In awe at the size of this lad. Absolute secure housing unit.

It’s the fifth anniversary of some Facebook shitposting that I did about Robert Rizzo working the parking lot at the Surf Museum in Huntington Beach (“I used to direct traffic at Hershheypark, so Bob’s a colleague”), including some kind words about Chris Christie’s superior character that didn’t age well after the George Washington Bridge thing, so I looked up Rizzo to see what has happened to him in the meantime. He’s presumably done with the lot gig, since they don’t have those at Lompoc, but a bit like Najibullah Zazi on quadruple rations, I can’t find where the hell the feds and/or CDCR have stashed him: the feds say he and five or six other guys named Robert Rizzo have been released, news reports at the time of his sentencing said that he’d be staying in the federal system to serve his state sentence, and CDCR shows no record of him in its inmate lookup portal. Given that he was facing well over a tenner less than five years ago, someone isn’t sharing pertinent information with the class.

When I compared Robert Rizzo to Chris Christie, I meant it. That boy is what we call thicc. Or was, depending on what he thinks of prison food. There are prisoners who lose weight because the food is shit, but it doesn’t take much slush off the top of ten mil or whatever the hell in illegal government kickbacks and looting to fund a commissary account for the long haul. Fat Sammy and the Unified Command memes are and shall remain an important part of the memetic treasury in these pages, but Sam Dotson has shit on Rizzo for being a stout shorty. It’s historically been debatable whether Italians can be white, but if they can, my good trolley bitch, that’s one fat cracka.

That said, whether it ought to be said or not, what inspires me to prose today isn’t Robert Rizzo but Chuck Rizzo, whose name came up when I was trying to locate Bob the Big Boy in the American Gulag. Chuck Rizzo is, for starters, an unremarkably normal-looking guy, both handsomer and more height/weight-proportional than Robert but nondescript by normal standards. He’s facing but not yet serving a federal nickel bid for a mob trash racket in Metro Detroit. Daddy was a trash crook, too, and a Charles. God bless our American family-own small business job creators, then.

The stunning thing about the Chuck Rizzo case was the objection that the prosecution raised to his being released on bond after sentencing to get his affairs in order and allowed to report to prison at a later date: specifically, that he was a suicide risk, and that a planned family reunion prior to his surrender date was likely to push him over the edge. The judge ruled in Rizzo’s favor, saying that the prosecution’s objections were serious but not convincing. But on the subject of elephants and the rooms they might trash, do we maybe think that if this guy is suicidal, it’s because he’s facing years in prison?

*Permanently contemplative Dennis Lynn Rader Voice* I spend quite a bit of time in my room myself. But seriously. Incarceration is not a routine setback or challenge in life. Suicide is hell on those left behind, but it takes a hard damn heart not to admit that prison can be a hell of its own, or that five to five and a half years in prison is nothing because the system passes down sentences centuries long. These are not things to minimize. They’re horrifically serious.

Any prosecutor who stands up in a courtroom and asks a judge to remand a convict to prison so that he can’t commit suicide while out on pre-surrender bond is a sociopathic sadist. That’s some powerfully depraved thinking. Yeah, dipshit, you know why he might be suicidal? Because of you. You’re the one doing everything you can to ruin his life out of spite. Even if a convict isn’t suicidal, as Rizzo’s defense convinced the judge, he has alarmingly good reasons to be suicidal, and every fucking one of these reasons could be neutralized singlehandedly by the prosecution not seeking prison time. That’s what prosecutors would do if their main concern were about the mental health and survival of their defendants and convicts. This is separate from the public safety arguments against releasing dangerous criminals into the community without supervision, but the prosecution here wasn’t arguing anything of the sort; it was disingenuously asserting itself as a defender of its adversary against himself.

Really, judges should give prosecutors one warning to shut the fuck up about their concern for defendants’ wellbeing before holding them in contempt of court. It’s a fundamentally perjurious mindset, not a series of lies in a strict technical sense but a line of argument driven by such utterly bad faith that it’s tantamount to lying, and it is without a doubt a form of deliberate false witness. Prosecutors in these situations patently do not give a rat’s ass about the welfare of those they’re prosecuting. More often than not, they seem to be driven by a pathological, personal, visceral hatred, including a desire to see evil visited upon their adversaries. They don’t get upset because someone will make a tragic, impulsive, heartbreaking, irreversible mistake; they get upset and scandalized that they’ll be denied the opportunity to punish those who have desperately sought a higher mercy.

That’s who deserves the Flint water supply. Lock their asses in cells plumbed into the river until they publicly disavow the evil they’ve promoted. If some crew of crooks gets caught running a trash racket, their contracts can be canceled and their ill-gotten gains clawed back. Allowing manifestly vicious, hateful, vicariously violent lunatics and sadists to draw public salaries as criminal prosecutors is a much deeper and more serious problem. That’s much harder to fix by enforcing the law. If no one will watch the watchdogs, maybe we’d be better off putting them all down.

The notion that prison is a place where the suicidal can be protected from themselves is as laughable as it is grotesquely evil and false. What’s next? Insisting that EMT-firefighters have the lowest possible occupational exposure to smoke and contaminated sharps? That the way not to be called a snitch-ass pig is to become a cop? To paraphrase Daniel Holtzclaw, suck white dick. Chuck Rizzo’s prosecutors asked a judge to immediately remove him from a reasonably stable environment where he had adequate psychiatric care to an unstable, chaotic, vicious environment where any psychiatric care he had been receiving would be interrupted and replaced, almost certainly, with a lower standard of care. Not many years ago a federal court found psychiatric care in the California prison system so pervasively bad that it placed the entire CDCR mental health system under the supervision of a special master, eventually ordering inmate releases to reduce the population to a manageable level. California may have been an extreme case, but there’s no fucking way it had the only prison system in the country that was failing to provide adequate psychiatric care to its inmates.

Yeah, let’s add another nonviolent convict with a history of suicidal ideation to our already crowded and dysfunctional federal prison system so that he doesn’t kill himself. That’ll go just great.

There’s a broader point to be made here, too: our prosecutors are batshit fucking insane. Do you really want to tell me that that Anne Marie Schubert is not clinically paranoid? Mama Grizzly cowering behind the chain link fence with delusions of persecution at the hands of angry community activists whose meetings she refuses to attend in the interest of her physical safety is certainly a good approximation of paranoid psychosis and projectile PTSD. The bum who ran into the governor’s mansion trying to flag down the Highway Patrol to shoot the mountain lion that was growling at him from inside the dumpster wasn’t that crazy. He’d just wanted the good guys with guns to shoot down the bad guy with fangs, but after his arrest, he told KCRA that he’d had mental health problems in the past and on second thought there probably hadn’t been any lion. It took a guy who had been acutely psychotic two or three days to say, shit, I guess I hallucinated that cat, but damned if we can ever get a hypervigilant district attorney to admit that, no, as a matter of fact no one was trying to assault or murder me, because yelling at a public official to do her job is not a form of assault, homicide, or violent threat.

Again, we may be better off without this apparatus of hell than we are with it. We really don’t understand peace or mercy as a nation, not even when it’s staring us square in the face. We hardly even have the gumption to tell flagrantly paranoid security officials to take their CalPERS and fuck off back to Citrus Heights. I don’t give a shit if Schubert wants to self-medicate with chardonnay; the problem is that she’s being paranoid and lashing out on the public dime at a time when she has executive prosecutorial discretion. If she wants to be batshit crazy on her own time, that’s her business; this current shit is our business.

The Chippies should give that poor bum a Starbucks gift card for what they and the Sheriff’s Department did to him, since they’re already quite familiar with Starbucks. They owe him a Dunkin’ Doorman offering for his trouble. I’m not lion, and neither is that dumpster.

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Cuck and Nancy

Both of the major US political parties are deeply aberrant and pathological, but the Republicans at least act like functioning adults capable of more or less making their own way in the world. They’re unspeakably evil, and the ones who aren’t personally so actively cover for colleagues who are, but at least they stand up for themselves and for what the principles that they profess. They’re America’s scumbag stepfather, and we’re their battered wife and kids.

