for Canada, not from it. They can’t all be Chad Kroeger or the Mentionable Justin. If I was them, would I let me in, like they did Dziekanski? I’d like to think so, but honestly, I’m interested in the backchannels–ironically by surf and turf, not sky–more than I am tempted.

Many of us, then, are stuck here. Do I sound like the kind of Cancunt who gets into Congress? Guadalajara? Oh no. Volaris is the Greyhound Airborne. Let’s see if there’s some room on the business standby list for Houston. Well shit, in that case maybe there’s a couple cops waiting for me back home, at the airport.

Bitch you could fly to Calgary instead, eh?

Rafael Edward’s Mexican Adventure is, in strictly technical terms, a distraction from the catastrophic failure of ERCOT and many of Texas’s municipal water supplies under the onslaught of a cold snap that was accurately forecast days in advance. That said, it’s of a piece with Ted Cruz’s decision to fuck off to Mexico during a statewide crisis, blame his minor daughters for making him abandon his constituents, and telling a press scrum at the Cancun Airport that he was flying home to roll up his sleeves and work on the grid. Cruz wore a Lone Star Flag mask for his airport press conference. He literally, bodily justified himself from behind the cover of his state’s flag.

Don’t mess with what now? Who dat living on the Gulf of Mexico and vacationing down at a different part of it to get out of the cold? Cruz’s block got priority grid service at a time when his constituents were on the verge of dying of thirst, dozens of them as a preliminary estimate had already died of exposure or carbon monoxide poisoning, and he and his family had fled out of country, not just out of town.

Everything they say happens to political cultures and supply lines in communist countries just happened in Texas, on an even worse extreme and grander scale. Indigent Texans are lining up for bottled water at drive-through delivery points. Will Rogers thought it was absurd that America went to the poor house in the automobile. That’s how we, as a country, are going to the soup kitchen and the open call for fucking water rations. It’s an astoundingy dystopian work of science fiction, and the citizens of a hypermilitarized police state, the subjects of the sole remaining global imperial superpower, are living in it. That’s our real life.

Fuck off about bitch-ass Russia. That joint at least seems to more or less work. The Gulag was a chronic atrocity, nothing to dismiss or justify, but it was never the fault or immediate business of the United States. It was a Soviet atrocity. Americans were right to denounce it in its day. But the United States is currently operating its own Gulag archipelago. It’s committing many of the same atrocities against its own prisoners, many of whom it incarcerates for political reasons. This is what America is doing to its own people today, as I write and you read. Our prisons deny their inmates food or serve them food that is unwholesome and barely edible. They deny their inmates clean facilities and clean water. This week, Texas prisons have been denying their inmates water, period, denying them heat, and even denying them blankets.

It’s controversial to say that the United States is a nation founded and run on genocide. Maybe we should think about something less unpleasant, something less recent. Mercy, O’Hara.

Mercy, Mr. Charles.

Most politicians, even the psychopaths, are keenly aware of how important it is to show empathy. The psychopaths among them at least try to mimic empathy to an extent that they figure will fool the rubes. This is exactly why there’s such a concerted campaign to praise Joe Biden for his “empathy” and “decency,” and Kamala Harris for her “warmth.” It’s a sickening effort to rehabilitate two armchair thugs who have devoted their careers to doing evil and continue, to this day, to deliberately do evil. The point of this campaign is to gaslight genuine liberals who voted for Biden and Harris in ambivalent but desperate hope that they’d be better than Trump. This same jumble of bullshit and lies is also good for writing the story of American politics from scratch on the blank slate of the low-information voter’s mind and reassuring illiberal propertied Wilson-Deukmejian Republicans who believe in life without parole much more than life with it that they’re in fact good bleeding-heart liberals.

The message is Message I Care. Poppy Bush was a psychopath pandering to the worst angels of the American electorate’s nature, but geez, they make a federal case out of it if you’re walking around the shanty in Kennybunkport in your plaid PJ’s at three in the afternoon just because you’ve got a case of the sniffles, so geez, Argentina, go cry for that papist collaborator fellow Bergoglio instead or something, and let me know how pork bellies are doing on the Exchange before I’m all out of rinds.

The point of this shtick is to bamboozle the public. They’re eager to minimize the cohort of dissidents openly wondering why that goody-two-shoes piece of shit spends so much time Downeast and never goes riding with Teddy. The gambit worked with the Bushes because their elders and family retainers teach them from birth the need to maintain the false front of noblesse oblige. The false modesty of WASP shabby chic is a way to avoid rubbing it in for the losers. They won’t vote for you if you flaunt it too much, kid. Behave yourself. Keep the guillotine memes directed at someone else, some idiot and fool who doesn’t know what’s best for him.

Ted Cruz’s message is What, Me Care? Message I Don’t lol sucka. The free press is eternally vigilant, always on the lookout for an easy dunk. The public enjoys an easy dunk and is increasingly furious with its officials. A savvy, refined politician knows this. The Bushes all try to act like they care. It isn’t just an old money thing, either: Marco Rubio and John Kasich try to show some fucking modesty, too.

Cruz is too arrogant to try to show any fellow feeling with his constituents. He’s too shameless. He doesn’t have it in himself even to make an insincere show of gratitude for having a lavishly compensated six-year contract for a position of public trust ostensibly requiring part-time hours but subject to no meaningful attendance or performance standards. He doesn’t have it in him to act like he’s got a good gig and is lucky to have it. He shows no interest even in pretending to want to repay the trust the public has placed in him. He flew back early from Cancun because he got caught. He put his name on the fucking upgrade standby list.

Cruz won’t resign for being so self-serving and irresponsible in the face of an arguably unprecedented crisis, the way the asshole mayor of Colorado City did after lashing out at his constituents on Facebook with a tirade about how he and the rest of the government didn’t own them a damn thing. That guy was a two-bit local yokel, used to doing whatever bad deeds he felt moved to do in obscurity, slithering around in the muddy dark. He must have been taken aback to get pushback for blaming his constituents when they begged for help during the infrastructural crisis of their lives. Cruz is used to the limelight and the savagery that comes with it. He’s used to being not just hated but one of the most hated members of the Senate. His colleagues can’t stand him or Mitch McConnell. By some accounts they have more patience with McConnell.

Scumbags whose understanding of communism is members of the Nomenklatura fleeing to their dachas on the Black Sea while ordinary Russians living in shabby housing estates wait in bread lines all day are here to tell us all about how their tropical vacations in the thick of a deadly breakdown of civiliation were perhaps ill-advised in hindsight, but privatized utilities issuing $200k household electric bills because they felt like market-surging the costs of energy they just barely delivered, when they delivered it at all, onto their ratepayers. This is capitalism, bitch. This is the free market. This is what we must defend against imperial interference from our own federal government, no matter the hardship.

ERCOT’s executives have been quick to accept blame–not all, but some–for their failures. They must be horrified by how badly they got caught off guard. It’s an unfortunate name, ERCOT. Watch your gonsonants; you good gadge a gase of id. The truly embarrassing part is the R. It stands for reliability.

Oops.

There’s a reason for their relative accountability. Independent system operators are run by people with extensive, granular technical knowledge. They’re forced to work in the real world, and deeply so. ISO’s attract people who take intense pride in their work. They literally keep the lights on. They’re embarrassed when they don’t. In episodes as dire as what just ravaged Texas, they’re powerfully alarmed.

Rick Perry is able to mouth off about the honor of enduring hardship for the sake of the continued independence of an electrical grid that just catastrophically failed because he suffers little hardship from the failure of public utilities and he socializes exclusively with peers who suffer little hardship. The cognitive dissonance doesn’t register with him because he casually, instinctively dehumanizes fellow Texans who do not live on properties with industrial-grade home generators. It helps to think they deserve hardship for being losers, and therefore of low character, but people of his class, even people I’ve known who are merely upper middle class and have a chip on their shoulder about somehow living in precarity and having to fight to kill what they eat, fundamentally conceive of “people” or “Americans” or “New Yorkers” or whatever else they find resonant as themselves and their class peers. “My Uber tonight was a sweetheart!”, that kind of thing. If she lives in her car and parks for the night at the hopelessly overcrowded rest area on the hill above Vallejo, she won’t breathe a word about it.

Rick Perry is a few stations up the line from there. He doesn’t understand what it’s like to live in a normal house. When his ilk arrogantly issue grandiose pronouncements about “Texas” or “Texans,” they’re pontificating about nothing of the sort. It’s Trolley Time with Uncle Fred. Everybody in Thailand has a servant. They need the servant to drive the family elephant. It’s awful when the family elephant has to go to the vet and they have to cross Bangkok on the elephant bus to their jobs as their servants’ servants

I’m fuller of shit than the elephant’s ass right now: the servants are not part of “everybody.” Duh. They’re excluded. They’re the underclass the law binds but does not protect, bound to their due station to serve the overclass which the law protects but does not bind. It’s no coincidence that rich, cosmopolitan parts of the United States are hardening into caste societies, in ways that overlap with race but in no way entirely map onto it. It’s no coincidence that famously liberal Santa Monica is ever more infested with property owners who foam at the mouth with fascist rage, good Democrats who privately concede that Stephen Miller has some good points but they don’t want him clamping down too hard on the beaner supply lines that keep them in gardeners and maids.

When Rick Perry blusters on behalf of “Texans,” he excludes the vast majority of every major Texas city, with the possible but unlikely exception of Fort Worth. That’s the most generous possible description. He’s actually excluding damn near the whole fucking state. The simultaneous, nearly statewide failure of electrical, water, and natural gas supply lines during and on account of an extreme cold snap is an entirely different beast from differences of regulatory philosophy or practical day-to-day engagement between the state and federal governments. The Texas state government allowed electric and gas utilities to decline to weatherize their key facilities in the interest of short-term investor profits. This was the regulatory regime AFTER a similar but milder cold snap in 2011 caused widespread power failures.

Working stiffs will not stand for this shit, in the name of Texas or in the name of anything else. The mythical hardscrabble pioneer stock the likes of Rick Perry claims to represent in fact exist. In parts of the state they’re prevalent. They’re mythical in the sense that their hardiness and prevalence is somewhat exaggerated for lyrical effect. If they supported the separation of the ERCOT grid from neighboring megagrids, it was to make it easier for the people running the system on the ground to keep it affordable and reliable. That kind of thinking isn’t just belligerently ideological. The continental-scale cascading failures precipitating the 2003 Northeast Blackout were a consequence of ill-designed and ill-managed interconnectivity on a continental scale. That blackout was truly nightmarish. My parents and I were lucky enough to be visiting family and friends in Oregon when the grid failed and to have booked ourselves on a return flight that arrived after the grid was back online in our part of Pennsylvania. If ERCOT were tied into any of the megagrids in the same haphazard, brittle fashion as the regional ISO’s are tied into one another within the megagrids, the results could be calamitous.

