Down on the Motherfucking Farm

Strangers often assume that I went to Stanford when they see my ballcap. It’s a fair point, but the cap was a gift. All I feel like saying about the details is that I have some family connections to their old school, not mine, and if these details seem so compelling, you’re free to figure them out for your own damn self. Legacy admission? It ain’t me, lawd, and sweet Jesus it ain’t me with that dang drawl of an acksayant after a chahldhood in El Cerrito and shit.

The colors happen to closely align with those of, you guessed it, *MY OLD SCHOOL*, whose swag I in fact would be ashamed to wear, because *GO DIPLOMATS!* For real, I’m routinely on the verge of buying F&M gear out of pocket just to hurt feelings. As they say on the SEPTA 61 bus, I ain’t gonna do any damage, but I’m gonna cut that bitch. I guess I’ve got an awfully fancy education for someone who’s voluntarily stepped onto the 61, but remember, education isn’t the same thing as intelligence, because it’s only with luck and usually some countermeasures that the two overlap.

The Stanford cap, then, doesn’t embarrass me precisely because I didn’t go there. It seems to be my one good cap these days, the only one that I haven’t stained and halfway worn out with excessive farm work and hiking, and it roughly matches my red sweater, which seems to be my only current sweater, period. Heh. Period. Red. Huh huh. Bunghole de Cornholio. Etc.

The Big Dick again Goes Hard. The manager of a diner outside Pittsburgh just asked me whether that was a Stanford hat. I wasn’t expecting anyone there to have a clue (ooh, did you just get one in the last paragraph? I did, too!). I didn’t catch all of what she told me after I confirmed her guess, but I’m thinking she was probably familiar with Stanford on account of the athletics. This is the school that admitted Chelsea Clinton but actually tries to fill its teams with reasonably literate, cultured, well-mannered youth, so that isn’t the worst reason to come across one’s interest. I don’t like to be the pretentious, arrogant asshole who goes around pronouncing others my intellectual inferiors; let’s just say that it doesn’t sidwell with me; but that smug, dimwitted, Arendt-abusing horse’s ass is my fucking intellectual inferior. Oh, yes, I’m sure she was admitted to her fine alma mater on sole and exclusive account of her academic and personal merit, and that I’m St. Thomas Aquinas.

There’s presumably a socioeconomic level above my parents’ at which legacy admissions start to leaven the matriculant pool, even at the Junior University. Far be it from me to disbelieve in the Steyer Shortcut, the Gates Go-Around (to go around the usual gates!), or the Clinton Cutoff. Hillary’s impertinent comment about how her buddy-old pal Mike Bloomberg is a real billionaire was actually obnoxiously pertinent to her gross worldview and to the no less gross corruption that it infused into her 2016 campaign. That’s a bad sign right there: looking back wistfully on 2008 as a time of Clintonian modesty. Most professional observers seem to think that the Clintons are worth mid to high eight figures, but they obviously punch well above their weight, due to the whole Clintonworld government-access thing (public service my fat white ass), so I consider it reasonable to assume low nine figures as a ballpark. I don’t know what the fuck the Trumps are worth, maybe more, maybe less, but they’ve got the presidency now, so regardless of how deep that clown crew is into debt, it’s golden for generations now, and for roughly the same reasons that the Clintons are.

The rich aren’t different from you and me and the Sanderses just because they have more money. That sounds nice, but it just isn’t so. Bernie and Jane have basically the same middle-class values as any number of doctors, nurses, cops, electricians, railroad engineers, and engineer engineers. A combination of thrift, decent luck in the housing market, and high earnings boosts plenty of people into a net worth in the low millions by retirement age. It’s harder for most people today than it was in the midcentury (thanks, guys!), but it still isn’t out of the question for young people who have high earnings and low debt, especially low student debt. (Of course, the relative percentages can still get bad enough to fuck a society up, and we’re already there.)

The Clintons were on track to top out as fairly run-of-the-mill yuppie shitheads, probably in the low millions, until that irresistibly charming little mischiefmaker with the infamously wandering schlong wormed his way into the presidency against an opposition divided between Giant Sucking Sound and Message I Care. That was when Billary was able to diversify from mercenary law, commodities speculation, and two-bit Arkie real estate cons into the good stuff. Wee Billy got the two of them into some legal debt towards the end of the administration by upsetting Gateside Downlow, J. Denny Dundiddly, Friar Dorkemada, and the whole crew with that little something-something with the plump Jewess, but that was perfectly easy and quick to overcome. They were the fucking Clintons. Retired from the White House, they were also freed from the meddlesome, sexually preoccupied oversight of their enemies in Congress, who incidentally cast aspersions on them for their seedier stunts, like their Lincoln Bedroom payola guesthouse deal.

The Clintons have successfully slashed and burned their way into a rarefied stratum in which the prevailing values get really warped and grotesque. Theirs have always been shit, even for the least reputable and most amoral swath of yuppies, but since their time in the White House, or at the latest a few months after their departure, they’ve been wealthy enough to amass riches halfway commensurate with their own avarice. Okay, half is probably a huge exaggeration, but I don’t feel like showing up out of nowhere with a word like “hundredthway.”

This is not a normal environment. The ambient levels of irresponsibility and unaccountability are stunning. Most financial millionaires have regular contact on a more or less equal basis with normal people from a fairly wide swath of the socioeconomic spectrum. They have no real choice in the matter, even it they’d like one: if they tried to buy their way out of this exposure to reality, they’d quickly go broke and ruin themselves. By somewhere around the Clintons’ level, the wealthy are able to permanently surround themselves with servants and sycophants, to bully or directly buy their way out of legal trouble, and generally secede from real life. Most financial millionaires would be aghast if they peeked inside.

A normal, healthy, sensible, well-balanced person would realize by somewhere in the mid-seven figures of net worth that that’s enough money to live securely and well, that more money might be helpful but that the existing foundation is rock solid and it’s worth giving some thanks. Billionaires, at least public ones, never seem content to enjoy their fucking money. They keep butting into our business. The DeVoses have their charter school hobbyhorse, while the Gateses lit a fire under everyone’s ass about Common Core. Hizzoner Michael Bloomberg couldn’t help himself when the poories upset him by drinking too much soda. Sheldon Adelson strives to be God. Tom Steyer has a compulsion to somehow unseat Donald Trump. Various obscenely rich shitheads like to get up on their high horses about bogus schemes like the flat tax.

What’s striking about Donald Trump in this context is his modesty. He didn’t claim a right to rule the rest of us on account of his wealth or credentials. He laid out a platform, incoherent and contradictory though it was, and encouraged Americans to give him a shot. When he did refer to his own wealth, it was often to admit that he knew the whole game was rigged because he’d worked it and watched it from the inside. If any rich jerk showed up on the political scene without an air of entitlement, it was Trump. This was refreshing.

Hillary Clinton sure as hell didn’t do that. Her entire campaign was premised on the assumption that everyone had a solemn duty to vote for her because she was the most qualified person in the race, how can you possibly not see that, and also a woman, you misogynistic prick. Between these pretensions and the Bernie ratfuck, she forfeited every possible residual bit of goodwill on the part of a huge-ass swath of the voters she needed to win the general election.

The class angle only made her look worse. She screwed over an opponent who was a normal guy with ambitions as normal as any presidential candidate’s and then made that crass comment about how her buddy Bloomberg was a real billionaire, in contrast to the poseur Trump. Okay, but what the fuck is that supposed to mean? I didn’t figure that Trump was a real billionaire myself, or that he necessarily had a positive net worth, but he looked less arrogant and more public-spirited than Hillary, who came with plenty of disreputable family baggage of her own. The possibility that a famous blowhard was bullshitting us about his wealth wasn’t going to cost him my vote under circumstances that included the grotesque corruption, rapacity, and spite of his main opponent.

The ruling class had obviously decided that Trump was a usurper; the bias was unmistakable. Watching him be accused of being worth less than he claimed, i.e., not totally loaded, just super loaded, didn’t help the bipartisan establishment’s case. For the same reasons, it was totally whatthefuckular to watch these stuck-up pieces of shit throw under the bus a normal guy with a normal wife who got along great with normal people and really appeared to feel a genuine respect for them, and then publicly suck up to this droning billionaire nutrition busybody whose shtick is basically to accuse poor people of being slovenly, ill-disciplined, and fat.