The Democrats could be the beat cop who stares Stepdaddy down at the front door on these repeat calls, civilly but resolutely telling him, no, sir, it is not acceptable for you to beat the shit out of your own family over nonviolent expressions of disrespect and you are not helping your own cause by coming to the door in a wifebeater and cursing responding officers out with a tirade about how it’s your house, your rules. The Democrats could be the ones asserting that the police is the public, the public is the police, and we are here as representatives of that public to enforce its moral and legal sense that no man has the right to treat his kin as his chattels, the point being that if you lay another finger on anyone in this house or utter one more threat we are taking you downtown.

The glaring problem with this strategy is that the Democrats all act like Monk. It doesn’t take expanding galaxy brain to figure out how to deescalate tense situations but also be credibly firm with those who refuse to be decent and start acting in good faith. These are key interpersonal skills that every well-run police organization seeks out and trains into its recruits. But again, we’re talking about the Democrats, so all bets on intelligence are off, an adjective that also applies in the broadest general terms to the entire fucking party establishment.

I’m unfair to Monk; these smarmy losers are a version of Monk who also neurotically scolds everyone all the time. Combine the halting neurosis of Terry Gross with the schoolmarmish lecturing of Brenda Jorett about how young people today no longer have the work ethic or the punctuality needed to succeed in the workforce, then blend that with the know-it-all international club nerd preening of Marco Werman and Michele Kelemen’s Wa Shing Ton Ian delivery style, and you’ll still only approximate what an excruciating embarrassment these assholes are. It isn’t just that they lack all morals and ethics, as the Republicans do; they can’t even stand up like competent adults in public and make their damn case. Instead they rarely go a week without saying or doing something to inspire sympathy with the bullies who would have shoved them into high school lockers. Even as thirty-year veteran members of Congress they act like whiny little wussies desperately seeking the approval of their worst peers, and despite being the sworn liberal left, won’t stop being tattletales and teachers’ pets. This is the team it takes to make the Republicans’ horrifying psychosexual perversions look respectable by comparison, just by virtue of being relatively functional, mature, and self-sufficient.

One of the latest examples of shitlib sniveling came from Nancy Pelosi. First off, it’s really cool that being a wealthy major landowner, employer of nonunion farm labor, Baltimore mayor’s daughter, and habitual hippie-puncher is now a premier form of leftist praxis and politics. That aside, though, maybe Nancy, as a sworn liberal, has abiding values about the inviolability of individual cultural liberty and the courage to defend them? Lol jk. “I love the National Anthem….and I love the First Amendment, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

Glad we cleared that up. This is the US Representative for almost the entirety of San Francisco, the sweet home of raucous left-liberal dissent, and she can’t be arsed to assert the right of unionized celebrity entertainers to defy compulsory public displays of patriotism. If she won’t breathe a word in defense of their right to express their individual consciences, she won’t do jack shit for any of the rest of us. These overwrought displays of national piety have nothing to do with the game they were hired to play. It’s Pentagon agitprop that is not in the contract, and the players have the solidarity and the market power to grind the entire league to a halt if Roger Goodell or any of his fellow executive sleazeballs try to insert it.

Then there’s the question of what in hell drove Pelosi to commit an unforced error in the course of trying to suck up to a constituency of racist reactionaries who have always despised her and always will. This is the sort of whinging capitulation traditionally attributed to Neville Chamberlain and the French. None of the people she’s trying to win over will show her any respect or forbearance in appreciation of her mealymouthed agreement with their framing. They’ll enthusiastically steamroll her all the same.

What she has accomplished is the further alienation of a widening swath of her base that already distrusts her for good reasons. For these voters, the ones who put her and her fellow travelers into office, liberalism is worthless if it doesn’t include the liberty to defy bumptious demands to worship the flag. If they wanted to do that, they’d have joined the goddamn Army and gotten a soldier’s pay for their trouble. The point of cultural liberty is that no meddlesome reactionary piece of shit can force an unwilling civilian to perform ritual acts of worship on demand. Liberalism is a philosophy devoted to the defense of liberty, in case words still have meanings.

Shit, even on military bases personnel run for cover whenever Colors is about to begin so that they aren’t forced to stand at attention saluting the flag. If active-duty military personnel regard this patriotic worship as something fit only for the color guard, who are assigned specifically to carry out that bit of hocus pocus twice a day and paid accordingly (less time writing bullshit PowerPoints, presumably), maybe the rest of us who didn’t sign up for any of that should recall that we didn’t sign up for it (duh), aren’t being paid for it (again, duh), and ought to have the civic pride to refuse to be bossed around by rogue martinets.

Nancy Pelosi, of all elected officials, shouldn’t be obsequiously catering to the easily offended feelings of a bunch of bigoted Zhdanovite pricks who hate her and her constituents and whom her constituents revile no less. This is terrible retail politics. The sick thing, however, is that it’s surprisingly effective wholesale politics, at least until the voters go into full revolt. She doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what her ordinary constituents think about this donnybrook; they aren’t the ones with all the campaign money. She’s trying to split that baby on the increasingly arrogant assumption that the rank-and-file voters won’t do anything about it and in the hope that all the sugar daddies and mommas paying the party off will keep cutting the big checks to their loyal servants.

She’s probably also trying to clear the path for barely electable centrist ciphers to execute the Manchin/McCaskill strategy with district electorates that are historically liable to vote for absolute gobshites. This makes sense for anyone who thinks that it’s an accomplishment for the leading center-left party to end up with a caucus including Joe Manchin. These numbskulls won’t stop acting like it’s an accomplishment for their party not to host the creeps whose lexicons include “legitimate rape” and “China people.” We might ask why they don’t instead deploy, say, Democratic politicians who are generally admired in West Virginia, but they’d rather lose with a slimy schmuck than win with a straight shooter who disses them for being crooks. We can’t have Bernie upstaging the kingmakers by helping revive a strain of mountain populism that they find yucky. It must be that the miners are all hicks who vote against their own interests and can’t see through a poseur like Don Blankenship–you know, the guy who came in fifth out of six in the total popular vote between the two primaries, a real popular down-home coal-mining country boy multimillionaire who lives in Las Vegas.

It happens so constantly that it must be a feature, not a bug: forthright, energetic, aboveboard candidates with muscular speaking styles and unapologetically robust platforms hit the trail and become popular, sometimes out of nowhere, and the party apparatus flips its shit about how uppity they are for standing up to establishment shitheads that everybody hates. It was the solemn duty of all feminists to be #WithHer, specifically, Hillary Clinton, in 2016, but now that Cynthia Nixon is running for the New York governorship with much lower negative ratings and a reform platform that inspires voters, it’s time for feminist solidarity to go into the shitter so that everyone can rally around the slimy incumbent putz. This crew never much cared for Zephyr Teachout, either, and it infamously hates Bernie Sanders. For these scumbags, the problematic candidates are always the ones who have popular platforms and don’t enter the race surrounded by an aura of scandal and sleaze. The divisive characters are the ones who don’t make voters want to vomit.

From a psychosexual perspective, the left-populist candidates act like worthy adult adversaries, the sort of grown-up plain dealers a Republican might respect in spite of their disagreements. As a matter of sheer political strategy, Donald Trump recognized that disgruntled Sanders primary voters were worth inviting into his coalition for the general election since they might get him over the top, and so he deliberately appealed to them from time to time and highlighted his agreements with Sanders. But that’s the kind of thing that happens when a candidate has a coherent electoral strategy. What happens when a candidate does not is Hillary. That crazy fucking bitch spent her entire campaign gratuitously demeaning voters whose support she demanded. Not taking Bernie on as her running mate alone showed how flippant and unserious she was about electoral strategy. Tim Kaine was an in-your-face fuck-you to everyone inland of Manassas. Bernie would have won as vice president, too, because he would have given voters positive reasons to vote for the ticket, but what do I know? I’m just a bitter BernieBro deplorable who refuses to admit that it was all Russia’s fault.

The reactionary right wing will always seize on signs of weakness and insincerity in its adversaries, whether real or imagined. The Democratic Party leadership might react by supporting the vigorous, upfront, no-nonsense populists who already caucus with the party or seek its nominations. So what does it do? Duh: it runs a sniveling collection of finger-wagging schoolmarms and oily putzes and then berates the electorate for being disloyal to these, its betters.