The North American electrical grid is designed, constructed, and operated for shit. ERCOT is not uniquely dysfunctional. The current (heh) blackouts were exacerbated by inadequate interties to neighboring ISO’s. In this instance, ERCOT’s unusual regionalization and operational separation from neighboring systems inhibited its capacity to import power from outside and then distributed it internally. In the event of a big sectoral blackout on the scale of 2003, ERCOT’s independence might well keep most of Texas fully powered.

Again, this shit isn’t about Texas. Exploitative bad actors in public office and corporate marketing departments want to make it about Texas. They want to make it about their lies about renewables failing during the blackouts to distract from the failures of deliberately unwinterized fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s about calculated disinvestment in already vulnerable and poorly maintained public utilities.

In a word, it’s about looting. Vulture investors get corrupt governments to give them the license to loot. They encourage them to gouge ratepayers, strip company assets, effectively embezzle capital on hand, and make a shambles of what they’ve been chartered to run. Texas is one of the states whose governments they’ve most thoroughly corrupted, and hence one whose citizens they’ve most thoroughly beggared. It isn’t because Texas is Republican. They pull the same shit in Democratic states. I’m due to pay PG&E $150 this week. I have no control over the stewardship of my utility payments. I have no control over how much of it goes to infrastructural improvements versus administrative costs versus embezzlement. About a third of it is going to Sonoma Clean Power. Do I have any goddamn way to direct that cut, or to know what the hell they’re doing with it? Of course not. It’s probably more transparent than PG&E, but for all I know it may be a huge pile of bullshit, and if it is, that’s a low-priority agenda item on the civic triage chart.

Yeah, we’ve got a lot of smug Californians–PG&E ratepayers, no less–shrieking about the absolute awfulness of Trump and the Republican Party and the states they win, rather than taking the beam from their own eye. Greg Abbott would probably find a way to make PG&E even worse, but that’s no excuse for blaming ordinary Texans. For the love of God cut that shit out. They don’t deserve to suffer because they vote Republican. They don’t deserve to suffer because their states voted Republican.

The demographic breakdown of the latter might skew darker and poorer than Mark West, but I can’t White see how.

A December to Remember, if we’re still around to remember it

There is no refined or delicate way to put this. Americans will get killed for reporting or trying to break up Christmas and New Year parties this month. 

It’s a recklessly nasty thing to do in the best of times. This year, it’s a death wish. We’ve been through so much this year. We’ve been asked, nagged, begged, screamed at, and ordered to make sacrifice after sacrifice while officials flout the rules the same week they promulgate them and our medical system melts down across the board. We’re pitted against each other, the genuinely sickened and frightened in league with resentful health nuts against those who insist on continuing to live their lives while they still have lives to live. It’s a barrel full of crabs, the ambitious clawing back at the resentful for clawing them back from their bolt for freedom. It’s Shawshank Redemption for hectoring stool pigeon trustees who send terrorized blockmates to the canteen to do their shopping. 

Bent but traceable through lines run back from this discord, through the English Civil War to the DIY Puritan Transportation and the Norfolk Company, and back from there, if more fuzzily, to Medieval peasant revolts. Wat Tyler’s ghost beholds our antics and smirks. It’s an old feud. No matter our modern technological innovations and postmodern decadence, we embrace tradition. 

It can be confusing. It can feel incoherent. The shrieking about how it’s an unscionable infringement of inalienable godgiven brithight liberty to have to put on a mask to go into Whole Foods during a respiratory pandemic currently coinciding with flu season comes overwhelmingly from a batshit crazy combination of establishmentarian zealots who want the government to dictate strangers’ sex lives and generally secular property owners who want the police to beat their homeless neighbors to death in the interest of neighborhood “character” (real estate values). Both off these coalition partners skew affluent. 

Watching the American Revolution from the Motherland, Samuel Johnson asked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” Gee. That sounds oddly familiar. It’s the same question. Can you believe it, Rodriguez? Fly all the way to Johanesburg and you still can’t get away from it. 

Thomas Jefferson proclaimed a rather different agrarian ideal for his constituents from the one he lived as a planter in Monticello. That’s a deal where a rich guy has whip-wielding thugs force other people to do the planting. It should go without saying, but surprisingly few Americans are aware of these small details, on which not only lawyers but soldiers and armory raiders dwell. As upcountry praxis, rather than Piedmont ideal, Jeffersonian agrarian virtue spread across the new country, over mountainous swathes too broken, remote and nonarable for largeholders to bother infesting for conversion into estates, then over the prairies under the Homestead Act, which was basically Honest Abe and the crew telling the vulgarians of the industrial trusts to restrain themselves and be grateful to monopolize minerals, metallurgy, and the railroads. Only in some instances did this model degenerate into Jacksonian coarseness.

Still, Tocqueville made America, the whole of it, sound like one huge sprawling village of the insufferably smug. Government services were meager to nonexistent; taxes, less so. But what else should we have expected of a federal government whose first CEO personally led a cavalry raiding party overland across Pennsylvania for the sole purpose of shaking down frontier crackers for excise taxes on homemade hard liquor? “We haven’t the funds to pay our war debts.” Shit, George, with that spread you’ve got down by the river, maybe it’s because you have the money. The immediate civic upshot of this thievery, in the decades before the granges universally came to the conviction that the railroads were somehow a worse racket than the Erie Canal even though there were so many more of them and they operated all year in almost all weather, was the consensus that neighbors were responsible for neighbors, every man his brother’s keeper, but in ways requiring countless formally chartered voluntary organizations, and somehow yet allowing deep poverty to fester throughout the land in spite of whatever the hell these organizations and their ostentatiously busy members thought they were doing.

Kinda cucked.

As Lincoln rued would be excruciating but morally necessary and inevitable, the blood drawn by the slavedriver’s lash was repaid with the bullet and the bayonet, in pastures and wheatfields and forests and (I’m always driving up Pryor Road like an incorrigible wanker to look at the trees on my way to the perimeter of Camp David for more fucking trees) peach orchards where, in our decadent postmodern times, a tourist might quietly whistle Ashokan Farewell on a leisurely midday stroll, think sucked to be here back then lol, and drive over to the General Pickett Buffet. I probably still have the punchcard for the chef’s dozen somewhere.

By the way, that place sucked ass. So did employment in the Catoctin Furnaces. The ironmasters in Cornwall looked down on their grunts for being filthy peasants. The sun came out once a year, when they cleaned the furnaces. Everybody went blind for the week. Down the hill, the construction of the Union Canal was notoriously micksploitative. The same crowd drove the 1863 draft riots in New York. Fiddle dee fuggen dee, m’love; oil beef hooked to doy fur some bloody Yankee race shite, Huizenga.

Break out the lonesome fiddle, Kenneth. Ply me a poignant tune on me telly.

Really, the Yankee Puritans lost the plot the day they left Appomattox. Lincoln was a railroad lawyer before he was an uncomfortable but resolute wartime president. His son Robert became a railroad lawyer, railroad executive, and golfer. Yankee and Rebel junior officers preemptively made nice with each other over graduation week, in unctuous farewell letters cluttering college archives. Sometimes I wonder whether they let in the coeds soon enough or too soon; one would hope for a moderating influence on the boys, a let’s fuck the parietal rules and fuck each other kind of deal, but they were exactly the shitty high-middlebrow Victorian broads who always married the overwrought messy he-bitches of the age.

Reconstruction failed. The old Union turned ever more into a Hamiltonian industrial dystopia. Jeffersonian virtue retreated into the deeper hills of West Virginia, of all incredible places. eventually taking a stand against the railroad and mining trusts, their backs pushed to the wall, pushing through now their only way out. Their descendants still do railroad sit-ins, or more accurately sit-ons, with whatever outside allies wish to join them, and you love to see it, or maybe you don’t so much if you voted Bye, Don.

As we noted near the start, this shit gets incoherent and confused. We don’t discuss this all too recent unpleasantness, but Po Whitey hated his masters passionately enough to take up arms with black slaves as One Community Under Bacon and later joined integrated trade unions in the Jim Crow South which we absolutely do not mention. Shanda fur die Yankim. Hush, child. George Wallace addressed black lawyers as Mister in his court and raised black teachers’ salaries in tandem with whites’. Bitterly racist downhome Cajuns? “We like Uncle Bernie!” It isn’t something the Jews say much in Greenwich. Funny, that. Is this some kind of money thing? Is this some communist class warfare?

It’s Russia, Rachel. The crackers and the honkies and the hunkies and how the hell did the Nigerians in Atlanta start voting for this shit over You Ain’t Black are all in it for the gold-plated Kim Philby treason, not the trade and industrial policy, which was never anything an Atlanta cardiologist ever wanted, so maybe the Nigerians really are trying to become white (they’re already White), although with the all the micks and wops on the force in New York City it’s a miracle there’s a soul left in Nassau County who isn’t colored.

Gimme a break; for once I’m just listening to NPR While I Poast,, not chronicling it. Fucking gimme one, Stossel.

*****

I don’t know what I was trying to say, other than what I just said. If Monty Robinson’s mutual cousin with Todd Palin bore Kwesi Millington a bastard, that would be the wrong kind of Afro-Indian for the vice presidency, and God have mercy on me for writing about shit I heard about the worst possible Canadians on NPR again. No, I don’t mean the Mounties, and I don’t mean Sweet Melissa bringing me coffee in deathbed, either; that I learn by reading. Is Fundamental. It is to study.

Come to think of it, if any of us can figure out why I did, the Palins are worth another quick review. The village idiot knocked up a union oilpatch tradesman’s kid, but Grandma was America’s Milf Governor, and none of it sat well with equally affluent families whose median ages were floating into the fifties while their babies pushed thirty, these precious brats all in graduate school under whatever duress it took to keep them on the straight and narrow path. Why couldn’t that stupid slut get an abortion? For crying out loud she was still eligible for dependent’s benefits under Obamacare when she did it again! A brat in elementary school, a second at the breast, nobody to keep her out of trouble when she got into trouble except for however many dozens of siblings and cousins who’d been changing diapers since they were ten and fighting over who got to hold the latest baby since they were five and could probably borrow airfare from the community chest if it came to it and would definitely be game to do some babysitting in Phoenix instead of the Mat-Su Valley for a change, and only a judgmental asshole from the Salvation Army or the Republican Caucus Sarah always helped the Democrats sandbag, or maybe Walt Monegan because he’s still upset about having to let what’s-his-name the alkie Trooper be Safety Bear, would care that you’re trading food stamps for a ticket to Sky Harbor and Xanny for the flight Outside, if you can cash me dare, Rollins, because there’s no shame in taking a trip to give your fiftieth cousin a break from your sixtieth and seventieth; but I mean, Jesus Christ, who the hell let the mother of such a woman run for the vice presidency when there are so many qualified professionals like Kamala Harris, girlbosses who stayed in school.