The kicker here, of course, was that Trump, uniquely among billionaires of whatever actual net worth, seemed to relish mixing it up with the little people and to maybe be sincere about having their best interests at heart. It’s hard not to wonder what the hell the Democrats thought they’d accomplish with this line of attack. “Oh, that rich piece of shit you deplorables are supporting from your basket? Yeah, well, he isn’t actually a stuck-up, out-of-touch rich guy; he just plays one on TV! Suckers!” That quite nicely complemented the Democratic stance that maybe he doesn’t hate the shit out of you and want you to all die, but we sure do.

This is the same crowd that acts like Americans still admire Warren Buffett and love him long-time for being a famous billionaire. What the fuck, y’all. Socialism is becoming more popular because the economy has been ruined by and at the direction of the very wealthy and an increasing number of us would rather leave less of the total wealth in the clammy hands of some miserly old cunt who takes his grandchildren out to Dairy Queen and acts like he doesn’t know the McDonald’s menu when NPR is along for the ride even though he claims to get his morning Egg McMuffin there every day. Yes, we and/or the government would spend Warren Buffett’s money better.

These rimjobbers are all like, oh, but he still lives in an old house in Omaha. Uh, yeah, BFD, homeys. Bully to that Congressman’s son for buying railroads and shit. Anybody working in the Union Pacific dispatch center is more admirable and useful than that, and Nebraska is also home to the Drought Monitor crew and Irakli Loladze. Who’s next up as an exemplar of heartland values? Sexy male code enforcement officer Lynn Rader? Our old boy Bill Thomas did all right for a fellow who never really left Wichita.

This is the kind of shit we get under leadership that can’t imagine anyone whose interests aren’t dominated by the doings of overhyped rich blowhards and the faint possibility of someday personally becoming filthy rich. Okay, let’s check in from New York on the part of the country where they still have morals and stuff and see what’s doing. Oh, cool, here’s some sermonizing geezer who owns BNSF and doesn’t treat his own children to lunch at Denny’s because he’d be expected to tip.

Stanford pulled the same shit with my Chinese-made hat. A guy passing me on a trail in Nevada City (yup, Wow Much Travels) called out, “Go Tree!” He assumed, reasonably enough, that it was my school as well as his. Yeah, well, Tree ain’t got the roots to support no American textile jobs. From my perspective, a cap is a cap as long as it doesn’t rep Dickinson (I am NOT doing free advertising for those shitheels), but that’s a funny situation for marketing swag for a school whose endowment is well into the tens of billions of dollars.

Will anyone at Stanford stand up to this and ask the development and licensing people, for the sake of decency and community, to have their marketing shiznit made in the USA? Not bloody likely. As Tom Friedman has told them at such tendentious anecdotal length, globalization is good for everyone who deserves good things and also inevitable and shit. It’s why olive farmers in the West Bank all own Lexuses. Every harvest is a December to Remember. Surely the cabbies who always have such interesting, and I do mean uninteresting, things to say to him wouldn’t tell Ami little fibs.

True MAGA, then, isn’t in buying some F&M swag off the shelf, but in hand-stitching and embroidering that shiznit all bespoke-like. Don’t count on my ever doing that, since I don’t have the best follow-through, but don’t count me entirely out, either. Firehat cross-stitched a Fuck Yo Titties doily, so there’s a precedent. Mine, I guess, is Fuck Yo College. I can’t afford to move back to Palo Alto on my own steam after what Stanford has done to the Mid-Peninsula, nay, the entire Bay Area, but I can afford some damn needles and thread, and God knows I’ve usually got the time.

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Death cult

The Democratic Party’s awesome corruption, contempt for its own voters, and dysfunction as an opposition might be amusing if the major party opposite it weren’t an absolute horror show. We, the people to which the elected are answerable, were denied a decent choice among the two viable presidential candidates last year.

For that reason alone I’m unmoved by all the apoplexy directed at third-party voters who refused to be sheepdogged. Clinton as the only bulwark against Trump was a fucking disgrace, and so, increasingly so as his administration unfolds, was Trump as the only bulwark against Clinton. I seriously considered voting for Trump before bunking down on the Stein Steamer for the last week or two, and I probably would have voted for him had I been registered in a swing state. A close Republican friend of mine voted for Gary Johnson in spite of the “What is Aleppo?” moment, which appalled him, because he believed that Trump was a usurper of the party’s leadership. Another Republican friend told me, “I voted for Clinton and immediately felt bad about it afterwards.” Both of these guys are lifelong Pennsylvanians, so it was other, more downmarket, sorts who got the Trump Train over the hill there. They both have politics that I’m sure would be harmful to the country if scaled up, but they’re true class acts, and I was especially offended by the prospect of the reluctant Clinton voter believing that he had no option but to support someone he abhorred because the only alternative looked even worse.

I don’t think it’s too much to demand that politicians offer us a positive reason to show up and vote for them. If voters individually conclude that the best thing they can do with their vote is to support the least of the evils, I’m fine with that, but I don’t take well to being ordered how to vote. Nope, that’s my decision to make as an individual, because the franchise is granted to the individual, as I’ve been arguing since 2004, when friends in the Newman Club were advancing what amounted to the collectivization of the franchise on behalf of the Catholic Church. I take my individual duty as a voter seriously and go into it as maturely and well-informed as I can; if other individual voters are frivolous or ignorant in their voting habits, that ain’t my damn problem. I don’t mind positive arguments on behalf of a candidate I despise and distrust, even Hillary, but barking at me how to vote? Fuck off, champ.

It’s surprising in retrospect that I caught such flak from establishment Democrats for withholding my vote from Abuela and none from Magaland, which was teeming with creepy authoritarians. I guess it was because I was an apostate from the Democratic Party cult (which I had never actually joined in the first place; I had compelling policy reasons to campaign for John Kerry). It’s easy to lose sight of what a recent development the incursion of cult authoritarians into the mainstream of the Democratic Party has been. Historically, the Democrats have been the undisciplined, disorganized, easy-come easy-go party, repeatedly floundering before the Republican war machine. Funny thing, though: when they tried to go full Churchill on every Republican beach last year, they fucking choked.

What is “Wisconsin?”

One of the morals here is that it’s really tricky to fight fire with fire. Voters figured the Democrats were out to burn them, too, and that if they wanted that they’d have taken a creepy firebug ex-lover in Spanaway. That’s barely on topic, but it’s more fun than anything you’ll hear from the centrists, and you’d be a brame fool to think otherwise. No, the Democratic Party is not, dare we say, sound. This prattle will end when it feels like ending, and it’s still going to show the perezidential faction to be a bunch of out-of-touch retards. *Shit. Shit. Shit.* Voters may trust a campaign that’s businesslike if has a decent conception of the public business (Sanders), but we don’t much care for a campaign that can’t take a joke, can’t make a joke, and treats us, the constituents it’s trying to win, as the joke. That’s why it’s generally a good thing when the candidate who goes on Ellen to do the nae-nae loses, and to resalt that beautiful wound, yes, Virginia, she fucking lost.

But to what? That’s the sick part. I was eager to give the Donald the benefit of the doubt, a chance to show that he was governing in the public interest. Maybe the honeymoon lasted longer than it should have, but it’s looking pretty bad now. Trump got over the top by appealing to distressed, disgruntled workaday voters with gushing talk of populist restraints on big business. By this standard alone, ignoring all the civil liberties and due process violations of his administration (especially on immigrants), he’s a failure. He was not elected to have some corporate shitbird at the FCC repeal net neutrality rules. That did not happen.

Steve Bannon, for all his faults, has been out for months, and with him his advocacy for a more cohesive core American society. The social fabric has been fraying so badly and for so long that someone had to step in and point the way towards its reinforcement. Bannon filled a void that the neoliberal corporatocracy deliberately created. Having the hubris to assume that such a vacuum is sustainable doesn’t make it so, and sure enough, it’s a vacuum no more. Natural law enforces itself in due course of time, and Bannon happened to be the instrument closest at hand when that time came.

But, again, he’s out, so positive law and military-industrial complex hubris are back. And Bannon led just one of several bickering factions within the Trump administration, the rest of them flagrantly venal. GOP establishment crooks were never going to do anything good for the country, and neither were a Stepford Wife like Ivanka, the inbred Don-Don and Eric duo, and the ridiculous Anthony Scaramucci in the family business and cronies faction. This is presumably why we keep business separate from family.

Then there’s Donald Trump’s own raging bigotry. The guy isn’t just foul; he actually looks insane.