This is surreal. It inevitably pisses voters off, but beyond that, it fails by its own avowed standards. The Democratic establishment is always complaining about narrowminded economic populists forsaking crucial cultural liberties and trying to reinsert itself to hold the line, but in the case of this flag donnybrook, Nancy Pelosi has done nothing of the sort. She could have stood up and, on the twin bases of racial justice and individual freedom of conscience, told everyone trying to extort shows of patriotic fealty from the players to get fucked. She could have told the owners to count their blessings for being so successful and the bigoted fans to take their Zhdanovite whining back into their secret places, where it belongs. She could have told the fans that it’s their problem if they’re too upset by players’ politics to keep watching the games, and hence their decision to make about being ready, or not, for some FOOTBALL. She could have told them to love it or leave it. That was good enough for lefty dissidents, so it should be good enough for whining rightists. You don’t hear me whining about how George Clooney’s annoying politics make Money Monster problematic, or about how Clint Eastwood is too much of a crotchety old conservative geezer for me to watch Gran Torino.

Why can’t Nancy say anything of the sort? It probably comes back to the money and the cash, which she so welcomes. Leftists have been warning about this inherent contradiction of liberalism all along, about the inevitable abuse of campaign contributions to compel bad policies that no one but the bigshot donors want. The more thoughtful and quiet sorts of conservatives, as opposed to batshit crazy projectile reactionaries, have warned about this as well, and for overlapping reasons. Politicians become so insatiable for campaign money that they get bought off by ghouls. This assumes, rather charitably, that they aren’t absolute ghouls themselves.

The whole point of liberalism is that it protects ordinary citizens from authoritarian infringements of their liberties, including demands that they publicly worship the flag or other patriotic idols on command. If Nancy won’t assert the right of professional football players to refuse Pentagon-funded commands to salute the colors or denounce the owners and the league for treating their majority-black players with a contempt nearly worthy of Jim Crow, she sure as hell won’t stand up for my right not to pledge allegiance to a fucking stars-and-stripes hot air balloon upon its launch. I went along with it because I was too tired to walk away, but that bullshit is not a fucking regulation US Flag. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s a violation of the US Flag Code. It’s not that I give a shit about some dingus squad going to the expense of customizing a hot air balloon to look extra gay (the French: historically and today, a people of great heterosexuality), but if we’re here to properly revere Old Glory, that bag of gas ain’t it. If every passing image of some flag demanded immediate compulsory respect, Otis Redding would have sung the Liberian national anthem all day long.

When individual Democrats are worth something, I don’t mind voting for them. The problem for most of them is that being at all worthwhile or respectable or useful conflicts with being a bunch of simpering, equivocating, pants-shitting castrati who are chronically sore with their own constituents and their party’s most popular politicians for getting in the way of their consultant-class rackets. I’ll be Warren Harding to vote for any of that.

Jimmy quit, Jody got married, shoulda known we’d someday get Gross

It could be worse. We could talk about the other Terry and relapse into acute Kathoholicism. We’ve done that before.

Nah, only on NPR could it be worse. So guess what? It’s on fucking NPR. I’m trying to boycott this interview with a navelgazing Limey songstress I could have sworn I’d never heard of in my life, and since I haven’t opened any of the overly copious NPR livestreaming services on my laptop, I’m currently succeeding. *Terminal Robert Dziekanski voice* And I guess you could say I’m “current” ly dying over here.

God, what a shock that always is. If you go to the trouble of listening to that interview or reading the highlights, neither being anything that I’d recommend, you’ll discover that it’s worse than anything I have to say about the RCMP. I.e., mostly about how they killed that one Pole, but there’s no reason it can’t be about how they sexually harass their own. For the same reason, the linked interview is worse than anything NPR will ever have to say about maladjusted Mounties, artistically or otherwise. If we’re going to carry on about dipshits with residual feudal duties to the Queen and chronic sociosexual dysfunction, we ought to carry on about the ones with the clipped cadences and the equally fine-ass two-tone field blues, not some borderline-Eurotrash emo civvy in a poorly fit Marimekko-style top and her excessive discography. We might as well at least find a crew that dresses well for its sexual harassment and its command mismanagement, not the lady who looks like she’s wearing long sleeves to hide the cutting scars on her forearms. Let’s call it “Of Corporals, Cocksuckers, and Cowardice.” Let us all, in one spirit, lift up our voices from the fish pond to the sky and rundel in that jungle.

NPR can’t even put the fun into the dysfunction. It’s not as if they’re spending the hour interviewing someone who’s mature, organized, and focused on the important things. This is someone who released an antinatalist retrospective on the virtues of hormonal birth control, in song. Contraceptive music exists, and it’s every bit as bad as pro-life music. One didn’t want a baby, but then one wanted a baby, and by then it was hard to have a baby. Additionally, Tracey Thorn has records about how much it sucks for a girl to not really be one of the guys even though she’s in their band, to be denied the traditional male license to be a derelict permaflaneur (because this is totally about sex and has never been about class), and to date a romantic derelict with a guitar who turns out to be emotionally hostile or distant or flaky or unstable or some shit. A woman, she tells us, can have a guitar, too.

Don’t look at me all weird for publishing Gerry and the Heartstoppers “tunes.” I’m not involved in any of the above horseshit. True story: I once got halfway involved in a love triangle with a bipolar chick whose main boyfriend, the one she wouldn’t disclose to her parents because they were Catholic and he was a Jewish atheist, met her because he was working on a documentary about Charlie “Murder is the Charge!” Robertson and she was babysitting for the district attorney. That whole thing was a dumpster fire by week four or five. I turned into a horrible emotional mess when it undeniably failed. I didn’t publish a fucking sob song about it and then go on NPR. Neither did I ever, nor do I plan to ever, pollute the Anglophone songbook with emo shit about how the thicc Jewess with the dead sexy Chicagoland accent who probably wanted to fuck me but I couldn’t tell because she turned me off with what seemed to be her idea of foreplay, specifically, pushing all five fingernails against my kneecap, hard, and spreading them out in unison.

This shit doesn’t need to be on NPR. It’s why we have YouTube and blogs. If you’re feeling (Mos)sad about these things, sing a song, and you’ll feel better, and I’ll feel better if you keep it to your damn self. It makes all too much sense that Fleetwood Mac’s “Sara” is a wistful pro-life ballad. Are we all supposed to be sad that what’s-her-name aborted the Henley brat? It was, like, forty years ago, and it wasn’t our fucking kid. Do we really have to keep hearing about that? Some family friends, also Baby Boomers, who were dating back then eventually had a child because they got queasy about the repeated abortions that resulted from their unplanned pregnancies, and now they have grandkids, but again, they didn’t commemorate it in a fucking acoustic storm.

Speaking of desperadoes, etc., it seems that the Henley fellow was inspired to vomit out his own god-awful bit of musical moralizing about the wrongfulness of gossip because he was starting to be accused of being a mob-adjacent Roy Moore-grade Quaalude teenybopper. Or, as Rex Tillerson might say, moron this shortly.

We’d all do better if the entirety of our public discourse about family values or the lack thereof were a Socratic monologue with Ali G.: “Sex: what is it all about? And babies: what is THAT all about? Is it good, or is it wack?” The moment people with opinions on this shit try to express them in cultural media, we end up with mewling assholes getting airtime in Redding to sing about letting all the babies be born. That shit won’t stop abortion. It will, however, degrade music.

None of these fuckheads, on either side of our wedge issues, is making society better through artistic advocacy. It isn’t a Satanic red herring to point out that allowing elevated levels of lead to persist in public drinking water supplies, and not just in Flint, either, has horrible effects on prenatal, neonatal, and childhood health and development. Hardcore pro-lifers put me off with their shrillness and enemy-of-the-good idealistic extremism, but I am not concern-trolling the movement by pointing out that their failure to raise hell over the contamination of water supplies right here in the United States demonstrates their insincerity and incoherence. Lead contamination is causing women to miscarry when they want to carry their babies to term. Ritually yelling at the Congress and the Supreme Court every spring doesn’t do a damned thing to remedy this ongoing disaster. You might as well take the youth ministry group down to the Tidal Basin to contemplate life and death, time and eternity, and the gratuitous sexuality of fruitless flowering ornamental plants under the cherry trees. I might as well go down to the Capitol Mall in Sacramento to contemplate how bitchin’ Senegal date palms are under the Senegal date palms. The rains can bless that, too, right here, right now. Alternately, we can bless the sprinkler system, only to have the state turn parts of it off for months on end to show Californians what a dry lawn looks like. #TheMoreYouKnow.