This is subsidiarity. No, not that fucking Canuck bitch; Sweet Melissa would at least have the domestic graciousness to bring me coffee in deathbed, and I should hope we would flee for protection to better death penalty abolitionists than that goddamned Anglo-Quebecker when we have Nob Hill Dreamboat holding the dual offices of the governorship and Napa Valley Job Creator Customer in Chief. Gavin said it himself, in a Gabbin: We’re decisions, not conditions. I’d certainly like to imagine we are, but Kamala’s are terrible because she’s been living in a bad one her whole career.

Against the odds, which the goods famously are in Klondike Country–it took me just as forever to find a California girl to tell me “Buddy you aren’t my boyfriend,” but the produce is better AND cheaper, and the drive over to her doublewide isn’t on roads covered in snow, drunks, and moose–I know where I’m headed, even though I’m taking my thots for another walk. It’s an Amtrak conductor who told a group of us, “The fifteen-year-old and the sixteen-year-old fight over who gets to hold the baby. It’s great.” He meant it. He spoke with 100% Napoleonic sincerity.

Yes, I’m aware that it’s usually Republican shitbaggers leading the charge to defund publicly chartered common carriers and cast the dedicated, competent workers running them out into gig app destitution or whatever the hell else they can find for themselves, but once again, that wasn’t Sarah Palin’s scene as governor. In rough terms, she was a center-right mayor, a center-left governor, a politically unclassifiable candidate for the vice presidency–hockey mom subsidiarity, Howard Jarvis-ass whining about taxes because it’s expensive to be a hockey mom, Northern Exposure Annie Get Your Gun shtick, walk-the-talk pro-life grandstanding mashed up with the usual persecution complex grievances-, and most recently a mostly hard-right cable television personality.

Whatever all she is, You Betcha is a vigorous free thinker. She’s a freer thinker than Mocha Haole. So is our thicc moist boi, the Oaf of Office. This is where we must unfortunately look again at liberlism and what fresh horrors have become of it. We can be confident that it is wack, not good, but what is it all about? Wot is ANY of that all about? To judge from recent commentary, it’s largely about what we’ve just as erroneously taken to calling conservatism. John Bolton and George W. Bush are statesmen of great character now. It’s because they don’t yell. John Bolton has always been notoriously abrasive and foultempered, but he only yells about, like, how he has perfect policy and everybody else’s is trash, not how Anna Wintour is lame or Pete Buttigieg is an Alfred E. Newman tryhard.

The Democratic rank and file need to vote for Joe Biden because a growing list of Republican grandees say they’re voting for Joe Biden. We need a Democrat to take back the White House. Huh? Why doesn’t that mean that Biden is the Republican candidate? The most bloodthirsty Beltway demons are upset with Trump for challenging core Republican policies and then getting distracted again: grasping junior lanyards, chiefs and deputy chiefs from all the spook nests, House Voice creeps on NPR, Taylorist armchair generals who tell actual generals to shut up about how they need workable plans for rear-echelon operations to win foreign wars. Trump wins entire states with margins of victory totaling fractions of his share of antiwar registered Democrats who would gladly vote for Bernie Sanders, too.

We’re rubes for questioning this Alice-in-Wonderland freak show. It’s now normative to insist that Vladimir Putin, who has little to say about domestic affairs in the United States and not a huge amount to say about US foreign policy, is orchestrating wholesale mind control of the American people out of a few cube farms full of junior intelligence operatives doing chatroom and comment thread work in English (after a fashion) all day, in contrast to the horde of ever more aggressive US intelligence operatives and assets who openly, forwardly tell private citizens what to believe but would never, ever try to brainwash anybody by catfishing as everyday housewives concerned about the direction the country is headed.

The Bircher wackjobs pushing this nonsense are, among other things, the same class of scolds who clutch their pearls at the trashy, low-class dysfunction of the Palin clan, often while enjoying their expensive upper-downer regimens much less than the Palins enjoy their grab bags of whatever they thought looked good at the liquor store on their way to pick up their latest pick-me-up from Levi’s one buddy who just finished another shake-and-bake home batch. “Oh, but you’ll get into trouble with drugs. You’ll have trouble focusing at school and work.” Fair points, but I never see Sutter Home trying to produce LESS Chardonnay.

“Drug use will keep you from getting into a good school and landing a good job.” Ah, it’s great to be back on the bullshit again. You mean low class. Everything the Brahmins ridicule about the Palins is something they look down on as low-class: starting a big family young; teen pregnancy; carrying a teen pregnancy to term; conceiving and bearing children out of wedlock; police calls over domestic disputes; middling educational attainment, always miscategorized as low as possible to imply idiocy and unemployability; clumsy, explicit nepotism, as opposed to the smooth, implicit kind, which Rod Blagojevich also neglected; an interest in state fairs; police employment; DUI; Beef with the Chief because he refused to give one’s drunk-driving in-law trooper a prized costumed PR post at the State Fair; unionized trade work; snowmobiles; pickup trucks; low-key statehouse bipartisanship; unabashedly having fun at politics; open, rambunctious religiosity; enthusiastic free-association riffs on Mama Grizzly and the Sourdoughs as political oratory.

A number of these things are statitically class-neutral or upper-middle-class. It doesn’t matter; we’re journeying through Wonderland, and it ain’t the one where the Blue Line ends. On second thot, that sounds like it might be misconstrued. Specifically, we aren’t at the one where we’ll be forced to get Charlie off. #CHAHLEE!

There’s a very deep, very broad resentment at play here. Brahmins resent the Palins for freely, boldly living their lives, and especially for suffering no discernible socioeconomic consequences. Those who stray are to be punished. It is their cosmic destiny. Don’t even dare say it’s a result of bad public policy. The policy we have is the only policy we can have.

These objections are the same ones that got Colonial authorities upset about settlers running away to live with Indians. I don’t mean this racially; the same people would have exactly the same ugly reaction to the Palins if they were undeniably white. They and their below-average children are a rebuke of us and a threat to our above-average children. Their refusal to miserably jump through hoops all their lives negates OUR dutiful payment of OUR dues.

“Liberals” would be less upset with them if they were blatant three-sigma fuckups. They’d have no problem with the Palins if they had a life expectancy of 35 and a lifestyle of cycling between the drunk tank and a home life of eating instant noodles for dinner under a sheet of plywood in an unheated ditch. This is about the degree of concern they show for the homeless in general.

What rankles them is that the Palins are a reasonably normal and well-adjusted family who showed up on the national stage affluent, uneducated (they expect law degrees), and expecting their first grandchild in their forties. The discovery that the voting public can pass credentialed, polished candidates over for promotion in favor of a loud, proudly uncredentialed and unconventional woman with a blue-collar husband and a happily pregnant minor daughter scared them. It still does. It reminds them that their own bosses will hurl them to the curb like so much trash if they step out of line, or even if they just lose the superhuman energy so many of them need to meet their quotas.

They hate being upstaged and outranked by a family of breeders whose heads of household at the time they became famous were a non-civil service salaried public employee and a trade unionist. It makes their beloved Democratic Party look like it doesn’t care about unions or their members, and it in fact is an aggressive unionbusting organization. This is not a circle they wish to square for skeptical voters.

When they say that Barack Obama is smarter or more eloquent (no, Joe, not articulate!) than Sarah Palin, what they mean is that he’s more urbane and makes more of a show of being educated. It’s like if I wrote in Cory Lerios for president because I prefer Pablo Cruise deep cuts to Justin Bieber. What he actually says is routinely as vacuous as it comes, or cunningly evil, or both and more: the Flint water supply is fine because he “drank” it (took a tiny sip from a glass whose source was and is untraceable), there’s no reason for NBA players not to go back to work, “we tortured some folks”–he actually said that, verbatim, in public–, I had to drone them, but I did it all cool and conflicted and Eichmann-like.

Obama is heinous. Palin runs hot and cold, unmodulated, rather like Trump. As I keep saying, here and everywhere else I think to mention it, this is the safe style of politics. It’s truth in advertising, a shock to voters, not the chronic numbing, soporific effect of the smooth scumbags who usually float themselves to the top. Obama is the leech injecting its paralytic agent into its host, to feed on it until it is killed.

Idpol was notoriously a primary factor in Obama’s career, and he tacitly encouraged it every bit as energetically as he rued it in his public denunciations, but I’m not sure I can decide from week to week how important it was to his career. The Palins got jack shit worth of idpol points for being Alaska Native (or American Indian, as Sarah looks to be more than Elizabeth Warren). Jesse Jackson lost Obama’s base to Michael Dukakis and Poppy Bush. Message: I Don’t Care If You Ain’t Black. Joan Didion’s extended dispatch from the trail makes Jackson sound like a predecessor not to Obama but to Ross Perot, Bernie, and the Other Dr. Jill. No, the elector may not have a little Rainbow Coalition, as a treat, unless he first has a little Massachusetts governor, as a vegetable. Obama’s elections were greatly aided by his running against two loose cannons representing the unpopular party of an open dipshit two-term incumbent during an abrupt economic crash, then against a fake-wholesome Dudley Do Right Mormon and his openly contemptuous hangdog starve-the-beast Wisconsin wackjob lieutenant.

There’s a serviceable argument that the only thing the Democrats had to do not to lose in 2008 and 2012 was hold off on what they did in 2016. It’s barely a variation on why America elected an Afro-Indian Canuck broad to the vice presidency this time. The competition said it all. The Oaf of Office refused to act like an adult for an afternoon during a once-in-a-century public health crisis. Mike Pence didn’t even try to pretend that he didn’t consider his constituents filthy little piggies at the debate. These were the only fucking things these guys had to do for a shot at reelection.

Four years beyond the retirement of a half-black childhood expatriate weirdo from the presidency, the country elected as its next veep a hella weird half-black teen expatriate turned highest-ranking Wilson-Deukmejian Republican holding elected office in California. We still have to drown in NPR cringe about that creep, because NPR, and additional racist cringe about how Gavin grabbed a beaner to replace the bindi negress in the Senate, but not so much about how the replacement just happened to have ratfucked Bernie in the primaries as the California Secretary of State, but this isn’t necessarily anyone who couldn’t have been elevated to such unacceptable height while white (like Mike the Greek lol). The racebaiting helped, but it was a lily-gilding operation.

I think. I hold too many thots.