Ronald Reagan dogwhistled to the worst elements of the Hard South by starting his 1980 campaign with a speech on states’ rights in Mississippi, the Clintons dogwhistled more subtly but also more destructively, and even Mocha Haole crudely played the good cop to the usual squad of bad cops in his efforts at Community policing, but no matter how vile they were, they had a strong appearance of self-control, of not entirely believing their own bullshit. They were deploying talking points to pander to evil but influential elements of the electorate, so there was at least a faint hope that they might be won over to less evil stances if the political winds shifted or towards discreet moderation if they were given some cover.

Trump, in stark contrast, is constantly fuming unfiltered about the craziest, most reprehensible chain e-mail urban legends and news-talk hoaxes. If he didn’t actually believe this shit, he wouldn’t carry on about it on a social media account that he personally operates. This is separate from his habit of dissing other celebrities and politicians. This is the shit everyone’s deranged, dubiously employable uncle does. Pandering to bigots is reprehensible, but it’s a rational response to bad incentives, so strong counterincentives can be used to limit it. This is different. The highest elected official in the land is constantly mouthing off with his schizoid delusions of persecution. The fucking President of the United States of America is acting like all the paranoid authoritarian assholes who go on Twitter to report leftist shitposters to the Secret Service account and post pictures of Jeff Sessions under the caption “Court is in Session.” (Wrong: he’s just the AG, dumbass; his own horrified colleagues shot down his bid for that federal judgeship.)

This is a crisis of leadership far worse than impulsive rudeness. It isn’t just bad manners. It isn’t just a breach of horseshit Sorkinian norms. It’s a genuine governing crisis. The chief executive of an imperial juggernaut of over three hundred million residents is showing overt signs of mental incompetency and incapacitation. Worse, the batshit insane behavior in question has been normalized, in large part because the president himself is allowed to engage in it without consequence. Congress has not brought articles of impeachment against him on the basis that he’s behaving rashly and belligerently towards innocent parties and blatantly out of his goddamn mind.

But why would it? Trump is the first Fox News president (as well as the first Extremely Online president), but his party, which controls Congress, loves it some Fox News. If they’re comfortable showing their hand so promiscuously, it’s probably because they’ve already normalized every noxious thought process and behavior in question and assume that their constituents consider it all equally normal.

Fume all you like about Trump, because the bottom line is that he’d be neutralized if he were presiding opposite a Democratic or hostile Republican Congress. If Congress actually took an adversarial stance towards him (as so longwindedly encouraged in so many of our nation’s founding documents) he’d be a mere nuisance, and he might well no longer be in office. Congress has the authority to remove the President, whose very title of office was chosen by the framers of the Constitution to convey its tenuousness. The president merely presides over the government from the executive branch; he does not reign or command. The framers hoped that Congress wouldn’t frivolously or lightly remove presidents from office, but they also made it explicit that they considered it a congressional duty to hold presidents accountable as coequal officials, not be subservient to their majesty. Congress obviously has the constitutional prerogative and duty to impeach and remove unfit presidents. If a critical mass of its members determine that the sitting President is unfit for office, they’re completely within their rights to haul his ass up to Capitol Hill and say, listen, dipshit, you do not get an entire term to act like a fucking shit-flinging paranoid schizophrenic in public, because that is not within the scope of your office.

As so often is the case, hardly anyone in power actually gives a shit about principles or norms. Trump’s bizarre outbursts have been so normalized on the right that they’re hardly even an embarrassment to his fellow Republicans. Let’s not kid ourselves: Clinton got impeached by Democrats for being an embarrassment and by Republicans (including our old boy J. Denny Dundiddly) for being a cheap and easy target, so if the GOP Congressional Caucus decides that his bullshit has gotten tiresome and off-brand for the party, they know where to find the levers to catapult his ass back to Mar-a-Lago.

The Republican Caucus tolerates Trump because he and his people cooperate with their grotesque, brazen agenda of nihilistic evil. That’s what the Republican Party has become. Formerly a party of stewards, it is now a party of murderers, rapists, slavers, kidnappers, and vandals. Reagan had a vindictively destructive side, especially vis-à-vis labor unions, and this was excruciatingly ironic and hypocritical for a former SAG president, but even at his worst, shitcanning PATCO en masse and standing back while private capital busted meatpackers’ unions across the Midwest, he was positively restrained and public-spirited compared to those who have come after him in his name.

It’s never the real pirates who hoist the Jolly Roger. We’ve mentioned net neutrality already. Ajit Pai and his crew are obviously out to help the trusts shake down the public for access to infrastructure that was funded and built by DARPA. The Republicans are the ones who tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a working replacement, endangering the lives of sick infants, special-needs patients, and every other medically vulnerable population that the Republican Party’s own sincerely pro-life constituency spends its own energy and treasure protecting to the best of its ability. It’s overwhelmingly Republican politicians who have sandbagged Medicaid expansion at the state level and tried to repeal it at the federal level.

It’s the GOP, inevitably, that is now trying to force through its fresh hell of a tax “reform” bill. Student interest will no longer be deductible, but private jet costs will. This is more nihilism. The Republicans are up on their burn down the ivory tower bullshit again. Anti-intellectualism generally comes from a place of nihilism, and this crew is really vicious about it. They aren’t looking to oversee federal grants to universities more closely; they’re looking to force an already grievously indebted alumni population even deeper into crushing student debt and indiscriminately cut off grant funding wherever they can out of spite.

There are a couple of huge problems here. First, the student debt: 44 million Americans carry student debt, a number eerily close to the 46 or so million who were reported as going without medical insurance during the Clinton Administration. If lenders are in trouble with this class of debt because it’s bad (they in fact are not, and it isn’t), why the hell isn’t it their problem for not having done due diligence? Unsecured loans to people with no apparent marketable skills and no personal assets based on unpredictable future earnings? It’s no wonder the lenders leaned on Congress, including Delaware charlatan Uncle Joe, to exclude student loans from federal bankruptcy protections. This way they get to skip the risk and skim the interest, which is usurious enough to cover a hell of a lot more delinquency than has hit the market so far.

More broadly, though, there’s the nihilism of trying to burn down the academy because it happens to harbor some people one finds annoying, antagonistic, and, supposedly, not adequately useful to society. If we’re looking for jawboning wankers who have no marketable skills, there’s no reason to go on a damn college tour when there’s a Metro Station and long-distance passenger rail and bus terminal a couple of blocks from the US Capitol. Do these assholes have any sense of irony?

Sure, there are wankers and bullshitters in academia. No shit, Sherlock. Anyone who pays attention to federal expenditures, though, knows that they’re marginal, mostly harmless, and kept afloat at a relatively inconsequential public expense. They could be working on the F-35 clusterfuck instead, or riding the maritime demolition derby circuit with the Seventh Fleet.

Must we actually throw the baby out with the bathwater by collectively punishing entire universities just to spite a few losers in humanities cul-de-sacs who are already regarded as embarrassing ne’er-do-wells by their more rigorous and accomplished peers? By Paul Ryan’s reckoning, we most certainly must. That pig-ignorant thieving piece of shit won’t be happy unless we, generally his intellectual superiors, are made to feel pain for no reason. Does that fucker have a science or math background? Does he know how to do long division?

A reasonable response of good faith to concerns about government waste would be to go up to Capitol Hill and hand out 7-Eleven applications. That’s where most of Congress would be working if they had gotten ahead in life by their own merits, assuming they hadn’t been fired years ago. The brightest bulbs don’t go into politics, certainly not in a political climate as ridiculous as ours today. The least we can demand of them is that they have the humility to recognize that they are setting law and policy for people who include their unambiguous intellectual superiors, both in government and out. That clown crew doesn’t have what it takes to work for the FAA or to do crop or climate science research at the University of Nebraska. The decent among them admit as much and act with a fitting modesty, but the last thing anyone can expect of the average congressman is decency and the modesty to go with it.

I’d say that we should send these assholes down into the Metro tunnels after hours to scrape the hair and dandruff and shit off the third rails for fire prevention, but I respect railroad maintenance of way crews too much to send a bunch of worse-than-useless jawboning shitbirds over to get in the way of people who work for a living. This is why we have public assistance: to marginalize those who will inevitably fuck everything up if they engage.

I’m just trying to do right by my great-grandfather here. The union allowed him to raise my grandmother and her siblings in a stable lower-middle-class existence because it shook the damn cash out of the Union Pacific’s pockets. If tamping iron accidents are going to be a tradition, then, they might as well stop happening to the front of the head of some poor bastard like Phineas Gage and start happening to critical parts of the back of the heads of, say, Sam Brownback and Kris Kobach.