The Boomers are great for anyone who wants to listen to complaints about how having children is terrible and also not having children is terrible, and the only possible way to resolve this existential crisis is public art therapy. The pro-life vs. pro-choice standoff is not all that much more than two dueling lobbies of bougies with too much time and disposable income on their hands defaming one another for the feels. If they wrote “Anything Helps, God Bless” on their signs instead, they might get a positive return on their investments, but hooray for our signs, amirite. On our leading public radio afternoon arts show, the antinatalist-turned-natalist of these complaints get mixed up with grievances about how, aw oyt, mate, back when I was twenty Oy had some mates who were in me band and they didn’t act like Oy was to’ally one of them because me was a chick, not a bloke. Yeah, not having a perfect clique of friends in one’s teens and twenties is possible only for chicks, not for dudes.

Terry Gross could have asked, so, like, do you have cousins or siblings who have kids, so you could maybe, like, be involved in their lives instead, you know, but that would have been off-topic in a discussion about how the coordination of one’s own family planning, feminism, and possible woke polyamorous lesbianism is le hard and merits the more than occasional song. Plus, it would upset the neoliberal apple cart to question the breaking up and dispersion of what would otherwise be intact extended families. If we discover that this is deleterious for Limey cunts with disposable income, we might discover that it’s really bad for indigent New Orleanians, and if that happened we might start voting for elected officials who scandalize NPR’s sponsors.

There are from time to time artists who can cover these themes appropriately: Croce, Joel, Rodriguez, Winehouse. None of them are this emo Limey cunt who just spent most of an hour on the radio, more like Whinehouse, I have to say. It isn’t due to the Jews; look at the Jews we embargo in this discourse. Sure, half-Jews, mostly, but that never stopped Jeff Bezos from being absoslute piece of shit. If I’m off dicking some hooker who already has kids, at least I’m not singing piss-ass songs about the piddling deficiencies of my family life when I could be devoting my energy to expressing more serious grievances that might be resolvable instead, and neither is the hooker. The only song we need about that is the one about how they tried to make me go to Rahab.

I’m probably pissing into the wind by mouthing off about NPR again when I know where to find wild bay laurel three miles from here, but at least I just missed half of Fresh Air, all of that fucking Boston international relations dorkfest with the Werman twerp, and the first broadcast of Marketplace. I also missed a rare opportunity to meet Donna Apidone, Devin Yamanaka, and Randall White People in person at New Helvetia. Now, how DO I keep misspelling that man’s name? I have no idea what’s happening, Randall; I’m just a fat cracka who spends too much time on the light rail. I could have actually fucking met these fools today; not sure I’d have had to pay for the honor, in which case no way in hell was I meeting any of them. Say what you will about my knowing who they are and how to spell their names; that can’t say anything good about me. Just remember this: what bougies who maybe didn’t have kids when they should have need is friends or therapists; they don’t need platforms or audiences, and you don’t need that set of fucking Cap Radio pint glasses.

What’s going on, Ed, back home in SoCal is better than any of this shit up here. I really have to go, though, both because I’ve had enough internet for the afternoon and because it’s that time of day again when there are updates at least every half hour regarding legal developments involving the President’s outside counsel, the dirty movie lady, and maybe even that prune-ass sticky-fingered roller shithead from the Auburn Police Department. No time for a roast, Joey; this is civics.

Mr. Rodger’s Neighbourhood

Cool, our van rampage buddy in Toronto was online quite a bit. Love too explore human relationship’s, , in the new Virtual Community, thank’s,,,,,. Now that a couple dozen innocent people got mowed down by a maniac with a rental van and nearly a dozen of them were killed, we all get to learn about the incels and their advanced sociological theories.

The unfortunate thing is that no matter how deranged and depraved these losers are, they’re relevant. We’ve got asshats worshipping Elliot Rodger now. Some of them have rental vans. There is a sizable community of shut-ins feeding off of one another through the either. In extreme cases their oneupsmanship bleeds into meatspace, as it did in Toronto. That beautiful series of Stevens Tubes contains has the cross-sectional area for more sewage than most of us would ever want to contemplate, and verily, the shit be flowin’.

The normies can express all the shock and scandalized dismay they wish; it won’t stop the brain rot. We have hikikomori of our own now, and lucky for us, we North Americans are traditionally a homicidal culture. The Japs can off themselves; over here, we’re men. (I just made a round trip across Placer County’s premier suicide bridge to go hiking, the one where people have come with assistive ladders to get over the fence, but whatever.) Shock and outrage doesn’t change jack shit. *Terminal Robert Dziekanski voice again* Well, the shock changed ME! Forgive me, I’ve had only coffee and water this morning, no juice. This polarizing rhetoric quickly becomes depolarizing; but please, Mr. Rundel, don’t forget the Pole.

Johnny’s daddy must be fishing in my brain again. I was up in time for all of Weekend Edition Saturday this morning, from the start at 0500, but they truncated #SPORTS and had Susan Stamberg interview some pretentious asshole in LA who sings ditties about texting while driving that make our Gerry and the Heartstoppers “tunes” sound normal. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: you’ll catch autism. Around here we’ve still got over eight hours until Dennis Newhall reclaims that space for the self-respecting nerds. Until then, though, #NotEvenOnce. On second thought, I just remembered that they’ve got two broadcasts of This American Life coming up, at noon and six, in this case about the Jews forgiving the Negroes for being anti-Semites or some shit. That’s the only NPR program that can go there without making me want to go to Idaho to live Kato Kaelin-style in Mark Fuhrman’s guesthouse.

I don’t know what the fuck all that just was, except that sometimes one has to rundel one’s way back out of the jungle oneself. I don’t really get lost in this shit, though. I’m able to bushwhack my way back into something passing for normal.

This isn’t the case for guys like Elliot Rodger and Alek Minassian. They really, truly get lost. Rodger was lavished with family money but otherwise largely neglected by a distant father who preferred exploiting the casting couch to being involved with his own kid. Minassian seems to have been a weird recluse who intermittently lashed out at others, on the Spectrum for real and in a bad way. (NPR still causes autism. It’s a fact.)

I cringed when I read his now-deleted Facebook post about “reporting for duty to Sgt. 4Chan,” not just because it was so embarrassing but because he had obviously been played by much more socially adept manipulators online. The guys who run those sites don’t use such clumsy language and imagery themselves. They’re evil geniuses with exceptional gifts for rhetoric; Minassian comes across as a half-articulate dupe spouting reheated talking points, a computer science idiot-savant sorely lacking the skills needed to think critically and argue for himself. I’ve watched that same shit happen on other alt-right sites that cater to sexually frustrated and socially isolated men. It’s always a clique of Svengalis deliberately riling up a bunch of hapless, timid dorks. The orchestrators use plenty of outrageous language, but they don’t use self-beclowning turns of phrase like “Sgt. 4Chan.” That kind of stupid shit they leave to the peanut gallery.

It isn’t particularly unreasonable to argue that the orchestrators of this violent hatred, the socially adept trolls who get off on manipulating people they should show some noblesse oblige into shut-ins chronically stewing in their own intensifying rage, should be charged as accessories to murder and assault when their understudies act out in real life. They’re deliberately whipping troubled people up into uncontrollable frenzies for the lulz. They’d obviously be liable if they were found abetting mentally ill people they knew in real life to commit violent crimes. Deliberately redirecting a violent paranoiac’s delusions of persecution onto one’s enemy is blatantly criminal; in some jurisdictions, at least, it can be prosecuted to the same extent as the resulting crime of violence. The legal obstacle to prosecuting trolls for manipulating strangers online to commit acts of violence is the trolls’ ability to plead ignorance. They should assume that they’re agitating manifestly unstable strangers into a dangerous, likely uncontrollable state of anger, as any reasonable person would, but they can plausibly insist that they assumed the whole operation was nothing but a catfish pond. When they say that they don’t really know who’s on the other end of the line, they’re basically right. It probably isn’t all an act, but it might be.