What the Brahmins actually demand of their officials is devotion to the polite fiction that merit matters. Again, pay attention to who does NOT get idpol points for being a kike or whatever. Would I have voted for Bernie Sanders AND Loretta Sanchez a third time? Of course. Is that diversity? No. Why? Because the same radio scolds are giving the same celebratory homilies as ever. Besides, Bernie is antisemitic because something or other about Israel, which is all Jews, but really because they would never, ever, ever say that about a self-loathing Jew. The psychology is elegant, not elaborate.

Here’s the deal. You can’t spend your thirties doing fuck-all on pirated electricity in a travel trailer and maybe some shitty hippie carpentry and then just show up in the mayor’s office because you convinced enough voters that your platform made sense. You can’t run for the presidency on the stipulation that we aren’t comfortable here because we aren’t from here but we’ll start to become more comfortable through the healing of withdrawing from the fruitless overseas bloodbaaths we started with the pashtunwallah on the orders of the Baltimore Walrus. Mr. Bolton is a statesman!

No. You need to pay your dues, and not to whatever low-class bullshit was repping Todd Palin against BP. You need credentials. You need qualifications.

It certainly helps to be colored, like Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg. A Maltese is an Italian who’s an Arab, but also an Englishman. *Defiantly Scottish Mark Knopfler Voice* That little faggot. As Yogi Berra pointed out, only in America could a Jew be elected mayor of Dublin. The fork in the road worked either way because he lived in Montclair. There are of course other islands that are equally controversial to call America, m’love, yeah? Upsetting the ancestors and not even offering them any King’s rolls, yeah? That’s why we move to the mainland to start our political careers, yeah? Back in da neighbor islands da police chief puts on a lei to peddle influence true his wife da prosecutor, who also dresses like dat too even doe she’s Portuguese, and dat’s white, not wetback or some kine.

This is why our politicians swoop in from states their fellow haole idiotically assume to be free of all public corruption and win election by telling them, look, folks: You can trust me. I’m from Chicago.

Our idea of diversity is always some wooden cipher who turns out on examination to be blood-curdlingly cold. Dad translated Gramsci into English, so let’s talk all smooth and then wreck the Canadian bread market and get schoolchildren killed by shutting off streetlights to save the city a few bucks on its electric bill, but let’s be all gay and Midwestern about it. Alex Padilla: now is that guy a beaner or what? Uh, dawg, I get that you’re trying to get surplus elites to bark at each other from the veal pen like they’re resegregating Compton, but did you have to find somebody who, now that more of us are looking into his record, turns out to be another slimy crook?

It’s the Yugoslavian crackup, but as farce. Some of the more anxious types, like Michael Grasso, are worried sick that the rising tide of Brahmin idpol will provoke truly dire communal violence. They have a reasonable point, but my gut read is that it’s a sideshow to the actual vectors–moronic but resonant white supremacist Facebook memes, #BackTheBlue Punisher merch, the hypervigilant paranoia of the Karen ethnic minority on NextDoor–i.e., insufferably obnoxious, a serious political and civic problem, but ultimately inert in the streets. If cops were just like, hey, stop calling us just because some guy is taking a walk in your neighborhood, that shit would become REALLY inert.

It’s more hypocrisy. Becky may well have a BLM sign in her yard. In this house we believe in tolerance, lov–hey, get your skell ass off my lawn before I call 911! Zooming out to the structural elements of the fractal, although we really ought to stop using that videochat horseshit and go meet out friends in the park or something, we see Kammy again. Of course we do. The criminal undesirable can have a little prosecutor of color, as a treat.

Many on the right are aware of this. It’s an awfully easy script to flip on the libs. Donald Trump might have carried California if he hadn’t convinced so many kids in San Berdoo and Solano that he was out to deport their family and friends. Or maybe the Republican-identifying Wilson-Deukmejian Republicans would have voted for their girl and kept this here shit as blue as Monterey Bay. This is the quality of analysis I bring to the table, and I live here. Then again, look at what we all have before us,,, too Anal Eyes.

*****

Something of this nature is inevitable when only one side correctly reads the other for deep libidinal urges. This whole thing is about sex and death. The right wing, as we’re lately construing it for half-coherent reasons, is the only one that openly figures we might as well have some first. We’re riffing ever more elaborately on the little-discussed undertones of 2016 as a fight between a warm, gregarious libertine and a frigid, bitter prude. That was another good reason to claim my stateroom on the Stein Steamer and see if anyone else wanted to grab a berth: a ticket of two apparently well-adjusted adults talking about grown-up subjects in ways that made sense, instead of a vicious scold scorned diagonally opposite a he-scold church hug dork who was all like, oh no, a man should not be in the same room as a woman, lest he become lustful and cause scandal (yeah, like the raging horndog you allowed to hire you as his lieutenant when he was already known to shamelessly walk in on teenyboppers in the girls’ dressing room).

It’s what we call a political realignment. It didn’t make hella sense in the nineties, when Tipper Gore was whining about rap lyrics and the Big Dog was throwing Joycelyn Elders under the bus for encouraging young women to *Tom Lehrer Scoutmaster Voice* be prepared, as part of his vain effort to win over a Republican caucus full of serial divorcees and perverts. It doesn’t make sense today, with #MeToo veering into neurotic, avoidant paranoia about all awkward sexual interactions being assault at the same times as characters such as Soulja Boy get record labels and nightclub airtime for their songs of the celibate and the alt-right workshops the notion that it isn’t rape because she secretly wants it.

This nasty scene wouldn’t happen to feature some cringe racial tropes, would it? Oh sweet innocent baby child it fucking does. The left–again, as we’re construing this ridiculous shit–crashes into raging upset about the often dark poor trashing its property values by recreating in “its” neighborhoods, has another partially overlapping segment of the poor do its driving and shopping, and bit by bit decrees the poor, servant class and surplus underclass alike, as ritually impure.

Out in the provinces, loud and proud Republicans get their own damn groceries, chatting amicably with the cashier at checkout. They hear about this caste system, and the polite fiction that it is liberal. They smirk, knowingly: another crop of libs begging to be owned.

Things invert. It is now conservative to have casual sex. This sounds like nonsense, St. Robert Bruce Ford soberly partaking of the venerable rock, but if liberalism stands opposed to liberties of interpersonal physical intimacy in these times of contagion, and sex is obviously one such liberty, what else CAN casual sex be but conservative?

It’s baffling, but it’s coherent enough for American politics. This isn’t that fucking wizard shit. The lower orders of our ruling class cherish a series of fantasy novels about the white moderate. Hear me out: the Bartlet Administration, but everybody dresses up like an absolute dork and flies around on a broom. Huh. That sounds dreadful; let’s write up the contract and pay out the advance right here. By all means, be sure to perpetuate an ambiguously enslaved underclass in this storyline but communicate that the exploitation of this underclass for the support of the overclass on its multidemensional antigravity CIA brooms is only modestly problematic to those who examine these things too closely.

It’s normcore, but it’s normcore for batshit insane idiots who are without a doubt exploring the Spectrum. Many such cases! Let’s be sure to ridicule conservatives for their religiosity while we’re at it, and of course make fun of them for their oopsie babies.

That’s the thing. One couple’s–one community’s–career-ending unplanned pregnancy is another’s spontaneous family formation, one child born in the world to carry on. How can this be a bad thing?

Of course, the devil is in the details, and so when the ideals of family values subsidiarity fail in practice they often fail hard, and transitively so. Their failure fails families. George W. Bush probably said it, too, or Dan Quayle, but it’s true.

On the other hand, when it works, it works beautifully. That’s who Bristol Palin did for her family. She could’ve picked smarter, but the kids will probably be all right. There’s no need to stress about getting the kid into the right preschool.

Glorious Nation of Bougiekistan is intersectionally horrified by this alternative model because it sets an uncomfortably bad example. It raises the specter of being outnumbered by a horde of dysgenic zealots; let us be sure, then, to denounce the white ones and be tactful about what brown can do for you, too, on demographics. The booj are scared to death that their own precious brats will go native with low-class breeders. It’ll wreck their college and career prospects. It will dilute family fortunes and family standings.

This helps explain the intramural controversy over socialism in the Democratic Party. The PMC normie centrist wing very much does not want free money going to low-class losers who will waste it on bullshit like raising their low-class loser kids; these precious, scarce funds are to be stewarded for the education of the worthy elect (and the military). The broad left wing–Trump-curious blue-collar types, service sector workers (an actual working class the lib normies dare not contemplate because its existence would trash their prejudices), ruined surplus elites bitter that they got such a raw deal–damn well want the free money. If it’s good enough for Bezos, it’s good enough for us. The fuck is the problem with giving everybody two grand? The rich may not give a shit to get it, but the middling and the poor will be grateful because they need it. Do we really gotta means-test this shit again? Aging MSNBC tiger parents aren’t all like, please, means-test my Social Security check and reduce it if I exceed the eligibility threshold.

It’s always somebody else who must be strangled with the red tape. The neighbors can have a suitably little Castilleja School, capped at an enrollment of 415, as a treat. I don’t know if any of you wanted to be apprised of Palo Alto again; I didn’t particularly, but Palo Alto reached out to me by yard sign on my way to Christmas Tree Lane. It’s like the new father of the pride eating the last schmuck’s cubs, but for good down-to-earth public school supporters who love them some Walter Hays and can’t stand the rich bitches half a mile up Embarcadero.

The difference between this obnoxious horseshit and the means-testing of welfare is the difference between a bitchfest about the neighborhood quality of life (the worst people making the best arguments about street trees and traffic for the worst reasons) and government massacre by determination of ineligibility. We’re dealing here with politically hyperengaged property owners who are convinced, existentially and libidinally, that their survival depends on the Darwinian murder of the unfit. Mind you, they’re good woke liberals, so they insist on decimation by bureaucracy. It must be bloodless and deniable. There’s no way they could have known that their beloved elected officials would get their poorer constituents sickened and killed by insisting on proof of eligibility for public benefits. Yeah, no way except for their frequent, adamant refusal to provide for universal public benefits. Are we really expecting a single mother who’s desperately trying to piece a living together from minimum wage jobs to afford a lawyer or an accountant to dispute denials? Or are we secretly, subconsciously satisfied–even relieved–that this regime we support by always voting for weasels who enact it keeps her off-balance, precarious, and indigent?

These conditions make her a better servant, yes?

The Population Bomb guy’s only child is a nonprofit lawyer turned dog groomer or some other bullshit like that. Yeah, I guess I’m really one to talk, but that’s what a community gets for setting up a runaway real estate boom instead of an annual per capita sovereign wealth dividend for its legal residents.