Brandenburg, bitch. Tough shit if that got y’all sunflower salty.

What’s the matter with Kansas is the matter with a lot more than just Kansas. The government is the only reason the railroad ever did a thing to keep us safe. Besides, I’m not getting anyone hurt by playing Fantasy Industrial Accident, which is noticeably safer than real professional football. Holler back at me from Congress when Americans are no longer dying because they’re rationing their insulin to make ends meet.

Don’t fence me out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spanksgiving in the State of Jackoffson

It’s starting to look like Thanksgiving Day will be a workday for me. Today has already been a workday, making Saturday my Monday, or some such shit. Answer me, Dowager: what is a “week-end?” For, as usual, this is not work in the normal modern American sense. What I did this morning was a bit less than two hours of reclamation work on the jungly shit that Joe Dirtbag abandoned for twenty-plus years. Pretty much all of what I reclaimed today was regrowth in areas that I’d cut back last year, but I’ve beaten a slash path back to the edge of the serious thicket, and other than being worried that Joe Dirtbag might show up earlier than I expected and I might have to explain myself to him, it wasn’t too hard. It’s strenuous, but I find it perfectly manageable. I’d be able to put a serious dent into the abandoned vine rows if I spent a concerted full workday at it. Depending on how thick the growth is, I can hack out anywhere from probably six to twenty feet per hour, and that’s with nothing more than a pair of pocket pruning shears. I rarely even bring gloves: not the smartest move, and a disgrace to the Boy Scouts’ oath of preparedness, but my God, Chesterfield, it isn’t that bad to get pricked a bit now and then.

Heh, I just said “prick.” Giggity.

Nobody will be assigning me to do a lick of work on Thanksgiving Day, but Joe Dirtbag will be cooking and jawboning at home most of the day, so I’ll have the space and freedom to sneak back onto his property, since I’m already funding it, and damned if I’ll spend another high holiday being bullshitted by that seedy crew even if they invited me. They’ve blown it with me a few too many times. I’m not sure that I’ll do more bush clearing work on Thanksgiving, but it’ll be a rare long block of daylight when I’ll be pretty sure that JD will be absent, and I’m not eager enough to try to score an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner with any other family or family friends on the West Coast.

What I’m doing isn’t George W. Bush-style cowboy-ass horseshit. It’s partly a way to get some exercise and have something to do, but it’s also progress on a decades-long backlog of work that will make the farm that I’m still funding a less total disaster. Joe Dirtbag was a dissembling sack of shit to say that he was maintaining the berry thickets as bird habitat. Every fucking disingenuous NIMBY shitheel from Bend clear west to the water’s edge has a sob story about the birds. It’s usually some acre of utterly unexceptional oak scrub in an already developed patchwork of exurban mansion tracts a quarter mile from mile upon mile of wilderness that no one has any plans to develop; in JD’s case, it was a couple of thickets of invasive weeds growing every which way over vineyard blocks that he’d abandoned a stone’s throw from a riparian greenbelt that he long ago put into perpetual wildland easement.

What he was really trying to do, I assume, was to Tom Sawyer me into more unpaid work in his death trap of a winery so that he’d have plenty of black market wine for that dipshit radiologist to bootleg into California. No fucking thanks. He screwed the pooch the last time I showed up to help him by mouthing off about Busboy and that cop. Busboy seems to be a lazy derelict, but the way to deal with a lazy derelict isn’t to squeeze him for rent on a blantantly uninhabitable junkyard, harass him for not doing enough unpaid work, and yell crazy shit about an on-duty cop who is conducting official business on one’s property. Besides, Busboy mostly keeps to himself. A derelict who is living peaceably in squalor that his landlord won’t do a goddamned thing to abate doesn’t owe the landlord a fucking thing.

JD would have a case that Busboy is an obstruction to the businesslike operation of his farm and that his curtilage is an eyesore if he cleaned up his own piles of dirty ramshackle shit and brought the farm into compliance with 1930’s rural electrification standards, but he doesn’t. He has jack shit for moral or legal authority as the rent-seeking proprietor of Twenty-First Century Tobacco Road. This shit would have been backwards and squalid by the standards of functional communities in the 1880’s, but we’re all expected to agree that this is just a harmless steampunk underground or some such nonsense.

This is why I’m always tempted to complain to code enforcement again. We’ve got the Ragin’ Canajun living in an unplumbed shack wired with a daisy chain of outdoor extension cords running across a mud parking lot; Busboy and his old woman (I think) living in a thirty-foot used school bus (an upgrade from the short bus!), also without proper plumbing and wiring; some chick living in an old barn last I heard; and a couple shacked up in a bespoke trailer, tiny house my ass. I’m sleeping in my Focus two or three nights a week again; does that make it a tiny RV? For fuck’s sake no one levels about any of this shit. For reasons that surely reflect badly on the local housing supply and the officials responsible for ensuring its adequacy, we’ve got a community not only living illegally in a farm junkyard but paying the landowner rent for a property that he refuses to properly maintain.

This is an abnormal and unhealthy situation, full stop. If Joe Dirtbag wanted to help these people out, he’d let them crash there for free, just as he did for Mixups in my Mind and Psychotarp. Instead, he hoses them for rent money, so he’s obviously in it for the black market cash flow. He and the Family Shrew got that electrician to rewire their house in exchange for the privilege to move into a garden shed in their front yard after he ran away from their career squatter just up the hill, the paranoid Boomer who has held down something like four months of payroll work in his entire life and has apparently spent the bulk of his sixties tinkering with perpetual motion machines based on fruitcake prepper videos he finds on YouTube. The electrician did this unpaid work on an out-of-state license, meaning that JD and FS will hit my parents up for money to repair or replace their house if their insurance company refuses to pay for fire damage on account of the unlicensed electrical work.

We’re all dysfunctional and disreputable to tolerate this horseshit. I’ve repeatedly failed myself and everyone else who has fallen victim to this shady crap by not doing everything I can to force an end to it. The Insurance Schmuck aptly compared JD to the Master of the House from Les Miserables. JD can be disarmingly charming and chummy with those who don’t challenge him, but if anyone gets into a bad housing situation under his authority and becomes disgruntled, he turns immediately to bog-standard slumlord intimidation tactics. I’m not the only one who knows that he’ll turn ugly on a dime if anyone stands up to him for being a deadbeat or housing paying tenants in illegal squalor.

What I’m trying to do with the rescue weeding jobs, then, is to get the farm into something resembling turnkey condition for when Joe Dirtbag either dies or becomes too decrepit to operate it. I don’t know what the hell I’ll do about the rent extortion, tenant harassment, implicit but unmistakable menacing, and squalor in the meantime. It’s a fucking hellscape. It looks like I’ll have a war on my hands if I try to force him to abide by the law. My dad is petrified that JD will go scorched-earth on their relationship if he follows through on his attorney’s advice and removes himself and my mom as farm investors. I’ve very seriously considered going to the District Attorney’s office, various police agencies, local elected officials, and the local newspapers. If I decide to really cross the Rubicon, I can blow that seedy bastard clear out of the water. I’m still ready to call 911 on him if he gets weird or hostile with me again. If he so enjoys manly showdowns, I don’t see why he can’t have one with a policeman, or with whatever ladies of the law happen to be on duty.

Mind you, all of this is happening in a fairly prosperous part of an exceptionally well-governed state. I’m deliberately coy about where exactly, but that’s really just so that those who might use this stuff against me will have a harder time proving anything. I’m not sure that there are even two dozen people I’d rather keep in the dark about what I’ve written here. And I’m not even really stirring the shit up: I’ve been unreasonably forbearing towards Joe Dirtbag for having only gotten code officials onto his property to bitchslap his deadbeat ass and not having gone on the record to publicly blow the whistle.

This clusterfuck has brought the local socioeconomic situation into rather ugly relief for me. When I first came here, I was downwardly mobile but stably housed. Now I’ve been homeless for years due to the extreme white trash dysfunction and shadiness of relatives who get moneyed friends and relatives to bail them out whenever they fuck up, and I take a financial and social hit every time I come back here to do some more work reclaiming parts of the grossly mismanaged farm that I’m helping fund at a time when I haven’t had a stable place of my own in six years. This isn’t highly skilled work, but it isn’t unskilled, either. I’m able to get shit done because I pay attention and know what I’m doing with plants. I have no difficulty focusing on heavy weeding jobs that would either bore or overwhelm many of my friends. That is, I’m not like Busboy or any of the incorrigible transient losers who hang out downtown using dogs as panhandling props. It’s productive, upstanding work, and I should not be regarded as a ne’er-do-well when I get in there without complaint or prompting and fucking do it. I do this work even though the principal farm operator is out of his damn mind to the point that I’m estranged from him and has bullshit excuses for why he supposedly meant to abandon the vine rows that I’ve been reclaiming.