The broader problem here, the one implicating a whole lot more people than the troll nests, is that the guys who get sucked into this incel persecution complex are socially isolated men who have been left to their own devices by those who should be close to them. This is fundamentally a failure of community. Elliot Rodger’s dipshit father didn’t owe him fancy sports cars; what he did owe him, and apparently failed to provide, was sound guidance on interacting appropriately with others, including women. He owed the kid some damn parenting. He owed him some assistance in interacting adequately with women in social and professional settings so that maybe he wouldn’t throw hot coffee on women he’d never met to punish them for rejecting his advances for casual sex. This is something that most fathers provide their children without giving it much thought. As they say in parts of Sacramento, this is what happens when niggas have something to DO with their kids. In Rodger’s case, daddy was more interested in ostentatiously boning starlets like he was Jack Kennedy, and the brat got hurt and resentful when he couldn’t successfully copy his old man in spite of his family wealth and the toys it bought him.

Parents can’t magically stop deeply troubled children from being troubled, but if they’re paying attention they can notice the worst behavior early on and nip it in the bud. Rodger wasn’t a budding serial killer, and neither is Minassian. Guys like these are too impulsive for that. Rodger went on YouTube to yell at society before shooting up Isla Vista; Minassian posted that ridiculous “reporting for duty” bullshit about destroying all the Chads and Stacys on Facebook. These are seat-of-the-pants hotheads with one wad to blow and shit for operational security. But they run their loose mouths because they mean for their attacks to be one-time deals, spectacular blazes of kamikaze glory.

This means that they’re relatively easy to intercept at critical moments when they’re stewing in rage. The problem here is that those close to them don’t really try to engage. They’d rather go hang out with cool people than minister to shut-in dorks. Beyond some point, and we’re probably well past it, these violent outbursts are driven by social alienation that the rest of us do our best to ignore.

In our new gilded age, there’s a strong socioeconomic component to it as well. For millions, maybe even tens of millions, of Americans, the 2016 presidential election was a standoff between feminism and masculinism, between shrew mommy and punk daddy. It was inevitable that a large number of aggrieved, sexually frustrated men would vote for Donald Trump as a psychosexual reaction to a mainstream environment of hostile, preening misandry. This mainstream environment of misandry really does exist, especially for lower-class and socioeconomically marginalized native-stock men. Making fun of floundering men for their difficulty navigating deliberately trashed labor markets is not a strategy for social stability, but for certain shitheads it’s quite satisfying. This was an important psychosexual subtext of all the bitching about the “white working class.”

It shouldn’t be too hard to see how abandoning psychologically vulnerable young men to whatever hostile job markets and internet communities they manage to find will bring out latent behavioral problems in some of them, perhaps with violent, disastrous consequences. There’s no way to prevent every random nutcase with a festering grievance from going on a rampage, but the way we’ve been running our societies we’re really asking for it. We’ve got popular cultures awash in crude, easy sex serving as weak veneers for social cultures that have extremely dysfunctional ways of discussing sex, all unfolding in a neoliberal hellscape whose sole remaining social control on individual behavior, it seems, is an intensifying legal campaign to suppress prostitution. Congress can’t institute Medicare for All, but it sure can band together to enact legislation to fuck up the internet and make whores die. It’s worth wondering who’s blackmailing them and in what numbers to turn them all into structural Robert Pickton. We have to account for a lot more than scorned woman Debbie Stabenow and disingenuous Willie Brown mistress/congenital freak Kamala Harris.

Our van Channer dipshit up in Toronto is really just a particularly large and destructive piece of debris blowing around in the whirlwind that we now reap. This storm has been coming for a long time, and it isn’t possibly over yet.

The more you know, the less you think

Oh hell yes, NBC again. We’ve been quite nasty and naughty for watching that garbage, Mr. Craig. No, that isn’t quite right. Gateside Downlow never did a thing in an airport bathroom that was wrong enough for that network. In that spirit, then, I’d like to thank you all for, coming out today to read these essays.

This one is about Donald Trump, in the sense of why in hell we have him as our president when we could instead have returned to our national tradition of electing men who are not at all divisive or shallow or hateful or overly made-up, like Ronald Reagan. The Russia horseshit, of course, is insufferable. I spent a full month in Russia, most of it with host families, so I do not care at all for the endless helping of vicious and bigoted and yet absolutely ridiculous nonsense about the unique savant deviousness of the Kremlin and its stooges, coming as it consistently does from idiots who don’t know the basement where Beria was shot like a whimpering dog from a highway across Siberia built on the bones of political prisoners. I know what the fuck I’m talking about when I’m talking about Russia, so I have no patience for any of the functionally anti-intellectual assholes who keep spouting off about elaborate Kremlin plots with absolutely no regard for the truth or for what they’re doing to the American political discourse.

If we want to talk about cultural contexts that enabled Donald Trump, we should talk about NBC. That’s the one that matters. The Kremlin didn’t give the Donald a fucking A-List prime-time slot to play a successful businessman on a big three legacy network when he already had a well-established history as a fuckup and shameless cheat in his actual businesses. Let’s be real here. What did Russia have to do with that? Jack shit is what. That happened in an exclusively American cultural context. Big American money helped this bumptious fraud rehabilitate his big American name. Russian mobsters and fellow-travelers fronted Trump money when banks in the United States refused to do business with him, on account of his aforementioned serial fraud and delinquency, but so did Deutschebank, and he could have taken this money for operations not involving his playing a captain of industry on the boob tube.

Every half-assedly center-left liberal whinger is all salty about Russian troll-farm operatives supposedly catfishing as Americans to brainwash American shut-ins with brain genius agitprop over the internet. Almost never do these same butthurt Hillbots have anything critical to say about NBC for spending years rehabilitating Donald Trump’s public image as a business visionary. This is what the gullible mean by his business experience. They get this shit from television, and from the stupider varieties at that. They aren’t reading about his history operating a flagship casino and a turnkey commercial air shuttle, both of these emblazoned with his name; if they were, they’d know that he ran both of these businesses into the ground. The eighties are ancient history; these idiots’ idea of Trump’s business background is his barking “you’re fired” at other hired actors whom they foolishly assume to be Trump’s actual business subordinates.

These are not ones to inspire confidence in self-government, but it was NBC that gave them the terrible idea that firing underperforming employees by barking “you’re fired” at them in front of colleagues is anything but an invitation for a civil suit for workplace harassment and, with some bad luck, a workplace massacre. NBC gave probably tens of millions of Americans the batshit crazy idea that this is an honorable and prudent way to run a business, and a significant number of these viewers voted in 2016. NBC is the cultural source of the modern, nay, postmodern idea that it’s okay to verbally abuse terminated employees for mere underperformance, that the help will be too meek and whipped to do anything about it.

These ugly tendencies exist in US business on their own, of course, because the private sector is largely unregulated in practice and capital and management are given the license to go feral, but in meatspace these abuses are sometimes curtailed by employees who refuse to submit to mistreatment and mitigated by employers who want to be decent for decency’s sake, not to mention their desire not to get Scott Dekraaied by the terminally disgruntled. NBC specifically set the public example that the latter sort of restraint and self-control is unnecessary in positions of workplace authority, that being a raging asshole to subordinates is cause to be proud of one’s professionalism, not cause for shame. It gave this ugly workplace predation dangerous social proof.

I heard nothing that I can recall from West Wing liberals at the time about how coarsening and degrading this example was. They all pretty much ignored whatever ugly impulses Trump was indulging on NBC, and they certainly didn’t blame NBC for giving him a platform. Now that Trump is using the presidency to trash-talk other politicians and newsies, most of them in no way subordinate to him under the Constitution, these same Uber liberals are totally apeshit. They’re on the warpath because he’s irreverently trashing their cherished high Sorkinian norms and doing so with unabashed glee.

This is all Russia’s fault. Duh. Who else would be behind this? Russia brainwashed every mentally ill computer shut-in in the land. This derangement has nothing at all to do with all the liberal sellouts who left town to chase their fortunes and are too squeamish to visit these left-behind losers or have them over for dinner, except maybe at Christmas. Every creative-class SuperZIP sellout who abandoned family or old friends to whatever the hell was going on back home among life’s losers is now upset with Russia for mentally reprogramming the loser pool to flip a presidential election. Russia is the mail-order scam artist who bamboozled that great-aunt no one ever goes back to Kalkaska to visit, the one who’s always been a bit funny around the edges and besides, Adams Morgan is more happening anyway, and that’s why we have a problematic president.