The loud and proud right looks at the deracinated, barren, low-key eliminationist eugenics of America’s SuperZip freak zones and wonders, quite reasonably, whether the locals ever get any action. They hire proxies for their wars, just as they do for their grocery runs, and they sure don’t act like they get laid. They practice and insist on propagating a quasicelibate form of toxic eliminationist eugenics. Since that’s what the libs are already doing, what the hell is wrong with a socially exuberant, sexually active, fertile expression of fascism? That’s toxic, too. It veers into martial genocide, babysnatching, and rape. It yields performative horseshit like gender reveal parties (excuse me, children, I believe you mean revelations) and T-shirts with unfortunate gross discussions of how daddy splooged in mommy as passive-aggressive territorial patrol against the homo tranny shit and whatever.

I’m not saying it’s good. I’m saying it’s already here, it’s morally comparable to liberal one child policy eugenics and the associated overwrought hygienic protocols (see Palo Alto, obviously), and it gets a fool some ass. Hence President Trump. That, and trade and industrial policy and not being a prissy squeamish bitch around the hardhats.

We’ve been over Trump’s role here again and again. It’s predictable enough that the Donald takes the lead from time to time on cutting the damn check while Third Way shitbirds and their nominal enemies on the Republican right throw fits about procedure and fiscal discipline and other crap they suddenly stop believing when Lockheed-Martin shows up for another feeding.

*****

The relatively reasonable aspect of the respectable center’s objections to the healthy sexuality and familial abundance of clans like the Palins is that little people following their example won’t be able to afford to raise the spawn they so recklessly conceived. Back when the respectable center racialized this scolding campaign in the nineties under the auspices of welfare reform, welfare-to-work, and similar nerd-ass policy followups to Reagan’s Cadillac welfare queen slur, Toni Morrison made the ridiculous offer, in the first and second persons, to raise young black single mothers’ babies while they go to medical school and become neurosurgeons. I come up with grandiose cringe plans when I’m hypomanic, too. She was on to something, though. Our first black president and his wife could afford to hire the village to raise their child.

In many ways, government really is just the name we give the things we choose to do together. Contemplate it and shudder. Dat subsidiarity, tho. Who will be there to help the single mother raise her children, or the young, unprepared, unwed couple theirs?

Call me old-fashioned, but I keep thinking about ad hoc combinations of union pay and benefits, local friends and family, and government assistance. Gee, these are exactly the things our shitbag centrist rulers keep denying us! It’s impractical to expect these things of society and unreasonable to demand them of the government, but huh, whaddaya fuggen know, the same politicians who chide their constituents to be more reasonable about these things and wait in patience for incremental progress towards them (it’s called progressivism now) always find a way to oppose these same things when they come up for a vote. When push comes to shove, it is our lot to live deracinated, indigent lives doing on-call servant work for a pittance, scattered to the winds from hometowns our rulers have decided to gut and rebuild for their own private use (gentrification) or strip and abandon in full (the Rust Belt).

The hell is “voting against their own interests” supposed to mean when this is the agenda voters try to defeat at the polls? Voting for Trump the populist is coherent. Voting for Trump the liberal or Trump the leftist is coherent. It’s a longshot, it’s a Hail Mary pass (in this house we pray not for football, a vulgarity of the earth, but to St. Richard Russell, an aerobat, for support from the skies), but it’s coherent. Remember the lesser of two evils? Silverado Trail remembers! Where else would I go to be forcibly bathed in cope for grabbing my spot on the Stein Steamer, a voyage towards the affirmatively good, even though I easily preferred Trump to Clinton but didn’t see the point to voting for the dumbass who thot he’d keep the cartel drugs out with a wall when we were still, like, a decade away from ranked-choice presidential voting? Okay, yeah, Mark West or anywhere from Blossom Hill to the Marina and on over the bridge to some shit like Novato (but maybe not the poor part of town down on the frontage road between the freeway and the slough, out by the airport); that shit would work, too, because this state is right fucked.

It’s just as coherent for the affluent to vote for the Democrats’ predatory agenda because it works to their socioeconomic benefit, short-term and if they’re as lucky as they hope also long-term. Good liberals that they are, I guess we just have to keep listening to their psychotic rationalizations about how their voting habits are altruistic, or else retreat from civic life into Benedict Option escapism. The Amish get ass like they’re Mormon, you know. No, I mean one wife in American Dork–I mean, goodness–maybe two if you’re discreet, not some Colorado City bullshit where you have your private police force run surplus young men out of town because you fancy their sisters, which sounds different from the rest of America more than it is diffferent. In a still far from ideal society, grown-ass adults indulging in the faddish fixation on Hamilton would admit that they’re dipshits with bad taste in art, not act like they’re doing civics by soundtrack. Still, notice that they get the absurdly fresh groceries, delivered, by government when they can’t by courier.

Don’t blame me for using that language. I learned it from Dave Freeman. That unfortunately fits into the puzzle, too. KQED is now encouraging its listeners to donate by the end off the year so they can get a tax break for keeping their money in California. Slushing money to other rich people is charity now, but in high circles it always has been. The cope we’re using here is the ridiculous assumption that California’s net contributions to the federal treasury are paying for Mitch McConnell’s necrotic ass, not for the merest creature comforts for piss-poor dying Kentuckians out in the trailer park hollows who got that way by trying to work for a living or collecting much smaller government checks. McDowell County is about a tenth black these days, but it’s pointless to think about actual highland demographics and their implications on the left coast campaign to #StayWoke. We’re just trying to maintain #BlackLivesMatter as the archipelago of yard signs it should be. Swear to God, we’re just trying to kill off the honky-ass West Virginians, who have to be the whole population. Oh, the Black Belt is a net recipient of federal funds? Huh. Surely we aren’t trying to kill poor negroes from our 99.5% nonblack neighborhoods, through policy.

*****

How, as our Parkhomenkometer flatlines at its hard upper mechanical limit, could Bernie would have won?

Duh: by appealing to poors out in the provinces who maybe hold crudely retrograde racial views or maybe have dear friends who are black or maybe have both. We like Uncle Bernie! The Ragin’ Cajun doesn’t, but he isn’t one to work for a living. As we discussed above, that ain’t a check you get from the gubbyment by /extremely Guyland voice/ filling out forms, standing in line, and waiting here, for the Pennsylvania you never found.

Yeah, Bernie wears his mask. He isn’t a scold about it, though. He and Jane shooed a group of volunteers back out on the sidewalk early in the Rona, but they were Jewish grandparently about about it, not assholes. No, no, wash yaw hands befaw you come in faw dinna! Okay, you ready faw some bawsht? The other thing is, he’s trying to keep Americans alive, not starve the poor to death.

Many Americans are just trying to side with life this winter, not death, even in this death cult. They want a spiritually, socially, physically meaningful life.

TSA throughput numbers are credible, but what Anthony Fauci says about them is not. No, I’ve been lying to the American people about the herd immunity threshold for their own good. What nuclear reactor explosion? Why the hell are the Swedes saying it’s our radiation. How awful it is that some of them flew to see family this Christmas, as slightly fewer but still many did for Thanksgiving, in these times when travel means looming death but it’s also something we could all catch in the supermarket and the authorities are doing approximately jack shit to mitigate it. How dare they try to live their lives while they still have lives to live? They should be content that “we” are, as ordered, simply having a virtual Christmastime.

The drive to the airport is still the most dangerous part. That’s why I try to take the train.

Decency

Mike Mersky assaulted me for using profanity in a school hallway. He bumrushed me up against a wall in front of dozens of other students for two or three syllables of unmemorably light Heavy Seven. You pricked your finger and then fingered your prick? Use some lotion next time! 

If I’d had a set of fucking balls I would have gone to the police and probably had him fired within the week. It’s fine to squirm around courtside and bark moves at the lady ballers, but the safe way to act like Bobby Knight is to be Robert Montgomery Knight, and Mersky wasn’t it. He wasn’t even a Benjamin Montgomery Robinson; that was no union gig he had with us. My problem was that I was being low-key community blackmailed over mental and behavioral health moments that were more innocuous than the Mike Move but seedier.

I’ll still swear, to this day, that Mike Mersky assaulted me in his capacity as a school principal, to wit, the immediate successor of Headmaster Dick Johnson. That was why we needed to watch our language around the Day School. It would have been scandalous of us to address one another as the man in charge of all thirteen grades at our school. 

Mersky wasn’t any coarser than Lieutenant Tittytorque, but he was worse. Lieutenant Tittytorque forcefeeding me Jim Beam, slamming four times as much Jimmy himself, and then grabbing my nipples to tune in WWVA was 100% voluntary association, just as Tocqueville wanted it. None of that was ever a good idea, but that beefy freak did not hold authority in loco parentis. When the principal is acting like that, or God help us all the school cop, it’s past time to nip that shit in the bud. 

It hit me this evening, as I walked out on Joe Biden’s unseemly victory speech celebrating the recording of the Electoral College’s statehouse voting conventions to pick up an order of dim sum: Mike Mersky is Joe Biden is Mike Mersky. They’re the same fucking bastard. They’re the same coarse, insufferably greasy middlebrow Mid-Atlantic piece of shit. They talk the same, they strut the same, they bark abuse the same. 

I have no reason to believe that Mersky is a sex pest or a pervert–worth mentioning, obviously, because Funny Uncle Joe is overtly both–but otherwise they’re the same dangerous, disgusting thing. Mersky loved to say, “I’m gonna be perfectly honest with you.” Yeah, that’s what I expect you to be, you cunt. You run this fucking school. Malarkey, we might call it. Man alive, Corn Pop, I’m gonna brain ya with this chain, Jack. 

First State Skull Pudding has the permanent, total privilege to utter threats and fighting words at close range in front of witnesses and news cameras, grope, assault, and forcibly rape where Mike Mersky does not because Joe is two or three quanta farther up and out. When teachers do that it’s a contigent privilege, innit, Denny. Put me in Coach! I mean, put Coach in me! I mean, gimme some cash, Coach! You’re ready to pay! In ways it’s surprising that Denny Dundiddly went down for what Denny Dundiddily dun, but he was after an ex-Speaker with a personal fortune in the mere mid-seven figures. What stands out about so many other sexually compromised guys above him–Clinton, Trump–can be accused on the record of forcible rape and suffer no consequences. Nothing ever happens to them. The Big Dog got deposed, I think. Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, pudding his pop where it didn’t belong, there to pound more than just cake, got off Scot free for decades. Men who are known to have traveled abroad on a custom private jet with a convicted serial molester and his barely teenage sex slaves are allowed to do whatever the hell they fancy, and in their public lives, no less. Joe gets to put his hands wherever he damn well pleases. 

Nothing happens to these creeps. Nothing ever happens. 

Here’s the mindbending part. 

My parents both found Mike Mersky sleazy, shifty, and abrasive. I have never told them about what he did to me, because I always assumed they’d blame me and don’t want any unpleasantness over that bullshit. They didn’t need to hear a thing about his being physically aggressive or menacing for them to dislike him for chronically being a greasy prick. 