Meanwhile, someone, probably either Joe Dirtbag or the Ragin’ Canajun, has left well over half a ton of pumpkins in a field to rot. At this point I’ve got plenty of patience for RC to get overwhelmed by his workload and none left for JD. JD’s the one who’s always talking about groovy community shit. He and the Family Shrew are the ones who are all into people helping people, which in this case apparently doesn’t include anyone getting into the field to keep hundreds of pumpkins from going to waste. The pumpkins have usually been JD’s thing, not RC’s, for what it’s worth. He can’t get the crops in for a number of reasons, most of them decisively his fault. He never pays anyone for heavy labor, doesn’t provide a decent toilet, arbitrarily harasses people when they’re working for him at his explicit request, and gives shady deadbeats like Captain Flimflam and clinically insane al fresco outpatients like Psychotarp and Mixups the run of the farm no matter how many times tenants or school group organizers have begged him to do something about them.

I believe RC when he says that JD has shot his credibility with the local labor pool and isn’t the beloved community grandpa that he thinks he is. All he’s got now is the Ragin’ Canajun plus a handful of marginal losers and cheapskates living on his properties. As far as I know he’s been on his own for harvest and crush this year, and frankly I hope that’s actually the case, because he damn well deserves to go shorthanded.

Volunteerism has gone too far around here. We’ve got too many earnest dipshits running around trying to do good when they should be demanding a fucking paycheck as a condition of their showing up. Just today I saw a group of mostly teenagers removing blackberries along some creekbanks. That’s worthy enough work, so why the fuck isn’t the city paying a crew a market wage to pull the damn weeds, which were located on city property? Then there’s the charity woodlot that Joe Dirtbag has allowed to set up shop on a carveout parcel on the edge of his farm, which also had a work bee going this morning. I’ve never seen such fucked up, waterlogged, rotten, useless firewood as the loads JD gave me from the charity lot to use in the winery stove. No one with a shred of sense would pay $80 a cord for that shit.

That’s how the valley gets such bad winter air quality, by the way. Having a bunch of drugstore homesteaders burning wood for frivolous lifestyle purposes doesn’t help, either, but using properly seasoned firewood or pellets in a hot stove cuts down on the amount of soot that’s available to settle in during air inversions. The garbage wood the charity lot somehow finds burns dirty as all hell. The worst chunks are almost as noxious as burning leaves, that classic Pennsylvania asshole falltime tradition.

The government could step into the fray and eliminate the need for this sopping-wet horseshit wood supply by buying some five-dollar bags of wood pellets on a bulk discount and giving them away to poor households on demand. Instead we have a bunch of earnest assholes who know jack shit about firewood out swinging axes all morning because belching the most toxic biomass smoke possible into a stagnant air supply is woke praxis now.

NB: I’m not against providing the poor with free firewood. It’s just that this shit is the equivalent of handing out day-old baloney sandwiches to the poor and pointing out that the mustard is a vegetable. Anyone who isn’t either an idiot or a scumbag can do better than that. These assholes with the woodlot are assuming a completely bogus scarcity mentality. If I can buy high-quality, low-soot stove pellets for five or six dollars a bag at Bi-Mart, what the hell is forcing them to hand out shitty, high-soot firewood that won’t burn properly to the poor and then feel smug all week? I would never offer that shit to someone for use as a fuel supply because I was offended and annoyed when Joe Dirtbag gave me the load that he’d schnorred off the woodlot fuckheads.

Did Tocqueville curse us by chronicling us? Handing out piles of barely combustible charity wood to the poor might have been an advancement in human development in Kentucky in 1835, but it isn’t exactly 1835, and I notice that Oregon is not a part of Kentucky. Hell, any self-respecting Appalachian woodsman would own the shit out of that clown crew for not knowing how to properly hew and season its rounds. Volunteerism and charity can theoretically do some good, but we don’t ask nearly often enough how many of our voluntary and charitable organizations are worth Pot-o-Shit Friend’s housewarming gift. Hey there, American Red Cross!

Nah, that medley of showboating thieves is in it for the money, and there’s a measure of self-respect to be had in running a successful con. I hate to find a group that I respect even less for its charity than the Red Cross, but here we are. If the woodlot posse tried to take my blood, I’d be about as well off having Lynn Majors do the sexy deed.

We’ve got a real problem in this country with being too earnest and cowardly to tell worse-than-useless showboating do-gooders that they’d be less trouble for the rest of us if they spent the morning recreationally heaving logs over a fence. That would be stupid enough, too, but we wouldn’t have to worry about the effects on air quality. And the idea that that charitable happy horseshit is an adequate substitute for government social services is pernicious. When government works, it really is a word for the things we choose to do together. I’m already paying taxes (yes, in Oregon, too), so I’d rather see the money go to pay people decent wages to do decent work than get wasted on nonsense while the workload gets sloughed off onto earnest pushovers, most of whom are utterly fucking clueless and harder for a competent person to supervise than to personally do the damn work.

What I’ve been doing at the farm this week isn’t volunteerism, because I’m done with that shit. It’s work aimed at someday, somehow cashing out. Gonna make it right, but not right now. But at least we got Kroeger down here for the ceremonies and not Pickton, since we already have Picktonian squalor to abate. That’s why I’m involved again with this crypto-Benedictine agricultural discipline that sure enough isn’t getting me laid (you get what you pay for, as they say). That, plus I have a travel schedule this winter that isn’t compatible with the overmanaged institutional nonsense that we like to call work. Psychotarp might be able to remotely join a wedding party in Pittsburgh while working a retail job in Sacramento or whatever, but we can’t all be that special.

Nah, that’s not true. He’s too crazy to shovel gravel into a pothole. Then again, we’ve got sane people around here who aren’t good for a hell of a lot more than that.

Russian to judgment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Further Adventures of the Dick Strict Attorney

When the sex pest allegations against Roy Moore really started sounding credible, I expected him to scurry away like a little rat within a day or two. There were too many women going on the record with serious allegations indicating a pattern of serious sexual misconduct to write the scandal off as a dirty political trick. The things Moore was accused of having done to young women, in his capacity as a sitting county prosecutor, no less, went directly against his ostentatious public religious morality, which, as extreme or crazy as it could be, had looked sincere enough. National Republican leaders who normally would want nothing to do with a Democratic colleague from the Alabama delegation to the United States Senate lined up on short order to declare their scandal at what Moore was accused of having done, asked him to step aside if there was any truth to the allegations, and began working on plans for a write-in campaign. Beyond mere politics, the cultural environment looked newly inhospitable to someone in Moore’s position: a wave of powerful men, most of them famous, had just had their careers quickly and publicly go down in flames over mostly decades-old allegations of sexual harassment or assault.

It turns out that Moore is the one guy caught in this delayed-action Chris Hansen trap who’s arrogant enough to maintain his frame and go down swinging. Maybe this shouldn’t be too surprising after his notorious tenacity on the Alabama Supreme Court, but it surprised me. What he’s doing takes a truly special level of bravado. It takes a truly special combination of chutzpah, confidence, and acting skill. Moore looks a bit rattled from time to time, but most of the time he looks self-righteously angry at the same secular elites he’s been accusing of campaigning to destroy Alabama’s cherished Southern Christian culture for his entire career. Three or four times already I’ve heard some news bulletin about the Moore scandal and expected him to finally tear up and admit that he did some folks wrong, only to see that, no shit, the son of a bitch once again doubled the hell down.

It’s an amazing episode. I get plenty jaded and cynical about American politics as it has come to be practiced, I’m less and less easily shocked by extreme hypocrisy and sleaze, but the Moore thing is something else. The revelations (heh) that he got frisky with uncomfortable young women half his age are the least of it, even though I never expected Roy Moore, of all people, to get caught with his pants down. The really crazy part is the guy’s reaction. The fights that he picked with the federal judiciary over his beloved courthouse religion and then over same-sex marriage weren’t personal crises; he was acting fully in accordance with his own sworn principles. This new Lolita stuff is a personal crisis, but damned if he isn’t steaming full David Farragut straight into the firestorm all the same.

No white flag, he will go down with this ship. Dido has nothing on this fucker. *Leon Bridges, back on the bridge* Good. Stay on your own ship, boss.