The same dipshits who abandoned their families and communities to whoever showed enough interest to reach out, possibly including Roy Orbisonovich cybersinging for the lonely, as if that even matters, are obsessed with The West Wing as crucial escapism in our troubled times. This shit really is just a big game for them. Josiah Bartlet did nothing while a federal prisoner who had petitioned him for clemency on a drug conviction committed suicide behind bars, all because Dear Mr. President was worried about his poll numbers and his need to triangulate for political advantage with the high-turnout swing-state fash. Excuse me, are we supposed to admire these craven pieces of shit for their manners? Dennis Rader could have manners when he wasn’t killing people, too.

From time to time I wistfully fantasized about a Rex Tillerson presidency because, even though ExxonMobil is an unethical company and Tillerson was a shitty Secretary of State, he spoke and acted like an actual businessman, not a clown-ass showman like his boss or a Stepford Wife junior affiliate promoter numbnuts like Jared and Ivanka. This wasn’t one of my prouder moments of political thought, and I knew as much at the time, but I was sick of all the useless family organization motherfuckers accreted to the Trump organization talking themselves up like they knew their asses from a hole in the ground and equally sick of all the uncritical free press they got just for talking their own bogus story. Donald’s shitting on sacred Washington norms of decorum, on the other hand, I still like. Curtsying like a good girl to every passing shithead in town who happens to have a title is shameful, and I’m relieved every time Trump ruffles the feathers of one of these amoral social climbers by refusing to play their elaborate, unwinnable games.

If the choice was in fact between him and Hillz, as I’ve had exasperated liberals lecturing me, a heinous 45th President was inevitable, so at least we’ve got one who regularly shoots himself in the foot straight from his own mouth. The current Ronny Jackson thing, for example, is harmless good fun. The president appointed a hot-tempered pill-pushing day-drinker to run the VA, and Jon Tester is up on Capitol Hill publicly telling him, like hell am I allowing you to do that. President Clinton the Second would have let Doc Boozy keep putting in his thirty years or whatever the fuck he fancied in government “service” as long as he didn’t publicly embarrass anyone. It’s unbelievable that Jackson suddenly went off the rails when Trump took over after serving several successive predecessors without incident, and it’s unbelievable that Barack Obama and his staff didn’t know that the guy was a walking clusterfuck.

By the way, anyone remember bald schmuck and Secret Service bumper car boi Marc Connolly? That fucker was another alcoholic White House lifer. Real safe harbor for lushes they’re running, and not anything that Trump started, either. Connolly, the second in command of the White House protective detail, didn’t get fired until the horrified newjacks who tried to give him a field sobriety test went all the way up the chain of command to Joe Clancy, the fucking Director, the one person in a hundred around there who had the resolve to make the buck stop on his damn desk, to blow the whistle on their watch commander for ordering them to give Connolly a pass.

The really cool thing about these lifers who are given passes to drive into a Jersey barrier during an active perimeter breach investigation or to practice medicine while drunk is that the politicians and aides they serve make every one of them look like St. Francis of Assisi. These out-of-control lushes work for deviants who make them look like the Buddha. There are reasons why Trump is being raked over the coals for porking Stormy and not for his flights on the Lolita Express.

NBC glorified these fucking dipshits with a prime-time drama all about their high political craft years before it glorified the future Oaf of Office as a great businessman with a prime-time show in which he really didn’t do anything but yell at other celebrities at a conference table. I must not be enough of a winner to handle that much reality.

Nah, never mind that. NBC is all right. The brands are good. We all know this.

“Mother Nature will take care of herself” and other excellent Earth Day observances

Go shorty, it’s your, we’re gonna party, like it’s your, etc. What did I do for Earth Day? Jack shit, mostly. I picked up some bottles that had been littered on the roadside, but only for the deposits, I drove too damn much, I ate a big-ass pile of Safeway Chinese takeout out of an even bigger-ass plastic container, and I cut back some blackberries that were crowding out the good shit in a bit of wildland that I’ve very quietly adopted, really just to have something to do. Make that two activities out of four that were not ecological clusterfucks. I also went to mass in North Affluenza Heights, but that’s only tangentially relevant, as a way of explaining some of the excessive driving.

Even last night I thought a hot take to observe the day commemorating our increasingly hot earth might be in order. Then I woke up in my Focus, parked across the freeway from some still unhealed 140-year-old hydraulic gold mining scars, and got my White ass lucid just in time to tune into the latter half of Beth Ruyak”s interview with this fool, who, along with the Pacific Crest Trail quarterlife crisis lady, is responsible for this mealymouthed piece of faux-empathetic crap about personal responsibility for White People.

I’m originally from Palo Alto, but Steve Almond is from Palo Alto enough to have graduated from Gunn and then from Wesleyan. His entire family is named for California’s most notoriously thirsty nut, and that’s fucking poetic. I didn’t think to look up this dipshit’s background until Ruyak mentioned that he’d be going to an event in his old hometown, but it doesn’t take much research to see how unsurprising it is that this motherfucker grew up under the motherfucking Tree. Simpering, twee, overly earnest, hypocritical twits like Steve Almond are a prime Palo Alto export, and there’s enough coals-to-Newcastle bullshit in America’s SuperZIPs that they’re a leading import from other dynamic, forward-looking parts of the country responsible for two thirds of the American GDP as well.

This is why Almond lives in Allington, I mean, Arlington, now, the one in Massachusetts. These fuckheads never diffuse in a normal geographic pattern, as one would expect of any fluid. One would expect some of them to end up going to Sac State and settling in Visalia, because that’s all, you know, kind of close and Massachusetts is hella far away. They just have to go to good schools, after all. The funny thing is, they never actually go to either of North America’s good schools, specifically, Ryerson or Trinity Western. We have standards for our sheriffs, standards that they’ll never meet as long as they keep throwing furniture at the floor-to-ceiling window in the arrivals hall. Tsawwassen is a great place to take that hog for an evening spin, you know.

These assholes write off all but maybe thirty or fifty counties in a nation of over three thousand as places suitable for an undergraduate education, and then they go around accusing everyone else of being insular. Yeah, great logic there, guys. It’s inconceivable what they possibly do to offend their fellow citizens in the rest of the country.

The NYT Dear Sugars link above is, like its columnists, rich. The premise is that a conflicted member of the White Community is writing in to fish for permission to cut off her (his?) grown daughter, and maybe the other family twentager brat, and Almond and his writing partner Strayed (are these even real people?) of course say, yes, well, I mean, as long as it’s about your children’s maturation and you’re doing it in their interests, not in your own narrow interests as eager empty-nesters, then, sure, it’s cool to make the brats struggle and suffer to learn some empathy, just make sure to calibrate it so it isn’t cruel and unusual, and also make sure that you and your spouse are unanimous about it so the brats can’t leverage you against one another.

These are two professional writers, one of them with an MFA, being paid by a major newspaper and an NPR affiliate to condescendingly lecture upper-middle-class parents about how they have to be cruel to be kind to their children. Cheryl Strayed tells these parents to “give” their grown children “the gift of independence and self-sufficiency” which conveniently means no more gifts that impose any financial costs on the parents, and to let them struggle because they’ll learn shit about personal responsibility and being adults. Strayed’s own idea of young adulthood included getting divorced, through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to find herself, and fucking some random dirtbag she’d just met in his yurt in Ashland. None of this would have been possible had there not been thousands of other people along the way, presumably excluding the derelict asshat with the yurt, holding down the steady jobs needed to keep supply lines and other crucial services available to the general public on demand.

Like so many other through- and section-hikers, this bitch thinks she’s Meriwether Lewis because she didn’t die of starvation on a heavily trafficked, well-maintained public trail, much of it within a day’s hike of civilization. She’s here to yell at us for coddling our grown children and not making them learn about personal responsibility the hard way, never mind that her own brush with hard times in her own twenties was with that no-account Ashland bullshitter on the floor of his yurt. Sure, she wants the conflicted, guilt-ridden parents to give their brats some notice of their impending financial responsibility to the elders, but she publicly bragged about divorcing her husband and walking a thousand miles to fuck some irresponsible hippie loser in a yurt. I haven’t read the book, but I know these fuckers, and if that guy she shagged was a responsible, productive member of society, I’m Herbert Hoover. Of all the people who could give others advice on acting like a grown-up, how the fuck did the Times find her? It’s like having Rob Ford yell at passersby for being crack-smoking drunks.