What do they tihnk of Joe Biden, then? He’s restoring decency to American politics. He’s restoring the rule of law. He’s a unifier, not a divider. Whatever he did for the banks, it wasn’t as bad as Trump. Whatever he did to make life hell on the vulnerable poor in neighborhoods he flooded with jackbooted cops enforcing newly draconian laws, it wasn’t as bad as Trump. Whatever horrible things he’s trying to od to this day, he is in no way as bad as Trump. 

It’s so dispiriting to hear people who always distrusted a shady sleazeball rally around Joe Biden, of all ghouls, because he’s a man of decency. How could he be a rapist, a molester, a groper, a white supremacist bigot, a fascist, an armchair jailhouse slaver, a superintendent of mass debt peonage, or even a dementing weirdo? For fuck’s sake it’s because he’s proven to be all of these awful things. Yes, he’s that bad.

I’ve heard “decency” more this fall than I heard it over the five or ten years prior. In tandem with the full-blast firehose of idpol the centrist elements of the chattering classes have been blasting on us since the election, they keep repeating that Joe’s decent, a man of decency. Audio and video of him from THIS CALENDAR YEAR show him lashing out with terrible indecency: Go vote for someone else then; you’re full of shit, a horse’s ass; meet me outside; you ain’t black. If the average A-List figure were carrying on like that, it would be all over the news all the time. Look at how they react to Trump. Instead they just flat-out make shit up about Biden’s character and repeat it ad nauseam.  

The idpol this fall is like nothing I’ve ever witnessed. I expect some gross idpol from the MSM, and certainly from the hopeless veal pen inmates who kiss up to PC Principal from the inept margins of academia, but the Celebration of Diversity they’re throwing in observance of the current interregnum is a world of its own. NPR has had days with multiple items about who of what communal identity has been nominated for what. Meanwhile, the Biden transition team’s nomination process has crashed on launch, disintegrating into a rubble field of corruption and dysfunction. 

What’s happening here, as has been happening across so much of mainstream American life, is that words mean everything and actions mean jack fucking shit. We saw this in a bad way in the pathetic dispute, still under litigation in some quarters, over Trump’s Pussy Comment. The real problem with this publicly accused rapist and unannounced girls’ dressing room visitor is the time he bragged about his louche sex life to a giggling Billy Bush. One of the least credible forms of self-incriminating testimony imaginable is a salacious locker room story for a trust fund dipshit with a celebrity gossip show. There’s no positive, intrinsic reason to believe that any of it is true. Trump habitually lies about all sorts of things to make himself sound successful and brash. 

Even if it’s all true, the troubling thing about the public reaction to Storytime with Billy Bush (again, how are these characters real people?) fixated on the pussy part. Very little agonizing effort was expended denouncing him for bragging that he “moved on them like a bitch” or his explicit claim that he did not ask permission or look for any expression of comfort or consent. What these hysterics feel so deeply about (as he said) is that the future president used common street slang to brag about his promiscuous sexual habits. He used the same word the vast majority of American adults use for the vulva and the vagina when they talk about sex in private.

The pussyhatters’ thinking is more confused yet. Few of them object to the general coarsening of public life with loud sexual language and imagery, which is unmistakable in many places. Genuinely conservative religious voters who sincerely want talk about sex to stay tactful and private quietly facepalmed when they heard that naughty tape from the Republican nominee for the presidency. Pussyhatters skew the other way, ridiculing the religious right for being prudish and repressed (about most of the avowedly conservative “values voters” in this country they have an unfortunately good point).

What they find so objectionable is that Trump, specifically, used that word. It gets even dumber (does it ever not?), because very few of these hysterical performative feminists objected to Trump’s ostentatious public coarseness when he was peddling it as a celebrity developer and television cosplay executive. The pushback against Trump’s obnoxious antics in the eighties was marginal and ineffectual. The pushback against The Apprentice was EXTREMELY marginal. It was impotent. I was around normies all the time. The only people who even tacitly or tangentially criticized “reality” television were a handful of lefty eccentrics and conservative Benedict Option types.

Then Trump ran for the presidency. He ridiculed politics as self-serious bullshit, humiliated Jeb!, insulted the full slate of movement conservatives on the debate stage, and stood up against immigration and for a reinvigorated industrial policy. All of a sudden he was unconscionably coarse and dangerous. Tens of millions of diehard Democrats who were basically okay with however nasty he was on TV as an apolitical celebrity, including quite a few who enjoyed it, were appalled that he dared speak ill of hard-right ghouls who should have been choked out by furious constituents the first time they workshopped their evil schemes as members of the school board.

This is what centrism gets us. The runup to the election was saturated with deafening campaigns to rehabilitate the very worst Republicans the moment they tested the waters as Trump critics. It’s surreal.

There’s no actual principle to this shit. It’s gone with the wind by the time W. and the gang get rehabilitated. God knows we’re still entangled to death in the desert, but Trump sometimes expresses a keen interest in winding down the desert wars and bringing our boys and girls home for good. Of course the bloodless chickenshit nerds who got us into that ruinous bloodbath in the first place hate him.

The deep story behind the pussyhatting outrage, the movement conservative-Third Way neoliberal alliance’s annoyance over Trump’s distracted wanderings through fleetingly but impressively coherent interests in left populism, the neoconservative objections to his sporadic desire to bring the troops home, and the constant lectures from the Intelligence Community (which did not exist as a formal public concept prior to his 2016 campaign) is that Trump is out of his lane and out of line for expressing political opinions. Nobody gave HIM permission to speak! Nobody gave HIM permission to run for office!

This is why so many people complain that Trump is declasse and his base is exclusively the white working class. The elite and subelite factions so upset by his presidency are uncomfortable with working-class agitation of any kind (because it threatens their wealth, privilege, and power) and hurt that other educated and moneyed people have in-your-face dogshit reactionary politics, not the usual “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” centrist moral evasion or mild-mannered movement conservative politics amenable to centrist Democrats (because that means they have class peers who will never go to the dance with them). Biden’s nomination and election are a soul balm for these insufferable nerds. His victory over Bernie and that whole rabble of downwardly-mobile class traitors and the unwashed generationally poor is soothing lotion for their bunghole.

This is what they mean by decency. They love Biden because his election restores the sacred reservation of high office for careerists who pay their dues (payable out of the US Treasury) and toe the centrist bipartisan line. It resubordinates the rabble to their centrally-approved political betters. It’s easy for them to ignore Delaware Brain Dribble’s repeated foultempered outbursts, expressions of deepseated bigotry, condescending contempt for the acute needs of ordinary Americans, and episodic overt senility because they’re brainwashed and insane. It’s easy for them to become and remain convinced he’s better than Trump: less of an asshole, not an asshole, less of a rapist, not a rapist, I mean, gosh, really, there’s nothing wrong with him for being physical sometimes, he’s just a stutterer who puts his foot in his mouth.

They object to Trump for being too human for politics: too passionate too emotional, too vulgar. His off-color comments are retroactively problematic because he had the nerve to intrude, agitate the undesirables (i.e., the poor crackers they insist are the full extent of his base), and make the lanyards and professional chatterers look like exactly the joyless dorks they are. Never mind that he spent his whole career prior to 2016 bragging about dicking bimbos; one is shocked that the President would speak and comport himself in that low manner.

At the same time, they celebrate Biden for being the genuine human we need in the White House in these troubled times. He’s down-to-earth, he’s poor for a career Senator, he has working-class roots, he’s liberal, and ad nauseam with the bullshit and lies. He’s definitely rich. His parents were white-collar upper middle class by the time he started high school. No attentive, honest obsever would ever make him out to be a poor simple country lawyer whose daddy worked in a wildcat mine.

Mind you, they don’t mean sexually human. That little something-something with the Defense Secretary’s wife didn’t happen. He doesn’t grind she-bikers on his lap in front of their husbands. He doesn’t sniff little girls’ hair. Or if it does, it’s a nothingburger. (Centrism is braindead straight down to its catchphrases.)

This is shit that would get an ordinary man throttled in a church parking lot or beaten to death in a bar brawl. The rules are different for grandees who are guarded by dedicated squads of crack federal agents standing by within lunging distance whenever they leave the house. A man would get tackled or shot for reclaiming his wife from Joe Biden. When a man has that level of protection and publicly, repeatedly makes moves on women in front of their husbands,who are painfully aware they cannot safely do a thing but outwait, that man is not decent. He shows what he is. He’s a predator.

Back east, I used to run with some frisky chicks in MontCo and Manayunk whose boyfriends didn’t mind if they danced up on me, and I on them. Shit, Burmila, I used to have it. Guess I still do, after a fashion, but good God I’m in here writing this crap. One of the chicks was Irish. Her boyfriend was super chill about it, not cucked, just laidback. Two others, both of them Italian, were both dating low-key weird and messed-up Jews. The one chick was the distant, hella crazy kind of Italian. The chubbier, more approachable one named her ugly-ass tomcat after me. That cat was like if you put G. K. Chesterton in a fur suit and then ran him through the warp setting on FaceApp.

It was still an honor.

There’s something wrong with the Italians, but we knew that. Point is, we basically maintained the normal give-and-take that normal people maintain in normal interactions and relationships. (The Insurance Schmuck was how I knew these people, so it was a small miracle.) Nobody showed up with the Mormon answer to a rapper’s entourage and threw his weight around all night. I sure as hell didn’t.

It’s perversely encouraging to consider that a fair chunk of Biden’s coalition only thinks it admires him for his character. The last thing good property-owning liberals want to do is admit that they vote as property owners, not liberals. As I’ve said before, it’s refreshingly apsychotic to get the feeling that the shitlib booj are voting their interests, not acting on an eanest terminal obsession with the tiresome Schoolhouse Rock shuck and jive about civic values.

This shit is why GnocchiWizard encourages his followers to walk away from politics and focus on art, on making the world a more beautiful place. Does this essay count? I feel less brainscrambled than sometimes from The Craft, so there’s that. We’re all just crying out into the void, into the wilderness or some shit. But we still have prayer, just like Jesus. We still have the prayers handed down to us. We can still pray for our politicians. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us against that shitty creep. We didn’t order that. Return to sender.

You think I’m kidding. I wish I were.

A most curious afternoon on the old plantation, as the overseers lay down their whips in horror at what is being demanded of them

There’s something unfortunate, even embarrassing, about revering a junta of nine as the fount and bullwark of rights for a nation of over three hundred million. It was disgraceful to elevate to the same nation’s highest court a blackout-drunk cokehead, serial sex pest, and leering deviant who appeared before the independent, coequal body constituted to approve or reject him for appointment, visibly under the influence of alcohol and cocaine, and who verbally abused its members in their own house on live television.