At a strictly personal level, Moore’s confident defiance is more dignified than the shambolic stories of one Hollywood rat after another scurrying off to Cannes or Sedona or who the fuck knows where for “intensive” sex “counseling” (one out of three is a start), and in circumstances like these a man’s man like Roy Moore inevitably carries himself better than George “Russia Did It” Takei. No way around it, these are Darwinian limbic exercises, and Moore is just the reptile to hiss and fight his way out of a good hard bind.

But Moore is no more a private man than any of the past month’s other newly exposed sexual predators. As a general public matter, the way Moore has been reacting to the allegations is no less disgusting than the stances taken by any of his colleagues in perv, and for being so defiant and demagogic as a candidate for the United States Senate he is uniquely dangerous to his nation. A person who doesn’t follow pop culture or celebrity gossip might be completely disinterested in the existence of Kevin Spacey or Harvey Weinstein. Any American who follows our national politics will inevitably be confronted with the rude, gross truth that for God’s sake this handsy godbothering piece of shit in tighty whities may actually be elected to the United States Senate, to make law and policy for us all.

Roy Moore has cultivated, flourished in, and brought out the very worst of the hard right wing. He’s reinvigorated a bunch of deeply sick motherfuckers. He’s got all these people who talk a loud game about conservatism and law and order (specifically SVU, am I right) insisting that a sitting county prosecutor going around serially pestering the local high school girls for easy action was in fact nothing more than a Southern gentleman looking to go a-courtin’ to put an end to his thirty-something bachelorhood. He did eventually manage to take a young woman’s hand in marriage as a result of this ongoing effort, but that was practically a coincidence. Seriously dating women who were young enough to be his daughter wasn’t why he got banned from the fucking mall. Five-O wasn’t cultivating Paul Blart as a permanent informant because the DA had a mildly scandalous private romantic life. Moore was banned from the mall for repeatedly harassing strangers. That isn’t an acceptable thing to do under desexualized auspices to a legal adult. There are certain things that one just doesn’t do if one wants to remain welcome at the mall, like incorrigibly harassing other customers against their obvious wishes to be left alone.

It wasn’t just a weirdo being weird after hours, either. Moore implicitly threatened to perjure himself against at least one of his victims in his capacity as a court officer if she dared press charges against him. Who’re they gonna believe: the Deputy District Attorney or a child? The sexual liberty for me but not for thee guy selectively regarded high school girls as old enough to consent to his sexual advances but also too young to be believed in a court of law if they dared refuse their consent, i.e., too young for civil rights.

Why on earth shouldn’t we utter his name in the same breath as Daniel Holtzclaw’s? They used exactly the same playbook to prey upon and intimidate the vulnerable.

Then there was the rest of the Etowah County public safety and legal community, the cops, prosecutors, judges, social workers, clerks, and so forth who twiddled their thumbs for thirty years while a man they either suspected or outright knew to be a raging creep rose to the highest judicial office in their state. It was only after national news outlets based a thousand miles away did the legwork, as outsiders, to confirm allegations against Roy Moore that these good old boys and girls back home finally admitted that, yeah, we kinda knew the fella was a bit off.

Great timing, honkeys. They could have done all sorts of things to put an end to Moore’s perverted behavior around Gadsden or sabotage his career. What they actually did about him, as far as I’ve heard, was jack shit. Did some dirty cop with an aggrieved sense of right and wrong frame him for some penny-ante drug crime just to make him squirm and shrink away in disgrace? Of course not. Did anyone in power give him 48 hours to leave town or be exposed? Nope. Did anyone in a position of authority publicly blow the whistle on him? Hell no. Did anyone privately complain to the Alabama Bar Association about Moore’s moral turpitude and ask it to investigate his fitness for membership? Possibly; an ethical complaint, especially an unsubstantiated one, might not be publicly divulged; but unlikely. A security guard at the mall told a reporter that a Gadsden police officer wouldn’t tell him why he wanted to be called right away if Moore showed up again, just that he’d “take care of him.”

This wasn’t mere discretion. It was a systematic coverup of a powerful man’s misdeeds by a town full of chickenshit officials. They knew that what Moore was doing was wrong and scandalous; that’s why they kept mum. This shit was kept hush-hush for three to four decades–roughly my entire life–until the Washington Post and the New Yorker finally aired Gadsden’s dirty laundry because its most famous native son was on the verge of winning a Senate seat that might determine the balance of federal power.

If we’re to conclude anything about small-town values from this political history, it’s that they come straight out of hell and should be eradicated. The rural South has a reputation for being a hotbed of gossip, and yet when Roy Moore was imposing himself on unwilling young women under color of his authority as a prosecutor, the grapevine mysteriously went silent for two full generations, until the Yankee press showed up during a statewide election of national importance to rake the town muck.

This is fucking disgraceful, a far worse scandal than the DA being a local wannabe teenybopper sex pest. I realize that gossip can be a crude tool of spite, and I’ve personally benefited greatly from gossip items about me going cold because the second or third degrees of separation from the source couldn’t be bothered to give a shit. But Roy Moore wasn’t some common adulterer or drunk. He was abusing his office to facilitate and cover up serial sexual assault against underage girls. He was getting himself banned from the mall, and then sneaking back in when security wasn’t looking, as a thirty-something court officer in the same fucking county. It isn’t gossip to go to the State Attorney General’s office or the State Police and say, look, I don’t like doing this, but I’m really concerned that Mr. Moore is committing rape.

Scum-of-the-earth outlets like Chateau Heartiste celebrate Roy Moore for being a sexual predator because they’re the scum of the earth. It’s unfortunate but predictable that predatory authoritarian evil is a latent element of the human condition that sometimes asserts itself in ugly ways. The internet harbors everything under the sun, not all of it wholesome. What’s more troubling from an American political perspective is that we have entire states, in this case Alabama, acting as regional reservoirs of privileged depravity and wholesale dysfunctional behavior enabling it. The owners and managers of malls network with one another across county lines. One might expect the commercial real estate magnates in Gadsden to pass the word about Moore to their colleagues in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville, and so on. They have an obvious interest in not allowing a good old boy to harass teenage girls on their property.

Or so one would think. The Southern Country Club set has a reputation, poorly appreciated in the North, for being scandalized by seedy good old boy antics, but there’s a fair amount of overlap between the two groups. In rural areas especially they can form a single unified overclass. It’s conceivable that Moore wasn’t bad enough for business in a town like Gadsden to be worth challenging. It might have been different if his teen fancying had driven away interstate or international engineering talent from, say, Mobile or Huntsville. Mind you, I’m not arguing that the Country Club snots have any sort of moral compass or spine, just that they won’t countenance bullshit that threatens the bottom line (bathroom bill grandstanding driving convention business away from Charlotte and Raleigh, to take a prominent example), and that, depending on local group dynamics, they may get terminally fed up with good ol’ boy horseshit for what are basically aesthetic reasons and decide to clean house.

This is where Alabama’s economic backwardness comes into play. North Carolina and Georgia went through major economic transformations starting in the mid-twentieth century that involved huge influxes of newcomers, diluting their old-line white electorates. One fascinating explanation I’ve seen for Alabama getting stuck in ye olden Bull Connor times is that Atlanta got the big Southern hub airport, not Birmingham. That is, Delta Airlines was in a position to lift one Southern state out of the dark ages, and it chose Georgia. This is something of an oversimplification, but it makes sense. Not long before its merger into Delta, Northwest ineptly tried to set up a small hub at Memphis (Mississippi’s biggest airport, to be honest), where FedEx was already successfully operating a cargo superhub. American ran a half-assed hub at Raleigh-Durham for a decade or two, briefly along with a much shorter-lived hub at Nashville, before folding the lion’s share of its operations in the Mid-South into the Charlotte hub that it had taken over from US Airways. (AA continues to serve Florida Man surprisingly well out of Miami, but we’re focusing on the Upper 47 here.)

Southern partisans don’t much care to hear that sort of argument from a Damn Yankee. I’d defer to them if I could be convinced that I’ve been arguing out of prejudice or bad faith, but it’s disingenuous authoritarian shitbirds like Roy Moore and his defenders who are poisoning this well, and they’re poisoning it for our entire nation. I’m not here to denigrate the folkways of Appalachian coal miners or Cajun shrimpers. My paternal grandmother was born in rural Alabama, about a third of the way from Gadsden to Atlanta, as it turns out, and raised from the age of eight onwards in rural Northeast Kansas at a time when Topeka was still legally segregated. This was the side of the family that lost its load of watermelon to high water, not hell. I’ve known quite a few Southerners who have had reasonable objections to the way they’ve been smeared with a broad brush by prejudiced Northerners.