Steve Almond’s contributions to this body of advice were about how Snowflake and company will never develop empathy if they don’t personally struggle in the fashion of other, lesser people. He wants it to be an educational experience, like the Peace Corps or Teach for America or a semester abroad. I’m not exaggerating:

Remember, convenience is the gateway drug to entitlement. It drains people of their empathy, because it fosters the illusion that they can proceed through life without hardship. This makes it harder for them to imagine others who are facing hardship. This is important to remember, because your kids are almost guaranteed to react with petulance, defiance and/or guilt provocation. They’ll feel betrayed and probably push you away. But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is that they’ll struggle in ways that they haven’t had to previously. As parents, our instinct is to protect our children from this kind of unhappiness. But when we try to shield our kids from the imperfections of the world, they become imprisoned in childhood….Too much of what we call modern parenting has become devoted to the false notion that we can protect our children from every danger posed by the world. We can’t. We can, at best, help them develop the tools (intellectual, emotional, psychological) to contend with these dangers. And by dangers, I don’t mean gun violence or climate change. I mean the dangers that lurk within us — the doubts and anxieties that hold us back.

Maybe this simpering asshole can struggle in ways that he hasn’t previously with the hardship of a squad of Southie shanty micks dunking his soft egghead ass in the Charles River. I’m sure this putz went to Wesleyan for the struggle. Since I’m the homeless one here, it’s germane of me to point out that tuition at Wesleyan costs enough to buy a house instead, and also that the threat of street violence is not just in some overly anxious fool’s head. I’ve personally been a victim of it. Hence Mr. Almond’s calling to a refreshment of vigga in the Challs Riva.

This out-of-touch Palo Altan turned Masshole inevitably has thoughts on other people’s “stories” and how we can react to them, and Cap Radio inevitably has a slot for him to air these thoughts. If his parents had bought him a shitty fixer-upper in Pittsfield we probably wouldn’t be hearing from him, but they sent him to Wesleyan, so here we fucking are. One of his great insights on Insight was about how to talk to hostile MAGA chuds without hurting our own feelings, as discovered in the course of a stupid political argument with his father-in-law about climate change. It was the father-in-law who blurted out, “Mother Nature can take care of herself.” If we feel like having some fucking backbone, we can always call bullshit on climate change denialists by telling them that if we set a pile of leaves on fire in the middle of their living room, the air quality will take care of itself. These disingenuous shit-talkers don’t want to live downwind from a smelter with no pollution controls; they just want someone else to bear all the costs.

The problem is that this is exactly the case for dear-hearts-and-gentle-people woke baes like Steve Almond. They’re just as hypocritical. Climate change activists are basically as hypocritical and profligate as their finances allow. Let’s not pretend that Almond doesn’t fly and drive way more than the American average. He’s an upper-middle-class guy from Palo Alto who lives in a nice suburb of Boston and is out on a book tour. This motherfucker isn’t doing his part to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Good God, how stupid are we? He’s an above-baseline part of the problem himself.

The father-in-law sounds like a combative jerk. I know guys like him, and they’re a pain in the ass. So why the fuck is it our duty to respect the “stories that they’re hearing?” If they’re using stories, i.e., Fox News talking points, that are functionally psychotic, it should be a matter of basic self-respect to declare that they’re full of shit and that these “stories” are every bit as invalid as a Wesley Willis story about kicking Batman’s ass. Now, that’s a Wesleyan education I can support. Take it straight from the guy who got kicked out of Genesis on Western. That much is a true story, though, or could be. The entire biosphere being inherently immune to all human inputs is bogus, but Steve Almond is too chickenshit to tell his father-in-law as much because that might cause family drama and upset some people. Instead, he’d like to commiserate about the feelings of woke liberals who have cherished racists in their lives whom they don’t want to upset. Yeah, that’s who I always turn to when I’ve got questions about race relations in the United States: a rich white guy in Boston. It’s not like he’d ever blame it all on the Irish.

Maybe Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond can do an episode and a companion column about how to deal with college-educated liberals who can’t imagine that their own politics are problematic. Maybe I can go drink some drain cleaner.

I miss Lent already. All the wrong shit wakes up this time of year, and the guilt of breaking the Lenten fast has nothing on the projectile penance of listening to simpering overpaid twits pretend that they’re doing something meaningful for the earth before they board a jet all the way back to Logan. It’s bad enough that these shitheads have no particular principles by which they’re willing to actually live; it’s worse that we have to listen to them ostentatiously pretend that they do, and then be badgered to pay NPR for this excellent programming.

What’s going on, Devin, is that someone else is paying for that shit. Fat Cracka hain’t got the cash for any of that.

Stirring the Bernays sauce into the /pol pot, volume two: no time for a eulogy

Our civic ruin will be our national disorientation from observable reality. Shit, phrasing that in the future tense was overly charitable and optimistic. We’re already living deeply and abundantly in that land of make-believe, unto our own walking damnation. We already have that inability or unwillingness or timid hesitancy, or whatever the hell it is, since no one dares speak of it, to distinguish reality from fantasy and truth from falsehood. We already can’t or, worse, won’t recognize the deliberately blurred lines on the edges of the real world that we arrogantly presume ourselves to inhabit. We’re already incredulous or even angry when confronted with evidence that we’ve lost our bearings in an onslaught of marketing copy, stage management, scripting, and other manipulations of the genuine into the bogus.

For God’s sake, we take “reality TV” seriously as a form of reality. It’s absurdly, nay, frighteningly easy to rile up people who should know better by pointing out that “The Biggest Loser” is a crude product-placement psyop or that “90 Day Fiancé” had someone behind the scenes instructing the tightly wound Yankee dork and his Filipina sweetheart fight over his nauseated refusal to eat of the whole hog that her father had barbecued in his honor, and for that matter that maybe, hopefully, the producers paid for the hog as they would for any other prop if they were reputable. We’ve got more than a few people in our midst who are so sick that they get sore when they’re told that maybe the schadenfreude is all a big show. Hint: that’s what we commonly call television programs. *Defiantly wound-up John McLaughlin voice* WRONG! It’s “Show, Show, SHOW, heah we GO!”

This week’s show is about a recently dead famous lady who never would have been particularly famous in a civically healthy society in the first place. If Barbara Bush were forgettable, we might instead have forgotten about her, as I had over the course of her retirement. I knew who she was, of course, but I didn’t give her much thought, compared, say, to her sex pest of a husband when he was belatedly revealed as an incorrigible first-strike rump-patter. But we are not allowed to forget. We are forced to remember.

Does this mean that we’re encouraged to remember her honestly. Lol. Hell no, bitch. We’re conditioned to remember her fondly. That is, falsely. This is why we turn off CNN. Ten minutes of Don Lemon moderating a roundtable discussion of what a great auxiliary stateswoman she was while I killed time waiting to walk to the light rail station was more than I could have stood if I’d given it more than half of my attention. That bumptious rich bitch had no abiding principles. Her career testifies to her ethical vacuity. She was brought up in a wealthy Connecticut Yankee family and married into a wealthier one. By all accounts, she never rebuked her husband for his bad acts as president or her sons for their even worse acts, respectively, as POTUS and governor of Florida turned presidential candidate. Please, clap.

If Barbara Bush had wanted the benefits of discretion and privacy accorded to a private citizen, she could have remained a fucking private citizen. She didn’t. She made a show of having “causes,” notably including reading to children, with the full expectation of receiving full praise for having a social bone in her Social body. Yeah, well guess what, white girl? Opening oneself up to public praise by deliberately entering into and remaining in public life means opening oneself to criticism, too. There’s a legitimate argument to be made against savaging genuinely private people for not doing enough to rebuke the bad acts of their public loved ones, but that was never what Barbara Bush was. She was deliberately public as first lady. Her husband and her entire scummy family used her calculatingly to humanize their looting operation. Message I Care needed a pleasant helpmeet, and he had one. This was a fucking PR operation.