If this country is in fact governed at the consent of its citizens, the deliberations and rulings of its Supreme Court are a rather embarrassing spectator sport. It’s the Triple Crown for nerds. Don a fascinator and go down to Pimlico for another round of degenerate betting and muddy animal cruelty. Watch that 727 full of containerized pens land on 10 under that Indian Summer soup. The semen will be arriving overnight on dry ice, expedited FedEx. Or maybe it has its own plane. Who the hell knows. Make also horse have milky explosion. Make benefit Glorious Nation of Bougiekistan.

P. J. O’Rourke is right: It’s teen pregnancy, only more so. It’s the third, most inexplicable, branch of government. It’s Bullshit. The power of its writs is the extent to which the people will tolerate them. Ask Chappaquiddick Cool Change what his theoretically fellow Boston Irish thought of edicts from Brahmin judges that they send their children to integrated public schools. It’s often the worst who resist such orders the most: Old Hickory and his henchmen, ethnic bigots in New York during the Civil War, Thanks for the input, Taney. How many Marshals you got?

The courts are famously our bulwark against majoritarian tyranny. If some generationally rich thug wants to pay you a pittance of scrip for sixty hours a week of blood, sweat, and tears in his bakery, well, maybe the scrip is a problem, or maybe it’s all right, or shucks, maybe we’d best restrain ourselves around Mr. Roosevelt. Do a bunch of shitheads from the Chamber of Commerce whose idea of an economy is minimum-wage concession jobs for the local pool of surplus poor in your postindustrial city full of residually leaded walkup apartments need your house for the new ballpark? What do you do if the Oracle of Nine says yes? Go out front against a sheriff’s SWAT team with a pitchfork? Come on. This isn’t Japan. What two-bit plot of rice do you think you’re defending out by the airport?

The whole point of the Federalist Society is to enforce and perpetuate this regime. Pick a name off the list, tell the Thicc Moist Boi he’s the guy, psych him up a bit, and let him go back to his rageposting and celebrity smackdowns and shouting fits on Hannity. It’s the permanent government behind the provisional government. Trump clumsily but deftly straddles the two, i.e., he’s a front-of-the-house distraction from Stephen Miller and the (increasingly overt) spooks, but he’s also allowed to commit forcible rape. Cosby and Weinstein were, too, until they weren’t. Maybe the Donald will do his own Harv Time. He probably won’t, but as one of the whore-ass men on the Manor Hill episode told his classmates on their way to the apology assembly, these are strange days.

The Federalist Society allows presidents, and none less than the one we enjoy today, to wander away from the nuts and bolts of judicial nominations and return to the more engaging crimes of their office. In Trump’s case, this largely means not crimes, but cringe. It takes focus to post. The libs are owned by the most ridiculous distractions. A few minutes of braggadocious locker room talk with Billy Bush is dispositive of his being a sex offender, as opposed to the general incredibility of Juanita Broaddrick’s public accusation of forcible rape against Bill Clinton, or E. Jean Carroll’s against Trump.

We’re using our words against other people who are also using their words. In no way is language Original Sin for enabling us to lie.

*****

Presidents are busy men–and yes, Kamala, women, too–with great burdens on their agendas, like prevailing on foreign officials and Secret Service details to stay at their branded properties and cheating at golf. The FedSoc streamlines the chores. Here’s who we have up next in the ghoul pen, Donny. He’s a good conservative. Get stoked!

Government is a powerful strange attractor for charlatans and incompetents. Most of This Town is stone out of its mind about how any community of ordinary Americans thinks. The Federalist Society only sounds crazy. It’s an outpost of shrewd, disciplined, ruthless operators in a 90% straight-ticket Democratic cityscape of teminally out-of-touch crybabies. The average American doesn’t want psychopathic right-wing nutjobs dictating the laws binding ordinary Americans any more than he (or she!) wants center-right Nudge Theory creeps calling out the rules at will. Disingenuous appeals to liberty work because people genuinely want genuine liberty. It’s the same thing with appeals to fairness. Ordinary Americans do not want devious elites waiving and warping the rules to oppress them.

Some are arrogant enough to think that are among these elites wielding the whip hand, and a few in fact are. Most, however, realize that a strong measure of fairness is essential to liberty and want both. The overclass is hyperaware of this sentiment.

In California this fall, this elite awareness was on garish display in the aggressive, fraudulent campaign Uber and its peer companies ran on behalf of Proposition 22. The app gig companies demand the rule of privilege, not the rule of law. When the state government denied them their way in the public interest and placed them under the ordinary regulations limiting the misconduct of ordinary businesses, they shamelessly, ruthlessly lied their way out of the jam. Their ad copy was all about how the apps allow working people–carefully coded as stable, not precarious–to make extra money when they have extra time, are essential to minorities, busy working mothers, and people who don’t want their loved ones killed by drunk drivers, and other diversionary frauds. They said nothing about the proven facts that Uber–one of the major backers of Prop 22 and one of the worst offenders in the sector–has a great many drivers working themselves to exhaustion, sleeping in their cars because they’re homeless, and increasingly leasing their cars from Uber on subprime loans.

Uber isn’t acutally a jitney cab network. It’s a con and a racket. It’s been a criminal enterprise since Day One. So have many of its peer companies. The happy horseshit about “side hustles” is a wholesale cult abuse tactic. They’ll never say, oh yeah, we prey upon earnest, downwardly mobile poor kids who want to do right by their families, Shanghai them into accelerated depreciation on their cars, cash them out at deep poverty wages, hose them for subprime rents since we’ve exhausted the pool of financially creditable drivers, and leave them flat broke and sleeping at rest areas, because it sucks to be from Vallejo lol but really because our purpose in life is to make ourselves and our degenerate rich cokehead buddies rich enough to gentrify the Tenderloin. The companies did not dare be honest. They knew the consequences.

It’s no coincidence that this is exactly the same playbook used to lure the gullible, the overly hopeful, and the desperate into paying for distributorships at Amway, LuLaRoe, and Jamberry. It’s exactly how shysters in real estate convince working people to exhaust their life’s savings on worthless building lots in California City. We’re good wholesome evangelicals here. We’re good Mormon mommas. We’re pinoy. Let’s talk about how I’m definitely not Quisling on commission, in Tagalog.

It’s vile. The companies hire amoral marketing whizzes to cynically, strategically appropriate AAVE buzzwords, sanitize them of any underworld connotations, and deploy them to convince underemployed normies in Fairfield that it’s reasonable and not at all sketchy to run their cars into the ground driving the pampered affluent around the Bay Area until they abritrarily get fired by computer. You don’t want to be a burden and a shame on your family for not working, do you? You want to start adulting, don’t you? Uber lets you stack cash!

Here’s a backup plan: Show me a suite of incentives that makes some fucking sense and I’ll think about it. Millennials have been systematically traumatized, and “hustle culture” is a big factor. One group works itself to death for no good reason. Another can’t find work at all. #VanLife somehow stopped being Chris Farley as object lesson. Early thirtysomethings who aren’t able to live in their childhood bedrooms in San Bernardino with no employment history end up in tent shantytowns that get raided periodically by police goon squads. Call Ernesto Olivares if you need camping supplies.

Everything went to hell in 2008. There were private meeting where Hank Paulson talked with colleagues about the possibility of supply lines abruptly collapsing and civilization with them. We’ve never recovered. Ranch houses wouldn’t cost a factor of 10-30 over what are most likely overestimated median household incomes in neighborhoods where the better-off end of the local working class sleeps in its cars and the worse-off half get their encampments swept around like so many dust bunnies from block to block whenever the property owners throw a fit.

Normies keep thinking, oh, this is America; this is Norman Rockwell, just maybe with crappier architecture. It damn well is not. It’s Brazil. In places it’s India. Did you get your picture taken with a precious street urchin in a Calcutta orphanage that time you visited on vacation, or mission or whatever you’re calling it? The authorities found diapers in one of the hand-dug shelter tunnels they discovered in Kansas City.

*****

This is the future liberals want. It sounds outlandish until we remember that the Democratic Party’s highest-ranking officeholder in California is a Wilson-Deukmejian Republican. DiFi and Fancy Nancy are both out to brunch. Good morning. Sunday morning. Nancy is exactly the freakish lady of the house who would beat her maid in Sao Paolo for a living. Eric Garcetti is her psychopathic son who sneaks out of his mansion to shoot bums and tramps for sport with dirty cops.

They used to send us Sacco and Vanzetti. Can you believe it, DeAngelo? A colored fellow can hardly get a foot in the door at the Save-Mart warehouse these days unless he speaks Spanish, though, and even then it’s no guarantee.

The Federalist Society wants this shitty future, too. That’s why it preaches its virtues and pipelines extremist young lawyers into the federal judiciary, to unilaterally legislate this future from the bench. The FedSoc’s difference is one of tone: it loudly and proudly wants most of the same tyrannical evils its ostensible enemies in liberalism abashedly want. There are those who are shameless, and there are those who pretend to feel shame.

The partisan rancor of American politics in the new millennium, so notoriously corrosive of our trust in government and civic health and shit, is little but petty squabbles about tone. They represent the Brahmins and the Optimates, two castes with highly overlapping class interests but acrimonious disputes over precisely which set of terrible aesthetics to use in the fulfillment of their interests at the expense of their social inferiors.

Trump occasionally upsets both of their apple carts for a few minutes, then wanders away because he’s bored with populism again. Pay close attention to who comes out of the woodwork on the Republican side to denounce him and praise Democrats for being unifiers in a time of great division, and pay attention to what they think Trump is doing wrong on policy. It’s the same chickenhawk neocon/neolib ghouls as ever, bitching about how we need to keep our military (“us”) embroiled in ruinous imperial campaigns against scrappy desert tribes instead of asserting our rights as a sovereign nation to pursue an adversarial trade policy with openly adversarial trading partners like China. Trump’s shouting and coarse jingoism are problematic, but so is driving a hard bargain right back on Xi Jinping. We can’t dare retaliate against China for dumping industrial exports on our shores or refuse to play chicken when it threatens to boycott our soy. These are the laws of economics.

It makes me wonder: How long is a Chinaman? I dunno. How long? Whaddaya mean you don’t know him? He’s been running that fucking laundry since 1870!

The Democratic Party’s sniveling centrist twerps are appalled by Trump’s crude antics, but they love any other Republican who genteelly promotes even worse policies with a focus and organization Trump doesn’t care to cultivate. The idea it’s heartwarming to see Rick Wilson agree on something with Nancy Pelosi or Elissa Slotkin is barfworthy. These are some of the worst people on earth. What’s happening here is pretty much just some Optimate shitheads contingently defecting to the Brahmin camp because they get heartburn when Trump and his unsavories throw their shouting fits. There’s no fucking principle to it.