For a proud lifelong Yankee, then, I’m awfully protective of the good names of Southerners and the South. I find it disreputable and embarrassing for other Northerners to scapegoat an entire sector of our country based on their most ignorant prejudices in the interest of failing to examine their own racial and class bigotries.

Roy Moore doesn’t represent the decent South. He represents the indecent South. I’m a Yankee, but I can tell the fucking difference. That man lives to subjugate other Southerners: the black, the poor, the non-Christian, the non-evangelical. That’s blatantly obvious by now. He picked up a minor outside a fucking child custody hearing, for crying out loud, and now that he’s been exposed as a predator he’s got dipshits earnestly comparing him to Joseph, Stepfather of God.

How hard is it to imagine that the Alabamans who exploit this predatory privilege do so at the expense of other Alabamans? It was local girls that Roy Moore regarded as competent adults when he felt being his supremely gentlemanly underwear-clad self with them and incompetent children the moment they threatened to blow the whistle on his predatory behavior. The Alabama Constitution currently disenfranchises thirty percent of its black citizenry by barring ex-convicts from voting, but don’t think for a second that the local fuzz never locks up a cracker.

The Roy Moore dirty thirties scandal is showing once again that Alabama is an unreconstructed slave state. It’s run by a rogue’s gallery of slavers, holy roller nutjobs with closets full of sexual skeletons, and other equally dangerous thugs. A free citizenry has no obligation to tolerate anything of the sort in its own country, let alone to speak kindly of it.

Imagine some dipshit insisting that Diddlin’ Dennis is the epitome of Midwestern values, the Flower of the Heartland. That would be fucking ridiculous. Imagine assertions that Our Lord’s Servant Gerald is truly one of the great and sacrosanct Pennsylvanians. I don’t have to imagine such veneration of Our Lord Joseph, since I was around for it. It was vile, of course. I’d already heard plenty of bad things about Penn State in general from the inside, but the JoePa worship was a special evil. This is why I approved of the otherwise bumptious dipshit buddy of the Insurance Schmuck, the one who wrote into the alumni magazine with the blather about Nisbet and Durden being great Dickinsonians, when he heard “Sweet Caroline” playing on the loudspeakers at the Homecoming football game and told us, “They like to play this one at Penn State, in honor of Jerry and Joe.”

Turning to Roy Moore as a defender of local values in the face of his exposure as a serial sexual predator is disreputable and scandalous. That’s all there fucking is to it. Only a cult would vomit up a man of his rotten character as an indispensable paragon of Christian virtue. The Deep South would have been unable to maintain chattel slavery for centuries and Jim Crow for most of another century had it not been run as a totalitarian cult. One of the treasured cult leaders has gotten caught up in a particularly sordid and hypocritical sex scandal, but it’s axiomatic that he dindu nuffin, because crime, you see, that’s for the colored folk and the white trash, and so several decades’ worth of compulsory try-hard cultural conservatism evaporates overnight, replaced by an orgy of postmodernist nihilism.

The US Senate has its own closet full of skeletons, but this clusterfuck out of Alabama is serious enough that, should Roy Moore actually pull it out and win the election, the worthiest thing it could do would be to refuse to seat him. Send his ass back to Alabammy, back to the arms of his dear old mammy, etc. Moore has already fucked up badly enough that Republican kingmakers are scheming to kick their old boy the Third Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Secessions (well now, WHY do I keep thinking of him in that fashion?) back down to his very recent spot in the Senate by drafting him as their endorsed write-in candidate next month. That smirking Keebler-looking piece of shit shouldn’t be anywhere near the federal government, but demoting him back to the August Body would be an improvement over the wretched scandal of allowing him to serve as the Attorney General, and sending Roy Moore back home like a dirtbag Roland Burris would be better than seating him.

This is why we’re singin’ Song, Song of the South, Millington for Sheriff and I shut my mouth. Mercy, that again! I know that Southerners still admire FDR for rural electrification, not urban electrification, so I have no idea what got into me. The TVA never was battery-powered, so I have no idea why I keep seeing Roy Moore throwing the bench at little Jefferson’s elf house, either. Or why I keep thinking that Northside Juice and the Shady Blues are THE defense against the Asian carp getting into the Great Lakes.

Nah, I know exactly why: it’s because fishing, even if it’s really just Monty Robinson getting piss-ass drunk and falling out of the Jeep into the river, is such a relief from politics. In this case, it’s also a great opportunity to remind a downhome creep about options for intervention from the North, whose drunks have historically also included Ulysses S. Grant.

“Third” can also be used to describe a rail

The thing to know about Third Way is that it’s the centrist Democratic think tank that sent a team of yuppie ethnographers on an expensive, Hampton Inn-themed road trip deep into Deplorable Country to get triggered by hippies for Bernie in Wisconsin. The twenty million dollars that it’s budgeted for *Deciderly Will Ferrell Voice* new Democrat strategery, then, will surely prove to be funds well stewarded and not in any way a fury of masturbation into the gaping void.

The very name “Third Way” evokes, probably deliberately, classic Nordic social democracy. The Nordic Countries were stuck geographically between the hardline communist Warsaw Pact and hardline capitalist elements in the Anglo-American West. Due to their geography alone they had a national interest in maintaining good relations with both sides and preventing nuclear war. Part of that involved triangulating their domestic economic policies between licentious capitalistic excess and Soviet command-and-control dysfunction.

The thing about Nordic social democracy, though, was that it fucking worked, and to the extent that it hasn’t been sabotaged it still works. There’s a moral and operational coherence to it that is painfully missing from anything that centrist Democrats cough up. On nuts-and-bolts policy, the Dem establishment is not a compromise between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Their positions on industrial policy alone prove that to be nonsense. Two protectionists from opposing parties wouldn’t split their differences by backing a gross corporate usurpation of national sovereignty like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This example doesn’t explain what Trump’s actual platform is from minute to minute, and neither does Donald Trump, but despite all the noxious stunts he’s pulled, he followed through on scuttling TPP. It looks dead for the remainder of his term in office, with weak prospects for a delayed revival upon his retirement. Go ahead and tell me that Hillary “the gold standard on trade deals” Clinton would have done likewise if you’d like me to admire the fine posture with which you have lodged your head in your ass.

Another thing that Trump’s industrial policy alone can explain is his election. Complain all you like that it’s incoherent or scatterbrained or simplistic or craven or insincere; the Donald was put over the top by voters who were only cautiously optimistic about his motivation and ability to follow through on his vision of an American industrial renaissance. We’ve got thousands of mill towns, mining towns, fishing towns, timber towns, and so on scattered around the country, heavily sited in swing states, all of them scrupulously hidden away from our archipelago of SuperZIPs, and many of them fallen on brutally hard times. Trump conveyed an enthusiastic, if crude and ignorant, interest in the workings of factories and mines and a belief that he couldn’t help but blurt out in the dignity of putting Americans back to work making things with their hands. Sanders showed a quieter, more nuanced empathy with the plights of laid-off industrial workers, informed by his own experiences as an underemployed twenty- and thirty-something and his background in industrial policy in Vermont. Clinton was a Wellesley-Yale graduate with a law degree who always looked squeamish and condescending around the hard hats. It was irresistible and perfectly reasonable to question her sincerity when she kept confirming her precious yuppie sensibilities with her “basket of deplorables” clusterfuck and her no less supercilious comment bragging about her plans to put a bunch of coal miners out of work.

No matter how overdetermined Donald Trump’s election was, his opponent’s extreme lack of credibility on industrial policy was potentially enough to put him over the top. All he had to do to come within reach of an electoral vote majority was to campaign hard in the Rust Belt, and he did exactly that. Hillary infamously did not. This is how he won the Electoral College, and hence the presidency, to a woman who beat him by millions of popular votes nationwide. The Democrats’ numbers people knew full fucking well that they needed to compete in the Upper Midwest to have a good chance winning the election. They knew that they needed to contest Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. There were some dense motherfuckers in the Clinton campaign, but none of them ever woke up in a disoriented haze in the grip of a Gary Johnson-style “What is Electoral College?” moment. They’d been through Bush v. Gore. They understood the mechanics.