But isn’t it worthy to encourage literacy and to read to children? Good God, how fucking gullible are we? Any engaged and functionally literate parent who isn’t in a constant, unrelenting state of exhaustion reads to the little ones. On the Sacramento light rail system, this is an example of niggas who have something to DO with their kids. #TeshTips: a fat cracka can be a nigga, too, although this fat cracka is a childless bachelor. We never fucking needed some Social Register grandstander with a spy of a husband to encourage us to do something that a supermajority of us with children in our lives were already doing whenever we had the time, energy, and basic ability.

Besides, homegirl was in it for the praise. That much is bleeding obvious to anyone who gives a bit of thought to how this shit all works. Just yesterday I talked at some length to a batshit crazy guy on the light rail who was carrying on, inter alia, about “how many dead people do you think we left behind in Rancho Cordova.” It ain’t me did that, lawd, it ain’t me; by God’s grace, I wasn’t even in Rancho, and I told my boy as much. Did I do that in the expectation that the entire mainstream media apparatus would praise me for my great virtue? Of course not. I don’t even know when I’d have taken the time to mention it in here had I not wanted to show what a disingenuous, attention-whoring dipshit operation this whole thing is, not to mention how manipulative it is. Every politician scheming to defund the schools and the preschools and enrichment programs deploys some basically useless family member to make a show of truly, deeply giving a shit. As above, Message: I care.

Hell, this aw look at me I read to children in front of television cameras thing set the precedent for Melania Trump’s disgustingly insincere campaign against bullying. If she actually cared about that, she’d go into a cloister and take a vow of silence. Of course that campaign came from the one first lady who totally looks like she goes on Snapchat to encourage teen girls to commit suicide. But that’s what we get for praising women for “devoting” themselves to “causes” just because their husbands are high elected officials.

The one good thing we might have gotten out of a Clinton V 2.1 presidency would have been Bill Clinton’s “causes” as first first gentleman or whatever the fuck we’d have called him. He’s so shameless, so nasty and naughty, as Larry Craig said in a spirit not having anything to do with jealousy, that his “cause” would obviously have been nothing but getting his own willie slick.

We were expected to worship that blue blood bitch while she was alive. Now that she’s dead, we’re supposed to feel great sympathy with her schmuck of a husband and the psychopath and the hapless dork she has as sons, an entire nation united in grief and respect. Dissing this useless story-talking broad in death is officially uncouth and untoward. We all face the grim reaper in due course of time. Would we want those who survive us to speak ill of us in our fresh absence and upset our relatives in their time of mourning?

Note that this is all about the Bush family, an obscenely wealthy and powerful clan, and entirely not about any of the rest of us, almost all of us poor, powerless, and vulnerable by comparison. It’s germane of us to ask when, exactly, we’ll get some fucking consideration. We’ve got claims against this scumbag family as an entire nation. No matter the moral justifications for invading Iraq, we fucked that up. I’m not here to dispute that Saddam Hussein was a classic erstwhile CIA-allied unsavory, but that thug held shit together where our boys and girls did not. Heck of a job, Bremmie. W then got Americans needlessly killed stateside with his shitty emergency planning. His mother, who might have shown some fucking tact or decency or modesty or deference towards the thousands of hurricane refugees that her vicious idiot cokehead dry-drunk son failed to protect, instead crowed from her position of lifelong privilege that living indefinitely in a stadium was good enough for them because they were poors.

If any of the rest of us are worried about what those we leave behind will say about us, we’d do well to consider the possibility that we haven’t been involved in anything like that. I did some volunteer reconstruction work on the Mississippi Coast after Katrina, and I didn’t invite news cameras along to glorify me. The average politician gets thousands of times the recognition for a thousandth the work, and I only spent about a month on the Gulf Coast all told. I feel a bit gross for tooting my own horn even to this modest extent, but it’s germane. I wasn’t a glory whore, and no one I worked with in Mississippi was a glory whore.

As that old standard from the Canadian songbook encourages us, we’d be wise to consider what we’d do if today was our last day. Don’t look at me like that; explain BTO. I’m planning to go out and weed some blackberries after I get done with this screed, just me, a pair of pruning shears, and an unidentified plot of public land. The point is that most of us will have people saying decent things about us after our deaths because most of us lead decent lives. We don’t need the entire media apparatus to preach our great virtue every time one of our relatives dies.

Not recognizing that the reverence for the Bush family is an operant conditioning campaign by abject mercenaries is an alarming example of national decline. We got rid of the nobles and royalty in 1776 to prevent exactly this sort of court sycophancy. The framers of the US Constitution rightly recognized the ugly servility and civic rot emanating from the compulsory worship and privileging of hereditary grandees. It doesn’t matter how religious or secular it is, at least from a purely civic perspective (the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches were notoriously corrupted by European hereditary rule in medieval and Renaissance times); it’s some bad, bad shit.

This is a family that is able, willing, and eager to buy its own praise wholesale. All this fawning over the dear departed matriarch Barbara is the equivalent of an ad campaign implying that the purchase of some truck will make a man sexy or a trip to some Indian casino will be a glamorous adventure in the presence of the preternaturally sexy. None of this stuff is aboveboard. We’re reckless fools to ignore the furtive hand movements behind the curtain.

It’s been said that the Devil’s most dangerous and effective wile is to convince people that he doesn’t exist. All the creeps and servile mercenaries behind this Bush worship want us to assume that they don’t exist. They want us to assume that the outpouring of nostalgic emotion is genuine, spontaneous, and heartfelt, that there’s nothing stage-managed about it. I’m normally one to find the St. Michael’s Prayer a bit uncouth, but all I need is a quick, horrified look at these people and the realization of how many gullible marks they’ve deceived to have no doubt that it’s for them.

They can fuck off with any solemn demand that we respect the dead. They don’t respect the dead themselves. The Bushes executed convicts for political advantage and then gloated over their deaths. No one writing their hagiographies has the self-respect to confront any of this. The only fucking reason Barbara Bush is being praised so effusively in memoriam is that she’s a Bush. That’s it. Her family organization bought all the good press.

Spare us the fucking calls for solemn decorum in a solemn time. They’d be exhorting us to sing a different tune indeed if she’d been Barbara al-Assad or Barbara Al-Awlaki. We’re still too Protestant as a nation to publicly pray for mercy upon the dead, and God forbid we call for God’s mercy upon some departed member of our pantheon of demons. It would be impossible to publicly say a Rosary for Adolf Hitler in utmost sincerity and magnanimity without being excoriated as a hideous troll. It would be considered gross even to discuss Hitler in universalist tones of aw, man, don’t sweat it, he’s gotta be with Jesus by now.

Come back with the demands that we solemnly respect the dead when the American elites stops conditioning its subjects to demand God’s damnation upon long-dead enemies and every passing violent criminal. Come back with this happy horseshit when we’ve stopped being a constitutionally diabolical nation up to our highest levels of power. Come back when we’re credibly a nation of mercy, not vengeful projectile justice with all the precision of scattershot from a shotgun wielded by a common drunk.

No, I’m not here to get into the weeds of Barbara Bush’s spiritual fate. Barb’s gone. She’s no longer our problem, or wouldn’t be if all these paid shills would shut the fuck up and stop talking the story of her great virtue. Her entire family is our national problem, in rather the same way that the Bourbons and the Romanovs were national problems in France and Russia. The conspiracy theory that the Bushes gave Mark Hinckley the idea to assassinate Ronald Reagan may not be accurate, but it’s fun, and it’s a matter of overwhelming public record that that family has done worse with absolutely no remorse.

Personally, I prefer to pray for the deserving. I have fairly low standards, but the Bushes are a lower sort of low, and I don’t mind leaving them to the collective wits of those they’ve bought. I’m too proudly American for any of this God Save the Queen horseshit. Karen Garcia aptly describes this whole spectacle as an elevation of Emily Post above free speech. I say, tie Emily to the post, make sure that James Traficant is satisfied with the width of his bottoms, and hand him the flogging whip.

Then again, neither am I here to shitpost pictures of the smiling hot dog dancing on Barbara Bush’s grave. That’s still a popular custom vis-à-vis Lady Thatcher on the British and Commonwealth left, and it’s a fun one, but I’m saving it for Henry Kissinger. Given all the disgusting, shameful things that the paid hagiographers will say about that remorseless war criminal when he finally kicks the bucket, I’ll have to be there with Franks for Hank.