It’s exactly how the celebrated bipartisan comity of the midcentury came to be, too. The politics were different but the underlying dynamics were the same. Midcentury elected officials were too scared by what they’d seen in the Depression to dare comprehensively screw over their constituents for profit. George Wallace increased the salaries of white teachers and black teachers alike. Taft (does it matter which one?) mostly behaved himself. If they would have admired Newt Gingrich, they didn’t act like it. They understood the political consequences of telling constituents to go die in a ditch. It was to their constituents that they were more or less accountable.

One look at Mitch McConnell and he’s obviously a miserable cunt. He’s also truly evil. What are we supposed to do with him? Outcivil the son of a bitch? It’s sure worked so far. Then we get smarmy pricks like Ben’s Ass–now goodness, how do I keep misspelling that?–having centrist circle jerks with the amoral twerps on Wait Wait about how a better way is possible, by following their lead. LBJ would rightly have backed Mr. Ass into a corner like he was T. F. Green until he cut the #PassItOn bootstrap bullshit about the all-around incompetence of his own constituents at adult activities of daily living. On the other hand, the nice Cornhusker says nice things about NPR listeners and their weak centrist politics to Peter Sagal, so maybe he’s good.

The moment these ghouls show their faces–Newt, Gateside Downlow, Mitch, Diddlin’ Dennis, Ass–is the moment the Democrats unsheathe their tongue depressers for the gunfight. They resent the old-school pols among their supposed fellow travelers for fighting fair: Bernie hammering the overclass, Traficant wearing a thick top and wide bottoms to the whipping fence, for that matter Tlaib for hitting back at the Donald, even if she confuses Ivanka for his mother. They’ll stoop to the ghouls’ level on policy, but never on decorum.

It’s a preposterous thing to say about Fancy Nancy, but she believes it. We’re allowed to live in our own realities. Mr. Rogers was cool with a little of that, but know this: We have to pay our pound of flesh for the privilege now. We’ll cut off Mina Kim’s interview with Jesus Kristof and Wife unless we hear from our pay pigs. No, better, we’ll cut it off for the balance of the hour to reach out to our pay pigs.

We’re all good little pay pigs!

*****

That’s what we used to call the offertory, or the collection plate. This here ain’t civics; it’s church. Mother Nancy is our high priestess, Adam Parkhomenko our loyal deacon. How could Avignon would have had a pope?

Remember: we’re virtuous. That’s why we’re here. We’re the bulwark against an illiberal president like Donald Trump droning father-and-son birthright US Citizens to death without a warrant oops and mentally unstable bigoted rapists in the White House oops again and the drone president’s emeritus Solicitor General arguing before the Supreme Court that the Nestle Corporation should be allowed to own child slaves well Jesus Christ there’s no way he could have said that.

Of course he did lol. It was just subcontractors tending sharecroppers’ cocoa patches in West Africa. We really wouldn’t want one of our beloved Brands to face civil liability under the Alien Tort Act for practices that are also felonies in every other country with a functioning government. Let’s not be unreasonable here. Sometimes you drive just over the hill from Calistoga on 29 with a case of used seltzer bottles and fill up at the 0.005 cfs watering tub. Sometimes you buy the entire aquifer from an obscure but crooked charter township and sell it back to Flint at a hundred thousandfold markup. Sometimes you prune your own vineyard. Other times you chain a Mexican kid to an avocado tree and whip him until he makes quota.

Right? We’ve all been there. Besides, there are legal reasons not to hold US-chartered multinational corporations liable for violations of the Thirteenth Amendment and subsidiary criminal statutes when the violations were committed in foreign countries whose governments the same corporations bribed to ignore their already laxly enforced laws against slavery. We should leave the corporate corruption of West African governments a local concern. Corruption probably isn’t a big political issue in Nigeria anyhow. Okay, in that case let’s not fixate on how everybody with a political blog in Nigeria is fed up with corruption. Let’s try not to imagine that public sentiment is similar in nearby countries with weaker internet conections.

It’s like if a thousand Bangladeshis die in a preventable factory collapse. Are we really going to put them out of work to keep them safe? We need the underwear. We need the chocolate. They need the work. We know this is true. Matty is a Democrat.

My shirtwaist is getting into one hell of a triangle right now. Neal Katyal actually argued before SCOTUS that Nestle should be allowed to own slaves. It is a spicy Vindaloo. It is a hearty Jollof Rice.

This is starting to sound awfully like our next veep. Kamala is a slavery enthusiast of color. Neera Tanden isn’t white, either. I guess that’s good to know for some reason. Africans sold their own people across the ocean, just like what the old English elites did to their people, specifically to the Cockneys and the Irish. Do you have a problem with any of this straight talk about race? Waka waka hey–Hey, you ain’t black!

Normally I’d feel bad about strawmanning, like, maybe Katyal is just a huge piece of shit, not a Western supremacist or whatever, but this shit is insane. It’s hard to miss the touchy racial and geopolitical implications. Grease it up with some moral relativism and the idpol flies straight through the looking glass. This is not, in fact, how we like to #RaceTogether, here in America. You get food to eat, Ricky Ray, just like we told you.

The allegations against Nestle and Cargill are much worse than just slavery. They include maiming and permanent disfigurement. Our first half-black president’s ex-solicitor general doesn’t think our poor American corporations should be on the hook for their contractors or subcontractors skinning their workers alive. This is really hideous stuff. It’s the worst of the South. American or Global, it doesn’t matter.

The Alien Tort Claims Act was enacted to provide foreigners living under inept or corrupt judiciaries at home recourse to sue US defedants in US courts for crimes the defendants committed against them at home. The slavewhipping Framers of 1789 foresaw the inadequacy of the Ivoirian courts to hear slavery claims. They knew the titans orchestrating the whole thing would take the money and run. It was the same thing they and their cronies did. For God’s sake what fool would leave valuables lying around in front of the slave shacks?

Of course they were hypocrites. It’s bad, but they bequeathed a good framework to their better successors.

And then this creep Katyal showed up. Oh, this isn’t anything we should be worried about, publicly traded companies with US charters and domiciles profiting from the torture and maiming of kidnapped adolescents. Jefferson is easy enough to understand. Katyal is dumbfounding. It’s inconceivable for a lawyer to make those arguments in open court, and in a civil case at that. It’s /Terminal Robert Dziekanski Voice/ shocking. I’m mostly used to the United States being a moral disaster zone, but dear fucking God, that’s bad.

Eichmann got hanged for putting Neal Katyal’s arguments into action under force of law. That’s what Katyal is. He’s a latter-day Eichmann. Arendt you glad his kids don’t go to school with yours?

Look at his old boss, though. No Drama Obama looks bad in hindsight for hiring the creep, but we didn’t need to learn about any of this ugliness to expect bad things of Mocha Haole. We’re just trying to burn dissidents and their minor children to death with remote-control missile jets more aloha here. Mamma followed that bumiputra fellow home under Suharto and the Ford Foundation because, see, I–eh, never mind. It’s a hearty deep dish pie we’re eating here on the South Side tonight.

These are birds of a feather. Kamala is of the flock as well. One thing I’ll say in Barry’s favor is that he’s less in-your-face vile than that bitch. She’s just awful. We’ve been through that before. The latest festivities, to fill the uncanny valley with the bizarre, involve the search for a Senator of Color, perhaps even a Woman Senator of Color, to replace Her, a process that has obliviously missed Loretta Sanchez. I knew they’d do that, but I hadn’t thot of it in a minute. I’m still going insane. Alex Padilla worked for DiFi, so of course he’s colored. I forget who else they were talking about, although I’ve heard nothing about Antonio Villaraigosa. He must not be crooked enough. He isn’t creepy, just sleazy. You call that Spanish? You call that English? John Hatfield Maglited a black guy as a Latino, so I’m afraid so. Last I heard he was gonna be a nurse.

At least Harris and Garcetti aren’t our only colored role models in high office. My grandfather liked to call my uncle Kike Douglas, so I’m sure it’d be hella fun if the Jews were made off-white again.

*****

As I was saying, this Katyal stuff is driving me nuts. How are his arguments not top-of-the-fold front-page national news? Rhetorical, of course; we know why; but still.

We have slavery in the United States, too. We just declare our slaves criminals. In fairness, that guy we scalded to death in the prison shower in Florida was too crazy for a work detail, and Kamala’s idea of slavery involves nothing more than keeping the nonviolent in prison longer so they remain excempt from the minimum wage as firefighters.

Imagine a country where Paul Tanaka is the national police chief and the entire country is the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the other Angola, but they’re all black. This is the Ivory Coast. It’s close enough in a society where a retired government lawyer in good standing with the bar can tell the high court that it’s okay for companies to employ malnourished, grievously maimed chattel slaves, because why not.

*****

Here’s the thing about the Federalist Society, though. Its SCOTUS picks are not operating as programmed. Kavanaugh and ACB listened to Katyal’s chilling proposal and were like, what the fuck man. Gorsuch is a trailblazer on Indian Nation sovereignty.

A couple of things are happening here. ACB seems to be a sincere TradCath. You’re saying they can do WHAT to kids? Excuse me? Kavanaugh is a sexually disordered hot mess, the kind of guy who might be found helping Bob Hanssen set up his bedroom peephole camera after the Opus Dei meeting, but for the Smut Prince of the Lewinsky Hearings his jurisprudence is surprisingly liberal. As bad as his sexual misconduct was, it was always just booze-soaked sexual assault or flashing in the heat of the moment. Press-ganging kids onto a cocoa plantation and leaving them with stigmata is way beyond anything he’d ever do, or even imagine doing. Like his newest colleague, he was genuinely horrified. Judges are expected to maintain a poker face, and they often do so diligently, but these two have consciences and feelings. Gorsuch, in spite of his sometimes atrocious appellate jurisprudence, is normal for a lawyer.

More broadly, though, what’s going on here is that these justices, like so many of their colleagues, care deeply about their legacies. Judges who don’t give a shit about the law or equity per se get cowed into bowing before stare decisis because they hate being ridiculed by colleagues. These three seem to care about the law, not just their reputations.

Neal Katyal cares only about honestly I can’t tell what. He’s unbelievably soulless and amoral. He’s like his old boss. There’s a whole lot of that in the law. The C students become rich, as they say.

All we can do now is wait for the decree of a Jewess, a spic, an abrasive wop, a bunch of honky motherfuckers, and that Gullah weirdo about what exactly constitutes African-American law for Nestle and Cargill. Maybe it’s a bad sign that counsel for Monsanto is on the case. That’s one they didn’t keep down on the farm for sure. What I’ll be most interested to hear is what those who are scandalized by my language think about two Fortune 100 companies having Barack Obama’s lawyer argue that it’s good of them to buy from thugs who went full King Leopold’s Ghost on emaciated captive teenagers.

It should be fun. They’re Harris voters. I should scalp some yard signs.