The belligerent refusal of this claque to accept its portion of the blame for its own loss really rubs ordinary voters the wrong way. Blaming the whole thing on Bourne Identity-level Russian mind control or on Republican dirty tricks is bullshit. As we just noted, 2016 wasn’t the first time the GOP deployed a battery of dirty tricks. What Republican state officials did in North Carolina to disenfranchise their own constituents in 2016 was heinous, but the Democrats had been given ample warning by the GOP’s own saber-rattling about its intention to do exactly that in every state government it could possibly commandeer. This had been on the open agenda for years.

Wisconsin and Michigan are not parts of North Carolina. Besides, the Democrats stuck the tarheel right up their own asses by not getting their yuppies in Charlotte and the Research Triangle out to the polls. These constituencies generally remained enfranchised after the voter roll purges and the ID barriers. The Democrats had spent the Obama administration boasting about how these knowledge economy worthies had swung North Carolina in their favor, perhaps lastingly. These were their darlings, the Floridian creative class (different Florida) that was driving the old Dixie deplorables down across a widening swath of the South. They assumed that they’d get these misplaced Main Liners #WithHer, and they fucking choked. They tried to pull the same stunt with basically the same demographic in the Georgia Sixth, Tom Price’s old digs, and again they fucking choked.

When Rob Quist asked for some institutional and financial backing from the party for his effort to join Jon Tester in the Montana Congressional delegation, though, that was a bridge too far. No way were they going to put serious money on the line to help a High Liner beat Cracker Josey of the Montana Way. Heh, I just said “beat.” Far be it (hey!) from them to be so loose and easy with the mailer money for a local boy who was running for a competitive seat against a body-slamming billionaire who was brought up in Jim Croce country.

These dumbass fucking losers want to know why they lost. Gee, I can’t imagine it. Mind cannot grasp such mysteries. With a bit of humility, they might be able to come up with an Occam’s Razor explanation for their loss, such as “we suck ass.” Comprehending their own shittiness, they might then choose either to remove themselves from public life, making way for less fucked up candidates and movements, or try not to be such total shit for a change. Accepting the blame for their own unpopularity, however, would vindicate the Berniecrats, whom they are compelled to ceaselessly humiliate and defame. More pragmatically–because these are grifters, not just freaks–it would obstruct the great grift, and that wouldn’t be groovy, man. They can’t have that.

What they can have is a Hampton Inn-themed junket to Darkest Heartland to diagnose the local fauna. That which fills rice bowls does not break rice bowls, and these hustlers never pass up an opportunity to talk some pushover or schemer into dishing them out another helping of that white-n-fluffy. Normies in flyover country might have political ideas, too, so let’s send a crew of sellouts and ne’er-do-wells into the provinces to chat with losers they wouldn’t normally give the time of day and call that anthropology, why the fuck not. It’s some real Holden Caulfield shit, driving around from town to town all day, fields and forests rolling past the windows of the rented Yukon, on a great quest for meaning.

I always feel like a derelict when I’m unemployed and spending all damn day on a train. I can easily confirm that I’m not the only underemployed passenger on the same train, and I generally schedule such trips to take the place of lodging for the night, but I still feel like a no-account drifter. Then again, I’m good about naming and claiming the Guest Rewards points. The Third Way assholes, then, can say a little something in their own defense if they’re in it for the HHonors. What the hell else will they accomplish with their bullshit?

Am I missing some key framing point here? I never feel productive for jawboning my fellow out-of-work Americans on Amtrak all night, so how can the Third Way dipshits feel productive for getting paid to take notes on chats that they could have with randoms strangers in any given Starbucks? How is that a job? I get that they’re paid for it, but the Dunkin’ Doorman has able-bodied bleeding hearts paying him to man a door that they’d rather open and close themselves. The Dunkin’ Doorman is in it for the money, just as I’m in the deposit bottle business (mildly sic) for the money (again, mildly sic), but I don’t go around asserting that what I do in trash cans and on redneck roadsides is a job, and I’d be surprised if the Dunkin’ Doorman gives a shit about how strangers construe his employment status; our overarching duty to him is to construe him as a worthy charity case.

I write about shit that might be called anthropology, too, and I’m a better writer than any number of think tank feeders, so what gives? It’s painfully obvious that the fact-finding missionaries from Third Way regard themselves as legitimately employed and would take umbrage at any suggestion that they’re parasites or grifters; as someone who generally gets paid anything from four dollars an hour on down to jack shit for productive work, I take offense at the expectation that I regard professional think tank jawboners as meritorious, let alone employed.

Seriously, that kind of credential-whoring shit makes other people, many of them more employable than the think tankers engaging in it, look bad for not having the same initiative and organizational backing. It’s a fair point for a steelworker or a practicing surgeon or a barista to consider me a wanker for holding down sporadic seasonal jobs instead of something permanent, but not for some asshat with a lanyard to impugn my work ethic or competence. There’s a huge gap of credibility and moral authority. Funny thing, though: it isn’t so much baristas who look down on me on this account as career desk jockeys. Starbucks is downright swarming with the high-functioning unemployed, and the staff aren’t inclined to rub it in a customer’s face when they’ve put two and two together. Try getting the same tact out of some instrusive salesman asshole who just flew in from Omaha to San Jose to spend two days studying excellence with his fellow winners.

The lady on the Zephyr to Lincoln whose husband was serving 25 to life for murder was much cooler. She’s right about Nebraska being fucking white trash, but probably for the wrong reasons.

There’s something subtly squirrelly and ulterior about the Third Way listening tour described in the Atlantic. On the surface the crew undertaking the tour is supremely urbane, but something isn’t quite right about the whole thing. Something about it is just far enough out of place to cause creeping distrust. It calls to mind the supremely gentlemanly behavior of Elliot Rodger, which famously involved throwing hot coffee on women he’d never met because they didn’t immediately jump his bones. There’s a quiet but ominous feeling that these folks are not actually there to listen. Trying to articulate the bad gut feeling about their motives feels petty and paranoid, but the gut feeling doesn’t go away.

Then the sellout former anti-nuke activist from San Francisco gets triggered by a group of uppity crunchies, and the puzzle falls right into place. The “listeners” swear up and down that they believe in high civic norms and processes, but what gets their goat is being dissed by informed, civically engaged proles. Hearing a Chamber of Commerce official express Ferdinand and Isabella-grade bigotry about cartoonishly villainous Muslims is problematic but tolerable for a good listener. Chauvinistic comments about women working outside the home are offensive but bearable. The last straw isn’t the bloodless genocidal ideation of a paranoid bigot or having to make nice with some lunatic who wouldn’t mind using positive law to keep women pregnant and bonded to the home kitchen; it’s hippies who did unassigned research coming to a listening session to diss Third Way. That’s the great triggering event: having the motivations of one’s employer called into question by serfs who raise specific objections to its affiliations and funding.

What a fucking douchebag. I don’t care how gracious Nancy Hale is otherwise; getting offended and upset because some leftists won’t play ball with the bougie liberal ratfuck squad that keeps sabotaging their strongest, most popular candidate is batshit insane and disreputable. Nobody with a lick of self-respect should want to be described acting like that in a national magazine, let alone quoted on the record getting salty and despondent about a political slight taken personally. Imagine behaving so wretchedly in front of a reporter and not tracking the reporter down afterwards to go on the record with an expression of one’s deep shame for having been such a whiny little bitch with company present.

Imagine not being mortified to have lost one’s patience and composure in front of a national magazine reporter because you were upset with a group of workaday citizens who have taken up crafts and trades for correctly identifying the affiliation of your organization and questioning your motives for researching them as part of a political intelligence-gathering expedition. Imagine being a Baby Boomer professional activist who traveled from San Francisco to Eau Claire to get triggered by Millennial organic farmers and then accusing THEM of being the insular, uncompromising ones. Imagine having “a very hard time with that meeting” but not the self-respect to hold such a pathetic opinion in fearful silence.

People quietly hold petty, spiteful, embarrassing opinions all the time, ones that they wouldn’t dare utter to a reporter for fear of looking like an absolute piece of shit for posterity, if they’d even have the courage to confide them to a trusted friend. But the real scandal isn’t that some sellout I hadn’t heard of this past weekend had a condescending empathy snit over some granolas dissing her think tank when she was their guest on their home turf. The real scandal is that anyone in the Democratic Party turns to her as an oracle, as some kind of prole-whisperer. The avowed party of the working class seeks advice from this earnest but thin-skinned twit, and then wonders how on earth its opponents, led by a raging oaf presiding over three or four openly internecine factions, keeps steamrolling it.

If they listened to us, they might get an idea, but that isn’t why they’re here.